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Comments

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NSA Can Retrieve, Replay All Phone Calls From a Country From the Past 30 Days

anorlunda The Utah Data Center (320 comments)

Isn't anyone going to ask about the new NSA data center in Utah? It is claimed to have enough storage to save all the world's conversations for 100 years. What could NSA possibly have in mind for that?

about a month ago
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The Billionaires Privatizing American Science

anorlunda Better Than The Alternative (279 comments)

I'm sure that this news may make a lot of slashdotters uncomfortable. But I ask you to think of the alternative. They could spend their billions influencing elections. How many attack ads can you buy for $75 billion?

Here's a challenge. How should billionaires spend their money?

I'm not asking for how you would spend the billions if it was yours, nor am I interested in your concept of social justice or what is beneficial for mankind. I'm challenging you to try to imagine the world from, the billionaire's view.

about a month ago
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NASA-Funded Study Investigates Collapse of Industrial Civilization

anorlunda The Greatist Race (401 comments)

15 years from now is 2029. In 2043, we are supposed to encounter Ray Kurzweil's Singularity. Those dates are awfully close from a historical perspective. If we reach The Singularity, presumably we will become smart enough to surmount problems.

Boy, what a great theme for a SF novel. A great race. Will we reach collapse or singularity first? Photo finish.

about a month ago
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NASA-Funded Study Investigates Collapse of Industrial Civilization

anorlunda Re:BS, as usual. (401 comments)

You are mostly right Peter, but continue the analysis another step. Because we are very good at finding alternatives, then we approach a point where nearly all resources reach depletion (nearly) simultaneously. The result is not just collapse, but a really devastating collapse. Worse, post collapse recovery will be greatly hindered by a resource starved world.

In terms of mitigatation, it would be better if we were no so adaptive and good at finding alternatives. Instead of a collapse, we might have a series of crises instead that would throttle down growth.

about a month ago
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Drone Pilot Wins Case Against FAA

anorlunda Re:model plane != plane (236 comments)

A manufacturer of toy planes who test flies one before sale, is doing it commercially.

A retailer of rubber band powered balsa gliders who flies a demo inside his store is flying it doing it commercially.

A kid's video of his Xmas present balsa glider flying past the Xmas tree, and posted on YouTube with ads is commercial flying.

Strict interpretation of the FAA's words lead to horrible absurdities.

Horribles are what lawyers use to get laws stricken down by courts.

People who write regulations need to temper zeal with reason.

about a month and a half ago
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Schneier: Break Up the NSA

anorlunda Re:NSA Walks a Fine Line (324 comments)

I work in critical infrastructure protection CIP (the power grid). My nightmare is the back doors that NSA may have inserted in our systems.

Why would NSA do that? Because terrorists might get jobs at CIP companies and use their systems to communicate with other terrorists. Also because NSA can't selectively insert back doors only in the systems of bad guys. They do it by compromising any and all systems globally.

What is the problem for me? If a back door exists, then I must assume that it is only a matter of time before bad guys discover it and exploit it. The back doors become the biggest threat vector we face.

Why can't I just find and close those back doors? Because utilities have a long tradition of sharing information. If I learn how to make our stuff secure against NSA back doors, that information my get transferred overseas to institutions that NSA's cyberwar branch may wish to target. Private possession of knowledge of anti-NSA protection becomes a threat to national security in NSA's view.

The same government that demands to be my partner in making the grid secure, is also invested in making sure that it can never be secure. The government's conflict of interest is horrible.

about 2 months ago
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FCC Wants To Trial Shift From Analog Phone Networks To Digital

anorlunda 0.99999 Availability (218 comments)

Some states, such as Conneticut, require that "lifeline" POTS must have better than 0.99999 availability. Think of the need to call 911 during a blackout. They key to achieving that has always been the electric power supply. POTS networks did that by supplying an average of 2 watts per subscriber via the copper wires, independent of the power grid.

In a VOIP network, you could still have copper wires for the last mile, and I guess still use less than 2 watts per user. But the digital circuit design to pass the power through coulda be tricky. 2 watts per user, 2 KW per 1000 users, 2 MW per million users. It isn't impossible, just damn difficult.

I don't believe that the FCC has the authority to override these state requirements.

