Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Trust the World's Fastest VPN with Your Internet Security & Freedom - A Lifetime Subscription of PureVPN at 88% off. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. ×

Comment The Problem of Tradeoffs (Score 1) 1321

Most things I can think of alternatives either have manipulable human intervention or compromise vote privacy.

Let's say you print a receipt to the voter with a key to check if the vote was logged correctly (and a matching paper record that is anonymous). That would put power in the hands of the people to detect hacking of the vote count, assuming the hack was in the recording of the vote, not the tabulation of recorded votes (the latter of which can be machine or human). But that risks compromise of voter privacy. After all, you have a potential trail back to the voter.

Let's say you do paper ballots which are anonymous but numbered. You can double-check via sampling every election to do "quality control" which would also detect tabulation hacking. The results of that, again, do no good with crooked election officials. Easy enough to cover up the tabulation error.

Keeping votes anonymous, preventing recording manipulation, and preventing tabulation and reporting manipulation all have to be dealt with or the subject of assumptions. Which ones do you want to preserve?

Comment Buildings Facing Pedestrian Walkways (Score 1) 146

I work in a building where the entrance faces a pedestrian walkway. It is a half-block walk to either of two streets. The problem is generic to the whole multi-block walkway.

With Uber I can position the cursor on the map to identify the pickup location. This is not that hard, and there is no reason for the ride-sharing company to not learn from it, and sell information to or trade information with a mapping company.

Comment Security Through Obscurity (Score 1) 285

Having lived near Fort Meade, I have always believed that if NSA was out to get me, I couldn't stop it. Something they would do would get around my security. The one thing I could count on is that NSA was highly unlikely to actually take an interest in me. So I will take reasonable measures, but I don't walk around covered in tin foil.

Yet so many of those that have good reason to think that they would be a target of highly competent infiltrators appear to rely on the same hope of obscurity. And so do their sysadmins. We see if from these officials of the Democratic Party, we see it from movie stars that ought to know that the traffic through their phones is of great interest, and we see it from businesses that have information on hundreds of thousands or millions of their customers.

Yo! You are NOT obscure.

Comment FBI's limits (Score 1) 242

In the U.S., police are restricted in the "searches" they can conduct without a warrant. They may conduct "reasonable" searches without a warrant because our Constitution protects against "unreasonable" searches. The police may observe activity with their eyes from the street or other public place. Technology raises other issues. The Supreme Court found it "unreasonable" to use an infrared camera to look at houses to see which ones had excess heat to identify houses that were growing marijuana and using hot grow lamps. Just about anything goes in an airport: x-rays, dogs, etc. It would be interesting to see what the Supreme Court would make of these observations. It may be that the quality of the cameras was selected precisely to stay within some perceived Constitutional limit. Violating those limits could destroy the entire case because not only the evidence gathered illegally, but all it led to ("fruit of the poisonous tree") is excluded from a trial.

Comment Administrative Procedure (Score 1) 383

Administrative Procedure is the kind of thing that makes even most lawyers go to sleep. From my brief review it appears that the court thinks that the FCC does not have an internally consistent logic for the treatment of the broadband carriers within the statutory limits set for it by Congress.

It could well be right. That court does practically nothing else but review the actions of administrative agencies. It is very good at doing that.

Not that Congress can do anything useful about anything. Which is another way of saying it cannot break things even more badly if you look at the bright side.

Comment Re:Guy sounds like a whiner (Score 1) 341

First of all, his oath of office (from Wikipedia)

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. [So help me God.

Nothing there about the President, though he does serve at the pleasure of the President. Obviously, maintaining the President's pleasure means keeping the policies. Oh, and the "White House" is lots of people who are not the President, so it is quite possible to not get drawn into White House inside politics and still maintain the President's policies.

Comment Re:not the end of ethanol (Score 3, Interesting) 314

Remember, that ethanol is present as an oxygenate to prevent carbon monoxide and soot. The discontinuation of the use of MBTE (methyl tert-butyl ether) left ethanol the primary one. Methanol is even worse for engines than ethanol. Whatever the shortcomings of ethanol from an engineering basis, it is non-toxic in reasonable quantities.

Comment Gallium Metal (Score 5, Informative) 115

Having worked with gallium, it is not the easiest metal to work with. It forms oxides easily on its surface, and when these oxides combine with the metal, the metal can stick to metals and glass quite easily. Gallium has been used to back mirrors for that reason.

For those wondering, just because it melts easily, does not mean it has any vapors. Unlike mercury, it has a very high boiling points and has essentially zero vapor pressure at temperatures that can be tolerated by people. As for non-toxic, as far as I know it is not poisonous in reasonable quantities, but neither is it generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Six-nines gallium is probably what to use (99.9999%), as Five-nines gallium (99.999%) usually has signifcant mercury levels in the remaining portion.

