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India Blocks Code Sharing Websites On Anti-Terror Advisory

rjforster Re:at least not stackoverflow (78 comments)

Now THAT wold be serious.

True. Stackoverflow is the answer. Now what was the queston?

about a month ago

Designing the Best Board Game

rjforster Knightmare Chess (155 comments)

I loved this game; it totally ate my brain when it came out. Basically an event deck for chess so you get cards like "Move your Bishop as if it were a Knight" style cards. You can play it better if you know a tiny bit of chess openings but good chess knowledge can also hinder you if, for example, a card is played which swaps the directions of move and capture for pawns - all your pawn structure knowledge goes out of the window.
I also played it with a stacked deck rather than a shuffled one to lessen the randomisation - put good early game cards at the top of the deck and escape cards for your king near the bottom.

about a month ago

Designing the Best Board Game

rjforster Re:Advance to Go (155 comments)

An ex-colleague of mine told me how he played Monopoly with his kids where he was the banker but not a player. He offered loans (with interest; obviously) and rent or jail insurance policies etc. Obviously he had more fun than they did but they learned some valuable lessons about money.

about a month ago

The Making of a 1980s Dungeons & Dragons Module

rjforster Re:It was a lot more social (59 comments)

How often does the thief in the party actually steal from team-mates in the electronic versions? Yet our team had a thief character who would do exactly that -- swipe anything that wasn't nailed down -- and sometimes use a crowbar if it was. :)

It's those little amusing things that make RPGs so much fun. One of my groups has an ongoing joke that usually crops up in Sci-Fi games where we make strong booze on the side and get a little business going selling that despite the fall of governments or alien invasions going on.
I remember a fantasy game where I was the only character to have a magic sword (or any magic weapon, for that matter) - yet I never once drew it. It wasn't cursed or anything like that, I just rarely got into those kinds of scrapes and it got to the stage where I was making a point of it.

about a month ago

Quake On an Oscilloscope

rjforster Re:Easier by several other methods (71 comments)

Yep. Win98 for the Agilent ones too.

I remember, around 2001, buying a vibration motor for an old Nokia 3210 mobile phone that wasn't originally supplied with one, though the space inside was there. Fitting the motor was easy but I needed to flash the firmware to drive it. For this I needed DOS on a PC with a serial port. My home PC ran linux (obviously), my desktop at work was NT4 but the 'scope in the lab ran Win98 and had the serial port and floppy drive. 2 minutes later I had a vibrating phone.

Someone else at work put full excel on one of these Win98 'scopes.

about a month ago

DHS Investigates 24 Potentially Lethal IoT Medical Devices

rjforster Re:Well ... duh! (79 comments)

I disagree. You don't have to harden your internet connected refrigerator against malicious attacks.

Why? Because when you ask "what could possibly go wrong?" the answer is your food will spoil, and you will have to throw it out. It's not like spoiled food is not instantly recognizable.

Unless your fridge has the capability of re-ordering food that you've run out of. Or ordering all the ingredients from a menu you scan with your smartphone. Or whatever.
Then it can be hacked to order really expensive stuff. If it normally needs human approval then that is just another bump to cross before it can be hacked to be done without your approval.

Why would anyone do this other than as a prank? Well what if I order something from a company with a policy of "if it's listed as in stock but we can't deliver it within x days for some reason then you get it free when we eventually restock" then I get you to buy out all their stock half a second before I confirm my order. I wait a few extra days but get that crate of champagne for free. The supermarket can't detect anything because they aren't the ones being hacked.

As ever, it will be an arms race of attack and mitigation until it all settles down.

about 3 months ago

Statistician Creates Mathematical Model To Predict the Future of Game of Thrones

rjforster Re: Hodor (127 comments)

I read your typo as 'douche ex machina', which would be kinda fitting here. Thanks.

about 4 months ago

GNOME 3.14 Released

rjforster Have they fixed the invisible file mgr borders? (250 comments)

It's only on the file manager (that I've found) but you can click OUTSIDE the window and still interact with the window. For example if you have two file-managers close to each other with another window below them both and visible in the gap then you can't click the lower window directly even though you can see it and put your mouse over the visible part of it. All you do is focus one or the other of the file manager windows.
You can also hold down the windows key and click outside the file manager window and drag it around the screen just as if you had clicked inside the window (I can't remember if I changed the default key from alt to windows in my settings but the point applies).

