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Comments

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Bill Gates To Stanford Grads: Don't (Only) Focus On Profit

RobinEggs Except when profit actively undermines charity (284 comments)

The process of earning your profit can easily counteract the effects of spending your profit on charity, however. The wealthy often realize this paradox when they begin "giving back". The Gates Foundation itself has been accused many times of investing in things that completely undermine its goals. This editorial from 2014 is just one example.; I recall hearing similar claims about investments in totally different industries almost 10 years ago

How you get your profit makes a big difference in what net accomplishments your money can achieve. If your earning provides great support to systems that keep poor countries unstable or work against universal improvements for humanity, but then you wish to spend your profits on humanist goals, then what was the point? I'd rather you'd just become a janitor instead of digging holes in human society and then desperately filling them back in, hoping you might create mountains in the process.

about 3 months ago
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After Non-Profit Application Furor, IRS Says It's Lost 2 Years Of Lerner's Email

RobinEggs For fuck sake, the IRS isn't what you think it is (372 comments)

>The IRS, in particular, expects taxpayers to keep records FOREVER (or until you die and your will is probated)

What? Where are you getting this nonsense? The IRS does not expect you to keep records for your *entire life*. That's absolute moronic drivel. In fact, the IRS doesn't require you to do *anything*; it's congress that writes the tax code. Not just a different entity, a completely different branch of government. The IRS isn't some extra-legal entity that makes up their own rules to inflict on citizens and delights in making them difficult.

Anyway, you're required to keep records until the audit window for tax returns dependent on those records expires, no longer. Rarely will an individual have to keep any record of any kind longer than 7 years after the last filing year that record affected; the vast majority of records can be destroyed after no more than 4 years, and almost all people can fit the documents they're required to keep longer than 7 years in a single manilla folder (if they have any at all).

Are you just one of those people who think the IRS are evil because of your strict constructionist views, or something? Maybe you live in a compound in Idaho? Because this whole "IRS is evil and seeks out ways to fuck and/or control the average taxpayer in service of XYZ political force" notion is just so fucking far from the truth I seriously wonder what kind of willful ignorance or bizarre lies someone must experience to believe it.

about 4 months ago
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Mute Witness: Forensic Sketches From Nothing But DNA

RobinEggs Is this a joke? (68 comments)

You're really not seeing how a rough picture of the perpetrator could help solve crimes, simply because many people will share the same rough picture and have some similar underlying DNA?

Right now DNA often comes in near the end of an investigation; you have to select people to test based on traditional detective work, and then you must legally acquire their DNA to match with your sample. If suspects don't want to give you DNA simply because you asked nicely, you have to be fairly sure of their guilt - and able to convince a judge of why you're sure - before you can get their DNA involuntarily. If this test became effective, the sample you got at the beginning would show you who among the likely suspects to test against, and probably lower the bar for getting legal clearance to take their DNA.

Not to mention you clearly have no clue how DNA testing really works; if it's important you can and will be able to match a decent sample to one and only one person. There are commonplace genetic tests that can produce 1 in 10 trillion profiles of a person's or sample's DNA to match against. The fact that this DNA processing produced a rough sketch matching X number of people is irrelevant when you'll be able to narrow that group to very few or one with the most basic detective work.

about 6 months ago
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Facebook Debuts New Gender Options, Pronoun Choices

RobinEggs Sex+Gender = Lots of combinations (462 comments)

A lot of this comes down to sex vs gender.

Sex is your biological status: what organs and hormone levels do you have, and how have they developed? Sounds straight-forward, at least at first.

Gender might be defined as a social role and group identity you take on which is influenced most significantly in most people by their sex. So most people pick from one of the two massively dominant genders, wind up pretty content about it, and have organs matching everyone else in their camp.

But what if you have testes and breasts? And hormone levels pretty much in between the standard man and the standard woman? You might end up legally forced to adopt an 'official' sex based on your chromosome data or what went on your birth certificate, perhaps, but does that help you pick a gender? Does that actually reflect your sex? Probably not. Do you identify more with another sex? What about another gender? If you want to change over, how much will you do and what changes are possible?

