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Comments

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Activist Group Sues US Border Agency Over New, Vast Intelligence System

fyngyrz Here's what's wrong (again... still) (82 comments)

These laws are toothless. "Must answer within 20 days"... or what? With no one held immediately culpable, the law is precisely meaningless.

Heard of anyone going to jail for this?

Heard of anyone paying a fine for this?

Even heard of anyone losing their job for this?

Compare: If you don't do something the government desires you to do, there will be consequences.

This is just like the constitution: "Highest law in the land" -- violate it -- as SCOTUS and congress have done over and over -- and the consequences? Nothing.

Just so you taxpayers know your place. The laws aren't for the government. Those are just laws "for show." The real laws are just for you. Because, you know, they care about you.

4 days ago
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Wearable Robot Adds Two Fingers To Your Hand

fyngyrz The octopus problem (77 comments)

How many of us have tried to do something and wished we had (at least) a third hand?

I would pay a *lot* for a third hand, as I do a lot of my own construction work (building an interior into an old church we now live in.)

I can't even guess at the number of times I've had to wait until I had someone at my side to hold, turn, twist, drill, cut, brace, etc.

This stuff is great to hear. Love the idea of extra fingers.

Although it does put me strangely in mind of that scene in Heavy Metal where a robot, after having "done" a very sexy human female, spins his fingers around with a "whiiizzz", while commenting something on the order of "human woman love sex with mechanical assistance" lol

about a week ago
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Math, Programming, and Language Learning

fyngyrz Re: Equating language to math is insulting (241 comments)

For most programmers, recursion seems to be a tool to completely -- but unpredictably -- blow out the stack. Cynical, I know, but that's been my experience.

Although I gotta tell ya, one of my favorite recursive things is a particular area fill routine for rectangular pixels. Simple and beautiful. Just elegant as all get out. Once I understood how it does what it does, it was like someone washed my mental windshield with Windex. That was a great day. :)

about a week ago
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Math, Programming, and Language Learning

fyngyrz Re:I disagree (241 comments)

Yep. One of the things you discovered is that your school was one of the (many, many) schools that are horrible at teaching things, and in particular, math. Welcome to the real world. :)

So... how's your luck been in convincing employers (if you go that way) that your Coursera work is worthy of qualifying you for jobs?

about a week ago
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Math, Programming, and Language Learning

fyngyrz That's not a toad, it's a frog. Or a butterfly? (241 comments)

I'm going to go with this:

The vast majority of programming is fairly simple manipulation of states and symbols, which are themselves a small subset of numbers. yes and no are 1 and 0, etc.

The way those manipulations work together quickly becomes very complex.

You can do a boatload of things with just that knowledge. Entire video games. Many types of process control and dedicated controllers. Most reasonable scripting jobs, most "webby" stuff, database stuff, etc.

But then adding some knowledge of math, in the purely technical sense, gives us more symbols to manipulate, and more ways to manipulate them, and this, like any major skills enhancement, definitely makes you a better programmer. Some mid-level math concepts -- very simple in nature, actually -- amplify what you can do so much it's just amazing.

I suspect -- I can't actually tell you because my math is only mediocre to fairly good, nor have I ever knowingly come in contact such a person -- that *really* advanced math skills combined with *really* advanced programming skills (which I can lay claim to) would combine to create a true monster programmer.

But...

I think there's something about the essentially concrete nature of programming, and the incredibly abstract nature of higher math, that makes these dual-facet powerhouses the rarest of the rare. In my experience -- admittedly, just one person's career -- serious math heads tend to be pretty lousy programmers. Lots of bugs, poor structure, little to no sensitivity to shortcuts and loading. Then really great programmers seem to be only sorta capable with math (although what they can do with what they have tends to be quite surprising.) Just an IMHO based on my experience. Something I've found interesting enough to contemplate many times. Having said that, I sure would like to meet Mr. or Ms. combination-o-both. :)

about a week ago
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ChickTech Brings Hundreds of Young Women To Open Source

fyngyrz Re:many girls are brought up to believe that (158 comments)

It's not about numbers. And it's not about validity. It's about manufacturing PC/media panics and distracting the public from real problems by fomenting pointless opposition on non-issues.

about two weeks ago
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ChickTech Brings Hundreds of Young Women To Open Source

fyngyrz Excellent! (158 comments)

I'm all for open source women (girls, chicks, Ms's, whatever the PC term is today, sigh). I can think of just an issue or two I'd like to reprogram.

