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North Korean Internet Is Down

cmholm And Keep Down ROK Missile Tech (360 comments)

As part of a '70's memorandum of understanding between the US and ROK, giving the ROK access to some US missile technologies, they agreed to limit the range of their missiles, about 180km. Recently, the MoU has been modified, allowing the ROK to design and deploy a ballistic missile that can hit any part of the DPRK.

And, to reply to dj245's comment as to exactly who's to blame for tensions on the DMZ, tension is the very thing that gives the DPRK government legitimacy. They deploy tension whenever they feel the political and/or economic need. It is possible that if the US unilaterally withdrew its forces, the result would be nothing. But, that's a guess. What's known is that with US forces in harm's way, the DPRK's military commission has to take the possibility of massive US intervention into account.

about a month ago

What Happens To Society When Robots Replace Workers?

cmholm Welcome To The Informal Economy, Prole (628 comments)

Abstracted, what Davidow, Malone, et al are describing is an economy where the endeavors of the greater mass of people is almost completely divorced from that of the owners of capital. We can already see examples of this in a number of countries where the formal, taxed, audited economy is dominated by extraction industries, where the elite skim a major fraction of the income from mining/petro, import most of their consumption goods from abroad, and leave most citizens to make their own luck.

The "make their own luck" segment is the informal economy that most people in the third world depend on for their daily bread. Public services are slim to none, and what infrastructure there is oftentimes depends on the bribes/unofficial payments, since the state intents most formally budgeted public enterprises to be self-financing. Luanda, Angola and Kinshasa, Zaire are excellent living laboratories. But, we expect this in Africa, parts of the Mideast, and swaths of Asia. What the HBR study is really anticipating is the transition of the greater fraction of First World economies to this mode.

The idea that we can survive this transition via the sharing economy, the maker economy, the decentralized manufacturing economy is theoretically possible. But, exactly what level of "survival" are we talking? Given the current politics in the US, we are draining capital and resources from the bottom 99% faster than they (we) can reorganize to optimize an economic readjustment.

about a month ago

Facebook Founder Presents Vision For The New Republic, Many Resign In Protest

cmholm Difference Between GOP & Democratic Party (346 comments)

dgatwood's observations on US political tendencies starts off well, but I think goes off the rails at the bullet points.

Abstracted: “There’s not a dime’s difference between the Democrats and Republicans.” (coined by George Wallace; reused by Ralph Nader)

It's this sort of thinking that led a significant number of useful idiots to play at left-wing politics by voting Nader in 2000. I think the differences in outcomes between what we'd have likely seen from a Gore Administration and what we actually got from GWB are self-evident. It was certainly obvious to voters between '00 and '04, when Nader's national total dropped from 2.8 million to

Underestimating what brownish people are capable of, wasting hundreds of thousands of lives, pissing away trillions in treasure, and scamming via a mirror image of LBJ's guns and butter budget with a Republican guns and diamonds if that's a dime, my da kine is a redwood.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

cmholm Case In Point: Maui Electric (516 comments)

A few years back, Maui Electric upgraded their power distribution system by replacing wooden poles with steel towers. The claim was that the towers are much more typhoon-resistant, and I'm sure they are. However, given the aerodynamics of round cable, it's a given that the lines will still part in a gale. Why not bury the line? Because for most parts of the island, you hit blue rock (solid lava) within a few feet, and it's expensive to trench through. On the flip side, you only need to trench once, but Maui Electric decided to play the odds and go cheap.

about 2 months ago

Department of Justice Harvests Cell Phone Data Using Planes

cmholm Great, Another "2nd Amendment Solution" Fetishist (202 comments)

According to the US constitution, arms is the correct approach to governmental oppression.

Ah, no, but thanks for playing. We are currently at a phase when civil participation in the political process is the correct approach. An armed approach is inefficient, and repeated resort to that approach leads to repeated resort to that approach. In addition, to burst a popular bubble, if you're imaging armed participation, it's very likely someone will pry it out of your cold, dead hands.

If you let a reasonably open and civil political system get to the point where an armed approach is the efficient solution, you've been sitting on the sidelines and/or remained clueless for too long. Just to be clear regarding our current situation, how you feel about cultural issues, "Obamacare", or abortion aren't relevant.... until someone comes along who really does care how you feel about it, and uses all that neat anti-terrorist infrastructure to show just how much.

