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Comments

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Mac OS X Yosemite Beta Opens

dgatwood Re:Tried the AppStore help form... (161 comments)

I got the same error after a glitch. Turns out the redemption was successful the first time, but because the server was too slow responding to the redemption request, the App Store app timed out. For whatever bizarre reason, it appears that the app store server infrastructure doesn't treat redemption requests as idempotent (clearly a bug), so subsequent attempts to redeem the same code from the same account fail. Ideally, those subsequent attempts should do nothing, but should return whatever magic value tells the App Store app to update its list of purchased items and then do whatever other work it needs to do.

To make a long story short, if you quit the App Store app and relaunch it, the Yosemite beta should appear under the Purchases tab in the App Store. From there, you can start the download.

yesterday
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Two Cities Ask the FCC To Preempt State Laws Banning Municipal Fiber Internet

dgatwood Re:raise money privately? (177 comments)

A nonprofit competitor is required by law to spend any profits they make on upgrading infrastructure. So unless they massively overhire or have higher expenses because of economies of scale or renting a more expensive building, the nonprofit is pretty much guaranteed to be able to undercut any for-profit competitor while providing better service, because it doesn't have the extra overhead of profit taking.

yesterday
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Western US States Using Up Ground Water At an Alarming Rate

dgatwood Re:Colorado has California over a barrel (357 comments)

Particularly if all you need is heat. You could potentially build an almost entirely passive desalinization plant fairly readily by building a greenhouse atop the ocean and making the roof slope towards the sides with catch basins that then flow downhill towards the shore. The only thing required is an insane amount of glass (and an insane amount of space to dedicate to it).

yesterday
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Why Are the World's Scientists Continuing To Take Chances With Smallpox?

dgatwood Re:The problem is... (189 comments)

In theory, you can always learn more by continuing to study something. In practice, though, modern medicine has a pretty complete knowledge of smallpox. Humans have been studying the disease since before anyone even knew what a virus was. There's evidence that the Chinese were inoculating people for smallpox over a thousand years ago. And the first practical, widespread form of that vaccine dates back to the late 1700s. This was literally the very first virus ever treated with a vaccine. It's well-trodden ground, research-wise.

The problem is, this virus is highly contagious and relatively dangerous compared with other viruses. For variola major, the case fatality rate is typically 30–60%, which puts it among the worst communicable diseases out there, approaching the fatality rate of ebola, and far more contagious. With nearly a two-week average incubation period (and up to 17 days in the worst case), one minor screw-up could easily cause a very serious pandemic before enough vaccines could be produced and distributed.

So basically, you have to weigh the odds of an accidental release (which, with recent revelations about this stuff getting lost for decades, then turning up by accident, seems not so improbable) against the relatively small chance of learning anything new from it that can't also be learned from cowpox or other similar viruses. On the risk-reward curve, this seems to be so far towards the "pure risk" end that any reward would border on undeniable proof of divine intervention, which means the speculated rewards would have to be pretty darn amazing for it to be worth the risk.

3 days ago
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Why Are the World's Scientists Continuing To Take Chances With Smallpox?

dgatwood Re:The problem is... (189 comments)

What could possibly be gained from further experimentation at this point? We already know how to isolate it and how to produce vaccines for it. And for gene therapy, there are lots of other, less dangerous viruses that can be used as vectors for delivering genetic material. It seems that keeping anything more than the bare minimum amount of material needed to produce vaccines would fall pretty far towards the risk end of the risk-reward curve.

3 days ago
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Why Are the World's Scientists Continuing To Take Chances With Smallpox?

dgatwood Re:The problem is... (189 comments)

The SyFy version involves a pro wrestler playing the technician. Oh, and the plucky daughter just found out she's pregnant.

3 days ago
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Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa

dgatwood Re:But scarcity! (390 comments)

Well, that's not entirely true. The voice quality of analog phones has steadily improved, so the amount of data did go up a little bit in that hundred years. :-D

But seriously, we hit a wall with copper, and it only took a hundred years to get there. A single pair (or even a bonded double pair) of copper just can't cut it. But a single fiber provides more than enough growth potential. The current record is 100 terabit over a single fiber, or 100,000 times what most fiber providers currently provide. I figure that's good for another hundred years. Even governments can move at that speed. :-) And unlike copper, you don't have distance limitations from electrical resistance and capacitance. Yes, there's dispersion, but that hundred terabit speed was at a distance of 100 miles (without boosters, AFAIK), so we're talking about orders of magnitude less problems than you get with copper, where a mere ten gigabit over four pairs of copper will barely go the length of your house.

about a week ago
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Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa

dgatwood Re:But scarcity! (390 comments)

Can anyone explain this situation to me?