The organs you have, the hormone levels you have, and how you feel about them all affect what sex you become and what gender you select. People who aren't comfortable being a traditional man or woman and sleeping with the opposite are simply trying to work out all the permutations and nomenclature now that they're somewhat more free to do so.

If a given person is polite about it and doesn't expect you to memorize a bunch of fluid terms to use for them or coddle their sexuality more than you would anyone else, just let it be and don't worry about the variety of possibilities. They'll work themselves out and they aren't likely to affect you. If they're a dick or an irrational activist about it, and there's plenty of those also, just ignore them and/or fight to keep them from defining your life any more than you're allowed to define theirs.

You can look into the definitions in any Women's or Gender Studies website; or you can ignore it for now and simply be a decent human being to the people you meet, ignoring their chosen combination unless they step on your own rights.

about 8 months ago
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20,000 Customers Have Pre-Ordered Over $2,000,000 of Soylent

RobinEggs Guy is a loon (543 comments)

Go read his blog post about the "results" he experienced. He's giving the full-blown "I now have the body of a 12 year old and my brain increased in efficiency 400%" kind of crap under "qualitative". It's great to feel better after you start eating better, but unless his prior diet was >50% animal product and too much of it for his calorie needs, I'm calling bullshit.

Under quantitative, apparently his blood work improved quite a bit. Yeah, your blood work tends to improve when you eat a simple vegan diet, and that's all soylent contains. Vegan ingredients with a 2 oz mix of fish and vegetable oil per day.

I guess it's nice to have a supremely convenient and very healthy diet that makes you feel better, but he's laying it on pretty fucking thick. Not to mention you could create a diet of the same health benefits with maybe 15 raw ingredients. You could just put the shit in a blender if you wanted...

about 8 months ago
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Headhunters Can't Tell Anything From Facebook Profiles

RobinEggs Color me shocked (209 comments)

So a profession with no psychology background can't successfully evaluate peoples' personal statements and associations as a proxy for their professional competence? They're failing to do what even actual psychologists struggle with?

Wow. Who'd have seen that coming.

about 9 months ago
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Don't Expect US Approval of Huge Telecom Mergers

RobinEggs Better than absolute shit is now "fairly good"? (64 comments)

Yes, it's that bad in Canada. You guys in the US actually have it fairly good.

Well that's some heavy relativism. To have it better than the worst market in the first world isn't to "have it fairly good".

We both have total shit for cell phone carriers and internet providers. Your service is worse, but you also have plenty of more important things much, much better than America. I'm sorry, but we really don't pity you.

about 9 months ago
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Employee Morale Is Suffering At the NSA

RobinEggs Every single one of them is guilty? (841 comments)

Everyone is seizing on this "why are you spying on grandma?" line and saying 'Damn right they should be ashamed and demoralized, stupid jackboots!'

Except the NSA has something like 30,000 people. It's hardly as though every one of them are involved in monitoring US civilian communications. Maybe, just maybe, some of them are demoralized because they have not a damn thing to do with anything in the news, yet they're being treated like demons.

They're not the KKK, they're not the Westboro Baptist Church. The agency has redeeming qualities, and being a security organization there are probably *thousands* of them who know nothing more about these surveillance programs than we know. I'd be upset, too, if people were asking me to answer for something I knew absolutely nothing about simply because a huge division of my company two floors down were assholes.

Stop lumping them all together as one giant boogeyman. Look for the people responsible rather than naming the entire agency an inscrutible, invisible hand with nefarious intentions.

about 10 months ago
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Crowdsourcing the Discovery of New Antibiotics

RobinEggs Just straight up bullshit (73 comments)

You are so full of shit I don't even know where to begin.

For one thing, drug resistant infection is quite common, and becoming more so every month. I have no idea what led you to believe antibiotic resistance isn't a serious problem. Cite me a respected public health organization that isn't seriously concerned; I doubt you can even find me one that isn't outright shitting their pants.

