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Comment Re: A brief history of Slashdot tr0lling (Score 1) 328

Oh, thanks, I totally forgot about the Slashdot bitchslap.

And I'm not claiming the tr0lls weren't clever and occasionally hysterical. I'm just saying that the continual repost of "BSD is dying, Netcraft confirms it" on every single story had long degenerated from trolling to nothing more than protoplasmic copypasta spam, right down there in the sewage with the casino links. (And yes, there were many funny on-topic variants of the BSD meme that brightened up lots of different comment threads.)

Comment Fixing Number Spoofing is Hard (Score 1) 120

Sure, it's just a simple matter of programming to re-architect the signalling system that's driven the phone companies since the mid-80s. Unfortunately, number spoofing has been an important feature for legitimate businesses - it lets them do things like always give you the number of their main office as caller-id, even if the person is calling from a remote office, or let you give the direct number of the caller, even if the call is getting routed through the company's main office PBX VOIP gateway. It also provides the ability to do a lot more complicated things. And (this mattered more back then than now) it let them run phone switches on processors that were made in the 1960s and 1970s, and with mainframes that might have 10 MIPS of CPU power (compared with the wimpy 1 MIPS VAX I was using in 1980.) My wristwatch probably has less RAM than that, but probably a much faster CPU, and my wimpy Android phone has about as much RAM as my VAX had disk.

And yes, within the next decade we may well have re-architected the world's phone systems away from the designs we used back then (and much of the implementation has changed radically already), but interface standards stick around a lot longer than implementations, and are a lot harder to get rid of.

Comment A brief history of Slashdot tr0lling (Score 4, Informative) 328

[Apologies for the l33t sp33k, but the lameness filter is actually pretty effective at blocking even the discussion of the older common tr0lls.]

Tr0lling originally started out as posting something on-topic but factually wrong in order to get reactions from people. Tr0lling was elevated by some to become its own art form; the best tr0lls could get pedants to crawl out of the woodwork like termites fleeing a flood. And the resulting posts and reactions were genuinely funny -- anyone who understood what was going on got a good laugh. But that kind of tr0lling peaked over a decade ago.

Other garbage has since cycled through Slashdot like ugly fashions on a New York runway. First came the memes: sites confirming the passing of various operating systems, etc., which at least often tried to stay on topic. They were inoffensive, but showed little real effort; they quickly stopped being amusing. Then came the nonsensical randomness, such as a certain movie starlet known for Star Wars and a lap full of hot breakfast food (I never quite understood that one). They were perhaps attempting to be absurd but mostly came off as stupid; again, they were reasonably inoffensive. But the current rash of copy-paste has become the new nadir, where cud-chewing morons too stupid to create their own original racism have figured out enough of the clipboard to re-vomit someone else's puke in the comments.

( In a huge burst of irony, some of the tr0lls themselves got pedantic, claiming the garbage posts did not qualify as "tr0lling" under their definition. Thus ended the reign of the major tr0lls, whose posts were quickly modded down into the -1 muck along with the rest of the bile. )

Throughout all of this, anonymous cowards and other low-lifes have always posted hate speech, political screeds, and offensive, racist crap. Browsing at -1, however briefly, will expose you to the words of horrible, useless human beings. Don't do it -- just click "no".

Slashdot has fought back, of course. The lameness filter has long kept out garbage like ASCII art, and certain phrases that I couldn't quote in this post. The remarkable bottom line is that Slashdot's moderation system, flawed as it may be, has kept the comments mostly readable for a very long time. Sites that failed to emulate it have come and gone, mostly forgotten by all but the Wayback Machine. Sites that still allow comments have almost nothing usable in them (youtube is a prime example of a site with unusable comments.) Meanwhile, Slashdot's community has managed to keep some semblance of order together. That's quite an achievement, especially over the nearly two decades of its existence.

Comment Re:Science is still vague and unsettled (Score 1) 609

What I love about this is that a sociologist, of all people, a practitioner of a "science" almost as soft (read: inaccurate and trend-driven) as psychology, feels compelled to weigh in on the unreasonable nature of trying for actual correctness.

I think he's very well-positioned to refute this idea. He knows better than most that human nature is not rational, and won't fit neatly into a rational-based society. He likely has the data to back up those assertions.