At least in my case, you're missing the mark. I've always thought that our state and federal governments were pretty close to incompetent, and I still do. But government-funded nonprofit corporations do work, and at the local level, governments sometimes work.

about a week ago
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Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa

dgatwood Re:But scarcity! (390 comments)

That long cycle worked fine for the telephone lines that serve your house. They served us well for a long time. The biggest flaw was that instead of managing the infrastructure themselves, they gave it to private companies to manage. Then, when they started abusing the monopoly, the government had to turn around and start requiring them to allow CLECs to use the lines. The phone companies, predictably, hated this, and did the absolute least that they could do to comply with the regulations, often refusing to fix problems with lines while blaming it on the CLEC (and vice versa).

All those problems would have been avoided if the government had simply maintained exclusive control over the lines and leased them out to third parties. That's how next-generation fiber networks in cities should be set up. The entire premise of letting a few companies maintain exclusive control over critical infrastructure is fundamentally flawed and can only lead to more of the same bulls**t we've had for the last two decades.

The only scheme that works is the public utility scheme, where the government owns the wires and private companies provide the service. We know this model works because it has worked with our interstate highway system and private shipping companies for decades. Is it perfect? No. The government historically hasn't charged those shippers enough money in gas taxes to cover infrastructure maintenance costs, resulting in some roads falling into disrepair. But that's mainly a problem caused by lack of a single management body that manages all of the roads in a region. Dozens of city governments working together isn't a great way to get things done except on an "It burns! It burns!" emergency basis. The solution to that problem, of course, is for all the cities in a metropolitan area to get together to form a non-profit corporation, and make that corporation responsible for the management and leasing of lines a la TVA.

about a week ago
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Malaysian Passenger Plane Reportedly Shot Down Over Ukraine

dgatwood Re:Well, they certainly DID in the past (752 comments)

And they added commercial radio equipment to warships to ensure that it would never happen again. One would hope that the Russians did similar things to their anti-aircraft batteries after hearing of that incident. If they didn't, one might reasonably ask what in hell is wrong with Russia. And if they did, one might reasonably ask what in hell is wrong with the people who fired that missile today without taking the time to use the equipment.

about a week ago
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Malaysian Passenger Plane Reportedly Shot Down Over Ukraine

dgatwood Re:Ah. (752 comments)

No, it isn't particularly interesting how it ended up in the middle of a war zone. Not at all. The area in question is not closed to civil aviation, or at least it wasn't prior to this incident. The aircraft was flying about a hundred miles off its usual flight path, which is a completely reasonable deviation when avoiding inclement weather as they were. Presumably, the deviation was approved by the Ukrainian civil aviation authorities.

about a week ago
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Sony Forgets To Pay For Domain, Hilarity Ensues

dgatwood Re: Black hole? (277 comments)

If I were their registrar, I'd probably resell the name to someone who would hold it hostage, just to make a point. This is the easiest thing in the world to avoid, just by having some basic policies in place.

Require that all ongoing accounts be set up to send email to role accounts that forward to multiple people (an email list). Have a policy where any employee termination/retirement triggers an automatic check of all role accounts, and if it results in a role account with no recipients (or, ideally, below some higher threshold), the current IT head has to start contacting managers until they can sort out who should be responsible.

Had Sony done this, it wouldn't be a problem.

about a week ago
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People Who Claim To Worry About Climate Change Don't Cut Energy Use

dgatwood Re:user error (708 comments)

The Gas car, our behavior is to fuel it up once a week.
The Electric car, should be charged nightly. So people will need to change their behaviors to charge the car every night.

Changing behaviors doesn't quite cover it. If a car has to be charged nightly, that means it doesn't have enough range to do many of the things people do with gasoline-powered cars, which makes it of significantly lower utility. I was ready to pull the trigger on a RAV4 EV the second it hit the market... until they announced the range on the thing. At that point, I realized that it will just barely handle my daily commute when brand new, which means that in a couple of years, when the battery is down to... say 97% of its factory capacity, I would have to spend over ten grand to replace the battery pack. There's no way to change behavior that would somehow work around such a huge loss of functionality. I would gladly pay more money for a car that has sufficient capacity. However, I will not buy a car for any price unless it does. For me, that means a 200-mile range at a bare minimum, and preferably a 300-mile range.

