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Your Phone Can Be Snooped On Using Its Gyroscope

oneiros27 not the battery door (92 comments)

Mine's got a wireless charging pad in it.

Of course, it's running WebOS, which lets me set up security such that I can require confirmation before an app's allowed to use certain features (eg, GPS), rather than just giving it a blanket 'you're allowed to use GPS whenever you want to'.

The drawback is that I don't have nearly as many apps available to use, being that it's WebOS. (I still blame those horrible Palm Pre commercials with the stoned albino -- why they didn't bother showing that it supported multitasking and copy & paste way before iOS, I have no clue)


Wheel Damage Adding Up Quickly For Mars Rover Curiosity

oneiros27 Correct material choice (158 comments)

My thought exactly ...

"Oh, no! The item we built is starting to fail after it's had 40 times the planned usage!"

That's not a poor design choice ... that's a *fantastic* problem to be having.


DARPA Uses Preteen Gamers To Beta Test Tomorrow's Military Software

oneiros27 1992, Toys (84 comments)

Are we just trying to make reference to Robin Williams all week?

This is just yet another sign that the military saw the movie 'Toys' ... as if the whole drone program wasn't an obvious enough sign:

about a week ago

Writer: Internet Comments Belong On Personal Blogs, Not News Sites

oneiros27 News websites vs. Aggregators vs. Blogs (298 comments)

disclaimer : I was an admin for

The problem as I see it is that news sites started adding the ability for user comments to try to make their websites more 'sticky'. They wanted people to keep coming back ... but the ones that do are the trolls.

Unless you've modeled your whole site around people commenting, and build up a community, you don't tend to get useful comments -- you either get trolls, people advertising 'work at home', or someone with a follow question about the article that no one every responds to. Once in a while you might get some actually useful information from the general public, the 'I was there' accounts and such ... but it's few and far between.

(note, I'm not commenting on how Fark handles things ... most of their measures were implemented after I left, and I only know some of it; my experience comes with managing other websites)

Allowing anonymous posting that immediately gets shown to the public is just plain stupid. It's begging for trolls. At least with accounts you can monitor the new users, as in most cases you either have the throw-away account (which might have been registered months ago, specifically for use later), or the person who's just constantly obnoxious.

If I ever set up another website, I'm going to the model of 'invitations' where you have to know someone already in the community to get an invite -- because then if we get someone being an ass, we can suspend their friends' accounts, too (giving them some external pressure to not be a dick), or prune the whole tree of accounts if that doesn't help.

So, anyway, my basic categories:

  • News websites : people go there for the new, original news.
  • Aggregators : people go there to participate in commentary about other things found on the internet, but the focus isn't on original content (slashdot, digg, etc.)
  • Blogs : personal journals, run by a person or small group, with commentary on whatever they feel like (includes people's facebooks pages, and sites like Jezebel)

There are some successful hybrids out there ... but if you're going to allow comments, you have to know how to handle them ... and I don't want to say too much, because I don't want to give the trolls info on how to bypass some of the more interesting systems I've seen.

about a week ago

Why the Public Library Beats Amazon

oneiros27 Public libraries buy ebooks from Amazon (165 comments)

There's actually been a bit of discussion among the library community -- most libraries who offer ebooks get them via Overdrive, which has some major ties (is owned by?) Amazon.

But most libraries have privacy policies, but there's now a third party that can track their citizen's reading habits. There's also complaints about how Amazon sends e-mails to people who have 'checked out' ebooks that tells them to buy the book when it's about to 'expire'.

See, for example, the comments from Librarian Black. (it's in video form, but she raises issues about state laws on keeping lending info private, and most library's policies of not endorsing companies). It's possible that it's changed; I refuse to check out ebooks from my local library, as it's using Overdrive.

about a week ago

NASA's Greenhouse Gas Observatory Captures 'First Light'

oneiros27 commissioning & Phase E (143 comments)

The launch of the spacecraft is effectively the start of 'Phase E' (operations) for the instruments ... but there's a lot of things that still have to happen:

  • They have to deploy any solar panels (unless it's got an RTG), and align with the sun
  • They have to check out the spacecraft health, to make sure that nothing shook loose during launch, and they can talk to it.
  • The spacecraft has to get to the right place. (which takes *years* for missions to the outer planets)
  • They test the instruments against a known source (calibration lamp or similar)
  • They deploy antenna or instrument booms, remove covers, etc.
  • They take real measurements (aka. "first light")
  • They may perform maneuvers (eg, take an image, roll the spacecraft over, take an image again ... or take an exposure whole rolling) for flat fielding (aka. "calibration")
  • They compare the results from the new sensor against other measurements to determine how (aka. "validation")

They refer to this whole period as "commissioning". They're not always run in order (eg, for the missions to the outer planets, which might take *years* to get to, they try to check on the health of the instruments before they get to the planet). For some instruments, it might take years to validate the data.

