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Comments

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RAF Pilots Blinded At 1000 Mph By Helmet Technical Glitch

jcaplan Re:The article looks fishy (154 comments)

The difference is in the type of defect. Information overload can be the result of a *design* defect, where the design specification doesn't adequately take into account how much data a trained pilot can absorb. (Alternately, it could be the result of inadequate pilot training.) A buggy display system is an *implementation* defect, where the display doesn't show what was intended by the programmers, such as the display showing a random bit pattern rather than fight data.

about 9 months ago
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RAF Pilots Blinded At 1000 Mph By Helmet Technical Glitch

jcaplan The article looks fishy (154 comments)

So after reading the article, it was quite hard to tell whether the problem was information overload or a buggy display system. The relevant quote is:

âoeBut for now, thereâ(TM)s only so much data you can put in front of the pilotâ(TM)s eyes before it all merges, especially at night. He or she has got to take in information about their speed, altitude, dive and climb angles, and manage their fuel levels and weapons systems. Add images of the surrounding airspace and it all becomes too much. Essentially, the pilots were being blinded.â

The reporter seems to take the phrase "green glow" literally, rather than figuratively. The blinding referred to in the quote is information overload. The 1,000 mph figure seems merely illustrative, rather than a point at which the helmets suddenly malfunctioned. Information overload is a serious problem for pilots and must be considered in aircraft design, but this appears to be a case of poor design rather than the display failing in mid flight. Perhaps someone out there has better information.

about 9 months ago
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GMO Oranges? Altering a Fruit's DNA To Save It

jcaplan Re:Genetic Roullette (358 comments)

The effect of a genetic modification depends on what was changed. Some genetic modifications have given clear and reasonable cause for concern. In the case of Monsanto's "Round-Up Ready" seeds, greater use of pesticides (Monsanto's "Round-Up") on crops is possible. Pesticide exposure is a serious risk for farm workers as well as the environment and a point of reasonable concern for consumers, though low-dose toxicology is tricky business. Another problematic modification is the addition of BT toxin genes to crops. Although, BT is approved for use in organic produce, the chronic low dose of BT toxin is a problem because it allows pests to evolve to become resistant to this useful compound more easily than would occur with occasional external application of higher doses. BT toxin resistance has already developed in India in response to crops incorporating the BT gene. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacillus_thuringiensis It would be reasonable to expect more widespread resistance to occur with continued use of crops with BT genes.

The use of the spinach gene to give bacterial resistance to orange trees mentioned in the aricle does not have these issues. The article notes that this bacterial resistance gene is widespread, existing in variants in many plants and animals. Also, having orange trees with this gene would allow for reduced use of pesticides, which the article notes have tripled in response to the encroachment of the insect which carries the bacterium responsible for the destruction of the orange trees.

I would argue not for a ban on genetically modified organisms, but for careful scientific review on a case-by-case basis whether a modification carries a net benefit, not just on whether a particular crop is safe to consume. A serious problem with previous approvals is that they ignored effects like evolution of resistant organisms and incentives to use more pesticides.

1 year,2 days
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Prove an IT Manager Is Incompetent?

jcaplan Re:OMG, John is that you? (331 comments)

Everyone already knows it, but they need an outside consultant to say it. That's why you were brought in. Senior management is not ignoring the problems at all. They know that costs are out of line and that there is dissatisfaction. Your job is to carefully document what everyone knows to be true, so they can get rid of the under-performing IT manager. Talk to everyone, compare to industry standards and write it all up in your report.

about a year ago
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My credits by name in (released) software:

jcaplan Re:More than 20, but I don't code. (190 comments)

I think people should get credited for their work. It's not just about being paid - it's about software being created by people, not just companies. I credited myself for an app I wrote. Other stuff I write is simulation code for neuroscience research, so I get credit on resulting papers, but the software is project-specific and isn't released except when people ask for source.

<shameless plug>
It's a simple, clean weather app. (US only). Has NOAA feed for week's forecast + wind speed and direction. It's on the Amazon AppStoreand Google Play. ($1)
</shameless plug>

about a year ago
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My plans for summer ...

jcaplan Re:Pedaling (187 comments)

You clearly didn't look at my map that I linked to. I'm also going through Northampton Mass, the "lesbian capitol of the US." In fact, according to the Advocate, I'm travelling through or just by a number of other gay meccas, including Salt Lake City (#1, who knew?), Cambridge, MA (#3), Grand Rapids Michigan (#10) and Denver, CO (#15). I'll be just missing Ann Arbor Michigan (#6) and a longer detour would get me to the Twin Cities (Minneapolis & St Paul, #7). Why only travel abroad when there is such awesome diversity of people and places in my own country?

about a year ago
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SCOTUS Says DNA Collection Permissible After Arrest

jcaplan Re:What if the person is innocent? (643 comments)

