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I most look forward to flying with ...

niiler Re:Liberty must win... (303 comments)

Mod up as insightful. In our culture, there's far too much confusion between the two.

about a year and a half ago

LibreOffice 4 Released

niiler Re:But what if Java is the next WAIS? (249 comments)

I think the real issue is that Anonymous Coward has dissociative identity disorder. He/She/It keeps making statements and then disagreeing with him/her/itself.

about a year and a half ago

School Board Considers Copyright Ownership of Student and Teacher Works

niiler Legalized robbery (351 comments)

At my university, this is already the policy, more or less. If you develop software and release it GPL, they'll let you be. But otherwise, they own everything you produce. This is also true for most companies. Interestingly, if a history prof writes a book, he gets to keep all the profit. But if you as an engineer or programmer develop something and try to sell it without the university, even if done on your own time, the university will claim a conflict of interest and claim ownership. Many corporations do this as well. In some cases this may have some merit in that you have additional resources that you wouldn't otherwise have, and therefore couldn't have done this without corporate help. But in many cases the individual truly is developing this on their own - and the corporate entity still claims it. My thinking is that if corporations want to raid the fruits of their employees' off hours activity, they ought to be forced to take it to court. Of course, the only way this can be fair is if the corporation pays the entire court cost including that of the employee (will never happen). Likewise, the employee should have taken pains to demonstrate that their product was produced independent of corporate resources. Finally, if the employee wins, he keeps his job, keeps his invention, and keeps his money (having no court costs).

Sorry if I'm a bit discombobulated... I keep restarting my typing due to a certain two year old...

about a year and a half ago

Linux: Booting Via UEFI Can Brick Samsung Notebooks

niiler Re:Bricked device (232 comments)

I agree with you only...

It is a laptop... On many of my laptops, setting jumpers is only possible by taking the whole dang thing apart, and laptops are much harder to disassemble (correctly) than are desktops. On my old Toshiba Satellite, I have to strip it to the frame to get to the CMOS battery (which, in theory, will never go bad).

I just hope Samsung can figure this out. I was starting to like their products.

about a year and a half ago

New York Pistol Permit Owner List Leaked

niiler Re:Or the reverse (899 comments)

OK.. I'll bite:

He was crucified on the cross. He died. He descended into hell. On the third day, he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of god.

So... if you believe that sort of thing, it worked out pretty well. :-)

about a year and a half ago

New York Pistol Permit Owner List Leaked

niiler Re:Or the reverse (899 comments)

And the people using said guns to defend our rights are in our military. In fact, in this age of our country, they have chosen to go into our military voluntarily so that our pacifist friends don't have to. This is a very important point in that it means that not every member of our society needs to take on the moral burden of killing others, even if it is for a justified purpose. If there isn't a moral burden, then why are many firing squads mostly issued blanks? The members of our military are in an honorable profession and are certainly needed with many of the nuts (Bin Laden) out there. But please don't denigrate people who chose not to bring violence into their lives. Jesus was, after all, a pacifist, and a great many of the gun users I know are also Christian.

about a year and a half ago

New York Pistol Permit Owner List Leaked

niiler Re:Or the reverse (899 comments)

It seems this poor fellow was modded "troll" for expressing a legitimate opinion that is contrary to that of many of the gun proponents on this site. People are entitled to their opinions. If this guy was rude, it would be a different story.

about a year and a half ago

Indiana Nurses Fired After Refusing Flu Shots On Religious Grounds

niiler Re:Good (851 comments)

From Wikipedia's article on her organization:

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a politically conservative non-profit association founded in 1943 to "fight socialized medicine and to fight the government takeover of medicine."[1][2] The group was reported to have approximately 4,000 members in 2005, and 3,000 in 2011.[1][3] Many of the political and scientific viewpoints advocated by AAPS are considered extreme or dubious by other medical groups.[1] Notable members include Ron Paul and John Cooksey;[4] the executive director is Jane Orient, a member of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.

AAPS publishes the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (formerly known as the Medical Sentinel). The Journal is not indexed by mainstream scientific databases such as the Web of Science or MEDLINE.[5] The quality and scientific validity of articles published in the Journal has been criticized by others.

Does this answer your question about her opinion vis-a-vis the medical establishment?

about a year and a half ago

Forbes 2013 Career List Flamed By University Professors

niiler Re:Choice (370 comments)

Bud... you're out of touch.

