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Court Approves TSA Body Scans, But Calls For Public Comment

cetialphav Re:"obvious need"? (292 comments)

Still, they're going to have to grope me: I am not going to go through one of those damn machines

I feel much the same way. I suspect that the machines are safe, but I am not confident they have been thoroughly tested so there is a risk. I certainly don't trust the TSA to tell me the truth about the true risks of the scanner.

The main reason I opt out of the scanner, though, is this. I consider both the pat-down and the scanner a violation of my rights. The TSA wants me to use the scanner because that is more efficient for them. Therefore, I will force the TSA to violate my rights in the most inefficient way possible. Unfortunately, there are very few people doing this so it isn't gumming up there system too bad right now. After going through a few pat-downs, I know the procedure well enough that I can be snarky and tell the TSA when he screws up.

Like you, I fly less than I used to because of the stupid security screenings. I'm not convinced that boycotts will influence TSA behavior, though. There are enough people that need to fly that the airlines will not simply go out of business, and they will adjust to reduced passenger load by running fewer flights. In other words, an equilibrium will be reached where they won't realize how much business they are losing because it is hard to measure how many people would have bought tickets if the security procedures were not so retarded.

about 3 years ago
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Women Arrested For Refusing TSA Search of Children

cetialphav Re:what crap (1017 comments)

I can say that neither I nor my wife were asked to taste anything. If that has become policy, it is new policy.

I don't doubt that as I have not seen that either. But this was mentioned to me less than a week ago by two separate families. I have no idea if this is a policy thing or an uppity TSA agent.

As for exceptions to screening? Doubtful. All airport and airline personnel are supposed to have RFID verified badges. They get screened for all the same things with no exceptions which includes water bottles.

This happened right in front of me in RDU airport in May. A pilot and two stewardesses walked straight to the front of the line which was noticeable to me because I was next up. No one looked at their ID. One of the stewardesses had a liter bottle of water and put it in the bin with her shoes and was zipped right on through. At that moment there was no waiting for the scanner, but they were all put through the metal detector while I was sent to the scanner (which I opted out of).

about 3 years ago
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Women Arrested For Refusing TSA Search of Children

cetialphav Re:Not fear - disgust (1017 comments)

If you are a bomber are you going to go to the airport and "hope" you don't get the explosives test?

People who are willing to walk on a plane with a bomb on their body and detonate that bomb while on the plane are not going to be deterred because there is a small chance that they will get caught. In the worst case, they can just detonate the bomb in the security line when they are discovered.

I remember traveling before 9/11 happened and seeing quick tests for explosive residue on every laptop case that passed through the security line. Testing for explosives have been going on for longer than most people remember. That didn't stop the shoe bomber or the underwear bomber from trying and getting through.

about 3 years ago
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Women Arrested For Refusing TSA Search of Children

cetialphav Re:what crap (1017 comments)

The TSA will allow more than X ounces of fluid untested if it is declared or presumed to be for a young child. So in truth, exceptions for children and even adults with medical conditions are already being made. Sure, that baby's bottle probably does contain milk or apple juice, but if you were a bad person, would you not see the opportunity to bring more than X ounces of dangerous material in the same type of vessel?

Well, my friends with babies tell me that the TSA makes them taste the liquids they are carrying for my kids. They tell me they have even been forced to open sealed jars of baby food and taste them. I don't know whether that is a common procedure or not, but that would definitely mitigate the risks.

There is a bigger loophole than that, though. Pilots and stewardesses are not subject to the same screening as the rest of us. They are only sent through the metal detectors and the TSA agents will not prevent them from carrying liquids. I saw a stewardess go walking through security with a large bottle of water with no questions asked. And they go straight to the front of the security line . And if that is not enough, no one checks their ID. As far as I can see, showing up at the airport in a fake pilot's uniform will get you into the terminal with no questions asked.

