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No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade

pz Re:May I suggest RTFA? (281 comments)

Thank you for that very clear and succinct assessment of my intellectual capacity after reading a full paragraph of my writing. Touche. You perfectly hit the nail on the head. I am totally and utterly lacking in intellectual capacity, despite any evidence to the contrary.

Now, if you'd care to engage in a rational debate without ad hominem attacks, I'd be happy to respond. If not, please go away.

yesterday
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No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade

pz Re:May I suggest RTFA? (281 comments)

My guess: Someone has been promised kickbacks and incentives, and the choice of a replacement has already been made. It will now be followed by a circus to "determine" that it's the best choice. And it will end up costing the tax payers a fortune. I.e. a smaller version of the F-35 scam. Follow the money trail.

DING, DING, DING! And we have our winner! Money and votes are the only motivations here. Nothing else makes sense. Money, some manufacturer is going to get a juicy multi-year exclusive contract. Votes, some MP is going to be able to say, "look how many jobs I brought into our district!"

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: Why Can't Google Block Spam In Gmail?

pz Re:Juggle multiple gmail accounts (261 comments)

More GMail tricks, that may help you: when you have account

someaccountname@gmail.com

all email of the form

someaccountname+anysuffix@gmail.com

goes to your account. The plus sign is a literal character, not a concatenation operator. The only downside to this is that some email validation suites don't allow plus signs in user IDs, even though RFC 5322 allows them. Sometimes I use the format

someaccountname+onlinestore@gmail.com

when giving my email address to OnlineStore.com so that it's clear from where particular messages should originate.

about a week ago
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Too Much Privacy: Finnish Police Want Big Euro Notes Taken Out of Circulation

pz Re:To their defense (314 comments)

In contrast, as a normal person, I've used EUR 100 and EUR 500 bills regularly to take care of, well, large transactions that need to be confirmed and delivered faster than a bank transfer would allow (and when the people involved rile at paying 3% for credit card fees, or aren't set up to take credit cards in the first place), like paying vendors, or hotel bills outside of big cities.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: Why Can't Google Block Spam In Gmail?

pz Re:You vs everyone (261 comments)

But GMail does, to my understanding, use a personalized filter, in addition to the global filters. I get some legitimate email in a foreign language (not Chinese, but one with a non-latin alphabet), and some spam in that language as well. GMail gets them 100% right. Alphabet is just another feature that you perform Bayesian analysis on.

What any big message processing service has that a single user won't, is access to the content of messages across users, and the collective action by its users. So, for example, if a new spam campaign starts up, once the 10th (or so) user has clicked "this is spam", the rest of the recipients' versions of that same message get automatically re-classified. I used to be responsible for fighting spam at a mid-sized social networking site (that no longer exists, unfortunately), and believe me, simply looking for multiple copies of a given message is a strong tool for fighting spam. The back-end service operators get access to that, the users don't.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: Why Can't Google Block Spam In Gmail?

pz Re:WTF? (261 comments)

I have found that essentially every time I give my email to a legitimate retailer, they automatically assume that this means they can send me marketing email on nearly a daily basis. However, most retailers also honor the unsubscribe requests, and if you are vigilant about clicking through unsubscribe and marking real spam as such, GMail does a really very good job. Also, I've found that when I unsubscribe to lists that I really don't read (including marketing email that I might have thought could be interesting but no longer want), the total volume of spam goes down.

I cannot explain the OP's experience, as it runs completely counter to mine.

about a week ago
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What Will It Take To Run a 2-Hour Marathon?

pz Re:Wind, not still air. (254 comments)

A course in a large C shape then with two short arms 0.25 of the distance, and a long middle arm of 0.5 the distance, with prevailing wind down the long arm. Start and finish are 0.5 apart. Extra runners act as a wind shield on the appropriate side during the short arms, and the record challenger has the wind at their back for the long arm. Might work.

I'm curious about the assertion that start and finish have to be so close together. That's certainly not the case in Boston, one of the most famous marathons in the US. Do race times established in Boston not count for world records?

Now that I think about it, it wasn't the case in the Athens Olympics either. Those are the only two races that I'm personally familiar with. Which courses meet that start/finish requirement?

about two weeks ago
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What Will It Take To Run a 2-Hour Marathon?

pz Re:Wind, not still air. (254 comments)

Whoops. Right. Would be great to be able to edit posts, eh?

s/minimize/maximize/

about two weeks ago
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What Will It Take To Run a 2-Hour Marathon?

pz Wind, not still air. (254 comments)

The summary implies that the front triangle of runners will be necessary to cut the wind generated from the athletes running through the air, and thus, that the air is still.

Wind at the runners' backs, on the other hand, obviates that issue entirely.

Also, just above freezing is probably too cold because it requires extra clothing (and thus weight) to protect the extremities. Ideal running weather is in the 50s F / 10s C.

