×

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!

Comments

top

Colorado Sued By Neighboring States Over Legal Pot

bradley13 Commerce clause abuse (453 comments)

The stupid thing is: it may well work. The federal government regularly twists the Commerce Clause beyond all recognition. The most egregious case, the one that really set the ball rolling, was the one where the federal government claimed the right to regulate farmers feeding their own grain to their own livestock. Why? Because that meant that they bought less grain from elsewhere, some of which might, potentially come from out of state. Hence, the Commerce Clause allowed the regulation.

Given that sort of precedent, the federal government can justify essentially any regulation that it wants. Certainly including telling Colorado that it's state-wide laws are invalid, because they happen to indirectly affect neighboring states.

yesterday
top

FBI Confirms Open Investigation Into Gamergate

bradley13 FBI is bored, needs more business... (526 comments)

...because it's hard to see any other reason for an official investigation of a bunch of twits throwing virtual cow patties at each other.

yesterday
top

Spacecraft Spots Probable Waves On Titan's Seas

bradley13 Not /. - that's TFA and science journalism (82 comments)

That idiotic quote comes straight from TFA. It amply demonstrates the quality of what passes for "science journalism". In this case, not only the author, but also the editors of ScienceMag give the impression that they think methane is some weird form of water.

Actually, the author not only thinks that methane is water, he simultaneously thinks that it is oil, because he also writes that one of the methane seas "could contain 55 times Earth's oil reserves". Alternatively, he may be mixing information from unrelated theories: previously, the absence of waves was taken to indicate that the seas were viscous, containing heavier hydrocarbons. Reality could be somewhere between the two extremes.

Regardless, TFA is poor journalism, bringing more confusion than enlightenment to the average reader...

3 days ago
top

Why Didn't Sidecar's Flex Pricing Work?

bradley13 Move away from /. (190 comments)

I still visit /. occasionally. The last two times, it was to find a Bennett Haselton article. Just to add fuel to the fire: have you read Bennett's Wikipedia page? I do believe he wrote it his very own self.

I think I'm going to stick to Soylent in the future...bye bye again, /., it wasn't nice coming back...

4 days ago
top

How Identifiable Are You On the Web?

bradley13 Currently impossible to stop (159 comments)

As others have noted, the EFF Panopticlick is the better service.

I just spent far too much time playing around with this, on an extended lunch break. I note the following things:

- You had better disable explicit tracking services (Ghostery), or it all doesn't matter anyway.

- Fonts are a big factor. Fonts are identified through Flash. There is a configuration file "mms.cfg" that can disable this. The location of this file depends on your operating system and on your browser - it took me a good half-hour to find it for my particular configuration.

- However, even after disabling fonts, and even using a "user-agent switcher" to look like a Windows/Chrome combination (instead of Linux/Chrome), I was still uniquely identifiable. The biggest factor were my language preferences, the list of plugins, and the precise browser version. Refusing to report system fonts was also pretty important :-/

In short, there's not much way around it - if you include other information available, like your IP address, you will be uniquely identifiable, and trackable across websites.

What is missing from this picture: Browsers provide an "incognito" mode. This mode needs to be extended to provide only absolutely essential information to the server. The server needs to know roughly what level of standards support you have (e.g., "Mozilla/5.0"), and what language to send content in (one language, not a list with weights). Everything else could be omitted, and virtually all websites would work perfectly.

Go a step farther and disable JavaScript in incognito mode, to prevent explicit sniffing. That will disable more websites, but if those sites start losing traffic, they'll offer versions that don't require JS.

5 days ago
top

French Cabbies Say They'll Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber

bradley13 Win hearts and minds (295 comments)

Oh, yes, causing massive traffic snarls is a sure way to with the hearts and minds of the public. Reminds me of the German train drivers who keep striking, not for more money or better working conditions, but because their union bosses are at risk of losing their negotiating power to a larger union. Makes everybody in German just love the train drivers.

Paris taxis charge to just come and pick you up. Get in the car, and find that the meter has already been running from wherever the driver let off his last fare. Given a new competitor, the taxi drivers could always compete by offering better service, or lower rates, or more reliability, or... Nah.

5 days ago
top

Peru Indignant After Greenpeace Damages Ancient Nazca Site

bradley13 Picture of damage (465 comments)

Here is a picture of the damaged Greenpeace caused. Basically, all of the lighter color in the red-marked area is where their footprints broke the crust.

