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Comments

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The Design Flaw That Almost Wiped Out an NYC Skyscraper

mmell Yes, you have an excellent point. (158 comments)

The problem occurs in those specific instances (such as they Hyatt Skywalk) where there isn't enough overall review. Reviewing such changes narrowly often results in encountering unforeseen but foreseeable difficulties.

I'm trying to avoid being a polarized element of Slashdot. I'm absolutely a believer in following the Yellow Brick Road - but to me, that's the narrow yellow stripe down the middle (and yes, I know that's a good way to get run over).

13 hours ago
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New 'Google' For the Dark Web Makes Buying Dope and Guns Easy

mmell I hate to agree with an A/C, but... (124 comments)

what he said. While countermeasures can mediate the risk, you should assume that anything you send out electronically can be intercepted, decrypted and traced back to you. You can take steps to make this extremely difficult (hopefully more difficult than catching you is worth), you can certainly take steps I personally couldn't overcome without too much effort; but beating the intelligence gathering capabilities of one or more governments is at best an uncertain proposition (IMHO).

yesterday
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New 'Google' For the Dark Web Makes Buying Dope and Guns Easy

mmell Altavista? (124 comments)

(n/t)

yesterday
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Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

mmell Re:Anybody here know how to brew your own beer? (337 comments)

Have to admit - me too. Tried for an oatmeal stout from scratch once. I can say this - it had alcohol in it when I was done. It was even almost drinkable.

yesterday
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Heartbleed Used To Bypass 2-Factor Authentication, Hijack User Sessions

mmell Why not? (56 comments)

Please be specific. Try to express yourself with more than a thinly veiled one-line ad hominem statement. Written exposition demonstrating linguistic and reasoning skills appropriate to an adult would also be desirable.

yesterday
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DARPA Developing the Ultimate Auto-Pilot Software

mmell Remove the pitot tubes? (70 comments)

There's got to be a better way to measure airspeed nowadays. Not necessarily cheaper, but better. Something with less failure modes?

yesterday
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DARPA Developing the Ultimate Auto-Pilot Software

mmell Re:Do you have to inflate it before use? (70 comments)

The problem is that a human somewhere has to set up the automation. Even with the best designed automation, a human is involved somewhere. I'd like a human (or a computer that is at least as intelligent as a human) on site to mediate that risk. That means a flight crew aboard all commercial jets. I'm willing to accept the higher cost associated with that, in return for not putting absolute faith in a thing designed by the hand and eye of Man.

yesterday
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DARPA Developing the Ultimate Auto-Pilot Software

mmell Re:Cargo ships (70 comments)

And when the M-5 unit fails? I can't run a starship with twenty crew.

yesterday
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DARPA Developing the Ultimate Auto-Pilot Software

mmell There is a correlation here. (70 comments)

The more automation we put into aircraft, the more pilots are trained to use it. Consider instrument flight - a condition where the pilot is actively ignoring his or her limited senses and trusting data provided by sensing devices installed on the aircraft. Never mind what the pilot sees when looking out the window or feels from his sense of balance, when the instruments indicate they're passing a marker (outer, middle, inner), they make specific inputs to the aircraft's flight controls. When the instruments say the aircraft is climbing/diving/rolling/yawing, the pilot manipulates the controls to adjust for it, even if he/she feels like the aircraft is in straight and level flight.

The better automation gets, the more pilots are trained to accept the automation despite their subjective feelings about flying the aircraft - especially when the automated action disagrees with their understanding of the situation. The automation is extensively tested and proven if used correctly, but even that is becoming more difficult as automated systems become increasingly complex. Simply run a Google search on "Controlled Flight Into Terrain" (CFIT) for numerous examples of both 1) pilots ignoring automation because they believe it is wrong, and 2) pilots incorrectly managing their automated systems.

yesterday
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DARPA Developing the Ultimate Auto-Pilot Software

mmell Let's remember one thing here . . . (70 comments)

In nearly all airline crashes to date, there was a qualified pilot on board the aircraft.

Coincidence? I don't think so.

yesterday
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Heartbleed Used To Bypass 2-Factor Authentication, Hijack User Sessions

mmell I missed that. (56 comments)

So they were merely confirming how bad bad could get by proving that technology that relies on OpenSSL is vulnerable. Okay, thanks. I suppose there are a lot of people who might try denying that - I've already heard people muttering that the firms which are vulnerable to this exploit should have a workaround in place. This demonstration could well serve as an example of just how difficult that could be, as well as how wide-reaching the problem is.

yesterday
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Heartbleed Used To Bypass 2-Factor Authentication, Hijack User Sessions

mmell Is it just me, or is this just insane? (56 comments)

...researchers independently retrieved the private keys from the intentionally-vulnerable NGINX server...

