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!



FBI Concerned About Criminals Using Driverless Cars

sgunhouse Hackers (435 comments)

Safeties can be bypassed. No doubt there will eventually (if these things get off the ground) be some sort of hacker toolkit developed to allow either the owner or the equivalent of "script kiddies" to make the car do whatever they feel like. Just like rooting you phone and installing Cyanogenmod. It'll happen no matter what the FBI says - but hopefully require physical access. If the FBI/NSA try to get their own ... well, let's call it a rootkit, where they could override the software remotely even if it was hacked ... then anyone else will be able to as well. Someone will sell the secret to the Russian mafia or whoever, and all the criminals will have it.

The FBI's concerns may be valid, but are moot - just use a human driver.

about two weeks ago

Harvesting Energy From Humidity

sgunhouse Funny (89 comments)

I gather that "remote areas" somehow excludes deserts? Amazing ...

about two weeks ago

Slashdot Asks: Do You Want a Smart Watch?

sgunhouse Fantasy v. Reality (381 comments)

I do wear a watch, and can see uses for a smart watch - but almost all the stuff listed in the summary would be excluded! Music? Requires headphones or speakers, better to leave it on the phone. Pictures? Um ... how? Are you planning to use the screen as the viewer and thus have the lens wear the clasp would be? Sensor has to go with the lens ... seems it would be too prone to damage. GPS could work - already seen watches with a built-in compass, but navigation is probably a bad idea (small screen, and sound/voice would be better with headphones again). What watches are mostly for is telling time, so how about a watch that can sync with your schedule to remind you of appointments? A watch could reasonably display small amounts of text (like addresses or tweets) but input is rather limited - currently. Hmm ... install enough motion sensors that the watch could track your hand on a virtual keyboard or virtual mouse? But that's only one hand - and not even individual fingers - so would require some training to get it to work right. Looks like we'd better just stick to time and leave most of the "smart" stuff for the phones.

about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: PC-Based Oscilloscopes On a Microbudget?

sgunhouse Oscilloscope (172 comments)

Back in what has to qualify as the computer stone age, a high school Biology teacher I worked with got a bunch of A/D converters and wired them to his networked C-64s, I wrote the software myself. We were measuring the acceleration of gravity (okay, not a Biology experiment, but he saw it in a magazine and wanted to try it himself) and graphing student's heartbeats and so on - in 1986. So really, the oscilloscope part is trivial. Might even be able to use the existing A/D and DSP from the sound card, if you can figure out how to feed your signal to the Mic. input. (Yes, 1986 - the school board wanted him to upgrade to PC XTs, he preferred to use what he had. When they saw what we did with those old C-64s, all they could do was scratch their heads.)

about a month and a half ago

Which desktop environment do you like the best?

sgunhouse Second? (611 comments)

Favorite? KDE (though the old version was slightly better) Second? Enlightenment.

When I look for a desktop, I expect a basic set of tools to come with it, and design consistency between said tools. KDE seems best in terms of tools (aka desktop accessories if you prefer). Gnome's tools seem like they are chosen by committee, rather than actually designed for that environment.

And yes, desktop environments should include Windows and Macintosh OSX as options.

about 2 months ago

Mathematical Model Suggests That Human Consciousness Is Noncomputable

sgunhouse Re:Roger Penrose (426 comments)

Sorry, didn't realize I wasn't logged in.

about 3 months ago

Google Fighting Distracted Driver Laws

sgunhouse Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (226 comments)

And ... can Google Glass be used as a HUD? That is, when driving it shows you pertinent information to your driving. If your "digital devices" law bans GPSs then it may be counterproductive.

As long as a company - in this case Google, but any company - can show how their product assists the driver rather than distracting the driver, there really shouldn't be an issue. There will of course be states that want to ban HUDs, but the public will straighten them out over time. So go ahead, Google, convince us that Google Glass will actually help the driver ...

about 5 months ago

Compared to my 1st computer's memory ...

sgunhouse Re:Missing alternative (587 comments)

My first computer was an RCA VIP (1802 processor - like an ELF) with 2KB, later expanded to 8KB. Mind you, 1 "page" (0.25K) was devoted to the video display. This netbook has 2GB, so I'm ... well really 1.048,576 times as much. I doubt anyone has exactly 1,000,000 times as much ...

