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Comments

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Use Tor, Get Targeted By the NSA

conspirator23 Time for this community to step up. (451 comments)

Many moons ago, people used to stuff all kinds of ridiculous claptrap in their Usenet .sig lines to "clog the NSA monitors." Keywords like nuclear, communist, peace, soviet, blah blah blah blah. It was a fairly useless exercise whether the underlying suspicions were true or not.

The execution was amteurish, but today's news proves that the principle is worth exlporing further. Software developers need to stop talking the talk and make a more concerted effort to transparently encrypt all the network communication conducted by their applications, their mail systems, their social media platforms, whatever. The cypherpunk community has long pooh-poohed allowing "weak" encryption to become entrenched and create a false sense of security. But this "secutrity through purity" approach has resulted in the abject failure of the widespread adoption of encryption at all levels. Can we not find some sort of barely acceptable common standard and just start routinely implementing it and make the marketing people figure out how to describe it as a sexy feature?

about a year ago
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Aaron's Law Would Revamp Computer Fraud Penalties

conspirator23 Thank you Ron. (163 comments)

I don't have the privilege of living in Sen. Wyden's district any longer, but I always voted for him when I did, and that was well before his name became associated with civil liberties in the digital age. He played a critical role in getting the NTSB to conduct a much-needed-and-unheard-of civilian investigation of a C-130 crash that killed 10 Oregon National Guardsmen. From then until now he has repeatedly demonstrated tenacity, intellectual curiosity, and a willingness to say unpopular things for as long as I've cared to watch his performance as a Senator.

Yes, I realize Slashdot is probably the absolute last place on earth to say anything positive about an elected official. I should be trying to hype some unelectable wacko instead. Sorry to dissappoint.

about a year ago
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SCOTUS Says DNA Collection Permissible After Arrest

conspirator23 Lefties beware! This way lies madness! (643 comments)

I'm really amused by all the ideological civil libertarians who are shocked (SHOCKED I tell you!) at finding common cause with Scalia on this issue. The general assumption seems to be that Scalia "is finally right for once." Here's an alternative explanation: Scalia hasn't changed at all. It's the ideologically motivated civil libertarians who are off their rockers here.

If you'll tie your jerking knee down for a minute and whip up a Top 20 list of the most pernicious and chilling abuses of government authority, I suspect you'll have a hard time finding a spot for this line item. The risk/benefit equation on this is different. Managing this data in an appropriate and accountable fashion is officially Not Rocket Science. You may not trust the government to behave in a reasonable and appropriate manner, but there's all kinds of stuff you accept silently right now which is already egregious. Letting that stuff slide (Guantanomo, CIA-run drone strikes against civilian targets, National Security Letters, good old fashioned "driving while black", take your pick) while getting your panties in a bunch over soemthing with tangible benefits to a civil society is not much more than masturbatory paranoia.

Or maybe I should put it this way: When extremists of different factions agree, it doesn't make them less extreme.

about a year ago
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Predicting IQ With a Simple Visual Test

conspirator23 Re:Popcorn time! (325 comments)

Yay, it's an IQ thread.

Cue bragging about IQ followed by arguments about whether IQ measures intelligence.

making popcorn. brb.

I'm so smart, I know better than to reply to sarcastic trolls. Oh, wait...

about a year ago
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Bandages That Can Turn Off Genes Encourages Wound Healing

conspirator23 Re:This is a phenomenally ignorant respose. (54 comments)

Congratulatons, you have managed to parlay your irrational fear of GMO into an irrational fear of entirely unrelated technologies. There's no gene splicing going on here. The RNA material they are embedding into the bandage are not genes, are not being spliced into living cells, and will not replicate. They are basically custom marching orders being sent to the existing genes, temporarily telling certain ones to shut the hell up for the duration of time that the RNA persists in the immediate area. The bandage approach is specifically because the RNA is so fragile as to not deliver effectively via traditional methods. So... you're wrong on so many levels, it boggles the mind.

Welcome to Slashdot, BTW. You fit in just fine.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: When Is the User Experience Too Good?

conspirator23 You insensitive clod! (397 comments)

Since you felt it would be tedious to explain specifics, you create a huge hole in our ability to give you a serious answer that is relevant to your situation. So to speak on a purely generic level, there's no such thing as too good a user experience.. The notion that you might make the user of your product TOO happy, or make their lives TOO easy, is the sort of sadistic logic that I would normally attribute to someone whose just shitty at developing user interfaces and wants some kind of perverse rationalization to justify their shortcomings.

However... this whole "flying car" analogy leads me to believe that you're not really talking about "user experience" in terms of user interfaces, ergonomics, and the like. It seems to me that you're talking about feature sets and what you are empowering the user to accomplish with your software. For example, some advanced text editors may enable global search and replace. That same text editor may support using regular expressions in a variety of ways. With this hypothetical text editor, it might be possible to combine the application of these features and modify dozens of critical files in unexpected ways, really wrecking the local PC.I'm wondering if this is the scenario that's really behind this question? If so, referring to this as "user experience" is misleading.

