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Proposed SpaceX Spaceport Passes Its Final Federal Environmental Review

jfruh Why do they need their own spaceport? (40 comments)

Out of curiosity, what do they need their own spaceport for, especially if (as an earlier poster notes) they only intend to launch about once a month? Are there constraints on the use of launchpads at Cape Canaveral, where there's already been a great deal of investment in building launchpads, support structures, etc.?

about 2 months ago
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Taiwan Protests Apple Maps That Show Island As Province of China

jfruh Isn't this what the Taiwanese believe as well? (262 comments)

Both the government of the People's Republic of China (which controls the mainland) and the government of the Republic of China (which controls Taiwan) believe that Taiwan is a part of China. The two just disagree about who China's rightful government is. I realize that over the past 60 years Taiwan has grown more and more self-contained and has become a de facto state independent of China, but in theory there's nothing either side should object to in portraying Taiwan as part of China.

about 9 months ago
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How Big Data Is Destroying the US Healthcare System

jfruh this is banned starting next year (507 comments)

Kind of bizarre that this whole jeremiad seems to ignore the fact that the Obamacare reforms ban exactly this practice starting in 2014? This is responsible for a lot of the disruptions to the market we're seeing now -- some young healthy people are going to be paying more, and some older sicker people are going to be paying less. (The other disruptions are that some of the old policies had coverage caps that wouldn't have covered expensive catastrophic illnesses; that's also banned, and their replacements are more expensive.)

about 9 months ago
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Neil deGrasse Tyson Says Private Business Will Not Open the Space Frontier

jfruh SpaceX is impressive, but... (580 comments)

...to say that it's an example of free enterprise in space is laughable. The company's most high-profile missions -- the Dragon capsules to and from the ISS -- are fully paid for by NASA. SpaceX is essentially a government contractor. It's "profitable" because the government is paying it do things (and because it can do those things more efficiently than the government could itself, for a variety of structural reasons). So, yeah, I have no doubt that Elon Musk could set up a Mars colony if the U.S. government paid him to do it. I'm just not sure that really constitutes "private business" doing the job.

about a year ago
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Transport Expert Insists 'Don't Dismiss Wacky Hyperloop'

jfruh 10% of the capacity of high-speed rail (385 comments)

An actual transit engineer crunches the numbers here:

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/19848/musks-hyperloop-math-doesnt-add-up/

And finds that while the journey for individuals may be faster, the system as a whole would have one-tenth the capacity (i.e., the ability to move people in numbers) than the planned high-speed rail system. You could solve this problem by building 10 times as many tubes, of course, but that would eliminate the 90% cost savings Musk is touting.

The radically reduced travel times vs. HSR are also deceiving. The maps Musk released show the system travelling from the fringes of the Bay Area to the fringes of the LA area, because it's hard/expensive/impossible to get land for the straightaways you'd need for the project within densely built up urban areas. To get from San Francisco to the hyperloop station, or from the hyperloop station to downtown LA, you'd have to switch to local transit or drive, which will double or triple travel time. Not coincidentally, must of the construction and expense that adds to HSR's very high price tag will come in SF and LA urban areas, since that system goes from downtown to downtown.

about a year ago
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Microsoft Slashes Prices On Surface

jfruh Re:Better idea - inform the consumer (330 comments)

Right now MS adverts for the surface are nothing more than hipster dipshits dancing on a boardroom table and spining the Surface around ... MS can't act like Apple.

iPad and iPhone ads are actually pretty good about showing you in succinct ways what you can do with the product. They're usually made up of quick, targeted clips of apps in use. It's kind of flabbergasted me that Microsoft hasn't done the same thing with their TV ads, especially when it comes to Office. It's almost as if their marketing dept. came to the conclusion that "We have to fight Apple on their own terms" without actually sitting down to watch how Apple markets its products.

