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Comments

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Paper Microscope Magnifies Objects 2100 Times and Costs Less Than $1

drdread66 This would be a lot more fun... (89 comments)

...if they open-sourced the design or at least just let me download a PDF so I could print one and make it at home. As the FAQ says, however, "Foldscope is not yet commercially available."

This, of course, makes me wonder why this needs to be commercial at all...

about 4 months ago
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Government Lab Uses Smartphones To Measure Gamma Ray Exposure

drdread66 Seems like a small detector assist is in order (105 comments)

There are lots of ways of detecting gamma rays, but one really common way is through scintillation and/or fluorescence. Most common scintillators are small blocks of plastic. I'm thinking you could increase the sensitivity of the smartphone gamma system by simply taping a small piece of plexiglass to the outside of the camera lens, using plain old black electrical tape. Then the plexiglass would convert some of the gamma energy to visible light and the camera sensor would do the rest.

Total cost? Probably around $0.05 total.

about 7 months ago
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US Requirement For Software Dev Certification Raises Questions

drdread66 Re:CMMI is a scam (228 comments)

So here's the part the press doesn't cover thoroughly: CGI Federal was not the Prime or Lead System Integrator on this contract. We had no authority to issue orders or assert requirements on any other contractor. Sure, CGI made some mistakes, but we can't be responsible for the other contractors when we have no contractual relationship with them!

Testing, in particular, was something CMS reserved for themselves to manage as the LSI on the program.

Again, I don't work for the CGI division that had the contract, but I do read newspapers and follow the internal chatter on this sort of thing, so I'm pretty well "up" on CGI's experiences on this project.

about 7 months ago
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US Requirement For Software Dev Certification Raises Questions

drdread66 Re:CMMI is a scam (228 comments)

Nice way to go fully orthogonal ad hominem while not addressing the actual subject at hand. Did you find your debate skills in a cereal box? Froot Loops, perhaps?

OK for the record: I wrote my first multi-thousand line program in 1978. I was 12 at the time. I hold a PhD in experimental nuclear physics, a PMP certification (project management), have forgotten the details of approximately 119 programming languages that I have learned over the decades (although for some reason, good old fashioned K&R C sticks with me like a bad habit), and don't bother with certifications until my employer wants me to get one for some reason or another, at which point I do what any professional does: I go buy the book, read up until I feel confident I can pass the exam on the first try, and then pound the exam into dust.

The PMP is one example; I had to get that to satisfy the company policies when they promoted me from Chief Engineer to manager of an entire operating division that numbered about 150 people. I took the mandated class and then the exam, out-scoring every single one of the multi-decade experienced program managers who were working for me when I took over the division. Then I went on to grow that division from $24M/yr to $35M/yr in 2 years, when the company split my division in half because it had gotten too big. Then I took the $20M piece and grew it to $35M again in another two years, at which point it was (again) the single largest division in the company.

So: you are demonstrably, provably wrong in your assumptions about what I know about software engineering, business management, and probably everything else you think you can guess about me based on a single post. You also clearly don't understand the complexities of CMMI, how a company earns such a certification, and what the implications and resulting process burdens are downstream of the cert.

Surprisingly, there is one nugget of half truth in the steaming torrent of verbal diarrhea that was your unprovoked attack. You said "Your business was fucked long before CMMI even if you couldn't recognize it." The truth is that there were things wrong with the company, but we were doing just fine overall. The problem is that CMMI added so much friction to the way we worked that the previously minor problems became huge ones. The fundamental mistake the company made was playing along with SEI's demand that we apply CMMI to the entire company rather than just the division that had the mandate to attain at least Level 3. That project was OK with taking 3 years to develop 50k lines of code, and was more than happy to see costs in the $5-10 per SLOC range. The average customer is not OK with those parameters. Incidentally, the project in question was ultimately canceled (not just our part, but the entire acquisition), with sunk costs so high that it makes the taxpayer in me weep like a baby who just dropped the ice cream ball out of the cone. But we made every deadline, met every cost target, and hit every defect density goal. Thank you, CMMI, for making our customer so happy with our performance that they gave us upwards of 97% of the maximum award fee (it was a CPAF contract) but making the overall project so expensive that even the US Congress choked on the bill and killed the thing.

