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Virgin Galactic Dumps Scaled Composites For Spaceship Two

janoc Let's hope ... (38 comments)

That this isn't going to come back to them in the form of another smouldering crater, except with paying passengers this time.

Delays and problems notwithstanding, dumping a company that has essentially designed and developed the entire thing and handing the project to someone else who doesn't have the know-how about this particular system sounds really unwise, especially after the enormous amount of resources that were spent already. Probably the wealthy investors started to push on Branson and Rutan didn't want to compromise on something, so they decided to bypass them. Or Scaled isn't trusted to not mess something up again as it wasn't a first serious safety-related incident there.

One way or another, this isn't really a confidence inspiring move from an engineering point of view - I cannot imagine the motivation and morale of the people building the craft after being told that no, they won't be allowed to be involved in the testing, except as consultants.

yesterday
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Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

janoc This guy shouldn't be teaching (643 comments)

This fellow has obviously no clue about Python and likely not much about programming in general when he can spout such nonsense about Python being "C-based" and "unable to do more complex things".

I read this more as - "I know Visual Basic so I will do everything in VB to save time". If he has said that, he could have avoided presenting himself as an ignoramus spouting techy mumbo-jumbo to get that parent off his back that doesn't really know much about the subject he is supposed to be teaching. I had colleagues who were teaching object oriented programming at a university using Max/MSP and dragging/connecting boxes - "These are objects in Max, so it is an object oriented programming!". But that is what you get when you have a music composer assigned to teach computer science (not kidding ...).

I am really sorry for those kids, because Visual Basic is a pretty terrible language to start from - it is very limited in what it can do and then anything more complex is directly linked to the Microsoft Windows idiosyncrasies, with little abstraction. They would have been much better off with something like Python & Pygame combination (I did teach a first semester programming class like that). Or even better some language actually specifically made for this purpose - like Logo. Or even start with Scratch, Alice or Lego Mindstorms kits for complete novices that have really no clue yet and then move on to Logo or Python once the basic concepts are settled.

People that are advocating C here have obviously never tried to actually teach it to complete novices (we are talking high school kids here!) - there you need to get the kids to first understand the abstractions like code, execution flow, the correspondence between real world objects and their modelling in a computer (variables, types, use of arithmetic etc.) Having to battle compiler errors, strict typing and stuff like pointers required even for printing a simple "Hello world!" message is really distracting and not helpful in that context. They will have plenty of time to learn about that later.

Disclaimer: I did teach undergraduate programming courses, both in Python and C/C++, including using those Lego Mindstorms kits.

about a week ago
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Steam For Linux Bug Wipes Out All of a User's Files

janoc Windows installer has a similar "feature" (329 comments)

The Windows installer has a similar issue and apparently it is not even considered as a problem (red box):

https://support.steampowered.c...

This reeks of serious incompetence or negligence, in my opinion - writing installers that blindly mass-erase files instead of tracking which files did the software actually install and erase only those on uninstall/move is not acceptable in my book. Whether or not it is documented in some disclaimer that nobody reads or not is irrelevant. This really is asking for a lawsuit if someone gets seriously bitten by it.

I really wonder what the devs at Valve were smoking when they consider this as acceptable.

about two weeks ago
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Several European Countries Lay Groundwork For Heavier Internet Censorhip

janoc Re:Lets fight for the freedom of speech ... (319 comments)

Are you too ashamed to post this antisemitic and islamophobic screed under your own name that you have to post as an anonymous coward?

How fitting, mate.

about two weeks ago
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Several European Countries Lay Groundwork For Heavier Internet Censorhip

janoc Lets fight for the freedom of speech ... (319 comments)

... by censorship!

The governments will be busy chasing Facebook and Twitter "jihadists" while the ones with kalashnikovs will be killing people in the streets. *facepalm*

The hypocrisy of the politicians that "were Charlies" this weekend in Paris and at the same time are calling for more Internet censorship really is staggering.

about two weeks ago
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LAPD Orders Body Cams That Will Start Recording When Police Use Tasers

janoc In other words ... (219 comments)

The cops will just shoot you or beat you senseless with a baton instead. Or even strangle you with bare hands ... How convenient is that taser-activated camera, indeed!

