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Tackling Open Source's Gender Issues

Random Walk Re:Community resistance (589 comments)

In many European countries, the "age of consent" is something like 14-16. Check Wikipedia.

more than 2 years ago
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Skilled Readers Recognize Words By Shape

Random Walk Re:Yes (420 comments)

Try Czech. Where words are written in phonetic spelling, but no foreigner will ever manage to learn the pronounciation :)

more than 2 years ago
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Student Loans In America: the Next Big Credit Bubble

Random Walk Re:Australia does a simple job here (768 comments)

The funny part of all that is that people could get tuition for free elsewhere. E.g. in Germany tuition is either free or the fees are very low, for everyone (yes, including foreign students), and several of the major universities offer courses in English for international students.

more than 2 years ago
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I estimate my radiation dose for my day as ...

Random Walk Re:Finally a Unit that people can understand (256 comments)

It's also highly flawed. The radioactivity of bananas comes from potassium. But the human body controls it's potassium content.. if there's too much, it gets flushed out. So eating bananas will not increase the amount of radioactive material in your body.

This is completely different for e.g. radioactive iodine, which adds to the body's inventory of radioactive material.

more than 3 years ago
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Scientific R&D At Home?

Random Walk Re:Astronomy! (398 comments)

In all fairness, if you want to make a contribution that is worth co-authorship of a paper, you might need at least a good amateur telescope (maybe on the order of 10 inch aperture) and a CCD camera.

With such equipment, and clear skies, you can do photometric monitoring of stars (e.g. for outbursts, or planet transits). Asronomers always have the problem that big observatories focus on big telescopes, and it's difficult to do things that require small telescopes, but long-term monitoring.

One example would be monitoring of the transits of extrasolar planets, to detect timing anomalies (which could be caused by undetected additional planets). Or monitoring stars with planets detected by radial velocity variations, to discover eventual transits. Or monitoring of ongoing gravitational lens events... there are quite a few oportunities for amateurs.

more than 3 years ago
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Over Half of Software Fails First Security Tests

Random Walk Re:That's great. (145 comments)

Ubuntu has apparmor sandboxing of firefox as an option that's turned off by default, and even if you turn it on it's not sandboxed enough IMO (firefox can read and write almost anything in the user's home directory with the exclusion of just a few directories).

It's trivial to simply run Firefox under a different user id. I use about three applications that need to access the net (web, mail, chat), and each of them gets started (via a simple wrapper script) under a different, dedicated UID.

more than 4 years ago
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Crazy Firewall Log Activity — What Does It Mean?

Random Walk Re:What a let down (344 comments)

There isn't any useful data to work with that we have about stars - only their light. Yet some people have seen that as a challenge, and have built a whole branch of science on it. There's plenty of obvious structure in that visualisation, meaning there's plenty of information.

more than 4 years ago
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2010 Will Be the Year of Sandboxing Apps

Random Walk Easy to do in Linux (203 comments)

I have a separate sandbox user for each application that accesses the net (mail, browser, ...). Each of these sandbox users is in its own group, and thus has access only to their own files and world readable (and eventually writeable, like /tmp) locations. Applications get started from my "real" account with sudo. I wonder why distros don't support that out of the box at least for the browser, because it would be fairly trivial to set up as part of a "create new user" script.

more than 4 years ago
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Whatever Happened To Second Life?

Random Walk Re:practical applications (209 comments)

The problem with videoconferencing is that you see half of the audience only through the tiny "keyhole" of the video screen. In a public seminar talk, it's distracting and confusing for the speaker and the part of the audience that is physically present. I've been at seminar talks involving videoconferencing, and I've been in SL seminar talks, and I found the latter a much better, more consistent experience.

more than 4 years ago
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Whatever Happened To Second Life?

Random Walk Re:Adult Content Island and verification. (209 comments)

..and their verification process was extremely intrusive and I know many people who just decided to stop using second life entirely over it. It involves basicaly forking over Credit Card information, in some cases a Birth Certificate, and yuor home address..

Totally wrong. Thanks to the relaxed privacy standards in the US of A, there's tons of readily available personal information in online databases that you can use to pass the age verification.

more than 4 years ago
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Online "Guilds" Mirror Real Life Gangs

Random Walk Re:Without SEEING the formula, it's rather difficu (160 comments)

They measure cumulative size distribution (how many groups of size >= N) and churn (how many people leave the group for another one in a given period).

They are able to come up with a simple mathematical model for the behaviour of players (essentially: recruit people with diverse attributes/skills) that reproduces the observed data extremely well. And they also show that the alternative 'kinship' model (recruit people with similar attributes/skills) fails to reproduce the observed data.

