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Comment It actually is a big deal (Score 4, Interesting) 58

The two-factor authentication is supposed to protect against a man-in-the-middle attack. The problem is that the verification response from the second factor goes back through the same already-compromised channel.

Imagine you're a sophisticated vilain in some backwater part of the world. You notice there's an AP reporter there doing some long-term investigative journalism, and said reporter likes to file his reports from a particular internet cafe.

You hack the cafe's wifi and somehow convince the reporter that his Twitter account has already been hacked -- say, by showing him a tweet in his name of something outrageous. The reporter, panicked, resets his account -- but does so through your fake Twitter authentication. You now capture both his password and the second factor sent through his text message; you now own his Twitter account.

And you now go ahead and actually send out some outrageous tweet as this particular reporter. Perhaps you pull off your attack while some very important person is visiting, and you report said person's assassination. You know this will crash the markets, and so you short all the proper stocks and make a killing...on the market.

Is it wise for people to have the trust they do in Twitter? Hell no. Do they have such trust anyway? Yes.

Which is why this is a big deal.

Cheers,

b&

Comment !Gimp (Score 0) 403

Before anybody here recommends the Gimp as an alternative...yes, it's a well-done project, and yes, it admirably suits many people's needs.

But suggesting that the Gimp is a suitable alternative to Photoshop for a creative professional makes you sound as insanely stupid as that accountant who wonders why the company spends all that money on a huge financials package with a massive SQL backend when he could whip up something that works just as well in Excel with a few macros in an afternoon.

There is a serious lack of alternatives in this space; the monopoly Adobe enjoys is akin to AT&T before the breakup. Adobe clearly knows this, and this cloud bullshit is obviously an attempt to (continue to) cash in on said monopoly.

Most people I know are planning on camping out indefinitely on CS6 and hope something shakes free sooner rather than later. Long-shot dreams, such as Google buying Corel and turning PaintShop Pro into a Photoshop competitor, are being desperately wished for.

It's not pretty.

Cheers,

b&

Comment Re:Not too bright (Score 2) 414

Colony ships need at least as much energy, if not more. You've got an entire postmodern industrial complex to keep running, after all -- plus, you've also got the added energy overhead from recycling literally everything.

And sleeper ships are a no-go. At those timescales, any and all gasses will leak out of any container, no matter how thick and sturdy, as surely as it does from a rubber balloon...plus all your plastics and rubber will turn brittle, your silicon chips will be completely fried from cosmic radiation, and on and on and on. You'll need a continuous maintenance operation, which turns it back into a colony ship.

And, besides. If you're happy living between the stars for several times longer than recorded human history, why should you care at all about any particular star except as a place to recharge the batteries? A planet would be useless to you -- especially one with an entirely alien biosphere, where everything will either try to eat you or trigger allergic reactions.

Cheers,

b&

Comment Re:Not too bright (Score 3, Insightful) 414

Even if there's a literal Heavenly Paradise a mere 1000 light years away, that's as unfriendly to humans as the surface of Venus.

How, pray tell, is one supposed to make the six quadrillion mile journey to get there?

With the amount of energy you'd need to send just a single schoolbus-sized Space Shuttle that distance fast enough that the astronauts wouldn't be collecting Social Security several hundred millennia before they got there (which actually is physically possible thanks to relativistic time dilation), you could power the most ludicrous imaginable planet-wide environmental cleanup program here on Earth. Hell, with that much energy, you could probably terraform Mars as a side job, turn it into a luscious garden. And that's just a single ship....

Suggesting we colonize the Solar System to protect the species, as Professor Hawking has done, is simply idiotic. But the stars? They're beyond idiocy.

Cheers,

b&

Comment Not too bright (Score -1, Flamebait) 414

Okay, I know it's Stephen Freakin' Hawking and all. But still. This isn't rocket surgery, and he really should know better.

But there is nowhere else in the entire universe that's anywhere near as friendly to humans as Earth.

Not only that, even if we fought a global thermonuclear / biological / chemical war that ignited all the coal, oil, and other carbon deposits, the Earth would still be the friendliest place in the universe.

It would be far easier to clean up such a fucked-up Earth than it would be to even establish a beachhead anywhere else.

There are lots of reasons to explore space, but survival of the species isn't one of them. If we can't survive here, we can't survive anywhere else, either.

Sure, it's quite romantic to imagine a rotating asteroid colony where we raise our crops and our babies while we go use clean nukes to mine the other nearby asteroids...but not only is that so far removed from reality it's not even funny, it doesn't even pass the sniff test. Even if the Earth's atmosphere were rendered unbreathable, it'd still be far easier to build a dome on Earth that just has to server as a barrier and not as a high-pressure containment vessel, plus you could replenish your inside air by refining the contaminated air that surrounds you. Oh -- and temperatures will still be pretty close to what you want, you've got the right amount of insolation, there's all sorts of raw materials right here at the surface for the taking, and on and on and on and on and on.

I hate to be so blunt...but what a maroon.

Cheers,

b&

Comment Bad summary (Score 5, Informative) 79

First, 1/200s is a very common shutter speed, yes, but most cameras can shoot at at least 1/2000s and most high-end cameras can shoot at 1/8000s...assuming, of course, you have enough light.

Most high-speed stills photography is actually done with a slow shutter speed; perhaps even a shutter left open for a couple seconds. Motion is stopped by the short duration of the flash burst. And with, for example, a Canon 580 EX II flash, you can get a 1/35,000s flash duration. Granted, this will be at minimum power...but they're operating at macro distances, where you can put the flash head almost on top of your subject and still overpower the subject with light.

