top House Committee Approves Bill Banning In-Flight Phone Calls
If you read the article itself you will see that the bill actually bans voice communications through mobile electronics - not just phone calls. As written it would appear the bill would ban phones as well as skype, hangouts and other voice related calls. I suppose this cascades right over to video calls as well.
I find it rather questionable that just months after the FCC finally admitted that there was no reason to ban mobile electronics the "authorities" are once again making a move to regulate mobile electronics. It's not even based on a rationale reason, instead the reason has now become "because I don't like it". Makes one wonder if a constitutional argument can be made here based on freedom of speech - this seemingly is an infringement without justification. Not that Congress has ever cared about such things before.
What happens with all those phones installed on the backs of the seats in the older variants of planes? I flew last year and saw them, although it's not clear to me whether or not they have become decorative or still function.
top The Case For a Government Bug Bounty Program
Agreed. Reminds me of Scott Adams' famous "Write me a new minivan" Dilbert comic:
The only viable solution is to assert a cost to the providers of the software. If said cost is linked to such a bounty program, all the better - but you clearly cannot create a scenario in which writing bad code somehow ends up benefiting the software producers.
about a year and a half ago
top Kodak Basement Lab Housed Small Nuclear Reactor
I don't know much about nuclear engineering, or the subject as a whole, so maybe somebody can jump in here and clarify.
My understanding is that "weapons grade" only refers to a degree of purity, and not to actual intent... but I still have to wonder why they chose to have a "weapons grade" reactor to begin with. What benefits are there to having this as opposed to say standard Uranium reactors?
The University of Maryland (where I graduated) has a research reactor that became higher in profile after the 9/11 attacks. Around 2005 or so ABC ran a story about it, but it was never a big secret that UMD had one. I believe MIT and other technical schools also have such reactors. In general I think they run on just regular uranium instead of the highly enriched "weapons grade".
It's kind of crazy to think that we've got Iran spending so much of their state resources trying to manufacture enriched uranium meanwhile we've got Kodak sitting on 3.5lbs of the stuff in a basement in NY doing rando-tests with it.
top Ask Slashdot: Finding an IT Job Without a Computer-Oriented Undergraduate Degree?
My bet here is that some Slashdot posters are going to enter this conversation and tell you that you don't need a CS degree to be successful. That you might even be able to get away with taking a few formal classes, working on some more open source projects, and to keep trying. That you can somehow salvage your situation and make something of yourself in this field.
I believe this to be true, but only in an outlier sense... statistically your current situation does not put you in a favorable light to be hired. There are surely people who got into computer science through unconventional methods - but there is always a common driving force behind their efforts. They don't end up being successful with computers by accident, they have a long history of psuedo-study that has given them the ability to be competitive in the space.
To put it bluntly, why should I hire you? You've got a soft-science degree which frankly many people don't respect. People with Masters and PhDs are working in bookstores right now - and you have a basic Psychology degree. This shows a lack of planning on your part that I would hold against you on an interview... and to be clear: I do a lot of interviews. You would never make it to me as our filtering process would eliminate you along with the bus drivers who are also applying for jobs with us (that actually happens, pretty amazing).
The economy of the situation is clear. There is a huge swath of unemployed people right now with more skills than you, with more experience than you, with better training and a more appropriate degree (lots of EEs are unemployed for example). So it's going to be really tough for you to sort of slip through the cracks and get a job. Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? No.
If you are truly interested in getting into the field, you should consider that at no other time has it been easier to be an independent developer. Work for yourself, make your own projects. Make some games for the apple app store (forget android, so hard to make money there) or something, and get cracking.
top Why Making Facebook Private Won't Protect You
> and even the Feds don't go demanding to see your Facebook profile.
That's probably because they don't need your permission in order to look at your profile. My understanding is that background checks by the FBI include a review of your online profiles - they just do it through a back channel that isn't public.
I recently interviewed a sysadmin who had no privacy settings on his facebook page. I found this a little troubling because I find innate privacy concerns to be a key attribute of a good sysadmin. When I asked him about this he commented on how routine follow up background checks as part of his current position (which was for a branch of the government) had made those privacy settings a farce to him. They can see the data anyway, so the only person he was fooling was himself.
top AIDS Vaccine Breakthrough
I thought this was going to be another one of those "wow we have a cure for HIV but xyz" type of articles, but there is so much more to it than that.
The coolest part about this breakthrough is that it was directly generated by people playing the game "fold it". The game (which I've played in the past) involves turning various little nobules on molecules in order to try to match them up to certain shapes. It's fun and mindless, I had *no idea* that the results were actually being used by scientists working on important problems.
This is truly crowdsourcing at it's best - check out the first page of the scientific paper for more details, after that it gets pretty bio-nerdy:
top Human Brain Is Sensitive To Light In Ears
The source article is posted on "PR Newswire".
This is a self published document by the company that creates and promotes the Valkee product.
I am in no position to comment on the legitimacy of the product or the efficacy of it's claims, and neither is anyone else here given the complete uselessness of the article presented.
