Slashdot: News for Nerds


Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!



Lawrence Krauss: Congress Is Trying To Defund Scientists At Energy Department

mbkennel Re:Good (292 comments)

Funny, as it actually turned out, energy efficiency research for both electricity and transportation has worked very well, as have wind turbines and solar power. And quite a bit of that comes from DOE research.

Fusion reactor? Well, that's still 30 years away.

Of course the vast majority of DOE money is devoted to the nuclear weapons infrastructure and environmental cleanup from decades of nuclear weapon infrastructure.

For instance, take the FY 2012 budget of Los Alamos National lab.

What fraction would you say is on basic science? I expected 30%. More like 4%.

57% NNSA weapons
9% NNSA nonproliferation
7% NNSA 'safeguards and security'
7% work for national security (most likely intelligence agencies)
8% environmental cleanup
4% undefined 'work for others'
4% DOE Energy and Other Programs
4% DOE Office Of Science

5 days ago

No RIF'd Employees Need Apply For Microsoft External Staff Jobs For 6 Months

mbkennel America is not a wealthy country (282 comments)

The US is an anti-social middle income country which happens to have some very wealthy people who live in it and run it.

It only feels wealthy for the average person when buying consumer electronics.

about a week ago

Microsoft's Missed Opportunities: Memo From 1997

mbkennel Re:Meh, why should we spend money on that? (161 comments)

| I have every expectation that the guys who invented the transistor met with business people who told them: "That's real nice, but I already have a triode or a pentode for that. Give me something I don't already have.

No. That's what happens now. That didn't happen in the 1950's at Bell Labs or in any successful organization in the era of significant American technical/industrial competence (1920-1980).

about two weeks ago

Microsoft's Missed Opportunities: Memo From 1997

mbkennel Re:Maybe MSFT was trying to learn from Xerox (161 comments)

| Kodak was a film company, not a camera company.

What Kodak didn't realize, and its competitor, Fuji did realize, was that Kodak was actually a materials, coatings & chemical processing company, but it thought it was a photography company. As you recognize, the expertise wasn't in how film works, it's how film factories work, and the people who knew semiconductor factories made better sensors.

If they did realize this, they'd be around today making graphene or medical instruments.

And for a number of decades Kodak, along with Perkin-Elmer (also in upstate New York) made the most impressive photography system in the world, i.e. the film-based NRO surveillance satellites, and could never talk about it. That big stream of revenue also died.

about two weeks ago

Telcos Move Net Neutrality Fight To Congress

mbkennel Can we extend corporate rights to individuals? (52 comments)

| Imagine the consequences if we DIDN'T extend individual rights to corporations.The government could just read all the data on Google's servers after taking them.

As opposed to now? They read all the data on Google's servers without taking them.

The problem is that powerful corporations appear to have even more rights than individual people.

People managing powerful corporations do illegal acts, and other people (the shareholders who had no knowledge or control) are punished.

Personally, I'd love to re-incorporate my soul in a zero-tax offshore jurisdiction and subcontract out my physical body to earn income another country but not have to pay tax.

Since a corporation is not a natural person, but a particular structure created by legislative activity, there is no legal or moral reason that rights of such constructed entities cannot be legally constrained in ways impermissible for natural humans.

about two weeks ago

After NSA Spying Flap, Germany Asks CIA Station Chief to Depart

mbkennel A diplomatic euphemism (219 comments)

| The Obama administration and that of George W. Bush both resisted such entreaties, in part because many U.S. intelligence officials believe that there are too many areas where German and U.S. security interests diverge."

This is a euphemism for saying "we believe that the German intelligence department is significantly penetrated by the Russian FSB".

Of course the German intelligence apparatus also spies on US, and France and UK, as they all do to one another.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Switching From SAS To Python Or R For Data Analysis and Modeling?

mbkennel The right competitor to SAS is Statistica (143 comments)

R isn't a replacement for SAS---in practical use it requires much more command line programming ability and although it has an enormous number of packages, many of them are 'academic quality' (meaning good enough to make papers) and fewer are highly validated production quality with all the edge cases & stability tested.

Some SAS capabilities can run 'out of core' (unlike R) so you can process data sets which would not fit into RAM.

Statistica (StatSoft) is the closest direct competitor (Windows only unfortunately) to SAS, and from all the reviews I've read, it's significantly better.

