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Patents On Genes: Round Two

giminy Research (85 comments)

Every time I see the gene patent debate now, I think about how my wife spent five years of 60 hour weeks (grad school, she just got her PhD) discovering that some genes from Castor Beans have no effect on the lipids that they produce.

Gene patents get us all backed up in a corner mostly because of the medical tests that can save lives. What people fail to consider is that gene research is not very well-understood yet. Individual researchers fumble around for decades before they get results worth sharing, if ever.

Last time this debate came around, I pointed to Myriad Genetic's financials. They constantly lose money, and rely upon investors to keep them afloat. The research that they do is extremely expensive. They're not some greedy corporation making money hand-over-fist. (My wife, btw, is highly likely to carry the BRCA1 gene that Myriad holds a patent on...three women in her family have been tested and all have it...but until recently we haven't had the financial security to consider getting her tested for it).

I guess my point in all of this is that if gene patents go away, expect genetic research to come to a grinding halt, at least in the private sector. Currently, the private sector is where most of the research is happening. There is some funding by NIH and DoA, but it's on the decline since some kind of financial crisis hit the US.

Since slashdot loves carrying a debate into another field: Imagine if, say, electronic patents were ruled invalid? I mean, electrical doodads are just really following the laws of physics, and processors and logic gates are following the rules of logic. These are concepts that are at their most fundamental mathematics. What would happen to the computer industry if such patents were ruled invalid?

more than 2 years ago

Project Basecamp Adds Stuxnet-Like Attacks To Metasploit

giminy Re:Good news, everybody! (17 comments)

Hi Sapphire Wyvern -

I'm the research lead of the Project Basecamp team, so hi.

I did hem and haw about releasing exploit tools for the vulnerabilities, but the truth is that Digital Bond tried informing the vendors years and years ago about these vulnerabilities. Starting in 2001, DB simply told people about the problems. In 2006 DB started releasing Nessus checks to demonstrate that PLCs were vulnerable without releasing the exact 'how' to exploit them. Neither path worked...we heard from more lawyers than engineers. Now that we're releasing exploit tools and causing bad days for the vendors and (unfortunately) end users, vendors are starting to come around and listen.

It stinks, but that's what has been required. Some vendors are taking the issues seriously, others are not. The ones that aren't are going to see a lot more pressure from us, I think...


more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Best EEPROM Programmer For a Hobbyists?

giminy Re:Get a good adapter set (165 comments)

I'll seventeenth the GQ-4X. I have a bunch of adapters, some soldering tongs, and the like for reverse engineering and reprogramming chips. It's been a great programmer, works fine under virtualization (I use it on a mac, using a windows guest VM, inside of VMWare Fusion. It does not work to share this with a guest under Virtualbox, but Virtualbox is crap for USB support).

I grabbed mine from mcumall also. It's been a very reliable (with one exception) programmer.

My only problem with mcumall's parts was one of their PLCC32 adapters was laid out wrong. It promised to work with a particular Atmel chip, but had one of the address lines swapped with the 'read' strobe, which made for very confusing output until a friend exhibited the intelligence to trace the adapter out. My buddy cut the trace on the board and blue-wired the adapter, since then it has worked fine.

more than 3 years ago

DOS, Backdoor, and Easter Egg Found In Siemens S7

giminy Re:Runs Linux (121 comments)

This is what "I wonder if...," means. A request for all parts of the source to which an owner of the product is entitled would tell for sure.

more than 3 years ago

DOS, Backdoor, and Easter Egg Found In Siemens S7

giminy Runs Linux (121 comments)

According to Digital Bond, Beresford's PLC runs Linux. Cue the GPL requests for Siemen's source code now (I wonder if the backdoor username and password are hard-coded into a GPL's utility :)).

Disclosure: I work for Digital Bond.


more than 3 years ago

Ask Slashdot: FTP Server Honeypots?

giminy Re:Dionaea or Nepenthes (298 comments)

You could probably configure it to send the files to the bitbucket, sure. A lot of times an open file server would be used to host malicious software (so some exploit says to grab its payload from ftp://yourftpserver/uploadedfile.exe). In thise case the files would be interesting for a honeypot to capture, so that they could be analyzed to see what the malicious payload is doing.

more than 3 years ago

Ask Slashdot: FTP Server Honeypots?

giminy Dionaea or Nepenthes (298 comments)

Dionaea has a nice FTP honeypot. It will even let bad guys (or bad automated programs) upload files. It's available here [carnivore.it].

