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U.S. Gas Stations Vulnerable To Internet Attacks

Shoten Re:Once more (100 comments)

We have to ask why everything NEEDS to be internet connected. A local connection to the sensors will allow the station to determine when they need to refill said tanks. Not much point in putting it out there on the big scary internet. :D

Reason for these to be Internet-connected? Simple...supply chain. Next time you go get a fill-up, go interact with the guy inside the gas station and then ask yourself, "Do I think this guy could operate a control system and get a reading from a serial interface on a timely fashion so that the regional product distribution centers know when they need to schedule a fuel delivery?" At most gas stations I've been to, they can't even keep those little paper towels filled in the dispensers outside. (You know, the ones you need to wipe the oil off your dipstick? Okay, that looks dirty when I type it out...but I digress.)

On the other hand, if you connect these to the Internet, then an automated system can poll them periodically, automatically, and a lot of the workflow around keeping gas stations provisioned with fuel gets simplified and automated. You also get better metrics about consumption, which in turn allows for better forecasting so the local depots can, themselves, make sure they don't run dry. (There's a much, much longer lead time for getting a product tanker to drop off fuel than there is for a gas truck to bring fuel to a gas station.)

That said, these should be configured NOT to listen to requests from outside a certain subset of network ranges. Having them listen to the open Internet is, frankly, fucking stupid.

about a week ago
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Shanghai Company 3D Prints 6-Story Apartment Building and Villa

Shoten Re:you can't print 3D books! (98 comments)

But as there is no specific national standard for 3D printing architecture, we need to revise and improve such a standard for the future.

and how will that standard be published and disseminated?

2D printers sigh with relief, they are still relevant

Only until they find out how crap Chinese building standards are!

about two weeks ago
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Parents Investigated For Neglect For Letting Kids Walk Home Alone

Shoten Re: Fix the damn markup (784 comments)

Guess your one of those smarter than the rest of the world techs, nerds etc. A colleague confining with others on his life matters and you want to bust balls about how tech Davy you are. 15 maybe? Damn man grow up.

The irony is strong with this one.

Good sir, I would like to resurrect an old online tradition by awarding you one million internets.

about two weeks ago
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For the First Time In 3 Years, Investments In Renewable Energy Increased

Shoten Re:Huh? (134 comments)

I don't get it, wouldn't lower oil prices reduce demand for renewable energy, thus reducing investment?

Very little power is generated using oil. The exceptions are places like the Bahamas, where coal isn't really accessible and it's easier to get oil on the island...but in those cases, there's really no effect from lower oil prices anyways because oil/diesel are incredibly expensive when compared to pretty much every other kind of generation. Also, oil only just recently dropped in price; planned projects related to the study here would have been planned out two years earlier (at the earliest) and capitalized a year before when budgets were worked out. It's odd, because the report talks about "industry concerns" related to this...but I work in the power industry, and nobody there even notices that the cost of oil has been low. So I don't understand who these analysts are speaking to, or how much knowledge they really have of the power sector.

What's behind this is another thing that the analysts totally don't see...the challenges of managing generation from renewables, and the fact that power companies have been able to make strides towards this. Generation and load (sink) have to be in balance...otherwise you get variations in both voltage and frequency. This has been a hard enough challenge to manage when the utilities had solid control over generation (they have very little control over load, and what control they do have is caused by "load shedding," whereby they cause a small, localized blackout). But when you add renewables, they lose control over some of their generation output as well...the wind picks up/dies down, clouds cover (or uncover) solar panels, etc. This was further validated as power companies started solar and wind projects, and saw the impact that came from them. The problem can be managed, but it requires more analytic systems (Transmission Management Systems, Distribution Management Systems, and Advanced Distribution Mangement Systems), AMI meters, and a host of other things that are referred to as "WAMPAC," or "Wide Area Monitoring, Protection and Control". These technologies have been developing over the years, and they all take a lot of time and money to implement. That said, power companies have been busily rolling them out, and now a lot of them are far better-prepared to absorb the fluctuations incurred by renewable energy sources.

