Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

lennier Re:And less than four years later... (211 comments)

For one, we will eventually exhaust all the resources on this planet, and our species will become extinct if we cannot - at the very least - successfully extract resources from other worlds. We really need to find a way to actually live on other worlds if we are to continue to exist.

Actually, it's fairly easily shown that if we continue our current exponential rate of population growth and resource usage, we'll use up the entire Milky Way Galaxy in 2,500 years. That's assuming nonexistent magitech FTL drives which contradict our current fundamental physics theories.

Or, we could stabilise our short-term rapid growth and learn to live on the one accessible habitable world we have, like we did for the past few million years. Our choice.

By the way, any future that has economically viable space colonies in it will also have economically viable greenhouse cities in Antarctica, the Sahara and the Australian outback first. Because they'll be much cheaper to build, require no launch costs, don't have to be perfectly airtight, and you get atmospheric pressure, water and oxygen for free. Also, in the case of war, plague and political tensions, ground-based semi-closed environments will be much less fragile and more survivable than sealed orbital tin cans.

Any space activists keen on setting up some of those first?

about a month and a half ago
top

Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

lennier Re:It's not a miracle (211 comments)

Let's reach for the stars again!

Sure, but how?

Simple: wait 296,000 years for Voyager 2 to reach Sirius.

Oh, did you mean developing faster-than-light technology that will let us send probes to a star within a human lifetime, and with an energy output less than a supernova? We'll get right on that. First up, falsifying General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and String Theory; shouldn't take too long...

Kidding aside, it seems like the 1960s Golden Age of GR was the last fun time; there really was a sense that we could engineer spacetime fabric Real Soon Now. Who knew what those wacky mesons did? Warp drive was just around the corner! But from the 1980s on, fundamental physics became the Science of Nope, You Can't Ever Have That. Science fiction in particular hasn't ever really recovered; it lives it its little parallel universe where the big future dreams of the 1930s live on.

about a month and a half ago
top

Facebook's Emotion Experiment: Too Far, Or Social Network Norm?

lennier Re:Outrage due to Censorship, not the test (219 comments)

I talked to several (non-tech) friends about this, and they were more upset about Facebook "censoring" out posts than the emotional manipulation.

YES. This is exactly the problem.

Those of us who understand the tech already understand that Facebook's Newsfeed is not a 'dumb pipe' and that it runs an extremely opaque and proprietary filtering algorithm. We realise that a lot of posts get silently dropped; we constantly switch from 'Top Stories' to 'Most Recent' to try to counteract this. Many of us use Twitter instead and crosspost to Facebook because we know that Twitter tends to deliver all posts rather than silently screen them.

But non-tech-savvy people - our parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts - don't realise this. They think that the posts they see on the Newsfeed are exactly and only what their friends are saying. They think that if they see something with a thousand Likes, it's because their friends like it too. And why wouldn't they? To them, Facebook is a messaging service, not a media service. They know that TV and newspapers filter and select content. But they don't see Facebook as a newspaper. Their prior examples of messaging services are the telephone, post office, and then email - all three systems are ones that place a very high priority, almost a moral imperative, on the message always goes through unchanged without alteration or censorship. If they thought about it - which they generally don't - they'd expect that there was actually something in the user contract that specified this, because hey, isn't that the way things have always been? Isn't there something in the Constitution about freedom of speech? They don't realise just to what extent the Facebook terms and conditions say 'we reserve the right to hide posts from you, and not pass your posts on'. They don't realise that Newsfeed is far more like Rupert Murdoch paper than the Post Office.

That's the scandal here. It's shocking and it should be shocking to all your non-techy, non-cynical friends to see Facebook proudly talking about how they deliberately manipulate people's Newsfeeds to not actually be a representative sample of their actual friends' actual posts.

Keep the focus on that. The scandal is about censorship, free speech, and trust, not the esoterica of experimental protocols. It's important.

about 2 months ago
top

OpenSSL Bug Allows Attackers To Read Memory In 64k Chunks

lennier Re:The problem is C (303 comments)

And what would be an appropriate language for writing security-critical software?

How about this one? It is a little memory-hungry though - 128K of RAM isn't within everyone's budget.

about 5 months ago
top

OpenSSL Bug Allows Attackers To Read Memory In 64k Chunks

lennier Re:It's really annoying (303 comments)

What languages is L4 written in?

The more relevant questions are "what is the size of the codebase of L4 written in an unmanaged language" and "is that unmanaged codebase small enough to mathematically prove its correctness" .

