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Robot Printer Brings Documents To Your Desk

jc42 Re:Better Idea (64 comments)

But you can't then just leave the printed document in the tray. That's not secure. You need to have a shredding module attached so that after the email is sent the original can be destroyed.

Well, maybe, but neither the sender nor the recipient knows anything about the various other addresses that have received a copy of the document, plus information on the send/receive times.

It's not clear how any of this could be made secure to either party's satisfaction. If the printer can decode the document and make a legible copy, it can also forward the electronic version of that copy (and/or the decoding keys) to a third party.

3 days ago

Study: Social Networks Have Negative Effect On Individual Welfare

jc42 Re:"Moderation?" Don't you mean "Censorship?" (75 comments)

Call me cynical, but I just don't see Facebook adopting a sane moderation system, like for example anything that approximates slashcode. Their equivalent of "moderation" would better resemble censorship. They would simply hide the thoughts and comments they don't think you would like. Of course, it would be for your own good...

It's likely that a portion of the story is something that we also see here on /.: None of them really support anything that might be called a true "discussion". The reason both here and FB and the other "social media" is the approach of having a running string of "latest" topics, which quickly scroll off the bottom and out of sight. If you don't happen to see a thread in the first hour or so, you generally won't ever see it, and won't contribute to it. So, except for a few rabid topics like religion or partisan politics, where a small group can have fun running it out to thousands of rephrasings of each person's personal views, most discussion threads are typically shallow, and peter out at a depth in the single digits.

I've talked to a number of people here who express disappointment at how shallow the /. discussions usually are. They start of hoping to find in-depth analyses that point them to information that they hadn't run across or noticed. But they're disappointed with most of the threads, which only repeat a few things that those familiar with the topic already know, and then the threads just stop.

FB is quite a lot worse this way than /., of course. I've been on it for some years, and I've never noticed a "discussion" that got to depth greater than 3. I'm sure they exist; I've just never seen them. And a lot of my friends are quite well-informed "geeks" who in person can engage in long discussions. Why don't they do this on FB? Well, they may try, but quickly learn that few people ever read, much less reply to, their comments. Over here, we do sometimes get a bit deeper than that, and I've seen a lot of good information here at depth 5 or 6. But still, that's not very deep as discussions go.

I've seen much better (i.e., deeper and more informative) discussions on nearly every mailing list I've been on. If you want actual informative, socially interactive discussions, that's a noticeably better model for a forum's structure.

But the "social media" is primarily just an electronic form of the old "see and be seen" sort of social event. Such things have always been known as shallow and uninformative, although they can be fun if populated by the right crowd.

3 days ago

Scientists Craft Seamless 2D Semiconductor Junctions

jc42 Re:Two dimensional? (49 comments)

... We live in a 3 dimensional world any solid objects existing in this world has 3 dimensions>

Or, as some physicists like to argue, we actually live in an 11-dimensional space, but in 8 of them, the universe is only one particle or so thick, so we can usually get away with pretending that we're living in a 3-dimensional world.

(And that's ignoring the time dimension of it all. Lessee; how many of those are there? ;-)

5 days ago

DEA Paid Amtrak Employee To Pilfer Passenger Lists

jc42 independent verification? (127 comments)

Maybe it's just a case of what the news industry calls "independent verification". Of course, the way it typically works is that the original source X passes copies to friends Y and Z, who slightly paraphrase the wording and send it in to the news organization through different channels. X, Y and Z then all get paid for their work. Governmental information agencies have long understood how this "verification" process works.

about three weeks ago

Online Tool Flagged Ebola Outbreak Before Formal WHO Announcement

jc42 Re:Ok so it flagged the current outbreak (35 comments)

In other words how many false positives were output along with this?

And how many false negatives?

And true negatives. Why don't we ever hear those reported? Why is this kept a secret?

(Actually, I did once see a news spoof for a "Good News Only" program. It had a long list of people and places that had no disasters of any sort happening. Somehow the idea has never caught on. ;-)

about three weeks ago

Idiot Leaves Driver's Seat In Self-Driving Infiniti, On the Highway

jc42 Re:What a jackass (406 comments)

While an impressive tech display, it simply highlights why I don't trust fully automated driver systems, ESPECIALLY as the only control system.