The summary further posits that a flat, straight course is best without citing any evidence. Do we know that sustained, constant exertion is more efficient over a two hour period than exertion that has a cyclic component? Yes, a course that has gentle ups and downs will probably take more energy to run (as the runners need to lift themselves up each hill, and don't generally get that energy back), but is there empirical evidence that it will always be slower? Consider the extreme of a course that starts out at a higher elevation than it finishes, but is strictly linear in altitude between the start and finish lines. It will surely be faster than a straight, flat course without any change in elevation.

The limiting factor, it would seem to me, is that the ideal course to minimize speed has not been constructed.

about two weeks ago
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BitHammer, the BitTorrent Banhammer

pz Re:bandwidth isn't the problem (428 comments)

Sure, once now. And then again in a month when something breaks. Or when Comcast comes by and installs a new modem. Or the hardware dies because the roof leaked and you need to buy new access point. I don't own a business that provides internet service to the public as a marginal offering to their main service, but if I did, I'd establish a relationship with some consultant on a fee-for-service basis so that I could concentrate on the main service, and let the consultant take care of the wireless offering.

That said, the OP's my-packets-are-more-important-than-yours attitude is a sure-fire way to piss off a lot of people and goes against the open-for-all ethos he thinks he's promoting. If he were enlightened, instead of performing vigilante justice, he might offer his services to configure the access points of the places he frequents for free, to ensure everyone has access. Stomping on someone else's bandwidth isn't the right way to do it.

And, again, if access is so critically important to him, then he should buy it rather than freeload.

about two weeks ago
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BitHammer, the BitTorrent Banhammer

pz Re:bandwidth isn't the problem (428 comments)

Rather than forcing bittorrent users off the network entirely, it would be better if the access point itself limited the number of connections per MAC address to something reasonable. This would prevent the symptom from occurring.

Exactly. The problem here is the owners have not configured their access points as well as they might to serve the broader public good. In an ideal world, each of the restaurants, cafes, airports, bus terminals, subway station, etc., owners would be fully technologically savvy, and be able to prevent the ill that the OP feels has befallen the public.

That mythological world is not the one we have, where the owners of such establishments just buy an off-the-shelf solution and plug it in. They are business owners, not IT specialists, and many (most?) are not big enough to support someone like that on salary. Nor should they. The corner mom-and-pop coffee shop should be concentrating on making a good cup of joe.

If the OP really needs such connectivity, he should buy it. Lots of companies would gladly take his funds, and these days, globally available wireless internet in most cities in the developed world just isn't that expensive. Especially if your lifestyle, or income, depends on it.

about two weeks ago
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Possible Reason Behind Version Hop to Windows 10: Compatibility

pz Re:How badly coded are Windows applications? (349 comments)

I agree, but replace the words "bad programming" with "lazy programmers".

It is really no different than instances of "you have 1 message(s) waiting". Back in the day, when bytes and cycles really counted, saving the execution of a statement, and the program code space associated with checking for 1 or more-than-1 was understandable, maybe even desirable, but now? The only reason is a lazy programmer.

The disturbing part of this is that you see status text like this all the time, even in decidedly new code; there are lazy programmers everywhere.

about two weeks ago
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Lost Opportunity? Windows 10 Has the Same Minimum PC Requirements As Vista

pz Minimum is not the same as Acceptable (554 comments)

Has the OP ever tried to run Windows on a minimum-spec'd system? Even XP on a system with those specs frequently goes into pauses long enough to make the operator (me) ask, "did it crash, or what?"

To paraphrase what others have posted, the operating system is the means, not the end. It should be small and lightweight. And it should bloody well not require beefier hardware than necessary. I've found that even generously spec'd systems still bog down under Windows as unknown processes kick off to do who knows what sort of housekeeping.

Fast and resource non-intensive should be an uncompromiseable goal of an OS.

about three weeks ago
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The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

pz Re:This device is not new or interesting (651 comments)

I'm surprised to learn that the other parts of guns aren't also tracked with issued serial numbers. Heck, if you were to use matching numbers, it would create a secondary market for higher-valued all-original guns, based on what happens in the automobile enthusiast circles.

about three weeks ago
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Irish Girls Win Google Science Fair With Astonishing Crop Yield Breakthrough

pz Re:The Global Food Crisis is not a science problem (308 comments)

So, please explain how producing more food where it's needed -- like through crops that are higher yield without fertilizers, like these students demonstrated -- isn't addressing the problem.

There will always, always be a resource inequity. We have between 6,000 and 10,000 years of human history to demonstrate this observation. No magic wand is going to evenly distribute resources, and there are plenty of people who would say it's an ill-formed idea in any case.

So if, for the sake of argument, you accept that there will be resource inequity, transporting food is a really bad idea as it spoils quickly, moreover, the costs of transportation to locations where it is needed roughly increases with the amount of need, as such areas are typically away from infrastructure.

If you can't transport food, and there isn't a magic wand to even out everyone's access to resources, why, exactly, is producing more food locally not a good idea?

about a month ago
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The Challenges and Threats of Automated Lip Reading

pz Re:Why should it NOT exist? (120 comments)

related dilemma: should we develop algorithms that can lip read? Of course we should, we should develop any tech. The real question is, will it be used for moral or immoral purposes?

