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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Xyrus Re:Lobbying aside (382 comments)

Most of them only look at how much they're getting back, which is the majority of people. If you really wanted it to sink in, you'd need to end paycheck income tax withholding and actually have them write a check on April 15.

If you want to destroy the country that would be a good way to go about it. Most people can't even responsibly manage their finances, yet you want to give them the additional responsibility of setting aside enough money to pay Uncle Same come April 15th?

yesterday
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UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

Xyrus Re:When is the "UN" not the United Nations? (423 comments)

If you get 12 scientists in a room that have volunteered to produce a report on global warming, what would you expect them to produce? Something that says everything's peachy?You won't see this old boy freaking out over something dumb like this.

Of course not. You'll be dead long before the worst of the consequences of our inaction actually take hold. So why would you care anyway?

2 days ago
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How Many People Does It Take To Colonize Another Star System?

Xyrus Re:Starship Diversity? (392 comments)

On a vaguely related note: Assume you send N ships on this voyage. Do you send N copies of the same ship, and hope the design has no fatal flaw (while acknowledging the advantages of parts redundancy) . Or do you send N different designs in the hope that diversity of design is overall more reliable?

You send N ships and let them breed of course. It may cause an occasional bumpy ride, and sure some of the younger ships will keep asking "Are we there YET?!?!". Then there will be the rebellious phase where the ships pierce their deflector dishes, get decals plastered over their aft thrusters, and deviate to the Orion Nebula because "that's what all the cool ships are doing". But in the end, you'll end up with enough mature and responsible ships to keep things going.

about two weeks ago
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Brendan Eich Steps Down As Mozilla CEO

Xyrus Re:This is unacceptable (1744 comments)

I feel bad for him, it is only because of his public position that this is an issue. If you dig deep enough, none of us should keep our jobs.

There's a difference. A CEO leads a company. He or she is the face of the company. Whether they like it or not, if their actions and beliefs will reflect on the company. Holding unpopular views or views that are contrary to those of the company or, at the very least, contrary to the rest of board will make it likely that you'll be "encouraged to explore other opportunities".

Businesses operate in their own best interests. They are not democracies. Seeing the negative publicity and the potential repercussions to their image/reputation, the rest of the Mozilla board felt that having him as CEO would be bad for business.

Freedom of speech does not guarantee freedom of consequences. Publicly taking an unpopular socially conservative position while holding a position of power in a business catering to a fairly socially liberal base is going to generate some consequences. It would be like a Republican Senator in Kansas growing a brain and giving a speech lauding the research and science behind evolution, climate change, vaccines, etc. You wouldn't expect that senator to get re-elected and wouldn't be surprised if a recall vote came screaming out of Fox News.

about two weeks ago
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The Problem With Congress's Scientific Illiterates

Xyrus Re:The symptom, not the true problem. (509 comments)

Every time I think congress can't lower the bar anymore, yet another complete fucking moron in Congress finds a new way to do so. Well played Mr. Weber.

Yet another day of watching Rome burn.

about two weeks ago
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OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

Xyrus Re:April Fools stories are gay (1482 comments)

Strange how you pick out homosexuality as a sin but fail to mention all the other ridiculous "sins" spelled out in that book. You don't mention the "it's okay to rape pillage, and murder as long as you follow these guidelines" section or the "Genocide? It's good for the environment and it's ok for you!" section. You also don't mention the "Women have no rights and are supposed to be a man's bitch" section, the "Shut up bitch before I stone your ass" section, or any of the other questionable sections in the bible that, when viewed by any sane member of society, makes them ask "Wait a second, I thought the bible was supposed about some benevolent sky wizard floating in the clouds or something?".

All you're doing is selectively picking and choosing the parts of the bible that happen to agree with your views and biases and putting blinders on to everything that doesn't. If you're going to use a 2000 year old book of mythology as a basis for your beliefs, shouldn't you be using the whole thing instead of just the parts you like? Isn't a sin to do this as the bible is supposed to be the "Word of God"?

