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Comments

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ExoLance: Shooting Darts At Mars To Find Life

pr0t0 But it's just a misunderstanding! (50 comments)

In the decades past, it was viewed as harmless...even cute when the little golf-cart like robots crawled across the surface doing their little experiments. But then in 2025, Earth attacked. It was without warning or provocation that the vicious spikes penetrated the community, and this action would not go without swift and formidable retribution. So the ships were fueled and armed, and a vast armada launched into the sky and made their way to seek...not revenge, but justice. The Earthlings, with their antiquated detection systems, didn't even notice the approaching fleet with weapons ready to unleash hell.

But alas, due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was swallowed by a small dog, and no justice was served that day or any other.

Apologies to Douglas Adams.

about two weeks ago
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Researchers Develop New Way To Steal Passwords Using Google Glass

pr0t0 Sensationalistic title and duh! (116 comments)

As the video points out, this is not limited to Google Glass, any video capturing device will work. But beyond that, this is really kind of obvious. Yeah, video recording someone entering their password on a touch device will give you a fairly accurate idea of what that password is. Record, playback at 1/4 speed, password. I would bet that security camera footage might even be better to work with due to the angle. The custom software I suppose is a nice achievement, but I would guess it's not all that necessary.

about three weeks ago
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Draper Labs Develops Low Cost Probe To Orbit, Land On Europa For NASA

pr0t0 I find this approach unsettling (79 comments)

We've certainly left rovers and probes on other planets, and even intentionally crashed a couple on the moon. But raining hundreds of fingernail-sized chipsats on Europa kind of seems like cosmic littering. The debris from previous exploration missions have always felt large enough that we could go and pick it up if we were inclined (or capable) to do so. I know the truth is probably as bad or worse than this Europa mission, and I've probably subconsciously ignored that truth, but this just seems so willfully arrogant.

I feel like it plays into some of my worst fears about our species: arrogant, destructive, self-centered, lacking empathy, etc. As long as we exhibit those kinds of behaviors, we'll never get invited to the really good extra-terrestrial parties. You know, the ones where the all of the molecules of the hostess' undergarments leap simultaneously one foot to the left? Let's not do this mission. I want to go to that kind of party.

about a month ago
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New Federal Database Will Track Americans' Credit Ratings, Other Financial Info

pr0t0 Re:the Putin stage (294 comments)

Then you haven't put much thought into it. People with bad credit history (or good) are utterly incapable of forcing a bank to lend them money. The decision to lend money for a mortgage is at the sole discretion of the lender. They alone decide if the credit-worthiness of the borrower justifies the loan. They created the sub-prime packages for investors in hedge funds, and they alone then bet against those packages...YES, the very packages they created! The government didn't force them to make those loans. That whole thing was built as an investment vehicle by the banks, allowing wealthy Americans to purchase the debt owed on sub-primes with higher interest rates, thus higher ROI. And everyone ate it up: the investors, the lenders, and the least qualified to know what the hell was going on...the borrowers.

I witnessed this shady practice first-hand as a first-time home buyer (my credit was fine though). I went to a broker and told him what I could comfortably afford for a mortgage payment (including taxes, insurance, etc.). I asked, based on that figure how much can I offer on a house. He gave me an amount, and I went house shopping. I found a home, made an offer, and he came back with a mortgage payment that was 25% more than what I said I could afford. Needless to say, I was pissed and told him off. 25% isn't a lot when you are talking about dinner, but it's hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars when talking about a mortgage. When I stopped the deal, the real estate agent called the broker to find out what was going on. He told her that he didn't know what the problem was...I was approved, I just didn't like the price. That in itself is telling. They approved me for a loan that was well in excess of what I already told them I could comfortably afford. Then the real estate agent, a licensed realtor mind you, told me that since I made the offer I was legally bound to honor it (total bullshit).

