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A New Robo-Soldier Will Test Chemical Warfare Suits

Required Snark Boston Dynamics PETMAN (29 comments)

This is not the first humanoid robot for this purpose. Meet PETMAN

PETMAN is an anthropomorphic robot designed for testing chemical protection clothing. Natural agile movement is essential for PETMAN to simulate how a soldier stresses protective clothing under realistic conditions.

Unlike previous suit testers that had a limited repertoire of motion and had to be supported mechanically, PETMAN balances itself and moves freely; walking, bending and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents. PETMAN also simulates human physiology within the protective suit by controlling temperature, humidity and sweating, all to provide realistic test conditions.

Although it's hard to tell from dueling press releases, it appears that PETMAN is more sophisticated and moves much more autonomously then Porton Man. I assume that it is also a lot more expensive.

about two weeks ago
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Fifty Years Ago IBM 'Bet the Company' On the 360 Series Mainframe

Required Snark Re:It also killed innovation (169 comments)

The IBM Stretch had an early form of out of order execution. This was in 1959.

http://people.cs.clemson.edu/~mark/stretch.html

Amdahl discussed his original idea for lookahead with John Backus "two or three times". "And John thought what I had proposed initially, he couldn't do a compiler for. So we went ahead and redid it. And we came out with the thing that was the look-ahead structure of the STRETCH." [p. 71, Norberg]. Amdahl recalls that "principally the look-ahead pre-fetched instructions to see branch instructions early enough so that we could get the succeeding instruction and data for each of the two alternative branch paths"

The CDC6600 a more advanced form in 1964.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out-of-order_execution

Arguably the first machine to use out-of-order execution was the CDC 6600 (1964), which used a scoreboard to resolve conflicts. In modern usage, such scoreboarding is considered to be in-order execution, not out-of-order execution, since such machines stall on the first RAW (Read After Write) conflict. Strictly speaking, such machines initiate execution in-order, although they may complete execution out-of-order.

From the same source:

About three years later, the IBM 360/91 (1966) introduced Tomasulo's algorithm, which made full out-of-order execution possible.

about two weeks ago
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"Nearly Unbreakable" Encryption Scheme Inspired By Human Biology

Required Snark I have complete confidence (179 comments)

that the NSA can subvert any cryptography system.

Even if this is true, the NSA will figure out a way to make it insecure. Under the pretense of security they insure that the ability to do evil things is built in to all communication technology.

about two weeks ago
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FCC Orders Comcast To Stop Labeling Equipment Rental a Service Fee

Required Snark Greedy Corporate Assholes (97 comments)

Any business as big and monopolistic as Comcast is going to be completely corrupt. They don't make money, they steal money. This applies to all the big corporations, no matter what business they are in.

This example shows how low they will go to defraud their users. Just how many cable subscribers are using non-HDTV sets? This is obviously their lowest tier customer class, so it is likely that they are making the least amount of profit from these users. That is why they picked this group to gouge.

There no real relationship between what they charge and what the delivery cost is. The content charges are just as artificial. The only competition is how the profits from the overpriced service is divided up. The only looser is the customer.

This situation is normal when there is no real competition. It's identical to the telcos and the banks and the pharmaceutical companies and ...

No capitalism here, just move along.

about two weeks ago
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Under Revised Quake Estimates, Dozens of Nuclear Reactors Face Problems

Required Snark Re:Must question the "revised" estimates (152 comments)

As for Fukushima. Fukushima is the story of a freak Tsunami that was mutated by the anti-nuke community into a "nuclear failure".

So you want to argue this at the level of personal attacks? No problem.

Imagine that there was no reactor at Fukushima and there was a "freak tsunami". Would there be a radioactive water storage nightmare?

Currently about 400 tonnes of groundwater is streaming into the reactor basements from the hills behind the plant each day. The plant has accumulated about 300,000 tonnes of contaminated water, which is being stored in 1,200 tanks occupying a large swath of the Fukushima Daiichi site.

Eventually Tepco hopes to have enough space to store 800,000 tonnes, but fears are rising that it will run out of space sometime next year because it can't keep up with the flow of toxic water.

Your statement is meaningless because it is complete nonsense. In the real world the tsunami happened and there have been dramatic consequences. Putting the blame on the "anti-nuke community" verges on delusional thinking.

Are your suggesting that the water be dumped into the ocean? That would destroy an even larger area of the Japanese seafood industry. It would also violate numerous international treaties.