And all your pro-market babble toward the end of that giant paragraph is pure sociopathy. "Moreover, undiscovered antibiotics are probably better left undiscovered until we learn our lesson about wasting them on livestock." Fuck planning for the future, right? We can totally outpace organisms that replicate in hours or days once we put the mighty human free-market after it, right?

It's OK if a few hundred million people die agonizing deaths; in the long run you're perfectly confident that the market value of new antibioitics will rise faster than the body count. The rest of us are not confident, and not willing to risk our very lives depending the companies that for the last 20 years have focused on six-figure cancer treatments. lifestyle drugs, and whining for tax breaks.

about 10 months ago
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NHTSA Tells Tesla To Stop Exaggerating Model S Safety Rating

RobinEggs And if you fill Tesla a vehicle, with hot air and (284 comments)

Just because the pollutant isn't literally generated onboard the vehicle doesn't mean *no* pollution was involved. Giving an actual value of "zero" in your claim for emissions is deceptive when 2/3 of the available electrons in America were produced with carbon fuels. Why is Tesla allowed to make weird claims that fully externalize/ignore certain costs when we at Slashdot would bitchslap the US government or a gasoline car company for doing that? How is it a failure of someone's intelligence or a problem reading "natural language" to look a single step up the supply chains and point out this vehicle depends presently on the same types of environmental cost as any other common vehicle?

about 10 months ago
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EPA Makes Most Wood Stoves Illegal

RobinEggs Because lung cancer is great for the rural poor! (1143 comments)

It's possible to assist the poor with buying better stoves, and the up-front costs of doing so would probably be lower than the residual Medicare and Medicaid payouts for respiratory diseases caused or worsened by their old stoves. A higher quality stove with better fittings would also produce an incredible increase in heat output; replacing an old model can truly make the difference between shivering around the stove at night and being perfectly comfortable anywhere within 25 feet. If they pay for the wood, the stove will definitely pay itself off eventually; even if they cut wood themselves the time savings will be substantial and that time could be put to higher value activities like work, study, or even hunting.

But I guess it's easier to denigrate every federal employee as a rich, do-nothing "busybody" who drives home to their "mansion" after "throwing the poor under the bus" than it is to see an obvious solution where the poor are healthier and more comfortable for less money than we're already putting out, and everyone breathes less soot.

about a year ago
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Charge Your Mobile Device With Fire

RobinEggs Many advantages of FlameStower over BioLite (126 comments)

The BioLite is 2 lbs 1 oz; the FlameStower is 7 oz. Using most canister stoves, you could carry stove, over a week of fuel, and the FlameStower for 8oz less than the BioLite.

You can use the Flamestower where you're not allowed to gather fuel, when there's nothing to burn, or when everything is too wet to burn. One or more of those things is true in tons of national parks, wetlands, deserts, mountains, etc.

The FlameStower is starting at $80 and could still come down; the BioLite is $129.

I've seen at least 3 posts that just said: "Why, you could just get a BioLite?", 1 that pointed out the advantages of the BioLite, and none that pointed out advantages of the FlameStower.

I'm quite disappointed that a group of people who laud critical thinking and informed opinion are so unimaginative about this device's usefulness, and speak as if quite uninformed about the practical necessities of backpacking / survival equipment.

about a year ago
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Time Warner Boosts Broadband Customer Speed — But Only Near Google Fiber

RobinEggs Apparently Going Postal Means Good Customer Servic (203 comments)

Um...what now? If you believe that list reads from worst customer service to best, then you apparently believe that our highway departments and the post office have the best customer service in the entire service and infrastructure industries.

The fairness of price is certainly better as you move up the list, and the quality of service is much more consistent...but let's not delude ourselves into thinking the US postal service or the federal highway administration represent paragons of efficiency and politeness here.

about a year and a half ago
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Steve Jobs Reincarnated As a Warrior-Philosopher, Thai Group Says

RobinEggs Who gives a fuck? (223 comments)

This isn't even posted under Idle; it's posted under Apple.

