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Submission + - Is your laptop secure enough for Sochi? (engadget.com)

WindSerf writes: Over on Engadget the story goes "Visitors to Sochi Olympics should expect to be hacked (video)". In the video, a new Macbook is removed from it's sealed box, connected to wifi in a hotel in Sochi, and is hacked very quickly. My question is, how would you secure your laptop if you had to use it in sochi?

Submission + - New Type of Star Can Emerge From Inside Black Holes, Say Cosmologists (medium.com)

KentuckyFC writes: Black holes form when a large star runs out of fuel and collapses under its own weight. Since there is no known force that can stop this collapse, astrophysicists have always assumed that it forms a singularity, a region of space that is infinitely dense. Now cosmologists think quantum gravity might prevent this complete collapse after all. They say that the same force that stops an electron spiralling into a nucleus might also cause the collapsing star to "bounce" at scales of around 10^-14cm. They're calling this new state a "Planck star" and say it's lifetime would match that of the black hole itself as it evaporates. That raises the possibility that the shrinking event horizon would eventually meet the expanding Planck star, which emerges with a sudden blast of gamma rays. That radiation would allow any information trapped in the black hole to escape, solving the infamous information paradox. If they're right, these gamma rays may already have been detected by space-based telescopes meaning that the evidence is already there for any enterprising astronomer to tease apart.

Comment Re:You were not hired to finish the project (Score 2) 308

> Other times you can work like an actual adult and solve the problems

I don't know the details in this case, and neither do you. But trust me, it ain't always that simple.

Years ago, back when I was still doing the contract programming gig on the side, I took a job for a major multinational. This was a relatively simple concept: write some software that read the AutoCAD files for the wire numbers, and then print heat-shrink labels to go on the wires. Sounds good, right?

First strike: it was done in Visual C++ 1.5, 16 bit. That compiler had some marvelous bugs (such as getting the segment and offset REVERSED when it loaded the ES and SI registers, HA HA that one was fun to track down).

Second strike: my predecessor had used that silly "frame-document-view" model for this relatively simple program (I can't even remember what they call it now). He decided to put everything in the View, so he had globals everywhere. Of course, they were getting clobbered, and of COURSE, I had to find each of these bugs.

Third: the people with this company had no idea what they wanted it to actually do. They said, "the stuff for the heater wiring starts with 'H," the motor wiring with 'M', and so on ... except for when it doesn't." (That's not a joke.) In other words, the files that I was reading (with a horrible third-party bolt-on DLL, by the way) weren't even guaranteed to be standardized!

I left this project and moved on to more pleasant things. That cured me. I went back into radio engineering, even though (with no false modesty) I was actually a very good programmer.

OH, and did I mention that this was using Visual C++ 1.5? Make sure you don't miss that. :)

Comment Re:Short answer: Run. (Score 2) 308

> that could directly impact the contractor's future work prospects, if they cite how bad a job the contractor has done

They're going to do that anyway, whether he stays to completion/collapse, or quits now.

I say quit now, find something else right away and let it blow over. It may not seem like it right now, but it WILL eventually blow over. Get another successful project or two under your belt and the one bad project won't glare too badly on the resume.

Comment Re:squashed eyeballs (Score 1) 267

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P...

The brain is intimately involved with how we perceive things. A bunch of experiments have been done, for example (recounted in the link above), one guy wore glasses that inverted everything -- he saw everything "upside down." After a few days, his brain flipped everything the right way!

I can imagine that years with low or no gravity would do far more than just affect the physiology. This isn't just a mechanical phenomenon. It's not just a matter of distorted eyeballs or inner ears. The whole time, your brain is trying to reinterpret what you're sensing to fit what it understands.

Comment Re:My God... (Score 1) 458

> Posts like this are why scientists like Lawrence Krauss have no time for philosophers.

Heh. Thanks for the laugh with my morning coffee. You are dead on the money.

> Karl Popper's rules do not claim to be science itself

And Popper himself was responsible for the Philosophy of Science. His rules are generally used because they work.

A good example for the layman (not scientific by any means, but illustrative) would be, you're sitting in your den, watching TV. "Where's the cat?" you wonder. One of his play toys mysteriously rolls from under the sofa, and you say, "ah." Is that proof that there's a cat under there? Of course not. But based on previous observations, experience, and the knowledge that your feline is a loveable knothead who can get into anything and at any time, it's a darn safe guess. :)

> Creationists, by the by, have an agenda; that is, 'prove' what they already take to be a priori assumptions. They aren't interested in knowledge, they're interested in influence.

