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Comments

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Four Charged With Stealing Army Helicopter Training Software

Required Snark So who do you think the final buyer is? (39 comments)

Given all the "they deserve it", "it's not stealing, it's only copying", or comparisons to Civilization, who do you think they could sell it to? EA?

For anything coming out of the US Army, think China, Russia, India, Israel, the UK, France. It might be real military espionage, or straight commercial thievery. Both are bad.

In the military context, any inside information is a potential military advantage. I've had to look this up twice in the last week or so, so this time I'm not going to bother, but the Chinese hacked into BA on the F-35 project, and it cost a lot of time and money to recover. And that assumes that somehow you can recover from that kind of vast breach, which is not clear.

For the commercial military market, knowing about your competitors/vendors is a big economic win. It's a competitive advantage for bidding or knowing how to upgrade you product. Just because someone is an ally, that doesn't mean that they don't want to know all your secrets. Jonathon Pollard is serving a lift term (a nominal 30 years) for spying for Israel. It's alleged that some of the information he leaked ended up in the hands of the Soviet Union as well.

This isn't a bunch of fanboys getting into a game company network and getting artwork from a hotly anticipated game. It's billions of dollars and lives on the line. Grow up, whiny fanboys.

7 hours ago
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FBI Plans To Open Up Malware Analysis Tool To Outside Researchers

Required Snark Re:Honeypot (22 comments)

"warez". Are you 12 years old?

11 hours ago
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FBI Plans To Open Up Malware Analysis Tool To Outside Researchers

Required Snark Honeypot (22 comments)

One way or another, this is a honeypot.

J Edgar Hoover is alive and well. Nothing has changed.

yesterday
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Tor Executive Director Hints At Firefox Integration

Required Snark Re:Addon, not integrate (106 comments)

"This entire article is rumor and unsupported speculation". Remember, this is Slashdot. Without rumor and unsupported speculation it would be like the internet without cat videos.

But don't forget the importance of hostility, prejudice, flamebait, personal attacks, counter factual claims, obstinate stupidity, outright lies, and vendettas. Slashdot has a lot more to offer then simply overreacting to mindless rumors. There is a wealth of egocentric antisocial behavior on display. Slashdot thrives as a community of dysfunction where the verbal equivalent of apes flinging feces is the normal mode of communication.

Frankly I come here to observe the zoo like behavior. And I'm fully aware that while I'm looking at the animals, they are looking back at me.

yesterday
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Tor Executive Director Hints At Firefox Integration

Required Snark Re:More stuff (106 comments)

For lots of people, the computer is the browser. That's what Chrombooks are for. I don't want that, but I already know that I'm not in anyone's big target demographic; I'm in the marginal group.

yesterday
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The Odd Effects of Being Struck By Lightning

Required Snark Re:indirect strike in 1983 (187 comments)

"Only permanent effect as far as I can tell is a marked reduction in tolerance for idiots."

Why do you read/post on Slashdot?

3 days ago
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Sierra Nevada Corp. Files Legal Challenge Against NASA Commercial Contracts

Required Snark Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser (125 comments)

Sierra Nevada Corporation, aka SNC has a real nice web page with a whole lot of very pretty pictures.

They also have a very extensive Wikipedia entry for the Dream Chaser which goes into minute detail about every contract they have received and every milestone they have achieved. It is so detailed and gleaming that it was obviously crafted by someone in the pay of SNC.

However, it you read the whole thing you can find some very interesting information in he very last section listing their technology partners.

It turns out that Lockheed-Martin is responsible for "airframe construction and human rating of the spaceplane". SNC has designed a lifting body capsule, and hybrid rubber/NO rocket engine. Based on the partners list, it seems that they are acting as a systems integrator, and everything outside the design and rocket is not in house technology.

So if NASA is making the step to commercial human rated spaceflight, are they better off choosing companies who have already demonstrated orbital launch capabilities, or someone that does not even have the ability to build their own space capsule? When something goes wrong (and something will) imaging the finger pointing in the SNC scenario. This explains why NASA made the safe choice.

