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Comcast Sued For Turning Home Wi-Fi Routers Into Public Hotspots

PostPhil Re:Comcast Business Class (291 comments)

If I had only two bullets and was locked in a room with Comcast, ZOMBIE Hitler, and ZOMBIE Osama Bin Laden... I'd shoot Comcast twice.


about 2 months ago

Statisticians Uncover What Makes For a Stable Marriage

PostPhil The factors, condensed (447 comments)

This can really be condensed to only three, since some are redundant if you know the underlying cause. It's not like a research study is needed if you know people with successful marriages. The factors they chose that have an impact really only reflect the relevance of the following factors:

1. Taking marriage seriously. Eloping or skipping a honeymoon says "I don't want to invest much in this." Even those with moderate income can have a modest wedding and inexpensive honeymoon instead of going all out. Any indicator of not taking the marriage seriously is a negative, no matter what form it takes.

2. Genuinely valuing the other person for who they are. Hence, this means to not be a gold-digger or care more about looks. Also, dating longer is just an indicator that "finding the right person" is the attitude the person is taking, which means they want the person as a person to be a good match. By contrast, looks and money can be identified immediately, so it doesn't require a long time to get engaged. Desperation is also not a good reason for marriage, and desperation doesn't need a long time to get engaged.

3. Having a deterrent for divorce. Rich people, church-goers, and people with lots of people at their wedding have a lot of people to pressure you to stay together because you lead *public lives*. You don't get a private divorce, you get public embarrassment. Rich people have an additional deterrent in that it's a lot of money to lose if your ex-spouse wants to take you to the cleaners.

about 4 months ago

Using Wearable Tech To Track Gun Use

PostPhil Re:Why just guns? (264 comments)

For varying degrees of "works":

1. Gun supporters argue that gun control laws are mistakenly focusing on the tool, not the motive (where motives are tied to actual causes). It's all a moot point if someone isn't trying to commit murder. If someone *is* intent on committing murder, then if they succeed with a knife instead, then gun control had no effect on saving innocent lives. Innocent lives were still taken due to the fact that the issue is the motive, not the tool. All you've succeeding in doing is disarm a law-abiding *citizenry* while retaining a heavily armed government (which isn't affected by such laws).

2. Reduction in the use of guns and subsequent increase in the use of knives doesn't mean that criminals can't get guns or that *no* guns are used overall, it merely means that there are cases where they saw no need for it in order to commit the murder. If the situation really warranted a gun, then they'd still just get a gun through illegal channels.

3. It's always shaky ground to compare gun crimes between countries, because again the point of gun supporters is to focus on the cause of the motives for crime instead of focusing on the tool. For example, European countries bordered with other European countries is a different problem than being bordered to Mexico (which in turn is chained to South American black markets). Much of gang violence and inner city violence and poverty is tied to the socioeconomic effects of the illegal drug trade. If a European country doesn't treat drug use as a crime (rather than a public health issue), or if recreational drugs are legal, then they have no 21st-century-Prohibition black market like the U.S. The U.S. teaches about Prohibition of the early 20th century, but not the lessons. Cultural goals also differ. You have to ask just how much you're willing to give up in order to have a perfectly safe world.

4. Statistics and damn lies, etc. One set shows guns up, crime up. Another says guns down, crime down. But yet others say guns up, crime *down*. Still others say guns down, crime *up*. So the question is this: does that mean the debate is at an impasse? The answer is NO. Guns are logically demonstrated as *not* the primary cause. How does this logic work? Like this: If the claim being refuted is "more guns equals more murder, less guns equals less murder", then it is *not* required to show that guns improve the situation *everywhere* you go. It is only required to show *one* instance that exists that refutes the claim. Those situations exist, therefore that means that the primary cause or causes are *not* guns. Other causes are the real causes. Perhaps guns are enablers as secondary causes, but in practice nothing anyone cares about will be solved by band-aids: the primary causes must be addressed first.

about 5 months ago

Programming Languages You'll Need Next Year (and Beyond)

PostPhil Re:whoosh! (315 comments)

No. I don't know why so many "geeks/nerds" are confused about this. There's no grey area here. "Calculators" (e.g. adding machines) existed before the modern digital computer, so it's not about mere *calculation*, it's about whether or not (given enough time and memory) the language can calculate ANYTHING that can be calculated. It must be TURING COMPLETE (i.e. one means of universal computation amongst others such as Lambda Calculus).

It's not about mere basic arithmetic, it's about whether or not symbolic computation is possible. The litmus test is whether or not you can write a simulation of a universal Turing Machine within the computer language. If so, then it's a computer *programming* language. If not, then it's some other language such as a markup or *cough* stylesheet language.

Yes, computer languages can eventually be promoted to computer *programming* languages with additions to the language. For example, SQL used to only be a query language that is now a programming language due to recursive queries and a language for stored procedures (SQL/PSM) officially added to the spec.

