* Posts by Gary Bickford

201 posts • joined 27 Jan 2009

Page:

Give BAE a kicking and flog off new UK warships, says review

Gary Bickford

Re: Nobody will buy them

Perhaps the solution is to build for the market. Go out and find what features and price point would be competitive for sale to other countries, get a few letters of intent, or better actual pre-orders. Then add the UK order to the list. Incorporate into the design some flexibility and/or feature models ("white sidewalls, leather seats, sea-to-air missiles, ...").

Require the design to be buildable in pieces at multiple shipyards, accurately (I've seen videos of the Koreans building large container vessels where the pieces fit together with tolerances under a centimeter, it's doable.)

Use fixed price contracts and make sure the design is complete enough to minimize change orders. If possible contract 1/2 the order to each of two vendors, and require all modules to be interchangeable. This is common practice in the auto industry, admittedly at higher volumes. But how much is the overall hull shape going to change? Building to the market will go a long way to preventing Lockheed-ization and gilded designs.

0
0

San Francisco's sinking luxury Millennium Tower: Tilt spotted FROM SPACE

Gary Bickford

Re: Well, if a ship sank there, couldn't a building?

> Same in New York City - witness the ship under the WTC. But I believe they don't have a problem with reaching bedrock.

NYC is an interesting and useful comparison. I recently learned that, looking at a map of Manhattan, all of the high rise buildings are in two fairly small areas of the island. Buildings on the rest of the island are limited to five or 10 stories. This is because only those two areas have solid bedrock. The city does not allow super high rises on those other areas, with or without piles.

These tall skinny buildings are a special problem. A cathedral is tall, but not that tall in proportion to its footprint - the height is maybe three or four times the width. So building on a lesser foundation may cause settling, cracking, etc. but is unlikely to result in the entire structure tipping over. But a 60 story building (maybe 700 feet tall) on a 60 or 70 foot wide lot has a lot of leverage, so a tiny bit of tilt will quickly start to escalate as the weight gets concentrated on one side.

5
0
Gary Bickford

The City _allowed_ them to only sink piles 80 feet????? They will be sued as well.

In a city that is known for its earthquake hazard, and that is built on landfill, failing to require the piles for this building to extend all the way to bedrock is an engineering failure on the part of the city's building department as well as the developer. Landfill, especially near a large body of water that can provide lubrication, has a tendency to liquify under earthquake stress. There are videos online of the dirt flowing up through sidewalk cracks during earthquakes.

Both the developers and the city are in deep doo doo. And should be.

1
0

Dyn Dyn Dyn – we have a buyer: Oracle gobbles Internet of Things DDoS victim

Gary Bickford

Re: With Oracle?

"While I don't mind Larry, I certainly do not want to put money into his sailing expeditions."

Actually for me that's the only thing he does that I _would_ support! :)

3
0

Possible reprieve for the venerable A-10 Warthog

Gary Bickford

Re: Pint due.

> But political nuts that insist on turning any thread into political shit make me wish you could legally shoot them on sight.

To paraphrase, "If it's politician season, why can't we shoot them?" :D

15
0

DNS devastation: Top websites whacked offline as Dyn dies again

Gary Bickford

Re: ENOUGH!

> I'm not smart enough to figure out a solution (and there may not be one), but it seems to me that something should be possible.

What I'd _like_ to suggest but is actually a bad idea would be when one of these hijacked devices is identified, that the victim server could be allowed to route back to the offending device, and reset it, erasing the bogus code and setting a new random password. Then the device would still run, but the owner would be locked out of the admin interface until they reset to factory specs again (and hopefully set the user /pass to something different). Needless to say, this is a bad idea.

But either from class action litigation liability forcing a recall, and/or legislation, requiring every device to have a different factory reset password and defaulting to not allow admin access from the WAN side would solve most of these problems. And I suspect you will see ISP / cable providers taking an active role and blocking devices that they determine are susceptible. They could do thus with a quick login test when a device is first seen by their routers by detecting the device type and trying the default login. If it wirks, they block traffic from that device (or port, if on a local NAT setup.)

1
0
Gary Bickford

Re: Helpful Article

> Hopefully, all DNS sites will start caching; I wish my computer would cache the IP address of sites I visit so that I wouldn't even notice a DNS failure - it could even warn me if an IP address changes, to help prevent IP spoofing.