Call me when the electric cars have to be charged once every three or four days. That's the point where they'll finally be practical for real-world use. Until then, they're just too impractical, as much as I wish that weren't so. And no, I won't even consider Toyota's proposed insane hydrogen fuel "solution", which just shifts the carbon problem to wherever they extract the hydrogen from natural gas, not to mention being impossible to refuel using solar power (which is the main point of moving to an EV from my perspective). Calling a hydrogen-powered car "clean" is quite possibly the biggest lie since "clean coal".

about two weeks ago
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People Who Claim To Worry About Climate Change Don't Cut Energy Use

dgatwood Re:You keep using that word... (708 comments)

I think so, but normally they don't draw less power, but just produce more light.

But they draw a fixed amount of power (the wattage) that is determined by the resistance of the bulb. Therefore, if they produce more light for a given wattage, you can buy one that draws less wattage and get the same amount of light.

For example, a typical incandescent bulb gets about 15 +/- 2.5 lumens per watt. A typical halogen gets about 20 +/- 4 lumens per watt. So if you're using a 100 watt incandescent bulb, you need about 1500 lumens (15 * 100). If you replace that with a halogen bulb that draws only 75 watts (1500 / 20), you'll get about the same amount of light. Alternatively, you can use a 100 watt halogen if you want more light, and let's face it, who doesn't? :-)

about two weeks ago
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New Raspberry Pi Model B+

dgatwood Re:Dur (202 comments)

The external hard drive is #4.

about two weeks ago
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New Raspberry Pi Model B+

dgatwood Re:PWM? (202 comments)

And if you don't mind a little latency, you can always get two more PWM outputs by writing software that drives the headphone output appropriately, then adding a suitable gain stage as needed. Because it is buffered by the audio hardware, unless your Pi is badly overloaded, I'd expect it to make a pretty clean PWM output, but the latency is likely to be significant, depending on the buffer size you choose.

about two weeks ago
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New Raspberry Pi Model B+

dgatwood Re:Does it have audio in yet? (202 comments)

Tho the more financially viable alternative would be finding a decent/acceptable USB audio adapter for somewhere around $3-$5.

In my experience, even at $10, you have a good chance of buying something that produces massively distorted output and then smokes itself after a few hours. Just saying.

about two weeks ago
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'Rosetta Flash' Attack Leverages JSONP Callbacks To Steal Credentials

dgatwood Re:haven't we learned from the last 25 exploits? (68 comments)

How does one embed "JavaScript URLs" in CSS?

Very easily, and because so few people know it is possible, it's a rather nasty vector for cross-site scripting attacks.

Also you seem to have no idea about where the web is headed or have heard about responsive design and SPA.

I'm well aware of responsive design. I think it's an abomination, because all it does is make it take two page loads to view your site instead of one, by ensuring that I have to first load your broken mobile site, then click the "full version" link. Every single freaking time I end up on a "responsive" mobile version of a website, I find myself locked out of features that I regularly use, and end up having to switch to the full desktop version of the site.

If you need much more than a couple lines of JavaScript and a custom stylesheet to support mobile devices, it invariably means that your site is badly designed (too complex) to begin with, and as soon as you release the mobile version of your site, you're almost certainly going to make me hate your guts and curse your name.

And SPA is even worse. If your site loads significantly faster as a web app, there's something wrong with your site. 99% of the time, most of the resources should be shared across pages, and only the text of the page should be changing. There's usually not an appreciable difference between the "load the full page" case and the "load the body of the page" case from a performance perspective unless something is very, very wrong. There are exceptions, such as storefronts that use precisely the same page layout for every page, but these are exceptions, not the rule, and even then, the extra savings in initial page load time just result in a customer sitting there wondering why there's no data on the page, and thinking your site is broken. The real problem is that every web engineer thinks their site is the exception to this rule, but most of those engineers are wrong.

More to the point, if I'm accessing your site often enough to care about performance, I'm going to download your native app instead of using your mobile site, because it will always be much, much more functional, with fewer limitations, more features, and better performance. If I'm going to your website, it's either because I don't care about performance or, more commonly, it is because your native app is missing features that are only on the full version of your site. Giving me a mobile version won't help with the second case, and the first case is largely unimportant for everybody but the site designers who are trying desperately to shave off a few bytes from their data bill.

BTW, it's possible to do a manifested web app (giving you all the advantages of heavy-duty caching of shared content) without using JavaScript for all your navigation. You just specify the base path of the content directory as an external URL (I forget the details) in the web app manifest. This approach is much, much more user-friendly than a SPA in my experience.

about two weeks ago
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California Property Tax Exemptions For Solar Energy Systems Extended To 2025

dgatwood Re:Property Tax? (76 comments)

But the cost of providing those services isn't the same. First, the probability of a forest fire is roughly proportional to the area of land, because lightning doesn't care.