Many are. But don't make blanket assumptions.

Me? I'm more of a libertarian, plotting endlessly to take over the world so that I can leave you completely alone. :)

Comment Re:My God... (Score 4, Insightful) 458

> Is this testable?

I spent a good bit of time trying to explain this to laycreatures at my own Website. Karl Popper pretty well summed up the rules for scientific theories:

1. It must adequately explain that which is known about the thing being observed.
2. It must be falsifiable. In other words, it must make concrete predictions that can be tested empirically. If not, it is NOT a scientific theory.
3. This is the key: the SIMPLEST (i.e., the most "economical") theory that adequately explains the observations is preferred.

This is extremely important: just because you come up with a theory that seems to work does NOT mean that you're right. It simply means that you've found a mathematical model that works as far as you are able to understand and test it.

These guys seem to believe that inflation compels a belief in multiverses. They are certainly not alone in that. But in the interest of equal time, there are PLENTY of other cosmological-types who insist that there are alternate explanations. The "math" does NOT lead only and exclusively to that conclusion. In fact, while researching this for my Website, I found a flooding TON of physicists who went all the way back to Andre Linde (who was one of the first to popularize this) and beyond, and poked all sorts of holes in these arguments.

Disclaimer, I'm not a physicist and don't claim to be. But I'm about as up to speed on it as a layman can get and still remain sane. :)

Comment Re:Reel-to-real (Score 2) 165

> If an average vacuum tube lasted 6 months

This is a common misunderstanding about reliability, whether talking about solid-state or tubes. In fact, any manufacturer worth his/her salt can predict, with surprisingly accuracy, the number of failures over time -- say, 1% in the first month, 10% by the end of the first year, and so on. How they do this is fascinating to those who are interested.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality_assurance

Thus, you can buy electronics, made in the same factory, by the same people, but one branded "Sharp" and the other with an off-brand name -- identical units -- but one has a 90-day warranty, while the other is 1 year. The latter will probably cost more because ('ere's the secret) the cost of the warranty is factored into the price of the unit. (Moral: a longer warranty does NOT necessarily mean a better-built device. Another secret that "They" won't tell you.) :)

In this case:

1. You test each tube thoroughly before it's even approved for use in the computer. (This testing is one reason why "mil-spec" components cost so much.)

2. Since each tube is about the same age when the computer is first built, there will be a *window* when you expect to begin having cascade failures. You schedule PM (i.e., tube replacement) to occur *before* that window. For each of those 60,000 tubes, there's a replacement log.

This is a great example of how statistics can mislead. When the first really big computers were proposed, there were indeed some who argued that they'd never work, because with 10,000's of tubes, they'd be constantly breaking down. But real-life proved them wrong, thankfully.

Comment Re:The Solution is Obvious (Score 4, Informative) 829

>> "I own two machines which cannot be upgraded for very good reasons."

> What are those?

Plenty of reasons. Khyber's comment below about hardware drivers is one. If you have a sweet server that's still chugging along, you feel no need to replace or upgrade it. If you did, though, you'd have a time finding drivers for it.

Another reason is if you're using a very expensive software package that simply won't work with anything newer than Windows XP. Then it's not just a simple matter of upgrading Windows, but having to shell out tons of money for other software upgrades at the same time. Until the economy turns around, that ain't gonna happen.

We've run across cases where a software vendor will say, "don't install anything newer than service pack 2." We handle it by completely isolating these machines from the Internet and disallowing the use of external, user-supplied storage (which most smart admins do anyway, on general principle).

Here's a piece of trivia for you: one of the key audio streaming companies* for broadcast radio stations, as late as last year, made it clear in their contract that they would ONLY support Windows XP. We dropped them for that reason, but folks, this was in 2012. That kind of stuff still happens, too, and again, blame the economy.

This admittedly won't affect most users, but it does affect some of us.

(*actually, to be technically correct, they're an ad-insertion company -- they insert commercial inventory in your online stream -- but I figured everyone's eyes would glaze over if I tried to get that detailed.) :)

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