top James Watson's Nobel Prize Goes On Auction This Week
I'm an intelligent guy. I identify as Native American, but if you looked at me, you'd probably see me as just another white computer programmer with dark hair and an unusually sloped nose. That said, I've met people so much smarter than myself that they made my head spin.
The two most intelligent people I've ever met were black and hispanic.
When I was a teenager, I had the distinct honor of meeting the reknowned
Jaime Escalante in person.
I also recently had a coworker in my field, who was a young black man recently out of university, whom I will not name because he not a celebrity. (He certainly has the potential to be one if he so chooses.)
There was a striking similarity between the two that caught my attention.
Jaime Escalante's struggle to engage young hispanics in math has been immortalized by Hollywood. The major theme of Escalante's work was convincing young hispanics that, despite their culture, they were capable of great things.
My coworker was very deeply depressed about the same situation as it applies to black Americans. He told me that he felt stunned and disappointed that so many of the black people he met had so little ambition for higher education. He even stated the problem outright. The culture encourages blacks to avoid higher education.
It's VERY easy to form racist stereotypes when you see a pattern imposed by culture. Watson reminds me of any number of people I've met who's 'met enough of' a certain race to close his mind on the subject. Despite his own intelligence, he chooses to ignore science and go with stereotype rather than go looking for cause and effect relationships like scientists *ought* to.
Incidentally, the third most intelligent person I've met is also probably one of the most humble people I've ever met. You'll probably never know his name, but his research will probably benefit humanity for millennia to come.
top Disney Patents a Piracy Free Search Engine
Vote this AC up because this is EXACTLY the kind of crap Disney has pulled in the past.
about a month and a half ago
top Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board
I wish I had upvotes for you.
I am a power user. I'm currently surrounded by two very powerful PCs... rather a high-end 'docked' mac laptop dedicated to development work and a frankenstein's monster BYOC dedicated to gaming, Watching and converting video (-- Anime junkie) and artwork.
I also own a little Samsung Android tablet. Despite the mobile development workstation, I use the ever-loving snot out of that tablet. I use it to watch video I've converted for it, read books and magazines, browse web while seated in my nice club chair in the living room, have a reference site up while console gaming, and art. Turns out that Autodesk has a VERY nice painting app for $6. Works beautifully with cheapy capacitive styluses.
I consume the vast majority of my Crunchyroll subscription on it (more anime and manga).
However, I don't use it at ALL for email.
So yeah, mobile matters.
top My degree of colorblindness:
Tetra-chromats are by definition female. You need two x chromosomes to carry the two different genes that code the two slightly different pigments.
It's an axiom that there are no women on the internet.
Ergo, there are no tetra-chromats on Slashdot.
top Ask Slashdot: How Can We Create a Culture of Secure Behavior?
An important caveat to this line of thought is that GOOD education DOES work to prevent risk behaviors.
A blanket 'Just Say No' campaign like the one ran by Nancy Reagan in the 1980s did more harm that good because, when a lot of the kids had it force-fed to them for a decade grew up and discovered that marijuana didn't immediately kill your or turn you into a junkie, many of them threw out the entirety of 'Drugs are bad, m'kay?' and went on their merry way destroying their bodies with harsher and harsher drugs.
However, kids who had explained to them what drugs really did to a person's body and which drugs were more addictive and which drugs were less were, and are, less likely to actually do those drugs.
The same is true of sex education. It's been shown with frequently tragic consequences that 'Abstinence Only' education usually makes the teen pregnancy and STD situation worse in places where it's taught. However, more complete sex education that explains pregnancy, STDs, and all the other associated risks that go along with sex causes a notable decline in teen pregancy, STDs, and an actual increase in the average age at which teens start having sex.
I have found the same line of logic to be true with IT security. If you make a point of explaining the whys and wherefores, perhaps going so far as to make an interesting, engaging education program, the people who are your 'risk vectors' decrease, as do the number of security incidents you have to deal with.