1 year,16 days
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How the Syrian Electronic Army Hacked The Onion

jfruh Re:I read the Onion, I thought it was a joke (91 comments)

This is wildly incorrect. You could tell form their posts that the Syrians knew exactly what the Onion was and were actually writing Onion-style headlines to promote their point of view. "UN admonishes Syria for getting in way of Jewish missles," that sort of thing.

about a year ago
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Surface Pro Sold Out; Was It Just Understocked?

jfruh for the love of god, why? (413 comments)

It's a lap-burning battery-sucking brick with processing power to rival a laptop. That's the type of tablet I want.

You and very few other people! I mean, what's the point, exactly? Why not get a similarly light ultrabook? The whole idea of a tablet is that it's light, the batterly lasts all day, and the UI is oriented around touch. I mean, there are things about the iPad that drive me nuts (particularly file-handling, or rather the way it tries abstract away file-handling completely) but it gets all that right. Do you really want something as heavy as a laptop with a laptop-focused OS, but with no keyboard?

about a year and a half ago
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Forbes 2013 Career List Flamed By University Professors

jfruh fundamental misunderstanding of what academics do (370 comments)

The problem is that many non-academics believe that the primary job of college professors is teaching undergraduates, and so they see any time not in the classroom as "time off" (never mind that the ratio of classroom prep time to classroom time can approach 1:1 if you really care about doing it right). In some institutions this is much of what college professors do, but in most schools that have any pretentions of being a research institution, academics are expected to produce publishable scholarship. Scientists and engineers spend much if not most of their time in the lab; humanities profs tend to work less collaboratively, but still spend a lot of hours reading, researching, and writing in whatever their field is. Most schools will give lip service to the idea that working with students is the most important thing, but in reality most of the incentives are geared towards producing quantifiable amounts of research (so many books, so many published articles, etc.). Far from having semester breaks "off," professors often use this time to focus more intently on their research, and sabbatical years are generally used to polish off major works of scholarship. On the surface, it can seem like this is work you're doing for you rather than for your job -- after all, it's your name on the book, and you take your reputation with you if you jump to another school -- but this work is one of the university's primary missions, and it's what they're paying you to do, as it reflects back on htem.

It's also worth nothing that in those schools where teaching undergrads really is the primary mission, professors spend much more time in the classroom than the stereotype discussed in the Forbest article (i.e., 3 or 4 classes a semester as opposed to the two typical of a research institution).

Finally, there's an awful lot of diversity within academia as to what professorial workload is like. In particular, more and more academics are being hired on interm or adjunct bases and end up spending a lot more time in the classroom for a lot less money than what tenured and tenure-track profs get. The irony is that the way to get onto the tenure track is to publish impressive research, but the lower-level jobs often don't allow you the time to do it.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Facebook, Twitter For Business, Is It Worth the Privacy Trade-Off?

jfruh Yes, and use a one-time-only address (158 comments)

Having a social media presence is pretty crucial to doing the sort of freelance work you're describing, since so much of how you get business happens via word of mouth (and so much of "word of mouth" happens on social media).

One of the simplest things you can do to protect your privacy is to create an email addres that you *only* use for social media accounts (like, a special gmail address that just forwards mail to your regular adress, or maybe facebook@yourdomain.com if you own your own domain). This rather horrifying article from the WSJ about the way that social media tracking work makes clear that your email address is a big part of how your identity is tracked online. If they can't match the email address you use for your Facebook login with any other aspects of your online identity, you have some protections.

If you're using them strictly as a business tool, I wouldn't worry too much about photos -- I do think it's helpful to have a photo of yourself, especially in a one-to-one business like freelance photography. You can set your Facebook account so other people can't tag you in their photos.

about a year and a half ago
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How Websites Know Your Email Address the First Time You Visit

jfruh Wall Street Journal has more details (184 comments)

The Wall Street Journal had a big article about this practice, which is not new and is fully mainstream among U.S. companies. The article contains this COMPLETELY AMAZING quote" "Dataium [a company that facilitates this tracking] said that shoppers' Web browsing is still anonymous, even though it can be tied to their names. "

about a year and a half ago
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Why Can't Industry Design an Affordable Hearing Aid?

jfruh Re:Because it's a medical device. (549 comments)

But in the end it's because the manufacturers have figured out what the highest price an average insurance company will pay...