It may be more cleaned up now, but back in 2007, I think everyone involved in real estate became a con artist drunk on the promise of easy riches. I of course cannot speak to the motives of every person who got a sub-prime mortgage loan, but blaming people with bad credit for that crisis feels a lot like blaming the victims. It's possible these people, knowing their financial straights, would have never even considered buying a home. But here comes a letter from First National Never Trust telling them, "Hey, it's not as bad as you think!. You can OWN your house for just a bit more than you're paying in rent." And they trot out spreadsheets and graphs to back up that claim. So the financially challenged are thinking, "Wow, I had no idea! Sure!". You can buy that mail list you know. Give me every person in the United States who pays rent and has a sub-650 credit rating (or whatever the number). They're ambulance chasers.

And you want to blame the borrower for that? Wow. That's just willful ignorance; a total lack of understanding that companies, like people, need to take responsibility for their actions; and a complete lack of empathy for people being emotionally prayed upon by those companies.

Please, get off my planet.

about 2 months ago
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NASA's Broken Planet-hunter Spacecraft Given Second Life

pr0t0 Re:Ithaco Space Systems made the wheels that faile (55 comments)

I think all the respondents to my comment missed the last line: "--The Arrival".

This is a quote from the movie The Arrival. It was meant as a joke to imply that whenever anything goes wrong with our remote-sensing spacecraft, it's because aliens have sabotaged the effort so they are not found.

about 2 months ago
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NASA's Broken Planet-hunter Spacecraft Given Second Life

pr0t0 Re:Ithaco Space Systems made the wheels that faile (55 comments)

Ask yourself why an antenna won't deploy on a deep-space probe. Or ask how they could launch a $6 billion telescope without testing its mirror.
--The Arrival

about 2 months ago
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Major ISPs Threaten To Throttle Innovation and Slow Network Upgrades

pr0t0 Monopolies are only part of the problem (286 comments)

I’m going to open a big can of worms here, and I’ll admit up front that I haven’t fully thought it through. This more of a US-centric stream-of-consciousness kind of mind-dump.

I’ve lately come to hate the US telco industry with the angry passion of a thousand fiery suns. They enjoy a monopoly or near-monopoly in most areas of the United States. They also have a legal responsibility to maximize value to their shareholders. In the absence of competition, maximizing service and quality to their customers runs counter to maximizing that shareholder value. Our natural instinct is to shout the mantra of “increase competition!”, but even in the areas where there is competition, we see very little competitive behavior.

Why is that? Collusion? Well...maybe it’s because the Comcast CEO doesn’t have to pick up the phone and discretely call the AT&T CEO to find out what he’ll do if Comcast decides to lower rates and provide better service. He already knows it will start a price and service war that while benefiting the consumer, will hurt corporate profits. Nobody at this echelon wants to race to the bottom. All the big players have to do is find a happy medium of market share and slowly increase profits. The barriers to entry to be competitive/disruptive are enormous. It takes a Google to do it. Even if you could do it, you’d be forced to join the club and be a part of the same problem for the same reason the incumbant companies do.

But telecom isn’t the only industry that operates in this manner, even when competitors are present. The average prices in automobiles, new homes, health care, etc. have all outpaced increases in wage at a rate of roughly 2-to-1 over the last 45 years. The increases should be in line with wage increases to guarantee sustainability. These are competitive markets, so why the disparity? The reasons are many and varied. There are some easily justified increases like safety, R&D, and environmental concerns; but there are also offsets like increases in efficiency, automation, logistics and transport, overseas labor, etc. More often than not, these companies report quarterly and annual profits that measure in the billions and frankly defy belief. Which brings me to that can of worms.

There was a time when companies were reluctant to sell stock. They were literally selling a piece of their company to the public, and only did it because they needed the capital to bring new products and technologies to market. People bought stocks because they believed in that company, product, or technology; and handed over their money to help bring it to market and maybe make a little money in the process. Now, stocks are strictly investment vehicles for the buyer, and the seller often uses the capital to force stagnation instead of innovation. Look at Facebook. They are a titan in the tech industry, lighting cigars with $100 bills. Why the IPO? What new major advances in social media did the IPO make possible that they couldn’t make happen themselves? Likely none. But what it did do is allow Facebook to make some acquisitions. They are staying on top by removing the competition not rising to meet it.