Rhetorical questions. I'm sure you have a million excuses. But basically, keep your hatred and bigotry to yourself. We have enough of that in the world WITHOUT your personal sky wizards and zombies further fanning the flames through religious edicts and 2000 year old myths.

about two weeks ago
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UN Report: Climate Changes Overwhelming

Xyrus Re:Projections (987 comments)

Really? And where is your research indicating that there has been a statistically significant climate deviation from the projections? Last I checked the last 30 years have shown a very prominent warming trend.

When you can show 30 years of flat or cooling temperatures, and you can actually back that up by some reviewed science, then you'll have a something. Comparing a single year, five years, or ten years for a climatic trend is nothing but garbage. There is way too much short term variance to make any significant claims.

about two weeks ago
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AT&T Exec Calls Netflix "Arrogant" For Expecting Net Neutrality

Xyrus Re:More Corporate Greedmeisters (466 comments)

You mean like right now? You don't get rich by working hard. You get rich by being born rich, by fucking over other people, by being really lucky or by being REALLY fucking smart. Of all of those cases only one of them involves hard work and not many people are born smart enough to come up with a real money making idea.

Pretty much. Economic mobility in this country is primarily down. The upper 20% control pretty much everything. Income for the middle and lower classes have been stagnant and or dropping. If you aren't already well of it is extremely difficult to become well off. If your family is already in a whole you are most likely going to stay there.

The economic statistics are depressing. And of course the upper crust fight tooth and nail to make it worse. It isn't sustainable, but then again they don't really care. It will be interesting to see how much longer this can last before the whole thing collapses.

about three weeks ago
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Cryptocurrency Exchange Vircurex To Freeze Customer Accounts

Xyrus Re:!bank (357 comments)

As we have seen, keeping any amount of money at an exchange's account is a recipe for disaster. They can still be used, but only if you take care to move your money out of it as soon as possible.

Exactly. Exchanges are COMPLETELY UNREGULATED. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that prevents them from just closing up shop and taking the coins with them. This is exactly the same as walking up to a stranger on the street and handing them your wallet, and should have about the same trust level.

Keep transactions small, keep only what you absolutely need on the exchange, and move everything else out as quickly as possible. It never ceases to amaze me that people don't do this. They'll say "Oh it's too inconvenient to do that!" Well losing your coins is a hell of a lot more inconvenient in my opinion.

If you play fast and lose with your coins, expect to lose them.

about three weeks ago
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Cryptocurrency Exchange Vircurex To Freeze Customer Accounts

Xyrus Re: Ponzi scheme (357 comments)

I guess we need to start being ultra-specific for the BitBelievers. It is a Ponzi-like scheme. Broken down to its fundamentals, ignored in that FAQ question, a Ponzi scheme is generally understood to be a money making venture that is wholly dependent on new folks coming into the scheme in order to continue to fund the upper levels. If folks stop buying into the bottom, then things dry out all the way back up the chain until it fails.

This is your fundamental premise and it's wrong. BitCoin is not a money making venture. It was never intended to be an "investment". It was intended as a medium of exchange. And that's all currency is.

Places like Mt. Gox and Vircurex are similar to the money markets of other fiat currencies. You could buy, sell, and trade amongst the currencies. THAT is a money making venture, but that is completely independent from the currencies itself. And since there are no central or regulating authorities on the currencies any such exchange should be treated with extreme caution.

Bitcoin is not a ponzi scheme. Ponzi schemes can be perpetrated using bitcoin, but the same can be said for any currencies. Bitcoin and related cryptocurrencies are not regulated, nor are any business associated with them. As usual, people are the problem.

about three weeks ago
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Getting Misogyny, Racism and Homophobia Out of Gaming

Xyrus Re:Yet more pussification of America (704 comments)

Whatever happened to "sticks and stones"? Are we such wimps that we're now going out of our way to be offended by the fantasy worlds that we're voluntarily taking part in?