No, you never can completely eliminate the problem. However, by offering education that is interesting, complete, and that doesn't treat the recipient as an idiot, you can dramatically reduce the problem.
top Study: Video Gamer Aggression Result of Game Experience, Not Violent Content
Battletoads Jet-ski level. Pure hatred that will make you kill anyone or anything you love.
top P vs. NP Problem Linked To the Quantum Nature of the Universe
My understanding is that we have some pretty good examples of 'larger than just a few elementary particles' superposition and observer effects that have been demonstrated.
For example, birds' touted ability to navigate by way of feeling the Earth's magnetic field is apparently enhanced by the observer effect.
Now... cellular level effects are still pretty small, but it's an example of a living organism we can hold in our hands (and pet, if you're a bird person.) learning to use quantum effects in its everyday life.
For an example of superposition in living organisms, one needs to look no further than our abundant flora, where superposition apparently increases the efficiency of photosynthesis, without which our current biosphere would pretty much collapse and we'd all die.
So, I think we're looking at a bell-curve like thing here. The bigger the 'observability' of a phenomenon, the less likely we are to experience it in our lifetimes. My guess is that huge, say, planetary-scale, examples of superposition are quite possible... just so very unlikely that one hasn't happened observably in human history (and probably the history of the universe.)
top Microsoft's Attempt To Convert Users From Windows XP Backfires
So 'Desktop Linux' is just not cutting it for me yet. Almost, but not quite. (Seriously, get USB keyboards working with yer full disk encryption, Debian.)
That said, I'm not going to Windows 8 or even 8.1. Evar. In the rare event that I need to run something that only runs on Win 8, I've got a company supplied Virtual box VM image with a legit corporate licensed copy. (I've booted up to run the latest version of MS Dev Studio less times than I can count on one hand.)
In the slightly more common event that I need to run something that ran fine on WinXP, but won't run on Win7, I have a WinXP Virtual Box image. This has saved my older, but perfectly working USB scanner.
In the much more frequent event that I want to run in a Linux desktop environment for, say, development work, working with iptables, or the like, I've got a couple different Mint Linux Virtual Box images.
About the only thing I don't have an image for is a Hackintosh... but I've got a company-supplied Macbook which also has an array of Virtual Box images hanging around.
Mint is about || yay close to being usable as my main desktop OS, but has a few standout problems. I DO use it as my laptop OS.
Win 8 will NEVER be an issue for me.
top How loud is your primary computer?
I'm partially descended from Cherokee on one side and Choktaw on the other. However, as a computer nerd with a florescent-light tan, I am the WHITEST Native American you will ever meet. (Oddly enough, there are *blonde* native Americans less white than I am.)
I've also been blessed to keep my hearing despite working in or near various data centers and around heavy machinery. I've always been very careful about hearing protection.
I can hear the capacitors in my CRT TVs cycling. I can hear the constant whine of AC power in the walls. If I'm lucky enough to be around older electronics with real vacuum tubes, I can hear them sing or hum, depending on size.
At night, I can hear the nails squeaking in their holes as my house settles. I can hear that damn squirrel scurrying across my roof in the wee hours. Yes, stomach, I know that squirrel is edible, but I am an well-(over)-fed computer programmer and not a nomadic hunter-gatherer. Would you and my ears *please* quit waking me up for that kind of thing?
Accordingly, I'm one of those individuals who can gauge the load on their PC components simply by listening to them. This has become more true as newer motherborards tend to have throttle-able fans. I can still distinguish when my CPU decides to page out to disk even *with* the fans droning out the hard drives, though.
It can be bloody unpleasant at times. For example, I've paged 3 times while writing this post. Why? I'm running VM and a ton of RAM-hungry apps, including Firefox. I twitch every time it happens.
However, it's also saved me countless hours of frustration and lots of cash as I can often identify hardware problems by sound.
