Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!



2014: The Year We Learned How Vulnerable Third-Party Code Libraries Are

TopSpin Misunderstood (255 comments)

ESR's claim has nothing to do with the frequency or discovery of bugs. All he says is that given enough observers, bugs are quickly characterized. It is implied that any given bug has already been discovered. There is no benevolent cohort of experts continuously auditing code bases and his statement doesn't claim there is.

about a month ago

Investigation: Apple Failing To Protect Chinese Factory Workers

TopSpin Re:You have selected....... (201 comments)

somebody else


about a month and a half ago

Verizon Working On a La Carte Internet TV Service

TopSpin Not really true? (108 comments)

The link that supposedly refutes the argument that people are paying for things they wouldn't otherwise pay for doesn't actually refute anything. Rather, it characterizes the current situation as "socialism"; "Cable TV is socialism that works."

I do not want to contribute to ESPN. Nor the myrid "shopping" channels. Or the "Christian" networks. Or any of the other dreck that pollutes this world. Even if that means the things I do want aren't as well subsidized for the lack of fuhtbawl knuckle-heads.

Whatever.... I can't remember how long ago it was that I last paid a cable bill. My vote has been cast. Join me and cut these bloodsuckers off. You won't miss it.

about 5 months ago

Site of 1976 "Atomic Man" Accident To Be Cleaned

TopSpin Re:Cecil Kelley (299 comments)

As far as I am aware the highest radiation dose

Naturally the `record' must be limited to the subset of known cases. I've been studying the history of Soviet nuclear science and industry for a few years. Things went on in the Soviet Union that beggars the imagination, as they say.

When the waste storage tank blew up in Mayak in 1957, 90% of the high level waste fell in the immediate vicinity. That's 90% of 740 PBq (740E15 decays per second) within about half a kilometer radius, in which there were certainly some number of workers, this being the most urgent period of nuclear weapons development.

There were criticality accidents at Mayak that killed people as well; the Review of Criticality Accidents (2000) mentions seven incidents at Mayak and eight at other Soviet sites.

Then there is Chernobyl. Shortly after the explosion soldiers on the grounds of the plant policed up pieces of graphite and other debris, including fuel, from the reactor core with simple tools, bare hands and no respiratory protection [1]. They were breathing particles of heavy metal isotopes so "hot" that they floated through the air on their own thermal output like little balloons. They were treated as military casualties and their numbers are not publicly known.

The worst case of radiation exposure took place in the Soviet Union. We do not know the circumstances, how severe it was, how many it killed, when or where it happened, but that it did is a metaphysical certitude.

1. The Legacy of Chernobyl, 1992 Medvedev

about 7 months ago

The Net Routes Around Censorship In Turkey

TopSpin Re:What a fool. (82 comments)

or does everyone get 140 characters?

Everyone gets 140 NCF normalized UTF-8 Unicode code points. Characters, iow.

about 10 months ago

Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration

TopSpin Re:coding standards (664 comments)

This should be rule number one for this type of application.

Perhaps it should be rule number one, but actually it's Rule 16.2 of MISRA-C:2004 (Motor Industry Software Reliability Association, Guidelines for the use of the C language in critical systems):

Functions shall not call themselves, either directly or indirectly.

The rule actually appeared first in MISRA-C:1998. Each rule is accompanied by a detailed rationale that I will not reproduce verbatim here as the standard is not open; one must pay for the privilege. The rationale for 16.2 is that recursion may cause stack overflows. I only cite the rule itself because it appears in public testimony and also on the (first) page linked by this story ...... which you obviously did not read.

Because MISRA also disallows constructs such as function call indirection, self modifying code, etc. a compiler is entirely capable of detecting recursion and reporting the violation as an error. MISRA compliant compilers do exactly that.

Yes Virginia, the largest auto manufacturer on Earth ignores the very thing that was designed to prevent simple, common, easily predictable failures such as stack overflow despite the fact that the cost of compliance is much, much smaller than a rounding error for an outfit like Toyota.

