Slashdot: News for Nerds


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!



Google's Project Zero Aims To Find Exploits Before Attackers Do Google now hunting for exploits? (62 comments)

I'm glad to hear Google is dedicating resources to finding exploits in Internet softw...hey, wait, where'd my Bitcoins go???

about a week ago

Protesters Launch a 135-Foot Blimp Over the NSA's Utah Data Center NSA Data Center info site (104 comments)

You can learn more about the NSA data center here.

about three weeks ago

Is Time Moving Forward Or Backward? Computers Learn To Spot the Difference Re:Sounds like bad methology (78 comments)

+1. It seems like the results are perhaps keying off the compression artifacts introduced rather than any fundamental image data. Moreover, the compression artifacts are consistent from video to video, forming a consistent training set.

about a month ago

Plaintiff In Tech Hiring Suit Asks Judge To Reject Settlement Be careful what you wish for (215 comments)

I was also annoyed by the possible $3B win vs. $324M settlement, so I contacted one of the class action plaintiff's lawyers. He called back and I spent about 20 minutes on the phone with him. Among other things, he pointed out the defendants in the case (Apple et. al) have monster legal budgets, and the case will very likely (after many years) be fought all the way to the Supreme court. The current SCOTUS is more corporate than citizen friendly (witness Citizens United, etc.) and a win there is -not- assured. It is sickening to see the lawyers get a big payday, while you (the class member engineers you) are getting a new TV instead of a new car. But the TV is a sure deal, the car most likely is not.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code? Graphics doesn't scale well (876 comments)

Graphical programming languages were a popular PhD topic 25-30 years ago. You can find them today in systems targeted at kids or non-technical users. But you won't find them anywhere near serious software development. Text is an incredibly dense and powerful medium for communicating with machines. The problem with graphics for programming is they do not scale well. Consider a moderately complex problem, solved in, say, several thousand lines of code. The same thing expressed graphically starts using dozens of pages (or bubbles, or nodes or whatever graphics) to express the same thing. It gets ugly quick.

Several years ago, I did the side by side experiment of expressing the same non-trivial digital circuit (a four digit stopwatch with a multiplexed display) as both a schematic diagram, and as text with Verilog. The graphic (schematic) version was much more time consuming, and *much* harder to modify than the text-based Verilog. It became very clear why digital circuit designers abandoned graphics and switched text for complex designs.

about 5 months ago

Apple, Amazon, Microsoft & More Settle Lawsuits With Boston University How can they sue companies who don't make LEDs? (129 comments)

I'm puzzled. The patent (at least the one cited in the article) details a very specific method for creating the crystals in LEDs. I can see BU going after various LED manufacturers (Cree, Philips, Panasonic, etc.). But Apple? Microsoft? Those companies re-sell those components, they don't manufacture them.

about 6 months ago

Facebook Building a Company Town Re:Not really (159 comments)

Ironically, the FB headquarters is right next to East Palo Alto, one of the poorer neighborhoods in the Bay Area. In the early '90s it had the highest (per capita) murder rate in the US, but that's since come down. Still, maybe not the place the average FaceBook nerd want's to send their kids to school at.

about 10 months ago

Interviews: Q&A With Guido van Rossum Re:Python 3 (242 comments)

I'm also curious about this. Most production environments and many external libraries are firmly entrenched in Python 2.x. Were the changes in Python 3 too much, too late? In other words, was the house to near completion to start ripping up the floorboards and tearing out the drywall again?

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Science Books For Middle School Enrichment? The Kon-Tiki Expedition (203 comments)

I read to our kids every night, and after a while I got tired of wizards waving a wand to solve the problems. Wanting something non-fiction, I recalled The Kon-Tiki Expedition and it was perfect. The best part about Thor Heyerdahl's amazing adventure story is that it's true. As in it really happened. Trips to the jungle, strange sea creatures, a real scientific mystery, a shipwreck on an exotic tropical island, it's all in there. The book is still in print (a true classic) and if poke around a bit, you can find a beautiful illustrated edition that's great for younger kids. It's one of the best science adventure books you'll ever find.

about a year ago

Kobo CEO Says Not Selling Washing Machines Key To Overtaking Amazon Kobo #2? Really? (207 comments)

