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Comment Human missions = funding (Score 4, Insightful) 114

Before someone comments that we don't need humans on Mars if robots can do the same cheaper: that's beside the point. I mean, robots are no where near performing on the same level as humans when it comes to ingenuity and ability to come up with and implement ad hoc fixes to problems that no one could even imagine before launch of the mission. But putting that question aside, the problem with robotic missions is that they will never get the same sort of funding as human missions. A human mission automatically has to have a certain size, e.g. has to develop capabilities to land payloads in the ballpark of 10 tons or more on Mars. Once we have this capability, we can easily send lots of robotic and scientific payload along with humans -- it amounts to simply using the same payload delivery system that we are developing for humans anyway.

On the other side, if there is no ambition to fly humans to Mars, then no one will develop these capabilities. There is simply no funding for a system that delivers 10 tons of cargo onto the surface of Mars, unless it can also deliver humans, and bring them back safely. So we cannot send big robotic missions to Mars.

Human missions generate lots of excitement, lots of excitement leads to lots of funding. Robotic missions can never be on par with human missions in terms of how much excitement, and thus funding they can raise.

Comment HORNET, next gen Tor @ 93Gb/s (Score 3, Interesting) 89

It's worth looking at HORNET, which is at this point not much more than a research paper, but it could point in the right direction. Instead of having anonymity for very few people (because of disadvantages to using anonymity tools, e.g. speed and latency), increase the anonymity pool by making anonymous communication less disadvantagous. With HORNET high throughput is achieved by providing Tor-like routing at the network layer (something which is currently not possible in the internet, but it might come with SCION, a BGP replacement that's in the works). I'm not saying that this will be ready anytime soon, but I think it's certainly an interesting idea. [full disclosure: I'm a researcher working on SCION]

I also think that Tor still is the best thing we have. The rumors about Tor's death are greatly exaggerated.

Comment Yes, and changing that is not an option (Score 4, Interesting) 115

You mean if one were to send an email from Munich to Paris, it'd cross the Atlantic and come back?

NSA aside, that's a pretty sucky setup.

It's how the Internet works. To quote directly from the experts: A target's phone call, e-mail or chat will take the cheapest path, not the physically most direct path.

Physical distance is not as important as congestion on the routes. So it might very well be that your data takes a much longer path that what you'd think, simply because it uses the fastest way, not the shortest.

Angela Merkel's approach is pretty idiotic, and it cannot fix the problems. First of all, most emails are routed through the US either because the sender or the recipient has an American email provider (Germans love Gmail, too). Secondly, even if that is not the case, can you be sure that the NSA doesn't spy on traffic in Frankfurt? It wouldn't surprise me.

Only true end-to-end encryption can be a solution. The government in Germany is currently pushing for DE-Mail, which relies on transport encryption only. So that means that your email provider can still snoop and so can the German government, which is probably the reason why they designed it like that in the first place. End-to-end encryption would have been possible, especially since the German government is spending much money rolling out their own PKI, with keys for every citizen right on their new national ID card.

There's a presentation about DE-Mail from last December's Chaos Communication Congress, it's worth watching (video also has an audio track with English translations).

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Can some of us get together and rebuild this community? 21

wbr1 writes: It seems abundantly clear now that Dice and the SlashBeta designers do not care one whit about the community here. They do not care about rolling in crapware into sourceforge installers. In short, the only thing that talks to them is money and stupid ideas.

Granted, it takes cash to run sites like these, but they were fine before. The question is, do some of you here want to band together, get whatever is available of slashcode and rebuild this community somewhere else? We can try to make it as it once was, a haven of geeky knowledge and frosty piss, delivered free of charge in a clean community moderated format.

Submission + - Slashdot BETA Discussion (slashdot.org) 60

mugnyte writes: With Slashdot's recent restyled "BETA" slowly rolled to most users, there's been a lot of griping about the changes. This is nothing new, as past style changes have had similar effects. However, this pass there are significant usability changes: A narrower read pane, limited moderation filtering, and several color/size/font adjustments. BETA implies not yet complete, so taking that cue — please list your specific, detailed opinoins, one per comment, and let's use the best part of slashdot (the moderation system) to raise the attention to these. Change can be jarring, but let's focus on the true usability differences with the new style.

