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Snowden's Leaks Didn't Help Terrorists

Sarten-X Re:Nostradamus (161 comments)

The first poem is clearly referring to someone else.

East of the Apennine would refer to the Arabian desert, so it's about a man who left his desert home, flew to a wet area for training, then spent time in a snowy area. He would be a great warrior, mostly using a stick-like weapon, rather than projectiles.

Nostradamus was telling the tale from "a long time ago"; that of Luke Skywalker.


Snowden's Leaks Didn't Help Terrorists

Sarten-X Re:The real study (161 comments)

That was my first impression, as well.

So there wasn't an extra release... so what? There's no examination of the regularly-scheduled releases to see if the content has changed.


Oculus Rift CEO Says Classrooms of the Future Will Be In VR Goggles

Sarten-X Re:Transformative Platforms! (182 comments)

To be fair, those things did transform education.

  1. Radio enabled students to study the ever-changing reality of modern global events, rather than merely studying literal "textbook cases", supporting a paradigm of learning by observing, rather than learning by prescribed theory.
  2. Television, in addition to carrying on the benefit of radio, shows students the world rather than simply referring to points on a map. Different cultures and environments can be described in full color with fluid video, rather than hoping the student understands a short text description that too often seems absurd due to its foreign context.
  3. Language labs are still in use today, if the school can afford the high cost to keep them running. The transformative techniques they pioneered are actually seeing more use in specialized environments where a pre-built curriculum is sufficient to teach a skill, such as for technical training.
  4. Personal computers were a major factor in changing the educational process into a full-time occupation. Where students used to have only a bit of homework to do each night, now everything children are exposed to is pushed as an "educational opportunity". This, in conjunction with the increased rate of information transfer that a computer supports, exposes students to far more educational information than previous techniques support. Considering the exponential increase in the about of information considered to be part of a basic education, this is a good thing.
  5. Laptops, especially as they're penetrated the corporate environment, have become a vital tool in university courses. Now, the educational focus is less about absorbing every detail presented in the class, because references are always available. It's the overall concepts that are important, with the details deferred until later.
  6. Tablets have taken the successes of laptops further in places where a full portable computer isn't really necessary. One notable example is a teaching hospital, where the tablet provides a convenient addition to the ubiquitous patient charts, providing quick access to a senior's opinion and reference material. They've also shown significant benefit in early-childhood development, as a ruggedized tablet can provide more interaction (and therefore hold attention better) than a TV show or adult's presentation, while still introducing the basic elements of language are mathematics that the rest of the child's educational career will build on.
  7. Virtual worlds have not seen much use directly as formal educational tools, but they have become a more convenient form of extracurricular study groups. Where previously such groupd would meet in a library, bar, or colleague's house, it's now more convenient to meet in a virtual space. Depending on the subject, the degree of interaction required varies.
  8. The gamification of education has a long history, actually dating back to the "ancient classroom of Rome or Greece" that you mentioned. Plato and Socrates used verbal and logic games, encouraging students to discover answers rather than simply accept what was given to them. In the Middle Ages, chess was used to teach military strategy, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of various forms of attack.
  9. Finally, tape recorders opened the doors to whole arsenal of educational techniques, ranging from pre-recorded lectures to verbatim note-taking. The use of pre-recorded materials avoids teachers fumbling through an exercise, while also breaking up the lesson into manageable sessions that the brain can process more easily.

Perhaps the most important educational transformation brought about by technology has been the effect of all of these combined. Indeed, today's classrooms and classes look nothing like ancient Rome or Greece. Those ancient students had to carefully choose their teachers, lest they be taught principles that the government had banned. If a student didn't understand the teacher's presentation, they had no alternative resource. Even as late as the early twentieth century, the teacher was the sole source of all formal knowledge for the student. A persuasive teacher could bring order or chaos to a town. It's not surprising they were expected to hold such high moral standards.

Today, thanks to modern technology, education is focused on being less focused. Students are given a wide overview of the world, and expected to make their own choices through it. The teacher is expected to serve mainly as a curator and aide to present the world to the students.

4 days ago

Solar Powered Technology Enhances Oil Recovery

Sarten-X Re:don't they already vent hydrocarbon gasses? (81 comments)

The main reason the natural gas can't be sold commercially is that it's unpredictable. Some days, they extract a lot of high-quality gas, and other days they extract none, while still other days they might get something that's more toxic if burned.

To use such gas for any commercial purpose would mean it needs to be reliable. Adding that reliability comes only at great expense.

4 days ago

Google Hangouts Gets Google Voice Integration And Free VoIP Calls

Sarten-X Re:This is new? (162 comments)

That was my reaction, as well.

