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Amputee Is German Long Jump Champion

bradley13 What is handicapped? Disabled? (175 comments)

It was always going to happen - now it finally has. We have the Olympics and the Paralympics - because the athletes in the Paralympics cannot compete against non-handicapped athletes. Now, at least in some circumstances, it is possible to replace missing biological parts with superior parts (at least for a specific task).

Some athletes will take any advantage they can get. For years now, it has been impossible to win certain events without doping (Tour de France). Remember the biologically male athletes from behind the iron curtain who had themselves surgically altered so that they could compete as women?

If this result stands, as prosthetics continue to improve - how long until some athlete deliberately has an accident requiring their leg to be amputated?

2 days ago

The NSA's New Partner In Spying: Saudi Arabia's Brutal State Police

bradley13 The US love affair with a totalitarian state? (125 comments)

Why does the US government get along so swimmingly well with Saudia Arabia? The place is a human rights disaster. They support, directly or indirectly, various terrorist organizations. It's a lovely long as you are a muslim male. Then you are free to preach strict abstinence and sexual fidelity - ok, sure, you drive over to Bahrain every Thursday to get drunk and get laid - but you make up for this by going home and oppressing your wives and daughters. What's not to like?

Of course, the US support has nothing to do with the fact that there is lots of oil money floating around. Lots of Saudi purchases from US companies, which just happen to have certain politicians on their boards, or which happen to make lots of contributions to campaign funds.

4 days ago

For Half, Degrees In Computing, Math, Or Stats Lead To Other Jobs

bradley13 Re:Incomplete data (174 comments)

Perhaps you're right about managers, but that wasn't my impression, nor is it the impression of the authors of the Computer World article: "Rothwell points out that Google's co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, would both be classified as non-STEM managers by the Census". They may not be technical managers, but their technical background is entirely relevant to the management duties. Lots of people in roles like that.

I imagine it's much the same for education. As an example, I am faculty in a business school, but I teach technical courses (programming, etc.) within that school. I expect the fact that I work for a business school means I would be counted as non-STEM.

Dunno what planet your last question came from - bizarre. Maybe re-read your posts before pressing the submit button?

about a week ago

For Half, Degrees In Computing, Math, Or Stats Lead To Other Jobs

bradley13 Incomplete data (174 comments)

As usual, jumping to conclusions with incomplete data.

First, why analyze the percentage of computer and math degree holders who hold an IT job? Why is a mathematics degree automatically equivalent to a CS degree?

Then we get leaps like the pay gap between men and women. Most likely it's the usual thing: comparing men and women of the same age, without accounting for the fact that the women took more time off for child-rearing, worked part-time, etc.. Compensate for these things, and watch the pay gap disappear.

Why do many people with STEM degrees not work in STEM jobs? They apparently count management and education as non-STEM, even if these people are managing STEM projects or teaching STEM courses. That already accounts for the two biggest groups.

The rest of the conclusions are just as shaky. This appears to be a crappy study, deserving of no attention whatsoever...

about a week ago

Dropbox Head Responds To Snowden Claims About Privacy

bradley13 HowTo (176 comments)

How to do this transparently: Use Dropbox normally. Create a folder call ".encrypted". Use "encfs" to mount this folder to some mount point, say "DropboxData". The stuff you put into DropboxData will be will be encrypted locally before being put into the ".encrypted" folder on Dropbox.

Anything you don't consider private goes into Dropbox normally. Anything sensitive goes into DropboxData. You decide the balance.

You can get encfs clients for Linux, Mac, Windows and even Android.

about a week ago

French Blogger Fined For Negative Restaurant Review

bradley13 Too true... (424 comments)

We once received an application that included a reference letter with only one substantive comment: "She always keeps her desk neat and tidy". But really, that's not a secret code or anything, it is entirely clear: do not expect this person to do any work. The fact that the person actually included this letter of reference with her application made it doubly damning, because she apparently did not understand what it said.

On the subject of TFA: I do hope some French /.ers will chime in with the local interpretation of this ruling...

about two weeks ago

The Last Three Months Were the Hottest Quarter On Record

bradley13 Wanna buy a bridge? (552 comments)

If you believe this, I have a bridge to sell you. Hardly used, great condition.

