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Machine Learning Expert Michael Jordan On the Delusions of Big Data

Mostly a lurker Re:zomg singularity! (145 comments)

I was disappointed at how in claiming a never-ending increase in the pace of technological advancement, Kurzweil never dealt with the regulatory and consumer factors, and the whole notion of how humans perceive time in general. The wheels of government can only move so fast, and so mankind's access to radical new technology outside the lab (e.g. self-driving cars, new medical tech) must slow down to match the speed of regulatory agencies.

You make some good points. However, I believe the march towards the singularity will march inexorably forward for one (highly undesirable) reason: the insatiable appetite of the leaders of nations for power. The populations of those countries will not even be allowed to know much of what is being developed with hundreds of billions of their tax dollars, but technologies that leaders perceive could enhance their ability to dominate the world will be financed. There will be no regulation. If you want to know the state of the art in visual recognition, you should look at military applications: robot soldiers and autonomous drones. For applications of big data (especially its usefulness in widespread blackmailing activities) then, in spite of some initial missteps, look at the pervasive collection of data by the world's "intelligence agencies".

about a week ago
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Manga Images Depicting Children Lead to Conviction in UK

Mostly a lurker Distasteful stuff, but should not be illegal (474 comments)

The laws against child pornography should be aimed at protecting children from exploitation, not in making morality statements. Cartoon drawings of children engaging in sex acts certainly indicate people with pretty sick imaginations, but no children are hurt in their creation or consumption. I have seen worse on walls in public washrooms.

about two weeks ago
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Designing Tomorrow's Air Traffic Control Systems

Mostly a lurker What is new? (72 comments)

I cannot find much detail on this, but it sounds suspiciously like well known techniques for avoiding congestion in complex systems that I learned in queuing theory over 40 years ago.

about two weeks ago
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Can ISO 29119 Software Testing "Standard" Really Be a Standard?

Mostly a lurker Re:Where is the standard????????? (152 comments)

I guess the website's testing process failed to catch the edge case where someone wanted to navigate past the home page.

about 2 months ago
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Scientists Baffled By Unknown Source of Ozone-Depleting Chemical

Mostly a lurker No data, so choose your favorite villain (303 comments)

Since the source is completely unclear, most posters will blindly assume it is the fault of whichever group is their bête noire. Some favorites will likely be China, North Korea and Russia, but use your imagination folks. There is just as much evidence that it is caused by evil bankers, genetically modified foods, pedophiles or US militarism.

about 2 months ago
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Scientists Find Traces of Sea Plankton On ISS Surface

Mostly a lurker Hitchhiker's explanation (117 comments)

Presumably, someone has been using the infinite improbability drive.

about 2 months ago
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EFF: US Gov't Bid To Alter Court Record in Jewel v. NSA

Mostly a lurker Re:Duh! (78 comments)

Considering the request to rewrite the record also required the falsification to be secret, how would we know how many times this has been done in the past. We only know that this is the first time such a request has been rejected. I personally suspect it might only have been rejected because of the large number of witnesses of the original hearing.

about 3 months ago
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Put Your Code in the SWAMP: DHS Sponsors Online Open Source Code Testing

Mostly a lurker Looks good to me (67 comments)

The knee jerk reaction, of course, is to look for a catch in anything Homeland Security is doing. However, this seems like a really good idea. Finally, they are contributing in a positive way to public safety.

about 3 months ago
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Meet Carla Shroder's New Favorite GUI-Textmode Hybrid Shell, Xiki

Mostly a lurker Re:Welcome to Macintosh Programmers Workshop, 1985 (176 comments)

Believe it or not, using 2260 terminals connected to an IBM 360 mainframe running MVT/ASP, I was able to rerun commands anywhere on the screen back in 1973!

about 4 months ago
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Can Reactive Programming Handle Complexity?

Mostly a lurker Performance nightmare in practice (149 comments)

A lot of what is in the example reminds me of a 4GL I worked with in the 1980s that had a feature called "computed fields". The idea is extremely nice conceptually, and seems to nest nicely, as well as be easily integrated with other functionality. The main problem is performance. Some pretty smart people worked on the tools, but (with the complexity of real life systems) you tend to end up with the same values being continually recalculated. It turns out that (because of the generality of the functionality, and the inability to predict when values will be updated or queried) it is extremely difficult to suppress these duplicate calculations. A typical application developer will create code that results in values being recalculated thousands of times in a single transaction. The problem is both worse and more intractable than is experienced with computed columns in spreadsheets.

about 8 months ago
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Feds Confiscate Investigative Reporter's Confidential Files During Raid

Mostly a lurker Re:Constitution free zone (622 comments)

Next they will start to shoot journalists

They need plausible deniability, so I doubt it. There have probably been some staged accidents, and it is worth remembering that the US did bomb the Al Jazeera offices in Baghdad. The considered attack on the Al Jazeera world headquarters in Qatar was probably only rejected because there was no good way to make it look like an accident.