We're really so obsessed with Apple that the after-life of it's CEO can make the front page?

News for Nerds, Stuff that Doesn't Fucking Matter At All

more than 2 years ago
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Joyent Drops Lifetime Account Holders

RobinEggs Re:ask for more than that (443 comments)

For the last time...that 'coffee on the crotch' thing people hold up as the prime example of frivolous lawsuits was probably the most justified lawsuit this country has ever seen.

The woman had fucking third-degree burns throughout her crotch and thighs. A surgeon had to literally rebuild her labia and vagina. Hundreds of people had received second and third degree burns from McDonald's coffee in the years leading up to the suit, including instances when employees spilled the coffee on patrons. McDonald's specifically acknowledged even before that particular incident that the coffee was dangerously hot and unfit for consumption at the time of sale, yet still made a firm and specific corporate policy of setting every coffee maker to that temperature.

It was categorical, institutional recklessness that severely injured hundreds of people over more than a decade, but when one woman actually sues and wins over this everyone dismisses her as a cash-grabbing crackpot. That's what lawsuits are for; when some entity is fucking people over and won't respond to any other pleading or incentive.

Half of the 'frivolous' lawsuits out there are completely reasonable and proper grievances that corporations have sneakily re-framed as whiny bullshit. Because how dare the peons think there's an even playing field for them somewhere?! Courts are for corporations to get things done, not the people! Just because some jerk sues Dairy Queen over melted ice cream - and every comedian or 'human interest' journalist in the nation takes a crack at that moron - doesn't mean you can snidely dismiss every individual vs. corporate lawsuit without a second glance.

more than 2 years ago
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Bitcoin-Based Drug Market Silk Road Thriving With $2 Million In Monthly Sales

RobinEggs 98% positive feedback (498 comments)

Should we be surprised that the feedback is overwhelmingly positive? The owners of the site make money when the feedback is good; the site could die if the feedback was bad. They control the forum, including the ability to delete feedback. Connect the dots.

You wouldn't trust a company that self-reports; a company that controls the forum for user reports has the same underlying power to censor negative anecdotes as any other company that regulates from within.

more than 2 years ago
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Antibody Cocktail Cures Monkeys of Ebola

RobinEggs Not exactly 90%.... (101 comments)

That "kills up to 90% of infected people" comment is something of an exaggeration. From reading Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone", I recall that the dominant families of Ebola virus are the Sudan strain(s) and the Zaire strain(s). The Zaire strain will really fuck you up; that's the one which kills up to 90%. The Sudan strain is much less dangerous (statistically speaking), and kills something like 40-50%. There's even a new strain which broke out in a medical research facility in Reston, VA in 1998 which was contagious only to monkeys.

It sounds pedantic and insensitive to point out that some strains kill only 50% when even that number is horrific, and sounds totally incidental to mention a non-lethal strain, but actually the Reston and Sudan strains are more concerning in many ways than the extremely lethal Zaire varieties.

Extremely contagious, quick, and deadly diseases like Ebola Zaire often go too quickly for their own good. They can kill everyone so fast that even if the victims travel or meet an ignorant medical response, outbreaks wind up limiting themselves because the incubation isn't really that long and you certainly aren't moving around to spread the disease anymore once you're dead. Several times major outbreaks in African villages burnt themselves out with only the most rudimentary quarantine measures, and there were some major scares when people with Zaire strain took international plane rides that should have lead to global devastation if the disease were really that efficient in spreading. (It is astonishingly contagious in certain circumstances and certain phases of infection, but its contagiousness to people in the immediate area is only correlated to it's potential global virulence, not explicitly and solely causal to said potential.)