Don't get me worng; this team is doing some nifty stuff. But it's also something that most professional photographers could easily replicate with the equipment they already have -- and that anybody who specializes in macro photography will probably already plan on playing around with next winter after reading this article.

What the team is doing that's interesting isn't the photography. It's the 3D reconstruction and subsequent analysis and modeling. Making it seem that it's about the photography, which is the easy and inconsequential part, really detracts from the good stuff.

Cheers,

b&

Comment A wider color spectrum... (Score 5, Interesting) 456

...actually covers many of the other options.

If your wider spectrum extends into gamma frequencies, there's your radiation detector.

If it extends into infrared, you'll be able to see the heat given off by live wires, which is "good enough" generally for your electrical field detection -- assuming you're wanting to know which wire to (not) cut.

Infrared would also let you see involuntary changes in blood flow patterns, which again should be "good enough" for your lie detector.

If you extend the definition of "color spectrum" just enough to also include the ability to detect the polarization of light, then you can very easily determine the location of the Sun at all times during daylight (and dusk) hours, even when it's cloudy. That's again generally "good enough" for a compass.

Doesn't do a whole lot for sound, though, I'll admit....

Cheers,

b&

Comment Re:It depends... (Score 1) 626

Yes, of course it will. As supply drops, prices rise. It's not cost-effective to make gasoline from tar sands at $100 / barrel, but it would be very cost-effective at $1,000 / barrel (and substantially less).

The thing is, that applies to more than just petroleum reserves.

At some point, it becomes cost-effective to create syngas as a feedstock for petroleum distilleries, and to create that syngas with atmospheric CO2 for the carbon source using solar photovoltaics as the energy source. And, yes, oil would have to be very expensive for that to be cost-effective.

Before it's cost-effective to use atmospheric CO2 for the carbon source, it'll be cost-effective to use CO2 captured from coal plant exhaust. We'd still burn the coal for electricity generation, but the carbon would serve double duty and get burned twice before being dumped in the atmosphere. Still very expensive, yes, and still needs lots of photovoltaic electricity as input, but it's not quite as expensive as pulling the CO2 directly from the atmosphere.

Thing is...the price at which these sorts of non-petrochemical alternatives become cost-effective is less than the price at which many petrochemical alternatives become cost-effective to exploit.

So I personally doubt we'll ever touch the Canadian tar sands. They're too expensive, and we have cheaper alternatives that are inexhaustible.

That's not to say that the alternatives are affordable, just that they're less expensive than the tar sands.

Whether or not we can afford any of the alternatives remains to be seen. Of course, the other alternative is a retreat from civilization, so let's hope that we actually do figure out a way to pay for all of this....

Cheers,

b&

Comment It depends... (Score 5, Insightful) 626

...on how you look at the problem.

Cover every roof in the United States with photovoltaics at today's efficiency levels and you'll generate roughly as much energy as the entire civilization consumes. And lots of places in the world have roofs other than just the United States....

But, though there's no problem with resource availability, there are two huge practical concerns. First, such a project would be massively expensive. Second, it generates electricity, which is not readily useable for transportation with today's infrastructure.

Neither of those problems are insurmountable. Though solar photovoltaics aren't cheap, they're not as expensive as many petrochemical alternatives being seriously considered, such as tar sands. That is, we might not be able to afford widespread PV adoption, true...but, if we can't afford it, we won't be able to afford anything else when the existing wells run dry.

(As a side note, we're already scraping the bottom of the oil barrel. Remember Deepwater Horizon? Imagine you're standing on the shore of the Colorado River in the middle of the Grand Canyon. A mile above you is the rim; that's how far below the ocean surface the wellhead was. Several miles above the rim is an airliner flying past. That's how far through solid rock the well was bored before it reached the oil deposits. That's how desperate we already are today for oil...loooooong gone are the days when you had to be careful in Texas with a pickaxe lest you start a gusher. Yes, we've got lots of oil left -- about half as much as the planet's total original reserves, in fact. But -- duh! -- we went for the easy-to-get-to, high-quality half first, and what's left increasingly fits the definition of, "dregs.")

The problem with transportation fuels is more pressing. At the very least, with enough input energy, you can extract CO2 from the atmosphere and turn it into fuel (via the Fischer-Tropsch process, for example) that you can put back into a tank to burn it again, so we have alternatives. The catch, of course, is that it takes a lot of excess energy to do so, and so won't be cheap.

TL/DR: Yes, we can run our society on solar power. No, it won't be cheap. No, we won't have any better alternatives. Yes, that means we're facing some tough times in the not-too-distant future.

Cheers,

b&

P.S. Even worse than the looming transportation fuel shortage is the looming petroleum-based fertilizer shortage. That double whammy is going to result in lots of people starving to death. b&

Comment Re:...in the US. (Score 1) 154

Then how is it that the top-left corner of my iPhone 4s says, “T-Mobile”?

I've had it for over a year. Bought an unlocked phone at an Apple store, stopped at the local T-Mobile store on my way home, oohed and aahed about it with the cute girl while she rummaged in the drawer for a micro-SIM, and made my first call on it in the parking lot before finishing the drive home.

It's with a fantastic pre-paid plan, too. I pay $2 / day on any day that I make even one phone call or transmit even one byte of network data, but everything is completely unlimited for the rest of that day. I telecommute, so I rarely use it for calls and even more rarely for data (thank to ubiquitous WiFi), which means I'm spending about as much over the course of a year as most people do in a single month. And I own the phone outright, with no lease or contract or any other restriction.

All on T-Mobile.

Cheers,

b&

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