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TechCentral Scams Call Center Scammers

EmperorOfCanada My friend was immune (247 comments)

A frustrating friend of mine who periodically calls me for computer help but will argue with any help I offer got nailed by one of these guys. Except that he argued with them the whole time and wouldn't follow their instructions. The only thing that ended up being changed was that he deleted his browser icon from his desktop.

3 days ago
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$75K Prosthetic Arm Is Bricked When Paired iPod Is Stolen

EmperorOfCanada My dog will explode (194 comments)

I had my dog chipped but the vet said that if I ever let my iPhone run out of battery the implant will explode. I think the implant was made by the same company.

3 days ago
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Securing the US Electrical Grid

EmperorOfCanada Assume it isn't secure (117 comments)

The worst thing they can do is to secure it and then depend upon the security working. Thus the system should be designed so that if it is hacked every other Monday that it can survive. There have been a number of recent (last 20 years) events that have shown that single points of failure can have devastating effects. So make sure that if terrible things happen that a lesser grid can be maintained manually.

A great example of this would be a local grocery store chain's SAP system failed shortly before Christmas(some years ago). They were so dependant upon it that their ability to order stuff and manage inventory was pretty much non existent. So the store ended up looking like some kind of soviet grocery store where the only goods on the shelves were pretty much those that are managed by the distributors themselves; things like milk.

This grocery store hopefully has learned from this and now has some kind of manual backup plan where a store manager can actually phone in his orders and crudely manage the store's needs in the case of another serious computer outage.

The same with the grid. Ideally they set some sort of minimal functionality emergency plan whereby humans can crudely manage the system as opposed to a system that either works perfectly by computer or doesn't work at all.

But I worry far less about hackers and far more about system design failures and Carrington events.

3 days ago
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Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake?

EmperorOfCanada I live in a near zero earthquake area (191 comments)

Where I live (Nova Scotia) basically doesn't have earthquakes. So the risk here would be Tsunami from a distant earthquake. Interestingly enough if there were a Tsunami the configuration of the seafloor would cause it to be massive and wipe everything out for 10 or more miles inland.

I am not sure how many bottles of water I would need for that scenario.

5 days ago
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Illinois University Restricts Access To Social Media, Online Political Content

EmperorOfCanada Never heard of it (129 comments)

I guess this is why this fine academic institution has never crossed my radar. I have never heard it mentioned in any publication, any citation, any contest win. I am not saying that they don't publish squat but that nothing they have published managed to catch my attention. And when I read something in Nature, etc I will check to see which institution the various authors are from to mentally compile a list of intellectually active institutions.

So as far as I can tell this place is the intellectual opposite of say, MIT.

about a week ago
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Study: Ad-Free Internet Would Cost Everyone $230-a-Year

EmperorOfCanada Focus (609 comments)

I suspect that if most people were faced with the choice of paying for all ad-driven sites would simply not go to most sites. I could live with a only a few sites, StackOverflow being a huge one, a mapping web site, a classified ads site, etc. Do I really need to watch russian drivers crash into each other?

about a week ago
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Companies That Don't Understand Engineers Don't Respect Engineers

EmperorOfCanada Re:Who signs the checks (371 comments)

How did you do as compared to say the CFO or the head of marketing(assuming equal time in the company)? I am not saying that techies lose every time but that often when you see a set of technical and business co founders that often the technical founder is gone by the time things go public.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Would You Pay For Websites Without Trolls?

EmperorOfCanada Spam is worse than trolls (381 comments)

I don't know how many magazine sites that I go to (often science ones) where many of the comments are "blah blah made $8,500 in one week, blah blah."

Interestingly enough I think that it is ironic that this article is being promoted on slashdot where the worst trolls are not that bad. Usually the worst trolls here are either being deliberately obtuse or are just dumb, "Linux probably won't exist in 2016".

Unless the fees that are being spent are used to have 100's of highly skilled moderators, all I can see from a pay site is the same old crap but now with the administrators reluctant to turf paying members.

