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FDA Wants To Release Millions of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes In Florida

TheRealHocusLocus Re:So.... (259 comments)

We're talking about mosquitoes. I'll accept the risk.

You're placing a guaranteed positive outcome for the human race over any number of imaginings of potentially negative outcomes.

Congratulations.

When Diadema Antillarum , commonly known as the Caribbean God Damned Motherfucking Black Sea Urchin, began to die off in the 80s from an unknown cause... we're talking ~97% mortality... we knew we were in deep shit. Any day the World Wildlife Fund would issue a press release and lobby regional governments to cease all human activity. The Greenpeace ship would arrive and putt-putt around harassing fishermen, charter boats or anything that did not resemble a sea urchin or baby seal. There would be impassioned speeches at the UN to tie urchin preservation with environmental sustainability so they could use financial aid as a blunt instrument to conk small nation-states over the head.

What a relief. None of this happened.

Certainly the young girl who stepped on one and screamed, and her father who ran into the water to help her and wound up with dozens of spines in his feet and legs (which break off leaving the tips in the body), hospitalized with sepsis, they didn't object. The only creature that might have spoken up, Balistes Vetula , commonly known as Ole Wife --- whose pouty lips are perfectly suited to this spine-plucking lip smacking treat --- was too busy dining on shrimp and crabs to feel threatened. The urchins have come back but not in obscene numbers as before.

So not all die-offs are bad. Send those Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes home to Jesus.

yesterday
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New Study Says Governments Should Ditch Reliance On Biofuels

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Um, duh? (211 comments)

That is why space-based solar power is very likely the only way to go.

My inner nerd wholly agrees with you.

My outer nerd thinks orbital base load energy would be a single point of failure, and the entity that provides it would become the de-facto world government. Better to build autonomous terrestrial plants in sovereign countries fueled by an element present on every continent.

And yes, I have even more layers of nerd underneath. It's nerd all the way down.

2 days ago
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New Study Says Governments Should Ditch Reliance On Biofuels

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Um, duh? (211 comments)

Darn... saw the article and raced here to post something pithy and brief with 'Duh' in the subject. Too late.

2 days ago
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The Gap Between What The Public Thinks And What Scientists Know

TheRealHocusLocus Re:More ambiguous CULT (485 comments)

"Scientist" is a woefully ambiguous term. As I scientist, I think GMO food is perfectly safe. I am a nuclear scientist and know little about the GMO process, but that doesn't matter. My opinion does.

Good point. The glaring assertion that the sanctity of scientific authority would carry forth across disciplines, and that those in different branches of science carry more weight than say --- a layman who has put effort to research a specific subject --- is dubious.

One might even say this tabloid appeal to authority is religious... but I would not grace it like that. I have too much respect for my religious friends. I may not share their faith but I can easily see that they deliberately and carefully choose their sources of information (such as the Bible, ancient text and modern sermons) and consider the messenger with each message. They would not inherently revere a reverend with 'priest' rubber-stamped on the forehead any more than we should defer to the results of a poll whose categories are drawn from the presence or absence of a University degree in fields the pollsters considered to be 'sciency'.

Whatever the criteria for being one, scientists are part of the demographic 'public' in the real world.

There is also the fact that people who have read a fair amount in certain fields may understand the questions in a poll but because of their background they may have different perceptions as to the meaning. For example, when I saw the article "Americans Support Mandatory Labeling of Food That Contains DNA"... I did NOT spot it a mile off as a malicious trip-wire question to expose duh-idiots (which it apparently was). I recalled the recent scientific controversy over whether microRNA uptake in digestion might change gene expression in a harmful way, and whether any specific GMO food (by virtue of its narrow genetic origins) might, as an unintended consequence, be able to deliver such a payload. It was all over the news in the US a few years ago and the 'public' had every right to be concerned. Though the science is pretty well settled (see this excellent article) it turns out that the hysteria was fed partly by a failure of the scientific process, among other things. Years ago when the microRNA article was published it was refuted, too casually, even though its implications if true may be dire. Our DNA mechanisms are well-adapted to deal with these fragments and they are indeed very prevalent. This was never explained well enough to the public, who were thinking in terms of a new type of man-made 'contaminant' that had suddenly appeared in the food supply.

It is the "4 out of 5 dentists surveyed recommend Trident Sugarless Gum for their patients who chew gum" phenomenon, where the fifth dentist's opinion does not fit the message and is not even revealed. Could the fifth dentist have known or glimpsed something that would have blown all the others away, convinced them or shamed them? (the survey was actually 1,700 dentists).

If you show most anyone -- including 'scientists' --- a list of major Yellowstone eruptions over time and point out that it has been ~640,000 years since the last, and asked the question "Would you say that an eruption is overdue?" they will tend to say YES. They may even sense it is a trick question. But a geologist would shout "NO!!" and if another Geologist says yes, they would form a mob with pitchforks-mob and march to the door. Geologists are aware of the fuzziness of geologic time scales but above all, their too-casual answers have been used to dupe-scare people.

These polls have been taken before. And the tendency is to perceive them as a sort of exposé of how stupid the 'public' is. But for a few of the issues presented on this poll (I will not name Names) I believe the more appropriate response may be, what does the public know that 'scientists' who casually adopt the opinions of other 'scientists' --- need to do a bit of real research into...?

2 days ago
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One In Five Developers Now Works On IoT Projects

TheRealHocusLocus Re:What ISN'T irritating? (251 comments)

Let technology lead where it may, and don't try to put premature labels on stuff.

Yesterday I was arms and elbows in a water meter box scooping out clay and wet mud from to expose all the fittings, to check for a leak.

So I reached for my trusty Sonic Screwdriver that I can point into the box with a setting that ultrasonically loosens and separates the clay from the metal and plastic, or give the handle a twist to another setting that reads relative concentrations of free chlorine molecules in the air near the tip with a series of beeps as they dissociate from the drinking water, the beeping faster as you bring it towards the leak. No chlorine? It's just rain water, no leak here.

But I grabbed my "Internet of Things" screwdriver by mistake. The little LED flashed orange for 20 seconds as it established a Wifi and cloud connection to Scandinavia then turned blue. Laying on the dashboard of the truck, a smartphone played a little tune and its screen cleared and said, "Welcome to Screwdriver 1.0 please select clockwise or counter-clockwise and click 'Submit'."

So like any clever monkey prying into an ant nest, I used the IoT screwdriver to stab into the clay and work it loose from under the fittings so I could fish them out in globby clumps. Then I stooped there watching everything for drips, while reflecting on the marvels of modern technology and how Big Solutions are imagined in giant tanks of Think thousands of miles away, and these solutions reach globally outward looking for Little Problems to solve.

