×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

Dr_Barnowl Re:Am I the only person... (630 comments)

I think the development of the law should be tracked using Git. Amendments are pull requests, and only permissible with a commit signed by the creator.

Instead of tacking amendments to the end of bills as they do now, just patch them directly - make the law simpler. And keep a full audit trail of the whole thing. No more sneaky little amendments by congressional aides like Mitch Glazier (search for "pisher" in the text..)

4 days ago
top

London Council Dumping Windows For Chromebooks To Save £400,000

Dr_Barnowl Re:This will not end well (193 comments)

Our new whitelisting software slows down one of our export processes from 2 minutes to around 14, because it hashes all the files it reads and outputs and eats CPU doing it.

So it goes from something people will run multiple times an hour, to something that people will seriously think twice about doing. All the productivity gains of rewriting the software and taking some pains to make it multithreaded erased because it has got to the point where the IT department won't trust your computer to do anything other than what they sign off on. A guaranteed job for them maintaining the whitelist, everyone else's job slowed down.

about two weeks ago
top

Supreme Court Skeptical of Computer-Based Patents

Dr_Barnowl Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (192 comments)

If software patents were taken to their literal full extent, I'd lose my job anyway, because it's impossible to create any substantial piece of software without infringing multiple patents.

Developing new software would become so expensive - what with the cost of having a patent lawyer stand over your shoulder demanding explanations of everything you implemented, and the cost of licensing anything I infringed, or re-implementing things to infringe something else cheaper to license - that the market for my skills would shrink considerably.

Happily I live in a country that is so far in the grey area as to whether it recognises the validity of software patents, and I work for a government agency that has decided to license it's output with a BSD-style license (presumably so the corporate chums of the political bosses can make as much money as they'd like from our taxpayer-funded work...)

about three weeks ago
top

Prototype Volvo Flywheel Tech Uses Car's Wasted Brake Energy

Dr_Barnowl Fuck boy racers (262 comments)

People who don't leave adequate braking distance and accelerate as hard as possible are the reason most of the traffic jams on my morning route occur. A single light touch on the brakes gets magnified into a ripple of progressively more urgent braking until you have traffic that grinds to a stop - no obstruction required. A few large gaps help to absorb this kind of thing and would keep the traffic flowing, but the few people who seem to think that tailgating people at beyond the speed limit until they give way and let the guy overtake you - so he can do the same thing to the next guy in the fast lane going the same speed - is acceptable make everyone else so paranoid that they are missing out on a particular piece of road that hardly anyone is willing to leave any space.

If everyone drove with a little more room, then the traffic wouldn't jam up so much, and paradoxically, people would get to their destination faster. The tailgaters are just spoiling their own driving party.

about three weeks ago
top

Getting Misogyny, Racism and Homophobia Out of Gaming

Dr_Barnowl Re: Disable player chat (704 comments)

Flip it around ; the implication is that women aren't expected to pay because they aren't able to, because they are either incapable of earning money, or not entitled to hold their own finances.

"Other people are expected to support me" IS insulting. Women who exploit their feminine wiles to get guys to pay for stuff ; well, there's another less charitable name for that kind of behaviour. "Gigolo" is probably more reviled than "whore" because of the implication that men should be the breadwinner - and that men depending on the resources of women is somehow worse than vice-versa.

I do sometimes treat my date, but only once I've had the conversation - my opinion is that remuneration is so out of whack with your actual working effort these days that I don't feel guilty about being well paid OR paying for dinner because I can afford it more than some of the women I date. But it's important, especially in the region I live where standing on your own two feet is a matter of pride, that you don't insult someone when doing so.

about a month ago
top

Time Dilation Drug Could Let Heinous Criminals Serve 1,000 Year Sentences

Dr_Barnowl Re: Ridiculous. (914 comments)

They think that the relatives of the victims have some twisted sense of justice that requires the murderer to suffer during his execution. It's vengeful and distinctly anti-Christian, even if the inhabitants of the USA typically like to paint themselves as good Christians.

I'd rather people weren't executed at all, but if you have to do it, at least do it in line with your constitutional and religious values, people.

about a month ago
top

Time Dilation Drug Could Let Heinous Criminals Serve 1,000 Year Sentences

Dr_Barnowl Re: Ridiculous. (914 comments)

An ex-politician did the research for a BBC documentary - there is a simple, easy method of execution, used to humanely kill pigs in abattoirs, it's cheap, quick and requires no exotic chemicals. Asphyxia with nitrogen.

