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Astronomers Solve Puzzle of Mysterious Streaks In Radio Images of the Sky

laughingskeptic Silicon ions (66 comments)

They reject most of my theories in their paper, but the don't mention silicon ions as a possible source so I'm going with that. With higher masses and higher charges the silicon ion part of the plasma will be denser and be more affected by the earth's magnetic field at that altitude.

about 1 month ago
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Gen. Keith Alexander On Metadata, Snowden, and the NSA: "We're At Greater Risk"

laughingskeptic Re:Work harder at what? (238 comments)

Your hyperbole is irritatingly excessive. The NSA is primarily made up of the same type of people who read Slashdot. They are not only not interested in you, they can't legally do anything with the data that they 'might' have related to you without a warrant. They are large, but not so large that they are not resource constrained. I'm sure if you had it your way, the world's premier spy agency would have no data to work with. Maybe you think you would be safer without the NSA, I disagree.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Easy-To-Use Alternative To MS Access For a Charity's Database?

laughingskeptic Has anyone responding to this used Access? (281 comments)

It is easy! Soooo easy, not quite as easy as File Maker Pro, but way more powerful and with better forms. You will NOT be doing them a favor by leaving them with something new to them that has poorer documentation and no support. Please, please think of the end user. Libre Office's Base's objective is to be like Access and the current version has many of the UI features but you find the term 'script' shockingly absent from the Libre Office documentation. All of the real power that is in Access is COMPLETELY missing from Libre Office Base.

about 2 months ago
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The Mere Promise of Google Fiber Sends Rivals Scrambling

laughingskeptic Re:I think it's backward. (258 comments)

It is worse, because when you try to drive the AT&T Lambo you find that it only drives fast on the AT&T race track, but 99% of the roads you want to drive on are not part of the AT&T race track. AT&T has demonstrated repeatedly that they are not willing to increase their interconnect infrastructure so your Netflix movies will still hiccup even when you have AT&T fiber to your house. Brilliant.

about 3 months ago
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Survey: 56 Percent of US Developers Expect To Become Millionaires

laughingskeptic In 20 years ... (467 comments)

You will have to be a millionaire in order to have anything close to a decent retirement. Even today, In order to retire on $60K a year right now and live another 40 years, you would need in the $1.6M range. People talk about teachers, soldiers and other public servants having low pay, but if you were to value their retirements as annuities you would see that they largely become millionaires when they retire. Being a millionaire isn't what it used to be. Upper middle class will in the near future translate to millionaire.

about 3 months ago
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Contact Lenses With Infrared Vision?

laughingskeptic Re:Utterly misleading post. (99 comments)

Exactly. I have night vision goggles that are not cooled. Cooling is all about signal-to-noise, not the inherent sensitivity of the CCD detector. When the body and lenses of your imaging device are giving off infrared radiation at the same frequency that you are trying to image, you have to integrate the target image that much longer to get a clear picture. Swapping the back-plane technology cannot change this. This article is a prime example of academic puffery.

about 4 months ago
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TSA Missed Boston Bomber Because His Name Was Misspelled In a Database

laughingskeptic Re:Helpful links for intelligence community devs (275 comments)

Have you used these algorithms in this application? Apply these algorithms to all the last names in the Social Security death index http://ssdmf.info/download.htm... and evaluate your false positive and false negative stats. You will find that these are not generally helpful. It doesn't matter if an algorithm would have worked in one particular case if 99% of the time the algorithm drives the end user insane with useless results.

about 4 months ago
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Cryptocurrency Exchange Vircurex To Freeze Customer Accounts

laughingskeptic Re:Basic Math (357 comments)

I don't think these exchanges are managed quite this simply. They seem to have large numbers of both dollars and bitcoins on-hand and in-process and lots of upset customers. It sounds like they are operating as both bank and exchange -- which is a bad thing.

about 4 months ago
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Cryptocurrency Exchange Vircurex To Freeze Customer Accounts

laughingskeptic Basic Math (357 comments)

Any organization that attempts to provide exchange services between 'hard' currencies and an inflating virtual currency is doomed to insolvency in terms of the hard currency. The operations of such an organization will always amount effectively to a Ponzi scheme when viewed from the hard currency point of view. A little thought experiment: an exchange takes in $100 for 100 v-coins valued at $1 each. The v-coin value inflates to $2 and the investors decide to exchange their v-coins back to dollars ... how many v-coins can be exchanged before the exchange is insolvent? HALF! DUH! The moment a virtual currency becomes established enough to be treated as a valid investment it is doomed to increase its pace of inflation and then collapse. This can only be avoided if the exchanges charge fees that are greater than the future inflation rate. However if they do this, the virtual currency's advantages will quickly be less than simply trading in the original currency ... so what's the point?

about 4 months ago
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Startup Employees As an Organized Labor Group

laughingskeptic Treat Uncompensated Time as Explicit Loan (107 comments)

I have been down the startup road a few times in my career. Most of the time, things don't go as planned and the people who make out the best at the end of the game are the debtors of the company. They get paid first. So try and make sure you are on that list. The promises behind stock options are great, but most of the time you are better off being explicitly owed.

about 4 months ago
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Federal Student Aid Requirements At For-Profit Colleges Overhauled

laughingskeptic Re:Wrong target (295 comments)

Agree. If federal student aid was capped at 1000 X minimum wage per year (like it effectively was in 1981) then tuitions everywhere would come down. The country has been hoodwinked by the Universities that education is valuable and therefore must be expensive. I got a great education in the 80's for a pittance by today's standards that I paid for entirely on my own. I borrowed money for school, but it was a safety blanket that I fortunately did not need to tap and was able to pay back when I graduated without ever having had to pay a dime of interest. These for-profit schools are taking advantage of the marketing campaigns and congressional payoffs of the major schools, setting up in a strip center with low overhead and making a killing off of the backs of the students they trick into going into debt for their programs.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Online, Free Equivalent To a CompSci BS?

laughingskeptic Re:The job equivilent of a college CS education (197 comments)

"You don't need any math more complex than simple algebra."