Also, despite the fact that Industry dutifully identified this specific problem in a published standard at least 16 years ago, compliance is apparently not yet a requirement by government regulators. I suspect they're too busy investigating child seat manufacturers or Telsa batteries or whatever other politically high profile crisis that giant, engineer-free gaggle of NTSB lawyers fill their bankers hours with.

about a year ago

Darker Arctic Boosting Global Warming

TopSpin Ok then... (378 comments)

And that, kind reader, is why we must outlaw meat.

about a year ago

Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

TopSpin Re:Just be honest - it's not for *US* (2219 comments)

but I'm surprised so many attribute that to malice.

My accusation was limited to a lack of understanding; never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by ... a lack of understanding, as they almost say.

The immutability of reader comments has always been a prized feature

Amen. Accountability. It's always been obvious to me why simply revising comments isn't tolerable and I'm glad that view predominates.

And AC isn't a counterpoint to accountability either, for whomever might want to throw that one back at me; AC elevates attributed comments, on several levels.

about a year ago

Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

TopSpin Re:Just be honest - it's not for *US* (2219 comments)

I'm pretty sure contemporary ideas about UX design are inappropriate for Slashdot. The one or two sentences that Twitter/Facebook/WhatsApp accommodate won't work here. This place indulges people that like to write, and people that don't mind lengthy posts.

The beta site shows a serious indifference to that; the amount of wasted space is just amazing. Fully 45% of the comments view is just empty, half of it gone to the infinitely long side bar that Beta fails to wrap into. No one that understands what this site is for could possibly have made that basic mistake for as long as Beta has been in the works.

Bootstrap et al. don't deal with "long form" threaded forums, so that design mentality won't work.

Here is a possibly novel idea that will actually be appreciated by at least this contributor, and probably most others; comment editing with revision control (a la Wikipedia.) It has to be revision controlled or the trolls will abuse editing. Allow readers to punish such trolls with moderation while the rest of us get the benefit of correcting minor mistakes.

There. That wasn't hard. A real improvement that caters to actual contributors, as opposed to hypothetical users that want to scribble a grammatically challenged half sentence 20 times an hour and don't read.

Anyhow, thanks for the step backwards on this and your participation in the conversation. You all could have gone bull-headed and made this situation even worse. So good on your for that.

about a year ago

Fire Destroys Iron Mountain Data Warehouse, Argentina's Bank Records Lost

TopSpin Re: Classic Slashdot (463 comments)

None at all.

And yes, beta has serious problems. Regressing to having to bang on the "Load More..." button instead of "Load All Comments" while not logged in is one glaring example. The fact that comments don't flow around the end the right side ad bar is another.

This is not Twitter. People write lengthy comments here; please don't piss away space with huge margins and poor layout.

about a year ago

US Democrats Introduce Bill To Restore Net Neutrality

TopSpin Whitehouse petition (535 comments)

A petition of the White House to `Restore Net Neutrality By Directing the FCC to Classify Internet Providers as "Common Carriers" just attained the 100k signatures required for a response.

I'm sure a number of you would have liked to have known about that and signed it at the time... but the story submission was declined. Guess there were too many terribly important climate change stories or something.

about a year ago

Google Releases Dart 1.1

TopSpin Re:If MS wrote dart for IE instead (161 comments)

Is Dart an open language spec?

The language spec is CCA 3 and ECMA standards tracked. The source code is BSD.

Javascript was not an immaculate conception of Berners-Lee, Torvalds and Stallman. It was a product of Mozilla, blessed by nobody and foisted on the world via the defacto browser of the day. It is also more than flawed enough to justify some competition.

The <script> tag has a "language" attribute for a reason, the curmudgeons of Slashdot notwithstanding.

1 year,15 days

James Gosling Grades Oracle's Handling of Sun's Tech

TopSpin Re:oracle and aquisitions (223 comments)

that piece of software/tech tends to perish

Except when it doesn't. VirtualBox hasn't perished.

A colleague of mine speculated that perhaps Oracle had forgotten about VirtualBox and thus it has been spared the obligatory ruining. Perhaps there is a gang of hard core emulator developers quietly slipping in and out of the building each day, carefully avoiding notice.

