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Mathematician: Is Our Universe a Simulation?

The Second Horseman Re:Future? (745 comments)

Mathematically modeled turtles, that is.

about 5 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You To Tell Your Client That His "Expert" Is an Idiot?

The Second Horseman Here's a suggestion (384 comments)

Figure out what you'd need to get the job done. That might be an additional person, not a replacement person in order to make up for the deficiency. There may even be someone else in the company that could "assist".

Go to your client and tell him that this is what you'd need to get the job done because you'd assumed a certain skill set.. If the client won't go for it, regretfully let him know that you're not the right person for the job under these circumstances and that his "expert" might be able to suggest someone else. Or maybe you can and then you've solved the problem, even if you're not the solution yourself.

In any case, walk in with a solid proposal for fixing the problem that doesn't paint the "expert" as a complete idiot - just say that the skill sets don't line up right - and be prepared to lose the client. But if it's really that bad, you might be better off losing it now than getting dragged into a giant fight over breach of contract or cost overruns.

about 5 months ago
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University Developing Technology To Vote On Your Tablet, Smartphone

The Second Horseman Re:So now... (259 comments)

Depending on what state you live in (and few have protections that mean much), you can be fired for who you supported or voted for, if management finds out. So open voting certainly would cause a problem until that's taken care of.

about 7 months ago
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No FiOS In Boston? We'll Make an Ad Anyway

The Second Horseman Re:Not sure why this article made the cut. (202 comments)

And the wireless solution sucks - WNYC did an interview with a Verizon VP (he was at home), and he was barely intelligible over the wireless link connection that he was claiming was just as good as copper.

Of course, things like credit card readers in small businesses won't work over them. But hey, who cares, right?

They really are a shitty, shitty company.

about 9 months ago
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No FiOS In Boston? We'll Make an Ad Anyway

The Second Horseman Re:A FiOS (202 comments)

They put in just enough fiber in a few states to claim that they tried to put in high-speed networking in exchange for regulatory relief, stopped as soon as they could, and allegedly cut deals with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, etc that they wouldn't push into more areas, as long as the cable companies didn't push into providing mobile service. AT&T did the same thing.

about 9 months ago
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Big MOOC On Campus: Georgia Tech's $6,600 MS In CS

The Second Horseman Wait - it's NOT a $6000 MA. (163 comments)

It's a $7000 MA for people hand-picked from Georgia Tech's corporate partners, funded by the $2 million dollar donation from AT&T. So, assume that's covering a large chunk of the cost. The press release says that it's "initially" expected to be under $7,000.

So if you actually want the degree, it's currently not available to everyone, and it's eventually going to be more expensive.

about a year ago
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Time Reporter "Can't Wait" To Justify Drone Strike On Julian Assange

The Second Horseman He should be careful what he wishes for (490 comments)

There's a very short distance between what he's advocating and the government-sanctioned murder of journalists, dissidents, conscientious objectors and whistleblowers.

Given that the DOJ is now going against companies that give classes in evading polygraph tests, I can only imagine the number of other things that will be made illegal over the next decade to serve the security state. And this guy seems to be a cheerleader for it.

about a year ago
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The Death of the American Drive-in

The Second Horseman It used to be easier for a number of reasons (236 comments)

Part of the problem is that they're seasonal in a lot of parts of the country. Who wants to go to a drive-in in the North in the middle of winter? It also occurs to me that cars aren't as convenient for this as they used to be - larger cars, low bench seats up front so you could get several kids up there, plus the people in the back could see over better, more convertibles, etc.

At the same time, I'd love to see them become more popular again in places with a lot of seasonal visitors, etc. Why? Because people can talk to each other as much as they *(@@# want in their cars.

In the 1970's, there was a drive-in in my town in Rhode Island - the same family owned that, a cinema in what had been a USO club (now gone), and another (single screen) in what had been an actual theater. No first-run movies - but you could go for a $1 to $1.50 depending on the night. The drive-in closed well ahead of the two theaters. Then again, the town still had two soda-fountain drugstores in the mid-70's, so it had a certain "time capsule" feel to it.

As a side note, whenever I hear about drive-ins, I always think about this O. Winston Link photograph: http://www.linkmuseum.org/images/collex/NW-1103.jpg
(I'll also put a plug in to visit the Link Museum if you're ever near Roanoke, VA - it, and the Virginia Museum of Transportation - are great)

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: IT Spending In Engineering?

The Second Horseman Re:Whiner (146 comments)

Outsourcing: "We Cut Corners, So You Don't Have To!"

That's why management likes it - they can ink a deal, have some SLAs in there for a few critical things, and cut the budget overnight. Sure, the provider doesn't actually have interests that align with your organization's, and after a year or two - when you've had to pay them extra to do everything that your in-house people would have just done - it'll end up costing more per year, and maybe the firm is actually cutting corners in a way that would screw your business if something goes wrong. But senior management has deniability!

It's the same thing that leads clothing companies to contract with a supplier that contracts with dangerous factories in places like Bangladesh. A few steps removed, and it's not your fault that hundreds of people died in a fire or building collapse. How were you to know?

1 year,22 days
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WA Post Publishes 4 More Slides On Data Collection From Google, Et Al

The Second Horseman Re:confusion (180 comments)

Actually, I'm glad they're leaking these a bit at a time - in some cases, it's exposing the denials as BS. For example, we've known about the FBI CALEA infrastructure for years. The fact that it's being used to wholesale grab information and pass it to the NSA shows the hair splitting that's going on in the denials.