We need more people at work to design a true Sonic Screwdriver. The Industrial Age is not complete until we have one. When it is perfected it could be connected to the Internet for access to p0rn.

2 days ago
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Why Coding Is Not the New Literacy

TheRealHocusLocus Re:You nerds need to get over yourselves (211 comments)

Get used to being increasingly confused by a world you increasingly will never understand.

Been there, done that. I used to cry myself to sleep and have bizarre dreams because I was wasting my time learning Linux and Internet protocols and running an ISP while my professional peers were out there making six figure salaries exploring the awesome potential of Microsoft Dot Net and making embedded Corporate Widgets that harnessed the power of ten thousand suns, to deliver sleek desktop solutions to a world desperate for answers.

"But it's all gibberish!" I would shout at the angry skies as gale force winds whipped my tattered robe. "It is like living inside a Dilbert cartoon! The buzzwords come in fast and thick but to me it is just Microsoft-centric Vertical Market software of no specific kind, and your market is people who know they need software automation but don't know why!"

"WHAT WOULD YOU KNOW?!?" thundered the sky as a lightning bolt rent the knoll upon which I was standing, sending forth rivers of money that would always be just out of reach. "You are merely a PLUMBER of the Information age. We are the CODERS."

And the storm would part and a rainbow spanned the sky. Bluebirds would appear to help bind the perfect hair of Software Developers into blue and pink ribbons --- and we --- the ones who had bound the Internet together with sticky-tape and protocols and C would for ever gather around their feet like pigeons waiting for crumbs. But yet, at least there was a place for us.

Until the dot com bubbles burst and they migrated outward with their pretty resumes and took over our Network and Sysadmin jobs. And the telecoms swallowed all the regional ISPs to replace them with centralized warrens of cubicles.

Today I am attending a Special Needs class trying to learn Microsoft Dot Net. So far, every app I try to make always turns out to be an ashtray.

4 days ago
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Americans Support Mandatory Labeling of Food That Contains DNA

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Breakdown of adult interaction, oral tradition? (351 comments)

No, family is not (and historically has not been) the general arbiter or source of most information. You're confusing family with society, especially pre literate society.

Where did family come in to it? And how did literacy creep in? "I speak not of a direct and simple connection with one's parents and grandparents, but ongoing dialogue with anyone 20+ years older."

The term 'generation gap' was coined to describe a general oppositional stance or ideological disagreement between the generations. This is a NEW type of 'generation' gap, it is a lack of communication of any meaningful form between the generations.

Looks like my "Call your mom" quip hit some nerves and got more attention than the rest of it. Should have left it out.

This disconnect has only become possible in developed countries in this modern age, where doting parents have provided their children -- from a young age --- with tools that let them reach out to their peers 24x7. So they do, and it goes on into the teenage years. And beyond.

I'm not placing blame here, just trying to illuminate a trend that I perceive as negative. I am probably part of the problem. Over the years I have not introduced my own children to enough adults.

If you are a parent, ask yourself: how many interesting people over the years have I brought my children to, made a formal introduction (disarming that 'strangers' thing) and placed them if not in the care of these people, in the least given exposure to what they do and who they are?

It's a tribal thing dating back to that proverbial village that raises a child. What form does our so-called 'modern' village take? Children are segregated from adults in the general population as surely as by Jim Crow. They are warned about strangers but not told to seek out adults doing interesting things. They are reared in kid-stuff, 'forced' to be with other kids until... it becomes natural I guess.

My own childhood was so different. I was a free range child and the only rule was that my parents wanted to know where I was (a phone call from each place). After school I would make the rounds around town to hang out with adults who were doing interesting things. From the age of 8 I was a regular visitor at a radio station where I had free run of the production room when it was not in use, the telephone company where an engineer let me play with the IBM 5100 where I learned a bit of APL and BASIC, another computer place, a watch repairman (one of the world's last), an alarm company where my friend taught me how to solder, the local newspaper where my parents worked. In every place I gained access just be introducing myself and being respectful. Every one of the adults in these places welcomed my presence and felt free to discuss what they were doing, even assigning me tasks of organization or cleanup (I suggested it, referred to it as "earning my keep").

So in the modern time I actively sought to apprentice myself to these folk, each in a small way. My upbringing was more in line with the 'village' concept than anything I have seen emerge since.

And I think it is a shame.

What remains to be seen is whether those disconnected-from-adults kids are gathering a degree of useful tribal knowledge in the same manner that children always have --- for some 'new' type of tribe. If so, I hope it works out for them. The demographic is well represented on Slashdot and I think one or more tossed an -1 Overrated onto my GP comment because, among other things, they have little tolerance for anyone suggesting that this provincial Internet connected Universe is anything less than ideal for everybody.

5 days ago
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Americans Support Mandatory Labeling of Food That Contains DNA

TheRealHocusLocus Breakdown of adult interaction, oral tradition? (351 comments)

This appears to follow the general pattern that people will lie to interviewers to seem more smart, educated, or intellectual than they are.

There is some phenomenon at work. School curriculum seems to contain the essentials of literacy and a general sense that a modern world exists to be explored and understood, but for a great many children now and their twenty-something parents, there seem to be great gaps of knowledge... it is as if a great pool of historical and practical trivia such as that which would be imparted by oral tradition as conversation and interaction with elders, has gone 'missing'.

Perhaps it is not the educational system that has failed us, but a knowledge-transfer process between the generations. I speak not of a direct and simple connection with one's parents and grandparents, but ongoing dialogue with anyone 20+ years older.

From pre-school through college children are becoming independent at younger ages and are managing to slice out their own separate social lives. We encourage this, shape it even. It is possible for them to maintain contact principally with others their own age right into adulthood. Their parents are typically distracted and engaged with work, and everyone has their own directed entertainment to immerse in at the end of the day. Are sundown get-togethers between generations a thing of the past?

Until the post-war '50s there was little in the way of a teen-age subculture. Even before graduation there were life choices to make. You would typically be home by sundown, a great deal more interaction with adults and steady pressure for at least one of the younger to adopt the traditions and vocations of parents was real. Who will manage the farm, who will be the first apprentice at the clock shop? Who will join the Marines, who will be the teacher?

Throughout the Nuclear Age the nuclear family has been in steady decline. Where we had once been paced by the animals and family tradition we were increasingly paced by tides of external stimuli. Diverse political ideology, lifestyle options and the fossil fuel-rich economy encouraged far migration. Today families span more geographical distance on average than at any time in history.