My quest is for the avoidance of group think, which most voting systems tend to reinforce. Try going to the reddit /r/Python section and saying that either the 3.x version or the 2.7 version is an abomination; there are few healthy discussions on that topic.

about two weeks ago
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Companies That Don't Understand Engineers Don't Respect Engineers

EmperorOfCanada Re:Who signs the checks (371 comments)

Engineers, MBAs, accountants, and then lawyers. That is the order of decay products of who runs a company after the engineers leave.

A slightly different funny story was when a different friend of mine owned a small chunk of a company; a chunk that was undilutable. He was telling me this over lunch with another guy who was a major investor in many companies. The investor just about lost his shit. He just about shouted, "Undilutable makes your company a worthless pile of shit!!!" He then ranted that nobody would touch that company with a bargepole, that it was obviously run my morons.

He then said that a single undilutable out of a million would make the company dog crap.

What we both realized was that what an undilutable share did was to eliminate a huge ability of this sort of guy to screw the founders. Technically it would prevent the company from going public as new shares would need to be issued for that and any single owner of undilutable shares could hold the company hostage, the same with being bought out. But is that a bad thing? I have seen many companies that were bought out and a few that went public and in exactly zero cases did the bulk of the employees do well. We have all heard of the tech people who became zillionaires but in all cases that I witnessed the result was that at first they were well off on paper but that somehow it evaporates before it becomes cash, then the layoffs take everyone out. My own personal experience was that I left a company just as it went public and nobody still works there and another company I left just as they were bought out; and..... nobody works there. While other companies around me that did nothing financially exciting are still cooking along just fine.

And I think that the financial guy story sums up the difference between the sociopaths and the engineers. The financial guy sees companies ideally as tools to make him richer; whereas the engineer ideally sees a company as a place where a smart team of like minded people can do cool things, and make a living doing them.

These are not often compatible views.

about two weeks ago
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Companies That Don't Understand Engineers Don't Respect Engineers

EmperorOfCanada Re:Who signs the checks (371 comments)

This might sound like a tongue in cheek comment but it is my sincere belief that in all groupings of people there is a continuous pressure toward feudalism. That basically a Chief will surround himself with a few thugs and that they will take take take from the group. This applies to pretty much any grouping of people. companies, governments (of all levels), home owners associations, religions, condo management boards, school systems, playgrounds. Even if you look at things that should be wholesome and pure such as charities, you will find that many quickly degenerate into organizations that exist for the primary purpose of serving the upper management, I suspect that any charities that don't degenerate were cunningly set up to prevent such a degeneration.

Thus when any organization is created the primary rules should be created so as to resist that degeneration. It should be assumed that a group of sociopaths will assume leadership at some point and try to thwart the rules. So for instance if I were setting up a charity, I would create a rule that if more than 5% were spent on administration that it would result in the instant termination of the entire upper management. Then the next 600 rules would clearly define how 5% and administration were to be defined. I would have these rule set in stone.

about two weeks ago
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Companies That Don't Understand Engineers Don't Respect Engineers

EmperorOfCanada Re:Who signs the checks (371 comments)

As I titled it, Who Signs the Checks. Often the non techie ends up in control of things like accounting, and eventually arranges for things like a board being created. Then when the techie finds themselves being pushed out they have zero recourse. In this case there was nearly non-stop pressure from the salesman to change this arrangement with tactics ranging from ignoring, pleas such as "let's be rational", 'You're not acting like an adult." to bringing in a lawyer (who went away when the engineer informed him that checks not signed by the both of them weren't valid.)

