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Comments

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Selectively Reusing Bad Passwords Is Not a Bad Idea, Researchers Say

cyclomedia Passwords are bad (278 comments)

Just bad, every site has different rules, at least one I use restricts the length to something daft like 10 chars. The should at minimum print the requirements (must have uppercase, digits etc) next to the password box, because as soon as I get into the reset-password screen for the umpteenth time and read those requirements I remember which password I used on that site.

Doesn't change the fact that requiring users to somehow remember or securely store a bunch of random gibberish to do anything on any website is just a bad system. Don't blame the users for using post it notes or things like password123 when the SYSTEM is dumb.

about two weeks ago
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Century-Old Drug Reverses Signs of Autism In Mice

cyclomedia I need my pain (207 comments)

Kirk: Damn it, Bones, you're a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can't be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They're the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don't want my pain taken away! I need my pain!

about a month ago
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Amazon Dispute Now Making Movies Harder To Order

cyclomedia Now Wait - Indeed (210 comments)

Talk about first world problems, people can buy it on release day if they're so impatient

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Where's the Most Unusual Place You've Written a Program From?

cyclomedia My Job (310 comments)

Just my job, generally. They've no idea how to run a software business, think agile means throwing a constant stream of changing requirements and bugs at you until the minute before "go live" ... then they get annoyed at YOU for not being able to put out an emergency patch release within 24 horus (took me two weeks to track down and destroy a nasty bug, but that was my bad, apparently, not management for letting a piece of shit out the door). then there's finding out that our Prototype area of the system is being released to the public in a fortnight. Via a press release that one of our team happened to notice. And then there's the fact that despite my recommendations the manager decided the best platform was Silverlight with a VB backend. Oh and instead of using the .Net EntityFramework or in fact ANY standard components we'd write our own from scratch. Then be stuck with it for 3 years.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can Star Wars Episode VII Be Saved?

cyclomedia Re:painted into a corner... (403 comments)

If I ever get around to it I'm going to re-edit the entire of the 6 films into 2 films mirroring the style of KILL BILL. heck STAR WARS even has the same numbers of letters in the words and the cover can be luke + lightsaber instead of Uma. That way you only need 2 / 3 handy flashbacks from the prequels to get back story and you can miss out a load of ewok garbage too. Just got to try to make Part 2 less talky

about 2 months ago
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Your Old CD Collection Is Dying

cyclomedia Stick em in a flatbed scanner (329 comments)

Maybe an electron tunnelling high res scanner to take a photo of the data layer. Then write software to "read" the disc and archive the ISO. Simple

about 2 months ago
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Yep, People Are Still Using '123456' and 'Password' As Passwords In 2014

cyclomedia Re:Password Evolution (276 comments)

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"

Developers should stop creating password based systems and think of something else.

about 6 months ago
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'Eraser' Law Will Let California Kids Scrub Online Past

cyclomedia Re:Not as stupid as it sounds (266 comments)

or the human race itself could grow up, and we could collectively acknowledge that we ALL did and said stuff when we were younger that on reflection probably wasn't that wise. It's like we're all living under a single big fat lie

When everyone's bad deeds and naked photos are on the internet, noone will care.

Guess that would put a bunch of tabloid newspapers out of business though.

about 10 months ago
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The Most WTF-y Programming Languages

cyclomedia Re:Visual Basic (254 comments)

I grew up in C, C++, Java and - for £income purposes - trained up in c# .Net ... but 5 years ago I moved into a vb.net shop and you know what, I actually quite like it now, the feature set is 99.99% on parity with C# and i actually LIKE that it's in english, in C# we have obscure words like virtual & abstract while the VB equivalents are overridable & mustinherit .

I think part of the hate against VB (shocking pre .net days aside) is snobbery from people who consider themselves "proper" programmers who think that if the code is too to understand they'll loose their hard earned super-clever status

it's like programming languages are deliberately designed to use obscure terms, syntax, symbols and squiggly characters for no reason other than to obfuscate it from puny humans

about 10 months ago
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Neurologists Shine Light On Near-Death Experiences

cyclomedia Re:Out of Body? (351 comments)

Alternately while in the near-dead state they can still HEAR and their evidence is accurate based on that.

about a year ago
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Hollywood's Love of Analytics Couldn't Prevent Six Massive Blockbuster Flops

cyclomedia Re:Better plots? (1029 comments)

Like ignoring the mainstream/chart music industry and supporting local/DIY live bands, musicians, DJs & poets?