I'm fully in agreement that you want to be careful about what sort of capacities you grant the users of your application. If that particular feature has a crappy risk/benefit ratio, then drop it altogether. On the other hand, if you have powerful but risky features that you believe the software needs, then you should be working hard to improve the user experience in such a way that inexperienced users don't stumble across those features accidentally. Although I have personally railed against Microsoft's history of nesting options under multiple layers of dialog boxes, part of the intent there is to segregate "power user" options where they will not distract casual users from the features they actually care about.

about a year ago
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Florida DOT Cuts Yellow Light Delay Ignoring Federal Guidelines, Citations Soar

conspirator23 Definition of a pyrrhic victory: (507 comments)

sitting on my ass in his kangaroo traffic court for 16 fucking hours that cost me then equivalent to $800 USD in lost wages for a $50 USD bicycle citation

about a year ago
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Fukushima Nuclear Plant Cleanup May Take More Than 40 Years

conspirator23 Best. Cleanup Plan. Ever. (218 comments)

1. Send the best minds in Japan to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Study the tools and methodologies used. Interview all the engineers participating in the cleanup effort. Learn absolutely everything you can about waste recovery techniques, environmental stewardship, and safety protocols.

2. Do exactly the opposite.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Planks Would You Want In a Platform of a Political Party?

conspirator23 My shot at obscure, fuitile wonking: (694 comments)

  1. Allow modern statistical techniques to be applied to the Census.
  1. Enlarge the House of Representatives by shrinking and fixing the population size attributed to each House rep. Then modernize the participatory infrastructure to allow the MUCH larger house to perform meaningful work while spending more time in their home districts. The effect would be that reps would need less money for their re-election campaigns, would have much more exposure to their local consituents, would have less comittee assignments to track, and would make national-level lobbying interests spend a lot more.
  1. Targeted spending of federal capital on decaying infrastrcuture. Roads, bridges, and the like.
  1. A combination jobs/environment program, as a public/private partnership with wilderness firefighting companies, to actively reduce fuel load in national forests

I'm sure there's lots more but since our electoral system was designed in a way that reinforces a two-party model (intentionally or not), I don't see any need to giveadditional futile suggestions to a group that will never have any meaningful power at the national level.

I really don't intend that as a dig. It is what it is. It's certainly possible that the GOP will continue it's self-marginalization until a third party finds an opportunity to supercede it. The GOP themselves did that in the 19th century.... but for any 3rd party to realize the possibility of becoming the new 2nd party, it will have to capture the attention of "boring" middle-of-the-road voters who feel disenfrancized by the polarization. Nibbling around the edges of public policy with highly technical optimizations are not going to cut it. If the GOP leaves that door unlocked, you'll need big, heavy, sexy planks to beat it down with.

about a year ago
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FBI Releases Boston Bombing Suspect Images/Videos

conspirator23 These pictures are more than good enough. (416 comments)

I'm surprised that the doubting Thomases are getting so many mod points around here today. There is no better facial recognition system in the world than the human brain. The pictures are worthlessly low-res and indiscriminate? Someone who knows these individuals will correlate the physical details of the face, the expression, the height, haircut, posture, and clothing instantly and unconsciously. They will be recognized. Those acquaintances can see the forest. All we are getting is trees.

And to cover the other criticism of why these two were chosen... Both were seen walking together with black backpacks. Then each one was seen individually right at one of the two bomb sites. In the case of suspect #2, there is video of him putting his backpack down and then walking away from it. Personally I agree that this is sufficient to refer to both individuals as "suspects."

about a year ago
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Why Local Is So Damn Hard For Startups: Foursquare Borrows $41M To Try Again

conspirator23 Facebook, Twitter, Paypal: the small biz trifecta. (121 comments)

If I'm a small entrepeneur, these three give me platforms for advertising, promotion, and e-commerce with optional "social interaction" channels built in. I'm probably already an experienced user with all of these systems, and I can safely assume that the overwhelming majority of my current and future customers know these systems as well. How much time and money do I need to invest up front in order to exploit these tools? Zero. Zip. Nada.

Anybody who wants to deliberately insert a $$ product or service into this space is going to have to identify a gap in the current ecosystem that is painful enough that the entrepeneur will happilly throw the money at them. I don't see Foursquare doing anything right now that meets those crieria. They might have something interesting in mind but we'll just have to see.

about a year ago
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Hackers Swipe Unreleased Game From Ubisoft

conspirator23 Silly Russians. (99 comments)

Don't they know that zero-day warez are supposed to be leaked by employees?

about a year ago
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Interviews: Ask J. Michael Straczynski What You Will

conspirator23 Nerd Stunt Casting (215 comments)

One of the things about Bab5 that was always fun for the hardcore SF fans was bringing back actors from classic SF television. Casting Billy Mumy (Lost in Space) as Lennier and Walter Koenig as Alfred Bester (a personal fav) were entertaining beyond the performances they delivered. Are there any cool casting choices about Sense8 that you have planned or can dish on?

about a year ago
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Interviews: Ask J. Michael Straczynski What You Will

conspirator23 Do you see yourself as a desktop video pioneer? (215 comments)

As a former Amiga owner, I remember how excited the community was to learn that this new TV series called Babylon 5 was going to have it's visual effects developed on the NewTek Video Toaster. Many considered it a vindication of the Amiga platform as well as a milestone in the evolution of digital video. My understanding is that you moved away from this platform in later seasons because it wasn't scaling up to meet your needs.

