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ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

Mr_Wisenheimer US Children would be singing in the streets. . . (544 comments)

. . . school's out forever!

Education in the US is like media in the digital age. When you have the potential for unlimited consumption, you do not appreciate what you have. Only when it is a scarce commodity does a population appreciate the value of education.

3 hours ago

Navy Guilty of Illegally Broad Online Searches: Child Porn Conviction Overturned

Mr_Wisenheimer Re:When the cat's absent, the mice rejoice (285 comments)

I disagree.

Presuming that you subscribe to the notion that uploading child pornography should be a crime (which indeed it is by federal law), then it is not unreasonable to open an investigation into any computer located in the US which is openly offering to upload child pornography.

There is nothing wrong with "casting a wide net" in a situation like this, because the only IP's you are going to snag are those used to commit crimes. I would see it as similar to installing a license plate reader at a toll plaza that triggers an alarm when a stolen car passes by.

Now, there are some specific issues I think are relevant.

1) There is not a lot of evidence that most people who share this material are actually involved in harming children in any way.

2) Even being accused of such a crime can cause irreparable harm to someone.

3) Many of the IP's involved may be compromised in some way or used by someone who is not the owner, someone likely to suffer significant social, legal, financial, and occupational consequences even if the charges are dismissed.

But those concerns aside, what the agent did was perfectly appropriate and lawful. The conviction was thrown out not because "casting a wide net" in this regard is unconstitutional, but because he did not have law enforcement authority over civilians per the federal code, so basically, it was thrown out on a technicality designed to keep the military out of police work.

2 days ago

Microsoft Killing Off Windows Phone Brand Name In Favor of Just Windows

Mr_Wisenheimer I switched to Android when the new OS was released (352 comments)

The old Windows CE based OS's were the most open devices on the market, but with the new OS, Microsoft has gone the Apple route, which is a shame.

The new Windows Phones are very friendly to the unsophisticated consumer, perhaps even more so than the iPhone, but they were so slow to react to the iPhone and lost so much market share that I'm not sure the product will ever be the success it once was.

That said, it is smart to integrate Windows RT and Windows Phone.

Their biggest challenge is to convince developers to actually release for this OS. They are far behind since deciding to kill off open development and switch to the iOS model of software sales.

5 days ago

Low-Carb Diet Trumps Low-Fat Diet In Major New Study

Mr_Wisenheimer Re:Another wasted research project (588 comments)

If you do not already understand the difference between a publisher and a website selling a product, I'm not sure that I can enlighten you. In Nature, the peer-reviewed research is produced primarily in academia, government, and other non-profits. Nature simply publishes the result of their research the same way that Slashdot publishes your comments.

Also, your claim that you "made no claims" is false. You made all sorts of claims in your original post, which is why I responded. "Reciting knowledge" is synonymous with making a claim. That is why when you read published peer reviewed research, all "knowledge" that is "recited" is referenced to a specific credible source rather than simply presented as true without reference.

You are not "required" to do anything, but failing to provide credible sources to support your claim means that the claim should be assumed to be invalid and dismissed as not credible.

And yes, I studied science in school, so my professors did not simply recite things without showing they were true. They showed us how to derive proofs from first principals and, when questioned, always provided evidence to back up any claim they were making. They either proved it themselves, assigned to us to prove it, or referenced a credible source where it was proved or evidenced empirically. Anyone who says, "you should believe me because I have a PhD" has no business in academia. All of our textbooks listed their references and sources.

Good teachers do not want you to "trust" them. They want you to challenge them because they know they make mistakes all the time, just like everyone else. Science is all about challenging anything and everything people believe and teach. That is why it works.

Also, as I pointed out, anything "may cause cancer". Saccharine has been extensively studied and constantly failed to provide any evidence of causing human cancers. Claiming it "may cause cancer" is a weasel word.

about a week ago

Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

Mr_Wisenheimer I would wear Google glasses first. . . (471 comments)

I am one of those anachronistic people who still wears a watch. A good Swiss watch starts at about the same price as a high-end smart watch. It's rugged, it keeps time for years or even decades without needing a battery (depending on whether it is quartz or automatic). You can dive much deeper with a good watch than you can hold your breath. The watch face is made of hard crystal and the case of thick metal to protect it from damage. People are still handing down to their great grandchildren their Rolex's and Omegas they got back during WWII. It also puts the most relevant information, which is they time, at your fingertips.

