top It Was the Worst Industrial Disaster In US History, and We Learned Nothing
One billion gallons is about 10 billion pounds.
There was 140,000 pounds arsenic in 10 billion pounds of sludge.
Concentration of arsenic in sludge is 1.4 * 10e5 / 1e10 = 1.4 * 10e-5
Or about 1 part in 100,000.
This is why they got away with it. Coal ash sludge is nasty, but not
quite nasty enough to be a hazardous substance per se. Hell, one of the best ways to get rid of it is to add it to concrete, which is then poured where people live.
The figure you should worry about is the change in the arsenic level in the river after the spill. I didn't see that figure in the article.
top Snowden A Hero? Gates Says No, Woz Says Yes
Both of them can choose exactly how much privacy they want, because they're both rich. Gates is maybe three orders of magnitude richer than Woz, but both of them are at least three orders of magnitude away from the American median income ($45K or so).
Also, neither of them can just go out in public in the US without being recognized.
That's the problem with the privacy "discussions" in the US - most of the people who can actually change things are members of a minority who gave up big swaths of their privacy, voluntarily, as an entrance requirement for their profession. They can say "privacy is an illusion - get over it" with a straight face, because they haven't had any themselves for decades.
They may be over it, but I'm not, and it pisses me off that they get to choose my privacy level.
top Stanford Researchers Spot Medical Conditions, Guns, and More In Phone Metadata
... then Ms. Feinstein should have no problem with a FOIA request for the metadata for her cellphone.
I bet it would take about an hour to find a call from a lobbyist, received during a break in a legislative session.
top Crowdsourcing Confirms: Websites Inaccessible on Comcast
Those are the possibilities, in decreasing order of probability.
As much as I despise Comcast, they are unlikely to deliberately block random DNS lookups.
top College Board To Rethink the SAT, Partner With Khan Academy
Do you have a source for that other than "admission folks"? Casual web searching didn't find anything.
about a month and a half ago
top Vast Surveillance Network Powered By Repo Men
Government can afford to do scanning that doesn't make money.
Government can send people using deadly force after you.
Government can declare itself immune from the law if it makes a mistake.
It's much harder for non-governments to do any of the above.
about a month and a half ago
top Who's On WhatsApp, and Why?
He creates/offers/buys a free service that by its nature can learn a lot about its users. He then gradually relaxes privacy assurances and changes the sharing defaults to "we can do whatever we want with information we collect about you", and sells the info to advertisers.
Anybody who thinks this won't happen to WhatsApp hasn't been paying attention.
top Not Just Healthcare.gov: NASA Has 'Significant Problems' With $2.5B IT Contract
I am typing this on an ACES 15" MacBook Pro. We're supposed to get refreshed every three years; I got refreshed at the change to ACES, which was less than three years, but they gave me a year-old MacBook model, which was a little chintzy. They did give us decent docking stations, though, and they do replace and restore when stuff breaks within a reasonable amount of time.
My beef with ACES is their support of NASA-required software. This machine is running 10.8.3, because ACES has not blessed for 10.9 the required third-party software for whole-disk encryption, remote patch support, remote backup, and remote access.
My previous machine ran 10.6 well into the 10.8 era due to ACES' inability to support this steaming load, and I would put the odds of them certifying a load for 10.9 before 10.10 ships to be below 50%.
top Ask Slashdot: How Do You Convince an ISP To Bury Cable In Your Neighborhood?
I had one critical advantage. Our HOA board members were being complete dicks about the clause in question(*) - so much so that the management company (a third party paid by the HOA to run things in accordance with state law) was sympathetic to me, a new home owner, and advised me on the exact process for changing the covenant.
With their advice, my wife and I created a one-page proxy form which we took door-to-door and got our neighbors to sign, one at a time. It took a month, but we eventually got proxies from just over 75% of the owners.
(*) I have since learned that this is pretty much the natural state of all HOA board members.
top If I Had a Hammer
James Albus wrote a book in 1976 called Peoples' Capitalism. He proposed that the government create a mutual fund that invests in automated industries and pays dividends to every US citizen.
Eventually the fund's dividends would be enough to live on, so nobody would be required to work, and everyone would get a minimal share of the proceeds of automating everything.
Imagine that we had started doing this in, say, 1980.
top Many Mac OS Users Not Getting Security Updates
I have a MBP provided to me by a contractor to a Large Government Agency.
