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Comment They already are "superheros" (Score 1) 451

Don't make these cars into superheroes or some retarded wish like that.

When's the last time you saw a manually operated air bag?

In these high-speed, blink of the eye situations, cars already perform as if they were superheros, and that is exactly what we want. We are greatly outclassed by machinery in most high-speed tasks, and this will become ever more so because it is to our advantage.

From the perspective of an automaton, choosing between alternative outcomes in the event of an imminent crash is no harder than choosing to deploy an airbag. Calling such functionality "superheroic" doesn't really add anything useful to the topic, but if you insist, they'll certainly behave that way.

Comment Easy to explain, it's a rational plan (Score 5, Informative) 149

Can anyone explain any way this would be worthwhile?

Sure. It's obvious to most people but it might as well be explained in case some folks haven't thought about it.

  • 1) Energy will be cheap during the day because the sun is overhead and that power source is effectively free and limitless.
  • 2) The sun isn't available at night, but solar power could be captured during the day and used at night, if storage were available.
  • 3) The battery storage of the article provides that storage.

There you go, it's pretty simple and very sensible. It's also a good idea to add the following prediction to the above as well, as it's really a foregone conclusion and hence very safe to forecast:

  • 4) All normal land vehicles will be electric in just a few decades. Burning fossil fuels may even become illegal, if not because of global warming and pollution then because it's far more valuable to use hydrocarbons as a raw material for industry. Burning money is silly.

Adding item (4) means that everyone will want the energy storage of (3) for recharging their cars when they get home. Paying the grid for that power when the sun can provide it for free during the day would be poor domestic economics. This pushes towards needing even more battery capacity.

Elon Musk is quite a visionary, but he's also a clever cookie when it comes to business. He knows where all this is going and is sewing up the future in EVs, mobile power storage, recharging stations, solar panels, and fixed power storage. He's got it all covered.

Comment War against mass surveillance continues (Score 2, Insightful) 71

Snowden's social tweets aren't of any great consequence, but media stories about him still play a vital role because the war against mass surveillance of western populations continues.

Without pushback by media and citizenry, our so-called democratic states were on an unhindered evolution from relative freedom to strong and very opaque police states. Snowden's efforts brought some much-needed illumination and public input to the whole area. After all, our governments are supposed to be working on our behalf against the bad guys, and not treating the entire populations of our countries as the enemy.

Some people are expressing boredom about Snowden's social activities. Well that's easily handled, just ignore the stories if you have no interest in them. They still play an important role in the media, because the pressure brought about by his revelations still needs to be maintained. And he's probably trying to have a social life too, which can't be easy in his circumstances.

Comment War on Darknets == covert War on Privacy (Score 2) 222

This reminds me of the Penn and Teller BS episode where people sign petitions to "End Womens' Suffrage".

Your observation is accurate beyond mere criticism of the survey. The governments are deliberately raising the profile of this new "War on Darknets" because they don't dare call it what it really is, namely their War on Privacy . The deception created by tech-sounding wordplay which the majority don't understand is central to making their plan work, because otherwise they encounter pushback from the masses who value their privacy.

"Darknet" has no specific meaning in CompSci, and so it can be used to denote any communication which NSA, FBI and DOJ do not control. This is very much a "thin end of the wedge" issue, because their desire to see and control everything will end only when there is no privacy left at all. These people don't believe in limits on their power.

Comment Risky, delayed liability, and unnecessary (Score 3, Insightful) 485

Nuclear energy (from fission) has a very large number of disadvantages. Here are just a few:

- It's inherently and obviously risky --- even its greatest proponents know that, but they just choose to minimize the importance of that risk and its deadly consequences. There have been more than enough nuclear reactor disasters already, yet some people just don't learn. Even with better designs, accidents will happen from geophysical causes and through human failure, as well as by deliberate action. You can't prevent this from happening, so don't create such deadly installations (and juicy targets) in the first place.

- Radioactive waste from fission accumulates a massive liability for future generations. It forces our own chosen risk onto our descendents without giving them any choice in the matter. This is unethical even in the best of cases, but in the worst case it's downright criminal because some of those radioactive stores will unavoidably release their contents (even explosively with human help) and result in human casualties and suffering --- maybe your own descendents. Don't gamble with the lives of others.