I can only partially agree with this statement.

Software implementations do not live in a vacuum. If the domain you are developing software for depends on higher math then the software engineers working in that domain NEED to have an understanding of higher math, physics, etc. depending on the domain. I have seen disasters when this is not true. For instance I know of a software team that was charged with computing locations based on the TDOA algorithm for the US military. However earlier in their data pipeline they had truncated nanosecond accurate times to milliseconds because that programmer couldn't conceive of why anyone would ever need time to be more accurate than milliseconds. The team as a whole could not understand why their location results seemed random (+/- a continent). They had no understanding of hyperbolic math, the implications of the speed of light or any of the other basic things they needed to understand to solve the problem. They had been handed an algorithm which they had dutifully translated into code, so in their mind the problem must lie with the mathematician that gave them the algorithm. The mathematician was not a software engineer and was not in a position to use a debugger to notice that the times had been truncated. When the team was told what was wrong via a very specific bug report regarding the truncated times, they, as a group were angry and killed the messenger.

about 5 months ago
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Naming All Lifeforms On Earth With Hash Functions

laughingskeptic Re:Not sure how similar this is to hashing (97 comments)

You are equating "hash function" and "cryptographic hash function" with your assertion "one of the key properties of a hash function is that small changes in the input result in a completely changed output". Not all hash functions are cryptographic hash functions. Inside operating systems you may see a hash function that is no more than a simple masking of bits because that is all that is required.

about 5 months ago
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Financing College With a Tax On All Graduates

laughingskeptic Re:Bullshit! (597 comments)

You are right and wrong. For Texas schools at least, the real number is 4X and that is bad enough without the hyperbole. First, we need to accept an inflation factor and I think the best one in this case is the minimum wage that most college students would make on a part time basis. In 1981 a year of college cost around 716 minimum wage hours (based on my actual expenses). Today a year at UT costs around 3,000 minimum wage hours according to UT's estimates. What has changed? All of the facilities are much nicer and the square footage of facilities per student is at least 2X what it was in 1981. In other words all that tuition and fee money is going to construction companies, not to educating students.

In this light, I am afraid that providing money to the universities via taxes will just perpetuate the current insanity when what we really need is for universities to once again become efficient at providing education.

about 5 months ago
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Financing College With a Tax On All Graduates

laughingskeptic College costs are not demand driven (597 comments)

By making money readily available to the universities via grants and loans over the last 40 years, the universities have greatly expanded their ability to spend money on marble and mahogany. The efficiency of education delivered to students as measured proportionate to the minimum wage has declined by around 4X factor since 1981 here in Texas. In 1981 a year of college cost around 716 minimum wage hours (based on my actual expenses). Today a year at UT costs around 3,000 minimum wage hours according to UT's estimates. What has changed? All of the facilities are much nicer and the square footage of facilities per student is at least 2X what it was in 1981. In other words all that tuition and fee money is going to construction companies, not to educating students.

In this light, I am afraid that providing money to the universities via taxes will just perpetuate the current insanity when what we really need is for universities to once again become efficient at providing education.

about 5 months ago
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Surveillance Watchdog Concludes Metadata Program Is Illegal, "Should End"

laughingskeptic Different Definition of Illegal? (138 comments)

3 guys decided that an organization established by Congress, performing duties as directed by the executive branch and monitored by the judicial branch was doing something illegal? That's right up there with me and my drinking buddies thinking that toll roads should be illegal.

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Convince an ISP To Bury Cable In Your Neighborhood?

laughingskeptic Re:So... Covenants (324 comments)

You are right that they are hard to change. You are wrong that they are usually associated with a government. They are usually associated with the deed of the property. When the property was subdivided, the creator of the individual parcels specified deed covenants that they thought would improve the value of the property. States have laws related to the type of super-majority required to change these deeds (often 90%), but even if everyone in your neighborhood agrees, good luck getting the banks all equally interested in making this change. Then you typically would have to re-close on the new deed and pay the associated costs of that. In other words, pretty much impossible.

about 6 months ago
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Research Suggests One To Three Men Fathered Most Western Europeans

laughingskeptic Extreme speculation based on insufficient data (253 comments)

Sample sizes of 8 and 13 respectively? Non-random?
The mutation rate in humans is only .003% per genome.
This is like trying to compare two different atomic bomb explosions given data on only 8 and 13 neutrons from each explosion. They don't even have enough samples to compute the genetic equivalent of temperature (what ever that may be), much less make over arching statements about the two populations. When they have done this analysis for at least 300 random samples from each population I would be interested in hearing the results.

about 8 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Prove an IT Manager Is Incompetent?

laughingskeptic Re:Several things (331 comments)

Presenting solutions has to be #1. It is not optional. If you don't present solutions you are just a whiner.

about a year ago
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HP Discontinue OpenVMS

laughingskeptic Re:Never hacked? (238 comments)

Ahhh user FIELD; password SERVICE. The good ol' days.

about a year ago

Submissions

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Amsterdam plane crash caused by software bug?

laughingskeptic laughingskeptic writes  |  more than 5 years ago

laughingskeptic (1004414) writes "The automatic pilot apparently powered down the engines at 2000 ft altitude because one input, the altimeter, told it the plane had landed. A modern plane has a number of inputs from which the 'landed' status could be determined and it seems to me that it is a major bug for one of them to be taken as the controlling input in a situation like this."

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