Repair is, of course impossible. Serious financial consequences, plus criminal prosecution of all involved.

about a week ago
top

Deflating Claims That ESA Craft Has Spotted Dark Matter

bradley13 Dark matter and the sniff test (85 comments)

I'm just a lowly engineer, but for me "dark matter" has never passed the sniff test. It's a kludge factor thrown in to make equations balance. And a kludge factor so huge that "dark matter" is supposed to outweigh all of the observable matter in the entire universe. The only reason this doesn't sound ridiculous is because we've been hearing it for so long.

If you need a kludge factor that big, it is far more likely that the equations are wrong.

There are other possible explanations. For example, if the speed of light were a function of space and time, then the situation changes completely. All observations of the distant/ancient universe are suddenly thrown into question; the interactions within that distant/ancient universe were also different from what we see locally, today. This particular theory (variability of C) is one that crops up periodically, most recently in 2013. It is difficult to prove, but really, it's no more unlikely than the existence of huge amounts of dark matter that stubbornly refuse to interact with the known universe.

about a week ago
top

Once Again, Baltimore Police Arrest a Person For Recording Them

bradley13 Personal consequences (515 comments)

Move to a malpractice system, like doctors have. Make individual officers personally liable for their own behavior. They carry professional liability insurance, and can be sued if they do something egregiously stupid. Screw up enough, and no insurance company will cover them. Changing jurisdictions won't help, because the insurance companies will be sure to trade information.

about a week ago
top

Congress Passes Bill Allowing Warrantless Forfeiture of Private Communications

bradley13 One more step towards a police state (379 comments)

And the US takes one more step down the slippery slope. At the bottom lies a police state.

Aside from a few nerds and right-wing blogs, no one noticed. Interestingly, this information is nowhere to be found on mainstream media sites. Why is that, I wonder? Maybe all those conspiracy theorists have a point.

On Swiss TV last night they showed an interview with some of the USAF people flying drones. Surreal: sit down at your joystick, , drop a hellfire missile on a vehicle, go home to the kids. The fact that some debatable-but-large portion of the drone targets are misidentified? The Captain playing the video game really, really didn't want to discuss that. He just shoots what he's told to shoot.

Sad to see - the once great bastion of freedom now tortures prisoners, kills civilians by remote control, and now freely spies on its own citizen's communications. It may be time for y'all to abandon the sinking ship.

about a week ago
top

Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

bradley13 The return of Cthulhu might be really bad... (329 comments)

For those interested, this appears to be the paper. The paper itself is paywalled; you can look at the supplementary material, which includes the diagrams. Oddly, the paper does not seem to be online at the university, even though other papers by the various authors are. Why do I know this? Because I wanted to see the temperature data that they used, so I went hunting.

The paper implies that the temperature data is very noisy, but that they were able to extract a signal anyway. The raw data should be provided in the supplementary material, so that people could attempt to replicate/verify this essential finding. Of course, the raw data are no where to be found. So we have no way to check.

Personally, I'm tired of "science" like this. If you're going to make a claim, put your damn data out there where anyone can see it. Raw data, a clear description of how you processed it, program code if you wrote a program. Otherwise, you're no better than the astrologist pontificating about the influence of Venus on your dog's love life.

about two weeks ago
top

Tesla Wants Texas Auto Sales Regulations Loosened

bradley13 Ah, auto dealer politics (137 comments)

I had a friend years ago whose family owned a dealership in Texas. More cutthroat politics are hard to imagine: among the dealerships, the car manufacturers and the government (local and state), some of it pretty clearly out-and-out corruption. Just as an example, they built a new showroom, but the building kept failing some inspection or other. The inspector would write up faults, they would fix them, he would write up new faults...eventually he lost patience and let it be known that the real problem was that he hadn't yet found a blank envelope filled with cash.

This is yet another industry deserving of some serious deregulation. There's no better way to put corrupt bureaucrats out of business.

about two weeks ago
top

I prefer my turkey ...

bradley13 With lots of dark meat? (189 comments)

Modern turkeys, like modern chickens, have been bred to have a huge amount of tasteless, white breast meat. This is in the mistaken belief that fats in meat are somehow bad for you. This has gone unquestions since by childhood (to many decades ago); only in the last few years have researchers started actually testing the common knowledge, and they are discovering that it is largely nonsense.

Last time I bought chicken, I specifically bought whole legs, no breast meat. Roast with the skin on, eat skin and meat together, yum! Last time my wife made chicken soup, she also skipped the breast meat, because it's basically tasteless. Her soup actually tasted of chicken, instead of some anonymous vegetable broth.

So - if I were to eat a turkey, it would be the dark-meat pieces...

about three weeks ago
top

Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

bradley13 Barbarians inside the gates (1128 comments)

Obviously, none of us have access to all of the information available to the grand jury. I am also quite sure that they were aware of the gravity of the decision they made. It is a reasonable assumption that they made their decision very carefully.