I like how the journalist blindly accepts their claim to being the #2 e-reader, completely ignoring Google (aka Play bookstore), Apple, or B&N. This smells like a CEO blowing smoke in the hopes of unloading a money-losing business on somebody else.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Archive and Access Ancient Emails? Eudora (282 comments)

Eudora still runs on my Win7 box. I have email going back to at least the early '90s. All plaintext and easily searchable.

about a year ago

Razer Unveils High-End Gaming Tablet Heat dissipation (136 comments)

Along with short battery life, I wonder how hot the thing gets. Hmm, might be handy to have a tablet that keeps your coffee warm. Or fries your eggs. Do they make non-stick Gorilla Glass?

about a year and a half ago

NASA To Future Lunar Explorers: Don't Mess With Our Moon Stuff Hello? What about that Surveyer 1 camera? (346 comments)

Geez, NASA doesn't even follow their own rules. You may recall, part of the Apollo 12 landing involved a hike over to the Surveyor 3 landing site. They hack-sawed the camera and several other pieces off the Surveyor probe and brought them home. Still waiting to see if any of it gets posted in eBay...

(Kind of ironic that they took the camera; the Apollo 12 astronauts ineptly fried their camera by pointing it at the sun, and ruined the live TV coverage of the entire mission).

more than 2 years ago

Introducing SlashBI Business "Intelligence"?? (339 comments)

What, you're sucking up to MBAs now? Taco! Come back...we need you!

more than 2 years ago

Apple's North Carolina Data Center Will Feature Biogas Generators Bloom box "fuel cells" a hoax? (68 comments)

Our company has several Bloom boxes. Natural gas in, electricity out. They're -very- noisy, and you can can see soot forming around exhaust vents on the top. Are they really fuel cells, or...gas turbine generators? Gas-fired boiler heats H2O to steam, pushes it through a turbine mechanical generator, H2O condenses. This would explain the noise and the soot.

Anybody seen the insides of a Bloom box?

more than 2 years ago

How To Crash the US Justice System: Demand a Trial Re:jury trials cost more money (897 comments)

I've been burned by this. The "Amount Due for Bail Forfeiture" (i.e., the fine) was exactly the same amount as the "Amount Due for a Court Appearance". What a coincidence, huh?

more than 2 years ago

Aging Eyes Blamed For Seniors' Health Woes John Ott (149 comments)

John Ott was promoting the health benefits of natural light in the 1960s. Nothing new here...

more than 2 years ago



Congressmen Invite Schneier to Brief them on the NSA writes  |  about 6 months ago (771661) writes "Six members of Congress invited security expert Bruce Schneier to brief them on the NSA. Why Bruce? Because, with access to the Snowden documents, he's more forthcoming about the NSA's activities than anybody at the NSA itself. He writes:

Rep. Lofgren asked me to brief her and a few Representatives on the NSA. She said that the NSA wasn't forthcoming about their activities, and they wanted me — as someone with access to the Snowden documents — to explain to them what the NSA was doing. Of course I'm not going to give details on the meeting, except to say that it was candid and interesting. And that it's extremely freaky that Congress has such a difficult time getting information out of the NSA that they have to ask me. I really want oversight to work better in this country.

Ironic: Even though the contents of top-secret, unpublished documents was discussed, the meeting was held in a regular conference room, because Bruce didn't have the necessary security clearance to enter a secure government facility."
Link to Original Source


Google Glass Teardown writes  |  about a year ago (771661) writes "Ever wonder how Google packed all of the Google Glass functionality into a slender eyeglass frame? Find out by checking out this teardown by Scott Torborg and Star Simpson. Goodies found inside include proximity, light and inertial sensors, sound transducers, a TI OMAP CPU, flash, RAM, camera and tiny projection display."

Opportunties From the Twilight of Moore's Law writes  |  more than 2 years ago writes "Andrew "bunnie" Huang just posted an excellent essay, Why the Best Days of Open Hardware are Yet to Come. He shows how the gradually slowing pace of semiconductor density actually may create many new opportunities for smaller scale innovators and entrepreneurs. It's based on a talk presented at the 2011 Open Hardware Summit.

Are we entering an age of heirloom laptops and artisan engineering?"