Smart watches are all incredibly flawed in some way. Apple's watch face looks rugged but the case is flimsy and the bezel is a huge point of failure and easily smashed by anyone who is active. Apple uses a backlit LCD, so the charge will not last very long. It certainly is not something meant for active people. You won't be able to take it with you into the field. Other watches use e-ink, so they have less of a problem with the battery, but they usually are not rugged devices.

And, to top things off, the only thing you really need to keep constant track of is the time. It's not that hard to stop and glance at your smartphone if you really need to check messages. The watch really adds very little.

Compare that to Google glasses. They actually have novel uses, such as working as a poor-man's heads up display so you can see navigation information while you drive, fly, bike, or walk. I see people staring at their cell phones all the time as they walk and drive, so at least the google glasses fits into that paradigm and makes the activity safer. I can see a future for Google glasses, because there are so many potential killer apps. The only killer app for watches is telling time, and many watches already do it better.

about a week ago

UN Study Shows Record-High Increases For Atmospheric CO2 In 2013

Mr_Wisenheimer Re:Tomorrow doesn't have a climate (427 comments)

Newtonian mechanics are the integral of quantum mechanics, so we will never understand how to build a rocket to the moon or a 100 story skyscraper until we fully understand quantum gravity. . . clearly.

about a week ago

UN Study Shows Record-High Increases For Atmospheric CO2 In 2013

Mr_Wisenheimer Re:Meanwhile in the real world... (427 comments)

Hot years are not incompatible with a "hiatus" in lower atmosphere warming. Obviously, more recent years are going to be the hottest even if global warming stopped completely, because global cooling would be required to return to where we were in the past.

The Earth has continued to warm the past decade, just at a much more modest rate than it had been warming in the 1990's or even since the 1950's.

The reason is because the bulk of that extra heat is not being stored in the lower atmosphere like it was in the 1990's. More likely it has been absorbed in large part by the oceans.

about a week ago

UN Study Shows Record-High Increases For Atmospheric CO2 In 2013

Mr_Wisenheimer Re:Talking Point (427 comments)

Our models of gravity are constantly being adjusted. Still, they have excellent predictive power and so do climate models.

Also, different models serve different purposes. The simple models which show how much extra heat is being trapped are very straightforward and are not changed much because they have been highly accurate for the longest time.

The models that predict where that heat ends up are much more complicated and have been tweaked over decades.

The basic model is not a massive system that we know little about. It is basic undergraduate thermodynamics and astrophysics. We can measure the albedo, we can measure, the net change caused by the greenhouse effect, and we can measure the solar irradience. This is a simple system that gives us a highly accurate measurement of how much net energy is gained or lost from year to year.

The complicated part is figuring out how all that extra energy caused by the buildup of greenhouse gasses is distributed.

about a week ago

UN Study Shows Record-High Increases For Atmospheric CO2 In 2013

Mr_Wisenheimer Tomorrow doesn't have a climate (427 comments)

That is a huge mistake people keep making. Tomorrow has weather. Predicting the weather and predicting the climate are too very different things.

Predicting the climate is akin to predicting when you will need certain repairs on your car. Climatologists cannot say exactly when the median temperature will increase by 1 K, but they can say it will happen and predict about when it will happen. The engineers at BMW cannot predict exactly when your water pump will fail, but they can tell you that eventually it will fail and that it probably will fail around 150,000 km with about 10% accuracy.

Predicting the weather is akin to predicting whether your water pump will fail tomorrow. It's much harder to do. Maybe it sounds funny, but it might take months to fail. Maybe it sounds fine but develops a sudden unexpected leak.

It amazes me that with all the education we have, people are still confusing climate and weather.

about a week ago

AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

Mr_Wisenheimer Re:Broadband should be equal to broadcast quality (524 comments)

"Quality" of compressed video is a subjective standard.

For 1080p video, the only objective standard of quality is uncompressed, which is 1.24 Gb/s for a movie and nearly 3 Gb/s for a 60 FPS show or 6 Gb/s for a 60 FPS 3D movie. For 4K video we are talking about about 24 Gb/s for full quality.

Sure, you can squeeze a 1080p video down into whatever bitrate you want by lossy compression, but you lose information. What might be acceptable compression quality to you may not be acceptable to someone else. Netflix can, in theory, deliver 4K TV over a 50 Mb/s connection, but it is (at least to me) an unacceptable loss in quality. Once 4K becomes a legitimate standard, we should expect high speed broadband to be delivering data at 200 Mb/s (more or less) at a minimum. Right now, 50Mb/s is acceptable because it allows for the streaming of full quality 1080p video and for highly compressed 4K video.

