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US Government Fights To Not Explain No-Fly List Selection Process

Will.Woodhull Re:It'd be nice... (246 comments)

Press conferences are not about openness. Traditionally, press conferences are about high level dissemination of propaganda and dysinformation. Like LBJ and the Vietnam Gulf of Tonkin incident; Nixon and the Parot Beak; Bush and Iraq's WMD; and so on.

3 days ago
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Google Testing Drone Delivery System: 'Project Wing'

Will.Woodhull The FedEx bomber (52 comments)

Google is always doing weird experimental shit. So this is not news.

What would be news is what FedEx or UPS are working on wrt drones. Imagine a FedEx jet flying high over a city, its bombay doors opening to spill out a fleet drone quadcopters that deliver the goods to designated rooftop landing pads. Imagine a world where technology is paying as much attention to the last 2,000 (vertical) feet of delivery as we do to the last mile of communications.

3 days ago
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Coffee Naps Better For Alertness Than Coffee Or Naps Alone

Will.Woodhull Re:Good way to make yourself ill (131 comments)

Yeah, because what was good enough for the Roman slaves and medieval serfs is obviously the best life style for everybody.

Look to our roots in hunting/gathering, and you find there was no set pattern for sleep. When picking berries, you slept in the shade when it was too hot or at camp when it was too dark; otherwise you picked while watching the sunrise and picked while watching the sun set. When the smelt were running, you scooped up fish in the moonlight, cleaned fish as the sun rose, gathered wood and greenery for the smoking fires in the morning, and took long siestas during the heat of the day.

Our ancestors may have averaged 8 or 10 hours of sleep in a day, but for the most part it was in bits and pieces. Mostly no more than 4-6 hours at any one time, with the rest in siestas or naps as tasks allowed.

3 days ago
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Coffee Naps Better For Alertness Than Coffee Or Naps Alone

Will.Woodhull Re:Anecdotal verification (131 comments)

I've done this for years, and didn't even know it was a thing. Seems to work.

Works for me too, especially when bumping into dead ends doing creative work.

I'm a writer; I can put in a solid day's work on the proofreading and minor editing/revision aspects, but sometimes spend days or weeks trying to find a good point of view for a scene, or effective way to present character development. Best thing when realizing I've just spent half a day writing crap: have a cup of coffee and nap 15 minutes.

3 days ago
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Why Do Humans Grow Up So Slowly? Blame the Brain

Will.Woodhull Re:not so fast (128 comments)

You missed one:

Correlation does not imply

Ah, fuck it. Multiple repetitions of a meme does correlate with poor language skills and a consequent inability to express anything of value.

Beyond that, there is nothing more to say.

about a week ago
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Munich Council Say Talk of LiMux Demise Is Greatly Exaggerated

Will.Woodhull Re:NT is best (190 comments)

And yet involving yourself or your company in the Microsoft ecosystem continues to be a waste of your resources.

For all core business functions, the Linux ecosystem, despite its pimples and occasionally awkward behavior, now offers the better current and future value. And it is rapidly completing its maturation and as it does so its complexion is clearing up and it is continuing to replace its remaining adolescent behaviors with more sophisticated ways of getting along in adult society.

Microsoft's best long term strategy is to convert its software to open source and merge it into the Linux ecosystem while developing support services as its primary source of revenue. That has worked for IBM; it could work as well for Microsoft. But it means that Microsoft needs to embrace FOSS and begin extinguishing its own proprietary software while learning to dance to the music the rest of the world is tuned in on (rather than dancing to whatever it is that is that it has been playing on its own private ear buds).

Flamebait? Or an insightful summation of the situation? You decide. Since even the author of this post doesn't know which he has done.

about a week ago
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Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

Will.Woodhull Re:Dobsonian (187 comments)

All I would add to this is that from my experience as a kid with a 4 in reflector in 3 or 4 foot cardboard tube (good EQ mount) is that high power eye pieces may not be very useful, due to vibration in the tube. So I would suggest getting a low power and a medium power eyepiece to start, and being very careful about buying high power eyepieces.

Unfortunately my experience was too long ago for me to remember what magnification my eye pieces were. But others might chime in...

about a week ago
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Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

Will.Woodhull Re:Dobsonian (187 comments)

The problem mentioned in parent post was not due to the type of mount. But due to a mismatch between the quality of the optics and the amount of money spent on the mount.

A 10 inch reflector needs to be mounted on a stand weighing several hundred pounds or there is not enough mass/inertia to make use of the 'scope's capability. There will be too much vibration just from persons walking near by.

You can't put fine optics on a cheap mount of any kind and get acceptable performance. And any mount that would be knocked off calibration by a slight bump is not good enough for a 10 in mirror.

about a week ago
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Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

Will.Woodhull Re:Dobsonian (187 comments)

I disagree with parent. An equatorial mount is the way to go, short of a computer controlled motorized mount of any kind.