This would all worry me when I travel except that, unlike the TSA, I am not afraid of people sneaking a bottle of shampoo onto the plane. The gaps in airport security are stunning when you pay close attention to what is happening at the airport.

about 3 years ago
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Women Arrested For Refusing TSA Search of Children

cetialphav Re:Not fear - disgust (1017 comments)

You take positive steps that are considered consent to be searched possibly by pat down.

Yes, IAAL.

I don't care whether you are a lawyer or not. I do not give consent to an unreasonable search of my person because I want to take a vacation and fly somewhere. The fact that flying is a voluntary action is completely irrelevant. I have the freedom to move around freely. My decision to exercise that right should not force me to be unreasonably searched without probable cause.

When I travel, I submit to the silly procedures involuntarily. I want to get somewhere and I make do because I have to, but that is not consent. I do not buy the argument that an intrusive search is the only way to maintain reasonable security. If backscatter machines were truly that necessary, then every airport would have to have them otherwise bad guys would just use smaller airports without them. If pat-downs are so necessary, then the TSA must pat down everybody. Currently, during busy periods at airports most people just go through the metal detectors with no additional screening because the scanners are too slow. If they do a pat down of you, they do a check for explosives residue, but if you go through the scanner you are not checked for explosives and the scanner cannot detect explosive residue.

The current procedures are so full of holes that there is no justification that the unreasonable searches are in any way necessary. Hell, even President Obama took a dig at the TSA in his state of the union address.

about 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: CS Degree Without Gen-Ed Requirements?

cetialphav Re:Don't get a CS degree (913 comments)

I once read somewhere that the things you don't know become your Achilles heal. Very true.

In almost every project that people do in life, the biggest risk of failure comes from the unknown unknowns. These are the things that you didn't know, but that you didn't even realize that you didn't know. The known unknowns are straightforward to deal with. If I decide to start a business, I know that I know nothing about business tax issues, but since I am aware of that I can consult experts and educate myself. One of the benefits of general education is that you make your set of unknown unknowns smaller and the space of known unknowns bigger.

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: CS Degree Without Gen-Ed Requirements?

cetialphav Re:You underestimate the value (913 comments)

I don't understand why it should be required. If you think that it will "enhance your overall mental ability" and believe that it is beneficial, then take the classes.

It is required because people want to attain a BS degree and that level of education is what is expected of that degree. We all have options. I choose not to get an MBA or M.D. or J.D. degree because I am not interested in that course of study. If people don't want to study general education topics, then they should not pursue a BS degree.

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: CS Degree Without Gen-Ed Requirements?

cetialphav Re:You underestimate the value (913 comments)

There is a benefit to those non core courses.

Whether something is truly "good" or a "good" use of someone's time is up to the person to decide. Perhaps, for them, it isn't.

Which is fine. Nobody is forced to get a BS degree. If someone does not want to broad their horizons and learn about new stuff, that is their choice.

But a BS degree implies a certain breadth of education as well as a specialization in a certain field. The submitter is asking for a BS degree without having to do all the things that a BS implies. The submitter wants to take a few CS courses that he deems relevant and end up with a BS degree, but that is not how things work. Most universities have a way for non-degree seeking students to take just the classes that they want, which might be the best thing for this person. This would allow him to educate himself without "wasting" his time learning non-CS things.

more than 3 years ago
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Doctors Are Creating Too Many Patients

cetialphav Re:Kind of agree... (566 comments)

The reason you get this kind of treatment from the Vet is because you are shelling money out of your own wallet for the cat. You have the option of doing nothing and letting nature take its course. Doctors who are doing voluntary procedures (e.g. Lasik, breast enhancement, etc) will give you the same treatment. When I got Lasik, my doctor gave me a fixed price that covered everything and it was all well explained.