Hey kid, running a software business requires much more than just disparaging other professionals whose skills and history you nothing about. You need to learn what you don't know, then get back to me about...

Oh let's just cut to the chase: go fuck yourself.

about 7 months ago
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US Requirement For Software Dev Certification Raises Questions

drdread66 Re:Proof! (228 comments)

CGI Federal didn't pick MarkLogic -- the Lead System Integrator (aka US govt) did that. I have great respect for MarkLogic and what it does, and know lots about the product...but if that had been my decision to make, ML would not have been my choice for this project.

FWIW, CGI in Canada is a substantially different organization than CGI Federal. We ("Federal") are a US corporation that operates under an SSA ("special security agreement") with the US govt in order to mitigate our FOCI ("Foreign Ownership, Control or Influence") situation. We are a wholly owned subsidiary of CGI Group aka the Canadian Mothership, but we have an all-US citizen board of directors and agreed-upon policies that limit how we interact with CGI group -- that's the SSA.

Full disclaimer: I am not authorized to speak on CGI's behalf, and don't work for the division that was involved with healthcare.gov. For the most part I only know what I read in the papers plus what I hear around the virtual water cooler. But I know a witch hunt when I see one, and that's what the Washington Post has been pursuing since 1 OCT 2013.

about 7 months ago
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US Requirement For Software Dev Certification Raises Questions

drdread66 Re:Proof! (228 comments)

Actually, CGI has some great talent in both engineering and project management. How do I know this? Because I have worked at CGI Federal for three years now. The company's track record of successful deliveries is enviable in the Federal space. I say this based on 10+ years of experience in US Govt software development and contracting.

Of course, none of this is relevant to the CMMI discussion. Bringing up the CGI bogeyman as a counter example to the value of CMMI is purely intellectual dishonesty and FUD-mongering.

Not defending CMMI (IMO it's completely worthless), but I *am* defending CGI.

about 7 months ago
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US Requirement For Software Dev Certification Raises Questions

drdread66 CMMI is a scam (228 comments)

In 2005, my employer at the time decided to go for CMMI level 3 because it was required by a govt customer for their project. Certification achieved. Then in 2007 my employer opted to shoot for the moon and go for CMMI level 5. Again, certification achieved.

Two years later I left the company, because it was clear that CMMI level 5 was going to kill the company. CMMI level 5 introduced a high level of bloat, inefficiency, process overhead, documentation requirements, and (worst of all) process rigidity and attempts yo manage the development process by statistical analysis. Our delivery times more than doubled. The cost of delivering projects more than tripled. And the Holy Grail of reduced defect density? Nary a sign of such improvement. As far as I could tell, there was -zero- impact on code quality.

Our customers started abandoning us, our reputation circled the bowl, and everyone who had any business sense left the place in droves. What was a $100M/yr contract software development house is now down to 1/4 of the staff and revenue it had in 2009, and I fully expect their parent company will close their doors this year.

I firmly believe that CMMI Level 5 killed that company.

about 7 months ago
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The Next Big Fiber Showdown: Austin

drdread66 As a long-time Austin resident... (230 comments)

I have a few observations to make.

1) "So what" that AT&T is only going to roll out this service to "tens of thousands of customer locations throughout Austin". Google is not promising to do anything more, with a plan to deploy it to select neighborhoods based on expressed interests from residents in those neighborhoods. The real question is whether AT&T tries to roll out AT&T fiber to the same neighborhoods or if they pick other neighborhoods. I would prefer the latter just so there's more high-speed coverage around the town.

2) I am currently a RoadRunner customer. RoadRunner sucks horribly, but AT&T's service sucked so much worse the last time I used it that I fired them as soon as I could. I'm not sure I would trust AT&T to make G-bit service work, given that they couldn't make dial-up or DSL work right in the past.