If your institution already has a SAS base, then it will stay that way. However, there are probably many "data management" and "data processing" tasks whose nature is somewhere between computation and file/database management---but often they get implemented suboptimally in whatever package the authors found at hand. So you may be doing lots of things in SAS that you shouldn't be---and the best replacement here is python, not R. The business case to your management could be improving workflow, clarity and lowering the number of SAS licenses needed.

Keep the SAS core tasks for which SAS is good as it is, and evaluate Statistica for these as a competitor, if only to get a break on licenses from SAS if your company does a bake-off competition & bid.

about a month ago

Investor Tim Draper Announces He Won Silk Road Bitcoin Auction

mbkennel Tim Draper is engaging in powertalk, not fact talk (115 comments)

People at that level talk with purpose, and the purpose is not always conveying well-justified facts or opinions.

Draper is far from stupid. He is already starting to talk his book by giving increased legitimacy to *bitcoin technology startups*, which is his actual investment.

The profits are in the fees in the payment systems.

From which he will cash out profits in cold dollars and euros, and a few bitcoins as a lark.

Bitcoin can't possibly be any kind of stable or useful general currency until there's a bond market in bitcoin. People imagine that transacting for bubblegum or downloads makes for good currency---but that's meaningless trivia. It's the existence and strength of *debt markets*, whether direct (loans) or capital markets (bonds) which truly signal strength, because these instruments are arbitrage through time. The dollar and euro aren't going anywhere because there are trillion $ bond and FX markets behind them.

Draper knows this, too.

When you start to get a bitcoin bond market with enforcable contracts, then it's time to take it seriously.

about a month ago

Mayors of Atlanta & New Orleans: Uber Will Knock-Out Taxi Industry

mbkennel the most important one is missed out (273 comments)

| taxi licenses are limited to ensure that taxi drivers can still make a decent living

But in practice it doesn't work that way, taxi drivers still make a crap living working for owning companies who actually own the licenses, who make a great living.

And that's where the noise is coming from. Why else are the licenses/medallions, bought and sold on the free market, so expensive? Because they're profitable.

Uber drivers keep substantially more of their fare.

What's special about taxis that doesn't apply to grocery stores? Why aren't there a limited number of Grocery Store Medallions to be auctioned? People need to eat even more than they need a taxi.

about a month ago

Mayors of Atlanta & New Orleans: Uber Will Knock-Out Taxi Industry

mbkennel Re:Good? (273 comments)

| If/when uber and other private entities take business away from public services,

How does that work?

I see additional taxi-limo-driver-like services. If prices for transportation go down, does that

a) help
b) hurt


Is the problem that Uber et al might get so convenient and inexpensive that people will use it instead of the public buses? Is that really going to be a problem?

about a month ago

Google Is Offering Free Coding Lessons To Women and Minorities

mbkennel Unbalanced employment pool at Google (376 comments)

What else is a small minority at Google?

Programmers over 45 years old.

Funny, they aren't getting free classes. I guess youth privilege is still golden.

about a month ago

Germany Scores First: Ends Verizon Contract Over NSA Concerns

mbkennel Is it any different with anybody else? (206 comments)

There's an illusion that the USA is unique in this. It isn't, it's just that there aren't any other whistleblowers.

If you contract with Deutsche Telecom, you'll be subjected to German intelligence interception certainly.

Realistically---you'll be subjected to German, British, Chinese, French, Russian, American and Israeli intelligence interception to some degree or another.

about a month ago

Perl Is Undead

mbkennel go ahead and blame (283 comments)

"I don't think we should blame the language for being powerful enough that an evil programmer can be unfathomably evil, if it also enables a just programmer to be eminently understandable"

Why not?

Other language designs restrict an evil programmer to be only ordinary orc-level evil, and not unfathomably balrog evil.

about a month ago

TrueCrypt Author Claims That Forking Is Impossible

mbkennel Re:What whas the problem in the first place? (250 comments)

"As far as we know so far, Truecrypt hasn't been compromised"

The message from the originator may be covert side-channel communication that this is not the case.

about a month ago

Why China Is Worried About Japan's Plutonium Stocks

mbkennel Re:Serously? (398 comments)

Only the first was was necessary.

about a month and a half ago

Yahoo's Diversity Record Is Almost As Bad As Google's

mbkennel Re:What is IQ (435 comments)

| IQ is basically a measurement of your social/economic advantages in education and a nurturing environment

Not adult IQ. Effects of childhood rearing become smaller.