This suit, although filed by SNC, seems like an attempt by Lockheed-Martin to get a chunk of the billion dollar pie. What do they have to loose? Their name isn't on any of the legal paperwork, so they can pretend to be out of the loop. Meanwhile the congress-critters from Lockheed will be fighting it out with their counterparts from Boeing behind closed doors. This won't be decided in the courts, or in any public forum.

It's not about public policy or access to space, it's about corporate profit. If you want to know why NASA seems so screwed up, just follow the money.

3 days ago
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Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

Required Snark Or utilities could take solar more seriously (490 comments)

Just a thought. If distributed individual and business installations are able to cut into electric utilities profit, maybe that same technology could benefit the utilities bottom line. Maybe instead of being an all or nothing winner take all big vs small capitalistic scrum, there could be a viable middle ground. Utilities could sponsor business/household solar and share in the rewards. Not everyone can or wants to install solar, so the utilities could be part of the solution.

I know that the idea of cooperation makes the Slashdot libertards brains hurt, but society rarely prospers when entrenched special interests dictate the rules so they gain more power and money. This can happen on the left (see the current mess in Argentina), but in the US the problem is on the right. All the major players (banks, big pharma, aerospace, telecom, entertainment/media) use regulation to create captive markets and guaranteed profit. No capitalism in sight.

So the challenge is to take a highly regulated critical infrastructure sector and make it transition to a different energy generation model that includes renewables like wind and solar, as well as local generation. Unfortunately, the current campaign contribution driven hyper partisan political landscape makes this highly unlikely. When you see an energy sector dancing to the tune of the Koch brothers, it's hard to be positive about the future.

3 days ago
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New Graphene Research Promises Reliable Chip-Level Production

Required Snark Re:Abstract from paper published ACS Nano: (26 comments)

This is significant progress, but "better" does not mean good enough. Consider the following:

"150 and 300 mm wafers reveals >95% monolayer uniformity". If I understand current process yield amounts, a single layer that is only 95% good is not sufficient for large scale manufacturing. You need lots of layers, and the yield goes down with the product of the percentages for each layer.

"26000 graphene field-effect transistors were realized". On 100mm or 300mm? Compared to current density for VLSI it's many orders of magnitude off.

"About 18% of devices show mobility of >3000 cm2/(V s), more than 3 times higher than prior results ". Wonderful, but prior art was only 6%. What are the values for the other 82%? Are they useful at all?

"polycrystalline graphene". Are their any currently deployed polycrystalline graphene transistor devices? I thought that to make graphene really shine it needs to be more uniform then polycrystalline, hence more a single crystal structure.

So if you think that university press releases are bullcrap, then wanna-be company press releases are significantly lower on the food chain. Cockroach crap? Flea crap?

4 days ago
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The Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes

Required Snark Paulson at Goldman-Sachs then Sec Treasury (195 comments)

Paulson, appointed to the Secretary of the Treasury by Bush in 2006, spent over 35 years at Goldman-Sachs starting in 1974 and ending up as chairman.

Can your say conflict of interest? I knew you could.

It has been pointed out that Paulson's plan could potentially have some conflicts of interest, since Paulson was a former CEO of Goldman Sachs, a firm that might benefit largely from the plan. Economic columnists called for more scrutiny of his actions. Questions remain about Paulson's interest, despite having no direct financial interest in Goldman, since he had sold his entire stake in the firm prior to becoming Treasury Secretary, pursuant to ethics law. The Goldman Sachs benefit from the AIG bailout was recently estimated as US$12.9 billion and GS was the largest recipient of the public funds from AIG. Creating the collateralized debt obligations (CDO's) forming the basis of the current crisis was an active part of Goldman Sach's business during Paulson's tenure as CEO. Opponents argued that Paulson remained a Wall Street insider who maintained close friendships with higher-ups of the bailout beneficiaries. If passed into law as originally written, the proposed bill would have given the United States Treasury Secretary unprecedented powers over the economic and financial life of the U.S. Section 8 of Paulson’s original plan stated: "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency." Some time after the passage of a rewritten bill, the press reported that the Treasury was now proposing to use these funds ($700 billion) in ways other than what was originally intended in the bill.

