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Ask Slashdot: How To Start With Linux In the Workplace?

jenningsthecat Debian and XFCE4 (451 comments)

...even if they would only be using Firefox, Thunderbird and LibreOffice...

I just finished installing Debian Wheezy with XFCE4 on the laptop of a friend whose usage pretty much fits this description, and she loves it. (She *hated* Win 7 but quite liked WinXP). Personally I stay away from Ubuntu because, as I understand it, an upgrade is somewhat more painful than it is for Debian. So if you're interested in Linux Mint, you might want to try Linux Mint Debian Edition, (LMDE), as it has the slickness of Mint but maintains rolling releases.

about a week ago
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Book Review: Money: The Unauthorized Biography

jenningsthecat Re:What a bunch of hooye, total garbage (91 comments)

The supply of money is completely independent of the economics of trading.

If a cow is worth 4 goats, changing the monetary price of a cow to 3 dollars or 300,000 dollars or 25 bazillion lira changes nothing about the trading situation. A goat is still worth one-fourth of a cow. If cows die off and become scarcer and more valuable, then they might end up being worth 10 goats but notice that is COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT of the "value" of our money.

Money is merely a tracking device.

Money is also a storage device. If I trade my cow for 4 goats today when I could have gotten 5 goats for it next week, I've lost out. But if I trade my cow for money today and hold the money, then I can buy 4 goats next week, have money left over to buy something else, and have the savings that come from not having had to feed and care for the cow for a week. Of course it could also go the other way - I could lose on the transaction. And this is how stock markets are supposed to work, for better or worse.

But that storage medium makes room for all kinds of middle men, and ultimately gives rise to all sorts of ways to game the system. And because so much money is paid to people who have added little or no value to the system, or who in fact have taken value out of the sytem, a large percentage of 'legal' tender might as well be counterfeit.

Money makes assets and liabilities more fluid, more portable, and easier to hide. It introduces both efficiencies and inefficiencies, and it causes different market sectors to be much more interdependent on each other than they otherwise would. So, no, money is not "merely a tracking device".

about two weeks ago
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RadioShack To Close 1,100 Stores

jenningsthecat How the great have fallen (423 comments)

About 40 years ago Radio Shack was actually a place worth going to for electronic components and tools. As a fledgling electronics hobbyist I was grateful to have somewhere to buy parts, especially after the local TV repair supply store closed, and the nearest alternative was 70 miles away and I didn't drive. Back then Radio Shack's selection was decent, and the prices were high but not terrible. Even their audio equipment was often pretty good too. The stores were popular, and the staff were actually somewhat knowledgeable. (Back then an "electronics store" was a place to buy electronic parts, not TV's and stereos).

Here in Canada, Rat Shack stores became The Sores by Circuit City some time around 2005, but long before that they had become annoying places to shop at, with a poor selection of crappy over-priced components, and arrogant staff who knew far less than they thought they did. On the one hand I'm happy to see the beast put out of its misery, but on the other hand I'm sad to see a company that was so important to me and to my eventual career die such an ignominious death.

Requiescat In Pace, Radio Shack.

about a month and a half ago
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US Carriers Said To Have Rejected Kill Switch Technology Last Year

jenningsthecat Re:So full of nope: Bruce Schneier on this (197 comments)

Maybe you're trolling here and I'm taking the bait, but in case you really believe what you wrote, here goes...

"The Government", carriers and the manufacture can shut them down right now. They don't because that would be terrible for a number of reasons.

Although carriers can effectively turn off your phone service, and can possibly even brick your phone if you haven't rooted it and disabled automatic OTA updates, they can't currently wipe it clean remotely. The proposed new 'service' would allow them to do that. And where there's some advertised protection against that happening, there's probably a backdoor, or at least an exploit, that can get around it.

And why shouldn't people who have not been paying there bill have their service turned off*?

