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Comment Re:What about 187 million drones? (Score 1) 176

The *moment* someone finally nuts up at a testing center and throws a Phantom 3 into a commercial jetliner engine, and it does *any* noticeable damage, then we can talk about how easily they will bring down a plane. At this point, with *NO* testing, these assertions come directly from the anal region.

Sensible rules, away from approach paths of airports, and limited to 500 ft outside of those areas, unless licensed to do so. If you can't manage to lift your plane above 500 feet away from the airport, you have problems that 'drones' have no effect over. Christ, planes buzz the 400' tower attached to my work - and the damn thing is painted red and white and blinks, FFS.

Actually, it's the other way round. The way we have brought airplanes from deathtraps to very-very-safe is by testing and estimating risks as much as possible, and avoiding unknown risks whenever possible. You don't tell people "sure, you can do a low level barrel roll with this 747, nobody ever crashed a 747 doing barrel rolls". You tell people "Sorry we have not designed and tested the 747 for low level barrel rolls, so you can't do those with the plane". Jet engines are typically certified for ingestion of birds, water and ice. Not 1.2 kg of metal and plastic. So until we have thrown enough drones into jet engines that we are reasonably certain what drones will and what will not bring down an airliner there are good reasons to be very restrictive.

Comment Is he in the right? (Score 3, Insightful) 1197

Legally? I have no idea. Here I believe he could possibly be charged with destruction of property, unless zoning laws stated that he could not fire a shotgun. A shotgun fired upwards is very safe, the risk of anybody being hurt by a few birdshot coming down is minimal, so endangerment is only possibly from somebody being hit by the falling drone. And if that is a danger, what the heck is the drone doing flying over people anyway?

Morally? It seems to me that a majority of the drone pilots are douche bags, completely ignoring other peoples right to privacy and even safety. Just because it is possible to fly their drones anywhere does not mean it is a good idea. If somebody flies their drone into my property, collecting video footage, I believe I have the moral right to do something about it. It is no different from if they started racing around a RC car with a video camera in my backyard. Sure, I could call the police, but the police is unlikely to show up in time. And what is the police supposed to do about a drone hovering over my house? Waste time around until they find the pilot? This is a perfect example of when a well aimed shotgun shot will help improve how people behave. If they don't want their drones shot down, they can fly them over their own property.

Comment Re:DoB, SSN & Filing Status?? (Score 4, Interesting) 85

Say after me ten times: Identity is not Authentication, nor Authorization. Identity is not Authentication, nor Authorization. Identity is not...

Now, got that? You are making the same sad mistake that the IRS did. You are confusing Identity with Authentication.

SSN & DoB are perfectly fine identifiers for a person. Not quite unique, but they will work for the purpose.

The problem is that there is no authentication, nor any authorization infrastructure for them to use as far as I know. There are in other countries (see for example I have understood that there are ideological reasons not to roll out a decent Authentication/Authorization infrastructure in the US, but the lack of such an infrastructure will cost US business (and private person) more and more dearly as important information moves to the internet.

Comment Re: Energy storage in the grid is 100% efficient! (Score 1) 281

The massive expansion of coal burning in India is a somewhat bigger problem, by many orders of magnitude. Maybe we should focus on that instead. Solar-to-battery would be a good solution to many Indian and African villages that are not on the grid at all.

And here you do the classic mistake of assuming that the big problem when it comes to carbon emissions is the third world. It is not. Not in absolute numbers, and especially not in numbers related to the population. The BIG problem is the US, which combines absurdly high carbon emissions with a big population. If I recall correctly US emits about 3 times as much carbon as India does in absolute numbers, and about 12 times as much per capita(!).

If there is any place where we could easily and cheaply cut carbon emissions it is in the US. Why try to reduce the emissions of a village in India, when a single household in the US emits as much carbon and also have a much better economic position to pay for any additional cost?