Modern technology helped this to happen. We are a push-button society and kids push buttons as well as anyone. This extends to push-button entertainment and distraction. Maybe we've spent the last three decades of pushing separate buttons instead of spending long hours talking to one another about the little things and the big things.

What if this simple, sad message of generational estrangement as voiced by Harry Chapin... could be applied to a whole country?

Perhaps it's not too late to open those channels again.
Call your Mom.
Ask her what DNA is.

about a week ago
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Best 1990s Sci-fi show?

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Missing (476 comments)

Everything you listed sucked. In fact sucked worse then voyager.

When anonymous coward says everything suck
Is like sound of one hand clapping

about a week ago
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Doomsday Clock Could Move

TheRealHocusLocus Re:I hope they move it (145 comments)

Who really gives a shit about some metaphorical doomsday clock?

I do and so should you. I've been following the Doomsday clock from my teenage years, when it advanced from 7, 4, 3 minutes to midnight at the culmination of the cold War. The existential threat posed by the clock was real and terrifying. At that time scientists were debating a worst-case scenario of Nuclear Winter.

I've been on board with these folks for many years and as such hold them to high standards. One such standard is that of defining each existential threat as complete as possible, and the other is to identify clearly which threats contribute the most risk for the forward clock adjustment. This is done by rank.

Their standard has slipped.

In their statement the issues were presented as follows:
Climate change, leading off with the 2014 Hottest Year statistical flapdoodle, declaring it an issue that "world leaders must face head on, immediately."
And if they have some spare time left over,
Nuclear modernization programs threaten to create a new arms race.
The leadership failure on nuclear power. Hear, hear!
Dealing with emerging technological threats. Ebola (technological? huh?), cyberattacks, AI killer drones, "dual-use technologies" (box cutters?), the kitchen sink.

The Bulletin's ranking is important. If you applaud this headlining of climate change just because you personally feel strongly about it...

Then perhaps you should catch up on the current nuclear weapons counts and capabilities. If a conflict anywhere in the world goes nuclear, do you feel assured that the current leadership of your own country or the closest nuclear power is capable of restraining itself to the use of none --- or at most tactical weapons? If you're one of those folks who like to shout "nuke 'em!", bear in mind that some countries that the United States plays cheeky hardball with, such as Iran, contain resources that China considers to be vital to its National Security. Also since the former Soviet Republic dissolved, Russia and China are becoming more geopolitically allied with one another. Over time perhaps, an alliance will form that is stronger than either one has with the United States. It would be awful indeed to realize this as missiles are crossing in the air.

Perhaps you should evaluate the recent response to Ebola's emergence beyond its historical areas, and ask yourself how prepared even the most developed countries are on this day --- and what could have happened had the outbreak been even slightly less contained. This is ranked towards the end??

Of course, none of these threats, save perhaps a more virulent successor to Ebola with a 100% rate of death or reproductive damage (greetz to Vonnegut) might truly be considered existential. Life would go on and human life especially. Technically we are beyond survival. Even the most ludicrous global warming effects imagined do not convincingly paint a picture of 'mass extinction'; rather, a re-ordering of species numbers, purpose and precedence as nature has done for time uncounted.

But or modern way of life as we know it --- that is truly what is at stake. And it is worth preserving because as a species we are still learning to do better. While there are hot nuclear pickles ready to deploy we cannot be free and clear of the nuclear adolescence posed by Carl Sagan. With Ebola still in the wild without a clear vaccine or some way to deactivate it in its quiescent animal hosts, we cannot be said to have survived that either. And sad to say, a civilization reliant on base load wind and solar is not modern either, especially after a single continent-wide freeze. It's a path to hunter-gathering once more. All we can do is use our best judgment and a rational assessment of risk.

Which is why I was disappointed to see climate at the top.

Aside from some intense medical research, we need to buy some more time as modern humans, at least a thousand years' worth, with (as they suggest) a safer form of nuclear power.

about a week ago
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Dish Network Violated Do-Not-Call 57 Million Times

TheRealHocusLocus My last call from Dish Network (247 comments)

"Are you recording this, or can you set a flag that will cause this call to be flagged for review? Do it now."

"You're calling because I have a listed phone at an address that used to have Dish Network. Yes, there is a Dish dish on the roof; two of them in fact. Despite asking you not to call, you keep calling on average every two weeks. Clearly you hope that those dishes will be turned on again right now. There is no chance of that, but if you call again here's what will happen. I will climb onto the roof and unbolt both dishes, then toss them over the edge onto the driveway. Then I will bust them apart with a sledgehammer and set fire to what parts can burn. Then I will put out the fire by pissing on it. I will save a souvenir, something with the Dish logo on it, and plant it on a pike in my front yard as a warning to Dish sales representatives. Or if you stop calling it the dishes can stay up there and wait for the next tenant. For the last time, please don't call again. Got it?"

I got a laugh from the lady representative and she said 'Got it!"
They didn't call again.

about two weeks ago
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Being Pestered By Drones? Buy a Drone-Hunting Drone

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Solution looking for a problem (151 comments)

I love how you delved deep, deep into your bowels in order to conjure up some argument as to how you are correct. 25%? Brilliant work. "At any point in history" - genius stuff.

Congratulations! Since it's obvious that you hold a well-considered contrary view (though you did not express it) it's obvious that you too are in that ~25% who come to their own conclusions, rather than the ~75% "we're not ready for this/perhaps everything will turn out alright" majority that just lets things happen. And you have bowels too? It's amazing what we have in common.

Deer Trail's drone hunting license may seem like it was about dudes with shotguns who wanted to destroy others' property... at least that is a fun way to look at it if you want to make a political cartoon.

But it was to be a test case, a town where 23% of the people expressed a desire that it become a drone "no-fly zone". Do they have the same right do this --- and for the same reasons --- as the White House and Capitol, for example? And if they do not have that right to decide... then for what reason is this right/privilege denied them? Regardless how it turned out, it would have been interesting to see these questions debated and decided.

about two weeks ago
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NSA Prepares For Future Techno-Battles By Plotting Network Takedowns

TheRealHocusLocus Re:If NSA thinks they are so great ... (81 comments)

If NSA thinks they are so great ... why don't they shut off the power supply in North Korea, or the water pump in Mosul, Iraq?

Because North Korea and Mosul are probably more technologically advanced than we, using things called 'mechanical switches and controls' and 'operators'.