Comment Police Abuse of Power (Score 0) 393

Just wait.

You haven't seen anything yet if that Clinton gets a hold of the Executive Branch.

Your not only going to have more police militarization, they will finally do away with most of the civil amedments in the constitution.

The only thing you will be able to defend yourself with is harsh language.

Comment Re:Walmart (Score 1) 118

Anyway, this story is about a better way to mobile-pay, IMO. QR scanning rates higher than the "touch your phone to the pad" customer experience. At least it seems more reliable, in my experience. And scanners are always present at checkouts today... the specialized pads for proximity readers are not.

Smartphone based barcodes are often difficult for scanners to read. Scanners are primarily designed to pick up reflected light - the scanner transmits light, it bounces off the barcode, and the scanner receives the image. But a phone's screen is backlit with a pulse-width modulated array of flickering LEDs; flickering that is not in sync with the scanner's imaging sensor. They are not all engineered to read light transmissive screens. Some scanners have the option to turn off the light when reading a phone screen, which can help

The "touching a phone to a pad" experience depends largely on the technology of the phone. Samsung's MST is a pure hack, and whether or not it works depends entirely on the geometry of the heads concealed in the reader -- a reader that wasn't designed to read anything but a mag stripe on a card.

An NFC phone is very reliable because NFC readers are specifically engineered to read contactless devices. They are much more reliable than either Samsung's MFT or smartphone QR codes. Right now NFC is more secure than mag stripes, but less secure than EMV. They're much faster and more convenient than EMV or QR codes. The QR codes are probably more secure than NFC cards (for right now) and are probably on par with Apple Pay, but there's no way of knowing how secure any of the back end systems are.

Comment Re:Likely won't eventuate (Score 1) 298

Atmospheric life support systems would easily be externalized, provided by whatever carrier is currently responsible for them. They already hook planes up to external A/C units while they're parked at the gate so the passengers don't freeze or roast while the APU engines are off, conserving jet fuel. Similarly, when they plug the pods in, they'd establish the ventilation connections.

But it doesn't solve the related problems of food or restrooms. You'd have to externalize the facilities, because plumbing sewer and water would not only add lots of weight to each pod, but would take up too much room that could be occupied by paying passengers.

I doubt jettisoning pods in-flight would be a design consideration. A life threatening problem could possibly be solved by deploying the pod's fire suppression system. It risks the humans inside that pod, but that might be a needed outcome depending on the situation.

Comment Re:Take the PCIe logo off the box (Score 1) 157

Um, they fixed it with new drivers, in the default configuration you'll either get current drivers or if you choose to install old drivers from media you'll be prompted to upgrade very quickly if not at install time (I know current NVidia installers check for updates from the web at install time).

Comment Re:Likely won't eventuate (Score 1) 298

The cost of hauling an extra couple of kilograms today works out to about a million dollars in extra fuel over the service life of the airframe. Unless those pods and parachutes weigh less than the current seat and overhead bins, they're going to be rejected by the airlines. Either that or the price for riding in a pod will be based on total pod weight, resulting in fares substantially higher than today's ticket prices.

Some things would be different, of course. Pods could be routed to an off-airport TSA checkpoint for pre-flight bomb sniffing, and post-flight they would be diverted to customs, immigration, and agricultural inspection centers, letting the airlines off the hook for paying for on-airport facilities. On-airport parking would be dramatically reduced. Private party pods would be all the rage for wealthy people. Brokers would spring up with matchmaking services where they cram multiple strangers into a single pod, trying to lower the ticket prices. But affordable tickets would probably come to an end.

Comment Re:Sometimes... (Score 1, Troll) 159

Yeah, I miss the old days when cars used to break down completely before they reached 80,000 miles, and when they poured out lead-contaminated exhaust and enough sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide to create acid rain, and when they got 8 miles per gallon, and when they would fly off the corners in improperly banked turns, and fly into a spin when braking on a wet road, and would impale drivers on steering wheel shafts in head-on collisions. Not only could you fix them with a screwdriver, but you could steal them with a screwdriver, too, just by hammering it into the key slot and twisting it with a wrench.

Or were you implying that "over"-engineering was a bad thing?

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The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Paul Erlich