Netbeans does actually suck less than Eclipse. That's a low bar, to be sure, but it appears to be acquiring more users than it is repulsing, so there's another counterpoint.

1 year,18 days

Cornell Team Says It's Unified the Structure of Scientific Theories

TopSpin http://xkcd.com/927/ (115 comments)

So we're just randomly posting that link to every Slashdot story now?

about a year ago

Oracle Attacks Open Source; Says Community-Developed Code Is Inferior

TopSpin Re:Wouldn't Java be a counterexample? (394 comments)

wouldn't Java be a example of the contrary to this?

Yes, but not the best one. The best would be Oracle's database. Despite the fact that Oracle Database Server is not the result of a 'community-based development model,' the product has a long, ugly history of vulnerabilities. For some reason it fails to be composed of 'low-defect code,' despite apparently having all the best financial incentives. The list of vulnerabilities is long and grows regularly.

The only reason Oracle Database Server has never been the victim of a SQL Slammer type exploit is that it is so expensive that most instances exist only well behind corporate and government firewalls that, if not well maintained, at least exist. Many SQL Server admins apparently don't believe in firewalls.

However, [Solaris] is more of Sun's creation than Oracle's.

Likewise with Java.

about a year ago

What Are the Genuinely Useful Ideas In Programming?

TopSpin Re:the most basic data structures (598 comments)

Point of order: 32-bit ARM code doesn't even have stack instructions

ARM's generalization of the classic PUSH and POP instructions has always been admirable (at least until they made THUMB which sadly does have these foul instructions,) but the real world uses STMDB (store multiple decrement before) and LDMIA (load multiple increment after) to implement stacks, which is exactly why these instructions exist. 32-bit ARM provides a stack pointer (R13 a.k.a SP as per ARM) and a return address (R14) register. This not merely software convention either; these registers are banked to allow distinct values for these specific registers across processor modes to accommodate the classic call stack in the face of exceptions.

32 bit ARM is every bit as "stack oriented" as anything that has explicit PUSH and POP instructions. There is no pretending otherwise.

Modern ISAs provide large numbers of registers specifically to avoid stack usage

Modern ISAs? Providing a large register file to avoid memory accesses goes back to Berkeley RISC-I (the inspiration for ARM, incidentally) at least. However, what you have then when executing real programs is merely a very limited stack inside the register file. From RISC I: A REDUCED INSTRUCTION SET VLSI COMPUTER:

Our approach is to break the set of window registers (r10 to r31) into three parts (Figure 7). Registers 26 through 31 (HIGH) contain parameters passed from “above” the current procedure; that is, the calling procedure. Registers 16 through 25 (LOCAL) are used for the local scalar storage exactly as described previously. Registers 10 through 15 (LOW) are used for local storage and for parameters passed to the procedure “below” the current procedure (the called procedure). On each procedure CALL a new set of registers, r10 to r31, is allocated; however, we want the LOW registers of the “caller” to become the HIGH registers of the “callee.” This is accomplished by having the hardware overlap the LOW registers of the calling frame with the HIGH registers of the called fmme: thus. without moving information, parameters in mgisters 10 through 15 appear in registers 25 through 31 in the called frame.

What we have here is a hardware accelerated stack based on a large banked register file. An optimization.

Stacks are a software things

If that's true it aligns pretty nicely with Genuinely Useful Ideas In Programming then, no?

And you go too far down that road, suddenly you're teaching FORTH.

Or the JVM instruction set, for something a tiny bit more relevant.

about a year ago

What Are the Genuinely Useful Ideas In Programming?

TopSpin the most basic data structures (598 comments)

the heap, the hash table, and trees

There is nothing basic about these. Each is the subject of on-going research and implementations range from simplistic and poor to fabulously sophisticated.

An important basic data structure? Try a stack.