1 year,4 days
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Feds Confiscate Investigative Reporter's Confidential Files During Raid

Mostly a lurker Re:I donâ(TM)t suppose... (622 comments)

There is an assumption here that due process will be followed against those "guilty" of talking to journalists. That is naive. In US government agencies (whatever the written regulations or law might specify) only those specifically cleared to speak with the media are allowed to do so. Once it is known by the heads of those agencies that someone has broken this unwritten rule, they will get him, legal niceties be damned.

1 year,4 days
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UK High Court Gives OK To Investigation of Data Siezed From David Miranda

Mostly a lurker Democracy doomed? (165 comments)

Democracy only works if those in power are committed to its preservation. Important policies and actions need to be discussed and public opinion allowed to influence final decisions. There is ample evidence that the U.S. and some other older democracies no longer really want their people involved in important decision making. They need to pay lip service to the concept. However, a combination of lies, secrecy and manipulation (partly by politicians themselves and partly by well funded PACs) ensure informed participation from the general population is next to impossible.

"Democracy" and "human rights" in these countries will no doubt remain for a long time as key justifications for very undemocratic foreign policies, but are well on the way to being dead in any meaningful sense.

about a year ago
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UK High Court Gives OK To Investigation of Data Siezed From David Miranda

Mostly a lurker Guilty! (165 comments)

... the police will now be allowed to examine the material to investigate whether a crime of 'communication of material to an enemy' has been committed

Miranda is clearly guilty, then, as he certainly communicated embarrassing information to dirty red commie journalists.

Sadly, many Western governments are unable to carry out some actions they want to if the general public knows about them, simply because most people consider them immoral and unacceptable. They are, then, presented with a dilemma. They can stop doing things their electorate would find objectionable, they can try to eliminate the ability of the electorate to influence government, or they can lie about what they are doing and try to keep it secret. The third is impossible if people like Snowden are allowed to tell people what their government is doing on their behalf.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Way To Work On Projects While Traveling?

Mostly a lurker Re:Hard to comment without more specifics (273 comments)

Over the last 30 years or so, I have spent lesser or greater periods in over 50 countries. However, the last ten years have been mainly in South East Asia. I use Bangkok Thailand as my base and travel around from there.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Way To Work On Projects While Traveling?

Mostly a lurker Hard to comment without more specifics (273 comments)

I left England in 1979 and have been living and working in different places around the world ever since.

IMHO, your basic idea is right. Combine work you want to do with traveling and experiencing all the world has to offer. Those suggesting you simply skip working for a few years have no idea how difficult it can be to get back into the swim later.

Issues such as visas, living costs, easy access to good Internet connections and an environment conducive to working effectively vary tremendously from place to place. [If you have ideas about where you might go, and let me know, I might be able to provide more specific advice.]

Here are some pointers that you will probably not receive from others, especially those who have not done it. First and foremost, you need a clear plan on work/life balance and you need to be disciplined on adhering to it. I have seen many intelligent and talented people, faced with the temptations that exist in many parts of the world, simply self destruct because they lack structure in their lives. That does not mean you cannot take periods of a month or two to concentrate on traveling and enjoying life in a way that cannot easily be combined with work. It does mean that, any time you do this, you should set yourself a time limit for returning to your more structured lifestyle and stick to that time limit.

If staying more than a couple of weeks anywhere, try to escape from traveler ghettos and immerse yourself in the local culture. For instance, rent a room in an area where few foreigners live and eat in the places frequented by locals. This will take you out of your comfort zone, but will teach you more in a week about the realities of the society you are in than a year in a backpacker guest house.

If you have specific questions, ask away!

about a year and a half ago
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Using Truth Serum To Confirm Insanity

Mostly a lurker Re:who else is insane? (308 comments)

If somebody was ordering assassinations of children just for the lulz and for minor economic gain , then yes, they'd be insane.

I think each individual involved in the decision to pick wars with strangers the other end of the world has his own justifications (rationalizations), but the fundamental rational is major financial gain for those involved in the defense industry. For the average American (let alone the poor inhabitants of the countries chosen as battlefields) spending of about $700,000,000,000 a year (an average of about $7,000 for each payer of federal taxes) to build the capability to blow people up at will makes no sense. However, for a small minority, wars are an amazing opportunity to profit.

about a year and a half ago
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Aaron Swartz Commits Suicide

Mostly a lurker Suicide? If so, why? (589 comments)

Most likely, it was suicide. Here are the most obvious alternatives:

  1. Government sanctioned assassination: possible, but unlikely. Certainly, under sufficiently important conditions, the government is willing to resort to this. It would need to be something like Aaron stumbling across evidence of a 9-11 cover-up as part of his Wkileaks activities. Nothing we already know about would be sufficient reason.
  2. Non-government murder: possible, but very unlikely. There is no indication that he was in serious conflict with anyone.
  3. Auto erotic accident: in his case, almost impossible. He would have been aware of the risks and too smart to suffer this.