In the early days of infrastructure there existed in this country an elite class of operators whose job was to personally attend to the various modern contrivances that make our way of life possible. They worked in shifts around the clock, played cards and listened to the radio, but they were not surrounded by indicators, dials and levers. Every now and then one of them would get up and take a tour of the plant. While many of the simple conditions that might arise had simple mechanical switches that automatically tripped on, such as the clever liquid level switch with adjustable hysteresis, they would be on the move, visiting all the places on the lookout for things such as unusual vibrations or leaks. There were also gauges to read and readings to log, which they would enter into a primitive spreadsheet known as a gridded paper form on a clipboard. Every now and then an adjustment was necessary, moving a lever or a two handed grasp on a wheel to open or close a valve.

As technology progressed electric motors and solenoids were designed into the main control points, with gauge readings carried by wire (as varying voltage from a rheostat) to a main control room. The clipboard now sat on the control console next to the deck of cards, and readings or adjustments was a simple matter of glancing up at the remote gauges and flipping a switch. Inspection tours were still performed hourly, or so the log says. This reduced level of vigilance persisted well into the late 1970s.

In the 1980s things slipped rapidly downhill. The control system was digitized, so that the various sensors and actuator circuits now terminated at a SCADA blinky-box and in place of a massive bundle of wires leading to the control console, where each one can be traced or replaced, now there was a single point of failure device managing the controls, and the console was an electrical fabrication, a HMI device, which was a single point of failure that when it did not fail, presented readings to the operators and monitored the 'switches'. When things worked they worked better than ever. When they didn't operators were groping in the closet for the old walk-around checklist, which instructed them where in the plant to run (not walk) to monitor and make hand adjustments, until the blinky-box was fixed.

In the 1990s the new high speed modem and dedicated telecom circuits, with an additional single point of failure blinky-box which muxed and demuxed everything, made it possible for the HMI to be sited anywhere else. So they did. The decade saw the emergence of Regional Control Centers, where the most skilled operators could gather and play multi-hand poker whilst surrounded by the HMI blinky-lights of several remote locations, that had formerly been fully staffed. In each of these lonely places a lonely operator might play a hand of solitaire and make inspection tours (or so the log says), waiting for that fateful day when the telecom link went down with alarms beeping, and the operator might get to operate for a little while. Most of the time it never did.

In the year 2000 or so, SCADA engineers discovered that via Internet protocol and using various tools such as Java, could map that gargantuan HMI panel with 50+ controls and 50+ indicators onto a single 1024x768 pixel computer screen, and tunnel the complete functionality into a single application with a jittery ball mouse, sticky keyboard and various 'one-touch' key shortcuts that could launch a mechanical plant hundreds of miles away into a triple-alarm condition of catastrophe. And this functional SCADA interface could be presented to anyone, anywhere... even a housewife in Indiana clicking through an eBay purchase, or a hacker who discovered interesting things by deleting a URL back to the slash to see a default Apache file directory. As the result of a great deal of time and effort on the part of engineers, life became a lot more interesting. And of course where ever hacking is possible, NSA is there.

Long story short --- the hackability of industrial control systems has less to do with the skill of hackers, and more to do with the engineers' intentions over the years to put front line operators out of work.

North Korea and Mosul may not have the advanced control systems that we have, they are probably stuck with 1970s-era automation. This means they most likely have the other kind of elite, that we once had, a whole army of people who stay awake all night to personally attend to important things. Non hackable people.

[grain of salt]
[for entertainment purposes only]

about two weeks ago
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Being Pestered By Drones? Buy a Drone-Hunting Drone

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Solution looking for a problem (151 comments)

Actually we did start wearing clothes only to keep out the weather.

You're right of course. And to keep the bugs in.

about two weeks ago
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Being Pestered By Drones? Buy a Drone-Hunting Drone

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Solution looking for a problem (151 comments)

destroying other people's property based on them is unlikely to go well for you.

I'd lay odds that the Secret Service will be their first customer because unidentified drones cannot be tolerated in their controlled area, and they try to avoid sniping things unless a clear threat is in progress.

It's a cryin' shame that Deer Trail, Colorado voted down its proposed $25/year drone hunting license. Of 181 votes cast ~73% were against. This makes perfect sense to me, because at any point in history it seems only ~25% of any given population seems able to spot and move against certain trends that would take us down a bad road. And I'm not just talking about the guv'mint.

Up to now paparazzi, peeping toms and criminals casing potential victims and whole neighborhoods have had to grace their target areas with their physical presence, which has held them greatly in check.

I'm sure many are excited at the prospect of Amazon deliveries and pizzas buzzing through the skies -- or just exploring -- just for the novelty of how cool it would be. Hell, whole generations of us were enthralled by the "drone footage" at the beginning of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and how it would show a bird's eye view as he left home to visit his neighbors. Or perhaps you imagine something like this. Reality is a lot messier as they become commonplace. Drone operators will be watching their objectives on the ground and zooming their lenses as they fail to spot each other, power lines and aviation.

They will be crashing down onto busy roadways. As their payloads become heavier and their motors stronger there is potential for real harm to bystanders. When signal is lost or power is low they will go into autonomous descent without regard to the hazards below (such as fast moving traffic). It is inevitable that the use of 'cheap' drones is to become a favored method of terrorists. All of these things will happen by degrees.

We put pilots through the wringer and hold aircraft to ultra-high standards of reliability for good reason. We must not brush these things off lightly, and allow the the skies to become filled moving with objects of unknown purpose and origin. Unless we are really, really excited about putting pizza delivery folk out of work.

about two weeks ago
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Being Pestered By Drones? Buy a Drone-Hunting Drone

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Solution looking for a problem (151 comments)

Interestingly the treaty limits its signatories' ground resolution to 30 centimeters. Enough to count fighter planes but not good enough to gawk at bathing beauties.

Unless you play Minecraft.

about two weeks ago
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Being Pestered By Drones? Buy a Drone-Hunting Drone

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Solution looking for a problem (151 comments)

If there's a drone hovering over my land, or my 'charge' if I am hired security, it is guilty until proven innocent.

We did not build fences and walls -- and for that matter -- start wearing clothes, only to keep out the weather. We developed personal boundaries and we even invisibly project them around us when we move. If you've ever been asked "What're YOU lookin' at?" by someone, you know this even extends to where you are gazing in public. A common stumble in across cultures is violating staring rules. Expected behavior and perceived intent matters.