Many of us got into academia because in addition to enjoying teaching we thought:

  1. There would be more vacation
  2. There would be more schedule flexibility
  3. There would be more job security

All of these have since gone down the tubes. Even in non-tenure track jobs, one has to do advising and committee work (at least at our school). The next big thing is to teach evenings and weekends because that's more convenient for students. I'm already doing that, and it means that one can't actually go anywhere or do anything. My wife, who is an adjunct, is a facing a 35% pay cut plus a 30% increase in course load in a Pennsylvania State school. Generally, I always have overload and can't say no, or they'll get someone else. And that 12 hour a day thing, that's peanuts. Around here, I get home from work and fire up the laptop to grade papers and respond to emails until about 11pm. I've been working over X-mas "break" almost constantly, writing reference letters, doing two new preps for next term, and dealing with last minute grade changes from last term. The only day I actually got to take off was X-mas day when we went to see the Hobbit. Most of my colleagues are basically in the same boat.

One of my buddies with a Ph.D. got hired out of his adjunct job by a chemical engineering company. He says he's now making about twice as much, can't take his work home (yea!), sees his family in the evenings and on weekends, and gets more true vacation.

Almost nobody I talk to outside of academia has any idea of what life is really like. The Forbes journalist comes off as being completely out of touch.

about a year and a half ago

Hotmail & Yahoo Mail Using Secret Domain Blacklist

niiler Re:You are a spammer (345 comments)

His behaviors are _similar_ to those of a spammer in number only. Having visited his site: it seems that he gets his email list from people subscribing to it on his site. If I understand it correctly, people who sign up for this list are looking for regular updates to proxies so that they can avoid censorship. As proxies are discovered by governments or certain companies , they are blacklisted, and new proxies must be created and sent out to the interested masses:

"Of course, employees of blocking software companies have gotten on this list as well, so they add our sites to their blocked-site database as soon as we mail them out, but in most places it takes 3-4 days for the blocked-site list to be updated. So the latest one that we mail out, should usually still work. "

Now it could be that there is a better way of doing this, but it seems to me that no matter how this game is played, constant updates to users should be the norm...

Now that I think of it, perhaps a Firefox extension could do the trick. Signed extensions can be updated automatically. The extension could have obfuscated URLs that are decrypted with something like this: and then wired in to automatically select an available proxy from the current batch. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it solves the "spam" problem. Also, it maybe easier for users and harder for censors? Crap... now I'm not going to get any work done...

about 2 years ago

Hotmail & Yahoo Mail Using Secret Domain Blacklist

niiler Re:Simple summary (345 comments)

Bingo. Good summary. I gave up using my own server to send email a couple of years ago for precisely these reasons. It wasn't worth trying to get de-blacklisted every few weeks because my server had an obscure domain name. If I recall, when I sent out more than 10 emails in a batch (we're talking maybe as many as 30) to members of a class, this triggered the anti-spam bots. When I did it from gmail or from other major providers, things worked beautifully. I had too many irons in the fire to deal with this, and while I would love to use my own server's email capability, it's not worth it anymore.

about 2 years ago

John McAfee Launches Blog, Offers $25K Reward For "Real Killers"

niiler Re:IANAL, but (377 comments)

Read this interview with Josh Davis first. This is one of several he has given. From this interview:

"He is a very eccentric person; there is no question. He is a very complex person. In fact, in one instance in August, I had heard a rumor that he had in fact killed somebody, and I asked him about that. And he says, “That he actively encouraged the rumors about him.” And I said, “Why would you do that?” He said, “Because I wanted people to be scared of me.” He said, “Remember I am living here, in a place where I feel very threatened. Where I think people are trying to harm me, and I want them to be afraid of me, and if they think that I am capable of some brutality, then all the better” So clearly he is living a life that most people would never choose, never even dream of. And yet, I asked him, point blank, “Why don’t you leave? If you think people are trying to kill you, why don’t you leave?” He says, “I love it here! What do you mean?” That’s why I said he is complex; it is very hard to figure him out."

There are some other interviews with or stories by Josh Davis who has interviewed him for over 100 hours over 6 months.

