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Businesses

SpaceX Accident Cost it Hundreds of Millions (fortune.com) 67

Elon Musk's SpaceX lost more than a quarter of a billion dollars in 2015 after a botched cargo run to the International Space Station and the subsequent grounding of its Falcon 9 rocket fleet, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. From a report: The accident derailed SpaceX's expectations of $1.8 billion in launch revenue in 2016, an analysis of the privately held firm's financial documents showed, according to the Journal, which said it had obtained the documents. SpaceX declined to comment on the Journal's report. In a statement emailed to Reuters, SpaceX chief financial officer Bret Johnsen said the company "is in a financially strong position" with more than $1 billion in cash reserves and no debt.

Comment Same for small plane crashes (Score 1) 270

The media are all over small plane crashes much the same way, giving a highly distorted view of just how safe aviation is. Aviation organizations like AOPA have started to get on the media's case about this.

If they reported car crashes with the same enthusiasm the "news" would be nothing but car crashes.

...laura

Comment Security through obscurity (Score 1) 95

It's radio. Anybody in the vicinity can listen in all they like. Back in the bad old days this was Industry Canada's position, that cellphones were not private and there was nothing anybody could do about it.

Unlike AMPS, the communications are digital. So what. If you are sufficiently determined you can decode the data you have captured.

...laura

Comment Set up a dummy account (Score 1) 348

If push came to shove I'd set up dummy Facebook and Twitter accounts and let CBP see them. No good way to tell which of the several hundred Laura Hallidays on Facebook is me. Post some pictures of cats, a few likes, done.

I already engage in some self-censorship. There are a few CDs (mainly Russian and Israeli acts) I leave at home when I cross the border.

...laura

Comment Facebook is for old people (Score 1) 534

I accept that advertising is what supports platforms like Facebook (indeed, just about everything on the internet), but please remember the user in all of this. My computer is mine. My browser is mine. Monopolizing it while you play an irrelevant auto-play video is just not cool.

Facebook is relatively tame in this respect. I've seen worse.

...laura

Comment Re:What's the big problem? (Score 1) 675

I remember a few years ago seeing that my Amex was about to expire, and wondering when my new card was going to arrive.

Then I got a phone call from American Express. Had my new card arrived? No. Did I live alone? Yes. Did I know any men with Russian accents? Uh, no...

Yup: somebody had stolen my card and had gone on a shopping spree with it, triggering security alerts. My bill that month was about 50 pages, interesting charges (all local, curiously), then pages of Credit for Fraudulent Charge. I asked what my liability in the matter was and they said zero: unlike most other credit cards, American Express cards may only be used by the cardholder ("non-transferrable"), and if the merchants hadn't verified the identity of somebody who was really unlikely to be named "Laura", that was their problem, not mine.

...laura

Security

DARPA Will Stage an AI Fight in Las Vegas For DEF CON (yahoo.com) 89

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "A bunch of computers will try to hack each other in Vegas for a $2 million prize," reports Tech Insider calling it a "historic battle" that will coincide with "two of the biggest hacking conferences, Blackhat USA and DEFCON". DARPA will supply seven teams with a supercomputer. Their challenge? Create an autonomous A.I. system that can "hunt for security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to attack a computer, create a fix that patches that vulnerability and distribute that patch -- all without any human interference."

"The idea here is to start a technology revolution," said Mike Walker, DARPA's manager for the Cyber Grand Challenge contest. Yahoo Tech notes that it takes an average of 312 days before security vulnerabilities are discovered -- and 24 days to patch it. "if all goes well, the CGC could mean a future where you don't have to worry about viruses or hackers attacking your computer, smartphone or your other connected devices. At a national level, this technology could help prevent large-scale attacks against things like power plants, water supplies and air-traffic infrastructure.

It's being billed as "the world's first all-machine hacking tournament," with a prize of $2 million for the winner, while the second and third place tem will win $1 million and $750,000.

Comment Null Island, Pacific style (Score 1) 91

A long time ago I was working with GPS applications and their internal representation of longitude meant our Null Island was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 0 north, 180 west.

We figured out the conventions of the mapping application we were using (no Google Maps yet, and the documentation was vague) by trial and error. Our first attempts to plot GPS fixes from a drive along a local freeway showed a blank area with no freeway, nor much of anything else. We found that we were drawing a map centred on 49 degrees north (correct) but 123 degrees east, out in the middle of nowhere near the border between China, Mongolia and Russia. Nearest town Harbin, China...

...laura

Comment What else is new? (Score 3, Insightful) 170

Step 1: Apple introduced the iPad and everybody was desperate to get one because it was the trendy item to have.

Step 2: people started figuring out what they could do with a handy portable computer.

Step 3: everybody who had a use for a tablet had one and the sales dropped off to replacement level.

Any remotely interesting new product is going to grow at unsustainable levels until the market is saturated. Then the growth stops.

...laura

Comment blind spot (Score -1) 240

Maybe the problem isn't that the music costs these distributors too much, but that the customers aren't paying the distributors enough?

Back in the last half of the 20th century, the music industry had a pretty viable business model, in which people who wanted to listen to music bought copies of it, and got to listen to those whenever they wanted. This model worked so well that it supported retail stores, distributors, recording companies, and musicians. It produced most of the music you listen to today. Of course then the music went digital, the internet arrived everywhere, and a whole generation got hooked on the myth that creative work like music doesn't need money to support it. So of course your favorite give-me-all-I-want-for-pocket-change distribution channels are failing, and everything "new" sounds like a bland imitation of stuff from 20 to 50 years ago.

Econ 101: you get what you pay for.

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