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Comment let's rewrite that to reflect reality... (Score 1) 130

Two senior Democratic lawmakers with access to classified intelligence on Thursday accused Russia of "making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election,"

>>>>

Two senior Democratic lawmakers (because all the Republican ones were "out to lunch") with access to classified intelligence (which they shouldn't have revealed even the existence of, if they're really and truly classified) on Thursday (the best day for reporting viral news) said that the people (who were actually aliens wearing face-masks) who came to them (without providing any concrete verifiable proof of their credentials) put some bits of paper in front of them (without any way for those lawmakers to verify the authenticity of the documents) which had some words in it *claiming* to "accuse Russia of making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election,"

what a complete crock. over how many pairs of eyes do these people *really* think that this can be pulled? oh wait.... they've probably run the numbers, and they only need to make it look like *DEMOCRAT* Lawmakers are incompetent, so that a large enough percentage will vote for Republican.... and the rest they can swing by manipulating the numbers using that new-fangled "percentage" adjustment they added into the backdoors after the last time some of the vote totals went NEGATIVE. i wonder if they remembered to do rounding to integers? we'll find out soon enough, if the number of votes comes out to "25012.79" won't we!

Comment just install skype (Score 1) 75

y'know... skype used to have this feature, y'know? it wasn't completely undetectable, but it *used* to have the ability to disguise itself as pretty much anything, so that it would "just work" in the face of badly-configured firewalls, DNS servers, idiot companies that blocked *all* incoming and outgoing traffic stone-dead including ICMP (including BGP and other absolutely crucial traffic) with the statement "you've got unrestricted access to port 80, that's the 'internet' isn't it, what the hell are you complaining about yer lame-techie-wannabe-tuck-fard??"

it also had the ability to create any kind of tunneling over pretty much any port and any protocol (TCP, UDP, you name it, it could do it) such that it was pretty much impossible to shut it down.

AND THEN.... for no good reason WHATSOEVER [1], skype changed hands not once but THREE TIMES in succession. now it's under the "control" of microsoft, and anyone considering installing it now is a fool. it's been turned into a "cloud is all" protocol. there's no peer-to-peer capability. that leaves it vulnerable to being mass-IP-range blocked. anyone can work out what the IP range(s) are of the various "cloud" servers used by microsoft are... and just block them (regardless of consequences).

so i *would* have said "just tell them to install skype". except we can logically deduce that it was SOME FUCKWIT IN THE U.S. GOVERMNENT who caused skype, in its current release, to lose its inherent firewall-busting capabilities to be COMPLETELY REMOVED.

and with skype being proprietary, and the "startup" (bootstrap) nodes no longer being run or "supported", we cannot even run older versions of skype any more because the older versions have been shut down. oh, and it's proprietary, so it would be man-decades before it is properly reverse-engineered. oh, and the original creators are likely to have been asked (or threatened) to enter into some serrrrious non-compete contract which, even if it wasn't legally enforceable, they probably understood the full implications were that if they wanted to keep all their body parts, they'd better like, y'know, not even *think* about writing a replacement / competitor, y'ken. they did try setting up a company called "joost", but interestingly, it "failed". i don't wonder why, not any more.

so, this appears to be a golden opportunity for software libre and proprietary software writers alike, but honestly it's a poisoned chalice. one department in the U.S. does *NOT* want such software to even *EXIST*... another is offering money to anyone willing to CREATE such software.... it's either a case of "left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing", or it's just plain entrapment: the NSA wants to know if you have the CAPABILITY to write such software (and you're going to tell them who you are for god's sake!)

