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Comment Been done. (Score 3, Informative) 55

This idea has come around many times. Howard Hughes, when he was recovering from an accident, had a bed custom-made for him with many foam pads on screw jacks. (This was the inspiration for the CGI version of such a bed in the Wolverine movie.) The Festo Wave surface is a nice implementation, especially because it's composed of a large number of identical units that latch together and make electrical and pneumatic connections.

Back in the 1970s, there was a 3D plotter which had an X-Y positioner and a big spool of stiff wire, which it would push through a sheet of wallboard to the desired height and cut off. Because all the machinery was under the table, it looked impressive, as 3D graphs made of many thin wires appeared above the table.

There's another way to move objects around on a surface. If you have a flat plate which can be vibrated in X, Y, and rotation, you can move objects around on it. If you vibrate something with a sawtooth wave, during the slow part of the ramp, you move objects by static friction. But during the steep return part of the ramp, you accelerate the plate fast enough to get out of the static friction region, so the object slips slightly.

But you can do more. By combining rotational and linear vibration, you can affect some objects more than others. For pure rotational vibration, objects near the center of rotation aren't affected. By appropriate combinations of rotational and translational vibration, multiple objects can be moved around independently. There was a demo of this as a robot chessboard about ten years ago. UPS was interested in it for box sorting, but it didn't work out with mixed real-world boxes.

Comment Ethanol fuel is a boondoggle (Score 2) 330

Fuel from corn, and the subsidy for it, was a giveaway to Archer Daniels Midland. The subsidy expired a few years ago, but the requirement that corn be converted to fuel ethanol drove the price of corn up.

Ethanol from corn is probably a net energy lose. Ethanol refineries don't burn their own product for their own process heat. (Oil refineries do.)

Ethanol for cellulose, if it ever works commercially, has real promise. There's so much excess cellulose in the world produced as farming waste, from corn cobs to straw to wood chips. The first big ethanol from cellulose plants are coming on line in 2014. But they need subsidies to survive.

Comment Re:Huh, that's surprising (Score -1, Troll) 156

There's a dark irony in so-called skeptics pushing their own conspiracy theories (mysterious gangs hate our way of life) to muffle out the obvious truth that it's (always) all about the money.

You're one of those so-called skeptics, buddy. You just vomited up a Level 5 Tin Foil Rant in this very thread with false flags, the matrix has you, and a limited-edition Agent 'NSA' Smith on display. Then you turn around and invalidate your own post by saying "it's (always) about the money."

As for being pessimistic, it's a normal feeling but not useful. Read my book (free, see below) for a background into how this state of affairs came to be, and how to fix things.

On sale now: "The Sky Is Falling", by Chicken Little. A stunning critique of the government, with intro by Sir Tinfoil Hatsalot.

Comment Re:Huh, that's surprising (Score -1, Troll) 156

as it is cracking down on the young smart kids wh...

Today's fail post brought to you by Derpy McStereotypes and the Dept. of Redundancy Department. The government isn't discriminating on the basis of age here. They're discriminating on the basis of ability. We do not have the director of the FBI coming out and going "Generation Y: We gotta Pokemon This Shit And Catch Them All!"

So it's fairly likely that the FBI/NSA and their legal or criminal subcontractors are heavily involved in any dramatic security-related event.

Great. Another guy who thinks the NSA is the personification of the character Agent Smith from The Matrix. They're everywhere! They're everyone! They're responsible for every bad thing that happens! Please.

The fact that government websites are targeted makes no difference. Simple little false flags that keep the pressure up on legislators.

Whenever I hear someone mumble "false flag" I think of one thing: Fox News viewer. Because invariably they're trying to roll their conspiracy theory around in the batter of a phrase that sounds better than "tin foil hat brigade" and then deep fry it in bullshit reasoning.

  The question here that's being begged is: Why would the government shoot themselves in the foot? Because it's fun? To keep the tin foil hat brigade on their toes? Because "pressure" on the "legislators" is a bullshit thing.. especially since you mention the "corporate para-state"... which in Tin Foil Speak(tm) is the corporate-military superstructure that already owns the legislators. So what's the point in convincing people of something you've already bought off? An actual false flag, like, from the military-- involves carrying out a tactical strike against an enemy (or occasionally neutral party) while pretending to be a different actor so as to prompt a retaliatory strike against them.