Anything less that 100 Mb/s is pitifully slow and does not meet the qualitative expectation of "high speed" internet. It meets the minimum expectation for normal consumer tasks such as streaming highly compressed video.

Anything less than 10 Mb/s does not even meet that standard and it should be designed as low speed as it is inadequate for many common consumer tasks.

about a week ago

AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

Mr_Wisenheimer Broadband should be equal to broadcast quality (524 comments)

Right now, the transfer rate for 1080p blu-ray is a maximum of 40 Mb/s, so that should be defined as broadband download.

When 4K becomes a de facto standard, it should be increased to 150-200 Mb/s.

The FCC should be given the authority to regulate the terms: high speed, low speed, and medium speed for internet connections.

They should currently designate it:

HIGH SPEED: > 100 Mbs
MEDIUM SPEED: (10 Mbs, 100 Mbs)

ISPs should not be allowed to use any other qualitative terms to describe the speed of the connection.

If an ISP does not provide 10% of their download stream as upload bandwidth, they should be required to drop down to the next tier (for example, 200 Mb/s download with a 5 Mb/s upload should be described as "medium speed".

The whole "high speed broadband" term is archaic. It goes back to the day where ISDN (64-128 Kbs) or better (basically anything faster than dialup) was "high speed".

You should not be able to describe internet as high speed unless the speed is high enough for the most demanding consumer tasks, such as blu-ray streaming.

about a week ago

Is It Time To Split Linux Distros In Two?

Mr_Wisenheimer The problem with Linux is not split roles (280 comments)

After all, you can take a Windows server and essentially turn it into a desktop OS with a little tweaking. The problem with Linux is that it is very fragmented, which is Linux's greatest strength and its greatest weakness.

Linux is great for technologically savvy users who want to customize it for a specific role. It is not so great for users who lack technical expertise or the time to administer it. Linux evangelists have been claiming it would take large amounts of desktop user share from Windows. You still see some of those around, but they tend to be quieter. The Unix OS that took away Windows market share was OSX, because like Windows, it has a unified, consistent codebase and is developed to be easy for end-user.

Splitting up Linux would not suddenly make Linux server or workstation uses stronger. Most technical end users of Unix (that I have known) have switched to OSX or some combination of Windows and Unix environment (cygwin or SSH to a UNIX/Linux box). Paid development and unified code simply has advantages that Linux will probably never be able to match. All splitting up linux would accomplish is divide already scarce developer resources.

People should love (or hate) Linux for what it is, a fragmented mess for the average end user that is imminently hackable and customizable to fill any possible role by experienced users who are willing to put in the time and effort.

about a week ago

3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

Mr_Wisenheimer Re: (812 comments)

Every seat should accommodate someone that is at least 6'4". The airlines have no way to know who may be on the flight and extra-legroom seats are likely to be booked by hobbits (those under 5'11") even if they are offered, so it is not as if slightly taller people necessarily have a choice of seats.

Also, it is not as if every flier gets their choice of seats. If you are flying on business, you get the seats that are available and within the travel policy, which may not be comfortable for someone who is on the taller side of normal (6'1-6'6").

about two weeks ago

3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

Mr_Wisenheimer Re:This happened to me (812 comments)

If someone does that to me, they are going to feel my knees moving the whole flight.

I'm not sure why you even listened to that flight attendant. Next time I would just ask for her name, write it down, then put in my headphones while she blathered on and record what happened on my cell phone for what would surely be a hilarious youtube video.

about two weeks ago

3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

Mr_Wisenheimer Recline into your own space. . . (812 comments)

If airlines wish to continue to offer reclining seats, they should reconfigure them so they recline forward instead of backwards, otherwise you get this war between people who have common frequent flier etiquette (avoid reclining except during overnight flights and when you do recline, do so slowly and only a bit while looking backwards over the seat to ensure you are not tossing someone's food in their lap or damaging their electronics) and airborne bumpkins.

I've already cracked one kindle screen and gotten into a physical fight with someone on a plane because they reclined hard into my knees (and strangely both people were hobbits, only about 5'10". I suspect that non-midgets have a better understanding of the issue and are less likely to recline). Airlines either need to remove the recline function altogether or make the seats recline within a fixed shell.

about two weeks ago

How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms

Mr_Wisenheimer Re:TI calculators are not outdated, just overprice (359 comments)

Luckily for you, most of the higher-end HP calculators still have RPN support, although they dropped it from the CAS mode of the HP Prime.

about two weeks ago

Low-Carb Diet Trumps Low-Fat Diet In Major New Study

Mr_Wisenheimer Re:Another wasted research project (588 comments)

Commercial websites are designed to sell products, which is why they are generally not considered a credible source of information for the purposes of research.

