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WHO Declares Ebola Outbreak An International Emergency

mtrachtenberg Global Emergency? But What Color Code? (183 comments)

The WHO has declared an emergency? Well, that's fine, but let's do it the Murkan way. Would you prefer "Hot Pink," "Schoolbus Yellow," or "Fire Engine Red." We badly need for our top world leaders to work out the colors for our color code. What are these world leaders wasting their time on, if we don't have color-coded posters for airports?

about 2 months ago
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Social Security Administration Joins Other Agencies With $300M "IT Boondoggle"

mtrachtenberg Re:Really, We Get What We Deserve (144 comments)

Look at what happened with the Obamacare website to see how things actually work. Tons of time and money were spent on an important system that was developed by the usual suspects. It didn't work, and it was going to cause problems for someone important, the President. So what happened? The President called in competent people -- the people who had worked on his campaign website, not the people who work for his government. The thing got turned around in no time and started working. See -- people get what they care about.

about 2 months ago
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Social Security Administration Joins Other Agencies With $300M "IT Boondoggle"

mtrachtenberg Really, We Get What We Deserve (144 comments)

Gee, another $300 million down the drain on a system that doesn't work? What a shocker.

Contractors are being well-paid, government supervisors are being well-paid, I'm sure no one will be fired and I'm sure at least some folks who have contributed to the problem are getting bonuses. Just like the banks in 2008 -- there is not a shred of real accountability.

A public that allows this is getting what it pays for. It really has no reason to complain.

about 2 months ago
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Interviews: Juan Gilbert Answers Your Questions

mtrachtenberg Televoting (18 comments)

I've got to admit that Televoting as described in the video doesn't strike me at first glance as a bad idea at all. I'd be interested to hear what holes can be poked in it, but I think using a human election official and engaging in live video interaction between the official and the voter, and allowing the voter to witness (via video) the ballot filled in with their choices going into a ballot box goes a long way towards addressing the complaints I have with other forms of internet voting.

about 3 months ago
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Utility Wants $17,500 Refund After Failure To Scrub Negative Search Results

mtrachtenberg Re:hope they win (110 comments)

It's beyond just dumb. This is the sort of waste of public money that really should be criminal. At the very least, the CEO and his Chief of Staff should be dismissed. Call it encouragement to resign if that's the way it's done these days, but if someone getting paid $200K plus thought this was worth it, that person is not worth it.

about 3 months ago
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Utility Wants $17,500 Refund After Failure To Scrub Negative Search Results

mtrachtenberg Public money wasted (110 comments)

$17,500 to polish your CEO's reputation? The CEO and the Chief of Staff should both be fired. Or, in keeping with the CEO's resume, encouraged to "resign." And suing to recover the money is likely to cost the public more than just giving up on the wasted funds. Just cut your losses, Seattle.

about 3 months ago
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Texas Town Turns To Treated Sewage For Drinking Water

mtrachtenberg Attila the Hun's piss (242 comments)

Every glass of water anyone drinks contains at least one molecule once pee'd out by Attila the Hun.

It's a scientific fact,unless it's not. But it sure helps to think this is true if you're drinking treated waste.

about 3 months ago
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Google's Experimental Newsroom Avoids Negative Headlines

mtrachtenberg Re:sounds like North Korea news (109 comments)

All advertising supported news runs the risk of turning into "content;" that is, of existing primarily as a circus attraction to get an audience into the advertisers' tent.

In the distant past, professional integrity enabled journalists to get actual news into newspapers. Perhaps that was because the people who chose to devote their lives to journalism, even the editors and publishers, were interested in contributing to society by acting as its eyes, its ears and, on occasion, its conscience. That's always been in conflict with people who view their work as a way to raise money for themselves, and don't give it any thought beyond that. Of course, few people exist at either extreme; most of us are somewhere along the spectrum.

There's a Darwinian process taking place in journalism as elsewhere. What survives will be what attracts people -- that is going to be something that brings in enough money without rendering itself so distasteful that people with disposable income universally reject it. The fitness landscape is being altered as we speak by the increasing income inequality of our society. Magazines selling Rolexes will do well, as will newspapers that cater to the lowest common denominator that can still buy anything.