On the other hand, diseases like Sudan and Reston Ebola might become much worse health threats than the exceptionally deadly types of Ebola. Something like Ebola Sudan, which kills slower and kills relatively fewer people, could travel much farther and wider than the Zaire types. There could be longer periods in which people are shedding virus while they're still largely pre-symptomatic, longer periods of disease and recovery where they're extremely contagious but still require medical care and community to some degree, etc. I don't recall whether it applies to Hemorrhagic fevers, but there are also viruses people carry and periodically shed for life, as well, like herpes viruses. So a disease that kills a smaller percentage and presents less quickly/dramatically can be far more dangerous than the quicker, more brutal members of its pathogenic family

Along the same lines, the Reston variety of Ebola could be the freakiest of all, given some bad cosmic luck. Something very closely related to a lethal human illness can spread in birds, monkeys, pigs, etc. until it's downright common, and then suddenly re-develop the qualities to infect and kill humans. Now you have something which can be unpredictably spread by a population of carriers which can't be quarantined or predicted even half as well as you could manage human beings. That's why they follow the development of flu strains in birds, pigs, monkeys, and ruminants every year; you never know when something will show up that could make the Spanish flu look like a weekend with the sniffles.

So in summary, the headline makes Hemorrhagic fevers look worse than they really are (although even the 'nicest' ones are fucking terrifying), and it's actually the gentler varieties that are most likely to fuck up humanity one day.

more than 2 years ago
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Dungeons & Dragons Next Playtest Released

RobinEggs Uh....May Fools Day? (213 comments)

Are they kidding here? Fourth edition is will turn 4 years old next month, and they're already actively developing the next set?

It takes at least four years just to fully develop a new edition of a major tabletop game, with all the adventures and campaign settings and stuff that come out. And forget how long it takes the publishing to catch up, what about the players? All the rule and supplement books are at least $20; the most basic set of stuff for running a campaign is $70+, and that doesn't include any "toys" like campaign manuals or power-gaming goofy shit like epic-level character rulebooks / setting-based weapons and spell guides, etc. That shit's expensive, and it takes time to get used to.

Releasing a new edition of D&D every five years is just as much a slutty cash grab as releasing a new Call of Duty annually. They're not even letting the new version settle in before they prepare to shove it out the door.

more than 2 years ago
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Student Charged For Re-selling Textbooks

RobinEggs Re:Control, Control, Control (489 comments)

It looks suspicious as hell, even if what you were doing was actually innocent.

No, it doesn't. Every book is tracked. The second they accept a book, whether a new book from the loading dock or a used book from the buyback desk, it's in the system with its own sticker, and at least 3 employees saw the unpacking or purchasing happen. If I was stealing books, if there was any reason it could be "suspicious as hell", then where's the audit? If they can give me a list of which books I've sold them and claim this must be some criminal scheme, then why can't they simply count their copies of those titles and prove that I stole them? I'll give you a hint: because they did, and they know I didn't.

Not all coincidences are automatically "suspicious", and they had reams upon reams of camera footage and inventory data to catch me if I'd ever done anything legitimately wrong. I have no doubt they'd have charged me if they actually believed I stole anything or broke any law. They were the biggest assholes anyone there had ever worked for. They didn't charge me, because I never did anything wrong. I never stole anything or accessed any information that any other student couldn't have. It's as simple as that.

These are the same people who pay students $7.25/hour and external employees $10/hour, because "students get all their tax money back anyway, so you're practically ahead of the $10 people, anyway." Yeah, and I'm the fucking tooth fairy. I'm sure all of your half-time, temporary $10/hr employees were in a >27% tax bracket. They also had big, proud banners all over saying "our earnings go to scholorships". These banners failed to note that you can pay your management any number you damn well please and then call the rest of it "earnings", and also failed to mention that they were tens of millions in debt from mismanaging their remodel and so hadn't really *had* any earnings left for scholarships in years.