bottom line is, there's a phrase which covers this scenario in the security world - it's called "a honey pot". my advice to anyone who reads this: stay the FUCK away from this "offer" unless you're such a huge software libre team (over 100 people would do it) that it would be clearly obvious if one or more people suddenly "went missing", or "received sudden lucrative job offers" or "went on holiday" or "won the lottery" or "had an accident". what would *really* do it is if EVERYBODY who is capable of collaborating on this (including people from proprietary software companies) joined *ONE* single software libre team (with a single person allocated as the front-man), where everybody else used anonymous two-way communications with that front-man), and through them proposed one single entry for the "competition". 100, 200, 300 people, the more the better. if the application *requires* that every single person on the "team" be named individually and separately (either before or after the application), then you can logically deduce that it's extremely likely to be a honeypot. if the application's mysteriously "denied" when there's only the one entry, you can logically deduce that it's extremely likely that the exercise was a honeypot.

[1] when you see 3 companies in a row throwing of the order of magnitude of a billion dollars at a single company for a single piece of software with such a limited use-case (chat, voice, video), you cannot possibly expect anyone to believe that they're each doing so because it's "financially justified". the logical conclusion is that there was some other factor involved... such as HEY WE'RE THE NSA, WE'LL GIVE YOU LOTS OF EXTRA BUSINESS IF YOU GET THAT SOURCE CODE AND GIVE US A COPY. remember: the original creators of skype were extremely clever, and utterly paranoid: they let NOBODY see the source code. back when it was initially created, the core library was ONLY made available in BINARY form EVEN to the GUI front-end developers(!) and it had a "protection" mechanism where it could detect that it was running under a Virtual Machine, detect if it was being "debugged" (single-stepped), and it would self-destruct and shut down automatically. the NSA even offered a million dollars to anyone who was willing to "break skype". yes, really, that's a matter of public record! nobody managed it. all the "social engineering" tricks and presumably various trojans that are normally successfully used to perform industrial espionage presumably failed... so they had to go to the drastic lengths of actually inducing some lame-fool company to buy the ENTIRE company. for a billion dollars. well done the founders of skype is all i can say!

Comment Re:Coming from Detroit (Score 1) 75

There is no security on the CAN communications of any modern vehicles that I know of. Any person connected to the bus can masquerade as anyone else.

That's why Tesla has several layers of bus, with firewalls between them, inside each car.

Get on one of the buses, you get to tweak the stuff on THAT bus. But you have to convince a firewall you're cool (i.e. doing something the firewall recognizes as legitimate) before it forwards your transaction to anything on even an adjacent bus.

Comment Not quite the end of the story. (Score 1) 324

In most countries the government is in charge of health care and they have a VERY easy way to regulate price gouging such as this. In any single payer system the national health service basically sets the price they are willing to pay and that's what it costs. End of story.

Well, not quite.

In any price control regime, the authority sets the price, and there are three options:
  1. They HAPPEN to hit the "market clearing" price on the nose.
  2. They set the price lower.
  3. They set the price higher.

1. is a small target, and very hard to get right even if you're trying. (Even market economies only get there by constant feedback in the form of purchase decisions.) Further, there are strong political pressures on regulators on where to set prices, so they aren't even trying. So 1 just doesn't happen.

2. means the consumer gets gouged. (But now he can't go to some competitive supplier to get the product or service at a better price. EVERYBODY who is selling is selling at that price. So the gouging is institutionalized. The only way to get a lower price is to apply pressure to the regulators (see 1.) or go to a black market (with lots of risks, including issues of quality, reliability, contract enforcement, and bad encounters with law enforcement and the rest of the legal system).

3. is where the regulators usually end up. But a price lower than market-clearing means suppliers chose to spend their resources supplying something else, so the supply dries up. You could buy it at a sale price IF you could buy it at all. But it isn't available, so you can't buy it at any price.

A free market has its own problems. For starters, with a single supplier (a monopoly) market forces encourage gouging. With two suppliers they encourage an approximately even division of the market (a duopoly) and, again, gouging, with only price signals, not collusion, to coordinate their behavior. The incentive to engage in competition that drives the prices down to market-clearing level doesn't appear until there are three players, and doesn't become strong until there are four or more.