Maximize shareholder value. That phrase is used to justify: higher prices, lower service, lower quality parts, environmental damage, damage to the long-term future of our nation, and general unethical corporate behavior (skimming, fleecing, shell corporations, tax loophole exploits). I’m not opposed to making money as a shareholder. But that money isn’t made out of thin air, and it doesn’t come from the seller. It comes from the American public. We pay that. When you get your dividend check or sell your stocks for a fat profit, that money came from me, from your neighbors, from your family and friends, from anyone that ever bought a product or service from that company. You paid for it too.

Similar to the underlying storyline in the movie The Matrix, I’m of the ever-increasing opinion that the US public is viewed as (literally) a cash crop by people who trade in tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. Top 1% income type of people. If we’re over-farmed, we’ll rebel. But if we’re fed and nurtured, told it’s for our own good, even made to believe that if we buy stocks we can come along for the ride; the money will slowly move from our pockets to that top 1%. We think because we made 8-18% on our investment portfolio we’re doing ok, being good citizens, and saving for our retirement. But we don’t realize we overpaid by 20-60% for the goods and services to make that happen*.

I think common carrier status is the only way to remove the need to maximize shareholder value in this segment of the telco industry. Or maybe, conversely, the only way to maximize shareholder value in a common carrier scenario is to increase market share by once again competing on speed and quality. I don’t want innovation from my ISP...I want a dumb pipe, and the ISP that can provide the fastest rates and highest quality of service at the lowest price will get my business.

*percentages pulled directly from my backside

about 2 months ago
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Single Gene Can Boost IQ By Six Points

pr0t0 I must be SOOOO smart (199 comments)

A single gene can boost IQ by six points? I've got something like 24,000 of them!

about 3 months ago
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Students Remember Lectures Better Taking Notes Longhand Than Using Laptops

pr0t0 My methodology (191 comments)

When in college, I would take copious notes during class with pen and paper. When preparing for a test, I would retype the notes over and over. Once I could type all of the notes without looking at my notebook, I felt ready to take the test. This is clearly memorization for the sake of the test, but I retained much. I also graduated with a cumulative GPA of 3.92, so I think it's fair to say my process was effective.

about 3 months ago
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Star Cluster Ejected From Galaxy At 2,000,000 MPH

pr0t0 Re:Velocity (133 comments)

I wonder if the Earth was in orbit around a star that was part of such a cluster, would we notice the effects of such an ejection? Certainly the night sky would change, but the whole process could take of millions of years. Would we feel any immediate effects from the proximity to the black holes? What would our current state of technology, instrumentation and measurement tell us about our relative place and speed? And what, if any change would there be in our civilization's future. Not being in the galaxy seems isolating, but if the host star remains unchanged perhaps there is no change in our destiny. Or perhaps that by the time we developed interstellar travel we'd be too far from the host galaxy to travel to anything other than the stars in our cluster.

It'd make for a good sci-fi book I think.

about 3 months ago
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Scientists/Actress Say They Were 'Tricked' Into Geocentric Universe Movie

pr0t0 Re:Something which I do not understand (642 comments)

Simple experiment: Blow up a balloon half way but do not tie it off, just pinch the end. This represents the universe. Now take a marker and put dots all over the surface of the balloon. These represent stars, planets, everything. Now start blowing into the balloon again to simulate the universe's continued expansion. You'll notice that all the dots are moving away from each other on all sides. No dot is getting closer to any other dot. This would also be true if you could somehow place dots inside the space of the balloon; and while it would remain true for a dot in the very center of the balloon, it also remains true for every other dot.