I really pissed off my neighbor once doing this. He had an AC mechanic out because his air conditioner kept quitting. Mine was as well... but I could HEAR the transformers humming oddly on the poles. (And not the good kind, where the Autobots defeat the Decepticons)
"This isn't an AC issue. It's a power issue. I've called the power company."
Made the mistake of saying that after he'd just paid for the AC service call.
top In an arcade with only the following games ...
I'd play pinball. If the machine is broken, which is sadly the case the majority of the time in my experience, I'd go home.
The only machine that would keep me in an arcade would be a Galaga upright... simply because I could show off mah skills.
Seriously. Bar, restauraunt, arcade managers? If you're not willing to put in the extra effort it takes to maintain a pinball machine, DO NOT BUY ONE. And for God's sake, unplug and put an 'out of order' sign on the ones that *are* broken, but you are willing to fix.
top Airgap-Jumping Malware May Use Ultrasonic Networking To Communicate
A certain alphabet agency that's been in trouble for tapping all kinds of folks lately? Or are they too clueless to put together a monster like this?
1. You'd have to write a boot loader that a) loads your bare-metal-level sound and microphone driver, networking driver, sonic network protocol, and payload.
2. You'd have to write the forementioned a) bare-metal-level sound and mic drivers. Network drivers that might as well be bare-metal, implement a sonic network protocol, and then get them to successfully transmit your payload.
3. You have to TEST this combo on many different machines.
We're either looking at someone who has a LOT of free time and hardware on his hands, or a 1st or 2nd world military-level dev team with LOTS of cash to spend, IMO.
top Why Are Japanese Men Refusing To Leave Their Rooms?
Add on to that the inability of the average Japanese person to say 'No' to someone, even family. The Japanese (and many Asian cultures in general) place a very high importance upon maintaining face.
We're talking about people who move to a new town when family members are convicted of minor crimes so they can 'start over'. Major crimes... whew. That's only one of the reasons suicide is so damn common in Japan and SK.
The idea of kicking your adult child out of the house for his own damn good is HORRIFYING for most families that have to deal with this.
The idea of being KNOWN as the family who kicked your adult child out of the house for his own damn good is even worse.
about a year and a half ago
top Linux Mint 15 'Olivia' Release Candidate Is Out
Cinnamon is pretty nice. It nicely captures the features of the traditional app bar and combines the ability to use plugins and 'pin' apps. I LURVE me the ability to manage my networks and VPNs from the applet interface.
It does have a few problems. First off, it's somewhat confusing to edit the Cinnamon menu. My ideal solution would be to create a nested folder structure filled with softlinks so I could simply manage it with a file manager. (Sorry, haters. MS just got it right there.) However, a more-full-featured menu editor would be almost as good.
Secondly, it's pretty difficult to move the Cinnamon menu bar around. It can be done, but takes some config file editing rather than point-click-drag-drop like the proprietary OSs.
To my understanding, Cinnamon is ultimately a highly customized Gnome configuration, so I suspect that what's holding Cinnamon back are shortcomings in Gnome or GTK. However, I'm not an expert.
about a year and a half ago
top Average latency to Slashdot.org?
Pinging slashdot.org [184.108.40.206] with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from 220.127.116.11: bytes=32 time=746ms TTL=244 Reply from 18.104.22.168: bytes=32 time=692ms TTL=244 Reply from 22.214.171.124: bytes=32 time=711ms TTL=244 Reply from 126.96.36.199: bytes=32 time=701ms TTL=244
Hmm... Better add 'Texas' after 'in Space'.
about a year and a half ago
top New Pope Selected
This guy has said that allowing gay couples to adopt children is a form of discrimination against the children.
So a lot's going to change in Vatican City
top EA Offering Free Game to Users After SimCity Launch Problems
Seriously, I learned this a while back with the first 'Black and White' game. EA pushed the developer to release early. The game was simply unfinished. You literally could not finish it.
The 'patch' to fix that gawdawful mess broke gameplay so badly, I said 'Fuck it. This was wasted money. Fool me once, shame on you. No more money for you, EA!"