You are missing a key point. the land does not disappear if one person owns 50 acres or if 50 people own 1 acre each right next to each other. It is still there and still costs the same. Like you said, lightning doesn't care.

No, you are missing a key point. If it costs a million dollars to protect a city block that contains 50 homes, the cost per home is $20,000 per home. If it costs a million dollars to protect a city block that contains only one home, the cost per home is a million bucks. It is only fair that a homeowner in the second block should pay more, because the cost of defending his or her home is 50 times as much as the cost of defending a home in the first block. The more people that bear the burden, the less the burden for each person. This is just common sense.

Also, from a fire management perspective, the land does disappear if nobody builds on it. So that first house in a rural area imposes a much bigger burden on the system than subsequent homes. Unless there are homes that could eventually be at risk, modern fire management policies typically recommend letting forest fires burn themselves out. The reason fires get out of control is that we've spent decades over-managing forest fires, and we really need to stop doing that, or else they're just going to be worse the next time around.

Not really. Expensive homes are more likely to have high dollar security systems, cameras, and serial numbers recorded. Middle class homes would be a more probable target. Slums of course are still there as opportunity remains and according to the data, people with income of 7.500 or less are victims of theft and violent crimes like assault more than people with incomes over 75k.

Serial numbers don't make much difference if the person pawns it before you detect the theft. And security cameras don't help if the burglar knows they exist, because they'll just wear a mask to hide their faces, and park their car a block away or cover their plate.

Even things like utilities cost more for larger pieces of land, because the utility companies have to run their cables past your property to get to the next potential customer, and the longer your property is, the more it costs to do so. They only get one customer per property, so larger properties effectively raise the installation cost for everyone on your block.

They must do it different where you live. In my neck of the woods, the utility company will come a maximum of 25 feet into the property for their demarcation point. Anything after that and it is up to the property owner to run.

I'm talking about the length of the property, not the depth. And even for the depth, that's only true if there isn't a street behind you. Otherwise, at some point, they're going to have to make at least one run the entire depth of the piece of land to connect over to the next street. The cost to wire an area is proportional to the area. There's just no way to get around that. :-)

Only if you start with incorrect assumptions in the first place. But please tell me, how likely is it that someone would have a million dollar home on 50 acres of land with a falling down shack that someone thinks is stuffed full of goodies? The falling down shack is more likely on less expensive property or maintained. You see, rich people don't like looking at the trash we regular people have to put up with. The shack would likely either be repaired, removed, or replaced before it appears falling down.

Come again? As I said, house fires are inversely proportional to the cost of the home, which is precisely what you said while arguing with me....

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Richard Stallman to Start Fashion Line

dgatwood dgatwood writes  |  about a year ago

dgatwood (11270) writes ""Walking down the halls of MIT, I’d often see my colleagues dressed rather shabbily, and it was then that I decided to do something about it," said Richard Stallman, 60, of Cambridge, MA. So Stallman, a leader in the Free Software community with decades of software design experience, is ready to turn that experience towards a new target: clothing. He is expected to showcase his new line at FOSSCON 2012."
Link to Original Source
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Feds announce bailout of Kit Kat Club

dgatwood dgatwood writes  |  more than 5 years ago

dgatwood (11270) writes "Federal regulators announced today that they have decided to provide a $69 billion bailout to the financially strapped Kit Kat Club. On further questioning, regulators said that dancer Jugs Aplenty was "an American icon who is simply too big to fail" and described the chain of night clubs as "the last bastion of freedom in a sea of scandals and coverups".

The manager of one club spoke with a Slashdot indy reporter under the condition that he remain anonymous. "Things have been kind of tight for us lately. My customers keep telling me that it is hard for them to find the cash to visit nude bars with the economy in the doldrums. This bailout will ensure that Kit Kat Clubs across the nation can continue to provide quality entertainment and live dance shows that help weary investors beat the economic downturn." He went on to say that he could not think of any business more deserving, saying, "I've got a bone to pick with politicians who wasted all those billions of dollars on banks. What good have banks done for our country lately?"

As always, we will keep you abreast of the latest developments as more information becomes available."

