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Comment Re:But but but! (Score 1) 231

Is this going to be driven by space rednecks with astro-mullets carrying their space shotguns?

I think the image you are supposed to get is of space contractors throwing their space toolboxes and some space lumber into a pickup truck and driving over to a construction site.

Notice that if you hire contractors to do some work on your house, they are more likely to show up in pickup trucks than giant vans.

Realistically it's going to be more like a space van or lorry.

I didn't invent the term "space pickup truck". I saw others using it years ago in Internet discussions of space.

The idea is that it is specifically not a giant van or lorry. On rare occasions you might need a giant van, but a pickup truck can be something you use every day. That's the metaphor.

The Space Shuttle was metaphorically a lorry. It had a large cargo volume and could carry heavy loads... to low Earth orbit, on rare occasions. It would be much much more useful to have a fleet of vehicles that can each only carry a tonne or so but can do it frequently, economically, with little drama.

Space X et al. are really just trying to use current technology

They are advancing the state of the art, but yes they are only using the known proven technology. I just read the Wikipedia page for the Skylon, and if Reaction Engine can get that to work, then they deserve all the money. I hope both companies succeed but I'm not pinning my hopes on the radical new technology.

The Skylon promises to be a reusable SSTO craft with a 15 tonne cargo capacity. Obviously 15 tonnes is better than 1 tonne. If it can fly routinely, without excessive maintenance, it should be a huge step forward. But it's a lot more complicated than what SpaceX is trying to do, and therefore a lot higher risk.

If the Skylon works, but it turns out that the engines have to be torn down and rebuilt after every flight, and SpaceX can make 20 flights for every one Skylon flight, then SpaceX will win.

Comment Re:But but but! (Score 3, Interesting) 231

I definitely am a fan of the idea of doing space exploration in a systematic way. We should build a space station that includes a fuel depot, and use it as the hub of space operations.

I am loathe to just destroy the ISS. It was expensive to get it up there and it should be affordable to keep it going. How hard is it really to just boost it into a higher orbit? If we want to save money we might want to stop having people on board for a while... just turn off the life support and other things, but do keep boosting its orbit to keep it where it is.

We will have a real game-changer once we have a "space pickup truck", a launch vehicle that can take a relatively small amount of cargo to orbit, but can do it affordably and frequently. The biggest problem with the Space Shuttle (aside from the fact that it was only 99% safe) was that it took man-decades of labor after each flight to service an orbiter for the next flight.

SpaceX is really working on the "space pickup truck" idea. Recovering the first-stage booster to be refueled and re-used is part of making launch more affordable.

Additionally I would love to see a mass driver or other sort of "cannon" to fire inert payloads (oxygen, water, fuel, dried food, sturdy electronics) to orbit. I've read about this. The biggest problem is that anything you fire from Earth will return to Earth unless its trajectory can be altered; the two obvious ways to do that are to put jets on the cargo capsules so they can adjust their own trajectory, or to have some sort of cargo capture system (a net? a drone with grabber arms?). I favor the latter because I want the cargo capsules to be as simple and cheap as possible.

Once we have an affordable way to get fuel into orbit, all sorts of things become possible. Make a rugged and simple craft that can shuttle back-and-forth between Earth and the Moon, and Moon visits become dramatically simpler and cheaper. Re-boosting the ISS, re-boosting satellites, launching space probes, all of it becomes much simpler and cheaper. Once you are in orbit you are halfway to anywhere in the solar system.

Comment Re:Why Fox? (Score 1) 537

> despite having one of the most expensive health care systems.

Not "one of" but "the" most expensive healthcare system by 100% increase from the next most expensive. Canada's.

But in Canada, if you want to start a business, you don't have to wonder if you're going to die in the process of not having healthcare at the beginning.


Comment Can VirtualBox spoof this? (Score 1) 419

I only run Windows two ways:

* For gaming on my dedicated gaming computer,

* In a VirtualBox under Linux (for those few apps that are Windows-only).

For gaming, maybe I should just switch to SteamOS.

For the rest, I wonder if VirtualBox can spoof the Windows processor detection (lie and claim to be an older chip). I think in principle it absolutely can, but maybe the project doesn't want to invite trouble.

Comment Re:Looks good to me (Score 1) 235

If that is the case, that WebAssembly calls the JavaScript engine to execute calls, it can't be much if any faster than well-written "native" JavaScript

If what you want to do is make JS API function calls, like popping up an alert(), then no it won't be any faster than just using JS for the purpose. But WebAssembly runs the Unreal engine quite a lot faster and smoother than JS would. The fine article included a link to the "Zen Garden" demo which runs in a web browser:


WebAssembly will open up new use cases, like smooth 3D games running in the browser. Things like Google Apps will run much more smoothly. We'll see if that turns out to be a big deal or not; I think maybe it will be.