One of our sharpest instinctive startle-reactions is the sudden appearance of eyes in places where eyes were not expected, or where eyes should not be. This has evolved with us from a predator mechanism, where swift action becomes necessary, and it is why spotting glowing eyes around a campfire generates a moment of apprehension. Modern humans have correctly characterized drones as eyes in the sky. Unlike helicopters which strive to spend their time beyond the dead man's curve drones are close and personal and quiet.

You can also follow this eyes in the sky phenomenon in history. Even friendly nations felt it necessary to go on alert when their neighbors unexpectedly entered their airspace for reconnaissance flights, and during the Cold War these incursions were considered acts of war. The Treaty On Open Skies was the culmination of 50 year effort to declare aerial surveillance a mutually beneficial activity. Originally proposed by Eisenhower, this treaty was like a 'cease and desist' order for those who sought to keep aerial photography out of reach of the common man, just as there are those who would try to keep secure encryption from the public, oh holy shit President Obama why are you starting this Clipper crap again, sorry about that, and has paved the way for the Google Earth we all know and love to browse.

Interestingly the treaty limits its signatories' ground resolution to 30 centimeters. Enough to count fighter planes but not good enough to gawk at bathing beauties.

So scale this eyes where eyes are not supposed to be thing down to the personal level as part of a right to privacy. The problem is that predatory paparazzi are assholes and bullies, and the people who read tabloid magazines are their silent enablers. For every measure, a suitable countermeasure. That is the market, and you can bet if I was on a security detail one of these would be on my Xmas list.

If you are comforted to be watched over by machines of loving grace... smile, you're on Candid Camera.

about two weeks ago
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NASA, NOAA: 2014 Was the Warmest Year In the Modern Record

TheRealHocusLocus Re: A Less Hysterical Take (360 comments)

NOAA and NASA use SATTELITES to get the SURFACE TEMPERATURE?

No, troposphere.

See Spencer RW, Christy JR. Precise monitoring of global temperature trends from satellites. Science 1990 for an early discourse which suggests preferring satellite measurements over ground based thermometer networks for global climate studies. The idea that a few precise instruments with truly global coverage will give the most accurate picture of global change over time. It's a no brainer really. Even if there is a discrepancy with actual temperatures, one adjustment would be necessary and relative anomaly over time would remain spot-on. A better tool.

"[Spencer] Global temperatures have generally been estimated from surface temperature records, but there has been much debate regarding, for example, whether these data provide evidence of recent greenhouse warming. The primary source of uncertainty is the relatively sparse distribution of thermometers over the surface of the earth. [...] Our data suggest that high-precision atmospheric temperature monitoring is possible from satellite microwave radiometers. Because of their demonstrated stability and the global coverage they provide, these radiometers should be made the standard for the monitoring of global atmospheric temperature anomalies since 1979. Their use will allow relatively precise monthly determinations of the locations and magnitudes of temperature change events. The resulting data should provide a greater focus of scientific debate on why temperature anomalies occur rather than whether they occur."

Also, Tropospheric temperature trends:history of an ongoing controversy (Peter W. Thorne et. al.) 2010 which revisits the debate, gives a nice introduction to various homogeneity adjustments ('retroactive' adjustments that attempt to reconcile instrument and site to reality) applied to both satellite and ground datasets. They basically 'punt' in the end, saying in effect that global temperature measurement is a Big Tent and there's room enough for everybody, we'll all just massage it a bit here and there until it's perfect.

Why would NASA jump into that Big Tent, join with NOAA and others to incorporate surface measurements into a final product that they use to issue statements like "2014 Was the Warmest Year In the Modern Record" by an amount that is within the range of statistical error, when their own satellite data shows otherwise?

Here is where I become openly bitter and say flat out: there is a hysteria party going on and anything that doesn't fit the narrative gets tossed into the margins. Perhaps there is something fundamentally wrong with accurately measuring tropo temps by high resolution satellite. If there is, it hasn't 'surfaced' yet. In fact, everyone agrees that they are in almost perfect concordance with other sources. Almost. And what form does this almost take?

The satellites say no warming over the last 18 years. I believe the satellites.

I have a more difficult time believing the aggregate result of the Big Tent, which puts a heavy weight on dozens of disparate instrument types placed in thousands of places, where is the instrument's own drift, local weather variables, with a product that is subject to a raft of adjustments, (take no prisoners: ON) presented by a group of people who seem to be (unscientifically) personally and emotionally vested in selling anthropogenic catastrophe. What is the aggregate error of the Big Tent? Enough that announcing a temperature record by 0.02C is an irresponsible and disingenuous thing to do?

THAT is why even here on Slashdot, the brief snipe dissing Judith Curry get modded +I INSIGHTFUL and my comment pointing out the existence of statistical error is awarded -1 TROLL

It's shameful. Frankly, I'm amazed that the folks here on Slashdot wouldn't be more scientifically curious as to why data from our finest and most accurate tool, the satellite, does not fit the ever-warming narrative. Some just like it hot, I guess.

about two weeks ago
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NASA, NOAA: 2014 Was the Warmest Year In the Modern Record

TheRealHocusLocus Re: A Less Hysterical Take (360 comments)

I would be leery about listening to Judith Curry. She is often wrong: https://www.skepticalscience.c...

I'd be leery of a series of greeny globalwarmy newsy 'Hottest Year' claims that are weighted heavily on surface thermometer readings and beat the previous record by "a tiny, effectively unmeasurable 0.02C" that is (conveniently, suspiciously) not divulged in the press release, an amount which is within the margin for error... lest people suspect that they are being emotionally manipulated in a very unscientific way. When you responsibly consider statistical error, 2014 is a tie year.

For a more reasoned compilation of sources on temperature data related to this announcement, check the sources cited on this evil page of devil-spawn skepticism at Climate Depot.

These announcements are good for only two things:
1. scaring people for political purposes
2. playing THE HOTTEST YEAR EVER! drinking game

We have a winner. Let's all have a drink.

about two weeks ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Honest question. (479 comments)

Replace all the people with LEGO people. Little LEGO people seem to have no gender-specific issues, since the differences are just painted on. Even better would be to use bricks to assemble giant LEGO people, because then on the anatomical level everything would fit into everything else.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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On the Futility of Climate Models: A Perfect Storm

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about three weeks ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "There are two main fronts in the CO2-drives-climate debate today. The first is an empirical measure of average global temperature, which is either rising by a few hundredths of a degree per year — or less, depending on how available data sources are combined and who you ask. But it is primarily based on a series of climate models that attempt to describe the planet we live on to a reasonable (and actionable) degree of accuracy.