So seeing everything moving away from us does not require us to be at the center. We're just another dot...a pale blue one.

about 4 months ago
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Introducing a Calendar System For the Information Age

pr0t0 Re:Oh great... (224 comments)

To be fair, a calendar like this probably would simplify date-based calculations.

about 4 months ago
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Google Blurring Distinction Between Ads and Organic Search Results

pr0t0 Running afoul of the EU? (187 comments)

Didn't Google just agree in a European Commission settlement to, among other things, make the ads more discernible from the search results?

about 4 months ago
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Top U.S. Scientific Misconduct Official Quits In Frustration With Bureaucracy

pr0t0 Form a watchdog maybe? (172 comments)

Given his recent experience with the ORI, I wonder if David Wright's talents might serve the public better by forming a watchdog group that essentially does the same thing as the ORI. It wouldn't have the teeth the ORI has in terms of access to data, that in itself may make it a non-starter; but if possible the group could serve to inform the public, and when necessary, embarrass the ORI by pointing out inaction.

about 5 months ago
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Visual Effects Artists Use MPAA's Own Words Against It

pr0t0 Re:Nothing Will Come of It (131 comments)

I'm going to go ahead and call Shenanigans.

American politics is theatre, a drama, a mummer's farce...total fiction. It has organically grown to keep people divided and warring over the insignificant, while matters of import are settled behind closed doors. I believe that many politicians get into the profession for benevolent reasons...wanting to make a positive difference...regardless of party affiliation. The nature of the game though is eat or be eaten; say what you have to say and do what you have to do to maintain your position. Of course, this is all fueled by money and power. There's really simply nothing else. We're all greedy. At this point in our development as a species, it is still more natural for us to want more than our neighbor than to make them our equal.

DC is little more than a circling colony of vultures, and we're all lost in the desert. Evangelize your politics if you really feel the need, but to me you'll just look like someone who is kind of simple. After paying attention to how this game has been played over the last few decades, I give up. I prefer my fiction with spaceships and aliens, probably because I want off this rock.

about 5 months ago
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Are You a Competent Cyborg?

pr0t0 Re:Have you stopped beating your wife yet? (101 comments)

I'm guessing you are being modded as troll because the well-known logical fallacy you used in your subject to illustrate your point, went straight over the heads of the mods. To wit:

The question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" is a common illustration of the "loaded question" logical fallacy. Kruach's point was the question "Are you a competent cyborg?" is also a loaded question. We are not cyborgs at all, and the use of a cell phone doesn't make me a cyborg any more than using a car makes me a mode of transportation. In primitive terms, a cell phone is a tool not an augment, and its use is a conscious endeavor.

about 5 months ago
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3D Printing of Human Tissue To Spark Ethics Debate

pr0t0 Kidneys, now bio-free! (234 comments)

So this is really more of a side-topic, but I thought I'd throw it out there. I guess I've always thought we would get closer to artificial/mechanical creatures as time and technology progressed. I'm wondering if the advent of 3D printing makes it possible for printing kidneys made of alloys that aren't rejected, and polymer membranes that filter the blood. Bio matter wears out, but functional artificial kidneys may not.

Then again, a human heart lasts an astonishingly long time (2-3 billion beats) and I don't know that the artificial versions we have created at this point last longer. Perhaps it will go the other way around and rather than humans becoming more mechanized, our machines will be come more bio-mechanical? Will bio-printed organs be the stepping stone to fully artificial organs, or will it be a step toward making our technology less distinguishable from biology? Can we improve upon nature in this regard, and is it hubris to try?

about 6 months ago

Submissions

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Best web framework or CMS for task automation

pr0t0 pr0t0 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

pr0t0 (216378) writes "I've been asked by a local non-profit organization to help with a web project they are planning that will provide a curriculum to teachers for conservation education. They have little in the way of manpower or technical capability, and need a site that can automate tasks like sub-site creation and management. The thinking is that the teacher can sign up and a sub site will be created to house their calendar, documents, and activities that the teacher would adminstrate. The students would also need to be able to sign in and upload project information, results and photos. The main site would need to be able to aggregate some of the data from the sub sites so that the schools can compare their progress against each other. I've worked with SquareSpace and Google Sites in the past. I'm a SharePoint admin in my real job and could possibly use SharePoint Online. I'm also aware of CMS packages like Joomla, Drupal, Wordpress, Concrete5, etc., but haven't used them personally. I don't mind volunteering the hours it will take to create the site, the sub-site templates, and all of the custom coding necessary; but I don't want to be a slave to the site's ongoing use. Does anyone have any recommendations for creating a turn-key package for users of varying technical abilities that you can walk away from when finished?"

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