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Comments

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White House Punts On Petition To Allow Tesla Direct Sales

l2718 Alcohol is a consumer good too (382 comments)

Post-prohibition most states regimented the alcholic beverage distribution chain into a three-tier system: producers, distributors, and retailers. As you can see this is even worse than with cars. For example, vinyards often cannot sell directly to the public, and they can't sell directly to pubs or wine stores. The middlemen must be paid ...

about a week ago
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BMW, Mazda Keen To Meet With Tesla About Charging Technology

l2718 Standardization is critical (137 comments)

For wide adoption there needs to be a full market around electric vehicles: opportunities to build charging stations, sell home charging equipment and so on. Gas stations are possible since practically all cars use the same fuel, but also because they have very similar intake openings so that the pump can stop by itself.

Tesla by itself is too small to set standards, so this is good news. It also shows how disclaim in patents helps: the benefit from a greater and more active market exceeds the payoffs from discouraging competition.

about a month ago
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NSF Researcher Suspended For Mining Bitcoin

l2718 whose money was spent? (220 comments)

This guy spent $150K of other people's money to make $10K for himself.

about a month and a half ago
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Which desktop environment do you like the best?

l2718 FVWM (611 comments)

A few years ago I switched from tvtwm to fvwm and I'm very happy. One year being forced to endure unchangeable defaults chosen by Apple engineers (which are no doubt very good for most of their customers) further cemented my preference. I still don't understand why focus policy or keyboard bindings are the business of the window manager designer.

about 2 months ago
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NYC Councilman (and Open Source Developer) Submits Bill Establishing Open Source Preference

l2718 Consider incidentals (105 comments)

Taxpayers should not be paying for someone's pet cause ... Proper action would be to mandate the government to use the best software for the task at hand ... Let the technical merits decide.

I'm sorry, but while technical merits should be paramount, they are not the only consideration. Public contracting is not an exact science, and it is entirely appropriate to have non-technical considerations tip the scales in close cases. So while Free Software should not be mandatory, legislating a preference for it makes perfect sense.

Furthermore, there are considerations beyond the needs of a specific project and tender. Free Software has an externality: when the government (as a customer) requests modifications and improvements (and pays for them to be created), everyone benefits. For example, when my university has Blackboard Inc fix a bug (or improve the software) only Blackboard captures the value (when they sell their software to the next customre). If we were using Moodle, every other Moodle user would automatically benefit. Had we opted for Moodle, we'd also benefit from fixes made by other universities.

about 2 months ago
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Goodbye, Ctrl-S

l2718 No more flow control? (521 comments)

Ctrl-S stops text from scrolling on my terminal. I don't see how auto save helps with that.

about 2 months ago
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Discrete Logarithm Problem Partly Solved -- Time To Drop Some Crypto Methods?

l2718 Re:Not much to see here. (114 comments)

Yes, these elliptic curves address defined over a finite field, but there's no known connection between the discrete log problem for the field and for the elliptic curve.

about 2 months ago
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Discrete Logarithm Problem Partly Solved -- Time To Drop Some Crypto Methods?

l2718 Re:Not much to see here. (114 comments)

The fields of rational, real, and complex numbers are certainly not finite.

about 2 months ago
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Discrete Logarithm Problem Partly Solved -- Time To Drop Some Crypto Methods?

l2718 Re:It's still NP. (114 comments)

Squaring key lengths would be entirely impractical. That said, the improvements only apply to a case of discrete log which isn't actually in use. Cryptographic algorithms generally depend on hardness of discrete log mod p (p a large prime), not in the field with p^k (p fixed, k large).

about 2 months ago
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Discrete Logarithm Problem Partly Solved -- Time To Drop Some Crypto Methods?

l2718 Re:arXiv link (to the technical paper) (114 comments)

Yes; the preprint was posted to arXiv when the research was completed. Obviously Science Magazine (the source for the slashdot posting) prefers to write about results when the journal article comes out later, because otherwise the magazine would to check the preprints for correctness on its own, which it can't be expected to do.

about 2 months ago
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Discrete Logarithm Problem Partly Solved -- Time To Drop Some Crypto Methods?

l2718 Somewhat (114 comments)

Reading the paper, the most notable feature is that their algorithm is efficiency for constant characteristic, including the common case of fields of characteristic 2. It's also okay for the characteristic to grow somewhat with the size of the field, but not very fast.

