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Comments

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Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

Trepidity Re:weird choice (153 comments)

Ah good point on (B). Also, since the Japanese public has gotten very skeptical of nuclear power post-Fukushima, that's likely to just put more upward pressure on electricity prices.

3 days ago
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Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

Trepidity weird choice (153 comments)

My impression is that, 10 or 15 years ago, electric vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles were perhaps equally good candidates for "future non-petroleum car technology", but that electric vehicles have been developing much faster, while fuel-cell vehicles have been going nowhere. Why now place a large bet on fuel cells?

3 days ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

Trepidity Re:Not fungible (523 comments)

I wonder if just putting a wage floor would help out with some of those abuses. Say, you can use H1B, but only for salary offers above $100k. That way H1B can be used to fill high-skill jobs with shortages, but not lower- and middle-end jobs.

3 days ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

Trepidity Re:Not fungible (523 comments)

If tech companies weren't shit at training they would be somewhat more fungible, though not perfectly so. Engineering companies are somewhat better at this: if a company is looking for chemical engineers and can't find someone with experience in exactly the process they're hiring for, they'll hire a chemical engineer with experience in a different process and get them up to speed. Tech companies seem incapable of doing that, and instead they have a big list of really specific background they want, "must have 7 years of experience in J2EE and 3 years experience using Joe Bob's Serialization Framework", then complain they can't find anyone so it must be a "programmer shortage".

3 days ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

Trepidity Re:Silly argument (523 comments)

It's not clear yet how the the layoffs will be distributed, but they certainly won't be all in Finland. Microsoft's already given notice of 1351 layoffs in Redmond, and that's likely only the first round of Redmond layoffs.

3 days ago
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$10 Million Lawsuit Against Wikipedia Editors "Stragetically" Withdrawn

Trepidity Re:Way to Striesand yourself (51 comments)

They did, though? Or at least the article currently says that. Here is what Wikipedia says at the moment:

Court cases

In 1982, Barry was convicted of extortion from and conspiracy against John Royden McConnell, and served 10 months of a 6-year prison term.[4][23]

In a 1982 civil case, a separate court ruled that Barry had extorted money from McConnell in record company dealings, requiring a financial award of C$285,000.[10] In 1987 he declared bankruptcy, voiding the award.[24][1] Barry said in an October 2013 Larry King interview that he had been a cocaine-addicted, twenty-something rocker at the time and credited the extortion conviction for changing his personal life.[25]

In 1998, Barry was indicted on corruption charges related to a VitaPro contract worth US$34 million with the Texas prisons.[26][27] In 1999, the Texas Supreme Court ruled the VitaPro contract with the Texas prisons was invalid.[28] After a trial in 2001, he was initially declared guilty, but the verdict was thrown out by U.S district court judge and a new trial was ordered in 2007.[26] He was then acquitted in 2008 after a bench retrial.[26] Barry said the charges were politically motivated.[24][27]

3 days ago
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Australian Website Waits Three Years To Inform Customers of Data Breach

Trepidity why bother now? (35 comments)

At this point they'd probably end up with fewer problems just by keeping it quiet forever.

3 days ago
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Australia Repeals Carbon Tax

Trepidity Re:Battler (286 comments)

How come your neighbor New Zealand can do better?

4 days ago
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Australia Repeals Carbon Tax

Trepidity Re:Pwned (286 comments)

When it comes to Tone Abbott it's hard to limit yourself to just one or two examples of stupidity, but one of the more impressive fuckups was that he's so rabidly supportive of Sri Lanka's questionable government, that even the UK and USA are getting annoyed.

4 days ago
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FBI Concerned About Criminals Using Driverless Cars

Trepidity Re:Much more dangerous than regular van. (435 comments)

Yes, because of past car bombings, it's much harder to park a van in front of somewhere sensitive for even a few minutes. There is definitely a "demand", so to speak, for a remote-control van that wouldn't have to park.

about a week ago
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Time Warner Turns Down Takeover Bid From Rupert Murdoch

Trepidity Re:Weren't they trying to merge with Comcast? (70 comments)

There's a whole slew of ex-TW companies that kept various parts of the name. It's kind of a mess, possibly deliberately.

As another example: the entertainment production company, Warner Bros., which produced both films and music, was acquired by Time Warner. Fast-forward some decades, and there are now two companies named Warner, one of which is part of TW and one of which isn't. The film part is still known as Warner Bros and is still owned by Time Warner. The music part, formerly known as Warner Bros Music, was renamed to Warner Music, and then recently (2011) sold off to some holding company, so despite still being branded as the Warner music arm, it's no longer owned by Time Warner, or related to the film part of Warner.

about a week ago
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Time Warner Turns Down Takeover Bid From Rupert Murdoch

Trepidity Re:Weren't they trying to merge with Comcast? (70 comments)

Is Time Warner's ISP a different business than Time Warner's content company or something?

