Philae's Batteries Have Drained; Comet Lander Sleeps
although a near impossibility, i like to have faith that on some level everything will work out for us, and that a future incarnation of what we've grown into will witness the final years of the universe, rather than just being a bunch of coincidental meat sacks that will instantly die out when something random smacks into our planet, or a bunch of space fleas that jump around to various planets in our solar system to survive until we witness the death of our sun, and that's the end.
that stupid impossible thought, that what we're doing here today could have some eventual influence on how eternity on the scale of the universe plays out, drives me to learn and understand as much as i can in my life.
i hope that's a driving force for some of the people that design these space probes and experiments too
or it's possible i've just read too much asimov, whichever
FreeBSD 10.1 Released
the entire build for amd64 and x86 has moved to the llvm compiler and clang
this is a gigantic plus in the long run, llvm/clang is a great project, and having such a widely used operating system out in the wild relying on it will only bring good.
changing to an entirely different compiler *could* expose new and interesting problems or bugs that can't be anticipated until the code is run by the masses in all different environments. this could be stuff that's very hard to find during release candidate testing.
for that reason, the 10.x series is one release i'd probably wait a good long while before installing on any of my own systems...
Ask Slashdot: Is Non-USB Flash Direct From China Safe?
oh dear god dont write over the protected area! ...
it's used for some specialized keys for some rarely used version of DRM. so if you have a CPRM "protected" file on the sd card, then.. you know.... "accidently" give the file to someone else, they'll lack the decryption keys (since they're stored outside of the filesystem by the program that wrote the file to the flash card) and the file will be useless.
it's another one of those things that attempts to relabel yet another "generic binary storage device" as a "specialized media holder to assist content protection", and you should actually go out of your way to destroy this "protected area" instead of carefully avoiding damage to it.
it's totally safe to write over this "protected area" and use it for your own data, and it's rare to run into programs that actually use CPRM for protection against distribution (although they probably do exist, why would you use such a thing?).
that's probably why you've never heard of it or noticed writing over it.
US School Installs 'Shooter Detection' System
it hasn't come up yet, but im pretty sure if someone (including the voices in my head) said 'kill a bunch of people in this room without using guns or knives' i'd figure out an effective way to do it pretty quickly.
that's ignoring the fact that this gun detector is circumvented by maximum rounds fired per however long it takes the cops to get there. i realize they know this too, but since you can kill a hell of a lot of people with automatic weapons in a few minutes, someone truly dedicated to shooting up a school is going to make a game of it now.
Raspberry Pi Sales Approach 4 Million
oh and the screen was on special for $20 on amazon as a 'backup camera'. it ended up only being good enough for ncurses with a big ugly font.
there's a picture on here.
Raspberry Pi Sales Approach 4 Million
the pi isn't that useful in itself, but it's great inspiration once you pick a device, say 'this should have a little computer in it', and go from there
i bought mine as a 'spare cheap linux thingie', and after i did the usual nerdy tweaks and patches and automating maintainance junk that i always do, it sat there powered up for years not doing any good. i couldn't even run it as a time server (my initial plan) since i found it didn't have an RTC and i didnt' care to install one
then i got the idea to build it into my car to do "something". i didn't really know what. music?
regular car pcs aren't that interesting, but what the hell. i got a 12v to 5v power supply, got wireless working on it so i could manage it from my living room, and mounted it in my glove compartment.
it ended up inspiring a chain of r&d packed with scope creep and overengineering that burned off many hundreds of hours of my boredom time:
- dissecting how the serial datastream from my car's ecm worked
- learning about raw ftdi commands and eventually resigning myself to learing libftdi
- writing a toolkit to manage the datastream in c
- make the entire thing threaded and modular and have tons of crazy debugging and error checking features
- learn how github works, just for a change over my other revision control choices
- develop my own retarded configuration file format so it could be hacked to work with other cars (why? i have no idea)
- trying to achieve the maximum throughput of requests/responses
- hacking together a little ncurses dashboard of various engine parameters
- writing a standardized datalogging interface that logged everything, all the time
- interfacing it with analog signals to get more data (wideband o2 sensor input)
- writing a decent datalog analyzer program to make use of the data to better tune the car, to the point of where i could just execute a binary and get new more accurate fueling tables handed to me
if it wasn't for the pi, i never would have learned about all that junk in such detail, and my car wouldn't run so well!