(Unfortunately, US regulations generally have a built-in assumption that two suppliers are "competition". Thus you get things like the landline/cable internet duopoly, or the built-into-channel-allocations local duopoly (collapsing to local monopolies) of the early, analog, cellphone system.)

Comment Knew a math professor without eyes ... (Score 1) 69

Back in the 1970s I was an undergraduate at a highly-ranked math department. One of the professors there had no eyes. (It was a birth defect - they had not formed, and his face was slightly collapsed where they should have been.)

When a student would try to skip doing some part of a rigorous proof by substituting a geometric drawing, the other profs would ask "How would you explain it to [him]?".

This guy was VERY good. But he had a "blind spot" occasionally when a graphic analogy would have pointed him to some existing proof that would apply. (I recall once when he was discussing some bottleneck in what he was working on and another professor pointed out that the troublesome piece of the problem was equivalent to an angle trisection with compass and ruler.)

Comment failure of the three laws of robotics (Score 1) 66

what many people do not appreciate is that asimov's books were a logical demonstration spanning asimov's lifetime and beyond that the three laws of robotics were a FAILURE. this is only really truly and clearly spelled out in the works written under contract by asimov's estate, for example in the book by Greg Bear. the three laws were so hard-wired into the positronic brain with billions upon billions of checks being carried out to ensure strict compliance with the three laws that there was no room for creativity - at all - and secondly that no robot could possibly allow a human being to take *any* form of risk because it *might* result in "harm", be that physical or psychological.

it would appear that BSI is unaware of this and is intending to force the three laws of robotics onto us without understanding the harm that that will do.

Open Source

Vim 8.0 Released! (google.com) 123

Long-time Slashdot reader MrKaos writes: The venerable and essential vim has had it's first major release in 10 years. Lots of new and interesting features including, vim script improvements, JSON support, messages exchange with background processes, a test framework and a bunch of Windows DirectX compatibility improvements. A package manager has been added to handle the ever-growing plug-in library, start-up changes and support for a lot of old platforms has been dropped. Many Vimprovements!

Comment Re: Other than Brother... (Score 2) 386

>Their ultra expensive laserjets are pretty good.

I beg to differ. My experience was the same as yours back into the nineties, but no longer. I purchased three very high end multi-tray HP laser jets around 2008 for a 28 person office that used a lot of paper. While the front quality and speed was good when they worked, the paper handling part of these machines broke or wore out constantly. We would replace all the rollers and gears, etc., and they'd work great for a while. Then the paper jams would start again, and we would find that some cheap part had worn out again. Anecdotal evidence, surely, and ymmv, but caveat emptor.

Comment Re:Seven phucking photons? (Score 2) 106

Can you please convert that to Olympic swimming pools or football fields? I am american. Thanks!

So am I. Let's see...

10,000 gram moles of x-ray photons...

Take 22 pounds of hydrogen. Turn each atom of hydrogen into an x-ray photon.

Hydrogen bombs do something like that... But let's use total annihilation because the numbers are easier to find.

1 gm of antimatter + 1 gm of matter -> 43 kilotons of TNT equivalent. So call it 21.5 kilotons per gram.

Energy equivalent of a proton's mass is really close to 1 GEv. We don't know what energy x-rays they were detecting, so let's use the energy of photons from a typical dental x-ray machine: 70 kEv. So 10^4 * 7*10^4 / 10^9 = 0.7 grams of energy, or about 15 kilotons of TNT-equivalent emitted per measurement interval.

The Hiroshima bomb was estimated at 15 kilotons, Nagasaki at 20. So call it "Almost exactly one Hiroshima bomb" or "3/4 of one Nagasaki bomb" of x-ray energy released during the observation interval.

(Or maybe boost it up a bit, because I assumed perfect efficiency for the x-ray telescope's mirrors and detector, which I suspect is quite optimistic.)

How's that?

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