First, clean up the data and explain the continual adjustments. You know, those adjustments that keep making the past look colder, and the present look warmer - despite effects like UHI. Make the raw data available, along with the methodology used in the processing.

Then, and only then, should anyone believe pronouncements about "warmest months ever".

about two weeks ago

Autonomous Trucking

bradley13 Rail? (142 comments)

What I do not understand about Germany - indeed this whole region of Europe (I'm in Switzerland) is this: We have excellent rail systems, why not put long-distance cargo on the trains? There are various initiatives to do exactly this, but they meet with a wide range of passive and active resistance. Fact is, given the existing rail system, using trucks for long-distance freight makes no sense at all.

One of the sources of resistance are the truck drivers, but their profession is doomed anyway for long distance transport. The automated trucks are a logical extension of automated vehicles - heck, they may happen before cars. But putting an individual engine on every container is anything but efficient - maybe this will actually be the impetus for getting the stuff on the rails...

about three weeks ago

European Commission Spokesman: Google Removing Link Was "not a Good Judgement"

bradley13 Well, duh... (210 comments)

...but that's exactly what the ruling does. The original case was a businessman objecting to Google links to newpaper stories about his life. This is no different.

Fact is, the court that issued this ruling screwed up big time. Perhaps, if Google can find a few more egregious deletions to make, the European Parliament will correct the error.

about a month ago

Microsoft Opens 'Transparency Center' For Governments To Review Source Code

bradley13 Publicity stunt - not practical (178 comments)

This is nothing but a feel-good publicity stunt, designed to offset international suspicions that Microsoft works a little too closely with the NSA.

Pick your favorite product: Windows 7? Office? SQL Server? IIS? It doesn't matter, you are talking about millions of lines of source code. No government, or government contractor will have the expertise, time an money to analyze such a mass of code. They will be utterly dependent on Microsoft to point them to the core routines responsible for whatever they're interested in. Say, email encryption.

However, there is no way they will be able to verify that the code provided is really the code used, than no code called before or after it compromises the security, etc, etc.. It is also unlikely that they will update or repeat the audit with every new release, patch or update of the product.

Microsoft must be feeling the pinch - a few too many international contracts being cancelled...

about a month ago

Google, Detroit Split On Autonomous Cars

bradley13 Detroit is not interested in innovation (236 comments)

Detroit would be the wrong place to look for innovation, or interest in new technologies. It has long been captured by the unions, and exists to serve their interests. Look to Japanese or European car companies, and you have a better chance...

about 1 month ago

Researchers Claim Wind Turbine Energy Payback In Less Than a Year

bradley13 Apples and oranges (441 comments)

I don't get the hostility to criticism of this study. If it were a robust study, then the content could stand up to criticism.

Let's look at the articles basic claim: "time to produce the amount of energy required of production and installation". This is fine, and undoubtedly true. However, this does not address two issues that remain problematic with wind power:

1. Cost: Can a turbine be produce, installed and operated in a way that produces electricity at a competitive cost per kwh? There are numerous factors that contribute to cost, not just "enery required for production"

2. Variability: Wind power is variable, this is a rather undeniable fact - you've got to take the power when it is produced, which is not necessarily when you need it. What effects does this have on the rest of the grid? Either you have massive power storage facilities (not yet practical), or you have other power plants (e.g., natural gas) that can be ramped up and down very quickly - however, such power plants are themselves quite expensive.

The fact is: This article found one aspect of wind power to praise, but ignores the actual problems that need addressed. Why is it that the green-power people react so badly to criticism?

about 1 month ago

Ask Slashdot: Is It Feasible To Revive an Old Linux PC Setup?

bradley13 VMware, then the trash can (176 comments)

1. It's not as good as you remember. We actually have made progress in the last 10-20 years.

2. You'll have to try old, legacy software once to believe (1). Been there, done that :-)

3. Life is too short: throw it away...

about a month ago

Unicode 7.0 Released, Supporting 23 New Scripts

bradley13 Emoji? (108 comments)

Great, Unicode is already a fragmented mess, and now the standards organization justifies its existence by adding characters that do not exist.

