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Science

The Science of 4th of July Fireworks 35 35

StartsWithABang writes: There are few things as closely associated with American independence as our willingness and eagerness to celebrate with fiery explosions. I refer, of course, to the unique spectacle of fireworks, first developed nearly a millennium ago halfway across the world. But these displays don't happen by themselves; there's an intricate art and science required to deliver the shows we all expect. So what's the science behind fireworks? Here's the physics (and a little chemistry) behind their height, size, shape, color and sound, just in time for July 4th!
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: What Is the Best Way To Hold Onto Your Domain? 97 97

An anonymous reader writes: There have been quite a few stories recently about corporations, or other people, wanting to take over a domain. This has me wondering what steps can I take to ensure that outsiders know that my domain is in use, and not up for sale. In my case, I registered a really short domain name(only 5 characters) for a word that I made up. The domain has been mine for a while, and Archive.org has snapshots going back to 2001 of my placeholder page. It could be close to other domain names by adding one more letter, so there is potential for accusations of typosquatting (none yet). I have no trademark on the word, because I saw no reason to get one. The domain is used mostly for personal email, with some old web content left out there for search engines to find. The hosting I pay for is a very basic plan, and I can't really afford to pay for a ton of new traffic. There is the option to set up a blog, but then it has to be maintained for security. What would other readers suggest to establish the domain as mine, without ramping up the amount of traffic on it?
Businesses

MasterCard To Approve Online Payments Using Your Selfies 72 72

An anonymous reader writes: MasterCard is experimenting with a new program: approving online purchases with a facial scan. Once you’re done shopping online, instead of a password, the service will require you to snap a photo of your face, so you won’t have to worry about remembering a password. The Stack reports: "MasterCard will be joining forces with tech leaders Apple, BlackBerry, Google, Samsung and Microsoft as well as two major banks to help make the feature a reality. Currently the international group uses a SecureCode solution which requires a password from its customers at checkout. The system was used across 3 billion transactions last year, the company said. It is now exploring biometric alternatives to protect against unauthorized payment card transactions. Customers trialling the new technologies are required to download the MasterCard app onto their smart device. At checkout two authorization steps will be taken; fingerprint recognition and facial identification using the device's camera. The system will check for blinking to avoid criminals simply holding a photograph up to the lens."
Crime

Trolls No Longer Welcome In New Zealand 233 233

An anonymous reader writes: Legislation designed to prevent cyber-bullying has passed its final hurdle in the New Zealand Parliament, making it a crime to send harmful messages or put damaging images online. The Harmful Digital Communications Bill passed 116 to 5. The Register reports: "The bill creates a regime under which digital communications causing 'serious emotional distress' are subject to an escalating regime that starts as 'negotiation, mediation or persuasion' but reaches up to creating the offenses of not complying with an order, and 'causing harm by posting digital communication.' The bill covers posts that are racist, sexist, or show religious intolerance, along with hassling people over disability or sexual orientation. There's also a new offense of incitement to suicide (three years' jail).
Space

Rocket Labs Picks New Zealand For Its Launch Site 51 51

schwit1 writes: The small sat rocket company Rocket Labs has chosen a location in New Zealand as its future launch site. Bloomberg reports: "The company didn't specify how much it was investing in the site, which is due to be completed in the fourth quarter. New Zealand, which has been used in the past by the National Aeronautical and Space Administration, is considered a prime location because rockets launched from that deep in the Southern hemisphere can reach a wide range of Earth orbits. Rocket Lab's remote site on the Kaitorete Spit in the Canterbury region also means it has less air and sea traffic, which translates into more frequent launches and economies of scale, the company said. It also will no longer compete for airspace with the U.S. government." Rocket Labs will have to actually launch something to really make the competition heat up. This announcement, however, illustrates that in the long run, the United States has some significant disadvantages as a spaceport location.
Games