- Nuclear energy is out of step with a world that is rapidly converting to clean, inexhaustible energy harnessed from the environment. Nuclear is not just unclean but deadly unclean, and it's very demanding on the planet's resources as well. It adds to our debt on the planet instead of reducing it.

- According to a growing number of climatologists who are witnessing first-hand the unfolding climate disaster in the Arctic and Antarctic, our existing several hundred nuclear reactors could quite possibly be the direct cause of our extinction in the decades ahead, after the indirect cause (CO2 and methane) lead to death by starvation of billions and make the world's economies collapse. Nuclear reactors can't be rapidly turned off and made non-radioactive --- the full process of decommissioning takes some 50 to 60 years as an industry average, and it takes a LOT of money. There will be no money available under conditions of economic collapse, cooling will be interrupted, and many will go into meltdown. Even if you choose to disbelieve the warnings of specialists, the risk remains. Knowing what we already know about rising sea levels and epic storms, we should not be adding to the risk.

Dr. Brice Smith of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research summarized this very well:

"Nuclear power is a very risky and unsustainable option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Trading one potentially catastrophic health, environmental and security threat for another is not a sensible energy policy." --- Source.

The whole idea of adding more nuclear power is hazardous and ill-considered, and it's also unnecessary.

Comment Elementary physics, latent heat of fusion (Score 1) 520

When water and ice are in equilibrium at 0C, adding heat melts some more ice, and there is no overall increase in temperature, it remains at 0C.

As expected, ice in the north and south of the planet is melting, the sea level is rising, but there is relatively little change in sea surface temperatures because the 0C meltwater circulates and slowly mixes with the rest of the water in the oceans, and so keeps the temperatures everywhere from rising too fast. That won't last forever though, since the ice will eventually run out.

If there were no ice on the planet, temperatures would rise roughly 80 times as fast. The latent heat of fusion (that means melting in this context) of water ice is 79.8 calories per gram (334 kJ/kg) , which means that you need about 80 calories to melt 1g of ice at 0C and turn it into 1g of water at 0C. If instead you were to apply those 80 calories to 1g of water at 0C, the water temperature would rise to 80C.

The latent heat of fusion of our planet's ice is (briefly) saving our bacon.

Comment In practice yes, though not in principle (Score 1) 131

Isn't the attack surface governed by the ports you open up on the Docker containers?

Although you describe a common case, it's not the general one. In principle the size of a software attack surface is given by the amount of code which is reachable through an attack conduit like a network, not by the "width" of the conduit.

For example, a given network service could be bound to just one IP address or to two, but its attack surface would remain the same despite double the size of the attack conduit. Likewise, a given service could be available on only one port or on N ports, yet its attack surface would not change despite any increases in the size of the conduit through which it can be reached.

(The attack surface is primarily a function of the amount of externally reachable code because the number of exploitable weaknesses is relatively constant per unit of code. Making the same code reachable through a wider conduit does not generally change its set of exploitable weaknesses.)

This assumes that the same code is being exposed regardless of the number of different IP address or port bindings of course. If this is not true because different functionality is offered on different ports then of course the size of the attack surface is no longer invariant.

Your observation is accurate in practice because the special case of "one port per service" is a very common one. It's worth recognizing that the general case is different though.

Comment Four technical interests (Score 4, Insightful) 1839

I'll add my +1 for putting Slashdot on IPv6 quickly, and then Sourceforge too when you have time. Virtually all ISPs, colos and hosting providers offer IPv6 already, and all the well known CDNs have done so for many years. With IPv6 uptake at 10% and growing ever faster, it's beginning to look bad for a tech site not to have IPv6 enabled. (It works perfectly, seamlessly and effortlessly, by the way.)

While many good ideas have been suggested in this thread, 4 of them stand out for me as very clear technical interests for many techies:

- HTTPS.
- Javascript optional and decreasing.
- Unicode.
- IPv6.

The huge interest in security and privacy among Slashdot readers make the first two items of special importance. It's no longer an innocent world of academics and enthusiasts like yesteryear, and readers need to protect themselves and the companies from which the site is often read with link encryption and effective script restrictions.

It's no surprise that use of NoScript is huge among the technical readership, nor that the JS orgy of forbes.com was despised so much.