Yes, a stack. What majority of supposed graduates of whatever programming related education you care to cite are basically ignorant of the importance and qualities of a stack? Some of the simplest processors implement exactly one data structure; a stack, from which all other abstractions must be derived. A stack is what you resort to when you can't piss away cycles and space on ....better.... data structures. Yet that feature prevades essentially all ISAs from the 4004 to every one of our contemporary billion transistor CPUs.

about a year ago

Fusion Reactor Breaks Even

TopSpin Re:Scientific "break even", or practical "break ev (429 comments)

I think this is a decent milestone. While the reactor design itself is unlikely to ever break even, hopefully they're at least learning enough about efficiently triggering a fusion reaction that they can apply it to more productive designs

This achievement opens the door for future designs. Inertial confinement works; it needs improvement, but we're no longer debating whether it's possible to maintain symmetry or any of the other many doubts the detractors dwelled on.

The haters of NIF — and there are many — won't permit followup; they'll have it shut no matter what. For them, the whole idea of seeking energy sources that don't demand energy poverty is inherently illegitimate, and they run the show now. But the work and the results won't die at LLNL; there are other people and other nations that haven't decided to turn themselves into a windmill powered nature preserve.

So we'll have to let them take the ball and run with it. At least it will continue, now perhaps with far more enthusiasm.

about a year ago

OpenZFS Project Launches, Uniting ZFS Developers

TopSpin Re:Advatages of ZFS over BTRFS? (297 comments)

and it'll be as good / better than ZFS soon

No. Sorry.

There hasn't been a commit to the official BTRFS tree in over two months. There have only been five distinct contributors during the entire third quarter. The second quarter saw only 70 commits.

That pace is way too slow for a file system with so many 'to be implemented' features. While not dead, at this rate BTRFS will never surpass ZFS in any notable way.

I'm sincerely sorry about that. Linux contributors just aren't getting it done wrt BTRFS, and that's a crying shame; other operating systems should look on in envy at marvelous Linux file systems.

And yes, I should be in there plugging away at it. So should you. But we're not.

That's not Oracle's fault, either. People just don't care enough to put in the effort. We're just here griping about Oracle and the ZFS license issue and poasting about BTRFS being the answer, waiting for someone to do all that brutally hard work.

We're deluding ourselves.

about a year ago

New Operating System Seeks To Replace Linux In the Cloud

TopSpin Re:Off the pig! Time to get rid of OSs on VMs. (335 comments)

The entire Linux kernel, virtual filesystem, daemons, user commands, etc, are just along for the ride.

A JVM relies heavily on a kernel for scheduling, storage (journalling, RAID, LVM, etc.,) network stack (IP stack, filtering, bridging, etc.) and virtual memory management, at least. All of those capabilities must exist; they weren't created because someone was naive. Either they land in some library used by the guest JVM or they land in the hypervisor.

This isn't to say the now 40 year old IBM LPAR model is wrong. It clearly works, and VMWare is independently evolving into the same thing. But there are some exaggerated claims of simplicity being offered here.

The fact is recent x86 CPUs and chipsets have gained powerful virtualization capabilities, including hardware accelerated IO, MMU and interrupt virtualization. This stuff only began to appear in x86 hardware in late 2005 with important new capabilities such as VMCS Shadowing appearing as recently as Haswell (circa June, this year.)

It isn't surprising that people are creating hypervisors to leverage this power. When hardware manufacturers give you a powerful virtualization platform the question is do you use a legacy OS retrofitted to utilize it[1] or adopt something supposedly better by virtue of being built with hardware virtualization as a given.

Stay tuned.

[1] FreeBSD 10 offers the bhyve type 2 hypervisor the relies on VT-x + EPT. It can virtualize x86, like VMWare could do in the late 90's, but FreeBSD hasn't had to synthesize a virtual sandbox from scratch because the hardware provides the hard parts, and the end result is superior.

about a year ago



Academic Journals are too Expensive For Harvard

TopSpin TopSpin writes  |  about 4 months ago

TopSpin (753) writes "From the Guardian; Harvard University has sent a memo to the university's 2,100 teaching and research staff encouraging them to make their research freely available through open access journals and to resign from publications that keep articles behind costly paywalls. The memo from Harvard's faculty advisory council said major publishers had created an "untenable situation" at the university by making scholarly interaction "fiscally unsustainable" and "academically restrictive", while drawing profits of 35% or more. Prices for online access to articles from two major publishers have increased 145% over the past six years, with some journals costing as much as $40,000, the memo said."
Link to Original Source

