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Comment Re:Fahrenheit: It's for telling temperature (Score 1) 1233

I know it would come up at some point, but we should all remember the Fahrenheit scale was developed for telling temperature at a scale that made sense for people: 100 is pretty hot, and 0 is pretty cold.

The Fahrenheit scale was developed to be as messed up as possibly, with totally arbitrary and irreproducible fixed points.

Oh, and btw, those points aren't 0F and 100F, they are 0F and, get this, 96F, with 96F being something as fuzzy as "human body temperature". Really great job, getting physiology into something that should be purely the realm of physics.

The only thing the Fahrenheit scale is good at is telling a serious fever from a not so serious one - the latter is above 100F.


"Necessary Complexity" in Online Games 95

Massively is running a story about Google's short-lived virtual environment, Lively. The article examines why Lively shut down so quickly, and how its simplicity and its attempts at user-friendliness did more harm than good. Quoting: "The idea here is that any interactive system has a certain amount of complexity, usually involving the number and type of tasks which can be performed. Obviously, it is detrimental if the interaction interface is more complicated than it needs to be. That just makes things harder. What's a little less obvious is that reducing the complexity of the interaction interface too far makes things harder as well. Either it makes it hard to perform the tasks, or it reduces the number of tasks which can be performed. ... ideally the interaction interface needs to be of an order of complexity that is coupled to the order of complexity of the number and type of possible tasks. If it rises above that or falls below that, performing tasks becomes harder. Performing tasks with an oversimplified interaction-interface is like trying to make coffee with one hand tied behind your back. Overcomplicating it is like trying to instruct five people to build a shed, when none of you have any language in common."

Submission + - FX-602P Simulator now in beta test. (sourceforge.net)

SF:krischik writes: The first -test-release for the FX-602P Simulator is here. The FX-602P Simulator is a full features simulation of the classic CASIO FX-602P programable calculator. There is a JavaME, OSX universal binary and dashboard as well as a platform independent JavaSE version available: https://sourceforge.net/project/platformdownload.php?group_id=182131&sel_platform=8625 I hope you all have fun with the new version and give me some bugs on the also new bug tracker: https://sourceforge.net/tracker2/?func=browse&group_id=182131&atid=899982 Have fun!

Submission + - Mac, BSD prone to decade old attacks 7

BSDer writes: An Israeli security researcher published a paper few hours ago, detailing attacks against Mac, OpenBSD and other BSD-style operating systems. The attacks, says Amit Klein from Trusteer enable DNS cache poisoning, IP level traffic analysis, host detection, O/S fingerprinting and in some cases even TCP blind data injection. The irony is that OpenBSD boasted their protection mechanism against those exact attacks when a similar attack against the BIND DNS server was disclosed by the same researcher mid 2007. It seems now that OpenBSD may need to revisit their code and their statements. According to the researcher, another affected party, Apple, refused to commit to any fix timelines. It would be interesting to see their reaction now that this paper is public.

Submission + - What the hell is Ogg Vorbis, and why should I use (blogspot.com)

crazylinuxguy writes: "Most Linux users have probably at least heard of Ogg Vorbis, while most Windows users most likely haven't, unless they are super nerds. The Ogg Vorbis website sums it up quite nicely..... "Ogg Vorbis is a new audio compression format. It is roughly comparable to other formats used to store and play digital music, such as MP3, VQF, AAC, and other digital audio formats. It is different from these other formats because it is completely free, open, and unpatented." Ok, so now we know that it's absolutely free. That alone gives us users some advantages. Linux distributions in general have Ogg Vorbis support built in. That means no additional codec installs. That's good for everyone. Of course there are other advantages as well. Installing an mp3 codec in linux could be against the law, depending on where you live. Using Ogg Vorbis, you will be worry free and law abiding. The Ogg Vorbis format will save you hard drive space. If you choose to save your Ogg files at the same quality as your mp3's, the Ogg files will be smaller. Or, you can use a higher quality than the mp3's and still use the same amount of space. If you're a developer, there's a very large advantage. You can include sound files in your software and you won't pay any licensing fees at all. Many game developers (Epic Games and EA Games for example) have realized this and started using Ogg to keep the money in their pocket. Ogg Vorbis is also streamable via the icecast audio server. So, there is an alternative for websites and for home media servers that also happens to be completely open source. At this point, you're probably thinking......... Portable music players don't play Ogg Vorbis. You're absolutely right, if you're talking about the ipod. But, there are actually quite a few players on the market that support Ogg Vorbis. Don't believe me? Here's just one of the many links to lists of Ogg players.... http://www.ciao.co.uk/Portable_MP3_Players_5266512_3-ogg_vorbis Why should we put up with closed source, licensed, audio codecs when there are perfectly usable alternatives? Why don't we change the world instead of going along with it?"

Submission + - BBC Corrupted (defectivebydesign.org)

eneville writes: "
Today the BBC made it official — they have been corrupted by Microsoft. With today's launch of the iPlayer, the BBC Trust has failed in its most basic of duties and handed over to Microsoft sole control of the on-line distribution of BBC programming. From today, you will need to own a Microsoft operating system to view BBC programming on the web.
— Matt Lee."


Submission + - Hacking kiosks and ATMs with Windows sticky keys

pestilence669 writes: "An alarming number of kiosks and ATMs (like the V-Com units in 7-11) run Windows XP. I've recently made it a hobby to play minesweeper and surf the web on these units. Most, if not all, are connected to the Internet. BitTorrent from an ATM? It's easier than you think! Gaining control is as simple as five keystrokes.

The companies that build ATMs and kiosks seem to know nothing about keyboard shortcuts. If there's a keyboard attached, you can bet that they removed the TAB key to prevent ALT+TAB abuses. Little do they know, ALT+TAB is not the only way to lose focus for an application.

If you're a fast typer like me, you've probably been greeted with the Microsoft sticky keys dialog. It asks you if you want to enable "sticky keys." It's a usability feature that helps disabled individuals type with one hand. Sadly, it's pseudo-enabled by default since this dialog box appears. Most people don't know it, so it's ready to be abused on just about every production XP-based kiosk or ATM (with keyboard).

All that needs to be done: hit the SHIFT key five times. SHIFT is guaranteed to be included in even the most restrictive keyboard layouts. In almost every instance, the sticky keys dialogs appears. As the kiosk or ATM application looses focus, you'll be presented with the XP start menu in the background. Many of these machines use a complete install with Minesweeper, Hearts, Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. Fun!!!

I've made it a regular habit to browse Slashdot, send email, and surf blogs from just about any kiosk that I find. Whenever my wife uses the bathroom at Dave & Busters, I'm reading blogs in the lobby. Whenever I'm at 7-11, I'm surfing with the ATM.

What's really scary about all of this is how easy it is to install executable code onto these devices. They're on the Internet and they have local storage. As far as I can tell, in my own experience, there are no restrictions in place. What's to stop someone from installing their own COM/ActiveX "helper" object and intercepting all HTTP/bank traffic?"

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