Um, maybe they shouldn't be allowed to do that because they have a history of abusing their position to overcharge, automatically opting you in to services which they then charge you for, adding 'mistaken' line items that increase your bill, having really shitty dispute resolution mechanisms, etc. Not only giving carriers the ability to wipe your phone, but having customers actually sign up for and potentially pay for this 'service', further tilts the already unlevel playing field in the carriers' favour.

The media companies is a strawman or fear mongering, I can't tell which.

How is it either of these? Major content providers are on record as being in favour of, (for example), disconnecting subscribers' Internet service for even the suspicion of unauthorized copying.

"And this, ultimately, is the problem with those who keep repeating that we should just trust Bruce Schneier. It implies we should also disengage our brains."

Actually, by pointing out potential problems, asking pointed questions, and challenging the status quo, I think Bruce Schneier is encouraging us to engage our brains.

about 2 months ago
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Why Your Phone Gets OTA Updates But Your Car Doesn't

jenningsthecat Security? (305 comments)

But other automakers are dragging their feet, both because they're worried about security and because they might face resistance from dealers.

Given that the level of security on OBD2 ports has been utter crap for about two decades now, I doubt the automakers' major concern is security. Even with well-publicized stories about car hacking, auto companies seem to persist in the belief that it will never be a major, widespread threat. It's probably dealer pushback that has them concerned - having a car dealership is a license to steal, and I imagine dealers are very resistant to any change that threatens their ability to charge $500 for 15 minutes' worth of work.

about 2 months ago
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Are Bankers Paid Too Much? Are Technology CEOs?

jenningsthecat The bigger question... (712 comments)

DavidHumus notes "Maybe the bigger question is why is CEO pay so entirely disconnected from company performance?"

No, the bigger question is "Why is CEO pay so entirely disconnected from the value of said CEOs to society as a whole?"

Really, do these people contribute 200, 500, or 1,000 times more to society, (or even to their companies), than the average employee? I'd be willing to bet that, in many cases, CEOs make lesser contributions on all fronts than do regular workers making WAY less money. Sure, CEOs often have greater responsibilities, as well as significant skills and talents. But are they really worth that much in the grand scheme of things?

about 2 months ago
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How Jan Koum Steered WhatsApp Into $16B Facebook Deal

jenningsthecat Worthwhile keeping in mind, (136 comments)

...that the money for this transaction ultimately comes from all of us. We bought the products and services of the companies whose marketing and advertising rely on Facebook. And those of us who have FB accounts, (along with those of us who don't do our best to stop FB tracking us all over the Web), have made Facebook at least look like it's worth the money those companies hand over to it. That's how Facebook can pay almost a thousand years' of WhatApp's current revenue for the fledgling company.

about 2 months ago
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Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

jenningsthecat Re:Tell me how you really feel (2219 comments)

Allow me to recommend for your reading pleasure this particular squirt from the firehose:

A Modest Proposal, re: Beta vs. Classic

Thanks - I think that's a good idea. I meta-modded it up - unfortunately I have no mod points right now. In any case, I fear Dice is so unamenable to reason that your proposal will fall on deaf ears. I'd love to be wrong though.

about 2 months ago
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Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

jenningsthecat Does this all sound familiar? (2219 comments)

Forgive me if I'm repeating something that's already been said in the 2,000+ comments made so far; but doesn't this whole affair sound a lot like Gnome3, Unity, and, to a lesser extent, Windows 8?

The fact that this kind of thing happens over and over and over again, in spite of very well-entrenched and eloquent communities that make their profound opposition abundantly and repeatedly clear, suggests some larger cultural, sociological, and/or psychological element at work. In an immediate sense we need to try to protect Slashdot from those who would turn it into an inferior version of the new Yahoo. (Hard work, that...). But over the longer term, shouldn't we try to figure out what's missing in this kind of equation? Clearly, massive user communities such as those represented by Slashdot, Gnome, Ubuntu, etc, aren't managing to hang their considerable weight on the right levers to steer the leaders/stewards/managers/head honchos of those communities in a mutually beneficial direction.

