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How To Block the NSA From Your Friends List

aug24 Re:Cross site scripting (224 comments)

That would stop mashup services from working easily, for example embedded maps, which I work on: openspace

about a year ago

No Black Hole Or Magnetic Monopole: Tunguska Really Was a Meteor

aug24 Re:Hm, wasn't aware there was any controversy (128 comments)

ISTR that blocks of stone have been located at the 3-4-5 distances of a right angle triangle to get a perfect right angle for the base of at least one pyramid.

about a year ago

TSA Log Shows Passengers Say the Darndest Things

aug24 Re:Agents do have some latitude (427 comments)

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate"

about a year and a half ago

TSA Log Shows Passengers Say the Darndest Things

aug24 Re:Cool story bro. (427 comments)

You are not being bayesian enough.

You need the probability someone is telling the truth given the evidence of being dumb enough to say "I've got a bomb".

If the Hypothesis is 'got a bomb' and the Evidence is 'said bomb', here are my estimates:

p(E) = 10**-7 proportion of travellers who are dumb enough to say bomb (one in ten million)
p(H) = 10**-13 proportion of travellers who have had a bomb so far (one in ten million million)
p(E|H) = well, ZERO so far, but let's say 10**-3 bombers who mention the word bomb (one in a thousand)

Then p(H|E) = proportion of people who say bomb who have a bomb = P(H) * P(E|H) / P(E) = 10**(-13-3+7) = 10**-9

One in one billion people who mention the word bomb will have a bomb.

So if we close the airport each time for two hours, our losses for an actual bomb need to exceed the damages for closing an airport for two billion hours before it is worth it. That's over 200,000 lifetimes of waiting in the departure lounge.


Any comments on my maths / approach happily received.

about a year and a half ago

NASA's Basement Nuclear Reactor

aug24 Re:This is stupid. (368 comments)

Actually pretty much every system has an optimum scale. Very few continue to improve indefinitely on scaling up. If your point was correct, there would be one very large power station somewhere in the world.

about a year and a half ago

Alcoholism Vaccine Makes Alcohol Intolerable To Drinkers

aug24 Re:I'll take a shot... (350 comments)

That theory (alcohol in the morning for 'withdrawal') is completely wrong. The chemistry is well known.

Hangovers are partially caused by dehydrogenation of alcohols leading to poisonous chemicals. Ethyl alcohol turns to acetaldehyde, but we can deal with this one (thank you evolution).

Methyl alcohol (wood alcohol impurities, present in most drinks to greater or lesser degree) turns to formaldehyde. This is very bad for you and makes you feel like hell. The process of creating formaldehyde is linear (because the total present must be limited due to toxicity), not power based, so there is never too much made unless the amount of methyl alcohol is even more toxic.

However, the conversion process is negatively catalysed (slowed down) in the presence of ethyl alcohol. So, a little beer can reduce the amount present enough to effectively remove the hangover.

Sorry about too many brackets (not really sorry).


about a year and a half ago

The Biggest Financial Fraud of All Time

aug24 Re:Sheila Bair's quote says it all (470 comments)

Sexual attraction: no matter how much you offer in cash, most men can't oblige a truly ugly chick.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Linux Mountable Storage Pool For All the Cloud Systems?

aug24 Re:Why do you want to combine them? (165 comments)

I used to do this with a friend: peered ftp servers. Everything under /home and /etc was tarred, zipped, encrypted and ftp'd onto his server at midnight, while his did the same to mine. Can't remember where I put the decrypt key, probably on a floppy that is still in my bureau.

Of course, data volumes were lower then, and the sun was warmer, and girls prettier.


about a year and a half ago

Amazon and Google Barred From UK Government Cloud

aug24 Re:Gee... (79 comments)

Don't count your chickens... they've still got the option of MS Azure =:-/

about 2 years ago

Study Claims Human Intelligence Peaked Two To Six Millennia Ago

aug24 Re:no (637 comments)

The Kalahari bushman's survival is therefore a function of the effectiveness of the safety net present in the system, not his innate abilities. There is a decent chance he'd steal, get the cops called on him and get shot when waving a fucking big knife around to try to scare the cops away, because that's the 'primitive' (ie effective in that situation) approach.

(There is no safety net for rk in the Kalahari. He's plain dead from not knowing how or what to eat. Or he got predated upon)

about 2 years ago

Global Warming Felt By Space Junk and Satellites

aug24 Re:What is CO2 doing up there? (224 comments)

Even if it is heavier stochastic processes will push a proportion of it up. Increase the total proportion and the proportion at high altitudes will increase.

about 2 years ago

The UK's New Minister For Magic

aug24 Re:Consistency in action (526 comments)

Want to start a new political party: "The Evidence Based Party"?

about 2 years ago

The UK's New Minister For Magic

aug24 Re:The placebo effect works (526 comments)

Except homeopathy isn't cheap. Six bucks and upwards for a small bottle.

Cost of a bottle of mint solution? Bulk purchased through the NHS? Probably under a buck.

about 2 years ago

The UK's New Minister For Magic

aug24 Re:Hold still (526 comments)

Firstly, those almost certainly weren't homeopathic, just placebo. Mint pills are cheap; homeopathic 'medicine' isn't.

Secondly, (IIRC according to Dr Phil Hammond, on HIGNFY some years ago), new rules prevent GPs from dispensing mint pills and liquids as placebos, which is a terrible shame.


about 2 years ago

How Stephen Hawking Has Defied the Odds For 50 Years

aug24 Re:comparison and life purpose (495 comments)

I'm pretty sure I've seen this analysis (actually "fighting" a disease vs not, but it's close) and the correlation was nil.

more than 2 years ago

Instead of a Wheel Chair, How About an Exoskeleton?

aug24 Re:Awesome, but.. (232 comments)

Race conditions, temperature variations causing differences in io block times? If you can create two actually identical machines, you're a better engineer than... anyone.

more than 2 years ago

Troops In Afghanistan Supplied By Robot Helicopter

aug24 Re:Great. But a couple of thoughts (140 comments)

Two much simpler things first...

One, medevac capability. Excellent.

Two, abandon a few of these with what appears to be nice stuff (small arms, slightly damaged; steaks etc), wait till the people you want to kill get used to nicking the kit, then send in stuff with hidden GPS transmitters (don't tell me there's no GSM - just transmit to a drone). Nice.

more than 2 years ago

MIT Algorithm Predicts Red Light Runners

aug24 Re:Just a matter of time... (348 comments)

I'm afraid you're mistaken.
Just (Winchester, UK).

more than 2 years ago


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