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Workplace Surveillance Becoming More Common

Bender0x7D1 A twist on 1984 (195 comments)

Obligatory reference to Manna

about a month ago
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Lessig Launches a Super PAC To End All Super PACs

Bender0x7D1 Re:What is the point? (465 comments)

I don't think Hillary is going to win for one reason - she looks too old. Note that I didn't say she IS too old, just that she looks too old. As long as Republicans put forward someone 20 years younger, that isn't a crazy person (which may be difficult) she doesn't have a chance. This is also going to be a problem for her in the Democratic primaries.

Ageism - it's real.

about 3 months ago
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IPCC's "Darkest Yet" Climate Report Warns of Food, Water Shortages

Bender0x7D1 Re:How do food shortages make sense for warmer cli (703 comments)

Your error is in assuming a simple, isolated system and ignoring the complexity of dealing with the horribly analog world of biology.

In general, there are two considerations for when, and how much, plants grow. The first is the amount of sunlight they receive (hours per day) and the second is the number of "degree days". Since duration of sunlight isn't going to change (at a certain latitude), let's focus on "degree days" first.

A "degree day" is based on the temperature of the day, so the higher the temperature - the higher the value. However, there are bounds for this. For example, corn needs at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but not more than 86 degrees Fahrenheit. i.e. - Below 50 means "0 degree days" and 92 will be the same number of degree days as if it were 86.

The problem comes in when it is far too warm which, for corn, comes in around 86 degrees. The plant hasn't adapted for growing in temperatures much higher, and will shut down growth; much higher temperatures will even cause damage to the plant. Here is a human analogy - a human might be able to run really fast and really far but, if it is 115 degrees outside, that isn't going to happen and any activity may result in heat stroke. A plant will be stressed in this kind of heat and will actually be damaged. In this way, too much heat will cause plants to grow less, and we will have lower yields.

However, since plants also depend on certain amount of sunlight, it isn't a simple matter of moving things northward (or southward in the Southern Hemisphere) to match temperature. All of the plants are also expecting a certain duration of sunlight. This isn't constant with latitude, so moving the plants north will reduce yield. (And more sunlight doesn't mean higher yield - plants also do things at night like release water vapor.) This means that we will have to reengineer our crops to match new conditions - which will take decades. (And crop genetics isn't a simple matter - companies spend billions on trying to make better species.) So, until we do that, we will have lower yields.

Also, many plant diseases like the heat (or like that they don't freeze to death in the winter - see Asian Soybean Rust ranges) - so they will enjoy millions of square miles of new territory - increasing the cost of production (herbicides and pesticides) and, since bugs and molds eat the plants, will give us lower yields.

The other problem is related to economics and infrastructure. Farmers have certain equipment to plant and harvest the crops native to their area. Plus, their fields have been designed for those certain crops. For example, they may be terraced in a certain way or be designed with a certain level of drainage based on existing weather patterns (temperature and rainfall). Renovating millions of square miles of farmland is going to be expensive and ridiculously time consuming and until it is modified to match new, prevailing weather patterns, will contribute to lower yields.

The other side to the economic coin is that decisions are not going to be made on a 50-100 year strategy. To operate next year, a farm needs to turn a profit this year. So, they aren't going to completely retool if yields go down 10% - it would make no sense. The capital costs would dwarf any profit from the new crops being put in. Therefore, they will operate at lower capacity and accept a lower profit - since it is still a profit. Sure, we will get changes when push comes to shove, but that will take decades as climate change forces them to change. Until that point - lower yield.

Moral of the story, we are looking at decades of lower yields as climate change really kicks in.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Trust Bitcoin?

Bender0x7D1 Re:As Frontalot says (631 comments)

But that's the problem - Bitcoin isn't "real" money. If it were, there would be a huge number of regulations to follow, sinking it as an anonymous currency. However, if it isn't "real" currency, thefts and/or fraud will not be investigated by law enforcement agencies. So, pick what you want: An anonymous currency with no support of law enforcement, or a "real" currency where regulations such as requiring a photo ID to open an account apply.

about 5 months ago
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Fire Destroys Iron Mountain Data Warehouse, Argentina's Bank Records Lost

Bender0x7D1 Re:Multi-tiered backup strategy (463 comments)

I don't see why archival storage should be much different. You should have at least two copies of everything in different locations, on-site and off-site. Basically, if you're shoving archival data in a third-party facility like this, you have no backups of your archives...

I'm guessing they only keep a single copy of 13-year-old data because the cost/perceived value equation says they don't need multiple copies. I mean, how often does someone pull up detailed business data that hadn't been used in that long? (Summaries and stats, sure. But the detailed records themselves? Practically never.)

about 6 months ago
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AI Reality Check In Online Dating

Bender0x7D1 Re:Surprised people still use... (192 comments)

I've used online dating sites, and found them quite effective. My girlfriend of over 2 years and I met on an online site. A close friend of mine met his wife on an online site. So, they do actually work.

