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Physicist Kip Thorne On the Physics of "Interstellar"

joh Re:Total Boondoggle (289 comments)

Just be happy to get not all the government you pay for.

about three weeks ago
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WaveNET – the Floating, Flexible Wave Energy Generator

joh Re:What's the money for? (90 comments)

Excuse me, but this is like your employer asking you why you want more pay for your work than necessary to keep you from starving until the next workday... I mean, maybe he doesn't WANT to pay you more than that but you DO want as much as you can get.

Slashdot is a business, not a public service.

about three weeks ago
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DreamWorks Reveals Glimpse of "Super Cinema" Format For VR Films

joh Re:And the butchering of language continues (39 comments)

Many people also don't move around in or interact with RR (Real Reality) all that much, really.

about a month ago
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Spaceport America Loses $1.7 Million Due To Virgin Galactic Delays

joh Delays? (46 comments)

Not unheard of in such things, really. If you're not prepared to push through some bad times, forget about it. Either push on or leave it. I still think VG is hardly more than a stunt for the rich (and a dangerous one too) but you're not going to dunk even your toes into space without running into problems now and then, often producing lots of debris... and costs.

about a month ago
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Longtime Debian Developer Tollef Fog Heen Resigns From Systemd Maintainer Team

joh Entropy always goes downhill (550 comments)

God. OK. While I agree with you in many things, there are a few things that you seem to have missed:

1. Debian (or general-purpose Linux generally) isn't simple anymore. These days are over and there's no way to get them back. Really. This is true for EVERYTHING in Debian/Linux and in every other OS. General-purpose systems tend to become more complex to be more easy on the outside. And there's no way around that.

2. The "community". I don't even know where to start. The "community" has turned into a mob that knows everything and gets nothing done. I'm sick of that. Strong opinions about things with no alternative implementations are worth exactly nothing.

3. Sit down and develop something better and defend it.

4. There is no step 4.

Meanwhile I really fear that several community-based projects will happily fail just because there are legions of people who know perfectly what they hate and have no precise idea what they want to have or even would sit down and DO IT. Do I like SystemD? No, it sucks, just like every other comparable system. Do you know what I hate even more? Not having ANYTHING to work with and to rely on it staying around.

Debian (and Wikipedia by the way too) is becoming a bit like a failed state: Factions that love fighting more than building something and kill each other while there's hardly anything left than smoking ruins around them. If there's someone doing something that you don't like and won't listen to you than either just sit down and do something better or shut the fuck up.

Debian is becoming a lesson in applied entropy.

about a month ago
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Berlin's Digital Exiles: Where Tech Activists Go To Escape the NSA

joh Re:Citizen Four (231 comments)

I think there's no way to go forward with technology and not have that (being monitored one way or another). The REAL test is if we can still manage to have rights and use them regardless of being monitored or not. All too often all this surveillance panic is used by people as an excuse for being cowards. The real test of you being a freedom-loving individual is not if you're against or pro surveillance. The real test is if you dare to be yourself DESPITE it. Because if all of us just act as free individuals all surveillance in the world isn't going to make us less free. But if we give in to that kind of terror we won't be free.

In short: Do not ever wait to be not monitored before you act freely. Because you can't prove a negative anyway. Freedom is nothing that ever will be handed out to you.

To Berlin: East Berlin (and all of the GDR) was the most perfect surveillance state that ever existed. Still, when the people stood up and wouldn't take it anymore, it collapsed. What good is knowing everything to a government if "everything" just amounts to "they are fed up with us and won't take it anymore"? I think many people underestimate what Germans did in 1989: They got rid not only of a government, but of a government that had all the powers in its hands. There's a lesson to be learned from that. The people are more powerful than the state.

about a month ago
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New Facebook Update Lets You Choose News Feed Content

joh Re:Silly question -- but... (54 comments)

Why the flying fuck would I need another site to feed me news?

Facebook is the website to end all websites.

People seem to use Facebook as a kind of mental chewing gum. There's always some gossip and "news" to scroll through. Sometimes you're interested in something of it. An endless on-the-go stream of gossip.

about a month and a half ago
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New Facebook Update Lets You Choose News Feed Content

joh Re:How about... (54 comments)

No, they should just show you relentless everything you get. If it's too much, go and restrict it.

What FB does is not showing you everything and additionally show you things you never wanted to see just because someone paid them for it.