Be careful, of course. You want to be safe in case these attacks are automated tools doing something icky like uploading kiddie porn or illegal music to your honeypot...(I'm not sure which would be worse).

more than 3 years ago

Advice On Teaching Linux To CS Freshmen?

giminy Break things, have them fix it (467 comments)

I learned Linux by installing it on my desktop and forcing myself to run it as my primary OS. What taught me the most? When things went wrong.

I recommend coming up with ways to break the computer wherein fixing it will cause learning. Start by assigning the use of a utility or system service that is actually configured incorrectly and isn't running. This teaches things like: run the program from the command-line to see what it is outputting to stdout, look at log files, edit configuration text files. Make things harder by breaking boot services, changing the xserver configuration so that it starts as a command-line, etc. Finish by breaking grub, or deleting /etc/passwd and forcing them to boot into single-user mode to fix things.

Troubleshooting a computer is the best way to learn...

more than 3 years ago

Does Personalized News Lead To Ignorance?

giminy Old News... (396 comments)

I recommend that anyone interested in the issue of 'subjective reality' read Farhad Manjoo (of Slate Magazine)'s "True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society". It's quite a fascinating look at the issue of our new media landscape...

more than 4 years ago

Microsoft Dodges Class Action In WGA Lawsuit

giminy Re:good (256 comments)

What upsets me the most is that if I legally purchase windows for my computer I am limited on how much I can upgrade

Sadly you didn't purchase windows, you licensed it. Welcome to the world: intellectual property gets all the protection that physical property gets, with none of the 'disadvantages' (ability to loan, etc).

more than 4 years ago

Did Microsoft Borrow GPL Code For a Windows 7 Utility?

giminy GPL Quiz (493 comments)

It's that time again. Before anyone comments on GPL lifting, please take the GPL quiz:

The GPL Quiz

Anyone who gets a perfect score may comment in this thread, all others please keep uninformed conclusions out.

more than 5 years ago

Russia Develops Spaceship With Nuclear Engine

giminy Re:Don't get excited yet. (297 comments)

A prototype of Orion did get built in San Diego. The test flight was conducted from Point Loma (now the site of Space and Naval Warfare System Center's model ship-testing pool) using conventional explosives with a delivery tube. By all measures it was successful. Freeman Dyson then worked out the engineering needed for the pusher plate and delivery mechanism for the full nuclear-weapon version. I think there's quite a bit on this in John McPhee's excellent book, _The Curve of Binding Energy_.

Orion always bothered me because it seemed almost biblical (people ascending to the heavens, leaving behind a scorched earth). It would make a pretty good way to get a lot of stuff off the planet if something dire were about to happen -- meteor impact, decay of orbit, or something.

Anyway, I used to know where pictures of the test flight were, but I can't seem to find them at the moment :(. Perhaps some smarter googler than myself can point us in the right direction...


more than 5 years ago

My flash memory is mostly in the form of ...

giminy Embedded systems (316 comments)

I'm an embedded systems developer. My flashes are all NAND and NOR.

more than 5 years ago

Making an Open Source Project Press-Friendly

giminy Annoyances... (169 comments)

The summarizer says:

But a lot of open source projects seem to treat the press as an annoyance...

And the press-person says:

'...it generally does mean, "Drop everything and answer us now." If the journalist doesn't give you a deadline ("I need to know by 2pm"), it's okay to ask how long you can take to reach the right developer in Poland, but err on the side of "emergency response." It's unreasonable, I know, but so are our deadlines.'

Wow, I can't imagine why volunteer developers consider the press an annoyance. Maybe the press should cut back on the 30-second deadline and take some time to actually get facts, instead of getting something out the door now, even if it isn't right. I think that journalists with this attitude are probably in the wrong business -- you should be doing research and finding the story, not demanding that a non-storyteller drops what they're doing to give you the story on a silver platter. Software only appears to move quickly...in reality, businesses are slow to adopt new software these days. Taking the time to do thorough research on an open source project will not kill the press, just like waiting a few weeks for a story on a software project will not kill the software project.

Me, I would prefer to read the right story than the first story. I wish that the press' job to make sure that the right story is the first story...but that shall continue to be my wish.

more than 5 years ago

Thinktank Aims To Crowdsource Government Earmark Analysis

giminy Re:It's about time (100 comments)

Not only that, but it would probably save money. I've often wondered what happens behind the scenes with bills...who writes the actual words? The politicians or their lawyers? And how do they deal with concurrency/locking issues (the potential money-saving part here for using some kind of RCS that can do merges nicely)?

more than 5 years ago

How Do You Create Config Files Automatically?

giminy RedHat Satellite Server (113 comments)

RedHat's satellite server has some pretty options for this, if you dig deeply enough.