Wait, what? That's not...

Never mind then.

about two weeks ago
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Why the FCC Is Likely To Ignore Net Neutrality Comments and Listen To ISPs

fyngyrz More like Captain Clueless (140 comments)

Well, let's see how "shocked" you are when the "well-reasoned, evidence-backed, meaty, professional arguments" result in your surfing becoming a lot slower, and any websites YOU decide to publish somehow don't get much traffic, because people won't wait on slow websites, as is well known. Yeah, I'll bet you'll just be happy as a clam with that, won't you? You won't see any evidence of the system being broken then, either, will you? Clearly, the problem will resolve itself you only just educate yourself a little more (presumably with what benefits the corps, and not you.)

Sure. Brilliant.

about two weeks ago
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Why the FCC Is Likely To Ignore Net Neutrality Comments and Listen To ISPs

fyngyrz Re:time for a car analogy (140 comments)

Which is exactly what he gave them. What is an engine rated in? Horsepower. Eats less hay, though, and doesn't crap directly on the street.

about two weeks ago
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Why the FCC Is Likely To Ignore Net Neutrality Comments and Listen To ISPs

fyngyrz Re:No shit really? (140 comments)

Yep. Just like the rest of the government. Citizen input is an illusion at best, and even then, only one that takes in the highly gullible and blindly nationalistic.

And to the mods: The A/C's comment was harshly sarcastic, but that is entirely appropriate in this circumstance. Modding the A/c (parent) comment down is stupid. It's topical, accurate, and to the point. Mod it back up. Mod mine down instead if you must mod something down just to vent your spleens, or whatever your problem is.

about two weeks ago
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The Last Three Months Were the Hottest Quarter On Record

fyngyrz English. So much fun. (552 comments)

When the word "globally" is used in context with a subject that directly affects the globe, it's not a metaphor for (local) completeness, it means "everywhere on the globe." This is basic English.

It's been a consistently cool and wet spring and summer in the northern plains of the USA. This data is relative to the region of the northern plains, and is comprehensive within that region, but not globally. This data cannot, by itself, be interpreted as a global indicator, regardless of if it agrees or disagrees with the global data. One would not say "It has been globally cool and wet" based upon data for the northern plains.

Global climate data (you know, for the globe) will include data from all regions of the globe in order to determine a global average weather datum of any kind -- temperature, rainfall, etc. Anything less is regional. "It has been regionally cool and wet in the US northern plains this spring and summer."

about two weeks ago
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Texas Town Turns To Treated Sewage For Drinking Water

fyngyrz Re:Seems fitting, being Texas is NASA's home (242 comments)

Let me just say that, if you offer a trip to space as the companion event to drinking this water, I will drink and I will go. :)

about two weeks ago
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Texas Town Turns To Treated Sewage For Drinking Water

fyngyrz Re:Ewww... (242 comments)

What you need, son, is a homeopathic cure for your gullibility.

about two weeks ago
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The First Person Ever To Die In a Tesla Is a Guy Who Stole One

fyngyrz Re:Hi speed chase, hum? (443 comments)

Evolution doesn't deal with life or death

You lack a realistic understanding of evolution, I'm afraid. Time for some remedial study.

about two weeks ago
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The First Person Ever To Die In a Tesla Is a Guy Who Stole One

fyngyrz Re:Hi speed chase, hum? (443 comments)

This time only the bad guy died, but even him did not deserve capital punishment for a car jack ...

Nature -- specifically evolution -- disagrees. You don't get a vote.

about two weeks ago
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The First Person Ever To Die In a Tesla Is a Guy Who Stole One

fyngyrz Good riddance (443 comments)

So Tesla's anti-theft system is 100% lethal?

No, but evolution's anti-massive-stupidity system is pretty lethal. Less so nowadays, but... still.

