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Army To Launch Spy Blimp Over Maryland

Rob Riggs Re:bah (174 comments)

why didn't hash win out, or for that matter, heroin, or synthetic opiates active in the lower microgram range?

Economics. Cocaine was available in the U.S. for a long time and never had the market share that it had until the 1980s. It wasn't until the cost of marijuana became too high to transport and purchase that the switch to cocaine happened. Hash and heroin were equally expensive. Hash also requires marijuana to produce. At the same time Fat Albert was flying, the DEA was busy spraying marijuana fields, reducing crop yields and driving up the price of hash.

I am no expert, but my sense is that people gravitate towards the cheapest drug that will "do the trick" without getting in the way of a normal life. Alcohol, the official drug of the United States, doesn't do it for all of us. LSD is fairly inexpensive, but it requires a lot more free time than many of us have.

yesterday
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Army To Launch Spy Blimp Over Maryland

Rob Riggs Re:1984 (174 comments)

Fat Albert was used for drug interdiction. It bears responsibility for helping turn the '80s into the "Cocaine Decade" in the U.S. because it became much more difficult to import the the heavy and bulky drug marijuana into the U.S. through Florida. Instead, those involved in boot-legging drugs into the country switched to a lighter, more compact drug -- cocaine. This quickly led to the development of crack cocaine and the rest is history. As a kid growing up in the Keys back then, the cultural change this brought with it was immensely obvious.

I remember when Fat Albert, tethered in Cudjoe Key, broke free from its mooring. Jets were scrambled and shot it down.

It is also recently responsible for a deadly general aviation accident, when a Cessna 182 hit its mooring line.

Fat Albert is also used for US propaganda directed at the Cuban population (TV Marti). It was supposed to be decommissioned last year. I don't know if it is still there. You could see it from pretty much anywhere in the lower Florida Keys.

2 days ago
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LG To Show Off New 55-Inch 8K Display at CES

Rob Riggs Re:4k monitors (179 comments)

You can even get 4K PC monitors for an attractive price

Citation needed (...please!)

Dell 28 Ultra HD 4K Monitor on sale for $300. I don't know about you, but that is a very reasonable price to me. It is certainly not the best. You get what you pay for. But this one has the 4Ks.

about a week ago
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Preferred Type of Game?

Rob Riggs Reindeer Games (171 comments)

'Tis the season!

about a week ago
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Using Discarded Laptop Batteries To Power Lights

Rob Riggs Re:40 watt PC battery vs. 3 watt LED (143 comments)

I've got LEDs that consume more power than a DESKTOP system with QUAD SLI.

Are those LEDs incredibly bright or incredibly inefficient?

about two weeks ago
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The Cost of the "S" In HTTPS

Rob Riggs Re:Yes (238 comments)

Packet inspection is certainly possible. You proxy all traffic either explicitly or via one of the many MITM SSL deep packet inspection products. Surreptitious packet inspection is not possible. And that's a *very* good thing.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Non-coders, why aren't you contributing to open source?

Rob Riggs Re:Maybe they can't code? (4 comments)

Maybe they can't code?

Back in my day, it was hip to comment on /. stories without reading the articles. You kids have us old farts beat... you don't even bother to read the summary before posting.

about two weeks ago
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Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon and MATE Editions Released

Rob Riggs Cinnamon on RHEL7 (89 comments)

I've been a Red Hat/RHEL/CentOS/Fedora user for a *very* long time. I've been trying to use Gnome Shell since Gnome3 came out, so I have given it more than a fair shake. This past month I was testing RHEL7 for desktop upgrades at work and found that Gnome Shell is way too much of a distraction. So, at home I switched my desktop to Cinnamon. Holy Cow! I have a usable desktop again. I found Cinnamon in EPEL7 and installed that at work. It is so much more usable on RHEL7. This is what we will be rolling out as the default desktop firm-wide when we upgrade.

So -- a big *Thank You* to the Linux Mint team for making Cinnamon,

about two weeks ago
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Is LTO Tape On Its Way Out?

Rob Riggs Re:So how is the price... (284 comments)

When measuring the cost of backups, the cost of the media is often a small footnote. The cost of off-site storage can end up costing way more depending on how frequently they pick up, how long you store the tapes, and how frequently you need to do emergency restores.. Note that you left off the "time" component of the AWS cost structure -- the cost is *per month*. Still, AWS has some serious advantages over tape -- like the cost of robotic tape drives and the housing and maintenance costs that go along with them (if you have that sort of need). Plus, if you are a big enough customer, those 1 cent/GB/mo costs go down quite a bit.

about three weeks ago
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I'm most interested in robots that will...