Changing the oil is greatly preferable to replacing the engine.

about 2 months ago

Will Lyft and Uber's Shared-Ride Service Hurt Public Transit?

cmholm Another Gated Community (237 comments)

I don't begrudge Lyft and Uber as an experiment in alternative transport. I think the growing sharing culture is a symptom of middle class economic stagnation, such that people are "driven" to monetize the spare capacity in their personal transport, their homes, etc.

What concerns me is that they are likely cherry picking transportation consumers. Those who can normally afford to spring for Lyft are then less likely to use public transport, and become alienated to its broader utility, much as those who live in gated communities aren't as concerned about addressing the crime rate in the surrounding community.

about 3 months ago

Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

cmholm NIMBY: Roosting Chickens (588 comments)

Vaccines are not documented to cause autism. The viruses Jenny doesn't care to vaccinate for are documented to seriously fuck your shit up. We're not talking riding out Chickenpox and the yearly flu. It appears either she or a PR flack have done the math and elected to shoot for some damage control.

about 10 months ago

Mathematician: Is Our Universe a Simulation?

cmholm A Poetic Simulation? (745 comments)

We are a pattern recognizing species. Mathematics is but a means of description, of writing out the patterns we see. Another is spoken or written prose, or poetry. Are we a poetic imagining within the mind of a (relatively) god-like Li Bai/Hafez/Yeats. Anthropocentrism by any other name would seem as likely.

about a year ago

Wozniak To Apple: Consider Building an Android Phone

cmholm 1995: "Unbundle The OS, 2014: "Unbundle The H/w" (249 comments)

The margins on Android phones are razor thin. Apple has complete control over the iPhone, giving them a plausible rationale for marketing a premium phone. If they release an Android phone, that rationale evaporates.

How well has Nokia made out since dumping Symbion and MeeGo for someone else's OS? Yeah, that bad.

about a year ago

South Koreans Using Kinect To Monitor DMZ

cmholm DMZ Is Not A Migration Route (133 comments)

Citizens of the North trying to go South do it through China, the Yalu River being a much easier, safer crossing. Only soldiers work the heavily mined and observed DMZ. Crossing the intra-Korean border is a really good way to get shot by either/both sides.

about a year ago

An Iowa ISP's Metered Pricing: What Will the Market Bear?

cmholm Welcome To Alice Springs (479 comments)

"This is the norm for us"? I'm in the middle of the bleeding country, 1500km from the nearest capital city, and I pay $80/mon for 400GB through Internode. Who's got you by the knackers? Even Telstra isn't all that much more expensive.

1 year,10 days

First US Public Library With No Paper Books Opens In Texas

cmholm Fahrenheit 451 Opening Sequence (212 comments)

Moments after the enabling regulations for the Banning Of Other Known Sources of Sufficiently Unverified Codexes ("BOOKS SUC") Act of 2051 are published, e-book readers across the nation delete all content excepting certain approved technical references. Subsequently, the long work of weeding out the hoarded dead tree editions begins.

1 year,25 days

Australia's National Broadband Network Downgraded

cmholm De Industrializing Australia (122 comments)

The current national Liberal Party policy seems to be limited to 1) balance the budget without added revenue, and 2) cut revenues they don't feel they should collect. The result is that the mining tax will go away, and due to very low tariffs and deletion of subsidies that ameliorate the effects of the strong AU$ that Aussie ores create, most manufacturing will go away. Ford and Holden closing up shop is just part of the trend.

So, yah want an information economy to go with those fries? Sorry mate, costs more than we want to spend, and what would you do with all that bandwidth, anyway? You don't know, you say? Back in my day, dialup was good enough. What does YouTube have to do with it?

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Are We Older Experts Being Retired Too Early?

cmholm Free Rider (629 comments)

> No paperwork. No taxes. No health insurance. No legal liability.

It would appear that ShanghaiBill is either a free rider. If he were hiring locally in Pakistan or China, he might be able to avoid some of these "costs", but not all. In fact, there would be additional costs, in the form of bribes and kickbacks to get his infrastructure up and stay up, poor security for his person, and arbitrary application of laws, regulations, and jurisprudence when he comes in contact with organs on the government. Instead, Bill huddles within the relative safety what I'll assume is an OECD member state, probably the US, and skates on covering a good portion of the costs that make his cozy existence possible.