"Hey, think I'll drive triple digits in a randomly active urban environment in a vehicle I'm not familiar with, while (justifiably) paranoid!"

about two weeks ago
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Asteroid Mining Bill Introduced In Congress To Protect Private Property Rights

fyngyrz Re:This is great and all... (181 comments)

Also, in case you hadn't noticed, congress does pretty much whatever it wants of late. Interstate commerce? nah... Intrastate commerce is so much more fun to regulate. Warrants to search? nah... so much more fun to just search as is convenient. Property rights? nah... they'll take your land for commercial reuse, it's potentially much more profitable. Ex post facto law? nah... sometimes, that's just the thing. Shall make no law? Oh HELL no. Rights that shall not be infringed? Oh, ho ho ho, isn't that quaint.

"Jurisdiction" ... what a funny old word. :)

about two weeks ago
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Asteroid Mining Bill Introduced In Congress To Protect Private Property Rights

fyngyrz Re:This is great and all... (181 comments)

...but it should also be pointed out that when you bring said mined assets back into the USA, congress does have jurisdiction, and that's what this law primarily addresses, although it may also have direct implications for how US government crewed spacecraft will treat US citizen or corporation owned spacecraft carrying cargo.

about two weeks ago
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Asteroid Mining Bill Introduced In Congress To Protect Private Property Rights

fyngyrz Re:Bullshit (181 comments)

So, you believe if I can take it from you by force, it's mine?

You should really read more carefully. Overzeetop said "get it and defend it."

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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RRAM poses challenge to FLASH memory market

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  about a year ago

fyngyrz (762201) writes "RRAM, a long-awaited alternative to other memory technologies that can retain data while powered down, has finally reached manufacturing. With higher data density, 3D stacking on chip (not chip-on-chip, but layer-on layer), lower power, more longevity, RRAM seems poised to drive electronic storage considerably forward. If initial designs use the current interfaces, we could see some immediate performance gains (RRAM is quite a bit faster than flash) as well as increased data capacities. Of course, no one needs more than... oh, never mind."
Link to Original Source
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Samsung releases source code for NX300 and NX2000 mirrorless cameras

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  about a year ago

fyngyrz (762201) writes "There are already powerful third-party software mods for cameras such as magic lantern, but as far as I know, they're all reverse-engineering efforts, and have been somewhat hamstrung because of that. Samsung, in offering the source code to these two cameras, may have tapped a golden vein. I'm a Canon user, but upon learning this, I immediately began to consider Samsung as a 2nd camera."
Link to Original Source
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Twitter sells two years of user data, tweets

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 2 years ago

fyngyrz writes "Thought those tweets had settled back into anonymity, or that they weren't being kept for long? Ooops. Turns out that Twitter has sold a huge database of several years tweets to a marketing company, which in turn has quite a list of customers ready to data-mine the trove of remarks about, well, everything."
Link to Original Source
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FAA Bill Authorizes Surveillance Drones over US

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 2 years ago

fyngyrz writes "Congress passed a bill this week that makes it easier for the government to fly unmanned spy planes in U.S. airspace. One wonders if those gentle souls who find it so entertaining to shoot road signs will enjoy this intriguing new opportunity."
Link to Original Source
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Time Travel in our lifetimes?

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 2 years ago

fyngyrz writes "If space travel is the final frontier, then what is time travel?

Einstein showed that mass and energy are the same thing. The time machine we’ve designed uses light in the form of circulating lasers to warp or loop time.

In Einstein’s theory it turns out that not only matter such as the Earth can create gravity but also light. It is the energy of light that creates gravity. Consequently, since time is affected by gravity and light can create gravity due to its energy then light can also affect time."

Link to Original Source
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Legal Tender? Maybe not.

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 2 years ago

fyngyrz writes "Lousiana has passed a bill that says people may no longer use cash for second hand transactions. The idea being to make all transactions traceable, thus foiling copper theft, etc. This move has profound implications that range from constitutional rights to bitcoin, Craigslist and so forth; I wonder if there are any slashdotters at all that support such a move."
Link to Original Source
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Costdom of Speech

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 3 years ago

fyngyrz (762201) writes "Philadelphia decides that bloggers must pay $300 for a "license." Again, government, this time at a city level, interprets "shall make no law" as "hey, boys, let's make a law!" The first — and the fourteenth — amendment specifically say this is not allowable government behavior."
Link to Original Source
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In THIS house... FTL fields and currents. Really!