Looking at the other comments here, though, I am reminded of what's missing in the Hangouts app. I still switch to the Google Voice app for voice mails, text messages, and making cellular outgoing calls. I'd expect to see at least the first two of those implemented directly in Hangouts.

about a week ago

Microsoft Takes Down Slideshow-Building Tool After Getty Images Lawsuit

Sarten-X Re:Maybe we need an HTML tag for image/work copyri (81 comments)

Followed by tools to strip it out, and tools to replace it with your own information, and tools to break into web servers and silently modify all of their images to show that you own them.

Nope. DRM is not going to save us.

about two weeks ago

Microsoft Takes Down Slideshow-Building Tool After Getty Images Lawsuit

Sarten-X Re: So a company (81 comments)

In the case of Getty, they provide a service in many ways inferior to GIS or BIS, which kinda counts as the whole reason we have this topic in the first place - MS's cute little slideshow widget worked better than Getty, thereby completely shutting Getty out of the picture.

Anyone actually interested in paying for stock photos, OTOH, already understands the difference between freely available vs licensed content, and damned well won't risk their job "accidentally" ripping off random photographers.

That's cute.

Let's say I'm interested in paying for a stock photo. I go to Google, and search for my project's key terms. I get seven cats, thirteen memes, and a mugshot on the first bunch of results. I try different terms, find one I like, and... then what? Not every website includes contact information, and if they aren't outright trying to sell me pictures, I have to go hunting to even figure out where to ask.

Maybe I'm lucky, and I find a site with contact information. I call up the photographer, and he's willing to negotiate. There's a back-and-forth exchange where I offer some amount of money, and he wants a hundred times that. Forget it.

I go back to Google, and try again, luckily remembering the refined search terms I used in the last round. In amongst the blogs written by that license-lacking Grandma, there's another candidate for my project. Searching Google for that image doesn't show any other sources, and it obviously isn't Grandma's original work, so there's another wasted effort.

Finally, I hit the jackpot. I find a photographer who has posted prices, and has a decent picture that fits my needs... but he only takes PayPal payments, and says he'll email me a copy of the picture in "good resolution", whatever that means. One of his pictures looks familiar, and sure enough, a bit of investigation shows that it's a pretty common candid of an office worker, used in catalogs and on support pages across the Internet. Could it be that this guy's the silently-famous photographer, or is he just selling others' work to make a quick buck? It's a bit too risky for me, so that "jackpot" is another dead end.

I give up. I'm well on the way to spending more time on the project than it's worth. If only there were some other company to do the sourcing work for me. They could negotiate with photographers, index pictures by business-relevant keywords, and provide reputable proof that I'm actually getting a legitimate license to the material I'm paying for. All of that risk is eliminated, and the project could stay within a constant time and financial budget.

The service Getty provides is ultimately the same as any other broker: risk mitigation. They do the acquisition work, and assume the risk of high acquisition costs. They also do resale, and assume the risk of having unsold goods. Because they work on a large scale, they can specialize enough to reduce those risks to an affordable level, and I can simply pay that cost, plus a bit of profit for them, to benefit from their specialization. Getty earns that profit, and I spend less overall because I'm not wasting time on those dead ends. Everybody wins, so everybody's happy with the trade. That's how commerce is supposed to work.

about two weeks ago

Feds Say NSA "Bogeyman" Did Not Find Silk Road's Servers

Sarten-X Re:Or so they say... (142 comments)

That is precisely what Slashdot will get from this. Whether something is true or not matters little to the Slashdot hivemind, as long as it can feed the fires of perpetual outrage.

about two weeks ago

U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

Sarten-X Re:Will the cameras work? (643 comments)

knowing the police departments they'll make up all sorts of bullshit requirements and end up spending $8500 per camera made by some police chiefs brother in laws company.

Now, I don't own a GoPro, but last I heard, they were nearly indestructible inside their shatterproof sealed case. Unfortunately, without the bulky case, they're left rather vulnerable. A wearable camera is going to have to be comfortable and not interfere with movement, so it will likely need a different form factor.

If the GoPro (or other COTS) offerings don't meet that one legitimate requirement for the job, then something else will have to be found. The search will have to include the other "bullshit" requirements that GoPro already meets: Shock resistance, operating temperature range, battery life, et cetera. For an established manufacturer, it will involve some engineering, but for a newcomer to the field, the engineering will be quite extensive and expensive, especially since that engineering cost is spread over relatively few units, whereas a consumer-oriented product like GoPro can expect a few million sales.

