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Nuclear Missile Command Drops Grades From Tests To Discourage Cheating

Ronin Developer The Air Force is also making an effort to replace (116 comments)

... or refurbish the aging equipment that runs these facilities.

Which equipment? The testing equipment, the launchers, missiles, terminators?

yesterday
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Ford, GM Sued Over Vehicles' Ability To Rip CD Music To Hard Drive

Ronin Developer Re:Did they take on Apple? (274 comments)

Apple is also authorized and licensed to resell music for this purpose with it's iTunes service.

And, I do believe the courts have ruled in favor of copying music from CD's to MP3 and similar (i.e iPod) devices for personal use.

Time to shut these asshats down once and for all. Sadly, it will probably result in a settlement vs a legal ruling so this crap will keep on haunting the rest of us.

yesterday
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For Half, Degrees In Computing, Math, Or Stats Lead To Other Jobs

Ronin Developer Re:~50% have no degree... (174 comments)

Wow. Sounds like sour grapes from somebody who has chosen not to seek a degree or, for perhaps, maybe couldn't afford one, overly smart and found school boring or simply didn't have the necessary non-technical skills to get into college?

A four year degree, in most disciplines, might teach some technical skills. But, the value of an higher education is, as blazer1024 pointed out, is it prepares you to be able to think and learn and it improves the gene pool you are exposed to as well as to get laid. This was exactly the attitude my boss during my co-ops held as well and one I hold as well. A four year engineering or science degree isn't going to get you very far in those fields. You really need a masters or beyond to enter those disciplines. You seldom find non-degreed "engineers" working in an engineering discipline. In lieu of a degree, some states require you pass a licensing exam to perform engineering functions. Like passing the Bar exam, one doesn't need a law degree to become a lawyer. But, possessing the degree makes a world of difference in preparing you for the exam as well as open doors that a non-degreed person might never be able to step through.

Fortunately, software development ( and IT in general) is one field where someone with just the technical skills or a degree can enter, make a mark, and even advance. Sadly, I have found many such individuals, despite technical brilliance, lacking when it comes to discussing topics outside of their work or technical discussions.

College is designed to make people think and open their minds to new and different ideas. It offers and exposes you to ideas that only an academic world can offer.

I earned a BS in Physics. With a 4 year degree, I am not qualified to be world renowned physicist working at CERN, for example. Frankly, I wouldn't be taken seriously by the best scientists.

In fact, I seldom use my science degree. Upon graduating college, I entered Naval service as an officer where I travelled the world, met new people, encountered different viewpoints and ideas (and was trained to kill them). And, when I left service, I found that it was those life skills, along with a lesser degree my scientific and computer skills, that enabled me to be immediately hired into a higher, technical leadership position. I was still hands-on and developed code for years and chose not to be a project manager or executive - it didn't float my boat. Now, I am an solutions architect and, even after 25 years in the field, still love what I do. No, I do not hold a CS degree despite wanting to go back an earn it or a business degree - life interruptus.

So, don't knock higher education. Maybe for some, it fosters elitism. I say, that one should just realize what it can do to enrich your life.

about a week ago
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China Plans Particle Colliders That Would Dwarf CERN's LHC

Ronin Developer Earthquakes? (218 comments)

Sounds cool. But, given China's perpensity to have massive earthquakes, is the building of such a large collider a wise idea? I would think a 57 mile diameter ring of superconducting, supercooled magnets and high vacuum might have some integrity and alignment issues even after a minor tremor let alone a large quake.

about a week ago
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No RIF'd Employees Need Apply For Microsoft External Staff Jobs For 6 Months

Ronin Developer Re:Question for someone with Legal? (282 comments)

Most states and the IRS require that, as an independent contractor, that you hold at least 2 active contracts. Given they were your former employer, the transition to a 1099 raised eyebrows as it provided your employer with a way not to pay employment taxes (putting it on you). All you needed was another 1099 contract and they would go away as you would meet the definition of contractor vs employee.

about a week ago
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MIT Combines Carbon Foam and Graphite Flakes For Efficient Solar Steam Generati

Ronin Developer Re:De-salination? (110 comments)

They speak of micropores in the sponge material. This would likely foul with particulate in the water. The water in the system would need to be fairly pure to start.