Rob Riggs Re:Pleasure (307 comments)

I'm sure you have those filed under "Documentaries", along with your "Gilligan's Island" collection.

about a month ago
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Microsoft To Open Source .NET and Take It Cross-Platform

Rob Riggs Re:"Server Stack"? (525 comments)

Sure, but Xamarin doesn't target the Linux desktop for their development tools or desktop/GUI apps. I have a whole bunch of software engineers that would switch to Xamarin if it meant they could do .NET development (including GUI development) on Linux.

about a month ago
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Microsoft To Open Source .NET and Take It Cross-Platform

Rob Riggs "Server Stack"? (525 comments)

Does this mean that the client-side stuff (WPF) will be missing? .NET is a lot less useful if the GUI components are still missing.

about a month ago
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PC Cooling Specialist Zalman Goes Bankrupt Due To Fraud

Rob Riggs Re: Just (208 comments)

Classically, capitalism relies on producing goods that people want at prices people are willing to pay for them.

Bullshit. Classically, capitalism has a solitary defining feature: the private acquisition of capital. It is solely about who controls the resources used to produce goods. Lying and cheating are time-honored practices of modern capitalism.

about a month and a half ago
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Physicists Resurrect an Old, Strange Dark Matter Theory

Rob Riggs Re:"Baseball-sized" (138 comments)

Baseball sized? No, no no,no. I have a much more plausible theory: the Universe is just god's Croquet course.

about a month and a half ago
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Android 5.0 Makes SD Cards Great Again

Rob Riggs Re:Have they fixed the permissions system yet? (214 comments)

So that I can control an installed apps permissions one by one? Or do I still have to grant all apps all permissions (which is what it was in practice)?

As an Android user, I really appreciate this sentiment. I would love to control the permissions of my apps, especially the ones that I know are designed to violate my privacy.

As an Android developer, the thought of how this would impact the testing of my apps is troubling. Much of my code depends on being able to do certain things. The simple fact of software development is that "all untested code has bugs". So now I need to test my app with all combinations of requested permissions disabled. That would, even for my simple app requiring only 5 permissions, result in a 32x increase in testing effort. Far more likely scenario: I would make sure that all needed permissions are available and, if not, just refuse to start.

about a month and a half ago
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Computer Scientist Parachutes From 135,908 Feet, Breaking Record

Rob Riggs Re:Being a computer scientist (175 comments)

The word "of" has no meaning in the context you typed it.

If he wanted your opinion, he'd axe for it.

about 2 months ago
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FTDI Removes Driver From Windows Update That Bricked Cloned Chips

Rob Riggs Re:Probably Not (572 comments)

Two years ago I had no clue that counterfeit chips existed. All I would have known is that there is a chip marked FTDI on the board and the serial drivers worked. What more QC is expected from a board supplier who may be producing a few hundred boards for a niche market and making a few thousand dollars per run?

about 2 months ago
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FTDI Removes Driver From Windows Update That Bricked Cloned Chips

Rob Riggs Re:Probably Not (572 comments)

Pardon the stray comma.

about 2 months ago
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FTDI Removes Driver From Windows Update That Bricked Cloned Chips

Rob Riggs Probably Not (572 comments)

As a "maker" who sells small runs of boards that I have manufactured in China by an assembly house, I trust that they will build the board to spec. But I do not have the wherewithal to manage and secure my supply chain from start to finish. If I specify a part, I trust that the assembly house uses genuine parts. If they do not, I don't know what sort of recourse I have if, two years, later, all of my parts start being bricked. But I certainly see it from FTDI's perspective (and Prolific, another serial chip manufacturer with the same problem). It's a really tough problem. I don't know what the right answer is. Maybe create a standard for USB serial interfaces that everyone can use? I think that already exists (the CDC).

about 2 months ago
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FTDI Reportedly Bricking Devices Using Competitors' Chips.

Rob Riggs Re:On the other hand... (700 comments)

Fake chips are a problem. Bricking equipment that includes fake chips is also a problem.

Companies are responsible for protecting their trademark. This is trademark protection, pure and simple. It's the cyber-equivalent of a Cease & Desist, where the companies have the power to enforce the C&D on their own.