This is not at all relevant to most implementations of DH, which use prime fields of large characteristic. For example, DSA depends on discrete log modulu a large prime p. In particular, I wouldn't worry about forward secrecy of current internet traffic.

about 2 months ago
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As Species Decline, So Do the Scientists Who Name Them

l2718 So what? (76 comments)

If DNA sequencing means taxonomy is now straightforward, then it's good students are switching to other fields. The goal of science is to solve problems, not to ossify. In this case, while taxonomy may cease to be a significant research field, morphology (understanding the structure and evolution of plants and animals) is surely going to continue. The people doing it will simply not be called "taxonomists" anymore.

During the 80s and 90s there were different projects trying to determine the cosmological parameters (mass density, curvature, cosmological constant, Hubble constant, etc). Then WMAP was launched in 2001, and by 2006 (release of 3-year data) the previous techniques were obsolete. Do you think many students in 2001 started working on the old techniques? Should they have? But we haven't lost interest in the cosmological parameters.

about 2 months ago
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$200 For a Bound Textbook That You Can't Keep?

l2718 Re:A consideration for professors (252 comments)

Many publishers will try to bribe professors to use their book for a course. Either you're very honest & kind or your class is small.

Do you have first-hand experience with this? It has never happened to me. Publishers routinely send me free books with the hope I'll use them for a course. Almost all have a policy of giving you a free copy of any book you make mandatory for a large enough class (say 100 students) -- which is the closest it gets to a "bribe" -- but in fact it's basically irrelevant to the decision. First of all, the only reason I need the book is for teaching purposes, I'm not particularily motivated to own it except for use during that particular class. Second, since the book is for teaching, if I don't have a copy the academic department (my employer) will buy one for me to use during the course. So the only thing this "desk copy" policy do is save some money for my boss; it has no effect on how I choose a textbook.

about 2 months ago
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$200 For a Bound Textbook That You Can't Keep?

l2718 Re:This has little to do with copyright law (252 comments)

I'm a professor, actually. In two words, you're wrong . If the book is only used in the class of the professor who taught it, the book will go out of print in a jiffy, and in any case the total harm to a single class of students is negligible. For a book to actually stay in print, many professors in many universities must use it. In this case very few will, and the problem will solve itself.

about 2 months ago
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$200 For a Bound Textbook That You Can't Keep?

l2718 Re:You'd think that a law publisher would (252 comments)

But they don't have to sell the books. They can just lend them for a fee, and that would be perfectly legal.

about 2 months ago
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$200 For a Bound Textbook That You Can't Keep?

l2718 A consideration for professors (252 comments)

As a university faculty member I consider the cost of textbooks whenever I choose one for a course. I try to never require students to buy the book (I'm not always in charge of the course I teach, so I can't always do this), and I prefer books that are available on SpringerLink (whole-book DRM-free PDFs are available to all our students since our university subscribes). I doubt many faculty members will actually assign this textbook.

about 2 months ago
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$200 For a Bound Textbook That You Can't Keep?

l2718 This has little to do with copyright law (252 comments)

A manufacturer is attempting to circumvent the secondary market by only lending its products instead of selling them. This isn't an end run around the "first sale" principle exactly because the publisher doesn't plan to sell the books in the first place.

What they are trying to do should be legal -- but hopefully it won't work because professors will refuse to assign this textbooks.

about 2 months ago
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Some Users Find Swype Keyboard App Makes 4000+ Location Requests Per Day

l2718 Re: Can someone blow the lid on Android Apps? (191 comments)

I agree that are asking for absurd permissions, but I don't see the store as responsible for policing app permissions. Rather, you and I do so by refusing those updates and by not installing the apps on the first place.

