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Comment let's rewrite that to reflect reality... (Score 1) 123

Two senior Democratic lawmakers with access to classified intelligence on Thursday accused Russia of "making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election,"

>>>>

Two senior Democratic lawmakers (because all the Republican ones were "out to lunch") with access to classified intelligence (which they shouldn't have revealed even the existence of, if they're really and truly classified) on Thursday (the best day for reporting viral news) said that the people (who were actually aliens wearing face-masks) who came to them (without providing any concrete verifiable proof of their credentials) put some bits of paper in front of them (without any way for those lawmakers to verify the authenticity of the documents) which had some words in it *claiming* to "accuse Russia of making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election,"

what a complete crock. over how many pairs of eyes do these people *really* think that this can be pulled? oh wait.... they've probably run the numbers, and they only need to make it look like *DEMOCRAT* Lawmakers are incompetent, so that a large enough percentage will vote for Republican.... and the rest they can swing by manipulating the numbers using that new-fangled "percentage" adjustment they added into the backdoors after the last time some of the vote totals went NEGATIVE. i wonder if they remembered to do rounding to integers? we'll find out soon enough, if the number of votes comes out to "25012.79" won't we!

Comment just install skype (Score 1) 70

y'know... skype used to have this feature, y'know? it wasn't completely undetectable, but it *used* to have the ability to disguise itself as pretty much anything, so that it would "just work" in the face of badly-configured firewalls, DNS servers, idiot companies that blocked *all* incoming and outgoing traffic stone-dead including ICMP (including BGP and other absolutely crucial traffic) with the statement "you've got unrestricted access to port 80, that's the 'internet' isn't it, what the hell are you complaining about yer lame-techie-wannabe-tuck-fard??"

it also had the ability to create any kind of tunneling over pretty much any port and any protocol (TCP, UDP, you name it, it could do it) such that it was pretty much impossible to shut it down.

AND THEN.... for no good reason WHATSOEVER [1], skype changed hands not once but THREE TIMES in succession. now it's under the "control" of microsoft, and anyone considering installing it now is a fool. it's been turned into a "cloud is all" protocol. there's no peer-to-peer capability. that leaves it vulnerable to being mass-IP-range blocked. anyone can work out what the IP range(s) are of the various "cloud" servers used by microsoft are... and just block them (regardless of consequences).

so i *would* have said "just tell them to install skype". except we can logically deduce that it was SOME FUCKWIT IN THE U.S. GOVERMNENT who caused skype, in its current release, to lose its inherent firewall-busting capabilities to be COMPLETELY REMOVED.

and with skype being proprietary, and the "startup" (bootstrap) nodes no longer being run or "supported", we cannot even run older versions of skype any more because the older versions have been shut down. oh, and it's proprietary, so it would be man-decades before it is properly reverse-engineered. oh, and the original creators are likely to have been asked (or threatened) to enter into some serrrrious non-compete contract which, even if it wasn't legally enforceable, they probably understood the full implications were that if they wanted to keep all their body parts, they'd better like, y'know, not even *think* about writing a replacement / competitor, y'ken. they did try setting up a company called "joost", but interestingly, it "failed". i don't wonder why, not any more.

so, this appears to be a golden opportunity for software libre and proprietary software writers alike, but honestly it's a poisoned chalice. one department in the U.S. does *NOT* want such software to even *EXIST*... another is offering money to anyone willing to CREATE such software.... it's either a case of "left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing", or it's just plain entrapment: the NSA wants to know if you have the CAPABILITY to write such software (and you're going to tell them who you are for god's sake!)

bottom line is, there's a phrase which covers this scenario in the security world - it's called "a honey pot". my advice to anyone who reads this: stay the FUCK away from this "offer" unless you're such a huge software libre team (over 100 people would do it) that it would be clearly obvious if one or more people suddenly "went missing", or "received sudden lucrative job offers" or "went on holiday" or "won the lottery" or "had an accident". what would *really* do it is if EVERYBODY who is capable of collaborating on this (including people from proprietary software companies) joined *ONE* single software libre team (with a single person allocated as the front-man), where everybody else used anonymous two-way communications with that front-man), and through them proposed one single entry for the "competition". 100, 200, 300 people, the more the better. if the application *requires* that every single person on the "team" be named individually and separately (either before or after the application), then you can logically deduce that it's extremely likely to be a honeypot. if the application's mysteriously "denied" when there's only the one entry, you can logically deduce that it's extremely likely that the exercise was a honeypot.

[1] when you see 3 companies in a row throwing of the order of magnitude of a billion dollars at a single company for a single piece of software with such a limited use-case (chat, voice, video), you cannot possibly expect anyone to believe that they're each doing so because it's "financially justified". the logical conclusion is that there was some other factor involved... such as HEY WE'RE THE NSA, WE'LL GIVE YOU LOTS OF EXTRA BUSINESS IF YOU GET THAT SOURCE CODE AND GIVE US A COPY. remember: the original creators of skype were extremely clever, and utterly paranoid: they let NOBODY see the source code. back when it was initially created, the core library was ONLY made available in BINARY form EVEN to the GUI front-end developers(!) and it had a "protection" mechanism where it could detect that it was running under a Virtual Machine, detect if it was being "debugged" (single-stepped), and it would self-destruct and shut down automatically. the NSA even offered a million dollars to anyone who was willing to "break skype". yes, really, that's a matter of public record! nobody managed it. all the "social engineering" tricks and presumably various trojans that are normally successfully used to perform industrial espionage presumably failed... so they had to go to the drastic lengths of actually inducing some lame-fool company to buy the ENTIRE company. for a billion dollars. well done the founders of skype is all i can say!