This is nothing else but a nice juicy piece of pork for Taser and some politicians getting contributions/kickbacks from them, "sold" to the public as a mean to improve the excessive force use.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: High-Performance Laptop That Doesn't Overheat?

janoc Asking for the impossible (325 comments)

Ok, so the OP wants a desktop i7 chip in a laptop case that doesn't overheat. Hmm. Ain't gonna work, pal!

You can have fast, cool and portable - but pick two. All laptops are at best a compromise from a thermal design/cooling point of view and if you add desktop chips that aren't designed to really run cool, because powerful cooling is assumed, you are asking for the impossible. BTW, this is the same (or even worse) on mobile devices - a today's smartphone cannot run on full power for more than about 15 minutes before it overheats and shuts down.

There simply isn't enough cooling, because customers are asking for devices that are smaller, slimmer, less noisy, ideally fanless, all the while demanding high performance. There used to be times when a laptop could run with power management disabled and at worst it was a bit noisy and the battery drained quicker. Modern laptop will fry itself if you disable it.

Do you really really REALLY have to have laptops? For running those test databases on? I know, laptop is cool, but can't you, you know, have a server farm to connect to instead? Do your engineers lug those machines somewhere constantly? Doubt it, those gaming machines are neither robust nor lightweight to lug around on a daily basis.

about three weeks ago
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Google and Apple Weaseling Out of "Do Not Track"

janoc DNT is useless by design (145 comments)

Did anyone actually believe that the do-not-track flag was effective? There is pretty much no way it can be enforced and the companies can do whatever they want in most cases. E.g. Facebook does not honor it outright, most advertising networks ignore it as well. It was only a silly boondoggle to quickly placate the regulator/lawmakers by showing that the self-regulation in the advertising industry actually "works" and thus no heavy-handed regulation is necessary. That flag is completely useless otherwise.

If you want some semblance of privacy from the pervasive tracking, you must use a solution that is completely under your control - i.e. ad blockers, NoScript, Ghostery, block Flash, etc. and not something that relies on the good will of the advertiser that they will obey some silly flag.

about a month ago
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Lizard Squad Targets Tor

janoc Stupid and sad ... (83 comments)

Bunch of bored kids over Christmas break that got fed up with CounterStrike and Call of Duty, so they are wreaking havoc for fun and getting way too much news time for it. I have almost gagged when I have seen a reporter saying on TV with a straight face that "it is not confirmed whether the attackers are linked to North Korea" and that "The attack is not thought to be a terrorist attack". *double facepalm*

I am not sure what is more sad, whether these jerks getting off on griefing others or the mom of one kid who couldn't play XBox over Christmas because of the DDOS and she lamented on camera - "What is he going to do now? He has nothing else to do!" I don't know - like going outside for a while?

Our society is really going downhill :(

about 1 month ago
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How Relevant is C in 2014?

janoc Re:You don't know C++ properly until you know C (641 comments)

" don't really seem to understand the difference between pointers and C arrays"

Well, because there isn't one at the language level. The array syntax using square brackets is only a syntactic sugar for pointer arithmetic, nothing more. This is a common myth that there is a difference.

I suppose you mean the difference in the sense that an array means a continuously allocated block of memory of a certain size, whereas a pointer can point anywhere and you need to explicitly allocate that block if you want it. However, that has to do with memory (non-)management in C, not some intrinsic difference between pointers and arrays. You can get the same functionality e.g. using STL vectors - those guarantee that they are allocated as a continuous block.

This entire mess is a consequence of people coming from higher level languages where a pointer (address) doesn't really exist as a type. For people who have learned assembler and understand how the machine works at the low level pointers are an obvious concept. And yes, jumping into C++ without learning C is a really bad idea - especially when that student is often still struggling with basic concepts like data structures or algorithms.

about a month and a half ago
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How Relevant is C in 2014?

janoc Very relevant, programming is not only desktop/web (641 comments)

C is very much still relevant - most of the deeply embedded computer firmware is written in either assembler or C, where the bit twiddling capabilities, compactness of the language and efficient generated code are of high importance. All those ATMegas, PICs, 80x51, Z80, Renesas, small ARM Cortex cores - chips that are too small in terms of available memory to use higher level languages and OSes effectively. Essentially, if you are writing "to the metal", you are most likely going to use C, assembler and (rarely) C++. Those chips costs peanuts and are pretty much everywhere, controlling everything from your toaster to brakes in your car ...

