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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

arobatino Re:Proposal (422 comments)

I propose we put Tax day right before Election day. That would make for some interesting changes.

Given that most people think their tax refund is a gift, that might be counterproductive.

about a week ago

Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

arobatino Re:Taxes are full of scams... (422 comments)

The service you mention is only available to those with low incomes, and generally they don't support itemized deductions.

Wrong on both counts. If you go to the freefile link mentioned above, there are two options: "Income below $58,000: Free File Software" and "Income above $58,000: Free File Fillable Forms". The second does not require software, though if you're running Linux, the site might not work properly with Firefox (I use Konqueror as a workaround). Note that you don't have to have income above $58,000 to use the second option. And the list of Forms you can use includes Schedule A (Itemized Deductions).

about a week ago

NSA Allegedly Exploited Heartbleed

arobatino Re:It's not a bug (149 comments)

The fact that they didn't tell anyone though shows that the S is NSA is bullshit. They cared more about being able to exploit the vulnerability themselves than making their country's computers more secure.

It's a basic conflict of interest with police/defense/intelligence agencies. They gain power from the existence of threats, so it's in their self interest to favor policies that perpetuate them while pretending to do the opposite. The War on Drugs, Cuban Embargo, etc.

about two weeks ago

The Problem With Congress's Scientific Illiterates

arobatino Re:Don't bother. (509 comments)

The problem is that these people aren't just ignorant. People who are ignorant can be educated and then they're fine. These people are willfully ignorant. They are purposefully ignorant. They take pride in their ignorance and will do everything in their power to stay ignorant. Trying to educate these people is a losing proposition because they won't listen no matter what you say or how much proof you show them.

Which is exactly what you would expect from someone who needs to have enough general intelligence to get elected, but at the same time cater to the ignorance of their constituents, for the same reason. Ultimately, it's the voter's fault.

about three weeks ago

Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience

arobatino Re:God (794 comments)

I perceive them differently because Whole Foods isn't trying to shove their beliefs into the public schools. Everyone should have the right to believe silly nonsense, but no one has the right to impose their beliefs on others, and they especially don't have the right to use the instruments of government to do so.

I agree that creationism shouldn't be taught in public schools. The thing is, under the current system, the government effectively coerces people into sending their kids to public schools, through taxes. So if you want your kids taught differently, you have to double pay either by sending them to private school, or home schooling them.

about 2 months ago

UAE Clerics' Fatwa Forbids Muslims From Traveling To Mars

arobatino Re: Well for once I agree with religious crazies (363 comments)

Unlike the conditions the early settlers were subjected to, Mars has a much more predictable environment, so the risk of death should be much lower. Unfortunately, with vastly improved communication today, if people on Mars die, we'll all hear about it immediately, so it'll seem worse.

about 2 months ago

Massive New Cambrian-Era Fossil Bed Found

arobatino Re:It's the devil (108 comments)

I always though the Fundamentalist position was that fossils were put there by God, so as to test the faith of hapless followers.

If that's true, then creationists are being blasphemous when they suggest that their beliefs are supported by physical evidence, since an omniscient, omnipotent God wouldn't leave any. (Although they're obviously not above it if that's what it takes to get it taught in public schools.)

about 2 months ago

New Type of Star Can Emerge From Inside Black Holes, Say Cosmologists

arobatino Re:Beta Sucks! (193 comments)

We should boycott stories and only discuss the abomination that is Slashdot Beta until Dice abandons the project.

Unfortunately, if they only care about ad revenue, and not comments, the only way to have an effect is to start using an ad blocker, and let them know why.

about 3 months ago

First US Public Library With No Paper Books Opens In Texas

arobatino Re:Why bother (212 comments)

Exactly. If the content is available digitally, they should put up a website like Open Library so people anywhere in the world can access it.

about 4 months ago

Senator Bernie Sanders Asks NSA If Agency Is Spying On Congress

arobatino Re:I'm sorry Senator, your question isn't valid (363 comments)

As we have stated previously, meta-data is NOT data

Except when companies want to release metadata such as the number of national security orders received, in which case this one integer is so sensitive that they are forced to drop the lowest 10 significant bits and only report it in bands of 1,000. It's safe to assume that the NSA gets to store all the bits in their integers.

about 4 months ago

The New York Times Pushes For Clemency For Snowden

arobatino Re:And the opinon of the NY Times matters because? (354 comments)

If the NSA pays folks to play video games, they will most certainly also pay folks to troll Slashdot. The comment that you responded to above looks, smells, walks and talks like a government flak.

See Hanlon's Razor. There are more than enough mindless authoritarians in the general population willing to do this for free.

about 4 months ago

Reverse Engineering the Technical and Artistic Genius of Painter Jan Vermeer

arobatino Re:I'm not an artist... (70 comments)

From the article:

Much later, he did a computer analysis of a high-resolution scan of a Vermeer interior, and discovered “an exponential relationship in the light on the white wall.” The brightness of any surface becomes exponentially less bright the farther it is from a light source—but the unaided human eye doesn’t register that. According to Jenison, the painting he digitally deconstructed shows just such a diminution from light to dark.

