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Comment Once again: Really? (Score 2, Informative) 396

Apparently Mr. Moalin once missed a telephone call from "Aden Hashi Ayrow, the senior al Shabaab leader," which makes it likely that a little more was going on than merely the donation of "a small sum of money.


Was it really A.H.A. who called?

Was he really calling the defendant? Or did he misdial the number?

And I could go on for pages.

What the government is claiming is that the defendant has NO RIGHT TO ASK for the information necessary to CHECK whether that is what happened, NO RIGHT TO CHECK whether the information was collected legally, and NO RIGHT TO GET IT THROWN OUT if it wasn't.

Says the government: We get to use this against you and you can't challenge it.

Seems to me that anyone being prosecuted with such information NECESSARILY has standing to challenge it. Nobody else could POSSIBLY have more standing.

To claim that the defendant doesn't have standing is to claim that NOBODY has standing. It's to claim that the government can make up ANYTHING IT WANTS, enter it into evidence, and NOBODY can check it.

The government needs to put up or shut up.

= = = =

There used to be a solid division between the intelligence services and law enforcement. That let the intelligence services collect information for fighting wars under looser rules which, though they might not be constitutional, at least didn't vaporize the constitutional rights of defendants in criminal trials.

Then the congress passed laws for, first the "drug war", then the "war on terror", that tore down this boundary. So now we have the end game, where the NSA and the federal prosecutors light their cigars with burning copies of the Fourth Amendment.

Comment Re:Where would you store it? (Score 1) 204

I'm more concerned with:
  - Our successors not realizing the media contain prtentially valuable recorded information early on, resulting in the media all being destroyed long before the successors' technology is up to decoding them.
  - The burying of the information of interest to them in enormous masses of uninteresting or unintelligible chaff, resulting in the data of interest never being recovered and used. (Imaging one copy of Wikipedia buried in 500 years of LOLCATS.)

Comment "Can be used for" "Built for" (Score 1) 75

Microsoft Exec Says Xbox One Kinect Is Not Built For Advertising

Three letters. NSA.

Hear hear!

"Can be used for" is a MUCH larger set than "Was built for".

But TFA gets sillier:

'..nobody is working on that,' he said. 'We have a lot more interesting and pressing things to dedicate time towards.'

NOBODY at Microsoft has time to work on building a platform that would suck in hundreds of millions, when they already have the underlying technology working?

if Microsoft were to engage in something along those lines, users would definitely have control over it,

Like they have control over ANYTHING ELSE Microsoft builds? Now "This guy might just be naive." has been shouldered out by "He's lying through his teeth.", "Does he REALLY think we'll believe THAT - or anything ELSE he says now that he's said that?" and ROFL.

Comment Not toxic. (Score 1) 388

... and also ignore all the toxic chemicals used to make the batteries

The Tesla uses a Lithium Ion battery for its energy storage (one of the variants that's almost impossible to get to burn - to the point that I hope the investigators look really close at the "burning Tesla"'s remains, to see if somebody dumped gasoline on it).

There are a number of variants on LiIon chemistry, but (unlike most other battery technologies) ALL of them use only materials that are considered non-toxic enough that the batteries can just be dumped in landfills without post-processing.

The most toxic material I've heard of in ANY LiIon variant is aluminum.

An entire Tesla automobile is not even in the same league, pollution-wise, as a power-tool NiCad pack, the starter battery in a gasoline automobile, or even the traces of lead from its posts on the battery clamps if the starter battery is properly pulled and recycled.

Comment They say they'll shut it down but they NEVER DO! (Score 3, Insightful) 1532

Quoting a post on the Daily Paul:

When they have a "government shutdown" they DON'T shut it down!

They don't fire the bureaucrats. They might send some home and hold back some of their pay - but they make it up afterward. They have some of them come in and give back pay to the others later, after they "restart". They still arrest people. They still run courts. They still bust people for breaking their laws and regulations when the "crime" occurs during the so-called "shutdown". They still tax us on any work we do during the "shutdown", any money we make, and the money they CLAIM we made when the currency inflates between the time we buy and then sell something. And on, and on, and on.

No matter how much we WISH they'd actually SHUT IT DOWN AND GO AWAY, leaving us to take care of our own problems and run our own lives, they never do.

