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Comment Dangerous practice (Score 4, Interesting) 733

One other fact nobody has mentioned is that by flying this over people, PETA is also violating several provisions of the code of conduct established b the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) intended to help keep the public safe. Model helicopters in the $4K range are no-joke dangerous if they hit someone. This sort of activity (especially using a helicopter to harass people) puts at risk the rights of geeks everywhere to build and fly model aircraft, by encouraging legislators and bureaucrats to pass new laws and regulations.

AMA code

If any of the PETA people doing this are AMA members, I hope they have their memberships revoked...
Encryption

Submission + - Brute force resistant storage?

C3ntaur writes: "Hey Cipherheads and Cryptogeeks,

I have decided to get serious about off site backups. Naturally, I don't want my data to be readable by prying eyes, so I'm encrypting it. I've done some research, and it's obvious that passwords suck. If my encrypted data is not physically in my possession — it could be in the cloud, at a friend's house, in a safe deposit box, or whatever — then all an attacker needs is enough time to crack it. Worse, the time during which an attack might be detected is only however long it takes to make a copy. After obtaining that copy they can spend all the time they need to crack it.

According to Wikipedia, "As of 2011, commercial products are available that claim the ability to test up to 2,800,000,000 passwords per second...Such a device can crack a 10 letter single-case password in one day." Passwords really suck.

OK, so I need to use a much stronger key to protect the encrypted data. This is not difficult, a few hundred randomly-generated characters is more than enough. But it's also more than I can commit to memory so I have to store THAT somewhere safe, too. Did I mention the application is an off site backup? The idea being, of course, that if the primary copy of my data is destroyed I have something I can recover from. So I need to store the key somewhere that's not likely to be involved in any event that takes out my primary data. Something that fits in my wallet, perhaps, so it's in my physical control. But wallets can be stolen, and if Evil Attacker is reading this he'll know just where to look for my key file.

So I believe (and apparently so do many others in the industry) that a good solution has two factors: something I have (the key file) combined with something I know (a... password). If I store my key file on something that's password protected then I have two-factor protection.

But passwords suck. What I really need is a key file storage device that can resist a brute force attack. I've heard of smart cards and USB devices that use built-in hardware encryption and will wipe their keys after some number of failed attempts. I imagine even they can be defeated in a sufficiently-equipped lab, but really, I'm not that important or interesting.

Are these devices all they're hyped up to be? What other solutions should I consider?"
AI

Submission + - Getting Small UAVs to Imitate Human Pilots Flying through Dense Forests (robotwhisperer.org)

diabolicalrobot writes: "The Robotics Institute at CMU has been developing systems to learn from humans. Using a Machine Learning class of techniques called Imitation Learning our group has developed AI software for a small commercially available off-the-shelf ARdrone to autonomously fly through the dense trees for over 3.4 km in experimental runs. We are also developing methods to do longer range planning with such purely vision-guided UAVs. Such technology has a lot of potential impact for surveillance, search and rescue and allowing UAVs to safely share airspace with manned airspace."

Comment Re:Tyson is definitely not my favourite astronomer (Score 1) 102

He used to be a good scientist. He's become too enthralled with himself since the Pluto debacle. Now he seems more into being a celebrity, and envisions himself as the next Carl Sagan... even planning to film a new Cosmos series. And a purple Cadillac? And a role in a Superman comic book? Please.

And there's got to be some joke in there about deciding Krypton isn't a planet. After all, one of the more valid criticisms of the definition his camp came up with for defining a planet was that it wasn't particularly suited to classifying exoplanets (planets not in our solar system).

Comment A three hour tour (Score 1) 70

Leaving it for a while as a lifeboat might be an idea for the future, but it might not be a bad idea either to go ahead and let it return its first time out, as a test.

Plus, it's not like it's returning empty. I gather they're using it to ship some stuff back, and I expect they'd rather go ahead and get it landed.

Comment Re:First-to-file isn't a problem (Score 1) 183

Thanks, this is actually pretty informative. I had actually been thinking over the implications of a first to file system in the sense of truly first to file, without prior art being considered... and taking out a patent on "a process of generating heat by igniting combustible materials" (read: inventing fire) was starting to sound appealling.

I was in the process of thinking up arguments for defending the invention on grounds that wasn't obvious (whole generations of early man probably lived without it) and that nobody had yet filed a claim on it, when I read your post.

Comment 1980s equivalent (Score 1) 632

Mine was good for a high school AP comp sci class in the 80s. We had a lab of IBM PC/2s, linked by Ethernet, but no Internet.

Subject matter was taught in Pascal: searching and sorting algorithms (everything from bubble to various trees to radix), data structures (arrays but then progressing to linked lists, trees, balanced trees... probably hit peak at sparse matrices.) All in all, a really good program, mainly because we had a good teacher who knew his stuff. It set me up pretty well for a CS degree in college.

Comment Computing is in everything (Score 3, Insightful) 337

One argument is that since there's now a computer in everything, a modern intro to computers class should probably be diversified to cover a lot more than using a PC. It could almost be an "intro to modern life" class. Some topics for the syllabus might be:

Setting up a home network, including a FIOS/DSL router or a cable modem and a Tivo/DVR with a a cable card. Options for mobile computing/e-mail. Password strategies. Controlling what you share on social networks. Transferring files around between PC/smart phone/tablet/digital camera/etc. Keeping an offsite backup of important data. etc. etc.

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