* Posts by RLWatkins

44 posts • joined 14 Feb 2013

Three words: Synthetic gene circuit. Self-assembling bacteria build pressure sensor

RLWatkins

Bio-fabrication is better at making food than it is parts

'"We do believe biofabrication is cheaper and requires less energy" than other approaches.'

Sure. And it makes parts that are less reliable, and less robust, than other manufacturing methods. What's more, there are literally quintillions of things wandering around the Earth which want to eat bio-fabricated parts, and very few at all that want to eat parts made of metal or silicon.

This is all really nifty, but I don't want to rely on a machine which includes parts which themselves consist of a bunch of prokaryotes pretending to be sensors, memory or whatever.

5
0

A big ask for any nerd, but going outside (your usual data sets) can be good for you

RLWatkins

"Ask" is a verb.

0
0

Smart robots prove stupidly easy to hack for spying and murder

RLWatkins

"Smart" robots?

Seriously? Is this like "smart phones"? I've just about decided never to buy anything with the word "smart" in the product name. "Smart" joins the lexicon of hogwash.

7
0

Verizon kicks out hot new Unlimited* plans

RLWatkins

Laissez faire at work

"We're doing this so we can claim customers are still getting what we told them they were buying, without in fact delivering it."

Isn't the EU full of network providers which actually have to adhere to rules governing quality of service and false advertising, and which are still *hugely profitable*?

5
0

Can North Korean nukes hit US mainland? Maybe. But EMP blast threat is 'highly credible'

RLWatkins

Er, OK. Let's meet problems halfway.

You may recall that the first North Korean "nuclear" test had the seismic signature of a big coal-dust explosion. Since then they may have built actual, working nuclear devices, but how many? Two or three at the outside?

Moreover, we can be pretty sure that the Japanese have nuclear bombs, since they did buy twenty tons of plutonium from France. And a treaty the Taiwanese, Israelis and South Africans signed 35 years or so ago suggests that they also have some (aside from the evidence of Israel's own, independent efforts).

But where would the Norks get the plutonium, or how would they refine the uranium? They just don't earn enough selling iron ore to the Chinese to buy the stuff, nor enough to buy the equipment to refine it themselves. And there's no one nutty enough to sell it to them.

So who's Kim Jr. going to shoot with his handful of bombs? His best bet *is* the US, since if he hits any of his close neighbors they won't have many compunctions about turning Penang into a smoking crater... and at the moment neither would the US.

Un is a jackass, and is out of touch, but he just isn't that stupid.

6
1

DJI's Spark drones to be bricked by September 1 unless firmware updated

RLWatkins

How does one brick a disconnected device? Give that a moment's thought....

If you don't download any updates to your device, then the manufacturer can't change its behavior in any way at all, including turning it into a brick... unless it was *already designed to brick* if you don't download software updates.

Kind of sneaky to do that, kind of dishonest not to mention it to the customers paying them for the gear, and downright slimy not to mention the fact when making an announcement of this sort.

Thank you for letting us know whose equipment never to buy.

6
0

GPU-flingers' bash: Forget the Matrix, Neo needs his tensors

RLWatkins

We're doing linear algebra here. It's called a matrix.

Somehow, while I wasn't looking, the word "matrix", referring to N-dimensional arrays of scalars which are the subject of linear algebra, got renamed "tensor".

I find that a bit odd, since a tensor is a very specific use of the matrix by physics, a use which bears little or no relation to the use of matrices in the programming of neural networks.

I'll give you this, though: the word "tensor" is a lot cooler and edgier than the far more appropriate, but old and stodgy term, "matrix".

Source: someone who started studying linear algebra and physics around 1972.

1
0

PACK YOUR BAGS! Boffins spot Earth-size planet most likeliest yet to harbor alien life

RLWatkins

stay away from red dwarf stars

These stars are usually incredibly active, constantly flaring and ejecting big, huge wads of plasma. Are you *sure* you want to live there?

0
0

Oracle finally targets Java non-payers – six years after plucking Sun

RLWatkins

Does Java belong to Oracle?

I distinctly recall Sun Microsystems announcing that they were placing Java in the public domain prior to their purchase by Oracle.

0
0

Veeam kicks Symantec's ass over unpatentable patents

RLWatkins

Wait... what?

