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Slashback: Retail, Preparedness, Games 289

Tonight in Slashback: More on TransGaming's approach to the world (and licenses), another sweet box of French Linux goodness, another piece of the stolen-Enigma puzzle is pressed firmly into place, and a small piece of travel advice.

"Getting off easy" defined. dgroskind writes: "This AP story might be interesting as a slashback followup to an item about the theft of the Enigma machine from Bletchly Park. The accused got 10 months with the charge of blackmail left open for possible later prosecution. Also, this story today says a U.S. spy tipped off the Germans that the Enigma code had been broken but they didn't believe it."

Of course, you could tell your boss it got blown up. You may have already written your congressional representatives (especially if you live in South Carolina) about Fritz Holling's proposed SSSCA, but for air-traveling technical types, there's another post-bomb consideration. cloudscout writes: "In the past, I've always been nervous before travelling... am I remembering my toothpaste? Razor? Shoes? Now I've learned there is something else to remember. Charge my batteries. The current state of air travel security means more random searches and since I tend to travel with lots of electronic gadgets, these searches take a while and they test every device. I was chosen for a random search. Notebook, PDA, Digital Camera, Camcorder, Cellphone... the MiniDisc player had a dead battery. I was stuck. I didn't know what to do. They demanded that I prove the devices functionality. I dug around in my bag and, luckily, was able to take a battery from another device in order to power up the MD but it could have been a much worse situation if I didn't have a spare battery. The lesson here? If you're going to fly, be prepared."

Last week, flying between several supposedly very security-conscious airports (Dulles, Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt), I never had to turn my laptop on, probably because I had carefully charged the battery beforehand.

I'll believe it when I record my 2nd sample FMD disk. Perhaps unimpressed with the perpetually promised quarter-sized CDs mentioned the other day, an Anonymous Coward writes: "What optical medium has 8 layers, stores 24 GBs, and plays at 22Mbits/sec? And it's just the first age, with plans to reach 140 GB soon afterwards. Constellation 3D are developing FMD-ROM format that will change the capacity of data storage we use today, furtheir information can be obtained from FMD insider which is a news site that reports the progress and general information about this product. Constellation 3D seem to have lowered their expectations of their first line of products, to something more realistic and affordable, and they expect to make the technology available to some markets by the end of 2002.
Are you ready?"

Street performances need to beware Sturgeon's Law. joestar writes "As said on Slashdot this week-end, Transgaming is about to release - with Electronic Arts and MandrakeSoft - a special Linux distro aimed at games called Mandrake Linux Gaming Edition. Their technology - WineX - is actually a DirectX to Mesa translator that allows to port most recent Windows games to Linux apparently very efficiently compared to a simple Wine port. A great article with lots of details about that project GameSpyDaily has just been released. By the way, WineX is released under the Alladin License."

Picking your poison gets more complicated. Red Hat 7.2 is out, but as you might expect, MandrakeSoft isn't sitting still: The newest Mandrake, 8.1, is also available in stores. (But when will 8.1 PPC be ready? ;))

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Slashback: Retail, Preparedness, Games

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  • by joel.neely ( 165789 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:08PM (#2469610)
    I just found it interesting that one of two surviving Enigma boxen is "valued at" $144,000. How would such a figure be determined? (I assume that standard "what it would bring at auction" concepts don't apply, there being only two instances, neither of which is -- any more -- on the open market.)
    • Insurance sets the value. If you don't have any clue what some unique artifact is worth, just buy a million bucks worth of insurance for it. If you lose it, you'll find that it was worth a million bucks.

      Seriously, appraisers take a look at the thing. They take their best guess at what it's worth, what it could fetch at auction or sale, and they declare it to be that value.

    • appraising the value of (relatively) unique items is difficult at best. A friend of mine has been studying silversmithing for a few years. He was recently comissioned to do a 1/3 scale solid silver broadsword. It was delivered this summer, and the person who comissioned the work sent it off to get appraised. Months later, the appraiser still hasn't figured out a price.

      I can think of two obvious issues to take into account when trying to value a unique item: One would be replacement cost --- how much would it cost to have someone replace the appearance and functionality of the pice. The other would be putting some sort of ballpark on the fact that it's an "original", and even a functional equivalent wouldn't be quite the same.

      Pieces like the Mona Lisa are called 'priceless' -- I assume because it's believed that nobody could really do a 'good enough' copy of the piece if it were lost -- and they probably make enough off of the piece that any price payable wouldn't really cover the loss in revenues.

    • Remember, the Germans made hundreds and hundreds of these. Only some of them are rare. The price is determined by an assessor. More properly called a guessessor, he applies his experience to determine a price.
  • by Rombuu ( 22914 )
    Last week, flying between several supposedly very security-conscious airports (Dulles, Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt), I never had to turn my laptop on, probably because I had carefully charged the battery beforehand.