There's also typically a press conference with the "first release" of the data, after the first calibration is done, but that's more to do with scientists on the ground than the spacecraft itself.

disclaimer : I work for a NASA center, but I don't deal with spacecraft directly; I just manage the data after it's downlinked & processed.

about a week ago

Password Gropers Hit Peak Stupid, Take the Spamtrap Bait

oneiros27 It's been done. (teergrube) (100 comments)

There's even a term for this, teergrube.

An ISP that I worked for in the 1990s used to do this (, owned by Drew Curtis, of fame).

We had some code that would look for blatant e-mail harvesters, and would SLOWLY return random bogus e-mail addresses ... wait a couple seconds, spit out an address ... etc. The page at the top even had warnings that the page was completely bogus.

At first, all of the e-mail addresses were all in our domain (but not our real mail server), but I went and added some code that would look up the connecting IP's network (I think I used, and would also include '{abuse,postmaster}@(network)' and again for the network's upstream providers.

I can't remember if the bogus mail server was also the box that we had set up so that if *anything* tried touching it, it'd blackhole the connecting IP at our external router, if it was a teergrube itself.

about a week ago

Getting IT Talent In Government Will Take Culture Change, Says Google Engineer

oneiros27 ... when they want to (165 comments)

... and I've known some who just didn't want to.

Personally, when I worked at a university, I kept a shirt and tie hanging in my cubicle for when I had meetings. As I never wore jeans in, when given 5 min warning, I was prepared.

Unfortunately, one day, I was dealing with server problems with our team lead, and my (new) manager came in and insisted we had to go to a meeting. I said I needed to grab my shirt & tie, but he insisted we were already late.

It seems that the executive director (3 levels above my boss) had decided that we were going to have an 'introduce the different groups within the IT department to each other', and the chairs were set up as rings of concentric circles ... and all of the free chairs were in the middle ... so I'm wearing a t-shirt that says "some people are alive simply because it's illegal to kill them".

Then they started cracking down on the dress code. Of course, the memo from the executive director on this "interpretation of the dress code" included no logos, so the staff shirts were actually not compliant with his interpretation. It also said "shirt with a collar", without qualifying "dress collar" (so therefore, my crew-necked t-shirt was compliant). They also insisted on 'no large text', without defining a specific letter height. (I hung up my White Zombie "More Human than Human" shirt to show that the "some people..." shirt had medium-sized letters.)

I was later fired ... it had to go before the unemployment office as they claimed I quit , but refused to make a formal statement (where I could've then sued for libel ... of course, I likely also had a case for "constructive dismissal" anyway, as my project manager had been told to harrass me 'til I quit)

But ... as my job was all about problem solving, I found a number of ways to comply with the wording of the 'interpretation' of the dress code:

  • took the sleaves off of dress shirts. (not a good luck for me, as I'm rather hairy)
  • added 'A COLLAR' with an embroidery machine
  • borrowed a steel gorget from a friend in the SCA (along with the rest of the platemail)
  • bought a number of 'club shirts' (effectively, hawaiian shirts w/ comic book characters on 'em)
  • wore the same shirt for almost 5 weeks straight (2 weeks, 1 day gap, then almost 3 weeks without washing it, only febreeze)
  • obnoxious ties ... but that was a problem when crawling around the machine room (I was also a sysadmin)

If I had it to do all over again ... I'd have tried to find a priest's collar. Or a dickie. I mean, hell, I worked in a locked room -- it's not like anyone saw me except for when I went to meetings, lunch, or the bathroom.