3) BRING IT ON! Competition is a good thing on all fronts. I also expect (hope?) to see other communications outfits (most notably Grande) try to get in the same game, which would be *great*.

I can't help but think of AT&T's announcement as a good thing...

about 10 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can We Still Trust FIPS?

drdread66 Re:TS is not SCI (138 comments)

I have no points to mod this up, but would if I did. This is dead on target, at least as far as how the military views this sort of thing. But do remember that TS and SCI are somewhat orthogonal; you can have SECRET/SCI and TS/collateral in addition to the more common SECRET/collateral and TS/SCI.

Also note that typically NSA is comfortable with encryption as long as they know how much effort is required to break it. The only way NSA will believe a difficulty estimate is if they actually break it. They don't like schemes that they don't know how to break because that means that they don't know for sure that other people have not broken it.

That said, if NSA approves it for use in the US government, it means that they probably believe that they are the only people on the planet who can break it.

about a year ago
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Saturn's Tidal Tugs Energize Enceladus' Icy Plumes

drdread66 Re:Maybe this is how the rings formed (27 comments)

That was sort of my point. If the plumes carry away water made liquid from the tidal heating ((even a little at a time), eventually Enceladus will "run out" of water and what's left will be solid non-water material. At that point it could fracture all the way through. Oh, and the water plumes will freeze quickly once they escape, creating ice crystals, a process which would add material to the rings as well.

Am I missing something?

1 year,1 day
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Saturn's Tidal Tugs Energize Enceladus' Icy Plumes

drdread66 Maybe this is how the rings formed (27 comments)

So tidal forces manipulate this moon enough to cause fissures to open, and stuff comes pouring out from underneath! Sounds like a fracture in progress to me, but one that hasn't torn the moon apart yet. It also sounds like there's some sort of elasticity in play; it's hard to imagine the self gravity of this small an object being a major force. So maybe when enough stuff escapes that the moon stops being elastic enough to recover from the tidal fissures, it fractures and splits?

Sounds like a perfect recipe for turning big rocks into small ones...that then resemble the stuff making up Saturn's rings.

Methinks we are seeing ring formation as a live event.

1 year,1 day
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German Court Finds Fantec Responsible For GPL Violation On Third-Party Code

drdread66 FOSS license compliance is difficult for many (228 comments)

A previous employer of mine really really really wanted to offer FOSS support & products as part of their lineup. In the end, the lawyers won, as they couldn't craft a policy that would allow anyone other than a lawyer to make the decisions. This was mostly for GPLv2 and v3, but they got the dev managers completely wound up about all the license types. Mostly this resulted in the company punting on the FOSS idea.

It's not terribly surprising that some small outfit decided to outsource the responsibility, assuming they were in a similar "analysis paralysis" situation. Too bad they did not understand the intent of the licenses and just "do the right thing."

1 year,2 days
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Texas Physicists Create Tabletop Particle Accelerator

drdread66 Re:Size is deceptive... (89 comments)

I graduated from UT with a PhD in physics, and Mike Downer was a prof while I was there. He does "femtosecond physics" ie things you can do with extremely short pulses of laser light. Pretty cool stuf, actually. Anyway, a petawatt laser (10^15 W) fired in a femtosecond (10^-15 s) has a total energy of ~1 J per pulse...they're really not giant gizmos.

Message: the lasers in question aren't petawatt CW, but pulsed.

about a year ago
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Fingerprint Purchasing Technology Ensures Buyer Has a Pulse

drdread66 Old idea (156 comments)

Whoop-de-doo. There are several outfits that have done something similar over the years, including companies that have tens of thousands of fingerprint devices out on the street already. I would be somewhat surprised if the tech covered in this article is not already patented by Lumidigm or somebody like them.

