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Comment Re:The concept of browser is wrong. (Score 1) 265

If by "business work" you mean spreadsheets and word processing, then you're correct.

However, most businesses have larger applications like payroll and benefits, financials, marketing, and others that they definitely want control over. Try convincing the average business owner to put customer data and marketing plans or product designs "out there" in the cloud and see how far you get.

It's easy to imagine ordinary work being done in a browser based application format, but instead of spreadsheets think automated check handling, and instead of a word processor imagine a writing marketing copy with images suitable for transmission to a print house.

I think most of the people saying "everything can run in the cloud" or similar don't have much experience doing anything but the basics on a computer, like filing taxes, playing games, or writing e-mails.


Comment Re:The concept of browser is wrong. (Score 1) 265

You missed one major point, specifically why the browser as a universal replacement for local apps will fail, and why more generally the idea of "everything in the cloud" will fail, despite it being quite a major fad among the management types currently.

Interactivity and control.

Until technology takes a giant leap and remote or network data access becomes exactly as fast as local bus data access, locally stored data will always be faster to access than remote data, so any program that requires access to more data than can be locally cached will run better on a local PC. Sure, all processing and the actual program can be located on a remote server and a window presented remotely, but in the case of some programs such as non linear video editors, this isn't a significant bandwidth savings.

Control is the big issue. With governments and other authorities becoming more and more intrusive on the net, and with no solid laws governing privacy of data held by a third party, right to privacy on the network itself, the relative reliability and security of network held data compared to local data, and simple paranoia, maintaining control of your computing resources will always be a must for a large portion of the computing population. So no cloud storage for some things, keep it on your local PC.

Computing resources have always followed a cycle of centralization and de-centralization. Corporations have always capitalized on this as the "coming thing". Managers have always believed them. Cloud computing and the apparent "trend" toward a generalized markup language that can empower every type of application in the world is just another tech trend that will eventually find a niche, but not completely replace other types of computing.

For an interesting comparison, look up and check out industry articles on Java when it was first gaining momentum... at one time we were all going to have local Java machines and all data and programs would be universal and stored online. That idea was actually closer than HTML5 to a generalized non local computing environment.

When I hear someone today say something like "We don't need to build out our data center, the cloud is coming" I have to avoid laughing.

HTML 5 is an improved markup language, but it's still just a markup language. The underlying concept of GET/PUT across the network limits its utility.


Submission + - Anti-social nerd is overprosecuted to suicide (

EriktheGreen writes: I knew this kid when he interned at the medical device company I worked for. Really quiet, socially very awkward, and he hadn't really grown up yet (although he was a college grad).

We got contacted by the courts when he was prosecuted under the PATRIOT act for his police radio jamming stunt. Apparently around the same time he took some pictures of his underage girlfriend nude, which he kept encrypted on his computer.

After spending 8 years in federal prison for "disrupting critical infrastructure" and being released in Feb. this year, the prosecutor went after him for the images, which she'd spent most of the 8 years trying to decrypt. The file names convinced her they were pornographic images, and because she viewed him as having "enormous computer expertise" she persisted.

After being released from jail, prosecuted, and sentenced to another 6.5 years in jail plus further conditions requiring him to register as a sex offender and stay away from computers by a judge who deliberately chose not to permit him concurrent time, he hung himself in a closet in May.

So, at age 24 he does a couple dumb things, and the response of the government is to lock him up for 8 years (until he's 33) then when he gets out and looks forward to some kind of life, they lock him up again for 6 more years and specify that he can't work with computers and has to tell everyone he's a sex offender. Can anyone be surprised he committed suicide?

Excessive prosecution at its worst.

Submission + - A possible cure for the common cold. (

HungryHobo writes: A team of researchers at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory has designed a drug that can identify cells that have been infected by many types of virus, then kill those cells to terminate the infection.

The researchers tested their drug against 15 viruses, and found it was effective against all of them including rhinoviruses that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza, a stomach virus, a polio virus, dengue fever and several other types of hemorrhagic fever.

Most of the tests reported in this study were done in human and animal cells cultured in the lab, but the researchers also tested DRACO in mice infected with the H1N1 influenza virus. When mice were treated with DRACO, they were completely cured of the infection. The tests also showed that DRACO itself is not toxic to mice.


Submission + - Feds' radios have significant security flaws ( 1

OverTheGeicoE writes: The Wall Street Journal has a story describing how the portable radios used by many federal law enforcement agents have major security flaws that allow for easy eavesdropping and jamming. Details are in a new study being released today. The authors of the study were able to intercept hundreds of hours of sensitive traffic inadvertently sent without encryption over the past two years. They also describe how a texting toy targeted at teenage girls can be modified to jam transmissions from the affected radios, either encrypted or not.