Then programming languages are further divided into general purpose vs domain specific, etc. Simply, that theoretically equivalent computational power is not the same as equivalent practical power.

In the CSS3 calculator example, it's just a hack that uses the experimental calc() function of CSS3 for simple arithmetic and some hard-coded (finite) elements to manipulate. If you actually try out the "calculator", you'll notice it's not even a fully functioning calculator, much less possessing the computational power of a real programming language. If that's not clear enough, then let me put it this way: can you write a potentially infinite loop (i.e. indeterminate number of iterations at the beginning) in CSS?

about 6 months ago

BEST Study Finds Temperature Changes Explained by GHG Emissions and Volcanoes

PostPhil Typical bad summary (355 comments)

The summary makes it sound like volcanoes are the explanation for greenhouse gases, which is completely false. It doesn't say that at all. Actually, it's the opposite.

RTFA and you learn (as quoted from the .PDF supplied by the article): "According to a new Berkely Earth study released today, the average temperature of Earth's land has risen by 1.5 C over the past 250 years. The good match between the new temperature record and historical carbon dioxide records suggests that the most straightforward explanation for this warming is human greenhouse gas emissions." (Emphasis mine.)

The .PDF article explains that human CO2 contribution, volcanic activity, and ocean activity (e.g. Gulf Stream and El Nino) are the biggest contributors that are needed to match the graph of temperatures over time. But volcanoes follow the drops in temperature on the graph, not the rises in temperature. Contributions from solar activity exist but were determined to be negligible. They explain that CO2 doesn't prove to be responsible for the warming, but is by far the best contender. As stated by the scientific director, "To be considered seriously, any alternative explanation must match the data at least as well as does carbon dioxide." So denialists can't simply supply "common sense" alternatives: the alternatives must match the data at least as well (or better) than CO2.

about 2 years ago

Prince of Sealand Dies At 91

PostPhil Hello, I'm Sealand! (218 comments)

"I like to ride my goat while swabbing the deck. And that is NOT a euphamism for anything." --Hetalia

more than 2 years ago

Firefox 16 Released: More HTML5 Support

PostPhil Battery and Vibration API (133 comments)

The most important part of the summary. Discuss...

more than 2 years ago

Man With World's Deepest Voice Can Hit Infrasonic Notes

PostPhil Re:No longer vocalizations (173 comments)

People claiming that they can make "a sound every 2.5 seconds" don't get it. It's is not the same as a single continuous waveform oscillating at 0.189 Hz. There is a big difference between a continuous waveform at that frequency versus some joe blow making a click at 3 kHz for 250 ms duration every 2.5 seconds. No, it is not a set of pulses.

more than 2 years ago

Doctorow on the War on General Purpose Computing

PostPhil Re:Welcome to 2006, Cory Doctorow (360 comments)

Don't you mean "Moore's Law", not "Murphy's Law"? Murphy's Law hasn't had a major effect on processors since the Pentium fdiv bug.

more than 2 years ago

Should Developers Be Sued For Security Holes?

PostPhil NO (550 comments)

No, developers should NOT be sued. I'm quite frankly tired of hearing this drivel. COMPANIES or their UPPER MANAGEMENT should be sued (depending on the type of company) because THEY are the ones truly responsible and accountable. "They get paid the big bucks for a reason." Unless the person is a very crappy developer, most devs I know actually WANT quality control and the time required to write software properly. It's almost always management that tells them no, that "time to market" with something that vaguely resembles a product is most important, no matter how angry at the result the customers will be. Until the people with the actual power to change company decisions are held accountable for their decisions, nothing changes. So why are we wasting time persecuting the people with little power and who actually agrees with us?

more than 2 years ago

Kasparov Arrested By Russian Police

PostPhil Re:Checkmate. (374 comments)

Let's put aside for a moment the issue of whether or not Russia's problems is the fault of the U.S. government. But when it comes to saying the U.S. government or rather U.S. politicians are just as bad, we need to look no further than to RTFA. Kasparov mentions,

A spokesman for the Obama administration called the sentence [for Pussy Riot] "disproportionate," as if the length of the prison term were the only problem with open repression of political speech.

more than 2 years ago

Trouble At OnLive

PostPhil Re:Not "Going out of Business," Persay... (142 comments)

The Latin phrase "per se" means "in itself" or "through itself". It's not "persay". Also, don't use it when you actually mean to say "exactly". "Per se" is used when you want to say that something is intrinsically true about an object. If you mean to say that something "isn't exactly true", then simply say that instead.

more than 2 years ago

Surfing Robot Tracks Great White Sharks

PostPhil So... (12 comments)

Is it laser guided?

more than 2 years ago

Knight Trading Losses Attributed To Old, Dormant Software

PostPhil Re:The NYSE shouldn't reverse trades. (223 comments)

Yes, it's true that if a "too big to fail" company fails, bad things happen and people get mad. But let's look at it another way. In a market driven economy, the economy is strong when the market is strong. The market is driven by the consumer being able to choose the supplier of products and services. So, if the consumer is mad because of a poor performing company, the consumer can choose to leave and support a better, stronger company.