It's easy to mock all this but the threat to our digital lifestyle is real and serious.

Yes sir, the NSA is working tirelessly to take us away from our dull facebook posts and cat videos off Youtube.

We're a few years away from a fully regulated Internet where if you don't conform -- by running approved hardware, approved software, approved monitoring -- you simply won't get access, period.

Yes... the NSA is going to assassinate Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds, then go murdering and gin-suing their way through the entire open source community. We'll all be shipped off to concentration camps where we'll be forced to either recant on our heretical devotion to open standards and start carrying iphones and wearing turtlenecks, or it's into a pit of acid. Let's be clear: That's about the only way you're going to get this fairy-tale world you're aiming for.

Clipper chip, remember that?

I remember it died. Horribly. I guess you forgot.

And the only way to convince the mass of "who cares?" public are a series of dramatic, dangerous, unacceptable attacks on websites, infrastructure, transport, etc.

Okay, are you some kind of troll? Seriously. How is it that you can first claim the government is engaging in "false flag" operations to blow itself up, and then turning around and saying that the only way to get the public engaged is to blow up government websites? Nevermind the historical success rate of terrorism like this (it's a goose egg), please tell me how all this fits together.

Because as it sits right now, your logic here looks like a box of randomly assorted conspiracy theories strung together without an obvious conclusion, any supporting facts, and make about as much sense as believing all those animals Noah rescued fit on a boat, or that the world was created by a benevolent flying spaghetti monster and we're all derived from primitive manicotti. Actually... FSM probably has you beat.

Comment Anki is clever but simpler than it looks (Score 5, Informative) 19

The Anki system is clever, but it's not as complex as it looks. The black track mat has bar codes visible in IR, and a sensor on the bottom of the car is reading vehicle position. The track has "lanes" invisible to the user but visible to the car. Left to itself, each car will stay in its lane. The phone does the gameplay part, ordering lane and speed changes, and getting position reports from the cars.

It's a nice toy, but it's really a slot car for the 21st century.

Comment Re:They will break all the encryption (Score 1) 53

That was my intended point: very few entities actually have a quantum channel between point A and point B. Virtually everybody, even the ones with fiber links, has a link to some local telco or peering point and then is N hops away from their destination. At present (and barring substantial advances in all-photonic switching), that means that a 'compromised' quantum channel is the expected state, since there are multiple hops between you and your destination.

If you have the cash for old-school point-to-point hard lines between your facilities, quantum encryption offers a (relatively) cheap way of checking link integrity; but that helps relatively few people. If traceroute says you are more than one hop away from your destination, you probably aren't one of them (again, barring substantial advances in switching technology that allow preserving the quantum properties of photons).

To the best of my (layman's) knowledge, the stuff is ironclad within its area of ability (unlike classical crypto schemes, which tend to make people a bit nervous); but its area of ability is actually really small. It's more of a link-integrity verification system(and one that, since it depends on subtle physical properties, only works over physically continuous links, no VPN-type cases) than a drop-in for classical encryption.

Comment Re:How so very secure! (Score 2, Insightful) 202

However ISO 32000-1 is a standard.

Because a bunch of companies paid a fuckton to have it become a standard, yeah. Google up the history on that... a lot of money was handed out to get an ISO working group and get it stamped as a standard. It was bought and paid for by Adobe. So there's that.

There's also the fact that PDFs don't belong in a browser anyway. It's an outgrowth of PCL, a language for printing documents out of the 90s. It's not multimedia, and every attempt to make it web-friendly is a bandaid that opens large numbers of vulnerabilities up.

Don't put it in the browser. For the love of god don't put it in. Standard or no standard it's a shit technology.

Comment Re:By mobile broadband they mean.... (Score 0) 93

In other words you got called out on your BS and refuse to back it up. Gotcha. I think you're the kind of person who knows just enough to be dangerous. Case in point:

First, I provided a link to an article from a respected trade magazine that backs up every claim I've made. You have provided nothing. I have provided examples of your own logical fallacies. You have responded with ad hominid attacks and strawmans. I shouldn't be responding to this post at all. But I will because you're a sad husk of a geek and I'm bored.

Safety hazard"?!? How much power do you think microwave links need?

