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Comment Re:Intel FPU? (Score 2, Informative) 242

I don't think this has anything to do with floating point errors. From your linked article:

Specifically a 64 bit floating point number relating to the horizontal velocity of the rocket with respect to the platform was converted to a 16 bit signed integer. The number was larger than 32,767, the largest integer storeable in a 16 bit signed integer, and thus the conversion failed.

I would interpret this as:

Some moron typecast a double to an int without thinking about allowable ranges

In other words, it is a coding error.


Ancient Fossil Offers Clues To Primate Evolution 311

langelgjm sends in an update to a story we discussed over the weekend about an extremely well-preserved fossil of an ancient primate, Darwinius masillae, that sheds light on an important area of evolution. The 47 million-year-old specimen has now been officially unveiled, and while many media outlets are stumbling over themselves with phrases like "missing link" and "holy grail," it's clearly a very impressive find. "Discovered two years ago, the exquisitely preserved specimen is not a direct ancestor of monkeys and humans, but hints at what such an ancestor might have looked like. According to researchers, 'The specimen has an unusual history: it was privately collected and sold in two parts, with only the lesser part previously known. The second part, which has just come to light, shows the skeleton to be the most complete primate known in the fossil record.' The scientific article describing the find was published yesterday in the peer-reviewed, open-access journal PLoS ONE. Google's home page is also celebrating the find with a unique image." Science blogger Brian Switek offers some criticism of the academic paper and the media swarm, saying, "I would have hoped that this fossil would receive the care and attention it deserves, but for now it looks like a cash cow for the History Channel. Indeed, this association may not have only presented overblown claims to the public, but hindered good science, as well."

Mac OS X Users Vulnerable To Major Java Flaw 306

FruitWorm writes in with word of a vulnerability in Java that has been patched by everyone but Apple. "Security researchers say that Mac OS X users are vulnerable to a critical, 6-month-old, remote vulnerability in Java, a component that is enabled by default in Web browsers on this platform. Julien Tinnes notes that this vulnerability differs from typical Java security flaws in that it is 'a pure Java vulnerability' and doesn't involve any native code. It affected not only Sun's Java but other implementations such as OpenJDK, on multiple platforms, including Linux and Windows. 'This means you can write a 100% reliable exploit in pure Java. This exploit will work on all the platforms, all the architectures and all the browsers,' Julien wrote. This bug was demonstrated during the Pwn2own security challenge this year at CanSecWest, but the details were not made public at that time. Tinnes recommends that Mac OS X users disable Java in their browsers until Apple releases a security update."

Study Shows "Secret Questions" Are Too Easily Guessed 303

wjousts writes "Several high-profile break-ins have resulted from hackers guessing the answers to secret questions (the hijacking of Sarah Palin's Yahoo account was one). This week, research from Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University, presented at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, will show how woefully insecure secret questions actually are. As reported in Technology Review: 'In a study involving 130 people, the researchers found that 28 percent of the people who knew and were trusted by the study's participants could guess the correct answers to the participant's secret questions. Even people not trusted by the participant still had a 17 percent chance of guessing the correct answer to a secret question.'" Schneier pointed out years ago how weird it is to have a password-recovery mechanism that is less secure than the password.

US To Require That New Cars Get 42 MPG By 2016 1186

Hugh Pickens writes "New cars and trucks will have to get 30 percent better mileage starting in 2016 under an Obama administration move to curb emissions tied to smog and global warming. While the 30 percent increase would be an average for both cars and light trucks, the percentage increase in cars would be much greater, rising from the current 27.5 mpg standard to 42 mpg. Environmentalists praised the move. Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, called it 'one of the most significant efforts undertaken by any president, ever, to end our addiction to oil and seriously slash our global warming emissions.' Obama's plan also would effectively end litigation between states and automakers that had opposed state-specific rules, arguing that having to meet several state standards would be much more expensive for them than just one federal rule. The Detroit News reported that automakers were on board with the new rule and had worked with the administration on creating a timeline for the transition." There's a case to be made that raising the CAFE won't save oil or reduce greenhouse gases.

Comment Gold Price (Score 1) 195

This week there are three people who have enticed me to buy gold: 1. My banker 2. My wife 3. Slashdot I am used to the first two trying to convince me to buy something that would fall in value. This is the first time Slashdot has joined them. Et tu Brute. My feeling: $650 per troy ounce by next year.

The Real Risks of Obama's BlackBerry 273

An anonymous reader writes "When the mainstream media first announced Barack Obama's 'victory' in keeping his BlackBerry, the focus was on the security of the device, and keeping the US president's e-mail communications private from spies and hackers. The news coverage and analysis by armchair security experts thus far has failed to focus on the real threat: attacks against President Obama's location privacy, and the potential physical security risks that come with someone knowing the president's real-time physical location. In this article, a CNET blogger digs into the real risks associated with the President carrying around a tracking device at all times."

Comment Re:Cybercafe scenario is bogus (Score 1) 134

Well, these people are terrorists - they don't need to legally do anything. They don't even need to provide a good fake document - I know how diligent the SIM card dealers are. The terrorist can show a torn up copy of a fake ration card and walk out with a SIM card in 5 minutes. Some of these SIM card dealers themselves are very shady.

I doubt that any of these regulations will prevent good old me from getting a fake SIM card, let alone a well trained terrorist. I think we need to review our very approach to solving terrorism.

Comment This is Useless (Score 4, Interesting) 134

I think this is a big waste of time for the Mumbai police. If the terrorists can't send an e-mail with their threats, they will just send it by postal mail (just as they were doing before e-mail). Stopping them from sending anonymous e-mail won't stop the acts of terror. The Mumbai police should focus on investigating the actual attacks and preventing further attacks, rather than shooting the messenger.

Some people think that this can prevent them from coordinating their attacks, but I don't think so. Their attacks can be coordinated using various other techniques that may even be illegal - won't mention them, use your imagination.

Fundamentally, creating new rules will not stop terrorists - remember that there are already laws that prevent people from acquiring AK-47s & explosives. New rules will only inconvenience law abiding citizens - not terrorists.

Also, on another note - I don't like Times of India because they selectively prevent some comments from being displayed. I specifically mentioned this point in their comments and they have not published it, even after 2 days.

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"Would I turn on the gas if my pal Mugsy were in there?" "You might, rabbit, you might!" -- Looney Tunes, Bugs and Thugs (1954, Friz Freleng)