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!



Cox Comm. Injects Code Into Web Traffic To Announce Email Outage

timothyb89 Re:My ISP does this for far worse reasons. (271 comments)

I seem to remember a similar issue when I had an Evo 4G device from Sprint a couple of years ago. The device came preconfigured with a system-wide HTTP proxy that was not only incredibly slow, but also compressed images badly. It would also affect most methods of tethering, if memory serves. Perhaps you're seeing the same proxy?

As far as I know there isn't actually any requirement by the network to proxy anything, and I've been able to disable it from the system settings on all of my devices since I learned about the proxy. I'm not sure if you have any access to the configuration for your wireless modem, but you might be able to disable it from there.

about 2 years ago

Steve Jobs Was Wrong About Touchscreen Laptops

timothyb89 Re:It's very possible (526 comments)

I have a TF300 that I run standard Linux on (Arch and XFCE). It's actually fantastic to have a touchscreen for some interactions, and the ability to make custom gestures is surprisingly useful. It's gotten to the point that whenever I use a normal laptop I accidentally try to touch the screen for scrolling, etc.

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Scripting-Friendly Smartphones?

timothyb89 Re:Android Scriptin (197 comments)

For added fun, Tasker has SL4A integration, so you can have Tasker run arbitrary scripts when various events occur. SL4A also lets you (in addition to its own APIs) lets you install, e.g., additional python modules, and the Java-interpreted scripting languages (BeanShell, Rhino, and probably JRuby) let you directly invoke the Android APIs. The latest Tasker release also has JavaScript support and exposes more device functionality to it than SL4A's APIs do.

I'm not really sure what all of the hate for device scripting is about, Android is surprisingly scripting-friendly, and it actually has some viable end results.

more than 2 years ago

Google I/O Day Two

timothyb89 Re:Tab syncing: first thing I'll disable (46 comments)

I may be misinterpreting the announcement, but tab sync currently doesn't actually *open* the tabs on your other devices, it just has an "other devices" tab (mobile) or a drop down (desktop). Only the page titles are actually loaded until you actually click them. I'm not sure how the pre-loading will work but I'd bet that it's configurable, as chrome's syncing has pretty fine grained configuration already.

more than 2 years ago

Scientists Release Working Prototype Of CAPTCHA-Based Password Assistant

timothyb89 Re:um (86 comments)

It's to prevent brute force attacks (from the old article):

The second component is transformed into a CAPTCHA image and then protected using evolution of a two-dimensional dynamical system close to a phase transition, in such a way that standard brute-force attacks become ineffective. We expect our approach to have wide applications for authentication and encryption technologies.

From some quick testing the CAPTCHAs are reused so I'm not all too sure it does this successfully, but it's an interesting idea nevertheless.

more than 2 years ago

Mozilla Releases HTML5 MMO BrowserQuest

timothyb89 Re:Cute, but a demo (138 comments)

They only took about 10 minutes for me to find, and both are (spoiler-ish) fairly blatant meme references like many of the other things in the game. I'd love to see this developed more as it seems to run pretty well and could have some real potential. I've half-assed some JS RPGs myself and its always nice to see it being done "right" and with a playable final product.

more than 2 years ago

Van Rossum: Python Not Too Slow

timothyb89 Re:Language Philosophies (510 comments)

Strictly speaking, the language itself shouldn't have any effect on how fast it executes, it's the implementation that really matters. Some languages might be more difficult to parse but in the end it's what the interpreter does with it that really matters. The whole sentiment that "fast code equals C/C++" is a little fishy to begin with, modern interpreted languages compile down to machine code via JIT anyway and often don't have a significant performance decrease compared to the same code in C/C++. Not that I'm against the notion completely, as native code (and specifically native code modules embedded in other languages) has its benefits, but it shouldn't be used as an excuse for a slow interpreter.

more than 2 years ago

Wine 1.4 Released

timothyb89 Re:Not sure how useful now. (168 comments)

Unless you're exclusively playing Solitaire, you're probably not going to be able to play most games in a virtual machine, at least on a Linux host. I have a Windows XP VM that I run in both VirtualBox and VMware, and I've had very limited success playing games in either. VirtualBox can barely handle 3D graphics at all (though its support has improved significantly in the last couple of years), and VMware's acceleration, while significantly more stable, is awfully slow.