it was full of challenges, limited usb ports, hacking the usb ports so the wireless adaptor wouldn't overload the thermal fuses, the lack of RTC meant logging timestamps could never work properly (used a 'global time index counter' type thing), etc.
i can keep going too, if i make this thing play music, i can rig it up so it becomes an inspired dj, plays slow calm tracks for crusing around, and hard fast tracks when i start driving harder.. i also plan to rig the GPIO up to my steering wheel controls to do nifty things like be able to control my idle speed with what used to be a volume control..
money well spent for sure.
if i had to hack a real car pc together, or butcher a laptop to build it into my dash, i probably wouldn't have bothered due to the initial cost and time investment. once it's there, you just can't resist hacking on it.
Google To Build Quantum Information Processors
even a failed attempt is worth quite a bit, and worth watching; as far as technological research goes, we usually tend to fuck it up a few dozen times before we get it just right.
Apple Reveals the Most Common Reasons That It Rejects Apps
i have to hand apple one thing, about their walled garden. although i have some cool android apps on my phone, my wife's iphone is much more of a pleasure to use.
why? because, for example, there are ten thousand friggn' notepad apps for android, and i'm too lazy to find one that look like the rest of the android interface, so after browsing through a dozen, i just picked one...
click her notepad app, and it looks like im just smoothly entering another part of the iphone experience... ... click mine, and i'm launched into an ugly frenzy of badly placed wrongly colored controls etc with entry fields that behave strangely, and buttons with icons that i don't recognize.
when you have 1000 developers making 1000 apps that do the same thing, the only difference being how the ui looks, and none of them even match the rest of the operating system, you fucked up your operating system. that's android for you. nobody even knows what an android app is really supposed to look like anymore, and developers don't care, they're just off in their own little world with no taste in design.
graphical operating systems need fairly strict ui design conventions. period. they need to be breakable, but encouraged very strongly to the point of where breaking them for no reason makes your app seen as a peice of junk. this is apple's only real advantage in locking out outside apps, being able to blacklist ugly things.
i appluade them for attempting to force that kind of consistency on their device, not that it always works... no solution is 100%.
not that i'd buy an iphone myself, and you don't have to either. just sayin'.
Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones
people in apartments or yards of an inappropriately small size, or with too many overhanging trees, will be blacklisted as the things crash repeatedly, they'll default to truck delivery.
an equation of range vs weight will be used that ends up defaulting anything but a friggn' bottle opener to truck delivery.
during questionable weather, shipments will be heavily delayed until the weather clears, and they'll default to truck delivery.
bird flys into your shipment. kid throws a rock at it. whatever. re-shipments probably default to truck delivery.
people (including me) will order $5 packages, wait for them to arrive, then steal the 'copter for parts. no real way to prove it didn't just crash, right?
eventually it'll just become a cool novelty if some package lands successfully in your backyard instead of by truck, instead of a real utility.
XKCD Author's Unpublished Book Remains a Best-Seller For 5 Months
the german version should cost more. making things funny in german is REALLY hard.
XKCD Author's Unpublished Book Remains a Best-Seller For 5 Months
i haven't really read xkcd in a few months, but i do love it.
his odd medium of stick figures seemed lazy the first time i read his comic, but now it seems almost purpose-picked for the kind of readership he has. it's the comic strip equivalent of a command line interface. no flash, all function.
slashdot has never motivated me to purchase anything before. i was unaware he was releasing a book. so this is a first, a slashvertisement got me.
i wish randall the most incredible success in his new book, he deserves to make many millions from it. he seems like the kind of guy that would start xkcd scholorships or something if he became wealthy.
Canada Tops List of Most Science-Literate Countries
I've lived and worked in Canada my entire life, had lots of average friends here, and met a great cross section of canadians.
Just because canada has a very high percentage of athiesm, doesn't mean the majority of canadians understand that there are particles smaller than an atom, that the concept of gravity has developed past Newtonian, the flow of electricity in a direct current system, or even the basic laws of energy any better than the average american.
Seriously, they don't. This lack of knowledge is apparent in everyday conversations trying to discuss anything in both canada and the usa. It seems most average people in most places don't care to understand that stuff.
Our health care system? Oh come on now. Just because everyone recieves equal care doesn't mean anyone benefits from advanced research. Many advanced procedures available in private medical care in the usa are simply not available here, as public funding won't allow for the training or technology. It's not a factor.