They also effectively threw out any book the school wasn't using anymore. They had people who would come in, scan all the books and compare them to the wholesalers and Amazon prices, and simply tell us how much money they were going to give us so they could cart it home and put it up online. We never turned down a single offer, ever, despite most offers being maybe 5% of the books' current value. I went to see the store manager and said "Why do you do this!? I'll buy the books from you if you just throw them away like that! I'll get a business license and go through the same moron channels these chislers went through to buy books from you, and I'll pay you *10 times* as much". She didn't have a good answer. She said there were always people after her to buy the books, and it was just a headache, and even if I was licensed she might not want to do business with me. "Do business with me?" She made it sound like contract negotiations; and yet she didn't provide a single specific reason why it would be complicated. It was just inconvenient, and less annoyance to pass the costs of those wasted books onto the students than to recover any real value. I was offering to pay her 10 times as much to literally dumpster dive as someone else was offering her. I'm not sure there's anything complicated about doing business there, or anything short of fucking idiocy to turn down that money. They were just lazy, corrupt fucks, and that's all there was to it. Every long term employee I ever spoke with immediately agreed when I brought up these bizarre situations that there was nothing else to it; corruption, greed, and incredible laziness.

They lied to everyone they could, manipulated anyone they could, and fired/censured anyone who got too close to the heart of their game. They were corrupt and lazy beyond belief, and that's all that was "suspicious as hell" about that store or anything I did there.

more than 2 years ago
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Student Charged For Re-selling Textbooks

RobinEggs Re:Control, Control, Control (489 comments)

No, it's not against the spirit of the law. They're allowed to buy books from their students all they want; it was solely the bookstore's decision to buy only one copy per student, and solely their decision to enforce that policy on a broad scale from "not at all" to "fire people on the spot". Their only justification for buying just one copy is to make sure some asshole doesn't bring in crate upon crate of freshly purchased books off Amazon the first day of buyback, walk out with $30k, and fuck over every student from those classes who wanted to sell their books. Which is why I only gave them shit after buyback, when they still needed more but couldn't acquire them any other way.

And whether or not it would be against the spirit of the law, this particular law is flat out evil. Anyone should be proud to violate that law, and in more than spirit. The law states, more or less, that no public entity can provide services that a private company could reasonably do. Universities and sanitation services are pretty much the only exempt parties, and even then the bookstore was supposed to buy books only from established megacorps, if not from their students. The law in question exists solely because of ignorant fears of socialism. The corporations love it, because it fucks over small business and make sure that public power, internet, housing, etc are almost impossible to establish even in cases where it would be better and cheaper for everyone to do so; the public loves it because ZOMG BOLSHEVIKS.

more than 2 years ago

Submissions

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SOPA Protest Pages

RobinEggs RobinEggs writes  |  more than 2 years ago

RobinEggs (1453925) writes "Since Slashdot's editorship see fit to post relentlessly about SOPA, but do not see fit to actually take an editorial stance or participate in the blackout, I thought we should at least get a thread in which to discuss the blackout as it unfolds and share with one another the best blacked-out sites.

My favorite so far is from TheOatmeal; their page has a good, simple explanation of the problem and explains it through their normal medium.

Don't forget that SOPA isn't officially dead until the end of the year, even if Eric Cantor has 'tabled' it for the moment. Write your congresspeople. Be heard. Make sure they never come back to this thing while they work for you.

And while you're writing letters to your congresspeople, write slashdot's editors and ask why they haven't done something about SOPA themselves. They buckled for scientology when that 'church' threatened the existence of slashdot, explaining their motives and urging readers to write their congresspeople; why won't they take the same public stance on something that threatens the entire internet?"

Link to Original Source
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Diablo 3 Coming to Consoles

RobinEggs RobinEggs writes  |  more than 2 years ago

RobinEggs (1453925) writes "After long speculation and a few affirmative hints, Blizzard has confirmed that Diablo 3 will have a console version. Responding to a fan who asked him to "confirm or deny" a console version of D3, Blizzard community manager Bashiok said: "Yup. Josh Mosqueira is lead designer for the Diablo console project."

Here's hoping Blizzard remains one of the few companies to fully develop both the console and PC version of their titles, rather than simply porting the Xbox version to PC. I think we've all had enough of bizarre scrolling, menus that can't be used with a mouse, and of "Controls" menus that don''t even bother replacing the 360 controller image with an actual keyboard layout."

Link to Original Source
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Miyamoto Steps Down

RobinEggs RobinEggs writes  |  more than 2 years ago

RobinEggs (1453925) writes "Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator and producer of the Zelda and Mario franchises among other works, is stepping down at Nintendo.