A patent on backing up to a different physical device? On backing up only important files? Is this some kind of joke? This stuff got past patent examiners? Hell is full and the dead are walking the Earth.

0
0

'Fascist' seizes supremo search slot on Trump triumph

RLWatkins

makes sense, but why just Trump

As I recall, the short definition of that word is when business owns government. We've Weans been working toward that for a while, indeed the process was finally complete about a decade ago. Why, I wonder, are they picking only on Trump?

0
0

US govt straight up accuses Russia of hacking prez election

RLWatkins

Why thank the Russians?

Poor babies had their system cracked. But why thank the Russians for doing it, when any twelve-year-old script kiddie could have managed the job? I mean, they can't be that sophisticated when the guy who tried to hard-wipe the e-mail had to ask a Reddit board how to go about it. What morons.

6
1

Show us the code! You should be able to peek inside the gadgets you buy – FTC commish

RLWatkins

Why is everyone and his uncle Harry so completely missing the point?

Am I the only one in the world to have reached these glaringly obvious conclusions:

That devices in my home, the so-called "internet of things" (and how I loathe the term), have no business whatever being connected directly to the public Internet?

That the only network to which they need be connected leads to my own computer at home?

That if they communicate with the outside world at all it is to be directly from that computer, through VPN, directly to my handset's computer, and nowhere else?

Seriously, I can't be the only one of seven billion people who is thinking, "This is like listening to public debate over mounting a control panel and monitors for one's home on a light pole on the nearest street corner. What sane individual would do this, and why?"

I can understand wanting these devices to be reliable and safe, yet all of the debate seems to revolve around making them reliable, and safe *to connect to the public network*.

Reject that patently stupid idea and the rest of the problem is vastly simplified.

2
0

Google chap bakes Amiga emulator into Chrome

RLWatkins

C / C++ sandbox?

They run it "Native Client... a C / C++ sandbox"? That's odd, AmigaDOS was written in B. Hmmm... Yes, the UAE emulates the hardware, and they run AmigaDOS on that. Slow, I imagine. Still, it was a damn' nice computer, running what amounts to Win95 in 1987. Too bad Commodore America got SCO'd. Wonder what it'd be like on modern hardware.

0
0

Microsoft takes PUPs behind the shed with gun in hand

RLWatkins

Re: So When is Oracle Removed

Why shouldn't Ms remove MySQL? It does other competing products. What is the difference between those and MySQL which would make it permanently immune?

0
2
RLWatkins

On the menu today: Word Salad

"will escalate corporate attack vectors"? How does one "escalate a vector"? What makes them "corporate"? I think we can puzzle out what this means, i.e. to make a system more vulnerable to crackers, but stating it in plain English might have been helpful.

0
2

So why the hell do we bail banks out?

RLWatkins

distinction between a bank and an investment bank

Here in the US "banks" were, up to a time, required to keep their depository institution functions separate from their investment banking functions. The depository stuff is pretty low risk. The investment stuff is pretty high risk. We had to bail these banks out for the reasons you cite because the two got mixed: they were doing investment banking with depositors' funds. If they'd stayed separate we'd have been able to allow the investment banking to fail, as it should have done given the stupid risks they were taking, while the depositors remained in the clear.

1
1

What is the REAL value of your precious, precious data?

RLWatkins

missing the point....

"The thinking seems to be that we must protect European information from being sucked up by American corporations because it is valuable and we Europeans should exploit that value."

Er, no.

We must protect European and American information from being sucked up by *any* corporation because their doing so violates the privacy of the people whom that information describes. Re-casting that argument in terms of the commercial value of such information obscures that very important issue... perhaps intentionally.

0
0

Tech troll's podcasting patent blown out of the water by EFF torpedo

RLWatkins

a patent on the recording and distribution of audio

Wow, what a novel idea.

I'm still fighting to gain my patent on the graphical representation of verbal communication, and that other patent on artifacts, so I can collect royalties from anyone who writes or who uses anything at all that they didn't happen to find lying about on the forest floor.

This is The American Way. Roh!

1
0

T-Mobile US goes gaga for Wi-Fi calling, AT&T to launch in 2015

RLWatkins

Re: Unbelievable..