If most consumers don't care, then we who do need to live in the "long tail"; mainstream apps won't cater to us.

about 3 months ago
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Astronomers Discover Pair of Black Holes In Inactive Galaxy

l2718 Increasingly important topic (45 comments)

As we understand galaxy formation better, galaxy mergers are an increasingly important topic. It's cool to have direct evidence of this type; probably this will spur more merger simulations designed to track the black holes.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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The Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents

l2718 l2718 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

l2718 (514756) writes "The Electronic Frontiers Foundation announced today a large donation by Mark Cuban and Markus Persson to the EFF Patent Project. Notably, part of Cuban's donation is for the creation of the "Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents" (the first holder is current staff attorney Julie Samuels). Time will tell if the new title will help her advocacy work."
Link to Original Source
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Predicting extreme longevity using genetic tests

l2718 l2718 writes  |  about 4 years ago

l2718 (514756) writes "Cue the Howard foundation? Boston University researchers published yesterday a paper in Science, claiming to be able to predict using genetic testing whether (controlling for lifestyle-based risks) someone will have "average longevity" or "exceptional longevity" with 77% accuracy. The densely written paper itself is only available to subscribers."
Link to Original Source
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Diebold vote-tabulation software loses votes

l2718 l2718 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

l2718 (514756) writes "A bug in Diebold's vote-tabulation software has come to light, where the software may ignore some votes if other Project". It seems Diebold knew of the bug at least since 2004. Probably posting the source code on-line before the elections would be a nice complement, as well as verifying that the software you run is the software that gets posted."
Link to Original Source
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Voting machine discrepancies in NJ primaries

l2718 l2718 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

l2718 (514756) writes "Prof. Ed Felten has posted a voting machine summary printout from the recent New Jersey primaries, clearly documenting a bug in the Sequoia "AVC Advantage" machines used. Specifically, the machine claims 362 Democratic ballots and 60 Republican ballots have been accessed, while at the same time recording a total of 361 votes for Democratic party candidates and 61 for Republican party candidates. The results literally do not add up. Sequoia's concern that the State might arrange for independent investigation of this bug is what prompted the nastigram we discussed yesterday."
Link to Original Source
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Warner Music CEO: war with consumers was wrong

l2718 l2718 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

l2718 (514756) writes "Edgar Bronfman, CEO of the Warner Music Group, publicly framed the music industry's failure to accomodate file-sharing as an "invadvertent" war on consumers. I'm left wondering how you can file a series of lawsuits inadvertently.

"We expected our business would remain blissfully unaffected even as the world of interactivity, constant connection and file sharing was exploding ... By ... moving at a glacial pace, we inadvertently went to war with consumers by denying them what they wanted and could otherwise find and as a result of course, consumers won."
"

Link to Original Source
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Vodka used as medicinal alcohol

l2718 l2718 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

l2718 (514756) writes "A large dose of ethanol is commonoly used to treat poisoning by other alcohols. When Australian doctors ran out of pure alcohol while treating an Italian tourist who drank ethylene glycol, they tried an alternate medical protocol instead.

"The patient was drip-fed about three standard drinks an hour for three days in the intensive care unit," [a doctor] said. "The hospital's administrators were also very understanding when we explained our reasons for buying a case of vodka."
"
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Reports: Voting machines fail review

l2718 l2718 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

l2718 (514756) writes "The California Secretary of State has released the reports of the teams studying e-voting machines from Dieblod, Hart InterCivic and Sequoia. These were three source code study teams (one for each manufacturer), a "red team" tasked with developing exploits, and an accessibility review team. The conclusion: in all cases the design and implementation are extremely insecure and vulnerable. See also the reactions by Ed Felten and Avi Rubin."
Link to Original Source
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l2718 l2718 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

l2718 (514756) writes "Novell has made their next move in their lawsuit against SCO. Clause 4.16(b) of the contact of sale for UNIX System V between Novell and the Santa Cruz Operation (SCO's predecessor), says, in part:
at [Novell]'s sole discretion and direction, Buyer shall amend, supplement, modify or waive any rights under, or shall assign any rights to, any SVRX License to the extent so directed in any manner or respect by Seller.
Background: After SCO claimed to terminate IBM's UNIX license, Novell directed them (on June 9th, 2003) to waive their right to do so. If granted this motion will make another part of SCO vs. IBM go away — IBM's attempt to enforce the clause in their amdended license agreement saying the license grant is irrevocable and perpetual. Fortunately the same district judge and magistrate judge are overseeing both cases."
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l2718 l2718 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

l2718 (514756) writes "Recently installed in Boston University's campus is the world's first mix-to-order ice-cream vending machine. Controlled by a standard PC board and running a Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP combo the machine makes any of 96 flavours of ice-cream as requested by the customer, and can be remotely monitored and controlled. This should be an interesting AMD-Redhat flavour to try."

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