In my experience people get terrified at the thought of paying circa £3 to go see a handful of acts that they've never heard of. They'd much rather stay in their comfort zone than risk actually liking something that Big Media hasn't pre-approved for them. Fucking sheeple.

1 year,5 days
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How Old Is the Average Country?

cyclomedia Re: If it makes you sleep well at night.... (375 comments)

OT: My other half is a music/arty promoter type person and last year she was at Edinburgh Fringe chatting with someone who does a similar job in the US. She was telling this person about a recent gigs she'd put on in an Arts centre, a converted medieval church. ~Said person remarked words to the effect "Holy crap, your venue is older than my country!"

1 year,23 days
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Things That Scare the Bejeezus Out of Programmers

cyclomedia Re:Changing requirements mid project (641 comments)

This. One of these represents where I currently work, one of them represents when I was self employed, guess which one is which:

1:
Monday: Dev team commences work on todo list, Customer commences testing and evaluation of latest build
Friday: Latest build given to Customer for evaluation. Bugs and new-feature-requests given to dev team
Notes: Dev team happy. Customer happy watching progress as project continues. Project delivered on time.

2:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesay, Thursday: Bugs & new features are constantly delivered to dev team, all of which expected to be delivered by Thursday.
Friday: Build probably doesn’t happen because a new feature was dreamt up Thursday morning and half of dev team is scrambling to get it in place, and then it’s buggy anyway
Notes: Dev team under constant pressure to deliver ASAP, stressed, mistakes and bugs creep in. Customer continues to want to see shiney new idea #743 yesterday.

1 year,25 days
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Ben Heck's Plan To Make Gaming Open To All

cyclomedia Been waiting 20 years for this controller (33 comments)

Have always wanted to hack apart the PSx controller and swap the D pad and main buttons. Envisioned calling it the Leftpad or somesuch.

1 year,26 days
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UK Town of Ipswich Remodelled As Zelda Level

cyclomedia Re:Uh (53 comments)

Ah, slashdot, clearly you read the headline but not the summary

about a year ago
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Xbox One: No Always-Online Requirement, But Needs To Phone Home

cyclomedia Re:Can i please have two? (395 comments)

You go on holiday to remote places, and take a games console? Next time take a book instead. Disconnect!

about a year ago
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IEEE Launches 400G Ethernet Standards Process

cyclomedia Re:And nothing of value was added (94 comments)

And next up is lossless. FLAC and PNG already have it covered for audio and photo but personally I'm itching for lossless video all the way from camera to eyeball and every transcoding, editing, transmitting and storage step in between. In 8k.

about a year ago

Submissions

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Website Emulates Amiga OS

cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  about 5 months ago

cyclomedia (882859) writes "The Decibel Kid — the "AudioVisual Artist" responsible for last summer's Ipswich Zelda Map — has unveiled his new website. Modelled on Amiga OS it supports chaning the wallpaper, window dragging, resizing, minimising and that z-index shuffle button too. The mobile site is a completely different beast, modelling itself as a low-res LCD display."
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Sneakers Movie Remixxed as electronica tune

cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  about 9 months ago

cyclomedia (882859) writes "The Decibel Kid — The artist responsible for this summer's Ipswich Zelda Map — has released a music video comprised of elements of the 1992 film Sneakers, combing electronic dance music with film geekery AND computer geekery: The software used is a MIDI controlled "video sampler" he coded himself using (brace yourselves) C#.Net and DirectX, allowing on the fly triggering and looping. A little info on the inner workings of the software can be gleamed from this early demo video on YouTube"
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How to manage development when requirements change but deadlines do not?

cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  1 year,18 days

cyclomedia (882859) writes "Over a number of years my company has managed to slowly shift from a free for all (pick a developer at random and get them to do what you want) to something resembling Agile development with weekly builds. But we still have to deal with constant incoming feature changes and requests that are expected to be included in this week's package. The upshot is that builds are usually late, not properly tested and developers get the flak when things go wrong. I suspect the answer is political but how do we make things better? One idea I had was that every time a new request comes in — no matter how small — the build gets pushed back by 24 or even 48 hours. I'd love to hear your ideas or success stories. (Unfortunately quitting is not an option)"
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UK town of Ipswich remodelled as Zelda level

cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  about a year ago

cyclomedia (882859) writes "Switch Fringe is a relatively new not-for-profit annual music and arts festival in the UK town of Ipswich, and this year's programme features a full page map of the town with details about each venue. Unlike most other maps this one is in the form of a Zelda level. This is in part due to this year's theme "Reimagining Ipswich", that PixelH8 is coming out of semi-retirement to play a gig during the preceedings and possibly due to the fact that the map's designer — The Decibel Kid — spent too much time playing Zelda on a Gameboy Color during the first Web bubble."
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How do I sell my software project?

cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 2 years ago

cyclomedia (882859) writes "Over the past four years I've been developing a piece of software, it's related to web development and MS ASP.Net and does wonderful things like, for example output HTML5 if the users browser supports it, or HTML4 + javascript if not when creating a date input. It's a lightweight, fast, flexible framework that basically throws out all the crap and bloat that ASP.Net normally forces on you and it's been used by a good handful of websites. But I'm moving away from web contracting into music (including writing interesting software where appropriate). I could GPL it, but can't be bothered with the ongoing support that that entails. Ideally I'd want to spend a couple of months cleaning up the code and documenting it properly and then sell it as a bit of tech. Not for billions, probably for enough money to buy some boxen with buttons on for making noise. Aside from ebay, what are slashdotters recommendations?"
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BBC Trust gives Project Canvas the green light

cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 4 years ago

cyclomedia (882859) writes "After what seems like an age the BBC Trust — the semi-independent body that decides what the Beeb is and isn't allowed to splash cash on — has finally given the thumbs up to the Project Canvas, er, Project. Naturally the Murdoch Empire is not too keen on an open, level playing field for internet TV as it has the potential to remove the need for the middlemen content distributors, and therefore cash from his pockets. No one is entirely sure what it is, even wikipedia only knows the rough outline. Essentially it's going to be an open IPTV standard that set top boxes and digital TVs are expected to support. Though I'm not sure what they need £120,000,000 for when we already have Media RSS."
Link to Original Source
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The Hovercraft is 50 years old today

cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 5 years ago

cyclomedia writes "Fifty years ago today Christopher Cockerell created the first prototype of a practical hovercraft on a sunday afternoon in his kitchen using two tins, some kitchen scales and an air blower. The hovercraft went on to be the trendy new mode of transport through the sixties but remains in little use today except in military and coastguard applications, where being able to cross marshes, ice and boggy terrain is needed. Indeed the US military still maintains a fleet of some 80 tank carrying hovercraft for just this purpopse."
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Looking for home LDAP + mail server advice

cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 5 years ago

cyclomedia writes "I've got a new laptop and so have the old one spare, which combined with a pair of new hard drives (main + backup) means I finally have the hardware I need to run a home server with a nice low power, heat and noise footprint. I'd like it to run LDAP so I can centralise user accounts and Fetchmail tied into an IMAP + webmail server so our email is centralised too (IMAP when home, webmail when out). The OSs on my LAN include Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, XBMC, Win XP, Win 2000 and Windows Mobile and I would love them to all work with the LDAP. I've done minimal research and am thinking OpenSUSE running OpenLDAP and Open Xchange — though I have no clue about each OS's compatibility with the former and would prefere something lightweight like Bongo for the latter (but it's far from stable). Before I end up installing a massive enterprise solution for a 4 person LAN I'd like to ask slashdotters to share their experience and advice on this sort of set up. So, slashdotters, could you share any experiences or advice you have on this sort of set up?"
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Home NAS + LDAP + POP OSS Solution?

cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 4 years ago

cyclomedia writes "At the moment my idea of a NAS box at home is a Win 2000 machine with a single share named "media", and i only switch it on whenever i plan to consume any of it. But like many slashdotters i dream of a "box under the stairs" that is always on and automatically, er, "acquires" TV shows as needed. However my evil plan keeps growing. Firstly i'd like it to do LDAP, so that i dont have to set up identical user+pass combos and permissions on each and every device that might want to play on my LAN. Secondly i'd also (at least the wife would) like it to somehow host our POP mailboxes, presumably by some cunning auto-pulldown from the external POP mailservers into its own IMAP setup. Is there anything that even does the latter? Hardware is not a problem, aside from needing it all to play along on one box, so standalone FreeNAS and OpenLDAP boxen are out of the picture. Clients are a mix of Windows 2k+XP, Ubuntu and OpenSuse Thoughts?"
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On the hunt for a cheap SubNoteBook

cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 6 years ago

cyclomedia writes "I'm looking to buy a subnotebook. For those who think that this form factor was created by the Asus EEE (As seemingly does wikipedia) it might interest you that the current forerunner in my search is a 190MHz,64MB,640x480 256 colour beastie known as the Psion Netbook circa 2001-ish. Basically i have a desktop, a server and an xbox and so truly only want it for surfing, email and the odd bit of SSHing home on weekends away. The aforementioned Psion is, however, of the StrongArm processor variety, which nudges it down on the desireability meter, but the fact that there exist wifi cards for it's 16-bit PCMCIA slot does score it extra points. So, anyone here got any suggestions of what to look out for on ebay? So long as I can play Doom II on it too... that is."
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Blocking "phone home" software at the fire

cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 6 years ago

cyclomedia writes "Seems that over the past couple of years more and more software is found to be phoning home on it's users, whether it's the innocent looking "checking for new versions" thread now found in most apps or good ole MS WGA. So, having a NATing router between me and the interweb what ports and addresses could/should I be blocking? Googling has so far brought up few clues but ultimately I'm not shy of killing *.microsoft.com to every windows box if absolutely necessary."
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cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 7 years ago

cyclomedia writes "I've been dedicating a little of my Nerd Time to devising a strategy board game, pitched somewhere between Checkers and Chess but probably not as deceptively complex as Go. The next step in my plan is to see if I can actually create a prototype made of coins, stickers and cardboard and to attempt to teach the rules to my wife (Trek fan, hence the marriage). If I get past that stage ok then what do i do? Presumably I can't just show up at Hasbro with my jerry rigged setup and expect an enthusiastic response. Without giving too much away I can tell you that there's a nerd factor within the game itself, possibly leaning the possibility of marketing towards the Games Workshop end of the spectrum, but without the 80-sided dice and Orcs."
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cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 7 years ago

cyclomedia writes "One blogger who recently visited MS (including many others, all of whom had mac laptops) for a Q&A session with Bill Gates quotes his apparent stance on DRM. Gate's apparently agreed that DRM "causes too much pain for legitmate buyers" and suggested that "People should just buy a cd and rip it.".

Gates has previously gone on record stating that the presence of DRM in windows is actually out of consumer interest, saying that "if there's content that can only be there if it's rights protected, we want to be able to have that content available to you.". Which is a variation on the please-don't-shoot-the-messenger theme."
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cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 7 years ago

cyclomedia (882859) writes "This has been thrown around occasionaly on slashdot in the past and here's my fleshing out of the idea.

- first, start pre production soonish but hold off a few years, bring it out on the 25th anniversary of TNG.

- second, give them a decent ship that looks mean and doesnt have a barber shop onboard. preferably something akin to the sleek and fast-as-a-bastard Exelsior class

- third, show some of the dark side of the federation, TNG and DS9 occasionally allowed us a peek into dimly lit bars, spaceports and mercenary cargo ships, sure you don't need to go all the way to firefly extremes, we want it to be trek afterall

- fourth, give them a proper mission, or three over the course of the series' run, sure have monster-of-the-week episodes to get people interested but also expand on the DS9 theory of an overall plot (but at least decide in the first place what it is).

- finally, install a now older, wiser, and not at all anoying: Captain Wesley Crusher