Programming is not only about the desktop and web, you know.

Even on more "grown up" platforms you will find C in the network code, most of system programming is done in C, C with its standardized ABI is an interface language (e.g. you can load a C-interfaced DLL into Python or Java, for example) and many many other applications. I would say that knowing at least the basics of C is as much a must for any programmer as knowing basics of English - unless all that you do are web apps in Javascript.

about a month and a half ago
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Ubisoft Points Finger At AMD For Assassin's Creed Unity Poor Performance

janoc Re:If at first you don't succeed... (262 comments)

Since when was video game production about releasing quality software in the last 10 years?

These days it is about rushing an unfinished release to rake in money during the holiday rush, the bugs and problems will be fixed after the "release" with multigigabyte patches or (even better) a paid DLC. If ever ... Spending time on debugging and optimizing takes resources away from building the next AAA blockbuster to be released 6 months later.

I am not even considering buying many of these "AAA" releases because of this "release unfinished crap and then milk-and-dime the buyer with pointless mandatory DLCs and season passes" anymore. There are better ways to spend my money.

Ubisoft is particularly known for their crappy games in the last years, draconian DRM, being openly hostile to PC gamers, so this fiasco shouldn't really surprise anyone.

about 2 months ago
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Terrorists Used False DMCA Claims To Get Personal Data of Anti-Islamic Youtuber

janoc Re:Typical muslims (389 comments)

I would like to see some reliable source for that 25% and 70% quotes.

The rest is not really worth commenting on.

about 3 months ago
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Terrorists Used False DMCA Claims To Get Personal Data of Anti-Islamic Youtuber

janoc Re:Typical muslims (389 comments)

And you want to say that beheading people is somehow *representative* of Muslims? Or opposing gays is somehow representative of Christians?

If your answer is "yes", then you really need to widen your horizons, mate - you are painting people with an enormously wide brush if you dare to say that most people sharing a certain religion are murderers.

You are pathetic.

about 3 months ago
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Terrorists Used False DMCA Claims To Get Personal Data of Anti-Islamic Youtuber

janoc Re:Typical muslims (389 comments)

Thank you for demonstrating your blatant racism and ignorance.

You do realize that there is 1.6 billion of people that are muslims in the world, spread out over the most of the globe? Your comment is like saying that we should ban all Christians from having human rights, because they are Bible thumping bigots opposing gays and abortions.

Please, do educate yourself before you open your mouth next time.

about 3 months ago
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Too Many Kids Quit Science Because They Don't Think They're Smart

janoc Re:They're probably correct (273 comments)

Unfortunately, that's not how real world works. I have pretty much screwed up the first year of Uni, failing a calculus course badly - exactly the case of suddenly having to work much harder than I was used to in high school, where I really didn't have to do much to have good marks. The guys from the more math-oriented schools were running circles around me.

Unfortunately, that early screw up in the first semester has costed me cum laude graduation, despite having no problems later on - the university rules didn't allow for someone do graduate with honors when they have flunked a course like that. And trust me, there is quite a difference when you are looking for a job after the school in whether you have graduated or graduated cum laude ... It is even more pronounced if you are thinking about continuing in grad school or doing a PhD.

about 3 months ago
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Safety expert: Virgin Galactic 'ignored' repeated warnings

janoc Right ... (2 comments)

Except that according to NTSB (http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/nov/02/virgin-galactic-spaceshiptwo-crash-investigators-fuel-warnings) the crash had nothing to do with the engine which worked fine until the breakup, but apparently one of the pilots unlocked the tail too early and/or the tail malfunctioned.

So much for the "we told you so!" brigade that jumps to conclusions and immediately knows the cause even before the wreckage has even cooled down ... sheesh ...

about 3 months ago
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Buying Goods To Make Nuclear Weapons On eBay, Alibaba, and Other Platforms

janoc Lump of metal != centrifuge (260 comments)

Sorry, this is pretty much BS scaremongering.

Buying a piece of metal that could be made into a centrifuge doesn't mean that you will actually succeed to make one. There is a lot of specialized equipment needed for that which is tightly controlled (try to export a high precision CNC machine, for example!).

