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FCC Postpones Spectrum Auction Until 2016

oneiros27 Why is it a 'sale' ? (24 comments)

As spectrum so important, why are they sold at all? Shouldn't they be leased out, so it can be revoked if it's not being used for a given number of years, to put it in the hands of companies that aren't just going to sit on them to keep it out of the hands of their competitors, or other actions not in the public interest?

And as they mention IRS tax issues (I assume for capital gains), why aren't they at least subject to property taxes? (although, that probably just gives companies more incentive to set up shell corporations in tax havens)

6 hours ago
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Preferred smartphone screen size?

oneiros27 Whatever size gives the best battery life. (163 comments)

... which is a function of size, but also of the technology the screen's using.

I just want a smartphone that I can just sit on standby for 3+ days. Maybe 2 days if I send a few texts or play an hour of games while waiting somewhere.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Event Sign-Up Software Options For a Non-Profit?

oneiros27 Perl ACT (104 comments)

You might not even have to start from scratch. I'd wager that ACT (A Conference Toolkit) could be customized to fit their specific needs. ... but they still haven't explained why it is that Event Brite or Brown Paper Tickets wouldn't work for them, other than expense. I guess they just assume that volunteer programmers are 'free' vs. the opportunity cost.

If nothing else, you then don't expose yourself to some security mistake because you rushed to put something together. Or some other simple mistake, like the conference I attended where everything was managed by e-mail ... only it seems their hosting service got flagged as a spam relay, and over 50% of the e-mail never went through. (so the organizers never got many people's talk proposals, and they had to scale back the meeting from 3 days to 2).

4 days ago
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Safercar.gov Overwhelmed By Recall For Deadly Airbags

oneiros27 Federal govt + cloud computing (120 comments)

Unless things have changed dramatically*, there are rules that make it harder to use commercial cloud computing, as not all can guarantee that the services will only be hosted in the U.S.

Most agency cloud computing efforts are for internal number crunching (eg, scientific computing), not public facing websites. When they *have* gone and done it, they couldn't come up with a viable cost model for different groups to be willing to convert to the service. (Oh ... you can't tell me the price, because you need to break-even, and you don't know how many people will agree to use it? Okay, that's a decent price; it's not that much more than what we pay now ... oh wait, I have to pay for 3 VMs for prod / test / dev?)

The problem w/ building up a cluster to scale is that it means that you have inefficiencies of having idle machines; the way to get around this is to have lots of unrelated services running on the same system so that they shouldn't all need to max out at once.

In practice, it's often easier to switch to a 'low resource' version of the site when you start getting hit heavy -- drop all of the pretty images cluttering up pages, and just serve the basic content. Webserver tuning also helps dramatically ... as simple as splitting your static content off to a seperate server (so that you can repoint it at a CDN if necessary), while your local servers take the brunt of the dynamic requests. (and possibly make the site less 'interactive' in times of high load.)

* which wouldn't surprise me, as I work for a federal contractor and we seem to be the last ones to know about policy changes ... I once spent more than a year dealing with waiver paperwork only to find that by the time it had been granted that it had been allowed for 6+ months.

4 days ago
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In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail

oneiros27 Re:There are limits to freedom of speach (488 comments)

My apologies ... I was going with the general U.S. definition of assault (which varies by state), as this is a U.S. based website and the "Freedom of speech is a fundamental right" argument is a typical American attitude due to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

I didn't think that the UK had such attitudes, the 2013 Defamation Act came about in part from people suing for journals libel because they published facts about that person and "libel tourism" in general.

5 days ago
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NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

oneiros27 or little people. (396 comments)

Their next alternative was people with dwarfism, but many of them suffer from problems that shorten their lifespan considerably. Actually, I kid ... the article *actually* said:

As reasonable as an all-female Mars mission is from an economic perspective, some might find the idea offensive. After all, it'd be an expedition that fails to represent half the world's population; an all-female Mars crew would strike many as exceptionally biased.

