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The Improbable Story of the 184 MPH Jet Train

vidarlo Re:184 mph is the fastest train in America? (195 comments)

Highspeed trains need special tracks. Creating these tracks involves confiscating a lot of land from people along the way.

Roads also need a lot of space. So I don't entirely see your point. Maybe roads need 20% less space or something, but it's not like they need no space.

Doing this creates many lovely opportunities for corruption in government as the route can go a lot of ways depending on who influences it.

We have solved huge parts of that in Europe. We do it with open goverment, post journals showing mail that has arrived to a government agency, political hearings were everybody can send in their opinion, and the agency has to comment and publish all hearing comments. This mostly works. In the cases where it doesn't work, a sufficiently pissed of party can take the case to court to have the process reviewed.

"It says something about the state of train travel in America" yeah it sure does. It says that people would rather drive than be subject to that TSA garbage.

Straw man. We don't have TSA garbage on european high speed railways. And while I can take the train for long distances in the Europe, I believe I'd be taking a plane in the USA, exposing me to that very TSA garbage.

about two weeks ago

German NSA Committee May Turn To Typewriters To Stop Leaks

vidarlo Re:Don't forget to burn the ribbon (244 comments)

Oh there's so many vulnerabilities with electric typewriters, especially the single-use ribbon. Manual typewriters with a fabric ribbon that is re-used might still need to be burned.

Yes, there is security vulnerabilities. But compared to a computer, containing millions of lines of code, and the capability of running arbitary software, a typewriter is a very simple envirorment, with fewer unknown and bugs.

Securing a simple envirorment is easier than securing the complex. Take a Selectric typewriter - you can check the software manually as it's probably quite short. You can easily verify it, and there is NO reason why any other software should be present. This is not the case with a computer.

Or mechanical typewriter - no software, so the only storage mechanism is the ribbon.

So yeah, a bit of physical security is needed. The ribbons needs to be handled as classified. The drums may contain imprints, and neads to destructed safely. Sound might reveal something, so the room needs soundproofing and checks for unwanted bugs. But compared to a computer, it's quite trivial, and the security is within the reach of even a small organization.

about two weeks ago

Linux May Succeed Windows XP As OS of Choice For ATMs

vidarlo Re:Ok seriously though ... (367 comments)

Or are they thinking they will go it alone and continue to update their Linux distro/kernel just because it is open source? Do they really think they are qualified to do that? Or is the hope that they can spend money to keep the OS in long-term-support status?

That is not as hard as it sounds. There's already tons of mission critical in-house applications in banks, some of them probably quite a lot more complex than an OS with some drivers and an application on top of it...

about 4 months ago

Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration

vidarlo Re:This is a case of manual override (664 comments)

What you're asking for is basically an emergency stop. The problem is that in some cases this can be dangerous as well. What if there's a truck 30 feet behind you, and you suddenly by accident (or inherent fault) activate the emergency stop? Safety is complex, and I'm not sure emergency stop is a good idea here, as it introduces it's own problems.

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: How To Build a Morse Code Audio Library For Machine Learning?

vidarlo Re:Email? (79 comments)

I'd recommend using e-mail. It's open to everyone to use, and they probably already have registered one. They can provide any and all metadata in the free-form text field known as "body", and it even supports multiple file attachments!

But it also means getting the metadata as free-form-text, which is likely to need interpreting before processing. A HTML form on the other hand will provide, by comparison, quite standardised data format. It also provides an easy file upload facility.

Writing something in PHP/Python that accepts uploads and stores metadata in a database is not very much work to hack together. The main work will be deciding the fields and so on. A form can require an entry in the field for antenna type, whilst in e-mail it's easy to forget a field.

The main challenge I guess is to get people to submit information...

about 7 months ago

How a MacBook Camera Can Spy Without Lighting Up

vidarlo Re:It's pretty simple (371 comments)

If they cared even remotely enough to do that, then they would have already hardwired the indicator light to the same power source as the camera so that one couldn't be run without the other regardless of the firmware.

This is essentially what apple did, according to the report. They connected the LED to the standby signal, which normally has to be disabled to read data from the camera chip. So far, so good.