The problem with the current medical system is that the money flows through intermediaries and not directly from the patient to the doctor. There are doctors who are trying to change this (http://thestory.org/archive/the_story_209_Cash_Doctor.mp3/view), but they are the minority. Insurance should really protect against big financial burdens, not for the treatment of a cold. By having all the money flow through insurance companies, we just add inefficiencies into the system.

more than 3 years ago
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IT Graduates Not "Well-Trained, Ready-To-Go"

cetialphav Re:It's Called 'Experience'! (609 comments)

I don't know, I've been part of a few technical interviews and it's hard trying to pick the right candidates - it's easy to pretend and say so roughly the right things, but very hard to tell who's really got the knack for it and not. Particularly things like "will you figure stuff out on your own or do you need lots of documentation telling you how to do it?" because you never get the right answer if you ask them.

I used to think that, but then my company sent me to a "how to interview" training session. That has been the single most useful training that any company has ever given me and it totally opened by eyes. The reason it was hard was that I didn't know how to interview.

Now that I know how to ask the right questions, it is a piece of cake. So if it is important that people be able to learn on their own, then you ask them for an example where they did that. And then you ask follow up after follow up to sniff out whether they are feeding you a line. Things like, "Why was that problem a challenge?", "What were the alternatives?", "Why didn't you just do ?", etc. Really good candidates know tons about the projects they worked on, understand the architecture and design, and can talk about the strengths and weaknesses. When you do this, good candidates really stand out. Bad candidates give you vague answers and try not to get pinned down on anything. If you come out of the interview unsure, then you shouldn't hire them.

Having been the interviewee many times, I can state that most engineers are terrible at interviewing. They don't know it, but I recognize it because I can see that they are asking the wrong questions. They just ask a bunch of trivia questions to see if I know about prepared statements or polymorphism or valgrind without ever digging into what problems I have solved and how I pick up new skills.

more than 3 years ago
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Is Setting Up an Offshore IT Help Desk Ethical?

cetialphav Re:Prove it... (826 comments)

This does not hold true for my friends and neighbors who I can expect to consider my interests, at least to a degree.

Are you sure that is true? Most of us do what is best for us, financially. If that means I beat you out for a job, then tough luck; you should have been better (or cheaper). When I compete for a job, it is irrelevant where my competition is.

I currently work for a startup. Our product exists because we want to displace an existing technology that makes a lot of money and provides a lot of jobs. We want to provide a cheaper solution. If we are successful, the people working at the incumbent companies will suffer and inevitably lose their jobs. Tough luck. They should have been providing better value and preventing us from having a market to go after. I won't lose one second of sleep over anybody how suffers from collateral damage because I know that we are maximizing the total productivity of the economy.

more than 3 years ago
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Is Setting Up an Offshore IT Help Desk Ethical?

cetialphav Re:Ethical? (826 comments)

While it is legal to offshore the work, with a 9-10% unemployment rate in this country, it's not ethical or moral.

What if the country that gets the jobs has a 25% unemployment rate? What if the country has vast amounts of starvation and extreme poverty? What makes it ethical to say that the lives in this country are more important than the lives in other countries?

People talk like outsourcing jobs is equivalent to stealing. That is not so. No one owns a job; no one deserves a job. My country has no more right to a job than any other country. We all have to compete. What could possibly be unethical about fair competition?

But, once upon a time, people trusted the companies they worked for - companies very often took great care of their employees - now, we have to look out for ourselves.

What time was that exactly? Was that at the time when companies used child labor? Was that at the time when no one worried about worker safety and many jobs had appalling mortality rates? You have a fantasy view of the past. You have always had to look out and fight for yourselves. You have always had to compete. Some groups (e.g. auto workers in Detroit) were able to gain some insulation from market forces in the past, but that couldn't last. The market will always catch up to you.

more than 3 years ago
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Sputnik Moment Or No, Science Fairs Are Lagging

cetialphav Re:Very true -- Please read. (414 comments)

Standardization is the thief of creativity and creativity robs standardization.

Every time I hear teachers gripe about having to teach towards a standardized test, I think, "There goes another awful teacher." Good teachers are good at getting students to learn. When students learn a subject, they can absolutely blow away a standardized test with no effort. I had a fantastic teacher in high school for Biology and Chemistry, and she definitely did not teach towards any standardized test as she had all her own materials. After going through her class, the standard science tests were a breeze because they were way easier than anything we ever did in her class.