It has mandated anti-virus (which kills the battery), mandated third-party whole-disk-encryption (instead of File Vault), mandated third-party remote backup (instead of Time Machine), mandated third-party remote access...
The contractor support team routinely takes a year or more to certify the mandated suite for new OS releases.
I will probably be on 10.8 on this MBP in 2015, considering we leaped forward from 10.6 last year.
top The Internet's Network Efficiencies Are Destroying the Middle Class
The internet now makes it possible to blow up industries faster than ever before - so fast we don't have time to retrain and reabsorb the people displaced by the changes.
Any one change is good for the consumer and bad/disruptive for the producers, because the particular good or service is now cheaper.
The problem comes in when everything changes at once, and all the changes make people less necessary.
top NSA Uses Google Cookies To Pinpoint Targets For Hacking
He's objecting to the Government asking Google for the bulk data they collect. They can do it three ways:
* Just ask for it, and say "due to the
third-party doctrine you have no legal reason to refuse"
* Show up with a National Security Letter, take the data, and say "this is OK due to FISA oversight. BTW, you can't tell anyone about this."
* Copy the data as it passes through the thoroughly suborned telecom infrastructure, without even asking.
Bulk data collection by Google is potentially bad. Bulk data collection by the Government is worse - Google can't arrest me.
top EU Warns Nokia Not To Become a Patent Troll
US: Patent trolling is legal, but it ought to be harder and less profitable.
runs off to legislate
EU: Patent trolling is legal, but we urge companies not to do anything we might interpret as anti-trustish.
wags finger at Nokia
I'd say that the US is trying to do something about trolls, and the EU is just talking, judging from the article.
top Obama Praises NSA But Promises To Rein It In
Could you please send a note to the company in question, specifically telling them why you cancelled your service?
If this happens enough times, eventually US companies will start to poke the government about it.
top Obama Praises NSA But Promises To Rein It In
Obama, like all high-level politicians in the US, gave up his personal privacy as the entry fee for his chosen profession.
The difference between him and the rest of us is:
* He chose his privacy level. We can't.
* He has the power to make the government back off when they find something questionable. We don't.
top China Prefers Sticking With Dying Windows XP To Upgrading
They could sell the Chinese XP rights to a company in cahoots with the government (and once you get above a minimum size in China, you're with the government or out of business).
The government company would have the incentive and the government backing to get everyone in China on "legit" XP.
MS gets money now. They get to transfer blame for XP support to someone else. They could encourage the Chinese to essentially fork XP, so the supported Chinese version wouldn't compete with recent Windows.
Sounds win-win to me.
top EV Owner Arrested Over 5 Cents Worth of Electricity From School's Outlet
seems to be the most generic statement of it. From
top FCC To Consider Cellphone Use On Planes
US phone plans typically have no roaming charges over the 48 states - it's easy to spend six hours in the air with no cost increase for cell phone use, and thus no deterrent to yacking.
In Europe, it's hard to take a flight over an hour without crossing an international border.
top US Wary of Allowing Russian Electronic Monitoring Stations Inside US
Casual web search just turns up articles about the new stations in the US.
If we don't already have equivalent stations in Russia, we could offer them a trade. They get theirs when we get ours.
top There are things WORSE than XML
bad as XML is, I would be the first to admit it is possible to create a worse language for representing nested property lists. In fact, I encountered one in actual, operational use in my travels as a migrant information worker and NASA contractor.
The name of this atrocity is
Object Definition Language, and it is a standard format for metadata that NASA attaches to many of its major remote sensing imagery products, as well as data from planetary probe missions.
You should really look at the PDF linked above to get the true flavor of this stuff, but I can give you a quick taste right here. S-expressions, XML, and ODL all are syntaxes for representing nested property lists.
S-expressions are what you get if you ask John McCarthy.
XML is what you get when you ask people who know and love HTML/SGML
ODL is what you get when you ask people who know and love FORTRAN.
I'm serious! The simple S-expression
would be this in XML:
and this in ODL:
object = foo
value = "bar" end_object = foo
I got to know about this stuff as part of several tool-writing exercises where we were trying to make complex, deeply nested ODL intelligible to its scientist users. The "solution" we came up with involved parsing the ODL, translating it into XML, then hosing the XML through different XSLT translators to generate pretty HTML.
As a result of those projects, I now know more about ODL, XSLT, and DHTML than I really want to.