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Comment FORTRAN, Adventure and adventures in hacking (Score 1) 622

Aside from BASIC and 8080/Z80, FORTRAN.

FORTRAN was -- for some still is-- the 'Perl' of scientific computing. Get it in and get it done... and it doesn't always compile down very tight, but always fast because for mainframe developers getting this language optimized for a new architecture was first priority.

At 15, the first real structured program I ever de-constructed completely while teaching myself the language, was the FORTRAN IV source for Crowther and Woods Colossal Cave Adventure, widely regarded as 'the' original interactive text adventure, a genre which would later go multi-user to become the MUD. Read about it here, or play it in Javascript.

FORTRAN IV and Dartmouth BASIC (I'll toss in RPG II also) were the 'flat' GOTO-based languages, an era of explicit rather than implicit nesting -- a time in which high level functions were available to use or define but humans needed to plan and implement the actual structure in programs mentally by using conditional statements and labels to JUMP over blocks of code. Sort of "assembly language with benefits".

Crowther's PDP-11 Adventure version was running on the 36-bit GE-600 mainframes of GEISCO (General Electric Information Services) Mark III Foreground timesharing system... this is in the golden age of timesharing and no one did it better than GE. It took HOURS at 300bps and two rolls of thermal paper to print out the source and data files, and I the Adventure code and data out on the floor and traced the program mentally, keeping a notebook of what was stored in what variable... I had far more fun doing this than playing the game itself.

Then the "real life" adventure began. I started poking around on the Mark III timesharing system, and found a way to jump out of my partitioned access and explore. What really helped was a collection of FORTRAN/77 system utilities written by an engineer working at GEISCO (this is General Electric, no relation to GEICO and the year is ~1980). Their development environment as well as the commercial systems were controlled by password protected accounts, each with file/user areas... BUT there was also this command line debugger that was able to write to memory regions beyond your own job, and if you were able to parse out memory structures (reading source for the utilities helped) you could "punch yourself in" to any user number (location), effectively changing identity to that of another user and seeing their files. Or examine the buffers containing character streams of other users' terminals in real time. It was fascinating and I soon had developed a suite of tools in F77 to assist in exploration of the system, leap-frogging onto the commercial file systems too. I kept the source encrypted by the F77 'SCRAM' function, decrypting it only to edit and compile. My cache of tools was stored "in" a user number that did not exist, you can think of it as a unpointed-to lost cluster of sorts. I was totally white hat about it, never prying into customer files (McDonald's etc.) and even wrote a summary of vulnerabilities and dropped it into one of their secure areas. I just wanted to be hired. Cat 'n mouse games ensued, even a trace and FBI phone tap. GEISCO originally thought I was a rogue employee but when they learned I was just a kid the heat was off, they were afraid of public embarrassment. They bought me a plane ticket to Rockville MD so they could pick my brain, and the matter was closed soon after. I was not hired.

Lots of people have played Colossal Cave Adventure over the years, but in my mind the game is synonymous with the Mark III timesharing system itself, that was the biggest cave of all.

I had write access to their entire network. What did I do with my "superpower"? Well for one thing, I scanned to find ALL copies of Colossal Cave Adventure on their system, there were about a dozen that had been copied by various engineers. In each one I patched the text file to add a line to the description of the Orange Stone Room:

You are in a splendid chamber thirty feet high. The walls are frozen rivers of orange stone.
A recently carved inscription on the South wall reads, "ARTOO DETOO WAS HERE."

Comment Re:I thought we were in love (Score 1) 107

History repeats the old conceits
The glib replies the same defeats
Keep your finger on important issues
With crocodile tears and a pocketful of tissues
I'm just the oily slick
On the windup world of the nervous tick
In a very fashionable hovel

~Elvis Costello, Beyond Belief

Silicon Valley, more entertaining than any novel

Comment "OK Google, why are digital utopians so stupid?" (Score 1) 606

"OK Google, why are digital utopians so stupid?"

"Digital utopians are stupid because they have deliberately dampened neuron activity in certain parts of the brain that help humans to assess basic risk. They willfully ignore any common sense or cultural references that trivially reveal the risk, and their acceptance of the 'new' is spiced with a sense of entitlement that any consequences of ignoring said risks would only open a treasure chest of legal pushback, where they can play the 'victim/dissatisfied customer' for cash and prizes."