Here's how i see it playing out in my geek brain, it just needs a few, er, important blanks filling in. the first half of the double-length pilot will see a retiring admiral picard meet up with Crusher at his ben kenobe style hut on some rocky planet somewhere. For $REASON (to do with his experiences gained whilst off with The Traveller perhaps?) starfleet have sent picard to get Crusher on board for $MISSION. They go off somewhere and get stuck up a mountain and after a reversal of fortune on TNG's "Final Mission" with picard helping him out crusher realises he now owes the old boy a favour. so he agrees to go along back to starfleet to check it out. Picard cheekily flies by the shiney new ship to bait Crusher along. and after having dinner with his mum, probably, Crusher takes on the job under certain conditions, especially that he wants a couple of his own guys on the crew (who specialise in Tactical and $SOMETHINGELSE), but not in a Maquis-on-Voyager-oh-dont-we-all-get-along-nicely- after-all way, more like Garak-and-Odo-on-Defiant way, not in uniform, not technically starfleet but under Crusher's command nontheless. For the hell of it you could throw in a bunch of rowdy often drunk klingons, instead of bloody vulcans. Crusher, being a kick ass pilot and engineering wizz will also not be entirely liked by the crew: the sexy assed Youngish ensign girl who he keeps supplanting so he can steer the ship himself (though they end up finally getting it on eventually, probably), his first officer, who's pissed that this guy just got handed a captaincy and he was overlooked despite years of butt licking and the Chief Engineer, because crusher's not only always interfering but also crashing into things.

Set them off on their $Mission, and let battle commence!"
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cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 7 years ago

cyclomedia writes "TheOneRing.Net has a new scoop on the ongoing Hobbit Movie saga, sourced from elbenwald.de. Apparently the rights to make the Hobbit film fall back to Saul Zaentz "next year". He claims that, under their stewardship, The Hobbit will "definitely be shot by Peter Jackson". For the whippersnappers amongst you: Mr. Zaentz is the head honcho of Tolkein Enterprises, which originally acquired exclusive rights to productions of the LOTR and Hobbit material in 1976, prior to overseeing the Bakshi animated version of LOTR."
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cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 7 years ago

cyclomedia writes "I've been thinking about this for a while now, and a recent article posturing about Web 3.0 brought forward some other peoples' suggestions in the form of what should be next. Everyone here knows that HTML, Javascript and HTTPRequest are not the tools for building feature-rich interactive networked applications, but that doesn't stop Google, Microsoft and others from trying their damndest to use them to build office suites and such like. As one project that puts itself forward puts it: we need to replace the Document Browser with an Application Browser. So my question, intended to get the ball rolling, is: What type of platform would you like to see delivering the "true" Web 2.0 in the not too distant future?"
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cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 7 years ago

cyclomedia writes "In a glorious moment of web standards cooperation, not to mention months of revisions and mailing list debate the WHATWG Web Forms 2 draft has been accepted by, and published at the W3C. This comes over a year since the WHATWG asked for "final" comments on the spec so it's taken some time to iron out the creases.

The past month has also seen the start of an official Gecko drive to impliment the spec, possibly in time for the 1.10 release. Though bits and pieces have already been filtering into the source such as the much debated "ping" attribute. Opera already has a head start on the Mozilla camp touting Web Forms 2 support in it's 9.0 release."

Journals

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How we can topple big media - and it's not YouTube

cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  about 6 years ago

Recent efforts by the RIAA, MPAA and now TV studios to throttle, take down and demonise "file sharing" are seen by plenty of us around here as less of a Copyright battle and more of a fight to retain both their business models and their top-down control over customers and artists.

What we, as an internet community, need to do - and before the cartels get the legal footing to reimage the 'net into a good old fashioned Corporate to Customer "one way street" of content - is take charge. The content needs to be freed, it needs to be available to the masses but not via a torrent client scripted to monitor an RSS feed but rather via any regular set-top box (STB). Most importantly however, it needs to be legal, and it needs to be somewhat better than YouTube quality.

And this is how...

Firstly we need a standard, open and easily implementable set of formats for Audio, Video and Image content. They may not all be patent-free (yet) but it might be a start if these could be H.264, OGG Vorbis and PNG respectively. The latter can also be used for Thumbnails in the feeds which is the next step.

Secondly we need a network of interlinked channels of content, in that a channel can contain any type of content, or links to other channels, with descriptions and thumbnails. As the content will be in standard formats these channels can be direct (or distributed) download links, rather than forcing everyone to stream. There already exists a channel syndication format, it's called MRSS. Again, it might not be perfect, but it's a start.

