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Comments

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Adobe Spies On Users' eBook Libraries

Stephan Schulz Re:Stallman is right... (150 comments)

It's not any different with open programs, as no one has the time to read the source code anyway. It always boils down to trust towards the vendor.

That's wrong. Not everyone has that time, but someone usually does have - and for popular programs, many people do take the time. That does not make the system completely fool-proof, but it does make hidden backdoors a lot less of a concern. If neither of two approaches is perfect, it does not mean that one is not vastly superior to the other. Take antibiotics and witchcraft as treatments for pneumonia....

about two weeks ago
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Adobe Spies On Users' eBook Libraries

Stephan Schulz Re:Stallman is right... (150 comments)

Yes, commercial software is based on trust. We have now found out that Adobe does not respect our privacy and we can simply stop using their products. The system still works.

Maybe you forgot a smiley here? We run this risk every time we install and run a proprietary program - how often do you need your nude pictures, private medical records and credit card information leaked all over the internet?

about two weeks ago
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Adobe Spies On Users' eBook Libraries

Stephan Schulz Stallman is right... (150 comments)

Even if he can be hard to handle, this is one of his core arguments. If you don't control your computer, your computer controls you. With proprietary software, you are basically handing control of your computer over to the software company. You can hope that are both honest and competent. Keep those fingers crossed...

about two weeks ago
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Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

Stephan Schulz Re:It's getting hotter still! (635 comments)

Somehow a quite conservatively formulated claim (subjunctive mode, "some models, 75% chance, 5-7 years, during some month of the summer") magically morphed into the strong claim "Al Gore said in 5 years time the Arctic will be completely ice free". How much did you pay for that perceptional filter? And can you get a refund?

about a month ago
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Surprising Result of NYC Bike Lanes: Faster Traffic for Cars

Stephan Schulz Re:Bikes lanes are nice (213 comments)

[...] on the street [bicycles] interfere with traffic.

Just for your information, bicycles are part of the traffic! As for "interference", the appropriate control situation is not one where the cyclists are magically poofed to New Delhi (or the moon), but one where every cyclist is replaced by yet another car...

about a month ago
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How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

Stephan Schulz Re:Science creates understanding of a real world. (770 comments)

It is the job of a "scientist" to present claim and data that supports said claim in such a way that it may be consumed by anyone and still stand on its own, only then is there "consensus."

Well, the job of a "scientist" may be to provide soundbites that so-called think tanks can feed to sympathetic reporters and the uninformed public. But it is not the job of a scientist (no quotes) to present his results in a way that "anyone" can consume them. Scientists need to present their results in a way that an interested, fair-minded, and, most of all, sufficiently educated person (i.e. usually another scientist with a similar speciality) can follow the research.

Some complex research can be presented to the general public (although even then not to everybody), but then it's necessarily simplified and no longer iron-clad. It's a sad illusion to assume that modern science can be spoon-fed to a passive audience in a way that said audience can really understand it. If it were that simple, we would not need universities and Ph.D. programs.

about a month and a half ago
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U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

Stephan Schulz Re:Or we could simply revert to original best prac (643 comments)

  • To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
  • ...
  • To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

Isn't that socialism? Or communism? Anyways, that's a wimpy European idea. Proper American heros are more Wyatt Earp, Dirty Harry and Jack Bauer. Civil rights are as quaint as the Geneva Convention. If you're a law-abiding citizen, why would you walk outside your gated community? Or inside after dark? Can't you afford a car? Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius!

about 2 months ago
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U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

Stephan Schulz Putting the shoe on the other foot.... (643 comments)

I can see the superficial attraction of this, but I think it overreaches. Nobody will work well if under permanent surveillance. On the other hand, why not turn it around? Have the senators wear body cameras during all fund-raisers, committee meetings, and discussions with staff, potential donors, and others.

about 2 months ago
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Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

Stephan Schulz Galileoscope (187 comments)

For a very low-price but useful entry-level telescope, try the Galileoscope. It is an achromatic refractor that has been designed as part of the International Year of Astronomy, and can be had for approximately US$ 50 (or order a box of 6 for US$30 apiece). It comes with an eyepiece that approximates Galileo Galilei's experience, but also with (IIRC) 2 modern eyepieces that are decent enough for the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn's ring. Also, it uses a standard eyepiece adapter, so it can be further upgraded if required. Some assembly required - this is intended as a teaching opportunity ;-). It's cheap enough that it can just be passed on to another kid or a local school if a better instrument is obtained.

about 2 months ago
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The Last Three Months Were the Hottest Quarter On Record

Stephan Schulz Re:The real problem is... (552 comments)

What "geologic indications" are these, exactly? The last time I checked, the global warming proponents were just checking ice cores for CO2 content in the atmosphere. The melting point of most rocks is well above the hottest temperatures encountered in the atmosphere...

You haven't checked very carefully, then. There are several geological proxies for past temperatures. One example is the Oxygen isotope ratio in calcium carbonate.

about 3 months ago
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The Last Three Months Were the Hottest Quarter On Record

Stephan Schulz Re:Heartland Institute (552 comments)

The Heartland Institute's NIPCC reports use the same research papers cited by the IPCC and shows how the IPCC conveniently skews data and ignores all the data in between.

There is a difference in semantics between "shows" and "claims" that you seem to not be aware of. The so-called NIPCC is a front for Heartland, and consists of a changing but minuscule group of well-known deniers. Their report is a transparent piece of propaganda for everyone who has at least a basic scientific understanding.

about 3 months ago
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The Last Three Months Were the Hottest Quarter On Record

Stephan Schulz Re: 1800s (552 comments)

I thought the MWP was a full three degrees warmer then the 1990's. Which were warmer then now.