An earlier poster asked why anyone thinks Unicode is fragmented. The answer in one word: fonts. Different fonts support different subsets of Unicode, because the whole thing is just too big. If you expect your font to mostly be used in Europe, you are unlikely to bother with Asian characters. if you have an Asian font, it probably has only English characters, not the rest of Europe. huge. If you have a font with complete mathematical symbols, it will include the Greek alphabet, but actual language support is a crapshoot.

So the solution to this problem is to add made-up characters that no one cares about. "Man in business suit, levitating". Really?

about a month and a half ago

Congressman Asks NSA To Provide Metadata For "Lost" IRS Emails

bradley13 The IRS is a corrupt organization (347 comments)

The IRS is just about as corrupt as it gets. When they decide to target someone, that person's life is over. Finished.

I have an acquaintance this is happening to. The IRS claims that he and his wife screwed up a tax return a few years ago, and now have to pay retroactively. The amount demanded is beyond anything they could have owed, but there is really nothing you can do: The "court" you go do for justice is an IRS court, and guess who it sides with 99 times out of 100?

Since there is no way they can pay this lump sum, they agreed to a payment plan: $X per month. Now, after several months of payments, they have received a statement of account from the IRS. Due to accruing interest and penalties, the amount they owe has increased. Some IRS pantywad has decided to have some fun. Ruin someone's life - it's so entertaining. No accountability, no independent appeal, you are just so screwed.

In the current case: The IRS is legally required to maintain their business records. They are supposed to produce them. "Oops, sorry, a computer crashed" - completely unbelievable. Nonetheless, it appears that they will be allowed to get away with it, and no one at all will be punished...

about a month and a half ago

US Government OKs Sale of Sharper Satellite Images

bradley13 How good does it get? (82 comments)

I wonder about this feature-size stuff. In the Google-maps picture of our house, you can see the bright-yellow garden hose snaking across the lawn. A garden hose is a lot thinner than 50cm, even if it is long.

So: What is meant by a 50cm feature size? And just how much better are the best available satellite images?

about a month and a half ago

Plastic Trash Forming Into "Plastiglomerate" Rocks

bradley13 Typical AAAS tripe (123 comments)

Here's the key phrase out of the abstract: "...melted plastic during campfire burning... [increases] the potential for burial and subsequent preservation". Why? Because lumps of melted plastic stick to sand or rocks, and hence are more likely to not blow away, be degraded by UV or whatever.

This is a topic for a scientific paper, and deem headline-worthy by the AAAS? I knew there was a reason I cancelled my membership a couple of decades ago...

about 2 months ago

Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden Would Not Get a Fair Trial – and Kerry Is Wrong

bradley13 Point of info regarding spying on Ms. Merkel (519 comments)

"The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor," said Carney. "The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges."

Ms. Merkel asked whether the US had been monitoring her phone, and Obama replied that the US is not doing so. The omission of the past tense was glaringly obvious at the time - essentially an admission that the US had, in fact, being doing so until caught.

Why didn't Obama simply lie? He's a good enough speaker to pull it off, and has shown no reluctance in the past. It seems reasonably obvious that the US knew the Germans had found proof of the spying, and his statement was only intended to mislead the public at large.

about 2 months ago

Proposed SpaceX Spaceport Passes Its Final Federal Environmental Review

bradley13 Re:What has happened in Florida? (40 comments)

"little" harm is still harm which grows exponentially as time goes on.

How do you figure?

Launches are few and far between (sadly). Otherwise, the wildlife lives pretty much undisturbed. Where do you get any sort of cumulative effect from that?

Actually, the launch center is likely beneficial to the wildlife: without the launch center, there probably wouldn't be a reserve to begin with.

about 2 months ago

Proposed SpaceX Spaceport Passes Its Final Federal Environmental Review

bradley13 TFA: But several steps remain... (40 comments)

Let us not forget the primary purpose of federal environmental impact studies: They take years, employ dozens of bureaucrats, and somehow, there's always one more step, one more required study. The "Iron Law of Bureaucracy" has long since taken over...

about 2 months ago



Censorship in the West

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  about 2 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Pussy Riot has highlighted censorship in Russia. With millions of news hits, the entire Internet now knows that speech in Russia will be suppressed with jail sentences.