There is a reason why we layer systems on top of each other, and not just because we like cake.

about 5 months ago
top

OpenSSL Bug Allows Attackers To Read Memory In 64k Chunks

lennier Re:It's really annoying (303 comments)

This bug is almost 10 years old

Well look who natively counts in binary.

Hello Joshua! Give my regards to Dr Falken.

about 5 months ago
top

OpenSSL Bug Allows Attackers To Read Memory In 64k Chunks

lennier Re:Yet again C bites us in the ass (303 comments)

What does managed code do that good C doesn't???

Managed code does one very important thing: it guarantees that elusive quality you've just named 'goodness'. (With respect to memory access, at least).

Goodness or otherwise of arbitrary unmanaged C code is a Turing-complete quality that, we've painfully discovered, cannot be reliably detected by either a compiler, a testing regime, or the entire planet's worth of expert C programmers given unlimited access to the code and up to two years time. That's how many coder-years? A lot.

Goodness of managed code? It has that quality. Period. And we can go on with our lives solving instead of creating problems.

about 5 months ago
top

OpenSSL Bug Allows Attackers To Read Memory In 64k Chunks

lennier Re:Gee, that's worse than no encryption isn't it? (303 comments)

If only they had written OpenSSL in Java instead of C!

Arguably all the recent security holes in Java are exactly because they wrote extensions and libraries in C/C++ and not in Java.

A real language - like, say, UCSD Pascal in 1978 can compile itself to its own virtual machine just fine...

But admittedly the resource requirements to host a system like that that are pretty steep - you'd need at least 128K of RAM. Still, I like to dream that one day....

about 5 months ago
top

Introducing a Calendar System For the Information Age

lennier Re:Um no (224 comments)

I don't think they're very concerned with easily-divisible numbers—4*7-day months and 13-month years!

13 months is a little annoying, yes; you have to split the months on week boundaries to make quarters. But we actually do have 13 lunar cycles in a year, so this naturally aligns the months with the real moon. And we keep 7 day weeks, which is a win both because we're used to our week, and because 7 days is a natural quarter-moon. And no more "30 days hath December..."

Thing is, a workable Earth calendar never is going to be evenly divisible by powers of 10, because it has to stay aligned with astronomical cycles which are subtly varying; even the Sun and Moon don't strictly align. So everything's going to be a bit of a juggle. Frankly, I think this is the best alternate calendar design I've seen in a long while.

about 5 months ago
top

Are DVDs Inconvenient On Purpose?

lennier Re:No, the problem is DVD should not be cheaper (490 comments)

The question you should be asking is why is streaming video so expensive that DVD (shipping little plastic discs around) is cheaper than sending bits over a wire?

Because it's the second stupidest deliberate misuse of computational capacity to artificially create digital scarcity since Bitcoins.

The correct way to distribute large files like movies online is to copy the bits as locally to the endpoints as possible, and cache them pervasively at all levels of the network. Nothing would need to be sent more than once down any given cable. It would be fast, cheap, make use of the Internet as it was designed to function, and give us near-unlimited bandwidth.

But that would mean that those bits don't become artificially scarce and can't be tracked and audited by the media companies for copy-protection purposes. So instead of copying, we stream them over and over and over again, generating terabytes of needless, duplicated data traffic, and creating huge bandwidth storms that suck all the capacity out of the Internet.

tldr: Video streaming is expensive because it was designed to be. It wasn't designed by or for you, and it doesn't benefit you.

about 5 months ago
top

GNOME 3.12 Released

lennier Re:Gnome = good (134 comments)

They took out the the duel pain feature?!?!?! WTF.

Yeah, I hate it too when I score a counter-riposte to my opponent's flying parry and there's just a beep on the referee's scoreboard and no blood.

about 5 months ago
top

Transhumanist Children's Book Argues, "Death Is Wrong"

lennier Re:Promised? (334 comments)

We already should had sent a tripulated mission to Jupiter

o_O ... a what now?

about 6 months ago
top

Bitcoin Inventor Satoshi Nakamoto Outed By Newsweek

lennier Re:Why? (390 comments)

By keeping his identity anonymous, he was protected against time travelers visiting him on the day he created the algorithm and having it stolen from him.

Well, now we know what John Titor was really looking for with his leet IBM 5100 mining rig.

about 6 months ago
top

Bitcoin Inventor Satoshi Nakamoto Outed By Newsweek

lennier Re:Why? (390 comments)

Because if he dies and didn't leave an error

.... not even a kernel panic?

about 6 months ago
top

Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

lennier Re:surprised!!!! (704 comments)

You think "governmental actors" care about $615,000? That's adorable.