Since you seem to have all the answers, what's your solution? I'm sure that you response will be better then anyone in Japan or the international community has come up with so far, and it will be immediately adopted. I can't wait!

about two weeks ago
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Why No One Trusts Facebook To Power the Future

Required Snark Re:Because you think Google is any better? (218 comments)

Obamacare?

Do you keep your KKK robes hung up in the closet where they won't get wrinkled but someone might see them, or do you fold them in a drawer where they are out of sight but you have to iron them before you go out to a cross burning?

about two weeks ago
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Intel Releases $99 'MinnowBoard Max,' an Open-Source Single-Board Computer

Required Snark Re:"Open source computer"???? (97 comments)

You're absolutely right. There is no truly open source hardware.

Since this is so outrageous, I suggest that you immediately give up using anything with a computer. No laptop, pads, desktop or smartphone. Get off the internet entirely. No GPS. No ATM or banking. No electricity, because all electric power generation uses evil closed source hardware.

In fact, the only way you can live and be free of all the closed source hardware is to go and live in the woods like Ted Kaczynski. I hope you do so, because then there would be one less self obsessed moron on Slashdot.

about two weeks ago
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NASA To Catalog and Release Source Code For Over 1,000 Projects

Required Snark Re:Wait... What? (46 comments)

Factually incorrect: "Plus they are a heck a lot more reliable then they were 20+ years ago."

Over twenty years ago there were computers that hardware and software that were designed to work together. At least two of these systems had extra tag bits in memory that defined the memory contents. Specifically I am talking about Symbolics Lisp Machines and Burroughs Large Systems that natively ran Algol. I worked on both of these systems and they were intrinsically more reliable then any systems I know of today.

Because of the tagged memory they had hardware protection against a large class of errors that current systems encounter all the time. It was possible to find the bugs and eliminate them so they did not re-occur. It also protected against having undetected errors, which is a true nightmare.

Having hardware and software designed at the same time results in a better product. This is even more significant when the system is designed to run a specific high level language. Everything has less bugs.

Heck, Cray machines had ECC memory: SECDED. Single Error Correction, Double Error Detection. They needed it, because memory was not so reliable as today, but now you are lucky to just have a parity bit. All this work is going on, and no one has a clue if there are bad results or not.

As an industry we have gone backwards. That's not an opinion, it's an observation.

about two weeks ago
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FWD.us Wants More H-1B Visas, But 50% Go To Offshore Firms

Required Snark You've got it all wrong. (325 comments)

This isn't selling out resident workers, both green card holders and citizens. It's capitalism in action.

The US government is for sale, and the highest bidders get what they pay for. You buy enough legislation (and legislators) and you can make anything legal.

Want to make more money in the short run by gutting STEM employment and destroying US based intellectual capitial? No problem! (Just look at IBM).

Want to pay no US taxes while you plaster US flags on your equipment? You don't even have to make the flags in the US! (Caterpillar, a proud US giant.)

It really is equal opportunity at work. You don't even have to be a US company to buy what you want.

Stop whining, it's unpatriotic. You obviously don't love the US if you can't afford to buy you own slice of the American Dream. Tata Consultancy Services is clearly a much more important American Enterprise then any of the mere citizens who do useless things like live, vote and pay taxes in the US.

It's not like there is a "Government of the People, by the People and For the People" or any other nonsense like that.

about three weeks ago
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Intel Upgrades MinnowBoard: Baytrail CPU, Nearly Halves Price To $99

Required Snark Could be useful for hosting Arduino development (92 comments)

Cheep enough to have a dedicated system for hosting Arudino development, so you don't worry about frying your main system.

Just saying...

about three weeks ago
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Wireless Carriers In Huge Washington Lobby Fight Over Spectrum Auction

Required Snark Blame Ronald Reagan (51 comments)

Before Reagan there used to be something called "anit-trust". When some player in the private sector got too big, they would be "broken up" in order to insure "competition". That was in the old days where the US economy had something called "capitalism".

I know this sounds like a fantasy to many younger Slashdot readers, but it really did happen. Besides "capitalism" there were other obsolete ideas like "privacy", "justice", "voting rights", "free press" and "free travel". I'd encourage you to look this up, but then you might get on a list where suddenly you couldn't get on an airplane and they would never tell you why and you could never get off the list.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can an Old Programmer Learn New Tricks?