In short, what are we missing here? Let's figure that out so the next time we go through this we can get a better result, sooner in the process, without all the energy lost to (seemingly ineffective) hand-wringing and breast-beating.

about 2 months ago
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Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

jenningsthecat Re:More specifics (2219 comments)

This would be VERY problematic - imagine editing your already-submitted post while somebody else is in the process of commenting on it. There could be a total disconnect between your comment and the reply - very confusing and very uncool.

about 2 months ago
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Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

jenningsthecat Re:Tell me how you really feel (2219 comments)

...my first reply got a reply to which I replied. ...But none of that seems to be visible when I reload this story. ...Wondering exactly what's going on.

I had the same thoughts about an hour ago. I'm not sure if you're experiencing the same thing I did - it's hard to believe that someone with such a low User ID has never come across this before - but FWIW I had to go the bottom of the page and click on "Get xxxx More Comments" to find the comment I posted less than 10 hours ago.

It seems to me that this one topic may just result in the Slashdotting of Slashdot. Quite a feat, actually.

about 2 months ago
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Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

jenningsthecat Re:Why? (2219 comments)

>Precisely which audience is having problems reading slashdot, on precisely which platform?

The kind of audience that loves the new Yahoo. You know, the people used to web sites designed for those with no discernible attention span. The folks for whom conformity is a comfortable and entirely unconscious reflex. In other words, people who would have no interest in what Slashdot has always been, but who might be enticed to visit a 'lowest common denominator' site and bump up Dice's ad revenue.

Corporations tend to like pliable, compliant audiences who don't cause them any trouble. I'm sure a company like Dice is really uncomfortable dealing with smart people who have strong opinions and can defend them intelligently, logically, and rationally. As long as they believe they can replace existing users as we leave, and add new ones to increase readership, it's entirely possible they don't give a rat's ass about the current community.

about 2 months ago
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Former Red Hat COO Helps Health Care Providers Work Together (Video)

jenningsthecat Re:The new Slashdot sucks (74 comments)

It's atrocious. Filled out the survey it's so bad, I never voluntarily fill out surveys!

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/sdredesign

Yes, it IS atrocious - I was unable to even post a comment in Beta. Had to go back to Classic for posting to work.

Thanks for the survey link - I didn't really want to email the bastards, so a few minutes ago I gave 'em hell on the survey instead.

about 2 months ago
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Amputee Has Prosthetic Hand Wired To Nerves

jenningsthecat Re:Have you noticed the motto change? (72 comments)

I'll miss slashdot.

Yup, me too. It kinda felt like it was about to jump the shark even before Dice took over, but after that point the writing was on the wall in great big letters and it was clearly only a matter of time. Fonzie is lining up for the jump right now, and as soon as Classic is no longer available I'm so outta here.

I tried posting this comment on Beta, and I couldn't even preview it, much less post it, so I'm back on Classic; this interface is SO much better. But even before I found out that Beta SIMPLY DOESN'T WORK, I realized that there's no pressure there anyway, 'cause it sucks as hard as it blows. Tiny text box, no 'quote parent' button - they're obviously trying to manipulate us into posting shorter comments. Well, Dice, guess what? When Classic disappears, my comments will be VERY short. Zero words - is that short enough for ya?

So long Slashdot, and thanks for all the fish - except for the fucking shark. No thanks at all for that.

about 2 months ago
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Canadian Spy Agency Snooped Travelers With Airport Wi-Fi

jenningsthecat Re:Here's what's funny about all of this (159 comments)

And as the US discovers very quickly, it happened due to intentional inefficiencies and silo-ization of intelligence.

No, that is not why it happened but framing it that way is seductively authoritarian and one of the main reasons for the creation of the modern surveillance state. Having spent billions to stop more attacks, what do we have to show for it? The Boston bombers plus a whole host of "white" attacks like mass shootings and the NSA's official record of having stopped precisely zero attacks on USA soil.