Of course, understanding those many requirements, especially ones like "fits comfortably during officers' regular duties" requires a keen understanding of a police officer's life. Naturally, those who are already familiar with the use case will have an advantage in meeting those requirements satisfactorily. That means the best product will usually be designed by an established company who's built a good working relationship, or a newcomer already familiar with the needs, like a family member or friend.

about three weeks ago

GOG Introduces DRM-Free Movie Store

Sarten-X Re:Why not MP4? (126 comments)

Perhaps not so good a chance as it seems.

Sure, most of us Slashdotters are in the middle of that particular Venn diagram, but my wife, for example, lies far off to the "hatred of DRM only" side. She doesn't care about patent licensing, but just wants to watch a movie easily. For us, that means no physical media occupying our limited shelving space.

It should be easy. Many movies are now offered with a digital copy, available on various services. Last time she wanted to watch a movie right now, we tried that, buying Frozen from iTunes. Unfortunately, iTunes apparently won't play such things to a VGA-connected device, because it can't verify the device supports HDCP. Naturally, there's no warning about this until you actually try to do it. I think the next thing we tried was Plex, streaming to our Roku device. That didn't work, either.

We ended up getting a refund from Apple, and bought a physical copy from Amazon. Once the physical disk arrived, it included a code to get a digital copy. We had to choose carefully how to use the code, judging by current compatibility charts what devices would be able to play the copy. Still hoping for convenience, we tried Amazon's streaming service, but that wouldn't play at all on our TV-connected laptop, and the Roku didn't feel like connecting to Amazon to even attempt playback. We finally just gave up and played the physical copy, several days after the initial attempt.

My wife is fine with respecting copyright and paying for entertainment. She just expects that entertainment should not be the reward for solving a puzzle of compatibility.

I've praised GOG before, and I'll do it again. Their primary concern seems to be that entertainment should be easy, and I'll support that, even if it means throwing a bit of support behind patents.

about three weeks ago

Air Force Requests Info For Replacement Atlas 5 Engine

Sarten-X Re:Wealthiest Buy F-35 (108 comments)

First off, this is entirely off-topic. Apart from being built under the name "Lockheed Martin", the Atlas V is completely the F-35. Even that connection is a stretch, as they're managed under completely different divisions, and the Atlas is actually being built by a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Second, you're only citing half of the story. The DoD originally asked for 42 F-35s, but had to cut back the order to 34 due to sequestration. The House Appropriations Committee denied some of the Pentagon's other requests, and moved that money into purchasing the additional F-35s.

Finally, I find it interesting that your very first post to Slashdot is a heavily partisan off-topic piece, very nearly quoted verbatim from the article I've linked, but conveniently missing the paragraph that gives an even perspective to the matter. I have a sneaking suspicion you're not intending to improve this discussion.

about a month ago

Air Force Requests Info For Replacement Atlas 5 Engine

Sarten-X Re:Raptor? (108 comments)

They do. but they're not an authorized contractor. and the paper work takes years.
welcome to stupid government.

I've done government work. The bulk of required paperwork is a full accounting of absolutely everything being billed to the government. Every minute worked by every employee must be logged, and every expense must be justified. It's all an attempt to reduce the chance of defrauding the government, and indirectly the taxpayers.

Yes, current contractors charge a lot, but despite outside opinion, they can justify every expense. Sure, an efficiency-loving Congress could cut out the paperwork, but that opens the door for any company with a promise of a product to overcharge. At least they could scam the government efficiently.

about a month ago

Would Scottish Independence Mean the End of UK's Nuclear Arsenal?

Sarten-X Re:No. It would not. (375 comments)

There will be the nation of States, where modern media portrays every minor annoyance as though it were the start for the ever-coming revolution, providing a convenient self-gratifying rationalization for racism, sexism, ageism, and all other discrimination that every group uses to oppress another equal group.

Then there will be the nation of United, wherein the citizens understand that today's conflicts are no different than any previous conflicts. The rich and the poor still behave just the same as they always have, though both are generally better off today than in centuries past, as the basic standard of living has risen tremendously.

about a month ago

Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'

Sarten-X Re:Too much good content is deleted at Wikipedia. (239 comments)

Being Canadian, you'd apologize for the intrusion and occupation of their time, and ask them the name by which they prefer to be addressed, then apologize for not having known it beforehand, then apologize for having so many apologies.

about a month ago

News Aggregator Fark Adds Misogyny Ban

Sarten-X Re:I hope it's just me (748 comments)

They're not women who were there and now feel like they need to change their own environment.

How are you so sure about that? Have you done any analysis to determine the extent to which the sexist comments have intimidated women and discouraged them from making their gender known?

about a month ago

Hackers Steal Data Of 4.5 Million US Hospital Patients

Sarten-X Re:why internet connected? (111 comments)

This is utterly ignorant.