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fyngyrz (762201) writes "So you think of electrons like dominoes in a wire. Push on the one in the end, the others react one after another. Pretty vanilla physics. Further, because the electrons are moving, you get magnetic effects, radio, etc. Good stuff. So. What if you move all the "dominos" at once? Put your virtual hand on all of them, and push them over. They're not moving sequentially any longer. They move together. At any speed you can make them go. Well, that's what these researchers are doing — "pushing" all along a conductor at once, able to make a signal go — ready? — FTL. Fascinating stuff. And it may explain pulsars."
Link to Original Source
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Copyright sure... but what about "feel"?

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

fyngyrz writes "After securing copyright permission to use the Romantic's song "What I Like About You", the publisher of the game "Guitar Hero" is being sued by the band because "the company has infringed the group's right to its own image and likeness" because the cover song is so similar to the original version.

They're seeking an injunction against the game, which could do some real sales damage during the holiday season if granted.

Now, speaking as a musician, I'm right with the program when people say copyright is flawed, but... has this band fallen off the edge here?"

Link to Original Source
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Climate change science; taking a closer look.

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

fyngyrz writes "Climate change, global warming. Done deal, right? Not so fast:

A study has been submitted for publication in the journal Energy and Environment which actually looks at the level of support in the scientific community. From the results: "Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers "implicit" endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis." It is very interesting to see how neutral (and properly so!) the scientific community actually remains when it comes to anthropocentric global warming.

Are we seeing the pendulum swing back to a rational position?"

Link to Original Source
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fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 7 years ago

fyngyrz writes "As always, there are rumbles of discontent from the scientific community with regard to global warming. This article from R. Timothy Patterson, professor and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, lays the overriding mechanism of climate change squarely at the feet of the various solar cycles. In the article, he explains that solar energy impacting the earth is part of the mechanism, while the sun's solar wind drives cloud formation in a complementary cycle that enhances the effect of the actual heat input. But that's not the kicker. The interesting part is he is predicting global cooling, rather than warming."
Link to Original Source
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fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 7 years ago

fyngyrz writes "Looks like Mars is warming just as fast as we are. Unfortunately, it's a little more difficult to whip the public into a frenzy of guilt over emissions when even the most daft rank and file citizen will figure out that our CO2 excess doesn't make it to Mars under any circumstances, and so the discovery doesn't bode well for the CO2 alarmists.

Looks like we might be back to terrorists, panicking over each others morals, and legislating personal choices for the entertainment of the day."

Journals

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Why no recent journal entries?

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Because I have a blog at http://fyngyrz.com/.

It kind of makes the whole journal thing redundant. If you really want to see what I have to say about random things, by all means, you're invited to the blog. If not, well, it seems you're in substantial company, if nothing else. :)

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One of those poignant losses

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

18th October, 2007, we lost a dear old friend, a (mostly) Siamese cat yclept "Gwai-loh." Gwai was quite vocal, as are many Siamese; he also had some strange characteristics, for instance you could hold him upside-down on the ceiling and he would walk around - inverted - for as long as you were willing to hold him up there. For years, we kept him around the office, and he had a habit of coming up for affection when whoever he was approaching was on the phone. So he'd come up to you, get right up to your face (and the phone) and let loose with a really loud meow. Which you would then have to explain to the customer. One time I was on the phone with a rather famous Hollywood special effects dude when Gwai let loose with this, we had a good laugh over it. Eventually, we put up a web page on our site with a .wav of Gwai's signature meow, and a picture of him staring at a screensaver on a ginormous (for the time) monitor. A surprising amount of the code in WinImages was written with Gwai warm and settled either in my lap or across my arms.

Well, eventually, the old boy's liver failed, and I put out a rather startling amount of money to see if we could get around that, and amazingly enough, it worked. We got two more years of Gwai, all of it of quite high quality, before he finally laid down for the last time. His last couple of days were spent purring and head bumping while all the while refusing to eat or drink... finally, he just didn't wake up.