Required Snark Get used to a poorly designed environment (306 comments)

If you started to code before the rise of the internet, you learned how to function in a somewhat useful development environment. The infrastructure and tools for internet based programming are severely broken by those standards.

To a significant extent, all the practices that make a workable environment were abandoned for the internet. It's likely that the learning curve problem you are experiencing is a reflection how bad things have become for coders.

Take languages. With the possible exception of Python, all the languages associated with web development have glaring flaws. PHP is conceivably the worst language to ever gain broad acceptance. JavaScript does objects wrong and has evil lexical scoping rules. You have to be very careful or you can step on an assumption made by object in a library that you don't even know was loaded.

Thoughtful system design has been replaced by object oriented programming. The failed assumption is that if you have an object model, you must be doing a good job. This is a prime example of magical thinking. Just because it's all objects does not mean that it was done right. (I'm talking about you, Java).

Then there are the "non-standard" standards. The poster child is HTML in the browser. To reach the full user base web pages must code for multiple incompatible implementations. Chalk up a lot of this to Microsoft, but even they had a lot of help creating the garbage dump called web standards.

Frameworks take the mindset of spaghetti code, force it on the coder and then claim that they are really great. Take Cake/PHP. Using it is the equivalent of chewing on a mixture of crushed glass and push pins. It only seem useful if you have been swimming in the cesspit of PHP.

To be fair, I must say that JQuery is one of the best examples of software out there. I demonstrates that even given a flawed language like JavaScript, and the snake pit of inconsistent DOM implementations, elegant and useful software is possible. It's just too bad that there are very few tools that do such a good job.

So don't blame yourself. You are as smart and capable as you ever were, it's the work environment that has become degraded. If you come to grips with the current crop of shoddy software you can achieve your ends. A more fundamental issue is if you want to work in such a terrible situation. After having the experience of being productive, it's a real let down to experience using such a crap set of tools.

about a month ago
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CIA Accused: Sen. Feinstein Sees Torture Probe Meddling

Required Snark Elitist America (187 comments)

Welcome to our new unequal 21st century America.

If you are not a member of one of various elites, you have no expectation of privacy, protection under the law, or economic security.

If you are a wealthy investor, top tier business executive, elected to a nationwide office, or famous and rich for any reason, your wealth and position will be protected by the economic, political, and military might of the US. Note: entertainers, particularly pro-athletes and popular musicians, can be dropped at any time. Heavily right wing affiliation will keep you in good standing. See Steven Seagal and Ted Nugent for examples.

The only real crime is interfering with a member of the elite. You can have every economic transaction, phone call, medical record, license plate tracking data and email in a secret database, but if anyone spies on a Member of Congress heads will roll, bureaucrats will loose their jobs and institutional budgets will be slashed.

Suck it up. You count for nothing.

about a month ago
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NASA Admits It Gave Jet Fuel Discounts To Google Execs' Company

Required Snark Re:They sold it at cost? (126 comments)

You have the mentality of a peasant. Whatever the nobles do, it must be OK because they would never take advantage of their position at your expense. They're so much more deserving then you.

Let's use a car analogy: suppose that you buy gas at the same station that Google execs do. They get charged the rate that the gas costs at the refinery, and you pay retail. Their gas is 25% cheaper (made up value) then yours. You have to pay for shipping costs, infrastructure costs for the service station (electricity, upkeep), the salaries of everyone involved between the refinery and the pump, etc. All that stuff has to be paid for to get the gas to the pump, so you are subsidizing their gas.

Except it's not a private company selling the gas, it's government services paid for by your taxes.

Look at Eric Schmidt's compensation at Google.

In its 2011 'World's Billionaires' list, Forbes ranked Schmidt as the 136th-richest person in the world, with an estimated wealth of $7 billion. Google gave him a $100 million equity award in 2011 when he stepped down as CEO.[57]

According to insider transaction data available at Yahoo! Finance, Schmidt sold Google stock worth more than $6 billion from January to May 2013.

So you think it's fine to use tax money to make it cheaper for a guy worth $7 Billion to fly his private jet. What the hell is wrong with you?

about a month and a half ago
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NASA Wants To Go To Europa

Required Snark This could be a big problem for Republicans (216 comments)

It's their anti-science position. Going to Europa and finding alien life might encourage the teaching of evolutions in schools.

It will also interfere with their plan to teach that the Earth is a the center of the universe, and the eventual mandate to make it official policy that the world is flat.

