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Mysterious, Phony Cell Towers Found Throughout US

Orp Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (237 comments)

I never did that but a long time ago (80s) I did listen to some fascinating conversations broadcast in the clear around 1.7 MHz - just past the AM band - off of a cordless phone somewhere near my neighborhood. I had an old Hallicrafters shortwave radio that weighed nearly as much as I did (even more with the big external speaker). I don't remember the details of the conversations, only that it was mostly stupid stuff as would be expected.

about 1 month ago

NSF Researcher Suspended For Mining Bitcoin

Orp $150k? (220 comments)

I do most of my research on supercomputers. "Servcie Units" (SU's) are the currency on these machines. They are usually either node hours or core hours. Typical allocations are in the hundreds of thousands to millions of SUs.

I don't know what formula they used to come up with a dollar value. It would be nice to know, however, as I am in academia where real dollar grants get all the attention since they come with that sweet overhead. I'm sure my dean would appreciate the symbolism of getting the college overhead in SU's (and converting them to dollars).

But seriously, these machines are up 24/7 (unless down for hardware fault or maintenance) and while I'm sure they draw more current when the CPU is pegged if this guy was mining bitcoins with his allocation then really all he did was go against the terms of his allocation. Those SUs would have either been wasted or used up anyway. But you just don't mine bitcoin on federal supercomputers, man. Dick move.

I hope he at least used GPU accelerators with his code, the bastard.

about 4 months ago

Who controls the HVAC at work?

Orp Hate Variable Air Contraption (216 comments)

I have had an office in three different buildings on campus of my university. The first office was fine. I had a situation in the second building where the noise was in violation of Eurpoean Union standards for noise (I had the level measured with a SPL meter) but a couple of dB too low for OSHA. It was maddening; for months I begged facilities to address the issue. The office suite I was in had been converted from a lecture hall and there was this major HVAC hub above my desk, and it turned out they had the pressure way to high flowing through the vents. I wore earplugs a lot.

In the third building I am in, I have a situation where the temperature fluctuates about 15 degrees F daily. Yes, I measured this and plotted it with a little weather tracker. In this case, the thermostat for the office is located in another office. And the university spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate this old building. I guess that's what happens when you always take the lowest bidder.

I am rather sensitive to noise so I'd rather have the fluctuation temperatures in a quiet office than pleasant temperatures in a noisy office, and I understand that when you remodel you might get weird results like this. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to strangle people.

about 5 months ago

Google Shifts Editing From Drive to Docs and Sheets In 'Confusing' Switch

Orp Re:Does anyone even use Google's office suite? (89 comments)

I use it for "simple" stuff - for instance, it's very convenient to have a place to take notes at meetings (I do a lot of that with my job). Since I always have wifi where I work it's just a matter of opening up the Drive website and creating a new document. And then everything's in one place and it's easy to find stuff with Google's search, which works on document names and document contents.

I do create some "production quality" documents from within the Docs world, and export them to PDF or DOCX so I can share. But these documents are generally simple; the complex stuff I do in LaTeX. I really do not like Word with its seven thousand ways to frustrate me and the weird layout that I've never really gotten used to since they majorly changed it years ago. Libreoffice and Google's docs editor are nice and relatively simple and I find them easier to use. But I go back to Word when I have to which is frequently since "everyone" seems to use it.

It's convenient to have the ability to open attachments (from Gmail) in Drive/docs for quick viewing, but stuff created in Microsoft's Office doesn't always convert very well.

I fully realize what Google is doing by "sucking me in" to their world and having everything I do be stored on their servers. Ever since I bought a Chromebook Pixel and got the 1 TB of Drive space, I'm always finding ways to use it. I know they just want to harvest everything I do - so for the sensitive stuff I have an encrypted (ecryptfs) partition with Dropbox that I can mount on my Linux machines, and for wholesale archival storage of sensitive stuff I use PGP and stick it wherever. If Google Drive allowed the ability to mount the drive partition under Linux like Dropbox does, I would probably "drop the box" altogether.

about 6 months ago

How much time do you spend gaming compared to 10 years ago?

Orp About the same... (270 comments)

...which is not at all. Thankfully I was never bitten by the gaming bug, and I have a computer in front of me about eight hours a day.