At least link to the "scientific" article that they have on their website, which is more appropriate for this audience:
I cannot tell if the above whitepaper is peer reviewed or what.
top How Your Username May Betray You
The alt.drugs post that the username search linked back to contained his exact email address, along with additional personal details.
It was a 100% match, the applicant didn't recognize the need for discretion at all.
I'd feel terribly guilty if we excluded someone based on shaky evidence, and in other cases we've given the benefit of the doubt your talking about - but only when there is reasonable doubt.
top How Your Username May Betray You
I work for a growing software company and I have basically used this technique for doing basic background checks on job applicants.
Back in about 2006 we had someone apply who had a distinctive username that returned a handful of results via a careful google search. Almost all of them were to "alt.drugs.bongmaking" or something similar.
I didn't care whether the guy/girl had used drugs, but about the complete lack of discretion in the posts. He had actually used his full name and detailed personal information that positively identified him as our applicant. Really sad, and not the only time something like that has happened.
World of StarCraft Mod Gets C&D From Blizzard
So apparently they already had his demo yanked off of youtube, and the above linked youtube video is just a repost - so they are taking it fairly seriously.
I am always amazed on how little forsight is put into legal decisions like this one.
Why don't they just hire the guy, and let him run with it. He clearly has the skillset they are looking for - he made the entire app, demo and produced a bulk of materials by himself. Sounds like he deserves at least an interview with them...
top EPA Knowingly Allowed Pesticide That Kills Bees
> I'm not a fan of pesticides but I won't deny that they increase food and crop yield.
Prove it. I don't believe this whatsoever.
There has been a growing of evidence showing that the overuse of pesticides has led to a *decline* in crop yields, not an increase.
Unless you are familiar with changes in farming techniques over time it's very very hard to have a substantive position on this. Since about 1960-1970 there has been a *huuuge* increase in the use of nitrogen fertilizers that essentially parallels the use of pesticides. Sadly there was a limit to how much nitrogen fixation can actually take place in the presence of pesticides. Keep in mind that nitrogen is required for plants to grow, nitrogen fixation is required for plants to use nitrogen and... research has now shown that pesticides interferes with nitrogen fixation.
I'm not making a broad claim one way or another, but the government clearly isn't researching the things they should be.
top How To Protect Against Firesheep Attacks
The idea that "It seems to me that the big sites should start by redirecting all non-ssl traffic to https automatically" is very shortsighted when you consider how social networking sites actually work.
Social networks by their very nature include cross posting of content found from around the internet. If a site is running in "SSL only" mode then you'd very quickly see intermixed SSL and non-SSL content living side by side, and this creates a disaster for the admins of any web service.
For those who aren't familiar, modern web browsers throw up warnings whenever you intermix SSL and non-SSL content - it's been this way for years, it's a problem for anyone who accepts user generated content cross-site content.
If someone like Facebook were to implement this policy they'd immediately get a flood of complaints about these warnings.
SSL isn't very good protection nowdays anyway - we need something better.
top White House Website Switches To Open Source
I run a fairly high profile drupal site - and this has always been a large concern for us.
Our solution was basically to disable user logins completely. An overwhelming number of the exploits require you to login, so by removing this prerequisite, we basically avoided the problem.
Security isn't exactly a priority for drupal either, it's almost added as an afterthought. To put things in perspective, their login page doesn't even support SSL by default in either drupal 5 or drupal 6. To me that's verging on pathetic.
We were lucky because user logins weren't a core part of our site concept when we implemented the site, but I am now thinking that it might be a good way to go in the future, but I'm mostly petrified of this problem.
On the bright side of things they include a large number of extensions, and things mostly work as advertised, so we found this to be our best option out of all the open source CMSes we tried.
top Disassembling the US Nintendo DSi
I'm really curious if the various mechanisms for running homebrew applications still work.
I have an R4 chip from my regular DS - my guess is they've closed up whatever hole was opened and a new method will be found, but has anyone tested this so far?
top Microsoft Boasts 96% Netbook Penetration
I went to Postgres East last week and won an ASUS EEE PC 1000. It has the 40GB SSD, 1.6ghz Atom and Linux installed.
Unfortunately I can't install a raw install of OSX on it (like the mini9 can) so I'm looking to sell this one.
They opened it at the conference to show to other people, but it's unused and has never been turned on.
I'm asking for 375... email me if interested
top Samsung's 64-GB Solid-State Drive
A couple years ago we had a drive here that was essentially ram with a hard disk backup. It was only 4 gigs and was very very expensive (I can find the brand if anyone is truly curious). We got in maybe 2-3 years ago and it was like 10 grand.
We used that drive for random things, but I always envisioned putting a database on it... of course it was too small. I'm wondering if these new flash drives might be potential alternatives for us... but I'd really need to see someone talking about how many writes these guys really can do. If anyone has *any* information that I can look at that talks about doing a high rate of writes to a volume based on these drives I would be very interested in seeing it. please reply if so!
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