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Why Screen Lockers On X11 Cannot Be Secure

srmalloy Re:So to cicumvent the screen locker... (374 comments)

... there has to be a trojan on the system or at least something connected to the X server over the network.

Not always; sometimes it's just bad design. At a previous job many years ago, I recall being able to demonstrate getting past the screen lock on Perq computers by taking advantage of processing lag -- when you hit the key combination that would bring up the password input to unlock the screen, it would briefly clear the screen lock and show the desktop -- with full access to the computer until the screen lock process updated and showed the password prompt, which blanked the rest of the screen. Doing this repeatedly, you would first open a new shell window, then run a ps -ef command to show the active processes, look up the process for the screen lock, and then do a kill -9 on the screen lock process, which got you back to the desktop. We wrote this up and sent it to Perq, and they went back and altered the screen lock code so that it didn't display the desktop when you hit the unlock key combination.

2 days ago

Ask Slashdot: Sounds We Don't Hear Any More?

srmalloy Re:Keypunch machine (790 comments)

Not just the chunk-chunk-chunk of the keypunch machine, but the rapid-fire chunkchunkchunkchunkchunk when you pulled a prank on someone and made a program card for one of the IBM 029 keypunches that declared every column a duplicate column and stuck it on the program card cylinder. Most people didn't look at the window you could see the cylinder behind, so if they started punching cards, when the first one left the punch station and hit the read station, with a second card feeding to the read station, it would automatically punch the new card as a duplicate of the first one in about a second and a half -- and then repeat the process over and over again until they figured out to turn the 'use program' switch off.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Sounds We Don't Hear Any More?

srmalloy Re:Hammer of a blacksmith (790 comments)

Watching a blacksmith -- or a glass blower -- work is worthwhile, just for the artistry.

And if you're willing to special-case the smithwork, the Japanese government has been deliberately working to preserve the swordsmithing skills.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Sounds We Don't Hear Any More?

srmalloy Re:Related - the clack of wheels on the tracks (790 comments)

Most lines are welded now, so it doesn't happen any more.

Not the same way, or as often, but you still get the clack as you go over a rail joint; they're just expansion joints and less common. I recall a problem that I ran across in high school, that posited a one-mile continuous length of railroad track, and asked 'if the track expands by one inch, and buckles rigidly, so that it bends only at the middle, and is otherwise straight, how far off the ground is the rail at its midpoint?' The answer is, surprisingly, almost 15 feet (do the math: Pythagorean theorem, hypotenuse 1/2 mile + 1/2 inch, one side 1/2 mile, solve for third side). And you'll still get the rail clacking going over points and frogs in areas where you have switches.

about three weeks ago

Anonymous Declares War Over Charlie Hebdo Attack

srmalloy Re:Quote by Karl Popper (509 comments)

There are absolutely no words that can justify the use of force.

You're missing one critical factor. There are absolutely no words that can justify the initiation of force. Using force to defend yourself once someone has used force against you is perfectly justified.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Are Progressive Glasses a Mistake For Computer Users?

srmalloy Re:My mother is an optometrist (464 comments)

One problem for computer users is that -- especially for desktop uses, we often are reading at mid distances -- neither far focus nor book distances.

The other primary problem is that both bifocals and progressive lenses have the near-focus section of the lens at the bottom, where for most computer work you are looking at your screen through the middle and upper parts of the lens. This makes both bifocals and progressive lenses pretty much useless for computer work.

What I did was to visit a supermarket and use the display of reading glasses to determine what amount of additional correction gave me clear view at normal monitor distances, then order some clip-on reading glasses with that correction. The clip-ons are about $12 -- much less than another full pair of glasses with a different distance correction -- and just as easy to keep around. I look like more of a geek while wearing them, but they're less trouble than keeping track of which glasses I'm wearing.

about a month ago

How Amazon's Ebook Subscriptions Are Changing the Writing Industry

srmalloy Re:Rubbish (250 comments)

"Absolutely and unambiguously make writing and publishing a zero-sum game"
Um, no - the more readers, the more money. It's not zero sum at all from the writers' point of view.

Actually, it always was a zero-sum game within any given pool of readers. Each individual has some amount of money that they are willing to spend buying books, and if they buy one author's books, it reduces the available funds that can be used to buy another author's books. The subscription model that Amazon is adopting changes the model by paying authors , not when their work is purchased, but when it is read. This changes the way a book is valued by its author; previously, once the book was sold, the author has no direct interest in how many times the purchaser reads it. Under Amazon's model, readers no longer own their books; they effectively rent them anew each time they want to read them. And a book that would have been purchased, read once, and binned to go to a second-hand bookstore has less value to an author than a book that would have been re-read again and again over time. And there are two ways for authors to respond to this change -- they can produce works that are worth reading again and again, or they can produce more books for Amazon to 'charge' for. As Scalzi points out, we are seeing authors, resigned to the lack of quality and rereadability of their work, breaking books up into chunks so that each piece of the book can be counted as a separate publication for the purposes of receiving payments. It will work to the detriment of the 'story collection' books -- why should an author publish an e-book that collects a dozen of their stories, when they can get a dozen times the 'read count' by publishing each story individually? Other authors might break up books into chapters as individual publications to artificially boost their 'read count', or write shorter stories instead of novels. By treating all works as equal, regardless of size, the payment method encourages authors "gaming" the system to artificially inflate the number of times their works have been read.

about a month ago

Newest Stealth Fighter's Ground Attack Sensors 10 Years Behind Older Jets'

srmalloy Re:Huh (279 comments)

Basically the USAF brass doesn't want to do air-ground missions...