Does anyone know what their plans are for availability?

about 2 months ago
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Have a Privacy-Invasion Wishlist? Peruse NSA's Top Secret Catalog

anorlunda Link to the source (259 comments)

TFA does not give a link to this so-called catalog. Does anyone here have the link?

about 4 months ago
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ITER Fusion Reactor On Track To Generating Power By 2028

anorlunda What about the engineering? (232 comments)

It takes more than science to make a power plant. It takes engineering too.

I heard that one must deal with temperature gradients as high as 1 million degrees C per meter to extract the power from a tokamak.

500 MW electric means 1000-1500 MW thermal. That's a lot of power. If it is radiated in a small volume, the power density is sky high.

  Is anyone at ITER even working on that problem? There is no guarantee that it is solvable.

about 6 months ago
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U.S. Gov't Still Fighting the Man Behind Buckyballs; Guess Who's Winning?

anorlunda Re:the last line rings true... (555 comments)

Corporate personhood is *not* a good thing, no matter what you corporate sycophants think. Elevating a corporation to the same level in the law as an individual is a recipe for abuse, and it's rife in the USA.

Corporations should have a set of *limited* and *enumerated* rights that are secondary to individuals, not personhood.

And, yes, there is a reason corporate personhood exists... it's because robber barons in the 1800s wanted that way. Corporate rights aren't sent to us by God.

I read somewhere that if corporations were not persons, then they could not be sued. IANAL but I think I see the logic. Can the defendant or plaintiff in a lawsuit be anything other than "a person?" Albeit an abstract person.

Be careful before you retort with "sure, why not?" We could end up sinking the courts with infinite suits pitting machines against machines. My PC wants to sue your iPad.

No doubt some Slashdotter will contradict me, but I'll say that all laws apply only to "people." Only "people" can own anything. How could it ever be different?

about 8 months ago
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Dishwasher-Size, 25kW Fuel Cell In Development

anorlunda Re: Sign me up (379 comments)

If you don't want a grid connection for backup purposes, then you cease to be a utility company and they have no say about what you do.

Others, like the fire marshall, or code inspector, or UL Labs, may have things to say, but not the utility.

about 8 months ago
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Dishwasher-Size, 25kW Fuel Cell In Development

anorlunda What is the lifetime? (379 comments)

The thing that killed many previous fuel cell research projects was not size, efficiency or cost but rather short lifetimes.

TFA is silent on lifetime.

about 8 months ago
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Data Storage That Could Outlast the Human Race

anorlunda Follow the money (231 comments)

I'll bet that this research was sponsored by the NSA.

about 9 months ago
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GMO Wheat Found Growing Wild In Oregon, Japan Suspends Import From U.S.

anorlunda Re:The Futility of Narrow Enforcement (679 comments)

Why worry? Because Monsanto is not doing their work in secret and Monsanto's goal is not to kill everyone on the planet.

A nut modifying a flu virus might indeed be trying to kill everyone.

about a year ago
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GMO Wheat Found Growing Wild In Oregon, Japan Suspends Import From U.S.

anorlunda The Futility of Narrow Enforcement (679 comments)

We are approaching the point where a grad student, or even a gifted high school student can cook up something genetically dangerous, then release it out his/her bedroom window.

A politician (I think it was John Brennan) recently said something like this, "Society must learn to deal not only with radical groups, but also with individuals feeling isolated and discontented. By 2030, such individuals will be able to create world threatening pathogens at home." Sorry, I don't have the link to the source.

I think he is right. It is futile to focus enforcement solely on those like Montsanto openly digging with genes. Millions of people are being educated in life sciences. We must look much deeper at what makes people like Timothy McVeigh so angry and alienated.

The democratic system where the majority rules 100% of the time guarantees that there will be individuals who are on the losing side 100% of the time and whose voices are never listened to. How are they supposed to feel?

about a year ago
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Thousands of SCADA, ICS Devices Exposed Through Serial Ports

anorlunda Re:With "smart grid" or "smart cities" coming (66 comments)

>Just saying "air gap" it is I'm afraid a trite solution that will not meet the "smart grid" requirement to adjust energy flows
      > dynamically based on a mixture of large-area and local algorithms.