5 days ago
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In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail

oneiros27 There are limits to freedom of speach (488 comments)

Threatening to hit someone when you're in person is assault. Yet, if done over the internet, you can threaten to kill them, rape them, burn their house down, etc... and that should be legal?

Calling in a bomb threat isn't free speach, no matter if you were 'joking' or not. Screwing with people's lives, even if it's only one person and not a 'terroristic threat' shouldn't be, either.

And the strange thing is ... I'd normally agree with you about the freedom of speach and people need to grow a thicker skin... but once you get threats of violence, that's drawing the line.

I've had a stalker, and even though she was just crazy, not violent, I can say that you will *never* understand what this can do to a person. I knew who my stalker was (she worked with me, and management wouldn't do crap about it; luckily, we worked different shifts) ... but you start panicking every time you see someone in a crowd that might be her. You shut down when someone that you've chatted with on mailing lists meets you in person for the first time and expresses enthusiasm for meeting you.

So, in summary : fuck you and I hope you die in a fire. (yay freedom of speach!)

about a week ago
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Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday

oneiros27 Re:MacOS X == not sysadmin friendly (369 comments)

If you're gonna switch to FreeBSD anyway why not just a generic 19" x86 server ?

Price, and reliability. Dell rackmount servers hold up fine, but they're way overpriced. As for the generic 'built for linux' type servers, we've tried a few, and had way too many problems with them. (We got some machines from Penguin per the recommendation of another site involved on a project ... of the 4, two were RMA'd ... one had to be sent back a second time).

As I'm a federal facility, RMAs can add a week to however long it normally takes ... gotta blank the drives, fill out the paperwork to get the item untagged, fill out the shipping paperwork (even when freight's paid for, gotta declare what's going out), take it to the shipping warehouse ... wait ... wait for shipping and receiving to x-ray the returned item & tag it ... wait for shipping to deliver to our building (and they only deliver on Tuesdays & Thursdays for our building, due to staffing cutbacks) ... blank drives again (can't trust what came in as we didn't install it), install a fresh OS, reload from backup. (I left out the unrack / pack / unpack / re-rack, as you'd normally have to do that ... but that doesn't take much time, unless they send you back something diferent and the rails don't match).

The machine that had 2 RMAs I kept as a spare, rather than put it into service for anything that mattered ... it just wasn't worth dealing with the headaches from it ... not only was there the 2 months from RMAs, but procurement takes between 1-4 months, depending on if anyone bothers bidding when the SEWP request goes out.

Say what you will about Apple's OS ... the hardware's very reliable, and the minis are cheap enough that it can be put on a government purchase card when you need one without waiting 2 months. My only issue w/ running Mac Minis as servers is the single-tap power. Well, that and thunderbolt, but there's two thunderbolt taps on 'em now, so one for the storage, one for the KVM. (but I won't need the KVM if I'm not running MacOS).

about a week ago
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Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday

oneiros27 MacOS X == not sysadmin friendly (369 comments)

ipfw's been gone for a while ... but they've made a lot of other stupid choices that might be good for general users, but make things a pain when you're administering lots of machines.

For instance, pushing all updates via the iTunes store; we have a centralized account that we put everything under ... so an iWorks update comes along, and sysadmins have to go and enter the password on each machine.

The 'server' package under the App store to get the server OS ... WTF? For apache, the config files are absolute crap now as there's a ton of if/then logic to alter the config if it's server or client.

And dear god, their replacing some languages (eg, perl), with wrappers that decide which version to call based on what system & user level config is present.

I've lost track of how many things have annoyed me ; I've been sitting on 10.6.8 for a long time now, but after this whole 'shellshock' issue, I was forced to upgrade to something that's still being supported ... and absolutely hate it.

The only good news is that they *finally* updated the mini ... which means we'll finally be getting new hardware to replace our xserves. (the cancelation of which should've been the clue that they didn't care about 'enterprise' type stuff anymore). I'm thinking of putting FreeBSD or similar on 'em though, rather than MacOSX.

about a week ago
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Maps Suggest Marco Polo May Have "Discovered" America

oneiros27 Re:Newsflash!!! (276 comments)

Hell, there have been all sorts of artifacts found from Egypt and China in the US from eons before this supposedly discovery

They explained this on the "History" channel.

