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Comment And now maybe we'll know why ... (Score 5, Interesting) 102

And now maybee we'll know why it's been so hard for Open Source developers to get information on writing their own against-the-metal drivers for telephony radios and startup modules (BIOS, EFI/UEFI, etc.)

It has long been suspected that was not just proprietary info-walling, but to reduce chances of discovery of backdoors and persistent threats imposed in the name of spying.

Comment Since SpaceX is so in favor of reuse (Score 1) 100

Fans of the book/movie "The Martian" would be happy if SpaceX does select Arcadia Planitia for their first landing site as that was the landing site of the Ares 3.

Since SpaceX is so in favor of reuse, I'm sure they wouldn't mind reusing the sound stage. Unlike those throwaway moon sound stages.

Submission + - SPAM: Quicken Bill Pay is No Longer Safe to Use 1

Bruce Perens writes: I don't usually make security calls, but when a company makes egregious and really clueless security mistakes, it's often the case that the only way to attract their attention and get the issue fixed is to publicize it. This one is with Quicken Bill Pay, a product of Metavante (not Intuit). It's from personal observation rather than an expert witness case, and the company has been unresponsive through their customer support channel.
Link to Original Source

Comment Re:Digital Rights? (Score 1) 203

I can't recall the last time I looked for media that wasn't available in an unencrypted stream within hours of being released in digital format, whatever the DRM.

Well, just checked Amazon now and there's 366 4K BluRays out, as far as I know there's no decrypting those yet. Not that I'm sure how you'd play an UHD HEVC HDR 10 bit Rec. 2020 stream properly anyway. BluRays look pretty good though...

Comment Totally not gloating (Score 4, Informative) 167

Norway
Mean: 47 Mbit
Median: 27.7 Mbit
People <4 Mbit: 3.9%
People <1 Mbit: 0.5%
People who can't get fiber: 54%
People who can't get 100/10 Mbit: 22%
People who can't get 4 Mbit on a fixed connection: 5%
People who can't get 10 Mbit LTE outdoor w/antenna: 0.06%

I thought maybe the fiber rollout would slow down, but the last stats indicate a speed up going from 41% to 46% in last year. Next year it seems likely a majority of the population can get fiber.

Comment Re:The mass of batteries never changes (Score 1) 87

The problem with all battery operated vehicles is that as the batteries get depleted, their mass never changes. With Jet fuel, gasoline, etc, as the fuel gets depleted, the mass is reduced, and thus the energy required to move the vehicle is reduced.

True, but it's hardly like a rocket where only a tiny fraction of the launch weight reaches the destination. The specs for the 747-400F (freight version) says 164 ton dry weight, 124 ton capacity, 397 ton takeoff weight. So max'ed it's (164+124)/397 = 73% plane and cargo, 27% fuel. The benefit of reduced weight will be on a weak exponential but if we round up 27%/2 to an average 15% lower fuel consumption compared to a plane that was constantly refilled by a tanker we've probably been generous. So if we could design an electric plane with 85% of the performance of a jet plane and recharge it with cheap, clean power from the grid I think it would be a smashing success. Of course we're nowhere close to that, but it's because the energy density of batteries to jet fuel sucks, not because the jet plane loses weight.

Comment Re:Huh? I use these all the time. (Score 1) 253

This gets down to something that used to be a common UI design principle before software became so feature-ful it became impractical: manifest interface.

The idea of a manifest interface (which also is a principle in language and API design) is that if the software has a capability you should be able to see it. You shouldn't have to root around to stumble upon it. Tabs follow this principle; there's enough visual and behavioral cues to suggest that you need to click on a tab. The little "x" in the tab also follows this principle.

But context menus you access by right-clicking break this rule, which means that there may be millions of people laboriously clicking on "x" after "x", unaware that they can make all the extraneous tabs in their browser disappear with just two clicks.

This, by the way, is why Macintoshes were designed with one button on the mouse. But even Mac UI designers couldn't get by with just single and double-click, so you have option-click too, bit by in large you could operate most programs without it.

Anyhow, to make sure people know about this kind of feature, your program is going to have to watch their behavior and suggest they try right clicking. But that way lies Clippy...

Comment Re:never understood removing features (Score 3, Interesting) 253

Removing features simply because they're not used by everyone every single day never made sense to me. Even if it is something only a very small percentage of users use, so what?

Because a lot of people get confused by too much information and too many options. And contrary to nerds they won't simply dismiss what they don't need they tend to avoid it saying it's too difficult. I'm not surprised if Google has analyzed that they'll lose 0.1% tech savvy users and gain 0.2% computer newbies instead. A case study: My online bank.

They used to have rather information dense pages and complex filters and dialogs with lots of cross links to related functions. I loved it, you had pretty much everything you wanted to see, do or go to at your fingertips. My parents, well they used it because I used it and having free support was more valuable than trying some other bank. They redesigned, far more simple pages. Far more hierarchies and less directly accessible functions. I hated it, at the time I mostly blamed it on designing for cell phones and tablets not big computer monitors.

But then I saw how my parents liked it much, much better than before. They said it was so much simpler and less confusing to use. Even though they never used but the first two options, it was far simpler to choose from three than eight and the rest hidden under "more options". The transcript page used to have lots of filters, now by default it has account and period, with the period being predefined like "last 30 days" or whole months with custom dates hidden another layer down.