The DNA collected is not used to get an entire genome sequence. The court's reasoning is summarized here:
http://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/12-207

"(2) The processing of respondent's DNA sample's CODIS loci also did not intrude on his privacy in a way that would make his DNA identification unconstitutional. Those loci came from noncoding DNA parts that do not reveal an arrestee's genetic traits and are unlikely to reveal any private medical information. Even if they could provide such information, they are not in fact tested for that end. Finally, the Act provides statutory protections to guard against such invasions of privacy. Pp. 26-28."

about a year ago
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My plans for summer ...

jcaplan Re:Pedaling (187 comments)

Good suggestion on avoiding the high mountains, but I've promised good friends in Boulder, CO a visit. Hopefully my more northerly route will get me some cooler temperatures and maybe some great views in exchange for the extra climbing.

about a year ago
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My plans for summer ...

jcaplan Re:Pedaling (187 comments)

Thanks. I pinned that location on my personal map. I'll wave south as I go by!

about a year ago
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My plans for summer ...

jcaplan Re:Pedaling (187 comments)

Ah, you got me, AC! I will be cutting through Ontario and crossing at Niagara Falls. Many are surprised that going through Canada can be a shortcut.

about a year ago
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My plans for summer ...

jcaplan Re:Pedaling (187 comments)

Thanks for your stories. I'll see if I get any as good as the Spanish prison break story!

about a year ago
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My plans for summer ...

jcaplan Pedaling (187 comments)

Pedaling across the US - east to west. I've been planning to do it since high school. Finishing grad school seems to be the perfect time.

Starting: Provincetown, MA. Ending: San Francisco.
  Approximate route: https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Province+Lands+Rd&daddr=42.3496063,-71.0758567+to:43.2323393,-86.2590757+to:40.0115442,-105.2775582+to:38.2089812,-122.1499352+to:Lincoln+Way&hl=en&ll=38.548165,-85.605469&spn=35.448818,53.569336&sll=42.346365,-71.07605&sspn=1.977165,4.22699&geocode=FRRwgQIdnuHQ-w%3BFSY0hgId8HfD-ykzi83tDHrjiTHLREkIFo1TAw%3BFVOskwIdfcrb-im_C56q1dcbiDEFG_kDTpKEyg%3BFRiHYgIdipe5-SmJTX78L-xrhzEx8CFuKjriCw%3BFdUFRwId0SO4-Ckt6RIZRhKFgDHoJI0yGuN3vg%3BFec7QAIdnKSy-A&t=h&dirflg=b&mra=mrv&via=1,2,3,4&lci=bike&z=5/

Departure: Early July
Arrival: End of August.
Mileage: ~60/day (97 km / day)
Style: Mostly camping. Some friends and hostels along route.

Anyone, including you, is welcome to join me for a stretch. jon caplan a_t ] g-mail dot kom
Also welcome are your tales of similar trips as well as advice. (I've done some one week tours before.)

about a year ago
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Why We Should Build a Supercomputer Replica of the Human Brain

jcaplan Utter nonsense (393 comments)

Please don't waste your time with this nonsense.

1. It is not possible to simulate a system when you don't know the rules of the system. We don't know how neurons work. Sure, we know much about neurons and we can set up small networks that seem to give interesting results, but there is a vast amount about real neurons that is unknown. We don't even know what all the types of ion channels are, let alone the varied states of modulation (phosphorylation of proteins and binding of various neuromodulators). We know little about how the brain learns. We have some knowledge about how a neuron might maintain a mean firing rate over time or how certain connections may vary in fairly artificial stimulus regimes (pairs of spikes with varied timing) in slices of brain tissue (typically hippocampus) in vitro. We have only basic understanding of how the brain is wired up on a microscopic scale (e.g. cortical columns). At this point people are still making fundamental discoveries about how the retina works.

2. Throwing a supercomputer at the problem would be orders of magnitude too weak, even given huge simplifying assumptions, such as using "integrate and fire" neurons.

Anyone attempting to do whole brain simulations at this point is simply wasting their time and a lot of electricity. When they promote the idea they waste other people's time. A perfect example of this is the fool who claimed that he had simulated a cat visual cortex, which though only a presentation at a conference, not a published paper, got attention here on Slashdot. He included one equation and randomly connected his network and then simulated on a large compute cluster. His "chief scientific conclusion" was that he could replicate the propagation speed of data through the layers of the network - a feat that could have been accomplished with paper and pencil in less time.

about a year ago
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Scribd Reveals It Was Hacked, Asks Users To Change Their Passwords

jcaplan Re:Access passwords? (38 comments)

