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Eclipse Foundation Celebrates 10 Years

Peter Mork Re:For the haters (155 comments)

ADRA's experiences mirror by own. I've been using Eclipse for more than 10 years. There have been some hiccups, but the fact that I have been able to debug Java, SQL, JavaScript, C++, LaTeX, XSD, Schematron, and a few others, all in the same environment, while interacting with multiple code repositories convinces me that it's a solid product.

about 10 months ago
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Transgendered Folks Encountering Document/Database ID Hassles

Peter Mork Re:Brings a new meaning to the term (814 comments)

It does have an impact on database design: it means like virtually every other temporally bounded property you have to account for the fact that a) it changes and b ) the coding scheme will evolve over time to accommodate increasing gradations.

about a year and a half ago
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Judges Debate Patents and If New Software Makes a Computer a "New Machine"

Peter Mork Re:Genius! (247 comments)

I think you've hinted at the problem. There's little difference (especially now) between a description of an object and the object itself. If I were to design a new brake on paper and then implement that brake with steel and rubber, would I lose my right to patent the device because the transition from CAD to physical realization is obvious? When the patent system was designed the distinction between the abstract and the concrete was fairly obvious. Once we invented devices that could encode ideas and turn them into things we started running into problems.

I appreciate the argument, but it seems like it would invalidate pretty much every patent. (Including drug patents because drugs are designed in silico, so perhaps it's a net positive. :-)

about a year and a half ago
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Judges Debate Patents and If New Software Makes a Computer a "New Machine"

Peter Mork Re:Genius! (247 comments)

I think there is general agreement that if a person were to encode a program in silicon (i.e., as a custom chip), that invention would be patentable. Now let's relax the physical implementation: Can we patent a program that relies on programmable chips - that reconfigures the hardware on the fly? If not, why is this program any different than the original program? Why must the program be fully hard-coded to be patentable?

Relaxing the implementation details even further: Can we patent a program that relies on general-purpose hardware? If not, why is this program any different than the one that uses programmable chips?

I confess that I am uncomfortable with software patents, but I'm willing to acknowledge that I lack a firm basis for my unease.

about a year and a half ago
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E-Sports League Stuffed Bitcoin Mining Code Inside Client Software

Peter Mork Computer Trespass (223 comments)

This sounds an awful lot like computer trespass: coercing somebody else's computer into doing something on your behalf. If an individual pulled this stunt, he or she would be in prison.

about a year and a half ago
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How Red Teams Hack Your Site To Save It

Peter Mork Re:For Those Left Wondering... (58 comments)

AFAIK the term is derived from the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game.

In the Dragonlance series of books, the various classes of mage were dressed differently depending on their nature. Good=white, neutral=red, black=evil.

I think that's wishful thinking. It arises from blue-team (us, i.e., the good guys) vs. red-team (us pretending to be them, i.e., the bad guys) military exercises. In other words, a red team is a bunch of good guys pretending to be bad guys against whom the blue team can practice.

about 2 years ago
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Nate Silver's Numbers Indicate Probable Obama Win, World Agrees

Peter Mork Re:Assuming Independence (a common fallacy) (881 comments)

The only way state outcomes are non-independent is if one state's polls close earlier and the results are announced before another state's polls close. As far as I know, this influence is not part of Nate Silver's estimate.

This is not correct. As others have noted, two states' outcomes can be non-independent if some common cause is at work. For example, my grass being wet and not being able to see the sun are non-independent, not because wet grass induces darkness, but because there's a common cause (rain-clouds) that can influence both events. Once you account for the common cause the events become conditionally independent. In this case, if one poll is biased against Romney, then it is likely that other polls are also biased (and non-independence holds).

about 2 years ago
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Nate Silver's Numbers Indicate Probable Obama Win, World Agrees

Peter Mork Re:Assuming Independence (a common fallacy) (881 comments)

The percentage of people in Ohio who vote for Obama or Romney is not independent of the percentage of people in Pennsylvania who vote for Obama or Romney. Not that a given voter in Ohio affects a random voter in PA, but that there are common background factors that impact both voters. These background factors (such as the economy) influence voters in both states.

about 2 years ago
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Nate Silver's Numbers Indicate Probable Obama Win, World Agrees

Peter Mork Assuming Independence (a common fallacy) (881 comments)

A quick read of the source code suggests that the author is assuming each state's outcome is independent of the other states, which is highly suspect. There's a reason Nate's prediction is much lower than 97.7%. Romney's chances are better than 2.3% because if he wins (for example) Ohio, then he is likely to have also won Florida and Virginia.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Worth Going For a Graduate Degree In the Middle of Your Career?

Peter Mork Re:Guarantees (260 comments)

I think Mr. Underbridge (Dr. Underbridge, based on his insight?) has succinctly described the pros and cons.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Worth Going For a Graduate Degree In the Middle of Your Career?

Peter Mork Re:You should never stop learning (260 comments)

Based on the offers I received upon earning a Masters in Computer Science, I would probably be a little better off financially if I had joined the work force at that point in my educational career. Instead, I chose to earn a PhD (in Computer Science). I do not for a moment regret that decision. The degree affords me a fair amount of intellectual freedom (even though I work for a corporation).