I miss him terribly. Sometimes it hits me right between the eyes and I can't even think straight. I can't dig over a decade and a half of unconditional love and affection out of my system with any amount of rationalization or any other flavor of self-bullshittery. Here's to my grizzled old friend. I only hope he knew how much I loved him in return.

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Mouseovers - as bad as popups?

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Is anyone else as annoyed as I am by words and phrases in web articles that pop up boxes because my mouse pointer happened to cross them, temporarily hiding the content I was reading in the first place? I didn't click on anything, and consequently, I don't want a context change. I find these annoying to the point of noting what the site is and not going back. Anyone else feel the same? Anyone have a defense of the practice?

I went to this article today to read it in response to a slashdot posting, and managed to accidentally activate the wireless mouseover / popup as I was reading. Bam. Content hidden, thought stream interrupted. Isn't this essentially popups, revisited?

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Cold War, Version II

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

So I wake up this morning, and Putin has dissolved his government.

Then, same morning, Russia announces a bomb with nuclear-level destructive capability. But they say they're not escalating.

Then, later the same day, the US announces they have a matter-antimatter (proton/positron) annihilation laser, which, they say, is to normal lasers as nuclear weapons are to normal bombs.

At the same time, Bush, old "We'll never pull 'em out", is about to announce a troop pullback in Iraq.

Oil's hovering around $80 a barrel. The dollar is in the outhouse, and we've basically had many of our civil rights eliminated or made irrelevant.

Did I miss something here?

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More on Global Temperature Change

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  about 7 years ago

As always, there are rumbles of discontent from the scientific community with regard to global warming. This article (vile email registration required) from R. Timothy Patterson, professor and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, lays the overriding mechanism of climate change squarely at the feet of the various solar cycles. In the article, he explains that solar energy impacting the earth is part of the mechanism, while the sun's solar wind drives cloud formation in a complementary cycle that enhances the effect of the actual heat input. But that's not the kicker. The interesting part is he is predicting global cooling, rather than warming.

But wait; there's more. This months Discover Magazine (print version also) has a lengthy article about this same mechanism, that is, cloud formation driving the climate and the sun driving cloud formation by way of modulating the effect cosmic rays have, by Henrik Svensmark, the 49-year-old director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen.

Svensmark says that we are in a warming trend, so his conclusions are at odds with those of Patterson; but they both agree that CO2 isn't nearly the looming threat that it has been made out to be with regard to climate change.

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Montana surprises us again, this time on Eminent Domain

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Recently, Montana legislators made news when they passed legislation outlawing Real-ID, calling it a threat to privacy and liberty. Now, legislation making the taking of property by eminent domain for the purposes of increasing tax revenues illegal has been passed and signed into law by Montana's governor. For more on why this is a serious issue, check out the Supreme Court's "Kelo" decision, named after a Connecticut woman who (unsuccessfully) fought to keep her home from city plans to arbitrarily take it and subsequently turn it over to private developers with the objective of collecting higher tax revenues from the property.

Montana has a 2% unemployment rate at present, and maintains a balanced budget, something the feds might want to give some consideration to. I have to say that although I am typically very cynical about government, and although Montana has made some very serious mis-steps in terms of liberties in the last few decades, the state seems more interested in doing the right thing than the wrong thing at this point in time, and I am feeling very pleased with my representatives right now as a long-time resident.

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Has Apple made a costly miss-step?

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 7 years ago

With the recent news about cellphone activity allegedly being the underlying cause for the sudden loss of large numbers of bees, an insect that forges an absolutely critical and irreplaceable part of the food chain, is Apple's iPhone doomed to enter the market just as cell phones face severe clampdowns, or even wholesale replacement?

Cell phones operate at microwave frequencies for a pretty good reason; basically, microwaves enable small equipment. They also do a decent job of penetrating many types of structures, if not through the walls, then at least through the windows. However, there are other frequencies available, lower frequencies that have been busy for many decades without any significant observed effect on bees or other life. People already understand how useful cell phones are, and there are manufacturers with significant experience in VHF radio, to name one technically possible replacement band — so an interesting market shake-up is certainly feasible. Excellent VHF transceivers are marketed by amateur radio manufacturers, for example.

