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Wyoming Is First State To Reject Science Standards Over Climate Change

Holmwood Re:Motivated rejection of science (661 comments)

Starting to depart a bit from the topic, but 'useful idiot' is not an invention of America's Glenn Beck. It dates at least back to Russia in the 1940's, and then developed generally as a term to generally characterize 'fellow traveler' socialists who were not themselves communists but were willing dupes of communists.

Not everything in this universe is an invention of American left or right wingers.

That said, I find the GP's attitude of "no such thing as catastrophic man-made global warming" coupled with his sarcasm to be as unhelpful as your ahistorical claim. He may well be right that there is no such thing; if climate sensitivity is on the low end of current IPCC estimates, then a reasonable person could argue that means the results will not be catastrophic in a global sense, and attribution will make any specific weather disaster tough to pin on anthropogenic climate change. But to blithely assert that it therefore doesn't exist? I'll definitely pass on that assertion.

about 4 months ago
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VA Supreme Court: Michael Mann Needn't Turn Over All His Email

Holmwood Re:So what? (348 comments)

This is slightly inaccurate: the case is not directly connected with Steyn. True, Steyn's case might be helped (or hurt) by some of the undisclosed data and documents, but this is an earlier FOIA case that has been dragging on for a long time.

I do find it troubling that publicly funded research now seems to have giant carve-outs rendering it substantially not subject to FOIA. Increasing the power and secrecy around already-powerful politicians and bureaucrats, even those in a state-funded university, is troubling.

This will likely go to the Supreme Court. Were I a betting man, I'd bet that four of the conservative wing would overrule, the liberal wing would vote to uphold, and the deciding vote would be the Chief Justice who might surprise everyone and side with the liberals, as he did in the Affordable Care Act decision. But who knows.

about 5 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Developer Responsibility When Apps Might Risk Lives?

Holmwood Re:Certainly an increasing danger. (100 comments)

This is a very good point. In the past I have developed in the avionics and old-school telecoms area. (Half an hour unscheduled downtime permitted in 40 years, in the latter case). The former tends to be life-critical, the latter not far off.

I am very aware of the kind of requirements that medical software and devices require though have very deliberately steered well clear of that market.

It is my belief that developers should be educated, ethical, but that there is also a place for apps, even devices that are not medically certifiable as long as they are carefully and ethically marketed. (The OP's example seems to indicate examples that are possibly none of the above).

An example from today; I use, to great help, a device from Fitbit to monitor my sleep. It's less accurate than the $1m sleep lab a colleague (internal medicine, specializing in sleep apnea) runs, but it's good enough to tell me that I got a bad night's sleep even when I am not consciously aware of having done so.

I argue that inexpensive, reasonably accurate apps are considerably better than nothing, provided that the user is well-informed. We need an area that isn't done to death by the FDA, provided claims are appropriate.

In the current wild-west of app-stores, especially on Android, this does not appear to be the case.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Developer Responsibility When Apps Might Risk Lives?

Holmwood Re:Certainly an increasing danger. (100 comments)

I do not favour an outright ban, since I could see that as having unpleasant consequences.

Such as? These apps literally enable the ignorant to get themselves killed, as you point out>

Did you actually read the rest of my post? Blanket regulations and bans tend to have unintended consequences and can be quite sweeping in effect. I gave a specific example of a situation (future cardiac monitor app) that might be quite beneficial for a certain segment of the population to have access to, even if it was less reliable than a dedicated device.

Such an item, if one were to blanket-ban apps based on medical and safety claims, would be unavailable in highly regulated countries, likely to the detriment of many people.

I further noted the tradeoff of skiing in an area with negligible avalanche possibilities and implicitly argued ("pressure Google and Apple and Blackberry to come up with a common standard for fine grid device location") that that might well be better than nothing.

As for well-informed, again, I explicitly noted that informed choice is key. Marketing in a misleading fashion, in this safety-critical sense, is not acceptable. As I wrote (if you had read it): "I lean towards crystal clear disclosure, and, in Canada, and restrictions on marketing."

That said, I will again repeat myself: I lean towards more informed choice for consumers and citizens rather than less. The OP makes excellent points suggesting to me that regulation and restriction on marketing as well as a strong push for standards are appropriate. He or she does not persuade me that a blanket ban is appropriate, and certainly you do not given that you do not even appear to have read let alone attempted to understand my position.