Leo Smith offers a reality check and warning on the perils of using models. His own essay is brief and direct, but it has elicited a flood of responses — a perfect storm — such as I have rarely seen. An excellent read. For example, one point raised in a comment, "...climate models are all utter garbage. They cannot do CFD in the vertical dimension. The whole point is to model energy flow to and from the surface, and the models can’t do it. They rely on parametrisations for the primary energy transports away from the surface, convection and evaporation. They show warming because they are programmed to show warming. Radiative subsidence is a critical component of tropospheric convective circulation. Tropospheric convective circulation would stall and the atmosphere would heat were it not for radiative gases. What do the useless models you defend do? They hold the speed of tropospheric convective circulation constant for increasing radiative gas concentrations so they can fraudulently show near surface warming." Perhaps most thought provoking is a note added by the author as the storm of comments raged: "I am not sure I wanted that post to become an article. I don't want to be someone else’s received wisdom. I want the buggers to start thinking for themselves. If that means studying control theory systems analysis and chaos mathematics then do it. And form your own opinions.""

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The Declawing of the DEA (on Medical Marijuana)

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 1 month ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Defund, declaw, desist. An amendment attached to the spending bill officially ends a directed campaign to harass medical marijuana users and their doctors in 32 states and Washington, DC. Many are celebrating this 'cease-fire' as a general victory for States' rights, but there is one who did not live to see it. Peter McWilliams [1949-2000] hit pay dirt in 1982 with The Personal Computer Book and The Word Processing Book. Spiced with capricious and self-effacing wit, these introduced many to the personal computer and The Electric Pencil — word processing wonder-tool of the Yukon.

McWilliams pinged the DEA's radar in 1993 with Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Country, full text posted by author's wish. Well-researched, readable and direct, it came to be found in the possession of 'dope' addicts, Libertarian movements, and any who wonder why 'Wars on X' often backfire and ultimately lead to anguish. Then in 1996 McWilliams was diagnosed with AIDS and AIDS related non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He tried several medications and concluded, "Nausea is an unsolved problem of medicine. Marijuana is the finest anti-nausea medication known to science." When California passed Proposition 215 his attempts to publish how-to books to help prescribed patients grow their own (legal) pot earned him a Federal indictment as a 'drug king pin', and a campaign of harassment and cruel treatment that ended with his death. Why is our Federal jurisprudence so draconian at times? At what cost? You may find insight in "Ain't Nobody's Business". Another fine book gifted to the web by the author is Do It! Let's Get Off Our Buts. "
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HR 4681, Section 309: Hello NSA, Goodbye America.

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a month and a half ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Stick a fork in the Republic, it's done. Hidden in the final version of the Intelligence Authorization Act HR 4681, passed by contemptuous "voice vote", is a section that, for the first time, codifies and implicitly authorizes the collection of communications (not just 'metadata') of Americans.

It seems that the NSA's backbone voice and Internet tap apparatus is chock-full of "Incidental Communications" — that is, "any nonpublic telephone or electronic communication acquired without the consent of a person who is a party to the communication, including communications in electronic storage" that has been obtained by "any intelligence collection activity not otherwise authorized by court order".

The gist of the legislation is, they are acknowledging the presence of this (illegal and unconstitutional) activity in the context of 'limiting' retention of these communications to five years. After five years a troop of Congressionally Authorized Boy Scouts will tour NSA facilities and supervise the removal of your telephone calls and email. And you know they will. It is time for us to completely dismantle, de-fund, de-construct and defame the NSA for what it has done, and smite Section 309, which says it's perfectly all right for Americans to spy on Americans 'for five years'. Or as we IT folks know, forever."

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Google challenges us on the Future of Energy

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 2 months ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Google's Ross Koningstein and David Fork have published a interesting article at IEE Spectrum that describes the impetus behind the REC Initiative and sobering conclusions on the most popular renewable energy sources today. It also issues a challenge: not only must we find a source that is theoretically cheaper than coal, "What’s needed, we concluded, are reliable zero-carbon energy sources so cheap that the operators of power plants and industrial facilities alike have an economic rationale for switching over soon---say, within the next 40 years."

It makes good sense, a 40 year deadline. Energy is the catalyst of our modern life, as substantial as any physical product. Cheap base load electricity delivered by grid is the running water of the industrial age. Its effect on quality of life and economic health is analogous to the effect of clean drinking water on public health. Robert Hargraves is one who has also been promoting a carbon-neutral energy source that might provide electricity cheaper than coal and provide raw process heat for making synfuels. What other game-changing ideas are out there?"

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The Day Israel Attacked the NSA

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 3 months ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Al Jazeera's recent showing of Richard Belfield's documentary The Day Israel Attacked America is the latest telling of a June 8, 1967 incident that survivors unanimously declare to be an unprovoked and deliberate attack, with clear intent to sink the USS Liberty SIGINT ship with all hands. Along with the BBC's excellent 2002 documentary, it has scarcely been covered by networks in the US itself, save a 60 Minutes segment years ago. James Bamford's NSA exposé Body of Secrets offers a riveting chapter on the harrowing incident. While the Liberty Incident Wikipedia page is information-rich, it has also been a battleground as editors attempt to merge survivors' accounts (often irreconcilably) with official narrative from US and Israeli government sources. WikiSpooks' Liberty article has more to chew on and its reliable sources page is a must-read.

Questions remain, such as why Secretary of Defense Robert Macnamera recalled air support and rescue (twice), the odd indifference of the Johnson Administration and circumstances surrounding our involvement in the Six-Day War, which may have brought us to the brink of nuclear conflict with the USSR. If you love whiteouts and blanked audio you can even browse NSA's own Liberty collection, some materials added in response to FOIA requests.."
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Survive (and Party) Like It's 1920!

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 3 months ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "The Survivor Library is gathering essential knowledge that would be necessary to jump-start modern civilization, should it fail past the point where a simple 'reboot' is not possible. Much of it (but not all) dates to the late 1800s and early 1900s: quaint, but we know these things work because they did work. Does modern civilization offer a real backup-pan? Not a priority. Wait for help. In 1978 James Burke said our modern world has become a trap, and whether it springs shut or not all true roads to survival lead to the plow. Could you make one, use one? Sure, even a steam engine to pull it. I rescued my copy of Henley's Formulas from a dumpster outside a library. This is happening all over. It makes my blood run cold.

Think of it Survivor Library as a trove of survival skills, a "100 year civilization checkpoint backup" that fits on a hard drive. If one individual from every family becomes a Librarian, gathering precious things with the means to read them, there may be many candles in the darkness. You might even ensure survival. Browse at will, but if acquisition is the goal, someone has kindly made a torrent snapshot as of 14-Oct-2014 available to all Ferengis. If the worst happens we'll just party like it's 1920. See you there."