People want to enjoy the games they play. They don't want a bunch of assholes telling them how much they suck and that they should kill themselves just because they don't spend 16 hours a day playing the game. That gets old really quick, and drives away a lot of gamers. I know I have better ways of enjoying my time than listening to a bunch of spoiled kids with first world problems raging at each other.

about three weeks ago
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Getting Misogyny, Racism and Homophobia Out of Gaming

Xyrus Re:Don't buy it then (704 comments)

Yep. Game communities suck. From chess to starcraft, it doesn't matter. Anytime people can have near anonymity and little (if any) consequences for their actions, you're going to get a bunch of assholes who do nothing but wreck the gaming experience. Though predominantly these assholes are kids (teens-to-low twenties), there are plenty of more "mature" gamers who also behave this way.

I only play online games on occasion these days, because honestly I have better things to do than listen/read to some spoiled kid ranting and raging.

about three weeks ago
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The Poor Neglected Gifted Child

Xyrus Re:At the same time... (529 comments)

why are we looking Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and China as our models? What scientific advances have come out of those countries recently?

Not many, because they send their kids to US universities which get the credit. Look at the names on those research papers getting published. Last I checked, Yang, Matsumoto, and Konwa were not common last names in the US.

US universities still generate a disproportionate fraction of scientific research, and US companies generate a disproportionate fraction of technological innovation.

Of course they do. But look at the rosters. Do you think US universities and companies limit themselves to the US? On my own projects it's pretty common to have 50% or more of the team be from a foreign country. Both universities and companies pull the best they can the cheapest they can and take the credit where possible.

about a month ago
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The Poor Neglected Gifted Child

Xyrus Re:Reality in the USA.... (529 comments)

In this country, being able to entertain the masses pays much much better than being able to cure cancer. Being sociopathic and ruthless is rewarded much more than being a hard worker. Our culture is broken.

about a month ago
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NASA-Funded Study Investigates Collapse of Industrial Civilization

Xyrus Re:BS, as usual. (401 comments)

This results in people using less of the resource and finding alternatives.

What exactly are the alternatives to food and water?

Any such models that are built without the input of an economist should be automatically discarded as being total BS.

Hmm. No. The report isn't talking about iPads and BMWs. It's talking about basic necessities. Food, water, shelter. Once a significant portion of a population can no longer get these basic necessities, social order will begin to break down. That, in turn, increases prices which leads to more unrest. Eventually the whole thing collapses.

about a month ago
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NASA-Funded Study Investigates Collapse of Industrial Civilization

Xyrus Re:"Collapse" is an overstatement (401 comments)

Civilization is a lot more robust than many people imagine.

No it isn't. For a civilization to thrive you need resources. You need the capability and energy to acquire and refine those resources. And you need to do it in a way that can be sustained, or at least have enough resources that you won't run out in a short period of time.

Take away easy and cheap energy and civilization as we know it would collapse. Take away easy access to water and arable land and civilization as we know it would collapse. Both of these are quite likely to happen to some degree over the next century or so.

Civilization is always 3 meals away from collapse.

about a month ago
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NASA-Funded Study Investigates Collapse of Industrial Civilization

Xyrus Re:Insightful study... (401 comments)

Jared Diamond has covered these issues well (particularly in "Collapse").

Jared Diamond was an optimist.

I personally am pessimistic that we will be able to avoid collapse due to the political and economic power of the elite.

There is no way to avoid the upcoming collapse. There are too many people and organizations working (few knowingly, most ignorantly) to ensure a collapse happens. Humans are terrible at any sort of long term planning, and too many are more than happy to sacrifice long term sustainability for short term profits, consequences be damned.