My best wishes for this new era of Slashdot. I'm looking forward to another (almost) two decades of interesting technical discussion. :-)

Comment Offering data to the public Internet (Score 5, Insightful) 127

An AC wrote:

People who don't secure their systems and devices are to blame for someone breaking into them?

There was no breaking in.

If you provide data to the public Internet without any form of restriction, you can't then validly complain when the Internet public sees that data. You offered it publicly, and the public took you up on your offer.

This isn't anything like breaking and entering, nor even like someone walking through a door which you left wide open. It's much more intentional on your part than that:-- you offered data to the public by creating an unrestricted access port on the Internet, your offer was accepted when someone opened that port, and then you deliberately sent your data out to that recipient. It was your choice, before and after you made the offer to the public. Nobody can force you to send your data if you don't want to. Your system wasn't hacked to change its code to something that you did not intend.

The closest analogy I can make is to imagine yourself standing on the sidewalk in the high street, an open sweet jar in one hand, and the other hand outstretched offering sweets to passers by. The highstreet is the public Internet, and your invitingly outstretched hand is the open port. If someone takes hold of the sweet, you can still prevent it from being taken by holding tightly onto the wrapper (an access restriction, perhaps you want to check that recipients are smiling first).

But if you first offer a sweet and then release it, you don't get to complain --- it was your visible intention to hand out sweets to passers by, and nobody can read your mind, only your actions. If you don't understand this then perhaps you don't grasp how Internet protocols work, and you would be best advised to stay well clear of the Internet.

You may wish that Internet protocols worked some other way, perhaps using ESP, but they don't. They work as they were defined.

Comment Food and shelter is a basic human right (Score 1) 474

Excepting Sunlight and Loss... the Earth is a closed system.

That's like saying "Except for a few billion people, the Earth is unpopulated." The statement makes no sense because the alleged "exception" shows that the exact opposite is true. And in the case of processes on Earth, the Sun's energy input to the planet is so colossal that it determines everything else, including all resources for human activity. As a consequence, the Earth is not a closed system.

That aside, our activities on the planet are all about raising human civilization out of the barbarism that once required human labour for survival. We're well past those primitive conditions now, and basic food and shelter has become a fundamental human right in civilized countries. That's why we have social safety nets, so that the less fortunate don't starve or die of cold in the streets. A basic income for all is merely the next step in this evolution of civilization in an intelligent social species.

Starting with Europe where we have many programmes devoted to raising quality of life and improving social conditions, this is clearly one of the markers on the road ahead.

Comment Put a filter box in front of full firewall (Score 5, Interesting) 265

The submitter has two problems, the first is an external site persistently doing something that he doesn't want, and the second is his firewall appliance that isn't doing what he wants.

The first problem is not fixable. Even if you could make them go away, tomorrow someone else will take their place. Do you really want to spend your time in courtrooms and writing letters? In any case, port scanning is not actual service abuse nor hacking but merely service discovery and it's working as intended, so you'll have a hard time convincing anyone that you are suffering actual harm. It's just an annoyance.

In contrast, your second problem *IS* fixable by you, at very little cost. Just put a low-end packet filter in front of your existing firewall, doing nothing but passively blocking all packets from the offending source. It should have no open ports of its own and should run nothing other than the firewall management software, something like pfsense or iptables. Any old PC hardware running off a thumb drive will suffice, or a new ARM board for lowest power consumption, or a repurposed router from eBay for lowest cost.

Fix problems that you can solve. The others are not worth your time fretting about.

Comment More interesting than what it's dropping ... (Score 3, Interesting) 220

would be to know where Debian is heading.

I'd very much like to support a distro which has clearly stated technical and societal values which mirror my own, but it's hard to distinguish exactly what Debian's values are anymore. Merely embracing GPL licensing and its values doesn't really tell you a lot, because even code with ethically questionable goals can be GPL.

Perhaps it's time for a Debian Conference in which "What do we stand for?" could be addressed and made a little more specific.

Comment Lots of interesting comments at -1 (Score 0) 78

Actually, there are plenty of rational comments in this thread, but they've all been moderated down to -1.

Why all non-favourable comments have been greeted with "nuke from orbit" is an interesting question, but it's clear that in this thread, rational discussion and dissenting opinion is not welcome.

Slashdot seems to be getting more and more like this. I've been here a long time, but I can't really say I know why it's happening. I don't. Maybe the art of nuanced discussion is disappearing from public spaces in general.

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