Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Take advantage of Black Friday with 15% off sitewide with coupon code "BLACKFRIDAY" on Slashdot Deals (some exclusions apply)". ×

Comment Re:Smearing? (Score 5, Informative) 254

Are you being serious?

Let's assume for a moment, that you aren't being a blatant troll here. With that in mind, here's why it is a smear.

1) The paris terrorists did not use encryption at all--
2) The French government, and the US government already had people warning them about the impending attacks.
3) Snowden's leaks centered around *ILLEGAL* intelligence gathering practices, and his leaks were carefully sanitized and redacted by reporters with journalistic integrity.
4) Unless you think Russia is somehow behind the paris attacks, there is nothing that ties Snowden with said attacks-- and even that is just supposition. (There is shit little Snowden has given Russia besides PR.)

The only connection here is that Snowden drew attention to the US's (and its allies') use of illegal data collection for intelligence purposes, which gave the US a black eye, (and a much needed one at that.) and the administrators behind those illegal data collection practices want to try to assert (falsely) that they could have stopped the paris attack, if it hadn't been for that meddling kid-- Erhm-- Edward Snowden.

This is bullshit-- as again, the terrorists were using unencrypted channels of communication, AND were already known about by intelligence agents/agencies-- who already knew the attack was going to happen.

So, why didn't they stop it? Oh-- yeah-- Because Edward Snowden somehow used whistleblower black magic to somehow make it so they couldnt act on the intelligence they had already collected.... Somehow.

All that said-- Seriously, go troll somewhere else.

Comment Good old fashioned crisis management... (Score 5, Interesting) 254

"You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."

Rahm Emanuel

Aren't politics grand? Gotta further an agenda while the corpses are still warm. (You lose impact any other way, you see.) /s

Comment Re:The trouble with non-antibiotics (Score 1) 135

You know, there are still naturally occurring chemicals out there that exhibit broad spectrum antibiotic capabilities, that are not 'cillins, 'mycins, or 'oxins. Many of these are low molecular weight oliphins that show very strong inhibition on a wide assortment of disease organisms.

Take for instance, lemongrass oil. Stuff kills the shit out of MRSA on culture plates-- handily beats vancomycin in efficacy in the microgram quantities.

Better understanding of this and other oliphins, and how they cause such profound inhibition, would lead to a new class of broad spectrum antibiotics.

But do we do that? No. We keep doing in medicine research what japanese RPG makers do with games. "Stick to what we know, even though the handrwiting is on the wall."

It isnt because researchers arent actively looking for new classes of antibiotics-- it's because we arent devdeloping the discoveries made.

Comment Re:Regulation please (Score 1) 161

Outright poisonous plants are not illegal. You can buy hemlock plants, wolfsbane flowers, belladonna plants, foxgloves, and daturas as ornamentals, if you so wish. If you choose to eat them, and subsequently die from it, well too damn bad. (fyi, daffodils are also poisonous.)

But-- anything that might make you jumpy or might cause euphoria is a controlled substance, for the most part. ephedra falls into this category, as does the coca plant, peote cactus, psilocybin mushrooms, and a wealth of others.

Clearly, it is not because of these plants being potentially toxic; You can order daffodils and foxgloves in just about any flower and seed catalogue-- The reason is because those plants have clearly pharmacological grade substances that may be addicting in them, and people would want to poison themselves with them. But we have to by contrary-marys over that too, by having things like coffee, tobacco, alcohol products, et al on the open market.

Ultimately, the defining characteristic on if a given toxin containing plant will be illegal to grow or not boils down to the irrational demands of the public concerning said cultivation.

I dont want a regulatory agency policing based on public opinion. I want one that judges based on scientific data, and does so consistently and reliably.

Comment Re:This is a good thing. (Score 3, Insightful) 291

The thing is-- Machines are getting to be better at *ALL* human endeavors, including theoretical future ones.

Already, machines are getting to be quite good at "creative" tasks, for instance.

This opinion bases itself on the (faulty) notion that there will always be a valid career path in the future for humans to grab on too. Eventually, in the face of perfect automation, there will simply be no task where employing humans is either efficient or profitable.

Comment Re:This is a good thing. (Score 4, Interesting) 291

It takes more than just free time to obtain (and retain!) a profitable job skill, especially when the eligible pool is being continually eroded.

It takes money, and aggressive ambition.

Ultimately, only the most ruthless of the wealthy will be able to afford the training and education to claim a profitable job skill, under this kind of pressure.

Your suggestion is not workable. The option for people to simply consume HAS to remain on the table, simply because it will ultimately become the ONLY choice, especially as automation further encroaches, and completely eclipses all human labor roles. The alternative is a non-economy, where nobody has money.

To circumvent this problem, you need to pick one of the following 3 solutions.

1) forbid automation preemptively, citing that it erodes human employ-ability, and thus total human economic activity. (Enjoy your 19th century standard of living!)