Although TIME Magazine had him as runner up for the Person of the Year in 2008 they also listed him as one of the "25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis"

4 days ago
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The Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes

Required Snark Re:Goldman Sachs All Throughout the Obama Admin (195 comments)

Your are wrong, wrong, wrong. Wall Street is fundamentally dependent on the Federal Funds Rate which is set by the Federal Open Market Committee which is a part of the Federal Reserve System, AKA The FED.

To say this isn't "regulation" is pedantic nonsense. It is the single most important tool the FED has for regulating the economy. To say otherwise is like saying that the gas peddle on a car is not a "regulation", even though it is the basic control to increase the speed of the vehicle.

4 days ago
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Breakthrough In LED Construction Increases Efficiency By 57 Percent

Required Snark Re:You know what this means (181 comments)

Red-Yellow-Green is bad human factors practice because of red-green color blindness. For people of western European decent, about 1 in 10 males are red-green color blind. Other populations have different statistics. Only 1% of Eskimo males are color blind. Approximately 2.9% of boys from Saudi Arabia and 3.7% from India were found to have deficient color vision.

Web designers almost never take this into account. For data display, red-yellow-green is common, as is the "spectrum" blue-cyan-green-yellow-red ramp. The spectrum is a very poor choice, because not only is it bad for color blind people, but it induces a color banding perception of the data that can obscure real data features.

If you have a choice, don't use the spectrum or RYG for anything.

4 days ago
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PostgreSQL Outperforms MongoDB In New Round of Tests

Required Snark Re:The stress-testing wasn't needed (147 comments)

You forgot a crucial point, this is Slashdot. When you said "Engineering isn't a contest" you violated the Way of Slashdot.

On Slashdot, it's all about people with deeply held irrational opinions who make unsupportable claims. Additionally, they express themselves in rants and slander, and rational discourse is considered a sign of weakness. If you want to find people who think, you're in the wrong place.

4 days ago
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NSF Awards $10 Million To Protect America's Processors

Required Snark Re:Let's Outsource It!! (48 comments)

IBM also has a research group in Beijing.

To make my sarcasm more understandable to you, I'm trying to point out that in the US, even national security is sacrificed to the profit motive. This is one of the reasons that US defense (and other critical infrastructure firms) keep being hacked by Chinese and Russian based groups. They don't spend enough money on security because "profit".

The US Chamber of Commerce, one of the biggest and most influential lobbying groups, has successfully shut down any legislation addressing requirements for cyber-security. President Obama did try and address the issue via executive order, but that is not as effective as actual legislation.

So here is a real example that I ran across when I was posting on a different Slashdot thread. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_F-35_Lightning_II#Program_cost_increases_and_delays

On 21 April 2009, media reports, citing Pentagon sources, said that during 2007 and 2008, spies downloaded several terabytes of data related to the F-35's design and electronics systems, potentially compromising the aircraft and aiding the development of defense systems against it. Lockheed Martin rejected suggestions that the project was compromised, stating it "does not believe any classified information had been stolen". Other sources suggested that the incident caused both hardware and software redesigns to be more resistant to cyber attack.

Now do you understand what I am talking about?

4 days ago
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NSF Awards $10 Million To Protect America's Processors

Required Snark Let's Outsource It!! (48 comments)

Given standard US business practice this will be outsourced to Taiwan (Taiwan Semiconductor) and the work will be performed in China.

Conversely it can be done in the US by 1H-B visa holders from India.

Or it could be done by IBM in Zurich or India. If IBM gets a piece of the action, it could be done anywhere. Remember, they no longer report employment by country, so no matter where they say the work was done, big chunks of it cold be done anywhere on the planet.

Remember that Zuckerberg and Microsoft are threatening to move to Canada because the US only produces second rate computer talent, so clearly there is no one in the US capable of doing the job right. (Look up the recent Slashdot post about this, I'm too lazy.)

I know that the money is actually going to universities, not corporations. I'm just pulling your leg. Even so, given the ties between academic institutions and big corporations, who knows where the data from this will end up, or who will have input into the process. Inquiring minds want to know...