Yeah, Time Warner spun off Time Warner Cable in 2009 as a separate company.

about a week ago
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Australian Electoral Commission Refuses To Release Vote Counting Source Code

Trepidity Re:Security by obscurity (112 comments)

One way of putting #2 is that it's easier to mess with paper ballots, but harder to mess with a lot of them and get away with it. If you want to change 100,000 paper votes, a lot of people are going to have to be in on it.

about a week ago
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Australian Electoral Commission Refuses To Release Vote Counting Source Code

Trepidity Re:Nothing to see here, move along. (112 comments)

Surely they wouldn't use the services of a country as untrustworthy as Russia! I have confidence that they'll send it to a legitimate democracy for review, like their close ally Sri Lanka.

about a week ago
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Rand Paul and Silicon Valley's Shifting Political Climate

Trepidity Re:This is the problem with having a two party sys (525 comments)

Someone who supports conservative economic policy but liberal social policies, in any other country, has a mainstream party to get behind.

In some kind of relative sense, yes, but there is no mainstream party in most of the west that supports policies like Rand Paul's. In most of Europe, the "economically conservative but socially liberal" parties have economic policies to he left of the Democrats, including support for national healthcare.

about a week ago
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Rand Paul and Silicon Valley's Shifting Political Climate

Trepidity this isn't really new (525 comments)

The Valley has long had a handful of superrich libertarian types. Thiel is one of the better known, and is really more of a Wall Street type who now makes investments in the Valley. He made his money in hedge funds, not in technology. He's been involved with various Republican and Libertarian causes since the '80s.

about a week ago
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Your Personal Data Is On Your Phone -- In the Form of Bacteria

Trepidity Re:I don't have a phone (21 comments)

Is that still legal?

about a week ago
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Fighting Climate Change With Trade

Trepidity Re:more conspiracy theory nonsense (155 comments)

You know, we have $10/gal gas in Denmark, and are not exactly in the poor house. In fact whenever I travel to the U.S., it seems third-world in comparison, full of crime, poverty, and pollution. Maybe you want to get out of the dark ages and become an advanced, first-world society?

about a week ago
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Elite Group of Researchers Rule Scientific Publishing

Trepidity result of the lab/funding system (123 comments)

It's increasingly the job of professors at research universities in the sciences to be more of a "research manager" than a "researcher". They're expected to have a big lab of 5-15 students and postdocs, and to bring in enough grant funding to pay for this lab. The ones who are successful at this lab-head game bring in a bunch of money, have a large lab, and as a result oversee a lot of work that comes out of that lab, most of which has them as a co-author. Individual researchers without a team can't really compete against that.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Political Pressure Pushes NASA Technical Reports Offline

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  about a year ago

Trepidity writes "The extensive NASA Technical Report Archive was just taken offline, following pressure from members of U.S. Congress, worried that Chinese researchers could be reading the reports. U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) demanded that "NASA should immediately take down all publicly available technical data sources until all documents that have not been subjected to export control review have received such a review", and NASA appears to have complied. Although all reports are in the public domain, there doesn't appear to be a third-party mirror available (some university libraries do have subsets on microfiche)."
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AI Systems Designing Games

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Trepidity writes "AI systems can (sort of) paint and compose classical music, but can they design games? Slashdot looked at the question a few years ago, and several research groups now have experimental systems that design board games and platformers with varying levels of success. I've put together a survey of the AI game designers I know of, to round up what they can do so far (and what they can't). Are there any others out there?"
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US Navy Admiral Questions Expensive Stealth Platforms

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  about 2 years ago

Trepidity writes "United States Navy Admiral and Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert stirred a controversy by questioning much of the thinking underlying current U.S. defense technology. He argues that stealth technology is unlikely to retain its usefulness much into the future, and so focus should switch towards standoff weapons. In addition, he criticizes the focus on expensive all-in-one platforms such as the F-35 fighter, arguing for a payload-centric, flexible approach he compares to trucks rather than luxury cars."
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Appeals Court rules TOS violations aren't criminal

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Trepidity writes "In a decision today (pdf), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act "does not extend to violations of use restrictions", and therefore violating terms of service and corporate use policies is not a federal crime. Law profesor Orin Kerr cheered the decision, but since three other Courts of Appeals have reached opposite decisions, it might be heading to the Supreme Court."
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MP3Tunes wins victory for cloud music storage

