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Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters'

Sarten-X Re: Charged /= Guilty (404 comments)

If that's the case here, then Anonymous is just making the injustice worse.

2 days ago
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Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters'

Sarten-X Re:Charged /= Guilty (404 comments)

Jokes aside, that's about it. The case in question is a bog-standard investigation and prosecution. The only notable twist is the guy's political connections. There's really no reason for widespread coverage.

This stunt may as we'll be Operation Our Favorite Crime, spreading awareness of Anonymous' obsession with this particular flavor of felony. We'll put it up next to the neckbeard ranting about his favorite video game, and the fat guy touting the virtues of his favorite food. Just like the armchair art critic and the armchair gourmet critic (and the nerd typing Slashdot comments when he should be sleeping) this will accomplish nothing to make the world a better place, but it will give a few individuals a few moments of pride in their hollow awareness campaign.

2 days ago
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Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters'

Sarten-X Re: Charged /= Guilty (404 comments)

So in other words, justice is being served, and a sentence is being delivered that the judge (within the guidelines set by legislators) feels is appropriate to the crime committed.

There's nothing left for Anonymous to do, except to remind the world that this guy did something bad, and by so doing, perpetuate the shame and embarrassment his friends and family are subjected to. It won't affect the perpetrator himself, because he'll be in prison for the entire life of this "operation".

Harassing innocent bystanders is what Anonymous does best.

2 days ago
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Apple Agrees To Chinese Security Audits of Its Products

Sarten-X Re:From the home of industrial espionage, China (114 comments)

I seem to recall tales of trade cities that were quite paranoid about outsiders learning their craft, some of which predated industrialized Great Britain or Germany by a rather large number of years.

Perhaps the most well-known example is Murano, whose artistic glassblowing techniques were held in high esteem by the region. An older example would be Damascus metalworking, and I have vague recollections of similar industrial pride dating back to Egypt.

I'm afraid my memory is not a particularly reliable source, but I believe there were often stiff penalties for trying to export the local expertise. Perhaps someone with a more complete knowledge of history can fill in the details...

4 days ago
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Barrett Brown, Formerly of Anonymous, Sentenced To 63 Months

Sarten-X Re: There is no anonymity (110 comments)

There is a risk, calculated or otherwise, that you are Pierre Mohammed Finklestein III of Bychawa, Poland.

I have determined this based on my keen understanding of the information I have about you. With a little more information I could reduce the uncertainty...

5 days ago
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Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

Sarten-X Re:instant disqualification (643 comments)

For quite some time, I've argued in favor of teaching a programming class with QBasic. No, not the early BASICs that required line numbers, but the later QBasic that shipped with certain versions of DOS and Windows.

Later BASIC variants have one defining characteristic that makes them perfect for educational use: Zero overhead. For the simplest example programs, there is absolutely no boilerplate required to allocate memory, configure the process, or tell the compiler/interpreter how to work. An example that demonstrates three things has three lines.

For the very first stages of programming education, that's all you need. It's enough to show that instructions are executed sequentially, that you have to be explicit, and to walk through the compile/execution process. It hits all of the major concepts, with no extra parts to confuse the new students. From my time teaching CS, those basic concepts comprise the bulk of the initial difficulties most struggling students face. Once they understand those building blocks fully, the students can begin learning algorithms, design patterns, and all those more substantial parts of a full CS education... and that work should be done in a language that can trace its heritage to C.

about a week ago
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UK Computing Teachers Concerned That Pupils Know More Than Them

Sarten-X Big deal (388 comments)

Last time I was in school, I had a better grasp of "modern technology" than most of my professors. This was in a computer science program. It's not a problem, because my CS professors didn't need to teach me how to use Facebook or make a slideshow shiny enough to woo investors. They still understood algorithms better than I did, and that was the knowledge they were passing on.

In today's shocking news story, we find that older people are familiar with an older generation of tools. For most "primary and secondary teachers", their job is to teach the basic skills and concepts that are elemental for the more advanced intellectual tasks encountered in a professional career. Sure, technology can assist in that endeavor, but it's not the whole solution. Teachers only need enough technology knowledge to use the technology needed for their classes. Anything more is gratuitous.

about two weeks ago
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Bitstamp Bitcoin Exchange Suspended Due To "Compromised Wallet"

Sarten-X Soundtrack contest (161 comments)

I now have "Another One Bites The Dust" in my head.