Comment Larry Niven wrote about this.. (Score 1) 482

A central fixture of his sci-fi books was a race of aliens which had existed for millions of years and had gotten to the point of drowning in their own waste heat. The problem existed because cooling technologies all move heat around to cool a volume rather than actually absorb heat and transition it to another energy form. As their population grew and energy use with it, all the extra heat built up.

The aliens solved the problem by moving their planet away from their sun, and eventually out into space on its own, balancing the generated heat with radiative cooling, or transferring the heat to the universe at large.

This article is an interesting mental exercise, but as noted it projects the technology of today into a future world with greater needs, which is about as valid as a renaissance thinker from the 1500s deciding the world would end when today's population existed, because there would be not enough food for us all, and wars over food would extinct the human race.

Niven knew he was assuming that no technology would be developed that would actually absorb heat, and he wrote around that.

If we happen to discover a way that a device can produce negative heat numbers (assuming power generation, transmission, manufacturing heat, etc are accounted for) the heat death of the earth will never happen. The devil is in the details...


Comment Re:You won't get what you think.... (Score 1) 206

From my original post: "B) The ability to reach selected IP addresses via one ISP or the other"

That's all those are. All you can do is configure them statically, using tables. So as I said, you won't automatically get the best path to any given site, which is what you would have with BGP or a similar routing protocol that would work on home sized connections.

Don't get me wrong, mapping traffic to interfaces statically is handy, but it's a hack compared to a real multi-homing system.


PS: Slashdot, for the love of God step into the last decade and install a post editor with formatting. Manual HTML sucks.

Comment You won't get what you think.... (Score 4, Informative) 206

If what you're looking for is A) Fail-over, so if one ISP or line is down you use the other or B) The ability to reach selected IP addresses via one ISP or the other, a dual WAN setup will work for you using one of the dual WAN setups people have mentioned. They're basically hacks that masquerade your desktop behind a public IP address from whichever provider you happen to be using at any moment. They don't allow asymmetric traffic (can't send packets out one ISP and receive via the other ISP) and they'll possibly screw up any security protocol or site that expects to see packets coming from a single IP and port address. This is handy, but only slightly more convenient than moving the cable yourself and re-issuing a DHCP request. Forget about aggregating bandwidth, you won't get that.

If you're thinking that hooking up both ISPs to a router will let you use whichever one is faster for any site when you click on it, you can't do that without a ton of work (and for the most part without being an ISP). The problem is that although a routing protocol exists on the global internet that would let your router figure out which path is best to each network prefix, to use it you have to have your own routing block (an aggregate of multiple network addresses) to announce to the world (which you can't get) and you have to have a router capable of holding and processing the global BGP table in real time... you don't have this.

If only all our home routers could speak a multi path routing protocol with low overhead, every single packet we sent would take the best path to its destination, all our computers would automatically fail over to other connections, we could add bandwidth by plugging in another wire, we could add and remove bandwidth in real time as needed, and we could migrate between internet providers without re-numbering our IP addresses. Things like mobile apps would be much easier to write.. no need to use a central server to pass data to a mobile, just send the packets to its IP and the routing protocol would send them on to wherever it's connected in the net.

I look forward to the day when the Internets evolve to permit multiple pathing for data in real time. Too bad technological development of Internet protocols seems to have slowed and become heavily political.


Comment Re:Weird science (Score 1) 76

That entirely depends on the precision of the IQ number, doesn't it?

What if your IQ number is a float number with a non terminating non repeating decimal component? I suppose then people would have an infinite number of digits in their IQ. Maybe we could draw a correlation between the number of digits people mention when reporting their IQ and how anal they are?

Comment What would be nice is... (Score 1) 520

It'd be nice to have a simple linux distro that could run on old hardware, say a spare pentium-III, and which would A) have a wi-fi access device attached (possibly with an external antenna) B) Act to firewall off/protect access to the owner's local resources, only allowing traffic of selected types and only communicating with the internet C) Log all peers, to provide a basic record of who used the access point D) Would form a mesh network with other devices of similar types, permitting peer to peer traffic passing while skipping internet use entirely.

As a bonus, have it limit traffic per device on a scheduled basis, so a given MAC had a weekly, monthly, or daily bandwidth limit, to keep the connection from being hogged by one guy (eg. cheap jerk of a neighbor). Set up the box to limit only guests, and not your own connectivity (subject to the security limits of wi-fi, of course).