"Liveness checks" have been a part of fingerprint tech for many years now, ever since the famous "ghosting" attack on the early L-1 and Cross Match sensors. Whoever wrote the article didn't do their homework if they think this is actually "news."

about a year and a half ago
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How Sequestration Will Affect Federal Research Agencies

drdread66 Re:Chaos (277 comments)

Um, no.

Summary: the 27th amendment prevents Congress from altering its own salary during the same session, and the sequestration deal was originally struck to apply to the same session.

So, our crongresscritters will continue to get paid as they avoid doing the job they were hired to do.

about a year and a half ago
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Illinois Politician Wants a Kill Switch For Anonymous Speech Online

drdread66 Re:Death of Slashdot? (522 comments)

Illegal? How do you figure?

The only law restricting cash that I know of concerns crossing a US border with more than $10k in cash, and even then you just have to declare the fact that you are carrying more than $10k. The act itself is not illegal.

Inside the borders of the USA, your comment about merchants being prohibited from accepting cash for a purchase is completely nonsensical. "Legal tender for all debts, public and private." That's what it says right on the note.

I'm not sure that carrying $100k in cash would stand up as "probable cause" for a search in most courts unless there were other factors involved...

about a year and a half ago
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Public Library Exclusively For Digital Media Proposed

drdread66 It's unclear why anyone would go this route (90 comments)

My wife has a Kindle and uses it almost exclusively to check out e-books from the Austin Public Library. They have to be reserved through the library and transferred by Amazon, but she says the process is easy enough to manage. I know she has read upwards of 100 books in the past ~18 months this way.

So if libraries already have a working process for lending e-books for Kindle (and presumably other readers), I have to ask why someone thinks they need this "digital media library" approach. I assume that this is all political and/or publicity oriented, but I have to ask whether the money wouldn't be better spent elsewhere. If nothing else, loaning delicate electronic equipment to the public seems like a frightful risk.

about a year and a half ago
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Teenager Makes Discovery About Galaxy Distribution

drdread66 Re:link or it didn't happen (247 comments)

It would also be interesting to see if there are structural anisotropies in the dwarf galaxies, and if so, are those anisotropies oriented any particular way with respect to the planes of Andromeda or the Milky Way, or the orbital plane of the dwarves in general. If my guess about tidal effects is correct, I would expect the answers to both of the above questions also to be "yes."

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

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Analysis of ATM PINs published

drdread66 drdread66 writes  |  1 year,1 day

drdread66 (1063396) writes "Perhaps unsurprisingly, end users pick lousy PINs for their ATM cards just like they pick lousy passwords for web sites. An analysis of PINs from previous breaches shows that the #1 most used PIN (1234) accounts for more than 10% of all PINs in the data set."
Link to Original Source
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BlackBerry founder abandons ship

drdread66 drdread66 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

drdread66 (1063396) writes "Research In Motion co-founder Jim Balsillie confirms what Slashdotters have suspected for quite some time: RIM (now BlackBerry) is doomed. Reuters reports today that Balsillie dumped his entire stake in BlackBerry at the end of 2012. While it's common to see high-level executives sell some of their shares to gain some liquidity, it's unusual to see them exit their positions completely. This has to be seen as a massive vote of "no confidence" from someone who was on the inside long enough to know what's going on in the company."
Link to Original Source
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Corn shortage affects ethanol production in the US

drdread66 drdread66 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

drdread66 (1063396) writes "A nationwide corn shortage brought on by last year's drought has started to curtail ethanol production. While this shouldn't be surprising to anyone, it raises public policy issues regarding ethanol usage requirements in motor fuel. Given that the energy efficiency of ethanol fuel is questionable at best, is it time to lift the mandate for ethanol in our gasoline?"
Link to Original Source
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Cisco rumored to be selling Linksys

drdread66 drdread66 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

drdread66 (1063396) writes "Cisco seems to be giving up on another technology acquisition. Hot on the heels of a full writedown for shuttering Flip Video, Cisco is now looking at another potentially huge loss from unloading Linksys. How many more times can Cisco make a disastrous acquisition before the company re-evaluates their strategy?"
Link to Original Source

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