Many (if not most) healthcare providers in the US are affiliated with a larger organization, such as Community Health Systems. The branch offices need to have access to patient data from other affiliated providers, and given that this includes emergency rooms and other urgent-care facilities, the information must be available as quickly as possible. Physical separation is not a reasonable option.

about 1 month ago

Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up

Sarten-X Re:Amost sounds like a good deal ... (376 comments)

If you're not guilty, you have both the right and the duty to fight.

This is a terribly scary proposition. We've been here before, and it didn't work well the last time, either. This is why we Americans now have the Fourth Amendment, requiring due process (with various levels of proof) before interfering with someone's life.

For one, they can fight the ban legally with their ISP (unless, of course, they're guilty and their ISP has the records to prove it). Then there's free wifi networks. Going to a friends. The library. Buying a data plan for your smartphone. Switching ISP.

It's amusing that all of the things you mention, if used for illegal downloading, would generate "proof" at the ISP. If I used a coffee shop's free network for downloading, there would be records of that at the ISP tracing back to the coffee shop. Under your guilty-until-proven-innocent system, the coffee shop would be legally stuck behind a redirect until they pay the ransom or pay to fight. Of course, a coffee shop won't likely have a sysadmin able to prove that it was a guest (rather than an employee) that performed the downloading in question. Even if they miraculously win and get reconnected, I can just walk in next week and download again.

about 1 month ago

Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

Sarten-X Re: False dichotomy. (199 comments)

And we have a winner!

Most hardware I buy these days comes with a quick-start guide to just make the thing work. It shows users the basic installation they need to get something working, so they can learn on their own. A well-designed product will encourage such self-guided learning, as it empowers the user.

However, not everything is suitable for a quick-start guide. It's not the right place for preferences, advanced settings, unusual configuration, or alternative use cases. That all belongs in the manual which can then, except for the troubleshooting section, be designed with the assumption that the user has a basic working system and has used the product successfully.

about a month ago

The Biggest iPhone Security Risk Could Be Connecting One To a Computer

Sarten-X Sinister goal (72 comments)

It simply takes advantage of design issues in iOS, working around Apple's layered protections to accomplish a sinister goal.

...Improving the ambidextrous use of the device?

about a month ago

Point-and-Shoot: TrackingPoint's New Linux-Controlled AR-15s

Sarten-X Re:Question (219 comments)

Is that because mother's milk doesn't have enough salt?

In short, yes. It's a problem mostly in places where the mother's milk doesn't have enough of pretty much anything, but salt's the one that kills first.

Consider a place where an average salary is $40 a month. Unfortunately, there are millions of people (infants and mothers included) who live where half of that would be considered a wealthy income. Surely you've seen the desolate scenes on TV where they ask for some number of cents per day to buy little Mary a pair of shoes to walk over the rocky debris to school... We're talking about those places, and worse.

These are places where having clean water isn't as great a concern as having any water. Most of the local population is undernourished, including the mothers. Without proper nutrition, they produce too little milk, and what they do produce is too poor in nutrients to support the infant.

From a biological perspective, salt is fascinating*. In the body, it serves to provide many of the ions needed to control molecules, and it holds water in various places. That's why eating salty food makes you feel dehydrated - your salty blood pulls water from the other tissue. Similarly, when that salt makes its way to your urine, more water is pulled with it, making you urinate more (spawning many myths (and some facts) about salty drinks cleansing the body).

In an infant with a salt deficiency, the lack of salt prevents the intestines from working properly, as the cellular channels lack the energy to open. That prevents nutrients (including salt) from being absorbed into the blood. The blood's low salt level stops the absorption of water, leaving the feces liquid, which will quickly be released, carrying the vital salt with it. Where an adult would be able to hold their stool in longer or try to eat more food to compensate for the lower absorption rate, an infant can't do that of its own will, and the mother can't just produce more milk on demand, especially if she's also undernourished.

The cure is a solution - one of "clean" water with salt and sugar (as fuzzyfuzzyfungus noted above), that can easily be absorbed, raising the blood's salt level, allowing more nutrients and water to be absorbed.

If I had known the cure were that easy, I would have told more people. One problem is that people just don't know that is the cure (even if they are worried about diarrhoea as an issue)

Unfortunately, it's also not as easy as telling people on the Internet about the condition. People with access to the Internet aren't likely to be affected by it. It is pretty common knowledge among related volunteer organizations, but there is a severe lack of knowledge in the local communities where the problem is deadly. There are many medical volunteer groups, and they do great work... but the problem is bigger than their limited resources can cover.

* My biochemistry knowledge is remembered from five years ago. The facts presented may or may not be entirely true.

about a month ago



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