It was aliens.

(you know, I think I prefered it when they were the Hitler Channel, and 95% of their shows were WW2-related)

about three weeks ago
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Past Measurements May Have Missed Massive Ocean Warming

oneiros27 "152% too low"? (423 comments)

they estimate past heat tallies were 48% to 152% too low

I still don't understand if this discovery is a good or a bad thing ... but can someone please explain to me how you can estimate that a value is more than 100% "too low"?

I would assume that you would measure heat absorbtion in BTU or Watts, or something that can't go negative (ie, not in degrees Farenheight, which is a temperature, not a measure of stored heat)

about three weeks ago
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Laying the Groundwork For Data-Driven Science

oneiros27 Difficult, not impossible. (55 comments)

If the NSF grant process is like the one for NASA, there's still a little bit of flexibility for the program manager after they've gotten the scores.

I know because I was on a panel that specifically gave two proposals 'poor' reviews (the lowest possible), and the program manager asked us to consider changing it. In this case, he's a rather nice guy, and it may just be that he didn't want to have to write the 'your proposal sucks' letter to them ... but those of us on the panel knew that there is _no_ way for them to fund a 'poor'. They have leeway with any other score, and could give something with a marginal rating some seed money (fund 'em for a year, so they might be able to put in a more competitive bid next round).

We told the program manager that no, we wanted to make sure that there was no possible way that those two proposals could get funded.

about three weeks ago
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At CIA Starbucks, Even the Baristas Are Covert

oneiros27 names happen ... (242 comments)

I don't even drink coffee, but when I go with other people, there are plenty of coffee shops out there (some Starbucks, some not) that ask for your name.

It stands out to me, because one of my co-workers ends up with 'Richard' on his cup, because he doesn't want to waste 5 min repeating his name and then trying to tell them how to spell it.

about a month ago
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Apple Yet To Push Patch For "Shellshock" Bug

oneiros27 Re:~/.cshrc (208 comments)

Oh, you think you're kidding ... but the problem isn't just bash ... it's that Apple uses bash in place of sh.

So most programs that shell out (php, perl, etc) are potentially vulnerable no matter what initial shell they were called from:

csh< env x='() { :;}; echo vulnerable' perl -e 'system "echo test;"'
vulnerable
test
csh>

about a month ago
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New Long-Range RFID Technology Helps Robots Find Household Objects

oneiros27 I just want the detector ... (38 comments)

A little tri-corder like device that could help me find my security badge in my house.

If they have stickers I could put on other things, too, even better.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Who Should Pay Costs To Attend Conferences?

oneiros27 There are lots of types of conferences. (182 comments)

In my opinion, the larger conferences tend to be a complete waste of time -- they're basically a time for press releases by vendors who want to sell you something. You get the same thing with the mid-sized conferences in the D.C. area with the 'free for government employees' conferences.

My preference is towards mid-sized conferences (under 1000 attendees), where you actually have a chance to get to talk to people and do some networking ... of course, employers don't always like these, as part of the networking may be your finding another job elsewhere.

Really small workshops (20-200 attendees) are very educational, but they're so small that there's generally an expectation that they're more about collaboration and discussion. I've been to a few that were either 'by invitation only' (typically my boss is invited and sends me in his place; for one I talked my way into an invite; another required everyone to submit an abstract and they selected ~50 people to attend based on them). They tend to be strategy related -- what issues does the community need to be aware of & working on.

You also have the more 'academic' vs. 'practical' conferences in some fields ... the academics present on research but often end up missing what I believe are the really key questions that they need to be asking. Practical conferences can also be tiring, if you end up with talk after talk of people coming up with effectively the same solution to a given problem.

From the sounds of things, what you're looking for is training, not conferences. Some conferences do offer training either before, during or after the conference ... and for the pre- / post- stuff, you may not need to register for the main conference.