I would say that their model does quite a good job at modeling some rather nontrivial data.

more than 4 years ago
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Second Life To Remove Free Content From Web Search

Random Walk Re:Where is second life big? (187 comments)

It's a big hit among the people who have the creativity to actually do something, rather than just consuming. It's a big fail with those who expect a game with a set goal, those who need to cling to someone/something telling them what to do.

I'm doing freeform roleplay, and it's great fun. There's plenty of roleplay communities in SL.

more than 4 years ago
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Vulgar Comment On Newspaper Site Costs Man His Job

Random Walk Re:Surely informing the school runs against (643 comments)

Depends on your local jurisdiction. In Germany there was a lawsuit against a government agency because it logged IP addresses of website vistors. The court decided that IP addresses are individual user information, and the agency was ordered to stop logging IP addresses because it was a violation of privacy laws.

more than 4 years ago
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Vulgar Comment On Newspaper Site Costs Man His Job

Random Walk Re:No place for this kind of crap in America. (643 comments)

Au contraire.. it's probably one of the few countries where there is a place for this. In Europe, Greenbaum would now face a lawsuit because of privacy violation (I'm sysadmin in Germany, I am well aware that I would probably lose my job if I did what that Greenbaum guy has done).

more than 4 years ago
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X11 Chrome Reportedly Outperforms Windows and Mac Versions

Random Walk Re:What? (542 comments)

3 - Cut and Paste really isn't an issue anymore, either.

I beg to differ - it wasn't an issue, but now it is one. Once upon a time, every app supported the standard way of cut and paste (right and middle mouse button).. but now we have apps who do it like this, and others who want me to do Ctrl-C / Ctrl-V because someone thought it would be cool to emulate MS Windows and force me to get my hand from the mouse and to the keyboard. And then there are apps where cut and paste would work one way for some input fields, and the other way for some other input fields...

more than 4 years ago
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Arbitrary Code Execution With "ldd"

Random Walk Re:Thorough research (184 comments)

The Linux manpage (on Ubuntu 8.04) says ldd prints the shared libraries required by each program or shared library specified on the command line. Note that it doesn't mention anywhere that the program is executed, and doesn't contain any security warning. If there is no hint of the problem at the primary source of usage information, then the issue IS undocumented.

more than 4 years ago
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World of Goo Creators Try Pick-Your-Price Experiment

Random Walk My own experience (216 comments)

I offer some of my software for 'pick your price'. I recommend a price, but clearly state that any price is ok. Most buyers buy at the recommended price. Very few pay significantly less (pay is through Paypal, which I think imposes a minimum price of $1). And - not quite unexpectedly - almost nobody ever pays more :-)

more than 4 years ago
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32 Exoplanets Discovered By Chilean Telescope

Random Walk Re:Ridiculous claim (146 comments)

Spots -do- change line positions. The reason is that the star rotates, so half of the visible surface moves towards us, half of it recedes. Now imagine that part of either the receding or approaching surface is covered by a spot...

However, this also changes the shape of a spectral line, not just the position of the centre. This is why people do a 'bisector analysis' (basically, split line in half, compare right/left side to discover distortions).

Also, spot activity can be measured independently. With sufficiently big spots, the stellar rotation period can be determined photometrically (i.e. by measuring the periodic darkening in the stellar luminosity). Or one can infer the period from the doppler broadening of the lines caused by stellar rotation. Spot activity also shows up by certain emission lines in the spectrum (also for the Sun - these lines vary in intensity during the solar cycle).

Stellar pulsations are another problem, since unlike spots they don't change the line shape, so one can't rule them out with a bisector analysis. However, stellar pulsations would cause the star to periodically change its surface temperature and/or luminosity, which again can be measured independently.

more than 4 years ago
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32 Exoplanets Discovered By Chilean Telescope

Random Walk Re:link to ESO Press Release (146 comments)

It's the instrumentation that really counts. There are lots of old telescopes which just gather dust, because they have no competitive instruments attached to their focal plane. On the other hand, the success of the HARPS spectrograph clearly shows that even with old telescopes one can do great science.

more than 4 years ago
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Meet Uzbl — a Web Browser With the Unix Philosophy

Random Walk Re:Browser name should be changed (318 comments)

However, 'ng' is a single phoneme, and 'sch' is also a single phoneme. So 'ngstschr' is 8 letters, but only 5 consonants, both in Dutch and German.

more than 4 years ago

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