Link to Original Source
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NIST Announces Reverse Leap Day

dgatwood dgatwood writes  |  more than 6 years ago

dgatwood (11270) writes "The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced a correction as a result of small errors in leap second calculations arising out of the gradual slowing of the expansion of the universe. At precisely 1:00 A.M. Eastern Daylight Saving Time, the date will skip forward by 24 hours to Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008. Director James Turner described this as the first "reverse leap day" in recorded history. He added that he expected a similar correction each year for at least the next seven years.

Americans are advised to immediately adjust their clocks and calendars forward to April 2nd. Director Turner warned, however, that not all countries in the world have agreed to this change yet. "Americans who regularly interact with people in other countries should expect some minor confusion until this all sorts itself out," Turner said, adding that "We considered simply dropping February 29th, but decided that would be too confusing."

For more information, see the NIST Coordinated Universal Time page at http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/faqs/time.htm."

Journals

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Chronicles of GoDaddy: How not to run an ISP

dgatwood dgatwood writes  |  about 5 years ago

This is a review of the GoDaddy.com ISP. For a brief period of time, I used them for both my SSL certificate provider and my hosting provider. That lasted about a week. This review chronicles my experience with GoDaddy so that others can avoid the same fate.

It's hard to know where to begin when criticizing my experience with GoDaddy. It all started with a GoDaddy SSL certificate that was expiring in mid-August. Things started going wrong when GoDaddy sent me the expiration notice in mid-June. I immediately went to their website to renew. When I got there, I got a message that said I couldn't renew it for three days. I wrote them to complain and their reply basically said, "Yes, you can't renew before a certain date." Three days later, on the day it said I should be able to renew it, it still said I couldn't renew it.

A couple of weeks later, I went back to renew. I submitted a renewal for 9 years and paid for it (almost $270). I thought it was odd that they still hadn't sent out the cert, but I figured it would happen on the billing date for the account.

In the meantime, I decided to try to speed up my website by moving large graphics to shared hosting. Since I had a GoDaddy account already, I added hosting to it. Thankfully, I only paid for two months. While uploading content to the server, I started having weird problems almost immediately, finding that the server would just suddenly block my IP (including pings) for several minutes at a time. I theorized that they were limiting the number of reconnects per minute, so I spread the load out across several IPs and finished my uploading. I did all this over the holiday weekend to minimize impact.

Well, once I had the content on the server, I switched my home server to point to the images on that server. The next night, I tried to view a page full of thumbnail images and it stalled for a very long time. The problem went away after a couple of minutes, so I ignored it. When it happened again the next night, I started becoming concerned. When it happened on the fourth night, I started running a script that requested a tiny 15K image once a minute so that I could characterize the problem.

I contacted GoDaddy at this point, and they blamed my connection. I then reproduced the problem from work (where they have multiple OC-3 connections). I contacted them again. They continued to just say "We can't reproduce this" and actually had the nerve to suggest that I call them when I have the problem. How do you call somebody about a problem that only lasts 2-3 minutes from the start of the hang to the end? That's like telling somebody, "When you see a shooting star, text me so I can look up." Yikes!

Then, it got better. GoDaddy contacted me and said that they couldn't issue my SSL certificate because they now issue them for a maximum of 5 years---this in spite of the fact that their website was perfectly willing to sell me a 9-year certificate. So they started the process of issuing a refund.

A few hours later, they denied the refund. At this point, I wrote them back, chewed them out massively, listing in detail the litany of problems I had experienced with their service, carbon copied the president of GoDaddy, and basically threatened legal action if they didn't fix this mess. They restarted processing of the refund, but continued to refuse to honor the terms of our contract.

Their servers are still performing inadequately, so I plan to drop their service entirely as soon as I figure out where to migrate the files. And my SSL cert no longer comes from GoDaddy. I didn't even wait for my existing cert to expire; I don't want GoDaddy to get the free advertising. It also helps that my new SSL cert provider is free as in beer. I figure it's worth the hassle of renewing the cert annually to save $30 a year.

The bottom line is that I was going to spend about $114/year in hosting and SSL with GoDaddy, but because of their completely inept customer support, I'm now going to spend exactly $0 with them, and I will be spending a fair amount of time over the next few weeks posting detailed, harsh, negative reviews of their hosting service on every site I can find, from FaceBook to Web Hosting Geeks....

If I did my job as well as their customer service reps did their jobs, I would have lost my job after the first day. How, precisely, do these clowns stay in business? And how have they not had their credit card merchant account revoked?

David

P.S. Does anyone know of a web hosting provider that allows SSH, is reasonably reliable, and doesn't claim the rights to produce derivative works based on anything you upload?

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