But the camera chip also has a configuration register - and one of the register options are to disable listening to the standby signal, and go ahead without caring about this signal. So it looks like the designers overlooked that option, or didn't think about it as a serious scenario.

So my impression is that apple has gone further than I've imagined to make a good design, but sadly not a bugfree design. Remember that all designs, hardware or software, may have bugs.

about 7 months ago

Why Is Broadband More Expensive In the US Than Elsewhere?

vidarlo Re:Not really news... (569 comments)

In a truly deregulated market, the cost of entry for one cable company would be the same as for another. In a heavily regulated market that we actually have (at the local level) the first company had a very much lower cost of entry due to special deal with the local government.

This is wrong at two levels. First, when technology was new, a monopoly was sensible, to ensure access to telephone for most people, because building lines was expensive. Building lines in a city may be profitable, but not in rural areas. A monopoly can force a entity to provide coverage both places, in exchange for a (limited) monopoly. So yes, the community can indeed be better of by granting a monopoly in some situations. Second, even if it's a free market, the first actor will always have the upper hand, as they have more potential customers to pick from, and it is more unlikely that a customer will switch once they have a provider. Building a copper/fiber network to the curb is damn expensive, so not many players are able to this. So if we'd not have monopolies, we probably woudn't have as good coverage, and if we didn't have monopolies, the first player would still be favoured. Norway also had telco monopoly, building the network up to ca. 1995. But the government owned telco has been regulated into providing the copper for other DSL telcos, for a fixed price (~10$ month per customer), and the other DSL telcos can rent rack space in Telenor's facilities for installing DSLAMs and so on.

about 9 months ago

Game Site Wonders 'What Next?' When 50% of Users Block Ads

vidarlo Re:Just tell your users what is happening (978 comments)

The problem is that they still track you. For me, this is a show stopper; I do not want Google to track me in this fashion.

Doubleclick was marginally better in this regard, because they could only track me anonymously, but Google has my name and address already, so they can easily track me from a gmail session to surfing habits, if they want. By making anonymous ads commonplace, I'd stop blocking text ads

Another concern is that advertising has a cost. We spend huge resources on advertising, and what is the gain? If sites started enforcing more rigorous rules for advertising content, like no flash, not tracking me across sites and so on, maybe I'd not be so inclined to block ads? In short; keep the ads as a business model, but adapt it to those who don't like tracking. A static image with a link in the html of the page? I would probably not bother to block it. A text paragraph, statically in the HTML, and not loaded via JS like google ads? I'd do nothing about it.

about a year ago

Game Site Wonders 'What Next?' When 50% of Users Block Ads

vidarlo Things have changed? (978 comments)

Ad blocking came about as a reaction on the huge multimegabyte flash ads with sound and moving images - at least for my part. They were slow to download on 56k modem, and waste of space. Then, google started tracking me across sites using google ads, and I don't particularly want them to track my browsing habits. So I blocked that too. But how much is lost to blocked ads? Did the people blocking ads click ads before blocking was common? I did certainly not. Also, a lot of the ads on the web is quite US-centric, and of less interest to me as a european. Is this really a loss? I'm not so sure. Maybe a clean advertising standard, with text ads and as little tracking as possible would be a better way to go?

about a year ago

UK Government Mandates the Teaching of Evolution As Scientific Fact

vidarlo Re:good (783 comments)

I totally agree with the particulars. The point is that both is correct - in its own sense. Using Einsteins motion laws for calculating the time you need to reach work is a total waste of time. Using it to calculate GPS signals however...

about a year and a half ago

UK Government Mandates the Teaching of Evolution As Scientific Fact

vidarlo Re:good (783 comments)

Just because it is the supported theory, and all the archeological evidence does support it, and we of the scientific community hold that it is the 99% best supported explanation, it is not a fact.

If it was truly a fact, then no more resources would be spent studying evolution. And, it is way too soon to close that checkbook.

Wrong. Evolution is a fact. The particular details of evolution is still discussed, and refined from time to time. In the same manner, Albert Einstein refined the laws of Newton, with regards to high speeds. Newton was not wrong in any way, he was just not as right as Einstein.