The Plan To Bring Analytics To eSports 61 61

An anonymous reader writes: We're used to seeing instant replays, halftime analysis and in depth analytics in traditional sports, but now they're coming to eSports too. A new start-up, Dojo Madness, is hoping to bring the same techniques to games like League of Legends and Dota, in the hopes players can learn from their mistakes in a game when shown them. In a new interview, founder and former Electronic Sports League boss Jens Hilgers reveals that the company's main product, Dota training and replay site Bruce.GG, will use machine learning to teach itself what are good and bad plays — and he hopes to bring the tech to other games, like Counter-Strike, too. "The feedback of the users watching these videos, these input points, are allowing us to determine the relevancy of what we have done and the system will learn from that and get smarter," he says.
The Military

Naval Research Interested In Bringing 3D Printing To Large Scale For Ships 43 43

coondoggie writes: The Navy this month will outline what it is looking for from additive manufacturing or 3D printing technology as way to bolster what it terms "fleet readiness." The Office of Naval Research will on July 15 detail its Quality Metal Additive Manufacturing (Quality MADE) program that will aim to "develop and integrate the suite of additive manufacturing software and hardware tools required to ensure that critical metallic components can be consistently produced and rapidly qualified in a cost effective manner."
Google

Google's Niantic Labs Sorry Over Death Camps In Smartphone Game 127 127

New submitter LunaticTippy writes: For those unfamiliar with Ingress, the game has GPS coordinate portals that correspond to real world locations, players then use smartphones to battle for control of these portals. Many public locations with historical or artistic interest are submitted by players. It turns out some of the sites were located within concentration camps such as Dachau and Sachsenhausen. NBC reports: "In a statement to The Associated Press, Niantic Labs' founder John Hanke said the company has begun removing the offending sites from the game. He said 'we apologize that this has happened.'"
Government

Can New Chicago Taxes On Netflix, Apple, Spotify Withstand Legal Challenges? 177 177

Mr D from 63 writes: Today, a new "cloud tax" takes effect in the city of Chicago, targeting online databases and streaming entertainment services. Residents who stream movies and music from companies like Netflix and Spotify will now need to pay an additional 9% tax. This also applies to Chicago businesses that pay to use databases online. Chicago expects to collect $12 million a year as a result of the new tax ruling. From the 24/7 Wall St. story: "Also worth noting is that the city’s tax ruling in both cases avoids the issue of whether there is a close-enough connection (nexus, in legalese) to require providers like Netflix or others to collect either tax. International law firm ReedSmith weighs in on this point as well: '[O]nce the Department begins to audit and assess customers located within the city, many of those customers are likely to demand that providers collect the tax going forward. As a result, many providers will likely feel the need to register to collect the taxes, despite lacking nexus, and despite having strong arguments against the Department’s expansive interpretation of its taxing ordinances.'"
Google

Google: Stop Making Apps! (A Love Letter) 105 105

An anonymous reader writes: Seasoned Silicon Valley software executive and investor Domenic Merenda has written a love letter to Google, and it's filled with "tough" love. The main thesis is that Google, as a company, should stop making apps, and instead focus on using its enormous data assets to make meaningful connections between people and facilitate organic engagement within a rich ecosystem. Interestingly, the article cites Wikipedia's information that Google maintains over 70 apps on the Android platform alone.

Comment: Systemd, pass II (Score 1) 168 168

Sure, no problem. If you dislike systemd that much, it certainly makes sense to move to a different software platform.

I don't particularly dislike systemd per se. I do observe the controversy around it, and the image of it and its project, painted by its opponents (some of whom have enough creds that it's unlikely that they're talking through their hats), indicates that the claimed issues are likely to be real problems, and this may be a tipping point for Linux adoption and user choice among distributions or OSes.

Your Snowden argument isn't particularly applicable in this instance, as you have access to the full source code for systemd. If you're not comfortable looking through C code, then any init system would be a problem for you. ... If you think that porting your laptop, home servers and desktops to a completely different operating system is less effort than learning how systemd works, then I can only conclude you haven't tried to learn how systemd works. Or you've severely underestimated the work involved in moving to another OS.

