Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Aerial or underground ? (Score 1) 516

Actually it isn't. I work for a publicly owned electric and telecom utility. At a cost that can run upwards of a million (yes, $1,000,000) per *mile* to replace move aerial to underground, the rate payers don't generally want to pay for it. Almost all new construction is buried.

And while it seems like most of the causes for outages would be removed by going underground, you only exchange one set of causes for another. Cars get replaced by gophers. Trees on the line get replace by ice when conduit riser fills with water and freezes. Aerial teardowns due to heavy equipment become backhoes that dig on the wrong place and tear up a line.

You also have confined space issues. Now instead of everyone being certified for climbing, bucket trucks, and cranes, they also have to add confined space training and equipment (including continuing education), confined space rescue teams, interlocal or interagency agreements for CSRTs. All of these things add hidden (but not cheap) costs.

In addition fault locating and repair on an underground is much more manpower and technology intensive than aerial. All of these things drive the cost.

Another problem that factors in is environmental regulations. It is much easier (and cheaper by hundreds of thousands of dollars) to get permission to do an aerial build than underground. Every underground build had to deal with permitting for aquifer contamination, native artifacts, wetlands remediation, and so on and so forth. Permitting can add 10% to 100% to a segment of utility infrastructure.

It all boils down to costs. If you can go to your local utility board, commission, or shareholder meeting and convince them that raising rates by 50% to 500% won't get them burned out of their homes, I'll bet they would jump at it. Every utility I know would love to move most of their aging infrastructure underground.

Comment One VidAd and I'm out (Score 1) 120

I grudgingly reactivated my FB account a few months ago to stay in touch with family, but the minute I see the first video ad I am actually deleting my account. I HATE those. If I land on a page with a video ad, I immediately close the tab and find my content elsewhere. The exception I make to this is youtube because I'm THERE for video content.
The Internet

Ship Anchor, Not Sabotaging Divers, Possibly Responsible For Outage 43

Nerval's Lobster writes "This week, Egypt caught three men in the process of severing an undersea fiber-optic cable. But Telecom Egypt executive manager Mohammed el-Nawawi told the private TV network CBC that the reason for the region's slowdowns was not the alleged saboteurs — it was damage previously caused by a ship. On March 22, cable provider Seacom reported a cut in its Mediterranean cable connecting Southern and Eastern Africa, the Middle East and Asia to Europe; it later suggested that the most likely cause of the incident was a ship anchor, and that traffic was being routed around the cut, through other providers. But repairs to the cable took longer than expected, with the Seacom CEO announcing March 23 that the physical capability to connect additional capacity to services in Europe was "neither adequate nor stable enough," and that it was competing with other providers. The repairs continued through March 27, after faults were found on the restoration system; that same day, Seacom denied that the outage could have been the work of the Egyptian divers, but said that the true cause won't be known for weeks. 'We think it is unlikely that the damage to our system was caused by sabotage,' the CEO wrote in a statement. 'The reasons for this are the specific location, distance from shore, much greater depth, the presence of a large anchored vessel on the fault site which appears to be the cause of the damage and other characteristics of the event.'"

4-Billion-Pixel Panorama View From Curiosity Rover 101

SternisheFan points out that there is a great new panorama made from shots from the Curiosity Rover. "Sweep your gaze around Gale Crater on Mars, where NASA's Curiosity rover is currently exploring, with this 4-billion-pixel panorama stitched together from 295 images. ...The entire image stretches 90,000 by 45,000 pixels and uses pictures taken by the rover's two MastCams. The best way to enjoy it is to go into fullscreen mode and slowly soak up the scenery — from the distant high edges of the crater to the enormous and looming Mount Sharp, the rover's eventual destination."
Electronic Frontier Foundation

DOJ Often Used Cell Tower Impersonating Devices Without Explicit Warrants 146

Via the EFF comes news that, during a case involving the use of a Stingray device, the DOJ revealed that it was standard practice to use the devices without explicitly requesting permission in warrants. "When Rigmaiden filed a motion to suppress the Stingray evidence as a warrantless search in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the government responded that this order was a search warrant that authorized the government to use the Stingray. Together with the ACLU of Northern California and the ACLU, we filed an amicus brief in support of Rigmaiden, noting that this 'order' wasn't a search warrant because it was directed towards Verizon, made no mention of an IMSI catcher or Stingray and didn't authorize the government — rather than Verizon — to do anything. Plus to the extent it captured loads of information from other people not suspected of criminal activity it was a 'general warrant,' the precise evil the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent. ... The emails make clear that U.S. Attorneys in the Northern California were using Stingrays but not informing magistrates of what exactly they were doing. And once the judges got wind of what was actually going on, they were none too pleased:"

Comment I use these... (Score 1) 561

I have similar problem with OCD/ADHD tendancies. I can fixate on conversations, music, beeps, noises, etc. I have several pairs of Panasonic RP-HC55-S noise cancelling in-ear buds (~$50), and I use either ambient music or white/pink noise tracks I have on my mp3 player. They don't cut out high frequencies as well, but the white noise masks a lot of that.

