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In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

el jocko del oeste Re:more info? (441 comments)

Taking the school system's superintendent at his word, it appears that the initial press report got the story wrong. They seized on the incidental but sensational factor: the books that he had authored. And they ignored or were unaware of the real factors that got the whole thing running.

Of course, authorities have been known to change their story in order to coverup things that they find embarrassing. But there's also the tendency of the press to play up the most sensational aspects of a story. So either is plausible at this point.

about two weeks ago

In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

el jocko del oeste Guilty (441 comments)

I read the opening paragraph of his book on Amazon. The man *is* guilty of a crime. Assault and battery on the world of literature!

Really, his stuff is "dark and stormy night" bad. Toss him in jail. No, wait, that's not a severe enough punishment for what he's done. Something more extreme is required. I know, make him teach middle school!

about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Hosting Services That Don't Overreact To DMCA Requests?

el jocko del oeste Re:Nissan computer, is that you? (148 comments)

That would be a trademark claim, not copyright.

(I quibble, therefore I am.)

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Hosting Services That Don't Overreact To DMCA Requests?

el jocko del oeste Re:LMGTFY (148 comments)

Well, vimeo has it wrong. Here is the actual text of the applicable part of the law:

(vi) A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

The possible perjury only applies to the statement that the person sending the notice is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner. It doesn't apply to any other part of the complaint.

about 3 months ago

Unintended Consequences For Traffic Safety Feature

el jocko del oeste Re:OR (579 comments)

Ha, ha. You're such a card.

about 3 months ago

The 69 Words GM Employees Can Never Say

el jocko del oeste Half Right and Half Very Wrong (373 comments)

It comes down to good engineering. Some of the words on the list are pretty reasonable. Telling your engineers not to use terms like apocalyptic and powder keg is fine--those aren't necessary to accurate technical writing. But defect and safety seem like words that an engineer needs. It's hard to believe that GM's engineers didn't object strongly to those restrictions.

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Should Developers Fix Bugs They Cause On Their Own Time?

el jocko del oeste Employee or Business? (716 comments)

The analogy is seriously flawed.

If the builder is running a business and has contracted to build a wall, it may be that the business is obligated to fix problems at no additional cost (depending on the terms of the contract). But the situation is entirely different if the bricklayer is an employee. I don't think that many builders can get away with forcing their employees to perform work on their own time and at their own expense.

Similarly, if a software developer is running a business and has contracted to build a piece of software, there may be contractual obligations for the software business to fix errors at the business' expense. But I'm unaware of any instance of a software developer who is an employee being required to fix errors on the employee's time and at the employee's expense.

about 7 months ago

How To Create Your Own Cryptocurrency

el jocko del oeste Re:I don't get it (203 comments)

Having a nation state to back up your currency isn't necessary. Back in the early 19th century the United States depended primarily on private banks issuing currency (banknotes) on the basis of deposits (hard currency--metal, usually in the form of gold or silver coins). There were problems, like they often over-issued, putting out more banknotes than they should have relative to the deposits. And the banknotes circulated well away from the banks that initially issued them--making it difficult to know if the bank was still solvent.

But it worked. At the macro level it was because people needed some kind of currency to keep the economy rolling and there just wasn't enough coinage to support it. At the micro level, it was all about a kind of group acceptance of the banknotes as being legitimate. Would you accept a particular banknote as payment for something? Well, if you were reasonably certain that the next person down the line would accept it from you, then yes.

Coming back to today, the question to ask is, "Does BitCoin have enough volume of currency in circulation to meet the demand?" Or to rephrase it, "Is the BitCoin money supply sufficient to meet the needs of this particular part of the economy?" If the answer is yes, then there really isn't a reason for other, similar currencies to be created. But if the answer is no, then other currencies might be viable.

about 8 months ago

Stellar Trio Could Put Einstein's Theory of Gravity To the Test

el jocko del oeste Re:Will be interesting ... (106 comments)

It's much easier if you just assume a spherical chicken...

about 8 months ago

4K Ultra HD Likely To Repeat the Failure of 3D Television

el jocko del oeste Re:It's th contrast stupid (559 comments)

Hah! You might as well hope for better content.

about a year ago

How Early Should Kids Learn To Code?

el jocko del oeste Re:logic (299 comments)

Most soccer coaches at the middle school and high school level aren't actually qualified to *teach* soccer. It would be more accurate to say that they run a soccer program: choosing players, arranging a schedule, and running the team during games. The players learn to play soccer in other programs.

Similarly, a teacher with some interest in computers and a basic familiarity with programming can organize and run a set of programming activities. But he or she wouldn't be able to actually *teach* programming at anything more than the most basic level. For the students to get a real education in computer programming you need someone who has a greater depth of knowledge and experience.

