Slashdot: News for Nerds


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!



Introducing SlashBI

DragonHawk So long... (339 comments)

Yet this is GeekNet's Jump The Shark moment, today, May 1, 2012, for anyone keeping track.

I think you're right. I've been here a gawd-awful long time, and this latest abomination is by far the worst by several orders of magnitude.

I keep hoping to see an "UPDATE: Suckers! We trolled you good!" appear in the summary, but I don't think that's going to happen.

I wonder if the Romans felt this way as their empire declined and fell?

more than 2 years ago

Microsoft Forges Ahead With New Home-Automation OS

DragonHawk This platform will not last (196 comments)

Anyone who buys into this platform is not paying attention. Not for the jokes about houses crashing, etc., but because it's not Windows. Seriously. History has shown again and again that Microsoft has one platform: Windows (or DOS before that). Anything else will eventually be killed off *by Microsoft itself*. Even for WinCE/PocketPC/WinMobile/WinPhone/whatever, the writing is on the wall -- Microsoft wants to get off that platform and on to a MinWin-derived, stripped-down mainline Windows system.

I don't want to have to replace all my home automation in X years when the upper echelon at Microsoft finally notices this thing isn't Windows and kills it.

more than 2 years ago

MIT Hack Turns the Green Building Into a Giant Game of Tetris

DragonHawk TMRC did it first (65 comments)

As chance would have it, I was at MIT's Tech Model Railroad Club open house last night (Saturday 21 April 2012). TMRC, for those who don't know, is a well-spring of hacker subculture. Their model railroad layout is fully automated using homebrew control and interface hardware, and their own Linux-based software. Formerly it ran on adapted telephone switch relays.

Anyhow, their layout includes a scale model of the Green building, and yes, you can play Tetris on it. Granted, it's not as impressive as doing it on the *real* building, but there's something to be said for prior art. ;)

I'll see if I can't get a video of it uploaded.

more than 2 years ago

The Three Flavors of Windows 8

DragonHawk Re:Long mode can't run 16-bit code (500 comments)

They could just do what Apple did (Rosetta, so you could run PowerPC apps on x86 Macs without needing another instance of the OS)

That's (pardon the pun) apples to oranges. Rosetta is a software emulation of the PowerPC architecture. x86 virtualization is typically hardware based; it's just a task switch, While they *could* go that route, it's not what I was getting at. :)

more than 2 years ago

The Three Flavors of Windows 8

DragonHawk Long mode can't run 16-bit code (500 comments)

So far the only thing that has broken is 64-bit versions of Windows don't let you run 16-bit software.

For a change, that's not actually Microsoft's fault. When in "long mode" (the 64-bit mode), x86 compatible CPUs do not support "virtual 8086 mode". So, if you're running a 64-bit OS, it simply can't run a 16-bit process.

Although machine-level virtualization must get around this somehow. Which makes me wonder if that technique -- whatever it is -- couldn't be adapted to a more lightweight way to run a 16-bit process (without requiring a whole 'nother running instance of the OS).

more than 2 years ago

Global Online Freedom Act Approved By House Committee

DragonHawk My proposal (55 comments)

Can we make naming acts/bills illegal?

Yeah... we could call the new legislation "Ban Idiotic Titles in Congressional Hearings".

more than 2 years ago

Japan's Damaged Reactor Has High Radiation, No Water

DragonHawk Re:Pick one (282 comments)

I highly doubt you could find any commercial insurance company that would underwrite a new nuclear plant these days.

They're not allowed to - the Feds nationalized nuclear insurance in the 60's.

Interesting, but I believe my statement would stand true even if that wasn't the case.

There are three possibilities: global warming, agrarian society, nuclear power.


Nuclear power doesn't seem to be economically viable without government subsidies. The free market includes irrational actors, and too many people fear anything nuke-you-lar. At the same time, for the same reasons, most governments seem to be avoiding it -- it's bad for elections.

Agrarian society isn't going to happen willingly. Thriving civilizations don't decrease their energy usage. (Collapse of civilization would get us there, I suppose, but that's generally not a deliberate choice...)

Which leaves global warming.

I'm just one big ray of sunshine, aren't I?

more than 2 years ago

Japan's Damaged Reactor Has High Radiation, No Water

DragonHawk Pick one (282 comments)

That would assume they'd let anybody build modern nuclear reactors, which is crazy talk, but if you want a funding model it's there.

I highly doubt you could find any commercial insurance company that would underwrite a new nuclear plant these days. Since I know you're staunchly against government funding of such, and I suspect it's impossible for any free civilization to deliberately curtail its energy use, I guess that leaves global warming, right?