    Hell, I flew the first day they opened up air traffic after Sept 11th, and then seven or eight times in the next couple of weeks through lots of airports, carrying a laptop, a cell phone, a palm pilot, and a GBA and was never asked to turn any of them on.

    • by compwizrd ( 166184 )
      I've walked through the metal detectors at Detroit Metro, with two sets of keyrings, my sunglasses, and about 10-15 dollars of loonies and toonies(bigger than your US dollar coins), and not set the alarm off. There were 10 keys total on the keyring, and the change is a fair mass, along with the sunglasses.

      I'm sure a knife or something has a lot less mass in it.

      I walked through security at Philadelphia doing similar, and the detector beeped. I had been standing in the arch for a few seconds, waiting for the person in front of me. So what did they do? Told me to walk through it again, and when it didn't beep, that was it.

      White Plains(New york) and Dulles are more competent though, they're doing scans with the hand batons, and pat down searches as well. Random bag checks too. National Guard with M16's waiting too. Neither DTW or PHL seemed to be doing bag checks when i was there. Unarmed guards at DTW and IAD, from what i saw.

      Then again HPN didn't check the end pocket of my duffle bag when they searched it, where I had all my stuff like toothbrushes, shaving stuff, etc.
      • A knife would have sharp edges. Sharp edges do much stranger things to magnetic fields than keys and coins do. A large knife would probably be detected, though a small boxcutter might still get through. As we now know, it doesn't take much.
  • by ajuda ( 124386 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:09PM (#2469615)
    Isn't it possible to hide a weapon or explosive inside of a working device? I mean, there is plenty of room inside the average laptop to stick some nasties... What's the point of making people turn these devices on?

    • that's a good point. you can tuck something inside a second battery slot or empty drive slot. But then again, laptops are required to still go through the xray machine, where something would (hopefully) be found.

      But honestly, I dont know what turning something on would provide. A terrorist can always key a fake electronic device to act like a real device when placed under inspection. A cell phone is perfect for that, as they dont go through xray nor metal detectors (at least that was the case last time I was at an airport last August), and all one has to do is turn on the backlight or display panel.

      Maybe it's just a false sense of security that some policy maker thought up.
      • Cell phones have to go through the airport's xray, at least in the european airports i've been to lately (london stansted, salzburg, frankfurt). actually i had to put everything except my clothes in my bag, even my newspapers, and this bag had to go through the xray. you and your clothes go through the metal detector then. the only things that don't get checked by the metal detectors or the xray are your keys and your wallet.

        us airports HAVE to learn a lot more about security. i can't believe you were able to go tothe gates WITHOUT a ticket... european airports have a stronger sense of security, because almost every flight is an international flight.
      • you can tuck something inside a second battery slot or empty drive slot. But then again, laptops are required to still go through the xray machine, where something would (hopefully) be found.

        Not really. LiMH has a density (what airport xray machines "see") similar to C4/Semtex, i.e., rather dense. That's one reason why the FAA has installed explosives "sniffer machines" at major airports. I guess they figure terrorists will be sloppy enough to fashion their bombs in the same space where they keep the luggage they'll use to carry them. Of course, the FAA never dreamed anyone would hijack airplanes with box-cutters either.

        Of course, people _really_ interested in personal defense capability have been carrying concealed ceramic knives for 10 years or more on airplanes.
        And after reloading small-arms ammo, always wash your hands before packing. Not doing so might result in major inconvenience later at the airport.

    • by czardonic ( 526710 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:23PM (#2469688) Homepage
      What's the point of making people turn these devices on?

      Their aim is to squander your valuable time on creating a false sense of security. They know that it would take real money and effort to provide security measures that might actully prevent a person from bringing a weapon on board a plane. So, in order to maximise shareholder value, they gamble on these illusory measures. Terrorism is still quite rare, so they take the chance.

      How often do you hear about some local investigative reporter sneaking a gun through security. How often do you hear about an ACTUAL criminal being foiled by these measures. (And what's with the National Guard. Are they afraid that terrorists are going to storm the gates?

      More than anything, these are publicity stunts. By harassing the general public, they create the false sense that security is strict.
      • There must be *some* reason. I think in 97 or 98 I was at a bob dole rally (my g/f drug me), and the secret service checked everyone who was close to bob dole -- demonstrate cell phones, examine pagers, and they made me show them my pilot 1000 ... curiously they'd never seen one before but they were satisfied to look at the program manager.

        Curiously, I attended a sunny bono and was close enuf to spit on him and no one cared :)

        (These anticdotes shouldn't be considered an endorsement of republicanism)

      • So, in order to maximise shareholder value, they gamble on these illusory measures. Terrorism is still quite rare, so they take the chance.

        I don't think this is the case at all. Planes are expensive, lawsuits from families of passengers are expensive, reputational damage is expensive. Given the choice [], the average airline would have excellent security. If they didn't, the auditors employed by their insurers would up the premiums.

        More than anything, these are publicity stunts. By harassing the general public, they create the false sense that security is strict.

        No, this is just general, federal-grade cluelessness. Like there is a no standing [] rule on some flights now. Exactly how does that help? How does being asked to empty your pockets more than once help? How does banning metal cutlery from the diner in the waiting area help?

        What we are seeing here is officials who have absolutely no idea how to deal with the threat grasping at straws in a desperate attempt to show that they are doing "something". I certainly don't feel any safer; all this has proved is that security is *worse* than anyone suspected, since these people clearly don't know what they're doing.
    • It's the same thing as confiscating fingernail clippers from little old ladies.
    • Many moons ago, Penn Jillette (the talking half of Penn & Teller) wrote a column for PC Magazine. Well known for practical jokes and a sense of humor that skirts the borders of sick, he once suggested an autoexec.bat file for laptops that went something like this:

      echo off
      echo Arming....
      echo Armed...
      echo 10...
      echo 9...
      echo 8...

      Decidedly NOT recommended in these hypersensitive times!

      Will you kill him in his bed? Stick a dagger in his head? I would not, could not kill the king. I would not do this evil thing. I will not wed this girl, you see. So get her to a nunnery. -- Green Eggs and Hamlet
      • Put in some delay between the counting - the way it is right now, it would just rush down and then display the DOS prompt. A delay function of 1000ms in between every echo and echoing a CTRL-G would most likely get you shot pretty fast nowadays.
        • *sigh* THe average slashdot reader probably wasn't born yet when we were cdoing this . . .

          The mechanical consoles needed time to return the carriage to the left margian. As such, ^M frequently had a delay built into the drivers. This frequently carried over to vt's.

          The DEC-20 mainframe (upgraded to a staggering half a meg of memory my senior year [but that was probably half a meg of 36 bit words]) went down, a lot, but usually managed to give a couple of minutes of warning.

          Among other things, we send a mail to a neurotic friend across the room, interrupting a sentence with


          followed by several timing slugs and then
          [%DEC-SYSTEM 20 DOWN%]

          You could also use the slugs for asci animation on a single line.


      • #!/usr/bin/perl
        # a lame joke that violates FAA regulations.
        # all code original "Savage" Henry Matisse
        # released to public domain April, 1998
        # Penn and Teller made me do it!

        system "clear";
        print "READY\n";
        sleep 4;
        system "clear";

        print "ARMING\n";

        print "ARMING.\n";

        print "ARMING..\n";

        print "ARMING...\n";

        print "ARMED!\n";
        sleep 3;

        $seconds = "17";
        system "clear";
        if ($seconds >= 0){
        print "ARMED!\n";
        print "00:00:$seconds UNTIL DETONATION\n";

        $seconds --;

        if ($t =~ /1000/){
        print " BOOM!!! ";

        print "\n";

        sub sweep{
        sleep 1;
        system "clear";

    • Definitely room for nasties in a functioning laptop. I've got a Panasonic industrial laptop, with a decently thick metal exterior...I've always wondered if you couldn't just stick a loaded handgun in the swappable FD/CD-ROM slot. But I gather law enforcement takes a dim view of "I was just testing to see whether it would get through or not." :-)
      • Yes please try that. And while you are in prison you can tell us what it is like.

        Unless the case is lead the Xrays will go right through.

        on a funny note: when I was much younger the xray operator had a troubled look on his face as my backpack went through the xray machine. He pulled me aside and asked what was in my backpack pointing at the xray screen. It was a box of well packed lego with the old big red, blue, and yellow gears. I guess it looked like a big machenical bomb. :)

    • This is pretty obvious if you think about it. Batteries are extremely dense energy storage devices. What's another dense energy storage device? Plastique. Do they look different on the X-ray? Probably not enough to tell.

      So they make you turn the device on to make sure that your energy-storage device stores electrical energy, not kinetic energy. This makes perfect sense, and what concerns me is that they don't always check.

  • by terpia ( 28218 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:09PM (#2469618) Homepage
    But what if some clueful person in security (yeah yeah I know its not likely) decides that my compnay laptop with Win2k is a "non-functional device"? They'd be pretty much right of course, but does that mean I can't take it with me?

  • Enigma... (Score:4, Informative)

    by jeffy124 ( 453342 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:11PM (#2469628) Homepage Journal
    ...hmmm ....

    You'd think the Germans would have figured out that someone cracked Enigma when the Allied forces knew about their secret plans on a consistent basis.

    OTOH, kudos to the Brits for knowing how to handle decrypted info. In Zimmermann's Note, for example, they intercepted and cracked the original message, but made it look like lax security in Mexico compromised the Note to the US.
    • Re:Enigma... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Indomitus ( 578 )
      One of the main problems the English had with using the Enigma information was to make sure the Germans thought they got the information in other ways. For instance, if they caught a message that said a ship convoy was headed in a certain direction, they would fly planes over a large area that included the area where the ships were so the Germans would think they accidently got caught. They didn't actually use Enigma information that often without getting the information some other way (spies, reconnaissance, etc) IIRC.
      • yup. That's what the case was in Zimmermann's Note.

        The story goes that he transmitted it from Berlin to the Mexican Ambassador to the US in Washington DC, and that is what was picked up by the Brits. Some of the Note was intended for him, the rest was to be sent on to Mexico City, including that part about regaining control of some of the southwestern US states.

        The Brits knew that the Ambassador would rewrite the note before passing on the appropriate parts to Mexico City. The Brits did that and then gave the note to the US.

        When Germany investigated the compromise (after it became known that the US had the Note), they concluded that poor security by the Mexicans allowed an Allied spy to find the message in Mexico City. Hence they continued using Enigma on messages and the Brits continued cracking them.

        That (and the example you give) allowed the Allied forces to continue breaking messages, because they feared the Axis powers would begin using a different encyption technique should they find out about the compromise of Enigma.
        • You forgot the part where the Germans tattooed the message on the scalp of an young Austrian corporal, A. Schickelgruber, let his hair grow out and sent him to Mexico via the German submarine U-571. The British destroyer HMS "Two Sheds" Jackson depth charged the submarine and forced it to the surface. An alert Royal Navy lieutenant, Alfred Hill, noticed the tattoo and covertly made a transcription of it for RN Intelligence. The crew of the U-571 was turned over to the Mexican authorities for repatriation. The message was decoded by British codebreakers and passed to the Foreign Office. Prime Minister Robert Borden passed the decoded message on to the Americans.
          • You forgot the part where the Germans tattooed the message on the scalp of an young Austrian corporal, A. Schickelgruber

            Huh? Is there something I am missing? Schicklgruber was Hitler's family name before he changed it. And Hitler indeed was serving the army in Austria in WWI (but he was not ranked corporal but private).
        • The Zimmerman Telegram was WWI, sent in 1917 [].

          The Enigma Machine wasn't developed until the '30s [].

          Interesting OT side note concerning the Zimmerman Telegram, some [] feel that it is tied into the historical British support for a Jewish homeland, leading to the formation of Israel at the expense of the Palestinians. Valid or not, I don't know, but this is definately stuff I wasn't taught in school.

    • If Neal Stephenson is to be believed in Cryptonomicon, Turing used information theory to only use just enough secret information that would be attributable to chance.
    • Re:Enigma... (Score:4, Informative)

      by kzinti ( 9651 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:23PM (#2469685) Homepage Journal
      You'd think the Germans would have figured out that someone cracked Enigma when the Allied forces knew about their secret plans on a consistent basis.

      The Allies were very careful to disguise the source of their knowledge. A target was never struck without first sending out a reconnaissance mission and letting the Germans spot it. Or so the pop-history sources say. You can also read about this sort of thing in Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon.

      • Which is also a good idea - disinformation is also sent via coded messages on occasion, so you need to make sure that the message was accurate before you deploy forces.
        • disinformation is also sent via coded messages on occasion, so you need to make sure that the message was accurate before you deploy forces.

          That hadn't occurred to me - at least not in this context. My understanding is that the Germans were so confident in the security of Enigma that they would have considered disinformation unnecessary.

          • Re:Enigma... (Score:2, Interesting)

            by aurispector ( 530273 )
            AFAIK this is correct. The nazis were being told by their crypto guys that it was mathematically impossible to crack enigma. The british finished work begun by the poles exploiting subtle flaws in the system that allowed it to be cracked.

            The quality of information flowing over enigma confirmed to the allies that the nazis never lost faith in the basic concept embodied by enigma, even if they did add rotors later in the war.
            • Re:Enigma... (Score:2, Interesting)

              by hayden ( 9724 )
              In the end they were unhappy if they didn't have that days code by 6am (they were changed at midnight). The shortest time it took was 10 minutes.

              It was actually a screw up by a German signals officer which gave the British the biggest gains in cracking the code. The officer sent a message but it was scrambled at the receiving end and a retransmit was requested. What he should have done was reset the wheels to what they were and resent the message so sending exactly the same thing again. What he actually did was send the message again with a new wheel setting. Thus giving the British two different encryptions of the same text.
              • The officer sent a message but it was scrambled at the receiving end and a retransmit was requested.

                Wasn't that the trick behind figuring out the other important code the Germans had? The one which was basically a binary XOR with a key?

    • by DCowern ( 182668 )

      Could you imagine a beowulf cluster of these...

      Oh... wait... nevermind. ;-)

    • They thought it was unbreakable though. And the work required to change every Enigma everywhere would have been incredible. Mind you, just changing the rotor designs would've stopped the Brits breaking it for a while.

      But the thing is, the British very quickly developed good radar, so incoming planes weren't a surprise, and the RAF established air superiority so that incoming raids were hugely expensive for the Luftwaffe. And when the convoys were really getting hit bad, the Brits came up with seriously effective sonar, so attacking convoys became hugely expensive for the U-boats, and radio direction-finding could pinpoint a U-boat fast when it came up to transmit. And finally, the desert troops (after getting beat up a bit) eventually started kicking ass. So generally, I reckon it wasn't too surprising for the Germans when shit happened. The Enigma information was mainly used to inform the Allies of general strategy so that it could be counteracted, and there's little difference between fighting an enemy who knows what you're doing, and fighting an enemy who's a good strategist and has good technology. They just assumed we had good generals and good gear.

      And even the _Americans_ didn't believe the British could break Enigma. The British told the Americans there was a U-boat off the US coast. The Americans ignored the warning. The U-boat sank a large number of ships in US harbours. The Americans then looked around and said, "Hey, you guess mebbe them Limeys was tellin' the truth?" DOH!

  • by slickwillie ( 34689 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:13PM (#2469636)
    How are you supposed to write to your representative if their mail isn't getting delivered, due to the Anthrax scare?
    • Don't mail. Fax. They will get it, they don't have to worry about anthrax, and sending something by fax seems a lot more spiffier to them than by standard mail.
    • I was listening to NPR on the way home from work today. There was a story about how anthrax spores were found in the area where mail for the whitehouse is tranfered from one mailroom to the next and is checked. Officials were quoted as saying are considering burning all the unopened mail in the facility destined for the whitehouse in order to protect the president and whitehouse staff. Does anyone else see anything wrong with this?
      • Not really. Why even accept public mail to the Whitehouse? What is the value? Little Timothy got to write to old Georgie? I say burn it all and start refusing delivery!
    • Telegram. When you care enough to pay $9.95 to send a 1000-character-maximum message.
  • Wow! I should be able to fit my entire DVD collection on just a couple of these babies! (For archival purposes, of course.)
  • in order to power up the MD but it could have been a much worse situation if I didn't have a spare battery.

    Yeah, if you can't prove the device works, they incinerate it, and sometimes you as well.

  • by stoopidguy ( 530032 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:21PM (#2469675)
    I'm kind of scared to fly out of JIA [Jacksonville, FL] because the past three flights I have been on since Sept. 11th I have had no sort of extra search. I do not mind consenting to a quick frisking or the like; but absolutely no heightened security frightens me. Same thing with the Jags games; I can walk right into the gate as usual. And if I happen to be pushing kegs (working at the stadium stocking booths for extra money) then I can carry a duffel bag in without even getting a strange look. Security seems to be a joke down here. Also, before you guys tell me "we don't need no stinking searches" and "searches are a false sense of security"; I do agree with the statements somewhat. It is a false sense of security, but it is extremely sad to next to no-security at our airports even after the attacks that occurred.
    • There has been nothing in any air serurity that wouldn't allow this to happen again. nothing,0, zip, nada.
      really the only thing that would prevent this again is the fact if you and 3 of your buds stood up with knife, you would get the sh*t kicked out of you by the other passengers. There's your security.
      And if someone wants to bring a plane down, do you really think they need to be on it?
      The only thing these new security measures will impact is honest persons lives.
  • SuSE 7.3 (Score:2, Informative)

    Don't forget about SuSE 7.3...annother distro to keep an eye on this week.
  • For those interested in the new features of Mandrake 8.1, be sure to check out this information []. The newest killer features include, according to their website:
    • Draknet (network configuration tool), test and enjoy this thoroughly reworked version.
    • Support for the Euro
    • Mime Type managing reworked
    • Renewed URPMI (package installer) and Software Manager
    • The reworked Mandrake Control Center will provide a convenient embedded root console as well as new tools such as Logdrake, a graphical frontend to the system log files, or Drakinst, which allows easy setup of an auto-install disk.
    • Renewed HardDrake (disk partitioner)
    • Fresh version of PrinterDrake to get all the power of your printer.

    Although Beta 1 obviously has less features than the final release, it's a good read.

    I admit I'm a bit confused as to what they mean by "support for the Euro" - isn't is supported given Unicode support, character U+20AC? If anyone is curious, I recommend Microsoft's FAQ on the Euro [].

    • My guess is that it's marketing akin to the "designed for Windows 95" labels you saw on keyboards and mousepads and blank floppy disks, back when 95 was released.

      People here in Ireland are freaking out hardcore about the Euro changeover, and there's a marketing campaign going on that's only slightly less vigorous than the Win95 one was.
  • by NeoTomba ( 462540 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:26PM (#2469700) Homepage
    First off, I'm a Linux newbie. I've been running Linux for a month. Despite that, I've picked up a lot of stuff quickly. I started off with Mandrake 8.0, which, while good, seemed a little outdated.

    And it was. 2 days later Mandrake 8.1 came out. I upgraded, and though buggy, its extremely nice.

    However, I've been waiting for RH7.2 for quite some time. I installed RH years ago with my friend Peter, but we didn't know how to do shit (though we did manage to install it fine, go figure). If only we had known to type "startx" maybe we could have become linux zealots back in high school.

    In any case, RH 7.2 blows me away. The installation interface is very professional and the default configurations are rock solid. I saw no need to personalize every little thing since everything looked so good right off. Mandrake, despite its simplicity in so many areas, required much more configuration, in my opinion. Theres a lot to set up, and Mozilla still isn't it's default browser.

    If I only I knew enough to mount my windows partition under RH 7.2, I might start using it instead of Mandrake.

    But then, its only a short wait for the 8.1 gaming edition to come out, and maybe I'll switch again. Linux is fun like that.

    Don't flame me too hard for these uninformed opinions. I apologize ahead of time for being too stupid to mount my windows partition.
    • This is what I did with my work laptop which has to run lotus notes- there's an option when you get to the partioning section of the install that lets you choose to install on top of the windows partition. Down side is you need a boot floppy and the red-hat system partition is limited to 2 gigs (which I gather is the max file size on a dos partition). But it works flawlessly on top of my windows 98 install on my work thinkpad. Also, the windows partition is automatically mounted as /initrd/loopfs so you can access all the files on the windows partition anyway.

      That's redhat 7.1, I am assuming the option still exists for 7.2.

    • First time I installed linux, it didn't support the bizarre-o serial ports on my Packard Hell 386 SUX-20, so I gave up on it (that was early 1993). Later, I got a copy on CD with a small manual in the sleeve ("How to Install X Without Calling the Fire Department") and we installed it on a friends 486DX 50 (not many of those were made). xroach was terrifice! I was so let down when I had a 486DX-2 100, because xroach ran too fast to be enjoyable. But at least I was hooked. This was about 1995. That's 2 quality years of linux I wasted because of crappy serial ports!

      -Paul Komarek
  • *nix laptops? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by terpia ( 28218 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:38PM (#2469745) Homepage
    On a serious note, *Nix users beware:
    On an international flight coming back into the states, I was taken aside and told I matched a profile and I would be searched. I was told this wasnt unusual and was for the safety of everyone. They decided that my laptop did need to be scanned. For what exactly, I have never been sure. I was running Redhat at the time and their scanning machine had NO provisions for *nix OSes...and I was questioned as to why I was NOT running windows. (like i was automatically suspect because of this!) They had to bring in a computer "expert" (an airport IT guy) to evaluate the computer. He seemed clued in to what was going on and after a quick look see, assured the security goons that there was nothing on my laptop that could end the world. This whole process took almost 2 hours, which isnt terribly long, but long enough to miss my connecting flight out. The moral to this? Be prepared to explain yourself if you have anything the security guys dont recognize.

    • Is this true?

      What airport did this happen at?

    • I was running Redhat at the time and their scanning machine had NO provisions for *nix OSes...

      So, they were scanning the machine for the HDD contents?? Damn weird!

      When I was travelling to the US (from Frankfurt) 4 years ago I was travelling with a broken laptop - get me right, all the stuff worked fine and my data was on it, but someone special had just stepped on the screen and it would show absolutely nothing except for all these beautiful cracks.

      Then they told me they either had to get visual confirmation of this being a computer or *at least* some beeping from the machine. Well, it was a DRDOS/4DOS machine, and some CTRL-G's later I was allowed to continue...

      • So, they were scanning the machine for the HDD contents??

        British security has been scanning hard drives for years now. I've been scanned twice entering the UK, once at heathrow (missed an important morning meeting, cost me a bundle) and once at Waterloo after getting off the Eurostar.

        Go search on The Register [] and you will find some articles about the UK system. They have no problem scanning solaris x86 UFS, linux ext2fs, or any other system. They take the HD out of the laptop, copy the whole thing in a machine that apparently does a low level bit copy including boot tracks and bad sectors, and later scan for *ANY* pr0n. They will also copy every CD you have. The process takes at least an hour, during which they offer you the worst tea or coffee ever produced, bad even by low UK standards.

        Everyone I know who travels regularly into London for work knows to clean out their browser caches, and to make sure if someone sends the funny pic of the day of a woman+dog, to scrub the free space with some utility. There have been prosecutions for some poor fools, mostly they just hit you up with a large fine. If you don't pay it, expect to be arrested next trip through customs. One good friend has a court appearance soon to justify all of the software found on his system, they won't tell him the exact list they found, but he had Oracle 8i and a ton of development apps licensed to his workplace, and they aren't cooperating.

        Searches at PDX sound like a hunt for pr0n that is legal in Japan but totally offends American tastes. Pr0n that may be legal in the US is still illegal to import or export.

        the AC
  • One bit of advice is, get a transparent digital camera - that is, one with a clear(ish) plastic housing so you can see the phone board through it. Just a glance at it and you can tell it's not a bomb. Might save you some hassle, though there is the drawback of it looking like a child's toy.

    Mine's just a little Earthstink cam though, not very good. Got it free with a membership my dad signed up for recently. =P I don't know if you can get NICE cameras transparent.

  • by IvyMike ( 178408 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @09:13PM (#2469871)

    They demanded that I prove the devices functionality.

    Ironically, if the device actually was a bomb, that pretty much amounts to them asking you to blow it up right there.

    (But don't point that out to them, unless you want to see exactly how humorless airport security is these days.)

  • "The current state of air travel security means more random searches and since I tend to travel with lots of electronic gadgets, these searches take a while and they test every device."

    This isn't even remotely new. Everytime I walk through the metal detector they ask me to turn on each device in my pocket, that means pda, cellphone, etc.

    Normally going through the xray is enough proof that the device isn't a bomb, but it doesn't surprise me in the least if they're asking you to turn on items in stowed luggage as well.

    Joseph Elwell.
  • ....what happens when you don't use LapTop batteries? I carry around an old 200Mhz laptop simply for backing up pictures from my digital camera, and have long ago given up on trying to find the replacement batteries for it. Plus, it's lighter to carry around without those pesky batteries! Do they have plugs I can plug my Laptop adapter into at the search-n-frisk stations?
  • Er, not quite. (Score:3, Informative)

    by MichaelKVance ( 1663 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @09:36PM (#2469948)
    WineX - is actually a DirectX to Mesa translator
    Uh... not quite. Mesa is an implementation of the OpenGL API, and is only relevant to DirectX insofar as OpenGL is a competing API to Direct3D, a component of DirectX. What you probably meant was:
    WineX - which includes a reimplimentation of the DirectX API using *nix interfaces such as X11, OpenGL, and OSS.

    Get it right, then get it right again.


  • That really amuses me, simply because their flagship online content,, has always been very Linux-hostile. Try going to it with anything but Netscape >=4 && <6 or IE 4+, running on MacOS or Windows. Denied!

    This despite the fact that if you tell Opera to masquerade as IE, thus fooling the site into letting you past the front page, most of the stuff works fine except a) some JavaScript that isn't essential anyway and b) some blatantly non-compliant HTML (which I tried to get fixed on ADA grounds, a request which was never actually denied but simply fell into the memory hole and disappeared).

    I made a moderate-sized stink about this when I worked there and basically got told "Shut up, Linux is such a tiny fraction of the gamer market we don't give a shit."

    Lynx on my system declines to auto-redirect without user intervention, so the site is actually semi-usable with it...

  • First off, I'd like to say that this technology looks great; I hope they can deliver.

    All over their site I see propaganda about how current DVD technology could not deliver HDTV quality video. I don't think this is true. By using a better compression algorithm (ie, MPEG-4), it would seem to me that we'd get incredible quality at reasonable bitrates. We'd just need to upgrade the software standard and our DVD players/firmware (software on the computer); not develop new reading and manufacturing technology.

    So it seems that there is a software solution to this "problem" as well. Is this just their popaganda, or is there something I'm missing?
  • From the features list for FMD:

    "Intellectual Property"

    "The FMD/C technology is presently protected by over 120 Japanese, European, and US patents, approved and/or pending, dozens of priority establishing disclosures, and the exceptional know-how of an unprecedented group of physicists cooperating across the world."

    Why is being proprietary a feature?

    • Why is being proprietary a feature?

      It isn't a feature for consumers, but it is a very important feature for potential investors. I've met with venture capitalists on two occassions and the first words out of their mouths were "Is your technology patented?"
  • I've never understood that whole business of turning the thing on. How do they know the switch isn't connected to a presurized nerve gas cylinder or a wad of C-4?

  • I want to like Transgaming wholeheartedly, but seeing that they're licensing CD copy protection [] from Macrovision makes me a little less enthusiastic. . .
    • I want to like Transgaming wholeheartedly, but seeing that they're licensing CD copy protection from Macrovision makes me a little less enthusiastic. . .

