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Harvard Scientists Say It's Time To Start Thinking About Engineering the Climate

Optic7 Yikes! (361 comments)

Let's hope that Harvard teaches their engineers more restraint, balance, common-sense, concern for the common good, and other things that are positive for society and the world than they teach their MBAs.

4 days ago
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Gridlock In Action: Retailers Demand New Regulations To Protect Consumers

Optic7 Re:Er...lobbiest fails to do job, so panic? (127 comments)

I'm not positive about the technical aspects of the chip, but just thinking about it, I don't believe that chip cards protect you from certain fraudulent transactions, like online purchases. I'm giving the website my card number, expiration date, card verification number, name, and billing address.

Someone who gains access to all that information stored by the retailer would certainly have all they need to initiate another online transaction elsewhere. The only way the bank has of preventing that would be to issue a new card number.

about two weeks ago
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AT&T To "Pause" Gigabit Internet Rollout Until Net Neutrality Is Settled

Optic7 They're bluffing (307 comments)

If they want to keep making money and not get trounced by the competition, they will eventually stop their bluff/tantrum and come back to play ball. Remember that their only current, likely avenues for growth are broadband and mobile, and mobile is probably very slow, if not at a stand-still. They can only pull this off if they no longer want to grow at a significant rate.

You can say that their competitors could do the same thing if they become Title II, but someone will choose to take the growth even under the regulation while the competition stands still.

about two weeks ago
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Gridlock In Action: Retailers Demand New Regulations To Protect Consumers

Optic7 Re:Er...lobbiest fails to do job, so panic? (127 comments)

Your guess for the cost to produce a regular credit/debit card is exactly right, but chip cards apparently cost a lot more. Bank of America sent me a new "chip-and-signature" card (yuck, why not chip-and-pin, so frustrating) after the Home Depot breach. According to this article:

"The cost to produce and distribute a card to a customer is under $2. The cost to make and distribute a chip card to a customer is between $15 and $20," says Coleman.

The last link on TFS says that just community banks and credit unions are already on the hook for $160 million. That's not even counting the banking giants. We're talking LOTS of money lost and wasted by a lot of people because of Target, Home Depot, et al being lax with their security.

about two weeks ago
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Colleges Face New 'Gainful Employment' Regulations For Student Loans

Optic7 Re:This is the latest in a long unfortunate evolut (331 comments)

Do note that this new requirement will only affect non-degree programs at public and non-profit schools, as well as all programs at for-profit schools. I don't think that's a bad idea. It prevents "Joe Bob's school of Hi-Tek" from offering a "certificate" that is completely worthless for $50k, while it doesn't touch any legitimate liberal arts degrees.

about three weeks ago
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Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare

Optic7 Re:how many small businesses has Obama killed? (739 comments)

They opposed it because they oppose everything that Obama does.
Whatever he does, they support the opposite. No one cared about Common Core originally, and it was implemented in 43 states. But as soon as Obama said it was a good idea, everyone on the started freaking out and saying it was the worst EVAH.
When he suggested bombing Syria they said no way.
When he was reluctant to bomb Russia/Ukraine they said we needed to.
If he said cyanide was toxic they would stand on the Capitol Steps and chug it just to spite him.
If he cured cancer they'd complain he was putting doctors out of work.

Yes, and here's a video reference of exactly this happening: http://www.cc.com/video-clips/...

about three weeks ago
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HP Unveils Industrial 3D Printer 10X Faster, 50% Cheaper Than Current Systems

Optic7 Re:Since this is an HP product, (111 comments)

Don't forget the clogging and drying up if you don't use the printer for a while, requiring buying new ink cartridges, or a whole new printer.

about a month ago
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2600 Profiled: "A Print Magazine For Hackers"

Optic7 Re:I don't read it (71 comments)

Yep, it's insane. Reagan and Nixon are considered "left-wing" nowadays, or at least their policies are.

about a month ago
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Solving the Mystery of Declining Female CS Enrollment

Optic7 Re:Honestly, who gives a fuck? (608 comments)

I'll grant you that this specific article was way too simplistic, but:

All of the people who rely solely on NPR for their news are misinformed.

