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!



Ask Slashdot: Open Hard- & Software Based Security Token?

userw014 S/Key (94 comments)

RSA did implement their scheme as an iPhone app. If you're willing to consider something that might work as a smart-phone app, think about S/Key. It's supported as a PAM module for the *nixes. (Of course, that assumes you're willing to trust the smart-phone apps.)

I recall using S/key ages ago (1990s) back in the days of Telnet (before ssh.) Back then, if you didn't have an S/key calculator, you could also use a paper list of one-time passwords. Ever so often, we had to re-seed our s/key (because we limited the number of passwords per. seeding.) S/key can be a bit annoying, but it ought to be cheap to implement.

If you want to go with a hand-held device, I'm sure you could implement an S/Key end-user calculator on an Arduino or Raspberry Pi - but how much can you afford to spend? I wouldn't be surprised if a Arduino-like solution cost more than RSA tokens.

S/Key is focused on a single server. If you require your users to connect through a bastion host, it might be workable - but the model breaks down if you want multiple servers, unless they share a filesystem.

7 hours ago

The Improbable Story of the 184 MPH Jet Train

userw014 Is it a train? (195 comments)

TL;DV - but it seems that the the demonstration was a single car/engine. Does that count as a "train"?

about two weeks ago

FBI Concerned About Criminals Using Driverless Cars

userw014 WTF is the FBI worrying about? (435 comments)

Gun battles and bombs? If those are the worries of the FBI, the FBI is making itself look like a bunch of idiots. That's worrying about all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons.

The bombs issue is (sort of) plausible - if we had as bad a problem with bombs as other parts of the world. The gun battles issue is like worrying about your house burning down from lightning strikes because you're using electricity instead of candles. However, given the number of complete idiots who shoot themselves in Big Box stores, etc. we're far more likely to have accidental shootings on highways.

Autonomous cars - ESPECIALLY for-hire (or subscription or shared) autonomous vehicles would create a huge number of changes (good and bad.) I amused myself speculating about this last year without even thinking about the criminal aspect (which a co-worker brought to mind - none of which has been discussed here yet.)

But just think if there was a way to broadcast a signal to cause autonomous vehicles to pull over, slow down, or provide or audio video of the cabin. You know the security of that system is going to be broken in a few months (at most) - but it's going to have to be a pretty standard system in order for it to be used.

about two weeks ago

Solar-Powered Electrochemical Cell Used To Produce Formic Acid From CO2

userw014 Re:Great... Instead of CO2 we get CO (133 comments)

I didn't see where Carbon Monoxide (CO) is mentioned in the articles or the summary of the paper. (The paper itself is more than I can read right now.)

Where is CO involved in this process?

about a month ago

Google, Detroit Split On Autonomous Cars

userw014 Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (236 comments)

I was trying to express the idea that an urban-only vehicle that only needs to go 5-10 miles per. trip might not need to achieve highway speeds. Detroit might not be willing to build and market a car that satisfies 95% of people's needs - and that could make them vulnerable to someone (like Google) who would - and might consider Google arrogant for contemplating such an idea.

about a month ago

Google, Detroit Split On Autonomous Cars

userw014 Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (236 comments)

This might be urban vs. exurban.

Google's existing autonomous prototype is limited to 25mph. If Google could make a production vehicle that'd go as fast as 35mph, that'd satisfy my daily commute (90% of my driving) and shopping (another 9% for a total of 99% of my driving.)

But that assumes I'd still own the car and not use it most of the time. (I.e.: park it at home or at work 23:15 hours per. day.)

I could save money by using public transportation. I'm urban. However, most of the population of SE Lower Michigan (where I and I presume "Detroit"s designer/engineers live) is exurban, driving from one suburb (or exurb) to another for their jobs.

about a month ago

Research Project Pays People To Download, Run Executables

userw014 Dated research? (76 comments)

When I read the paper, I didn't see anything to suggest a date after 2010. And as the paper says, this only covers workstation computers - Windows/XP through Windows/7. No tablets or smart-phones, or other app-store like environments.

I suspect that if anything, current behavior - influenced by app-store like environments - is even worse. You could probably get someone to run your mystery app just by promising them access to another mystery app.

about a month ago

2 US Senators Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase

userw014 Quietly I roll along... (619 comments)

I haven't put gas in my plugin hybrid since March. I'm down to a half-tank.