Pirate Bay Sports-Content Uploader Faces $32m Lawsuit
Let's say that one pay-per-view cost, say, $32 (for ease of the maths).
Let's say that a thousand people downloaded it (likely MUCH more). That is a direct loss of $32,000 to the content creator (without even needing to fabricate things, because that content was pay-per-view).
Let's say he did a thousand torrents (likely not much less). That's $32,000,000. Direct, provable, accountable loss.
just in case you're curious how THEY calculate it (i'd say RTFA and call you names, but since there's no link in the summary....)
"The company is seeking statutory damages of $18.6m (150k * 124 instances) for copyright infringement, up to $13.64m (110k * 124 instances) plus $60,000 for breaches of the Federal Communications Act, plus sundry damages on the remaining counts."
funny, if i use your method, i come up with 124 infringements * 10000+ downloads * $32 = about 400 million dollars. he's getting off easy!?
i'd love to see how they actually end up trying to explain a loss of revenue in this court case, that's where the ground gets a bit shakey...
Heartbleed Pricetag To Top $500 Million?
In a very small non-technical business which relies on some ssl based services, where I am the only nerd, here's my experience.
I had to:
- Test everything with SSL that we use in-house (we got off easy), then patch openssl on our internal web server. That was mostly for fun, since our network is fairly secure, and nobody that uses our internal network would be smart enough to exploit heartbleed. But still, NAT invaders, you never know. Maybe an hour spent, probably less.
- Explain this bug to everyone that isn't tech saavy, how it probably wont make a difference for us, but what it means for security. It wasn't worth calling a meeting over, so I did it individually, took a while, though.
- Make all employees reset ALL of their passwords on the SSL websites we use, after testing a small sample of them and finding several were affected by the bug, better safe than sorry. From a micromanagement standpoint, this is actually a gigantic expense of time, since we generally don't cycle passwords on many of these sites very often, and often share non-critical accounts between employees. There's wasted time when everyone types the old password, scratches their head, tries to remember the new one, has to find someone else to ask, etc.. A customer could walk away in frustration if it takes too long. Probably an hour or two spent.
- Contact any of the web service providers that we use, that I know were affected, sit around, wait on hold (for a long time obviously) to try to get some kind of plan of action or disaster report out of them. Many hours spent, but probably a waste of time anyway.
- Loss of business from downtime of two critical sites that shut down for a few days when they discovered the bug. Not as bad as it could have been if it were a larger business.
So how much did it cost our organization specifically? A couple hundred bucks in time total might be a reasonable estimate. Definitely not a problem for an end user like us.
This is nothing in contrast to a bad IT problem - for example when our entire network got raped by Zeus.....
We're talking every email account compromised, our static ips placed on god knows how many blacklists, practically worldwide email blacklist of our entire domain, very difficult removal, loss of HUGE amounts of business data to cryptolocker, loss of reputation when many of our customers also got the virus from opening emails from us, or received spam under our name, our ISP even cut us offline until repairs were done, we were down for a week.
It even hit a backup drive with cryptolocker because someone left it plugged in, which was very unfriendly when the banks needed to audit some business data that was cryptolockered in two places. Management freaked and required very expensive antivirus software that slowed our computers to a crawl, requiring upgrade or replace of every system in the entire building.
I bet Zeus cost us over 50 grand, we had to change our domain name, which is the worst way out, and who knows what kind of data those assholes got while they were abusing our mail server.
We were tempted to burn the building to the ground and change our name to recover from that one.
L.A. Police: All Cars In L.A. Are Under Investigation
i'm getting tired of this, is anyone else?
they want not just license plate cameras, but to track all of your movements. disable your vehicle if they want. UAVs with cameras now and guns later. wiretapping everything. they want complete tracking of what we buy, who we know, where we go, who we fuck, our entire genome.
all this personal private data in the grimy hands of people that we don't know, and dont trust, collected with our supposed consent because a few people signed a 'protect us from everything at whatever cost' bills after some terrorist fear mongering.
