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Ask Slashdot: Advice On Building a Firewall With VPN Capabilities?

xtal Consumer routers suck (238 comments)

Buy a good switch and a low power PC with some ram. Virtualize it all.

Smoothwall is a good choice, there are lots out there.

Makes it easy to do other things like IDS as well later.

about two weeks ago

How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms

xtal Primitive calculators hold back math understanding (359 comments)

Number crunching is stupid.

Math students should be using computers to visualize and manipulate math, and help them understand what it is they're solving for.

This is best done with modern, kick ass graphics, and on any modern tablet, can be done in real-time.

It's an embarrassment to the entire teaching profession that calculators are needed on any exam, but more over, it is doing a serious disservice to students to not use them for what they should be used for - math visualizing machines. The TI calculators are used by and large to hand-hold lazy teachers and provide them with busywork for students.


Also, HP48GX forever.. but I didn't need it until engineering school. I completed all of the math courses for my EE without a calculator - they weren't allowed by the math department, and rightly so.

about three weeks ago

Oracle Hasn't Killed Java -- But There's Still Time

xtal Python (371 comments)

Python has replaced Java for anything I used to do with it.

Javascript lives on.

IDEs are better. It's easier to port code. Much has been abstracted. I don't necessarily see where Java fits in the picture long term; it's been abandoned by Apple and Microsoft as a core language.

The beat goes on.

about a month and a half ago

What Do You Do When Your Mind-Numbing IT Job Should Be Automated?

xtal Sit and watch my automated scripts and read (228 comments)

Just because you automate it, doesn't mean you have to tell anyone.

Be a shame, you know, if those scripts stopped working..

about a month and a half ago

iFixit Takes Apart the Oculus Rift DK2, Finds Galaxy Note 3 Display Inside

xtal Shut up and take my money already (57 comments)

Finish this.. I've been waiting since the iGlasses came out in 1997..

about 2 months ago

China Builds Artificial Islands In South China Sea

xtal Re:Another very good reason... (192 comments)

The problem is there is no alternative to oil.


Nuclear may provide energy dense alternatives but you'd need to have been building plants 10 years ago. Coal is an option, but you will turn the sky grey.

Green technologies do not have the energy density needed. Simple napkin math can demonstrate this. There are no conspiracies; the world runs on oil because there are no alternatives available. A refusal to recognize the underlying thermodynamics and energy requirements in real world units, rather than fluffy unicorns and windmills, holds back adult discussions of what needs to happen and when.

The only technology available is nuclear. Manhattan-project style efforts to crack fusion technologies, or more usefully, the battery problem, would go a long way to help. We're not just there yet.

about 3 months ago

I Want a Kindle Killer

xtal ...paper replacement (321 comments)

All I want is a paper replacement.

There are large e-ink displays, but they all lack high resolution input - as high as a 0.5mm pencil can get you.

15 years after I graduated, I still carry engineering paper, and I get it from the same bookstore. All that's changed is I take pictures of my notes instead of scan them now.

Come on Apple - want to innovate? Figure that one out. I triple dog dare you.

about 4 months ago

ANTVR - China's Answer To Oculus Rift Is Raising Funds

xtal Competition is great (104 comments)

..get the damn product finished Oculus.

about 4 months ago

UN to Debate Use of Fully Autonomous Weapons, New Report Released

xtal Re:Why? (180 comments)

If you do not have men with guns to protect your freedom, money, women, *insert thing here, other (bad) men with guns will come take it from you.

That's human nature, and I have no problem with my way of life being protected under threat of planetary annihilation.

Forget that lesson at your peril.

about 4 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Computer Science Freshman, Too Soon To Job Hunt?

xtal Focus on your studies as much as possible (309 comments)

You are making a huge financial investment in both real dollars and opportunity cost.

Don't worry about developing web sites. Spend that time advancing your core knowledge. Learn as deep and as abstractly as you can. The technologies will change, the knowledge will not.

Any job you take now will likely not impact your career. Find out if there's a professor you can work with in another faculty instead - by going up and down halls knocking on doors if possible. Chances are they have some IT problems that need solving this summer or know someone who does.

about 4 months ago

Google Testing Gmail Redesign

xtal This is a good thing! (218 comments)

It's so goddamn awful, it will drive me away from Gmail, its uncomplicated and great search results, and make me get off my lazy ass, and set up my own cloud service that I control.

It might even make me motivated enough to limit my exposure to Google in other ways, too.

The volume of non-work email I deal with has been dropping steadily, anyway - to the point where my own solution managed in my own cloud service might be worthwhile.

I strongly suspect I am not alone.

Full speed ahead Google!

about 4 months ago

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding

xtal Re:If You Add... (125 comments)

The people doing the funding there most certainly need more code monkeys..

about 4 months ago

Wyoming Is First State To Reject Science Standards Over Climate Change

xtal Re: Motivated rejection of science (661 comments)

The standard model has been verified in countless experiments, and made predictions that have been subsequently verified.

Opinion is not the same as experimental validation, and I am unaware of such experimental rigor as applied to climate modelling.

You don't get it both ways. Unfortunately, we've gone down the road where you can't question climate science anymore, and that's where it stops being science and starts being something else.

Are we changing the planet? Almost certainly. How much? Unknown. What is the impact? Also unknown. We do know that the climate has changed large amounts in a short period in the past, and will do so again. That's about it.

It doesn't matter anyway - nobody is going to stop driving, nobody is going to accept the sacrifice. Our best bet is to accept the change headlong, and pour our intellectual capital - all those people - into figuring out ways to engineer the planet's climate, and develop clean, high density power that can drive those technologies (that is code for nuclear power).

C'est la vie. But don't compare climate science with the standard model or general relativity. You are wrong.

about 4 months ago

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding

xtal Math is hard! (125 comments)

..for average high school teachers.

about 4 months ago

Norway Is Gamifying Warfare By Driving Tanks With Oculus Rift

xtal Re:Jamming in real war... (106 comments)

The jamming gear, likely by an order of magnitude or two.

about 5 months ago

Norway Is Gamifying Warfare By Driving Tanks With Oculus Rift

xtal Re:Jamming in real war... (106 comments)

You've just realized why autonomous drones are necessary; they can't be jammed.

If you're broadcasting a 1 MW jamming signal, you are a pretty bright light for HARM missiles or other radar-seeking technology. More sophisticated schemes or ECM are possible, but the physics is pretty clear on how you track down a broadcast location.

about 5 months ago

Kerry Says US Is On the "Right Side of History" When It Comes To Online Freedom

xtal Re:Eh? (261 comments)

..they haven't outlawed any of those things, and the technology adoption is growing like wildfire now. Commercial enterprise wants secure commerce, and they're going to get it.

Never underestimate the almighty dollar.

about 5 months ago

Kerry Says US Is On the "Right Side of History" When It Comes To Online Freedom

xtal Eh? (261 comments)

"I expect you to hold the United States to the standards that I've outlined, I also hope that you won't let the world forget the places where those who hold their government to standards go to jail rather than win prizes."

I don't even know where to begin with this one.

Don't worry. The internet will deal with this because there's money on the line, and the US should understand this. If you start with a base assumption everything is being recorded and monitored, then you can build systems that have protections against that designed in from the start. Math is awesome.

The outcome from this will be an even harder to stop internet. This may have be an unintended effect, but may end up being a net positive gain for personal liberty in the long run. History is full of reasons why this is a good thing, and why we must never lower our guard.

Interesting times.

about 5 months ago


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