Unless the situation is for some reason better on OS X, bootcamp is probably the only reasonable solution. Parallels likely wouldn't be any better than just using Wine, considering it uses Wine's Direct3D libraries.

Alternatively, of course, you can just use wine - which works so commonly now that there's really no reason to waste your system resources with the overhead cost of a virtual machine. Even when system resources aren't an issue, VMs are never as fast as native code, and for that reason alone are a poor choice.

more than 2 years ago

Wine 1.4 Released

timothyb89 Re:Blast from the past (168 comments)

When it works, it's far better. Even with decent hardware virtualization is too slow for a lot of apps. VMware is slower than anything but has reasonable 3D support, while VirtualBox is fast but can only reliably run 2D apps. Neither is really an optimal setup for things like gaming.

When Wine works, though, it runs pretty darn fast and generally doesn't cause too many issues. It's really rare for me to find a game that isn't compatible anymore. The last I couldn't run that comes to mind is League of Legends, but it seems that within the last week since I checked there's been a new workaround that fixes it.

Overall, Wine is considerably more capable than it used to be. I generally don't even have to question whether most apps will run anymore, because the answer is, more often than not, "yes".

more than 2 years ago

GNOME 3: Beauty To the Bone?

timothyb89 Re:found a GNOME replacement (647 comments)

That's exactly what I've been doing. I tried using GNOME 3 for a few months, but I eventually just got fed up. While I really like the shell interface, some of the other UI "enhancements" meant to "simplify" everything drove me away after a while.

I still use it on my laptop despite its control panel but I now use a combination of XFCE and Kwin on my desktop. I spent ages searching for a DE that would "just work" and XFCE does exactly that.

more than 2 years ago

Oracle's Latest Java Moves Draw Industry Ire

timothyb89 Re:Oracle and Java (372 comments)

I'm not really sure what's wrong with the filesystem APIs, at least for simple (and even a lot of advanced) IO. Off the top of my head the only exception I can think of is that filesystem attributes and the like were a load of garbage in Java 6, but supposedly the situation is much better in 7.

As for graphics, I did (and still do) work a lot with Java2D, and for the most part it's worked flawlessly on both Windows and Linux. I've run into a couple of platform specific bugs in the past but they would generally be fixed within a couple of patches, and even then were easy to work around. I can't vouch for 3D stuff as I haven't written too much myself, but there's a large number of libraries that have seen some serious cross-platform success.

I'll admit, it isn't "write once, run anywhere", but if you're on any of the major platforms (Windows, Linux, OSX, BSD to some degree) the number of real issues is pretty minimal, and even OpenJDK works pretty damn well. I'll hate on Oracle as much as the next guy, but the influence I see from them on day-to-day independent coding is next to nothing. Apart from the uglier Oracle-themed icons and doc pages, at any rate.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Inexpensive VPS Provider?

timothyb89 Re:ThrustVPS (375 comments)

I've been using them as well. Went with them for their low-cost Xen hosting and don't have any regrets. A general VPS tip I've had to learn the hard way: avoid anything OpenVZ. The shared kernel causes lots of problems, especially if the host machine isn't too well maintained.

One host I used about a year ago couldn't keep their server's clock in-sync at all, eventually the time drifted so much that it broke our Google Apps authentication and brought down email access for the entire building for a couple hours, which we eventually had to fix with a poor software hack. They were impossible to contact, and because it was an OpenVZ VPS, the VM clock was shared with the host, so we couldn't fix the time on our own. Not an issue, as far as I know, with Xen / KVM hosts.

From what I've read, the cheaper hosts tend to use OpenVZ because they can oversell the server memory a lot easier. Not an issue for Xen / KVM hosts, which is why I'm now using ThrustVPS for all of my personal stuff now - they're the cheapest/best-reviewed Xen host I could find.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Entry-Level Robotics Kits For Young Teenagers?

timothyb89 Re:FIRST (153 comments)

Oh, and to expand a bit, for little to no electronics and entry-level programming, Mindstorms is again the best option. Graphical programming for new users, and hobbyists can use both a C derivative (NXC) and Java (LeJOS), two programming environments that I personally envy, even with higher-level robotics.