Thirdly this needs to be packaged together in one lump of a spec, centrally coordinated in something akin to the w3c but open to all to implement. Now anyone making a set-top box with a network connection will be able to allow their users to surf and watch content. STBs with hard disks will be able to pre-fetch new content from bookmarked feeds whilst their owners are on holiday. Geeks with file servers under the stairs will be able to centrally store it and view or listen to it from any device in the house. XBMC will be able to fold it into their kernel, and there will be no geographical limits, no DRM and no central control. Everyone will be able to link to everyone else's feeds and content, creating their own Channels, and this is where step four comes into play.

The fourth step sees the level of user-created content rise above that of YouTube, yes fun and funky home videos will exist on this new media-web but the ease with which anyone will be able to mashup their own channels will act as a filter. If a large site dedicated to SCI-FI hosts their own channel then it may be that they pick up and "syndicate" the high-quality SCI-FI shows that are out there. Imagine surfing your channels one night and finding a new episode of Star Trek : Phase II in 720i ready to roll. This cross-linking, big-site hosting and blogging is what will allow the quality content to rise to the attention of the masses without it being lost in the noise of everything else. Just open your "This Week's New Sci-Fi" bookmark, hit "Play All" and your Saturday night telly is sorted!

Fifthly - the legal standpoint - if these feeds are full of LOST_S04E01_480p_LOL.avi links then we'll be missing the whole point of the exercise - wresting control from big media into our own hands. The above filtering will cure some of that: if the big sites only link to legal content. The key is to start it out hosting Creative Commons content (without mandating it), so you'll be able to listen to a couple of Nine Inch Nails albums and a whole bunch of stuff you've never heard of. Of course this author relishes that idea but the unwashed masses have their existing comfort zones, this is something only pressure and time can overcome. One way may ahead could be that home-brew "radio" stations will take off, playing content they themselves have sourced from the feeds as well as supporting themselves via ads. There will be no licensing fees to pay to the cartels because they won't own any of the content. But once one or six "stations" become popular the nervous users will have that comfort zone of being told what's good!

Ultimately all online content could shift to this model, be it my own dodgy homegrown breakbeat techno (3 CDs full) from the mid 90s to the next Blair Witch Project. And once that shift is in full swing - and the whole thing is legal and available anywhere to anyone with a connected PC, Laptop, Mobile, TV or Toaster - then big media will have no choice but to compete on our terms.

They will not be able to force DRM, streaming or geographical limits (though nothing would stop them from hosting different editions on their .com and .co.uk servers, physical IP-blocking aside) but they will still be able to exclusively host their own content and even hold off switching on their download for America's Got Sandwiches until exactly 8pm on Saturday night if they like.

They will be able to embed adverts into their audio and video and this will work in their favour - no one will bother torrenting an ad free version if the legal and ad-embedded version is already their on their TV at the click of a button. We can even allow the MRSS-like feed spec to embed links to "Buy the plastic disc edition exclusively from our online store" or "Visit our merchandise store for concert tickets and exclusive must have hand bags" right alongside their feed if that will help them get on board.

At the moment we don't have a coordinated, easy to consume free media distribution system online. There's content embedded in web pages, streaming via flash applets, downloadable via http and ftp. There are Creative Commons searches and archives, there are torrents and there are even plastic disc editions. There are also a plethora of Miros, iPlayers and codecs galore. But if instead of containing the access to the content in one application for one or two OS's we make the publication of the content an open, accessible and Really Simple Syndication system for Media we can make it so that Joe Sixpack doesn't have to get off his sofa to watch it - or spend hundreds of dollars on a HTPC instead of a few tens on a simple STB.

If we can do the above - and keep it legal - the cartels won't be able to attack it and that's when the revolution will begin.

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How the internet killed the space age

cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Disclaimer: This theory came to me at about four in the morning, whilst emptying my 2 year old daughter's potty. I was obviously in some kind of semi awake lucid state. Anyway I've done zero research on any of the following ramblings, you've been warned...

The space race had it's origins in the Cold War of the mid twentieth century. The Russians had stolen a march on the USA with their orbital flights so the USA chose to aim higher; for the moon. This is all well known history but what happened to the space age that this foreshadowed? Instead of commercial interests the globe over jumping on the technology and propelling our species around the solar system only a handful of launch companies and satellite specialists popped up and, well, that's been about it until the X Prize came along about four decades later.

Correlation does not Causation make, but around the time the space age was peaking the information age was beginning. And when the fizz died down during the 70s and Apollo gave way to the Shuttle program the Micro Computer started to take over the world, leading to the global connectivity and desktop computing. The common meme is that as of the birth of the 21st Century the family car's onboard computer has more processing power than an Apollo lander.