Probably the one saving grace from a lawyer hiring point was that the engineer also saved his money while the salesman lived beyond his growing income and never could afford a good one. His one attempt to buy it out was financed by some friend of his.

about two weeks ago
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Companies That Don't Understand Engineers Don't Respect Engineers

EmperorOfCanada Re:Who signs the checks (371 comments)

The key was not that people would be fired on a whim but if suddenly the whole staff were obeying the only the salesman(or engineer) with the accountant being key in that they then knew that they needed both signatures before any check was cut. Otherwise things like the leased car would be happening every day. Other people who weren't hired were a personal assistant for the salesman, and in once case his wife.

about two weeks ago
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Companies That Don't Understand Engineers Don't Respect Engineers

EmperorOfCanada Who signs the checks (371 comments)

I hit upon a slight variation of this years ago when a friend of my was partnering up with a sales guy to start a company. I told my engineer friend to make sure that their written agreement was that not a dollar could be spent or a contract of any sort signed without his agreement. This included hiring peopel. Also any employee could be fired by either of them. The great twist that his lawyer threw in was that if one or the other agreed to something without the approval of the other that the cost came out of their share of the profits and has no legal standing with the company.

It wasn't two weeks after their first client wrote them a big check that the salesman leased himself a "company" car. My friend said, nope that comes out of your profits. The salesman went to a lawyer and then managed to return the car.

The other clause that totally screwed the salesman was what is called a "shotgun clause" basically what that states is that one partner can make an offer to buy out the other's share and that offer can not be refused; but it can be matched in which case the first party must sell for the amount they offered.

So the company was taking off and my friend just made an offer on a house. So the salesman made a lowball offer for my friend's half of the company thinking that all his money was tied up. My friend actually had quite a bit of money saved and combined with credit cards and family raised the matching money in about a day. This one ended up in court but didn't go anywhere as my friend was 100% in the right. What came out during the initial discovery was that now that they had hired a handful of engineers was that the salesman was ticked that he was paying 50% of the profits to my friend who he thought could be replaced with interns and local tech school graduates. But as my friend gleefully was able to do was replace the salesman with someone who was much cheaper than the 50% profits going to the salesman.

Needless to say, both of them were fairly replaceable but I would say that my friend had at least as good business skills as the salesman, while also possessing masterful engineering skills. The salesman only had moderate business skills and zero engineering skills.

The reality of the story was that while my friend was willing to let things continue as normal and let the salesman enjoy the fruits of his initial investment, the salesman was pretty much trying to screw my friend once a month. He just could not believe that some techy was his equal. Every new employee that was hired was told by the salesman that the salesman was in charge and that the engineer was basically a hanger on. So my engineering friend would often have to point out to people such as the accountant how things worked(as opposed how the salesman dreamed they worked) and that either one of them could fire anyone so if they tried picking a side they would be gone the next day.

Yet my friend fully agreed that when he turfed the salesman that either one of them were by that point replaceable. As he had brought engineering skills that at first the salesman could not get cheap enough, and that the salesman had brought a rolodex that got the company started before it was exhausted.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Considered Renaming Internet Explorer To Escape Its Reputation

EmperorOfCanada No features aimed at me (426 comments)

It seems that every feature that Microsoft seems to add is aimed at selling their other products. There don't ever seem to be features that are just cool. I am not talking about their keeping up with the Jones' features; but anything new they add only seems to relate to their ecosystem. I can't seem to think of any WebGL type feature that they have innovated that was cool just standing on its own.

So maybe if they let engineers and developers steer the boat for a while instead of a bunch of MBA laden salesmen they might catch my interest.

about two weeks ago
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Google Brings Chrome OS User Management To Chrome

EmperorOfCanada Stupid greedy selfish feature (68 comments)

This is a classic example of a feature designed by an MBA and probably not asked for by a single user in the universe. Why would Google let their sleazy MBAs design features, why would they even have sleazy MBAs working there?

about two weeks ago
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Is Remote Instruction the Future of College?

EmperorOfCanada Statistics about Online courses are BS (81 comments)

I sign up for this and that course on Coursera on a whim; but there are certain courses that I really intend on completing if possible; yet my real life does intrude. But these courses, while extremely good and extremely satisfying to complete, are meaningless to me. I own my own company and am not working toward some sort of degree(not that coursera courses add up to a degree). Nor do I need to impress the HR department.