RHSS lets you create configuration files to deploy to all of your machines. It lets you use macros in deployed configuration files, and you can use server-specific variables (they call them Keys iirc) inside of the configuration files to be deployed on remote servers. For example, you create a generic firewall configuration with a macro block that queries the variable SMBALLOWED. If the value is set, it includes an accept rule for the smb ports. Otherwise, those lines aren't included in the deployed config. Every server that you deploy that you expect to run an SMB server on, you set the local server variable SMBALLOWED=1. Satellite server can also be set up to push config files via XMPP (every server on your network stays connected to the satellite via xmpp, the satellite issues commands like 'update blah_config' to the managed server, and the managed server retrieves the latest version of the config file from the satellite server).

Satellite is pretty darned fancy, but also was pretty buggy back when I used it. Good luck!


more than 5 years ago

Computers Key To Air France Crash

giminy Re:What the heck is 'battle tested' supposed to me (911 comments)

This Slashdot article is full of simplistic drivel designed to provoke ideologically based knee-jerk responses instead of any kind of reasoned debate.

You must be new here...

The report that this guy bases his entire premise on is a report that begs the reader specifically not to draw any conclusions yet. It simply indicates an anomaly of airspeed indicator readings. We don't know yet what caused the crash, and this schmuck drawing conclusions already just says that he deserves to be thrown in the clink by the blog police.

As for the counter-argument, just look at the cockpit flight recorder of the Buffalo plane that crashed last winter. The pilots were talking about how they never flew in snow and that snow and icing kind of freaked them out. And they were flying in the northeast. In winter. The stall indicator lit up, and so the pilots cut the throttle. 'Battle-hardened', right? Try tired and/or poorly trained.

more than 5 years ago

Palm Pre "iTunes Hack" Detailed By DVD Jon

giminy Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (338 comments)

2) I'm pretty sure Apple sill not sue. What legality is there around USB identifiers? Nothing. The only hook there is the Apple string in the ID, but I don't think it's enough to put a case around. Why bother with the expense of a suit.

Wrong. USB Identifiers are controlled by USB Implementor's Forum, Inc.

The USB logo and USB trademark are only allowed to be used by entities in compliance with the USB Implementor's Forum agreements (see the Vendor agreement here). One of those agreements is that you (the displayer of the logo and user of the trademarks) are not allowed to spoof another entity's Vendor ID.

This means that Palm lost their right to display the USB logo on their product, and that they are not allowed to claim USB compliance. This in turn may mean that anyone buying a Pre for its advertised USB support may be allowed to file a suit against Palm for misrepresenting their product.

more than 5 years ago

What Free IDE Do You Use?

giminy Re:Was I feeding a troll? (1055 comments)

I should add to myself (sorry for the self-reply): I hope I'm also not feeding the trolls. I mean, seriously, 10 klocs is too much? On second reflection, that has a mild troll odor to it. At least as far as I nose.

Yeah, you were probably feeding the troll. Allow me to entertain in the style of Nina Totenberg.

Question: what editor do you think the emacs maintainers use?

Answer: they eat their own dog food.

Question: and how many lines of code is emacs?

Answer: over one million lines (of lisp!)

Question: is RMS insane?

Answer: possibly, but emacs is still a nice editor (even if you don't use it and you hate it, you have to acknowledge that a lot of people do use it and like it).

Question: what about the linux kernel?

Answer: well, it's gargantuan...

Question: okay, how big was it in 1995 [when linus was still doing a lot of work himself]

Answer: still pretty large, at least hundreds of thousands of lines

Question: what fancy IDEs existed back then?

Answer: let's see, 1) vi + make 2) emacs + make ... 3) ... I can't think of a third that ran under linux

more than 5 years ago



Taking care of each other

giminy giminy writes  |  about 2 years ago

giminy writes "Clay Shirky has a thought-provoking piece on depression in the hacker community. While hackers tend to be great at internet collaboration on software projects, we often fall short when it comes to helping each other with personal problems. The evidence is only anecdotal, but there seems to be a higher than average incidence of mental health issues among hackers and internet freedom fighters. It would be great to see this addressed by our community through some outreach and awareness programs..."
Link to Original Source


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