You're way off with that one. Source: http://www.poynter.org/latest-...

about a month ago
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Incapacitating Chemical Agents: Coming Soon To Local Law Enforcement?

Optic7 Re:I guess you missed Kent State? (152 comments)

Thanks for your insightful post. It makes sense and I agree, except that I understand from first hand accounts that sometimes protests and demonstrations attract people that are there expressly to get into fights with the police, so it's not always only AFTER the melee starts that they act. Sometimes these elements actively incite the conflicts. However, that doesn't take away from your point that the police showing up in riot gear is starting with an escalation.

NPR had an article a few weeks back about exactly the kind of alternative style of policing that you describe. It's a worthy read (or listen) if you or others reading this are interested: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/25/...

about 1 month ago
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NPR: '80s Ads Are Responsible For the Lack of Women Coders

Optic7 Re:Maybe it's learning style? (786 comments)

Very insightful post, and I think it approaches at least some of the mechanisms of how this shift happened. My local NPR station finally played this story this morning, so I came back here to comment. It actually included an anecdote of a girl who started in an intro CS class in the 80s who felt (and this was reinforced by the professor) she was way behind her peers and presumably out of place because they had been programming on their PCs (specific example given was a TRS-80) for a long time already, and she had not.

So yes, this disparity in early PC ownership definitely seems to have been a factor. However, then the question becomes why did boys get PCs and not girls? The theory that the article presents is that this was influenced by the advertising of the time. Their example talked about computer ads with all guys programming and using the computer, while the one woman appears in a bikini jumping into a pool. I can see where this may have had some significant influence as well, but it probably doesn't explain everything.

The thing is we only have small tidbits of data, and it would take some serious studies to confirm why in fact women are less prone to obsessing over computers. I think a lot of the arguments on both sides, including the story (it was the ads!) and the majority of the slashdot comments (women naturally don't like computers like men do) have oversimplified everything.

It's possible that boys are naturally more attracted to computers, like I believe has been confirmed that they are more attracted to cars (supposedly even male chimps are as well). However, we won't know for sure without the studies.

about a month ago
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32 Cities Want To Challenge Big Telecom, Build Their Own Gigabit Networks

Optic7 Presumed non-compete agreement (175 comments)

Just for reference, here's an interesting bit of news from a few years ago that never seemed to get much notice, but which I think may have something to do with FIOS seemingly grinding to a halt: https://gigaom.com/2011/12/02/...

Basically, it seems to basically boil down to a secret non-compete agreement between the established wireless and wired internet providers to not invade each others markets with new competition.

about a month ago
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NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

Optic7 Re:That's great and all but... (399 comments)

I understand the reason for your earlier post better now, thanks. I can see it too. Saying that any group is better suited to something than any other group in this day and age is opening yourself up for political battles.

about a month ago
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NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

Optic7 Re:That's great and all but... (399 comments)

Yours may be the first post on Slashdot that I've seen arguing for political correctness over discussion of engineering realities getting an early +5 rating. Very interesting to see the replies to your post so far. If it had been the other way around (men more suitable than women for mars mission) and someone had complained about sexism, it would have been downmodded to oblivion and received a flood of "screw political correctness, accept the facts" replies.

As to the information related by the summary, if we extrapolate a little bit and think about colonization ideas while having to deal with similar engineering constraints, women would possibly win again. They would be able to taken frozen sperm with them to impregnate with after arrival, as opposed to having to transport couples.

about a month ago
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Pentagon Reportedly Hushed Up Chemical Weapons Finds In Iraq

Optic7 Re:Was this ever anything but a slogan for sheep ? (376 comments)

Yeah, about that. Sorry, but there was no good or even half-bad reason for a ground invasion of Iraq; only fully bad to terrible reasons, involving intelligence errors and exaggerations (about chemical weapons) and outright lies (about nuclear weapons). Many many people paid the price, and are still paying the price (we all are, actually). So yes, "Bush lied people died" is still completely applicable, and his administration is still completely deserving of the hate and vitriol that it receives and will continue to receive, probably forever.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Why Can't Google Block Spam In Gmail?