I live in Michigan - where the GOP dominated state government has turned our roads to gravel - except with bigger chunks. I'd really like to see better roads, and I certainly understand that my lack of gasoline purchases means that I'm being subsidized. Fuel taxes are a great proxy for road usage fees, and so long as there aren't a noticable number of plugin electric vehicles this will probably continue to work - so I won't worry about it. The politics of doing anything with The Party of No is just too difficult for little things like fairness or common sense to have any hope of success.

about a month ago

Are US Hybrid Sales Peaking Already?

userw014 Re:Buying new vs. keeping what you have (377 comments)

I had to replace a 14 year old VW Passat V6 Sedan last fall. I went with a Ford C-Max Energi (it's a plugin hybrid.) I wouldn't have gone with an all electric vehicle because a 80-100 mile range just isn't enough for certain out-of-town trips (and I hadn't anticipated the range halving in sub-freezing temperatures.) I went with it because Ford had a discount/rebate, I also had a discount through my employer (who counts as some sort of Ford supplier), and because of the tax benefits of a plugin/EV. That made the Energi cheaper than a Prius.

I've been enjoying my car for the following reasons:

  • My work commute is short enough to be all-electric - even last winter when the all-electric range fell by half.
  • The car is very, very quiet.
  • It's still under warranty, so the maintenance feels like it's free.


  • I'm paying for the free (ish) maintenance with big (ish) car payments.
  • Insurance on a new car really is a lot more than for an old car.
  • The driver's view a lot poorer than the VW
  • I get unreasonably anxious about the EV (electric vehicle) range.
  • It's a big, rolling, embedded system with weird software related flaws in the Windows Embedded Automotive based My Ford Touch infotainment syste,
  • I don't like getting into arguments with my car's voice controlled systems
  • It has a much smaller cargo capacity than any of my previous cars. For instance, I can't rent a roto-tiller that'll fit in the back.

Overall, I do like the car - but I wonder how much of that is because I don't expect having any major maintenance issues simply because it's a new car. If I were to replace it, I might go with an all electric vehicle and rent a car for longer trips - there's an Enterprise Rent-a-car just a couple miles from home - walking distance. But I hope not to replace it for a long time. (Fingers crossed...)

And I don't think my parking's gotten any worse, but I hardly visit Whole Foods anyway. (I'm mostly Kroger.) There are a heck of a lot of Priuses in my neighborhood though (but hardly any in Kroger's parking lot.)

about a month and a half ago

The Coming IT Nightmare of Unpatchable Systems

userw014 Infoworld? Really? (240 comments)

6 months after the whole issue of embedded systems blew up in Mom and Pop's pizza shop router is breaking news for InfoWorld.

I don't want to think about the number of times more visionary people have brought up this very topic over the past 15 years.

I wonder I'll be concerned in 20+ years - after I've retired from my career and will be paying rent on my hot-bunk from earnings I make washing dogs.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: In What Other Occupations Are IT Skills and Background Useful?

userw014 Re:Automotive (158 comments)

As a new(ish) owner of an EV, I fear I agree. All of the problems I've had are the results of firmware - and that takes an excessively long time for my dealer to fix.

about 2 months ago

Scott Adams's Plan For Building Giant Energy-Generating Pyramids

userw014 Re:"free" solar energy (107 comments)

I'm not savvy enough to throw numbers at this, but I'd wonder about the large scale aspects of this.

How tall can can you build a pile of glass bricks before the ones at the bottom fail?

What effect does on-site manufacture of glass have on it's reliability? What about local impurities, etc.?

What additional stresses (sheering, etc.) will occur to the glass because of daily and seasonal thermal changes?

What are the effects of mile (or kilometer) distant heat source/sink differences on a Stirling Engine (esp. as regards to heat transport.)

What might the weather effects be?

A pyramid full of heat tubes suggests that most of the tubes will be of different lengths.

What effects will the weight of a mile-high structure have on the underlying bedrock, esp. in terms of quakes, shifting, etc.

The pyramid design is trying to optimize direct exposure of some of the surfaces to sunlight - what of the other surfaces? Don't forget seasonal effects (summer vs. winter)

I like speculating about this (in this non-quantitative way.) Without any serious thought about this proposal, it seems unlikely - but likely enough to be worth giving it more thought than I can.

about a month ago

'Curiosity' Lead Engineer Suggests Printing Humans On Other Planets

userw014 "We" - as in our abandoned children (323 comments)

This isn't We as in any individual with memories, personality, goals, culture, and values. This is We as in our abandoned children, perhaps brought up by an artificial intelligence. This is We as in the rest of our ecological support of plants and animals, fungus, and bacteria.

about 2 months ago

Did the Ignition Key Just Die?

userw014 I'm there already (865 comments)

I'm there already. I bought a Ford C-Max Energi about half a year ago. About the only thing not mediated by a computer is the latch on the glove compartment.