If I were you, I would not be searching for truth in ad-supported media; what you get is either "content" or propaganda the owners liked investing in. Google just sounds a bit more clever and experimental in its thinking than the rest.

about 3 months ago
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The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

mtrachtenberg Re:And Joe Schmoe wont care. (364 comments)

If you can't stand these priorities, please consider signing this: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/help-arriving-children

Please let me explain what I am thinking in distributing this petition. I believe that Americans, like people everywhere, truly want to help others. But somehow, through a combination of fear and the greed of a few people, we no longer show this value in our government's budget. Instead, we spend more than $600 billion a year to fund the world's biggest military and the companies that build weapons, while sometimes thinking we cannot afford simple humanitarian programs.

If Americans understood what we could buy for ourselves and our neighbors with just one percent of the military budget, I truly believe we'd shift our funding. One percent of our military budget could fund sixty $100,000,000 projects at home or around the world. And, with Central American kids risking their lives to travel to our borders, the need is evident.

Some of us sometimes worry that welfare programs go to "undeserving" people. This is a time when, regardless of our beliefs about whether welfare works, we can easily see that people deserve our help and support -- these are kids fleeing poverty and danger.

Groups like The Moral Majority have poisoned the word "moral" for many people I know. But true morality has nothing to do with conservative religious groups. True morality is using our wealth to help our neighbors in distress, not to further build an already oversized military. True morality is not turning our backs.

And I further feel we find our own safety in true morality. A nation that is extending its arms to help others is less likely to be attacked than a nation that demonstrates concern only that the wealthiest 0.01% of the world not pay their fair share of the bills.

Thanks for spreading the word!

about 3 months ago
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Interviews: Ask Juan Gilbert About Human-Centered Computing

mtrachtenberg Re:Internet Voting ?!! (30 comments)

If you know your legitimate vote was thrown away, you should be raising hell in more significant places than here. I'd start with the FBI and some journalism group like Pro Publica. It would be perfectly possible for a group with limited resources to get a substantial number of voters to check on whether their ballots were counted or tossed out, and they could show them to journalist witnesses before submitting them, to demonstrate that they were properly filled out.

The truth is, I don't believe you.

about 3 months ago
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Interviews: Ask Juan Gilbert About Human-Centered Computing

mtrachtenberg Internet Voting ?!! (30 comments)

Here are some questions for Professor Gilbert, regarding internet voting:

1. How will non-mathematicians know with certainty that votes have been properly received and counted?

2. If the security depends upon encryption, how will we know that encryption has not been broken by a secret agency with vast computing power? Further, how will we know that those involved in developing the encryption have not secretly offered back doors to such agencies, as has happened in the past?

3. What will a voter do if they experience an election-day denial of service attack?

4. How can we know that a vote has not been coerced if the voter votes from home (bullying spouse, etc...)?

5. What are the insurmountable difficulties with a paper-based election process that make internet voting desirable despite risks? Why is the United States no longer capable of counting cast ballots in public? It is clearly not the vast number of voters, since this is a distributed problem with a vast number of potential counters. What has become so broken among our pseudo-elites that this KISS approach is now considered so inappropriate?

about 3 months ago
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NOAA: Earth Smashed A Record For Heat In May 2014, Effects To Worsen

mtrachtenberg Re:No (547 comments)

No, no it didn't happen. La La La La La - I can't hear you

Please consider running for office as a GOP candidate -- you've got that special je ne sai quoi.

about 3 months ago
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Group Demonstrates 3,000 Km Electric Car Battery

mtrachtenberg 100 pounds is plenty and this is a great idea (363 comments)

Really, no electric car needs more than 100 pounds of this backup battery. That would be more than enough to drive for a full day. In fact, 50 pounds might be enough emergency backup for any real use case -- as described, 50 pounds would give you about 600 km of extra emergency range.