Optic7 Hard problem, but gmail is one of the better ones (265 comments)

In my experience, gmail is fairly good (the best?) about catching actual spam, but I still get both false positives and false negatives (a lot more of the former). That makes me believe that this is actually a very difficult problem to serve. The post above from someone who was a gmail engineer reinforces this impression.

However, how much spam you receive is largely under your control. I receive very little spam even in my spam folder - usually less than 5 a day. It basically boils down to keeping tight control over who gets your actual main personal email address. That should be reserved only for friends and family, and even then, I've thought about asking them to not enter my email address on any websites if I decide to change my main address some day.

Here's how I control the commercial emails (and consequently, spam):

1. You will need a domain name to use for receiving commercial emails (i.e. any website where you enter your email address), and domain hosting or at least an email forwarding service.

2. Configure the email forwarding/filtering to forward all emails or emails following a certain pattern for that domain to your real email address. I configured the option on my webhost to forward all email (a catch all, if you will), however, I've since learned that this is not the best way, because if your domain starts getting flooded with spam your domain could get blacklisted. Supposedly the best way is to configure a filter that has a "key" string. Let's say you use your initials: .jb (Joe Blow) - the filter would then only forward emails that contain .jb among the recipients' addresses.

3. Register with a unique address at each website, each store, any commercial use of your email. Ex: use spammer.com.jb@mydomain.com when you register at spammer.com. Same thing if you give your email address to any entity who is not a family member or personal friend. Now all the commercial emails will get forwarded to your real mailbox because they have the .jb key. I actually make an exception to this for banks and for things like webhosts, etc, but I'm reconsidering banks after the recent JPMorgan breach when they obtained contact info for everyone. I would still make an exception for webhosts or anything where there could be a problem if your mydomain.com is not available for some reason.

4. ???

5. Profit. I.E. as soon as you start seeing real spam (not the stuff that a lot of people incorrectly mark as spam), you will know what address they're sending to and can block them at your webhost or email forwarding service. Here are some examples of entities that I had to block because they were breached or sold my email address to spammers:

adobe.com (breach)
dropbox.com (breach)
planusa.org (unknown)
cinegearexpo.com (unknown)
equifax.com (unknown)
zappos.com (breach)
whois (open database - I use a proper domain registrar that hides my info by default now)

Bonus: another major advantage of doing this is that it makes it much much easier for you to change your main email address. You can reroute all your commercial email with one reconfiguration of your forwarder instead of having to go to each individual website to change your address.

Extra bonus: makes it super easy to setup a filter at your client or webmail to send all commercial email to a separate folder. Just filter for mydomain.com in the "to:" line.

Doing this for a few years now has really opened my eyes to how many companies and other organizations either don't give a shit about your private contact info, have shitty security, or actually sell you out for money. I was frankly surprised at some of the organizations that I had to block. Unfortunately early on in my spam-fighting days I did use my main email address on websites, and sometimes also used google's floating period or + functionality to try to individualize email addresses so I get some spam where I don't know where they obtained my address. But those are few and far between, and I've been slowly untangling myself from it to the extent that I can.

about a month and a half ago
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Axiom Open Source Camera Handily Tops 100,000 Euro Fundraising Goal

Optic7 Re: It will never get built ... (31 comments)

You're being a bit overly negative. This camera is nowhere near a RED competitor. This camera is going to be closer to a Blackmagic Production Camera competitor (which currently retails for $3k), at least in terms of hardware. In fact, their costs will likely be even lower than Blackmagic's, because they are concentrating on core features and openness, and will not include things like a video display, internal recording, etc.

about a month and a half ago
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Axiom Open Source Camera Handily Tops 100,000 Euro Fundraising Goal

Optic7 Re:It will never get built ... (31 comments)

While I agree with you that the goal of 100k Euro was a bit low (they actually ended up getting 175k Euro = 221k Dollars right now), the 350 Euro was just deposit/voucher that would allow you to buy a camera from the early batches for half the retail price. That means, you had to shell out another 2600 Euro to get the actual camera when they become available. Retail buyers will have to pay in the 5000-6000 Euro to get it.