"If the consequences are fatal, their heirs get the treasure."

"This is why people buy voice-activated gadgets."
"This is why people watch Harry Potter movies while their cars speed down the highway."

Ok Google, my Roomba has swelled 10x its original size and my wife is missing. What should I do?"

"Return it for a full refund."

Comment People Abandoning the Human 'Niche' (Score 1) 95

Wolves' domestication is merely a step towards occupying the niche that has been held by humans over the past couple thousand years, which people are now abandoning as they increasingly begin to act like animals. I attribute this to the rise in 'furry' culture and animal avatars in Second Life, and the whole 'horse schlong' thing.

People have also been observed repeatedly making swiping motions on their smartphones to navigate endless Javascript scrolls on social media platforms like Facebook, which is a re-emergence of social grooming habits. When the cell networks finally go down we will drop our phones and instead resume picking fleas off each other, while the wolves take our places in industry and commerce.

Comment Microsoft Botnet DOS Attack in Progress (Score 3, Funny) 58

"You walked away from your machine for ten minutes, ha ha!"
"Windows 10 is updating whether you (the fuck) like it or not."
"This should take a minute (or 20) (or 30)"
"Do not ask why replacing a few signed components takes so long"
"Do not turn off your computer"

Glad I also have an old ATM running XP SP3 to use.

Comment Re:Greetings from the alternate universe! (Score 1) 44

There is nothing ridiculous there. Key signing parties are the ONLY solution to the trust problem. Everything else compromises the idea through implicit (or unintended) centralized trust, misleading obfuscation or outright snake oil. The problem itself is ridiculous, not the only real solution.

Which of my public keys is the right one? The first one you see in an unencrypted email to you or DNS-steered web page? The one that comes to you armored within SSL or S/MIME signed through a CA chain to Symantec whose subsidiary Thawte had gone a little rogue? It's that first key exchange between users that holds the greatest danger... and in the real world people suddenly feel the need for encryption only sometimes, such as a submission to WikiLeaks, I imagine that among the world's CAs the pressure to sign rogue certs is intense. It is even illogical to assume it has never happened.

My ability to create a 'fake' WikiLeaks PGP key pair is very useful because it reveals underlying truth. You know you could do it too and therefore, the state of being vulnerable is known to both of us. To solve the problem of how key signing parties might become practical, is also to solve the people-trust problem. They are the same.

In all these years since practical RSA, there has been plenty easier this or less attackable that, but in my view there has been only ONE true lightning-strike moment. As Perfect Forward Secrecy is implemented, at least now when private server keys are compromised we will no longer have previously captured encrypted intercepts, perhaps even years of traffic, suddenly readable.

In the realm of key trust between strangers, no progress. Be wary of anyone who offers it to you. They're probably just asking you to trust them.

Comment Greetings from the alternate universe! (Score 4, Insightful) 44

People have been trying to find a replacement for PGP almost since the day it was released

I've been around since PGP first popularized public key email and while there have been various problems with Zimmerman's implementation from time to time (as with S/MIME since)... I do not recall any broad opposition to it or GnuPG... besides intelligence agencies who would be satisfied with nothing less than outlawing non-escrow encryption. We were in fact excited and intrigued by it, and it was fun to use even if you weren't paranoid. This must be a dispatch from the Millennial Alternate Universe where or any project emitted by Microsoft or promised by Google or announced in a press release is considered to be a vast improvement on what came before it.

End-To-End Encryption implemented solely in Javascript which is served up by the company that's not supposed to be spying on you is not worth the paper it's printed on. And Key Transparency is a fancy way of saying, use our single point of failure Internet Gizmo 'solution' to handle key management so you don't have to think about insurmountable issues of trust, as were directly addressed in Zimmerman's day (key signing parties, etc.).

Comment Win for them maybe, lose for you definitely. (Score 0) 44

Never mind the "Depending on the specific project, time of year and other factors" sleaze-speak, behind which is hidden some reality that would temper the tone of the press release... and just going with that absurd 80% figure... what they're describing here is (by definition) a facility that always consumes more energy than it produces. "Gonna give back to the grid" people can remain blissfully silent. So regardless of what it means for them, what it would mean for you is that these Amazon warehouses will be contributing ~80% less annually to the local energy cooperatives whose infrastructure they (and you) rely on to maintain reliable 24/7 electricity delivered over the grid.