Anyone who wants to drive 12 hours a day for multiple days ought to just rent a gasoline or diesel vehicle. Electric cars are for more normal usage, in which a battery like this gives you emergency flexibility.

about 4 months ago
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HR Chief: Google Sexual, Racial Diversity "Not Where We Want to Be"

mtrachtenberg Re:Silicon Valley is such a strange place (593 comments)

Well, you might filter out a lot of people with false confidence. You'd also filter out Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. Maybe you don't think that's a bad thing -- and, yes, they might make terrible employees. You might think about sharpening your analysis just a bit, though, huh?

about 3 months ago
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HR Chief: Google Sexual, Racial Diversity "Not Where We Want to Be"

mtrachtenberg Silicon Valley is such a strange place (593 comments)

It's not just Google,now, is it? Silicon Valley is a strange place, as is much of the programming "computer science" community. It's as uniform as the top of the financial industry. There's this pretense that it's one big meritocracy and, as with all lies, there's a kernel of truth to that. Smart people come up with a new idea and are able to bring in other smart people to implement it. That's the end of the meritocracy story. Then comes the larger part of the cycle. Not-very-smart people -- but people who have a lot of unjustified self-confidence and excellent salesmens' smiles -- are brought in to run things and market the "dog food" and do "strategic planning." For a few years -- it used to be a decade but it's probably a shorter time frame now -- their association with the great name their company built when it was young hides the fact that, mostly, these newcomers are spectacularly incompetent. Then, the company, founded by smart people but running on reputation, eventually disappears.

about 4 months ago
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The Flaw Lurking In Every Deep Neural Net

mtrachtenberg Re:Errors (230 comments)

This sounds so reminiscent of things like the Mandelbrot set, where there are always adjacent points with different outcomes, no matter how far down you go. Who knows if it really is related?

about 4 months ago
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Ph.Ds From MIT, Berkeley, and a Few Others Dominate Top School's CS Faculties

mtrachtenberg Re:dream on (155 comments)

I find "what a load of shit" to be a very apt and useful expression in many circumstances. Rudeness and eloquence are not incompatible.

I also think the CIO's point is valid, and fear that whatever percentage of CS professors received their training from MIT may still lack a college education, as I do. (Certainly MIT does not offer a college education, instead diverting people into excellent technical training.)

I've often wondered what the results would be of a poll that compared long term outcomes for students who matriculate at a given university with students who were accepted but went elsewhere. To my knowledge, no such poll has ever been conducted.

about 4 months ago
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Driverless Cars Could Cripple Law Enforcement Budgets

mtrachtenberg Just Tack on a Fee (626 comments)

$1,000 in road enforcement fees per driverless car.

This model's already being proposed for electric vehicles, on the grounds that they aren't paying fuel taxes. It's idiotic for EV's, since they serve an important purpose. But it's ideal for driverless cars.

about 4 months ago
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Gen. Keith Alexander On Metadata, Snowden, and the NSA: "We're At Greater Risk"

mtrachtenberg Re:A Spymaster Says Spying is Important?! (238 comments)

...which if then followed by Alexander and Clapper explaining how they stole your privacy, but it's Al Queda's fault

about 4 months ago
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Gen. Keith Alexander On Metadata, Snowden, and the NSA: "We're At Greater Risk"

mtrachtenberg Re:A Spymaster Says Spying is Important?! (238 comments)

Coming up next -- investment bankers on why investment bankers deserve billions of dollars.

about 4 months ago

Submissions

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DOJ 411: UEFI DMCA Violators DOA. GPS. 10-4?

mtrachtenberg mtrachtenberg writes  |  about a year and a half ago

mtrachtenberg (67780) writes "M E M O R A N D U M
==================
TOP SECRET
==================
Sponsored by Office 365,
your newest Office aid
and best friend. Office!
==================

United States Department of Justice

Division for Intellectual Property Rights
and Maintenance of the Faith

Office for the Preservation of Microsoft

As per prior memoranda from this office, all points are alerted that uncooperative elements are still attempting to authorize non-Microsoft software (Linux, BSD, Z80 assembler) to run on US and Microsoft approved computing equipment.