This actually isn't true, at least in the United States. Very few health insurance plans pay for hearing aids, and I don't believe their included in the mandated coverage under the ACA either.

about 2 years ago
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Are We Getting Smarter? Rising IQ Scores In the Twenty-First Century

jfruh Re:Definition of "smart" (421 comments)

Sorry this is uncited, but I remember reading about an IQ test that western researchers tried to give to residents of a rural African village sometime in the mid-to-late 20th century. Most of the villagers were illiterate, so the crux was developing a test that didn't involve reading or writing. One of the test items involved a bunch of abstract shapes that had been molded out of clay; the villagers were told to match the shapes that "went together." Most of them "failed" this part of the test, because the researchers' definition of "passing" would be to match up shapes that looked alike, whereas the villagers tried to interpret the shapes as real objects and group them functionally, e.g., they matched spherical objects that looked like fruit to long, thin objects that looked like knives.

about 2 years ago
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AT&T Promises To Expand LTE To More US Markets

jfruh Re:How about percentage of the LAND AREA? (105 comments)

The whole POINT of wireless is that you can use it when you're ON THE ROAD, somewhere OUT OF A CITY, or otherwise anywhere but parked at home or the office. The carriers seem to have lost track of that.

Er, you realize that the vast majority of people, even when they're on the road and out of their home/office, are going other places where people live, right? Usually in their own city? For most people, I'd wager that the huge majority of their cell phone calls are made within a half-hour drive from their house.

about 2 years ago
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The Nation Is Losing Its Toolbox

jfruh revealing conversation with my stepfather (525 comments)

I had a conversation with my step-father a few months ago (he's 71) when he was talking about how when he was a teenager and young adult he used to tinker with his cars all the time, trying to squeeze a bit more performance out of it. Now, of course, he never opens his car's hood. "Do you miss it?" I asked him. "Of course not," he said. "Those cars were garbage. They lasted half as long as the new models, and the reason we were always tinkering with them is that stuff went wrong with them so often that you couldn't afford to take it to the mechanic for every little thing."

about 2 years ago
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It Costs $450 In Marketing To Make Someone Buy a $49 Nokia Lumia

jfruh Re:Subsidized price (363 comments)

"Windows" and "Microsoft" are not positive brands. You attach "Windows" to something, and people immediately think of their home PC. That is not a good thing given how awful the average home PC is.

Notice that in Nokia's big first wave of ads for the Lumia (the "beta testing is over" ads with Chris Parnell, aka 30 Rock's Dr. Spaceman), nobody ever says the words "Microsoft" or "Windows".

about 2 years ago
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Data Center Staff Will Sleep Among the Racks For London Olympics

jfruh I'm sorry, this is ridiculous (210 comments)

There's such a fucked-up culture, particularly in tech, that you aren't hard-core unless you're sacrificing your life and health for work. It's a two-week event: would it kill the employer to pay a bit more to bring on extra staff to work the overnight shift?

more than 2 years ago
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Television Next In Line For Industry-Wide Shakeup?

jfruh TV is not about picture quality (381 comments)

If TV is about picture quality, why does my wife watch Modern Family on the 15-inch screen on her laptop in our office and not on the 40-inch HD TV we have downstairs in the living room? Oh, right, because it's super easy for her to legally watch episodes whenever she wants via ABC's Web site in a browser, whereas doing so on our TV varies between "a pain in the ass" and "impossible."