So, in short:
-Renewable projects fired up some years ago
-They made it harder to manage the grid, as is
-Power companies, now having solid hard information as to how renewables impact their own piece of the grid, set about dealing with the problem with new tech
-Now they're better-prepared to roll out more renewable generation capacity

about three weeks ago
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Connected Gun Lets Anyone Watch What Or Who You Are Shooting

Shoten Re:Don't put cameras on everything (138 comments)

Maybe because of the lack of rifle able to aim from a mile afar and, at the same time, broadcasting it live to the Internet.

No, because they had to enter the building in order to see their targets. They forced one of the employees to surrender her pass-code in order to enter the offices.

Um, no.

They chose to enter the building in order to attack their targets. Because when you're using automatic weapons against multiple unarmed, unarmored targets (one person was armed, but all you have to do is shoot him as early on in the process and the dynamic stays the same) you want to have them in an enclosed area so that you can keep them corralled while you slaughter them. Simple truth, dark as it may be. But they had an option. In fact, they exercised an alternate option in the case of the first person they encountered...whom they ambushed in the open when she went about her daily routine, so that she could be coerced into granting them access to the building in the first place.

But if your tactical options change...instead of an en masse shooting at close range using relatively inaccurate weapons, you can shoot at a distance...then you can change your tactics. The goal here is to incur fear (hence, "terror"ism) in a larger population. I live in DC, and remember what it was like when Malvo (that piece of shit) was shooting people at random. It would be way, way worse if there was video of it, and it would be even worse for their intended fear-target (the media) if they demonstrated that such death could come from out of the blue, anywhere. And if they don't start shooting everyone on the same day, then you get a strange challenge: Do I not go to work? If so, isn't that capitulation? For how long do I not go to work? If I don't go out at all, how can I do my job...but how do you protect me and my staff from snipers who can hit us from range in an urban setting? It sounds like a really awful, terrifying way to live...and with every subsequent shooting, the news cycle reboots and it gets on the front page.

about three weeks ago
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Connected Gun Lets Anyone Watch What Or Who You Are Shooting

Shoten Re:Don't put cameras on everything (138 comments)

Live-streaming of a rifle-scope? That sounds like death-porn. Who's the audience?

And what's next? Cameras installed in the bullets?

Despite the chill this technology gives me, I can see military applications (e.g., real-time mission-monitoring) but its use by consumers makes no sense to me.

That's what I was thinking...but with a chilling difference. Imagine if the shooters in the Paris attack had something like this, and chose to shoot their targets at distance, while producing videos they could later put up on YouTube? Not good...

about three weeks ago
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FBI Says Search Warrants Not Needed To Use "Stingrays" In Public Places

Shoten Re:Someone please aware me: (303 comments)

How is this not, basically, wiretapping (for which a warrant would ordinarily be necessary)?

It's not wiretapping. The FBI says so. Apparently, the FBI is saying that any private citizen can just set up their own "stingrays" to intercept phone calls as long as they're in public places, and the FBI won't prosecute (at least, not with wiretapping laws). This makes sense.

This makes as much sense as waterboarding without consent not being a crime.

Oh, thank goodness it works that way...the entity that is subject to oversight can state that no oversight is needed. Cool!

Dear FBI: I don't need a permit to have a grenade launcher!

about three weeks ago
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Netflix Denies There Was a Policy Change With VPNs

Shoten Whoa! (67 comments)

What, you mean TorrentFreak isn't a valid source of journalism that checks sources and facts before reporting something?

HOLY SHIT THAT'S SO SURPRISING :)

about three weeks ago
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FBI Monitoring Hacking Targets For Retaliation

Shoten Re: Can shoot a person, can't take down a server (96 comments)

No, but the Natural Laws upon which Western political thought is based do give you the intrinsic right to self preservation, right up to terminating the threat.