With that said, we live in the real world and sometimes we have to take what we can get. It's better to have inexperienced but enthusiastic soccer coaches than shut down the program because more knowledgeable coaches aren't available. And better to give interested kids some exposure to computer programming, even if they have to do most of the real learning on their own.

But if your goal is something greater than that, to really be teaching computer programming in middle and high school, then you're going to have to recruit teachers who know what they're doing--and that includes both the technical material as well as the teaching aspect.

about a year ago

Georgia Cop Issues 800 Tickets To Drivers Texting At Red Lights

el jocko del oeste Re:Officer dickhead is a dickhead. (1440 comments)

Drifting seriously off-topic... But you really don't want to sit at a red light with the clutch in. This will put extra wear and tear on your throw-out bearing and can necessitate an expensive clutch replacement earlier than would otherwise be required.

about a year ago

Middle-Click Paste? Not For Long

el jocko del oeste Re:Why? (729 comments)

I seem to hit it all the time when scrolling with the mouse wheel. If I push a little too hard while scrolling through code, it silently pastes into my source. I've learned to be more careful while scrolling with the wheel. And I know I can remove the capability with a cryptic xinput command. But it would be really nice to just be able to disable it from the GUI.

about a year ago

The Case of the Orca That Killed Its Trainer

el jocko del oeste Re:"Killer whale" (395 comments)

Says someone who clearly doesn't know how to properly prepare human.

I'm still looking for a good humanitarian cook book.

about a year ago

Teenage League of Legends Player Jailed For Months For Facebook Joke

el jocko del oeste Internet Plays Joke on Gullible Readers (743 comments)

If Justin Carter was really arrested and held for four months on the basis of a stupid joke on Facebook, then there's plenty of reason to be outraged. But I've got a feeling that we're not getting the facts. If you Google this story, you'll see that all of the articles are traced back to one short, badly sourced article by KHOU in Houston. There isn't a single independent source for this article that I could find. And nothing from a news organization that might be considered reliable. So maybe Justin Carter is really getting a raw deal and we should be storming the castle. Or maybe the facts are different. Who knows, I'm not even sure that Justin Carter even exists.

about a year ago

NHTSA and DOT Want Your Car To Be Able To Disable Your Cellphone Functions

el jocko del oeste Re:First (405 comments)

It's a risk management question. What is the risk of some behavior and what is the cost of mitigating that risk?

My 13 year-old daughter likes to climb trees. I'll admit to being a bit unnerved seeing her 40 feet up in a tree. But she's cautious, which reduces the risk. And successfully taking on the the challenge adds to her sense of self-confidence and accomplishment, important qualities for a 13 year-old. On balance I find it to be an acceptable risk.

On the other hand, she wears her seat belt each and every time she gets into a car. No exceptions. The benefits of not wearing a seat belt strike me as being minimal. And a failure to wear a seat belt in a crash dramatically increases the risk of serious injury or death. When I do the analysis, skipping the seat belt is not an acceptable risk.

Smartphones provide a more difficult case though, largely because of the wide range of behaviors that they enable. Texting while driving? High risk. Using a navigation app? Modest risk. Listening to music? Low risk, unless you need to interact with the music app in some way, in which case the risk increases-- maybe a little, maybe a lot, depending on the quality of the user interface and what you're trying to do.

And that's just from the driver's perspective. A passenger can do almost anything with a smartphone, short of hitting the driver in the head with it, and not increase the risk of a dangerous crash. All in all, it makes it very difficult to make blanket statements about the risk from smartphones in an automobile. And therefore very difficult to regulate in a reasonable way.

about a year ago

Tracking Whole Colonies Shows Ants Make Career Moves

el jocko del oeste Re:Bees and ants are distantly related... (47 comments)

I haven't read the actual paper yet, but we can draw a few tidbits from the news article and the abstract...

It's not that the results were unexpected or overturn long held theories about ant behavior. But the work produced a couple of interesting and valuable outcomes. First, they demonstrated that they could effectively tag and track ants in an experimental setting. That by itself is notable--it opens up a lot of interesting research opportunities. Second, they analyzed the tracking data to quantify the spatial and temporal interactions of the ants, and in particular, between functional groups of ants. They were able to determine that there were significant cleaner-nurse and cleaner-forager interactions but limited nurse-forager interactions. Not just in a general kind of way, but with real measurements.

about a year and a half ago

Human Rights Watch: Petition Against Robots On the Battle Field

el jocko del oeste Re:It's the same as bio-warfare (275 comments)

We need to deal with autonomous robots the same way we deal with bio-warfare.

By being better at it than anyone else?

about a year and a half ago


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