I remember when I gave that idea a go and found I generally sent out tons of emails but rarely got any responses.

This probably means your emails sucked. Did you send a one-sentence email? Something like: "I saw your profile and you seemed interesting so I thought I would say hi." Where was your effort? If you want to meet someone, you need to demonstrate you are interested. Did you point out your similarities, common interests or things you both enjoy? You need to show that you aren't just some random guy spamming a hundred girls to see what will work. Does she have a cat or a dog? Even if you don't have one, you can mention that you used to, or you've wanted one, or ask how much the darn thing sheds. Just something showing it's personalized and, most importantly that you read her profile.

While I have met people online, I've definitely found my chances are significantly higher in person, face to face.

Again, that's probably because your emails sucked. There is no tone of voice, no body language or dimension to an email, so you have to do it all with words. This isn't easy, and a lot of people suck at it because they've never had any practice. However, most people (although not all) have a lot of practice interacting with people in real life - even if it is just to order something from Starbucks - making them better at communicating in real life than in an email.

If I were to become single again, I would be back online right away. It's a fast way to find people who are interested in similar things, and to meet a lot of people that you wouldn't in your regular routine. (When was the last time you went to a coffee shop on the other side of town just to see if you could meet someone new?)

about 7 months ago
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The First 'Practical' Jetpack May Be On Sale In Two Years

Bender0x7D1 Re:What happens when it quits? (127 comments)

That's why it has a rocket deployed parachute.

about a year ago
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Medical Costs Bankrupt Patients; It's the Computer's Fault

Bender0x7D1 Re:Just curious (637 comments)

His authority as the head of the Executive branch.

He is responsible for enforcing the law. (Or not.) If Congress objects, they can impeach him. However, within his bailiwick, he is the supreme authority.

It's how the checks and balances of the three branches of government work. None is beholden to the others, but they can be stopped, blocked or removed by the others.

about a year ago
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Electrical Engineering Labor Pool Shrinking

Bender0x7D1 Re:More proof there is a STEM shortage! (401 comments)

And while tuition is going up, technology has driven the prices of course materials down significantly from the old days, when you were stuck with the single College bookstore selling at full price.

You aren't paying enough attention to textbook prices - or tuition. The rapid increase of tuition is far more than a full set of books would cost. Even a bad semester would be less than $1k of books, and tuition is going up by double digit percentages every year. In addition, while you can get a deal on some textbooks, the publishers are out to maximize their profits and spin new editions, or make sure there are shortages of old editions to offset the difference. Plus, sending free copies of the new editions to any professor who uses them in their class is a nice way to make sure used books are a dead end.

1 year,17 days
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Med Students Unaware of Their Bias Against Obese Patients

Bender0x7D1 Re:Fat Hatred (446 comments)

Except obesity also reduces life expectancy by 6-7 years. link

Therefore, you get 6-7 years of productivity from healthy people, which is worth far more than$31k. Plus, you probably get more productivity for all the other years as well. (Obese people have higher rates of absenteeism and disability claims. link)

about a year ago
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A Computer-based Smart Rifle With Incredible Accuracy, Now On Sale

Bender0x7D1 Re:Cancel? (551 comments)

But the big problem that the summery overlooks is that its just about as hard to put a laser range finder on a target as it is to put a bullet on target.

Not really. With a laser range finder you don't have to worry about wind. You don't have to worry about range (by definition). You don't have to worry about the smooth trigger pull since laser range finders don't usually have a multiple pounds of pressure activation button. You also don't have to worry about properly absorbing the recoil to avoid jerking the round off target.

about a year ago
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Why Working Remotely Needs To Make a Comeback

Bender0x7D1 If you can work remotely... (455 comments)

If you can do your work from home, it's probable that someone else can do the work from the other side of the planet. For less. So be careful what you wish for.

about a year and a half ago
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Want To Buy a Used Spaceport?

Bender0x7D1 Re:Summary is misleading. (99 comments)

It means manufacturing based on the geographic location desired by a politician instead of where it would make the most sense from an engineering standpoint. i.e. - You can't put all the high tech space jobs in the same place as each politician wants some of the money to create jobs in their own district.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Can I Explain To a Coworker That He Writes Bad Code?

Bender0x7D1 Re:You don't (683 comments)

If you need a problem solved quickly, and better than what all your competitors can do, he's your man.

You have provided one criteria (quickly) but you still haven't defined what "better" is.