After personally managing Nintendo's blockbuster franchises for ~20 years, Miyamoto said today: ""What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself. Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small.""

Link to Original Source
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Supreme Court Legitimizing Medical Patents?

RobinEggs RobinEggs writes  |  more than 2 years ago

RobinEggs (1453925) writes "A case before the US Supreme Court today addresses the legality of medical patents.

From TFA: "The case focuses on a patent that covers the concept of adjusting the dosage of a drug, thiopurine, based on the concentration of a particular chemical (called a metabolite) in the patient's blood. The patent does not cover the drug itself—that patent expired years ago—nor does it cover any specific machine or procedure for measuring the metabolite level. Rather, it covers the idea that particular levels of the chemical "indicate a need" to raise or lower the drug dosage.

The patent holder, Prometheus Labs, offers a thiopurine testing product. It sued the Mayo Clinic when the latter announced it would offer its own, competing thiopurine test. But Prometheus claims much more than its specific testing process. It claims a physician administering thiopurine to a patient can infringe its patent merely by being aware of the scientific correlation disclosed in the patent—even if the doctor doesn't act on the patent's recommendations."

The ACLU, AMA, AARP, multiple libertarian groups, and the ghost of Michael Crichton all filed strongly worded amicus briefs urging the court to decide against Prometheus claims.

It's amazing how friendly the justices seem toward medical patents in general. Newest member Elena Kagan offered an opinion I find particularly stupid, which is easiest read and understood in the context of the linked article."

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Virus Makes Mice Immune to HIV

RobinEggs RobinEggs writes  |  more than 2 years ago

RobinEggs (1453925) writes "Virologists at Caltech have created a virus that makes mice completely immune to HIV, as reported in Nature this month.

The researchers modified an adenovirus to deliver genes for effective HIV antibodies to the mice's muscle cells. The mice produced the antibodies, and expressed high levels of them a full year later. The researchers also injected the mice with up to 100 times as much HIV as organisms naturally acquire in their initial exposure to the virus, and these mice were "completely protected" from infection.

Obviously mice aren't human and HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus, but mice are a very good biochemical analogue for humans in lab work, and the researchers took the extra step of 'humanizing' the mouse immune systems by killing their natural bone marrow and providing them with transplant marrow from human donors. Along the same line, some people could show immune responses to the antibodies themselves which weren't observed in the mice, and anyone with adverse reactions could develop an entirely new and permanent autoimmune disease. This danger is entirely hypothetical right now, but plausible.

Hopefully the work will advance to human clinical trials. Wayne Koff of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative said: "Mice and monkeys don't always tell the truth" about the human response to a therapy, but considers it "a really interesting idea" worthy of further trials. The work certainly opens new doors for HIV research. While a true vaccine would be cheaper, and carry less risk of adverse responses this looks like the next best way of acquiring complete immunity to HIV and AIDs."

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Bulldozer's Just As Bad With Servers

RobinEggs RobinEggs writes  |  more than 2 years ago

RobinEggs (1453925) writes "Some reviews of Bulldozer's performance in servers have arrived, and Arstechnica has a breakdown. The results are pretty ugly. Apparently Bulldozer fares just as poorly with servers as with desktops.

From the article: 'One reason for the underwhelming performance on the desktop is that the Bulldozer architecture emphasizes multithreaded performance over single-threaded performance. For desktop applications, where single-threaded performance is still king, this is a problem. Server workloads, in contrast, typically have to handle multiple users, network connections, and virtual machines concurrently. This makes them a much better fit for processors that support lots of concurrent threads. Some commentators have even suggested that Bulldozer was, first and foremost, a server processor; relatively weak desktop performance was to be expected, but it would all come good in the server room.

Unfortunately for AMD, it looks as though the decisions that hurt Bulldozer on the desktop continue to hurt it in the server room. Although the server benchmarks don't show the same regressions as were found on the desktop, they do little to justify the design of the new architecture.'