He asked several people involved in administering the death penalty if they would consider it, and to a man, they all refused to condone the notion. Because the victim feels a few moments of euphoria before they go.

They *want* the pain and suffering, despite the prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment" in the Constitution. The protocols are explicitly designed to be inhumane, and there is a tacit agreement amongst all those involved that they should stay that way.

about a month ago
top

Google Won't Enable Chrome Video Acceleration Because of Linux GPU Bugs

Dr_Barnowl Re:Not only video but also sound (295 comments)

still I cannot explain why on Windows in a virtual machine (Linux as host) the sound is better than in Linux itself.

I suspect the Linux builds of Skype don't have all the good audio codecs they've added to the Windows build, Skype now being a Microsoft product. The audio quality is total ass.

about a month and a half ago
top

Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

Dr_Barnowl Re:Bitcoin is a service (704 comments)

Bitcoin is a service, not a commodity.

It's a big transaction log. When you spend them, you provide the service of signing your transaction with a private key that the network agrees controls the pool of coins from which are spending. You are exchanging this service for the goods and services the recipient of that transaction agreed to provide you with (hopefully).

In the end the only value of a wallet is the ability to provide this service. That's why when a wallet is destroyed those coins it controlled are lost to the network forever.

"Real" currencies are essentially also this kind of service, since we moved off the gold standard. The only value fiat currency has is what someone will agree to give you in exchange for providing the service of telling your bank to move some numbers to their account (whether you do this electronically, or indirectly through cash).

The main differential is that Bitcoin is founded on the mutual trust of all participants, whereas fiat currencies are founded almost entirely on confidence in a few entities - the government, and the banks. Bitcoin probably wins on that count.

The difficulty here is that there is no way to repudiate transactions after the fact - unlike with a bank, there is no "Undo". But this is also a feature. To provide an ability to do this would require a central body to have key escrow of your wallet keys, which would completely undermine the whole network AND be a rich target for exactly this sort of theft.

The problem is that people don't understand Bitcoin. Trusting a web-wallet is an entirely different proposition to trusting a bank, but they are used to thinking about it as if it was a bank.

about a month and a half ago
top

Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

Dr_Barnowl Re:Flexcoin was not an "Exchange" (704 comments)

Why people *ever* used them is beyond comprehension.

You don't even need a server online to *accept* bitcoin transactions, because they occur in the transaction log, so if you pay for hosted mining, or accept payments for cookies, or whatever, you can do it entirely safely just by directing coins to a wallet that has no online keys. You can even check balances without the private key ; wallet balances are public like everything else in the transaciton log.

You only need access to the keys in a wallet to *spend* Bitcoin. So you keep the key in dead storage unless you need to spend.

If you really need a convenient way to spend, keep a "current account" wallet which you recharge from your "deposit account" wallet. Then even if your phone / exchange wallet / usb stick is stolen, you only get a small balance stolen.

about a month and a half ago
top

Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

Dr_Barnowl Re:Who is doing this? (704 comments)

It's not the number of coins that's the problem ; they are divisible to a large number of decimal places, enough to cover most projected future needs.

The main problem is the capacity of the network as currently implemented to handle transactions, which can't scale : straight from the horses mouth

https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Sca...

about a month and a half ago
top

Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

Dr_Barnowl Re:Sinking ship (704 comments)

There aren't any coins to move. The coins are just an idea. Bitcoin is a large distributed transaction log.

Now, you could make it illegal to exchange Bitcoin transaction services for fiat currency, but that won't stop people still using them as a proxy for value. And I imagine it would be hard to do in a way that actually has legal teeth, but doesn't outlaw all forms of banking (which is mostly providing transaction services these days...)

about a month and a half ago
top

Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

Dr_Barnowl Re:From the FAQ (704 comments)

They provide a service - they hold crypto keys for you and generate transactions signed by those keys.

Now those keys were stolen, but they are of intangible value. Just because certain parties will honour those transactions and exchange the service of providing them for official government scrip, doesn't mean they are worth anything.

about a month and a half ago
top

Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

Dr_Barnowl Re:Indeed. But how can they be "stolen"? (704 comments)

Bitcoin is a big distributed transaction log. The record of where all the coins are is public, and verified constantly by clients participating in the network ; each client has a full copy of the transaction log.

Your wallet doesn't store the coins. It stores crypto keys. The coins are all out there - the transaction log says who they belong to, and the private key in your wallet lets you create new transactions to move them around.

When coins are created, the network attests that the coins belong to your wallet by signing the transaction that creates those coins.