Comment Ethernet over serial anyone? (Score 1) 338

Ethernet over 9600 baud RS232 via a T1 TDM microwave channel. If you follow this entire path end-to-end you would traverse CWDM fiber and a DS3 SONET ring, all the way down to a hand-built addressable serial bridge. Also running 2400 baud serial over ethernet (yes the reverse) using a cell phone at the remote location as the modem.

Comment Games are the only thing (Score 1) 951

Games: Civ III,IV
Galactic Civilizations II, Fallen Enchantress (Pretty please Brad?)
Mechwarrior Online
Star Citizen (forthcoming)

Other Apps:
Office. Seriously. This also keeps me tied to Windows and I hate it. Yes, I know about OpenOffice, but there are certain things that just don't work the way I need them too and I can't spend hours fixing every powerpoint presentation and revision I receive just so that I can use it under OO.

Comment Re:Great, now the terrorists are controlling natur (Score 3, Interesting) 278

I agree. This list is probably opsec from DHS side. Disinformation. If it was me, I would have technically a 'keyword list' matching system specifically for release in FOIA situations like this. The actual searching/identification/tagging is algorithmic and context based and has very little to do with this list.

Comment Re:Examples (Score 4, Insightful) 278

Not necessarily. The keyword list published probably is only the trigger key links. If you also started talking about 'social media' in the context of 'covert channel' you can bet that social media would raise a red flag.

Many of the algorithms used (especially some implementations of Bayesian filters) for this type of scoring are more than capable of correctly (or almost always correctly) identifying and excluding 'trolling'. You look for patterns of recurring words or linked words or synonymic links (aka if 'anthrax' is in my list, also look for '((bacterial OR viral)+agent)'. You look for deltas in the frequency of occurrence with persistence. Couple that with dynamic weighting based on local/national/global new events. So if you suddenly start using the words 'anthrax', 'cities', and 'target' when there isn't anything like that going on, and your conversation persists, that will get a high score. If every 17 days you post a tweet that contains a city name, a time, and a "random" dictionary word (aka a one-time crypto pad), that will probably score much higher than your talking about anthrax right after someone sends a bunch of letters with white powder around the country. IThe sophistication of the language context analysis software that is in existence is way past anything that most people realize.

Comment Regulatory Compliance Costs (Score 1) 562

Actually there is a fiscal reason that doesn't have anything to do with profit directly, but the cost of regulatory compliance. I work for a small electric utility that takes online credit card payments and payments via phone. If people understood how much it costs us in time and equipment to maintain regulatory compliance for PCI/DSS alone they might stop asking some of these questions. We spend hundreds of person hours a year to maintain our ability to provide this service to our customers. We have to perform regular internal audits. We have to perform vulnerability assessments and mitigation specifically related to PCI compliance that we would not otherwise have to mitigate. We have to pay for external audits. We have to maintain, audit, track, systems that are there specifically so that we are PCI compliant. Systems that duplicate other perfectly acceptable and functional systems but those systems don't meet certain criteria that make them 'compliant'. Failure to maintain the correct paperwork, audits, assessments, equipment, and documentation for all of the above (yes we have a paper trail to document our paperwork) can result in fines or loss of our ability to accept payments via online or phone. We only have about 40,000 customers but we dedicate close to $100,000 year in hours, and this doesn't include additional firewalls and network infrastructure capital and maintenance costs.

These regulatory burdens apply to ANY entity that accepts credit cards or e-check via phone or online. So whether you see the figure as a line item or not, you are paying for it.

Comment Re:No. (Score 1) 601

I have to concur with this. In 91 or 92 (I don't remember for sure) I was one of the early group of individuals who downloaded the original PGP that Phil Zimmerman wrote from an online bulletin board. I hung onto that file until several years after the USG decided to drop the whole mess. I've advocated for global adoption of email signing (would substantially reduce the spam problem), and I've been a strong proponent of the general use of encryption and key exchange for email. Over the last couple decades I've implemented email encryption (primarily for signing) off and on, always abandoning it after a while because the percentage of people utilizing it just gets smaller each year. When I do have need to transmit encrypted files (which I do several times a year), I encrypt the files out of band (i.e. not in email) using GnuPG or OpenPGP (PGPi), and I perform the key exchange (if I don't have it) via another method. Then I email the encrypted file as an attachment, or in some cases use SFTP/SCP over ToR to transfer the encrypted data file.

Submission + - All your MMS belong to China (

Sedennial writes: GoSMS is a very popular and well done text messaging application. The GoDEV team also make a suite of other apps (dialer, contact manager, etc) which are highly popular.

Due to a glitch in my wife's phone yesterday, I discovered that all MMS messages sent using GoSMS are being stored on a server in China. I've confirmed the behavior and been able to pull down messages in a web browser.

This leads to the question: What are their other apps doing, and are they behaving the same with their contact manager, dialer history, and other regular text messages?

Social Networks

Submission + - top 10 google and yahoo searches over the past 10 (

waldini writes: This brought back so many memories! More importantly, it shows us our obsessions in that point of time and what was most important to our society. For example, Britney Spears was the most googled term for 2 yrs and 4 years on Yahoo. In 2008, "Facebook Login" was the 3rd most googled term. It just shows us how thing change and we change. I can not think of a better indicator of us then this. Great to get your thoughts?

Slashdot Top Deals

The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow