Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

US Navy Develops World's Worst E-reader

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the I-want-one dept.

Government 249

First time accepted submitter Dimetrodon (2714071) writes "It is an unspoken rule of military procurement that any IT or communications technology will invariably be years behind what is commercially available or technically hobbled to ensure security. One case in point is the uncomfortably backronymed NeRD, or Navy e-Reader Device, an electronic book so secure the 300 titles it holds can never be updated. Ever."

cancel ×

249 comments

In the navy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989159)

security > usability

No sir, that's just my Kindle. I didn't load classified files on to it, I swear!

What? Our secret base was compromised because Private Biff's iPad, which tracked everywhere we went, was stolen by a hooker at the last port?

Re:In the navy (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989187)

I'm just shocked to learn that squids can read.

Re:In the navy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989275)

Maybe now they can find the fucking missing airplane, flight MH370.

Re:In the navy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989345)

Loose cannon!

There's a reason books can't be updated (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 months ago | (#46989163)

It's not like they "forgot" that users might want to add new books, the inability of any updatable storage was a design requirement to prevent it from being used for espionage or as a channel to inadvertently bring malware aboard a ship.

This is to prevent it being used to smuggle secret military data ashore, take illicit photos, introduce computer malware or record covert conversations.

Though it seems that there are so many ways for a person to smuggle a MicroSD card into a secure area that an eReader is probably not a huge concern.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (5, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 months ago | (#46989201)

Getting data onto that MicroSD card would be an issue.

The main reasons for the lockdown on the device is stray EM emissions which can give away a ships position - and that includes peripherals, so no ports. I have no doubt that its cheaper to replace the readers with new ones every year than it is to build in a way to securely updateable.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989385)

The main reasons for the lockdown on the device is stray EM emissions which can give away a ships position

I really hope that wasn't part of the reason in any way at all.
If it was then someone has to tell them that wrestling is fake and bigfoot isn't real.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 months ago | (#46989461)

You have no idea what the EM restrictions are like on a submarine.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (1, Interesting)

Minderbinder106 (663468) | about 2 months ago | (#46989581)

I do and I know sailors bring their laptops, phones and Kindles on board.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 months ago | (#46989833)

Well, it looks like either you are well put of date, or those sailors are flouting the rules...

"At this time only submarines will receive devices," explained Nellie Moffitt, manager of the Navy General Library Program.

"[There will be] five per submarine, with a total of 355 for the submarine force. Eventually, we will send NeRDs to all vessels in the active fleet - it will take time as each collection will be tailored for specific audiences," Ms Moffitt told the BBC.

Traditional e-readers are not permitted on many Navy vessels as their GPS, wi-fi and roaming data features can give away their position to the enemy.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/tech... [bbc.co.uk]

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (1)

Old Fatty Baldman (3630557) | about 2 months ago | (#46989643)

I've always thought it was admirable how the cell phone towers at the airport can handle 200 people turning on their cell phones simultaneously when the plane lands. I can see how it would be less than desirable to have 5000 GSM and WiFi enabled devices transmitting aboard your aircraft carrier.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 months ago | (#46989675)

Really? In a giant, grounded Faraday cage? Maybe for sonic, infrasonic and ultrasonic frequencies, but RF doesn't travel much in water.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 months ago | (#46989767)

It travels far enough.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (2)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 months ago | (#46989973)

Sure, if you're towing an antenna capable of sending a buttload of power with a wavelength measured between 10 and 100 kilometers...

Those high frequency emissions that any consumer digital device would emit (even when being tortured with a car battery) aren't going to make it very far with any appreciable strength.

You'd be better off trying to detect the sub by looking for magnetic flux disturbances (eg large conductive object moving within the earth's magnetic field) - they mount them to helicopters.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (4, Interesting)

jcochran (309950) | about 2 months ago | (#46989617)

EM emissions in what is effectively a huge Faraday cage? I don't think so.
The ebook lockdown is intended to prevent ex-filtration of security information. I'm rather surprised at the rather restricted number of titles they provide. And it seems that they could have designed it to permit updating of the contents while on shore. Say perhaps with a special loader that cryptographically signs the new content and the actual data transmission path being near field interactions. If such devices were only available at shore bases, it would be cumbersome, but would still allow for the updating of contents while preserving the security aspects of the readers.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (5, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about 2 months ago | (#46989311)

Heh. This summary strikes me as an example of consumers applying their needs to other industries. Here we have a device that is built for a specific but niche use case. Some people are reacting with the idea that as average consumers it does not meet their needs very well therefor it is useless or inferior.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 2 months ago | (#46989779)

I think people are actually reacting with skepticism based on a long history of huge military orders which clearly are not the best value for taxpayer dollar.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (1)

jythie (914043) | about 2 months ago | (#46989907)

On the other hand, people usually take pundit's words for something not being a 'good value'.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 months ago | (#46989335)

Though it seems that there are so many ways for a person to smuggle a MicroSD card into a secure area that an eReader is probably not a huge concern.

I'd think it would be more of an issue with someone potentially editing or replacing the books, changing vital details in operation manuals. If you cannot change the books, at least you know exactly what they contain.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (2)

Zordak (123132) | about 2 months ago | (#46989471)

I actually thought the same thing, but according to the article, these aren't full of manuals. They've got 300 popular books and literary classics. It's a lightweight, standardized, secure library for sailors who are bored and want to read. While this would be a terrible consumer device, I think it makes sense for the use case. If you're deployed on a ship for six months, having 300 books to choose from is a lot better than having zero books to choose from.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989593)

Especially in the case of a sub, where space is tight, EM restrictions are tight, and they can stay down for 6 months at a time of (largely) boredom. Seriously, most of the crew has nothing to do most of the time unless something goes really wrong; they spend a lot of time thinking up ways to play practical jokes on each other.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 months ago | (#46989599)

So it's updated about exactly as often as a shipboard library would be in the first place. And probably contains more titles... I don't see Navy ships dedicating a lot of space to libraries.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 months ago | (#46989733)

I don't see Navy ships dedicating a lot of space to libraries.

A long time ago, I was on a submarine. We had a ship's library. It fit into a locker that was slightly smaller than a typical file cabinet drawer.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (3, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 months ago | (#46989943)

For the same of variety, I'm hoping they didn't stock a lot of large print books...

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (1)

Minderbinder106 (663468) | about 2 months ago | (#46989603)

If you're deployed for six months and you like to read you've brought your own e-reader loaded with books you want to read with you.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (2)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 2 months ago | (#46989745)

If you're deployed for six months and you like to read you've brought your own e-reader loaded with books you want to read with you.

Or not... Or your e-reader can go berserk, borken or otherwise unusable. Shit happens. Having 300 books around is *much* better than nothing.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 2 months ago | (#46989545)

Though it seems that there are so many ways for a person to smuggle a MicroSD card into a secure area that an eReader is probably not a huge concern.

How much experience do you have in securing high-value military devices and how much knowledge dop you have about the reasons for securing such devices?

.
None and none, you say? Gee, I would have never known that from your comment.

Re:There's a reason books can't be updated (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 months ago | (#46989793)

read again.

it's a fucking unconnected kindle. there's zero practical reason why it couldn't update the books that were on it. if the makers had any fucking sense they would have included a loader machine on the ship with 30 000 titles the sailors could pick and choose books from...

but hey, now they can sell another edition next year.

yes, there would be zero fucking security viability in this, except maybe if you count it as a risk that the extended library would have "objectionable content". it is just an ereader for entertainment/education purposes! all it needs to adhere to is some emission requirements and that's it.

Charging is the actual venue. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989555)

Think about it. People would read this on watch and the reader is rechargeable. This has been an issue for certain systems and the older ipods.... Basically you are on watch and a wall socket may not be in reach... But hey! There is a usb port right there! Awesome! Oops... A virus detected? I only plugged it into my virus ridden computer that I watch movies with in my rack... That I watch pr0n on... Dagnabit.

Only three hundred titles? (2, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | about 2 months ago | (#46989179)

Assuming that all the books are in the MOBI or EPUB formats, which are quite compact, one can only assume that the designers really skimped on memory. My Kindle has hundreds more books with plenty of room left. And as this is a technology made to a military contract, one can assume that this device inferior to off-the-shelf consumer items costs much more than them.

They only need one! (-1, Troll)

aliquis (678370) | about 2 months ago | (#46989381)

There's only need for the one book!

Bible or the Khoran. Your choice!

(No this isn't my opinion, "it's fact!", no really, I don't believe so.)

More choices! (0)

davidwr (791652) | about 2 months ago | (#46989527)

Bible or the Khoran. Your choice!

You forgot The Book of Mormon and a few others.

Re:More choices! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 months ago | (#46989705)

Yeah, which Bible? Which Koran?

The old standards are just like the new standards - so many to choose from!

Re:More choices! (-1, Troll)

aliquis (678370) | about 2 months ago | (#46989915)

You forgot The Book of Mormon and a few others.

Guess I should had only mentioned one.

Then I could have said "THOSE ARE ALL WRONG!"

Damn religinuts are retarded.

Re:Only three hundred titles? (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 2 months ago | (#46989405)

Or one can assume that 300 titles in the space on one is all they really needed, and that more frequently used manuals will be stored physically.

Or instead of assuming you are smarter that everyone in the procurement process, you could read more and assume less.

Re:Only three hundred titles? (2)

CRCulver (715279) | about 2 months ago | (#46989491)

Read the article. The book isn't just for manuals, it also has plenty of reading for pleasure material. If one wants to offer a good representation of both the English canon and contemporary publications, one very quickly exceeds 300 titles.

However, the other reply to my comment which states that some of the manuals may be unusually large, may explain the small amount of titles on this device.

Re:Only three hundred titles? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 2 months ago | (#46989561)

Sorry, that should have read "The ebook reader isn't just for manuals".

Re:Only three hundred titles? (1)

Simon Brooke (45012) | about 2 months ago | (#46989541)

RTFA! It's not used for storing manuals.

Re:Only three hundred titles? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989445)

300 probably full instruction and repair manuals. Not your standard novel length.

Re:Only three hundred titles? (1)

tippe (1136385) | about 2 months ago | (#46989985)

Maybe they only wanted to use American made components, and the largest memory they could find was an old stockpile of 128K DIP-style flash made back in the 80's.

I jest, I jest...

I know that flash memory is still being made in the US (by Intel and maybe others), but seriously, it must be getting pretty damn hard to make any military gear that uses US-only components...

NERDS!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989185)

I can't help but wonder if the powers that be in the US Navy have a unexpectedly healthy sense of humor. Either that or they're totally oblivious to the irony of naming their new custom eReader the NeRD.

makes sense (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989195)

"The company has already delivered similar gadgets to members of the US Army and other military personnel.
The brainchild of the Navy's General Library Program, the electronic ink Kindle-alike has no internet capability, no removable storage, no camera and no way to add or delete content. This is to prevent it being used to smuggle secret military data ashore, take illicit photos, introduce computer malware or record covert conversations."

Actually makes sense to me.....

Doesn't Matter (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989199)

It doesn't matter that it can't be updated since there are Navy publications that are at least 50 years old and have not been updated since.

Re:Doesn't Matter (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989287)

A couple of years ago, I actually got a call from a a military training instructor who wanted to know if it was possible to convert his training filmstrips and transparencies to a powerpoint presentation. Apparently, the bulbs on his old projectors had burned out and no made them anymore. This was the ONLY reason he was going to powerpoint, because he absolutely had to.

Re:Doesn't Matter (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 2 months ago | (#46989611)

Actually, I'm surprised that they don't have some kind of proprietary nonvolatile memory device where they can groups of books, so you can swap them out.

O RLY? (3, Interesting)

CanEHdian (1098955) | about 2 months ago | (#46989205)

I bet with all this slashvertising these things are going to become collector's items; every hacker will want one to see if they *can* change the content.

Makes sense (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989231)

Can't have machines capable of transporting unauthorized files or tracking your fleet location on board. Would be idiotic.

This provides a way to give sailors a decent library of books to read without having to find a place to have a dead tree library on a cramped ship.

The concept is perfectly sound, despite obvious failings in the design/specs (only 300 books, and probably thousands of dollars each, hah)

Re:Makes sense (0)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 2 months ago | (#46989359)

I would also imaging that the "small" (Compared to other eReaders) list of books is because the text of each book and to be independantly verified to make sure it didn't contain anything that could be used to circumvent proper operations of the vessel. Also, there's probably copyright issues with including many newer works.

Re:Makes sense (2)

Minderbinder106 (663468) | about 2 months ago | (#46989655)

Anyone on a submarine who likes to read brings their own Kindle with them.

Hmmm, So its like a book? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989251)

Manuals generally can't be updated unless new sections are added or pages added.

Doesn't seem like too much of a thing. Need revisions, send out a new unit with updated material, destroy the outdated unit.

A.

Re:Hmmm, So its like a book? (3, Interesting)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 2 months ago | (#46989465)

Manuals generally can't be updated unless new sections are added or pages added.

Actually most technical manuals onboard ships that are still kept in paper form are designed to be easily updated. The pages aren't glued in place - they are three-hole punched and kept in binders. When an update to the manual comes out, they only need to distribute the specific pages which have changed. Each page has a revision number on it, and the manuals will contain a "List of effective pages" noting the most current version of every page in the manual.

This means you can now assign people to do nothing but go through paper manuals page-by-page and verify that every page is present and at the correct revision.

Re:Hmmm, So its like a book? (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 months ago | (#46989863)

This is not too different from commercial aircraft.

Take a Boeing 747. They've been in production for almost 50 years, been through dozens of iterations and tweaks, man different variations, and quite possibly no two are exactly alike.

You essentially need to be able to get the full manual as it applies to any given aircraft, because over time there's been upgrades, changes, recalls, and everything else you can imagine.

When you have a few million parts flying in formation, making sure you know which specific parts are in which specific plane is a Very Important Task.

This means you can now assign people to do nothing but go through paper manuals page-by-page and verify that every page is present and at the correct revision.

And, compared to the cost of, say, an aircraft carrier of a submarine, the cost of that is pretty insignificant.

Re:Hmmm, So its like a book? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 months ago | (#46989565)

If they actually pushed the manuals for the effin' piddly crap you have to deal with on those things, it would maybe actually serve a purpose.

In case you don't know: Whenever you get some "new" device in any army anywhere on this planet, one thing is certain: The manual is missing, mangled or the critical pages (especially tables and the like) are suspiciously absent.

Serves a purpose (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989259)

In spite of the knee-jerk reaction of "That POS can't even be updated!" that the summary seems to be triggering, I think perhaps it was designed this way on purpose? Think about it. 300 documents, could be manuals, laws, whatever. If each of those is to be readily available per person, which is smaller, 1 eReader, or 300 books? Which cost more to produce? 1 reader as opposed to 300 books? ect... The navy probably doesn't want the info in those to change either, hence the no update.

Seems to work pretty good for its inteded purpose to me.

Its the navy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989279)

Of course it's shit. Worst ereader, worst branch of military

This is why you can't have nice things (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989289)

Remember that fruitcake Bradley Manning -- err, Chelsea Manning? Sorry dude, you still have a dick.

Re: This is why you can't have nice things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989597)

So does your momma, but no one's judging

Your Tax Dollars! (0)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 2 months ago | (#46989299)

There needs to be a law!

Government ought to be required to use commercial products for common tasks and functions rather than having lifer government employees creating a duplicate system from scratch that doesn't truly add anything to answering the needs of their employees.

We are in a system where government waste has become a cancer strangling the economy with taxes in all their forms which now amount to basically half the GDP.

It is sick.

Re:Your Tax Dollars! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989323)

This does answer a problem, which is providing e-readers for sailors that don't also serve as intentional or unintentional espionage devices aboard ship.

Reach back and pull your head out of your ass.

Re:Your Tax Dollars! (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 months ago | (#46989417)

You really have no clue about military needs, do you?

What waste? I hear it all the time, but no one can point to any. Oh, by 'waste' you mean thing you limited experience and complete ignorance deems as waste?

Re:Your Tax Dollars! (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 months ago | (#46989421)

it's all fun and games until someone tapes the entry of nuclear launch codes onto their device and shares it to youtube. or the workings of secret equipment that make our subs the best in the world

Re:Your Tax Dollars! (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 2 months ago | (#46989475)

Yes, because we should force the military to use consumer level products which might not meet their particular requirements. After all, the money saved in using a consumer product versus developing a secure, rugged, locked-down, for-military-use-only device won't be offset by people exploiting said devices (since they won't live up to military level security) or by the devices failing when they are subjected to military conditions (not what your average consumer puts their devices through). Kindle/iPad/etc is good enough for Joe User and therefore is must be good enough for specialized military use!

Re:Your Tax Dollars! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989533)

West Wing has a reasonably answer to this one....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Titles? (4, Interesting)

RDW (41497) | about 2 months ago | (#46989307)

The WSJ is marginally more informative on the contents:

"The content consists mainly of newer bestsellers and public-domain classics, as well as titles from the Navy reading list and other texts for professional development. Since publishing partners include Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette and Random House, the lineup is impressive, ranging from contemporary fiction such as A Game of Thrones and The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, bestselling non-fiction such as The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and bonafide nerd favorites including The Lord of the Rings series, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, and Stephen King's The Stand."

Anyone have a list, or is it classified? Is 'Mutiny on the Bounty' allowed?

Re:Titles? (1)

fuzznutz (789413) | about 2 months ago | (#46989515)

This is the US Navy, not the British Royal Navy. Of course it's allowed. Now... The Caine Mutiny might be a different story.

It doesn't seem so bad to me. (2)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 2 months ago | (#46989329)

I think they could have put a larger library on it relatively cheaply, but other than that, it makes perfect sense that it can't be connected to a computer network.

Nope. Not so bad at all.

Better Headline (5, Insightful)

Chillas (144627) | about 2 months ago | (#46989333)

"Navy Invents E-reader that is Secure, Meets its Needs; Hated By People Who Will Never See or Use It"

Re:Better Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989415)

Well stated.

Re:Better Headline (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 2 months ago | (#46989749)

And the content can never be Amazoned ... I mean deleted by the copyright holder.

Re:Better Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989801)

"Navy Invents E-reader that is Secure, Meets its Needs; Hated By People Who Will Never See or Use It"

As other people have pointed out, you can bring your own e-reader on deployments with as many books as you like.

Re:Better Headline (5, Funny)

sootman (158191) | about 2 months ago | (#46989807)

Next on Slashdot: "Army tanks are uncomfortable, get horrible mileage."

Cheaper solution (1)

MikeRT (947531) | about 2 months ago | (#46989351)

Build a "common operating environment" version of Android, just like how the DoD has a common build of Windows that meets all of its needs. Have a variant that has all wireless hardware and external storage drivers removed. Problem solved.

Re:Cheaper solution (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 months ago | (#46989431)

why is that cheaper? You still need special hard ware. Special limited hardware, in fact; which means hirer prices. You still need to pay for the specialize OS, and testing, and maintenance, and change management.

Re:Cheaper solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989435)

If having a door is an unacceptable security risk, you don't build the door. It'd be silly to build the door, not put a handle on it and call it "secure".

Re:Cheaper solution (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 2 months ago | (#46989983)

Cheap solution : don't even run an OS. There's likely no need for an OS at all on a single purpose device with limited inputs/output as this. My 1989 Game Boy didn't run an OS and had more abilities than the Navy e-book. Stuff like micro-waves and alarm clocks don't run an OS either.
Put evething : the program, fonts (all sizes and styles pre-baked) and books in a single mask ROM.

sounds like a misunderstanding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989355)

Seems like this is a purpose developed disposable device. It's meant to give sailors something to read. As long as its price to the taxpayer matches its value, I'm ok with this.

Re:sounds like a misunderstanding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989425)

*phew*, as long as you're okay with it, so am I.

Re:sounds like a misunderstanding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989521)

AC expresses opinion; AC complains.

Re:sounds like a misunderstanding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989955)

and 2 ACs respond. Wonderful sleuthing!

Very bad summary title (5, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | about 2 months ago | (#46989401)

This is not the "Worst" e-Reader ever.

Why do I say that?

Because it is working as designed.

Frankly, for certain high-security situations this kind of "immutable" device is the only kind of device that would be allowed in. So it's either something like this, or books-on-tape/CD/paper/something else.

For slightly less-but-still-very-secure situations you could allow some type of external read-only, no-processor-chip-onboard "expansion pack" memory so that the book content could be switched out without getting a whole new device. I wouldn't use USB though, as that requires a processor on the stick itself.

Also, I'd make very sure the data format was really "data only" not something that could, in theory, be a vector for "code." This would rule out PDF and PostScript. In other words, it would be pretty limited.

The things you absolutely do not want for this type of device in a high-security environment are:
* Any ability to "run code"
* Any wireless
* Any ability to export data other than through the screen (you can't stop someone from photographing the screen)
* Any ability to "hack" the device without physical access and accessing it in a non-standard way (e.g. with a screwdriver). This means the software must be proven to never do anything "bad" other than "just die, requiring a reboot" if the operator is tricked into giving it even carefully-crafted/designed-to-do-bad-things bad data.

In some cases, you do not want it displaying anything other than what is "whitelisted." This can be done by either only displaying properly-digitally-signed files or, as in this case, by only providing a limited set of files and "sealing" the device.

Re:Very bad summary title (2)

Old Fatty Baldman (3630557) | about 2 months ago | (#46989789)

Still, it sounds like they've spent millions of dollars on it and only produced 300 units. Doesn't that count as failure, when you could just buy a Kindle off the shelf, apply some exacto-knifing to break the wireless and USB, then hermetically epoxy it shut?

Capacity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989443)

It just seems like such a waste of storage capacity. Its like installing a twenty foot long oak bookshelf in your study and then only putting 5 books on the shelf.

Sure, I get that it needs to be locked down. No updates ... OK there is a valid case there. But only 300 books? Why not thousands of books? The difference in terms of memory cost would be minimal compared to the cost of the other components, direct labor, overhead, etc.

Re:Capacity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989559)

Have you even read a book?

It's not a bug, it's a feature (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 months ago | (#46989505)

Why do you think the Navy would want their sailors to read whatever they see fit instead of the wholesome library that was carefully selected for them?

Re:It's not a bug, it's a feature (1)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | about 2 months ago | (#46989805)

Possibly close to the same reason the Christians burned books back in the day? Just a guess and most likely a bad one at that.

Fits the name (1)

JockTroll (996521) | about 2 months ago | (#46989507)

Ugly, inferior in every way, embarassing to have around, can never ever get over its shortcomings, can't grow or learn anything of value... Yes, it's a nerd alright. Shove it into the toilet and flush the water.

Cool name (1)

cute_orc (2911555) | about 2 months ago | (#46989525)

At least they have got a cool name.

Early Morning Posters == Ex-Military Apologists (0)

Ulthanash (1303395) | about 2 months ago | (#46989543)

It looks like the early risers are former military that like to justify the stupidity. That's why military intelligence is an oxymoron. The military has been developing unusable systems for hundred of years. Does anybody remember the matchlock? I'm sure there is somebody in the military that fonly remembers the matchlock. The Navy has been working on this project for 10+ years. The evil contractor that has been developing this piece of junk finally got the cranky admirals to sign off on it. The "no updates" rule is most likely a kludge to get around the fact that they could not figure out a way to securely update the device that made everybody happy. I can hear the admiralty discussing the issues, "When I was a sailor we didn't have room for a library on board. All I had was a Bible and that was good enough me!" The rest of the admirals agreed with a heary "hoo-ah!"

Re:Early Morning Posters == Ex-Military Apologists (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 2 months ago | (#46989577)

Right, got it. Everybody is stupid, except for you.

Re:Early Morning Posters == Ex-Military Apologists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989777)

It was clearly satire.
So what does that say about you?

youd think any e-reader would be a bad idea. (1)

nimbius (983462) | about 2 months ago | (#46989583)

Being so close to water and all, the entire idea of an e-reader for naval sailors is preposterous. The thought that a soldier for that matter would want or need an e-reader is equally absurd. an SOP is useless once the battery runs out. equipment manifests, authorized zone visitors for the day or coded diagrams all cease to exist if the device is dropped, run over, or damaged.

the enemies paper field manuals have just rendered two of your strongest allies in a battle, communication and comprehension, null.

Re:youd think any e-reader would be a bad idea. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 months ago | (#46989787)

Being so close to water and all, the entire idea of an e-reader for naval sailors is preposterous.

This is not your bathtub. This is for the pros.

Why would it need updating? (1)

redelm (54142) | about 2 months ago | (#46989645)

"Moby Dick" has not been updated since originally released in 1851! Nearly all literature is similarly stuck at version 1.0 . Few Navy Manuals / Publications see updates more than every few years.

Perhaps you are thinking of adding to the collection? Rethink your acquisitiveness and participation in the hysteria of new-is-better. Or let the USN rethink it for you!

They have email, but no books? (2)

JavaBear (9872) | about 2 months ago | (#46989667)

IIRC Email is far more insecure than any ebook reader.

Your tax dollars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989685)

...hard at work.

Hobbled.. (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 2 months ago | (#46989773)

Or hobbled to create the false impression of security, while not actually being secure at all, just terribly inconvenient to use.

300 Titles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989847)

Probably because it has G.R.R.M. and S. King's works.. God damn tree killers!

Not bad (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 2 months ago | (#46989849)

If the 300 books are worth reading that's decent but not only that, they're all properly bought/licensed. The collective value of the book's data is probably more than that of the hardware itself, ignoring price gouging and low runs.
So there's no 4000 books, but even at $1 a piece a 4000 book device would cost $4000, multiplied by hundreds of units. We can joke at the list of "approved material". It's a bit easier to navigate a list of 300 books than 4000 or 50000, too.
There's the option of releasing new "editions" of the e-book with another selection of content .

I bet they cost $3000 each too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46989867)

i just havea a feeling its usefulness will be inversely proportional to its cost

Dear Berenice Baker.... (2)

Razed By TV (730353) | about 2 months ago | (#46989881)

NeRD is not a backronym. A backronym is when you take an existing word/name (Fiat) and create an acronym for it (Fix It Again Tony). I really doubt the Navy just stumbled on the name NeRD and later found the words to affix to it.

Also interesting to note, the submitter submits things from the same group of sites...
Naval-technology.com
Power-technology.com
Army-technology.com
Offshore-technology.com
Pharmaceutical-technology.com
Hydrocarbon-technology.com

There are articles about NeRD going back days. I guess these days news is more about rehashing someone else's news and getting traffic to your site.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...