The company that solves this problem will make millions, and it won't be a company that's convinced that all people want is ever-sharper video.

more than 2 years ago
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Mitt Romney, Robotics, and the Uncanny Valley

jfruh Letterman said it best... (501 comments)

...when he said Romney looks like "the guy who plays the American president in a Canadian movie."

more than 2 years ago

Submissions

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IBM Having Trouble Selling Its Chipmaking Division

jfruh jfruh writes  |  9 hours ago

jfruh (300774) writes "IBM has been trying to sell its chipmaking division for a while now as part of its plan to unload underperforming assets, but it's now turning out that nobody else wants an underperforming chipmaking divion either, at least not at the prices IBM is asking. Globalfoundries, which used to be AMD's manufacturing arm and is now largely owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, was reportedly interested in buying, but only wanted the intellectual proprty and engineering staff — they felt IBM's manufacturing plants were of "little or no value.""
Link to Original Source
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Privacy Groups Fight Facebook's Plan To Track You Off Facebook

jfruh jfruh writes  |  2 days ago

jfruh (300774) writes "When Facebook launched social plugins that could be installed on third party websites, it promised the information those plugins gathered would not be used to target ads. But now the company has reversed course, announcing plans to track users across multiple websites and use their browsing history to target ads, just as Google does. Privacy groups are gearing up to try to stop them."
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Oracle Offers Custom Intel Chips And Unanticipated Costs

jfruh jfruh writes  |  2 days ago

jfruh (300774) writes "For some time, Intel has been offering custom-tweaked chips to big customers. While most of the companies that have taken them up on this offer, like Facebook and eBay, put the chips into servers meant for internal use, Oracle will now be selling systems running on custom Xeons directly to end users. Those customers need to be careful about how they configure those systems, though: in the new Oracle 12c, the in-memory database option, which costs $23,000 per processor, is turned on by default."
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Chinese TV Report Spurs Worries About Spying ... By Apple

jfruh jfruh writes  |  5 days ago

jfruh (300774) writes "An investigation by Chinese jounralists led many Chinese citizens to worry that their every move is being tracked and personal data intentionally intruded upon. The nefarious institution conducting this surveillance? Apple, via iOS 7's "Frequent Locations" feature. In the wake of the report, which ran on a state-owned television channel, Apple released a statement assuring users that isn't tracking their location data, but that hasn't stopped a woman in China from filing a class action suit in a California Court."
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U.S. State Department Computer Crash Delays Visa Applications Worldwide

jfruh jfruh writes  |  5 days ago

jfruh (300774) writes "The crash of a U.S. State Department computer earlier this week still hasn't been fully recovered from, leading to delays in applications for U.S. visas and passports all over the world. The problems first surfaced after "routine maintenance" on the consular database, which is "one of the largest Oracle-based data warehouses in the world.""
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Chinese Businesses Withholding Money From Qualcomm In Anti-Trust Dispute

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about a week ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Qualcomm is best known for making chips, but it also has a robust patent-licensing business — one that, according to Chinese regulators, it's been abusing in that country by charging for expired patents, bundling patent licensing with chip sales, and refusing to license patents to certain chipmakers. The Chinese antitrust agency hasn't reach any conclusions, but many Chinese companies seem to be taking matters into their own hands, withholding royalty payments or otherwise failing to comply with their contracts."
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How The Internet Of Things Could Aid Disaster Response

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about a week ago

jfruh (300774) writes "While the Internet has made communications easier, that ease had made us very dependent on the Internet for communications — and, when disaster strikes, power and infrastructure outages tend to shut down those communications networks when we need them most. But now researchers are examining how the so-called "Internet of Things" — the proliferating array of Internet-communicating devices in our lives — can transmit emergency messages via ad-hoc networks even when the Internet backbone in a region is inoperable."
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Ask Slashdot: How To Choose A NoSQL Database?

