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Comments

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Spider Spins Electrically Charged Silk

Ungrounded Lightning I thought the point of the charge ... (26 comments)

I thought the point of the charge was to make the "wooly" side-fibers of the strands wrap around the prey's limbs and/or the microscopic irregularities in the exoskeleton, tangling to it. "Tying" the fibers to the prey would have a similar binding effect to gluing them to it, without the need for glue, and lots of little fibers could make a very strong attachment.

(Stretching fibers made of long chains makes them stronger by aligning the chains along the direction of the stretch.)

5 hours ago
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Adobe's Latest Zero-Day Exploit Repurposed, Targeting Adult Websites

Ungrounded Lightning But can it play ... (158 comments)

Youtube just switched to HTML5 video by default, so perhaps we can uninstall Flash for good now!

But can it play "Badger Badger Badger"?

7 hours ago
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Security-Focused BlackPhone Was Vulnerable To Simple Text Message Bug

Ungrounded Lightning Also: lots of code has been vetted for decades (46 comments)

Why are they still using C to deal with network protocol? Is the performance so critical that it's worth all the troubles?

Also, because there's a lot of C code that has been in heavy use, and tested for correctness, for decades, suitable for reuse with substantial confidence that it's correct (though you check it anyhow...).

Let's see you find code like THAT for a language that hasn't been AROUND for decades. B-)

7 hours ago
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Security-Focused BlackPhone Was Vulnerable To Simple Text Message Bug

Ungrounded Lightning For starters, because it's transparent. (46 comments)

Why are they still using C to deal with network protocol?

For starters, because it's transparent. The "K&R compliant assembly laguage", as one of my former colleagues once characterized it, translates to object in a clearly understandable way (especially if you turn optimization down or off). Though it gives you more opportunities to create bugs, it makes it hard for the bugs to hide from inspection.

The "higher-level" the language, the more it takes over and inserts its own stuff between you and the metal, and the more opportunity for that to inject an invisible vulnerability - which you might have trouble removing even if you DO discover it.

Meanwhile, many of the things "higher-level" languages protect you from can also be detected and flagged by both modern C compilers and code examination tools - starting with the venerable "lint".

7 hours ago
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Calif. DMV Back-Pedals On Commercial-Plate Mandate For Ride-Share Drivers

Ungrounded Lightning Re:CA requires commercial licenses for pickup truc (208 comments)

I can guarantee you that if the Govt. left it up to drivers to get the proper training and instruction on how to operate vehicles safely, people wouldn't do it.

Interesting claim - since it doen't work that way for guns.

Where the government requires training, most gun purchasers take the minimum required, then stop. Where it doesn't, most people start with the course recommended by the gun stores (which is far more comprehensive - and more focussed, with less time spent on political indoctrination B-) ) and also do substantially more range time, until they feel adequately competent. (Then there are those that get interested in shooting as a hobby...)

A similar effect is the reason police normally don't shoot at private ranges simultaneously with civilians. Most police are embarrassingly HORRIBLE shots and pistol-handlers - because they do only the minimum training and practice required by the department (which has lots of other stuff for them to do while they're being paid for their time), and almost never have to actually fire their gun during their work.

yesterday
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Calif. DMV Back-Pedals On Commercial-Plate Mandate For Ride-Share Drivers

Ungrounded Lightning Re:CA requires commercial licenses for pickup truc (208 comments)

Ford F150 Lariat.

For the 5 1/2 ton towing capacity (which also translates to "won't blow the engine head gasket towing a loaded trailer up CA 88 like the van did" - turns out they designed that vehicle's engine with the cylinders too close together so this one pair had a very thin piece of gasket between them,..).

(No time to get the GVR before I have to get to work...)

yesterday
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Calif. DMV Back-Pedals On Commercial-Plate Mandate For Ride-Share Drivers

Ungrounded Lightning Re:CA requires commercial licenses for pickup truc (208 comments)

I'm going on what the dealer told me. If I was led astray the cost of the vehicle has been a couple grand higher than it otherwise would have been.

yesterday
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Calif. DMV Back-Pedals On Commercial-Plate Mandate For Ride-Share Drivers

Ungrounded Lightning CA requires commercial licenses for pickup trucks. (208 comments)

No, but money changing hands (commerce) impacts whether it is "commercial", and requires a commercial license.

"Impacts", perhaps. But it's not definitive. Especially in California.