I have local DNS server running in cache mode on all my computers - desktops and servers. Theses are all Linux machines. IDK if Windows has that capability, but I think the default configuration for Ubuntu is to run bind as a caching DNS server if it is turned on. So then I have my net config is using 127.0.0.1 as the DNS source, and my bind configuration uses 8.8.8.8 plus another one.

One additional benefit is that when I'm on a cable connection this bypasses the cable company's default DNS that it sets up in my cable modem's DHCP config, which they use for various nefarious purposes such as inserting their own ads in websites, selling my traffic info, and "fixing" domain name typos by routing to their own advertising sites. I've seen all of those tricks at various times when visiting people who use comcast or optimum.

2
1

After baffling Falcon 9 rocket explosion, SpaceX screams: Hands off our probe!

Gary Bickford

USAF could be help or hindrance

I'm torn. On the one hand, there are some real experts in this sort of thing in the USAF, and they could be helpful. OTOH, there are also some overrated desk jockeys and bean counters who could be depended on to stall the investigation for years. And the USAF brass has shown great willingness to lobby, intervene or sandbag in favor of their buddies at ULA.

It is telling to see which politicians are on which side. Those asking for federal involvement are largely already in the ULA pocket. Certainly if the politicians were able to get an 'investigation' going, it will take a year or two before they even get started, and in the meantime SpaceX launches will be halted, decimating their market and forcing their customers to other competitors.

With the decades-long history of bribery, political manipulation (in the US and other governments around the world), and chicanery, it is not outside the realm of possibility that ULA or its parents Boeing and Lockheed might have had something to do with this call for an investigation. I strongly doubt actual sabotage, but I have fairly knowledgeable friends who suspected that from the beginning.

4
0

Ludicrous Patent of the Week: Rectangles on a computer screen

Gary Bickford

Re: WTF

Reagan had little to do with it. I was there. At the time the USPTO was so many years behind that entire product lifecycles were going by before the original patent got reviewed. (Also, no software patents, as software was based on algorithms and algorithms were math, and math could not be invented, only discovered as a fact of life. Until 1986. But that's another story.) So everybody - Congress, the President, business, etc. were whining out loud about the situation.

My company actually was working with another company to bid on the PTO's RFP for a system to scan and OCR all the existing patents and put them into a searchable online system. This would allow examiners and others to search existing patents more quickly. We ended up not bidding because of some rules for the bid, notably we could be awarded the bid, spend a couple of million on implementation, then the gov could cancel the contract and pay nothing. That was too much risk.

So the decision was made to change the rules, and allow the USPTO to default to 'award' unless they found pretty much obviously prior art in the patent office itself (not outside), and leave it to the patent applicant to defend the patent. This was widely hailed as a big step forward at the time, as it would (and actually did) cut the backlog from six to 10 years down to a year or two. But this was before software patents, widespread gaming via trivial patents and the art of patent trolling. Trivial patents have always been with us, but had not been such a serious problem, and patent trolls didn't really exist yet - a lot of this was the unintended consequence of the new rules _combined with_ the explosion of computers, making it easy both to generate new patents and search for potential victims. It's taken a while, but IMHO we are finally tweaking the new system in ways that are bringing the system back into sanity.

8
0

Corbyn lied, Virgin Trains lied, Harambe died

Gary Bickford

How is this different from rush hour everywhere?

As a furriner WRT to Virgin Rail, I wonder from afar - rush hour is always going to be packed, regardless of the transport mechanism. In fact there are multiple transport studies that basically say that when you expand capacity in one method or route, soon that capacity will be filled as more people choose that method or route. We've all seen that as well, and we can see historically that when a new highway or rail line goes in, people move to new housing to take advantage.

The other aspect is purely practical. Rush hour traffic (of whatever kind) may be four to 10 times as busy as the other 22 or 20 hours of the day. Providing infrastructure to handle any arbitrary peak traffic situation can thus cost you four times to 10 times as much as what's required to handle the overall mean traffic demand, which obviously will increase prices unless some magical government agency subsidizes (which is just hiding and time shifting the cost). This is a delicate balance, which every transport agency ever has had to deal with.

So, bottom line, how much are you willing to pay either in fares or taxes to provide a permanent 'always a seat available' capability?

1
0

Larry Page snuffs out ‘too expensive’ Google Fiber project

Gary Bickford

Actually an argument for a public utility to own the last mile

> Broadband requires eye-watering investments but it has never been very profitable on its own, requiring cross subsidies from telephone or media services.