One of the things that they are going to get out of this is the names of all the big products that use counterfeit chips. The makers of those products are going to be responsible for fixing the problem.

My guess is that many of these are going to just trace back to PCB manufacturers in China that were buying fake chips to cut costs and boost profit. The product manufacturer may have specified legitimate parts, but fakes were substituted by the contract manufacturer. If that is the case, it will be interesting to see how the Chinese deal with this.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Economists: selfish bastards

Rob Riggs Rob Riggs writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Rob Riggs (6418) writes "Cory Doctorow has started an interesting discussion at Boing Boing based on research he's doing for a new book. The conclusion from the research he has found? Economists are more selfish than non-economists, and the more one studies economics, the more selfish one gets. Cory writes:

In the course of researching my next novel, I happened upon this old paper by Robert H. Frank, Thomas Gilovich, and Dennis T. Regan, "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?" Its conclusions: Economics grad students are more likely to free ride than the general public. Economists are less generous than other academics in charitable giving. Economics undergrads are more likely to defect in prisoner's dilemma problems. Students are less likely to return found money after studying economics but not after studying another subject like astronomy.

"

Journals

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JPackage is Evil

Rob Riggs Rob Riggs writes  |  more than 10 years ago I am leading a project at work where we are building components to extend an enterprise-scale software system. We are mostly a Sun shop. Most of the new components are being built to run primarily on Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (AS3) to be exact. Some of the new components are being written in Java.

Most of the software installs for our in-house software is done using a rather archaic system and I want to do better on the Linux systems.

Being a long-time Linux user and admin, I wanted to make sure that we were managing our software installations and dependencies using the excellent package manager, RPM. When it came time to do the initial rollout of the first Java components, I looked around for pre-packaged components and was excited to find the JPackage Project. These guys have all of the most useful Sun and third-party Java software packaged up in RPM format.

I had no idea how evil these people were at the time.

Red Hat AS3 comes with its own set of Java components, including a JVM, ant (a common java build tool used to replace make) and a few others. The development servers seemed OK and the packages build. I installed the missing dependencies from the JPackage Project and everything was looking good. My workstation is a Fedora Core 1 box, so I had to install a few more components from JPackage on my machine than I did on the development servers.

I had all of the dependencies met for the software I was about to package up, and it took only a few minutes with wget and rpm to get there. I was ready to start building the package for the new software.

Here's where things start to go horribly wrong.

Ant would not work on my machine. I kept getting tracebacks about dependencies not being found. This was bizarre. Ant all worked on the development server. And ant worked on my workstation when run as root! I took me a while to look into all of the obvious potential causes: paths, environment, permissions, etc. Everything looked like it should work.

Then I decided to trace the script that instantiated the JVM and ran ant. It was setting different (and wrong!) environment variables. It was looking for its jar files in /opt/abacus, the location I have RPM configured (through my own .rpmmacros file) to use as the location to build packages for (the %_prefix). Why the hell was it doing that?

It took me a couple minutes looking at the the JPackage configuration system to discover, to my horror, that it was using the RPM build environemnt for runtime configuration. WTF?!? The RPM build environemnt is not a runtine configuration system. It is a build configuration system.

So now I am a bit disturbed that anyone would do such a thing. I sent an email to the person who built the ant RPM for the JPackage project:

I got your contact information from the JPackage RPM of Ant. I am trying to use Ant with RPM, but it seems to me that the Ant shell script that is provided with the RPM is doing some (IMHO) screwy things to set up its environment. It is invoking rpm to evaluate various rpm build variables to set up various environment variables. This completely breaks Ant when I need to change the %_prefix variable for RPM. The RPM build variables are just that: build variables. They have no relation to the runtime environment, which is what the Ant script is assuming. Do you know who is responsible for maintaining that script and how I can contact them?

This was forwarded to the JPackage mailing list and conversation ensued. There was at least one person who agreed with me about the problem, but the majority of responses were from the incredulous (saying I am doing something wrong) to the blasé.

The last quote in the thread were:

> I am still
> holding that %_bindir must be defined to `/usr/bin', and that if your
> build environment does not match your runtime environment then you're in
> serious trouble.
I agree. However it's not worth the arguing IMHO. Let people discover by
themselves the joys of using non-standard paths in a shared env.

And that, my friends, is just evil. Anyone who know RPM will know how evil that is. The JPackage developers do not understand RPM and are usurping it. This sort of attitude can harm RPM in the long run. And they don't care.

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