I'm guessing that the money from this campaign will pay to build the prototype and get it ready for manufacturing, then they will probably finance the actual manufacturing run with the number of deposits/vouchers as an indicator of how much money they will actually get for selling the first batches of cameras. 175000/350 means something close to 500 deposits. 2600*500 means they're should expect to eventually get somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.3 million Euro, or about 1.65 million Dollars.

But yeah, I feel like that's a bit over-simplified and over-optimistic, especially given the delays and other issues experienced by both Digital Bolex and Blackmagic Design. They will have to demonstrate that they have things under control and are making good progress to get people to go through with the final orders. Still, I want them to succeed, and donated what small amount I could afford to help make it happen.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: An Accurate Broadband Speed Test?

Optic7 VPN improves my net performance and test results (294 comments)

I had been noticing poor performance from Youtube when watching videos (buffering, dropping to low-res, etc). Then I noticed that youtube seemed to work much better while I was connected through VPN, which is the opposite of what you would expect, at least in theory. But I realize that ISPs have been playing throttling games with large video sites like Youtube and Netflix.

However, I did another test and the results of it were more surprising for me. I have 3mbps DSL service through Verizon. If I run a test through speedtest.net, it reports right around 3mbps. However, if I connect my VPN first and then do the same test, it reports around 5mbps! How is that even possible?

Unfortunately, I feel like the VPN slows normal browsing of other sites a little bit, but I haven't done a comparison yet to confirm my perception.

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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Ask Slashdot: How to get old commercial software to be open-sourced?

Optic7 Optic7 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Optic7 (688717) writes "Many gamers have probably dreamed about the idea of an old favorite game or other no longer supported or developed commercial software being converted to an open-source license so that it could be updated to add new features, support new hardware, other operating systems, etc. However, this type of change of license seems exceedingly rare, unless the copyright holder itself decides on its own that it would be beneficial. The only examples I could think of or was able to find in a brief internet search were Blender (3D animation software that had its source code bought from creditors after a crowd-funding campaign) and Warzone 2100 (Game that had its source code released after a successful petition). With those two examples of different strategies in mind, have any of you ever participated in any efforts of this kind, and what did you learn from it that may be useful to someone else attempting the same thing? Even if you have not participated, do you have any suggestions or ideas that may be useful to such an effort?"
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Verizon and Cable Cos Enter Deal That May Freeze C

Optic7 Optic7 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Optic7 (688717) writes "A series of three articles at GigaOm describes an ominous telecommunications business deal that is taking place which will likely have a large impact on the future of competition in both the wireless and broadband markets in the United States:

"Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks are selling off the spectrum remnants of their stillborn wireless venture, SpectrumCo, to Verizon Wireless for $3.6 billion. The deal would allow Verizon to double-up on its LTE network — in some regions triple up — creating huge overhead for future mobile broadband growth."

For a variety of reasons the government will be less likely to attempt to block this deal, in contrast with how they have handled AT&T's $39 Billion bid to buy T-Mobile, even though the deal, which includes secret agreements among the companies involved, shows signs that it will virtually eliminate any new or real competition for internet access in the US:

"This is the crystalline moment when the division of the marketplace becomes completely clear, even to people who haven't been paying attention. VZ and ATT get wireless; cable gets wires; consumers are stuck. Wireless, like wired high-speed access already wholly dominated by the cable companies, is a natural monopoly service at this point, with incredibly high barriers to entry — so high that even current players, like T-Mo, are having trouble making it. Clearwire [WiMax] has nowhere to go at this point. So we have the worst of all worlds: no competition, and no regulatory oversight.""