For instance: I bought a pickup truck, to use as a tow vehicle for my camper and my wife's boat. Then I discovered that CA requires pickup trucks to be tagged with a (VERY pricey) commercial license, regardless of whether they're used for business. (You CAN petition to tag a particular pickup truck as a personal vehicle - but are then subject to being issued a very pricey ticket if you are ever caught carrying anything in the truck bed - even if it's personal belongings or groceries, and regardless of whether you're being paid to do it. (Since part of the POINT of having a pickup truck is to carry stuff home from the store this would substantially reduce its utility.)

The one upside is that I get to park for short times in loading zones.

If we aren't going to require commercial licenses for commercial driving, then why even have them at all?

And if we ARE going to require them for clearly personal, non-commercial vehicles that happen to be "trucks", why NOT impose this requirement on putatively commercial vehicles that happen to be cars as well?

The real answer to your question is "because the state wants the tax money, and the legislators and bureaucrats will seek it in any way that doesn't threaten their reelection, reappointment, or election to higher office" - in the most jerrymandered state in the Union. The Uber case is one where an appraent public outcry arose, bringing the bureaucrats' actions, and public outcry about them, to the attention of elected officials.

The full form of the so-called "Chinese curse" is: "May you live in interesting times and come to the attention of people in high places."

3 days ago
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Windows 10: Can Microsoft Get It Right This Time?

Ungrounded Lightning Re:Different trick (489 comments)

A journalist ALWAYS needs to write something that is SOMEHOW different from what the reader believes. (If he's just reinforcing what the reader believes, why should a reader bother reading his output?)"

Actually, studies have shown that people tend to read authors and publications that tell them they are right. Echo-chambers existed long before the internet. So, while you ask why a reader would read that which reinforces his beliefs, the reality is he does.

Echo-chamber yes. But needs some difference, also yes. Even an echo-chamber medium is about giving the reader some new aspect to consider, new argument to use, etc. It may be primarily reinforcing, but it also adds or tweaks aspects to deepen the conviction and/or warp it into slightly better conformity with the common ideology of the journalist's in-group.

So I don't think there's really any conflict between our claims.

about a week ago
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Windows 10: Can Microsoft Get It Right This Time?

Ungrounded Lightning Different trick (489 comments)

The trick to the Betteridge law is that when a journalist writes a headline as a question, the question is suggesting what most people find improbable; and the improbable rarely happens.

There's some of that. But that's more about choice of subject matter. A journalist ALWAYS needs to write something that is SOMEHOW different from what the reader believes. (If he's just reinforcing what the reader believes, why should a reader bother reading his output?)

The real trick that leads to qusetion-headlines (that are almost always implying something that's wrong) is different.

When a journalist writes a juicy headline as a question, it's because he couldn't find evidence to support the conjecture, but wants to run it anyway.

Usually this is because he guessed wrong. The deadline is approaching, he's got to publish SOMETHING to stay employed, and he just wasted a bunch of time researching something that didn't pan out. Oops! So he runs his orignnal conjecture and the workup he did on it before finding out that it was either wrong (usual) or maybe right but couldn't be supported in the time available (rarely). He just phrases the headline as a speculation rather than an assertion.

That way his credibility isn't wrecked for the future, he gets to publish something, it's interesting and plausible (even though probably totally bogus), and in those rare cases where it WAS right he's scooped his competitors. However it comes out it's a win for the journalist - though it's a bunch of noise for the readers.

about two weeks ago
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The Strange Story of the First Quantum Art Exhibition In Space

Ungrounded Lightning Quantum... (69 comments)

Sounds to me like a quantum monkey-at-a-typewriter.

about two weeks ago
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How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting

Ungrounded Lightning Re:No, the premise is that we want to avoid civil (480 comments)

The third paragraph should begin:

Low voter turnout is not a problem.

And that last should be:

Conversely, if you would fight you should vote. Withholding your vote in such a circumstance also makes the election less convincing, increasing the destabilization of the government. An election boycott is a vote for genuine war.

about two weeks ago
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How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting

Ungrounded Lightning No, the premise is that we want to avoid civil war (480 comments)

No vote is better than an ill-informed / non-informed vote.

Ya know, I'm not so sure about that. The whole premise of democracy is that we are, collectively, smarter than any of us individually.

Democratic and Repubican forms of government are NOT based on such a premise.

The entire point of such forms is to avoid civil war. They do this by modelling the war - well enough that the faction that loses the election is convinced that, if they try to reverse the result by force of arms, they will lose that, too.