But - here's the big news - even if the grand jury screwed up, we see the existence of a barbaric sub-culture that thinks the right response rioting and looting. The barbarians are inside the gates.

about three weeks ago
top

Multiple Manufacturers Push Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars, But Can They Catch Tesla?

bradley13 Clean energy? Ahem... (293 comments)

The first non-spam comment on the article: "Clean energy!" Right... That rather depends on where the hydrogen comes from. If it's made by cracking water with energy from coal power plants, well...

Hydrogen has potential, but the manufacturers have some big problems to solve. Accident safety with those high-pressure (700 atmosphere) tanks. Leakage - hydrogen is very difficult to contain. A fueling infrastructure - at least with electric vehicles, any plug will do in a pinch. Transport - if you have fueling stations, you have to get the hydrogen to them, which implies huge tanker trucks with accordingly magnified safety issues.

Those may not be insurmountable issues, but they sure aren't easy...

about a month ago
top

It's Not Developers Slowing Things Down, It's the Process

bradley13 Experiences as a manager... (186 comments)

I've done my time as a technical project manager. I can't say I enjoyed it, but someone had to do it, namely protect the developers from upper management so that they could actually get their work done. One thing it taught me was to plan around 30% of the project time on the requirements. That still seems insane to me, but that's what it takes. That was my time, working with upper management, documenting things, listening to them waffle, and generally refusing to hand anything to the developers until I had a firm set of requirements, signed off in blood.

When they would then immediately try to change. So during the implementation phase, the two challenges were (a) refusing to accept needless change requests, and (b) having to literally forbid upper management from talking to my developers directly, because they would direct them to make changes that I had already rejected. That latter led to quite a stressful little showdown :-/

FWIW: small companies are a lot easier to deal with than large companies. They have fewer managers and less time to waste on endless meetings. Usually you have a small group of people who really need to be elsewhere, so you can reach decisions fairly quickly. With large companies, there are apparently endless numbers of middle-management drones who want to put their oar in - or maybe they just want the coffee and donuts.

So: 30% requirements, 30% QA/Testing, and 40% development - that's about how the work hours broke down. Calendar time was different, with the requirements phase sometimes taking many months even for relatively simple things that were developed in just a few weeks.

about a month ago
top

Russia May Be Planning National Space Station To Replace ISS

bradley13 What's it good for? (236 comments)

I am totally pro-space, but I just do not understand the ISS. It is hugely expensive to keep and feed crews. And yet, the human habitation makes whole classes of experiments difficult or impossible, due to the atmosphere, the vibrations from movement, etc..

Where human presence could be useful: if we were actually building a space infrastructure. Capture some asteroids, use them for raw material, and build a base to use to get to the rest of the solar system. While lots of construction tasks can be automated, human intervention will occasionally be necessary. But we aren't doing that.

So, what exactly is the point of manned space stations? Is it really worth it? Or would the money, time and effort be better invested in some other types of space activity - automated experimental stations, or - let's dream - building a "real" base in space?

about a month ago
top

US Gov't Seeks To Keep Megaupload Assets Because Kim Dotcom Is a Fugitive

bradley13 Business as usual for US justice (173 comments)

Google "asset forfeiture" and weep.

Asset forfeiture is a standard trick in the bag of US justice. They take your assets, then you then have to prove your innocence to get them back. The fact that this goes against the US Constitution, as well as international law? Irrelevant, I mean, what are you gonna do, call the police? When the police are the thieves, that's not very useful...

The US is a police state pretending to be a democracy. Lot's of people haven't been stepped on yet, so they can continue ignoring this unpleasant reality.

about a month ago
top

Duke: No Mercy For CS 201 Cheaters Who Don't Turn Selves In By Wednesday

bradley13 Ok, I am naive, but... (320 comments)

...as a student, and now as a teacher, I just don't get it. Why would you cheat?

I see students do this, and sometimes they do manage to weasel through lower level courses, if the instructors weren't paying attention. So they fail out of the program when they hit higher level courses, because they don't understand the basics. They've wasted maybe two years of their lives, plus a lot of money. If they cannot solve the exercises, if they cannot pass the early courses, there is just no point to dragging it out.

Ok, ok, I hear the excuses already: "I just didn't have time", "I was hung over", "my dog's pet goldfish died", whatever...

If they cannot understand the material well enough to do the assignments (or, perhaps, school just isn't their priority), they are in the wrong place. Everyone makes mistakes, and some people just pick the wrong major. Everyone - most especially the student - is better off if they realize this quickly and move on to something that they can actually succeed at.

about a month ago
top

How To End Online Harassment

bradley13 Defend the scoundrels (834 comments)

"The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all." — H. L. Mencken, US editor (1880 – 1956)

Really, that's it in a nutshell.