Anybody have any better music suggestions appropriate for this story?

about three weeks ago
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Vinyl's Revival Is Now a Phenomenon On Both Sides of the Atlantic

Sarten-X Re:Can't DRM or Root Kit Vinyl (278 comments)

Only incidentally. If, as king neckbeard suggested, the vinyl master were done completely analog for some reason (hipster executive producer?), it would be possible that they'd want to do it differently, effectively making the two media two separate artistic works.

One detail that's often missing from discussions about loudness and compression is that it's all intentional. The term "Loudness War" isn't just for emotional response. Producers kept pushing compression higher a little bit at a time, over the course of decades. The idea of what a song should sound like has changed, just as how other forms of art have gone through several different styles as painters, sculptors, and architects have accommodated changing aesthetics in their media.

This notion that "compression is bad" is a relatively new thing, previously just the complaint of self-proclaimed audiophiles and pretentious critics. The vast majority of listeners won't care, so unless the producer has an artistic inclination to change their style, it's not likely to happen.

about three weeks ago
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Vinyl's Revival Is Now a Phenomenon On Both Sides of the Atlantic

Sarten-X Re:Can't DRM or Root Kit Vinyl (278 comments)

As an experienced audio engineer, I can assure you that I can fuck up a track just as well with analog as with digital. Using digital technology just makes the process faster.

about three weeks ago
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Vinyl's Revival Is Now a Phenomenon On Both Sides of the Atlantic

Sarten-X Re:Can't DRM or Root Kit Vinyl (278 comments)

Does it matter?

The distributor has proof (from their own sales records) that record number 12345 was sold to Firsthand Music Stores, Inc., who (as part of their sales agreement) recorded that you, T. Lambert, purchased record number 12345. The fine print on the record sleeve outlines your license agreement (that you agreed to by opening the sleeve), which says that you will not make unauthorized copies or sell the record to anyone who will.

As far as the courts are concerned, the distributor has proof that you were involved in the illegal copying, and since you agreed to the terms of use, you accepted liability. Either you provide your own records to pass the blame on to someone else, or you take the blame.

(As far as I know, no cases have actually confirmed this hypothetical chain of events, but I also don't know of any cases ruling it out, either)

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Are Progressive Glasses a Mistake For Computer Users?

Sarten-X Re:Optometrist? (464 comments)

Your conclusion is a non sequitur.

The study you cite does not make any conclusions as to why mortality is lower (for high-risk heart failure or cardiac arrest patients in teaching hospitals, but no other demographics) during cardiologist meetings. It could be that the students at such hospitals are simply more up-to-date with the latest emergency care. There was a minor reduction in one particular kind of treatment while meetings occurred, but its effect on mortality was not statistically significant.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Wireless LED Light Setup for 2015?

Sarten-X Re:Light O Rama (68 comments)

TL;DR: There's a lot more to the craft than just wires and a board. This started as a short post, but turned into Light Shows 101.

I've been on the fringes of the community for a few years. If you're willing to touch a soldering gun, you can do far better than a single-board computer, though I'm sure I'm going to annoy some Slashdotters for suggesting such blasphemy.

First, consider your requirements: Lights, elements, power, control, sequencing, and sound. We'll tackle them in that order.

Lights are actually one of the tougher decisions to get started with. You have to decide between LED (brilliant intensity, saturated colors, low power, expensive) or incandescent (cheap, high power, warm glow), and what size you'll use (everything from surface-mount LEDs to full-size Edison bulbs). I know a guy who's used car headlights in a show, and there's been a few stage lights, too.

The problem with lights is the sheer number to be used. 32 strings are enough for one megatree (more on megatrees shortly). Consider that shows are measured in the thousands of individual lights, and the hundreds of channels. Mixing LED and incandescent lights is rarely a good idea, because of the severe difference in brightness. Even among the same type, different brands have different colored lights. Manufacturers also tend to cut the strings shorter every year, saving money on wire costs. What used to be a 30-foot string several years ago is now a 27-foot string. The result is that show builders will hoard hundreds of strings of lights from the same manufacturer and year, so any future element projects will have a consistent look. Communities will also organize occasional bulk purchases directly from manufacturers, ordering a whole shipping container full of lights.

The elements, though, are where creativity and construction skill really comes into play. You're effectively building a piece of modern art that usually has to survive snow, rain, wind, squirrels (who apparently love the taste of wire insulation), vandals (sadly), and both heat and cold. The elements start the show cold, but often (especially with incandescent lights) they'll have so much current running through them that by the end of the night they're warm enough to cause noticeable expansion.