It bothers me that little Johnny can pass an algebra class, but can't solve 3x=15 on a standardized test. Passing a class means that the teacher vouches that you have learned something. The standardized tests are busting teachers who are vouching for students who haven't learned anything. And to make it worse, most students learn early on that there is really no way to fail so they can be lazy and coast along.

What is concerning to me is that passing a standardized test has become a primary goal, which is not what it was intended for. The standardized test should be a way of measuring teaching effectiveness. They make it easy to see who the good teachers/schools/districts are and then you can apply the techniques they use to those that perform lower. The standardized test just represents the lowest common denominator of required learning so by setting that as the goal, we aim for a really low target. If schools aimed for a much higher target, then the standardized test would be a non-issue because everyone would easily pass.

more than 3 years ago
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America Losing Its Edge In Innovation

cetialphav Re:Salesman & marketing pukes run my company.. (757 comments)

Salesman & marketing pukes run my company that was founded & ran for it's first 50 years by engineers. Now we do nothing unless it's chasing the competition. At that point our leaders point & claim how our engineers dropped the ball & did not come through with the innovative product. All the while outsourcing more & more tech work to India & China. & we wonder why kids don't want to go into engineering.

We get no respect. We get little resources. None of them ask for our will listen to our opinions. All we can do it work more hours (to keep our jobs) while looking for work elsewhere. From what I read in my user groups, marketing pukes running the company is becoming quite common.

But you are only telling one side of the story. Somewhere else, your competitors are posting about how they are in a small company dominated by engineers that is making tons of money by being innovative and picking off the customers of their dim-witted competition. The engineers at that company are happy and having fun and loving their job.

In other words, you are working for the wrong company.

more than 3 years ago
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America Losing Its Edge In Innovation

cetialphav Re:Now you notice?? (757 comments)

I've really noticed the dumbing down in TV shows. Maybe I'm just seeing everything through rose-tinted glasses (though I don't think I am), but I can definitely recall channels being better some years ago.

I think that is just your own bias. Sure, there are lots of dumb shows today. I get over a hundred channels so there is no way that all the programming will be top notch, but there is some really great stuff out there.

"Breaking Bad" is about a high-school chemistry teacher who uses his knowledge to become a drug kingpin. "Dexter" is about a forensic blood pathologist who happens to also be serial killer. Now compare these shows to Gilligan's Island or The Brady Bunch or Leave it to Beaver. There is no comparison. The new shows are smarter, more complex, and much more technical. There aren't many shows from the 60's or 70's that would even come close to what Breaking Bad and Dexter do. Maybe Twilight Zone.

I was listening to a researcher who was talking about pop media recently and they pointed out that modern TV shows are much more complex than in the past. Show like "Lost" have a large number of characters with complex relationships that span over seasons. Now compare that with past shows that had a small number of characters that never developed and story lines that completely fit into a 30-minute or 1-hour show and where each show was completely self-contained and required no knowledge of any previous episode.

more than 3 years ago
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America Losing Its Edge In Innovation

cetialphav Re:follow the money (757 comments)

I find this interesting, considering that, at least according to the first couple sites I found on a google search, the median salary for computer science graduates is higher than that for finance. Now, there are a few higher paying jobs in finance - but they aren't exactly easy to get. *Most* people with that degree aren't working at a major position on wall street, just like most people with a CS degree aren't founding google.

This is exactly true. People look at the average salary of a Goldman Sachs employee and then the average salary of computer scientists and try to compare the two. That is wrong because the people at Goldman Sachs are in a very unique position. Most people with a finance degree are out there scraping a living trying to help mom and pop businesses with their taxes. You can't look at the financing outliers and then pretend that they are the mean or the median.