Low voter turnout is . If people don't care enough about an issue to fight for one side or the other, (let alone not caring enough to even examine the sides), not voting for a side picked randomly, or on the basis of name recognition or the like, does no harm.

Voting in such a circumstance may cause a lot of harm. Just like visibly corrupt elections, a visibly frivolous electorate reduces the ability of the election to convince the losers they've really lost. Further, it gives them the idea that they were cheated out of what they "deserved" and could win - giving them an opportunity to start a war AND claim the moral high ground in doing so.

Conversely, not voting when you would fight is a vo

about two weeks ago
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How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting

Ungrounded Lightning The real point is blocking vote-buying schemes. (480 comments)

... electronic systems that let people track their own votes can be used by others to track those votes.

The real point, and why it's illegal (in many jurisdictions) to show you how your vote was counted:

If you can prove to yourself your vote was counted for candidate Foo, you can prove to candidate Foo's campaign machine that your vote was counted for Foo, and collect the vote-buying money or other rewards. (Also: Strong-arm operations, like crooked unions, organized crime, and/or political machines, could get you to divulge your vote with various threats.)

But maybe it is time to ditch the secret ballot... at least for some things.

Absolutely not. The point of voting being secret is to keep people from intimidating voters into voting for someone other than their personal choice.

about two weeks ago
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Gunmen Kill 12, Wound 7 At French Magazine HQ

Ungrounded Lightning "Allah" is just Arabic for "God". (1350 comments)

They bombed the London Tube for Allah...

"Allah" is just Arabic for "God". (Literally "The God" i.e. the one, the only, monotheist deity.) Christians who speak Arabic use the same word for the Christian deity - which Muslims recognize as the same entity. The word has the same root as Yahweh, Jehova, JHVH.

Interestingly, Muslims explicitly recognize Christians and Jews as "People of The Book", and the Torah and the Bible as explicitly their people's version of a heavenly-mandated collection of the genuine revealed word of God - though allegedly corrupted by time and translations. They claim there are many such books, but these two they explicitly recognize as valid instances.

They also explicitly recognize Jesus ("Issa") as a prophet (their second highest ranking one, if I have this right), Mary as their only known female prophet, and include the Second Coming in their end-times predictions. ("Prophet" is defined as someone who receives messages from God, directly or via heavenly messenger.)

about three weeks ago
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Inside Cryptowall 2.0 Ransomware

Ungrounded Lightning A pity hard write protect is no longer an option. (181 comments)

When you use a usb drive, you'll be safe, until someone plugs it into that machine not knowing that as soon as they do, it will begin encrypting what's accessible on that usb drive.

Disk drives - hard, floppy, etc. - used to have a hardware write protect feature. (Switch, punched-notch, etc.) Set it and there was no way the stored content could be changed. A backup that you'd set would not be vulnerable to rewrite attacks when plugged into an insufficiently-cleaned machine to restore the files.

Then drives came out where software could override the write protection.

Then the feature went out of fashion. Drives were apparently a bit cheaper that way.

A pity.

about three weeks ago
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Toyota Opens Patents On Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology

Ungrounded Lightning It's like GPL (124 comments)

So to make invention still go you first need to patent it, then you release it for free to all. Why do we still have patents at all, again?

Because that's the current law and getting it changed is an exercise in futility.

So, just like copyright and the GPL, they have to patent it first to keep OTHER people from patenting it and locking them out of their own invention. Once that's done they can go ahead and give it away if they want (or cross-license with people with other patents on useful stuff).

Sure it would be nice if patents went away on a lot of stuff - or even everything. It would be nice if other countries wouldn't try to conquer us if we disarmed, too. But as long as patents are there, inventors are forced to stay armed.

about three weeks ago
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Toyota Opens Patents On Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology

Ungrounded Lightning Re:No, not practically, no. (124 comments)

Really?

The fastest I've gotten a pump to run is about 1/10th gal/sec. That's 6 galons per minute. So you fill your tank every time you're six galons down?

My "car" - a Ford F-150 pickup truck - has a 37 galon tank, which I normally run nearly dry before refilling when I'm using it in the SF Bay Area. (I keep it full when I'm in less forgiving areas - like the Nevada desert.) At 6 gal/min maximum that's a 6+ minute fill up - plus "topping off" to a round amount, two trips to the cashier. (No WAY I'm trusting that much cash to the bill eater kiosk.) Waiting in line, getting change and reciept, hitting the rest room, ... Call it 15 to 25 minutes.