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  about 2 years ago

Trepidity writes "In a case being closely watched by companies like Amazon and Google, for the implications it could have for their own cloud-based "music locker" services, a judge ruled in the case of MP3Tunes that the way such services operate is generally legal. In particular, they are eligible for DMCA safe-harbor protections, and de-duplication of identical files uploaded by different users does not create a "master copy" that would make the company liable for public-performance royalties. Furthermore, if a fingerprint finds an exact match with an already-uploaded file, the company can legally skip the actual uploading step, rather than only de-duplicating after upload. While this is good news for many other such services, MP3Tunes itself partially lost, because they hadn't properly responded to DMCA takedown notices, and the company's founder had made the bone-headed move of personally distributing public links to some of the "privately" stored copyrighted music. Full decision here (PDF)."
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Gamification roundup

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Trepidity writes "Controversy continues over the seemingly unstoppable trend of "gamification" (something Slashdot's covered previously). The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business held a Gamification Symposium entitled "For The Win" this week, indicating apparent academic respectability. But in the opening panel debating definitions of "gamification", one participant, game scholar Ian Bogost, defined it as "bullshit". Elsewhere, Jon Radoff responds that it may not be bullshit, but is too focused on superficial behaviorism rather than deeper gameplay. For my part, I wonder if by claiming gamification is a completely new thing, rather than just a new word, we're missing out on important past lessons, like the very strange history of Soviet gamification."
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Places with the most Wikipedia articles

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Trepidity writes "Wikipedia has been making an effort to mark up articles with latitude-longitude coordinates when they refer to a specific location. It's now done so for over a million articles (across all languages). I was curious which parts of the world have gotten the most coverage. The answer is: Florence, Italy has the most articles within a 1-km-diameter circle; and London tops both the 10-km and 100-km lists. Here are the full results."
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Cow Clicker tackles world hunger

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Trepidity writes "Cow Clicker distilled Facebook games down to their essence: clicking on cows. Since then, though, social games have upped their sights, focusing on lofty goals like solving hunger, disease, and poverty. Not wanting to miss this utopian gaming trend, Cow Clicktivism turns clicks on cows into real cows, via Oxfam America. Even better, anyone with a revolutionary idea for how clicking on cows can fix the world can now implement it, using the Cow Clicker API."
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Cow Clicker: The Essence of Facebook Games

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  about 4 years ago

mjn writes "Game designer and academic Ian Bogost announces Cow Clicker, a Facebook game implementing the mechanics of the Facebook-games genre stripped to their core. You get a cow, which you can click on every six hours. You earn additional clicks if your friends in your pasture also click. You can buy premium cows with 'mooney', and also use your mooney to buy more clicks. You can buy mooney with real dollars, or earn some free bonus mooney if you spam up your feed with Cow Clicker activity. A satire of Facebook games, but actually as genuine a game as the non-satirical games are. And people actually play it, perhaps confirming Bogost's view that the genre of games is largely just "brain hacks that exploit human psychology in order to make money", which continue to work even when the users are openly told what's going on."
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Facebook retroactively makes more user data public

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mjn writes "In yet another backtrack from their privacy policy, Facebook has decided to retroactively move more information into the public, indexable part of profiles. The new profile parts made public are: a list of things users have become "fans" of (now renamed to "likes"), their education and work histories, and what they list under "interests". Apparently there is neither any opt-out nor even notice to users, despite the fact that some of this information was entered by users at a time when Facebook's privacy policy explicitly promised that it wouldn't be part of the public profile."
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Library of Congress to Archive All Tweets

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mjn writes "Continuing their recent push to archive more digital content, the U.S. Library of Congress announced a deal with Twitter to archive all public tweets, dating back to Twitter's inception in March 2006. More details at their blog. No word yet on precisely what will be done with the collection, but besides entering your friends' important updates on the quality of breakfast into the permanent archival record, the deal may improve access for researchers wanting to analyze and mine Twitter's giant database."
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Prison bans D&D for mimicking gang structure

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Trepidity writes "In a case that has been winding its way through the courts for a bit, a Wisconsin prison banned inmates from playing Dungeons & Dragons, using the justification that 'one player is denoted the Dungeon Master... [who] is tasked with giving directions to other players ... [which] mimics the organization of a gang'. The prison also cited some sparse evidence that a handful of non-inmate D&D players once committed some crimes that allegedly were related to their D&D playing. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld [pdf] the regulation Monday against challenges from inmates. The court appeared skeptical of the ban, sarcastically referring to it as the 'war on D&D', but nonetheless upheld it as having a 'rational basis'. Law prof. Ilya Somin suggests that the court may have had no choice, given how deferential rational-basis review usually is."
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The Murky Origins of Zork's Name