Link to Original Source

Telehack re-creates the Internet from 25 years ago writes  |  more than 3 years ago writes " has meticulously re-created the Internet as it appeared to a command line user over a quarter century ago. Drawing on material from Jason Scott's, the text-only world of the 1980's appears right in your browser.

If you want to show somebody what the Arpanet looked like (you didn't call it the "Internet" until the late '80s) this is it.

Using the "finger" command and seeing familiar names from decades ago (some, sadly, ghosts now) sends a chill down your spine."

Link to Original Source

Missing Apollo 11 tapes may have been found writes  |  about 5 years ago writes "The Register and several other outlets are reporting that the missing tapes of the first manned lunar landing may have been found at a storage facility in Perth, Australia. If found, these could have much clearer pictures than the recordings we currently have that were downsampled for TV broadcast. We don't have pictures yet, though: 'Whether the world will finally enjoy high-quality pics of Aldrin and Armstrong strolling the Moon's surface remains to be seen. When NASA coughed to having lost the original tapes, John Sarkissian of the Parkes Observatory noted that even if a machine could be found to replay them, they would be "so old and fragile, it's not certain they could even be played.'"
Link to Original Source

Taking Electronic Prototypes Through TSA Security? writes  |  about 5 years ago writes "I've recently built a prototype electronic gadget, and I'd like to show it to my folks when I fly to visit them over the July 4th holiday. After the Star Simpson fiasco, I'm a little concerned about getting a prototype with exposed batteries and wires through the TSA, or having it confiscated from my checked luggage. Only a moron would confuse my prototype with an explosive device, but, well, we are dealing with the TSA. I'd like to hear your experiences taking handmade electronic gadgets through airport security. No big deal, or major hassle?"

China's "Shanzai" electronic mash-up desig writes  |  more than 5 years ago writes "Bunnie (of XBox hacking and Chumby fame) has written an insightful post about how a new phenomena emerging out of China called "Shanzai" has impacted the electronics business there.

A new class of innovators, they're going beyond merely copying western designs to producing electronic "mash-ups" to create new products. Bootstrapped on small amounts of capitol, they range from shops of just a few people to a few hundred. They rapidly create new products, and use an "open source" style design community where design ideas and component lists are shared."

Link to Original Source

Circuit City shutting down, closing all US stores writes  |  more than 5 years ago writes "Electronics retailer Circuit City is unable to find a buyer, and is shutting down it's remaining 567 US retail stores. The 30,000 employees will lose there jobs. The chain was trying to find a buyer, but with credit markets tight they were unable to secure a deal. Certain stores will begin close-out sales as early as Saturday."
Link to Original Source

Google tries to revive :CueCat concept. writes  |  more than 6 years ago writes "One of noteable flops of the last Internet Bubble was the :CueCat, a feline shaped bar code scanner that, essentially, typed in a URL for you. While the original business model was nonsense, the cat was quickly reverse engineered and put to good use as a free/cheap general purpose bar code scanner. Now Google is trying the same concept again, this time using your cell phone instead of a plastic cat. Joel Spolsky is skeptical, noting " doesn't say much for the quality of those 150 people Google hires every week that they're now chasing some of the worst of the bad ideas of the fin de siecle.""
Link to Original Source

Verizon's "Open Network" is Not Really tha writes  |  more than 6 years ago writes "TechCrunch is reporting that Verizon's "Open Network" is not really so open. Reporter Erick Schonfeld "...asked Verizon whether any of the new apps developed for the bring-your-own devices would also be available to its existing customers who bought their phones through Verizon. The answer for now is, 'No.' Although a spokesperson tells me that they are looking into it. Unless it figures that out, Verizon is not really building an open network. It is building a two-tiered network: One for its preferred customers who play by its rules (i.e., its current 64 million subscribers), and one for the rabble not satisfied with its choice of phones and apps.

...If there is no crossover capability on the apps, then the "open" part of Verizon's network will be barren. The appeal of developing an open app for Verizon would be to gain access to those 64 million subscribers. Nobody is going to go through the trouble of creating apps just for the handful of people who want a CDMA phone that Verizon does not already sell. Making the whole open network even less appealing will be the fact that these phones are not likely to be subsidized by Verizon, and thus far more expensive.""