Promise them anything but give them tyranny. It's right in character. It's just like the way they break ALL their promises, whether it's campaign, effects of new laws, government programs, ...

Comment Re:Test Team (Score 1) 166

Yes there was significant energy outside the plane. (But anything near an airport that systematically fouled the planes' avionics would have been detected, hunted down, and suppressed.)

On the other hand, inverse-square makes for a LOT of signal right next to the phone. So does being inside a conductive can (along with the avionics), where the energy just accumulates in a handy resonance until it is pumped up enough that the absorption and leakage equals the input. (See the recent article on how hard it is to actually build an effective Faraday cage, due to the latter phenomenon.)

Comment Re:Private Aircraft? It's Their Rules. (Score 1) 166

So here's the thing: It's their plane.

When you buy the ticket and board the plane, you agree to play by their rules. They have the property rights and have sold you limited rights to your seats with stipulations.

If that were true, they'd be able to chose to let you use your equipment on takeoff and landing. Some of them would likely do so, to attract more customers in the highly competitive market, or to make it easier on their flight staff (and maybe get away with less flight staff).

But that's NOT the case. This is a federal regulation. The government tells them to do this. It's not a matter of contract between them and you, it's a matter of the government running the show as a dominating third party.

Comment Re:Facebook Status: going to emergency depart plan (Score 1) 166

What about having people ready to MOVE during an emergency? Isn't that why bags, tables, and everything is put away during takeoff and landing?

I thought it was about avoiding/reducing injuries from flying luggage or hitting the seat or table in front of you with your head or adam's apple if the plane bumped into something, ran off the runway into the dirt beside it, or otherwise decelerated or experienced strong G-forces during some mishap.

Same reason they ask you to go back to your seat and belt in if the run into turbulence midflight - though the latter (almost always) has less extreme forces.

Comment Re:Test Team (Score 5, Insightful) 166

The ban on electronics, with the claim that it interferes with the plane's electronics, has always been bullshit.

The old analog phones put a strong, continuous, signal in a narrow band. This was both an interference problem for communications and navigation equipment (due to effects like front-end quieting and intermodulation, even though the plane's gear wasn't operating on the same frequency) and a signal corruption problem for any electronic device with a metallic structure in its wiring that picked up enough signal to drive the electronics out of proper operating conditions.

Digital cellphone signals, whether CDMA or OFDM based (as well as the OFDM based WiFi) are spread-spectrum. The energy is spread out over a broad band and looks like background radio noise to equipment that isn't designed to collect and concentrate it. This is much less of a problem. Any electronics that would be interfered with it (if the phone wasn't within inches of it) would also be interfered with by so much other stuff that it wouldn't be suitable for aircraft at all.

Now that the Analog cellphone network is shut down (and most analog-capable cellphones are retired), and most modern portable computer gear is also designed with spread-spectrum clocks internally (to avoid generating narrowband radio interference due to all those gates switching simultaneously and periodically), these devices are much less of a source of problematic radio interference.

Meanwhile, the avionics has gone through a couple more generations of engineering, with avoiding dangerous failures from passenger electronics interference as a design criterion.

So now is a much safer time to let the passengers play with their toys than even a few years ago.

If that were true the ban would be for the entire duration of the flight, and it would be pretty scarey if flight electronics were so delicate that anyone with a cell phone turned on could screw it up.

"You can do anything you want [when flying] a plane, as long as you don't do it near the ground." This is doubly true for operating a not-designed-for-air-flight radio transmitter in the plane:

  - When flying "up there" you have a lot of room to manouver and a lot of time to correct errors or switch modes if something goes wrong with a system. When taking off or landing you have only seconds to react, and have to be accurate with a couple inches vertically, feet right-left, and tens of yards fore-aft to land ON, rather than under, beside, or off-the-end-of the runway (and avoid all the other planes, buildings, trees, antennas, etc.)

  - When taking off and landing you're using a LOT of additional electrical, and radio, systems.

Comment Easier way to test it. (Score 2) 213

Of course, Gorhamâ(TM)s ideas will need to be tested by actually measuring the charge on gossamer spider silk as it is generated.