And actually, the FBI probably does have some CALEA hooks into providers. Google Voice and Skype are almost certainly set up to handle requests, even as the FBI is attempting to get CALEA formally expanded. That's likely not being handled at the ISP level. Further evidence of that? Microsoft wanted to provide statistics about how many requests they get for each service, and the government said "no". The "unnamed sources" complaint from inside Microsoft is that the government doesn't want people to know the extent to which Skype is being targeted.

1 year,22 days
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L.A. School District's 30,000 iPads May Come With Free Lock-In

The Second Horseman Pearson, and companies like them, are a nightmare (232 comments)

Forget the iPads - Pearson, and these other parasites are going to do more to cripple education in this country than anything else. Private profits from the public taxpayer's dime, they're going to be unaccountable. We'll certainly blame the teachers when this canned curriculum crashes and burns, but Pearson and their ilk? They'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

You know what's worse than government? Government contractors and suppliers.

1 year,23 days
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Google Fiber Adds 14th City: Lee's Summit

The Second Horseman Remember (81 comments)

You can't spell "Kansas" without "NSA".

about a year ago
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Bitcoin Exchange Mt. Gox Halts USD Withdrawals

The Second Horseman Re:thats what you get for being stupid (173 comments)

The steady erosion of Glass-Steagal through the 20th century, culminating in the 1999 GLBA which repealed sections 20 and 32 certainly had a big part to play in this. Without that, the interdependence effect we saw would likely not have occurred to the same degree.

The fact is, a lot of people in finance aren't bright enough - or cautious enough - to understand or care exactly what risks they're taking, especially with other people's money. To use an old analogy, the modern financial system is like the ferry service in an impoverished coastal country. Everyone uses it, because it kind of works. It's overcrowded, run by greedy people cutting corners, and every once in a while a ferry sinks, killing somewhere between 800 and 1000 people. But the next day, the rest of the identical ferries are out, and people are lining up to get on board because they don't have a choice.

At least after the S&L debacle, people got prosecuted. This time, they were let off the hook.

about a year ago
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Siri's Creator Challenges Texting-While-Driving Study

The Second Horseman Re:Driving Performance (262 comments)

People's perceptions of how good they are at mental activities generally rely on complete ignorance about how the brain actually works. And they nearly always overestimate their own abilities.

For example, the fact that small changes in physical sensation can alter how you react to a stranger.

http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/23/heart-warming-news-on-coffee/?ei=5070&emc=eta1

And then there's the MRI scans showing that decisions are largely made before we're aware of them:

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2008/04/mind_decision

about a year ago
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Fisker Lays Off Most Workers, Plans To Shop Around Remaining Assets

The Second Horseman Re:And no one will learn yet again. (276 comments)

Because even though roads don't directly pay for themselves, and neither do airports (if the airlines had to really bear the cost of the airports and air traffic control system, tickets would be several times as much, or they'd go bankrupt), we somehow expect buses and trains to pay for themselves. We Americans are staggeringly bad at deciding that something is just what a civilized society should do - public transportation, funding the arts or libraries, public transportation, etc. And somehow, even though most of the American public has been begging at the table for scraps for the past 30 years as an ever-growing portion of national wealth goes to the already-wealthy, we somehow think that making things better for everyone will take away from each of us individually, even though most of us are only a single serious illness away from a major financial disaster.

about a year ago
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Fighting TSA Harassment of Disabled Travelers

The Second Horseman Re:It's not Harassment (525 comments)

Yeah, except that the TSA is starting to show up - like a pretend law enforcement agency - at train and bus stations, and at highway check points (via the VIPR program). Some of the more right-wing folks in Congress were proposing to get them stripped of their uniforms and badges - since they're not Federal LFO's - and they keep trying to act like they are. And they've been "consulting' with major league sports leagues and other venues.

about a year ago
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Fighting TSA Harassment of Disabled Travelers

The Second Horseman Re:My answer (525 comments)

And it seems like Newark Liberty Airport has the worst of the worst. Almost every other airport I've been to has significantly better security personnel.

about a year ago
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NetWare 3.12 Server Taken Down After 16 Years of Continuous Duty

The Second Horseman Re:patch much (187 comments)

Essentially - other than tunneling IPX over TCP/IP, which the site may or may not have been using - this version of Netware had no TCP/IP support. No web server, no nothing. Odds are this this wasn't much of a risk. My guess (the article didn't say) is that they were using it for something really specific.

about a year ago
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Are Lenovo's ThinkPads Getting Worse?

The Second Horseman No, well, no. (271 comments)

Been using Thinkpads for years, and I've seen more models at work than I've owned.

The X-series subnotes (not the Tablet PCs) are great - the X200/201 was terrific, the X220 was great, and I can't say enough about the usability and the battery life of an X230 with a 9-cell battery in it. The new keyboard takes a little getting used to, but it's good and sturdy.

The X1C is a nice system, and the T4xx models have been pretty solid. The Lxxx models can be iffy, but I can't say that they're any worse than the R40/R51/etc.The 5xx series of any line, I just can't stand. I don't know what it is, but they lost the plot with the L and T530. It's like they can't decide what the "big" business notebooks should be, so they're just kind of a mess.

about a year ago

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