Science is generally done at educational institutions as well as through recognized scientific organizations and publications.

So yes, there are some commercial sites which might be considered credible, because they are run by credible publishers like Nature Publishing Group, which runs the peer-reviewed journal and the popular science magazine

But some commercial website, hawking a diet, is not a credible source.

It is impossible to prove that a substance does not cause cancer. Your argument is invalid because there is no food in existence which we can show absolutely does not increase cancer risk. What we can say, for example, is that extensive testing has been done on substances like aspartame with no clear evidence of any increased cancer risk in humans. We cannot say, by contrast, that extensive testing has been done on organic apples or most other "natural" foods, since only artificial substances require testing to be approved for human consumption.

It is simply an illogical argument you are making because it could be made for absolutely any food or substance. If you are claiming that it increases the risk of cancer, the onus is on you to back up your beliefs by citing high quality peer reviewed research.

The scientific consensus is not that aspartame causes cancer and I defy you to actually provide valid evidence to support your claim. The scientific literature clearly shows the opposite is true. [1] Also, your claims about aspartame's insulin boosting effects is based on a small number of pilot studies, not on large scale, high quality human studies showing a real-world negative effect on human health. There is no compelling scientific evidence to demonstrate that aspartame actually causes weight-gain and I would defy you to provide it if you believe otherwise.

Finally, as I already stated, this commercial website you keep raving about is not a credible source. I am not going to waste my time reading random internet websites. You need to support your claims with credible science published in legitimate peer reviewed journals and you need to make a proper citation to the actual paper, journal, title, and date, not just say, "look at this diet website that is selling diet products". That is not a credible reference.

It is not my job to "google" scientific data to support your claims. That is a shifting the burden of proof logical fallacy. It is the job of the person making the original claim to provide credible evidence to support it, and in the case of science, that means citations to peer-reviewed publications, not writing , "Google it", or "look at this website selling diet products".

For instance, here are a couple of properly cited scientific references from the article I used as my source:

Council on Scientific Affairs. Aspartame: review of safety issues. JAMA. 1985;254:400-402.

European Food Safety Authority. Opinion on a request from the European Commission related to the 2nd ERF carcinogenicity study on aspartame. 2009. Accessed at on April 13, 2010.

Notice how the first one properly cites a publication in one of the world's most respected peer-reviewed medical journals and the second one properly cites a publication of the European Food Safety Authority. If I were to follow your example, I might just cite If you want to talk about science, you need to actually read and cite credible scientific sources, not diet websites.



about two weeks ago

Low-Carb Diet Trumps Low-Fat Diet In Major New Study

Mr_Wisenheimer Re:Another wasted research project (588 comments)

And you are missing my point, which is that you were making a lot of claims that fly in the face of what the scientific data actually shows and what the consensus is, and rather than supporting your arguments with high quality peer reviewed studies, you pointing me toward some website hawking a commercial product.

For instance, you made a claim that artificial sweeteners cause cancer, a claim that is directly contradicted by the scientific evidence.

Of the major sweeteners that have been extensively studied, there has been no compelling evidence found to indicate they raise cancer rates in humans. Take saccharine and aspartame. There have been a lot of high quality studies conducted on both of these chemicals and neither one has been found to cause human cancer.

And when I pointed this out, rather than actually admit that your claim was false or cite quality peer-reviewed evidence, you pointed me to the commercial diet website of some guy who was not even formally trained in biology or nutrition.

about two weeks ago

How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms

Mr_Wisenheimer Re:TI calculators are not outdated, just overprice (359 comments)

Most math classes that require calculators are not requirements for graduation. At least, that was the case when I was in school.

Usually only Algebra I and Geometry are mandatory and usually they do not require graphing calculators (it does not help much for geometry anyway).

about two weeks ago

How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms

Mr_Wisenheimer Re:TI calculators are not outdated, just overprice (359 comments)

More features than the 83, but I would expect that the 84 probably has more features now given that it has been in development for an extra decade. Anything the 84 is lacking can probably be added onto the calculator, other than, of course, a CAS.

about two weeks ago


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