How so? I didn't see anying that says that. The video just ends suddenly, after the warning not to bump the steering wheel. But there was nothing I could see that said anything went wrong. It seems to be a video showing a perfectly functioning "self-driving car", despite the warning. Did something happen after the end of the video?

about a month ago

Idiot Leaves Driver's Seat In Self-Driving Infiniti, On the Highway

jc42 Re:the headline was almost (406 comments)

"idiot dies in a fiery wreck after climbing out of driver's seat, bumping steering wheel"

Well, I was wondering about that. What happened to him? After the buildup, and the warning not to bump the steering wheel, we see him bump the steering wheel -- and the video just ends. Did it crash? Did it continue down the road? Did it slow to a stop? I don't see any clue, and none of the comments seem to mention this.

Everyone seems to be calling him an idiot, but how do we know that he didn't just continue riding to his destinatiion? What am I missing?

about a month ago

Countries Don't Own Their Internet Domains, ICANN Says

jc42 Re:The bashing is sometimes justified... (113 comments)

I can also show a swastika on my U.S.-hosted site and criticize public officials without fear of ridiculously heavy-handed libel/defamation laws. And don't even get me started with the bullshit cultural and language laws in France. It's amazing anything gets done in that country at all.

Oh, I dunno; I've seen any number of sites similar to this one, whose information is mirrored at zillions of locations on the web, including many outside the US. There are historical and cultural reasons for including the symbols at code points 534D and 5350 in Unicode, and I doubt that anyone has ever been prosecuted for installing full Unicode charsets or lookup software on their web sites.

I haven't looked for such pages on French sites, but I'd be surprised if they don't exist (with the text in French rather than English), and I'd also be surprised if the French government has tried to suppress such character codes in the Uncode lookups.

It's possible that such things has happened and I just haven't read about them. Does anyone know of cases of official harrassment for including pages like the above on a web site? For example, has any Islamic or other religious government ever harrassed people for allowing the U+271D char code on a web page?

(And yes, I do have a couple of experimental dictionaries on my own web sites, including one dealing with Chinese characters which includes an entry for the swastika characters. Nobody has even suggested that these glyphs shouldn't be there. Possibly it's because nobody has ever looked at my dictionaries, but still ... ;-)

about a month ago

Siberian Discovery Suggests Almost All Dinosaurs Were Feathered

jc42 Re:Dang... (139 comments)

Interesting. Science is wrong, and "creationist parks" get the blame.

Hmmm ... This isn't really a case of scientists being wrong. The old images of dinosaurs have generally been "artists' interpretations" of the evidence, and scientists generally agreed that they had little evidence of the outer appearance of dinosaurs. Skin and other soft tissues don't fossilize too well, and we haven't had many samples until recently.

And the idea that birds are close relatives of or descended from dinosaurs isn't new. It was suggested by none other than Charles Darwin himself, based on similarities in the skeletons. Many of his colleagues agreed, but they even more agreed with the reply "Yeah, that's certainly interesting; can you find us some better evidence?" The situation stayed that way until the 1970s or so, because birds don't fossilize well. New fossil discoveries finally supplied enough evidence so that in the 1980s, the birds got officially reclassified as a branch of the dinosaurs.

But it was still well understood that there were a lot of loose ends, and Further Research Is Needed. Were feathers a development of the birds, for flight? Or had their non-flying ancestors had feathers, perhaps for insulation? The evidence wasn't nearly good enough, and it was left as an open question. Over the past decade or so, the evidence has trickled in, and this report seems to be filling in the gap. People who've followed the story aren't surprised; they're just happy to read about the evidence.

In any case, it never was a case of "Scientists thought that dinosaurs didn't have any sort of fur or feathers, but they've been proven wrong". It was more like "We didn't have the evidence, since feathers don't fossilize well, and now we've collected enough evidence that we can be pretty sure that those old artistic interpretations reptilian dinosaurs with bare skin were inaccurate; most of them (except the largest) probably did have feathers." This isn't considered a criticism of the artists, of course, since they didn't have evidence either, and many of them stated repeatedly that most of their drawings included a large shovel-full of conjecture. It was expected that, as evidence trickled in, they'd have to revise their drawings a lot.

But it likely is a good example of non-scientists saying "Scientists proved wrong" when the scientific data goes from "we don't really know ..." to "we've found the evidence ...". This is sorta the flip side of the constant "Those scientists just wasted time and money doing research to prove something that we knew all along" comments from people who have little understanding of what science is all about (and have always "known" things based on no evidence at all).

(Actually, since I first read about this topic back in the 1970s, I've been rooting for the tyrannosaurs having big, colorful cockatoo-like crowns of feathers. But that's just me, and I'm still waiting. But I won't be surprised either way. ;-)

about a month ago

Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17

jc42 Re:Propaganda (667 comments)

I thought Obama was Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America, not the world.