It's probably much too early to start editorializing about the end of AMD, or even to say with certainty that Bulldozer has failed, but my untrained eye can't yet see any possible silver lining in these new processors."

Link to Original Source
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Survey Says Piracy Penalties Too High

RobinEggs RobinEggs writes  |  more than 2 years ago

RobinEggs (1453925) writes "A survey from Columbia's American Assembly showed that few Americans support fines over $100 for illegal downloading, and 49% don't support fines at all. Likewise support for jail time and internet disconnection as penalties were low, at 12% and 16%.

An extensive summary can be found here. There's also a short story available here at Arstechnica.

Overall the results are encouraging, although I have to admit I'm suspicious about whether the wording of the survey questions strongly favored pro-pirate responses. For example, the survey also says only 52% of Americans favor any penalties at all, and as you saw above the penalties people did agree to were pretty gentle overall."

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ReDigi sells used digital music, RIAA says no

RobinEggs RobinEggs writes  |  more than 2 years ago

RobinEggs (1453925) writes "ReDigi brokers the resale of your digital music to other people. They claim their service can distinguish music from iTunes and other legal sources, upload it to their server, delete your copy, and then sell the music to someone else. Only one copy exists before the sale, and only one exists after. ReDigi appears to believe this satisfies fair use and first sale privileges.

RIAA says the system makes copies in the process of transferring the music, and thus it is illegal whether or not first sale applies to digital goods: "[The Copyright Act]... does not permit the owner to make another copy, sell the second copy and destroy the original. Thus, even if ReDigi's software and system works as described by ReDigi (i.e. that it deletes the original copy before it makes the sale), ReDigi would still be liable for copyright infringement."

RIAA further requests that all music files currently on ReDigi's servers be quarantined, all likenesses of their artists be removed from ReDigi's website, and that ReDigi turn over all of their sales records so that RIAA can discuss a settlement with them."

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$500,000 Worth of Bitcoins Stolen

RobinEggs RobinEggs writes  |  more than 3 years ago

RobinEggs (1453925) writes "Bitcoin user allinvain woke up Tuesday morning to find they'd lost 25,000 bitcoins to a hacker who'd stolen their wallet file from their home PC. The spending and transfer of bitcoins is transparent, so allinvain easily identified the user who'd stolen the money, but with no governing authority and no central servers the funds are impossible to recover. He can do nothing but watch as his money is spent. This highlights a major vulnerability of holding money in bitcoins: if the wallet file containing the keys to your funds is not encrypted or kept away from the internet entirely, it's possible to see your entire holdings drain away before your eyes. The coins are worth ~$500,000 at current exchange rates."
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North Carolina Cripples Municipal Broadband

RobinEggs RobinEggs writes  |  more than 3 years ago

RobinEggs writes "The North Carolina state House this morning passed the "Level Playing Field" law (descended directly from this industry-written abomination), which requires that any municipal internet service in the state behave like a private ISP: cities are to charge customers rates that reflect all of the taxes, rights of way, etc. that a private telecom would pay. The city would further be required to pay all county, state, and federal taxes on the endeavor as if the network were a private company. What cities are supposed to do with the substantial profits a successful muni network would receive due to charging rates well above their costs I don't know. My guess is they should save it for the lawsuits that will follow from ATT and Time Warner.

Despite the name "Level Playing Field", however, the city networks would be subject to independent audits, months of hearings before being allowed to build a network (at which all private internet providers in that or any bordering city would be entitled to make competing presentations), and finally the city-owned networks would be required to publish all feasibility studies, business plans, etc. as "public" information. So it's level in the sense that they have to charge as much as private firms *might* charge if they even offered fiber to the home, yet somehow being required to solicit input from competitors and publish your business plans in the local paper is totally 'level' as well.

There is still a narrow window, however, to make your displeasure clear to the state Senate before they vote on it. It's current referred to the Senate commerce committee, so if you're a resident of North Carolina or a competent economist or engineer who can argue in favor of allowing real competition with big telecom you should start there."

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