This is an argument to create a national or a series of state-level agencies or public utilities chartered to do nothing but build and run the fiber to the home. Then all the media companies could compete to deliver the goods, while the maintenance of the fiber itself would be completely free of the various forms of stealthy monopolistic behaviors. The utility would simply be responsible for maximising throughput, with source-agnostic quality of service.

Public utilities and government agencies are better at handling these kinds of infrastructure commitments, and are (one hopes) less likely to sully with the cross subsidies. What governments are _not_ good at is participating in markets and trying to be businesses. The plain fact is that the last mile of fiber to the home is an infrastructure problem that could be solved relatively quickly with a government commitment to an authority with the capability to make this happen, rather than throw money after rat holes trying to bribe media companies into doing this.

There is an analogy worth pondering. The rail systems in here in the US _could_ have been turned around in the late 1960s, in such a way that today's passenger trains would be fast and efficient. At that time the railroads were all teetering on bankruptcy and were bailed out with forced mergers and various other means, including some nationalization - Amtrak was one unworkable result. The alternative that would have made sense for the future would have been for the US to nationalize the rails but not the companies, turning the rails into an analogue of the Federal Highway System and allowing all rail companies to compete on service of the actual trains. As demand grew, the rail system could have been grown in the same way.

26
3

Russia investigates downsizing space station crew from three to two

Gary Bickford

Re: Giving up on space

I wouldn't be too glum. The news, which is generally written from the perspective of the great unwashed, doesn't give a good picture of what's really going on. For starters, while NASA's budget is "only" about $15 billion (that's bigger than Hollywood), the US military space program is something over $20 billion. And while all global government space programs together are about $70 billion, that's dwarfed by the money flowing through commercial space - about $250 billion. That's mostly the commsat market of course, but still.

Meanwhile, the growth of commercial and private space activity is beginning to look very encouraging. I've only really been following closely since 2011, but in that time this area has blossomed, with ever-increasing activity, quality, successes, and business. The launch cost structure defined by SpaceX is 1/2 of the old days, and is well on its way to dropping by another 1/3 to 1/2 if/when the reusable first stage becomes the norm. This is forcing ULA for example to completely restructure their company to compete with SpaceX.

The big thing about all this is that as costs to get into space ("LEO is 1/2 way to everywhere") are reduced, the potential launch market goes up geometrically. At 1/2 the cost the market is probably at least 4 times as large. This in turn will drive higher production volumes, reducing costs further and improving reliability and dependability in the process. We are transitioning from the hand-built Hupmobile to the factory-automated Model T.

In the meantime, the technology is advancing on all fronts. That is the less well known factor of the SpaceX success - they were able to build a 'clean sheet' design for everything, using the latest in rocket technology and materials. For instance the $5 million turbo pump was replaced with a $500,000 turbo pump built in-house. There are a dozen advanced ion propulsion systems, and even some work on exotic physics. There are IIRC two companies working on new nuclear thermal rockets. (A minor aside re nanotechnology - check out NanoRAM, which is presently in use in several USAF satellites.)

Not to go on too long, but all this is trending toward an impending explosion in all aspects of space.

0
0

Linus Torvalds in sweary rant about punctuation in kernel comments

Gary Bickford

He's being fairly tolerant on this apparently

In my experience most groups have a defined acceptable style that is pretty strict, not a group of styles that are acceptable. In every case the group insists on using that style, period, no exceptions and code reviews include this aspect. For my part, having settled on using Doxygen for auto doc system, I've been using a tweaked set of Vim scripts that build the comment structures automatically so at least the form is there.

In line documentation is a place where the 'principle of least surprise' applies. It is important for code readers to be able to scan quickly and absorb the essence without having to interpret unfamiliar comment layouts. This is similar to how drivers may have difficulty interpreting road signs when first driving in a new location that has different signage conventions. If variable declarations are _always_ precede by a comment description, even if it is empty, then the eye picks each variable up and now knows about it.

6
0

New DNA 'hard drive' could keep files intact for millions of years

Gary Bickford

Unfortunately the discoverers of this old data won't have the key.

I've been doing some work for the Drive Trust Alliance (http://drivetrust.com), so I'm tuned to the Full Disk Encryption / Self Encrypting Drive technology. By the end of 2017 nearly all storage will be using it.

So now I foresee a distant future when , after the collapse of human civilization, our successors, having risen to sentience and culture and having a robust archaeological science, discover this trove of human data in the Lunar Long Term Data Repository that we kindly left for future generations.

Unfortunately, all the data is encrypted, and the key is lost. Or there's a typo in the docs.