Our way of life is unsustainable. We know this, but no one is willing to make the sacrifices necessary to change this. Within the next century, we're going to find this out the hard way.

about a month ago
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Malaysian Flight Disappearance 'Deliberate'

Xyrus Re:Worst Case Scenario (436 comments)

You wouldn't even need a nuke. A 777 (depending on model) has a range up to 9000 miles and a cargo capacity of up to 400,000 pounds. That's enough to carry 20 MOAB type weapons (each MOAB has the explosive force of 11 tons of dynamite). Airburst that at low altitude over a major city and you're going to cause plenty of destruction. Or just launch them out of the cargo hold one at a time as you're flying.

The only real trick is getting into the airspace. You can find out the transponder ID and route for a legitimate flight and fake it. You'd only need to deviate during the last few minutes of the flight to carry out the plan. By the time someone realized something was wrong, it'd be too late to do anything about it.

about a month ago
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The Future of Cryptocurrencies

Xyrus Re:What we've learned from Bitcoin (221 comments)

The distributed, eventually-consistent blockchain anchored by mining works and is quite robust against attack. Nobody has yet successfully attacked the basic Bitcoin system and stolen money. So the low level technology appears to be secure.

There are a couple of unlikely scenarios where an attack could work, but newer coins also stop even those possibilities.

Irrevocable, remote, anonymous transactions are the con man's dream. Especially when they're assocated with a whole community of suckers who think anonymous anarchy is a good idea. The scam level in the Bitcoin world is huge. Over half the exchanges have gone under, and that was before Mt. Gox. Bitcoin-oriented "stocks" and "Ponzis" have an even worse record.

Poorly run operations fail. That shouldn't come as a surprise. And con men always prefer cash, which bitcoin basically acts like. When you buy something with bitcoin it's like wiring someone money. Once it's in their hands, there isn't a whole lot you can do about it if you get scammed. That's why for large transactions people will use a certified escrowing service.

Never send money (bitcoin or otherwise) to a party you do not know or trust.

Personal computers are not secure enough to store money. "Bitcoin wallet stealers" are a major problem. Many "online wallet" services turned out to be scams. Storing Bitcoins safely while still being able to use them is quite hard.

Personal computers aren't secure enough to store banking, credit card, taxes, or other financial information either. Yet we do anyway even though we're all one keylogger or screen scrapper away from having our identities and accounts sold to the highest bidder. You protect your offline wallet the same you you protect your other sensitive information: either print it out (see paper wallet) or keep your systems security up to date.

Never use an online wallet, and if you have no other choice but to use one then move money out of them quickly and keep balances small. Any such online services are completely unregulated. In fact, all online cryptocurrency services are unregulated so always treat them with caution. People familiar with cryptocurrencies already know this and act accordingly.

Volatility is far too high for Bitcoin to be a useful currency. Since last October, Bitcoin has gone from $100/BTC to $1100/BTC to $600/BTC. Daily variation often exceeds 10%. The companies that accept Bitcoin for real products have to reprice every few minutes. Bitcoin behaves like a pink sheet stock. Too many speculators, not enough real customers.

No, it behaves like an unregulated currency on an open market.

Something like US dollars are regulated and have a monetary policy through the Fed. When the economy goes screaming or slams on the brakes, the Fed can change policy and act accordingly to keep the dollar from becoming a roller coaster.

With something like bitcoin, there is no central authority. There is no monetary policy. There is no central bank to throw a cold bucket of rationality on the irrational. It is completely at the mercy of the market. There's nothing to slam on the brakes in either direction when things get crazy.

There are scaling problems. Currently, every user has to have a complete copy of the entire transaction journal back to the first Bitcoin, and has to keep up with all the transactions as they happen. The confirmation process has a 7 transaction per second limit. Confirmations take about half an hour before they can be trusted; longer during busy periods.

The newer crypto-currencies have significantly reduced the transaction confirmation times required. However, due to the nature of the system I've yet to see any way to get around requiring the copying of the transaction journal, at least with the way things are. IF online wallets could get regulated like banks, then only the online wallets would need it. However, since that isn't the case every cryptocurrency you have will require an offline wallet and a copy (though some currencies put a "snapshot" on torrents to bootstrap new wallets).