The truth is that financing has a higher earning potential. The range of salaries is much closer to the median for engineers than for finance. When the finance people get involved in multi-billion dollar deals, then they can earn huge amounts of money. But those deals are rare and highly sought after and so most finance folks don't get anywhere close to that level.

more than 3 years ago
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America Losing Its Edge In Innovation

cetialphav Re:follow the money (757 comments)

yeah, but they are the ones in control.

Are they? They are not in control of me. Maybe it is because I work in a startup filled with engineers. My VP is a very good engineer; the CEO is an engineer. I've been able to leave jobs whenever I want and find new jobs quite easily, even in a down economy. The fact is that my engineering skills are in demand and I can choose who I want to work with. That makes it impossible for some wash-out to control me.

It is easy to look at a couple of examples of business morons who end up in a pile of money and to think that that is a common occurrence. It isn't. Most of the wash-outs who went to business school are stuck in middle management trying to climb the corporate ladder by shmoozing some other wash-out. They are neither rich nor powerful and when they get laid off, it takes them years to find another job because all they know how to do is "facilitate synergistic deliverables that leverage value propositions".

But maybe I should keep all this to myself. Maybe I should be trying to convince people that engineering is a lousy, low paying job and to steer young people into MBA programs. Over the long haul, that will keep the supply of engineers down which will only make my position stronger.

more than 3 years ago
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Feds To Adopt 'Cloud First' IT Policy

cetialphav Re:What cloud? (142 comments)

For someone the size of the government however, I think it's rather strange they are not using clouds already.

Clouds work well when several departments can consolidate computing resources on a single data center. That kind of thing does not happen well between government agencies. Part of that may be due to inept bureaucracies, but much of that is due to the way that money is allocated and tracked around the government. The law will often designate funds for very specific purposes so that means you can't have the money dedicated for the Department of Interior paying for the electricity used by a computer for the Department of Homeland Security. This kind of thing requires everybody to have their own servers and data centers. Outsourcing this actually makes things easier because a third party can charge a fixed rate for computer usage and worry about how to best aggregate services without having to tied up with government red tape.

more than 3 years ago
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A Peek At the National Opt-Out Day Numbers

cetialphav Re:Entirely predictable. (297 comments)

IMO part of the problem is that they positioned the protest wrong.

Actually, I think they did a pretty good job with this. This protest generated a lot of news stories about these scanners and that is a good thing. Without this protest, any stories about scanners would be filled with quotes from TSA officials about how much this makes us safe and their would be no counterpoint to this. The threat of a great disturbance on the busiest travel day of the year drove lots of stories with people that are critical of the scanners. It also forced the TSA to answer these criticisms in a highly publicized way. The press seems to sense that the TSA arguments seem week and this has led the press to be more skeptical of TSA claims. These are all good things.

Now whether this momentum will continue remains to be seen. I'm not too worried about the number of opt-out's for this day because there are tons of people who would be willing to protest, but happened to not be traveling on protest day. But if it gets into people's heads that it is okay to skip the scanner, then we will see a longer term trend of opt-outs and that will greatly undermine the TSA's position. It is going to take a long, concerted effort to inject some sanity into the TSA.

more than 3 years ago
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Homeland Security Drops Color-Coded Terror Alerts

cetialphav Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (183 comments)

It's the other 80% of the population under 100 that is too stupid to realize these facts.

This isn't about intelligence, though. It is about fear. Fear is an emotional state and not tied at all to intelligence. There are lots of very intelligent people who know the same facts that we do, and are still scared of a terrorist attack because they have visions of planes flying into buildings. Is it irrational? Sure. But fear has nothing to do with rationality because it is an emotional response. People will go for anything that makes them feel less afraid. Intrusive searches and security levels tend to make people feel safe even when those same people know that these things are mostly pointless.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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Internet Privacy Survey

cetialphav cetialphav writes  |  more than 5 years ago

cetialphav (246516) writes "The researchers at The Privacy Place have put up a survey to gather information about people's attitudes towards privacy on the internet. Completing this survey is an excellent way for the Slashdot audience to voice their concerns about how websites should handle their private information. The survey only takes 5-10 minutes to complete."

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