Hasn't T-Mobile had this for... what? Three, four years? I got a G1 when they first were offered, and T-Mobile already had WiFi calling then.

No, this is the second time Apple has adopted a mature technology, then convinced you that they pioneered it. Good advertising that, but not real honest.

(No, not the second time. The tenth? Fifteenth...?)

4
2

Daring danger-drone dives into VOLCANIC eruption – what happens next has to be seen

RLWatkins

picked the wrong track

Didn't listen to the audio, but "Fistful of Silence" would have been a better soundtrack.

0
0

Ford to dump Microsoft's 'aggravating' in-car tech for ... BlackBerry?

RLWatkins

Re: QNX is Blackberry by name only

Yes. I recall a QNX ad from fifteen years or so ago showing a computer in a power station.

"Uptime: Six years".

Reliable. I like reliable. Especially in critical systems in the piece of heavy machinery that moves me back and forth to work every day.

3
0

Self-forming liquid metal just like a TERMINATOR emerges from China lab

RLWatkins

Old news

Wow! Take droplets of room-temperature liquid metal, mercury and gallium are old favorites, apply an electrical charge, and lo and behold, they're attracted to one another! And like any other liquid with a bit of surface tension, when they touch they merge!

Gee whiz!

People were doing stuff like this for science fairs 40-50 years ago when I was little.

3
0

Amazon patents caches for physical goods

RLWatkins

OK, this is a "me too" post....

The notion that a retailer can patent the practice of housing inventory near where they expect people to buy it is prima facie absurd.

If that can be done, then I shall resume my effort, first mentioned on this site in 2006, to patent the graphical representation of verbal communications, and to patent the use of artifacts, i.e. the use of anything not simply found lying about on the ground.

This new Amazon patent-of-the-obvious gives me renewed hope.

0
0

Anatomy of a 22-year-old X Window bug: Get root with newly uncovered flaw

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Kepler data yields Earth-mass 'gas giant'

RLWatkins

Gotta be a rock in there somewhere

At that low a mass it couldn't possibly have that high a density unless there's a pretty big rock in its core. Too low gravity to compress a mass of mostly gas that much, the way Jupiter does.

1
0

Google's Dart on target to replace JavaScript? That'll be the day

RLWatkins

Java

We already have a high-performance, typed, difficult language that runs in Web viewers: Java. We already have a low-performance, untyped, easy language that runs in Web viewers: Javascript.

Dart is a solution in search of a problem.

0
5

Native Americans were actually European - BEFORE the Europeans arrived!

RLWatkins

Why is this a surprise?

Europeans crossing the Atlantic were trying to colonize North America for five or six hundred years before Columbus got anywhere near here. Mostly Vikings, mostly got the pants beat off them by the Americans.

1
0

Nvidia to Intel: 'Which HPC chip brain will win? Let the people decide'

RLWatkins

Xeon? You mean the silicon space-heater?

Nice thing about GPUs is that they can run rings around any Xeon with any conceivable improvement short of scrapping the chip's architecture and starting over... all without having to install an extra air conditioner.

3
1

Winamp is still a thing? NOPE: It'll be silenced forever in December

RLWatkins

It was a good run

Sad. I use it on Win7 and on Android. Works well, stays the hell out of my way, doesn't need a lot of tinkering. And it beats the bundled players by miles.

Do I sound too non-technical? No. I've been programming for 40 years and know the value of a tool I can install and use without making a career out of tweaking it.

Typical of AOL to say, "Huge user base? Screw 'em."

3
0

Britney-obsessed Ubuntu 13.10 DUMPS X Windows-killer Mir in desktop U-turn

RLWatkins

You just lost me.

Please. It's called "X", not "X Windows". It's a window service called "X". [sigh]

1
0

Pivotal pivots with Xtreme Labs acquisition

RLWatkins

Quote Of the Day

I know what is taught to writers about using too many adjectives, but a few important ones were omitted from this story.

"'Today's acquisition further aligns with Pivotal's strategy to capitalize on the nexus of converging forces in the industry,' Pivotal wrote in a *moving but otherwise incomprehensible* statement."

0
0

Microsoft defends Azure with two-factor auth security

RLWatkins

This is not two-factor authentication. Authentication factors include what you know, e.g. a password, what you have, e.g. a hardware token of some sort, or what you are, i.e. biometric factors.