It is a bit like saying that Newton claimed 2+2 equals 2.999, whilst Einstein said it's 4. However, creationists basically say zeebra + 2 = god - which does not even make sense.

about a year and a half ago

UK Government Mandates the Teaching of Evolution As Scientific Fact

vidarlo Re:I disagree. (783 comments)

People should be taught both and then left alone to decide which one makes more sense.

Should they be taught all the other creation myths around the world also?

There is one hell of a difference between creationism and evolution. Evolution is a proven scientific fact, observed and documented independently many times. Teaching about the bibles view in religious education (which British school has as far as I know)? Yes, it is part of the religious education.

But it is NOT part of science education, as little as turning water into wine by magic is in a brewers course.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Geekiest Way To Cook a Turkey?

vidarlo Re:throw it up into a radar (447 comments)

I threw the apple into its beam and (I didn't catch it, hit the floor) when retrieved it was warm. Was going to do it again but some passenger stopped me.

No, you didn't. If you threw the apple up, it can't have been in the beam for more than fractions of a second - round that to half a second. Assuming apples are 80% water, you need at least 3.4J per gram of apple to heat it one degree celcius/kelvin. To feel the difference, I guess you need at least five degrees difference - or 17J per gram of apple. Assuming you have a hundred and fifty grams of apple, you'll need 2550J. Remember, half a second hang time in front of the beam. Minimum power? Just above 5kW. And then the beam is not concentrated like a LASER... It is no way your story adds up. In the estimate above I probably have a too long hangtime, and assume a concentrated beam...

about a year and a half ago

Knocking Infected PCs Off the Internet

vidarlo Re:Not just infected PCs... (206 comments)

You cannot stop spam without also stopping free speech, since both use the same methods to get their payload delivered. And at its heart, spam is just speech you don't want to hear, much like dissent is speech the government doesn't want to hear.

Yes, it is a difference. Free speech is legal, but breaking in to New York Times printing shop to print your opinion is illegal. Paying them for it is legal. Using other peoples computers for sending spam without consent is illegal. Using your ISP's paid pipe for spam is breech of TOS, and they are in their right to terminate your service. I do however not know any free speech advocates doing mnass mailings where 80-90% of the people report it as spam...

There is no way for a computer to reliably distinguish the two, and the only people who can are also biased and have a vested interest in their own agenda.

Yes, there is. Bayesian filters is doing a quite good job, and it is also fairly simple to guess that a customer suddenly sending a few thousand emails, all containing hyperlinks is spam. Traffic analysis is a good trick here; if the customer normally sends five, and suddenly sends thousand, check them against other rules.

about 2 years ago

What Is an Astronaut's Life Worth?

vidarlo Re:it's not just in NASA (285 comments)

so this would put the value of each person's live at ~$9B zero tolerence of risk just doesn't work

As a mindset, I'm tempted to disagree. It works when used as a goal, because for every fatal accident, you will have a lot of near-fatal-accidents. Often it is trivial mistakes, and by investigating the near-accidents to find the cause, you can mitigate the risks. The norwegian oil industry has been working towards zero accidents for years, and is way safer than Gulf of Mexico. In Norway, we investigate those near-accidents to find the cause, and implement precautions to avoid it to happen again - potentially with a much more lethal outcome. I am aware this is not the same as zero risk tolerance; we are tolerating the risk, but aiming to reduce it as much as possible through targeted work.

about 2 years ago

Twitter Confirms Support For Do Not Track

vidarlo There is quite a few addons that assist you... (33 comments)

The tools are there for those who want. And it doesn't take much work to use them.

more than 2 years ago

iPad Is a "Huge Step Backward"

vidarlo Re:Dear FSF (1634 comments)

It's not defective, RMS et al: it's a CHOICE. You purport to like choice, but no one believes you anymore. Many consumers don't care, and even LIKE, the idea of being locked in to the App Store, because it introduces a significant amount of safety.

In a ideal world where the buyer realised the impact of the restrictions, and were able to make a fully informed choice, I'd agree with you. But as it is now Apple don't mention this in their marketing as far as I'm aware. They don't mention the restrictions:

  • Only Apple-approved software
  • No multitasking with non-Apple-apps
  • No plugins for web browsing
  • Kill switch for apps

...and probably more I've not mentioned.