The reason these things happen is because the real world is an immensely complex system

Yes, the real world IS an immensely complex system, and terrorism will always be a part of life. And inevitably, some terrorist acts will be committed BECAUSE of the invasive and overbearing 'security' appartus we've allowed to be built because we foolishly think it's going to make us safer.

That said, what about taking responsibility for our own contributions to the mess we're in? If we build a society that actively promotes increasing poverty, inequality, disenfranchisement, and personal powerlessness, then we're building a society in which some of our members will respond senselessly and violently. And when we poke our noses into other countries' business, overthrowing their governments, propping up their dictators, and forcing our culture and our standards down their throats, we should expect some serious blowback. Yes, it may be necessary to get the bastards who broke into our house and fucked with our family - but at some point, shouldn't we ask why they're so pissed with us that they'll sacrifice their lives in order to fly planes into tall buildings and kill us? And shouldn't we consider conducting ourselves and our international affairs with more integrity, and with less arrogance and greed?

Terrorism will probably never be elimintated; but honestly, a lot of what we label 'terrorism' is retribution that we've brought upon ourselves, and it looks very much like what we would do, (and have done), if the roles were reversed.

about 2 months ago
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US Light Bulb Phase-Out's Next Step Begins Next Month

jenningsthecat Re:We vote on leaders not lightbulbs (1146 comments)

LED is the only technology with any real promise, but the cost has to come down to 1/10th what it is today before they will be accepted by people on a budget.

I agree that LED bulbs are priced beyond the means of people with limited resources. But as they become more popular the price will come down, just as it has with CFLs.

Until very recently I was one of those who swore my government would pry my incandescent light bulbs out of my cold dead hands. I love the light that incandescents give off, and I hate the flicker, noise, and unreliability I've experienced from those tools of the devil called CFLs. (Not to mention the mercury...)

Then just a couple of months I discovered the Philips dimmable soft white LED lights - 15 bucks at Home Despot here in Canada, but currently being sold for 10 dollars, courtesy of in-store 5 dollar coupons with the discount applied at the checkout. Obviously I have no read yet on their longevity and reliability, but I can attest to the fact that they have no visible flicker. (I have nystagmus, and am bothered by flicker that others can't even perceive, so I tend to be a good judge of flicker in light sources such as car LED tail lights). I only hear a very faint buzzing when I put my ear close to the bulb, and I am unable to distinguish between the light given off by these LED bulbs and the cheap incandescent bulbs I've always used. Still a lot more expensive than an incandescent bulb, but it has a 6 year warranty that makes me feel a little better about the price, and at less than 1/5 the power consumption of an equivalent incandescent, so far I'm pretty happy with them. These are the best alternatives to 'tungsten in a jar' that I've come across.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Protect Your Privacy When It's Out of Your Control?

jenningsthecat Re:When it's out of your control (174 comments)

The truth is, we're better if we go with the flow and take control of the situation. Live more in the open. That's what we ARE going to do, but if we do it RIGHT then we put at least SOME controls on things. We need to insure that whatever the government knows, we know.

Quite correct - stick a fork in privacy and turn it over, 'cause it's done. But to ensure that "whatever the government knows, we know", means that the NSA, TSA, and all those other TLA's need to pretty much drop their drawers as well. Snowden, Manning, and others of good conscience have been working on that - their lives are hell right now, and they are pariahs to millions of people, the majority of whom stand to have their lot made better and safer by the whistle blowers they condemn. Making sure that John Q. Public knows what goes on in its own government is a hell of a thankless battle.