For the past several decades, the US political system has considered these to be equivalent. Google "only remaining superpower" to read the evidence. You'll also find lots of uses of the phrase by non-Americans implying that they accept this as fact. Some of them complain, of course, but they often do so in ways that effectively acknowledge the fact of US rule. The US government is now immune from any so-called laws and is free to use its power as it likes anywhere in the world.

about a month and a half ago

Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17

jc42 Re:I don't see the problem. (667 comments)

"Terrorist" is the wrong word, it's obvious from the intercepts this was a tactical error on someone's part.

Terrorism isn't defined by actions so much as the reason. For the love of Jebus, it has a well understood meaning folks, look it up.

That may have been true 10 or 20 years ago. Nowadays, here in the US and in many other countries, the common media and governmental meaning of "terrorist" is now "anyone we don't like".

This is a rather familiar sort of linguistic change that has happened to many other words in the past. There's not a whole lot we can do to persuade people to stick with the original definitions. After all, we can't even persuade people to stop using "literally" to mean "figuratively". What's our chance of persuading politicians that they shouldn't similarly retarget handy insult words to refer to their opponents?

about a month and a half ago

Pushdo Trojan Infects 11,000 Systems In 24 Hours

jc42 Re: Missing information (32 comments)

Determining what is "related" is not an easy thing to do, programmatically speaking.

It's especially difficult for the Media, since for most of them, "computer", "IBM machine", "Microsoft" and "Windows" are synonyms. A few have heard of things like unix and linux, and some even use a mac. But hose gadgets are never called "computers", so they're not relevant to any news story dealing with computers. In common speech, saying that some new virus infects "computers" is all that needs to be said, since there are no brand names in the computer industry, only IBM and Microsoft (and maybe Apple, if that's a brand name).

I have seen a number of instances where some geeks will try to bring up non-IBM/Microsoft systems, and the media folks are clearly baffled by why people would try to change the subject, when the topic is clearly computers, not those other electronic thingies. I remember back in the early 1980s, when IBM first introduced their new DOS machines, and the reaction of lots of business and media people was "Finally there's a desktop computer." They didn't see any need to mention the brand name, because computers didn't have brand names. (The more knowledgeable did know that computers actually do have brand names, but since there was only one, it was a waste of time and page space to mention it.)

about a month and a half ago

Pushdo Trojan Infects 11,000 Systems In 24 Hours

jc42 Re:Missing information (32 comments)

Well it runs on Windows obviously. With the number of reported infections, the speed with which it happened, and the fact that it is a Trojan (meaning you need to trick the user into running it), it can only be Windows. There wouldn't be 11,000 Linux users tricked into running it in 24 hours even if it would run correctly on all their distros because we know Linux users are too smart to run Trojans. Hell, there probably weren't 11,000 Linux machines with users sitting in front of them to BE tricked into running it in that amount of time. With Macs - well every Mac user will tell you they don't get Trojans or viruses. That leaves Windows. Lots of doofuses to be tricked there.

While I can appreciate your sarcasm, I also followed the summary's first link to the report at, and thought it was interesting that in the "Related posts" in the column at the right, there's a Tags section, and the very first is "android" in a large font. There's no instance of "window" or "micro" or "soft" on the page. The obvious inference to a reader is "Hmmm ... Can this actually be a major infestation on android, i.e., linux?"

But no, this list of "Related ... Tags" appears to be some sort of subtle redirection or FUD or something, because as others have already reported here, this is indeed yet another MS Windows trojan infestation. The report page lists keywords including "android", "bitcoin", "facebook", "etc, but doesn't mention MS or Windows as related.

Anyone have any idea why the folks at bitdefender might do things this way?

about a month and a half ago

Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On

jc42 Re:Probable cause (223 comments)

I have nothing to hide, except the pron from my wife (she found it already) so why would I care what the FBI does? They aren't going to act on any of this unless these people actually plan to do something criminal and in that case, they should.

If you think you have nothing to hide, you should probably spend a bit of time studying the history of the FBI. Leading an exemplary life has never been a protection from them, if they suspect you may be part of whatever conspiracy is popular at the time. A few decades ago, it was Communists, and having no connection to any Communist organization was never protection from them or their colleagues in organizations like HUAC. It's quite clear that the "anti-terrorist" push nowadays is no more concerned with whether you have anything to hide; if they need a scapegoat and you're handy (perhaps because your name is vaguely like some name on one of their lists), they'll go after you and make your life a hell on Earth.

Having "nothing to hide" is one of the most naive misconceptions going around, and has been for at least a century. Dig into the history of the FBI and assorted other similar organizations. Google can find a lot of it for you. Then come back and tell us again whether you have anything to hide.