McAfee sounds crazy and paranoid, but that doesn't mean that people aren't out to get him.

about 2 years ago

Wayback Machine Trumps FOI Tribunal

niiler Re:Disruption (401 comments)

Please see the book: Merchants of Doubt.: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.

From Publishers Weekly:
"Oreskes and Conway tell an important story about the misuse of science to mislead the public on matters ranging from the risks of smoking to the reality of global warming. The people the authors accuse in this carefully documented book are themselves scientists—mostly physicists, former cold warriors who now serve a conservative agenda, and vested interests like the tobacco industry. The authors name these scientists—all with powerful connections in government and the media—including Robert Jastrow, Frederick Seitz, and S. Fred Singer. Seven compelling chapters detail seven issues (acid rain, the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke, the ozone hole, global warming, the Strategic Defense Initiative, and the banning of DDT) in which this group aimed to sow seeds of public doubt on matters of settled science. They did so by casting aspersions on the science and the scientists who produce it. Oreskes, a professor of history and science studies at UC–San Diego, and science writer Conway also emphasize how journalists and Internet bloggers uncritically repeat these charges. This book deserves serious attention for the lessons it provides about the misuse of science for political and commercial ends. "

about 2 years ago

Texas Attorney General Warns International Election Observers

niiler Re:Looks like the AG actually read the law (817 comments)

Mod up... As usual, we in the US seem to think we are above the law.... Don't you guys watch any Steven Seagal? Wait...he's not from Texas...nevermind...

about 2 years ago

Sophos Anti-Virus Update Identifies Sophos Code As Malware

niiler Re:99.999% (245 comments)

At first I thought you meant "proof of concept" anti-virus for Linux. :-P

about 2 years ago

With 'Access Codes,' Textbook Pricing More Complicated Than Ever

niiler Re:Businessmen (400 comments)

I couldn't agree more. At my school we use ANGEL which (IMHO) is head and shoulders above much of the competition for course management. Many of us take large amounts of time putting up functionality that is similar to what the textbook publishers have: online quizzes, screencasts and the like so that students don't have to pay twice. If such content is on ANGEL, they can access it without paying extra. Although in many schools, profs go with the costly textbooks because 1) they are familiar and therefore take up less time to plan a class around and 2) they get promoted based on their research so why bother putting more than the minimum effort into teaching? I have an ethical issue with professors who don't "profess" but let the publishers do most of the work. Often such folks get graders and grad students to actually do all the interactions with students. The bottom line is that you reap what you sow. If you as the instructor put time into the students and are willing to work with them to help understand the material even outside of class, the textbook matters little. If, on the other hand, you have a sink or swim mentality, and aren't willing to put in any effort in teaching your subject, then you might actually need the textbook publishers. When do the students benefit most?

about 2 years ago

With 'Access Codes,' Textbook Pricing More Complicated Than Ever

niiler Re:Never buy from the student bookstore (400 comments)

Yeah... I did this too, but then got brought onto the carpet by an administrator for undermining bookstore profits. The book cost $140 new and $8.99 used and was for a class of non-majors. Considering the huge costs of education these days, especially at big schools, it is unconscionable to require students to spend this amount of money. I've started switching students in my calc level physics classes over to MIT's Open Course Ware and students in my algebra level classes to the OpenStax College Physics textbook. I've found that much of what is in the price of commercially available physics books is name recognition and high quality photos. I have yet to find a good high quality, basic open source astronomy book for my gen-ed class.

about 2 years ago

Virginia AG Probing Michael Mann For Fraud

niiler Re:Ken Cuccinelli (617 comments)

If you follow that site, then you must know that the data is all publically available and has been for a long time. Here's the link where they summarize data sources.

more than 4 years ago



TaxGeek07 Released

niiler niiler writes  |  more than 6 years ago

niiler writes "On March 25, 2008, the first public release of TaxGeek07 was made available. TaxGeek is a Mozilla-based US income tax program that includes Form 1040, Schedules A, B, C, C-EZ, D, E, K-1 (1065), R, and many other forms (see list below). Most of the forms that are not directly supported are included as context-sensitive links to PDFs on the IRS website. TaxGeek will do many of the calculations required in filing your income tax and print the results to PDF format (via PDF::Reuse). E-Filing is not supported at this time. It can use tax-tables, tax-formula, and the qualified dividends and capital gains methods. It has many of the supporting worksheets for 1040 implemented and working and many of the supporting worksheets for schedules and forms that are supported.