It has been clearly established that Microsoft's financial survival is of code mauve importance to the American economy, at an equal level to that of Goldman Sachs and Citicorp. Therefore, this office is implementing Code Swartz immediately.

Drones shall lock and load on the GPS coordinates of abusers, and shall fire at will. Open source computing is like fluoridation — an assault on American values and freedom.

(P.S.: Nothing in this memorandum is to be construed as authorizing any activity illegal under the Constitution as interpreted by the Roberts court. If uncertain, contact the authorities at Guantanamo Bay.)"
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Lithium ion battery prices to drop?

mtrachtenberg mtrachtenberg writes  |  about 2 years ago

mtrachtenberg writes "A California company working with Argonne National Labs is talking about a new anode for lithium ion batteries; it claims a 300%+ increase in energy density and is talking about volume manufacturing by 2014.

The company, California Lithium Battery, is talking about a potential 70% price drop in the cost of EV battery packs. If this happens, EVs suddenly begin to make sense."

Link to Original Source
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DC Internet Voting attacked TWO ways

mtrachtenberg mtrachtenberg writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mtrachtenberg (67780) writes "University of Michigan Professor J Alex Halderman and his team actually had two completely separate successful attacks on Washington, DC's internet voting experiment. The second path in was revealed by Halderman during testimony before the District of Columbia's Board of Elections and Ethics on Friday.

Apparently, a router's master password had been left at the default setting, enabling Halderman to access the system by a completely different method than SQL injection. He presented photographs of a video stream from the voting offices.

In addition, he found a file that had apparently been left on the test system contained the PINs of the 900+ voters who would have used the system in November.

Others on the panel joined Halderman in pointing out that it was not just this specific implementation of internet voting that was insecure, but the entire concept of using today's internet for voting at all. When a DC official asked why internet voting could not be made secure when top government secrets were secure on the internet, Halderman responded that a big part of keeping government secrets secret was NOT allowing them to be stored on internet-connected computers.

When a DC official asked the panel whether public key infrastructure couldn't allow secure internet voting, a panel member pointed out that the inventor of public key cryptography, MIT professor Ronald Rivest, was a signatory to the letter that had been sent to DC, urging officials there not to proceed with internet voting.

Clips from the testimony are available on youtube at these links.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaR7n5PI_aE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDHtSU4qKzw"
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Ask Slashdot: Cheapest usable masters degree?

mtrachtenberg mtrachtenberg writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mtrachtenberg (67780) writes "As times have changed, the personnel dorks who used to ignore anyone without a bachelors now ignore anyone without a masters.

So let's ask this hypothetical: let's say you already have all the knowledge that a master's degree would get you, thanks to years and years of, you know, doing stuff. Let's say you are already doing work that would get you a fine master's dissertation, but you don't feel like paying an expensive university for the privilege of doing your research under their prestigious name. What's the cheapest approach to getting a master's degree that will satisfy the checklist at a majority of personnel offices?"
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Microsoft admits stealing code from startup

mtrachtenberg mtrachtenberg writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mtrachtenberg (67780) writes "Microsoft has suspended a new internet messaging service in China, after it emerged that the site was partially based on code stolen from a rival startup.

The site, Juku, launched in November is similar in concept to other online messaging systems like Twitter. But earlier this week the team behind Plurk, a young internet company based in Canada and popular with users across Asia, accused Microsoft of directly copying as much as 80% of the code to run the program."

Link to Original Source
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"swarm of tremors" on san andreas fault

mtrachtenberg mtrachtenberg writes  |  more than 5 years ago

mtrachtenberg writes "SF Chronicle Science Editor David Perlman:

"Swarms of small tremors deep beneath the ground after two recent quakes in Monterey County may be adding stress to a seismically locked segment of the San Andreas fault and could presage a major earthquake, two Berkeley scientists suggest."

I've spent the last few evenings watching "When the Levees Failed," about the heckuvajobbrownie response to Katrina. So reading this story is more than a little frightening. Here's a case where scientists can say something's going on, but can hardly tell Central California to evacuate for a few months or years.