And as long as we're talking about levelling the privacy playing field, we'd better extend it to corporations as well. There again, whistle blowers are getting royally screwed, and enforcement of the laws that ostensibly protect them is a joke.

about 5 months ago
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CyanogenMod Installer Removed From Google Play Store

jenningsthecat What a crock (255 comments)

I wonder how long it will take before new releases of Android close that oh-so-dangerous third-party app loophole. Because of course users who take all the time and effort to research how to root their devices and install CM are going to be SO surprised and pissed off that Google didn't stop them from 'voiding their warranties'. Yeah, right.

Any bets on how soon Google will start censoring, (sorry, 'lowering the page rank'), of sites that facilitate sideloading of Android apps, CM, and the like?

Android seems well on its way to becoming the next Walled Garden (TM).

about 5 months ago
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A 'Smart' Bathroom Mirror Powered by Android (Video)

jenningsthecat Re:No thanks... (71 comments)

Not another device to get hacked or add another point to be constantly monitored. I'll pass. Couple reasons why:

1: That temperature of water can be turned scalding quite quickly if someone manages to hack the device, and with a camera, there will be YouTube vids galore of people getting scalded.
2: I really don't want ads in my bathroom, nor cameras. No viewer or lackey in any intel organization or LEO deserves that punishment.
3: I also don't want another camera for some potential burglar to have access to via wardriving.
4: Technology for technology's sake is pointless. I want stuff in a bathroom to be simple and elegant. It is one of the few places in a building where I can get away from it.
5: I don't need another electronic item to break or need power.

I agree, and I think I can sum up all of these points in one phrase: Form follows function.

about 5 months ago
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Tesla Model S Has Bizarre 'Vampire-Like' Thirst For Electricity At Night

jenningsthecat Maybe the onboard computers run Linux? (424 comments)

I can't get my computers to supend or hibernate properly either... ;-)

about 5 months ago

Submissions

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Dying Veteran blasts Cheney, Bush in 'Last Letter'

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  1 year,27 days

jenningsthecat (1525947) writes "In a public letter, Iraq war veteran Tomas Young lambastes former US Vice President Dick Cheney and former US president George W. Bush for sending "hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage". Mr. Young further accuses Bush and Cheney of "egregious war crimes" and of "cowardice and selfishness".

Mr. Young, who joined the Army two days after 9/11, was critically wounded in 2004, five days into his first tour of duty in Iraq. He then suffered Anoxic Brain Injury in 2008 as a complication of his earlier injuries. After almost ten years of what sounds like a living hell, Mr. Young is now receiving hospice care in his home while he starves himself to death.

You can read an interview with Tomas Young here"
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Is it time to commit to ongoing payphone availability?

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  about a year and a half ago

jenningsthecat (1525947) writes "Public payphones seem headed the way of the dinosaur, as noted here on Slashdot 10 years ago, and again by the CBC earlier this year. Reasons typically cited for their demise are falling usage, (thanks to the ubiquitous cell phone), and rising maintenance costs.

But during the recent disaster in NYC caused by Hurricane Sandy public payphones proved their worth, allowing people to stay in contact in spite of the widespread loss of both cellular service and the electricity required to charge mobile devices. In light of this news, at least one Canadian news outlet is questioning the wisdom of scrapping payphones.

Should we in North America make sure that public pay phones will always be widely available? (After all, it's not as though they don't have additional value-added uses). And, should their continued existence be dependent on corporations whose primary duty is to their shareholders, rather than to the average citizen?"
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One more step towards loss of Canadian sovereignty

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  about 2 years ago

jenningsthecat (1525947) writes "The latest step in implementing the Canada — US Perimeter Security Initiative will have FBI and DEA agents pursuing suspects onto Canadian soil .

The RCMP recognizes that "this approach would raise concerns about sovereignty, of privacy, and civil liberties of Canadians", so they'll "take baby steps, let's start with two agencies to test the concept, let's demonstrate to Canadians and Americans that such an approach might work".