Most of this gear has lots of legitimate uses as well. Not to mention that if someone really wanted to obtain this sort of gear, I cannot imagine them shopping for it on Alibaba or eBay - they would be spending a ton of money for a product of unknown quality possibly from a mom&pop shop somewhere in China that sells everything from rubber bands, dresses up to car accessories, that is assuming it isn't a scam in the first place. There are better ways of obtaining it - e.g. through shell companies abroad acting as middlemen to avoid embargoes or from friendly nations.

And before someone pulls out the "terrorist building nukes" bogeyman - that requires a lot more than building a few centrifuges from stuff bought on Alibaba. There are plenty of simpler, cheaper and easier accessible methods to wreak havoc than trying to build a nuke that even countries like Iran didn't succeed in so far, despite vastly bigger resources than some lunatics in a cave possess.

about 3 months ago
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Remote Vision Through a Virtual Reality Headset (Video)

janoc Did you mean ... (44 comments)

Telepresence (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telepresence)?

Why do I feel that whenever Oculus Rift is mentioned, the project has to be new and ground breaking, something that has never been done before, right? Never mind the decades of previous work and existing industrial applications (like telesurgery or underwater ROV operation ...).

about 3 months ago
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Skilled Foreign Workers Treated as Indentured Servants

janoc Pretty much why I am turning down US job offers .. (284 comments)

I am from EU, however this situation around the H-1B visa is why I am not even remotely interested in most of the job offers from the US that I am getting.

I have been in a similar situation in Europe before my country entered the EU and it is a lot of "fun" when you have to go every year to the immigration office, apply for a work permit renewal and pray that some clerk didn't get off the bed with the wrong foot and won't deny your application because of some bizarre reason - forcing you to lose the job and to leave the country, potentially incurring catastrophic financial losses (relocating abroad/overseas is one heck expensive, especially on a short notice!). On top of that, there is the inevitable "second class" treatment of the foreign employees, because the company knows that if the guy decides to leave, his or her permit is cancelled and they would have to leave the country on a short notice. The alternative is to have their new employer re-apply for the visa/permit again, but that must be done while the applicant lives outside of the country (yay, Switzerland ...), waiting another 6+ months for the paperwork to go through, with no guarantee of success ...

Sorry, but this is not how you treat skilled workers that you are ostensibly so interested in.

The US is doing itself a lot of disservice with this, because apart from the horrid H-1B regime, there is little else available for foreign workers (good luck trying to get the "green card" ...). I am sure there are many companies that use the visa responsibly and treat their foreign employees decently, but it is still a pretty big sword hanging over one's head.

I am certainly not expecting any entitlement to have a job in the US as a foreigner, but right now if someone wanted to hire me, they would have to offer a very sweet deal for it to be worth the gamble with the visas for me.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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FTDI is intentionally bricking devices using competitors' chips.

janoc janoc writes  |  about 3 months ago

janoc (699997) writes "It seems that FTDI has started an outright war on cloners of their popular USB bridge chips. At first the clones stopped working with the official drivers and now they are being intentionally bricked, rendering the device useless. The problem? These chips are incredibly popular and used in many consumer products. Are you sure yours doesn't contain a counterfeit one before you plug it in? What are you going to do if your device gets trashed?

The article is on Hackaday: http://hackaday.com/2014/10/22..."

Link to Original Source
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Intentional backdoor in consumer routers found

janoc janoc writes  |  about 9 months ago

janoc (699997) writes "Eloi Vanderbeken from Synacktiv has identified an intentional backdoor in a module by Sercomm used by major router manufacturers (Cisco, Linksys, Netgear ...). The backdoor was ostensibly fixed — by obfuscating it and making it harder to access.

The original report is here (pdf)

And yeah, there is an exploit available ..."

Link to Original Source
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janoc janoc writes  |  more than 7 years ago

janoc (699997) writes "Apparently not only China is censoring Flickr. Flickr has recently introduced filters to filter out images deemed inappropriate. Unfortunately, the filters are now forced also on the German users (together with Singaporeans and Korean users). Photos marked "moderate" or "restricted" are invisible even to their own authors if they happen to be in one of the restricted countries. However, users from elsewhere can still see them just fine if they disable the "Safe search" feature in preferences — this option is not available to Germans anymore. There is a large discussion about this issue going on here: link."
Link to Original Source

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