4 days ago
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Physicist Claims Black Holes Mathematically Don't Exist

Required Snark A Loop Quantum Gravity Solution (356 comments)

This proposal is related to the loop quantum gravity view of physics, which is an alternative to string theory.

The authors propose a singularity is not created when a black hole collapse occurs. Instead, the suggest that the material falling into the gravity well forms a "Planck star". The mass does not disappear into a singularity, but remains as a form of matter compressed to the Planck scale. The Planck pressure (my term) stops the gravitational collapse, so no infinite mathematical feature is involved.

A Plank star has very similar characteristics to a conventional black hole. It has a Schwarzschild radius, so matter and energy are swallowed up in the same way. The difference is what happens inside the Schwarzschild radius and the long term fate of the star.

Two effects come into play: time dilation and Hawking radiation. Because of the immense gravity, time dilation makes events inside the Schwarzschild radius appear to take billions of years to the outside observer, although the happen rapidly in the frame of reference of the Planck star. As in-falling matter hits the Planck matter core, it bounces back. It does not simply collect at the core.

Additionally, Hawking radiation occurs. This means that energy can be released outside the Schwarzschild radius, which allows the star to loose mass. In this theory, about a third of the mass can escape via this mechanism. However, this process also takes a long period because of time dilation. (There is more complexity to this, but since I'm not certain how it works I'll not try and describe it.)

Eventually the radius of the expanding Plank star matter and the Schwarzschild radius intersect, and from the point of view of the external observer the formerly "black" hole explodes. This is different then the long term evolution of a classical black hole, which looses most of it's mass via Hawking radiation. The final evaporation of a classical black hole is not a big explosion since the final mass is relatively small, and no matter how big the black hole was, the final bang is the same size. For a Planck star, the size of the explosion depends on the mass inside the Schwarzschild radius.

This theory has some very nice properties. First, there is no infinitely dense matter. Classical black hole models have been trying to grapple with this issue for a long time. Also, since the final explosion can be massive, it could be the source of very high energy cosmic rays. Some have already suggested that gamma ray bursts may be the visible result. The theory predicts that the explosion can take about 14 billion years to occur to an external observer, so that fits in with the current age of the universe. Note that there are testable features relating to cosmic rays and other radiation coming from Plank stars, so observational verification is possible.

An important part of the theory is that it resolves the black hole information paradox. According to this article at Phys.org

Rovelli and Vidotto wonder why this couldn't be the case with black holes as well—instead of a singularity at its center, there could be a Planck structure—a star—which would allow for general relativity to come back into play. If this were the case, then a black hole could slowly over time lose mass due to Hawking Radiation—as the black hole contracted, the Planck star inside would grow bigger as information was absorbed. Eventually, the star would meet the event horizon and the black hole would dematerialize in an instant as all the information it had ever sucked in was cast out into the universe.

This is potentially a big deal. If true it solves some troubling theoretical problems and man tie black holes and cosmic rays together. It would also present a huge challenge to string theory, because it gives credence to loop quantum gravity.

about a week ago
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Emails Cast Unflattering Light On Internal Politics of Healthcare.gov Rollout

Required Snark Re:fedgov incompetence due to affirmative action (392 comments)

My stock question for the likes of you: do you keep your KKK robes hung up in the closet where they will not get wrinkled but someone might see them, or do you fold them up and put them in a drawer so they will remain hidden and need to be ironed?

about two weeks ago
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Emails Cast Unflattering Light On Internal Politics of Healthcare.gov Rollout

Required Snark Re:F-35 vs. ACA (392 comments)

Wrong again. The software is screwed up as well. From the same Wikipedia page:

In November 2010, the Center for Defense Information estimated that the program would be restructured with an additional year of delay and $5 billion in additional costs. On 5 November 2010, the Block 1 software flew for the first time on BF-4. As of the end of 2010, only 15% of the software remained to be written, but this was reported to include the most difficult sections such as data fusion. In 2011, it was revealed that 50% of the eight million lines of code had been written and that it would take another six years to complete the software to the new schedule. By 2012, the total estimated lines of code for the entire program (onboard and offboard) had grown from 15 million lines to 24 million lines.