So instead, I work at NASA ... about the only government agency (unless you're at HQ) that prefers you to *not* wear a tie (I was threatened with bodily harm by a small, 60+ year old woman if I continued wearing one to work). Unfortunately, a while back my employer got bought out by a military contractor, and they started pushing down dress codes on us ... so I've been trying to get a definition of exactly what a "graphical t-shirt" is. My co-workers all just ignore it, but I'm doing my best to point out what a pointless, stupid rule it is w/ ASCII art and stylized text.

about a week ago

Ask Slashdot: Why Are Online Job Applications So Badly Designed?

oneiros27 command-click when submitting (274 comments)

Always use command-click when submitting a form, or whatever the key combination is to create a new window or tab. (might be shift-click, or control-click ... or right click, and select from the menu)

I admit, this won't always work in the 'one page' applications built exclusively in JavaScript, but when it does, it means that the failure page is in a new window, and you can go back to copy & paste the content after you re-authenticate.

Some of the nastier JavaScript 'enhanced' forms will try to make callbacks as you're typing, and when THOSE time out, they redraw the screen and you lose everything ... but luckily, in the case of HR applications, most of those were written 10+ years ago and never updated.

about a week ago

Ask Slashdot: Should I Fight Against Online Voting In Our Municipality?

oneiros27 Volunteer to be an Election Judge (190 comments)

Most elections rely on citizens who run the election who aren't government employees. I say 'volunteer', but most municipaliies will pay you for your time (including any training time).

I was a 'Chief Judge' for 4 years of my town, and actually had a lot of say in how the election was run -- based on complaints about previous elections, I ended up designing the ballots, having them printed, considered if it was worth getting mechanical voting machines as hand-me-down from the county (would've done it, if we had the storage space ... those things are HUGE), and other stuff that I would've expected there to have been specific rules for.

There are laws about how the election must be run, but the chief judge may have some latitute around how they actually run the election. If you're an election judge, and you find something in the laws that doesn't mesh with electronic voting, you might be able to get the whole thing halted.

As another option, volunteer to be a poll sitter for a candidate; if your area allows them, they're someone who sits in the polling area to observe that the election is being run correctly by the election judges. (and it's important to look into what your rights are as one; if they give you the right to examine the cast ballots, you can likely complain that there's no way to examine the electronic ballots, and get the whole election thrown out).

about three weeks ago

Meet Apache Software Foundation VP Rich Bowen (Video)

oneiros27 luckily, I don't need the video ... (14 comments)

I've already met him.

He's one of the founders of the Lexington Perl Mongers group. (aka

Of course, he moved in the late 1990s or so to work for some web server group. .... and damned if I'm going to install flash for some video crap.

about three weeks ago

Ford, GM Sued Over Vehicles' Ability To Rip CD Music To Hard Drive

oneiros27 How do you know they bought the CD? (317 comments)

I think the lawsuit is stupid, as they'd have to prove that the 'primary' reason for this device is to be able to rip music.

But your claim that they're the owner of the CD isn't necessarily true. You could borrow a CD from the library, or a friend. How's the device to know if you actually own it?

And what happens if you *did* own the CD, but you then sold or gave it away? Do you still have the right to have the music in your car?

What if you haven't sold the CD, but it's now scratched or melted, and therefore unplayable? Do you still have to keep the physical copy to have the continued right to listen to it from your ripped backup, or can you dispose of the physical item?

Personally, I hope this goes to trial, and that the car manufacturers refuse to settle. I'd like a judge to finally weigh in on what is or isn't legal, so that these groups can't threaten legal action just to try to get settlements.

about three weeks ago

Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They?

oneiros27 Phone Scoop's Phone Finder (544 comments)

Phone Scoop's Phone Finder allows you to search for cell phones by feature (eg, hours of standby, hours of talk, OS, display resolution).

Set 'U.S. Carrier Availability' to 'Available' and 'Form Factor' to 'Slide', and you get:

  • Alcatel Sparq II
  • HTC Merge
  • Kyocera Milano / Jitterbug Touch
  • Kyocera Rise
  • Kyocera Verve / Contact
  • LG Cosmos 2 / Cosmos 3
  • LG Enact
  • LG Enlighten / Optimus Slider / Optimus Zip
  • LG Extravert 2 / Freedom II
  • LG LX-290 / 290c
  • LG Mach
  • LG Optimus F3Q
  • LG Rumor Reflex S / Rumor Reflex / Freedom / Converse
  • LG Xpression / Xpression 2
  • Pantech Renue
  • Pantech Vybe
  • Samsung Array / Montage
  • Samsung SGH-T301g
  • Samsung Stratosphere / Galaxy Metrix 4G

Took me less than a minute, and I didn't even had to visit any stores. And if you turn off the 'US Carrier Availability' but require 'World Roaming', you can find other phones that you might be able to get. (as HP never released the Palm Pre3 in the US, so I had to get mine from other sources)

about three weeks ago

Oracle Offers Custom Intel Chips and Unanticipated Costs

oneiros27 Re:$23k isn't crap to an oracle shop... (97 comments)

So I used to be a DBA + sysadmin at an Oracle shop ~10 years ago.