That being said, if it is an efficient steam generator, perhaps, it could be used to provide the heat source for desalination systems such as what are used onboard navy ships for the production of fresh water?

about a week ago
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MIT's Ted Postol Presents More Evidence On Iron Dome Failures

Ronin Developer Let's talk about the article... (454 comments)

...rather than the hate riddled Jewish/Palestinian arguments and comments that started with post 1?

Contrary to the reports in the media that Iron Dome has shot down 370 or so of the 2000 rockets, the system is significantly less effective - or so it would seem.

The article cites the relatively small size of the rockets, the small payload (10-20 pounds), lack of guidance control, and sparse population are the likely factor in the limited civilian deaths rather than the effectiveness of Iron Dome. Throw in the fact that these aren't exactly large targets to hit either, is it any wonder it misses?

Of possible factor is that Iron Dome, like CIWS onboard US ships, can determine which rockets actually pose a threat to civilians and not engage those rockets.

Sadly, people can be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

about a week ago
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MIT's Ted Postol Presents More Evidence On Iron Dome Failures

Ronin Developer Re: Here we go... (454 comments)

So, Gazans aren't supposed to reproduce?

I would say they are reproducing to replace those killed by constant war, famine, and disease. Or, maybe, they just enjoy having a large family like many others do.

It sounds to me that you don't value human life - mainly that of Gazans.

about a week ago
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Ars Editor Learns Feds Have His Old IP Addresses, Full Credit Card Numbers

Ronin Developer PNR's are not new (217 comments)

When I used to work for the IT of a very large travel agency in the late 1990's/early 2K's, our systems interacted with the computer reservations systems (CRS') of the major airlines, hotel and rental car chains. Every little detail of a call, itinerary, preferences and even comments by the travel agents are recorded. This information is collected by both travel agents on behalf of the travel firms so that they can provide better customer service (or, in the case of asshat travellers, give the agent a heads up).

We, as a travel agents could see the PNRs of all the airlines, hotels and rental car companies we did business with. And, we kept information on our corporate and personal clients in our own CRS as well - often, it included information extracted from those other systems so we could present it in a manner useful for our agents.

The point? The point is that this information has been available to 3rd parties for years under agreement. Since 9/11, right or wrong, the gov't has become more interested in your travel plans. This is, especially, true if you are a person of interest. Imagine what they have on your when the merge your credit card info / purchases, gas and food purchases, toll records, call records (meta data or actual, recorded calls) bank records, health records, video feeds, DMV records, and social media...Imagine the picture they can paint on each one of us under the guise of "National Security".

None of this is new. Only now are people beginning to understand what data is collected and available to those who want to know more about you. And, only now, do we as society have the ability to aggregate all this information into a single profile about you. You can can for what they have on you. You, almost certainly, will not like what you see. And, you aren't going to see the intel they extracted from that info.

There is no privacy. We, as a society, have given up privacy for convenience. And, we have accepted what corporations push on us (i.e. ATM fees (which, used to be free, btw) ) as the price for the convenience.

Here's something else to consider - we put money into banks. Those banks use our money to make money via loans. And, they fail to pay any reasonable interest on the money you deposited and allowing them to use (I remember 6% on savings...today? maybe 0.5%..can't even buy A lunch on the interest payment). And, they have the balls to charge you for the "privilege" of having an account and accessing your own money. Worse, you HAVE to have an account if you desire the convenience of a credit card, debit card, loan, or even as a place to deposit your paycheck as many corporations don't like cutting checks. The gov't has access to all these accounts and transactions and we pay for it. This is all in the name of convenience. Convenient, isn't it?

about two weeks ago
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Wearable Robot Adds Two Fingers To Your Hand

Ronin Developer The Yakuza (77 comments)

are thrilled.

about two weeks ago
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Nearly 25 Years Ago, IBM Helped Save Macintosh

Ronin Developer 68K vs x86 - Apple vs IBM PC (236 comments)

The original PC, in 1981 ran on the 8088 - an 8/16 bit hybrid chip. By the time the Mac was released in 1989, the 486 was the chip of choice for the IBM PC and, more importantly, the clones.

Apple had a history and relationship with Motorola with the 6502 used in its Apple I and II lineup. When the Mac was released, the 68000 was a superior chip to the 386. And, there was the Apple vs PC war going on which helped solidify the choice - Apple was distancing itself from PCs anyway possible.