What you think, is, of course, your own problem (although the "a full three degrees warmer" must come from some very creative interpretation of the record). But how do you get the ideas that the 1990's were warmer than it is now? The 1990s were about 0.2 degree C colder than 2013, and this year will most likely be warmer still. There was one exceptional year (1998) that was marginally warmer than 2013. Of course, these short-term trends are heavily influenced by noise, so the significance of these results is low. But that's no reason to make wrong claims.

about 3 months ago
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Study: Global Warming Solvable If Fossil Fuel Subsidies Given To Clean Energy

Stephan Schulz Re: How about (385 comments)

Standard Oil. Microsoft. AT&T.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Books for a Comp Sci Graduate Student?

Stephan Schulz Re:Some non-Knuth suggestions (247 comments)

Sipser's book is not bad, but I find it much shallower than any of the editions of Hopcroft[,Motwani], Ullman. Many of his proofs seemed to be more hand-waving. On the other hand, he is somewhat good at building intuition, which is valuable for students not yet used to the domain.

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Books for a Comp Sci Graduate Student?

Stephan Schulz Some non-Knuth suggestions (247 comments)

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Professional Journaling/Notes Software?

Stephan Schulz Re:Org mode (170 comments)

Seconded!

about 6 months ago
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Study Rules Out Global Warming Being a Natural Fluctuation With 99% Certainty

Stephan Schulz Re:Buy a Prius as your next car... (869 comments)

Bird deaths are no myth:

http://www.cfact.org/2013/03/1...

CFACT is not a remotely reliable source, nor to they cite any such source. Google Scholar is usually good at finding real research papers on the topic. This is the top hit for 2013, and while it finds some bird mortality due to wind turbines, it estimates the effect to be much lower than that of other anthropogenic risks for birds, even assuming a 10-fold increase in wind turbines.

There is no silver bullet, nor will we ever manage to return the planet to Garden of Eden conditions. But "there is no single perfect solution, therefore let's not do anything" is not a viable approach to life. Perfect solutions to any problem are exceedingly rare, but that does not stop us from improving situations.

about 6 months ago
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Japanese Firm Proposes Microwave-Linked Solar Plant On the Moon

Stephan Schulz Re:piotr (330 comments)

On ISS, they get about 0.1 mw from an acre, that is 24.7 mw from km2.

Pedantic remark: There is a slight difference between a mW (milliwatt) and a MW (megawatt), a factor of about a short billion, or 9 (decimal) orders of magnitude.

Even more pedantic: W is upper case (as it's named after James Watt). I'm not aware of any unit using a lower case "w" as the abbreviation. But in general, capitalisation is significant for units.

about 8 months ago
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Darker Arctic Boosting Global Warming

Stephan Schulz Re:Small problem (378 comments)

Small problem with that is this summer had 50% less ice melt in the arctic

Says who? 50% less than what? 2012 was a record minimum year. 2013 has bounced back from that record low (in ice extend, not ice volume), but is still one of the years with the least sea ice extend science measurements began. And all the other similarly low extend years have been after 2005.

about 8 months ago
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Obama To Ask For $1 Billion Climate Change Fund

Stephan Schulz Re:Ha ha ha ha ha (410 comments)

The real issue is that China has FORCED all of the manufacturing there. And they continue to build new coal plants weekly. It is for this reason why I continue to say that we need to tax ALL GOODS CONSUMED based on where they and their parts come from. If we do that, then it forces all nations to look long-term, rather than to do what China is doing.

China has forced manufacturing? E.g. by being cheaper and then letting the invisible hand do its thing? I'm not aware of China threatening war, or Chinese gangs going around smashing British-made teapots.

Yes, Chinese industrialisation causes massive ecological problems. But then, so did western industrialisation. You are proposing a tax based on where parts come from. Why that? And using what measures? For me, the reasonable approach is a Carbon tax (or import duty), not based on place of origin, but rather on amount of CO2 released in the production. Of course, that would also apply to fuels (or parts) locally consumed.

about 8 months ago

Submissions

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Politician forces German Wikipedia off the Net

Stephan Schulz Stephan Schulz writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Stephan Schulz writes "German Member of parliament for the left-wing party "Die Linken" Lutz Heilmann has obtained a preliminary injunction against the local chapter of the Wikimedia foundation, Wikimedia Deutschland e.V., forbidding the forwarding of the popular http://wikipedia.de to the proper http://de.wikipedia.org. Apparently Heilman is not happy with the fact that his Wikipedia article (English version) contains information on his work for the former GDR Stasi, the much-hated internal secret service. Wikimedia Germany displays a page explaining the situation, and has announced that it will file an objection to get the injunction lifted.

The German Wikipedia has more than 800000 pages, and is hosted, like all Wikimedia projects, by the Florida Wikimedia Foundation, and hence beyond the effective reach of at least German politicians and judges."

Link to Original Source
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Mechanical Reasoners battle it out in Sydney today

Stephan Schulz Stephan Schulz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Stephan Schulz writes "While the Beijing Olympic Games may be the most visible ongoing contest, it is not the geekiest by far. Today, the CADE ATP System Competition will pit about 20 of the worlds most powerful mechanical mathematicians against each other — and for the first time they can win not only honour, but real a monetary prize. The systems will reason against the clock on tasks ranging from undergraduate math problems and Cluedo-like puzzles to figuring out the possible responsibility for terrorist attacks from giant knowledge bases. If you think that is not impressive enough, they are doing it at a rate of 12 problems per hour, all day long. The competition starts at 10 a.m. in Sydney, Australia, which is midnight UTC. Live results will be available at the competition page. For added geek appeal, most of the contenders are available under open source licenses, so if you are weak in logic you can hack up your own brain extension and run it on an iPhone..."
Link to Original Source

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