But not in this context. If someone shoots you today, you can't go after them with a gun tomorrow after you get out of the hospital. These actions are not self-preservation at all, just retaliatory in nature. And that is clearly defined in both the explicit statutes and case law as a no-no.

about a month ago
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United and Orbitz Sue 22-Year-Old Programmer For Compiling Public Info

Shoten Irrelevant (349 comments)

Everyone's missing a significant point here: the airlines severely penalize anyone who travels in this fashion. Yes, there are insanities about their pricing models that make it possible to actually save money this way. But the first time you do it, you will get a nastygram from the airline...and if you continue to do it, they will actually ban you. Furthermore, if you're doing this on the first half of your trip, you'll find that your return flights have all been canceled; even worse, the airline will NOT be sympathetic to your plight when you call them up to try and get back home.

I wish I could remember the industry term for this practice, but suffice it to say that a database of flight options that allow you to do this is essentially useless anyways. Google it...type in "skipping the last leg of a flight" and see what you find.

about 1 month ago
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Neil DeGrasse Tyson Explains His Christmas Tweet

Shoten Re:Kind of disappointed in him. (681 comments)

On the other hand, being misunderstood does nothing to contribute to improving the education and awareness of those who misunderstand.

With a succinct message, Tyson started a discussion that spread to thousands of people. Some people misunderstood, and despite the elegance and artistic quality of his written words, that misunderstanding tarnishes his reputation in their minds, and that extends to everything he supports - most notably science and an appreciation of the beauty of the observable world without religious connection. By explaining his meaning clearly, and expressing no wish to offend, some of those people will see the mistake for themselves, and open their minds again to science.

It's not about winning or losing, or of being the stalwart champion of misdirection. It's a matter of graceful interaction with other humans.

Based on that perspective, Sarah Palin would be a marvel of helping human knowledge and understanding progress.

Only, she's not :)

about a month ago
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Neil DeGrasse Tyson Explains His Christmas Tweet

Shoten Re:Kind of disappointed in him. (681 comments)

Tyson's job is to explain things to the masses.

It's his job.

No, it's not.

It's no more his job to explain things to me than it is for some guy to just barge into my home and begin telling me how I should redecorate. I didn't ask him to, I didn't hire him to, I didn't indicate any desire on my part for him to do so.

What his role is, however, is much closer to someone you meet at a social gathering who has views on things. He has no particular obligation to conform to guidelines given to him...but at the same time, it's not exactly wrong to push back on what he has to say either. He wasn't hired, he wasn't even invited, and so it's not like asking someone for their views and then whining when you get them. We're allowed to find fault with the man.

about a month ago
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Did North Korea Really Attack Sony?

Shoten Re:Very doubtful it was North Korea (282 comments)

Kim Jong Un is exactly the type who would accept undeserved credit for a cyberattack. "What, who me? I did what? Uh ... oh really? Oh! OK, yeah everybody, I did it!"

Except that historically, he's always denied responsibility for attacks that were clearly accredited to NK. It's kind of like Putin's behavior in the Ukraine, only even a bit more bizarre.

about a month ago
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Did North Korea Really Attack Sony?

Shoten Re:Motive (282 comments)

Would you really want to send your son or daughter to die in North Korea because crackers broke into a company's servers?

The cast of "Duck Dynasty" did North Korea's hacking for them? I didn't know this...

about a month ago
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Serious Economic Crisis Looms In Russia, China May Help

Shoten Re:I never have understood (265 comments)

I never have understood the world's fetish with the US dollar. Every nation has a currency. The US economy is just as prone to stagnation, deficit, over, and under valuing as any other currency.

I'd like nothing better than to see the Rothschild's hold on international markets broken. If it takes China to do that, then all power to China in the endeavour.

Oil...no matter where you buy it on the planet, or from whom...is priced in dollars. In no market is the price of a barrel of crude listed in euros, pounds sterling, or any other currency for that matter.