In related news, a discovery that if a frog is put into a pot of water and the temperature is raised slowly enough, the frog won't hop out — he'll just boil to death."
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Why Monsanto didn't expect Roundup-resistant weeds

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  more than 2 years ago

jenningsthecat (1525947) writes "From NPR comes the story of how Monsanto thought Roundup was "a herbicide with low risk for weed resistance." The explanation seems to pretty much boil down to "we had a hell of a time creating Roundup-resistant crops, so we figured Mother Nature had little or no chance".

In the face of Monsanto's hubris, Mother Nature went ahead and made 20 strains of weeds, (so far), tolerant to glyphosate. Good for her!"
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ICE Propaganda: Your Tax Dollars at Work

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  more than 2 years ago

jenningsthecat (1525947) writes "From a story on Techdirt comes this link to aa propaganda video on YouTube, starring ICE Director John Morton

Of course, the video makes no mention of the 84,000 subdomains wrongfully seized by ICE last year as part of Operation In our Sites. Equally predictably, it self-servingly equates counterfeiting with copyright violation. Don't you just love it when the government spends your money to trample on your rights, and then wastes more of it to tell you what a great job it's doing violating them?"

Link to Original Source
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Anaheim schools using GPS to fight truancy

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  more than 3 years ago

jenningsthecat (1525947) writes "In an effort to help chronically truant students, the Anaheim Union High School District is using GPS as part of a program to make sure that students are where they're supposed to be, and on time. (A similar scenario in Texas was discussed on Slashdot in 2008 — http://slashdot.org/index2.pl?fhfilter=truancy). In addition to tracking students' whereabouts, this latest initiative also assigns them an adult coach who calls them three times each week to help keep them on track.

Indications are that such programs actually work, and that at least some students are grateful for the help. But I can't help thinking that there is something really wrong, with the educational system and/or with society itself, when we have to go to such great lengths to keep students motivated and committed to their own education."

Link to Original Source
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"Money for Nothing" not fit for Canadian radio

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  more than 3 years ago

jenningsthecat (1525947) writes "In a move that echoes the recent sanitization of Mark Twain's works, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has ruled that the Dire Straits song 'Money for Nothing' "contravenes the human rights clauses of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code". Twenty-five years after the song's release, it seems that a listener in St. John's, Newfoundland objected to the use of the word 'faggot' in the song's lyrics."
Link to Original Source
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Your Brain on Magnets

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  more than 3 years ago

jenningsthecat (1525947) writes "An Australian scientist at the University of Sidney has been experimenting with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to temporarily induce savant-like capabilities and autistic attributes in test subjects. The research has implications for intelligence enhancement, and may hold improtant clues for understanding autism."
Link to Original Source
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CRTC fines Bell Canada $1.3M

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  more than 3 years ago

jenningsthecat (1525947) writes "Bell Canada has just received a fine of 1.3 million dollars from the CRTC. The fine was levied after the CRTC determined that Bell violated the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules. Bell's third-party telemarketers placed calls to people listed on Canada's Do Not Call List. Apparently, Bell also directly violated the legislation by placing automated telemarketing calls to prepaid cellular users.

As a victim of many unwanted Bell marketing calls, I applaud the CRTC's hard line stance. Now if we can only talk them into revoking Bell's recently granted right to apply Usage Based Billing to third-party ISP's..."

Link to Original Source
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Meta-research debunks medical study findings

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  more than 3 years ago

jenningsthecat (1525947) writes "From 'the Atlantic' comes the story of John Ioannidis and his team of meta-researchers, who have studied the overall state of medical research and found it dangerously and widely lacking in trustworthiness.. Even after filtering out the journalistic frippery and hyperbole, the story is pretty disturbing. Some points made in the article:

- Even the most respected, widely accepted, peer-reviewed medical studies are all-too-often deeply flawed or outright wrong
- When an error IS brought to light and the conclusions publicly refuted, the erroneous conclusions often persist and are cited as valid for years, or even decades
- Your doctor is probably prescribing drugs, treatment, and lifestyle changes that may range from ineffectual to outright harmful
- Scientists and researchers themselves regard peer review as providing "only a minimal assurance of quality"
- These shortcomings apply to medical research across the board, not just to blatantly self-serving pharmaceutical industry studies

The article concludes by saying "Science is a noble endeavor, but it's also a low-yield endeavor...I'm not sure that more than a very small percentage of medical research is ever likely to lead to major improvements in clinical outcomes and quality of life."