If a market driven economy no longer forces companies to live with the consequences of their decisions, opting to bail them out so no one gets mad, then their is no incentive for any company to be a good company because it isn't required stay in business. The actual good companies then see that their extra effort is a waste of time, an in order to compete, they also must become a company with similarly bad products and services.

Saving "too big to fail" companies only keeps people from being mad for the short term. But once the entire market is in trouble, they'll still lose and will be even madder later. There's a moral to the story for our society that goes beyond the stock market: FOCUSING WORRIES ON FAILURE IS A SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY. DO INSTEAD WHAT YOU KNOW IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

more than 2 years ago

Man Orders TV On Amazon, Gets Shipped Assault Rifle

PostPhil Re:really??? (666 comments)

Here's some PDFs from the U.S. military on what constitutes an "assault rifle". http://gunfax.com/aw.htm To be an assault rifle, the firearm MUST support SELECTIVE FIRE. The Sig716 mentioned in the article does not have selective fire and is therefore NOT an assault rifle. Period. It is a semi-auto firearm styled ergonomically like an assault rifle, but it isn't one. Also, does anyone else find the article a little strange? Rifles and TVs aren't even close to the same size or shaped box. D.C. is probably the most anti-firefarm city in the U.S. concerning its policies, and obviously the most public and political, and yet someone got shipped an AR style firearm instead of a TV? It wasn't even just a bolt action hunting rifle, it just so happened to be AR styled? Immediately after being reported the Brady Campaign of course jumped on this. Shipping errors can happen of course, but doesn't the convenience of all this kind of smell like a publicity stunt?

more than 2 years ago

Of currently dead inventors, my favorite is ...

PostPhil Heron of Alexandria (542 comments)

Hero/Heron of Alexandria pioneered steam engine technology (the aeolipile), vending machines, wind powered machines, force pumps, syringes, imaginary numbers, and a means to calculate square roots. All this was during 10 - 70 AD. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hero_of_Alexandria

more than 2 years ago

Why Online Privacy Is Broken

PostPhil Re:Ignorance, not indifference. (220 comments)

Isn't the POINT of Facebook to get yourself "out there" and be-your-own-celebrity? [...] What am I failing to understand about this issue?

You're failing to understand that:

1. Social networking isn't about people trying to be a celebrity. It's about some people trying to be a celebrity, while others just want to keep in touch with friends (e.g. for many, social networking sites are just the replacement for Instant Messaging). It's about access to information that is controlled and owned by the user.

2. Even for those that want to be celebrities, even they just want to be visible to other party-goers, students, and friends-of-friends. Nowhere does 3rd-party advertising companies mining their personal data figure into the equation. That is NOT what motivated the person to join the site.

3. The idea that the information is always "voluntarily provided" is bogus. That implies a conscious decision was made by the user. Clicking OK to a Terms Of Service agreement may cover a site legally, but in the real world it has nothing to do with whether or not the user understands the consequences of the legal double-talk a TOS agreement implies. If you misunderstand it's consequences, then it is not informed consent (regarding real-life informed decisions, regardless of any legal definition of "informed consent"). For example, if the TOS says that certain types of content won't be provided to third-parties except in special cases A and B, the user might not expect that this is just Cover-Your-Ass talk and that special cases A and B unwittingly happen most of the time from actions the user didn't expect would cause special cases A and B. Various sites are better or worse at this, of course.

4. All these sites have verbiage saying they "respect your privacy" (of course), but where is the transparency? Laws aren't magic wands. How do I verify whether or not my privacy is truly being respected. When potential profit is involved, it's the corporate norm that it's "better to ask forgiveness than permission". And if they get caught doing something wrong, they get a slap on the wrist because apparently corporations have more rights than citizens do, and then they continue to do what they've always done before.

5. Just because you may be disinterested about something only other people seem to be interested in, doesn't mean this doesn't eventually have implications for everyone.

6. Simply put, the point of the issue is what you're failing to understand.

more than 4 years ago

Steve Jobs Recommends Android For Fans of Porn

PostPhil Re:Any other recommendations, Steve? (909 comments)

Bakeries?? ...Really? So... it's the one place where you SHOULDN'T be offended if you find a pube in your sandwich?

more than 4 years ago



PostPhil PostPhil writes  |  more than 8 years ago

PostPhil writes "As many Slashdotters know, it's not too difficult to get patents for even the most un-novel, obvious, and useless of inventions. Free Patents Online has examples of many crazy patents. My favorites are the wearable habitrail, combined kid's tricycle and lawnmower, and the ever-popular "apparatus for facilitating the birth of a child by centrifugal force" (although there's only pictures in PDF form for this last one)."


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