Submission + - Dice, what are you getting by butchering Slashdot ? 2

Taco Cowboy writes: Before I register my account with /. I frequented it for almost 3 weeks. If I were to register the first time I visited /. my account number would be in the triple digits.

That said, I want to ask Dice why they are so eager to kill off Slashdot.

Is there a secret buyer somewhere waiting to grab this domain, Dice ? Just tell us. There are those amongst us who can afford to pay for the domain. What we want is to have a Slashdot that we know, that we can use, that we can continue to share information with all others.

Please stop all your destructive plans for Slashdot, Dice.

Comment I wear a pasta strainer on my health card (Score 5, Interesting) 535

I submitted a photo where I wear a pasta strainer for my official electronic health insurance card in Germany -- and it got accepted, no questions asked! Always good to get some laughs when I have to go to a doctor.

Head coverings were not allowed, but religious ones were exempt. Oddly enough however, a friend of mine got a photo accepted where he poses with a beer mug (Maßkrug, you know, the typtical bavarian 1l mugs). Maybe because that's a religious symbol as well?

Comment Ethical & Environmental (Score 4, Insightful) 303

I think lab-grown meat is the future. For quite a lot of people, meat is just too tasty to be given up completely. At the same time, it is an environmental disaster, with the United Nations estimating that animal farming has a greater effect on climate change than ALL of the worlds transportation (that is, cars, trucks, trains, ships and airplanes) combined. Some even say it's responsible for 51% of greenhouse gases emissions. Additionally, factory farming causes billions of animals to suffer, which is highly unethical. Lab-grown meat avoids both problems.

Until we can buy lab-grown meat, we should still go Veg, but once lab-grown meat is available, the abolishment of the mass factory farming is much more realistic.

Comment Personality rights (Score 3, Insightful) 200

Freedom of speech is not dead in Germany. The constitution just put a different (higher) weight on personality rights.

In this case, googleing the name "Bettina Wulff" of the first lady would autocomplete to things like "escort" and "prostitute", because some people wrongfully tried to make a past life as a prostitute stick to her public image (which has been shown is just nonsense).

Now, I would agree that it is perfectly reasonable to put a higher weight on the right of free speech. But personality rights, and the right to be protected from libel are also important. Those are two legally protected values that have to be carefully balanced.

Comment Re:DPI? (Score 4, Interesting) 102

How does that translate into DPI???

According to this report, the movie depicts an area of 45 x 25 nanometers. I use the body of the stickman to approximate pixels, which gives me about 30 pixels in height. Which translates to 3 * 10^7 DPI. Which will be in your iPhone 71's über-retina display (assuming dpi grows exponentially). Although it's really debatable if your eye is capable of making use of such a high resolution.

Comment Immense pressure (Score 5, Informative) 104

Let me quote from a blog post that paints an even darker picture than the original story I submitted on /.

DCRI summoned a Wikipedia volunteer in their offices on April 4th. This volunteer, which was one of those having access to the tools that allow the deletion of pages, was forced to delete the article while in the DCRI offices, on the understanding that he would have been held in custody and prosecuted if he did not comply. Under pressure, he had no other choice than to delete the article, despite explaining to the DCRI this is not how Wikipedia works. [...]

This volunteer had no link with that article, having never edited it and not even knowing of its existence before entering the DCRI offices. He was chosen and summoned because he was easily identifiable [...]

Can you imagine the pressure they put this volunteer through? Threatening him with five years of prison if he does not immediately comply and delete the article in the intelligence agency's offices? You think that doesn't matter?

Comment Submitter here (Score 5, Insightful) 179

In this case the problem was not that Wikipedia was centralized. The Wikimedia Foundation in the US did not comply with the agency's demands.

The problem was that the administrator's real name was publicly known (he's a public figure and it's his username) so that they were able to find someone under French jurisdiction. Most admins and non-admins use pseudonyms and are thus immune to real-life pressure.

All in all, I'd say the system worked. The admin had to give in to the immense pressure, but he was sensible enough to publicly announce what he did, thus enabling foreign users to reinstate the article. Now, the really threatening cases are those with gag orders, such as given by US intelligence agencies.

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