Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment A Similar Thing Happened To Me (Score 4, Insightful) 180

A similar thing happened to me. I found a telephone book from 1990 and none of the phone numbers were accurate either.

Also, I rediscovered a stash of business cards I received from colleagues and business associates back in the 80s and not only were the phone numbers wrong, so were most of the mailing addresses (and NONE of the fax numbers worked!)

Why is this news? Contact information changes. Is it because "it's on a computer" that it is suddenly noteworthy?

(That said, I really miss the days of logging in anonymously to FTP sites to see if there was new stuff to download. There was always an aura of mystery and surprise that is missing from modern archives which very dutifully have change logs telling you what's been added and removed. And no nasty SysOp telling you that you've exceeded your download quota either.).

Comment Re:biting off the nose to spite one's face (Score 1) 218

Every document that you print can be tracked back to you, along with the exact time that you printed it.

Every document I print cannot be traced back to me since it is unlikely the government has a record of all the serial numbers of every printer and who bought which one. Arguably, with a good deal of investigation they might be able to find out that a printer with a specific serial number was shipped to a certain store near me, and - assuming I used a credit-card - that I bought a similar model printer from the same store but that's still not a direct connection (especially - as is likely - if more than one of that model printer had been sold in that store). Were I really worried about such things, I'd go to the next state (or even two or three states over) and buy a printer with cash to get my print-outs; good luck tracing a print-out back to me then.

The yellow-dots aren't there to identify people, they are there to identify forgeries (specifically, counterfeit monies). They basically say, "Hey, this wasn't printed on a proper press but instead slid out from a consumer-grade printer". The government was only able to identify Reality Leigh Winner because they happen to own the printer and thus can easily match up the serial number.

Comment Bypassing the need for warrants (Score 1) 189

Aside from all the other issues people have already mentioned with this bill, this seems like a great way for the government to do an end-run around those pesky warrant requirements. It's such a chore for law enforcement to go to a judge and have to offer a valid reason for breaking into somebody's property to collect evidence. With this bill, you simply let the victims gather the evidence, completely unbound by law, and have them turn over any findings - whether related to the hacking or not.

I'm sure this loophole wouldn't be used unscrupulously by any three-letter agencies, no sir.

Comment Re:This story and the Climate change story precedi (Score 1) 78

Well, if we want to be pedantic...

It's also wrong in that you don't "head straight for the sun". The Earth (and any probe launched from it) has an orbital speed of around 100,000kmh. If you launch from Earth and then head towards the sun - e.g., point the nose of the probe at the sun and thrust - you are going to miss our nearest star by a wide margin.

There are two options you can take: 1) you can decelerate 100,000kmh and then let the sun's gravity pull you inwards (then the "point nose at sun and thrust" works as expected) or you can accelerate, which will cause you to loop inward (the usual example of how this works is to take a yo-you and spin it around your body; the faster you spin it, the smaller the orbit). Counter-intuitively, this has the advantage of using less fuel too (instinct tells us slowing down would require less fuel, but that's because we've been spoiled by 4 billion years of evolution in an environment with ample gravity and friction). The probe will orbit the sun in ever-decreasing circles (technically, huge wobbly S-curves because both the probe and the sun are careening through galactic space)

But in neither case are you really heading TOWARD the Sun; the probe is moving on an indirect path to where the sun will be seven years from now.

All pedantic I know, but fun to think about. Orbital mechanics are weirdly fascinating. You go in to go out, up to go down, and speed up to slow down.

Comment Now we'll see... (Score 1) 384

Now we'll see if AFRINIC, the internet registry, is more than hot air.

"No IP addresses for governments that shut down internet access," they said. If you cut access or start censoring feeds from tools like Google, Twitter, and Facebook to deny their citizens access, the infringing government could find themselves refused new IP addresses. Well, this seems exactly what Britain seems to be thinking of doing. They say that the Internet views censorship as damage and routes around it; is it time to start routing around the UK?

Okay, technically, this was a measure that was to be considered in June. However, the proponents of the measure really should speak up about it now. The Manchester attacks were terrible but the Investigatory Powers Act is even scarier.

Comment Re:Software freedom: best defense against malware (Score 4, Interesting) 87

Except this doesn't sound like a backdoor in Windows. The article is short on details, but if it uses a "custom installer", this sounds more like a trojan. Once the software is installed, your machine is compromised but that's pretty much true for every consumer OS. As it is a customized trojan, its signature won't show up in anti-virus databases. Once it is installed, it can co-op the target system, ensuring it can't be easily detected or removed. Its a bit trickier to write this sort of spyware these days, but in no way impossible even for run-of-the-mill criminals, much less an organization with the resources and talent of the CIA

How they get the target to install the trojan is probably different in each instance, and possibly requires the assistance of software vendors (Microsoft, McAfee, whatever) or the target's ISP so that when the already-running and legitimate software is served the trojan when it checks for an update (alternately, they might just sneak an agent with a USB drive into the target's home and install the trojan when the target is out to lunch or something).

It's like really nasty spyware customized for a very specific user.

In fact, that the CIA is forced to use these sorts of tactics speaks against the idea of there being a universal backdoor in Windows (beyond, you know, the usual and sadly universal backdoor of insecure coding and bad security practices on the part of the user).

Comment Re:What a letdown... (Score 5, Insightful) 233

I really do not see that much of an issue with this.

The government got a warrant to search the electronic devices. These devices were seized at the time of arrest. Rather than require the owners to unlock the phones - potentially violating our protected right against self-incrimination - they are using third-party software to hack the devices. The government intends - admittedly, as legally required - to share all gathered information with the defense lawyers - and are pledging to delete any information not relevant to the case.