To spend those coins requires a transaction record signed by the private key belonging to that wallet. The transaction basically says

"Hey, I'm and I'm transferring coins to " [Signed, wallet-1234]

The network verifies that the signature is correct and adds its own attestation that it is so.

So what happened here was the thieves broke into the server, and accessed private keys that were available to the server, and used them to generate transactions moving the coins they controlled to new wallets (presumably controlled by the thieves).

Tinfoil hat says that it could very well be an inside job (as could MtGox).

about a month and a half ago
top

Ask Slashdot: What Software Can You Not Live Without?

Dr_Barnowl Re:Search Software (531 comments)

I've tried most of the diff / merge tools available but I keep coming back to Beyond Compare ; it's one of the few pieces of commercial productivity software on my machines (both Windows and Linux).

There are a couple of features (like kdiff3's "alignment hint file" feature) that I wish it would adopt, but otherwise it knocks most of the others, freeware and FOSS, into a cocked hat.

about a month and a half ago
top

Ask Slashdot: What Software Can You Not Live Without?

Dr_Barnowl Re:Search Software (531 comments)

Why not GnuWin32 - it too operates in a standard DOS shell but doesn't cost money (unlike MKS Toolkit)?

Having encountered the MKS version of a CVS / issue tracking server (written in Java, crashes when you check out too many files), I'd rather not touch any of their other products.

about a month and a half ago
top

Mt. Gox Gone? Apparent Theft Shakes Bitcoin World

Dr_Barnowl Re:This is hysterical! (695 comments)

Well, for this example, yes.

Diamonds are pretty worthless. Their price is artificially inflated by the De Beers cartel. If you don't believe me, try selling a diamond - take your wife's engagement ring down to the jeweller and get a quote. Now compare the price to that of similar stones available in the same store.

So, nothing to do with the robbery though - the diamonds are still worthless beforehand.

about 2 months ago
top

Mt. Gox Gone? Apparent Theft Shakes Bitcoin World

Dr_Barnowl Re:Facepalm. DNS too - wikipedia uses PowerDNS, My (695 comments)

Not Invented Here syndrome is a terrible thing.

Why the HELL would you want to write your own DNS server, much less want to run it on MySQL.

If you want easy analytics from SQL reports, use a proper DNS server (my instant thought was one that uses LMDB - which PowerDNS supports, apparently) and write a program that dumps the data you want into a MySQL instance, which is the Unix philosophy - tools doing one thing well.

about 2 months ago
top

Mt. Gox Gone? Apparent Theft Shakes Bitcoin World

Dr_Barnowl Re:put announce for mtgox acq here (695 comments)

acq may be "acquisition" - perhaps one of the incumbent banking players is buying them out. Or the mafia. Or someone.

about 2 months ago
top

Mt. Gox Gone? Apparent Theft Shakes Bitcoin World

Dr_Barnowl Re:Cash (695 comments)

Well, not unless your mattress is made of adamantium and has a passphrase protected lock, can be redundantly backed up in multiple locations, and every time you stuff a handful of cash into it that cash is automatically available from each of the backups... no.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

top

Eric Schmidt urges regulation of mini-drones

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  1 year,6 days

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports that the CEO of Google thinks that drones should be regulated. Drones are certainly a hot topic, with appearances on both side of the divide in Cory Doctorow's novel Homeland — with the authorities using them to distribute riot gas, and the noble hackers using them to post the video of them doing it. Is Eric really concerned over how the public will use drones against each other, or is he more concerned that they might eat into Google's pie somehow?"
top

UK Government - "Pay a £20 fee to acquit yourself of file-sharing (maybe)"

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  about 2 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports that the UK government plans to introduce a £20 fee if you wish to appeal against an allegation of copyright infringement, within 20 days of your accusation. Note that this doesn't guarantee acquittal, as only "excuses" covered in the Digital Economy Act will be valid even for consideration. This scheme could be in place as early as 2014, so John Smith, General Secretary of the Musicians' Union says "We urge ISPs to begin building their systems now and to work constructively with rights holders, Ofcom and government to get notice-sending up and running as soon as possible,". What are the thoughts of Slashdot?"
Link to Original Source
top

EU Proposes HFT Transaction Tax

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports that the UK opposes a proposed new tax on transactions with at least one end Europe. Why is this "News for Nerds"? The proposal includes tax on derivatives, an instrument the High Frequency Trading stories we've been chowing down on recently. With the proposed tax being 0.1% or 0.01% for derivatives, the story highlights the sheer volumes involved — it's speculated that the tax would earn some €57B a year ($78B), around 80% of it from the City of London. A transaction tax like this is something frequently proposed in Slashdot HFT discussions. The UK says that it will veto the tax "unless it was imposed globally" — should the USA follow suit and impose a similar levy targeted at the trading desks of the NYSE?"
Link to Original Source
top

Sony to convert online bookstore to open format

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports that Sony are to convert their online bookstore to the EPUB format.