VEX again comes fairly close. You can program it with EasyC, which works very well for teaching to kids and I think would work great for letting the kids become more independent after a short time.

I've never seen an independent kit that offers reasonable ease of use. I've worked with quite a few, and for the most part none of them will satisfy the requirements. They generally are difficult to set up, and require lots of soldering, etc. While great for those interested, they wouldn't work very well for kids working independently. Essentially, the focus is on the electronics side rather than the software side, while the more mainstream kits (Mindstorms, VEX) tend to be more about software and construction (with pre-made parts) rather than electronics.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Entry-Level Robotics Kits For Young Teenagers?

timothyb89 Re:FIRST (153 comments)

+1 to this. I know from personal experience that this is the way to go, especially for younger kids. Not only does it have a solid track for growth, from elementary until high school (FLL -> FTC -> FRC) , but it makes sure that you have other people to work with. Plus, there's generally no or very little cost to the student.

If that's not an option, I'd still recommend Mindstorms. It's more expensive, sure, but it really is leaps and bounds better than the alternatives. Younger kids (late elementary through middle school, 10 - 14 or so), tend to struggle with some of the less-developed kits, particularly if they lack a large community. Mindstorms is a great development kit, as you can see from all the /. articles about it. Adults and kids can make great use if them - I do all the time.

If that's still out of budget, VEX may be somewhat less expensive. I believe kits run about $200 and there's still a large community and yearly competitors and challenges to participate in. It's not quite the same community as FIRST, though.

Basically, there's no cheap way to get a (good) robotics kit. Even homebrew stuff (Arduino and the like), is going to be $100 at the absolute minimum. The cheapest way is to find a local team, or perhaps try starting one - many schools districts offer funding, support, or even full kits for new teams, in addition to lots of FIRST scholarships.

Disclaimer: I mentor FLL (Mindstorms) and FRC teams, after having been on several myself through middle and high school.

more than 2 years ago

Android Source Code Gone For Good?

timothyb89 Re:Umm.... (362 comments)

Gingerbread is version 2.3. Ice Cream Sandwich is version 4.0. Most devices won't ever see the 3.0 updates and instead will just jump to 4.0.

This whole article is a non-issue - Google has said several times that the source would be released along with the new Galaxy Nexus. From :

We plan to release the source for the recently-announced Ice Cream Sandwich soon, once it’s available on devices.

They had some decent reasons for not releasing the Honeycomb source. Perhaps their reasons weren't good enough to make up for not releasing it at all, but their promises to release the 4.0 source have kept devs happy for a few months now. I see 4.0 as the update to 3.x that cleans up the source properly, and has the added benefit of no longer dividing between phones and tablets. Devs can finally get back to writing one app that works on everything.

more than 2 years ago

AA batteries of any kind in my residence:

timothyb89 Less and less... (297 comments)

I can count on one hand the number of devices I own that use AA batteries anymore. At the moment it's just my wireless mouse / keyboard, a calculator, and a one or two other small things - everything else has rechargeable batteries (phone, laptop, etc).

Compare that to about 5 years ago when I had more than a dozen separate things requiring them, most of which have since been replaced by my phone or rechargeable alternatives. For the most part I'd say I'm better off, but sometimes you can't beat the accessibility of replacement AA batteries on long trips without backup power. I've come to appreciate my AA powered devices a lot more in that regard, always having an easy fix for a dead battery.

about 3 years ago

Laptops In the Classroom Don't Increase Grades

timothyb89 Re:As someone who worked IT in one of these school (511 comments)

That's pretty much exactly it.

I'm in a pretty similar situation - I know quite a few teachers who, having just been given some new tech, take it and thrive. Optimistically I'd say that the tech does at least as well as the "old methods" in 90% of cases, and most of the time is an improvement. Every now and then, though, it's just done plain wrong. One teacher I recently worked with had just been given the so-called "full setup", consisting of about $3000 of classroom tech. This teacher was laid off at the end of the year, and while working with their replacement, we discovered that absolutely none of it had been so much as touched during the year.