I've always been somewhat suspicious of research findings, but before this article I had no idea just how prevalent untrustworthy results were. From now on I'll take my doctor's advice with a grain of salt — or is that a questionable prescription too?"

Link to Original Source
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Google proposes music store, music locker

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  more than 3 years ago

jenningsthecat (1525947) writes "From Billboard comes news of a Google proposal for a music download and storage locker service.

Apparently the music store would "operate like a conventional digital retailer". But in addition, (and for $25 a year), it would provide users with both the ability to have their purchases transferred directly to their lockers, and the option to let Google scan their drives for tracks that it "recognizes as music that it has licensed" to be "listed by Google as being accessible to the user from their cloud-based account". The service would also provide some social networking features, including providing playlists to other subscribers.

In the proposal, the yearly fee would be split 50/50 between Google and rights holders. 10.5% would go to music publishers, but it's not yet clear whose half of the pie this slice would be taken from.

It seems pretty clear that the recording industry won't go for this proposal as it stands. But the writing's been on the wall for long enough now, that even some industry execs may know they've been fighting an unwinnable war. And Google has already shown remarkable talent as a well-paid middle man. What do you think, Slashdotters — could Google be the next big conduit between the recording industry and the music-buying public? Or is this proposal doomed to die on the vine?"
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Ghostery acquired by Better Advertising

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  more than 3 years ago

jenningsthecat (1525947) writes "In an under-reported tech story from the beginning of 2010, David Cancel, creator of the Ghostery plugin for Firefox, announced that he has sold Ghostery to a company called Better Advertising. The company bills itself as "a new type of company that helps to build trust between consumers and brands that advertise online".

Whether this is simply a pre-emptive strike in the online advertising privacy regulation battle,, or a real attempt to deal with consumers' increasing privacy concerns, it seems that Better Advertising has made a smart move in acquiring Ghostery. Now all they have to do is convince us that they aren't Evil, and won't be Evil in the future. (Google, anyone?)"
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Organ damage in rats from Monsanto GMO Corn

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  more than 4 years ago

jenningsthecat (1525947) writes "A study published in December 2009 in the International Journal of Biological Sciences found that three varieties of Monsanto genetically-modified corn caused damage to the liver, kidneys, and other organs of rats:

http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.htm

One of the corn varieties was designed to tolerate broad-spectrum herbicides, (so-called "Roundup-ready" corn), while the other two contain bacteria-derived proteins that have insecticide properties. The study made use of Monsanto's own raw data.

Quoting from the study's 'Conclusions' section:

"Our analysis highlights that the kidneys and liver as particularly important on which to focus such research as there was a clear negative impact on the function of these organs in rats consuming GM maize varieties for just 90 days."

Given the very high prevalence of corn in processed foods, this could be a real ticking time-bomb. And with food manufacturers not being required by law to declare GMO content, I think I'll do my best to avoid corn altogether. Pass the puffed rice and pour me a glass of fizzy water!"
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How much can Google search results be trusted?

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  more than 4 years ago

jenningsthecat (1525947) writes "Earlier this evening I did a Google search, using Firefox (aka Iceweasel), on my Debian box. I then performed an identical Google search on my Win2K computer, also using Firefox. Google preferences were set the same on both computers, and Personalized Search was disabled on both. Yet on the Linux computer there were only 20 results, whereas on the Windows computer there were 71! I cleared the cache on both, restarted the browsers, and re-entered the search criteria. Same results. I called a friend, who did the same search on his Windows and Linux boxes. Both of his computers came up with 152 results. Then a second friend did the same test, and also received 152 results. So thats 20 hits on one computer, 71 on another computer, and 158 on each of three other computers, all using identical search criteria and preferences. WTF?