But if I were a dedicated student who needed these course to complete some sort of degree which would lead to good jobs then I would select only those that I knew I had time to do, I would set aside time to do them, and I would not let a bit of irritation with the course cause me to drop it.

So to predict the future of real online education through coursera is mostly BS. But there are quite a few areas where I think coursera statistics could be interesting. For instance how many high-schoolers are completing fairly advanced University level courses? How many existing university students are taking the courses because their own university doesn't offer them or their local course sucks? And how many people are diligently going through Coursera because they don't have access to a University for whatever reason (money, weren't admitted, family issues, etc)?

Then there are the multi account issues. In many situations I will sign up for something like Coursera using an account like Poopy Von Poopy Pants; then realize that Coursera is cool, and sign up again for a real account while abandoning my "test" account. Lastly many people might have zero interest in interacting with the Coursera system and will sign up, grab the materials, and then complete the assignments on their own.

My first prediction for real courses, that divert from the traditional model substantive way (as in anyone can sign on for a reasonable cost without any complicated administrative crap) is that smarter, motivated kids in junior high and high-school will very quickly accumulate university level credits exceeding those for a first year or even meeting the requirements for a degree. This will eviscerate the high-schools as there is little reason to continue high-school if you are well on your way to completing a university degree. This can become a feedback loop where with many of the smartest most motivated kids gone the high-school experience will be dumbed down driving out the next wave of fairly smart, fairly motivated kids until all that is left will be the worst of worst, which will presumably drive away the better teachers.

This last concept also applies to the lesser universities. I would much prefer to attend a best-of-breed online course than the drivel that I attended years ago.

This all mostly applies to courses that aren't mandatorily hands on such as a chemistry class. Even if excellent simulators and whatnot were developed it would be very odd to have a chemistry degree without ever setting foot in a lab.

The last bit comes from acceptance. Many top universities have things such as SAT requirements and high-school grade requirements along with a somewhat mysterious set of criteria to get in. But where this could also get interesting is if a student is doing very well with a top universities on-line system, yet didn't really meet their other classical requirements could this potentially be another new route to entry?

But it will be at the high school level where the most real change will be happening the soonest; regardless of the wishes of the high school administrators.

about two weeks ago
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Kevlar Protects Cables From Sharks, Experts Look For Protection From Shark Week

EmperorOfCanada TLC to Discovery (103 comments)

When the The Learning Channel was purchased by Discovery that was the end. Series such as Connections were no more while almost anti-scientific crap became the norm. It seems to be about the same timeline as The History Channel moving from History to Aliens.

about two weeks ago
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The Benefits of Inequality

EmperorOfCanada Horse pucky!!! (254 comments)

Small tribes typically ran on some basic math. A charismatic leader would band together with a small group of thugs who would then tax the rest of the tribe right up to but not the breaking point. The idea was to balance having enough thugs that no grouping of the remaining tribe members (except for maybe all) could take them on, while not having too many thugs that the spoils were spread too thin.

Then if the chief's son took over and didn't understand this balance either he would cut back on the thugs and get overthrown by someone who could then gather more thugs, or he would have too many thugs to feed making thuggery unattractive, or he would over tax the tribe resulting in being killed by an angry mob.

Basically nothing has changed in the last 100,000 years. My hope for a truly modern society is one where we brutally tax thuggery. My suggestion has long been that tax levels should be partially set by the ratio of the average salary to the highest salary. So a guy earning 20x the average salary would find himself facing a 100% income tax level. The corporate tax would also be based upon the salaries of the employees as compared to an area average. So a Walmart may very well find itself owing 150%+ corporate income tax in a rich city if it tried to pay its employees minimum wage.

about two weeks ago
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About Half of Kids' Learning Ability Is In Their DNA

EmperorOfCanada Re:I have taught computer skills and absolutely ag (227 comments)

Just do a google image search for "potholes of halifax nova scotia" and you can see what a 15% sales tax actually does. It produces a giant pothole for businesses trying to operate in the area so they either die or go away. You can guess what the other taxes in Nova Scotia are like which also are working together to kill the economy.