I think I made it through 10 minutes of Zork one day in the 80s. All those damned twisty little passages.

about 8 months ago

Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

Orp The Why (is obvious) (2219 comments)

If you want to know "why" do a Google Trends search on slashdot. You see something that looks like e^-x, asymptoting towards zero.

It's pretty bloody obvious what's going on. A company has a unique asset, this asset is not making them money. I can sort of sympathize with this. You gotta pay the bills, right? So they try to broaden their audience (no quotations, I get that too). But as all the old timers have said - repeatedly - they only come to the site for the comments, and WE ARE THE MOTHERFUCKING COMMENTS. This has to drive marketing nuts, I suppose. There are a bunch of other more "fun" sites out there where idiots can blather on about crap. Slashdot is unique in that it has a highly technical/educated audience and a good moderation system (hah, I remember the uproar over the current comment system when it first came out, or was tweaked - somehow people DO get used to these things!).

I think the reason why you're not seeing Dice or whoever ask for the opinion of the current folks who use slashdot, is that they already know the answer. It's not about you/us - it's about getting new people on board. The problem is, that is a losing proposition. Slashdot's readership/writership really goes back to the USENET days of absolutely no moderation and a has a free-for-all meritocracy mentality. Slashdot has been around for long enough that I think your audience has already found you. We're already here. We are middle-aged highly educated highly opinionated nerds who have dealt with enough corporate horseshit to see through these things. Sorry about that.

There is a pretty high level of childish vitriol that permeates this site. If you don't at least throw us a few crumbs a lot of the crap that goes on at -1 will get a hell of a lot worse. Your audience will turn against you and that will drive away the folks who make the site work. There are alternatives. Christ, with the dwindling number of commenters, you could probably host a slashdot-like site on any of the many cloud server type places out there.

Tread carefully, corporate folks. And it wouldn't hurt if you just accepted the fact that slashdot isn't something that's going to make you money. Maybe you can leverage slashdot in other ways to sell other stuff, I don't know. But if you fuck with your nerdbase they will fuck with you twice as hard. I don't envy your position and I truly hope you find a solution that meets your objectives... keeping the old timers happy while injecting a few audience base. But you should probably try a new approach. Have you considered sending out a survey-monkey type thing to gauge exactly what the old timers are willing to concede/put up with rather than just dumping it on us?

about 8 months ago

Voynich Manuscript May Have Originated In the New World

Orp Interconnected tubs? (170 comments)

Sounds Roman.

about 9 months ago

Solar Lull Could Cause Colder Winters In Europe

Orp Re:Before this turns into a derpfest... (320 comments)

His comment sounds like utter bullshit though. You can put all the CO2 in an atmosphere you want. If you don't have solar flux the heat on the surface will be minimal. One good example is Mars. There have been plenty of examples along history of temperatures decreasing by more than .1 or .3 Celsius even when there were no humans on the planet.

Ok Dr. Bagel. You win. I'll go burn my diploma, tell my colleagues at NCAR to eat a bag of dicks, and await your clearly superior intellect to publish that which is something other than 'utter bullshit'.

Since you are clearly an expert on the subject of the sound of bullshit, please, o wise one: Exactly what does utter bullshit sound like? As opposed to just plain bullshit? Do the flies buzz louder?

about 9 months ago

Solar Lull Could Cause Colder Winters In Europe

Orp Re:Not the sun (320 comments)

do you realize that the best possible thing to happen to a scientist is for him/her to make a discovery that tosses the widely accepted hypotheses on their head?

You clearly haven't done much research. As one guy used to say science progresses when the last generation dies. That's how fossilized fields become when all the people doing peer review have the same mindset.

Maybe I should have said "successfully publish a discovery" blah blah. If you don't believe that, well, talk to Einstein, Bohr, Watson, Crick, Darwin, etc. etc. etc.

about 9 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What's the Most Often-Run Piece of Code -- Ever?

Orp Re:Bios code? (533 comments)

I would probably have to say whatever is the inner loop on the system idle process in windows.

Ding, we have a winner. Not supercomputer code. Sure, supercomputers are... super and all, but the biggest one only has around 1 million processing cores. How many windoze machines are out there, idling away?

about 9 months ago

Solar Lull Could Cause Colder Winters In Europe

Orp Re:Not the sun (320 comments)

On the other hand the "alarmist" logic is: "we already know the cause of the warming, it is humans saturating the atmosphere with too much CO2, we just need to gather and/or create the evidence to support this theory". That's called inductive logic, and is just as unscientific as what you describe coming from the "denialists".