That will put the godless atheists in their place: in the lower left corner of the flat world, where the climate is terrible and all the icky stuff collects at the bottom.

about a month and a half ago
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The Rise and Fall of Supersymmetry

Required Snark Re:String Theory will survive (138 comments)

Your not so humorous bullshit comment falls into the category of "not even wrong".

about a month and a half ago
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Child Porn Arrest For Cameron Aide Who Helped Plan UK Net Filters

Required Snark Why is this not a surprise? (205 comments)

It's a common pattern. Someone has a dark secret and they end up persecuting those who have the same impulses. They simultaneously engage in behavior they see as evil while doing the same thing themselves. It's why we continuously hear about virulent ant-gay politicians and religious leaders who have a secret gay life. Just look for the people who are screaming loudly about a specific sin, and there you will find a greater then average concentration of sinners.

about a month and a half ago
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Sulfur Polymers Could Enable Long-Lasting, High-Capacity Batteries

Required Snark Re:could and should and all that (131 comments)

First, you have to prove that you deserve a flying car.

Then you have to prove that you can be trusted to dive/pilot a flying car.

Given how the vast majority of people drive, almost no one passes the second test.

I'm not claiming that I do either. I also know that I should not ride a motorcycle because I don't have the right kind of attention for it.

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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Thick Chinese Smog is Harming Agriculture

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  about a month and a half ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "The smog in China is so thick and pervasive that it is having a large scale negative impact on agricultural production.

Scientists say China's smog blocks natural light, thus slowing down the photosynthesis process necessary for plants to thrive.

...

He Dongxian, an associate professor with China Agricultural University's College of Water Resources and Civil Engineering, conducted experiments in Beijing over recent months which she says showed a drastic slowdown in the photosynthesis process.

As part of He's experiments, chili and tomato seeds, for example, took more than two months to sprout at a greenhouse farm in Beijing's Changping district, while the same outcome is typically achieved in 20 days under artificial light in a laboratory. Air pollutants adhere to greenhouse surfaces, reducing by half the amount of light available to the plants, she said.

Most seedlings at the farm were weak or sick, He told the Post. "They will be lucky to live at all."

If China's smog persists or intensifies, He warns, the country's food supply faces devastating consequences. "Now almost every farm is caught in a smog panic."

According to the story "much of north and central China — about one-seventh of the country — was also covered in smog last weekend", so the problem extends far beyond Beijing."
Link to Original Source

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San Francisco Rail Commuters Ignore Man Flashing Gun: One Killed

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  about 6 months ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "

The man drew the gun several times on the crowded San Francisco commuter train, with surveillance video showing him pointing it across the aisle without anyone noticing and then putting it back against his side, according to authorities.

The other passengers were so absorbed in their phones and tablets they didn't notice the gunman until he randomly shot and killed a university student, authorities said.

"These weren't concealed movements — the gun is very clear," District Attorney George Gascon said. "These people are in very close proximity with him, and nobody sees this. They're just so engrossed, texting and reading and whatnot. They're completely oblivious of their surroundings."'

The next time you are out in public, put in your ear buds, and zone out while connected online, just remember even though your mind has "left the building", you are still actually physically present..

Sometimes ignoring your surroundings is the wrong thing to do. In this case, everyone was so spaced out they were all sitting ducks.

So ask yourself: when was the last time I was so plugged in that I missed something big? Has anyone had a life threatening experience due to being on line at the wrong time?"

Link to Original Source

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Lockeed "Skunk Works" Announces Fusion Power Demo in Five Years

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  about 7 months ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "

At the recent Google “Solve for X” conference on February 7, Lockheed Martin's long-term R&D department (“Skunk Works”) announced they are working on a compact fusion reactor. With what seems a 4th generation prototype called "T4", the aerospace giant says to have developed a high beta configuration, which allows a compact reactor design and faster development timeline.

Public reactions describe the announcement of their activities on nuclear fusion remarkable, because Lockheed Martin doesn't usually make public announcements about Skunkwork projects unless they have a high degree of confidence in their chances of success. The developement timeline indicates plans to have a prototype 100-megawatt nuclear fusion machine of Lockheed Martin tested in 2017, and that a fully operational machine should be grid-ready ten years from now.