'public view is up for grabs' is a terrifying concept. there's a big difference between someone taking a picture of you on the street, and a cop taking pictures of everyone on the street all the time, so it can be harvested electrically for suspicious activities.
i won't live in a police state, and i wont move either.
we are the nerds. we are the ones that made this shit up! they're misusing our technology here
that also means we are the ones with the capability to destroy these electronic monitoring devices in the least damaging way possible
we also seem to form one of the communities with a very high percentage of people that have a gut feeling that this kind of thing is terribly wrong, and that realise how much it's going to get worse.
we dont need activists or guerilla armies to get ourselves out of this mess, the future is now. we need nerds to fight, not guns.
at what point do we save the power hungry morons and the whining fearful masses that keep signing off on all this stuff from screwing ordinary innocent people over?
at what point will it be necessary to destroy these implements of monitoring with technological means?
i hope this gets me on a terrorism list. this kind of stuff comes to my neck of the woods, i'm going to try my best to fuck it up.
OpenBSD 5.2 Released
i used to use it a lot
it doesnt' have much going for it, in the scheme of modern unix-like operating systems.. it's a bit of an underdog. it doesn't have fancy high-performance schedulers, its io layer is slow.. it's missing drivers for lots of commodity hardware, some of them because of principles.. theo is an asshole sometimes, with his constant 'im always right and you're always an idiot' thing.. but..
for one, the documentation is beautiful. whoever maintains the documentation should get a medal. there are few typos, everything has a man page, and every man page has EXAMPLES and is easy to understand. better than any other operating system out there. and that's a big plus: if you try any linux distribution and find an unfamilar file in /etc, you have a 50/50 shot of it being documented properly. with openbsd, it's garunteed
because their entire mission is based on thorough auditing, they make sure their code is very well documented and easy to understand. that's a big bonus too. modifying and developing on openbsd, as a platform, is a very nice experience
openssh is a very beautifully written piece of software. it's nice to use, and it's nice to read the source code. when is the last time it gave you any problems? openbsd is an entire operating system written with the same standards.
give it a try if you haven't, it wont hurt you.. virtual machines don't cost anything..
Google Sued For Tracking Users' Locations
that my cheap ass samsung phone can't seem to locate a gps sat. to save its fucking life.. it has NO idea where i am.
Recent HP Laptops Shipped CPU-Choking Wi-Fi Driver
The worst part is, the bloat wasn't actually "preinstalled" on the laptop I got.
The first time the piece of shit booted, I got to wait while it was installed for me, with no option to cancel/exit.
THEN I had to uninstall each program.
It was as logical as a factory full of retards producing something in the slowest way possible, then immediately packaging it up just to be sent to the landfill next door via a bicycle courier with two flat tires.
Total time invested: about two hours.
Obama Calling For $53B For High Speed Rail
Small light rail travel is awesome in urban centres. Look at the skytrain system in Vancouver.
And if you want people to use a larger rail system for long cross-state trips, it's not hard.
Make it outrageously cheap in terms of distance:dollars (to the point of almost being a loss) so you would have to be a retard to want to fly or drive to anywhere that has two rail stations on it, even if the trip does take longer.
Pack the bastard with whole cars full of alcohol, food, coin op video games, internet access, bathrooms, tables, comfortable seating, and shit.. all hotel grade kit.. and make your profits off the fact that people get bored and hungry during long trips, and will gladly pay anything to solve those problems when they're completely trapped.
Then simply advertise it with catchy ad campaigns targeted towards lower to middle class people. Pay google to suggest trains, with pricing, when you use google maps. Whatever you have to do.
Should Employees Buy Their Own Computers?
The equipment my employer provides is "good enough" that I can't justify them paying for an upgrade (it does the job), but sometimes "too slow" for me to use comfortably.. I've been more than happy to provide my own computer from home during my employment.
I like my own monitor and keyboard better than theirs too. It would be unfair of me to request a better keyboard just because theirs doesn't click loudly enough.
I've been more than happy to assume the responsibility of maintainance and upgrade costs myself, if they ever arise, I just use hand-me-down shit from my own computers at home whenever possible, and I tend to write them off my taxes at street value as a subcontractor when possible.
I'd be wary of "You may provide your own computer" turning into "You MUST provide your own computer"... Pretty soon it might be "Please provide your own laser printer and toner". I've run into that before, at the very least, it's made the company very whiny about having to pay for repairing my printer, "I thought he supplied all his own gear?" Just make sure you draw the line in a reasonable place.
In the auto industry, mechanics generally provide most of their own tools, and the company provides a tax-deductable tool allowance, but consumables like greases, rags, and batteries for cordless drills are provided by the company. A mechanic may provide his own air ratchets, but the shop completely is responsible for the infrastructure to connect those tools (air fittings, compressors, etc). That would be a good baseline.