2) Embrace automation fully, and give up profit-motive as the driving goal of human endeavor. (Yay, startrek)

3) Accept that automation will ultimately result in a market that cannot stand on its own, and introduce a basic income, supported through currency inflation from the government coupled with taxation of agencies and individuals exceeding the basic income per anum. (OMG, the commies won!)

Those are literally the only three viable solutions.

Comment Re:This is a good thing. (Score 4, Insightful) 291

I doubt basic income will ever be instituted, except via close range threat of shotgun blast. (and then only a maybe.)

What most ideologues of the basic income seem unable (or unwilling) to grasp, is that service and goods providers do not service or provide from the goodness of their hearts. They do it for profit. In order for a basic income to work, then a very large tax must be levied against these agencies, as they are going to be the ones with all the capital. (It makes precisely zero sense to bill the general public, since a good portion will be getting said basic income-- That would just be absurd. At best, the money just moves around, and in the real world, money will be lost from the system over time. To make this workable, the bill has to come from outside the pool being subsidized. That just leaves banks (who create money at will using the fractional reserve system) and for profit businesses who engage in for profit enterprise; especially those that conduct business internationally.) This means that the tax system has to be seriously overhauled for anything like this to work, and the people who would need to be on board to make it happen would be openly opposed to it (because they would be voting against their own profiteering.)

The only way I see this ever gaining traction, is when there is simply no alternative-- The economy is so unhealthy from the loss of liquidity in the general public's financial engine, that there is simply no hope for future business growth without it. That wont happen unless the entire planet suffers such a financial crisis, since as-is, large actors can leverage different local economies and give a big fat "fuck you" to others, and thus continue being profitable. (See for instance, the H1B fiasco, or just outsourcing IT to India in general.)

If you think the word "Wellfare" is tainted now in conservative political circles, just wait until something like THAT comes to bear. I would expect tax dodging to take on epic new extremes, even greater than the infamous "Double Irish" trick, as these actors all scramble to avoid being the ones having to finance the growth of all other actors. (Since the one that finances the least, gains all the benefits of the revitalized economy, without as much of the cost, and thus is most poised for market dominance. As such, NONE of them will be willing benefactors.)

Given the degree that big business already controls world government (Shit, just look at how fucked up the MPAA and RIAA make things, just by themselves.), I think a functional basic income is about as realistic a prospect as expecting Jesus/God to suddenly appear tomorrow.

It would definitely be nice; the problem is, when you are dealing with greedy fuckholes, you cant have nice things.

Comment Re:nothing will work (Score 1) 161

The submitter is looking for a technological solution to replace one of the primary functions of nurse aid staff members.

The PRIMARY job responsibility of nurse aids in a senior skilled care facility is:

Assist the resident with activities of daily living.

This is everything from helping them to take their medication, to getting dressed every morning, to taking regular showers to stay healthy, to brushing their teeth, to ensuring that their asses dont have shit on them, and everything in between.

Quite literally, IT IS THEIR JOB to help the resident DO ANYTHING that they have difficulty with. If the resident wants to color in a coloring book, but has difficulty holding the crayons, the nurse aids are to help the resident with that task. For real.

24/7 assistance is EXACTLY what an adult care facility provides. It is what you pay for when you put a family member there.

As NASA put it, human beings are the most inexpensive general purpose robot that money can buy. Nurse aids do exactly this function. It is their job. Just pay for your family member to have the nursing care they need. Problem solved.

Comment Re:Firmware is not software (Score 2) 177

These ones match his requirements for certain.


There is a reason why the FSF does not like broadcomm chipsets, and considers them FOSS un-friendly.

The drivers for these chips requires a closed binary blob, that must be harvested from a windows driver. On linux, this process is automated with a bash script which downloads a suitable driver package directly from an OEM's support site, then rips the binary blob out and places it into a special folder in /usr, iirc.(might be /etc.... been awhile.)

The point is that while those SoCs have very well defined CPU implementations, there is voodoo black magic under the hood. The same chip that handles the radio firmware also does the CPU implementation. That radio firmware is physically set up as a section of highly privileged RAM, into which the binary blob gets loaded. The radio then configures itself based on the contents of that blob. The blob's structure is not documented by broadcomm without a seriously large NDA, which is against the functional scope of the GPL, and the FSF. The driver for the 'then-configured' radio is fully FOSS-- but the radio will not operate without the configuration blob-- Literally CANNOT operate without it.

There's a reason why the FSF prefers wifi chips like say-- Ralink's offerings. In those, the radio is hardware controlled, straight up. The radio comes pre-configured, and the interfaces to interact with the radio are public. This means that the hardware can be used with pure FOSS drivers, without the need for a closed binary blob, which complicates licensing.

I realize your question was rhetorical, but it exposed a serious lack of knowledge.

Comment Re:Firmware is not software (Score 2) 177

Not exactly.