Generally I'm OK with Gnome3 (providing you get the right extensions) but these invisible borders are such a fundamental breakage of the basic concept of a graphical windowed user interface.

about 4 months ago

Is It Really GPS If It Doesn't Use Satellites?

rjforster Reminds me of ... (298 comments)

...proposals (and lab prototypes / research) to use single atom trapping technology or atomic fountains or other such experiments to accurately measure the local gravitational field. The idea (and the source of grant funding, if you get my drift) was that If they did it at each end of a sub they could theoretically detect the faint effects of being near an undersea mountain. I think the most accurate version coupled two experiments together at each end of the sub which meant a vacuum tube running the length of the boat.
That was 15 years ago or more and I've no idea what became of the research.

about 8 months ago

Applying Pavlovian Psychology to Password Management

rjforster I think companies should run cracking software (288 comments)

You have complete freedom to use whatever password you wish and to change it whenever you wish but the company has a rack or 3 of kit dedicated to cracking passwords. If yours gets cracked then you get forced to change it. If it gets cracked again your collegues (and manager, and staff) also get told so that they can provide peer pressure/ridicule/helpful advice.
The cracking software can be aware of common passwords, your previous passwords and things like the names of projects you're working on. There can even be a 'submit a crib' internal website where others can upload the criptic post-it that's on your desk to see if it gives password hints.

Depending on the exact situation of your working environment the penalties might be far harsher.

Obviously if you work for a very big company they might use a rather large value of 3.

about 9 months ago

Fedora 20 Released

rjforster Re:I'm fedup with this (147 comments)

Not in my experience. Over the last 4 years my PC has run every version of Fedora and has /home on a pair of mirrored drives which I set up using anaconda on what I'm guessing was F11. I don't always upgrade as new versions are released but it is running F19 right now.
I grant that "not supported" is different from "it ain't gonna work" but for me at least; it worked.

about a year ago

Georgia Cop Issues 800 Tickets To Drivers Texting At Red Lights

rjforster Re:Officer dickhead is a dickhead. (1440 comments)

Some of that is because the camber of the road (ok, some roads more than others) makes every start a minor hill-start. By applying the handbrake you should be preventing any chances of rolling into the kerb.

I was told to keep it in gear with my foot on the clutch. Now I only do that if I know the cycle time is quite short, otherwise it goes into neutral and the handbrake goes on. I don't impede traffic because I see when the other lights change and am back into first before my light goes green.

Another point is that I hate fecking bright brake lights in my eyes and I am courteous to those that might be stopped behind me.

about a year ago

The Greatest Keyboard Shortcut Ever

rjforster Re:Huh? What? (506 comments)

1563, hmmm would that mean you registered towards the end of day one or was it day two? I wondered whether there was any point in registering at all and so didn't get around to it until towards the end of day two. I think. It's been a while :-)

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Software For Med-School Note-Taking?

rjforster Re:get a fountain pen, a good notebook, and good i (217 comments)

I took most of my degree notes with a battered Sheaffer Imperial Flighter which is about as old as me but still writes beautifully. Today I'm never without my Pilot Capless.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Software For Med-School Note-Taking?

rjforster Re:Remember the one hour equals three hours rule. (217 comments)

I can't say that any of my university classes were so dense that there was three hours of information packed into a single lecture. I'd say half of them were about 10 minutes of information packed into an hour-long lecture and obfuscated to make it seem like there was more content that there was.

It's not 3 hours of information. It's 3 hours of your life needed to pass an exam on whatever information was in that hour. So if it were 10 minutes of useful information then the second hour is finding and fully understanding that from within the first hour, if it wasn't obvious. Then nearer exam time another hour reminding yourself about it all and doing a few sample questions to get you ready.

As I put earlier it was only in my final year that I realised just how true this piece of first year (probably first week actually) advice was for my situation. It may well be different for different people studying different subjects but it was uncannily accurate for me.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Software For Med-School Note-Taking?

rjforster Remember the one hour equals three hours rule. (217 comments)

I was told this when I started at university but it took me until my final year to truly grok it.

Each one hour lecture should take 3 hours of your time. One hour in the lecture itself, one hour within the next day or two (at most, ideally same day so things are fresher in your mind) when you annotate the notes you had taken, redraw bad diagrams, look stuff up etc. Don't hope or expect to get 'perfect' notes from the lecture itself. Then finally one hour before the exam to go over that hour of lecture time.