Thus speaks to a fundamental problem - such a data trove undoubtedly must contain secrets that should not be available to just anyone. But how to assure that the data is truly available in the distant future?

2
0

Neo4j CEO: We're at 'a huge inflection point for graph databases'

Gary Bickford

linked Data and triple stores?

I'd be interested to see how well Neo4J works as a triple store. The linked data /RDF protocols are based on relations in the form subject predicate object. This structure generalized to support every kind of database application easily but at the cost of cycles and storage. Ultimate flexibility has a price.

0
0

SpaceX is go for US military GPS sat launch, smashes ULA monopoly

Gary Bickford

Re: Security

Actually their profit wasn't that great. Their problem is that their _cost_ is more than $83 million.

2
0
Gary Bickford

re: One wonders why it took so long

Pork - not really, just a classic tech disruption. The Atlas and Delta vehicles are 1960s Era technology, originally designed as ICBMs. They have been updated greatly but still. ULA and it's parents are companies whose entire business structure has been subsumed into the government contracting process, which is a highly soecialized, expensive operational paradigm. There are reasons why few small companies even try to work on government projects directly, but subcontract to big companies that have the huge paperwork mill departments and expertise to meet the government requirements and stay out of jail. (Case in point: long ago I was told by a McDonnell Douglas executive that the paperwork trail for a single DC-10 weighed as much as the airplane over its lifetime. Perhaps a small exaggeration, but we were working on a proposal to scan tgat paperwork so they could have the huge hangar back, where the paperwork was stored.)

So SpaceX has two benefits -or three - new tech that cuts the cost of mfg in 1/2, new business model that depends on computing to eliminate paper shuffles to meet USAF and federal contract requirements, and the extreme pressure on the USAF to go away from Russian parts and use Made In USA parts. ULA is more like a deer in the headlights of new business technology and rocket technology.

3
0

Your mother has a smooth forehead, Klingon language lovers roar at Paramount

Gary Bickford

Re: Except for the fact that Doohan was Canadian?

A True Scot

1
0

SpaceX's Musk: We'll reuse today's Falcon 9 rocket within 2 months

Gary Bickford

Re: Meanwhile, at the Pork Barrel Bar..

A weird, slightly relevant example or analogy. Back in the 1990s, General Motors could go from a blank sheet of paper to a new engine design coming off the assembly line in under a year. But it took two to three years to design a new headlight or taillight and get it into production.

1
0
Gary Bickford

Sometimes it's not the skills but the interest and motivation. You can develop skills. Try going to some of the space conferences like ISDC or Space Tech Expo, meet up with the many space nerds out there, maybe work on a kickstarter, etc. My company is preparing to accept volunteers to help with new data for The Integeated space Plan (http://thespaceplan.com), adding information, curating and researching. We're making a big presentation next month at ISDC (http://isdc2016.nss.org).

Of course every company also needs janitors and other non-sexy jobs. You just hav d to be in the right place at the right time, or sufficiently persistent. I know someone who called his desired employer every week fir a year and finally got the job.

0
0
Gary Bickford

Re: Pricing's gonna change...

Iirc the second stages are nearly orbital - I know some older second and third stages are still in orbit. So I'm thinking that by simil as rly using a bit more fuel in the second srafe, after putting theid paylosds into tge proper trajdctory, those units could be boosted further to a parking orbit for later use as a resourcd. This would not work for every launch but I'm sure ut would be feasible for some launches. I r ed call some talk about returning the second stage and landing it as , but I am guessing that would only work using a 1/2 orbit (a barge 1000 or mire miles down range) or full orbit strategy. Considering the value of materials in space, I'm thinking the orbital strategy would have the best long term value.

1
2
Gary Bickford

Re: Pricing's gonna change...

As has already been seen, as costs go down the market expands more than linearly. There are literally thousand of projects waiting in the wings that become feasible with greatly reduced costs. The prices on the SpaceX website to LEO are roughly 1/2 of standard industry prices a couple of years ago, and proposed prices for flight on used hardware reduces that by another 1/3, giving a net of about one third of the cost for a ULA Atlas. I expect that their costs will continue to decrease (not necessarily their price) as their launch schedule becomes more predictable and a stable manufacturing line matures with attendant efficiencies.

Of course the Indian agency ISRO is nipping at the heels, with their lower labor costs and government supporg, and a strong desire to take a significant market share. But they are handicapped by a US federal law that prevents US companies from using them without a waiver. Bottom line - the pricing structure of space us rapidly decrezsing, it us changing the industry forever. ESA and ULA are both restructuring their entire organizations - and no doubt beating up suppliers - to meet thus threat to their busibess.