There are a few standard elements, but every builder has their own technique. There are basic trees, where lights make a vaguely conical shape. With more wiring, you get megatrees, which have several steps of control, up to a single string per control channel, so you can animate spinning motions. In a smaller size, tomato cages with their legs welded together make great minitrees. A long piece of conduit, wrapped in lights (about 30 feet of lights per foot of conduit) can be bent and anchored to stakes, making arches. Chicken wire and zip ties are the perfect tools for laying out a more two-dimensional element. With a bigger budget, flamethrowers, projectors, lasers, water fountains, and robotic spotlights are all options.

With all those elements, electric power becomes a problem. LEDs make the problem much more manageable, but there's still the issue of distribution. There's a lot of extension cords involved, and possibly some very thick wires needed. Builders of big shows will often turn to buried cables and upgraded supply lines. I helped with a show that used a 100-amp line running to a buried box in the back yard, where a control box fed a set of distributor boxes through 50-foot 20-amp lines that were scattered around the area supplying the other elements.

Every outdoor circuit must be also protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), which will cut the power immediately if it shorts to ground. It's intended to protect a person who accidentally grounds a circuit, but with that many connectors out in the rain and snow, you can expect a GFCI to trip a few times a week.

Controlling that much power is the part that gets so much attention, but it's really one of the easiest aspects of the hobby. There are a few routes to go, from the aforementioned newbie-friendly Light-O-Rama to all-custom rigs like you describe. The best option depends on the elements and lights in use. LOR has its own proprietary system, but it can also run on the DMX protocol, which is well-established in the theatre industry. For addressable RGB LEDs, or big fields of pixels, modern stage control systems (not DMX) are better suited for the huge numbers of individual controls needed.

Personally, I like the Cat5-cable-based Lynx series, built by the fine folks at DiyLightAnimation. The community runs co-op purchases throughout the year, getting bulk rates on parts and cheap milling of the PCBs. The easiest solution is the Lynx Express, which simply controls 16 120v AC channels. Closer to what you described, though, is the Lynx Freestyle, which drives 128 channels of control to 32 Lynx SSR4 boxes, which each hold 4 solid-state relays. There are also wireless modules, motor controllers, and a variety of other accessories.

Everything's managed by a normal computer. I know there's some software out there for Linux, but I don't know how well it'd work on a Raspberry Pi. Typically, a main control line runs through a USB interface to a control PC, which doesn't need to have particularly robust hardware. There are also some devices to play back a preprogrammed sequence. All the control system really needs to do is run the sequence.

That sequence is what takes most of the time. Effectively, you're choreographing a dance for a cast of thousands, but your dancers can't move, unless you have a few motors pushing things into the path of this analogy. If a show is too flash and high-tempo, it's hard for the viewers to appreciate the elements. Too slow, and the show gets boring. Too bright, and the neighborhood can't sleep. Too dim, and the show won't be visible. While sequencing, you also have to mind where your elements are, keep a few surprises for the audience, and have a bit of rhythm, as well. Of course, you have to do all of this enough to fill a show, anywhere from a few minutes to a full evening's set.

Without a soundtrack, though, the audience won't likely get the full effect of the show. Your carefully-choreographed masterpiece will just be a bunch of blinking lights. Some builders with small shows will just run outdoor speakers, but for wider coverage a radio transmitter will allow the audience to watch from the warm comfort of their cars. The legal ramifications of broadcasting Christmas music are often not discussed. Usually, the soundtrack is run from the same computer that controls the lights, as the control software will handle maintaining synchronization.

As for the music itself, many builders go with the classics, with a modern style. Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Mannheim Steamroller make modern arrangements from traditional tunes, practically perfect for this kind of production, as a blend of traditional decoration with a high-tech flair. Other builders throw in classic rock & roll, pop hits, and anything else for a more secular show. Some builders avoid Christmas altogether, running their theatrics at Halloween, where animatronics, special effects, and costuming share the stage for a literally fantastic experience.

Building light shows is a hobby that quickly turns into an obsession. There's always that one weak part in the sequence, or that really great element idea, or that song that is just so awesome. The community is supportive and creative, and the shows can grow according to any available budget. Fueled by the Internet's ability to connect people, builders have the support of a large community, but within any city there's few enough participants that shows are still novel and unique. For those who love theatrics, there are few better pastimes.