Users take the distro, build it on an old or other low power box, attach a wi-fi device, and provide safe, free communications to your neighbors without them overrunning your own connection. Set the box up to mesh with its neighbors and permit the other access points to share your connectivity. If a lot of the boxes are near each other as in a metro area, then you have a "wireless internet" that's not tracked by any ISP or govt. agency. If you know where your "neighbors" with these devices are, then use cantennas and a spare wi-fi device to establish a point to point link as needed, to go beyond normal wi-fi range.

Finally, set up a web site where people can register their access points so folks can see where they are, and provide a pattern and manufacturing source for a standard "free wi-fi access" sign for the front yard, so maybe the cop$ will notice it and realize you're not the guy deserving the swat team.

Opening up your sole wi-fi internet access device to sharing is a nice gesture, but it can cause you enough trouble to stop wanting to do it no matter how nerd-friendly you are. An out of the box solution easy enough for the average guy with a spare machine to use would go a long way toward proliferating both free wi-fi and meshed "alternative" networks without the headaches.


Comment High density != Green data centers (Score 1) 213

It seems like a lot of people confuse the ability to cram this many servers into a "rack" with an energy efficient, "green" data center.

The thing is, even though it's about 5x the power density of a "normal" data center, all you're saving is space that more conventional servers would have taken, and maybe gaining a little efficiency in power at the cost of having to maintain all those mineral oil baths. You still have to supply those servers with network connections, potentially also external storage, power management and backups, and most importantly you have to get rid of all that heat. If you're using conventional chiller technology, that's what's taking up the bulk of the space and complexity, not the footprint of the servers themselves.

100kw of servers will dissipate (depending on model) about 56% of that power as heat, or 56kw, or about the same as 16 tons of chiller capacity. Assuming you're using your reduced server footprint to cram the building full of servers, then you can easily end up needing thousands of tons of cooling capacity, with the attendant cost and complexity of plumbing, plus a backup unit for 2N redundancy.

But you've saved a few square feet by using old school cooling techniques. Congratulations.

Comment Re:Primary Source (Score 1) 588

In that case, usually the parents of the child recognize that it's not a guaranteed conclusion that the child will become a famous athlete, if they are aware of the skill at all.

The major difference, however, is the potential impact on the world...mentally, a lot of people (in the US, anyway) categorize a brilliant child the same as other smart, famous people. Usually people who are famous because of hard work or luck, but who are seen as smart because that's their most outstanding attribute. Sloppy thinking like this leads to easily making a connection between intelligence as a cause of the effect of fame, fortune, and importance.

Apart from sports fans, most parents don't know the name of eg. the silver medal winners from the last olympics, but many of them can tell you who invented the airplane.


Comment Re:Primary Source (Score 2) 588

I always try to explain this in a way that doesn't mean anything to non nerds for some reason. My point of view is that he's like a DnD character that's rolled up with an 18 INT score. Sure, he'll have a lot of spellcasting ability, but he lacks the WIS to truly understand the subjects he's studying and why they're important. His other stats get dumped because people assume they'll just "develop" and he gets killed by the first kobold that comes along, or spends his life creating complicated ways to change rabbits into interior decorators, ignoring the fact that rabbits have no sense of style.

Too many children are held up as "savants" for doing things like this, which sucks for them. So much of what he could become is dependent on him having normal social and emotional development in addition to his math and logic skills, and being treated like this means he'll never get that.

More to the point, when was the last time you heard of a "savant" like this actually doing something worthwhile? The people who make significant contributions to humanity's knowledge typically do so because they work very hard, not because they're naturally intelligent. There's so much more to being a genius than being smart.

Comment Bitcoin == No (Score 1) 565

I love the idea of a virtual currency implemented with hard crypto. Bitcoin's concept is a step in the right direction.

But any programmer who uses IRC as the main method of locating peers for his virtual currency system has some serious issues in judgment, and I'm personally not willing to risk any money, virtual or otherwise, using his software or his crypto set-up. Since this is a monetary system, I'd want to be sure before use that A) It's secure B) It can be publically implemented without licensing or IP rules and C) Someone with knowledge of economics looks at it and builds in some future-proof planning, so if it really catches on and all internet users start using it it won't fall apart just as people are starting to trust it.

Now, when something similar comes along from a real crypto person like Bruce Schnier and gets defined in an RFC before implementation, then that'll be worth trying.

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