1 year,5 days

Microsoft Files Dispute Against Current Owner of

sgunhouse Re:Xbox One? Oh my! (381 comments)

Use HTML entities? Hmm ... maybe not, 4π didn't render properly.

about a year ago

Microsoft Files Dispute Against Current Owner of

sgunhouse Re:Xbox One? Oh my! (381 comments)

I always wondered why Ad-Aware never checked for that name (it was owned by ADAware, an ADA software site, when I looked at it several years ago). Apparently those two didn't arrive at amicable terms ... last I saw, ADAware had a link to a different ad blocker on their site.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: When Is the User Experience Too Good?

sgunhouse Recovery? (397 comments)

The question is ... if the user changes their mind, how easy is it to recover.

I help out with an online forum, we get requests every day from people who requested to delete their accounts and then changed their mind. (Okay, not every day ... but too often.) This isn't something the user can do themselves, one of the administrators has to go into the backups to find the data.

Conversely, we do have a legal requirement to delete user data upon proper request, we can't just make this option unavailable.

So the option is there and is fairly hard to find (I've never used it myself and can't say how hard it is to actually use), that's the best we can do.

about a year ago

Major Advance Towards a Proof of the Twin Prime Conjecture

sgunhouse Re:Open set it is! (248 comments)

I gather the comment system doesn't like all those symbols. It removed half of my reply. Let me try words ...

n! is divisible by k for all k less than or equal to n, so n! - k is divisible by k and (if k is not 1) is not prime. So n! - 1 to n! - (n + 1) are two numbers with a difference of n with no primes between them.

The result must show that for any x there are primes p and q with q > p > x and q - p less than 70 million, ...

about a year ago

Major Advance Towards a Proof of the Twin Prime Conjecture

sgunhouse Re:Open set it is! (248 comments)

May. There is a trivial proof that there exist gaps larger than any given number ...

Pick any number n. Consider n! (that's "factorial", for the non-mathematicians). Now, n! - 1 might be prime (or not), but as n! is divisible by k for all k x and a prime q > p with q - p = 70 million, not that there will always be a prime within 70 million of x.

about a year ago

Why US Mileage Ratings Are So Inaccurate

sgunhouse Re:Choice of average (374 comments)

There is also something called the harmonic mean, which is more suitable as it is in fact the inverse of the mean of the inverses.

Leaving out the weighting ...

Arithmetic mean: (25 + 40)/2 = 32.50
Geometric mean: SQRT(25*40) = 31.62
Harmonic mean: (2*25*40)/(25+40) = 30.77

(rounded to 2 decimals)

about a year ago

Facebook's Android App Can Now Retrieve Data About What Apps You Use

sgunhouse Meaningless permissions (176 comments)

As the example I'm most familiar with, let me consider the Opera Mobile web browser. Since the browser supports GetUserMedia it has to say it accesses the camera, though in reality it will ask you if the website should be allowed to access your camera if the site asks to do so (if you visit some video chat site). Likewise since they support location-aware websites, the permissions say it uses both GPS and network location data - but again, if you visit a website that wants your location (so they can tell you where their nearest physical store is, for example) the browser will ask if the website should have access to your location. The Play Store doesn't have any way of indicating that the app will ask before actually accessing this data.

And for those apps which don't offer a choice, the OS should. All browsers support 3 general settings for cookies - accept, deny (block), and ask. You should be able to say "No, I don't want this app knowing my location today" if you so choose - and still be able to allow it tomorrow. Or still run an app while denying it access to your contacts - ever. It should be part of Android (the browser shouldn't have to ask per se) or whatever OS, so that the developer doesn't have to think about it ... well, okay, an email or chat app always needs access to your contacts, so maybe they should have a "requires" and "can use" in the permissions.

about a year ago

KLyDE: Lightweight KDE Desktop In the Making

sgunhouse Re:KDE and lightweight. (129 comments)

Already been several mini-distros (the whole system is under 100 MB) that do use KDE. Things like Nimblex come to mind, though that's been a few years ago now. Admittedly not sure they kept Plasma though ...