But of course FB is a business, not a service. It's more like a personal TV channel than anything else. You get fed enough of what you want just enough to make you see what others want you to see.

about a month and a half ago
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Navy Tests Unpowered Exoskeleton

joh Good idea (79 comments)

A bit like a good backpack that helps you to carry most of the weight on your hips instead of on your shoulders which frees your upper body from most of the loads (instead of projecting it from your shoulders through your backbone to your hips through your legs to your feet). Extending this to actually support the weight by an exoskeleton right down to the shoes with no need to have the load go through your legs is just logical. It's just a matter of designing and engineering well-fitting, lightweight support structures with joints in all the right places. Not really easy, but may easily be worth it. I sense a real business opportunity here...

The problem with carrying weight is that the human body has no ideal attachments for that. The only obvious place is hanging it from your shoulders but this of course means the load is going through most of your body (only carrying it on your head would be worse). Hips are workable only with a really well-fitting belt and of course you need hips that project over whatever is around them... and even then you need a tight fit to avoid the belt slipping down, which can be painful. Doing the same with actually supporting the load from the ground (via your shoes) would be indeed the best way to do it.

Ironically the most simple cart (or bicycle!) works very much the same way with much less engineering trouble by replacing all the complex joints with simple wheels... So I think this will be limited to very special applications.

about 2 months ago
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How English Beat German As the Language of Science

joh And what does this mean? (323 comments)

It means that Germans are able to read German stuff AND English stuff while many scientists from the US are just able to read English things.

By the way, learning a second language as early and thoroughly as possible does something to you. It breaks the unconscious 1:1 connection between concepts and words and makes you understand that even the best language is just a poor crutch. There have been countless studies about that. It even helps a lot with not reacting by instinct to things you hear and read because you have learned to differentiate between words and meanings and helps you to grow a kind of conscious processing layer between them. I've learned to never trust the words of someone who knows only one language. Chances are that most of what he treats as thoughts are just unconscious reactions. Things like knowing that the word "freedom" has the same roots as the German "Frieden" ("peace" as opposed to "war") actually helps you with understanding the world instead of just parroting noises.

Not so long ago you would never have been considered educated if you couldn't read and write at least two, maybe three or four languages. And I think there's more to that than just quantity. It's a bit like being able to see with two eyes instead of one, you gain the insight that there's actual a room in front of you and not just a picture. It adds a quality that is very hard to acquire when words, ideas and concepts are all the same to you in a totally unconscious way that you soaked up mostly in childhood (basically very much like an animal).

So: I think that learning a second language may easily be the most important thing you can learn in the long run.

about 2 months ago
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Google Rejects 58% of "Right To Be Forgotten" Requests

joh Re:Google crawls and indexes the public Internet (144 comments)

Your examples are flawed. There isn't a database with a complete record of all license plate movements. Google isn't creating any content, it's telling you where to find it.

And Google does that by building a complete record of all the public Internet. Or do you think Google is going out and crawling all of the Internet only after you've typed a search string?

The public Internet is as public as the license plates that are driven around are public and as conversations in the open are public. What Google does is like scanning all streets all the time or listening in to all public conversations all the time. And then save it and index it and make it searchable for everyone.

These examples aren't flawed, they're fairly correct. If you think they're flawed you don't understand what Google does.

about 2 months ago
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Secretive X-37B Military Space Plane Could Land On Tuesday

joh Dream Chaser? (81 comments)

I wouldn't be surprised if the USAF would grab Dream Chaser for that. It's basically a much larger version of the X-37B and even is meant to be launched on the same launcher (Atlas V) since it doesn't need that frigging huge payload shroud that the X-37B hides its wings under during ascent.

After Sierra Nevada being denied NASA money they're basically beggars who can't be too choosy anyway.

Whatever the USAF needs the X37B for, Dream Chaser would be even better suited for it and again: same launcher, same launch costs with a much better payload (both size- and mass-wise), potential for a crewed version... I wouldn't even be surprised if NASA knows that too and didn't see any good reason to support something that the USAF can (and wants to) pay for just as well.

about 2 months ago
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Google Rejects 58% of "Right To Be Forgotten" Requests

joh Google crawls and indexes the public Internet (144 comments)

That's Google's job.

Still, stay with me and compare what Google does with this:

Some company develops a fleet of drones that hover over all public places, record everything that is said or done there and put it into a database indexed with all the metadata, searchable over the Internet. Is this OK? It's just public data!