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When Snowden speaks, future lawyers (and judges) listen

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 3 months ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "We are witness to an historic 'first': an individual charged with espionage and actively sought by the United States government has been (virtually) invited to speak at Harvard Law School, with applause. HLS Professor Lawrence Lessig conducted the hour-long interview last Monday with a list of questions by himself and his students.

Some interesting jumps are Snowden's assertion that mass domestic intercept is an 'unreasonable seizure' under the 4th Amendment, it also violates 'natural rights' that cannot be voted away even by the majority, a claim that broad surveillance detracts from the ability to monitor specific targets such as the Boston Marathon bombers, calls out Congress for not holding Clapper accountable for misstatements, and laments that contractors are exempt from whistleblower protection though they do swear an oath to defend the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic. These points have been brought up before. But what may be most interesting to these students is Snowden's suggestion that a defendant under the Espionage act be permitted to present an argument before a jury that the act was committed "in the public interest". Could this pure-judicial move help ensure a fair trial for whistleblowers whose testimony reveals Constitutional violation?

Professor Lessig wraps up the interview by asking Snowden, Hoodies or Suits? “Hoodies all the way. I hope in the next generation we don't even have suits anymore, they're just gone forever.”"

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Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's do both, smartly

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 3 months ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Preppers have a saying, "two is one and one is none" which might also apply to 24x7 base load energy sources that could sustain us beyond the age of fossil fuel. I too was happy to see Skunkworks' Feb 2013 announcement and the recent hello again, still making progress reminder — I was moved by the reaction on Slashdot: a ground swell of "Finally!" and "We're saved!" Do you think fusion is 'the' solution, and yields 'no' radioactive waste?

All nuclear reactors will generate waste via activation as the materials of which they are constructed erode and become unstable under high neutron flux. I'm not pointing this out because I think it's a big deal — a few fusion advocates disingenuously tend to sell the process as if it were '100% clean'. I think that a low volume of non-recyclable waste from fusion reactors that is walk-away safe in ~100 years is doable. Let's do it. And likewise, the best comparable waste profile for fission is a two-fluid LFTR, a low volume of waste that is walk-away safe in ~300 years. Let's do it.

Why pursue both, with at least the same level of urgency? Because both could carry us indefinitely. Because LFTR is a sure thing. It is less complicated in theory and practice. It is closer to market. Yes those are my opinions, but I've been looking into this for awhile. There is plenty of cross-over, LFTR's materials challenges and heat engine interface — and the necessity for waste management — are the same as they will be for commercial scale fusion reactors. To get up to speed please see the 2006 fusion lecture by Dr. Robert Bussard on the Wiffle ball 6 plasma containment, likely the precursor to the Skunkworks approach. And see Thorium Remix 2011 which presents the case for LFTR. Four hours well spent. Saving humanity is worth having at least two eggs in the basket."
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A Cyber 'Cold War'? Let the new generation opt out now!

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 4 months ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "So here we go. The New York Times is quoting "people briefed on the matter" who allege that the JP Moprgan data thieves "are thought to be operating from Russia and appear to have at least loose connections with officials of the Russian government". This becomes a front page item on the Times. Drudge Report dipped into their stock photo bin and plopped a huge Putin photo, one of those pensive ones like he's hiding something.

I remember a time when a respectable news source would be reluctant to take such a claim to the front page on an unnamed single source, let alone tossing out those "loose connections". And of course the Sanctions are brought in, it could be an act of "retaliation"... in case you didn't know. My bullshit detector is going off. I've seen the former Soviet Union evolve into an amazingly diverse culture that is well reprresented on the Internet. This culture has grown alongside our own and runs the gamut of characters: tirelessly brilliant open source software developers, fine commercial products, basement kiddles from script to l33t, and yes — even groups affiliated with organized crime syndicates. This is no surprise and these exist in the US. Ask your local bank what card skimmers are. Are we ready to go full-political on this computer security issue, where who and where diddit is more important than how to lock it down? If Joe Smart from Nashville owns a Russian bank would we expect to see a pensive Obama photo in the Moscow Times?

Let us stay this madness. How do you Slashdotters feel about these growing 'tensions' and what can we do to help bring some moderate balance to the table? And my Russian friends, how do you feel about being implicated thus? Are you all KGB agents? You can speak up, we're all alone here. Signed: been through one Cold War and don't want another."

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The Rise of Wagnerian Science [corr]

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 4 months ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Just encountered Negative Results are Disappearing from Most Disciplines and Countries [2011] from master lexicographer Daniele Fanelli, whose 2009 work on scientific misconduct was covered on Slashdot. He finds "the proportion of papers that, having declared to have tested a hypothesis, reported a full or partial support has grown by more than 20% between 1990 and 2007." Does this mean that as a species, we are becoming better at guessing — or are there other forces at work?

One thing that jumped at me in Fanelli's paper [Fig 3, p7] was the smoothness of this progression for the US authors, as compared with other countries. Richard Feynman noted "The thing that doesn't fit is the thing that's most interesting." Are we seeking those things? Newton was almost right. Bereft of rigorous testing to invalidate popular hypotheses, would we be likely to notice "negative results" such as the disparities that led into quantum mechanics, today? Or would they be swept under the rug of selective funding and implied consensus?

Years ago when listening to The Ring I found myself switching the turntable to 78rpm to complete the Cycle in a few hours — its musical sentiment was soo obvious and I "see" where it was going. Science should embody more Contrapunctus, a fugue where negative and positive entwine in a thoughtful dance. Writing this summary I must endeavor not to relate this to climate science. Oops."

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The Rise of Wagnerian Science

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 4 months ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Just encountered Negative Results are Disappearing from Most Disciplines and Countries [2011] from master lexicographer Daniele Fanelli, whose 2009 work on scientific misconduct was covered on Slashdot. She finds "the proportion of papers that, having declared to have tested a hypothesis, reported a full or partial support has grown by more than 20% between 1990 and 2007." Does this mean that as a species, we are becoming better at guessing — or are there other forces at work?

One thing that jumped at me in Fanelli's paper [Fig 3, p7] was the smoothness of this progression for the US authors, as compared with other countries. Richard Feynman noted "The thing that doesn't fit is the thing that's most interesting." Are we seeking those things? Newton was almost right. Bereft of rigorous testing to invalidate popular hypotheses, would we be likely to notice "negative results" such as the disparities that led into quantum mechanics, today? Or would they be swept under the rug of selective funding and implied consensus?