Statements like that make me mad. When you turn on a 100 watt light bulb 100 watts of power are dynamically rerouted to your house and the extra power needed is automatically added to the generation schedules of multiple remote power plants using a mixture of large-area and local algorithms. What's more, it has worked like that since the 1880s. How the f did you think it worked all your life?

A few charlatans hoping to pocket $100 billion of government handouts (while sharing none of the accountability for grid reliability) promoted this idea of smart algorithms to reroute power to where its needed most. It's all bullshit.

about a year ago
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Cyber Criminals Tying Up Emergency Phone Lines Through TDoS Attacks, DHS Warns

anorlunda Bad headline (115 comments)

The security alert linked in the summary says that the attacks were on the administrative lines of the emergency services, not the 911 lines. The summary and the Slashdot headline are bogus.

1 year,15 days
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No "Ungoogleable" In Swedish Lexicon, Thanks to Google

anorlunda Do it the Ikea Way (207 comments)

Instead of googlebar make it ogööglebar.

1 year,22 days
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New Process For Nanoscale Filtration Holds Promise of Cheap, Clean Water

anorlunda Re:Current technology is already efficient (116 comments)

Are you talking about osmosis or reverse osmosis? There is a thermodynamic limit to the osmosis process, but reverse osmosis uses high pressure pumps and wastes lots of energy.

I'm not aware of any thermodynamic limit to reverse osmosis efficiency. Can you provide a link?

about a year ago
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New Process For Nanoscale Filtration Holds Promise of Cheap, Clean Water

anorlunda WOW! Enormous Consequences (116 comments)

If this turns out to be as good as it sounds, the financial and social impacts will be staggering.

about a year ago

Submissions

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Wind Based Air Defense

anorlunda anorlunda writes  |  more than 3 years ago

anorlunda (311253) writes "The NYT has a story called, "Wind Turbine Projects Run Into Resistance." It tells about military opposition to wind farm projects; especially in the Mohave Desert of California. Apparently, the spinning blades interfere with radar, both military radar and weather radar.

They go on to say, "The military says that the thousands of existing turbines in the gusty Tehachapi Mountains, to the west of the R-2508 military complex in the Mojave Desert, have already limited its abilities to test airborne radar used for target detection in F/A-18s and other aircraft."

Now there's a road map to a modern air defense system. Just put wind farms around your most important targets and the US military will be hindered in attacking you by air."

Link to Original Source
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Where Is Population In The Climate Debate?

anorlunda anorlunda writes  |  more than 5 years ago

anorlunda writes "One of the 6,780 reports released today by Wikileaks, is entitled Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Perspective on the Top 20 Emitters and Developed Versus Developing Nations (RL32721 / 2008-12-24) It contains some very simple, easy to understand, and very useful information about greenhouse emissions.

Namely, it says Population delta + per capita GDP delta + Intensity delta = Emissions delta

An interesting side point is that the current world-wide recession causing big negative GDP growths will have a huge inadvertent impact on emissions.

Most important, the equation makes clear that if we continue to allow population to grow, and if we are committed to elimination of poverty, and ending the recession, then population and GDP growth inevitably overwhelm any gains we can make in intensity (i.e. energy consumption and efficiency). There is no scenario in which technology can outrace population x GDP.

Despite that, it seems that 100% of the debate hot air on climate change is over intensity. We are barking up the wrong tree! Assuming that we remain committed to elimination of poverty, the only way that we can beat the climate change problem is to reduce population. Efficient light bulbs be damned; how are we going to reduce global population?

Here's some figures from the report (in percent per year.)
... Population delta + per capita GDP delta + Intensity delta = Emissions delta
... global: +1.4 +1.7 -1.6 = +1.6
... USA: +1.2 +1.8 -1.9 = +1.0
... China +0.9 +9.1 -4.9 = + 4.8
... EU-27 +0.3 +1.8 -2.4 = -0.4
... Russian Fed -0.2 -0.4 -2.0 = -2.7"
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The Politics of Power Bring South Africa Down

anorlunda anorlunda writes  |  more than 6 years ago

anorlunda writes "The NYT reported today that "Power Failures Outrage South Africa" The crux of the story is that politicians in South Africa screwed up by delaying approval of needed new power plants and failed to deliver on alternatives. They were warned in 1998 that this would lead to shortages in 2007, but they ignored it. Now, South Africans are subject to daily rolling blackouts. It may take as long as five years to repair the problem. By then, the South African economy will be completely trashed.