What an amoral fucker. All "Wealth of Nations", without the "Theory of Moral Sentiments".

about a year ago

US Executions Threaten Supply of Anaesthetic Used For Surgical Procedures

cmholm Nitrous oxide (1160 comments)

Fine, go with a heavy nitrous mix, then. Although it would do the job, I'm sure there would be right wing whinging that the condemned aren't supposed to go *too* easy.

about a year ago

IZON IP Cameras Riddled With Security Flaws

cmholm Farmed Out Too Much Code? (55 comments)

I'll be generous and guess that IZON farmed out too much of their software development to ... wherever. Perhaps the company's principals are more hardware oriented, but it's interesting that they're now advertising for an iOS team lead.

about a year ago

I'd prefer my money be made of ...

cmholm Gold Bug Strawman (532 comments)

...so, the guy with the bananas ate all but one of his, and said the last one cost five coconuts.

"Fiat" currency is a tool. Broadly, it causes inflation when supply exceeds demand, and deflation when demand exceeds supply. Ideally, a little bit of inflation is good, in that it encourages a moderate level of use (investment, consumption), leading to real economic growth.

A tangible currency made from a limited supply of raw material tends towards deflation, which encourages hoarding, which discourages use, leading to real economic contraction.

about a year ago



Geeknet Board Considers Its Options

cmholm cmholm writes  |  more than 2 years ago

cmholm writes "While the Geeknet empire's (SourceForge, Slashdot and Freecode, etc) reported revenues have steadily increased over the last few years, the 2012 first quarter results show the company continues to lose money, albeit at an ever slowing rate. Perhaps more important, the stock prices have languished, which may have CEO Ken Langone and the rest of the board to evaluate a range of options to maximize shareholder value, which may include selling off its divisions."
Link to Original Source

webOS Goes Open, Will Anyone Care?

cmholm cmholm writes  |  more than 3 years ago

cmholm writes "After only three years on the market, and lacking better options after a series of business fubars, HP has decided to release webOS as an open source product. But, as it currently ships on only a couple of poorly selling devices and with no known hardware ports for a user community to leverage, will anyone care?"

Steve Jobs Dies

cmholm cmholm writes  |  more than 3 years ago

cmholm writes "As reported from numerous outlets and , Steve Jobs has died after an 8 year battle with pancreatic cancer."

Users: US Broadband "Fast Enough", Whatever It Is

cmholm cmholm writes  |  more than 4 years ago

cmholm writes "The FCC has released the results of their 2010 broadband usage survey. Cutting to the chase, 91% of broadband users responded "very satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" when asked about the speed of their home connection. On the other hand, 80% didn't know the advertised speed of their connection. As the FCC announcement points out, ignorance can be costly, to the tune of hundreds of additional dollars a year for "faster" plans which don't actually deliver much more aggregate bandwidth than a baseline plan."

HS Student Isolates Polystyrene-eating Microbe

cmholm cmholm writes  |  more than 5 years ago

cmholm writes "Although I had for years assumed that plastics eventually biodegrade, my recent reading of Weisman's The World Without Us reminded me that just because garbage has broken down into pieces that I can't see doesn't mean it isn't still polluting the biosphere. Weisman's book suggests that we're pretty much stuck with most plastics until something evolves to eat them. Perhaps we just need to introduce the diner to the dinner. A Waterloo, Ontario teen's 2008 science fair experiment found polystyrene's match in the team of the relatively uncommon Sphingomonas and Pseudomonas bacterias. At 37 degrees and optimal bacterial concentration, with a bit of sodium acetate thrown in, Burd achieved 43 per cent degradation within six weeks, rather than thousands of years."
Link to Original Source

cmholm cmholm writes  |  more than 7 years ago

cmholm writes "I inadvertently turned up a gem of a real estate site. As far as I can tell, it's for real: Baghdad Property.com

As with any other market, location is key. In my neck of the woods, realtors tout homes that are "next to Wailea." In Los Angeles there is "Beverly Hills adjacent." In Baghdad, how does an enterprising salesman puts some polish on an apartment to let? By describing its neighborhood as "generally regarded as a green zone", as opposed to in the Green Zone (ie. the International Zone, security courtesy US Army).

While President Talabani's mansion is a block away, and the American company Corporate Security Solutions is but a strong stone's throw, they enjoy 24/7 armed security. On the plus side, it does seem to be a nice neighborhood with a number of maintained swimming pools. Copy these coordinates into Google Earth and check it out for yourself:

33 16' 53.34" N, 44 24' 02.26" E

Talabani's place is the riverfront palace directly to the south. While Mr. al-Attia is dealing with what's arguably the high end, and can at least afford to pay his hosting fees, for most brokers, the local market is a tough row to hoe."

cmholm cmholm writes  |  more than 7 years ago

cmholm writes "After fighting the Federal Government for years over accusations that it outsourced highly classified military night vision technology to Singapore, China, and the UK as a cost saving measure, ITT faced the music to the tune of $100 million. A key point in the NYT article, something virtually all military contractors are constantly reminding their employees: "There's not much point in outspending the rest of the world on military technology if countries like China can get it on the cheap.""