Comment Re:Security is hard... (Score 1) 737

My instincts tell me that the door is good on the cost-benefit calculation. We have had multiple instances of intrusion into the cockpit over the years, in some cases with fatal results, in other cases with the planes being diverted. This type of events are getting increasingly rare, and I think we can attribute that to improved security. The last decade there has been less than 6 hijackings a year, while in the 1993 alone there was 36 hijackings.

Yet we have had about 10 cases of pilots deliberately downing traffic planes in murder-suicides in the last few decades. It would be good if we could include both threats and build a security system to prevent them. The two-man-in-the-cockpit concept is one easy way, but it's expensive and not obvious that it will always work. Federal Express Flight 705 is one example where it barely worked.

Comment Security is hard... (Score 5, Interesting) 737

Designing security systems is very hard, and this crash seems to be a classic example of why it is so hard.

The reinforced cockpit door, and the access control system, was introduced after 9/11. Before that the cockpit door was typically a flimsy thing you could break down with a few good kicks. The reinforced door is designed to prevent passengers from obtaining access to the cockpit. The threat model includes attempts at brute force (the door has to withstand roughly an hour of abuse with anything that can be found in the cabin) and tries to coerce the cabin crew for keys or codes (as the pilots control entry). Airbus (and also Boeing, I am pretty sure) also has an emergency procedure which lets you enter the cockpit should the pilots be incapacitated, but the pilots can disable this. There is a nice video here which illustrates hos the access control system airbus uses works:

If media is correct one of the pilots wanted to crash the plane, and used the cockpit security system to prevent the other crew from interfering. This was not part of the threat model, and that made the current security system work in favor of the attacker instead of the rest of the crew. Not good. It cost 150 lives.

There are ways to get around this. Some airlines require two people to be present in the cockpit at all times, in an effort to prevent this kind of attack. It makes it a lot harder, but not impossible. It could also be possible to allow people on the ground to override the lock on the cockpit door. But in both cases you need to actually design your security system to deal with the threat, which I am sure people are rushing to do now...

Comment From a security perspective... (Score 4, Interesting) 224

Frankly, the risk of somebody doing something nefarious with the information they got it pretty low. Even on the internet the wast majority of people are nice and behave like decent human beings. Most people don't even know how they could use that information for financial gain. So if you go to a court you will have a hard time proving actually damage for what is obvious a mistake, which means any recuperation is either going to be based on good will or specific laws covering data breaches.

In a larger perspective, you are right now encountering (and worrying about) a fundamental flaw in the way many American business work. There is a big confusion between identity, authentication and authorization. Identity (name, address, date of birth, social security number, bank account etc,) is not the same as authentication (I am the Identity) nor authorization (I am allowed to act as the Identity). None of the information the bank leaked really should be secret, and in Europe you could probably find most of it (except for bank account numbers) in public databases.

Comment Re:America is HUGE (Score 1) 255

According to sources like this, about 85% of Sweden's population is in urban areas. When you only have 15% of the population that's really spread out, of course it's easy to just spend the extra money to wire all of them up.

You mean unlike the USA, which have to deal with the punishing 17% non-urban population which makes it impossible to roll out a decent infrastructure? Different for different states, of course, but less densely populated states also have a smaller population which you need to cover.

The population of Sweden is so small, you really can't extrapolate out from it very much to US sized problems either. You could barely fill the NY metro area here with everyone in Sweden.

I would argue the exact opposite. You can perfectly well extrapolate from Sweden, and use that extrapolation as an inspiration of where the USA can get with decent policies.

And our sparse states make Northern Sweden look like a huge party. Nationwide US policy has to consider what's feasible in states like Montana and Wyoming, at 2.7 and 2.3 people per sq km. And then there's Alaska at 0.5...a single state that is also 4X as big as Sweden, too.

So what kills decent broadband in the USA is rural Alaska, which has less than 0.24% of the US population? There are two ways you handle this problem. First of all, you begin by building out good infrastructure to the 50/90/95/99% which is cheapest to deploy. Secondly, you let those living in areas where building infrastructure is cheap sponsor the buildout in more expensive (typically rural) areas. As the value of networks grow with the number of people connected this is, within reasonable levels, profitable for everybody.