(I'm stirring the pot, yes. :) )

more than 2 years ago

NHTSA Suggestion Would Cripple In-Car GPS Displays

DragonHawk Re:Map vs turns; sense of direction (516 comments)

Interesting. You definitely think differently than I do when it comes to maps and directions and the like. It might be revealing to explore this kind of thing more, but unfortunately a Slashdot subthread isn't the best place for that. :)

more than 2 years ago

NHTSA Suggestion Would Cripple In-Car GPS Displays

DragonHawk Map vs turns; sense of direction (516 comments)

Interesting. I hate having forward-up; I want a fixed map. But I also use the system differently than how you describe your use. I carry the map in my head and use the electronic map display to update my mental map. Even if I don't know the area, I want to have an idea of my route and the immediate surroundings. Having the map spin around disorients me: When I try to update my mental map, the on-screen map will have likely changed orientation and so I have to work harder to re-align mental with screen.

For turn warnings, I listen to audio and look at the next turn indicator at the top of the display. My GPS has a fairly easy to see arrow.

It would appear we use the system differently. It sounds like I'm more interested in the overall map than you.

It's common for people to describe themselves/others as having a good/bad "sense of direction". Different people have different skills. I generally seem to have a good sense of direction. I always have a mental map of my surroundings. How about yourself? I'm wondering if how we like to use GPSes reflects our own sense of the physical world.

more than 2 years ago

Space Shuttles Discovery and Atlantis Meet One Last Time

DragonHawk Shuttle history (52 comments)

You may want to look up some of the shuttle history. Carrying out experiments in space was not the original idea. That was what the space station was for.

The original concept was a smaller vehicle, intended to move people and small cargo back and forth between a permanent manned space station. It was truly intended as a *shuttle*. It was intended for frequent launches; hence the interest in a reusable vehicle. Heavier payloads were intended for conventional rocket designs (some kind of Saturn evolution).

But then funding was cut. Getting a new heavy lift booster, a space station, *and* a shuttle was not going to happen.

At the same time, the Air Force got involved. The AF needs the ability to launch spy satellites in to polar orbits. By working together, the thought was that STS could be kept alive. But polar orbits are harder to reach, and spy satellites are big and heavy. That meant a much larger vehicle. So the shuttle design evolved into what it is today.

But then the Air Force realized that the compromise design was lousy, and decided to stick with conventional rockets. SLC-6 was never used.

As a result, NASA was stuck with something of a white elephant. The shuttle was trying to be too many things at once. It wasn't the small, cheap "bus" that was originally conceived, but it also wasn't a cost-effective heavy launcher.

It's a shame; some really brilliant technology and engineering went into the program. But when the design goals are conflicting and ever-changing, no amount of engineering skill can compensate.

more than 2 years ago

Rob Malda (CmdrTaco) Joins the Washington Post

DragonHawk Who are you? (232 comments)

I thought this was hilarious until I went back to the summary and saw that CmdrTaco actually will be working at the "trendy"-named "WaPo" Labs. ...Now I'm a sad panda....

I thought you were an eternal Doctor Who...

more than 2 years ago

Why Didn't the Internet Take Off In 1983?

DragonHawk The cycle of reincarnation (469 comments)

Services like this, and the French minitel (which was popular) weren't relying on client computers so much as dumb terminals. You dialed in to a remote machine and it just pushed text to your screen and took text from your keyboard.

Yah, and all the processing was done on the central host end.

Contrast this to the web paradigm, where all the data lives on servers, most of the processing happens on the servers, the servers just send a page description to your browser, and then send what you enter back to the server. That's totally different.

Oh, wait... ;-)

more than 2 years ago

Why Didn't the Internet Take Off In 1983?

DragonHawk MS-DOS in ROM (469 comments)

Boot times increased rather than decreased until this century.

You obviously never used an old mini or mainframe that took minutes or tens of minutes to boot. 5 to 10 was a big improvement! ;-)

But it was more like 5-10 seconds on my IBM. But if you had a Commodore or the like with the OS in ROM boot speeds were far faster than the IBM.

My old Tandy 1000 SL, which was basically an 8086 IBM-PC compatible design, had the DOS kernel and COMMAND.COM in ROM. It appeared as "C:" -- the machine had no hard disk. So despite only having a floppy disk, turn it on, and the OS was ready in a second or two. It was nice.

more than 2 years ago

Remastered Star Trek: the Next Generation Blu-ray a Huge Leap Forward

DragonHawk Re:Regarding your sig (470 comments)

FYI: No, it doesn't. You didn't even look at the lf(1) project page so you don't understand what it does.

Actually, I *did* look at the project page. Which states, in its entirety, "lf is a command-line tool to list files in a terse format, sorted by file extensions. Sorts by the user's locale, or by ASCII, and has many options to control its behavior." It makes no mention of printing the extensions separately, nor of stripping them from the file names.