On the other end of the spectrum, some teachers take the time to fully integrate things into their curriculum, and it really does improve the classroom - students are far more engaged and responsive, and their test scores (among other things, obviously) reflected it. But in the middle of the spectrum, the majority of teachers barely use it to displace the 25-year-old overhead projectors.

The issue is that, while some teachers actively want to embrace the tech, the rest lack any sort of direction in doing so, either doing the absolute minimum, or ignoring it completely. I'd say that in many cases, the funding is there, as is the tech and the software. But without solid planning, training, and support, it just doesn't get used to anywhere near its full potential.

about 3 years ago

Verizon Cracks Down On Jailbreak Tethering

timothyb89 Sprint (286 comments)

Their speeds aren't the best, but they don't restrict usage at all. I can tether my (rooted) 4G android phone for free with no data caps or throttling (as far as I can tell), and on occasion I've used nearly ten gigs over a WiMAX connection while on vacation without any issue. I've rarely needed customer service as downtime and issues in general are virtually nonexistent, but it's there when needed and is pretty good.

As for price, though, the smaller/contractless providers like Virgin Mobile may be your best bet. I've heard they're far cheaper than any of the "big three" and make good on their "unlimited" promises. Even so, I can't vouch for their quality, having never used one myself.

more than 3 years ago

Android Password Data Stored In Plain Text

timothyb89 Re:Sorry, disagree that SHA/MD5 is a solution (261 comments)

For the record, TFA is only referring to the Email app (often called Email.apk) which is just a normal app. Unlike Apple's apps it has no special access to system APIs, keychains, or the like. On top of that, it isn't even included on many Android devices. HTC uses their own which could very well handle things differently, and I'm pretty sure other manufacturers do the same. On my CM7 device I don't even use it in favor of the dedicated Gmail app, which seems to take security quite a bit more seriously. Call me crazy for actually reading TFA but an Android dev made a very helpful comment on the situation:

Now, with respect to this particular concern. The first thing to clarify is that the Email app supports four protocols - POP3, IMAP, SMTP, and Exchange ActiveSync - and with very few, very limited exceptions, all of these are older protocols which require that the client present the password to the server on every connection. These protocols require us to retain the password for as long as you wish to use the account on the device. Newer protocols don't do this - this is why some of the articles have been contrasting with Gmail, for example. Newer protocols allow the client to use the password one time to generate a token, save the token, and discard the password.

And as demonstrated by many others here, the keychain is not actually the be-all, end-all solution to the problem, as it either leaves the decryption key elsewhere on the disk, making it useless, or requires the user to constantly enter a password, making it annoying. Android leaves it up to the app to handle passwords (as does iOS in most cases, I believe), and in this case the Email app doesn't really have a choice. Asking the user to enter their keychain password every time the Email app wants to grab new emails would get annoying quickly, and the protocols that it needs to support can't use the more secure token-based systems. Unfortunately there's no other feasible way to do it, and this debate is ignoring the real issue: mail servers that don't support secure authentication.

tl;dr: Article is not about "Android", only one app, and said app doesn't have much of a choice.

more than 3 years ago

Novel Drive Wheel System Based On Spinning Sphere

timothyb89 Re:Needs a hard floor. (104 comments)

It's a cute idea. It assumes a single point of contact with the ground, and thus requires a flat, hard floor. This is limiting.

I've worked pretty extensively with mechanum wheels - essentially omniwheels with the smaller wheels at a 45 degree angle to the main wheel. Arranging four of them provides the same degrees of freedom as the example shown with two of these HOG wheels. Mechanum wheels work well and move quite fast, and I've yet to see a surface where they don't work - but they're costly, heavy, and wear quickly, not to mention the pretty enormous power requirements. Because of these limitations, for hobbyist robotics, they're simply not practical.

For many of the smaller projects I've done, traditional drive systems were slow and not nearly as useful as an omnidirectional (3 DOF) system - and without the ability to easily use something like omniwheels or mechanum wheels due to various constraints, HOG wheels would be a godsend. They provide most of the benefits of the traditional omnidirectional drive systems with very few hitches - and you'd be surprised how often the hard and flat surface requirement isn't an issue (or, in many cases, applies to traditional drive systems as well).

more than 3 years ago


timothyb89 hasn't submitted any stories.


timothyb89 has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

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>