"Mining" is more centralized than expected. The original idea was that "mining" would be a spare-time activity of each user's computer. In practice, "mining" is done in large data centers with custom water-cooled ASIC chips. Two mining pools control more than half of Bitcoin's mining capacity, and they have the power to set fees and change the rules.

Thanks to the huge run up in price, bitcoin mining difficulty climbed to astronomical levels. The only way you can effectively mine for a profit now is if you have big time mining rigs at your disposal. Otherwise, it's a loss. The price spike did in a few months what was supposed to happen over the course of years.

Bitcoin behaved as intended. The market did not. You can't really fault bitcoin here.

about a month ago

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Journals

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Yesterday, I got modded a troll...

Xyrus Xyrus writes  |  more than 8 years ago

In my response to the PA kids who were threatened with felony class 3 charges, I stated a simple truth: The kids broke the law, now they have to deal with the consequences.

Those who modded me troll did so out of ignorance, did it "for the children", believe the punishment does not fit the crime, or believe the school "had it coming" because of crappy security.

Out of all these reasons, only one has even the slightest bit of merit: the punishement does not fit the crime. All the rest are ludicrous.

The first one: Ignorance. This is the the typical knee-jerk slashdot reaction made by those who do not RTFA. Felony charges for messing with school computers? OUTRAGE, how can you support this?

Quite simply because they were using state computers and illegally altering them by bypassing security measures. The fact that they're teenagers is irrelevant. What if this has happened on the schools main servers and the teens were placing porn in teachers directories? What if they started messing with their disciplinary records or grades? What if they were doing this on a bank's system?

In short, where do you draw the line.

A lot of responses claim that the felony charges will ruin the kids lives. Again, this is sheer ignorance. Prosecuting felony charges is expensive, and pressing felony chrages on teens has often been a delicate point. Of course, the sensationalistic media coverage fails to mention this.

In reality, it is extremely unlikely that felony charges will be brought against these teens. In fact, school disciplinary action will probably be all these kids get. Worse case scenario, the teens get convicted of a misdemeanor and have to do some community service.

As far as their records go, their juvenile records are sealed once they hit 18 (or expunged, depending on what the state policy is).

The above addresses the "for the children" crowd as well. In addition to that, I have little sympathy for teens who continue to do things that they know are wrong.

One response I received was that these kids shouldn't be punished for being curious. And if that were the case, then I would agree. But that was not the case.

These kids didn't figure out the admin password and say, "Oh, this should be brought up to the school". They used it and distributed it to deliberately go around the restrictions that they agreed to abide by. It was wrong, they knew it, and continued their activities.

Which brings me to the last, and possibly most idiotic response: "It's the school's fault for having crappy security on the computers".

And I suppose that it's the woman's fault for being raped because she's hot. Or it's the homeowner's fault for getting burgled because he only had a regular lock on the front door. I'd like to see someone use that type of excuse in court.

Just because the security was weak doesn't give these teens the right to circumvent the restrictions. Just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD do something.

So now we come to the last response, the one that is arguable: the punishement does not fit the crime. As I stated earlier, it's unlikely these teens will see anything other than school disciplinary action, since no administration data was compromised. The kids did not have access to the school's main server.

Any judge would see that this is at most a minor offense. That is why we have judges. To interpret the law and deal out appropriate punishment when those laws are broken.

Sure, PA state law may make what they did "technically" a felony, but it is the judge who decides whether or not that is the case. In this case, it was the media acting as the judge which is never a good thing (just look at Faux News).

I agree a felony charge does not fit the crime here, but as of right now THERE IS NO PUNISHEMENT DECIDED YET. If a judge does decide to follow through on the felony charges, then we can talk about unjust punishments. Until then it's just a bunch of media driven bruhaha.

In the future I hope when people respond they will stop, read, and think before modding instead of responding with "OMFG you're a troll!".

But then again....this is slashdot.

~X~

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