The 68K was a superior architecture to the x86 from a programming perspective. It's handling of memory was superior as well and was a dream to code in comparison to x86. But, frankly, it was easier to squeeze more performance out of the 486 and Pentium chips. Throw in a x87 co-processor, and my original PC seemed to outperform my original 68K based Mac when it came to number crunching despite the PC running at 4mhz vs the 16mhz 68 (yes, mhz). Even when I wrote assembly code (and, I was pretty good back then), the x86 code was still faster than comparable 68K code. Apple released subsequent versions of the Mac with the 68010/68020/68030 chips. But, so much was being done in software vs hardware on the Mac, especially, graphics, that the Mac seemed slow in comparison. The open architecture of the PC allowed 3rd party graphics cards and add-ons.

  The Mac, with it's closed architecture, did not permit real 3rd party boards (unless you wanted to open the Mac and do a piggy-back board) until the Mac II and NuBus. NuBus never caught on - mainly, because Apple market share and developer constraints made it a real PITA to create NuBus cards. NuBus was pretty cool, though and was true plug'n play even before PC's got that ability.

At this same time, there was the debate over superiority of CISC vs RISC chips. Intel was CISC. Motorola stopped improving the 68K and focused on RISC. Apple went with RISC and, together with IBM and Motorola, developed the RISC PowerPC chip. It was, likely, easier, to port the 68K firmware and software to the PPC vs an x86 and it avoided the nightmare of admitting that IBM got it right when the went with i

Dwindling market share for the Mac (they still didn't permit clones to use their OS), heat (PowerPC was HOT and not suitable for laptops), and cost (x86 was cheaper than PowerPC, period and being produced by multiple vendors - nobody else made the Motorola designs), and Motorola doing much to improve the heat, power consumption and performance vs x86 took Apple down the x86 path.

about two weeks ago
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German NSA Committee May Turn To Typewriters To Stop Leaks

Ronin Developer Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (244 comments)

Electric and Electronic typewriters are far more susceptible to intercept as each key would generate a distinct RF signature and were much more suitable for spies.

Could one capture the same using a manual typewriter? Maybe. But, it would require highly sensitive and dynamic range microphones and recording technology to detect the sounds of the key being pressed vs the time it takes for the hammer to strike the paper and wait for the sound that it has returned of an older electric typewriter. SELECTRICs pose additional problems due to the use of the ball over a hammer. Additionally, with a manual typewriter, you can vary the timing by how hard you press and release the key.

Theoretically, you could bounce a laser off of a reflective surface to pick up sounds. Not sure how "hi-fi" it would be, though or whether it could detect the subtle signals.

Another device that was used was the Van Ekk device which could reproduce images displayed on a CRT monitor upwards of several hundred feet away. It's one reason secure locations are enclosed in a Faraday cage. Theoretically, you could monitor currents on the ground wire.

So, manual typewriters are still the most secure of the lot.

about two weeks ago
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Court Allowed NSA To Spy On All But 4 Countries

Ronin Developer Re:Uh... Yeah? (242 comments)

You have much to learn about spying - thousands of lives were lost, on both sides, during the Cold-War. Just because it wasn't an overt military conflict does not mean that it was a peaceful endeavor.

Today, we know that spies from many nations live within our borders. Some are after national secrets, some are after industrial secrets. But, any way you cut it, it goes counter to our National interests even if it's a dirty business.

about a month ago
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A Physicist Says He Can Tornado-Proof the Midwest With 1,000-Foot Walls

Ronin Developer Re:Your taxes at work (501 comments)

Okay...I am embarrassed...I WENT to Drexel. A 1000 ft wall AROUND the mid-west?

What happens if somebody decides to fill it with water?

about a month ago
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Kids With Operators Manual Alert Bank Officials: "We Hacked Your ATM"

Ronin Developer Demo Disks (378 comments)

Years ago, when ATMs were first becoming available, someone I know worked as a security exec for a large bank. Seems back then, each ATM came with a demo disk hat, when inserted into a floppy disk port inside the ATM's housing (but, easily accessed) placed the machine into demo mode and allowed the operator full control of the device. The sales operator could then fully demonstrate ALL the features of the ATM - including the automatic dispensing of cash.