Certain technology can be declared illegal. Like guns in certain countries. Radar detectors in some US states. Blue lights on non-police cars in most US states. Mechanisms for counterfeiting printed money. Cloning of human embryos. Et cetera. It's perfectly plausible for a society to declare some particular technology illegal.

Heck, even certain knowledge is illegal for the general public to own, let alone internalize, like plans to make nuclear bombs.

about a month ago
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The Challenges and Threats of Automated Lip Reading

pz Re:NSA probably already has this technology (120 comments)

"Dude, you punched a f-ii-sh."

Frelling awesome!

The real point is, though, that although some of those redubbed conversations are like Jabberwoky, some exchanges are reasonable (and some are spot-on visual homonyms, like the fish interpretation above), demonstrating that lip reading is wildly underconstrained.

about a month ago
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Curiosity Rover Arrives At Long-Term Destination

pz Re:Knee-jerk reaction (33 comments)

Excoriated?

"All extended missions were rated higher than "Good""

Excoriated --- here are a few choice excerpts (there was some positive language, but the panel really did come down hard in this report):

"The panel viewed this as a poor science return for such a large investment in a flagship mission."

"Despite identification of two EM1 science objectives, the proposal lacked specific scientific questions to be answered, testable hypotheses, and proposed measurements and assessment of uncertainties and limitations."

"It was unclear from both the proposal and presentation that the Prime Mission science goals had been met. In fact, it was unclear what exactly these were. "

"After the presentation and subsequent discussion within the panel during executive session, other questions were formulated and then presented to the Curiosity team. Unfortunately the lead Project Scientist was not present in person for the Senior Review presentation and was only available via phone. Additionally, he was not present for the second round of Curiosity questions from the panel. This left the panel with the impression that the team felt they were too big to fail and that simply having someone show up would suffice. The panel strongly urges NASA HQ to get the Curiosity team focused on maximizing high-quality science that justifies the capabilities of and capital investment in Curiosity."

"As Curiosity is a flagship mission, the panel was surprised by the lack of science in the EM1 proposal ..."

"In summary, the Curiosity EM1 proposal lacked scientific focus and detail."

about a month ago
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SanDisk Releases 512GB SD Card

pz Re:1024-fold (210 comments)

No, a "traditional" GB is the one that was defined way before computer scientists got their hands on it –1000.

Computer scientists? Did they just choose it at random? I thought it was because 2^10 = 1024, therefore 2^30 = 1073741824.

That would suggest, to me, that it was a mathematical definition and not chosen by computer scientists.

More than that, it would suggest to me that 1 GB = 1,000,000,000 was a redefinition of a known quantity by a third party.

Ah, let's get one thing straight here. The notion of a byte did not appear before computer science. Anything that measures bytes is ultimately CS-derived, even if marketing folks like to confuse people.

about a month ago
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How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

pz Re:Scientific Consensus (770 comments)

As an experimental scientist, I can, with certainty, state that you are wrong when you claim "science is about provability."

It is extraordinarily difficult to prove something experimentally. Most advances come about because we (both individually as experimentors, and collectively as members of a given scientific field), think we've accounted for most potential confounds and artifacts, not because we've conducted perfect experiments. Biological sciences, especially, suffer from a huge number of uncontrolled variables that often we are not aware of, but impinge mightily upon our results. Biology, to continue, is noisy. Very, very noisy. In my lab, we measure phenomena related to visual perception, and I can tell you unequivocally that individual variation usually swamps any underlying phenomenon we examine (meaning, we need to measure with lots and lots of individuals to make sure we aren't being fooled, and even then, we can easily get fooled).

Rarely, if ever, do we prove something experimentally. It's only through the consensus of reproducibility that scientific facts get established.

Piltdown Man, to discuss your example, was due to observational error (ie, a hoax), not experimental evidence demonstrating provability. Observational science, as opposed to experimental science, is rife with missteps and re-interpretations. Look up the history of shooting stars, as one example -- they were considered purely terrestrial phenomena well after the establishment of the United States as a country. It took repeated observational events, not experiments, to establish that meteors are astronomical in origin.

Reproducibility is the cornerstone of modern science. Everything else is consensus. We think we know things, and mostly, we've been correct with a high degree of probability, since we've been able to take given conclusions and build, predictably, upon them. But, every now and then, even firmly-held beliefs with eons of structural experimental integrity are demonstrated to have been mistaken. There is very little scientific truth, merely scientific certainty. If you want absolute truth, look to mathematics instead.

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

pz hasn't submitted any stories.

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pz pz writes  |  more than 11 years ago

The Blackjacks were a small (okay, perhaps not-so-small) band in Boston from the heyday of local music in Boston. Their biggest hit Saturday, which made a splash on the college airwaves, starts with the lyrics in my signature.

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