If it was suicide, then what was the ultimate trigger? Bear in mind that suicide (at least, in modern Western societies) is rarely the result of the single event.

  1. Acute depression with no particular cause: most probable. It would be interesting to know if his long-standing problems with episodes of depression were being treated, and (if so) how. Drug treatments are usually effective against acute depression, though this varies from person to person and relief of symptoms is usually not immediate, and long term drug use often subject to side effects and reduced effectiveness. Cognitive therapies are usually only effective against mild to moderate depression.
  2. Legal problems: unlikely as a major cause. I personally believe he would have relished fighting his legal persecution. Any suicide as a reaction to the prospect of a long prison sentence would have needed the case to be much further advanced.
  3. Blackmail (by the government): very possible. Many people have secrets (often not illegal) that they desperately want to keep from others. Given his involvement with Wikileaks, the government would definitely have tried to blackmail him if they had anything they could use for that purpose.
  4. Personal relationship problems: possible, but no evidence to support that theory.

Really, there is nothing except supposition to support foul play. Without something concrete to go on, his family and close friends should be left to grieve in peace.

RIP, Aaron. I only know you through your Internet freedom advocacy, but regret your passing.

about 2 years ago
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Why JavaScript Is the New Perl

Mostly a lurker Re:I don't.. (453 comments)

[1]The sole exception I am aware of is Forth. That is truly a write-only language.

You have obviously never seen Brainfuck or any large program written in APL. They both make figuring out Forth programs seem like a breeze.

about 2 years ago

Submissions

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Mostly a lurker Mostly a lurker writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Mostly a lurker (634878) writes "I am preparing to reorganise my primary desktop (again). I need to be mobile, so I actually use a Shuttle XPC with a couple of sizeable harddrives rather than using a separate server for file storage. Mostly, I run completely within VMware virtual machines as this allows quick and easy switching between different test and stable environments. My preferred host is Linux but, every now and again, I need access to some piece of hardware that mandates that I boot up Windows. Thus, I need a dual boot MS Windows, Linux setup with:
  • very little installed in these host systems I boot into;
  • virtual machines on filesystems that are portable between Linux and Windows;
  • shared filesystems that are accessed (read/write) by many different Linux, Windows and occasionally other virtual machines.
I am most interested in having a solution that is robust. Performance is also important, but not at the expense of reliability. Selective compression would be nice (for instance, I keep commonly used CD/DVD images on disk and some compress nicely).

I do not regard these as exotic requirements in 2006, but (unless I am missing something) all available solutions fall short in one way or another:
  1. FAT32 — This seems the only fully supported solution. Irrecoverable filesystem corruption is always a risk and performance is pretty poor.
  2. Ext2 Installable File System for Windows — This looks like a possible solution as I use Linux most of the time. Essentially, it seems to allow full Ext3 filesystem support for Linux and limited Ext3 filesystem support for Windows. Most of the restrictions under Windows I could live with, but I am uncomfortable with the lack of journaling support. It is also unclear to me how robust a solution this would be generally.
  3. Mount Everything 3.0 , a commercial product from Paragon that has full Ext2/Ext3 support: unclear whether this has any major advantages over the free version;
  4. ReiserDriver — At one time, this was a promising project to provide ReiserFS support under Windows. Unfortunately, development seems to have stopped and I doubt it would be robust enough for my purposes.
  5. NTFS — An NTFS solution of some kind is the way I am leaning right now. There are all kinds of attempts at NTFS support under Linux. To summarise the main ones I am aware of
    • standard Linux 2.6 NTFS driver: full read support, limited write support; robust, but inadequate for my purposes;
    • ntfsmount, a FUSE based driver by Yura Pakhuchiy: less limited write support, stability questionable; unless someone can convince me otherwise, the limitations will still be too severe and the reliability too uncertain for my purposes;
    • ntfs-3g, an extension of ntfsmount by Szabolcs Szakacsits: very exciting new option, but very new; has full read/write support and, seemingly, excellent performance; this may be the solution in six months, but I am not brave enough to risk my primary work box to it right now;
    • Paragon NTFS for Linux 5.0, a commercial driver provising full read/write support; I have heard criticisms that this is not robust, and performance is said to be mediocre; interested in further opinions;
    • Captive NTFS, another FUSE based solution by Jan Kratochvil; this provides a wrapper around the standard NTFS filesystem driver; the project seemed to lose steam for a while, but has had a recent new lease of life; I am very interested in opinions on the general state of this project;
I am wondering if I am missing an obvious alternative approach here. Are there others with similar problems? What have you come up with?"

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