4
0
Gary Bickford

use a SWATH barge! !

Dear Elon,

If you switch to a SWATH (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small-waterplane-area_twin_hull) type hull, you will be able to eliminate nearly all rolling and pitching in sea conditions up to one meter at least. Since SWATH works best when the load variance is small, handling the rockets is an ideal application. This could increase your probability if successful landing by 10%, 20%, of more - even 10% would justify tge cost over 5 to 10 flights, maybe fewer. Now that the concept is proved you can proceed to refinement and improvement of the system.

0
1

Ecobee3: If you're crazy enough to want a smart thermostat – but not too crazy – this is for you

Gary Bickford

Re: Does it really save that much?

I used to tell my daughter that not raising the thermostat two degrees would save enough money to buy her a new sweater every month! :D She was not impressed though.

0
0

Google's call for cloudier, taller disks is a tall order says analyst

Gary Bickford

More than a cosmetic change, in a dead-end market

One of the physical reasons that support the high bit densities of today's drives is the extremely short axle on which the platters (typically two, IIRC) ride. Today's drives are approaching or exceeding 1TB per square inch, which means one bit occupies a space approximately one millionth of an inch on a side. To accurately locate that bit, the head has to be accurate to about 1/2 that, or 5 ten-millionths of an inch.

Now you have an axle spinning little disks at 7200 (or 10,000, or 15,000) RPM. The longer that axle the more distortion is going to occur depending on even an extremely small amount that the mass of the system may off center. The axle will bend slightly, and there is a small amount of 'play' inevitably in the bearings that the axle rotates in. At these scales, there is little room for fudging.

This may all be fine - it may be possible to do. But it will also require substantial research and testing to develop what is effectively an entire new disk mechanical technology. For perspective, the two largest disk drive makers, Seagate and Western Digital, have been de-emphasizing (or outright elminating) there advanced research efforts. These companies don't see any future in disk drives, as today's SSDs have equivalent or higher capacity, equivalent or better reliability and lifespan, and no mechanical constraints. SSDs with capacities of 13+TB are being publicly mentioned, and higher capacities are reported to be in the labs now. For enterprise-level SSDs the write count limitations now exceed the projected lifespan of hard drives. As a clincher, I was told recently that at least one drive maker executive has said they see the end of hard drives within five years.

It appears that the last remaining hurdle for SSDs to completely replace hard drives in all applications is price, and that is following Moore's law pretty well. So all in all, I can not imagine any hard drive maker taking up this challenge - they would do better to convince Google to just move entirely to SSDs, and cut a deal with Google as a guaranteed buyer to supply the volume required, justifying a new, high efficiency plant that can bring production costs down to below the hard drive price.

0
0

Error checks? Eh? What could go wrong, really? (DoSing a US govt site)

Gary Bickford

Re: It could always be worse.

There are those who say, (and I tend to agree) that this is exactly why exception handlers are the devil's spawn, combining the worst elements of gotos and segfaults! Yes, they _can_ be used, carefully, in such a case - but you are leaving all context behind, eliminating any possibility of maintaining state except by manual labor. There was an essay ... in fact there have been several:

http://www.lighterra.com/papers/exceptionsharmful/

> "Exception handling introduces a hidden, "out-of-band" control-flow possibility at essentially every line of code. Such a hidden control transfer possibility is all too easy for programmers to overlook – even experts. When such an oversight occurs, and an exception is then thrown, program state can quickly become corrupt, inconsistent and/or difficult to predict (think about an exception unexpectedly being thrown part way through modifying a large data structure, for example)."

> "Exception handling does not fit well with most of the highly parallel programming models currently in use or being explored (fork/join, thread pools and task queues, the CSP/actor model etc), because exception handling essentially advocates a kind of single-threaded "rollback" approach to error handling, where the path of execution – implicitly a single path – is traversed in reverse by unwinding the call stack to find the appropriate error handling code."

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2003/10/13.html

> "The reasoning is that I consider exceptions to be no better than "goto's", considered harmful since the 1960s, in that they create an abrupt jump from one point of code to another. In fact they are significantly worse than goto's:"

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/dennisg/archive/2012/04/28/exceptions-considered-harmful.aspx

> "The doctrine of object-oriented programming dictates that exceptions are the mechanism of choice to raise (and, possibly, handle) severe error conditions that cannot be safely ignored by the client code. Let me just take a step back to explain why I think exceptions are all but inappropriate in most situations by definition."