While this format still supports DRM, it's supported on a much wider variety of readers. Is this a challenge to Kindle? It's nice to see Sony opening up to the idea of open standards ; even if you still have reservations about buying a Sony device, you might be able to patronise their bookstore sometime soon."
top

Google to release another open-source OS

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports that Google are planning to release another operating system : Google Chrome OS.

This is apparently going to consist of the Google Chrome browser, running in "a new windowing system". The browser is the platform, much like it is in the Palm Pre smartphone, part of the intention being to provide a fast boot time.

They are setting their sights first on the growing market for netbooks, with ARM and x86 compatibility planned out of the starting gate.

A "browser OS" would probably do just fine for the majority of users, but I don't think I'm ready to give up my heavy client-side platforms just yet. What will be interesting to see is the Microsoft response to this — they have enjoyed an alleged "96%" share of the netbook market OS recently, so anything designed to eat into that will not be popular in the Redmond boardroom."
top

EA releases license deactivation management tool.

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  about 5 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "Electronic Arts have posted a link to a SecuROM De-authorization management tool. Once downloaded, the tool will search your drives for EA games infested with the draconian online DRM system, and help you download their respective individual de-activation tools.

This isn't a perfect solution, since it's still possible to run out of activations in the event of hardware failure or other source of data loss, but since the announcement that this particular DRM system will be dropped for The Sims 3 , it would seem that EA has had a minor epiphany about DRM."

Link to Original Source
top

British IRS loses database of every child in UK.

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "News breaking in the UK is that the HM Revenue & Customs (the UK version of the IRS) has lost in the post discs containing the entire Child Benefit database. Every child in the UK is entitled to receive Child Benefit, so this covers some 25M people (out of the UK population of some 60M), 7.25M families, and contains names, addresses, dates of birth, bank account numbers and national insurance number (aka SSN).

The lost data has failed to turn up under a search by HM Customs (famous for rooting contraband out of tight spaces) and the UK police.

This is data loss on an unprecedented scale. Many of the people questioning the Chancellor of the Exchequer at this moment are using the issue to raise questions about the UK government plans for a national ID database.

The data was apparently "password protected". The word "encryption" has also been used, but not in connection to the data, so it could well be something as simple as a passworded ZIP archive. The data was placed onto a couple of optical media and sent to another government office, for audit purposes, via the internal post system provided by a third party courier. This was not the first occurrence of the database being transferred in this way.

While there is no evidence so far that the data is being put to nefarious uses, this will cause total chaos in the UK banking system ; affected accounts are being flagged and mothers across the country will be phoning their bank in a panic."

Link to Original Source
top

Swedish company trials peer-to-peer cellphones

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "TerraNet is trialling a p2p based mobile telephony system. Phones are used to route calls onto other phones, constructing mesh networks of "up to 20km".

The BBC reports the natural tendency of the big telecoms providers to want to squash this. I can see other problems though. The advantages in an environment with sparse cell coverage are obvious, but network effects mean that the number of connections in a heavily populated mesh grow exponentially. What happens to your battery life when your phone becomes a node? And while the company is optimistic that they have a viable technology model from IP licensing, the demand for devices supporting this is going to be proportional to the number of devices that it can connect you to.

On the plus side, it would provide some great experience with mesh networks."

Link to Original Source
top

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports in prose and in video that Robert Soloway, an alleged user of zombie spamming networks, has been arrested in Seattle. He will be charged with aggravated identity theft, the first such charge since the relevant law was passed in 2003.

While it's highly encouraging to see spammers brought to book, the spam level has not noticeably decreased since his arrest, testimony to the more prevalent spam output of eastern European and Asian sources."

Link to Original Source
top

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The CEO of Sun Microsystems blogs that "no amount of fear can stop the rise of [...] free software". While he avoids specifically mentioning a certain software company by name, he links directly to the interview in Fortune that started all this brouhaha.

He makes a special point that Sun "... decided to innovate, not litigate."

You have to wonder who else from the corporate world may pitch in at this point."

Journals

Dr_Barnowl has no journal entries.

Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...