Here's an analogy. If you need to perform an amputation, or other rapid operation to keep someone alive (like on a battlefield), is the doctor who can perform that amputation the fastest "the best"? What about if their operation to keep the person alive causes problems with follow-on surgeries or other body functionality? Are they still "the best"?

What drives me insane is that people forget that the vast majority of source code ends up being a living thing. Features are added (or removed), bugs are fixed and it is used in ways not envisioned in the original development. That means someone has to go in and make changes. If it isn't easily understood then (a) it takes longer to make those changes, (b) it is more likely new bugs are introduced and (c) it may be used in a manner that is unexpected (large-scale instead of small scale, and the code is inefficient). What this means in the long run is your code is more expensive to modify and maintain, and it probably won't be as good. How is that a win for the customers, the company, the new developer who has to make changes and our profession in general?

We need to stop glorifying the "gods" of programming, but the average guy who just gets shit done on a regular basis. More analogies: A fighter pilot gets the glory, but the poor guy changing the fluids is just as important - and works on a dozen planes. Same with a quarterback - if an offensive lineman doesn't keep up their end of the work, the entire offense will crumble. It's supposed to be about being a team, and accepting that you have to provide support for the average guy - it is extremely unlikely you will always have a team that is 100% superstar material, so don't act like you do.

about a year and a half ago
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FCC Smooths the Path For Airlines' In-Flight Internet

Bender0x7D1 Re:Good luck w/ regards to pricing (93 comments)

Yes, it is slow. When I have used it, it gave me slightly better than dial-up speeds and, on occasion, I would lose connectivity for a few minutes. Basically, good enough for email and light surfing. I also downloaded a few PDFs.

On the other hand, I am sitting 7 miles in the air, moving at several hundred miles an hour and able to access the Internet! Sure, it isn't a great connection, but I'm 7 miles in the air - so I think it's pretty sweet.

about a year and a half ago
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Do We Need a Longer School Year?

Bender0x7D1 Re:No (729 comments)

Huh? Where is this happening? Maybe private sector teachers, but deficiently not public sector ones.

Here is a link that has real numbers for layoffs. It says there have been 150,000 public teacher layoffs due to the recession. It also mentions Bureau of Labor Statistics which says 33,500 teachers were hit by layoffs since September. (Article was written in June.)

So, you may not have noticed it happening - but it is. Also, and this is a guess, it is affecting lower income schools since higher income schools generally have parents that are able to complain, hire lawyers, call their city/state/federal representatives, etc. So, if your kids go to a "good school" they might have kept their teacher numbers by shifting the burdens to schools that aren't performing.

Also, talking to teachers that I know, finding a teaching job is next to impossible right now. So, it might be less about layoffs than not filling positions as people retire/leave the field/whatever.

about 2 years ago
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Koch Bros Study Finds Global Warming Is Real And Man-Made

Bender0x7D1 Re:But the real question is... (769 comments)

Sorry - I didn't realize you assumed a reality where corruption and mismanagement were unheard of in a giant project. The reason I called it $100+ billion is we are dealing with transforming miles of coastline. And not just the coastline - but 1-2 miles inland for the infrastructure. Have you even looked at the scale of the port facilities in and around New Orleans? The project would be an order of magnitude bigger than the Big Dig and I scaled appropriately - from real-world numbers.

Yes - all at the same time. Bare - not much grows there so it's a lot of surface rock. However, it isn't perfectly smooth, so you get large areas of shallow march in the depressions. I also like the hand-waving "we'll drain it!" Draining thousands of square miles and making it ready for farming may be beyond our ability. Look how hard it was to dig the Panama Canal. Or, watch a documentary on building the oil industry in Alaska. Making a single road to the fields was a nightmare and you want to transform the entire landscape.

You are also off by orders of magnitude for your migration stats. Moving within a city, or even the next city over is not a migration. According to this article 2 million left California over 10 years. That's 200k/year and California has 12% of the US population. So we get 1.8 million as a rough estimate - far below your tens of millions.

Urban decay has not been successfully ignored. It is being ignored - and forcing cities to consider bankruptcy. I'm sure all the people who will lose their jobs or get pay cuts won't successfully ignore the problem.

Good luck with your hand-waving away of big problems - I hope you live somewhere away from the coast and pack heat to protect what's yours from those who don't have anything and are starving. (Also: Read up on the Dust Bowl - it caused hundreds of thousands of people to move and was one of the most horrible times in our nation's history.)

about 2 years ago
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Koch Bros Study Finds Global Warming Is Real And Man-Made

Bender0x7D1 Re:But the real question is... (769 comments)

I imagine we could do it for tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. You vastly overstate the cost.