Having no (nearby) interstellar neighbours to study we only have one emergent species to track, ourselves. But if there's a standard model for said emergence what order would these two steps take? The Bronze and Iron ages lead to each other through incremental technological capability. But what, ideally, would the Industrial Age lead to? (Excepting the SteamPunk fork, which might have been fun.) The required technologies of the Space and Information ages only overlap slightly, as demonstrated by the aforementioned Apollo vs Car meme, and satellite communication technology largely remained analogue until the Information age overtook it.

One indicator of what killed the space age can probably be found in an analysis of where the money is. Imagine the combined revenue of IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Google - amongst many more over the years - been invested into the space age. What would our world be like now instead? Would we still have the internet or would we have exchanged that for a permanently manned base on Mars? Interestingly without a Moore-driven technological explosion the Chunky Buttoned Star Trek future predicted at the time probably wouldn't be too wide of the mark.

Our largest clue is that the space age was very obviously invoked by the cold war, and earlier than the Internet's goal of being a nuclear-proof network. It's also easy to theorise that without this superpower tension the Information age might have evolved more directly from the Industrial age, with it's drive to quicker, better and more efficient production goals. So one way of looking at it is that we're behind in that regard, that the space race was a decade or two long distraction from our natural technological progression. And that the "correct" emergence path therefore is one of Industrial, Information and then Space. If that's the case then we as a species probably got it a bit backwards but we are human, after all.

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Star Trek : TNNG , let the debate begin!

cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 7 years ago

This has been thrown around occasionaly on slashdot in the past and here's my fleshing out of the idea.

- first, start pre production soonish but hold off a few years, bring it out on the 25th anniversary of TNG.

- second, give them a decent ship that looks mean and doesnt have a barber shop onboard. preferably something akin to the sleek and fast-as-a-bastard Exelsior class

- third, show some of the dark side of the federation, TNG and DS9 occasionally allowed us a peek into dimly lit bars, spaceports and mercenary cargo ships, sure you don't need to go all the way to firefly extremes, we want it to be trek afterall

- fourth, give them a proper mission, or three over the course of the series' run, sure have monster-of-the-week episodes to get people interested but also expand on the DS9 theory of an overall plot (but at least decide in the first place what it is).

- finally, install a now older, wiser, and not at all anoying: Captain Wesley Crusher

Here's how i see it playing out in my geek brain, it just needs a few, er, important blanks filling in. the first half of the double-length pilot will see a retiring admiral picard meet up with Crusher at his ben kenobe style hut on some rocky planet somewhere. For $REASON (to do with his experiences gained whilst off with The Traveller perhaps?) starfleet have sent picard to get Crusher on board for $MISSION. They go off somewhere and get stuck up a mountain and after a reversal of fortune on TNG's "Final Mission" with picard helping him out crusher realises he now owes the old boy a favour. so he agrees to go along back to starfleet to check it out. Picard cheekily flies by the shiney new ship to bait Crusher along. and after having dinner with his mum, probably, Crusher takes on the job under certain conditions, especially that he wants a couple of his own guys on the crew (who specialise in Tactical and $SOMETHINGELSE), but not in a Maquis-on-Voyager-oh-dont-we-all-get-along-nicely-after-all way, more like Garak-and-Odo-on-Defiant way, not in uniform, not technically starfleet but under Crusher's command nontheless. For the hell of it you could throw in a bunch of rowdy often drunk klingons, instead of bloody vulcans. Crusher, being a kick ass pilot and engineering wizz will also not be entirely liked by the crew: the sexy assed Youngish ensign girl who he keeps supplanting so he can steer the ship himself (though they end up finally getting it on eventually, probably), his first officer, who's pissed that this guy just got handed a captaincy and he was overlooked despite years of butt licking and the Chief Engineer, because crusher's not only always interfering but also crashing into things.

Set them off on their $Mission, and let battle commence!

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"secret amazon logging revealed"

cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 8 years ago

...was the title of a news story on bbc cefax's sci/tech pages at the weekend, but i didnt catch it at first so waited 5 minutes for it to come aroung, only to find out that it was about people cutting trees down in brazil.