Years ago when listening to The Ring I found myself switching the turntable to 78rpm to complete the Cycle in a few hours — its musical sentiment was soo obvious and I "see" where it was going. Science should embody more Contrapunctus, a fugue where negative and positive entwine in a thoughtful dance. Writing this summary I must endeavor not to relate this to climate science. Oops."

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Death to the Trapezoid.. Small aggravations and big 'fails'

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Extreme bandwidth is nice, intelligent power management is cool... but folks should be spilling into the streets in thankful praise that the next generation miniature USB connector will fit either way. All told-- just how many intricate miracle devices have been scrapped in their prime — because a tiny USB port was mangled? For millennia untold chimpanzees and people have been poking termite mounds with round sticks. I for one am glad to see round stick technology make its way into consumer electronics. Death to the trapezoid, bring back the rectangle! So... since we're on roll here... how many other tiny annoyances that lead to big fails are out there?"
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The Dismantling of POTS: bold move or grave error?

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "The FCC is drafting rules to formalize the process of transition of "last-mile" subscriber circuits to digital IP-based data streams. The move is lauded by AT&T Chairman Tom Wheeler who claims that significant resources are spent to maintain 'legacy' POTS service, though some 100 million still use it. POTS, or 'Plain Old Telephone Service' is the analog standard that allows the use of simple unpowered phone devices on the wire, with the phone company supplying ring and talk voltage. I cannot fault progress, in fact I'm part of the problem: I gave up my dial tone a couple years ago because I needed cell and could not afford to keep both. But what concerns me is, are we poised to dismantle systems that are capable of standing alone to keep communities and regions 'in-touch' with each other, in favor of systems that rely on centralized (and distant) points of failure? Despite its analog limitations POTS switches have enforced the use of hard-coded local exchanges and equipment that will faithfully complete local calls even if its network connections are down. But do these IP phones deliver the same promise? For that matter, is any single local cell tower isolated from its parent network of use to anyone at all? I have had a difficult time finding answers to this question, and would love savvy /. folks to weigh in: In a disaster that isolates the community from outside or partitions the country's connectivity — aside from local Plain Old Telephone Service, how many IP and cell phones would continue to function? Are we setting ourselves up for a 'fail'?"
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If ONLY Compact Flourescernt Bulbs are lighting this room, right now...

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "POLL IDEA

* They better for me AND I want to threaten everyone to use them with a stick
* Illumination is BETTER than incandescent bulbs
* No difference, who cares
* Illumination is WORSE than incandescent bulbs
* Worse for me AND I want to break them all with a stick
* Naver mind this bulb business, I just want to use the stick
* Disqualified: I have an incandescent desk lamp, I am blind or all my bulbs have burned out"
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Breakthrough: Manned Space Travel Achieved Using 40-Year Old Technology

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Paul Rosenberg has uncovered some surprising new evidence that manned space travel is not only possible, it has actually been achieved using decades-old technology. Some 40 years in the making, a tale too amazing to remain untold. With a few quaint photographs he asks, could we build this? The answer is no. Or is it? It is uplifting to read that "Productive humans have been delegated to mute observance as their hard-earned surplus is syphoned off to capital cities, where it is sanctimoniously poured down a sewer of cultured dependencies and endless wars..." for it must take something really compelling to prevent us from reaching the stars, and he has nailed it. This essay makes the case that the headliner of 2052 may well be: Breakthrough: Manned Space Travel Achieved Using 80-Year Old Technology. I can hardly wait! Down with robots."
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The future of energy must be crowdsourced, needs your help

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 2 years ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "It wants to power our grid — completely. It wants to eat our existing nuclear waste, all of it. It does not want to explode or release radioactivity via steam or overpressure. Oil companies are trying to make you fear it (duh). The Big Nuclear Industry will not touch it because it eats anything, and they cannot lock you in to a solid fuel contract. Environmentalists are still confusing it with 'traditional' melt boom irradiate nuclear power technology. Kirk Sorensen wants to tell you about it. TFA is two hours long but there is not a idle moment in here, it's a mini physics course in itself. This is all about keeping the lights on, surviving the Winter, keeping our technological lead."
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How 'hackable' is EAS? This just in: Zombie acopalypse in Montanna

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 2 years ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Perhaps uncoincidentally with the Walking Dead's return on AMC, unknown persons have managed to inject a fake EAS (Emergency Alert System) message into the stream of KRTV in Great Falls, Montana. From CONELRAD [1951-1963] to EBS [1963-1997] to modern EAS, the US has had infrastructure in place for an attention signal to alert a hierarchical network of broadcast stations. In 1979 I conducted weekly EBS tests at a small FM station which always required direct operator action. But now so many stations run unattended, it is surprising incidents like this do not happen more often. But this begs the age old question: how could you secure such a network without introducing excessive complexity, reducing reliability?"
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Only two real challenges face us today, besides restraint (for comment)

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  more than 2 years ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "There are only two real challenges to face in this world.

There is only only one doomsday scenario that requires us to come together and take action to ensure our survival: to deploy technology that can identify, then divert or destroy asteroids on a course to impact our planet.

There is only one actual piece of social engineering that needs to occur to ensure our survival: to marginalize the opposition to nuclear energy and to build and scale up efficient and safe modern designs to completely power our electric grids with enough surplus energy for electric ground transportation, trains, cars and trucks. To gather and store the nuclear waste responsibly until breeder technology matures. The developing world wants electric grids (not our charity dollars), in the developed world the grids are the only thing between us and the dark ages. Coal, oil and gas harm the environment and their depletion curves yield a perpetual resource war and eventual doom. Disaster-hardened underground nuclear reactors hold the ONLY real promise we have for continued existence in the style to which we are accustomed.

That's it. Only two challenges. All the rest are matters that may be solved with restraint.

This practice of taking issues such as violence and war or drug abuse or overpopulation, and treating them as 'disasters' and not issues of restraint — worries me. It is a grave mental disorder to portray them as anything more than they are, simple issues of personal restraint.

John Galt's motor does not exist. Fusion even if it proves possible will not be scalable soon enough. Hydrogen is a great fuel for transportation but it requires energy for harvest. Nuclear fission is the *only* energy source that could keep us alive through a long dark winter so it must be pursued — until it is perfected, to the exclusion of everything else.

In other words, GROW UP humanity, this little recess from technological innovation while we burn off the oil and turn away from danger in the sky, is over. It's time to get back to work."

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