Plan 9 from Bell Labs Operating System now GPL2

TopSpin TopSpin writes  |  about a year ago

TopSpin (753) writes "Alcatel-Lucent has authorized The University of California, Berkeley to `release all Plan 9 software previously governed by the Lucent Public License, Version 1.02 under the GNU General Public License, Version 2.' Plan 9 was developed primarily for research purposes as the successor to Unix by the Computing Sciences Research Center at Bell Labs between the mid-1980s and 2002. Plan 9 has subsequently emerged as Inferno, a commercially supported derivative, and ports to various platforms including a recent port to the Raspberry Pi. In Plan 9, all system interfaces, including those required for networking and the user interface, are represented through the file system rather than specialized interfaces. The system provides a generic protocol, 9P, to perform all communication with the system, among processes and with network resources. Applications compose resources using union file systems to form isolated namespaces."

Restore Net Neutrality petition

TopSpin TopSpin writes  |  1 year,2 days

TopSpin (753) writes "A petition of the White House to "direct the FCC to Classify Internet Providers as 'Common Carriers'" and thereby enable FCC Net Neutrality rules to be created and enforced needs about 24,000 additional signatures to reach the threshold of 100,000. Should the goal be reached the Administration will issue an official statement on the matter. The petition deadline is February 14."
Link to Original Source

NVIDIA claims "double the performance" with R310 Linux drivers

TopSpin TopSpin writes  |  more than 2 years ago

TopSpin (753) writes "NVIDIA has issued a press release claiming a large performance increase of Linux games running on GeForce hardware with their latest R310 drivers. They also make a point of having "thoroughly tested" the latest driver with Steam for Linux, which they claim is "officially opened to gamers starting today," something Valve has yet to announce itself..."
Link to Original Source

Google Shopping Censors All Weapons

TopSpin TopSpin writes  |  more than 2 years ago

TopSpin (753) writes "As part of the new Google Shopping 'commercial model,' Google has decided to ban "weapons and any related products such as ammunitions or accessory kits." All merchants must "remove any weapon-related products from [their] data feed." Indeed, today all queries containing keywords such as `ruger' or `rifle scope' return nothing."
Link to Original Source

Internet Explorer users 'have below-average IQ'

TopSpin TopSpin writes  |  more than 2 years ago

TopSpin (753) writes "A 'psychometric consulting' firm has correlated the results of a free online IQ tests with web clients used by participants. The results suggest that among those compelled to take online IQ tests Internet Explorer users perform poorly. AptiQuant claims this 'is a clear indication that individuals on the lower side of the IQ scale tend to resist a change/upgrade of their browsers.'"
Link to Original Source

National Ignition Facility Cryogentic Test Shots

TopSpin TopSpin writes  |  more than 4 years ago

TopSpin (753) writes "The first 'fully integrated' test shot of the National Ignition Facility took place Sept. 29 when 192 lasers focused over 1 Megajoule of energy (~60% of NIF design capability) onto a cryogenically layered capsule of Hydrogen isotopes. Although the 'fuel' was deliberately configured to prevent ignition, the shot yielded '1,000 times more neutrons' than previous non-cryogenic test shots. Scientists anticipate achieving fusion by 2012. On the way they will certainly vaporize many target assemblies."
Link to Original Source

The Hobbit movie sets built, casting begins

TopSpin TopSpin writes  |  more than 4 years ago

TopSpin (753) writes "Since last month when Guillermo del Toro dropped out as director of The Hobbit news has emerged on other fronts. Sir Ian McKellen (LOTR's Gandalf) tweets "sets are ready, script ready and movie is casting this month. Fans are not to worry." A large gallery (mixed LOTR and Hobbit, note the dates) of set photos can be found at the German site herr-der-ringe-film.de. The movie still has no official "go ahead" from MGM as various stakeholders wrangle for their respective cuts. Peter Jackson has said he might step in to direct if no one else turns up."