A little Google searching, (oh, the irony!), turned up the following links (among many others):

http://www.4psmarketing.com/googles-results-vary.html

http://www.askdavetaylor.com/google_search_results_vary_based_on_which_computer_i_use.html

http://www.windmeadow.com/node/36

http://forums.digitalpoint.com/showthread.php?t=1162050

I wouldn't have been too surprised at seeing some minor variations, and the first link above explains why this is to be expected. But a factor-of-three difference between two computers on the same Internet feed, and a factor-of-seven difference on two computers separated by only 40 miles, seems a bit much. I wonder how much I'm missing in my daily Google searches?

(Additional info for the curious: the search that got me started on this was ' firefox linux "missing font" tahoma ', and my Linux computer supplies a user-agent string that makes it look like a W2K machine, to get around Yahoo mail's insistence that their 'new' mail system 'has not been tested on my operating system')"
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Canadian TV Networks, Carriers duke it out

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  more than 4 years ago

jenningsthecat (1525947) writes "In Canada, the war is visibly heating up between television networks, and the telcos and cablecos that provide TV signals to more than 90% of Canadian TV-watchers. Both sides of the debate are airing TV commercials reminiscent of a political campaign, and of course each side has its own website:

http://localtvmatters.ca/

http://www.stopthetvtax.ca/

TV networks, hit hard by declining advertising revenues, are scrambling to make ends meet. They claim that cable and satellite carriers, (who currently don't pay TV stations for the use of their signals), are getting an undeserved free ride; so they're petitioning the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission for new legislation that would require carriers to pony up. On the other side, the carriers point out that the TV networks already receive government funding, and are spinning the networks' pitch as a "TV tax". The cable and satellite carriers have stated that they will pass any such fees on to subscribers.

Networks have been down this road with the CRTC twice before, and have met with no success; this time they're doing their best to get public opinion behind them."
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Could you be risking your unemployment benefits?

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  more than 4 years ago

jenningsthecat (1525947) writes "From a link I found on Techdirt, here is yet another example of a bureaucracy lagging far behind tech developments and their social impacts. It turns out that running a blog may be injurious to your financial health:

http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/07/blogger-google-unemployment-personal-finance-google-adsense.html

If you happen to be receiving unemployment benefits, be forewarned. If you live in New York State, (and this may apply to other jursdictions as well), even a minuscule income from, say, advertising on your web site, could cause you to lose said benefits. Theoretically such incidental income should simply result in a reduction of benefits, but it seems the state government can't get their heads around the concept of people earning money in anything other than an employer-employee relationship."
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Canadian ISP's fight back (again)

jenningsthecat jenningsthecat writes  |  more than 4 years ago

jenningsthecat writes "With the recent CRTC decision giving Canadian telcos such as Bell and Telus the legal right to deny third-party ISP's access to their infrastructure, smaller Canadian internet providers are again fighting for their lives, and are asking their customers for help. The ISP's are sending out e-mails asking people to go to http://www.competitivebroadband.com/ to send either a form letter or a personalized message to the Industry Minister, the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader, and optionally the respondent's local Minister of Parliament.

If the CRTC's decision is not overturned, approximately 30 ISP's will likely be forced out of business. Competition in the ADSL market will be totally eliminated, and Canadians will have only two choices for wired Internet access: the local Cableco or the local Telco. Given that Canadian taxpayers have heavily subsidized the telcos in multiple ways for several decades, this decision to hand over exclusive control of the keys to the cookie jar hardly seems fair.

To all Canadian Slashdotters: If you are in favour of net neutrality and believe competition is a good thing, please click on the link above and make your views known to the powers-that-be."

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