But as KDE is supposed to be able to run on phones now, it should be easy enough.

about a year ago

Automated System Developed To Grade Student Essays

sgunhouse Computers (253 comments)

I've probably been in this longer than anyone - in 1986 I was working with a teacher (High School Biology) who had networked C-64s in his classroom. Of course back then the questions were all multiple choice (we couldn't give it enough intelligence to evaluate expressions), and yes he did the semester tests himself.

If used properly, there is nothing especially wrong with doing assignments or quizzes on computer. That being said, you know there is going to be a tendency to misuse them. They'll assign more work or have to handle more students, and start depending more and more on the computer ...

It's hard to imagine one grading essays except on structure (grammar, spelling, etc.) as it even tends to be hard for humans to grade essays. But then again, I'm a Math and Science guy, so what do I know.

about a year ago

Opera Confirms It Will Follow Google and Ditch WebKit For Blink

sgunhouse Re:Poor Opera (135 comments)

Strange, I thought Bing was the default search engine.

about a year ago

Scientists Study Getting an Unwanted Tune Out of Your Head

sgunhouse FTFY (219 comments)

"... so there is plenty of space left for that infernal jukebox to start playing."

Works for me anyway.

about a year ago

UK Apple Shop Forced To Change Its Name

sgunhouse Re:So by forced, they mean chose (174 comments)

Remember the song Jenny (867-5309) from the '80s? At the time, dozens of people were forced to change their phone number ... though at least one business changed their TO 8675309. But then again. they didn't really have anyone named Jenny answering the phones. In fact, their answering machine message started with "Jenny's not here right now ..."

Or then again there's which was an ADA-related programming site, as opposed to the ad-blocking program Ad-Aware (someone forgot to check whether the web address was available). After ADA-ware said who they were, they offered a link to a competing ad blocker - I guess they didn't appreciate the traffic they were getting.

There is somewhat of a lost opportunity in the fact they were getting all that attention - it's a chance to introduce themselves to new people who might not ever have heard of them. But no, they shouldn't branch out or misrepresent themselves ...

about a year and a half ago



NSA datamining Verizon records

sgunhouse sgunhouse writes  |  about a year ago

sgunhouse (1050564) writes "Wired has a story up, originally from the Guardian apparently, about an order for Verizon to turn over 3 months worth of call data to the NSA starting back in April and ending on July 19th. While the data does not include actual subscriber names and addresses, it does include both the originating and receiving phone numbers and various other "metadata" (not including actual conversations).

Strangely, the article says the warrant was granted to the FBI and not the NSA ..."

Link to Original Source

Drug-sniffing dog = Unlawful Search?

sgunhouse sgunhouse writes  |  about a year and a half ago

sgunhouse (1050564) writes "Wired is running an article on a Supreme Court challenge (well, actually two of them) to the use of drug-sniffing dogs. The first case discussed involved Florida police using a drug-sniffing dog as a basis for searching a suspected drug dealer's home. The court in Florida excluded the evidence obtained from the search, saying a warrant should be required for that sort of use of a dog.

Personally, I agree — police have no right to parade a dog around on private property on a "fishing expedition", same as they need a warrant to use a thermal imaging device to search for grow houses. I have no use for recreational drugs, but they had better have a warrant if they want to bring a dog onto my property."

Link to Original Source

Airborne prions prove lethal in mice studies

sgunhouse sgunhouse writes  |  more than 3 years ago

sgunhouse (1050564) writes "Wired has a story up on the lethality of airborne prions. It should be noted that prions (which cause "mad cow disease" and similar disorders) are not normally airborne and take a long time to kill the infected animal, but so far are 100% lethal if something else doesn't kill the animal first. So they are not likely to be useful as a biological weapon (my first thought when reading their headline), but another safety precaution to consider."
Link to Original Source

NSA releases historical documents on TEMPEST

sgunhouse sgunhouse writes  |  more than 6 years ago

sgunhouse writes "Wired's Threat Level has a piece on a recently-declassified document on the history of TEMPEST (the technology used to read computers from across the street and such). Okay, not much on the tech itself, but interesting read."
Link to Original Source


sgunhouse has no journal entries.

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