With furled eyebrows, he asked whatever became of all the demo disks after the ATM was installed..nobody knew...just assumed they were thrown out. He asked if they considered this a problem. And, he was told 'No'. At the time, stealing the ATM was all the rage and his concerns were discounted...until one day when money just started disappearing from ATMs. Seems, somebody else found or had one of those disks and realized what they had.

Pretty scary these kids could find a manual online and that the command sequence to place it into admin mode could be done from the user console vs a separate terminal. One has to wonder if they could have dispensed cash like a Pez dispensor like was possible with the old demo disks.

about 2 months ago
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Happy 95th Anniversary, Relativity

Ronin Developer Uh..Relativity didn't disprove Newtown (120 comments)

Newton's Law of Gravity showed that the force of attraction was proportional to the masses of the objects and inversely proportional to the distance squared: Fg=kM1M2/r^2

Einstein demonstrated in his experiment, through gravitational lensing effect, that mass bends space-time and his famous equation showed mass and energy to be equivalent. This effect, not normally observable in our daily lives, shows that Newton's law is still correct. It's at relativistic speeds and at the quantum level that other terms introduced by Einstein's equations become relevant.

Under normal conditions, we can not see the effect that Einstein predicted.

We did similar calculations using Quantum mechanics to derive other classical laws. It was, fascinating, to see how they hold up.

about 2 months ago
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Driverless Cars Could Cripple Law Enforcement Budgets

Ronin Developer Contrary to popular belief... (626 comments)

Well, in PA anyway, very little money goes to the police department with the tickets they issue. Funding for the police comes, primarily, from other sources - ie taxes.

Citations fall into many different categories that range from local ordinance violations to federal statute violations. When a citation is issued, there is the "Fine" and other "charges". The department does not get a whole lot of money from the fine as that money goes into collective pool at various levels of govt. This money is distributed to departments across each state of the union based on need. In other words, it supplements tax level funding of each department.

The charges, however, cover filing fees, ambulance fees, etc. A town can make more money enforcing local ordinances as they can control the fine and charges.

When I worked on a citation processing module in PA, the citations were reported to an organization called AOPC (association of police chiefs). They tracked each citation issued for reporting and accounting purposes. The process is supposed to be bi-directional with the disposition of each citation sent back to the departments records management system. No money changes hands here.

The actual citation and any monies collected locally are sent to the state...well, assuming they are not corrupt...for processing. This is one reason why Podunk little towns have so many ordinances as they can collect more on each citation. They have little control over state and federal citations, however.

I won't dispute that officers may be instructed to be on the lookout for certain types of violations -however, legally, "quotas" are not permitted. They are used to raise awareness - such as getting the message like to slow down, don't pass a school bus with flashing red lights, or to stop for people in crosswalks.

Other states might operate slightly differently in how citations are issued. The fact that the automated vehicles will reduce a small revenue stream may remain. But, I think any opportunity for an officer NOT to approach a car with a potentially dangerous occupant is something most officers would embrace. Their departments will still be funded by need and to combat the types of crimes prevalent in their community from taxes.

Finally, it is usually to your benefit to go to court - most officers would rather write you up on a lesser charge than screw you on insurance points.. They would rather you learn from your mistake (unless you put someone in immediate danger). So, be polite if pulled over and take it to court if you can afford the time. They know going to court is an inconvenience to you. Them? No so much. So, you get the message.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Easy-To-Use Alternative To MS Access For a Charity's Database?

Ronin Developer Why not use a BaaS provider? (281 comments)

A lot of details missing on what the end-user environment is.
I am assuming they have internet access? Dial-up or faster?

If so, why not consider building a BaaS (Kinvey, Parse, Azure, Amazon) with a simple webapp served up using WAMP or equivalent? I can't imagine this app will run over the limits of the free account providers such as Kinvey and Parse offer. And, you could probably talk to the provider see if they have discounts or willing to donate services.

Wrap everything up in a nice Windows installer. Keep it simple.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Computer Science Freshman, Too Soon To Job Hunt?