There is the router's OS package, which contains the radio firmware.

It has become (alarmingly) commonplace for the firmware to be stored in volatile memory inside the radio device-- Such is the case with basically *ALL* Broadcomm radios. There is a binary blob that even on linux, must be harvested from closed source driver packages. This blob is what Brannon is talking about. The FOSS linux driver harvests this firmware (which is extracted on consumer linux boxes using a package called fwcutter)

The FCC is worried that because it is so easy to put a modified blob into the radio's memory, that these devices could be easily switched into a nefarious mode of operation. This behavior would be wholly independent of the router's OS, or even the radio's OS driver-- the radio itself would simply configure itself into the nefarious operating mode, blindly following the configuration supplied by the modified binary blob.

The real solution here is for the FCC to tell broadcomm and pals that they have to make the General Purpose CPU implementation and boot loader in their chipsets logically separate from the radio. That way the radio can be locked down the way the FCC wants-- and the rest of the router can be completely open.

However, broadcomm and pals WONT do that without a serious legal threat being leveled at them, as their current solution is one of practical cost savings. The kind of separation needed to properly secure the radio against tampering of this kind while retaining the ability to clean up the horrid mess that retailers make of the OS and driver stack side (which enable hackers to coopt the router as zombie notes for a wide assortment of purposes) would make the cost per unit for these SoC based systems prohibitive-- at the very least, it would seriously impact profitability.

The real problem here is that the binary blob has no checksum or digital signature check before being accepted by the radio. If you were stupid enough to do so, you could feed it the contents of /dev/urandom and watch the sparks fly.

Simply using a good digital signature on the blob for validation before being accepted by the device radio would go a LOOOOOOOOOOOONG way to fixing this issue without killing projects like openwrt-- You dont need to lock the bootloader to secure the radio.

Comment Re:No such thing as a Wi-Fi Router (Score 3, Insightful) 177

In a good deal of the consumer crap devices I have looked under the hood of, the device runs a crippled version of openwrt.

In such cases, the router and AP functionality comes about entirely through software, since the core OS treats both the wired interface and the wireless interface as discrete network interface cards. The wired interface is usually the one that is more interesting, as the multiple ports are treated as VIFs.

Considering the pricing point of between 50 and 100$ for most consumer grade PoS devices out there, there's a pretty good featureset under there if you can just get past the ABYSMAL driver and config script stack that the manufacturers often push on the poor things.

Often times, the "stock" firmware for these devices use drivers that have been hacked up seven ways to sunday so that they expose certain behaviors-- and have config scripts that do loopy loops to try and get the system into a state that the device maker wants it to be in. (Things like having the root password be set via script every bootup, because the stock firmware does not have a JFFS partition to store actual root credentials, and instead stores the user-defined password in the NVRAM so it can be easily reset with the reset button. On bootup, the script grabs the value from NVRAM and sets the root password. Nevermind the DUMBSHITNESS of exposing the root user this way, since it runs all the services under root.) Looking at it, it is the script equivalent of a Rube-Goldberg contraption.

OpenWRT (the REAL deal, not the hacked up dog and pony show that netgear and pals puts under the hood of their devices) boots in a fraction of the time (Stock firmwares often take over a full 2 minutes to fully finish the init script!! Open WRT becomes fully functional in typically under 30 seconds.) allows PROPER device administration (like, allowing you to set up proper service user and group accounts on the router to segregate process access requirements, set up and use jails, give you your choice of what routing and wifi supplicant package to use, what HTTP daemon to use-- if any-- etc.)

Consumer grade crap can become quite useful with a firmware update. Just that you have to treat it like what it actually is--- a small, general purpose computing platform-- and set it and configure it appropriately.

Comment Re:Swarm, not sphere. (Score 1) 339

One possible use for the energy, would be to blast material off of a gas giant.

This would enable somewhat efficient (ahem. Big grain of salt taken.) collection of material, because the collection vessels do not need to go deep into the giant's gravity well. They just need to be leeward of the high energy stream being shot at the planet.

I think 20% of a star's output would be more than enough to blow atmosphere off such a thing for more easy collection.

That poses a chicken and egg type problem though. If you can build a dyson sphere, why do you need to use such a trick just to get light gasses? The construction of the sphere would require similar levels of energy investiture.....

But if we are going for radical, unsubstantiated wild speculations---

Perturbations in local light trajectories caused by use of very large Alcubiere warp drives. Depending on the direction of travel of the object going to warp, and the requisite size of the warp distortion, light from the star would be bent in directions that prevent that light from reaching the earth (massive occultation) without producing any local IR re-emission, since the light never gets absorbed-- just redirected from the spacial curvature of the warp metric. This would neatly explain the irregular shape, and the lack of IR.

The inhabitants of that system need not be constructing a dyson swarm-- they may merely be FTL capable.

"What people have been reduced to are mere 3-D representations of their own data." -- Arthur Miller