Link to Original Source
top writes  |  more than 7 years ago writes "The Times reports on a project where the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is growing insects around computer chips to turn them into surveillance cyber-bugs:

DARPA is implanting computer chips in moths while still in the pupa stage. The moth grows around the the chip and its nervous system can be controlled by a remote control.

The project is called the Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (HI-MEMS) and it also includes outfitting other insects with miniscule sensors and a wireless transmitter which could send data from places inaccessible to humans.

Ultimately, the moth will be able to land in enemy camps in remote location unobserved, beaming video and other information back via what its developers refer to as a reliable tissue-machine interface."
This gives new meaning to the term 'computer bug'."

Link to Original Source
top writes  |  more than 7 years ago writes "The headers generated by Google's Blogger web site assert it's output is complient with the "XHTML 1.0 Strict" document type definition. Well, John Walker tested it against that standard, and discovered even the simplest Blogger page fails with 73 errors. Walker comments:

...whatever standard you choose, you should be willing to be held to it, and in this case the blogging platform used by tens of millions of people falls flat on its face. Personally, I would be stone ashamed to ship something in this state. That Google, with what amounts to unlimited funds in our talent-constrained industry, plus the putatively smartest and certainly most smug technical staff, contents themselves with this is perhaps an indication that before expounding on issues of good and evil, one should first address the more mundane matter of competence.
top writes  |  more than 7 years ago writes "Here's an insidious use of biometrics: A southern California car dealership actually refuses to sell you a car unless you submit your thumbprint. From the posting:

The dealership claimed that the fingerprinting was for my protection. To make sure I'm really who I say I am, and haven't just stolen someone's social security number.

But I don't get it. How does that work? No one's checking to make sure the fingerprint I leave matches the one on file with the DMV. There's no forensics expert on staff. And I don't have data on this but I feel pretty certain that any car thief worth his salt probably already has more than one set of prints on file.
Dollar Rent-A-Car tried fingerprinting their customers for a while. They gave up after realizing that it had no effect on fraud or theft. Simply, treating your customers like felons is bad for business.
top writes  |  more than 7 years ago writes "During my last hotel stay, I thought it was a pretty strange that it took two browser re-directs before the hotel's Wi-Fi would show me the web page I browsed to. Picasa developer Michael Herf noticed the same the thing and dug a little deeper. He discovered: "...their page does some tracking of each new page you visit in your browser, outside what a normal proxy (which would have access to all your cookies and other information it shouldn't have, anyway) would do. This "adlog" hit appears to also track a "hotel ID" and some other data that identifies you more directly. Notably, I've observed these guys tracking HTTPS URLs, and of course you can't track those through a proxy.". Herf notes the WiFi service provider, SuperClick, advertises that it "allows hoteliers and conference center managers to leverage the investment they have made in their IP infrastructure to create advertising revenue, deliver targeted marketing and brand messages to guests and users on their network...""
top writes  |  more than 7 years ago writes "The new Google Code Search isn't just for hackers sniffing for passwords. Jason Kottke & friends have discovered the new feature reveals all sorts of dark corners hidden in our code. And you thought nobody ever read your comments! From the article:
Code search is a great resource for web developers and programmers, but like the making available of all previously unsearched bodies of information, it's given lots of flashlights to people interested in exploring dark corners.



Intel's processor curse writes  |  more than 9 years ago I think Intel under a processor architecture curse. Perhaps it was cast by Federico Faggin (one of the designers) when he left Intel in the 70s. The curse goes like this: Any processor design that is not a descendant of the original 4004 will fail.

Look at the evolution of the Pentia:

4004 > 8008 > 8080 > 8086 > 80186 > '286 > '386 > '486
> Pentium > PPro > PMMX > PII > PIII > PIV (etc.)

Intel did try to make a few other mainstream CPUs along the way. In the 1980's, the i432 - Flop. In the 1990's, the i860 - Thud. And now the Itanium (nicknamed the "Itanic") looks like another silicon smoking crater. Design partner HP recently announced they're pulling out. In order to get a marketable 64 bit design, Intel had to copy, yes, copy, AMD's x86-64 design. And it's yet another remote descendant of the 4004.

This isn't to say the art of processor architecture is dead. IBM/Apple's Power, ARM, MIPS, etc. all seem to be doing well in their various markets. It's just Intel seems like it will forever bound to that first design.

Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

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>
Create a Slashdot Account