I did my first Linux drivers (a PROM burner and a Selectric-with-selonoids printer) on my personal Altos ACS 68000 running System III, wrote a driver for a block-structured tape drive for AUX - working from my own decompilation of their SCSI disk driver (since the sources weren't available to me initially), ported and augmented a mainframe RAID controller from SvR3 to SvR4, and so on, for nearly three decades, through hacking DeviceTree on my current project. I don't think C has many problems left for me, nor does moving to yet another UNIX environment - especially to one that is still organized in the old, familiar, fashion. B-)

As for trying to learn how systemd works, that's not the proper question. Instead, I ask what is so great about it that I should spend the time to do so, distracting me from my other work, and how doing this would meet my goals (especially the undertand-the-security-issues goal), as compared to moving to a well-supported, time-proven, high-reliability, security-conscious alternative (which is also under a license that is less of a sell to the PHBs when building it into a shippable product.)

Snowden's revealations show that the NSA, and others like them are adept, at taking advantage of problems in obscure corners of systems and using that obscurity to avoid detection. The defence against this is simplicity and clarity, avoiding the complexity that creates subtle bugs and hides them by burying them in distractions. Bigger haystacks hide more needles.

The configuration for systemd isn't buried. It's there for all to see and change, in plain text. Logging in binary form is _optional_. You can choose to direct logged messages to syslog, or use both syslog and binary, to have the "best of both worlds", albeit with the best of disk usage.

Unfortunately, I don't get to make that choice myself. It's made by the distribution maintainers. My choice is to accept it, open the can of worms and redo the work of entire teams (and hope their software updates don't break things faster than I fix them), or pick another distribution or OS.

Again, why should I put myself on such a treadmill of unending extra work? If I could trust the maintainers to mostly make the right choices I could go along - with no more than an audit and perhaps an occasional tweak. But if they were making what I consider the right choices, I wouldn't expect to see such a debacle.

Entangling diverse processes into an interlocking mass is what operating systems are all about! ;)

No, it's not. The job of an operating system is to KEEP them from becoming an interlocking mass, while letting them become an interacting system to only the extent appropriate. It isolates them in their own boxes, protects them from each other, and facilitates their access to resources and ONLY their LEGITIMATE interaction wherever appropriate and/or necessary. The job is to Keep It Simple while letting it work.

Your phrasing, and making a joke of this issue, is symptomatic of what is alleged to be wrong with systemd and the engineering behind it.

Comment: Re:Routing around (Score 2) 192 192

At a large scale, the internet was designed to route around individual problems such as this.
Can't this same principle be applied on a smaller scale?

Yes, it can. Just dig a whole bunch MORE trenches around the country at enormous cost.

The SONET fiber networks were designed to be primarily intersecting rings. Most sites have fiber going in opposite directions (with a few having more than two fibers going off in more than two directions so it's not just ONE big, convoluted, ring.) This is built right into the signaling architecture: Bandwitdth slots are pre-assigned in both directions around the ring. Cut ONE fiber run and the signals that would have crossed the break are folded back at the boxes at each end of the break, run around the ring the other way, and get to where they're going after taking the long route. The switching is automatic and takes place in miliseconds. The ring approach means that the expensive cable runs are about a short and as separated as it's possible to make them.

But cut the ring in TWO places and it partitions into two, unconnected, networks. To get from one to the other you have to hope there's another run between the two pieces, and there's enough switching where they join to reroute the traffic.

IP WANs have, in some portions, also adopted the ring topology as they move to fiber, rather than sticking to the historic "network of intersecting trees" approach everywhere. That's partly because much of the long haul is done on formerly "dark fiber" laid down in bundles with the SONET rings from the great fiber buildout (or is carried in assigned bandwidth slots on the SONET networks themselves), partly because the same economics of achieving redundancy while minimizing costly digging apply to high-bandwidth networking regardless of the format of the traffic, and partly because routers that KNOW they're on a ring can reroute everything quickly when a fiber run fails, rather than rediscovering what's still alive and recomputing all the routing tables.

= = = = =

Personal note: Back when Pacific Bell was stringing its fibers around the San Francisco Bay Area, I was living in Palo Alto. They did their backbone as two rings. There was only one section, perhaps a mile long, where BOTH rings ran along the same route. It happened to go right past my house, with the big, many-manhole repeater vault right next to the house. (I used to daydream of running my own fiber the few feet into the vault. B-) The best I had available, in those pre-DSL days, were dialup with Telebit PEP modems (18-23 k half-duplex) and base-rate (128k) ISDN.)

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