Someone even managed to talk Oracle into selling us a site license for *everything* for $1mil/year. (a steep education discount; this was a university).

Unfortunately, they couldn't get the various schools and departments to agree to pool their money to buy the site license, so instead we paid more for restrictive licenses and were prone to auditing. The only reason I saw for not buying into the site license was if departments were planning on jumping ship entirely. (and as we were using Oracle Financials, and the system for class registration was tightly bound to Oracle, I have no idea why it was such an issue ... unless there were people individually getting kickbacks who would now be cut off)

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: What Would You Do With Half a Rack of Server Space?

oneiros27 Re:Turn them into cash (208 comments)

There are places that will rent the rack space, but you provide the hardware to go in it. It's useful as you can more easily move the hardware to a new location, should they give you bad service. ... so just because a lease was mentioned, doesn't necesarily mean that they're leasing the servers.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Linux Login and Resource Management In a Computer Lab?

oneiros27 hiring them. (98 comments)

When I used to work for a university (mid-1990s), our department's sysdmin had gotten in trouble at the engineering school because he had written a script that would log into every machine multiple times until all ttys were exhausted ... so he could run his ray-tracing jobs undisturbed. I heard he got away with it for quite some time before one of their sysadmins came in early and realized something wasn't right.

They told him not to do it, but instead of banning him, they put him to work ... he wrote some pretty impressive software to make it easier for us to manage users, and a menu system for the non-technical users (a gopher-like interface that'd run elm / pine / news / lynx / gopher / etc.)

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs?

oneiros27 the pay depends ... (509 comments)

I have an ex-roommate who does refrigeration repair ... the pay's okay, but the hours can really, really suck.

He's on-call every couple of weeks, and might have to drive an hour away to fix a chiller at a grocery store; if they can't get to it and get it repaired before it warms up too much, they might have to destroy thousands of dollars worth of food. (and if you to go and get parts, you're kinda screwed) I don't think it's quite as bad as the 'always on duty' as some sysadmins get stuck with, but it can be much more stressful than you'd expect.

I also don't know if it's quite as steady work, even with the 'can't be shipped overseas' argument; my
understanding is that with the slowdown of new home construction, there's an oversupply of pipefitters, so companies aren't necessarily hiring. (this might vary by city).

about a month ago

Insurance Claims Reveal Hidden Electronic Damage From Geomagnetic Storms

oneiros27 Re:Solar activity (78 comments)

The guy who runs the website works for NASA, but I'm fairly certain that it's a side project, and not a NASA-funded website. (if it was, they'd have NASA logos on it, and not ads)

Solar Monitor used to be hosted by NASA, but it's currently at Trinity College, Dublin.

NASA funded projects would include Helioviewer (also ESA funded) and ISWA

However ... there was something a couple of years back and now NASA's not allowed to provide space weather predictions to the public ... so you have to get forecast information from NOAA's SWPC

about a month ago



Search for Evi Nemeth Continues

oneiros27 oneiros27 writes  |  about a year ago

oneiros27 (46144) writes "Although the initial search for Evi Nemeth (and some other people who didn't write Unix books) ended, family and friends of the missing crew are funding a private search effort for the crew. They've managed to get more images from DigitalGlobe of the drift area, but now need help looking through the pictures. If you've got some free time, you might be able to help save some lives."
Link to Original Source

SpaceVenture : a new "Sierra" style game from the makers of Space Quest

oneiros27 oneiros27 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

oneiros27 (46144) writes "As previously covered a few years ago, created a javascript interpreter for old Sierra games. Now, the original creators of Space Quest and the folks responsible for are planning a new game, and have already put out some teasers to test browsers and show off the artwork, and show they haven't lost their sense of humor."
Link to Original Source


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