You're sort-of right in that I didn't look at the screen shot. I assumed the prose description on the web page would describe all the salient features. I see now that assumption was a bad one.

Suggestion for prose description:
lf is a command-line tool to list files. It is similar in concept to ls(1), but groups by file extension. Each line begins with an extension, followed by the base file names without extension. Sorts by the user's locale, or by ASCII, and has many options to control its behavior.

The key word you missed was "tersely".

I did read "tersely", but I didn't see how the traditional ls(1) format could be any more terse: It already prints only the file names and nothing else. It didn't occur to me that you're breaking up the file names.

Given the limited number of characters in a Slashdot sig, I was sort of relying on people to click the link...


lf(1): Like ls(1) but groups by extension, printed separately.

more than 2 years ago

Remastered Star Trek: the Next Generation Blu-ray a Huge Leap Forward

DragonHawk Regarding your sig (470 comments)

lf(1): it's like ls(1) but sorts filenames by extension, tersely.

FYI: The -X switch to GNU ls(1) already does this.

more than 2 years ago

Hard Drive Shortage Relief Coming In Q1 2012

DragonHawk First quarter of 2012? (205 comments)

Uhhh... unless they're using some new calendar I'm unfamiliar with, the first quarter is about two-thirds over. The fact that they're using the future tense for something which is already mostly gone makes me wonder just how well informed this article is.

more than 2 years ago

Google Pulls Support For CDMA Devices

DragonHawk Why? (272 comments)

You are aware that CDMA is technologically superiour to GSM in EVERY way.

Care to explain why/how? For those of us who aren't aware?

more than 2 years ago

Mechanic's Mistake Trashes $244 Million Aircraft

DragonHawk Panic; e-brake; tragedy of the commons (428 comments)

I think that the emergency brake sensor should be used as the override.

Again, it's a panic thing. People panic and try to use the (regular) brakes to stop the car. There are already ways to recover from a stuck accelerator: "Shift to neutral" and "turn ignition switch to OFF" being the most obvious. But when people are panicked because their car is accelerating out of control, they don't think clearly.

Plus, I think using the emergency brake would be a poor idea. The e-brake is typically the rear wheels only and lacks anti-lock; if it's the foot pedal variety it also typically lacks any fine control. That's a recipe for rear wheel lock-up, fish tailing, and loss of control.

It occurs to me that if you really need that extra margin while changing lanes, you're probabbly driving inappropriately for a public road.

sometimes you don't have a choice where you live and how dense the traffic is. You can either get where you want to, or you won't ever get to where you're going...

You're still probably driving inappropriately. The idea that you'll never get there because you needed to shave tens of microseconds for a lane change is... unlikely. And, ironically, people with that attitude are actually a big part of the traffic problem. If people drove properly everyone would get there faster. (See: But too many people either don't understand or don't care. Tragedy of the commons.

more than 2 years ago

Mechanic's Mistake Trashes $244 Million Aircraft

DragonHawk Accelerator override (428 comments)

I'd be seriously pissed if I had to drive a car where depressing accelerator and brake caused the accelerator command to be overridden.

Heh, something like that is actually a safety feature in some cars already, and They(TM) are considering making it mandatory. Accelerator override: Where if you press the brake, it cancels the accelerator. This is done because there are legit scenarios where the accelerator pedal can get suck. The big one is floor-mat-stuck-under-the-pedal. People panic and try to use the brakes to stop the car, and that's not always as effected as one would like.

Whether or not it's worth the costs in loss of control you describe, I dunno.

Semi-related: It occurs to me that if you really need that extra margin while changing lanes, you're probabbly driving inappropriately for a public road.

more than 2 years ago




DragonHawk DragonHawk writes  |  more than 3 years ago

DragonHawk (21256) writes "Volkswagen is recalling 71K cars because of a wiring fault that could cause the car to die if you honk your horn. If the fault manifests, it ends up killing power to the headlights, wipers, and engine controller, among other things. "Honk to stop your Jetta.""
Link to Original Source

Firefox 3.6.4 released - Out-of-process plugins

DragonHawk DragonHawk writes  |  more than 4 years ago

DragonHawk (21256) writes "Mozilla Firefox 3.6.4 went to general release today. The big new feature in this release is out-of-process plugins (OOPP). This means things like Flash, Java, QuickTime, etc., all run in separate processes. So when Flash decides to crash, it won't take your browser out with it. If Flash jumps to hyperspace and starts consuming all the CPU it can find, you can kill it without nuking your browser session. Or if Flash just starts acting funny, you can restart it separately. I've been using this feature since it was in the "nightly build" stage, and it was *still* more stable than 3.6.3, just because Flash was isolated."
Link to Original Source

Asterisk and old single-pair phone wiring

DragonHawk DragonHawk writes  |  more than 5 years ago

DragonHawk writes "Anyone know of any kind of enhanced telephone set that can be connected to an Asterisk-based system using plain old telephone wiring? I've got a building full of 50 year old telephone wiring, plus two more buildings with modern wiring, all running off a premises telephone system. I want to move to Asterisk, but replacing the old wiring is not feasible. So whatever I go with has to have a way to support our old wiring.