The problem is not that of initially pointing the 'scope at the celestial object. Anyone can do that with either type of mount. The problem is tracking the object after it is found. An equatorial mount that locks the scope to the object's track is the only way to go within an affordable price range.

I was 12 or 13 yo when my Dad decided that I showed enough interest in astronomy to be worthy of owning a telescope. My birthday present that year was a used 4 inch reflector on an equatorial mount with a couple of eye pieces. I loved that thing.

I can attest that a 13 yo can learn to use an equatorial mount with ease, including aligning it properly with a magnetic compass, which also involved learning to adjust for the difference between magnetic and true North. All of which was fascinating. I learned all this without adult supervision (Dad was not into astronomy), and I am certain that a motivated younger child could easily learn all this with good adult direction.

The frustrations I encountered with this first telescope experience were in aligning the mirror and aligning the spotting scope with the main tube. In retrospect it would have been much better if an adult had done those things for me. Other sources of frustration were that the spotting scope's crosshairs were not very visible in the dark, and that scope's tube was not rigid enough for the higher power eyepiece to be of much use (too much vibration and jitters). These details should probably be considered when making the purchase.

Don't discount craigslist, etc, as a good source for a used telescope. Some who start with an entry level 'scope lose interest and sell their's, others upgrade to better equipment when they can. A second hand 'scope from someone who is spending beaucoup bucks on a better replacement is likely to be in excellent working order, and could be a really good deal. Plus, often the seller would willingly give a potential buyer a free night time demo, with rings of Saturn or moons of Jupiter...

Oh yeah, there is prob'ly an amateur astronomy club around you somewhere. They put on star gazing parties where a person could look at a number of different set-ups and get a lot of info from their owners.

about a week ago
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Western US Drought Has Made Earth's Crust Rise

Will.Woodhull Re:Tectonics (90 comments)

Yes, the two findings (CA rising and 6.0 equake) are closely related. As has become common knowledge, the San Andreas fault is about to slip in a majorily massive way, and all of the USA east of it is going to sink into the Atlantic Ocean.

Oh. And what RealHocusLocus said about you typing during an equake...

about a week ago
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Fukushima's Biological Legacy

Will.Woodhull Re:Impact of humans (116 comments)

I don't think I will end up agreeing with parent post (that the removal of humans from an urban region would foster genetic diversity among the remaining species), but this idea is something to think about. If I had mod points at the moment I would give parent post a "+1 interesting". It does not deserve the "-1 troll" it currently carries. An odd concept but not a trollish one.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

Will.Woodhull Re: You're doing it wrong. (199 comments)

If the UX is really good, you can let the user documentation slide somewhat. You can also think about presenting the basic user docs as a wiki and encouraging your user base to expand and expound on that. Editing user contributions will be a heck of a lot easier than writing from scratch (you can start things off by just publishing an outline of what needs to be covered).

about three weeks ago
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Do Dark Matter and Dark Energy Cast Doubt On the Big Bang?

Will.Woodhull Re:Low Quality Article, Uses Question Mark. (225 comments)

IS 2+2 REALLY 4?

Well, the concept of "two", or "twoness" is imaginary. It has no physical, chemical, astronomical, or any other scientific qualities. So it is outside the set of things that are "real". "Twoness" only exists in your head; it is at best an artifact of your perception of reality. But such artifacts are not real in themselves.

There is no reason to believe that doubling something that is not real will make it real. That would not be logical. (Invoking the Spock argument.)

Thus "2+2" does not "REALLY" equal "4" in any place other than in your head.

That you can use the totally imaginative structures of "language" to construct a pattern of sounds or pixels that evokes in someone else an imaginary statement of "2+2=4" is something to wonder about, but again no part of that process has any real component. It is all imagination. Highly discipiined imagination in some cases, such as QED, but still just imagination. Not real in any meaningful sense of reality.

about three weeks ago
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Do Dark Matter and Dark Energy Cast Doubt On the Big Bang?

Will.Woodhull Re:Oh good lady, and lord. (225 comments)

we'd like to have non-baryonic fairly massive (so relatively cold) particles. Dark matter is anything that doesn't interact with regular matter via the strong or gravitational interactions. Neutrinos don't.

More and more I'm getting a feeling that science has been down this road before. That our understanding of subatomic particles and the distant edges of the Universe is similar to the pre-Copernican use of epicycles to understand astronomy. That the search for dark matter (and probably string theory too) is a search for that final missing epicycle that will make the model work just right.

I think we need to look for a Galileo or Copernicus who has some whacky, undeveloped alternate concept that if only we could change our point of view, we would see that it makes everything so much more clear.

about three weeks ago
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Can We Call Pluto and Charon a 'Binary Planet' Yet?