TFS says: "It is never appropriate to use slurs, metaphors, graphic negative imagery, or any other kind of language that plays on someone's gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion"

I will actually agree with that: it is inappropriate, as in, uncivilized, trollish behavior. And it absolutely must be tolerated, because freedom of expression is such a critical, fundamental right. Calls for silencing such boorish behavior are entirely misplaced.

about a month ago

Submissions

top

Censorship in the West

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Pussy Riot has highlighted censorship in Russia. With millions of news hits, the entire Internet now knows that speech in Russia will be suppressed with jail sentences.

In Scotland, a blogger finds it curious: A man by the name of Stephen Birrell has just been jailed for eight months, for posting "religiously prejudiced abuse" on a Facebook page. But you won't be able to find out many details, because the press shows no interest. For bonus points, the blogger claims that the few news items that do exist are not findable in search engines.

The blog mentioned above does overstate the case: If you enter "stephen birrell jailed", some news items do show up, but nowhere near the number that do for Pussy Riot. Still, isn't it ironic that the free-and-enlightened West is jailing people for "hate speech" at the same time that it criticizes Russia for much the same action?"

Link to Original Source
top

Choosing anonymous proxies

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "There are lots of anonymous proxies out there, and anyone concerned about their privacy probably uses one for at least some of their web-browsing.

The Megaupload story highlights the fact that having servers in the USA is not a great idea. There are also other countries one may not want to trust. Oddly, very few proxy services mention where their equipment is located.

What anonymous proxy services do members of the Slashdot community use? What criteria do you use to select them? How paranoid are you, and for what types of Internet usage?"
top

Gibson Guitar raided again

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Practically everyone has heard of Gibson Guitars. In 2009, they were raided by the feds, who impounded stacks of ebony wood under asset forfeiture laws. No charges have ever been filed.

Well, they're at it again — the feds have again impounded palettes of topical wood and guitars. The wood is clearly certified by FSC. The feds have given no explanation of their raid, but apparently there is some evidence that they are enforcing a law from the wood's country of origin (India), even though no complaint has been made by India or anyone else.

Gibson claims that the feds are bullying them, probably because they continue to fight the asset forfeiture from 2009. There are less favorable interpretations, having to do with jack-booted thugs..."

Link to Original Source
top

Simple email encryption - not possible?

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Like practically everyone on Slashdot, I often play "free consultant" for friends. The most recent inquiry: local law will soon require small companies that send accounting information electronically, to do so "securely". Many small businesses outsource their accounting; correspondingly, some accounting companies handle the accounts of dozens of small businesses. Lots of sensitive information is sent by email — which ought to be encrypted.

So my friend asked me — from the perspective of one of these accounting companies — how they can exchange encrypted email with their customers. The problem: businesses to small to handle their own accounts are certainly too small to have read IT — some cousin set up a couple of off-the-shelf computers. This means: the solution has to be (a) easy for a non-technical person to set up and (b) has to work with people who use Outlook, or Gmail, or whatever else their company happens to use.

By now, one might think that there would be point-and-click solutions to this sort of problem. But no — you need certificates, implementations are platform specific, set up requires IT expertise. About the best thing available seems to be PGP (but who wants to do business with Symantec? Anyway, when did they buy PGP — that is just sad).

Can easy-to-use, secure, cross-platform email encryption really still be an unsolved problem? What do other Slashdotters use?"
top

Do not show your ID when robbing a bank

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Combine a clever teller with, well, not the brightest bank robber. When poor Nathan went in to rob a bank, the teller told him she needed to see two forms of ID before she could give him the money. Nathan is now enjoying three hots and a cot."
Link to Original Source
top

Best Internet payment method for young teens?

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Many of us have kids in their young teens, who want to spend money on various Internet fripperies (browser games, etc.). Kids are too young to have their own credit cards (and that's probably not appropriate anyway), PayPal requires kids to be 18, etc. Yet it would be nice to give the kids some independence, so they don't always have to ask a parent to come and pay for them.

There are a few solutions, like Internet Cash, but the fees are pretty outrageous. What other solutions are out there? How do you handle Internet payments with your kids?"
top

RPost suits Swiss Post for secure email

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "RPost owns a pile of software patents around the idea of secure email delivery. They are not a patent troll — they actually do offer a secure email service. However, their patents are classic software patents — simply algorithms. There is nothing non-obvious about them — any competent practitioner would come up with these or very similar ideas. Here are the two patents being used as a basis for the suit: Patent 1 Patent 2

Yet another argument to get rid of software patents?"