Which means your local Amazon-hosting energy cooperative will lose a significant amount of buying power as it routinely makes bulk purchases from the grid. Nevertheless, no one on the grid will be able retire a single generating plant now in operation but they will bring in less revenue because they must remain on standby. Because, night and solar holidays.

There is only one context in which this could be said as a win for everyone, namely a 'theoretical' offset to necessary global electrical capacity by a tiny amount. That is worth something. Actually ~0.0012% of global nameplate capacity. I take that back, this 45 megawatts sounds like a lot but is hardly worth anything. It is half the capacity of the smallest gas-fired plant you'd ever want to build, should you be more concerned with reliability than enrichment of the solar industry. But would be worth even less if true costs of implementation (including manufacture of solar panels, the re-engineering to support extra weight) and the fossil fuel burned in those things might be factored in, which it will most assuredly will not be. Press release land is feelgood land.

Installation of IRRELIABLE energy sources anywhere on the grid is like little skin cancers growing here and there. Gaia worshipers will gladly scratch those itchy bumps until the first round of "Whod'a'Thunk it" brownouts and grid failures begins. They'll imagine that if the worst happens they will be able to retreat into some solar/wind/hydro enclave to enjoy a quaint Medieval lifestyle (with smartphones) while the massive population outside those tiny bubbles just agrees to lay down, starve and die.

Solar and wind will never power the factories that manufacture wind turbines and solar panels, let alone purify your drinking water, treat your sewage or keep you from freezing in Winter. Little green lollipops for environMENTALists to suck on. There's only one way out and it's nuclear.

Comment BILL 'em, Danno (Score 1) 64

I'm no stranger to this kind of logic. I once read somewhere that healthy dogs have wet noses so I used to spray my dog's nose several times a day.

In the 90s just before before email spam exploded (because there were millions of open SMTP relays out there)... someone at MAE noticed that during the quietest times of day bandwidth in use was more than 50% comprised of ICMP packets, specifically PING. Several hundred thousand administrators for countless reasons wrote scripts to see if their things were 'up' to run all the time. Once per second, every five seconds, every hour, whatever. It added up to a ridiculous amount of data. And it was mostly padding garbage, these folks did NOT bother to use the minimum size ping packet either (I did). But hey, even though they were using ~40x the bandwidth they needed to use, at least someone was doing real work.

The authors of this IP/GDP correlation study should be sent a bill for their use of the network calculated from 1995 rates as a financial incentive to seek GDP statistics directly. Perhaps no one ever introduced them to Wikipedia.

Comment ... ROLL BACK FIREFOX ... (Score 1) 319


Until the ESC key once again interrupts ALL network activity without exception and without delay. Including damned DNS lookups in progress. While we're at it, how about tracking registered JS timer callback events and upon pressing of ESC (pending reload) completely cancel or stub out the fuckers. Leaving you with a static scrollable page with content you can actually READ even though someone's endless JIT crap keeps failing.

Fuck people who write JSON whose fragile servers melt down when net lookups or connections are broken because of bad engineering. Fuck cloud immediate expiry DNS games. And fuck Mozilla's decision to prevent end users from being able to abort page loads.

Add your own 'roll back Firefox' comments!

Comment Re:Lack of Oxygen (Score 2) 176

Volcanoes co2 emissions lessen as planet still cools, plants who depend on rich co2 die back, less o2 emitted, less breathable air, animals tend to have a small air inway, o2/fuel requirements to keep a 1000lb animal active > available resources = most don't make it

Plants are stupid. They should all die.

I laugh at the thought that some plants have suffered sub-optimal, even stunted growth in the run up to the Industrial Revolution. For many plants CO2 was almost down to 'gasping' level. It is funny to imagine plants gasping and panicking for breath. I am angry at volcanoes for helping to feed plants now and then, but at least volcanoes blot out the sun and lengthen Winter so you can imagine nasty plant things suffering in other ways too. Now Trump man comes along and wants to feed the plants with more fossil fuel and stirring up swamp gas. He should mind his own business and leave the plants alone. Did you know that if you move a house plant a little farther from the window every day it will begin to lean towards it? Then all of a sudden you turn the pot around. It's hilarious!

I hate plants. Plants are stupid.