Also thanks for confirming that I was not way off base with the way that I have taught something so basic as sales tax. I don't know how many tellers have looked at me strangely when I hand them the exact change with taxes. More than once they have commented something like, "Wow that was lucky that you happened to pick out the exact amount." I don't think that they thought it was possible to work out tax in your head.

about three weeks ago
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About Half of Kids' Learning Ability Is In Their DNA

EmperorOfCanada I have taught computer skills and absolutely agree (227 comments)

In my many years of computer consulting, I have ended up teaching many people various computer/math skills. I have no doubt that some people simply come under the category of thick headed. I will explain something simple 8 different ways and they just don't get it. While other people might not have a knack for things computery they only need to be shown something once.

The same with math. For some reason I have ended up teaching people elements of math. Some people I have shown how to calculate percentages multiple times, while others I will show something far more complex such as how to calculate a mortgage payment and it sticks. Both groups will have had roughly similar math educations.

I wonder if this is where some people choke when learning to program. There are many concepts in programming that must be mastered. There is no wiggle room with each concept such as ifs, whiles, switches, etc. You either get it or you don't, and with so many to learn they must be gotten quickly in a typical intro to programming course. Again I have helped people with their programming homework and while some would instantly absorb what I was saying there were groups to whom I might as well have been just making up words.

Maybe I am a lousy teacher but lets say I am teaching someone to do the local sales tax (15%) and I tell them to do 1 x 1.15 to get the total on a calculator. I might even explain that the 1 represents the original price and the .15 is the tax and together they get the total. But I also just say, do 1.15 and it will just work. Write it on the calculator if needed. Easy Peasy.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Japanese can build their own radiation detectors

EmperorOfCanada EmperorOfCanada writes  |  more than 3 years ago

EmperorOfCanada writes "Here is a DIY radiation detector For those Japanese wondering if radiation levels have gone up that can be made with household supplies: any clear sided container with a flat metal(preferably) lid, some black paint, rubbing alcohol, a can of keyboard air duster, and a flashlight . This won't give an absolute measurement but it will tell you if you are in a hot zone. The radiation leaves trails in the mist and looks very cool. Can't beat a home made Geiger counter in 10 minutes and for less than $20 US."
Link to Original Source
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Cheap cloud diffusion chamber with air duster

EmperorOfCanada EmperorOfCanada writes  |  more than 3 years ago

EmperorOfCanada writes "A 15 year old girl has invented a very cheap and easy way to build your own cloud diffusion chamber; which is a neat way to see various radiation particles leave trails. Radiation such as cosmic rays, background radiation, and any handy radiation sources such as a disassembled smoke detector.
Video"

Link to Original Source
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Avoiding eVoting fraud

EmperorOfCanada EmperorOfCanada writes  |  more than 5 years ago

EmperorOfCanada writes "I am looking for suggestions on how to prevent the use of eVoting in an upcoming election (Mid Oct.) in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The city is going to allow people to vote both online and by telephone. As a security aware software developer I am frightened of the number of ways that an electronic portion of an election can go wrong. For well over a year I have been in contact with a senior city official over this issue supplying her with dozens of examples of eVoting going wrong in the many ways it tends to do so. Obviously security theater has won the day and here we are staring down the barrel of an election with votes recorded at the whim of the company running the evoting. How can this be prevented? Does anyone have any good examples of grassroots efforts that succeeded in preventing the use of electronic voting? Is there any way to force an audit of the code / machines / security / raw data that are involved in this craziness? Minimally can people comment expertly on just how stupid an idea it is to allow voting via the internet and by telephone? Thanks, A very concerned citizen."

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