As for who pays ... it depends. At my work, training is handled seperately from conferences ... for conferences, I get reimbursed for my expenses (travel, hotel, food, registration). For training, I get registration back (provided it meets with their requirements for 'training', but not the rest of it unless it's 'company directed training' (they told me to go, vs. my asking to go). In many cases, I've worked with my manager to get listed as 'teleworking' during the conference, so they'll pay my salary while I'm there, but I pay the rest of the costs.

about a month ago
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The Minecraft Parent

oneiros27 Fluxx - reading (174 comments)

My neighbor's kid refused to learn to read ... so I started playing Fluxx with him. (specifically, Zombie Fluxx).

As he had to read the cards to be able to play (or reveal his hand to someone else at the table), it finally pushed him over the edge to read. Once he got to the point where I was fairly certain that he had memorized the cards, we switched to Pirate Fluxx.

These days, he uses his reading skills for reading books on Minecraft -- I saw him at the library last week checking one out.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

oneiros27 Astronomy & physics need IT support (234 comments)

I work as a programmer & sysadmin supporting a solar physics archive. Although most scientists these days have to learn how to program to some degree (to be able to analyze their data), there's still a large number of IT people who work in these fields -- as programmers, sysadmins, DBAs, etc.

So, if you're in the Tucson, AZ; Menlo Park, CA; Princeton, NJ; or Seattle, WA area, keep an eye on the LSST hiring page.

There are likely to be other projects out there hiring, but I don't know what their various situations are. (I just know that LSST was soliciting at the last American Astronomical Society meeting). You can also look to universities, especially if you have kids (as future tuition benefits for dependants can be quite significant).

I know a hell of a lot more about astronomy & solar physics than I do before I started this job. I'm by no means an expert in the field, but my work does help the scientists do their research and improve our knowledge of the field.

about a month ago
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New Global Plan Would Crack Down On Corporate Tax Avoidance

oneiros27 People have AMT (324 comments)

Corporations can do whatever they can to show no profit, and therefore, no taxes.

If rich people were to try to make enough charitable contributions or whatever other deductions to drop their taxes to zero, they'd still get hit with the Alternative Minimum Tax. (those with a low enough income can still get away with this)

Why don't we have an AMT for companies? A sort of 'if you're making over a billion dollars in gross receipts, you still have to pay the U.S. 10%' or simply 'then these deductions aren't allowable' ... you could have things in there like :

  • Money spent on lobbying
  • Money spent on advertising
  • Salary costs over ~5x minimum wage (calculated per person ... so no hiring a bunch of minimum wage people to offset the CEO's pay)

Obviously, lobbyists and legislators will hate the first one. Newspapers & TV stations will hate the second one.

about a month ago
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To prepare for a coronal mass ejection, I ...

oneiros27 Verify servers, maybe switch to low graphics. (151 comments)

Typically, I check on all of my servers to ensure data's flowing. If they're not, I look to how we can fix it or route around any problems.

If I was more worried about the storms, I'd make sure that our development servers were configured to take load from the main production ones, and that we switched off superflous graphics on the websites. With our upgrades after the last Venus Transit, I'm not worried.

But then again, I'm responsible for web & database servers at the Solar Data Analysis Center, so I'm actually worried about trying to make sure that that scientists and public can get to the data as quickly as possible and we don't go down from the load.

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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Search for Evi Nemeth Continues

oneiros27 oneiros27 writes  |  about a year ago

oneiros27 (46144) writes "Although the initial search for Evi Nemeth (and some other people who didn't write Unix books) ended, family and friends of the missing crew are funding a private search effort for the crew. They've managed to get more images from DigitalGlobe of the drift area, but now need help looking through the pictures. If you've got some free time, you might be able to help save some lives."
Link to Original Source
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SpaceVenture : a new "Sierra" style game from the makers of Space Quest

oneiros27 oneiros27 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

oneiros27 (46144) writes "As previously covered a few years ago, sarien.net created a javascript interpreter for old Sierra games. Now, the original creators of Space Quest and the folks responsible for sarien.net are planning a new game, and have already put out some teasers to test browsers and show off the artwork, and show they haven't lost their sense of humor."
Link to Original Source

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