If a site encrypts user's email addresses, they also have to store the key in order to decrypt the email addresses. Once the site has been cracked badly enough to retrieve the password hash file, the key needed to decrypt the emails would likely also be vulnerable, so encrypting user email addresses typically adds little security. The nice thing about hashing passwords is that there is no key to store or be discovered.

about a year ago
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Oracle Responds To Java Security Critics With Massive 50 Flaw Patch Update

jcaplan Re:*sigh*.... Java... (270 comments)

Client side execution means running whatever code a web site that you visit directly on your home computer. Server side execution means running code uploaded by the server's administrator. This is a very different situation.

about a year and a half ago
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Scary Toothbrush Prompts Shutdown of World's Busiest Airport

jcaplan Re:Who's responsible... (284 comments)

The news report, contrary to the summary, states that part one terminal - not the whole airport - was shut down and that for only 40 minutes. The costs would be borne by the airline in terms of possible employee and fuel overtime since some planes must have been delayed.

about a year and a half ago
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Inside the Raspberry Pi Factory

jcaplan Re:Shipped WITH defects ?? (120 comments)

No. Board passes all checks and later fails. Imagine a weak solder joint for instance.

about a year and a half ago
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Is Intel Planning To Kill Enthusiast PCs?

jcaplan Re:Soldering Machine (1009 comments)

I don't think that this is the kind of soldering job that an enthusiast could do, unless you happen to be up for reflow soldering.

about a year and a half ago
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Is Intel Planning To Kill Enthusiast PCs?

jcaplan Re:I just can't live without a ZIF socket. (1009 comments)

I haven't ever replaced a socketed CPU, but I have added one. My work machine only had a single 4-core CPU, but had an empty socket, so now I'm running dual CPU! Its a nice way to future-proof a computer, especially since the second CPU might be purchased at a lower price or as budget allows. (Yes, I do use all 8 cores.)

about a year and a half ago
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Lab-Grown Leather Could Be a Reality In 5 Years

jcaplan Re:And what will happen ... (165 comments)

You're assuming fixed demand for leather products and meat, independent of price. If there is additional supply leather from bio-reactor production, the price of leather is likely to decline until it reaches a point where all leather produced is purchased. Econ 101. You may indeed end up paying more for meat because some people buy bio-engineered leather rather than the traditional variety. This price increase is likely to decrease meat consumption, so the beef industry will kill fewer cows.

about 2 years ago

Submissions

jcaplan hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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I'm teaching 2 new High School classes - Java & 3d graphics

jcaplan jcaplan writes  |  more than 10 years ago

Well, I'm finally getting to teach some good classes. (Still doing the MS office tour with the middle school crowd.) Getting to teach electives is even more exciting then getting moderator points.

I'm got 2 electives for each semester this year. I Just wrapped up "Digital Media", where the kids did audio and video production and "Hardwqare and Operating Systems" Where I got a pile of donated Pentuim 2 machines and had the kids refurbish them and install Win98 (MS permits this for this sort of class - stumbled upon this fact on their site) and Mandrake 9.1. Most kids wiped Mandrake and went for the comfort of 98. The true geeks went dual-boot. Each kid got to take home a refurb'd machine - nice motivator. Didn't teach quite as much "stuff" as intended, but i think I got some understanding and willingness to tinker and a lot of confidence in understanding what's inside the machine. The kids liked the class. Ran into plenty of problems I couldn't solve, which was fine as long as I didn't try to portray myself as an all-knowing computer god. The "Digital Media" class went OK, but the kids struggled with tools and creative ideas. Got some good stuff, but it really became a hang out class.

Now I'm one day into second semester. I thought I was teaching Java today - turns out it was 3-d graphics. Kids installed and started building castles in Blender in short order. I was really impressed. It could be tough to keep up. I have to learn the texture-mapping tools by Wednesday! (Yes teachers often do stay just one step ahead of the kids, but I'm OK with that. I teach what I want to learn and hope the kids dig it...)

Speaking of Java, I've done a bit of coding here and there, like my little puzzle game server, but not too much. Thought I'd be writing code professionally, but mostly did it for the fun of it. (Hopped out of the IT industry as I was starting to burn out.) Spent some time today making sure I knew how to get Java tools going on the schools MS computers - thought about running it all of my underpowered Linux file server, but then thought better of it. (That server has its purposes - making me an official (TM) Linux SysAdmin, keeping skills fresh and running SAMBA for hundreds of users. I love SAMBA - except for the part about adding accounts.) Oh, Java, yep. Starts tomorrow. Small class. We'll install the JDK and do a HelloWorld, learn variables and some control flow. Gonna keep it focused on creating games. Number guessing, tic-tac-toe, Othello-style puzzles and a Robotron-type game. I'll stay away from the minutia of programming concepts, which strangely is where most "tutorials" begin.

Wish me luck and post any suggestions you desire.

-Jon

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