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mjn writes "Computational media researcher Nick Montfort traces the murky origins of Zork's name. It's well known that the word was used in MIT hacker jargon around that time, but how did it get there? Candidates are the term "zorch" from late 1950s DIY electronics slang, the use of the term as a placeholder in some early 1970s textbooks, the typo a QWERTY user would get if he typed "work" on an AZERTY keyboard, and several uses in obscure sci-fi. No solid answers so far, though, as there are problems with many of the possible explanations, that would have made MIT hackers unlikely to have run across them at the right time."
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Supreme Court skeptical of business method patents

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Trepidity writes "The U.S. Supreme Court held oral argument Monday in Bilski , a business-methods patent case that might also have important implications for software patents (Slashdot's previously covered the case several times). The tone of the argument appears to be good news, as the justices were very skeptical of the broad patentability claims. They even brought up a parade of absurd hypothetical patents quite similar to the ones Slashdotters tend to mention in these kinds of debates. Roberts surmised that "buy low, sell high" might be a patentable business method, Sotomayor wondered if speed-dating could be patentable, Breyer questioned whether a professor could patent a lesson plan that kept his students from falling asleep, and Scalia brought up the old-time radio soap opera Lorenzo Jones , featuring a hare-brained inventor with delusions of getting rich."
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Lori Drew case cyberbullying case dismissed

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Trepidity writes "About 7 weeks after the judge tentative overturned Lori Drew's guilty verdict for "cyberbullying" following her online harassment of a teenager that was linked to the teenager's suicide, the case was finally officially dismissed. In a 32-page opinion [PDF], the court avoided a minefield of possible follow-on effects that civil-liberties groups had warned of by holding that merely violating a website's Terms of Service cannot constitute "unauthorized access" for the purposes of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 U.S.C. 1030)."
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Computing education on a treadmill?

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Mark J. Nelson writes "A recent op-ed discusses some educators co-opting cell phones to be used for educational purposes: "Among the exercises, students measured the area of a school hallway, recorded the geologic stages of the rock cycle and found mean, median, mode and range from a group of numbers. They sketched and even animated on the phones." While this might be a useful strategy, Prof. Mark Guzdial wonders if computers in education are on something of a fashion treadmill. Previously, students used graphing calculators for all these things; now we're reinventing the same thing on cell phones. In other areas, the "Hello World" of yore, having grown stale, has been replaced with playing a sound or displaying some graphics. Is progress in CS education really just a process of constantly updating the same fundamental stuff with a fresh look?"
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Harmful Effects of SPEC Storage Benchmarks

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "Sun engineer Bryan Cantrill, probably best known as one of the designers of DTrace and now working on storage servers, wrote an interesting thorough dismantling of the SPEC storage server benchmarks, accusing them of driving worse performance and especially worse performance-per-price for most workloads. In particular, they seem to be based on workload assumptions from 1986 with little revision (ironically, largely from 1986-era Sun documents), and have particularly egregious requirements for large, randomly accessed working sets that effectively make caching architectures useless, instead rewarding architectures that just throw a bunch of really fast, expensive drives into a box. Coincidentally, that's what the ultra-expensive products from entrenched market leader NetApp do. Cantrill isn't a neutral observer, of course: his current work is on cache-heavy storage architectures based around SSDs and ZFS. But his criticisms still seem pretty solid."
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Airport-Security Game iPhone Approval Woes

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "G4TV has a segment on the iPhone App Store approval process of JetSet, a game parodying airport security policies. While you might think Apple objected to the concept itself, they rejected it instead for "inappropriate sexual content", apparently because of the inclusion of items like underwire bras (which are notorious for setting off metal detectors). Worse, they initially didn't say what parts of the game they objected to, leading to a months-long guessing process to get the game eventually approved."
Link to Original Source
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Atari 2600 Book Released

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "AtariAge reports that 'Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System' was just published by MIT Press. It seems to be the first book-length retrospective on the Atari VCS (2600), covering its hardware, programming, business rise and fall, culture, aesthetics, and how all those interrelated to produce one of the most influential gaming platforms. Authors Ian Bogost and Nick Montfort chose six cartridges for particularly in-depth study: Combat, Adventure, Pac-Man, Yars' Revenge, Pitfall!, and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. (The title is a reference to the line-by-line video output required by the 2600's lack of a framebuffer.)"
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MIPS/Linux hacker Thiemo Seufer dies

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "Longtime Linux-MIPS hacker Thiemo Seufer died in a car accident on December 26. Among other things, he was a major contributor to the Linux kernel's MIPS port, served as the MIPS maintainer/co-maintainer for binutils for 5 years, was the main supporter of the Debian MIPS port, and produced thousands of patches to free-software packages ranging from SBCL to QEMU to get them working (or working better) on or with the MIPS platform."
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