As an illustration of this attitude, there was a slogan during the development of the F-15 Eagle -- "Not a pound for air-to-ground". And look at all of the upgrades and rework to make the Strike Eagle when it turned out that the Air Force didn't have the planes to conduct the CAS operations they had to do (because they continue to hoard non-Navy fixed-wing air assets to themselves, rather than letting the Army operate their own fixed-wing CAS units, even though the USAF doesn't want the CAS role), so they had to turn the F-15 into a mud mover.

about a month ago

Peru Indignant After Greenpeace Damages Ancient Nazca Site

srmalloy Re:I see a lot of fatties in those photos and vide (465 comments)

Or they could just kill themselves and everyone to save the planet.

I am reminded of the fortune-file entry "/earth is 98% full. Please delete anyone you can."

about a month and a half ago

Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

srmalloy Re:wow (571 comments)

And just think -- with the waste products from a fusion reactor, we can alleviate the increasing scarcity of helium.

However, we'll have to start dealing with all the environmentalists pitching a fit about people inhaling reactor waste products, or filling balloons with them and letting them float off across the countryside.

about 4 months ago

Microsoft Announces Windows 10

srmalloy Re:If the new Windows is so good... (644 comments)

Then why are they playing a video of what it will do instead of actually demonstrating the product?

"Any advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo."
-- James Klass

about 4 months ago

Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

srmalloy Re:A blue trip slip for an eight-cent fare (488 comments)

You still have a 60Hz grid? I'm waiting for the 0Hz grid.

There's still some DC power distribution by PG&E in San Francisco for elevators and the like, but Con Edison cut off the last DC supply in New York on Nov 14,2007.

about 4 months ago

How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

srmalloy Re:The article is more extreme than the summary (795 comments)

No, science is not the pursuit of Truth, that would be philosophy down the hall.

Actually, science is the pursuit of Truth. Unfortunately, what we get from that pursuit is not Truth, but a useful approximation that works well enough for practical use within the limits defined by the parameters of the experiments. When your use moves outside those limits, the approximations may or may not hold, and experimentation to discover why this happens let us extend those approximations further.

about 4 months ago

I think next winter will be:

srmalloy Re:Arizona: No. 1 in DHMO-Free Lakes and Streams (148 comments)

And don't forget: inhaling DHMO is usually fatal.

It's not generally fatal if it's been properly aerosolized, but you're correct that inhaling quantities of liquid or thermally-vaporized DHMO is often fatal.

about 4 months ago

The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming

srmalloy Re:I HATE multiplayer (292 comments)

In multiplayer games you often need someone to lead to get good results. This in no way means that the other teammembers are less respectable, being in charge is simply "part of the job". A good leader gets the most out of each teammembers strengths while covering their weaknesses. This should make the game more fun for everyone.

There is a difference between playing up teammates' strengths and covering their weaknesses, and demanding precise-to-the-microsecond-and-millimeter performance from team members and denigrating them for not being robots when they aren't perfect. Most MMORPGs go the route of end bosses that do predictable things at predictable times, with predictable responses, so fairly quickly a 'recipe' for defeating the boss gets put together... and then gets carved in stone so that it must be adhered to without variation, and anyone who dares deviate from it in any way, no matter how small, is therefore entirely and solely responsible for any negative outcome (i.e., team wipe). Each player has to have precisely the right gear to maximize their effectiveness, and has to adhere slavishly to the rotation that's been tested to eke out an additional .00000017% extra DPS... And somewhere in all of the number-crunching, the people who fixate on this sort of 'efficiency' lose sight of the fact that you play an MMORPG to have fun, not to be a fungible asset shoehorned into one of the Tank/DPS/Heal categories of a 'holy trinity' that itself limits your ability to play the way you want.

about 4 months ago

Justice Sotomayor Warns Against Tech-Enabled "Orwellian" World

srmalloy Re:She doesn't mind the state controlling everthin (166 comments)

Note that in TFA she was warning about "Orwellian" surveillance, which specifically tends to refer to a world where the government is spying on you, not just private citizens.

I think that the world described in the three stories in David Drake's Lacey and His Friends might be a better analogy -- a world where everyone is under constant surveillance from multiple angles and by different organizations, where buying 'privacy' pays for a room with only the single mandatory government camera, and the ability of the police to roll back surveillance footage to track the movements of a criminal result in the overwhelming majority of criminals captured within hours of their crime. I think it better describes the extreme end result of the expansion of technology allows capturing more and more actions and communications until, by law, everything anyone does must be recorded.

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Can Tech Help Monitor or Mitigate a Mine-Flooded Ecosystem?

srmalloy Re:Very low Toxicity (123 comments)

Exactly. The sludge that has entered the river and lake has not yet been converted into forms that permit ready uptake by plants (and from the plants to the fish and other animals in the lake and up the food chain from there). There's no assurance that it won't undergo that chemical change, and attempts to remove the sludge using current technologies are sloppy enough that, while they would remove most of the sludge, they'll spread the rest more widely.

about 6 months ago

World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft Goes Into Production In China

srmalloy Re:The Spruce Goose is your comparison? (85 comments)

The maximum takeoff weight of the Martin JRM-3 Mars is reported as 165,000 pounds, -- more than 80 tons, and Wikipedia's article has a photograph of the Hawaii Mars II and Phillippine Mars on their landing gear undergoing maintenance; to my knowledge, the H-4 Hercules was never equipped with landing gear, which excludes it from the 'amphibian' category.

about 6 months ago

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

srmalloy Re:Bloodless surgery (1330 comments)

A health insurance plan tuned for the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses would still pay for blood substitutes, iron supplements, and other expenses associated with bloodless surgery.

A better and more sweeping example would be working for a "closely-held business" run by Christian Scientists, who could contend that they should be excused from having to cover any care except from a practitioner.

about 7 months ago


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