Best,
-Holmwood

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Developer Responsibility When Apps Might Risk Lives?

Holmwood Certainly an increasing danger. (100 comments)

On the one hand, we can crack down hard on anyone who tries to even hint at some medical or safety purpose for a particular app. On the other we can be wild and free-booting and allow people into precisely the sort of trap that the poster outlines.

These apps may well be better than nothing (though they are not tested in any meaningful sense, nor are they compliant in any meaningful sense), but to the extent that they give a false sense of security, they are dangerous.

Personally, I lean towards crystal clear disclosure, and, in Canada, and restrictions on marketing. I do not favour an outright ban, since I could see that as having unpleasant consequences.

Look forward ten years. Suppose my smartphone has a ~90% reliable software and sensor package to tell me if I'm suffering from a heart attack. Suppose also that I'm part of a demographic group that by gender, age, fitness, weight, diet is highly unlikely to be suffering one. (There have been cases before where software has successfully diagnosed heart attacks in situations where physicians didn't believe it -- consider the case of psychologist Helen Smith a fit 37 year old woman who came close to dying since humans didn't believe she could be having a heart attack).

It would not make rational sense in that case for me to purchase a $1000 bespoke medical device to monitor me, but a $5 app might make sense even if it wasn't as reliable.

Similarly if I ski only occasionally and in areas highly unlikely to suffer an avalanche, it might make sense for me to not purchase a transceiver. (For those who say they'd spend anything to protect their lives, even on extraordinary low probability, I suspect you may have some irrational optimizations in your life.)

Offering consumers informed choice seems key; if they are marketing their apps as the equivalent of Avalanche transceivers, that clearly is not informed choice.

Similarly, I'd pressure Google and Apple and Blackberry to come up with a common standard for fine grid device location that these apps could use.

The OP raises some interesting points; I still come down somewhat on the libertarian side of things.

about a year ago
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Nokia Had an Android Phone In Development

Holmwood Re:Like a Nokia Android wouldn't have bombed? (189 comments)

Very true. I used a Nokia N770 tablet starting in 2006. It was fantastic for the time. Maemo (later Meego) was still a little rough around the edges, but very good. I thought at the time that surely it was only a year or so of polishing from mass release, and Nokia ARM-based tablets and smartphones starting at resolutions of 800x480 would sweep the market. And time ticked by. Even 2 and a half years later, Apple was still playing around at well under half the resolution, but time kept moving.

I still have my patched N800 somewhere with a (ridiculous for 2007) 65GB of storage.

Nokia could have dominated that market, or, at worst, been highly competitive with Apple.

1 year,9 days
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The Legal Purgatory at the US Border: Detained, Searched, and Interrogated

Holmwood Re:Fight it if you want to. (555 comments)

Happens in Canada as well, including both requiring both email access and even your bank account to prove you've sufficient funds to support a stay in Canada.

See the thrilling series (mild sarcasm) Canada's Front Line on National Geographic Channel. Series 1 showed a British subject being required to provide access to his banking account; another episode showed another Brit being required to provide email access.

I suspect it happens in the US as well.

1 year,21 days
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My ISP...

Holmwood Re:Missing option (290 comments)

You're lucky not to live in Canada! My ISP (Rogers) was charging me $50/mo for internet service, but there'd be an added $100/mo fee if I went over the cap. (yes, the fee scaled up to $100, but typically hit $100 pretty fast). This was ludicrous.

I've switched to a competitive ISP (Thank goodness they exist) that Rogers techs try to continuously dislodge by disconnecting customers locally, but though the data rate is 1/3 that Rogers provided for the same price, there is no cap. Good.

1 year,29 days
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Canadian Military Developing Stealth Snowmobile

Holmwood Re:Canada soon invades the US (187 comments)

That's silly stuff. I am a firm Canadian nationalist, but the idea that we hold the US to ransom when it comes to oil is ludicrous (and thankfully so). True, their SPR is a mere 100 days or so at peak capacity, but that's more than your two weeks, and that's completely ignoring their ability to bring new domestic and international resources on line and use pricing if they were blockaded.

