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Home Depot Says Breach Affected 56 Million Cards

jeffb (2.718) Re:Credit cards? (67 comments)

So, all these folks who are saying "low-life criminals are the problem, and we need to stop them by whatever means necessary" shouldn't be calling for harsher penalties, but more pervasive surveillance (because the important factor is how likely you are to be caught, not how severe the punishment is).

Yeah, I'm sure they'll get right on that.

1 hour ago

The Minecraft Parent

jeffb (2.718) Re:Slenderman (115 comments)

That's right, some psycho kids once tried to kill another kid in the woods. So DON'T EVER THINK OF LETTING ANY KIDS GO INTO THE WOODS EVER!

Keep them inside, where nothing bad ever happens to kids. No kid ever suffered harm while locked in the basement. Right?

2 hours ago

eBay Redirect Attack Puts Buyers' Credentials At Risk

jeffb (2.718) Arbitrary JS in listings! What could go wrong? (36 comments)

I remember yelling and waving my arms at some length years ago when I discovered that you could put arbitrary JavaScript into your auction descriptions. Sure, it lets you have cool expanding images and whatnot -- but I can't imagine securing it against attacks that do something like this, or attach event handlers to the controls in the eBay-served sections of the page, or any number of other nefarious things. Everybody told me to calm down and shut up at the time, and my posts on eBay's discussion forum disappeared pretty quickly.

I'm only surprised that it's taken this long for an attack to get even this minimal degree of coverage. (I was going to say "I'm surprised it took this long for someone to implement an attack", but I have no reason to believe that this is the first one.)

2 days ago

WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

jeffb (2.718) Re:10TB of RAM? (296 comments)

I can't possibly hope to "keep up", because you'll always be able to make up random nonsensical claims faster than I can debunk them. Enjoy your perpetual leadership.

4 days ago

WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

jeffb (2.718) Re:10TB of RAM? (296 comments)

Let's see what happens when you cut the transistor size by three orders of magnitude...

Oh, is that all you have to do?

That was an awfully big wall of text to write for just one nibble.

about a week ago

Universal Big Bang Lithium Deficit Confirmed

jeffb (2.718) The Elder Races got to it first. (170 comments)

The civilizations that evolved earlier than us harvested it all to power their plugin-hybrid starships. What are you going to do about that, Elon?

about a week ago

WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

jeffb (2.718) Re:Just wondering... (296 comments)

Oh yes, and that whole thing your school teachers taught about electrons orbiting a cluster of protons and neutrons is a lie; it's just a convenient way of visualizing what's happening.

Nice condescending swipe. Now, would you care to explain why you said you need "a gap no greater than two protons thick" to block the escape of helium atoms, each consisting of a nucleus with its attendant populated orbitals, several orders of magnitude larger than the bare nucleus that you seemed to be describing?

For that matter, how exactly would you define "a gap no greater than two protons thick" in an object made from molecular matter -- that is, matter bound together by those clouds of electrons that you alluded to? You know, the things that "don't really take up physical space" (except that they really do) and "have no mass" (except 9.10938291 × 10e-31 kilograms), and don't really "orbit" (but certainly do interact to form what's "conveniently" conceptualized as a van der Waals surface)?

about a week ago

Information Theory Places New Limits On Origin of Life

jeffb (2.718) Re:in other words... (211 comments)


The argument seems to be that, because we don't see "evidence of technological activity" when we look out at the universe, intelligence leading to technological culture must be rare or absent. If an entity or a culture doesn't cause huge, recognizable perturbations in its environment, it must not represent "intelligence".

Think of an electrical engineer from the 1880s studying the data cables that run through a modern city. He might cut into a cable, expecting to find a wire carrying electrical impulses. Instead, he sees a bundle of glass fibers, glowing brightly if he nicks or breaks them. No tools at his disposal would let him even detect the gigahertz-scale fluctuations in that light.

For that matter, consider a 1960s "exobiologist" trying to decode an intercepted 2014 video stream. If you told him it was image data, he might look for periodicities that would let him determine rows, columns, and pixels. In an MPEG-compressed stream, he wouldn't get far. Heaven help him if it's DRMed.

My point: the things we look for as evidence of technological civilization may just be evidence of insufficiently advanced technological civilization. The "filters" we fear -- nuclear annihilation, bioterror, grey goo -- may indeed claim a lot of civilizations, or they may be laughably uncommon. It seems to me most likely that, instead of trying and failing to build space-opera-scope interstellar empires, most civilizations simply grow into something that we aren't yet sophisticated enough to notice.

about two weeks ago

WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

jeffb (2.718) 10TB of RAM? (296 comments)

You seem to have a really... optimistic view of the size, cost, and power budget for RAM.

about two weeks ago

WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

jeffb (2.718) Re:Just wondering... (296 comments)

So it really all comes down to the seal: if they can get the seal to leave a gap no greater than two protons thick (He comes in stable isotopes of 1 or 2 neutrons), then no helium can escape. Good luck getting a seal that good though.

Well, you just need to squeeze your neutronium together really hard along the joints.