*facepalm* Tell you what, why don't you climb up on the tower, stick your head in front of one, and sit there for a few hours listening to the hum between your ears. Yes, the microwave energy will resonate inside what you call a brain enough to trigger electrical impulses that will give an audible effect. As you so eloquently put it "You might want to familiarize yourself with the inverse square law and the basic fundamentals of RF engineering." I expect your up close and personal experience will likely leave you blind within a year due to developing cataracts, but at least you can say you showed someone on slashdot they were wrong about the safety of them. Meanwhile, the rest of us have figured out that if sticking your head in a home microwave is dangerous... putting your head in front of a microwave emitter that has a lot thicker cabling running into it and a giant yellow sticker that says "DANGER: RADIATION HAZARD" might not be smart and you know, maybe those government guys were right to mount them high up in the sky where they can't Darwin the people near them.

BTW, that link you gave the other poster doesn't even mention the word "T1" in any context, never mind validating your absurd claim that they're feeding 4G base stations with T1s.

It's in the first paragraph. Please update your eyeglass prescription.

Comment Re:tough love (Score 0) 330

That software has to run on hardware and if you can't trust the hardware you are screwed anyway,

You can't trust any of their competitors either. Everyone's talking about the NSA because that's all the media talks about. But in the business, nobody's talking about the NSA, because nobody gives a damn. Cisco builds good product. Globally, the market they're in is expected to hit close to $9 trillion in 2020. Our GDP is presently sitting at about $15.6 trillion. The way the global economy is moving, if Cisco continued to show growth the way it was before Snowden, it would probably be the largest company in the country by then. Now... it's trending down. Big time.

Our economy depends on selling goods and services, like all other economies. Snowden is a giant monkey wrench in that; He's done more to harm America than pretty much anyone since the turn of the century save perhaps Osama Bin Laden, if we want to count out dollars on it. I hope they find him and make him suffer for a long time, slowly. He claims to be a patriot, but he's done most damage than our biggest enemies.

And most of it is bullshit: All Snowden has done is say that the NSA spies on people. Big fucking deal! Every other country does the same thing, they just didn't get pantsed by some punk kid who decided to trash the biggest economy on the planet for the lulz. Cisco isn't building bugs into their products because they don't have to. That's not how the intelligence community operates; They put their own bugs on the wire, because if it ever got out that Cisco hardware was bugged, it would cost America far more in economic damage than any intelligent asset that would be developed from the bugs could outside of a war-time environment. It's common sense: Don't put your bugs where they can be found! And cisco hardware is some of the most studied there is.

I trust them on their high-end equipment, and their corporate-level offerings. Their consumer offerings have been shit, but then, that's not really where their focus is, and the market is puny by comparison. Cisco just buys out other companies already in that market, tells them to put a Cisco sticker on it, just to say they have a presence. So that people recognize the Cisco brand. It's like Dell -- they still make consumer PCs, but that's not where the majority of their cash flow is coming from. Go to work. Sit down. More than likely, you're staring at something that says "DELL" on it. And it helps maintain the status quo when you go home and see the same thing... but comparing the quality of one line of business with another? Get real. They might as well be separate companies.

Comment Re:How so very secure! (Score 1, Troll) 202

And another example of some tools wanting to be the do-all where they weren't asked and don't belong.

I would prefer if the browser stick to rendering only what the standards tell it to: CSS, HTML, PNG, JPEG, GIF... these are all standards. "Adobe PDF" is not. Save it to disk; and let me worry about what to do with it. Everytime you add more features, more code, you add more vulnerabilities.

Knock it the fuck off, Google. Get your head together: We liked Chrome because it was fast and minimalist. If I wanted a bloated up kitchen sink I'd go with Firefox. Firefox is the emacs of browsers. Chrome is supposed to be the vi. Stop trying to make vi into Emacs!

Comment Re:By mobile broadband they mean.... (Score 0) 93

That's a pretty impressive T1, since my LTE speed record

*facepalm* You're using your own personal assessment and valuing that higher than the body of research on this topic. I won't even bother replying to the rest. Put some citations to your busted ass logic... Google can turn up a surprising amount of documentation to support everything from Roswell aliens to how the government's pouring flouride into our water to make us stupid... I'm sure you can find at least a four color glossy off Verizon's page to backup your ludicrious claims.

At least try man. Sigh.

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