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Submission + - Taking care of each other (shirky.com)

giminy writes: "Clay Shirky has a thought-provoking piece on depression in the hacker community. While hackers tend to be great at internet collaboration on software projects, we often fall short when it comes to helping each other with personal problems. The evidence is only anecdotal, but there seems to be a higher than average incidence of mental health issues among hackers and internet freedom fighters. It would be great to see this addressed by our community through some outreach and awareness programs..."

Comment Research (Score 1) 85

Every time I see the gene patent debate now, I think about how my wife spent five years of 60 hour weeks (grad school, she just got her PhD) discovering that some genes from Castor Beans have no effect on the lipids that they produce.

Gene patents get us all backed up in a corner mostly because of the medical tests that can save lives. What people fail to consider is that gene research is not very well-understood yet. Individual researchers fumble around for decades before they get results worth sharing, if ever.

Last time this debate came around, I pointed to Myriad Genetic's financials. They constantly lose money, and rely upon investors to keep them afloat. The research that they do is extremely expensive. They're not some greedy corporation making money hand-over-fist. (My wife, btw, is highly likely to carry the BRCA1 gene that Myriad holds a patent on...three women in her family have been tested and all have it...but until recently we haven't had the financial security to consider getting her tested for it).

I guess my point in all of this is that if gene patents go away, expect genetic research to come to a grinding halt, at least in the private sector. Currently, the private sector is where most of the research is happening. There is some funding by NIH and DoA, but it's on the decline since some kind of financial crisis hit the US.

Since slashdot loves carrying a debate into another field: Imagine if, say, electronic patents were ruled invalid? I mean, electrical doodads are just really following the laws of physics, and processors and logic gates are following the rules of logic. These are concepts that are at their most fundamental mathematics. What would happen to the computer industry if such patents were ruled invalid?

Comment Re:Good news, everybody! (Score 1) 17

Hi Sapphire Wyvern -

I'm the research lead of the Project Basecamp team, so hi.

I did hem and haw about releasing exploit tools for the vulnerabilities, but the truth is that Digital Bond tried informing the vendors years and years ago about these vulnerabilities. Starting in 2001, DB simply told people about the problems. In 2006 DB started releasing Nessus checks to demonstrate that PLCs were vulnerable without releasing the exact 'how' to exploit them. Neither path worked...we heard from more lawyers than engineers. Now that we're releasing exploit tools and causing bad days for the vendors and (unfortunately) end users, vendors are starting to come around and listen.

It stinks, but that's what has been required. Some vendors are taking the issues seriously, others are not. The ones that aren't are going to see a lot more pressure from us, I think...


Comment Re:Get a good adapter set (Score 1) 165

I'll seventeenth the GQ-4X. I have a bunch of adapters, some soldering tongs, and the like for reverse engineering and reprogramming chips. It's been a great programmer, works fine under virtualization (I use it on a mac, using a windows guest VM, inside of VMWare Fusion. It does not work to share this with a guest under Virtualbox, but Virtualbox is crap for USB support).

I grabbed mine from mcumall also. It's been a very reliable (with one exception) programmer.

My only problem with mcumall's parts was one of their PLCC32 adapters was laid out wrong. It promised to work with a particular Atmel chip, but had one of the address lines swapped with the 'read' strobe, which made for very confusing output until a friend exhibited the intelligence to trace the adapter out. My buddy cut the trace on the board and blue-wired the adapter, since then it has worked fine.

Comment Re:Dionaea or Nepenthes (Score 1) 298

You could probably configure it to send the files to the bitbucket, sure. A lot of times an open file server would be used to host malicious software (so some exploit says to grab its payload from ftp://yourftpserver/uploadedfile.exe). In thise case the files would be interesting for a honeypot to capture, so that they could be analyzed to see what the malicious payload is doing.

Comment Dionaea or Nepenthes (Score 1) 298

Dionaea has a nice FTP honeypot. It will even let bad guys (or bad automated programs) upload files. It's available here [carnivore.it].

Be careful, of course. You want to be safe in case these attacks are automated tools doing something icky like uploading kiddie porn or illegal music to your honeypot...(I'm not sure which would be worse).

Comment Break things, have them fix it (Score 1) 467

I learned Linux by installing it on my desktop and forcing myself to run it as my primary OS. What taught me the most? When things went wrong.

I recommend coming up with ways to break the computer wherein fixing it will cause learning. Start by assigning the use of a utility or system service that is actually configured incorrectly and isn't running. This teaches things like: run the program from the command-line to see what it is outputting to stdout, look at log files, edit configuration text files. Make things harder by breaking boot services, changing the xserver configuration so that it starts as a command-line, etc. Finish by breaking grub, or deleting /etc/passwd and forcing them to boot into single-user mode to fix things.

Troubleshooting a computer is the best way to learn...

Comment Old News... (Score 1) 396

I recommend that anyone interested in the issue of 'subjective reality' read Farhad Manjoo (of Slate Magazine)'s "True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society". It's quite a fascinating look at the issue of our new media landscape...

Comment Re:good (Score 2, Insightful) 256

What upsets me the most is that if I legally purchase windows for my computer I am limited on how much I can upgrade

Sadly you didn't purchase windows, you licensed it. Welcome to the world: intellectual property gets all the protection that physical property gets, with none of the 'disadvantages' (ability to loan, etc).

Comment Re:Don't get excited yet. (Score 1) 297

A prototype of Orion did get built in San Diego. The test flight was conducted from Point Loma (now the site of Space and Naval Warfare System Center's model ship-testing pool) using conventional explosives with a delivery tube. By all measures it was successful. Freeman Dyson then worked out the engineering needed for the pusher plate and delivery mechanism for the full nuclear-weapon version. I think there's quite a bit on this in John McPhee's excellent book, _The Curve of Binding Energy_.

Orion always bothered me because it seemed almost biblical (people ascending to the heavens, leaving behind a scorched earth). It would make a pretty good way to get a lot of stuff off the planet if something dire were about to happen -- meteor impact, decay of orbit, or something.

Anyway, I used to know where pictures of the test flight were, but I can't seem to find them at the moment :(. Perhaps some smarter googler than myself can point us in the right direction...


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