Most of those restrictions is artificial. Give people a choice whetever to allow non-approved apps, and tell them about the added risk of non-approved apps. Give people multitasking, but warn them against slower response. Give people the CHOICE of using the device as one wants.

As it is now the device is practically crippled if apple wants it to be crippled. On the other hand, my netbook from Asus works perfectly fine with whatever software I want, and I really don't care if asus decides to go bankrupt. It still works as it did when I bought it. With apple devices you don't know that.

The problem is that people do not realise the limitations when buying, and thus is unable to make a informed decision.

more than 4 years ago

Paid blacklist-removal?

vidarlo Strange, but understandable. (1 comments)

It's certainly a surefire way to blacklist spammers - I can't imagine spammers paying 50EUR to get wihtelisted any time soon, and such a grace period is a nice way of keeping spammers away, and yet allow legitimate users to remove their IP.

A better solution would be to take a deposit of 50EUR, and pay those back after four weeks if no abuse occured. Then you could be reasonably sure that no spammer would be interested in whitelisting themself...

more than 4 years ago

We Were Smarter About Copyright Law 100 Years Ago

vidarlo Re:They don't even go back far enough. (152 comments)

You violating copyright shouldn't be the end of your financial life or freedom. A fine, certainly but the magnitudes that have always been in place are ridiculous.

You were not able to break copyright rules around 1900 by accident. You don't copy a book without being pretty deliberate about it, and you certainly don't give copies of a book away for free.

So in 1900 it was a fair assumption that copyright breach of any scale to speak of was commercial by nature. Today, that argument is no longer true. So stiff legal punishment was way more in place in 1900 than it is today.

about 5 years ago

Kindle, Zune DRM Restrictions Coming Into Focus

vidarlo Re:Hate to say this, but... (311 comments)

have no problem with DRM until it stops me from being able to use my media legally as I see fit. If a DRM scheme somehow prevented me from giving a file to my friends, but let me listen to the song on my ipod, Sansa, or Zune as I wished, that'd be perfectly okay.

That system can't excist. If you are able to play back content with the player of your own choice, you can surely just use a open source one and dump audio to disk again after the DRM is dealt with? Or you could simply strip away the DRM straight away.

That's the inherit problem with DRM: It tries to give you access to content whilst at the same time restricting access to the very same content. It can't be done. Not now. Not tomorrow. Not ever. There won't be a DRM system that ever lets you use media as you see fit.

more than 5 years ago



Skydiver catches meteorite on video

vidarlo vidarlo writes  |  about 4 months ago

vidarlo (134906) writes "A Norwegian skydiver, Anders Helstrup, caught a falling meteorite on video. This is the first reported instance in the world of his happening, and the rock fell close to the skydiver. NRK writes:

Although Helstrup is still not completely convinced that it was indeed a meteorite that flew past him, the experts are in no doubt.

“It can’t be anything else. The shape is typical of meteorites – a fresh fracture surface on one side, while the other side is rounded,” said geologist Hans Amundsen.

The video in the article shows the metorite. It's in the dark flight phase, with low velocity."
Link to Original Source


ISP won against IPFIs wish to block torrent sites

vidarlo vidarlo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

vidarlo writes "NRK reports (Google translation) that Norwegian ISP Telenor does not have to block it's customers access to ThePiratebay.

Earlier this year, norwegian associations for artists sued Telenor, seeking to block Telenor's customers from reaching The Pirate Bay. This strategy worked in Denmark last year, but Norwegian court struck down the artists claims."

Link to Original Source

Stephen Hawkings to hospital: 'very ill'

vidarlo vidarlo writes  |  more than 5 years ago

vidarlo writes "According to Assosciated Press Stephen Hawking is very ill in Addenbroke Hospital, Cambridge:

Leading scientist Stephen Hawking is "very ill" in hospital, his employer Cambridge University has said. A spokesman said Professor Hawking was undergoing tests at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge. The spokesman said the 67-year-old, who has motor neurone disease, had "been unwell for a couple of weeks".

This is a very sad moment, for I believe few have meant as much to modern physics and mathematics as Stephen Hawking, and few has made such enourmus efforts to popularize their scientific findings to such a large group of people — even though he is almost completely paralyzed he have written many books, and contributed enormously to science as we know it.