The Expatriate Option: India

cmholm cmholm writes  |  about 11 years ago [Note: this was originally written in 2004. As an aside, a nephew in his mid-twenties had been teaching English in the Pearl River Delta area of southern China for the last few years, his pay having climbed to the low teens in dollar terms. He was comfortable, but certainly couldn't afford domestics or a car.]

An American software engineer looking to escape the current fad to outsource all IT work to 3rd world nations would probably prefer a job in western Europe, Japan, or Australia, all of which are possible and desirable with a bit of preparation. But, businesses in these desirable locations are getting the outsource bug too, so lets go for the challenge: be an expatriate working in India.

As it turns out, there are a number of resources on line to assist you in your quest. A slashdot poster has provided links regarding visas , and a little searching on Google can turn up info for the low down on the cities you might want to work in.

The upshot: theoretically, it's possible. Now for some reality. This isn't the last word on relocation, but it's a start.

Visas: The Indian government slots visitors in order of preference: persons of Indian hertitage, other persons, Pakistanis and Afghans.

If your ancestry traces back to India, there is a special visa program for you. It's assumed that you've picked up some skills out in the world, and India wants to encourage you to bring 'em home to develop the nation.

If you are of other nationalities, a work visa is available. When applying, you must present documentation from an employer that they will be responsible for you. Good luck on that. If you're bringing a lot of capital and a business plan, well, that's another matter. Your visa must be renewed every year and a half or so.

If you are Pakistani or Afghan, you're due for a lot more scrutiny, and you'll have to submit considerable additional documentation.

Work Environment: Universities in India are pumping out a lot of tech grads, and there aren't yet enough jobs for all of them, although regional labor shortages do occur. Ergo, there's a lot of competition for jobs, so unless you were lead architect on the NT or Linux kernels in your last position (and if you are, you aren't getting outsourced, yet), don't think you're a shoo in. In fact, for an employer to even go to the bother of hiring you, you'll need to show a truly sterling CV. After all, it's a major business risk and pain in the ass for them to bring you in country in the first place. As an aside, there seems to be opportunity for Japanese speakers now that firms are seeking to tap the demand for outsourcing from Japan. There are openings for young (ie. cheap) Europeans/Americans to fill linguistic gaps in tech support, but don't expect to make a career of it. You'll working in a 1.5m square three sided cube, if you're lucky. Some up and coming companies claim to respect that employees might have a life beyond the office, which should tell you what the norm is. If you get into a legal dispute with your employer, it will take years to adjudicate. The Indian legal system, particularly the civil courts, are completely overloaded, the procedures make the United States look like the paragon of efficiency. When a contract is finished, you may find your ass back out on the street very quickly, just like in the States, and the social safety net assumes you've got family to lean on. You do not want to go broke in India.

Pay Packet: Ranging from INR130000 (US$2900) for a web developer with 2 years experience, to INR1400000 (US$30000) for a senior project manager with an MS. Yes, the scales are down a bit from the OECD, but pretty good for India, so with the addition of your current nest egg, you shouldn't have too much problem maintaining an Indian "middle class" lifestyle. Just keep in mind that Indian middle class priorities aren't always what you're used to. In addition, you aren't getting much credit for Social Security (USA only), and your ability to stash cash for retirement back in the OECD may suck, particularly if you're American.

Renting: As a foreigner, you can't buy property. There is a wide variety of rental properties, ranging from mansions and modern high rise condos you couldn't afford on a San Jose salary, to the very pits. You really need to do your homework on this. Even though you may be working on an Indian pay scale, land lords will assume you're loaded, so it would be a major plus to bring an Indian friend to help you negotiate.

Getting On Line: The Indian government has only started moving to open up the infrastructure. In the meantime, brother, welcome back to dialup, and it ain't pretty. Getting regular phone service enabled can require several trips to the telecom office, with a side trip to the switching station to introduce yourself to the technicians. Getting dialup on that same line means more money, and more delays. Count on the link being noisy and unreliable. ISDN is available in some areas, but usually isn't linked to a TCP trunk(!). Switched 56k and up is available in some locations, but even 56k is well over US$1000/month. This might be an ideal environment to start an 802.11b freenet, but the equipment may be a bit pricey at Indian payscales, and I'm not clear on the legal situation.