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cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 8 years ago all files given unique id (local to system). could be based on time file was first created in milliseconds or a counter that starts from a random offset (so that os files arent in predictable locations)

database layout:

file_id = unique id, used by all filesystem operations, shortcuts and link tables
name = name
description = long description
type = type: e.g. "audio/mp3" (this replaces the file extension)
meta = descriptor: audio
flags = read/write/drm etc
binary = the file's binary data
->depends = link table of files that this file needs
->dependant = link table of files that need this file
etc.

files in this system no longer have a physical location, they can be mapped to by any means. different users could "see" the filesystem any way they wish:

the windows "my documents" folder would not be a folder but a query or link table, the technicalities of this hidden from the casual user.

mp3 files could be listed by artist, genre, decade etc. and playlists could simply be link tables. all of these could be represented in the GUI much like standard folders are now: a user creates a "folder" and drag-drops files into it to create "shortcuts" to the original. the database spec itself would be internally extensible, mp3 files can have artist,title,albumn,mix,length,bpm,etc set but a track appearing on an albumn and a compilation would need duplicate entries, forcing a fully relational setup. indeed mp3 files would no longer have one name to refer by no more "jimi_hendrix_experience_are_you_experienced_track_01.mp3"!

a linux config file could be simultaneously found in //etc/config and //programs/myprogram/config for example, different runlevel configs could also be seperated this way. uninstalling a program would involve removing all it's dependancies (tracked via a link table); if a dll file has no dependant links, then it is safe for deletion. if a program attempts to install a dll file that is identical to one on the system a copy is not made, only the links are updated, the program installer need not know if this has happened.

seamless network integration, if my brother's pc has a bunch of mp3 files on it and we're on the same network our mp3 lists and queries would appear as one, good gui design would show the distinction between local and external files (e.g. different color) and options to create a local copy would appear under the context/right-click menu. with (buildable) options for getting all-by-artist all-by-album all-in-this-or-that-playlist etc. files that are identical but exist on both could be shown normally or have another color, user definable!

once we get away from the rigidist tree-and-leaf thinking of filesystem and network layout then there's a lot that we can do (and not just sort our mp3s and holiday photos)

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Suggested new OS FS permissions/security model

cyclomedia cyclomedia writes  |  more than 8 years ago Being a web developer I'm used to having my sites live in virtual server directories. The basic permissions of which are set by the administrator (read/write/execute) etc. But the fundamental restriction in place by default is one where i cannot write or modify a file anywhere above my virtual root directory. regardless of it's physical location on the server.

this imposed glass ceiling could be stretched to program permissions across an OS. Imagine a mail client called Origami Email (OE) (c:\programs\oe) that had a vulnerability exploited by a malicious email. the best the incoming worm could hope to achieve is the modification of the files in the directory it resides (c:\programs\oe\emails) or any sub directories (c:\programs\oe\emails\archive) but not it's parent or an adjoining branch. i.e. the OS core and other programs would be wholly inaccessible to it. all that needs to be done is to have the file system know where the code accessing it originates and act accordingly.

Issues are now raised when it comes to usability, if PhotoEdit lives in c:\programs\photoedit it wont be able to get to c:\documents to open or save photos! So the default permissions would set c:\documents to a DMZ (enabling aforementioned worm to stomp all over it if it wished, obviously) and applications could have run-time set permissions much like web certificates, "always allow" "this time only" etc. so a more secure setup would allow PhotoEdit full access to c:\documents but only after the user first tried to use it and clicked "always allow".

Allowing any executable access to the whole file system upon a simple request is an outdated methodology. OS's should instead move away from hacked together "system folder" traps and towards a more "top down" approach. This is also simpler than a firewall type approach to FS tech as the OS root is fundamentally protected "out of the box" by being on a different branch of the FS tree. And a mounted virtual directory approach could also be included, the net could be easily firewalled by having the tcp/ip stack a root mount (c:\tcpip) with programs reading and writing to it as they would a file (c:\tcpip\http\www.slashdot.org\journal.pl)

It doesnt take too much imagination to then extend this approach into ram, where programs reside and what address space they can influence should directly mirror their position in the FS. Therefore also removing the ability for malicious programs to subvert the FS protection by jumpimg address space into a region with full FS write/execute permission

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