Could a similar problem happen in the USA? Sure; in fact it already did to some extent. The 2000 power crisis in California was primarily caused by flaws in the 1996 law that allowed predators like ENRON to run wild. It resulted in rolling blackouts reputed to cost the California economy $1 billion per day. Fortunately, the USA still regulates power on the state level, so political mistakes are likely to affect only one state or one region at a time; not the whole country.

Power reliability engineering is a subject so crushingly boring that it can bring tears just to read about it. The reliability councils tell us how much reserve generating margin of what type we need in which locations to maintain reliability. That it is something that is highly likely to be overridden by politics.

The sad news is that energy plans must be so conservative that we refuse to let go with one hand until the other hand has a firm grip on the rock face. We need to plan to build both the dirty (but proven and doable) conventional plants and renewable plants. To the extent that the renewable plants actually get built and actually produce, the conventional plants can lay idle or just sit around for possible backup use or their construction plans can be canceled. We must not the country hostage by canceling conventional plans for keeping up with electric demand while hoping for newer and cleaner alternatives to take their place.

If we screw up the reliability engineering in our rush to stop polluting, then we risk the same fate as South Africa. The consequences could make the great depression seem like a picnic."
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anorlunda anorlunda writes  |  about 7 years ago

anorlunda writes "I'm retired and all my money is in an IRA account at TD Waterhouse. I access it online the only way I can, via public WiFi hotspots. Naturally, I'm very concerned about security. If someone hijacked my account I'm dead broke.

The TD Waterhouse home page has fields for logging in. However, IE6 does not show the SSL icon for the page on the status line. Firefox shows neither the SSL icon nor the signer's name on the status bar. However, near the login fields there is a padlock icon.

TD Waterhouse has a second page specifically for, client login, and that page shows the SSL icon and the signer's name in the Firefox status bar, as it should.

TD Waterhouse should be a trusted source, so I emailed them this question and got the following reply.

From: clientsupport@tdameritrade.com
Information entered on http://www.tdameritrade.com/welcome2.html in the sign-in box is transmitted through a secure server. Please notice the lock on the "Log on" button. This segment of the page is secure.
Mark C.
Client Support, TD AMERITRADE
Division of TD AMERITRADE, Inc.

Should I believe them? He seems to claim that a segment of a page can be secure even if the page itself is not secure. My instinct tells me to ignore any text or graphics in a web page's content that claims that it is secure, and to believe only my browser (if anything). After all, any old scam artist could put a padlock icon on his web page."
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anorlunda anorlunda writes  |  more than 7 years ago

anorlunda writes "This is pure speculation. I notice that experts seem to be increasingly concerned with zombie PCs on the web and all the damage that they can do. There will come a day when an injured party sues the zombie's host ISP claiming negligence. A natural reaction to that could be for the ISPs to insist that their PC customers use the most hacker resistant, yet ubiquitous OS around — namely Vista.

I can hear the screams of anger now from millions of users who don't want to switch. On the other hand, few or none of them would stop using the net or even switch ISPs. Most would probably grumble, then switch to Vista. Hardware and third party software vendors and congressmen would back the ISPs because it would trigger the biggest mass upgrade since Y2K and create a surge of thousands of jobs.

The security debate to be acted out before congressional committees would be entertaining. We would pit the antimonoculturalists on one side versus the ban-those-Win95-skeletons proponents on the other side. It would also make the perfect opportunity to advocate the mobile browser plus net apps as the non-PC alternative architecture.

Could a major ISP successfully refuse Mac and Linux customers? I see no legal impediment. They can argue security and simplfied support as their motives. Once again, most aggrieved Mac and Linux customers would scream, but they would rather switch than go back to dial-up. Therefore, relatively few customers would actually defect.

I hate bringing up such an ugly speculation. I can see the flames coming my way now. But, the simplicity and rationality of a Vista-only future from the point of view of the ISPs and others seems too powerful to ignore. Perhaps the question should be, what would stop it from happening?"

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