Mrs. Bonker came to the same decision some time later, after endless frustrations with the 'Sims 3'. She realized that a) she was essentially re-buying all the expansions for the 'Sims 2' one at a time and b) none of them worked. They were all so horrendously buggy that the game could quite seriously corrupt a filesystem.
It was painful for her since she really enjoys The Sims gameplay, but she's stuck playing 'The Sims 2' because she realized she was literally throwing her money away every time she purchased something for the 'The Sims 3'
top Han Solo To Reportedly Return For
Star Wars VII
As much as I'd like to see movie versions of Mr. Zahn's 'Thrawn' Triology, a line in 'Return of the Jedi' stands out to me, when Mon Mothma and Admiral Ackbar are discussing the assault on the Forest Moon of Endor.
I think it's Ackbar who addresses Han as 'General Solo' for the first time and Luke is rather surprised that his friend got promoted while he was busy back on Degobah.
Imagine, if you will, Ford as the aged, weathered space admiral who's seen it all, from Imperial recruit, to smuggler, to rebel pilot, to assault leader, to General and eventually a great leader of men...
We KNOW Ford is capable of the acting. What we don't know is 'Will Disney let it happen'?
top Clay Shirky On Hackers and Depression: Where's the Love?
I don't stay logged in and can't be assed to add an exception to my cookies whitelist for
top Clay Shirky On Hackers and Depression: Where's the Love?
One of the things I've noticed in the 'professional developer' community is that there is a bit of Jock Culture going on.
First of all, you have a business environment that tends to favor younger, fresher talent and puts a LOT of pressure on aging developers to keep up with their younger peers, many of whom are capable of (in the very, very short run) unhealthy work practices. 80 hour work weeks and back-to-back all-nighters are doable when you're 22 years old. They're fucking painful at 30, and ruinous by 35.
And it's hard to say 'No' to them because we've just come out of a nasty recession when upper management is all too eager to lay you off in favor of younger developers eager to prove themselves.
That shit WILL give you depression, anxiety, and insomnia, and all of those kill.
Second, again with the Jock Culture, developer culture tends to be dominated by hot-headed males, many of whom are eager to replicate locker-room style pecking orders in the cube farms... and that crap just doesn't work when you're developing software.
(Ex-military guys? I'm looking at you here. I've seen you do this shit. Stop it.)
Sadly, those pecking orders are often directly related to pay. The guy who manages to wedge his way into the 'Project Lead' or 'Senior Developer' slot tends to have a few more dollars attached to them. Again, the pressure results in depression, anxiety, and insomnia which are proven killers.
Shirkey's piece spends a lot of time talking about Aaron Swartz, but Aaron was a unique case of being uniquely and unfairly persecuted by multiple 800 pound gorillas. His depression and suicide *should* have been as fucking obvious to anyone who knew him as an 18 wheeler rolling the wrong way down the freeway.
The answer to these issues is, perhaps a shade ironically, the same answer we should be looking at in regards to our sudden flareup of chronic school shooting disease:
Mental Healthcare needs to be made a priority in this nation. We need to destigmatize ADMITTING mental health issues and seeking treatment for them. Also, we need to completely ditch the notion that drugs used for treatment of mental health problems cause more harm that good.
Seriously, guys, when you're having daily panic attacks, when sleep won't come for days at a time, when the world starts showing up in black and white and more black than white... it's time to talk to a doctor. And if your doctor won't help, ditch him and find a doctor who will.
Apropos captcha: Biopsy
top Media Center Key Accidentally Gives Pirates Free Windows 8 Pro License
Linux and the software available for it has finally reached the point for me that I can use it on my daily-use hardware. There is nothing I want to do that cannot be done under Linux now, GIMP be damned.
Mint with Cinnamon is a damn fine usable OS.
Windows 8 and it's tablet-wannabe interface will forever remain a distant nightmare of 'What might have been'.