To be explicit: What I'm concerned about are the telephone sets and wiring on the private side of our premises telephone system. Connecting an Asterisk system to the PSTN is a solved problem.

Enhanced telephone set = Something more than a plain old telephone set. Programmable buttons for hold, line selection, special features, etc. Option for an LCD. Like the proprietary digital telephone sets used with AT&T/Avaya Merlin, Nortel Meridian/Norstar, Toshiba DK, and other premises telephone systems ("key system" or "PBX"). Pretty much all VoIP sets fall into this category, too.

Plain old telephone wiring = A single pair of copper wires, guaranteed to conduct electricity and nothing more. Not Category 3 compliant, let alone Category 5. Forget Ethernet for VoIP.

We have an existing premises telephone system (a Norstar MICS). It needs only a single pair of voice-grade copper wire. I'm looking at upgrading to a VoIP-capable system, and would love to be able to switch to Asterisk. But rewiring the old building with 4-pair Cat 5 to support Ethernet-connected, PoE-powered telephone sets is infeasible. And there are a non-trivial number of phones without convenient existing LAN jacks nearby.

I'm looking at Nortel's BCM 400 (basically a hybrid Norstar/VoIP box), but it's expensive, doesn't do SIP, and Nortel is not overly customer friendly. I'd love to use something like Asterisk instead.

Connecting plain old telephones to analog adapters isn't an acceptable solution. All the desk sets on old wiring would either (1) loose features beyond making telephone calls, or (2) require hook flash and dialing feature codes to do anything. That's very cumbersome, compared to the one-button ease of enhanced telephones.

I'm envisioning a semi-proprietary solution that uses Asterisk and VoIP, but also offers equipment suitable for old wiring. Maybe some kind of PCI line card, or Ethernet-attached external module, which connects proprietary digital sets to the Asterisk open architecture.

Anyone know of anything like this?"

DMCA means you cannot delete files on your own PC

DragonHawk DragonHawk writes  |  more than 6 years ago

DragonHawk writes "According to Wired, John Stottlemire found a way to print duplicate coupons from by deleting some files and registry entires on his PC. Now he's being sued for a DMCA violation. He says, "All I did was erase files or registry keys." Says a lawyer: "It may cover this. I think it does give companies a lot of leverage and a lot of power." So now the copyright cartels are saying that not only can we not copy things on our computers, but we cannot delete things on our computers. Time to buy stock in Seagate."
Link to Original Source



So long, and thanks for all the fish

DragonHawk DragonHawk writes  |  more than 2 years ago

For me, this is Slashdot's official jump-the-shark moment. 1 May 2012. Or maybe when Taco left was really the moment and this is just the result. I dunno. Either way, I'm done. I've been reading this site since a few months after it stopped being "Chips and Dips", and frankly this makes me a little sad. It's clear the ownership wants to take this site in a direction I ain't going.

CmdrTaco, Hemos, wherever you are, thanks for making the Internet a better place for at least a little while.

Clear skies, all. DragonHawk, out.


notes on experimental threading

DragonHawk DragonHawk writes  |  more than 7 years ago

"experimental threading One Two Three Four"
(from "MPAA Sues Company For Selling Pre-Loaded iPods")

One comment:

One and four either shows the parent and its replies or the collapsed parent and a message stating "4 hidden comments" or whatever.
Two toggles the collapsed state of the comment you click and any of its children that don't meet your threshold or something.
Three basically just toggles the collapsed state of the comment you click, but doesn't modify its children, except from when you're going from four to three, in which case it collapses ones that don't meet the threshold.

The difference between one and four is that in One, upon expanding a comment, if one of the children was collapsed before, it will stay collapsed, while number Four expands all the children too.

Another comment:

It does something (completely unintuitive and impossible to grok) if you hit the checkbox to enable testing the horrible new discussion system. In regular mode it indeed sticks to just generating javascript errors.



DragonHawk DragonHawk writes  |  more than 7 years ago

I've decided that CMS, which nominally stands for "Content Management System", should really stand for "Clone of Malda's Site", since almost every CMS I've ever seen is just a copy of the Slashdot layout. News stories/blog down the middle, boxes on either side.

Remember, you heard it here first.

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>
Create a Slashdot Account