$615,000 in drug, terrorist and child porn money? Or assuming some innocent parties involved in Bitcoin, at the very least $615,000 of juicy leads and contact details for the people who are dealing the hard stuff? Yes, it's conceivable that they perhaps might. You know, since tracking and catching thsi stuff is pretty much the number one job of all the West's police, intelligence and militaries at the moment.

Lie down with Bitcoins, wake up with whatever it is that Bitcoin merchants are selling. And possibly the FBI knocking on your door to ask nicely if you have any drug dealers or terrorists in your address book.

about 6 months ago
top

Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

lennier Re:surprised!!!! (704 comments)

The concept of currencies outside of government control tends to make governments nervous.

Yes, because the advocates of those currencies are loudly crowing that the entire point is to enable criminal acts. That it's a perfect money laundering service and that this is a great thing.

But if a government responded rationally to this widely advertised lawbreaking by shutting down the people who launder money and the mechanism they're using to do it, that would somehow be immoral, and anyway they wouldn't do it. Because, um. Government bad, government inefficient, Bitcoin rules, FBI drools?

I'm shocked, shocked that Bitcoin exchanges might conceivably be running into money problems related to fund and transfer freezes from ongoing international drug investigations. That's simply not possible, because Bitcoin!

about 6 months ago
top

Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

lennier Re:surprised!!!! (704 comments)

Is it possible this is some grand conspiracy? Sure it is.

Yeah, since deliberately thumbing your nose at multiple international anti-money-laundering treaties by associating with blatant drug dealers and then having all the governments which subscribe to those treaties respond rationally by shutting you down, is.... a conspiracy.

I don't see what's hard to understand about this. Bitcoin's primary market appears to be criminals. Bitcoin advocates advertise this fact widely and make it one of their primary selling points for cryptocurrency. Therefore, anyone trading in Bitcoin-to-national-currency is waving a huge sign saying 'I'm moving money for criminals, please arrest me now. Oh, but you can't because it's cryptocurrency and you don't know for sure that I'm a criminal myself! Just, you know, that I've made millions selling services to criminals! Double dare you to arrest me! Triple, quadruple, googolplex dare you! Phpppppttttt! Ha ha, stupid cops!'

And then mysteriously! Bitcoin exchanges start getting... unspecified "problems".... to do with not being allowed to bank any more.... which they can't talk about because of... unspecified "investigations".

Yeah, I'm going to put that down to a completely coincidental series of bizarre freak accidents with no connection whatever to international law enforcement's rational response to widely advertised international lawbreaking. That seems perfectly plausible and anyone who suspects that it's just a case of crooks getting into trouble from cops is a 'conspiracy theorist'.

about 6 months ago
top

Silk Road 2.0 Pledges To Compensate Users For Stolen Bitcoins

lennier Re:If they make good on this. (84 comments)

Of course but, if you really need financial stability, I don't recommend being in on the ground floor of a startup.

Especially a completely illegal one based on experimental, buggy technology under ongoing cyberattack, selling products that ruin people's lives, are supplied by organised crime, and are actively targeted by high-level federal and international prosecutors with access to military espionage technology - and a complete dump of your predecessor's transaction databases.

There's high-risk, and then there's unethical high risk, and then there's completely stupid, unethical high risk, and then there's... whatever this is, it's pegging the scale.

I'm not going to say "good luck", but I would advise even the rubberneckers to stand well clear of the impact crater.

about 6 months ago
top

Astronomers Make the Science Case For a Mission To Neptune and Uranus

lennier Re:"Bespoke" (134 comments)

The only planets never to have been the subjects of bespoke space missions from Earth are

Am I misunderstanding the definition of "bespoke" and its application within sentences?

I think you could substitute "tailor-made" for "bespoke" in any context - including actual tailoring - and get exactly the same meaning. It's a linguistic metaphor, yes. Do you object to any other commonly-used metaphors?

about 6 months ago

Submissions

top

The Secret History of Star Wars

lennier lennier writes  |  more than 6 years ago

lennier (44736) writes "How exactly did George Lucas develop the script for the first Star Wars? Why were the prequels so uneven when the originals were so good? Did he really have a masterplan for six, nine, or even twelve episodes, and why did the official Lucasfilm position keep changing? And just how big an influence were the films of Akira Kurosawa on the whole saga? Michael Kaminski's The Secret History of Star Wars, Third Edition is a free, thoroughly unauthorised, e-book that brings together a huge amount of literary detective work to sort fact from legend and reveal how the story really evolved. Download it or have your nerd credentials revoked."
Link to Original Source

Journals

lennier has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>