Wikipedia doesn't have any more recent information about how the software is going, but according to the above the expected completion date is 2017. The estimate for the number of lines of code was to have gone from 15 to 24 million as of 2012. Have you ever heard of a project of that size getting smaller and finishing on schedule? Or actually working on the delivery date?

If you RTFA you will also find out about how early incorrect software design/simulation causes significant problems, delays and higher costs later on in the program. So the software troubles were of the same scale as the other failures.

So the ACA is worse how? And who is raising hell in the congress (except McCain)? Go any search you a Google, and you will come back empty handed. But whining (and lying) about the ACA is the Republican national pastime, rather then, say actually trying to govern the country.

And that is why it's called "Compare and Contrast".

about two weeks ago
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Emails Cast Unflattering Light On Internal Politics of Healthcare.gov Rollout

Required Snark Compare and Contrast (392 comments)

Affordable Care Act vs F-35 Lightning

Program cost increases and delays Some selected examples.

On 21 April 2009, media reports, citing Pentagon sources, said that during 2007 and 2008, spies downloaded several terabytes of data related to the F-35's design and electronics systems, potentially compromising the aircraft and aiding the development of defense systems against it. Lockheed Martin rejected suggestions that the project was compromised, stating it "does not believe any classified information had been stolen". Other sources suggested that the incident caused both hardware and software redesigns to be more resistant to cyber attack. In March 2012, BAE Systems was reported to be the target of cyber espionage. BAE Systems refused to comment on the report, although they did state, "[Our] own cyber security capability can detect, prevent and rectify such attacks."

...

On 21 August 2013 C-Span reported that Congressional Quarterly and the Government Accountability Office were indicating the "total estimated program cost now is $400b—nearly twice the initial cost". The current investment was documented as approximately $50 billion. The projected $316 billion cost in development and procurement spending was estimated through 2037 at an average of $12.6 billion per year. These were confirmed by Steve O'Bryan, Vice President of Lockheed Martin on the same date.

In 2013 a RAND study found that during development the three different versions had drifted so far apart from each other that having a single base design might now be more expensive than if the three services had simply built entirely different aircraft tailored to their own requirements.

In 2014, U.S. Senator John McCain blamed cost increases in the program on "cronyism".

Concerns over performance and safety The very last item is the best.

In 2006, the F-35 was downgraded from "very low observable" to "low observable", a change former RAAF flight test engineer Peter Goon likened to increasing the radar cross-section from a marble to a beach ball. A Parliamentary Inquiry asked what was the re-categorization of the terminology in the United States such that the rating was changed from "very low observable" to "low observable". The Department of Defence said that the change in categorization by the U.S. was due to a revision in procedures for discussing stealth platforms in a public document. Decision to re-categorize in the public domain has now been reversed; subsequent publicly released material has categorized the JSF as very low observable (VLO).

...

In September 2008, in reference to the original plan to fit the F-35 with only two air-to-air missiles (internally), Major Richard Koch, chief of USAF Air Combat Command’s advanced air dominance branch is reported to have said that "I wake up in a cold sweat at the thought of the F-35 going in with only two air-dominance weapons." The Norwegians have been briefed on a plan to equip the F-35 with six AIM-120D missiles by 2019. Former RAND author John Stillion has written of the F-35A's air-to-air combat performance that it "can't turn, can't climb, can't run"; Lockheed Martin test pilot Jon Beesley has stated that in an air-to-air configuration the F-35 has almost as much thrust as weight and a flight control system that allows it to be fully maneuverable even at a 50-degree angle of attack. Consultant to Lockheed Martin Loren B. Thompson has said that the "electronic edge F-35 enjoys over every other tactical aircraft in the world may prove to be more important in future missions than maneuverability".

...

U.S. defense specialist Winslow T. Wheeler and aircraft designer Pierre Sprey have commented of the F-35 being "heavy and sluggish" and possessing "pitifully small load for all that money", further criticizing the value for money of the stealth measures as well as lacking fire safety measures; his final conclusion was that any air force would be better off maintaining its fleets of F-16s and F/A-18s compared to buying into the F-35 program. A senior U.S. defense official was quoted as saying that the F-35 will be "the most stealthy, sophisticated and lethal tactical fighter in the sky," and added "Quite simply, the F-15 will be no match for the F-35." After piloting the aircraft, RAF Squadron Leader Steve Long said that, over its existing aircraft, the F-35 will give "the RAF and Navy a quantum leap in airborne capability."