Ronin Developer No, it is not too early. (309 comments)

When you graduate and apply for your first post college job, they will look at your GPA and school if you don't have any relevant experience listed. I attended a college that had a co-op program. On the job, my employers taught me that college is about learning how to think critically and learn. Yes, they will expect your college program to teach you relevant skills. But, that is not the main objective.

But, an employer is going to be more interested in what you have done during your college career to better prepare yourself. Your interests and work experience will differentiate you from the pack of other recent grads.

Seeking a job as in your field, even if it seems mundane will help you obtain some domain experience. Would I hire you to design my backend systems? No likely. But, show that you are acquiring the skills and have the desire, and you would get a chance on a small project or team.

If you can't find work, freelance. Just make sure your grades don't suffer if you want a CS relevant position when you graduate.If you don't finish, for whatever reason, you will have a backup plan - you will, likely, find yourself lower on the food chain. But, you will be working.

As for PHP and MySQL being obsolete - total BS - do a search on Dice, look at the language rankings, and other tech publications to know the tends. We are a PHP/Drupal shop. And, we have a ton of work with high retention. It's harder to get systems built on it into an enterprise - they want MS or Java skills. But, when providing other services, they are more accepting. I would encourage you to learn other skills, but you have time for that.

Enjoy college and all it can offer. Work /freelance if you can balance it. And, stay current. good luck

about 3 months ago
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One-a-Day-Compiles: Good Enough For Government Work In 1983

Ronin Developer Re:1983 was not the "punched card era" (230 comments)

Punch cards were still being used as late as 1984...probably not much longer.

I grew up in the era of punch-cards (1970's). My mother was a key-punch operator and was responsible for translating the handwritten code from the programmers as well as customer data into punched card format. It was also how and when I learned to program - I was in 4th grade and had an interest in computers. A programmer (and, department head) took interest in helping me learn. He would spend a little time with me each week to teach me assembly programming on the IBM 360. Then, he would would give me an assignment where I would work on writing a program which he would have punched and run. We used flowcharts...no interpreters or IDEs and I translated into assembly by hand. I had to "run" each program on paper first, following the flowchart, setting and updating variables and writing output. Making mistakes was costly in terms of time. Once he was satisfied, it would be punched and run. Yes, the results came back a day or two later (when, they weren't running other jobs). If there were errors, he would point out the error in the output and send me back to correct the code.

What I took away from this was learning how to determine requirements, design and code. I learned how to think things through before laying down a line of code. I learned how to code correctly and accurately to avoid errors.

1977 - I learned to program on an Altair flipping toggle switches. I was going to build one for myself. Then, the first TRS-80's came out.

1980, while in high school, we had an HP that took both cards and tape. Most kids taking the computer course had to write their programs on cards in BASIC as there was only one terminal. We got TRS-80 and Commodore Pets later that year. The HP was seldom used after they arrived.

1982, I owned my very own IBM PC as was programming in Basic, Assembler, Forth, C and Turbo Pascal. Two 5 1/4 inch floppy drives and 64 MB of RAM with an 8087 math co-processor, an amber monitor and 300 baud modem.

In 1984, at Drexel University, we still used cards on a Prime for coding in Fortran until they were able to get enough terminals - never had to use cards again. Then, the entire freshman class received the first Macs. It changed everything.

Today's generation has the luxury of very fast PCs, lots of memory and storage, modern languages and compilers and interpreters we stone-age caveman developers could only dream of when we started.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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Key Logging on iOS Devices

Ronin Developer Ronin Developer writes  |  about 9 months ago

Ronin Developer (67677) writes "iKeyMonitor popped up on freecode.com today. It provides key logging capabilities to users of jailbroken iOS devices.

This is a perfect reason NOT to jailbreak your phone and why the Apple walled garden provides a measure of security.

Now, question for you Android folks — Can you install a key logger on an Android device? Any special requirements to do so? If the answers are, respectively, "yes" and "no", it seems to provide a clear indication why Apple still dominates the Enterprise tablet market.

Thoughts?"

Link to Original Source
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Break-Even at the National Ignition Facility Achieved!!!!

Ronin Developer Ronin Developer writes  |  about 10 months ago

Ronin Developer (67677) writes "It is being reported that the NIF has achieved break-even with the fusion reactor — getting as much energy out (if not a little more) than they put in.

While a long way off from commercial fusion power generation, this is a significant milestone."

Link to Original Source

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