Some company deploys lots of license number scanners that scan all public streets and record all cars driving through and indexes all that data together with GPS data and makes it available to everyone. Is this OK? It's just public data!

Someone develops an extensive system of crawlers that scan all of the public Internet and puts this into a database, searchable by everyone. Is this OK? It's just public data!

Face it, Google Search is a virtual drone that hovers over you, invisible, where ever you are in the public Internet. This virtual drone notes every page with your name in it and happily delivers to everyone a complete list of every page you wrote something with your name attached to it (or somebody else saying something about you).

Just because Google does what it does not mean it should be free to do as it pleases. If anyone would do the same with public data like license numbers or conversations held in public or all photos from cameras in public places you'd be up in arms.

"The right to be forgotten" should actually be named "the right to not be stalked in the public Internet". Just because something is public does not mean everybody should be allowed to record, scan and index all that data and make it searchable for everyone.

Note that "the right to be forgotten" does NOT mean that any data is removed. It just means that URLs you don't want to be shown when someone searches for your name is shown in the list of hits. Not more, not less. The data itself is still there, and you will even still find it with Google if you search for actual facts instead of the name of that person.

It's like a public search engine for license numbers that does not allow searching for license numbers (and then getting a full tracking profile for that car) but still allows searching for locations and then find all license numbers that drove through this location.

about 2 months ago
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Texas Ebola Patient Dies

joh Numbers are meaningless these days (487 comments)

Assessing things in a rational way is just sooo 20th century (or may 19th even). These days people want to have their lowest instincts confirmed and will pick everything that does the trick and then will stop looking. The 21th century will be the century of believing. Of course being rational would be the only way out of the mess we have created but since we created this mess by being not rational I doubt very much we will change now.

Now, Ebola. Ebola is more like HIV than the flu when it comes to catching it. There was a recent study that showed that even living in the same household as an Ebola patient only lead to infections if there was physical contact. It's basically a matter of having bodily fluids coming into contact with broken skin or mucous membranes (eyes, mouth etc.).

about 2 months ago
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Hackers Compromised Yahoo Servers Using Shellshock Bug

joh Millions (69 comments)

There are millions of servers out there that have not been patched yet.

To be more precise: There are uncounted servers out there that have a teeming population of parasites anyway.

But Yahoo has always been and still is the most incompetent of the big players, every time they screw up I'm surprised they still are around, since I never hear from them in between. There's not even a Yahoo phone... Not even that!

about 2 months ago
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Next Android To Enable Local Encryption By Default Too, Says Google

joh Different things... (126 comments)

As others already said, iOS had mandatory full device encryption (that you even can't disable) since 2009, when the iPhone 3G added hardware for that. What was added now is a different thing (encryption of single apps data with the key dropped from memory as soon as the device is locked).

Full device encryption is not enough since the key needs to be in memory as long as the device runs (or no process will be able to access the file system when the device is locked).

Also Apple's full device encryption uses a key saved in a safe enclave in the SoC, while Google's uses the PIN or password you setup for unlocking your device. If you use a PIN, this is easily brute-forced. If you use a strong password you have to type this in every time you want to use your phone. With a swipe pattern you can't use encryption at all.

Still, it's a start. I would like to see some performance tests though, encryption in software isn't free.

about 3 months ago
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Apple's "Warrant Canary" Has Died

joh "Privacy" and "unbreakable" are different things (236 comments)

Really. When the NSA is able to dissect an iPhone to read out the encryption key right from the chip or can brute-force their way in with huge efforts this is still useless for mass surveillance. You can expect to be able to buy a consumer product that is secure against this kind of effort about as much as you can expect to buy a consumer car that is secure against an attack with nukes.

But this does not mean that this kind of encryption doesn't help with guarding your privacy. Very much as a car not being secure against nukes does not mean it is "unsafe".

It's a fairly practical approach to make breaking the thing so expensive and bothersome that it will only be used with very good reasons just for reasons of time and cost. Making effortless mass-surveillance harder is a good thing.

about 3 months ago
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Apple's "Warrant Canary" Has Died

joh Re:There is no "almost impossible" (236 comments)

That's not the problem. You can always restore the phone from a backup or set it up as new phone. "Unbreakable encrypted" is not the same as "bricked".

about 3 months ago
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iOS 8 Review

joh Re:No good for older iPhones (216 comments)

Which 2010 phone isn't abandoned? Will the first Samsung Galaxy S get Android L?

about 3 months ago

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