This suggests that his unaided eyes wouldn't have been physically capable of seeing this exponential dropoff, even if he was a savant.

about 5 months ago

Company Wants To Put Power Plants In the Sky

arobatino Drone internet? (223 comments)

What about internet access? Low latency, unlike satellites.

about 5 months ago

Scientists Propose Satellite Early Warning System For Forest Fires

arobatino Re:You can buy a whole lot of balloons (91 comments)

Balloons also have the advantage of being below the clouds, so not affected by cloud cover. Drones might also work. Though balloons or drones might be vulnerable to lasers from the ground.

about 5 months ago

Scientists Propose Satellite Early Warning System For Forest Fires

arobatino Satellite fire detection limited by clouds (91 comments)

The only mention of cloud cover I could find was in the full paper:

FUEGO — Fire Urgency Estimator in Geosynchronous Orbit — A Proposed Early-Warning Fire Detection System

One quote from the paper:

Atmospheric transmission windows in the near and mid-infrared are adequate for detecting fires. Fires
cannot be seen under heavy cloud cover, and can be detected with reduced sensitivity under smoke and
thin clouds, depending on the wavelength of the detectors, smoke particulate size, and moisture content
of the atmospheric column.

about 5 months ago

Chrome Will End XP Support in 2015; Firefox Has No Plans To Stop

arobatino Re:Linked article says exact opposite (257 comments)

Noticed the summary is now "Chrome Will End XP Support in 2015; Firefox Has No Plans To Stop". That's no longer the exact opposite of the truth, at least, but it's still false for Chrome. The Google article only says

we’re extending support for Chrome on Windows XP, and will continue to provide regular updates and security patches until at least April 2015.

That's it. In other words, like Mozilla, Google has no plans to end XP support, but unlike Mozilla, they are promising support for a specific time. The fact that they don't commit to more than a year's extra support doesn't prove they intend to stop after that - for example, they've only committed to keeping Google Voice free for a year at a time, and it's still free years later.

about 6 months ago

Chrome Will End XP Support in 2015; Firefox Has No Plans To Stop

arobatino Linked article says exact opposite (257 comments)

The linked article, posted 20 hours ago, actually says

Neowin asked Mozilla, the creator of Firefox, if it has any plans to end support for XP and Johnathan Nightingale, VP of Firefox at Mozilla stated, "We have no plans to discontinue support for our XP users."

and basically the same for Chrome.

about 6 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Why Isn't There More Public Outrage About NSA Revelations?

arobatino Re:Because it's overblown (610 comments)

We need to get more organized and make specific proposals detailing what laws we would change and why it's so important to do so.

For starters, make it illegal for the NSA to deliberately weaken cryptography standards. Large, powerful countries such as Russia and China (with nuclear arsenals that could wipe out most of our population) continue to be a much greater potential threat to the average American than terrorists, despite the end of the Cold War, and the fact that the latter make a lot of noise. The US is still the most technologically advanced country, and when communication isn't secure, by osmosis most technology flows from us to them, making us less secure. Most media-obsessed Americans don't realize that (since unlike Al Qaeda, Russia and China don't normally threaten to blow us up), but the NSA should, and weakening standards so they can hoover up more data increases their own power, so guess what their priorities are.

about 6 months ago



Researchers propose alternative way to allocate science funding

arobatino arobatino writes  |  about 3 months ago

arobatino (46791) writes "From the article:

The new approach is possible due to recent advances in mathematics and computer technologies. The system involves giving all scientists an annual, unconditional fixed amount of funding to conduct their research. All funded scientists are, however, obliged to donate a fixed percentage of all of the funding that they previously received to other researchers. As a result, the funding circulates through the community, converging on researchers that are expected to make the best use of it. “Our alternative funding system is inspired by the mathematical models used to search the internet for relevant information,” said Bollen. “The decentralized funding model uses the wisdom of the entire scientific community to determine a fair distribution of funding.”


Link to Original Source

University in Malaysia gives Kim Jong-un an honorary doctorate in economics

arobatino arobatino writes  |  about 6 months ago

arobatino (46791) writes "From the article:

If the North Korean state news agency has it right, the particular doctorate is perhaps as much of a surprise for those outside the isolated nation as the honor itself. Dr. Kim, it says, is now a doctor of economics. The news report does not mention that he oversees one of the world’s poorest and most dysfunctional economies.


Link to Original Source

Introducing the 'State Secrets' Drinking Game

arobatino arobatino writes  |  about a year ago

arobatino (46791) writes "From the article:

'So in the holiday spirit of things, we are posting the videos here so they may be enjoyed as a reason to drink — and not just because of the subject material. With friends and family, imbibe your beverage of choice every time Judge White, Justice Department attorney Anthony Coppolino or Richard Wiebe, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s lawyer or any other participant utters “state secrets.”

Or just focus on Coppolino. You’re guaranteed to get inebriated.

For heavier drinkers, you can up the ante by drinking when one of them substitutes “state secrets” with the words “privilege” or “doctrine.”

Either way, when the hearing is over, you may have to check yourself into Alcoholics Anonymous.'"

Link to Original Source

Research Discovery Could Revolutionalize Semiconductor Manufacture

arobatino arobatino writes  |  about a year ago

arobatino (46791) writes "A new method of manufacturing semiconductors which eliminates the substrate (in other words, no wafer) could be much faster and cheaper. From the article:

'A completely new method of manufacturing the smallest structures in electronics could make their manufacture thousands of times quicker, allowing for cheaper semiconductors. The findings have been published in the latest issue of Nature.

Instead of starting from a silicon wafer or other substrate, as is usual today, researchers have made it possible for the structures to grow from freely suspended nanoparticles of gold in a flowing gas.'"

Link to Original Source

Should citizenship not depend on birthplace?

arobatino arobatino writes  |  about 2 years ago

arobatino (46791) writes "An op-ed in the New York Times concludes:

In early modern Europe, vagabonds without passes were hanged, imprisoned, branded and shipped off to the colonies, including America. Requiring a birth certificate to document citizenship is no less irrational. We need governments, but we don’t need nations. People should be free to move across borders; they should be citizens of the states where they happen to reside — period."


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