"Real" science comes from gathering evidence and basing your theories on the evidence gathered. You then determine what it might take to falsify your theory and try as hard as possible to falsify it.

All I see from the "alarmist" camp is people trying to support their theories at all costs, calling things causation where there is barely correlation, and making very little if any effort to falsify their theories. This behavior is more akin to religion than any sort of science.

False equivalency is false.

Guess what? A lot of the "alarmist" are the same scientists doing the research. Sure, people get attached to theories, but do you realize that the best possible thing to happen to a scientist is for him/her to make a discovery that tosses the widely accepted hypotheses on their head? In other words, if a scientist did a rigorously peer reviewed study which indicated that, say, it's a reduction in neutrinos from the sun somehow, oh, say tweaking aerosol concentrations, leading to a strong causal relationship between this phenomenon and observed global warming - while also showing that the greenhouse effect of CO2 was much less of a factor than previously thought - that person would be fricking king of the scientific world.

The tired repeated bleatings of non-scientists who have not spent their careers repeatedly getting their work shredded by reviewers [this being the norm, not the exception] on the path to eventual publication do absolutely zilch to move things forward regarding understand what's really going on. The simple-minded idea that climate science is some sort of "alarmists versus skeptics" battle is laughable; this false equivalency between two imagined camps, each claiming to know the truth, is entirely imagined by ignorant people. Unless you've actually done science and gotten your work published in decent journals, these opinions mean absolute diddlyshit; nothing more than mental masturbation splooging text on the screen, masquerading as informed debate.

about 9 months ago

Solar Lull Could Cause Colder Winters In Europe

Orp Re:Not the sun (320 comments)

Does the sun's decrease in activity effect climate change? Or perhaps affect spelling ability? That would be a weird effect.

about 9 months ago

Solar Lull Could Cause Colder Winters In Europe

Orp Before this turns into a derpfest... (320 comments)

The NCAR link is probably the best for relating this to climate change:

So could a lengthy drop in solar output be enough to counteract human-caused climate change? Recent studies at NCAR and elsewhere have estimated that the total global cooling effect to be expected from reduced TSI during a grand minimum such as Maunder might be in the range of 0.1 to 0.3 Celsius (0.18 to 0.54 Fahrenheit). A 2013 study confirms the findings. This compares to an expected warming effect of 3.0C (5.4F) or more by 2100 due to greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, even a grand solar minimum might only be enough to offset one decade of global warming. Moreover, since greenhouse gases linger in the atmosphere, the impacts of those added gases would continue after the end of any grand minimum.

So perhaps a serious lull in solar activity could put some feeble brakes on global warming, slowing it down... temporarily, only to charge back when the sun gets over its issues.

I'm a meteorologist, not a climate guy, but I find the hypothesis that the current solar lull is responsible for the recent cold snaps in the northern hemisphere to be extremely dubious. Much more tenuous than the hypothesis that the meandering jet stream is happening due to the reduction in the north/south temperature gradient due from a reduction of Arctic ice cover, which itself is physically feasible but still not shown very conclusively.

The best way to get a grip on these issues would be to run many, many ensembles of weather models and coaxing out statistical links. And this is where weather/climate modeling is going, for good reasons... but as all the armchair slashdot climatologists will (perhaps rightly) point out, models have issues... but they are getting much better and ensembles help a lot to provide a handle on the probability that forcing A is causing response B.

about 9 months ago

Americans To FCC Chair: No Cell Calls On Planes, Please

Orp Earplugs - have you heard of them? (340 comments)

Yes, cell phones on a plane are a bad idea, but I've been using earplugs since forever and good ones (that seal well) will pretty much drown out everything... loud engine noise, screaming children, etc.

It would also help if the airlines charged a fee to access the cell repeater on the plane like they do with wifi. That might at least keep the most inane conversations from happening. Or not.

about 9 months ago

Warning At SC13 That Supercomputing Will Plateau Without a Disruptive Technology

Orp Power and legacy codes (118 comments)

... are the biggest problems from where I'm sitting here in the convention center in Denver.