Comment AT&T is after me! They won't stop! (Score 2) 25

Hello. My name is [myname], and I am an AT&T Internet only customer. No TV. No phone.

Every day I have to wipe the brown stains off my postal mailbox and email Inbox as AT&T and Suddenlink vie for domination in my town. The postal mailbox is stuffed full of "occupant" flyers showing happy families made whole again by Television, their faces angelically illuminated by TV screens. It's gone from "A special offer for you, [myname]" all the way to "What the HELL is wrong with you, [myname]? We're beginning to worry about you, [yourname]. Unless you order TV you should get your head examined, [yourname]".

And I know that my own AT&T Internet performance in my area is going to start dropping soon as more people start streaming to their HD televisions as they fall asleep with their eyes open and slack mouths drooling. Even though it's not their fault, I cannot help but hate those people, I'd like to yank their plugs.

But I'll give AT&T credit though, when Suddenlink first arrived they did let me lock in a lower Internet rate for awhile "as a valued customer", of course that was to inoculate me against becoming infected with Suddenlink. But the joke's on them. I stick with AT&T/DSL in the 21st century because coaxial distribution is grid-down crap, with busy-boxes on utility poles each with a 6-hour UPS (that fails within 4) between your house and the nearest diesel generator. AT&T may be a sad remnant of the POTS glory that it once was, but their headworks still tend to have generator backup.

I watch Youtube videos at 144p unless someone is writing on a blackboard. To AT&T I must seem like a monster, some neckbeard modem-hugger teletype-head. Baudot on the brain. Because Shannon's Law Matters. I refuse to CONSUME unless I am HUNGRY.

Comment If Amazon was REALLY serious... (Score 1) 84

If Amazon was serious about their centralized transaction and distribution model, their commitment to moving products from manufacture to seller over ever increasing distances, their commitment to deep processing power, with its necessity for an energy-rich future...

They would get behind Thorium and LFTR.
And let other silly, deluded corporate hobbyists fund the low-yield weather-intermittent countless points of failure crap.

Updated for 2017! All original unless noted! Browse! Engage! Plagiarize!

This letter of mine has been in Donald Trump's possession since May 2, 2016 . If you read it you may discover why I considered Trump the only candidate worthy of such a message. In his pronouncement to pursue energy self-sufficiency in general and consider nuclear an essential part of the mix, there is hope. The others offer nothing but more years of bad road and an obscenely stupid fixation on base load irredeemables (wind and solar). Trump is literally the only one with the courage to stand up to the tripe.

In 2013 I reached out to Senator Inhofe to propose an energy path for Oklahoma and the country.

Also in 2013 I reached out directly to Halliburton Corporate with a very specific idea that just might have laid groundwork for their secure long-term future. At the time their stock was climbing towards $70 and they probably thought they didn't have a care in the world. Not so good now. Not a glimmer from this one either. I had high hopes for it.

Mentioned in these letters is Faulkner's 2005 paper on Electric (HVDC) pipelines, and the two hour Thorium Remix 2011 video presentation (time index below).