Language: English is the lingua franca of the educated, BUT to be comfortable you're going to need conversational Hindi and either Kannada (for Bangalore) or Telugu (for Hyderabad).

Culture: Nothing like you've ever experienced, and trips to the Indian market in your current metro area don't count. Expect to spend at least a year getting your bearings, if you work at it. This will be a true test of your ability to respond to new people and situations. If you suceed, you will cherish your time in country for the rest of your days. Make a point of getting connected to the community as soon as possible. Don't just huddle at home. A good start is to locate and visit the cultural institutions and watering holes of the existing expatriate community.

Climate: Highlands tropical in Bangalore and Hyderabad, meaning it's humid, but not usually life threateningly hot. If you move off the Deccan plateau to the coast, it's gonna stay hot and humid all frickin' year. In any case, mold will be a fact of life, get used to it.

Transport: I know you want to get a car, but resist the temptation for a year or two. There are several Indian compact makes to choose from, but the cost isn't going to be worth it, at least until you've gotten a feel for your budget and needs. A bicycle or Vespa are affordable, but before you take your life in your hands, spend some time on foot and public transport to learn the "rules" of the road. Buses and trains are very affordable means of getting around town and the nation, especially if you've not too picky about the accomidations. Airtravel? Forget it, on your Indian payscale you can't afford it, especially international routes.

Entertainment: Wireless TV is available in most urban areas, and cheap semi-legal cable systems as well. Radio is well served on all bands, and India, unlike the US, will probably have digital radio service soon. Movie houses are a very affordable diversion, as long as you don't mind the lack of first run Western films. Weekend pinicing at parks and temples is a popular pastime. English language bookstores are available, albeit not with a Barnes & Noble-like selection. Various cultural events surround religious holidays. In particular, don't wear nice clothes on Holi Day (late March), 'cause you're gonna get hammered with dye filled water balloons (and watch the punch served at the temples then too, unless you *wanna* get hammered). A few western-style nightclubs are available as well, just don't count on getting hooked up.

Education: Oh, so you're bringing a family? On the plus side, take it from me, some expat living will broaden your children like nothing else. On the other hand, while there are schools using English instruction , that doesn't mean it's accreditted to get your little darlings into UCLA. Schools that are accreditted ain't cheap, so you might want to stash tuition in the bank before you take the salary hit.


How Hard Is It To Get To Mars, Really?

cmholm cmholm writes  |  about 11 years ago During the run up to the landing of the first Mars Exploration Rover, JPL and the mass media frequently batted around the crappy Mars mission success ratio, while ernestly proclaiming "Mars is hard to get to!". I guess it's be be expected that some ass covering was in order on the eve of a Mars landing, but still, I've gotta laugh. When they rattle off success/failure ratios, what they are doing is counting anything that mankind has ever had the vaguest intention of sending to Mars, and counting it as a failure if said object had not in fact flown-by/orbited/landed on Mars.

In fact, especially back in the '60's, getting into space was hard. Look at any of the mission timelines, like the Mars Scorecard, and you'll see that a good number of the "failures" were really failures to get off the ground at all, especially for the USSR. It didn't matter whether the goal was Earth orbit, the Moon, Venus, or Mars, a good number of those early rockets couldn't hold together long enough to get into space. Even then, the payloads often stopped working after they got into space, or if they worked, we didn't even get 'em in the general direction of the goal.

Let's use the Scorecard and see what really happened:

Launch failure: 8

NEO failure: 3

Payload F.U.B.A.R enroute: 5

Payload F.U.B.A.R Mars orbit: 6

Payload F.U.B.A.R. Mars landing: 5

Successful flyby: 3

Successful orbit: 9

Successful landing: 4

How good or bad the stats seem is a matter of definitions. If we ditch the launch and NEO failures as a cost of doing business in space, and most of which were back when you could still buy a Studebaker, the actual success rate for the Mars missions doesn't look quite so bad. In fact, if you cut the Russians out of the picture, it looks pretty damn good, which leaves the program managers for the Mars Climate Orbiter looking like even bigger retards than before.

What this tells us is that, given a reasonable budget which will allow proper planning and engineering, Mars isn't as difficult of a goal as one might have though. Most of the US failures since 1970 can trace their cause back to this: continual Congressional budget trimming, leading to corner-cutting at NASA.

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