In short, there will need to be a serious collaborative effort between vendors and the scientists (most of whom are not computer scientists) in taking advantage of new technologies. GPUs, Intel MIC, etc. are all great only if you can write code that can exploit these accelerators. When you consider that the vast majority of parallel science codes are MPI only, this is a real problem. It is very much a nontrivial (if even possible) problem to tweak these legacy codes effectively.

Cray holds workshops where scientists can learn about these new topologies and some of the programming tricks to use them. But that is only a tiny step towards effectively utilizing them. I'm not picking on Cray; they're doing what they can do. But I would posit that before the next supercomputer is designed, that it is done with input from the scientists who will be using it. There are a scarce few people with both the deep physics background and the computer science background to do the heavy lifting.

In my opinion we may need to start from the ground up with many codes. But it is a Herculean effort. Why would I want to discard my two million lines of MPI-only F95 code that only ten years ago was serial F77? The current code works "well enough" to get science done.

The power problem - that is outside of my domain. I wish the hardware manufacturers all the luck in the world. It is a very real problem. There will be a limit to the amount of power any future supercomputer is allowed to consume.

Finally, compilers will not save us. They can only do so much. They can't write better code or redesign it. Code translators hold promise, but those are very complex.

about a year ago

Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Orp super submitter? (53 comments)

If anyone is a "super submitter" it must be this guy, I think he is the submitter of about one third the submissions I click on.

about a year ago

Slashdot Asks: How Does the US Gov't Budget Crunch Affect You?

Orp Random homicidal moments (1144 comments)

Honestly, the most this whole mess has affected me, a college professor at a state university, is to fill my head with thoughts of taking my bare hands and strangle the life out of some of these yahoos in Washington. I know of many people who have been furloughed, as I am involved in federally funded research and have many colleagues who work under the umbrella of the federal gov't, some of whom have been furloughed, some of whom have not. My thoughts lately are about the looming debt ceiling "crisis" and how perhaps we are truly approaching the moment with the United States of America goes the way of every other superpower the world has ever seen... only we still have nukes and billions of guns. Sadly, if this happens, it will have come from within, not the result of a worthy enemy. And make no mistake about it: Pull away the curtain and this is all the doings of the ultra-rich who are pulling the strings. These people have nothing but pure disdain for the commoners and the poors and do not care that they are playing roulette, since all chambers are loaded and the gun is not pointing at them.

1 year,16 days

Dialing Back the Alarm On Climate Change

Orp Also... (490 comments)

Two mistakes pop up immediately int the article - IPPC (eh? OK, typo) and "The Journal of the American Meteorological Society". It's IPCC and the Bulletin of the AMS (BAMS). Maybe this guy creamed himself while typing, it is the WSJ after all.

about a year ago

Dialing Back the Alarm On Climate Change

Orp In before (490 comments)


about a year ago

Researchers Reverse-Engineer Dropbox, Cracking Heavily Obfuscated Python App

Orp ecryptfs+Dropbox is a nice solution (242 comments)

I've always assumed that data on Dropbox wasn't very secure, which is why I was happy to find that ecryptfs works well with dropbox across multiple machines (assuming they are all running Linux). To wit:

chinook: ~orp df /home/orp/e
Filesystem          1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/home/orp/Dropbox/e 491451392 129077764 361240528  27% /home/orp/e
chinook: ~orp ls Dropbox/e

This works with the same partition mounted across multiple machines. Save a file to /home/orp/e, and it "magically" appears in its unencrypted form (name, content) on any other machine that was updated on Dropbox that has the encrypted partition mounted the same way. All dropbox ever sees is the encrypted stuff.

The main disadvantage to this approach is that if you are trying to access files on a non-linux machine you are hosed; Lastpass and other password managers that have file encryption functionality can give you cross-platform encryption but not with the nice filesystem access that Dropbox provides.

about a year ago



Sony/BMG sued for pirating

Orp Orp writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Orp writes "Sony BMG, one of the most vocal and ferocious opponents of music piracy, has been accused of using unlawfully installed programs on its computers by a small software company. French company PointDev, which makes applications for Microsoft Windows, claims to have discovered pirated versions of its software installed on Sony BMG computers and is suing the label for $500,000."
Link to Original Source


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