Link to Original Source
top

Does GPS tracking violate the 4th amendment?

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 writes "Last year, college student Yasir Afifi discovered a GPS tracking device that had been attached to his car. After he discovered it, the FBi showed up and demanded that he hand it over. They told him that they would make his life difficult if he did not cooperate by giving the device back. The FBI had no warrant or court order allowing surveillance.

Now Yasar Afifi is filing suit, hoping to get a ruling that installing tracking devices without a warrant violates the fourth amendment. Unfortunately, his local federal district court is the 9th circuit, which has already decided two similar cases, coming down in favor of tracking.

The key part of the reasoning in the previous cases is this: "attaching the tracking device ... did not constitute a 'search' cognizable under the Fourth Amendment because '[t]he undercarriage is part of the car's exterior, and as such, is not afforded a reasonable expectation of privacy.'” Very strained reasoning indeed, since the point of the tracking device is not a search of the undercarriage, but rather a search of a person's movements."

Link to Original Source
top

Diagnosis of Tucson shooter

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "This article in the New York Times points out that Mr. Loughner, the person accused of shooting 19 people in Tucson, has shown increasing mental disturbances over the past few months, and offers this diagnosis: "the rambling, disconnected writings and videos he has left on the Web are consistent with the delusions produced by a psychotic illness like schizophrenia, which develops most often in the teens or 20s". If true, this means that all of the fans of political conspiracy theories will need to look elsewhere..."
Link to Original Source
top

"Configuring VMware" for the complete idiot

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Another virtualization question... On the side, I play "sys admin" for a micro-company of 3-4 employees. This company has an old VB6 application that they still support, and until now the old Visual Studio and all associated tools have remained installed on the two developers' systems. This summer, it's time to replace the computers, and — because of the numerous problems with running an ancient Visual Studio, Tools, etc. next to more modern versions — I want to create a VMware instance that can be loaded up on the two developer systems "as needed" to maintain the old software. One developer works mainly under Ubuntu, the other under Windows.

This VMware instance, once everything is in place, will access a VSS repository plus home directories across the network. I intend to have it revert-to-snapshop after every execution — it should be able to live on unchanged for years. I have used the free VMware server a couple of times, for example, to set up test instances of various SQL Server environments, but we're talking maybe 8 hours per year of time I spend with it. It's mostly called "accept the defaults and pray".

Could Slashdot experts provide a list of "tips for the complete idiot" on how to set up VMware server instances so that they perform well, and will continue to do so for the long term?"
top

Poll: How many lawsuits?

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Lots of users post legal questions, and we all know that sharks never bite lawyers. How many times have you involved in a suit
Never ever ever
I have been sued
I have sued someone
I've done both
I sued myself, just for fun
I am a lawyer — I sue for other people
My name is not "Sue""
top

The story of Windows version numbers

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Just a very nicely written summary of the history of Windows versions, from Windows 1.0 through Windows 6.1 (called, for reasons only Microsoft understands, Windows 7)

"...it is of course more complex than that, and I am going to attempt to explain it. Reading the rest of this post is unlikely to improve your life in any way, although it will teach you something about the mindset of Microsoft and/or that of nerds in general. Madness may lie at the end of it.""

Link to Original Source
top

Office 2007 vs Office 1997

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

bradley13 writes "In a paragraph near the bottom of Jerry Pournelle's latest mailbag, Doug McAllister gives his opinion that Office 2007 is not a notable improvement over Office 1997:

I have found nothing in Excel or Word 2007 that would justify an upgrade from the 1997 versions of these products. For the most part, they have arbitrarily moved things around and made it harder for me to get my work done. I bought them because the earlier versions are no longer available and I try to stay legal with my software.

This got me to thinking that Microsoft is bad for the economy. They offer new versions of products that have no real benefits. Instead, users spend millions of hours installing new versions and dealing with issues such as I have described with no productive benefit. Microsoft has spawned an upgrade industry that is a drag on productivity as far as I can see.

I have probably used every version of Microsoft Office since it's inception. I was very happy with Office 1997. Office 2003 was most memorable for discarding the well-indexed help system in Office 1997 and putting in with a pretty-but-useless replacement. Office 2007 brings the ribbon, which — despite using it for two years — I find mainly frustrating, since controls appear and disappear arbitrarily, for example, based on window width. If it were possible, I would frankly move the whole company back to Office 1997 in a flash.

What do others think? What significant improvements has Microsoft made to the Office suite in the past 10 years?"

Link to Original Source

Journals

bradley13 has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?