Comment Re: Common (Score 1) 46

This is what gets me

Unless your ratio is >=1, the amount of "true share" of a movie, song, or software is ZERO if you want to account for "damages" - because you have not given out a "functional" copy. You have given out garbage.

Whether someone else is able to get the other pieces and stick it to your garbage to make it functional is irrelevant. You, personally, have not passed along a functional copy.

This "making available" bullshit is just that - bullshit. If I open my entire media directory to the internet, and nobody downloads from me, I still haven't damaged the precious profits of the publishers.

The only math worse than Republican, DEA, and Cop math is Hollywood math.


Comment Re:Looks good to me (Score 1) 235

Maybe I should look at compiling Forth to WebAssembly.

Should be possible. But I looked at some examples and it looks like they went for a LISP-like syntax rather than FORTH-like:


Also somewhere in the fine article or one of the videos, somebody said that the stack-oriented bytecodes would likely be translated into register-based native code for efficiency. But it seems like they should make a simple virtual machine that can directly execute the bytecodes, for debugging or whatever, and a FORTH-based language would be the perfect front end for that. For all the few, proud FORTH fans out there, including you and me.

I also saw one web page which claims that WebAssembly isn't really a virtual machine code, it's an abstract syntax tree of an assembly language. I don't know enough to really evaluate that statement but I suspect it makes little practical difference one way or another.

Comment Re:Looks good to me (Score 3, Informative) 235

the small benefit of JavaScript is that we can disable it and/or prevent certain function calls if you want to (e.g. my browser asks me if alert() is allowed to trigger or intercepts audio() and video() tags etc etc.

All I know about WebAssembly is what I read in TFA but I'll bet you that it will still be possible to block API calls exactly the same way. In fact, if my understanding is correct, WebAssembly doesn't come with any API calls; it will need to ask JavaScript to do things like pop up an alert().

Here, have a link I Googled up for you. Here's you you do an alert() from WebAssembly: you import alert() from JavaScript and call that.


So whatever you are doing right now to forbid alert() would continue to work when your browser downloads WebAssembly code.

If you're going to obfuscate calls even further into machine code and allow for code to run directly on a CPU and manipulate memory without the capacity for inspection, you've given up all control.

I've already made my position on that clear. Bytecode is less readable than minified JS but not by that much.

Plus I don't actually pick apart all the minified JS my browser is running and inspect it in advance. And I figure with GMain and such my browser is running a lot of minified JS.

Comment Looks good to me (Score 5, Informative) 235

I read through the fine articles and even watched a couple of the videos. Overall this looks like a good idea to me.

The basic idea: WebAssembly is an assembly language for a virtual machine, which is very easy to translate into native code. It was designed to be compact so it will download quickly; in particular they chose a stack-based virtual architecture so that an "ADD" instruction implicitly adds the top two numbers on the stack, so "ADD" and similar operations are always single bytecodes. Also, while JavaScript only has a single "number" type which is implicitly float, WebAssembly has multiple built-in native types including 64-bit integer.

It should be no less secure, and no more secure, than JavaScript. However almost all the overhead of an interpreted language is gone: instead of just-in-time compilation, detecting "hot spots" and optimizing, and de-optimizing when assumptions are invalidated, all the browser has to do is translate the virtual machine code into native code and run it.

For the initial release (i.e. right now) WebAssembly does not support garbage collection. This is a sensible decision given what it is and what it does, but they said they will look at giving it some GC abilities in future releases.

I like the original idea that JavaScript would always be human-readable and people could learn by studying the code from the sites they visit. However, this idea is not really active now. It's common practice to run JavaScript code through a "minifier" that packs it to make it as small as possible so it will load quickly, and minified code isn't very friendly to read. There are tools available to somewhat beautify minified JS, but I'm certain that there will be tools to "decompile" WebAssembly and produce something sort-of readable. So while in this one area WebAssembly is not quite as nice as JavaScript, I don't think it's a significant thing, and it's not even remotely enough to make me oppose WebAssembly.

Developers will be able to take existing code in languages like C, C++, etc. and compile them into this portable virtual machine language, and web browsers will be able to load and run them quickly. People will be able to write browser apps that run at near-native-speed and they will run on all the major web browsers and on whatever CPU you have (x86 and ARM for now). I don't really see a downside and I see lots of upside.