In Scotland, a blogger finds it curious: A man by the name of Stephen Birrell has just been jailed for eight months, for posting "religiously prejudiced abuse" on a Facebook page. But you won't be able to find out many details, because the press shows no interest. For bonus points, the blogger claims that the few news items that do exist are not findable in search engines.

The blog mentioned above does overstate the case: If you enter "stephen birrell jailed", some news items do show up, but nowhere near the number that do for Pussy Riot. Still, isn't it ironic that the free-and-enlightened West is jailing people for "hate speech" at the same time that it criticizes Russia for much the same action?"

Link to Original Source

Choosing anonymous proxies

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "There are lots of anonymous proxies out there, and anyone concerned about their privacy probably uses one for at least some of their web-browsing.

The Megaupload story highlights the fact that having servers in the USA is not a great idea. There are also other countries one may not want to trust. Oddly, very few proxy services mention where their equipment is located.

What anonymous proxy services do members of the Slashdot community use? What criteria do you use to select them? How paranoid are you, and for what types of Internet usage?"

Gibson Guitar raided again

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Practically everyone has heard of Gibson Guitars. In 2009, they were raided by the feds, who impounded stacks of ebony wood under asset forfeiture laws. No charges have ever been filed.

Well, they're at it again — the feds have again impounded palettes of topical wood and guitars. The wood is clearly certified by FSC. The feds have given no explanation of their raid, but apparently there is some evidence that they are enforcing a law from the wood's country of origin (India), even though no complaint has been made by India or anyone else.

Gibson claims that the feds are bullying them, probably because they continue to fight the asset forfeiture from 2009. There are less favorable interpretations, having to do with jack-booted thugs..."

Link to Original Source

Simple email encryption - not possible?

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Like practically everyone on Slashdot, I often play "free consultant" for friends. The most recent inquiry: local law will soon require small companies that send accounting information electronically, to do so "securely". Many small businesses outsource their accounting; correspondingly, some accounting companies handle the accounts of dozens of small businesses. Lots of sensitive information is sent by email — which ought to be encrypted.

So my friend asked me — from the perspective of one of these accounting companies — how they can exchange encrypted email with their customers. The problem: businesses to small to handle their own accounts are certainly too small to have read IT — some cousin set up a couple of off-the-shelf computers. This means: the solution has to be (a) easy for a non-technical person to set up and (b) has to work with people who use Outlook, or Gmail, or whatever else their company happens to use.

By now, one might think that there would be point-and-click solutions to this sort of problem. But no — you need certificates, implementations are platform specific, set up requires IT expertise. About the best thing available seems to be PGP (but who wants to do business with Symantec? Anyway, when did they buy PGP — that is just sad).

Can easy-to-use, secure, cross-platform email encryption really still be an unsolved problem? What do other Slashdotters use?"

Do not show your ID when robbing a bank

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Combine a clever teller with, well, not the brightest bank robber. When poor Nathan went in to rob a bank, the teller told him she needed to see two forms of ID before she could give him the money. Nathan is now enjoying three hots and a cot."
Link to Original Source

Best Internet payment method for young teens?

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Many of us have kids in their young teens, who want to spend money on various Internet fripperies (browser games, etc.). Kids are too young to have their own credit cards (and that's probably not appropriate anyway), PayPal requires kids to be 18, etc. Yet it would be nice to give the kids some independence, so they don't always have to ask a parent to come and pay for them.

There are a few solutions, like Internet Cash, but the fees are pretty outrageous. What other solutions are out there? How do you handle Internet payments with your kids?"

RPost suits Swiss Post for secure email

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "RPost owns a pile of software patents around the idea of secure email delivery. They are not a patent troll — they actually do offer a secure email service. However, their patents are classic software patents — simply algorithms. There is nothing non-obvious about them — any competent practitioner would come up with these or very similar ideas. Here are the two patents being used as a basis for the suit: Patent 1 Patent 2

Yet another argument to get rid of software patents?"

Link to Original Source

Does GPS tracking violate the 4th amendment?

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 writes "Last year, college student Yasir Afifi discovered a GPS tracking device that had been attached to his car. After he discovered it, the FBi showed up and demanded that he hand it over. They told him that they would make his life difficult if he did not cooperate by giving the device back. The FBI had no warrant or court order allowing surveillance.