The idea that Canadians' cutting off supply could cripple the US in 2 weeks is beyond silliness. True, cutting the US off would cause the US to pay great attention to us, though not necessarily in a good way. But keep in mind Canada would suddenly be deprived of 80%+ of her exports, since the US would surely retaliate. If we said 'F U USA' during a cold winter (which a great many Canadians would disagree with, for we tend to regard the US as close relatives, albeit annoying ones) do you serious believe the USA would not retaliate?

about a year ago
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Samsung Develops World's Fastest Embedded Memory With eMMC 5.0 Support

Holmwood Re:"The chips will provide for..." (77 comments)

and "based on 10nm class NAND flash technology" is at best highly misleading. It's 19nm technology.

Parity News might better be tagged Parity Spin, as might this summary.

What Samsung is doing with NAND is actually reasonably impressive -- 19nm is very good, and their TLC stuff in the 840 looked pretty good, and the performance/reliability/value of the 840 EVO looks to be extremely good for a non-enthusiast consumer drive. Sad they feel they need ridiculous spin on top of some very respectable achievements.

about a year ago
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Launch of India's First Navigation Satellite Successful

Holmwood Re:Out of curiosity... (89 comments)

Wish I had mod points. This is a very cogent question. Too much of what seems to be being done in space so far by prestige-oriented countries seems to simply be "follow-the-leader". Replicate the US space program (with most of its defects) as closely as possible. The Soviets even were working away on a space shuttle, though thankfully the Chinese don't seem headed down that precise dead end.

I think the US (making a virtue out of the necessity of low budgets for space) private sector approach looks very promising, particularly SpaceX. And Canada's doing some inexpensive clever stuff that's somewhat orthogonal like its small asteroid observatory satellite(s). So too, are other countries. But a GPS/GLONASS/Galileo/Beidou clone? Yeah, I get it, the military needs it for anyone who wishes to be a Great Power independent of the US.

about a year ago
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Why DOJ Didn't Need a "Super Search Warrant" To Snoop On Fox News' E-mail

Holmwood Re: Not News to Fox (330 comments)

Ever hear of the Pentagon Papers? The NY Times and WaPo published those back in 1971, the Nixon administration tried to prosecute them. The Supreme Court held 6-3 (with nine different opinions) that the newspaper(s) had a compelling interest in publishing. Largely since then, First Amendment rights have trumped governments interests in secrecy.

You can suddenly try and change the legal standards that have evolved over decades, but I do find it amusing to suddenly see soi-disant liberals arguing that Richard Nixon was right after all, and that journalists should routinely be accused of crimes when they commit acts of journalism.

If your standards hold, pretty much any future administration should be able to jail most journalists in the US that have ever reported on government, foreign affairs, or the military. Be careful what you advocate for.

about a year ago
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Ouya Performance Not Particularly Exciting

Holmwood Re:800,000 Applications (305 comments)

This could well be very true. I backed it on Kickstarter precisely because I wanted a low power ARM-based 1080p media device that was more flexible than offerings from Sony, MS, Nintendo. Had no real interest in it personally as a gaming console.

That said... I read TFA. It completely misses the point. Sure, because brand new bleeding edge phones have higher performance, Ouya (at #70) is a loser. Good grief. It is a certainty that there will be between 100 and 1000 PCs (and Macs) of varying configurations from reasonable manufacturers that will exceed the PS4 and Xbox 720 when they are released (at #101-#1001). (at octo-core 1.6 GHz Jag and roughly half the performance of a 670 video card it won't be difficult). Does that mean that these consoles are failures and Sony and MS should give up?

Of course not. They will have defined a stable platform that is "good enough" for some years of gaming, along with interfaces to enable that.

Ditto, potentially, Ouya.

Will Ouya succeed? I've no idea, but the raw power of the console is unlikely to be a material issue at this point.

about a year and a half ago
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Embedded Developers Prefer Linux, Love Android

Holmwood Re:Windows CE forever !!! (104 comments)

Oh come on, that AC deserves +5 for funny for his topic, leaving aside the dorky "first!". I was on the board of a company that was competing in that space (licensing embedded OS's) back in the 90's. We concluded we weren't viable because we were in the ~$7-10m a year range of licensing fees. We found out Windows CE, globally, was in the neighbourhood of $3.5m/y. Boggle.