Will.Woodhull Re:Self-awareness (115 comments)

The Earth-Moon barycenter is very nearly outside of Earth itself (it's about 0.75 Earth radii from Earth's center), so let's not get too high on our horses...

And the Earth - Moon should be classified as a binary planet. They are in such an intimate dancing orbit with each other that neither one can be adequately described without refering to the other.

This is more than a semantic squabble. Any exoplanet that is likely to support life as we know it must not only be in the Goldilocks zone, it must also have a companion close enough to create tides (and tide pools, and generally act as a celestial stirring rod).

about three weeks ago
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Edward Snowden Is Not Alone: US Gov't Seeks Another Leaker

Will.Woodhull Re:Another leaker (204 comments)

Of course there are other leakers.

What is remarkable about Snowden is not that he was able to obtain all this "secret" information, but that he went public with it. Rather than selling it to someone like maybe one of those rich guys who are paying ISIS's way. It is some of the other "leakers" who are unquestionably doing that.

The NSA, etc, needs to be shut down. If only because it is demonstrably true that persons who make a career in climbing bureaucracies lack the kind of intelligence necessary to managing the needed level of security.

There may or may not be other good reasons for getting the government out of this kind of spying and database management. But just as it would be stupid to hire Cordon Bleu chefs to run an explosives manufacturing plant, it is stupid to put even the very best bureaucrats in charge of this kind of data collection and database management. They might be very good at what they have experience in doing, but this kind of stuff is going to blow up in everyone's face. Explosive technologies cannot be handled with cookbook methods.

The only sane course is to get USA government out of this activity. It is not something a democratically oriented bureaucracy can do. We need to look to other methods.

about a month ago
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Ebola Outbreak Continues To Expand

Will.Woodhull Re:Risk of mutation to something worse? (170 comments)

From what I have read about ebola (EVD-- whatever), it has an incubation period of 21 days and its early symptoms are easily confused with the flu. Just about everywhere other than Antarctic research stations is within 21 days travel time of west Africa.

Mecca is going to be an epidemiologist's nightmare this year. Lots of Muslims in west Africa, and some infected Boko Haram nuts might think that they were doing Allah's will in bringing the disease to impure muslims and infidels. Sort of like the way the USA gave smallpox to the American Indians through infected trade blankets.

about a month ago
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Ebola Outbreak Continues To Expand

Will.Woodhull Re:World War Z (170 comments)

Right. Just like bubonic plague isn't airborne--- until it mutates into pneumonic plague.

Ebola is a rapidly changing virus. Rather like the flu in that respects. That its initial symptoms are indistinguishable from the flu yet the victim is already contagious is a nasty touch.

about a month ago
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UK Cabinet Office Adopts ODF As Exclusive Standard For Sharable Documents

Will.Woodhull Re:Why ODF? (164 comments)

Why are you treating your customers as if they were your collaborators? They should never see your word processing documents, and they should never, ever, have access to your spreadsheets. Even in those situations where you have absolute confidence in the integrity and technical capability of your customer, you should not invite man-in-the-middle attacks with the inappropriate use of unsecurable formats.

Learn how to use PDF. Most current word processors and spreadsheets offer this as an export (I don't know about Microsoft).

about a month ago
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UK Cabinet Office Adopts ODF As Exclusive Standard For Sharable Documents

Will.Woodhull Re:Why ODF? (164 comments)

Perhaps in your little corner of the world MS documents still reign supreme. But can your MS Word open a .doc written by your Mom in 1995, allow you to add commentary, and then save it back into the archive in its original format?

Short answer: Microsoft's breakage of its own standards to leverage its marketing position has you screwed. You might not know that yet, but you are definitely screwed.

Hop off that dinosaur, its in its death throes (beware that thrashing tail). Get on some critter that has some life left in it. Just about any of the newer office suites (other than Microsoft) will support ODF and assure that you will always have access to your archives.

about a month ago

Submissions

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A weighty comic: xkcd on gravity wells

Will.Woodhull Will.Woodhull writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Will.Woodhull writes "xkcd's comic for today is a wonderful description of the solar system in terms of gravity wells. Don't miss it!

It does raise a couple of questions: how accurate are the numbers (can we trust our comics in this day and age)? should this be incorporated into K-12 schooling? And what's with those Titanics: it seems like like they are singing a Frank Sinatra lyric with their lungs full of helium?"

Link to Original Source

Journals

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First Entry

Will.Woodhull Will.Woodhull writes  |  more than 5 years ago

I was active on Slashdot from June, 2002 to about a month ago as MysticGoat, account #582871.

I am continuing from this time forward with this account, under a nickname that is very close to my name in real life.

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