      Yeah, I noticed that too. But I wonder if they have made Wine good enough to run the no-CD cracks too... ;)]
  • Fully charged NiCD batteries have an occaisional possibility of catching fire. Discharged they are safe (OTOH, Alkaline batteries have exactly the opposite scenario). When I take my ham radio equipment on an airplane, I DISCHARGE them for safety reasons. I've actually had one explode on me, and it wasn't pretty. It had been off the charger for over 4 hours and was nice and cool. It wasn't even being used when all of a sudden it just went into meltdown mode and the battery case of the radio caught fire and let out some nasty fumes. This would have been a very serious incident had it been on an airplane. Later research confirmed the US military already knew about this and that it was related to the batteries being "topped off" and not used. Slightly older batteries with breakdowns in the rolled layers tended to have this problem.

    BTW, Alkaline batteries are at risk for this when they are mostly discharged and either shorted out, or attempted to be charged. They tend to be even more frightful when they go, because they can go boom. I've seen that happen before, too, although less dramatic than I've heard about.

    I have found that 2 minutes of charging can put in enough power to make the radio work briefly, and hopefully that is enough for the security guys to see that it is a real radio.

    Also, ham radio operators should be sure to carry their license with them. Obviously if you're taking radios, you're probably expecting to use them and you should have the license anyway. But it can help if the security people are wondering why you might have a radio transmitter or two.

    I do remember once when the xray operator asked me "what are all those metal balls?". My reply was "huh?". He invited me over to see the xray screen he had frozen even after my bag came through. I laughed. He got the radio batteries viewed on their ends. They showed up solidly black and round so he thought they were metal balls. I offered to show him the radios (I had 3 radios and 9 battery packs in there) but he just said to go on. Today that would worry me if he didn't insist on looking inside. I should have worried about it back then.

    Oh, and don't forget the chargers :-)

    73, KA9WGN

  • I subscribed to the TransGaming service on the 22nd, the day it was released. I also submitted an article to slashdot about it, but got rejected :(

    Anyway, my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. The games that I have tested it with (Half-Life/Counter-strike, Baldur's Gate 1, and the Diablo II demo) have worked excellently with little or no configuration. I think Slashdot, as a major Linux news outlet, has done TransGaming a great disservice by not posting an article about it, but that's a rant I don't want to get into.

    As far as what you get for your $5/month (if you don't want to go it alone with the source code) are prepackaged binaries (rpms and debs) and the ability to post in the support forums. Speaking of the support forums, I found them tremendously helpful. Two small issues I had with Baldur's Gate were resolved within half an hour of each posting, once by other subscribers and once by the TransGaming staff. They are obviously very committed to making this a success.

    I really recommend that people give it a shot. If you don't have much money, give the source code version a shot. If it works (even partially) consider subscribing! $5/month isn't much (less than an hour's wages here in the States) and by subscribing you get better support and help to improve the program.

    By the way, even though the TransGaming website doesn't mention the Matrox G400 in their bit about devices that work well with WineX and the DRI, I can play Counter-strike on Linux as fast as on Windows, near as I can tell. My last barrier to wiping my Windows partition is finally lifted! :)
    • I think Slashdot, as a major Linux news outlet, has done TransGaming a great disservice by not posting an article about it, but that's a rant I don't want to get into

      here []

      ... which is a duplicate story of ...

      this []

      I see why you don't want a rant, you'd lose ;)

  • I went out and purchased the rretail box of RH 7.2.

    My observations? Why does it cost $59.95? I gagged when I saw the price. and then mentioned to the non-linux friend that the cost is for support... Oh which is non-existant now... No telephone support unless you buy the $199.00 professional version.

    So I was asked point blank from this non-linux friend what was the advantage of buying redhat linux , I started talking about how I was supporting a linux company and that you aren't tied to the EULA noose... well guess what, on the CD package you see .. " Opening this package signifies that you agree to the EULA that is available for reading on"

    Redhat 7.2 creators ... I dont agree to your EULA, and I installed it anyways.. , this will be the last redhat product I purchase or install. There are several tennants that Linux stands for and are based on, One is not gouging your customers, the other is not forcing EULA's down our throats. My friend and I both feel that I was ripped off, (Mandrake cd is sitting next to REDhat on the shelf at $39.95, and turbolinux is there for $19.95) I try hard to support the linux companies, I have purchased every loki game released, and I purchase my redhat releases at a retail level.

    But not anymore, not for redhat.

    Move your pricing for the retail box to a sane level, and restore telephone support.. (web support... how to I access support if I can't access the net because my redhat install bombed?)

    I used to be highly impressed with redhat and I reccomended it at every turn, Now I have to find another distribution to reccomend to newbies instead of redhat.
    • Here...Here. Well said, mod this guy up. The following line (he typed) is a classic: "(web support... how to I access support if I can't access the net because my redhat install bombed?)"

      I would love an "Ask Slashdot" on what distribution off the shelf provides the most value and highest level of support.

  • * 2001-10-22 19:02:02 Transgaming Interview (articles,games) (rejected)

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.