Normally, we would assume that an established, profitable market similar to the cellphone market would be stable and have a long, healthy life expectancy based on the functionality offered to the market. However, if the bees go, we will too - and that, ladies and gentleman, is an outcome that not even Steve Job's legendary reality distortion field can deal with.

Perhaps Apple should get back to working on OSX, and forget the iPhone. I have this nagging feeling that the iPhone is going to be this year's "politically incorrect" device. I know I've stopped using my cellphone for anything but emergency calls; how about you? Seen any bees lately?

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My Mac finally crashed.

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 7 years ago

I bought my daily-driver Mac, a mini, pretty much when the PowerPC mini was released. I was tempted beyond belief by that form factor, and the price. I loaded it; a gig of ram, bluetooth, wifi, modem, big drive (for the day), the superdrive, and so forth. I bought every option because the more that was jammed into the box, the more I liked the form factor. I know it's a little weird, but there you have it.

Since then, I've used the little box daily, for just about everything. It's been powered up since I bought it (thanks to a UPS.) This year, a couple of months ago, I bought a Mac laptop - a top of the line 17" Mac Pro - but I still use the mini every day. I've rebooted the mini many times, almost always in response to an Apple upgrade or security modification, once when I went from 10.3 to 10.4, never as an attempt to fix a problem. I've never had any problems of that kind, frankly.

Today, without any particular warning, my Mac dimmed the screen, locked my mouse and keyboard, popped a black rectangle up which informed me in no uncertain terms that I needed to reboot. Now. I lost a long post I had been writing for Kuro5hin.org, and I failed to even reach the level of being annoyed about that because it was just so astonishing to me that the mini had actually - gulp - crashed.

I just want to say that I hadn't even realized that my expectations had been silently and sneakily leveraged to be so astonishingly high. After years of being screwed with, and over, by Microsoft operating systems, I no longer expect that an OS should, or will, crash. Massive kudos to Apple.

...and my little PPC mini came right back up, and yes, I'm using it right now, and I still don't expect it to crash. :) I was using a beta version of a web browser and my guess is it was just a little too beta.

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Best slashdot comment ever encountered

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  about 9 years ago Best slashdot comment, ever:

Russia's Biggest Spammer Brutally Murdered

Posted by timothy on Monday July 25, @11:48AM
from the but-what's-the-motive-detective-columbo? dept.
Karellen !-P writes "Vardan Kushnir, a notorious russian spammer who headed the English learning centers, the Center for American English, the New York English Centre and the Centre for Spoken English, was found dead in his Moscow apartment on Sunday, Interfax reported Monday. He died after suffering repeated blows to the head."
----------------------------------------
Should have opted out. (Score:5, Funny)
by Tackhead (54550) on Monday July 25, @11:54AM
(#13157866)
> He died after suffering repeated blows to the head.
From a hidden microphone at the scene of the murder:

"You are receiving *WHAM* this blow to the head *WHAM* because you are part of a *WHAM* specially-selected list of *WHAM* people who agreed to receive *WHAM* blows to the head *WHAM*.

To stop *WHAM* receiving these *WHAM* blows to the head, please *WHAM* email us at no-more-please@optout.blowtothehead. com and *WHAM* we will remove you from our list of *WHAM* blow-to-the-head-club members *WHAM* (heh, we said "club"!) *WHAM* within 24 to 48 hours.

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Slashdot needs some fixes

fyngyrz fyngyrz writes  |  more than 9 years ago Slashdot is fun and useful and all, but there are some pretty annoying problems with the site. They constantly come up in an "off topic" manner, and consequently get (sort-of) appropriately modded down - this journal submission is intended to give them a legitimate home. I submitted it as a story, but - of course - it was rejected.

These are the things that seem most obvious to me, but I am sure there are others, given how annoying the issues I have in mind are to me. Please feel free to add your thoughts to all this, shoot my ideas down, whatever.