Today desktop video is commonplace, and there are a million billion Youtube videos whose quality is only limited by the talent and time invested by the creators rather than any technological barriers. How do you feel about the progression from then till now and the role you played as an early adopter?

about a year ago
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Soyuz Breaks Speed Record To ISS

conspirator23 NPR does April Fools much better. (58 comments)

Subtle. In the rythym of the overall broadcast. A few years ago they did a piece on Weekend Edition about how Bloomberg was pushing for a limited set of "authorized" ringtones in NYC to combat noise polution. I was having a not-sure-if-serious moment until the article ended and the promotional bumper indicated that the show received support from "Soylent" corporation. Hearing that ubiquitous NPR voice cheerily exclaim that "Soylent Green is People" had me out of my chair.

If we're going to dredge up old, irritating Usenet crap because it's 4/1, you could at least pretend that B1FF had been made into a Slashdot moderator. Then we could have two pages of ASCII art at the end of each slashpost, and make all the mobile RSS users cry.

about a year ago
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The ATF Not Concerned About 3D Printed Guns... Yet

conspirator23 Damned if you do, damned if you don't. (344 comments)

Choose one:

1. The ATF is a bunch of ignorant buffoons. A 3D printed gun doesn't have to last long if you are planning a suicidal shooting spree! Stupid calcified bureacracies are simply incapable of formulating an intelligent and agile response to modern technolgy.

2. The ATF is a bunch of ignorant buffoons. Getting up in arms over some obscure thing like 3D printing isn't going to make anyone safer. Stupid meddling, overreaching bureacracies are simply incapable of forming a thoughtful and nuanced response to modern technology.

about a year ago
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Most Doctors Don't Think Patients Need Full Access To Med Records

conspirator23 Re:I empathize with the 65% (659 comments)

I work in the US healthcare industry

So do I, and I actually think your argument is irrelevant. What you are describing in a nutshell is the 80/20 rule. In essence, a majority of the customer interaction problems any business faces come from a minority of customers. Your organization's inability to manage the nutjob 20% effectively is not a justification to deny access to the other 80%. Your leadership needs to do the following:

1. Drink the kool-aid on that fact that patient access to their EMR is an overall net benefit to the quality of care they receive. (aka, the "carrot")
2. Accept that even if you can't get your head wrapped around #1, HIPAA doesn't care and mandates it anyway. (aka, the "stick")
3. Establish reasonable and consistent processes to deliver that access in a manner that is cost effective to your organization.

about a year ago

Submissions

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New revenue model for low budget films: Lawsuits.

conspirator23 conspirator23 writes  |  about a year ago

conspirator23 (207097) writes "A 64 year old retired English teacher is being sued by a copyright troll for illegal Bittorrent downloading of a motion picture. Maybe not all that shocking in the current era except to learn that rather than Game of Thrones, Emily Orlando of Estacada, Oregon is being accused of downloading Maximum Conviction, a direct-to-video action flick released earlier this year starring Steven Segal and ex-WWE wrestler Steve Austin. The plaintiff Voltage Pictures is demanding $7500 from Emily and 370 other defendants. If all the defendants were to pay the demands, Voltage would gross over 2.75 million dollars minus legal fees. Who needs Kickstarter?"
Link to Original Source
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How Xerox insitgated the Great Recession

conspirator23 conspirator23 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

conspirator23 (207097) writes "In an NPR story that is supposed to be about how the US Government gave S&P the clout and influence it has today, an interesting aside is given about how Xerox impacted the business models of US credit rating agencies: "But the business started to change in the late 1960s. Instead of charging investors, the rating agencies started to take money from the issuers of the bonds. White blames the shift on the invention of 'the high-speed photocopy machine.' The ratings agencies were afraid, he says, that investors would just pass around rating information for free. So they had to start making their money from the company side." This conflict of interest is often cited as a key factor in the past popularity of the often dangerous, occasionally worthless mortgage backed securities."
Link to Original Source
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This is your brain on magnets. Or maybe not.

conspirator23 conspirator23 writes  |  about 5 years ago

conspirator23 (207097) writes "Jon Hamilton of National Public Radio brings us this story about "voodoo correlations" in fMRI studies that seek to learn more about emotional states, personality, and social cognition in the human brain. Many of us outside the scientific community have been treated to fascinating images of brain activity and corresponding explanations about how the images reveal which portions of the brain are engaged in certain kinds of thinking. But these images are not actual snapshots, they are visualizations of data generated by repeated scans during experiments. Flaws in the statistical methods used by researchers can result in false images with a variety of inaccuracies. Yet the images produced are so vivid and engaging that even other neuroscientists can be misled by them."

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