Comment Re:Sad its so expensive (Score 2) 128

I'm still shopping around for a good basic laptop for my wife.

I've had good success just buying whatever is on sale at a computer store near me, and then wiping it and installing Linux.

The last time I did this, I bought a Lenovo IdeaPad S415 for something like $350, brand new. And to my horror, Linux installation failed on it; it includes both an AMD A6 and a discrete graphics adapter, and the two graphics systems fatally confused X11. There were workarounds but I never got around to trying one.

Almost a year later, I simply grabbed the latest Linux installer, and the install Just Worked. Someone had patched whatever the problem in X11 and everything worked: the touchscreen, the WiFi, the sound, the Ethernet jack, sleep on closing the lid, everything.

The moral of this story: most of the time, a Linux install will Just Work. But if you really need to be sure it will work, I suggest doing a Google search for the name of the laptop plus the name of a popular Linux distro. When I searched for "Lenovo IdeaPad S415 Ubuntu" I immediately found discussions, by other people who had the same problem I had, and the workarounds they figured out.

At the moment, my father is using that laptop as his main computer. He's using it for hours every day. We are getting our money's worth.

Not having to pay the Redmont tax is an even bigger deal on a cheap laptop.

I'm not sure, this may be changing, but historically low-end computers are choked with pre-installed software you don't want, and the computer maker collects money for installing this bloatware. Enough money that they make more than they spent on Windows... at least in some cases, you actually would have to pay more to get a Linux computer.

So unless you are really upset with Microsoft and don't want to give them a dime of your money, just buy whatever laptop is a good value, and wipe-and-install.

Comment Re: No, because it FUCKING FAKE NEWS AGAIN (Score 1) 445

I am perfectly aware that IP address for an email server is not a secret. It's how you send email to the server.

I stand by my belief that it is unwise to say "Hey, entire Internet! Here's a Windows server that does not have all its security patches applied! By the way, it's the server of a Very Important Person."

But I don't know what the unapplied patches were. There may not have been any remote exploits among them; I can't say.

Still, I'm certain that the spy agencies of Russia, China, Israel, United Kingdom, and others had all figured out that there was a server called clintonemail.com and that the Secretary of State was putting a lot of traffic on it. I believe it is nearly certain that at least one of the above and probably several used a remote exploit to crack the server and pull all the emails from it.

I kind of wish that the FBI had also cracked the server and pulled down all the emails. With a properly-obtained search warrant of course. Well, too late.

P.S. The above is the context of Trump's famous joke about Russia finding Hillary Clinton's emails. I'm pretty sure his joke was that they probably already have them, and he wasn't publicly requesting that they put their spy agency to work attempting to crack US servers.

Comment Re: No, because it FUCKING FAKE NEWS AGAIN (Score 1, Informative) 445

In the Clinton case it *was* determined that she had sent
- some emails where the contents was retroactively classified. This is not criminal, as Clinton the material *was not* classified at the time.
- A total of 3 emails which contained classified information at the time. However, the "classfied" markings were non-standard which could explain why Clinton did not notice them.

Try 110 emails containing classified information, including 65 "Secret" and 22 "Top Secret", as well as the spy satellite emails that any sensible person would know was extremely secret. Also, as Secretary of State, she had the power to write emails that would be classified, and she was supposed to know how to handle such emails.


Also, Hillary Clinton was required to take classes on the handling of classified documents. She was required to re-take th class each year. We know she took the class once but there is no evidence that she ever re-took the class in later years. Then she testified to the FBI that she had no idea that the mark "(c)" might refer to a document being classified.

Fun fact: Pence was hacked. Clintons email server was not.

How do you know Hillary's email server wasn't hacked? Nobody can check it, since she had it wiped (despite being under subpoena to turn over everything). We know that Microsoft Exchange Server is prone to being 0wned and we know that the IT guy Hillary had working on her server asked Reddit for help when he couldn't get security patches to apply. So there was a period where security patches were not applied to the server, and its IP address and domain name were posted on Reddit.


Microsoft Exchange, known to not have all security patches applied, IP address posted on Reddit, and the Russian and Chinese and Israeli spy organizations had to have figured out that she was running her own server. In my mind the only question is how many different people or organizations cracked her server, not whether it happened at all.

I saw a news story that said "logs from the wiped server did not show any signs that a spear phishing attack had happened" which of course means that nobody ever cracked the server ever by any means. Right?

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