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Comment If they ask for a password (Score 3, Interesting) 304

It would probably be trivial to write a lockscreen program with a pair of passwords: One that you use personally to unlock it and another that silently wipes text messages / e-mail / saved data for selected applications (e.g. saved login for facebook, IM) for cases where you are compelled to provide a password.

But I would expect that as warrantless cell phone searches gain popularity software will be available to just about anybody to bypass any security at the application level.


WikiLeaks Took Advice From Media Outlets 385

formfeed writes "According to the AP (through Google News), WikiLeaks isn't just sitting on the recent material so they can release it bit by bit to the press, as many people implied. On the contrary, it's quite the other way around: 'only after considering advice from five news organizations with which it chose to share all of the material' are they releasing it themselves. These newspapers 'have been advising WikiLeaks on which documents to release publicly and what redactions to make to those documents.' AP questions whether WikiLeaks will follow these redactions, but nevertheless seems quite impressed by this 'extraordinary collaboration between some of the world's most respected media outlets and the WikiLeaks organization.'" I wonder if some of the anti-WikiLeaks fervor evident among US lawmakers will also be brought to bear against the AP and other mainstream media sources. Update: 12/05 17:42 GMT by T : Yes, that's WikiLeaks, rather than (as originally rendered) WikiPedia. HT to reader Mike Hearn.

X-37B Robotic Space Plane Returns To Earth 55

Kozar_The_Malignant writes "The secretive X-37B robotic space plane has returned to Earth after a seven-month mission. This was the vehicle's first flight. Looking like a cross between a Predator Drone and the Space Shuttle, it landed at Vandenberg AFB in California, which was to have been the military's shuttle launch facility. Speculation is that the X-37B is an orbital spy platform."

Google Engineer Sponsors New Kinect Bounties 96

ashidosan writes "Hot on the heels of the Adafruit competition, Matt Cutts (a search spam engineer at Google) is sponsoring two more $1,000 bounties for projects using Kinect. 'The first $1,000 prize goes to the person or team that writes the coolest open-source app, demo, or program using the Kinect. The second prize goes to the person or team that does the most to make it easy to write programs that use the Kinect on Linux.'" Relatedly, reader imamac points out a video showing Kinect operating on OS X.

Comment You can do a lot more for that money (Score 1) 337

I've only ever used the kickass $15k digital oscilloscopes that my school had, so I can't comment on low end ones, but it sounds like other posters are less than impressed.

But you're thinking too small here. You're not going to do much with just an oscilloscope. You're soon probably going to want a multi-output adjustable power supply -- makes life a lot easier when you're playing around with a chip and the couple of analog circuits that it needs to interface with the outside world. If you're going to be playing with analong circuits that need an oscilloscope, that'll soon morph into the need for a function generator. And wouldn't life be a lot easier with a logic analyzer for observing the inputs/outputs of those digital components? Maybe a frequency counter can save time taking measurements or can count some event for you. Eventually it just morphs into a home lab.

I would (and did while I was in school, in fact) go to e-bay and try to build a home lab with that $2000. New test equipment is ridiculously expensive, but you can get older pieces that still work just fine for much less -- the above items + an analog oscilloscope can be easily had for $2k.

A brand new $400 analog scope from Fry's is shit compared to my probably '80s vintage Tektronix scope that I bought from somebody for $90. Got a triple output adjustable power supply for $30 (needed a bit of repair work, but manuals for old stuff frequently come with schematics), 90s vintage logic analyzer for $150, frequency counter for $90, function generator for $100. It sounds like you're less budget constrained than I was at the time, so you could probably do a lot better here.

Comment Re:Starting my wife on Linux this weekend (Score 1) 766

Oh, my point: This transition was much easier because she was using very little windows-specific software. If you can eliminate the dependencies on IE/Outlook/Word (and other Windows-specific software), then I think just about anyone can use Linux effectively. If they're trying to go from all-Microsoft to all Linux, it'll probably be tough regardless of which distribution you use.

Comment Starting my wife on Linux this weekend (Score 1) 766

Forced with an OS reinstall after my wife's computer died (Windows XP doesn't like the motherboard being swapped out from under it), I started her with Ubuntu this weekend.

With XP she was already using Firefox and OO.org and she's been using Gimp for awhile, so that wasn't a hurdle. She migrated to Gmail/Google Calendar a long time ago, so there was no need to learn how to use an Outlook replacement. It didn't seem to take her much time at all to pick up the file manager, and the "Places" menu allows her to jump around quickly without necessarily knowing how a Unix filesystem is structured. She seemed appreciative of the games included in Gnome (Mahjonng, Minesweeper, Solitare) , Hearts was easy to install, and we had one small Windows game that worked just fine in Wine. Using SD cards from her camera is actually easier due to the fact that it shows up under Places with a recognisable name and has an easier to access unmount function. She was using an older version of AIM for IM, but seems comfortable with Pidgin.

At some point I'm going to have to tackle a VirtualBox install so we can use iTunes to sync her iPod touch (Fuck you very much for locking the music database, Apple). I already have an XP image available on my system that I should be able to easily copy over.

Overall, it seems to be going pretty well. Except for a problem caused by the maliciousness of one device manufacturer (fuck you again, Apple), all hardware worked painlessly (I was surprised to find that even her printer was automatically installed).

Comment ehh (Score 1) 232

I'm disappointed and refuse to buy Nintendo products from now on, but this pretty much resolves to a nop. Nintendo hasn't made a product I care about since I was in high school and there isn't really any sign of that changing.

Comment Getting sick of this shit (Score 3, Interesting) 461

I just don't give a damn about the DLC. I played Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 all the way through without even noticing the little DLC registration cards in the box (typically those are just advertisements) until someone mentioned them. Both games were good and complete. The presence of free-if-you-buy-it-from-us DLC isn't going to motivate me to ignore a used game if it is available. What pisses me off is in-game advertisements for DLC. Every time you go back to camp in DAO some asshole is standing in the back with a bright yellow exclamation mark saying "Buy the DLC for my quest!". No, asshole, if you don't represent a playable part of my game, get the fuck out. I'm afraid we'll see a lot more of this sort of thing in the future, as our (more profitable than ever) game companies continue to morph into greedy bastards like the rest of the entertainment industry.

Comment Not a very good experiment (Score 1) 126

This is a pretty crappy experiment. I've done this before, but covered the bottom of my microwave with water soaked sheets of paper (which allows a constant height and full coverege) instead of chocolate. You do get a number of hot spots (where the paper completely dries), but they appear to be randomly spaced. The only way this experiment "works" is when you identify two spots that happen to be somewhat close to 12.5 cm apart (the value you're expecting -- 3e8/2.4e9) and ignore all of the other possible spacings. Microwave propagation in a microwave oven isn't nearly as simplistic as this experiment would require.

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