(And they probably already have a copy of your pron collection, added to their own. ;-)

about 2 months ago

On 4th of July:

jc42 Re:Hello Americans (340 comments)

being assholes is the america way

Now, now; that's a feature of humanity that's spread quite evenly throughout all societies. Yes, it's the American way, but it's also the British way and the Italian way and the Iranian way and the Chinese way and the Tahitian way and ...

Americans have no particularly valid claim on assholeness (assholicity? assholitude?). Look around yourself, and if you don't see any, it's probably because it's you.

about 2 months ago

When Beliefs and Facts Collide

jc42 Re:It's Okay (725 comments)

Over here in the US, the fascist conservatives equate anything not as fascist as them to be socialists.

Actually, here in the US not one person in a million can tell you anything at all about what fascism stood for. The term is now just one of a growing list of political insult terms with no actual content.

Of course, the fraction of Americans who can actually define socialism or liberalism or any other -ism isn't much larger than one in a million. Such terms are really just the modern equivalent of tribal names. You're expected to hate anyone with a label different from yours, but you're not expected to actually know the meaning of any of the labels. Once you understand this situation, American political rhetoric becomes much more comprehensible.

about 2 months ago

The View From Inside A Fireworks Show

jc42 Re:Illegal and Dangerous? (200 comments)

Ridiculous? As a pilot I don't want people's toys flying around in my airspace. Hit a plane and there's a real chance you'll kill someone.

If you're a pilot who's "airspace" includes a volume in which a fireworks display is scheduled, please informs us of that fact, because I don't think I'd ever want to be a passenger in a plane controlled by a pilot like you. The possibility that your plane might hit a drone would be the least of my worries. ;-)

about 2 months ago

The View From Inside A Fireworks Show

jc42 Re:Illegal and Dangerous? (200 comments)

Read about the new ridiculous rules the FAA imposed about drones...

Until some moron flys one into the path of a commercial airliner, small plane, or helicopter, and people die - than it's "why isn't the FAA doing something about this?"

Rules won't stop someone from doing that because it's obviously intended to try to hurt someone. I say try because in a battle between a jet engine with the power to push 400 tons of steel into the sky VS a drone I'm going to put my money on the jet engine lasting long enough for them to turn around and land again.

Wait; there were jet aircraft flying through the fireworks display's volume? How did the drone miss getting a picture of that? That'd have been really fun to watch, especially when the fireworks started hitting the airplane.

(Given that there was a fireworks display going on in that airspace at the time, I'm kinda doubtful that there were any pilots in the area who weren't well aware of them. And I also sorta doubt that there were any children running around under the fireworks. That's usually strongly discouraged at fireworks displays, and this one was over water. ;-)

about 2 months ago

Girls Take All In $50 Million Google Learn-to-Code Initiative

jc42 Re:Before you start complaining... (548 comments)

We are a species that has sexual dimorphism.

Well, yeah, but except for reproduction, most of the differences are essentially trivial. The differences we see are primarily of social origin, not genetic. It is often pointed out that the differences within each sex have a much greater variance than the differences between the sexes. Male and female humans are much more similar to each other than they are to individuals of the same sex in the closest related species (the "great apes" such as chimps, bonobos and gorillas.

Their is a physical muscle mass difference between the genders to the point that all competitive sports are segregated on purpose to not allow a unfair competitive advantage.

It has been often pointed out that the top North American and European female athletes in many sports currently have better performance statistics than the top males in the same sport 50 or so years ago. This supports the claim that the differences are primarily of social origin, not genetic.

There's a useful example of the difficulty of using sports to excuse sexism: American basketball gives a strong advantage to taller players. This is why the pro teams are all male (and now mostly black ;-). But it also excludes 99% of the male population along with 100% of the females. The sensible thing would be to do like the boxing sport has done: Establish height-specific basketball leagues. This would enlarge the sport, and give us some very good players who now can't play on the pro teams at all. And it would likely show a familiar pattern: After some years, we'd have female basketball players who are as good as their male counterparts of the same height. (This idea isn't at all original with me; others have also suggested it. But the sports "industry" ignores it. ;-)

Both male and female brains have the same parts but after being exposed to a different mix of chemicals are wired differently which result in obvious behavioral differences both conscious and not.