I keep my wireless fob on a key-ring in my pocket. I'm still uncomfortable about this change to the User Interface as it means that I don't necessarily have the feedback of knowing I have my keys with me that I had back when I had a real key. And the key fob contains a small key-blade as a backup/emergency solution should the small battery in the fob expire (I've already replaced the battery once.) That small key-blade seems to be the ultimate back-door as far as security goes.

As for wet key fobs - my previous car had a remote lock/unlock/alarm built into one of the keys that came with the car. That died when I rushed into a lake after one of my kids while carrying the key in my pants pocket. It wasn't worth it then to replace - but it would have cost $300+ to do so.

As far as I can tell, my car is now a kind of colonial embedded computing system that happens to roll along the highway at deadly speeds. It's already been into the dealership for software updates (that took two days to apply.) I suspect that as automobiles become even more dependent on automation for their functionality, the resale value of the cars will decrease as the manufacturers eventually put limits on the support for the systems - or go out of business - or go through bankruptcy. GM - having gone through bankruptcy - now has a nice, legal excuse to stop supporting older processors in automobiles that don't impact safety.

I don't see a third-party market developing to support or enhance these systems like there is for mechanical systems. Yes, there are car hackers who download some firmware into their engine computers - but I don't see it happening for navigation systems, entertainment/audio systems, etc. And I doubt it'll happen with EV, hybrid, or plugin-hybrid vehicles.

about 3 months ago

Google's Project Ara Could Bring PC-Like Hardware Ecosystem To Phones

userw014 Re:Wrong application (139 comments)

Most personal computers I see ARE monolithic devices - or may as well be such. Very few people I know will customize or upgrade a PC after it's purchased, outside of (perhaps) RAM or storage - and even those people are rare. Of course, there are discretionary computers used by a few people - but discretionary means that if those computers are unusable while parts are being shipped or OSes being reinstalled or whatever, the only activity impacted is discretionary activity - like gaming.

Personal communication devices (cell-phones) are non-discretionary. You need them to WORK, especially if you have more responsibilities than bathing between visits to your parents' basement.

Perhaps this will allow phones to have more customizable features when they're purchased. But I don't see people swapping parts of their phones in and out the way they might connect and disconnect USB, et. al. devices.

about 3 months ago

Skilled Manual Labor Critical To US STEM Dominance

userw014 It's dejavu all over again (367 comments)

I've heard this kind of thing before. It seems to recur every 8 to 10 years or so. The thing about the skilled trades is that in order to earn mini-banker-like compensation you need to be highly skilled in the very high end of the trades because they're the people who can afford welders good enough for nuclear power plant requirements and things like that. Residential and commercial (i.e.: office and retail) trades aren't going to need the high end skills. It takes years to get there.

As for myself, my backup plan if I couldn't hack college were the electrical and plumbing trades. That was during the Reagan Recession, and as it happened I never had to seriously pursue that. But having been unemployed during the depths of the Great Recession, perhaps I ought to pursue getting an Electrician's license.

about 3 months ago

In a Hole, Golf Courses Experiment With 15-inch Holes

userw014 A way to make putt-putt golf seem mature (405 comments)

The Golf Sports Industrial Complex is in a dither because without Tiger Woods, people realize that golf is boring and a waste of a great green-space for picnics, frisbee, and games of catch.

A 15 inch hole? Pulling the covers off of sewers and using the resulting pit for a target would be more interesting. (Those lids are HEAVY and ball recovery would be more challenging.)

about 3 months ago

Expert Warns: Civilian World Not Ready For Massive EMP-Caused Blackout

userw014 Why would we want to defend against EMP? (271 comments)

(Ignoring the farcical nature of Foxnews...)

Why would we want someone able to deploy an EMP capable nuclear device to go instead with a dirty bomb or use it to cause more physical damage (i.e.: city-busting?)

Would defending against EMP like this also defend against a solar coronal mass ejection (like ?) If it can't be justified for an event like that, I don't see the point.

about 3 months ago


userw014 hasn't submitted any stories.


userw014 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