Why does this matter in this case? Because Russia is basically an entire economy propped up solely on oil revenues. If the ruble devalues against the dollar, then essentially they are subjected to a brutal form of arbitrage where oil is cheaper from Russia than other places. So they get less money than the other oil producers do. If they boost production, it drives the cost of oil down even further. If they restrict production, they get less money that way too. Either way, they're fucked.

And you know what? GOOD. Fuck them.

about a month ago
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Cyberattack On German Steel Factory Causes 'Massive Damage'

Shoten Re:No big red button? (212 comments)

Sure. But software shouldn't be able to make hardware damage itself.

Also, designing something like a steelworks without some kind of hardware-level override is so stupid it borders on criminal.

This is like saying "Sure, but car's shouldn't have anything that propels them forward...that's how car crashes happen."

The sole and entire point of control systems (aka SCADA, DCS, or ICS) is to make it possible for software to control hardware. And it's impossible to make *anything* that can't be broken or cause damage if it's abused. When you factor in things like blast furnaces, substations, or other real-time applications that involve massive amounts of energy (kinetic, electrical, thermal or otherwise), you're harnessing one hell of a big thing, and that means careful balances and lots of risk. You can't have a situation where there's thousands of degrees of heat and gigantic crucibles of molten steel and yet have it impossible for something to be done wrong.

It always makes me crazy when assholes (yes, that's my word for a novice who pontificates about the "incompetence" of actual professionals without citing anything concrete or meaningful) who don't have any experience whatsoever with control systems put forth their idolized version of reality that somehow means that everything can be simple and as safe as a Fisher-Price toy, despite the fact that these environments have never been foolproof in all of human history. Trains crash, pressure vessels explode, chemicals leak, boilers beer-can, transformers flash...it's always been that way, and always will be. Control systems make them less likely to do so for accidental reasons, but also allow an attacker to force it to happen for deliberate ones. That's the trade-off, and to this day it's still a trade-off that's had a positive outcome. It makes no more sense to back out these systems than it did for banking to go back to using adding machines, just because there were cyber security incidents early on in the financial sector. The next step forward is better security for these environments, which is in the process of happening as we speak.

about a month ago
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Skeptics Would Like Media To Stop Calling Science Deniers 'Skeptics'

Shoten Re:Established science CANNOT BE QUESTIONED! (719 comments)

Funny, because the science that I learned about in college was ALL ABOUT being constantly questioned.

Only when appropriate. Questioning the discovery of the Higgs-Boson, if you know what you're talking about? Valid. Questioning gravity as a way of holding up your science teacher and keeping him from teaching anything important because you're forcing him to repeat the already well-validated science to prove that gravity is indeed real? Bullshit.

At some point, you have to accept that something is proven, and move on, unless you have something compelling to introduce real doubt. At the end of the day there has to be some agreement, to quote Lewis Black, as to "what the fuck reality is."

about a month and a half ago
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Reaction To the Sony Hack Is 'Beyond the Realm of Stupid'

Shoten Re:Land of the free (580 comments)

Home of the brave.

Um...Sony is headquartered in Japan. And there's no way that a decision with this level of financial impact was made without permission from management back hom.

about a month and a half ago
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In IT, Beware of Fad Versus Functional

Shoten Re:In IT, remember to wash your hands (153 comments)

Beware of Fad Versus Functional

What's so IT-specific about this maxim, that it warrants being on Slashdot? A slow news day?

Probably the fact that tons of us have tried to tell people this in our jobs in the past, but few have been able to put it as clearly and as succinctly as this, while still stating all the factors that play into it.

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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Cost and Build Problems with Death Star Project

Shoten Shoten writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Shoten (260439) writes "Foreign Policy magazine has a fascinating analogy for real-world timeline and cost overruns on military projects. Apparently, the IGAO (Imperial Government Accountability Office) has run a review of the project to build the Death Star, finding multiple issues. At the top of the list? "Frequent Turnover in Senior Personnel Hampers Continuity," with a recommendation to stop using strangulation as a management tactic. Design flaws relating to reactor shielding and anti-fighter defenses are also cited."

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