This is two or three forms of one-factor authentication. Not the same thing.

1
1

US House Republicans: 'End net neutrality or no debt ceiling deal' – report

RLWatkins

I'm tired of hearing about "who owns the infrastructure".

Capitalism works well because of competition. In the case of national infrastructure, that notion breaks down completely. Without regulation the owners of national infrastructure can, and always do, wind up blackmailing their customers.

15
0

Psst.. Wanna Android all-in-one PC? We have the chip tech, says Intel

RLWatkins

VSD220

But, but... wait. Such systems *already* ship for between $300 and $400. ViewSonic has been shipping them for some time now. Why is this news? Because Intel spoke up about it? Meh.

1
0

Python regurgitates Dropbox secrets to boffins

RLWatkins

Two factor authentication?

Drop Box's Web site doesn't require two-factor authentication. It requires a user ID and password: one factor.

For a quick refresher, authentication factors can be described very simply as:

1) What you know, e.g. a user ID and password, passphrase, secret question, etc.

2) What you have, e.g. an RSA key, smart card, or other piece of unique hardware.

3) What you are, usually determined biometrically.

Using two factors is great, but people who claim it because they want a user ID *and* password, or because they demand two challenge-response sessions, e.g. a user ID and password followed by a secret question, haven't bothered to learn much about authentication.

2
4

'Abel, put that camera down right now! Abel, you're fired. Out!'

RLWatkins

I keep hearing about "Oracle's Java language", but as I recall Sun released it into the public domain before Oracle bought the company. So it ain't Larry's.

0
0

That Retina display iPad mini delay scuttlebutt? Fuggedaboutit

RLWatkins

You forgot the quotation marks...

... in the headline. It's "retina display", not retina display.

Take note that in order for the pixels on the display to be as close together as the cones in the center of one's field of vision, which we're told is the meaning of "retina display", the device must be viewed from a distance of about four feet.

1
0

Linux 3.11 to be known as 'Linux for Workgroups'

RLWatkins

Doh?

WFWG did run on 80286 chips, and it talked to others of its kind using NetBIOS, not TCP/IP.

Would that it had been 32-bit, that would have saved my clients money and me time farting around with 'memmaker'. Would that it had TCP/IP, as NetBIOS over ArcNet didn't scale up all that well.

2
0

How Microsoft shattered Gnome's unity with Windows 95

RLWatkins

CUA

I hate to bring this up,but they didn't descend from Win95, they descended from CUA, part of a standard which predated Win95 by a decade or so.

1
0

Missed the Hyper V Virtual machine migration training?

RLWatkins

Why?

I also missed the part about why we should migrate functioning VMs to Hyper V.

0
0

Analysts brawl over 'death' of markup language

RLWatkins

Too many disjoint questions rolled into one. Try this:

Are markup languages dead? They're a way of adding metadata to text, and are often used to describe data structures in human-readable form. We'll be doing that for a long time.

Is XACML dead? No, the markup part simply describes a record of data used for authentication. The semantics are separate. It will evolve, the semantics will evolve. Standards do that, you know.

Is XACML going to be superseded by Oauth? That's a lot like asking whether crescent wrenches will render socket wrenches obsolete. They'll probably both change beyond recognition sooner or later.

Is it important? Insofar as it is a tool, yes. About like vice-grips are important.

As a humor piece this article is quite good, but otherwise worth a yawn.

4
0

John Lennon's lesson for public-domain innovation

RLWatkins

"transaction costs"?

Interesting argument that open-source licenses "incur significant transaction costs" when in fact most such licenses state simply that if one uses the code one must (a) attribute it to its original authors and (b) make any improvements one makes to it open-source also. Such licenses cover far and away the majority of what's called "FOSS".

A little more thorough survey of the FOS codebase and a little more thorough reading of the licenses (There are several variants.) might have been advisable before publishing.

1
0

Forget wireless power for phones - Korea's doing it for BUSES

RLWatkins

"Pantograph"

It is indeed a wonderful word, and refers to a device used to create a drawing by tracing another drawing.

It's used occasionally and *fancifully* for the gizmos on top of electric streetcars, because of the gizmo's slight resemblance to an actual pantograph.

1
0

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017