He is currently Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, and is known for titles such as A Brief History of Time."

Link to Original Source


A first impression of OpenSolaris 2008.11

vidarlo vidarlo writes  |  more than 5 years ago

vidarlo writes "OpenSolaris 2008.11 is out, with a Live CDs and everything. I gave it a spin, in VMware, and it is indeed a quite impressive OS. Easy installation, on par with most Linux Distros I've tried, and much of the same software — including the GNU tools, Firefox, Gnome, Thunderbird and such. In addition they've got their own package manager, and some Solaris conventions, like pfexec. So you can tell it's solaris if you use the terminal, but on the surface it looks like Gnome on any Linux distro. I'd recomend giving OpenSolaris a try."
Link to Original Source

What software do you carry on your USB memory key?

vidarlo vidarlo writes  |  more than 5 years ago

vidarlo writes "I work with networks, and sometimes I don't have a Unix machine handy, and have to use a windows machine. Often with no networking utilities. For that purpose, I carry a USB memory device with a few applications. This mostly does the trick.

What software does other slashdotters carry around with them, especially networking related, but other software as well? Is there any good, portable, way of giving me a Bash shell? Is there any essential tool missing in my list? I'm interested in other slashdotters view on portable software! I'm also interested in free (as in speech) software to replace the properitary ones on my list."

Link to Original Source

Best software for a slashdot-like site?

vidarlo vidarlo writes  |  more than 6 years ago

vidarlo writes "I'm currently looking at starting a Slashdot-like site, in norwegian, where users can submit content. I've looked at different solutions, like Geeklog, but it has a clunky admin interface, and not a very elegant discussion system. However, it is relatively light and fast, and written in PHP, which is the language I'm most confident with. Slashcode, the code running Slashdot, is another alternative, but it's written in perl, quite huge, and seems like a mess to set up properly. Last released version is from 2002, so I guess I'd have to go with the CVS version... So I'm wondering what CMS solution Slashdot readers would recomend. It should support basic comment moderation, either deletion or slashdot-like moderation. It should have different categories, and be written in PHP, so I can modify it somewhat easily, and support user submission of articles, like slashdot. Does any of the readers have good suggestions on this?"

Howto defeat EU's data retention act.

vidarlo vidarlo writes  |  more than 6 years ago

vidarlo writes "You might have heard about the EU data retention act which mandates that all ISP's and such store whom you communicate with for two years, in the name of antiterrorism. Someone has written quite a nice howto on how to avoid this directive whilst communicating over the internet:

Another alternative is usenet. Google groups provide easy access to usenet, and if you find a group with huge daily volume, you more or less ensure that atleast quite a few thousand has downloaded a copy of your message, and retained it more or less infinetely in their cache... Same as for above: agree to a protocol, and stick to it.
Certainly worth reading if you're interested in privacy. The full article can be read here or in the slashdot comment where it first appeared."

Link to Original Source

Norwegian identity theft

vidarlo vidarlo writes  |  more than 6 years ago

vidarlo writes "Recently, major Norwegian phone operators had quite serious trouble with their website. Information about 140.000 persons was leaked, due to extremly bad design. As the article writes:

Recently, quite a lot of information about individuals have been aloft in Norway. The government seems to ignore the problem, and just silence the people complaining and uncovering the problem. Traditionally, identity theft has not been much of a problem in Norway, but this has changed the last few years, and this incident could pave the road for really large scale identity theft.
And the really scary part is that the norwegian police has just tried to cover up, and catch the people trying some Proof of Concept code, demonstrating that it was a feasible attach. The corporations, with unsecured websites have not yet been raided, even though they clearly break norwegian law."

Link to Original Source

iPhone cracked.

vidarlo vidarlo writes  |  about 7 years ago

vidarlo writes "Apple's has been cracked by the infamous Jon Lech Johansen aka DVD-Jon. He released a activation server which runs on your own pc, and allows you to activate the iPhone, without submitting your data to AT&T/Apple.

I've found a way to activate a brand new unactivated iPhone without giving any of your money or personal information to AT&T NSA. The iPhone does not have phone capability, but the iPod and WiFi work. Stay tuned!
In my eyes, this is promising, even if he has not got the phone part usabele yet."

Link to Original Source


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