The current edition is much improved from last year's edition in features and testing. Key to the improvements are the ability to keep the data separate from the program, the introduction of form overrides for calculated fields, and the inclusion of several additional forms and schedules."

Link to Original Source

niiler niiler writes  |  more than 7 years ago

niiler writes "There is finally a usable Federal Income Tax program for Linux users who don't wish to file online.

TaxGeek is a Mozilla-based US income tax program that includes Form 1040, Schedules A, B, C, C-EZ, D, E, K-1 (1065), SE (Short and Long), W2, Forms 8880, 8853, 8863, 8812, 5695, 4952,3903, 2106, 2106ez, 2441 with access to most other files as PDFs. It is also intended to be extensible so that developers can easily add other forms that are needed without affecting the existing file formats and stored data.

TaxGeek will do all the calculations required in the forms it supports. It can use tax-tables, tax-formula, and the qualified dividends and capital gains methods. It has 95% of the supporting worksheets for 1040 implemented and working and many of the supporting worksheets for schedules and forms that are supported. Additionally, TaxGeek has a context-based repository of PDFs of all the commonly used IRS forms that aren't officially supported. These forms are clearly marked for identification by developers of what needs to happen next.

TaxGeek will also create PDFs of all the supported Forms so that you can not only do your taxes, but also print them and send them in to the IRS. PDF creation support is only possible with the installation of Perl PDF::Reuse. At this point, e-filing is *not* supported. P.S. The name was picked because of the nickname I acquired due to my interest in the topic."



niiler niiler writes  |  more than 10 years ago Recently, I read the book "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" by Greg Palast. While I'm not a great fan of his writing style (he could easily out-do Geraldo Rivera in sensationalism), he does bring up some interesting points. Among the most interesting to me is the idea behind privatization. Privatization, as touted by the IMF, WTO, and most recently, Bush administration, is an attempt to minimize government by contracting out the functions of government to private companies. In addition to contracting out the actual jobs (defense, research, etc), privatization advocates also want to privatize oversight of contractors. These ideas are mirrored on and and other sites.

You might be wondering what all this has to do with the Linux adaptation in government. We always argue that Linux is cheaper, it's open source, and in many cases better than the proprietary alternatives and thus should be automatically adapted. But the problem is that government in many countries is no longer of the people, by the people and for the people. Palast, Mother Jones and others have pointed out with increasing desperation that governmnent is setup and run by corporations with no oversight. Witness the Halliburton debacle in Iraq. Halliburton was chosen with no bidding to reward friends of the VP. So long as the trend towards no-bid contracts with no oversight continues, there is little or no hope of getting Linux in the door.

Linux and Open Source Software espouse the philosophy of empowerment of the masses. Linux and the internet as it has been allow for the free flow of information upstream AND downstream. This is problematic for the corporate world which has increasingly sought to control the information we consume and how we consume it. By and large, an informed and educated public is not swayed by marketing and is harder to manipulate. Thus, Open Source software is coming under increasing fire as it gains prominence because it threatens the bottom line. To see more connections between geopolitics and Open Source Software adaptation, see Willy Smith's


Informing the Popular Media about Linux

niiler niiler writes  |  more than 10 years ago While listening to the NPR show "Here & Now" from WBUR in Boston today, they mentioned the recent plethora of worms and viruses affecting Windows computers. Three options were offered by the experts on the show: to wait for the trusted computing platform from M$ and thereby lose your ability to control your computer; to go to Macintosh since there are fewer viruses and thereby lose your ability to buy software since fewer programs are written for Macintosh; or to just keep wasting time and continuing to patch ones M$ system. I queried the producers as to why Linux was left out of the line-up. The response from producer, Alan Coukell, was as follows: "Thanks for your message. We did talk about Linux but had to cut it out for reasons of length. The bottom line from David, and from other computer literate people I've talked to, seems to be that most people still find it pretty difficult, even impossible, to get it running on their home machine. Thanks for writing." Is this true? Red Hat 8.1 installed instantly for me. The Morphix CD gave me a fully configured and working Toshiba 1410 laptop in about 2 minutes with internet access and all. Lycoris installed flawlessly on an old P233 I run. What gives? How can we get the word out to the media that Linux is easy to configure and use?

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