We still concluded we weren't viable, and transitioned to a POSIX-compliant variant of Linux and other activities. Given this survey, I don't feel sad about that choice.

about a year and a half ago
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Are Windows XP/7 Users Smarter Than a 3-Year-Old?

Holmwood Re:You have to be kidding. (537 comments)

Old school? Control-V for paste dates back to the 1960's (Butler Lampson's QED editor), and those fancy new-fangled PC keyboards with INS and DEL on them date to the 1980's.

Personally I find the control combos a lot easier since I've used them longer and they at least are in a relatively consistent place, keyboard to keyboard, whereas INS, DEL can be pretty much anywhere, and are often invoked through some strange combination of key presses.

Now get off my lawn young whipper-snapper!

about a year ago
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Astronomers Search For Dyson Spheres of Alien Civilizations

Holmwood Re:The Templeton Foundation (686 comments)

/boggle. Well, no, they don't. You might try reading about them. But leaving that aside, irrational skepticism is your privilege, but the beauty of real science is that it's replicable and falsifiable. In the highly unlikely event that these scientists lie about a discovery, anyone with access to decent mid-infrared instrumentation will be able to verify it's false.

about 2 years ago
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Google Seeks US Ban On iPhones, iPads, Macs

Holmwood Re:How can this be ? (404 comments)

Their purchase of Motorola was indeed primarily for this. They needed to be able to defend Android, and Google itself didn't have sufficient mobile patents to have a decent chance at prevailing in a court against Apple. Google + Moto on the other hand, very much the reverse.

Google's choices were - buy Nokia, RIM, Motorola, or the Nortel patents. Of that lot, Motorola made by far the most strategic sense since they had an enormous trove of on point patents, were affordable, and were already an Android partner. At the time, their losing the Nortel patent auction looked bad, but when they snapped up Motorola shortly thereafter, it all made sense.

Would they have been better off winning Nortel patents for (say) $5bn than spending $13.5+ for Motorola? [I'm counting anticipated restructuring costs in with the purchase price] Maybe. But it's entirely possible that Apple, Microsoft, RIM, etc. would have pushed the bidding on Nortel patents well above $5bn. Also, a lot of the Nortel patents would have been neither applicable nor remotely useful to Google. For a patent defense, Motorola is a much better fit.

Does it suck that companies have to spend billions in this fashion to create a legal defense? Yes. If you're an ardent Apple fan, it sucks that Google gets to attack Apple just because they bought a bunch of patents; if you're an ardent Google fan, it sucks that Apple is attacking Android manufacturers in the first place. For the rest of us, firing engineers and hiring lawyers does not seem a winning plan for engineers or the economy-at-large. Nice for lawyers though.

more than 2 years ago
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Police Close Climategate Investigation

Holmwood Re:Epistemic (277 comments)

Have you ever studied calculus? Are you familiar with the concept of the slope of a curve? What you are saying is mathematically incorrect if you actually look at the data.

You are actually (quite incorrectly, I will assume due to ignorance ) falsely asserting that the rate of temperature increase is increasing. Astonishing. I can only assume you are completely ignorant of basic mathematics, or are ignorant of the datasets.

It is true that this decreased rate of increase may be ultimately statistically insignificant over a century (or even a thirty) year trend. But that is not the core of what you are falsely asserting. To claim that it is not observable within the confines of the 11-year solar cycle is simply to destroy your credibility.

I invite you to peruse woodfortrees.org, where you can look for yourself. Look at the HADCRUT3 dataset, the one most commonly used by climate scientists. Choose global mean, or global mean variance adjusted as I have below.

Here, for example we see a 32-year plot. http://woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/mean:12/from:1980/to:2012

You are certainly entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. Something odd appears to have happened, resulting in a nearly flat slope in a very warm world. Claim all you wish that in fact the trend is accelerating; the data do not bear this out. You are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts.

Presumably you think Phil Jones was incorrect or even lying when he said to the BBC that there had been no statistically significant global warming in the last decade.

As to interpretation, I suspect warming will resume its upward trend and ultimately, in a 100 year trendline the events of the last 10-12 years may disappear, and simply become artifacts. Time will tell.