House outlaws Obama's NASA intervention

TopSpin TopSpin writes  |  more than 5 years ago

TopSpin (753) writes "NASA's Constellation Program and Ares rockets appear to have strong support in Congress. An appropriations bill passed by the House includes language that bars "any efforts by NASA to cancel or change the current Constellation program without first seeking approval of Congress." The Administration's appointed NASA leadership is being publicly hostile towards its traditional aerospace affiliations. As Charles Bolden put it to industry execs, "We are going to be fighting and fussing over the coming year," and "Some of you are not going to like me because we are not going to do the same kind of things we've always done.""
Link to Original Source

Electric MINI Cooper has rough start

TopSpin TopSpin writes  |  more than 5 years ago

TopSpin (753) writes "BMW's limited roll out of the electric version of its MINI has met with complaints from early adopters including less than advertised range, cold weather charging problems, bulky batteries and connection issues. Richard Steinburg, BMW's manager of electric vehicle operations, assures everyone that the manufacturer is "learning quite a bit as we go." Drivers are paying $850/month for the privilege of helping BMW learn how to build EVs, while also helping BMW meet alternative fuel mandates so that other models can continue to be sold in select markets."
Link to Original Source

US health reform needs your help

TopSpin TopSpin writes  |  more than 5 years ago

TopSpin (753) writes "Macon Phillips, the White House Director of New Media, wants you to know that Special Interests are rapidly spreading Disinformation about health reform throughout the Internet. Some of the Disinformation occurs "through casual conversation" on the Internet, and Macon "can't keep track of all" of it. Your Government needs you to help identify this Disinformation; please flag any health reform Disinformation you spot to flag@whitehouse.gov. Thank you for your help."

Thermodynamically stable carbon nanotube memory

TopSpin TopSpin writes  |  more than 5 years ago

TopSpin (753) writes "Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a new mechanism for digital memory storage that consists of a crystalline iron nanoparticle shuttle enclosed within the hollow of a multiwalled carbon nanotube. The lab has provided video of the operating device with the press release. Thermodynamic stability is claimed to be in excess of one billion years and storage denstity could ultimately be as high as one trillion bits per square inch, about 3x greater than contemporary magnetic storage."

ECMAScript 4.0 is dead

TopSpin TopSpin writes  |  more than 6 years ago

TopSpin (753) writes "Brendan Eich, creator of the JavaScript programming language, has announced that ECMA Technical Committee 39 has abandoned the proposed ECMAScript 4.0 language specification in favor of a more limited specification dubbed "Harmony", or ECMAScript 3.1. A split has existed among the members of this committee, including Adobe and Microsoft, regarding the future of what most of us know as JavaScript. Adobe had been promulgating their ActionScript 3 language as the next ECMAScript 4.0 proposal. As some point out, the split that has prevented this may be the result of Microsoft's interests. What does the future hold for Mozilla's Tamarin Project, based on Adobe's open source ActionScript virtual machine?"

NASA plans for Earth Impactors

TopSpin TopSpin writes  |  more than 7 years ago

TopSpin (753) writes "Flight International reports that scientists at the Marshall Space Flight Center have developed designs for an Aries V launched array of asteroid interceptors wielding B83 nuclear warheads. The hypothetical mission for these designs is based on an Apophis sized Earth impactor 2-5 years out. According to NASA, "Nuclear standoff explosions are assessed to be 10-100 times more effective [at deflection] than the non-nuclear alternatives analyzed in this study (pdf).""

Blue Blu-ray?

TopSpin TopSpin writes  |  more than 7 years ago

TopSpin (753) writes "According to this story, at Japan's recent euphemistically named Adult Treasure Expo 2007, adult filmmakers said Sony had begun offering technical support — which was later confirmed by Sony PR, which stated that Sony would offer support to any filmmaker working on the format, no matter their industry. Apparently, Blu-ray is now the preferred media for Japanese porn."



TopSpin TopSpin writes  |  more than 5 years ago

"As you know, they search you pretty well at the airport.
  There'll be lots of places later they'll be searching us.
  The airport is where they're kinda trying it out."
                                              George Carlin - 1975

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?