Fortunately I only have to do it a couple times a month.

about three weeks ago
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In Daring Plan, Tomorrow SpaceX To Land a Rocket On Floating Platform

Ungrounded Lightning Re:Re usability (151 comments)

the tanks themselves had nowhere near the shielding required to be used for human habitation (both radiation, and micrometeorite).

So you collect them into a cluster and store consumables (like water) that perform shielding in the outer layers.

Also: You really don't WANT shielding most of the time - unless you're up there for years. Primary cosmics mostly go right through you, while shielding produces lots of ionizing secondaries that tear you up. Then you need a LOT of shielding to block the secondaries. Its mostly the occasional solar storm that requires shielding.

This was looked at in detail over the last several decades. The tanks would have been very valuable for a lot of stuff. But not to NASA programs. Lots of politics involved.

about three weeks ago
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In Daring Plan, Tomorrow SpaceX To Land a Rocket On Floating Platform

Ungrounded Lightning Re:Re usability (151 comments)

The foam insulation would have off-gassed significantly and dumped all sorts of crap into your orbital environment, ...

Originally they were to be painted with a coating that would have kept the foam together, etc.

Then somebody looked at how much that coating weighed. (It comes right out of payload.) And they decided not to paint the tank after all and let the foam get shredded a bunch on the way up (after it wasn't really needed if you weren't going to re-use the tank for anything).

They actually burn some extra fuel to be sure the tank goes back DOWN and crashes in a desired area, so it doesn't go into low orbit, become short-lived space junk, then later come down in some unpredictable place along that orbit after "space weather" - mainly the varying expansion of the upper atmosphere - causes the orbital decay to proceed at some varying and unpredictable rate.

I recall space advocates being livid that the tanks were not being orbited and collected for orbital construction.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Navy is funding a polywell fusion device.

Ungrounded Lightning Ungrounded Lightning writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) writes "Just noticed that the Navy has started the contracting process to fund EMC2's construction of a polywell fusion research device. So it looks like the work on Busard's design is proceeding. This implies that the last round went well enough that the Navy thinks there's potential for a practical power generation device and is willing to fund the engineering work to get to it. From the wording it appears to be a testbed for an ion injector. Seems to me that if they're trying to get the ions into the bottle they're confident that the reaction works and are going for continuous, rather than pulsed, operation. Let's hope this is also either a full-sized prototype or at least a version scaled up enough to test the scaling laws."

Journals

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New federal "security" regs on hundreds of common chemicals

Ungrounded Lightning Ungrounded Lightning writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Big brother is at it again. The Department of Homeland Security is issuing new regulations requiring reporting on, and guarding of, hundreds of common chemicals with "terrorist applications" (such as propane, hydrogen peroxide, chlorine, ...). This impacts farms, universities, industries from pool supplies to medicine to janitorial, small business, startups, and the general public.

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Total bandwidth with MIMO and "smart antennas"

Ungrounded Lightning Ungrounded Lightning writes  |  more than 7 years ago

A thread in the Slashdot article The 700MHz Question drifted into a discussion between me and rcw-home/rcw-work on using multiple antennas to synthesyze multiple patterns. This allows a particular hunk of bandwidth to be reused to generate several full-bandwidth links simultaneously - either between a base station and several remote stations or even between the base station and a single remote station that itself has multiple antennas.

The thread is beginning to horzon out on my user info history. So this journal entry is a new venue for its continuation after rcw-*'s most recent post.

I'll respond to that after he posts here to indicate that he's also making the move.

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Hollywood vs. Sealand

Ungrounded Lightning Ungrounded Lightning writes  |  more than 7 years ago

In a slashdot posting titled "Hollywood vs. Sealand" on April 2 2007, I:
  - Made a movie proposal,
  - Asserted copyright,
  - Offered to license it,
  - Threatened possible infringement suits if such a movie is made sans license, and
  - Directed anyone wishing to license it to contact me by leaving a message in my journal. B-)

This journal entry is to receive such messages.

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IRS rule muzzles email legislative alerts.

Ungrounded Lightning Ungrounded Lightning writes  |  about 11 years ago

Your Rights Online.

A new IRS rule (PDF here) would effectively ban advocacy groups from informing their members of pending legislation during the weeks before an election. This would allow legisltaors ram through unpopular legislation before their constituents find out and object.

It can be applied to groups of any political leaning, but is subjective enough to selective enforcement against only those groups unpopular with the IRS bureaucracy and/or the administration. Here is an explanation of how this would work, by one affected organization.

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