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about a week ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Nonrelational databases NoSQL databases have become increasingly popular, especially for dealing with big data applications. But the theory on what databases are good for what purposes is still somewhat unsettled, and there's a much wider variety of products and open source projects that there is in the RDBMS world. Tech blogger Matthew Mombrea is grappling with his choice. How would you make yours?"
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New York Judge OKs Warrant To Search Entire Gmail Account

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "While several U.S. judges have refused as overbroad warrants that sought to grant police access to a suspects complete Gmail account, a federal judge in New York State OK'd such an order this week. Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein argued that a search of this type was no more invasive than the long-established practice of granting a warrant to copy and search the entire contents of a hard drive, and that alternatives, like asking Google employees to locate messages based on narrowly tailored criteria, risked excluding information that trained investigators could locate."
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Google-Owned Boston Dynamics Taking Much Less Money From U.S. Military

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Google's "don't be evil" mantra already seemed pretty dated last year December when it purchased Boston Dynamics, a company that designs actual robot soldiers. But since the takeover, Boston Dynamics income from military and government sources has dropped dramatically. It may be that Google as an international corporation can't be tied too closely to any single state or its military; it may also be possible that Google has other uses in mind for Boston Dynamics robots."
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Point-of-Sale System Bought On eBay Yields Treasure Trove Of Private Data

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Point-of-sale systems aren't cheap, so it's not unusual for smaller merchants to buy used terminals second-hand. An HP security researcher bought one such unit on eBay to see what a used POS system will get you, and what he found was distrubing: default passwords, a security flaw, and names, addresses, and social security numbers of employees of the terminal's previous owner."
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Microsoft Layoffs Represent Failure Of Nokia Acquisition

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "The tech press has been shocked by the scale of layoffs proposed by new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella — tens of thousands of workers representing 14 percent of company headcount. But the numbers somewhat obscure the fact that a significant majority of those losing their jobs — almost 70 percent — are former Nokia employees who only came over in the course of Microsoft's acquistion of their company in the past year. The cuts may primarily represent Nadella's rejection of the Nokia merger, signalled by his changing Microsoft's mission from being a "devices and services" provider to instead focusing on "productivity and platform"."
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How To Get Your Next Big IT Project Funded

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "The world of internal corporate budgeting is Darwinian and zero-sum. If you want to get a big project IT project funded by your company, one that will involve spending money up front, you can't just compare it to technical projects: you need to prove it's better than everything else the company could be spending money on, based on some metrics that aren't technical at all."
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US House Passes Pemanent Ban On Internet Taxes

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "In 1998, the US Congress passed a law that temporarily banned all taxes imposed by federal, state, and local governments on Internet access and Internet-only services, a ban that has been faithfully renewed every year since. Now the US House has passed a permanent version of the ban, which also applies to several states that had passed Internet taxes before 1998 and were grandfathered in under the temporary law. The Senate must pass the bill as well by November 1 or the temporary ban will lapse."
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Yahoo Ending Helps Japanese Manage Their Deaths

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "A quarter of Japan's population is over 65, and Yahoo Japan sees that as a growth market. They're offering Yahoo Ending to help the elderly manage all electronic aspects of their deaths, from archiving their online existence to sending a pre-written note to their loved ones. The company hopes that eventually the site can be a portal to help simply the process of having an IRL funeral, too."
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Your Personal Data Is On Your Phone -- In The Form Of Bacteria

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Yes, we all know that we have a lot of personally identifying information on our phones that maybe we shouldn't. But even if our data is locked down and encrypted, we're all leaving biological footprints on our phones, which are basically extensions of our personal bacterial ecosystem. A study has concluded that phones could be a less invasive source of information in studying individual microbiomes than current techniques."
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Oracle To Allow Single Database Query To Run Against SQL, NoSQL, and Hadoop

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "One of the biggest losers in the rise of lightweight big data databases like NoSQL and Hadoop has been Oracle, whose lucrative business lies on selling SQL tools. Proving that if you can't beat 'em you should join 'em, Oracle is now offering tools that allow you to query multiple kinds of databases with a single SQL query. The hope is that Oracle's SQL products will still remain the default, or at least in the mix."
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