Comment Re:America is HUGE (Score 4, Insightful) 255

Oh, yes the "UG, why need sharp stone? Dull stone kills deer also, easier to make." argument.

If you don't want to be at a severe competitive disadvantage you need good telecommunication infrastructure. Wireless bandwidth is, for physical reasons, severely hampered, which means that fixed lines is the only way to provide it.

When it comes to the population density, you should note that Sweden has a considerably lower population density than most of the American states, yet much better telecommunication infrastructure. Northern Sweden has a population density of about 4 people per square km, yet good access to telecommunication services. It may cost a bit to roll out, but the alternative of being left behind technologically is much more expensive.

Comment Technical limitations (Score 5, Interesting) 255

There are some technical reasons that the telecom monopoly lobbying groups REALLY don't want broadband to be defined at high speeds. It rules out a wide range of very cheap technologies which can be used to claim that they do provide broadband. At 25/3 you need to offer at least ADSL2+M (ADSL2 won't cut it), DOCSIS systems will be severely limited in the number of subscribers, GPRS is out (you need to move to HSPA) and so on. Setting a very low limit for what is broadband is a perfect way to polish the numbers and make it look like good service is provided at very reasonable prices. We have sold refurbished telecommunication equipment to the US, which was no longer considered competitive in the northern European market, but was state of the art for many parts of the US.

While it is certainly nice to have a place to unload old equipment I don't think it is in the best interest of the USA to play catch up on infrastructure just to help a few telcom companies to keep their profit margins high...

Comment Re:I'm shocked, SHOCKED! (Score 1) 190

Maybe I am missing something here, but the Tesla has an recommended annual inspection or every 12,500 miles, which is exactly the same as my old Toyota has. Why anybody would need to do wheel alignment yearly is beyond me. The rest are typical service points included in the service of my car. Last I checked the price of service for the Tesla was actually more than the service cost of my plain old Diesel burner.

A Tesla may be many things, but it is not a cheap way to get around...

Comment Re:Not sure if it adds up (Score 1) 85

We tried that. It's called "beauty contests". There have been plenty of those, specially with the spectrum allocations in Europe the 1990ths.

They tend not to give very good outcomes. It is much easier to hold companies to paying a certain sum than it is to hold them to promises, especially after a few years of restructuring and consolidation in the market. In many cases companies have been sitting on huge chunks of spectrum without doing anything, sometimes just paying the fines for returning the spectrum after a while. In addition, the rules and ruling in beauty contests tend to become hives of corruption.

Beauty contests may be a good idea in some emerging markets where there is very little incentives to pay for spectrum. In the rest of the world, let the market decide what the spectrum is worth, and let the teleco's pay through the nose for the spectrum. There is no reason to give away something that valuable.

Comment Re:Then how did the pilot die? (Score 5, Informative) 150

Eh? No, the crew of Columbia did not survive all the way down. Perhaps you are thinking of challenger, where there is some debate on if they survived until impact. In the case of Columbia the crew was dead four times over before impact. The lethal factors NASA identified were:

1. Depressurization of the crew module at or shortly after orbiter breakup.
So, we start with denying the crew oxygen. None closed their helmets when pressure dropped to 0 in a fraction of a second at the start of the breakup.
2. Exposure of unconscious or deceased crew members to a dynamic rotating load environment with a lack of upper body restraint and non-conformal helmets.
Then we bang them around a bit in what can be best described as a rolling garbage compressor full of sharp and heavy things, in helmets not designed to protect against this kind of force and without proper seat belts.
3. Separation of the crew from the crew module and the seat with associated forces, material interactions, and thermal consequences.
Then we break the box apart, exposing the crew to an unprotected reentry into atmosphere
4. Exposure to near vacuum, aerodynamic accelerations, and cold temperatures.
Finally we let them free-fall back to earth...

The Columbia Crew Survival Investigation Report is a 400 page long and very dark document, but the executive summary is just a couple pages. You can find it here: The bodies of the astronauts were mangled beyond recognition, which is hinted in the report, but out of respect of the astronauts details of the injuries are redacted from the report.

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