In 2011, Canadian politicians raised the issue of the safety of the F-35's reliance on a single engine (as opposed to a twin-engine configuration, which provides a backup in case of an engine failure). Canada, and other operators, had previous experience with a high-accident rate with the single-engine Lockheed CF-104 Starfighter with many accidents related to engine failures. Defence Minister Peter MacKay, when asked what would happen if the F-35's single engine fails in the Far North, stated "It won’t".

...

A 2014 Pentagon report found these additional problems:

- Only a third of the fleet is airworthy.

- The Inertial navigation system does not work.

- There is an unknown bug with the AMRAAM.

- DAS confuses the aircraft's own flare launches with incoming missiles.

- A single well-placed bullet can render the F-35B's vertical landing capabilities useless

So, with the exception of Senator McCain, where is all the Republican howling about spending failures in Big Government programs? Search for "Issa F-35 fighter" on the internet and find nothing...

about two weeks ago
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Putin To Discuss Plans For Disconnecting Russia From the Internet

Required Snark Re:Just like Texas (241 comments)

Given a choice between having Russia cut off the internet and the Republic of Texas doing the same thing, I wouldn't have much trouble saying that Texas should go.

For some of us, both seem to be places where demagogs whip up political frenzy to manipulate the masses, mindless violence becomes normal (hello open carry), citizens loose their rights (reproductive rights, for one) and oligarchs warp the system to grab even more power and money (home of the Bushes). Then there's the macho culture, cult of alcohol and fusing of church and state.

Until I wrote this I had no inkling just how much Russia and Texas had in common. Thanks, Slashdot!

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Boing Using Accounting Tricks to Throttle SpaceX

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  about 3 months ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put forth a proposal that all US launch providers must "be required to submit financial reports before transporting astronauts to the ISS." This would keep all the launch providers except Boeing /United Lauch Alliance from making manned ISI flights.

The reasoning:

At a hearing on May 1, Shelby said that “NASA is spending billions to help private companies develop a launch vehicle, but has little to no access to the books and records associated with its investment.”

The White House responded stating

their concern “about language that would seek to apply accounting requirements unsuitable for a firm, fixed-price acquisition.” The House said that changes made would “likely increasing the program’s cost and potentially delaying its schedule.”

As previously posted on Slashdot, loosing access to these motors could impact up to 31 scheduled missions.

So why is Senator Shelby siding with Boeing and the Russians?

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby today discussed important issues facing Alabama and the nation, including job growth, during his visit to the United Launch Alliance (ULA) production facility in Decatur, Ala., where ULA manufactures both Atlas and Delta launch vehicles.

...

“In light of sustained high unemployment rates, I am pleased that ULA employs hundreds of Alabamians and plans to hire dozens more producing the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle here in Decatur,” said Sen. Shelby. “These high-skilled workers assemble a unique national asset whose success currently underpins the very existence of our national security space program. ULA’s presence is welcome in Alabama. I appreciate the opportunity to have a conversation with the company’s workers and the citizens of Decatur to discuss our country’s deepest challenges and lay out a positive vision for the future.”

So Red White and Blue Senator Shelby has decided that jobs in his state and campaign contributions (a.k.a bribes) from Boeing are more important then access to space. He also seems to have forgotten the American values of free enterprise and technical innovation in favor of state sponsored entrenched interests in both the US (Boeing) and Russia (NPO Energomash).

I wonder what Shelby is doing on the Fourth of July?"

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Thick Chinese Smog is Harming Agriculture

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  about 7 months 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 a year 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  |  1 year,13 days

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 and a half 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?"

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High Frequency Trading: Far Worse then you Thought

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  about 2 years 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?"
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Former IBM Japan President Otoshi charged for taking up-skirt pictures

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  more than 2 years 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?"
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Hunters Shoot Down Drone of Animal Rights Group

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  more than 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."

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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."
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