And it turns out, that's all they really use. if they ever wonder if they did pay the power bill of $100 in the first two weeks of January they wouldn't filter by recipient and amount and date. They'd just scan the monthly statements manually. I'm thinking this and this applies, sure they could learn how to make the computer do more but is is worth it? Considering how little they seem to remember of the basics, I'm thinking neither the investment nor the upkeep is worth it.

So I can totally understand why, the question is do you have to only cater to my parents. But when push comes to shove, I'll manage to do five clicks instead of two just fine even though I'm slightly annoyed by it. My parents though, for them it makes a real difference. Unless it's really a professional's tool that you work in many hours a day, I'll always survive doing it the slightly harder way like just X'ing out all the tabs or hitting Ctrl-W repeatedly without being a make-or-break deal. It would be nice if we could have a browser by nerds, for nerds though. Maybe it's time for a new Phoenix?

Comment Re:Conversely... (Score 1) 241

No. No, I was right the first time. You can't own something that doesn't exist; and patents do server the purpose of forcing dissemination of information in exchange for temporary protection.

If you had said "creation in exchange for a temporary monopoly" I'd at least be willing to discuss it. But the vast, vast majority of patented creations would be picked apart and reverse engineered in no time flat if patents didn't exist. I dare you to show me one patent made in the 21st century that you think contains a trade secret that would take more than 20 years to figure out given that it was actually used in a product, service or production process.

Comment The proof would disprove itself (Score 2) 400

If we can calculate how reality "should" act, we've per definition calculated how to simulate it. So the only thing we could catch is a bad simulation. But that would assume they don't have error margins, if we start looking at something with an electron microscope then it starts simulating that particular part of reality to that detail. Just like a pair of VR glasses doesn't have to simulate more than I can see.

Comment Abandoning Time-Worn Processes Leads to Atrophy (Score 5, Insightful) 156

Scientists determined that those people who made use of machine washing rather than hand washing had diminished hand strength and neurological motor communication necessary for fine motor control. Seamstresses who bought thread rather than using the spinning jenny were similarly impaired. But worst off were teamsters who used the internal combustion trucks rather than teams of horses and used forklifts and other mechanical devices rather than loading their vehicles by hand. Their overall body strength was much reduced.

Comment Pity, since I can't accept the EULA (Score 1) 144

Google's Chrome browser, on the other hand, remained unhackable during the contest.

Unfortunately for me, I can't accept Chrome's EULA.

It incorporates Adobe's, which (if I recall correctly from my AT&T Android-based smartphone) has several clauses I can't abide - including a never-compete, don't block updates, don't work on circumvention tools, we can change the license without notice, ...

I don't intend to do anything that might come back to limit my future software work or employability. Clicking through such a license (even if every bit of it is struck down by the courts - which I'm not holding my breath expecting), especially on a device that "phones home" in a way that is easily identified with my true name, is an invitation for an all-versus-one gladiatorial match with two multibillion-dollar corporations' legal departments.

Comment Re:Stealth Layoff (Score 1) 297

I didn't know "bad faith" was something you could sue for damages over. You sound as if a company ever makes a business decision you don't like, they may very well be in legal jeopardy.

I can't speak for US law, but at least here in Norway if the work content or location fundamentally changes it will be seen by the law as a termination and that you're being offered a new position, even if the title and salary is the same. Otherwise it would be too easy to force people to resign by bouncing them around the country like the ball in a pin ball machine and reassigning them to scrub the toilets.

So if you refuse the offer it wouldn't be you quitting, you would be laid off with all the rights that gives you like if you have the right to severance pay. I got a similar offer when we were bought out by another company, the employment contract changed sufficiently that I could refuse to go and then they'd have to lay me off by the terms of the old contract instead. It only applies to major changes though, not minor changes in work or relocating to a new office in the same city.

Comment Re:Almost meaningless (Score 1) 297

That's NASA's biggest problem these last few decades - no way to stick to anything beyond the term(s) of the current President, so nothing can really be done that takes longer than about five years.... Which is another way of saying "nothing can really be done."

Five years? They should just switch to Agile, then they'd have something that's Done every two weeks. I know an "expert", I'd be happy to forward contact details to any NASA headhunters. Or the ones with poison blow darts, either way works for me.

Comment Re:Making NASA Great Again (Score 5, Informative) 297

Actually the Wikipedia article on the National Aeronautics and Space Act has an interesting list of the legislation's priorities, starting with priority #1:

The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;

Historically speaking the act, which was signed into law in July of 1958, was a reaction to the "Sputnik Crisis" created by the Soviet launch of an artificial satellite eight months earlier in October of 1957 -- an act which filled Americans with awe and a little dread, knowing that a Soviet device was passing overhead every 96 minutes.

So arguably NASA was founded to achieve preeminence in Earth orbit, not necessarily manned space exploration, which isn't mentioned at all in the legislation. Yuri Gagarin's Vostok 1 flight was still three years in the future, and JFKs Rice Moon Speech followed a year and a half after that. That speech is well worth watching, by the way, if all you've ever seen is the "We choose to go to the moon" line.

Manned exploration of the outer solar system wasn't really what the founding of NASA was all about; in fact manned spaceflight has only a single mention in the unamended 1958 text:

... the term "aeronautical and space vehicles" means aircraft, missiles, satellites, and other space vehicles, manned and unmanned, together with related equipment, devices, components, and parts.

The main focus of NASA at its founding was to provide a single agency to coordinate space and spaced-based research, which at the time would have been largely (although not exclusively) Earth-focused.

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