3
0
Gary Bickford

Re: But the program is error free!

"Error free!" - Your title is best understood as being cognitively similar to the air force squadron leader instructing his fellow fighter pilots, "Weapons free!" - meaning, "Destroy anything that looks crosswise at you!" Similar, the program is ready to destroy anything in its path, most likely at an unpredictable moment with the highest potential of catastrophe! :D

1
0

Snowden WAS the Feds' quarry in Lavabit case, redaction blunder reveals

Gary Bickford

Re: I wonder...

I suggest you read up on a bit of history. Start with the two Barbary Coast Wars (when the Sultan of Tunisia told Jefferson, "according to Holy Kuran we are mandated to kill all infidels. It is only because we are merciful that we only hold them hostage" - that is when the Marines were created, and why the song has the "Shores of Tripoli" in it).

The Middle East has been destabilized almost continuously for many reasons and by many different forces since roughly 650 AD.

See also, hmm, let's see ... just for starters: Crimean War, the Great Game (including the Uighurs and Yajub Beg), Hasan Bin Sabbah and the Hashishins (great name for a band ...), the defeat of Alexandria by the Romans (where they salted the fields of North Africa, eliminating the Alexandrians' ability to grow crops and attain a competitive level of power ever again), the millennia of war between the Greeks, Turks and Persians, dating to 1000 BC (see Xenophon, etc.). And the

Oh - and it was the British who were largely in charge of the Middle East in the 19th and early 20th century, who divided the area up into countries that did not match the traditional tribal boundaries, and told the Palestinians and Israelits contradictory things.

You have about five years of study about the real history before you stick your toe into this swamp.

29
2

Top rocket exec quits after telling the truth about SpaceX price war

Gary Bickford

Re: We've all seen House of Cards

I think there will be an investigation, and it will have an effect. IMHO it's unlikely that anyone at USAF actually went outside the bounds of ethics, but it's quite common for government agencies to 'tilt' the RFQs one way or another to make it easier for a preferred provider to win. And in this case, USAF sees on one hand, ULA's perfect military launch record with the most recent version of a rocket design that has been around for 50 plus years, and on the other hand, an upstart company with zero military launches, with a rocket that has started well but hasn't been perfect, that has little experience doing things the USAF way (which could mean they mistakenly left out a crucial cost item, or even just underestimated the additional labor and other costs inherent in delivering under a military contract.)

So a combination of preferring to work with known quantities, with people who you are used to working with, and with an RFQ that is tuned a bit toward a ULA vehicle, doesn't amount to anything more unethical than tuning a fleet contract more toward Ford than to Tesla.

I think the main thrust of the investigation will be whether ULA has been highballing their costs above what they should have been all this time. One thing the government really hates is paying more for something than a commercial entity. IIRC it's actually a federal crime to charge the feds more for the same package as anyone else - they are entitled to the same discount as your best customer by law. They can at least come after you for a refund later.

10
5

Norman Conquest, King Edward, cyber pathogen and illegal gambling all emerge in Apple v FBI

Gary Bickford

completely ignores the purpose and tradition of constitutional freedom

As Franklin pointed out, anyone who is willing to give up a bit of freedom for increased safety deserves (and will achieve) neither. The fundamental philosophy of American law has always been that it is better that a few guilty go free rather than a single innocent be punished unjustly. Finally, the fact that today's law enforcement can use tactics that East Germany STASI would only dream about in silence and darkness, while the STASI had to do it in public, does not make it justified to hold every citizen as guilty until proven innocent. I don't have an ideal answer, but giving government authoritarians Carter Blanche certainly is not the right answer. And depending on a present government's good graces and protestations of virtue is a foolish conceit, as has been demonstrated throughout history.

5
0

NSA: SO SORRY we backed that borked crypto even after you spotted the backdoor

Gary Bickford

NSA is not just one institution

It is a mistake to paint all of NSA with one brush. The Signals Intelligence Division is the 'spooks' that we tend to think of. The IT Division is the computer jocks. And the Information Assurance Division is responsible for protecting US business and government from attackers of all kinds. To an extent, from what 8ve learned, IAD works somewhat at cross-purposes to SID. IAD really, really wants to make sure encryption is strong and systems are secure. I think they are the ones behind SE Linux, for example. And I think that division is also the one doing the research on new encryption methodology. Including a back door in the tools used by government, banks, the military, etc. is just asking for a foreign governed to discover and exploit it, which makes no sense whatsoever. So belief that NSA does this is probably more conspiracy theory and less rational observation.