Rather than trying to test it directly, just modulate the field in a room containing such a spider.

If the spider and its silk has a net charge you should be able to steer it around the room, land it where you want it, and measure the charge by the spider's response to the ambient field you're modulating. The attitude of the spider/silk system in the modified field will also give you the distribution of charge vs. weight on the spider and its silk.

If the spider and its silk doesn't have a net charge it will just hang there and blow around in the air currents.

(Of course the fanning out of the silk already proves the silk itself has a substantial charge.)

Comment Tents and shade structures. (Score 1) 228

Back when I was tent camping, my wife and I had (serially) more than one commercially-made, high-quality, camping tent. These were strong synthetic cloth structures that hung from a framework.

One was a little dome tent with bent fiberglass poles, a couple others were big stand-up tents that hung from aluminum poles that formed hockey-stick shapes that joined at the center.

All of them had (or had available) a shade cover. This was a shaped cloth structure that went OVER the supports and had bungi-cord fasteners at each pole to hold them in place. The curved or pyramidal shape of the tent roof, along with the couple inches of clearance between the cover and the tent proper, caused any slight breeze to clear the hot air under the cover. (Some of them also had a small hole at the center so they'd change air by convection even in a dead calm.)

Result: Tent WITH shade structure as a single, strong, unit, suitable for quick setup and stable shape even when subjected to strong winds.

Caveat: I'm NOT a Burning Man attendee. So I don't know if there's some reason this won't work or would be unacceptable.

Comment Re:Uh...wasn't Burning Man last month? (Score 1) 228

Because Burning Man is a recurring annual event, and many on here, such as myself, have not been, but want to go, and so found some of the advice useful.

It also takes a while to prepare for it.

Just AFTER an instance is the best time to pick the brains of the attendees, while memories are still fresh, for helpful information on what to build.

Starting now also gives you nearly a year to get your stuff ready for the next one - at a leisurely pace, with time for debugging and remakes, before you have to stress-test it in a desert for a week - while your life depends on it working adequately. B-)

Comment Re:old news (Score 1) 110

GI in Japan after surrender of Japan in WWII, picked up gut bacteria and whenever he ate carbs he got drunk.

That may be the one my parents told me about, back in the '60s or so (but as a war story which probably puts it in WWII.

In the one I heard about the GI was thrown in the brig and put on bread and water - which of course made him even more intoxicated. Then they mounted an investigation to see how he was getting the booze smuggled in. That finally showed it was a medical problem.

Turns out he had diverticulosis - one or more failures in the intestinall muscle wall where the gut membrane bubbles out into a little appendix-like pocket and is prone to infections - and one of these became home to a culture of brewer's yeast.

Comment Old and kludgy makes it harder to port. (Score 2) 157

Not only does it cost a LOT to port this stuff and risk errors in doing so, but the cruftier it is the harder (and more expensive and error-prone) it is to port it.

If, instead, you can get the new machines to run the old code, why port it? Decades of Moore's Law made the performance improve by orders of magnitude, and the behavior is otherwise unchanged.

If you have an application where most of the work is done in a library that is largely parallelizable, and with a few tiny tweaks you can plug in a modern multiprocessor-capable library and run it on a cluster, you get another factor of almost as-many-processors-as-I-decide-to-throw-at-it, with small effort and negligible chance of breaking the legacy code.

What a deal!

And it's one less reason to touch the tarbaby of the rest of the working legacy code.

Let the COMPUTER do the work. People are for setting it up - with as little effort as practical - and moving on to something else that is important and can't yet be automated.

Eventually somebody will teach the computers to convert the Fortran to a readable and easily understandable modern language - while both keeping the behavior identical and highlighting likely bugs and opportunities for refactoring. Until then, keeping such applications in the legacy language (unless there's a really good reason to pay to port them) is often the better approach - both for economy and reliability.

Comment Re:Summary seems to be somewhat misleading. (Score 1) 81

Not at all. The size (spacing) of the pixels relative to the wavelength limits the angle through which you can (first-order) diffract the beam,

A hologram of a scene where only a small region, very near the spot the reference beam is aimed at, i.e. one that leaves most of the light nearly parallel to the reference beam on reconstruction, is a very low-resolution, big-blobby thing.

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