Comment Re:Am I reading this right? (Score 1) 67

The weird thing, if it is the COPVs, is... there was so much attention focused on them after CRS-7. It'd be weird if this was the cause. And extremely frustrating, too, as they're not manufactured in-house. SpaceX surely tests the tanks, so they too would bear some responsibility for it getting past their test procedures, if this is the cause. Personally (as I mentioned elsewhere in the comments), having a composite vessel sitting in liquid oxygen always strikes me as a dangerous situation to begin with.... if we were good at maintaining LOX-composite compatibility, we'd be making the stages themselves out of composites rather than aluminum.

Of course, the COPVs aren't the only part of the "helium pressurization system". Still concerning that whatever it was slipped past them.

Comment Re:Huh. (Score 3, Interesting) 67

The helium isn't used for cooling; it's a pressurant. It's lower mass to make a small COPV and have that store your pressurant in it than to have the whole LOX tank be strong enough to withstand the pressure.

It's always bothered me, the concept of having a COPV sitting around in LOX, though. Ignoring the thermal cycling, LOX and epoxy aren't exactly fast friends. We don't make LOX tanks out of composites because composites tend to become impact sensitive in LOX (there've been some attempts, but it's still an active reseach field, not a "solved problem"). Not sure there's that much difference between making your whole tank out of composites vs. having a composite tank inside of one. I don't know what SpaceX does, if anything, to try to protect them, but the general concept has always concerned me.

Comment Re:Smarter Aliens (Score 1) 275

To put it another way: the total mass of the universe is about 180000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 kilograms, which is the mass equivalent of 16200000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 joules. There is no shortage of "resources" in the universe. Even the rarest of "resources" is available in unthinkable abundance to any entity that has a range broader than a single planet. Not like it's particularly easy to actually exhaust resources on a given planet; you just move from the easiest ones to the much more abundant, but harder to access ones (while simultaneously your technology advances with time, making resources in general more accessible; prices are based on the competition between these two factors, but in the long term generally follow a downward trend)

Comment Re:same bullshit (Score 1) 133

Russia doesn't seem to be looking to restart a space race. As usual they make grand pronouncements, but meanwhile their funding just keeps getting cut further. On the other hand, China might bring one. We're far from there now, but China keeps trying to push themselves rapidly forward in regards to space; they see it a way to mark themselves as being a legitimate, technologically advanced superpower rather than just a country of factories churning out trinkets. Right now it's things like space stations and simple probes. But suppose it gets to the point where they actually announce and fund an interplanetary mission (and if they announce it, it will actually happen; they don't go through the whole "changing cycles of congressmen" that the US does). How does the US respond? Just let China totally outshine the US on a highly publicized technical field?

Comment Re:"an unmanned exploration mission by 2018" (Score 1) 133

As far as I can tell, they're not actually "giving" NASA any more money of relevance, they're just telling them how they need to spend it. Standard congressional stuff, except this time they're amusingly trying to say "nobody can change this in the future"

I'll take the concept of a government-funded mission to Mars seriously whenever they actually give NASA billions more in annual funding at the same time as mandating it.

Comment Re:Waste of money (Score 2) 133

I assume the whole aluminum oxide = "VERY poisonous" is some sort of joke.

Of the metals in solid rocket fuel, aluminum is the most common, followed by iron. Aluminum and iron oxides in dust form are otherwise known as "clay".

The hazardous chemical that comes out of SRBs is hydrochloric acid. But it's not super-dangerous in the quantities that are released over the areas that it's released over.

The GP is correct, the hypergolic fuels are much worse for the environment. Some experimental ones have been even worse, such as boron-boosted (zip fuels) and fluorine-based fuels. Crazy-high performance - the highest ISP rocket engine ever built was a fluorine-hydrogen-molten lithium triprop** - but they're a nightmare to work with. I can guarantee you that if beryllium wasn't so crazy expensive it would have gotten a shakedown as well.

** The fun thing in that rocket is that the hydrogen both enters and leaves in the same form, H2. It exists solely to function as a working gas, to maximize the expansion potential of the heat released from the lithium-fluorine reaction. A lot of things with rocket propellants are counterintuitive that way - for example, with aluminized hydrocarbon-based rocket propellants, the optimal combustion is to burn the hydrocarbons to H2 and CO, not H2O and CO2. It's not worth the extra energy release to carry more oxidizer, and you need as much light gases as possible to transfer the energy from the aluminum since it condenses out of the gas stream at high temperatures and thus can no longer contribute directly to expansion.

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