For those who love the holiday season, the shows are also a beloved spectacle. Builders often notice regulars who return to their shows night after night, year after year. The builder I worked with once received a card from a viewer who had come to his show several times, driving 45 minutes each way, just to watch. I've stood in the middle of the show with children who are amazed by every new element and will spend hours talking about their most-favoritest parts. That's what makes all the effort worth it... that moment where you realize that your show isn't just a show any more. It's a production; the product of your hard work, and on that dark night in the middle of winter, it is the most awesome thing in town.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Wireless LED Light Setup for 2015?

Sarten-X Re:1 yr away, little to no experience? (68 comments)

The guy has one year to get his first year of experience. Plenty of time. After all, that's how we all started.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Wireless LED Light Setup for 2015?

Sarten-X Re:No Custom Building? (68 comments)

There's nothing that I'm aware of off-the-shelf to do this.

Light-O-Rama is as off-the-shelf as this gets, apart from tiny trinkets only suitable for lighting a single tree.

In addition, actually writing the lights sequences takes FAR more time than you think it will, which makes me think that there never will be a commercial solution because Joe Neighbor doesn't want to invest that kid of time into it.

LOR has decent-enough software for basic synchronizing. Last time I used it, it really wasn't suitable for controlling huge pixel fields, but anything simple was easy, like it's easy to go buy a tube of paint and a brush. The hard part is the art of good sequencing, and you're absolutely right about the time commitment. Every show is a custom layout, and should have a custom sequence. There are a few folks who publish their sequences for others to use, though, and with some fudging you can make them fit similarly-sized displays.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Wireless LED Light Setup for 2015?

Sarten-X Re:Light O Rama (68 comments)

Yep.

Light-O-Rama is the go-to choice for pre-built kits for newbies (or professionals who need UL certification). The well-beaten path is to begin with LOR, learn about what's possible by joining communities like Planet Christmas, and hone your sequencing skill - not too flashy, not too dull, and just below the threshold where your neighbors formally complain. After that, once you're comfortable with the idea of running a few hundred channels and a few tens of thousands of lights (or in short, once you're addicted), you'll find it's cheaper to switch to DIY kits bought in co-ops, running DMX or newer protocols.

You'll spend time soldering the boards together and building your own cases, but by that point it's a full-time hobby. Then you sell off your old LOR kits to the next round of newbies.

about a month ago
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Neil DeGrasse Tyson Explains His Christmas Tweet

Sarten-X Re:Kind of disappointed in him. (681 comments)

On the other hand, being misunderstood does nothing to contribute to improving the education and awareness of those who misunderstand.

With a succinct message, Tyson started a discussion that spread to thousands of people. Some people misunderstood, and despite the elegance and artistic quality of his written words, that misunderstanding tarnishes his reputation in their minds, and that extends to everything he supports - most notably science and an appreciation of the beauty of the observable world without religious connection. By explaining his meaning clearly, and expressing no wish to offend, some of those people will see the mistake for themselves, and open their minds again to science.

It's not about winning or losing, or of being the stalwart champion of misdirection. It's a matter of graceful interaction with other humans.

about a month ago
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Newest Stealth Fighter's Ground Attack Sensors 10 Years Behind Older Jets'

Sarten-X Re: That's not the only way it's inferior (279 comments)

I didn't say it wasn't a big deal. I said it isn't enough to cause noticeable disruption or bankruptcy of a government, because that's what plopez seemed so concerned about.

For what it's worth, getting the price up to 1% is also unrealistic, but it was an easy calculation to make to show that it's not a threat. Really, the $400 billion price tag is an estimate for the entire program, extending slightly past final delivery in 2037. That works out to only about $10 billion per year (not accounting for inflation), which is roughly 0.3% of a year's federal budget. That's less than the amount the government loses due to the home sale capital gains tax credit, but nobody whines about those stability-threatening home sellers, do they?

about a month ago
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Newest Stealth Fighter's Ground Attack Sensors 10 Years Behind Older Jets'

Sarten-X Re:That's not the only way it's inferior (279 comments)

The F4 differed by being used by Air Force, Navy, and Marines. This created problems due to differing operating environments and missions. Because of that a large amount of customization occurred any way. Interchangeability soon began to degrade and retrofitting was required.