You could have argued this, and I'd have provisionally agreed with you. Instead you chose to assert something absolutely nonsensical, and, to compound your error, falsely and ignorantly accused me of being wrong. Good grief.

-Holmwood

more than 2 years ago
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Police Close Climategate Investigation

Holmwood Re:Epistemic (277 comments)

Let's get this out of the way, what I believe. The world has warmed quite a bit in the last few decades. While the rate of warming seems to have gone down in the last decade, it remains very warm relative to earlier in the 20th century, and we are recording some unusually hot years globally speaking. We have not cooled in any meaningful statistical sense. Much of this warming is caused by human activity. GHG's remain a serious very long-term threat, though I am less sure that they remain a threat in shorter time frames, as I believe climate sensitivity is likely relatively low. Whether or not GHG's are a threat, I think we should move to halt new coal construction, push for nuclear/hydro for baseline, gas/hydro for meeting peak demand (drop-offs from renewables), and encourage development of solar and certain other renewables. My views on this are based on studying these issues since the 1980s.

Now. On to your statement. What is the actual evidence (as opposed to Officer Plod, and the scientists' own assertions) that this was a remote hack as opposed to a whistle-blower? I can certainly accept it was a hacker; I'd just like to see actual evidence rather than interested parties assertions. Let's face it, if you're a police officer and you've spent years investigating something fruitlessly, it's a lot more impressive to say you were trying to track a sophisticated hacker, than that you were looking for a whistle-blower.

Second, as for epistemic bubble, I would say the emails revealed that climate science was being practiced by some in a fashion very unlike science, and more akin to sociological research. I was stunned at how defensive and anti-science many of the researchers were: they did not seem to care about what the scientific truth was; they already knew it and simply wanted to defend their work by viciously attacking and smearing any who dared disagree with them. This brought to public light the fact that reconstructions were often statistically shoddy, the computer model released along with the code was dreadfully buggy as even the maintainer admitted. Examine the code for yourself, as I did.

Key to the scientific method is that we rigorously test results and hypotheses. If they cannot be independently confirmed then we move on. Those in climate gate were revealed to be actively resisting this process.

In fairness to climate scientists in general; only a small number seem to be that extreme; moreover, recent revelations have exposed some quite shoddy scientific publications in the fields of epidemiology and psychology. Moreover, I don't think anyone set out to behave in a fraudulent and corrupt fashion: I simply think some people confused activism with science.

Global warming is real; it is not a fraud. But the anti-science behavior of a small number of people should disturb us all. We cannot form good public policy on the basis of exaggerations, distortions or the rejection of sound scientific principles. That point applies certainly to oil industry attacks on AGW; it applies equally to AGW's most fervent believers in catastrophe.

-Holmwood

more than 2 years ago
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Bev Harris of Black Box Voting Releases Accenture's Voting Software

Holmwood Re:This will be really interesting (245 comments)

I'm on the conservative/libertarian side of things most (but not all) days, but the quote is real, assuming you accept the NY Times as a source.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/09/business/machine-politics-in-the-digital-age.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

The context is important; O'Dell wrote this as a Bush fundraiser in a fundraising letter, not in his role as Diebold president. That said, reverse it, if he'd been a Kerry/Obama backer and done the same; Republicans would be rightly very suspicious.

We've had issues with robocalls and funding irregularities in Canada, but not, as far as I am aware, any significant credible allegations of ballot or vote fraud.

In the last couple of elections, where I live, we've used paper ballots (filled out with a pen) sometimes coupled with optical scan. (The disabled can have someone assist them.) This provides a surprisingly useful audit trail. (e.g. consider a box filled with ballot papers all marked for one candidate, all with a very unusual pen colour. Don't laugh, it's happened in places like Texas).

Voters are enumerated, door-to-door by multi-party teams of volunteers. To vote you have to show photo id. Felons and prisoners are able to vote; we think it's unfair to deny politicians the vote. I strongly suspect the level of voter fraud and machine politics is substantially lower than the US; history generally seems to bear this out.

The Canadian system is far from perfect, though I'm inclined to think, like the banking system up here, it's somewhat superior to the current US system.

more than 2 years ago

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