The degree certainly does not guarantee a posh research position at MSR (or a similar lab). But, it does demonstrate an ability to think independently and critically, which are skills still valued in the workforce.

Finally, I would note that every CS PhD that I know is gainfully employed, and only one feels under-employed (although a delay in earning the PhD due to an advisor problem didn't help). So, my advice (FWIW) is to go back to school, provided that you are motivated more by novelty (intellectual freedom) and less by money.

more than 2 years ago
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The Average Consumer Thinks Data Privacy Is Worth Around 65 Cents

Peter Mork Re:Credibility Matters (128 comments)

I don't know that it's necessarily the Average Joe being an idiot. Privacy is a non-positional good, which (as Frank notes in The Darwin Economy) usually loses to positional goods. This is why a "rational libertarian" should support laws (such as privacy laws) that counteract individuals acting in a rational way to the detriment of the collective individuals. I.e., we all win with better privacy laws, but none of us can afford to individually opt-out (because the cost to the individual is too high, unless we all agree to act together).

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You View the Wall Street Protests?

Peter Mork Re:Revolution is easy - No Debt. (1799 comments)

This is largely good advice. However, student loans are not necessarily a bad investment. You are correct, though, that you need to take your education seriously, or it's a waste of money.

Paying off a mortgage quickly may be a bad strategy provided a) your rate is low (say 5%) and b) your employer provides some level of retirement matching (say 10%). Not only do you get to claim the mortgage interest as a tax deduction, but you're getting an automatic return on your retirement investment. So, my advice would be to pay the minimum amount on the mortgage and invest that money in a retirement account.

Paying for things with a credit card is not prudent. But, if you have a no-cost card with some sort of reward program (e.g., I can use points to obtain gift cards for groceries), paying with credit can save you money. The trick is to always pay the card in full. Even one late payment and the strategy fails big time.

more than 3 years ago
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Michael Mann Vindicated (Again) Over Climategate

Peter Mork Re:What will it take to reduce CO2? (961 comments)

Well, we know plants frigging *LOVE* the stuff... so if we don't we can probably anticipate higher crop yields.

Unfortunately, it's not that simple. For example, increased temperatures will stress food crops. More information is here.

They said the oceans would rise by 2009.

And, the oceans have been consistently rising.

But so far, the models created based on the presumption of the association keep breaking down and their predictions don't play out as expected.

Again, this assertion doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Models successfully reproduce global temperatures.

more than 3 years ago
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Can a Playground Be Too Safe?

Peter Mork Re:Think of the children! (493 comments)

Unexploded ordinance: sounds like the debt-ceiling negotiations. ;-)

more than 3 years ago
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Happy Tau Day

Peter Mork Re:PI not TAU in Euler's identity (298 comments)

Time to read the article: e^(i \times \tau) = 1 + 0. The reason that e^(i \times \tau / 2) = -1 is because \tau / 2 = \pi corresponds to a half-rotation. So, you can get the same result, only with a more intuitive answer because the amount of rotation is built into the equation. This helps to understand that e^(i \times \tau / 4) = i because i corresponds to a quarter rotation.

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: DOSBox, or DOS Box?

Peter Mork Re:KEEP IT! (585 comments)

I'd recommend trying the game with DOSBox. There you can set the clock-speed to allow the game to run at whatever speed you'd like.

more than 3 years ago
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Coffee Wards Off Cancer

Peter Mork Re:Missing from the summary (286 comments)

From NPR's blurb: "A Harvard study that followed almost 50,000 male health professionals for more than two decades." And, "More than 5,000 of them got prostate cancer — 642 of them the most lethal form." That's a healthy sample size.

more than 3 years ago
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Over 7.5 Million Facebook Users Are Under 13

Peter Mork Re:Meh (194 comments)

But, the supervisors have, in the past, been the predators (sexual abuse is more likely from a trusted adult than a random stranger). And, the schoolyard is a known fen for bullies. The entire world isn't some extraordinarily dangerous place.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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Binding Metal to Biomaterial

Peter Mork Peter Mork writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Peter Mork writes "According to the Washington Post, Seung-Mo Lee, a graduate student at the Max Planck Institute, has found a way to infuse spider silk with metals, such as titanium, aluminum and zinc. The result is three to ten times stronger than normal spider silk (which is already, pound for pound, stronger than steel).

The process involves breaking some of the hydrogen bonds in the amino acid chain. The reactive metals then form covalent bonds with the broken ends creating a denser, stronger compound.

Ironically, Lee thought he was demonstrating that soft materials would be destroyed by the process when he made the discovery. No mention is made regarding the feasibility of strengthening bone with adamantium."
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Peter Mork Peter Mork writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Peter Mork writes "NPR recently interviewed the director of the FBI, Robert Mueller. It's interesting to hear his take on several issues.

On the topic of thoughtcrimes: "Having an idea may not be a criminal offense" (emphasis mine).

When asked about VoIP: "I'm not going to get into the details. I don't want to encourage people." This is the best endorsement of VoIP I've heard so far.

At least he was willing to go on record indicating that coercion (newspeak for torture) is not an effective technique (for the FBI) and that they wouldn't engage in coercion even if they thought a suspect had information regarding an imminent nuclear explosion."

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