So it seems the branches have different needs, and really need three different variants of the same aircraft, so their necessary differences aren't all trying to compete. Perhaps we could have one with room for an internal cannon, one with STOVL capability, and one with folding wings and an arresting hook. I wonder where we could find such a craft?

So what if the A-10 is a one trick pony? If it is what we really need then go with it.

I'm going to have to defer to the Pentagon, who clearly believe the A-10 is not what's needed for the future, rather than an armchair commander who thinks that the 1970s were good enough.

I find saying that the software is not supposed to work until next year disingenuous. The deadline already slipped. You make it sound as if everything is on track.

I'm not privy to the discussion behind changing deadlines, but in two decades as a software developer, I've never seen a project that was at deliverable quality prior to the main testing cycle.

As planned, though, the first software version to deliver basic air-to-air and air-to-ground capability will be Block 2B in mid-2015. Full capability won't be supported until Block 3F in mid-2017. In short, software development is a difficult problem for a plane that is significantly computer-controlled. Go figure.

Even adjusted for inflation cost over runs are at about 100%[.] Bankrupting the nation will do far more damage to it than an enemy state could.

The total program cost is estimated at $400 billion. Spread that out over the 18 years it's been running, and you end up with less than 1% of the federal government's annual budget. That's hardly enough to cause noticeable disruption, let alone bankruptcy.

about 1 month ago
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Newest Stealth Fighter's Ground Attack Sensors 10 Years Behind Older Jets'

Sarten-X Re:That's not the only way it's inferior (279 comments)

I have a sneaking suspicion you don't actually want answers to your questions, but I'll provide them anyway.

The problem is that if it takes 20 years to build an airplane that design will be obsolete by the time it gets deployed. So upgrading just increases costs. Why did it take 20 years? Isn't that a bit excessive?

Not really. A-10 development took 10 years, F-18 took 8, and the F-15 took 13, all measured from program start to initial production. The F-35 began its production run in 2008, 12 years after its program started. I haven't found timelines for the earlier planes' IOC milestones, but I'm under the impression that they followed similar schedules, with production running for a few years before pushing the planes out into use. Yes, the F-35's timeline is drawn out because they're trying to design three planes at once, but that was also expected from the start.

Why doesn't the software work?

Because it's not required to work until next year, at the earliest. What's in use now would be good enough to fly and work out other problems, but it's not suitable for combat use.

Why could it not fly in the the rain for God's sake?

Rain isn't the problem. It's actually lightning that the F-35 isn't currently allowed to fly near, because the initial production run did not have the lightning protection applied, as it would interfere with testing. That'd be another thing to be added for IOC.

Why are we replacing a platform like the A-10 which is an example of a good dedicated design with a Swiss Army knife approach.

Because the A-10 is an expensive one-trick pony. You call it a "Swiss Army knife", but that's really just because its one trick is very useful. The A-10 only does close air support in an area-denial situation where the most recent anti-aircraft threat was built by the Soviet Union. It takes far more training and maintenance support to operate, and that training and logistics expense is only applicable to that one aircraft.

In comparison, the bulk of the support for an F-35 is shared across the three variants, so the total cost to run the fleet is greatly reduced. A maintainer can switch variants with minimal additional training, and a single base can support any F-35 that stops by. We're also not going to be dealing with Soviet-era defenses for much longer, with China and Russia making gestures that they're willing to sell modern SAMs to anyone who opposes Western interests.

The last major attempts for a "one size fits all" muti-role fighter was the f4 which resulted in the services abandoning the approach in favor of the F18, F-15, and A-10.

...After only 36 years, for the US. The F-4 is still in service in other countries, primarily those that don't need to worry about modern SAMs. The F-4 was originally not a multi-role fighter. It was designed as a fighter-bomber, reworked to be an interceptor, and finally upgraded to do close-air support almost a decade later.

Like a bad penny the multi-role fighter concept just keeps coming back. We are ending up with a plane that does everything and will not be able to do any of it particularly well.

Just well enough to get the job done. What we've learned since the Gulf War is that fighting is expensive and complicated. To support the dozens of different single-role planes, we have to mobilize thousands of support crew to ensure that we can support any kind of mission we need. A multi-role fighter, designed to meet the potential needs, will still be able to handle lesser threats. The F-35 is being built to handle anything China or Russia might produce, but it will be perfectly capable of supporting campaigns in Africa, the Middle East, or North Korea.

about 1 month ago

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