It supercools very nicely in plastic containers, and once melted will stay liquid at room temperature for quite a while. It expands upon freezing, like water, and often develops a distinctive cracking pattern when solidifying.

It will eat aluminum instantly. Certain stainless steels are fine for a while, but iron (not plain steel), berylium, tungsten and the like are other metals you can use with it and not have problems with dissolving part of it.

It is a blast, and you can buy small quantities of it from Amazon.

Comment Re:Um, Nobody has been reading the news. (Score 1) 398

Like the building of the healthcare website, the management of the IRS non-profit review function, or lots of other government operations have great oversight either.

The politicians elected to run the government want to play politics, not actually run the government. So that is what they do.

When my alderman (probably councilman in your city) failed to deliver adequate city services, she was voted out of office. That does not happen higher than the city level.

Comment It is about SPEED (Score 3, Insightful) 776

Hansen's principal point is moving fast enough. His point is that if you are too slow, certain irreversible things will happen. Therefore you have to go with currently executable plans. The United States went dam-happy after Hoover dam, so it is not like we have hydropower waiting to happen. Nuclear is the one thing that we can execute on large scales to provide 24x7x365 power for many nations right now.

Hansen's problems are not with leading engineers. They are with politicians, activists, amatueur busy-body fearmongers and their me-too hangers on. He thinks a tipping point is coming, and that the other side of that tipping point outweighs any worry you have about nuclear power. And you can theorize all you want about your solar panels, windmills, etc. Nuclear is what has been proven to provide a substantial portion of world power without carbon load.

He is not interested in theories. He is interested in precedented engineering. Nuclear provides 20% or so of electricity in the U.S. today, around 80% in France. There is no "renewable" that provides so much power to a major country today.

The fact is that a lot of the global warming band wagoners are only on board so they can bash the same enemies they have been bashing for 40 years. When they hear they have to team up with some of their old enemies or the world is going to flood, well, they get off the bandwagon. They do not give an actual rats ass about the planet. They forgot about it 30 years ago.

Comment Context! It is about varying context! (Score 1) 663

The question being criticized requires the child to generalize. Whether the generalization that the child is fairly or unfairly being asked to do the task appears to be the point of disagreement here. Also, the form and length of the test comes into play.

Question #1 is not particularly different from #5 or #7 except that the number is on a drawing of a cup instead of in a drawing of a square. Are we really putting that much weight of fairness on that difference? It seems that perhaps that the particular teacher is missing the point: we can't train students to only respond to numbers in squares. They should respond to numbers in triangles, circles, and cups as well. Yes, the cup is harder. What is wrong with testing contextualizing skills as well as the number skill?

I agree the children will not be helped if teachers are not ready to deliver the lesson. The teacher's guide for following up on this test was either wanting, or unread by the principal in question. It would be nice to hear what the teacher's guide for the test actually said.

Comment Congratulations! You are a sysadmin! (Score 1) 465

It sounds like you have control of the whole machine, which makes you the sysadmin. You don't only get to choose the programming language. You have to design a workflow. The programming language will fall out of you designing your plan of attack. You have to do so within the limitation of your advisor's budget, the assistance you can beg, etc. Take comfort in the fact that procedural languages are deep down 98% the same with different words for things, it is the libraries that get confusing. And read the library documentation like your life depends on it. It does.

Comment Re:Impractical? (Score 1) 347

> the more complex the product the more complex the printer will need to be and the less efficient doing it on a small scale will be

There's some truth to that. I don't think you're going to have many individuals building a BMW (or even a Nissan Sentra) at home. A few hobbyists, maybe, not on a large scale.

But what is GOING to happen ... count on it ... is that small, local "custom shops" are going to spring up. What if I could get a cross between a Sentra and a BMW? Or something that looks like a Ferrari, but with the safety and fuel mileage of a small Audi? Now the IP laws are actually *overlapping* between identified brands.

What if I can go into a custom tailor's shop and have a suit made while I go have lunch? Just the way I want it, at a reasonable price, and without waiting for days.

THIS is the future. We live in exciting times.

The services may exist. IP enforcement against an actual brick and mortar location is quite possible. Music licensing does it year in and year out one bar and restaurant at a time. Yet, the system works because licenses are easily obtained through a central service.

Comment Who enforces against one-offs? (Score 1) 347

Yes, but what patented objects can be just scanned in and printed? I can't really thing of any significant ones. An iPhone? A pharmaceutical? Could they print a Teddy bear? And that's not patented. And if you could (at all), could you do it at a reasonable price? One has to think that the manufacturer's cost of making it will always by X/4 or so.

Slashdot Top Deals

The Wright Bothers weren't the first to fly. They were just the first not to crash.