0
0

Microsoft researchers smash homomorphic encryption speed barrier

Gary Bickford

bit locker is old hat - self encrypting drives are already here

Bitlocker is about "data at rest", while homomorphic encryption is about data in process and SSL (for example) is about data in transit. At present nearly all server class hard drives are self encryping, and most consumer drives though it may not say so on the label. I am told that by the end of this year nearly all HDs and SSDS of all types wi) be. All Apple products have been for years. What's been missing is a standardized library, which now exists (OPAL) and a widely accepted API and user/OS interface, which is now in the process of being accepted - see the Drive Trust Alliance (http://drivetrust.org iirc)

An SED drive keeps all the data encrypted all the time using an internally generated 256 bit key. Another set of keys - passwords - can be set externally. Resetting the drive's internal key effectively erases the drive as brute force decryption would require millions of dollars worth of cpu time at present.

0
0

Stephen Hawking reckons he's cracked the black hole paradox

Gary Bickford

Re: Would you like another dimension with that, sir!

This reminds me if an old SF story, where a scientist announces hechas found the equation that determines the entire universe. When he presents it on a chalkboard, one if his colleagues shoutts out, "You are incorrect! You have inverted a sign at step 14!"

Sadly, the scientist begins to erase his work. And as he does so, the Universe disappears.

0
0

Learn you Func Prog on five minute quick!

Gary Bickford

EVERYTHING's syntax is easier than Perl's ...

Except maybe APL ... or Brainfuck. Actually in both cases its not the syntax per se. ;)

0
2

Bloke sues dad who shot down his drone – and why it may decide who owns the skies

Gary Bickford

Re: FAA

I could just as easily argue the opposite - the excessive cost and delay involved in FAA (and FCC) approval has resulted in many newer advancements not being available, or too expensive to bring to market, or too expensive for normal people to buy. Case in point - 30 years ago $2500 aircraft radios had terrible sound quality and not very good reception or reliability compared with $100 CB radios, largely because the amortised cost of approvals by both agencies when even one resistor was changed on the circuit worked out to over $1000 (1980 dollars) per unit - after development costs. From what I've read even today much or most aircraft equipment is using seriously old technology for the same reason.

In truth, there is a happy medium somewhere.

2
0
Gary Bickford

Re: the problem with drones...

Paintball would be interesting.

3
0
Gary Bickford

Re: @h4rm0ny - What is the sky?

Re calling the police, it's probable that the police would not come for such a 'trivial' complaint, unless they were nearby and there was nothing else going on. They'd probably send someone in a day or two. Note that in that case, determine whose drone it was would be hard or imposdible for lack of evidence.

6
0
Gary Bickford

Re: What is the sky?

Effective weapons range has a strong historical precedent. The original Three Mile Limit in maritime law was (according to references I read some time ago) based on the practical point that it was the maximum range of cannons of the time.

3
0

Thinking of buying a Surface? Try a modular OLED Thinkpad first

Gary Bickford

Has Lenovo given up their spy/adware?

I recall that last year Lenovo was caught putting (what I read was) unremovable crapware onto their systems. Has that stopped? How do we know?

10
0

Ed Snowden crocked cloud, says VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger

Gary Bickford

There may be a way - split-key encryption

I was just discussing a similar issue with the CEO of Bright Plaza (and inventor of self-encypting drives) - http://brightplaza.com. Without going into gory detail, one can strongly encrypt a file in country X using split-key technology. Put portions of the key in countries with strong privacy, without moving them over compromised links (i.e. US pipes). Then the data can be transmitted anywhere and stored anywhere, securely. Done correctly this would prevent any legal method to force exposure of the key. To access the file, simply return the encrypted file to the original country (or transmit to another desired country, where the split key can be restored and the file decrypted.

0
0

Silicon Valley now 'illegal' in Europe: Why Schrems vs Facebook is such a biggie

Gary Bickford

Re: Mainly a public sector issue

I'm not sure, but if an encrypted copy were sent to another jurisdiction (e.g. USA), but the keys were never sent out, that might provide backup with reasonably secure privacy. It would have to be sent back to EU before decryption, slowing things down a bit, but small price. The USA copy could be safely 'disclosed' in its encrypted form without violating privacy. Of course it would be necessary to use multiple keys, at least one for each small unit of data like a file.