It's fun to discuss nuclear energy on Slashdot ... It's time for Elmo to Grow Up!... A brief history of nuclear energy fear in these United States... You should fear everything besides nuclear energy... Solar drives California towards cannibalism, or your money back... There's a fire, and people pushing intermittent sources are blocking the exits... Hiding wonders of the modern world from the kids...Some energy priorities... 2016: The Year in energy... Meet the folks of TBA, a city willing to store spent nuclear fuel... Nothing is as patriotic as mining... A move to LFTR may be the only way to preserve modern society in the face of disaster (volcanism, Maunder minimum)... Can the grid 'black-start' after a disaster?... Sometimes you just have to point things out... some confuse Weinberg's '300 year best-fit for waste' two fluid design for other single fluid designs... or using solid fuel Thorium, which is pointless so long as uranium is available... yes it's full of dangerous glop, but it is useful and happy glop... yes, I think a LFTR could be developed and built within $4B... every path to biofuels leads to scorched-earth disaster, Thorium energy gives us the surplus to generate synfuels... Decommissionining of nuclear plants promotes an ugly 'vulture culture'... One way to do it: ThorCon, a thorium burner not breeder... Aside from your own yard or roof, solar and wind are losers... With LFTR surplus we could begin making diesel and fertilizer... Do it for the children... No-Plan-Stan tries to derail another discussion about Thorium... EVOLUTIONARY DEAD END COOKIES (serves 7 billion)... AND YOU MY FRIEND -- you would look especially good in Space ... To summarize most energy threads on Slashdot... Finally! Someone who feels personally threatened by solar net-metering!... Golly Gee, it's the UN Convention for Nuclear Safety... Antineutrino Detection is a good thing, but be wary of the Church of Environmentalism... Beware the pseudo-environmentalism of waste-fault-finding... An Admiral Rickover fact check (severe tire damage)... LNT (linear no threshold) needs re-examination... No I'm not risk adverse, just risk conscious... Don't destroy the environment, use surplus energy to sequester CO2 (if you wish)... Welcome to Camp Awesome... Build a giant wind turbine for Toad Suck... SAY HELLO TO THE SUPERTOY OF THE FUTURE, the nuclear/RTG powered Teddy bear!... Sitting Ducks Hail Megatons to Megawatts... Weaponize space (for asteroids)... One must sift past Fukushima fear-hype... So what is good about Fukushima Daiichi?...And no, it's not a freaking extinction level event... (Leslie Corrice on the 'cancer spike'), so keep a level head about it... No, Japan is not decided on nuclear power... Energy subsidies! The stupid, it burns! and Japan's biggest mistake...Meanwhile China is forging ahead on nuclear power... China is poised to build 'Americas' wherever it pleases... Meet Robert Faulkner, (apparently) the only other person who believes in HVDC pipelines... A look at Electricity in the Time of Cholera... On the new coal powered IBM Power8 chips... Thorium lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. Why aren't you helping?

THORIUM REMIX 2011 [2:23:49], INDEX OF CONTENT: LFTR in 5 minutes ... Dialogue on Energy sources & conservation ... Elizabeth May (Green Party of Canada) on why nuclear 'fails', response ... Kirk Sorensen's time at NASA, discovering molten salt research ... On Glenn Seaborg's discovery of Thorium's fissile properties in 1942 ... What nuclear fission is, decay chains, half life ... Neutron absorption, cross section, Xenon poisoning at Hanford ... Isotopic enrichment, Thorium/u233 rejected for weapons ... Atoms for Peace, absorption propensity and performance of nuclear fuels, thermal & fast spectrum, Thorium/Plutonium debate ... Alvin Weinberg focuses on Thorium and liquid fuels, Oak Ridge Labs, Aircraft Reactor Experiment, the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, Fluoride Salts ... Two-fluid molten salt reactor ... Light water reactors, Watts Bar, reactor safety and containment systems, issues with water, Fukushima Daiichi hydrogen explosions ... Solid fuel & rod assemblies, Eugene Wigner & liquid fuels ... PWR efficiency, Weinberg's quest for near-100% utilization, AEC's choice to pursue Plutonium fast breeders ... Weinberg's concerns about LWR safety, Congressman Chet Hollifeld's inquiry, Weinberg leaves Oak Ridge, WASH-1222, Integral Fast Reactor, Traveling Wave ... Fusion is hard ... Thorium in a CANDU ... Colonel Paul Roege on military reactors, Robert Hargraves: prosperity is related to energy, Robert F. Kennedy on mercury from coal ... Transuranics, LFTR active processing, electricity & isotope production from LFTR, Pu-238 and RTGs, Molybdenum-99 & Bismuth-213 in medicine ... Cost to build LFTR ... Proliferation concerns ... Hysterical news coverage of radiation, LNT ... Coal & natural gas radioactive emissions, Thorium & Uranium decay in the Earth, magnetosphere, Hargraves on CO2 emissions & ocean acidification & energy density, one-sided press coverage for 'renewables' ... Various approaches to nuclear power, the 'reason why not' (LFTR), LWR business model ... China and LFTR, Sorensen's visit to Oak Ridge to obtain access to LFTR documents, the Chinese visit Oak Ridge ... Thorium and rare earths, China's domination of rare earths market, China's LFTR program ... Transitioning energy sources, without plentiful energy we will revert to slavery, energy cheaper than from coal ... Process heat applications, desalinization, synfuels, Brayton Cycle, managing transuranics, gas & oil working against nuclear, closing remarks and recap.

Think of me as the Trix Rabbit of Thorium.

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This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough hunchbacks.