You can make the argument that some of the people arrested during the riots are innocent. That may be true, but irrelevant to the issue at hand: that the government is searching these devices. You might argue that the government may use the information gleaned from the devices in ways that are not covered by the warrant, and that is a legitimate worry but there is no evidence that is happening. But given that these people were arrested, we should expect the prosecutors to use all available legal means to build a case against the defendants. That they are searching the phones is as much a story if the police had gotten a warrant to seize the defendants diaries (which is to say, not much of a story) .

The fact is, there were apparently riots during the inauguration. I am no supporter of Trump but that's just shameful; there's nothing wrong with assembly and protest but some people went beyond that. People were arrested and honestly I would expect the government to try them for their actions. There is a lot I find worrisome about Trump's government, but this is not one of them; this is a case where everything seems to be done legitimately and by-the-book.

Comment Re:Where's my notification? (Score 1) 18

I'm getting emails that are warning me of "security issues" because I am accessing the account using Thunderbird, and not their ultra-secure website or mobile app. They don't offer any information to back up this assertion and it feels more an attempt to get me into using something where I will be forced to view their advertisements.

However, I was amused that their solution to this "problem" was to follow a bunch of links in the email, many of which led to a landing page which prompted me to type in my username and password. While I believe these emails were legitimate, it's /exactly/ the same sort of thing you would see in a phishing email, and contrary to what IT people have been trying to teach people for decades, mainly don't click on links in email!

Eh, whatever. The yahoo account is mainly a spamtrap for websites that are so dodgy I don't even want to associate them with the /hotmail/ account.

Comment Re: the real reason theyre arguing it. (Score 1) 310

Battery compartments are really difficult case design for mobile devices.

Bullshit. Ask me how I know.

Alright. How do you know?

I am going to asking not because I disbelieve you and more because I hope the answer is "I design battery compartments for mobile devices" and you'll give us some interesting insights into the process. Honestly, it is one of those areas of engineering I realize I have taken for granted and I'd like to learn more about some of the challenges there.

Comment Re:What this also proves (Score 4, Insightful) 118

"... to some speculation that the Earth may be losing its magnetic field -..."
Since the data ultimately suggests that fluctuations are completely normal, I submit that this also starts to explain why people are taking scientists less and less seriously.

Don't blame this on the researchers; blame this on the "science writers" (including the author of the summary here on Slashdot). The actual study - at least the abstract and the supplemental material, which was all I could read without a PNAS subscription - says no such thing and that particular wording is just a click-bait addition in order to garner more views. Science journalism - like so much journalism this day - has gone on a real decline over the past twenty years and tries to "spice up" every study rather than simply reporting the science. The end result is that scientists end up sounding inconsistent and hyperbolic ("Coffee Cures cancer!", no wait, "Coffee Causes Cancer"), when they usually are neither; it is the people reporting on their work that are to blame.

Also see for a more graphic comment on the same problem.

Comment Re:Ideal test case (Score 1) 146

Feed it minecraft screenshots and japanese porn, and see what the result is.

I was thinking Super Mario Brothers sprites myself. Those were 8x8 sprites, if I remember correctly.

As the article points out, this is less, "Zoom, Enhance" and more "Best Guess". Unfortunately, years of bad computer science on TV is just going to confuse people into believing this algorithm can do far more than it actually does. I wish Google would open it up so we could test it with our own images and show others how untrustworthy these programs really are.

More useful are the programs which enhance an image from a video based on data from surrounding frames. I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing fast-shooting CCDs coupled with similar "enhancement" algorithms built into cameras eventually; you take one picture, the CCD takes five or ten, and then in the background builds a higher-resolution image than the sensor itself would normally allow.

On the other hand, while Google's software isn't itself that useful, it does show how quickly computers are advancing in recognizing images, which is probably the whole point.

Comment Re:Good though difficult (Score 1) 74

Brick and mortar retail runs at a margin of between 60% to 80%

A new game can cost the store about $40-50, depending on the game's popularity, number of pre-sales, etc. That's about 10-15% of the $60 price. The stores used to demand a larger cut - about 20% - but their clout - and thus ability to demand lower prices from the publishers - decreased as digital marketplaces started offering them competition; the brick-n-motor storefronts had to compete by cutting their take so publishers would still deal with them.

For /used/ game sales, it might very well be 60-80%, but overall the stores only get a small chunk of the change with new games. It's why places like Gamestop rely so heavily on used-game sales (to the point that employees will lie about not having a new game in store in order to get you to buy the game used).

From what I remember, the division of the sale is about 10% spent on marketing, 10-15% to the retailer, 25% to the publisher, 30% to the developer, and 20% goes to the guys who built the console (I'm doing this from memory, it's been a while since I needed to worry about this sort of stuff).

Comment Re:Good though difficult (Score 1) 74

Still half price for the westerner, shady middle man gets 14$ total profit and steam gets a buck instead of 60.

Steam doesn't get $60 bucks in any event; they have to pass on the bulk of the collected monies to the publisher and developer of the game. Steam is just as much a middle-man as the guy reselling the serial numbers (and, as anyone who has ever had to deal with their customer service, are only slightly less shady ;-).

Steam reportedly gets a 30% cut from sales (so about $18 dollars of that $60 goes to Steam), compared to the ~10-15% cut most brick-n-mortar retailers take from the sale. Game prices in Russia are about 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of the game in the US. Assuming the cut remains the same, Steam gets about $6 dollars from the sale of a full-priced game in Russia. So I wouldn't cry too heartily for them.

Slashdot Top Deals

There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom. -- Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923