Seriously, "a gap no greater than two protons thick"? Have you completely forgotten about electrons? You know, those things that hold all Earthly matter together (and apart)?

about two weeks ago

AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

jeffb (2.718) Re:Demographic (527 comments)

You'll notice that whenever companies engage in discussions about this sort of thing, they seem to be talking about households of one person. I have no idea how 10MBPS would suffice in a house of, say, four people.

Why, they're all gathered around the radio in the evening, while Father smokes his pipe and Mother does her knitting.

Er, TV, not radio.

about two weeks ago

Private Police Intelligence Network Shares Data and Targets Cash

jeffb (2.718) Letters of marque and reprisal? (142 comments)

It's a fine international tradition, but one that I thought had fallen out of favor some centuries ago.

about two weeks ago

Researchers Harness E. Coli To Produce Propane

jeffb (2.718) Re:The 'evironmentally-friendly' fuel propane (82 comments)

"The environmentally-friendly fuel propane" doesn't refer to the method of production. Propane is easier to burn cleanly than gasoline or kerosene, and it's not as significant a greenhouse gas as methane. It still produces CO2 when burned, of course, but it's carbon-neutral (assuming you aren't using a fossil feedstock, which would seem kind of pointless).

Gasoline produced through fermentation would be carbon-neutral as well, but it would still burn dirtier.

about two weeks ago

Welcome To Laniakea, Our New Cosmic Home

jeffb (2.718) There goes the neighborhood. (67 comments)

The Universe was such a nice place before all this suburban sprawl took over. Stupid commuters.

about two weeks ago

XKCD Author's Unpublished Book Remains a Best-Seller For 5 Months

jeffb (2.718) Re:Ummm.... (169 comments)

I have a different theory. His comic appeal to people who merely believe themselves to be above average.

...but it can't appeal to people who really are above average, because it doesn't appeal to you! Right?

So, can you recommend any webcomics that appeal to people who bolster their own sense of superiority by accusing others of feeling superior, and then mocking them for it? Maybe something with "Projection" in the title...

about three weeks ago

Iceland Raises Volcano Aviation Alert Again

jeffb (2.718) Re:Bah, character-set ignorance. (38 comments)

Well, cool. It always takes some of the sting out of being wrong when I learn interesting things from the correction. Thanks!

about three weeks ago

Iceland Raises Volcano Aviation Alert Again

jeffb (2.718) Bah, character-set ignorance. (38 comments)

I feel embarrassed every time I see an English-language site render this as "Bardarbunga", when that "d" should be "th". Yes, the letter "eth" looks like a lowercase d with a crossbar and erectile dysfunction, but it's pronounced like "th".

They should render the a-with-diacritic as "au", too. (Maybe even take the "g" to a "k".) But while there's a long and stupid tradition of dropping diacritics without rewriting the vowel, there's no damn excuse for getting it this badly wrong when you've got to replace a letter that simply doesn't exist in your target alphabet.

about three weeks ago

Hidden Obstacles For Google's Self-Driving Cars

jeffb (2.718) Re:Baby steps (289 comments)

I did, and I chose that word carefully. If we have a fleet that accumulates experience over time, I expect its performance to improve by a compounding percentage over time. That fits the precise definition of "exponential growth".

You may disagree with my optimistic outlook, but I stand by my choice of words. If anything, perhaps I should have said "exponentially more situations over time", but I think that actually dilutes the point a bit. All the same, I accept that reasonable people may disagree with my wording.

about three weeks ago



CES: Laser headlights edge closer to real-world highways

jeffb (2.718) jeffb (2.718) writes  |  about 8 months ago

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) writes "Audi will display laser-headlight technology on a concept car at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, joining BMW, whose plug-in hybrid should reach production in 2014. A November article on describes the technology in more detail. This approach does not scan or project a "laser beam" from the car; instead, it uses blue lasers as highly efficient light emitters, and focuses their light onto a yellow phosphor, producing an extremely intense and compact white light source and then forming that light into a conventional headlamp beam. The beam isn't coherent or point-sourced, so it won't produce the "speckling" interference effects of direct laser illumination, and it won't pose specular-reflection hazards. It's just a very bright and very well-controlled beam of normal white light.

HOWEVER, if multi-watt blue laser emitters go into mass production for the automotive market, it's likely to drive down their prices in other applications — for example, grey-market multi-watt "laser pointers". If you're looking for a tool to burn holes in the tires of drivers who offend you, this technology may indirectly help to fulfill your wish."

Son of Therac-25: CT overdoses from "reset error"

jeffb (2.718) jeffb (2.718) writes  |  more than 4 years ago

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) writes "As the LA Times reports, 206 patients receiving CT scans at Cedar Sinai hospital received up to eight times the X-ray exposure intended. (The FDA alert gives details about the doses involved.) A misunderstanding over an "embedded default setting" appears to have led to the error. Human-computer interaction classes from the late 1980's onward have pounded home the lesson of the Therac-25, whose usability issues led to multiple deaths. Will we ever learn enough to make these errors truly uncommittable?"
Link to Original Source


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