Some of the properties reported from the presentation:

  • A self-tuning feedback mechanism whereby the magnetic field increases the farther out that the plasma goes
  • Novel magnetic field configuration that has very few open field lines compared to tokamak design
  • Very "good arch curvature" of the field lines The system has a beta of about 1
  • System is working with D-T fuel

Although the presentation is short on details, Lockheed Skunk Words has a phenomenal track record, and they are putting their reputation of the line when they make this kind of announcement at a high profile Google event. A video of the presentation is here."
Link to Original Source

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The Unreasonable Effectiveness of C

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  about a year ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "Let the Language Wars Begin (Again). Damian Katz of CouchDB published a blog post entitled "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of C".

"For years I've tried my damnedest to get away from C. Too simple, too many details to manage, too old and crufty, too low level. I've had intense and torrid love affairs with Java, C++, and Erlang. I've built things I'm proud of with all of them, and yet each has broken my heart. They've made promises they couldn't keep, created cultures that focus on the wrong things, and made devastating tradeoffs that eventually make you suffer painfully. And I keep crawling back to C."

Among it's other virtues, he points out that it is a fantastic high level language that "makes it easy to reason about high level algorithms and low level hardware at the same time." It offers the best speed, debugging environment, consistency of execution, a uniform ABI, compatibility with other languages, and a fast build-test-debug cycle. It has many flaws, but as Katz says "Its flaws are very very well known, and this is a virtue. All languages and implementations have gotchas and hangups. C is just far more upfront about it."

So, Slashdot, is everything old new again?"

Link to Original Source
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High Frequency Trading: Far Worse then you Thought

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "High Frequency Trading is a software engineering disaster, according to a study by the Chicago Federal Reserve. As reported at The Economic Populist, problems include:

Industry and regulatory groups have articulated best practices related to risk controls, but many firms fail to implement all the recommendations or rely on other firms in the trade cycle to catch an out-of-control algorithm or erroneous trade. In part, this is because applying risk controls before the start of a trade can slow down an order, and high-speed trading firms are often under enormous pressure to route their orders to the exchange quickly so as to capture a trade at the desired price.

Another area of concern is that some firms do not have stringent processes for the development, testing, and deployment of code used in their trading algorithms. For example, a few trading firms interviewed said they deploy new trading strategies quickly by tweaking old code and placing it into production in a matter of minutes.

Chicago Fed staff also found that out-of-control algorithms were more common than anticipated prior to the study and that there were no clear patterns as to their cause. Two of the four clearing BDs/FCMs, two-thirds of proprietary trading firms, and every exchange interviewed had experienced one or more errant algorithms.

To sum things up, the well being of the entire world economy is now in the hands of greedy, incompetent corrupt insiders who will do anything to achieve a profit. The regulators are all off on a permanent vacation. (The Federal Reserve does not regulate HFT.) What could possibly go wrong?"
Link to Original Source

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Former IBM Japan President Otoshi charged for taking up-skirt pictures

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "Takuma Otoshi was the President of IBM Japan from 1999 to 2008, and had an ongoing senior adviser position until his recent arrest. According to Toyko police reports:

Police records say that around 8:00 AM on August 22nd, Ototshi was cited for violating Tokyo’s public nuisance ordinance by using his Apple iPod’s recording function to film up the skirt of a woman as she rode an escalator at the JR Yotsuya Station. A nearby male commuter is said to have witnessed what happened and told the station’s authorities. Investigators say once Otoshi’s iPod was checked, they found a number of incriminating pictures.

Does this mean that IBM endorses the IPod?"
Link to Original Source

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Hunters Shoot Down Drone of Animal Rights Group

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  about 2 years ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "A remote control drone operated by an animal rights group was shot down in South Carolina by a group of thwarted hunters.
Steve Hindi, the group president said "his group was preparing to launch its Mikrokopter drone to video what he called a live pigeon shoot on Sunday when law enforcement officers and an attorney claiming to represent the privately-owned plantation near Ehrhardt tried to stop the aircraft from flying." After the shoot was halted, the drone was launched anyway, and at this point it was shot down. "Seconds after it hit the air, numerous shots rang out," Hindi said in the release. "As an act of revenge for us shutting down the pigeon slaughter, they had shot down our copter." "It is important to note how dangerous this was, as they were shooting toward and into a well-travelled highway," Hindi stated in the release."

Link to Original Source
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Sea water can cause uranium polution from fuel rod

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "UC Davis researchers have found a mechanism where the sodium in sea water can cause uranium nano-particles to be released from nuclear reactor fuel rods. Normally the uranium oxide compounds composing the rods are very resistant to leaching into water. This could have serious consequences for the Fukushima disaster, since sea water was used for emergency cooling."
Link to Original Source

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