Again, aside from questions involving sexuality, there is little if any evidence that these differences are genetic and not social. Human societies tend to impose radical differences in education from birth. If you want to claim that the observed mental differences are genetic and not social, you can't just make the claim without explaining why they can't be the result of social conditions. And again, the larger variance within each sex than the difference between the sexes argues that the observable differences are only slightly genetic, and mostly caused by different socialization and education.

about 2 months ago



Neanderthal nuclear genome sequenced

jc42 jc42 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

jc42 (318812) writes "The first successful sequencing of the Neandert(h)al genome has been published in Science, by a team led by Svante Päbo of the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Among their conclusions is that the Neandertals most likely did interbreed with the Cro Magnon invaders from Africa. There were a number of gene variants shared with modern Europeans but not with several other groups in Africa. The article states that "Modern humans and Neanderthals are so closely related that a comparison of their genomes must take into account the fact that for any particular part of the genome, a single modern human and a single Neandertal could be more similar to each other than two modern humans would be." So it looks like we'll have to look for a different hominid for the split that produced Homo sapiens. And, of course, further research is needed."
Link to Original Source

That nice format of the past few days reverted

jc42 jc42 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

jc42 writes "For several days, slashdot's main page showed on my screen (in several browsers) in a very nice format: Just the stories. That left column which is mostly just white space was missing, and that silly right column that took up half the screen and just listed a few of my recent messages was also missing. I could make the window about 1/3 the width of my 1920x1200 screen and see 4 or 5 summaries at a time. It was a real pleasure to be able to read /. without wasting most of the screen space. Today, it reverted to the old format, with mostly wasted space and a narrow column for the stories, one at a time. If I want to get more than one summary on my 1920x1200 screen, I again have to make the browser window full screen, and most of the screen is blank. Is there some reliable way to get the simple format again? It'd be nice to be able to read /. in a format that doesn't waste 2/3 of the window with stuff that I don't read. (And is there some better way to ask such questions? I've long wished there were a /. "place to ask dumb questions", but I've never seen one. Of course, there might be one that I don't about. If so, I'll go ask my dumb questions there. ;-)"

Latest Earth-crossing asteroid passes by tonight

jc42 jc42 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

jc42 writes "Astronomers have been looking at the first images of asteroid 2007 TU24, the 250-meter asteroid that will pass 540,000 km from the Earth at 8:33 UTC (3:30 EST) Tuesday morning. So get your telescopes out; it's a 10th-magnitude object. Or just hold your breath as the time approaches. Maybe astronomers will get good enough numbers for its 2000-year orbit to calculate how long until it hits our planet. It might be sobering to consider that it was just discovered last October, and we know about maybe half of the objects like this in Earth-crossing orbits."
Link to Original Source

OLPC "Give One, Get One" offer extended to

jc42 jc42 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

jc42 (318812) writes "The One Laptop Per Child program has extended its North American "Give One, Get One" program to the end of the year. It seems they've been deluged with orders, and are realizing that this thing could be very popular in the First World, too. My wife and I have ordered some as Xmas presents for children/grandchildren, since it seems to be the first computer aimed at kids that, as some reviewers comment, "isn't a toy". We're wondering if we should get some for ourselves, for our second childhood. We're both software developers who'd like to get our hands on this new GUI. Anyone else have any comments, pro or con? Have you ordered one? Why?"

jc42 jc42 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

jc42 (318812) writes "NPR, PCworld, and some 400 other news sources (according to Google News) are reporting on a new Google feature: Google Earth, in cooperation with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum now presents details of the growing disaster in Darfur. They give a virtual tour of the area, with details of events in many villages in the words of local residents. So in addition to their "Do no evil" motto, they apparently now have a policy of exposing evil. Needless to say, the Sudan government didn't exactly cooperate with this project."

jc42 jc42 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

jc42 (318812) writes "The latest skirmish in the ongoing escalation of "Intellection Property" rights to cover everything in our culture, a number of news sources are telling the story of James Worley, a "portly fellow with a full white beard" who was being mistaken for Santa Clause by children at Disney World in Florida. He was approached by Disney people and ordered to change his appearance, because "Santa is a Disney Character". Is there anything that Disney doesn't now claim to own?"

jc42 jc42 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

jc42 (318812) writes "A recent study published in Nature documents the accelerating release of methane from melting permafrost. Methane is a greenhouse gas 23 times more "effective" than carbon dioxide, so this may signal more rapid warming in the near future. If you don't subscribe to Nature, the Guardian has a good summary. [Ed: What's an appropriate topic for this? I see nothing appropriate in the menu.]"

jc42 jc42 writes  |  about 8 years ago

jc42 writes "Breaking news: The IAU has voted, and Pluto is now a "dwarf planet", not a "planet". Note the bit about an astronomer holding up a Walt Disney Pluto under an umbrella. Cue the endless debate on this vital topic ..."


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