Identical twins reared separately have a far stronger correlation than unrelated children raised together.

about a month and a half ago

Kingston and PNY Caught Bait-and-Switching Cheaper Components After Good Reviews

mbkennel """accidentally"""" (289 comments)

So how often did a review sample perform worse than subsequent manufacturing changes?

about a month and a half ago

House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary

mbkennel Yes it was hijacked by Dick Armey (932 comments)

It started out as "Freedom Works", a group against crony capitalism and scot-free bailouts for bankers without responsibility or prosecution.

I was on the list. The messages then started getting weirder and more aggressively right wing and hysterical in ways distinct from its original purpose. I dug around and found it was Dick Armey who was responsible for the hijacking. It was intentional and by a powerful insider. I removed my name from their list.

about a month and a half ago

House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary

mbkennel Re:You're being an idiot (932 comments)

Actually it seems that homosexual rights is the only area in which Republicans are more to the left than in 1980, much less 1956.

Exceprts from the 1956 Republican platform.

On Antitrust:

We also propose: Legislation to enable closer Federal scrutiny of mergers which have a significant or potential monopolistic connotations;
Procedural changes in the antitrust laws to facilitate their enforcement;

On labor & wages & benefits:

The record of performance of the Republican Administration on behalf of our working men and women goes still further. The Federal minimum wage has been raised for more than 2 million workers. Social Security has been extended to an additional 10 million workers and the benefits raised for 6 1/2 million. The protection of unemployment insurance has been brought to 4 million additional workers. There have been increased workmen's compensation benefits for longshoremen and harbor workers, increased retirement benefits for railroad employees, and wage increases and improved welfare and pension plans for federal employees.

In addition, the Eisenhower Administration has enforced more vigorously and effectively than ever before, the laws which protect the working standards of our people.

Workers have benefited by the progress which has been made in carrying out the programs and principles set forth in the 1952 Republican platform. All workers have gained and unions have grown in strength and responsibility, and have increased their membership by 2 millions.

The Eisenhower Administration will continue to fight for dynamic and progressive programs which, among other things, will:

Stimulate improved job safety of our workers, through assistance to the States, employees and employers;

Continue and further perfect its programs of assistance to the millions of workers with special employment problems, such as older workers, handicapped workers, members of minority groups, and migratory workers;

Strengthen and improve the Federal-State Employment Service and improve the effectiveness of the unemployment insurance system;

Protect by law, the assets of employee welfare and benefit plans so that workers who are the beneficiaries can be assured of their rightful benefits;

Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of Sex;

Clarify and strengthen the eight-hour laws for the benefit of workers who are subject to federal wage standards on Federal and Federally-assisted construction, and maintain and continue the vigorous administration of the Federal prevailing minimum wage law for public supply contracts;

Extend the protection of the Federal minimum wage laws to as many more workers as is possible and practicable;

Continue to fight for the elimination of discrimination in employment because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry or sex;

Provide assistance to improve the economic conditions of areas faced with persistent and substantial unemployment;

Revise and improve the Taft-Hartley Act so as to protect more effectively the rights of labor unions, management, the individual worker, and the public. The protection of the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively is the firm and permanent policy of the Eisenhower Administration.0--

Health & education:

Republican leadership has enlarged Federal assistance for construction of hospitals, emphasizing low-cost care of chronic diseases and the special problems of older persons, and increased Federal aid for medical care of the needy.

We have asked the largest increase in research funds ever sought in one year to intensify attacks on cancer, mental illness, heart disease and other dread diseases.

We will vigorously promote, as we have in the past, a non-political career service under the merit system which will attract and retain able servants of the people. Many gains in this field, notably pay increases and a host of new benefits, have been achieved in their behalf in less than four years.

The Republican Party will continue to fight for eagerly desired new advances for Government employees, and realistic reappraisement and adjustment of benefits for our retired civil service personnel.

District of Columbia.

We favor self-government, national suffrage and representation in the Congress of the United States for residents of the District of Columbia.

Equal Rights.

We recommend to Congress the submission of a constitutional amendment providing equal rights for men and women.

about a month and a half ago

House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary

mbkennel Re:Tea (932 comments)

| Republicans will still welcome a pro-gun guy who is happy with the government providing welfare.

Only to old, white people.

| But burn him at the stake if you want to be a Democrat and think a stong military is ok.

What do you mean? Other than, perhaps, getting elected to the US Senate?

about a month and a half ago


mbkennel hasn't submitted any stories.


mbkennel has no journal entries.

Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account