As others have said, pen and paper is king for that first hour in the lecture itself. Anything you try to do with technology should concentrate on the second hour.

about a year and a half ago

Despite Global Release, Breaking Bad Heavily Pirated

rjforster Re:Too Many Adverts? (443 comments)

Yep. I know people who would rather wait and watch the download without adverts than see it a day earlier on the channel they are paying good money for but with adverts. Most say that a single ad break mid way through the show is acceptable but the 4 or 5 (or more) breaks that you typically get make the shows unwatchable.

about a year and a half ago

UK Town of Ipswich Remodelled As Zelda Level

rjforster Re:I live in/near Ipswich (53 comments)

This resident thinks it's a dump. But then I only moved here for work and I'm more than willing to move away again for the right other work.

Still, it's a slashdot story which make me say "oooh, I can see my house" so that at least puts a mild grin on my face.

about a year and a half ago


rjforster hasn't submitted any stories.



rjforster rjforster writes  |  more than 11 years ago

...or were they patentable inventions before I typed them into slashdot on 2003-11-19?

1. Gravity sensors. The problem I used to have was that every time I took my phone from my pocket it came out upside down in my hand. Therefore I suggest a phone where this does not matter. A symmetrical phone body. No up or down, top or bottom. Give it a full size screen with touch sensors that can act as a keyboard or display. Also include a gravity direction sensor. Hence one should just be able to pick it up and use it normally, no matter how it is orientated.
Yes, I've thought of a few gotchas. You ideally need a microphone and speaker at each end of the phone, but can probably get away with one microphone in the center. You might be lying down and so the phone needs to be classically upside down to be useful given the present orientation of your head. In this case include a 'lock' button to hold the orientation. You may wish to disable orientation switching while the phone is connected. What you definetely want (for the kewl kids) is to show how the phone swaps its display around as you invert it.

2. Pushable ring-tones. The kids would love this. Enable the sending of a ring tone to the target phone when you call them. This can be a simple set of tones sent ahead useing very little data in the way a ring-tone can be 'SMSed' to your phone or in modern higher bandwidth networks a mp3 (or equivalent compressed music file such as ogg vorbis) file can be sent. For example if Alice calls Bob. She might prerecord a file of her voice saying "Hey Bob, pick up the phone, it's Alice".
Obviously this would need relatively fine grained permission settings to prevent embarassment. Kids would love this because they could send very bad language to other peoples phones and would find this very funny indeed. In other words it would sell well.

3. Location, time and velocity specific settings. Present generation mobile phones can track your location quite accurately. 3G networks can track your location very accurately. I propose a feature that lets you set the permissions of your phone (ring tone, silence mode, vibrate, divert calls etc) by location.
Examples would be:
a) at home: full permissions, ring tones and vibrations
b) at work: beep once, vibrations
c) inside the meeting room at work: divert to answer phone
d) after 11pm Sunday thru Thursday: divert to answer phone (location information will be this accurate with newer phone generations)
e) moving faster than 10mph within last 3 minutes: divert to answer phone as owner is driving his or her car.

4. A Balance feature for camera phones. Many phones have built in digital cameras now. These phones typically have to be held upright in the hand with the operator viewing the phone display before taking the picture. Some phones have rotating cameras that so that the operator can take pictures of themselves (either posing with friends or as part of a video call facility).
I propose a method of balancing these phones so that a bigger group shot can be taken after a timer delay, much in the way many regular cameras can operate. Wheras regular cameras often have a large flat base to easily allow placement on a suitable flat surface, mobile phones do not balance so easily. I propose two solutions to this problem. First, simple fold out legs can steady the phone. This can be done in many ways, just one example would use a device looking like a minature FM radio antenna than can be extended and rotated on a pivot to the correct angle to balance the phone handset. The second method would use the vibration motor or the phone, which is just an unbalanced rotating mass, or may use a separate, balanced rotating mass the design of which is optimised for this purpose of balancing the phone. The design requires the base of the phone fashioned such that it can fall in only two directions (ie not balanced on a point or rounded point) and correct alignment of the rotating mass. As sensors within the phone detect it falling one way or the other then the motor can be turned to induce angular momentum into the system in an opposite direction to that of the falling motion and thus rebalance the phone.

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