The planned expansion of the port is going to cost over $1 billion - and that's after $500 million in expansion less than 10 years ago. The only thing I can think of that might approach the scope of a new port is the Big Dig project - and that cost $14 billion. However, it didn't involve transforming several miles of coastline. I recommend you do some research on the cost of huge projects (highways are a good start) - you seem to be orders of magnitude off in your estimate.

The tundra is bare, rocky and marshy - not exactly great farming. As for the forest - that's the same strategy as Brazil is using: Cut down a bunch of forest. Farm it. Use up the land. Repeat. It doesn't work because the soil is crap, and you have to keep destroying forest - kind of like army ants on the move - destroy everything and move on.

A person changing location is called moving. A 100,000 people moving is a migration. Even 100,000 people moving around isn't a big deal as long as it evens out somewhat. i.e. - 20k move to NY and 20k move from NY, etc. However, when they move in one direction it is a problem - check out the social conflicts Houston had/has with the Katrina refugees.

And hollow centers are a huge problem that are causing cities to go broke. Abandoned neighborhoods still need their sewers and water pipes maintained because they connect to other sewers and water pipes. However, there are no tax revenues to help pay for it. That's why Detroit is buying these areas and demolishing them. So, while the population gets to ignore the problem - city officials can't. The problem hasn't magically been solved - it's been ignored.

about 2 years ago

Submissions

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Dragon Age DRM Servers Down

Bender0x7D1 Bender0x7D1 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Bender0x7D1 (536254) writes "It seems BioWare is having server issues, leaving them unable to authorize downloadable content to their Dragon Age players. According to their forum players have been unable to access their content since Friday, and it may not be resolved for another day. Players are understandably upset about the issue, but are even more upset that there is no official comment by BioWare forcing them to rely on other players for information."
Link to Original Source
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Hacking American Idol

Bender0x7D1 Bender0x7D1 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Bender0x7D1 (536254) writes "Since we have come to another season of voting for the next American Idol, I was trying to come up with ways to hack the voting. Some methods would be somewhat simple — someone managing a call center, corporate phone system, or even a class A network could arrange for hundreds of thousands of votes for one of the contestants. However, since these votes would come from a single location, or corporate entity, it would be relatively easy for Fox to detect this anomaly, and discard the votes. Another idea would be for an online community to select their favorite Idol using an internal poll and then have the entire community vote for that person. This would be similar to a small political party being part of a coalition government — they are too small to matter in the overall election, but can still determine which party gets into power. The question I have is: Are there any online communities large enough to affect the outcome of the voting and with enough solidarity to vote as a single group?"
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Wii Top Console But For How Long?

Bender0x7D1 Bender0x7D1 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Bender0x7D1 writes "According to VG Chartz, total worldwide sales of the Nintendo Wii have surpassed those of of the XBox 360, and both consoles have been dramatically outselling the PS3. However, the next few months will see the release of many highly anticipated games, including Halo 3, (which has over 1 million preorders, and Grand Theft Auto IV. In addition, the 360 has recently undergone a price drop, and analysts predict a PS3 price drop for the holidays. With Wii shortages projected to last throughout the holidays, the question is: Will the Wii manage to stay on top despite the new games and price cuts?"
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Wii Becomes Leading Console

Bender0x7D1 Bender0x7D1 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Bender0x7D1 (536254) writes "According to VG Chartz, total worldwide sales of the Nintendo Wii have surpassed those of of the XBox 360. It has been a long time since Nintendo held the lead in console sales and Sony, the sales leader of the previous generation, is lagging far behind in this current generation. The question is: Does the Wii have the staying power to keep outselling the competition, or will upcoming games like Halo 3 and GTA IV give the advantage to Microsoft and Sony?"
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Bender0x7D1 Bender0x7D1 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Bender0x7D1 writes "CNN is running a story on how webcams are replacing exam proctors for courses that students are taking online. This is in response to the need to keep students from cheating but not wanting the inconvenience of having them go to a testing center. It does have some interesting features to help detect cheating, such as a using a reflective ball to get a 360-degreee image capture and some software that flags suspicious behavior. According to the article: "When the exam begins, the device records audio and video. Software detects significant noises and motions and flags them in the recording. An instructor can go back and watch only the portions flagged by the software to see if anything untoward is going on — a student making a phone call, leaving the room — and if there is a sudden surge in performance afterward." The article also admits that it isn't a perfect system, but should go a long way to keeping things even between traditional and online students."
Link to Original Source
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Bender0x7D1 Bender0x7D1 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Bender0x7D1 writes "While Quake players have known this for over a decade, the average person is finding out that nailguns can really do some damage. CNN.com has the story that injuries from nailguns are up 200% since 1991 and says "weekend warriors" are to blame. Does this mean it is time for the do-it-yourself crowd to spend more time playing video games? Does it hint that in the future every home will have a BFG10K?"

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