Now Yasar Afifi is filing suit, hoping to get a ruling that installing tracking devices without a warrant violates the fourth amendment. Unfortunately, his local federal district court is the 9th circuit, which has already decided two similar cases, coming down in favor of tracking.

The key part of the reasoning in the previous cases is this: "attaching the tracking device ... did not constitute a 'search' cognizable under the Fourth Amendment because '[t]he undercarriage is part of the car's exterior, and as such, is not afforded a reasonable expectation of privacy.'” Very strained reasoning indeed, since the point of the tracking device is not a search of the undercarriage, but rather a search of a person's movements."

Link to Original Source

Diagnosis of Tucson shooter

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "This article in the New York Times points out that Mr. Loughner, the person accused of shooting 19 people in Tucson, has shown increasing mental disturbances over the past few months, and offers this diagnosis: "the rambling, disconnected writings and videos he has left on the Web are consistent with the delusions produced by a psychotic illness like schizophrenia, which develops most often in the teens or 20s". If true, this means that all of the fans of political conspiracy theories will need to look elsewhere..."
Link to Original Source

"Configuring VMware" for the complete idiot

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Another virtualization question... On the side, I play "sys admin" for a micro-company of 3-4 employees. This company has an old VB6 application that they still support, and until now the old Visual Studio and all associated tools have remained installed on the two developers' systems. This summer, it's time to replace the computers, and — because of the numerous problems with running an ancient Visual Studio, Tools, etc. next to more modern versions — I want to create a VMware instance that can be loaded up on the two developer systems "as needed" to maintain the old software. One developer works mainly under Ubuntu, the other under Windows.

This VMware instance, once everything is in place, will access a VSS repository plus home directories across the network. I intend to have it revert-to-snapshop after every execution — it should be able to live on unchanged for years. I have used the free VMware server a couple of times, for example, to set up test instances of various SQL Server environments, but we're talking maybe 8 hours per year of time I spend with it. It's mostly called "accept the defaults and pray".

Could Slashdot experts provide a list of "tips for the complete idiot" on how to set up VMware server instances so that they perform well, and will continue to do so for the long term?"

Poll: How many lawsuits?

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Lots of users post legal questions, and we all know that sharks never bite lawyers. How many times have you involved in a suit
Never ever ever
I have been sued
I have sued someone
I've done both
I sued myself, just for fun
I am a lawyer — I sue for other people
My name is not "Sue""

The story of Windows version numbers

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Just a very nicely written summary of the history of Windows versions, from Windows 1.0 through Windows 6.1 (called, for reasons only Microsoft understands, Windows 7)

" is of course more complex than that, and I am going to attempt to explain it. Reading the rest of this post is unlikely to improve your life in any way, although it will teach you something about the mindset of Microsoft and/or that of nerds in general. Madness may lie at the end of it.""

Link to Original Source

Office 2007 vs Office 1997

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

bradley13 writes "In a paragraph near the bottom of Jerry Pournelle's latest mailbag, Doug McAllister gives his opinion that Office 2007 is not a notable improvement over Office 1997:

I have found nothing in Excel or Word 2007 that would justify an upgrade from the 1997 versions of these products. For the most part, they have arbitrarily moved things around and made it harder for me to get my work done. I bought them because the earlier versions are no longer available and I try to stay legal with my software.

This got me to thinking that Microsoft is bad for the economy. They offer new versions of products that have no real benefits. Instead, users spend millions of hours installing new versions and dealing with issues such as I have described with no productive benefit. Microsoft has spawned an upgrade industry that is a drag on productivity as far as I can see.

I have probably used every version of Microsoft Office since it's inception. I was very happy with Office 1997. Office 2003 was most memorable for discarding the well-indexed help system in Office 1997 and putting in with a pretty-but-useless replacement. Office 2007 brings the ribbon, which — despite using it for two years — I find mainly frustrating, since controls appear and disappear arbitrarily, for example, based on window width. If it were possible, I would frankly move the whole company back to Office 1997 in a flash.

What do others think? What significant improvements has Microsoft made to the Office suite in the past 10 years?"

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