Link to Original Source
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Gel Found to Reduce AIDS Risk in Women

Optic7 Optic7 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Optic7 (688717) writes "A medical trial in South Africa has found that a gel containing an antiretroviral drug has significantly reduced the risk of women contracting HIV up to 54% compared to placebo depending on how closely the women followed the protocol. The best article about it that I have found so far has been at the Washington Post:

"The material came packed in syringe-like applicators. A woman was instructed to inject the gel into her vagina no more than 12 hours before intercourse and again within 12 hours afterward (but with no more than two applications in a 24-hour period). Each woman got a monthly AIDS test, and the researchers collected used and unused applicators to verify the women's reports of whether they were using them.

At the end of 2 1/2 years, there were 98 infections in the 889 women. The HIV incidence, measured as the number of new infections for every 100 "women years" in the study, was 5.6 in the volunteers using the tenofovir gel and 9.1 in those with the placebo gel.

That amounted to a prevention effectiveness of 39 percent. Among women who said they used the gel for at least 80 percent of episodes of intercourse, the effectiveness was 54 percent.""

Link to Original Source
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Major Voter Protection Effort Launched For 2008

Optic7 Optic7 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Optic7 (688717) writes "With early voting,registration and absentee deadlines looming, Election Protection launched its 2008 general election efforts today. The nation's largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, representing more than 100 organizations and the full spectrum of American citizens, will undertake the most comprehensive effort ever undertaken to empower voters to make sure their vote counts this November 4.

They will be needing volunteers, so here's a chance for all Slashdotters to participate and help us all have a smoother election this time around. If you would like to know more about the organization, the New York Times recently wrote about them (linked through Google in order to avoid the New York Times login)."

Link to Original Source
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Transitioning From Windows Admin To Linux Admin?

Optic7 Optic7 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Optic7 (688717) writes "I've been a Windows IT guy for many years, doing my fair bit of systems and network admin, deskside support, etc. I find myself increasingly tired and bored with with the Windows IT world so have been looking for a change. I looked at Cisco and even got my CCNA but find the pure networking stuff kind of dull as well. I've had a long-time interest in Unix and Linux, but never did much about it other than play with it occasionally and install a few different distros, and nothing much beyond that. Now I'm seriously thinking about jumping into Linux admin work with both feet and seeing what happens.

My question is what do you think is the best way to make such a transition? I'm currently studying for the LPI certification, and also plan on doing LFS based on recommendations I've read from fellow Slashdotters. But would anyone hire me as even a junior Linux admin without having any real-world business experience with it? What are some things that would increase my chances of that happening? Is there anything else, any other avenues that I'm not thinking of?

How the heck do you get started in a Linux admin career?"
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Gnucash 2.2.0 released, now stable for windows

Optic7 Optic7 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Optic7 (688717) writes "I just happened to visit Gnucash's site to download it and noticed that they have just released the new stable version, 2.2.0, today. This also marks the first stable Gnucash release for Windows. It seems that the Windows port is also the main feature of this new release. If you are not familiar with Gnucash, it is an open source alternative to Quicken and Microsoft Money. Visit their website to read more, or head straight for the downloads."
Link to Original Source
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Optic7 Optic7 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Optic7 (688717) writes "NPR reports that a new study by Harvard and the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that nutrition studies funded by food companies are almost eight times more likely to reach a conclusion beneficial to the food companies than similar, independently funded studies. New Scientist has also done a story on this, if you prefer to read instead of listen to the NPR story."
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Optic7 Optic7 writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Optic7 (688717) writes "Given the interest garnered here by stories about classic adventure games, Slashdot readers are sure to be interested to hear that 1up is reporting that Sierra is about to release compilations of all of their famous and classic adventure games series either this Friday or Monday. The series compilations to be released include: King's Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, and Leisure Suit Larry.

I hope they don't forget to do this for Quest for Glory as well."

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