Moderation is anonymous

I say this is a Very Bad Thing. You can compare this to Kuro5hin, where you can easily see who did what to whom. Moderation with accountability allows anyone to see when a vendetta is being pursued, or when someone is systematically modding a subject down because they disagree, rather than because the issue is actually off-topic, a flame and so forth. I cannot begin to count the number of comments I have seen that have been modded down because they were contraversial, as opposed to offtopic, flamebait, or whatever else the down-mod claimed they were. The site's editors are also anonymous and that provides a hidden power structure which isn't a particularly good thing in any venue. I have read multiple claims that this poster or that poster cannot get mod points "because they modded something [a slashdot luminary] posted some time ago." If this is an illusion, exposing who did what to whom will in turn expose the illusion. If it is not an illusion, then exposing what happened should reduce the problem, because such action would rightfully be condemned by readers if it is inappropriate. I find the idea that the site's editors might be sneaking around and quietly muzzling moderators in a punitive manner more than a little disturbing.

So my first suggestion here is simply to lose moderation anonymity. My second is that if and when mod capability is removed from a user, the date of, and reason for, that action be posted right in their user page.

Many - perhaps even most - down mods are punitive or inappropriate

I suggest that the meta-moderation process be adjusted to include the ability to flag down-mods as obviously inappropriate, and to remove moderation privileges from those who commit such down-mods, as well as the down-mods themselves.

Up-mods don't need metamoderation

I suggest the outright removal of metamoderation of up-mods; if someone considers something interesting (or whatever) positive characteristic, who are we to say that this isn't so? That's the moderator's take on the comment, and up-moderation is a (very limited) opportunity for a moderator to "uplift" the story to the rest of us based on that perception. Upmods aren't harmful the way down-mods are - quite the contrary - and it seems to me to be a complete waste of time to metamoderate upmods for that very reason.

With mod points so scarce (and I agree they should be) we are forced to pick the things we really appreciate to up-mod. I rarely see an honest need to down-mod (obvious "first post" and gay/nigger trolls excepted), but I simply do not see a need to counter an up-mod. Someone thinks this, that or the other thing is insightful or interesting or sexy or whatever? Ok, that's at least notable - and that is exactly what an up-moderated and hence higher point comment does, it becomes more notable - not more interesting, not more insightful, but more notable. It might not actually seem that the applied moderation is accurate to us on reading the modded comment, but it is interesting that so-and-so (or at least "someone", if moderator anonymity remains preserved) thought it was worthy of a mod point. Comments can argue the issue if a poster is so motivated, and that seems like plenty of recourse to me. We see this all the time anyway; why not simply make it the official means of argument with an upmod?

Metamoderation is a scarce resource - put it where it does the most good

The removal of up-mod metamoderation could allow multiple meta-moderation of down-mods so that a reasonable, multi-user consensus that a down-mod is innapropriate can be reached. It seems to me that it should not be a light thing to say that someone is abusing the moderation system; you want to be reasonably certain. A meta objection to a down mod should cause that down-mod to immediately rear its ugly little head in a bunch of other meta-moderation queues so that consensus can be reached - and then corrective action taken if the mod is widely deemed inappropriate. This last point is important: It is a real shame that reasonable posts are permanently lost to the default view because some moderator was being a twit.

Fix the comment point system

There are several things wrong with this area of the site. The first is simply exposure, like authorship of moderation. Anyone who looks at the summary of points in a profile and tries to figure out what happened to a heavily moderated comment in a story is doomed to failure. It's Byzantine at best, and opaque and threatening at worst. Expose it.

Next, The math behind up/down mods is bizarre, to say the least. At a minimum, fix it so it is linear; or if not, then at least expose each and every mod point and show what it did to the story (along with the inflicting member - again, see Kuro5hin for a nice example of how this should be done.) Of course, if only this is done, an outcry will probably arise to fix the math, for the obvious reasons. :)

Expand the moderation choices

I have also seen lots of very good suggestions for additional moderation reasons. I'd like to see the readership discuss that here and perhaps a poll be subsequently created to see which new moderations should actually be added.

Story submission is entirely in italics

How is one expected to visually check the HTML of a story if the story preview enforces italics for the entire body? Why not use dark blue on white, and let italics flow according to the story tags so we can actually see what we're writing? You know, that radical new concept, "WYSIWYG"?

Sign the Polls

Stories are signed so we know who to thank (or blame) for the story. Sign the polls too. As I write this, there is a poll up for "favorite writing instrument" and the poll fails to include "keyboard" as an option. Somebody should have some digital egg on their face for that one. Maybe accountability will result in better quality polls. One can hope, anyway!

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