It would also be useful to store the encrypted data on drives with Full Disk Encryption, with the disk key(s) also stored in a special system outside the jurisdiction. The US Fifth Amendment actually protects against forcing a person from disclosing a password to an FDE drive, _if_ the person has never written it down or disclosed it to anyone (verbally, email, whatever). The court case regarding a corporate person's privacy and what constitutes disclosure if the data is on a special server would be interesting.

0
0
Gary Bickford

Re: Lars Agreed

It's worth adding that most of the objectionable provisions of the Patriot Act were already in place for use in the "War On Drugs", and had been in use for years. How do you think they nabbed that Panamanian dictator (and former CIA contractor), and all those Columbian drug lords?

0
0
Gary Bickford

Re: Lars Agreed

In today's climate (no pun intended), the only real limitation is the cooling capacity of computing facilities. NSA's Signals Division spends more on computing than NASA's entire budget. Of course, that is matched by the National Reconnaissance Office and USAF satellite surveillance, which is also more than NASA's entire budget.

0
0
Gary Bickford

Re: Agreed

IIRC at one time Sweden had a very strong privacy law, and an enforcement arm that could go into any business to assure that they weren't storing personal information unnecessarily, nor passing it to anyone else without permission. But that was a long while ago, IDK what the present situation is.

0
0

Infosec bods rate app languages; find Java 'king', put PHP in bin

Gary Bickford

Re: Look at what they are actually measuring.

Indeed. It was proved back in the 1980s that black box testing can never (*) find more than about 30% of the bugs that exist.

(*) probabilistically speaking

0
0
Gary Bickford

Re: It's not the language

Yes, using C would explain how Microsoft's OS and apps managed to avoid all those exploits over the years ... Oh, wait...

Historically, writing apps in low-level C has been by far the largest source of actual exploits, lately due to lack of language support for even basic protections. C is all very well for device drivers and kernels, but "programming without a net" s a bad methodology fir today's networked application environment.

0
3

Work on world's largest star-gazing 'scope stopped after religious protests

Gary Bickford

Re: Bad Old Days

Your point about the 'sacred Moon' is actually something I, as an advocate of space development (see http://thespaceplan.com), am worried about. There is already a small but vocal cadre who say either that all of space should be left 'pure' for scientific research, or that it should be off limits to the 'evil humans who pollute everything". I am fairly confident that a significant attempt will be made to block all attempts at commercial or other non-governmental space activity, including habitation. I could see this both on the US and Euro stages, and in the UN.

2
0
Gary Bickford

Re: this is a bunch of watermelons who want to stop anything

Umm... Most of the extreme green activists are decidedly _not_ GOP.

Historically the GOP has been a much better supporter of science and research than the other side. Not completely unrelated: The GOP are also the party that introduced the first Civil Rights Act in the late 1800s, and voted almost unanimously for the very similar 1964 Act, passing it over the Democrats' attempts to defeat it. IIRC less than 1/3 of the Democrats voted for it. Somehow that fact never gets into the media's narrative, nor the education establishment.

9
5

Who owns space? Looking at the US asteroid-mining act

Gary Bickford

No space faring nation has signed the Moon treaty

AFAIK no nation with the actual capability to go to Space has ever signed the Moon treaty. The wording of the Outer Space treaty is a subject of intense debate among experts. Iow the author knows not whereof he speaks, gas no dog in this fighg., and us I St trying to enable those the extreme greenies. I expect he will probably try to ban all human exploration to preserve the universe from "evil mankind". It appears he also is ignorant of biology. Humans exploring and populating Space, (and taking all of Earth Life along) to propagate across the solar system and beyond are doing nothing different than every species has always done, only the distance are larger. We are an expression of Life, carrying Life with us as we go.

0
0

Balloon-lofted space podule hits 30,000m

Gary Bickford

Not space, tossing away helium, and where will the balloon end up?

I'm sorry, despite the company's name and FAA stipulation, IMHO that's not space. I would be happier with their system if they weren't letting a large amount of helium go bye-bye. And I don't see any reference to a method for managing the balloon after separation - will it just float around for a while, acting as a hazard to aviation? (Perhaps it has a 'dump valve' and a radar reflector, which would be better than nothing.) For the cost of another two hundred kilos the system could decompress mist of the helium and open its own parachute, ride down with the capsule, or (coolest but most difficult) zip open a couple of seams in the balloon to become its own parachute.

1
1

Page:

Forums