Intentionally vulnerable - so this wasn't a bug in the NGINX server, it was a feature, right?

yesterday
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Declassified Papers Hint US Uranium May Have Ended Up In Israeli Arms

mmell Intelligence. Wisdom. Common sense. (136 comments)

None of those require the other two. None of those should be exclusive of the other two. Unfortunately, none of those are required to post on Slashdot - just a keyboard and an internet connection. I still want this sign:

"--- You must be this intelligent to ride the internet. Shorter riders must be accompanied by a parent or guardian."

yesterday
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The Design Flaw That Almost Wiped Out an NYC Skyscraper

mmell I agree. My takeaway point is . . . (158 comments)

Nobody reevaluated the design of the entire pair of buildings. In this instance, even the review of the changes was flawed. If it hadn't been - if the change itself hadn't been fatally flawed - I wonder if they wouldn't have compromised the design of the entire (now unified) structure by moving stresses from their original positions?

They treated the walkways as a 'black box' condition. It didn't matter to the buildings being connected if it was done using one support rod or two, from the standpoint of the two buildings there was no difference. Thus, only the walkways themselves were affected by the change, and that's the only element they reviewed at length. Obviously, even that review failed terribly, overlooking something which seems in retrospect to be obvious.

I'm sure you (and most other /. readers) already appreciate the flaw in this sort of logic. I'm not saying that every change needs to put the review process back at square one, but rather that changes need to be reviewed in more than the narrow context of the single element being changed. It wouldn't have helped here (and I'm neither an architect nor a construction engineer), but it just might have. "Hey - all of your stresses from those two walkways are coming in on this one rod - is my building going to take it?" followed by "Damn, you're right. Our walkways will both be loading up that one rod. Lemme think about that..."

yesterday
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Declassified Papers Hint US Uranium May Have Ended Up In Israeli Arms

mmell Personal anecdote . . . (136 comments)

Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it.....

...in summer school.

yesterday
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DARPA Developing the Ultimate Auto-Pilot Software

mmell Agnogenic systems failure? (70 comments)

I think that's what they call it when there is no evidence of a mechanical failure and cannot prove that there was an error on the part of the flight crew. The assumption is generally pilot error of some kind. (assumption)

yesterday
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The Design Flaw That Almost Wiped Out an NYC Skyscraper

mmell That has happened quite often here in the US. (158 comments)

I've heard news reporting before on this subject. The way it goes is this: the architect submits his designs, which are subject to review. Once the green light's given, construction begins. Now, engineers on the project notice a way that they can cut costs or construction time, or somebody requests a modification to the original design (perhaps to add a restroom or breakroom, perhaps to add or remove a wall or subdivide a floor differently). The new design is not subject to the same kind of rigorous evaluation the original had to go through - and why should it? The changes are evaluated in some detail, but a less detailed examination is given to effects these changes may have on the overall design. Often, the change is something which has been done before on other similar projects, or is done to take advantage of a new technique or material which wasn't widely available during the initial design review. Sometimes these changes are a direct result to the contractor's real-world experience with similar projects. Add to this the possibility that contractors on the job - who have some amount of expertise in this area - may decide on the use of 'equivalent' materials and techniques; using a new adhesive or other material which has superior properties or costs less but is not identical to the original item.

I wish I could find an appropriate citation - the example I recall was a bridge which needed to be torn apart and repaired because of the use of a different type of bolt securing the framework. The replacement had similar tensile and shearing strength, but several years later the bolts started failing at a much higher than expected rate, requiring the bridge to be retrofitted with the original fastener. It turned out that the new bolt (while actually stronger in some respects than originally required) was subject to vibration stresses. The review permitting the substitution focused on the strength of the bolt required for the application, but the data showing that the bolt was subject to metal fatigue if subjected to extended vibration wasn't available or considered at that time.

Changes such as these are actually not too rare; I suspect that in most cases, the substitutions work exactly as expected, but when we're discussing infrastructure elements of this scope a single failure is not merely troublesome but often catastrophic.

yesterday

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Is Slashdot staying relevant to Nerds that Matter with stuff that's news?

mmell mmell writes  |  about 2 months ago

mmell (832646) writes "Recently, Slashdot unveiled a new look and not unlike virtually every update the people running /. attempt, this proposed, beta change has caused widespread panic and hysteria such as not been seen since the broadcast of H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds. At what point do users of a free service gain a right to destroy that service (evidence of which is clearly visible throughout the site and requires no citation)? Has the average /. user devolved to the level of all the non-slashdotters we used to make fun of?"

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