I suppose the bright side is that this story, having nothing to do with Michael Jackson or Sarah Palin, still managed to make it into the mainstream media. Thank you, Robert Nadeau and Aurélie Guilhem, for the warning; thank you, David Perlman, for telling those of us who don't have subscriptions to Science"

Link to Original Source

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fiber line cut knocks out land AND cell phones

mtrachtenberg mtrachtenberg writes  |  more than 5 years ago

mtrachtenberg writes "Phone service sabotaged for thousands
Henry K. Lee,Ryan Kim, Chronicle Staff Writers
Thursday, April 9, 2009
PRINT E-MAIL SHARE COMMENTS (77) FONT | SIZE:

(04-09) 11:20 PDT SAN JOSE — Vandals cut four AT&T fiber-optic cables in San Jose early this morning, knocking out landline and cellular phone service and the Internet to thousands of residential customers and businesses in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties, authorities said."

Link to Original Source
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Darwin wasn't a nerd

mtrachtenberg mtrachtenberg writes  |  more than 5 years ago

mtrachtenberg writes "http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/mar/22/charles-darwin-cambridgeuniversity

Caroline Davies writes in The Guardian:
"Two hundred years after Charles Darwin's birth, historians have gained new insight into his days as a student at Cambridge after unearthing bills that record intimate details of how he spent his money.

"The revolutionary scientist was, it would appear, ahead of his time in his willingness to pay extra to supplement his daily intake of vegetables. And, as one would expect of a 19th-century gentleman, he was happy to pay others to carry out menial tasks for him, such as stoking his fire and polishing his shoes.

"But there is little to suggest that he bought many books, or that he did much else to further his studies. The evolutionist famously spent little of his time studying or in lectures, preferring to shoot, ride and collect beetles. ""

Link to Original Source
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Diebold e-voting audit logs still defective

mtrachtenberg mtrachtenberg writes  |  more than 5 years ago

mtrachtenberg writes "At a public hearing conducted today by California's Secretary of State, a Diebold representative admitted that even current versions of their GEMS software don't record the deletion of decks of ballots in their audit logs. The Diebold elections subsidiary is now known as Premier Election Solutions, presumably because Diebold's name is so infamous in elections circles. Wired's Kim Zetter has a report.

Diebold/Premier's GEMS system came under scrutiny after the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project, using free Python-based ballot counting software named Ballot Browser , found that 197 ballots had disappeared between election night and the generation of results for certification.

Personally, I think the best moment of the hearing came when Humboldt County's registrar of voters, Carolyn Crnich, who has supported election transparency from the start, responded to Diebold's attempt to cast blame on her office. Crnich responded: "if you are saying that your system needs to be checked every damn time you turn it on, then I agree with you.""

Link to Original Source
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Diebold election audit logs defective

mtrachtenberg mtrachtenberg writes  |  more than 5 years ago

mtrachtenberg writes "Premier Election Solutions' (formerly Diebold) GEMS 1.18.19 election software audit logs don't record the deletion of ballots, don't always record correct dates, and can be deleted by the operator, either accidentally or intentionally. The California Secretary of State's office has just released a report about the situation in Humboldt County, California's November 2008 election, covered earlier in Slashdot.

http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vs_premier.htm

Here's the conclusion of the thirteen page report:

GEMS version 1.18.19 contains a serious software error that caused the omission of 197 ballots from the official results (which was subsequently corrected) in the November 4, 2008, General Election in Humboldt County. The potential for this error to corrupt election results is confined to jurisdictions that tally ballots using the GEMS Central Count Server. Key audit trail logs in GEMS version 1.18.19 do not record important operator interventions such as deletion of decks of ballots, assign inaccurate date and time stamps to events that are recorded, and can be deleted by the operator. The number of votes erroneously deleted from the election results reported by GEMS in this case greatly exceeds the maximum allowable error rate established by HAVA. In addition, each of the foregoing defects appears to violate the 1990 Voting System Standards to an extent that would have warranted failure of the GEMS version 1.18.19 system had they been detected and reported by the Independent Testing Authority that tested the system.

"

Link to Original Source

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