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US Revamping Its Nuclear Arsenal

schnell Re:MAD (310 comments)

They can invade just about anywhere else, and no one will touch them.

If by "anywhere else" you mean not a NATO country, China, India or Pakistan, then sure. Oh, and any of the Middle Eastern states where the US has presences and treaties. That even includes former Soviet Bloc countries like Poland - one step across that border would invite a major military response. And of course nothing in the Western Hemisphere since that would violate the Monroe Doctorine.

So basically Putin can do whatever he wants with impunity, so far as that involves former Soviet Socialist Republics, or ... I guess Africa. It sucks for the ex-SSRs, but they are really the only countries that Putin can really swing his political dick around in with no controversies. He's just there hoping that he can hold power for another 5-10 years so that when Russia's petrostate windfall runs out in a couple decades, he's dead and doesn't have to take the blame for a pariah state with no economy except caviar and botnets.


US Revamping Its Nuclear Arsenal

schnell Re:I Voted For Kodos. (310 comments)

This comment actually makes more sense than all of the sentences in the article summary combined.

I know it's cool to bash to the quality of Slashdot "editors," but has anyone else noticed that the last week has been particularly awful? Above and beyond even the typical political and iOS/Android flamebaiting, I mean, with just more awful story approvals and summary editing? Did all the grownups at Slashdot go away on vacation, or did Dice halve the editors' IQ scores so somehow cut costs? (Remember, there must be a step 2 to making Slashdot profitable, so why not that?)


Trouble In Branson-Land, As Would-Be Space Tourists Get Antsy Over Delays

schnell Re:They're not astronauts, they're ballast. (77 comments)

"No, not spaceman. Specimin." - von Braun, in "The Right Stuff", speaking of the Mercury astronauts.

You actually have that backwards. In the movie, von Braun is trying to say "spaceman" in his thick German accent and LBJ misunderstands it, asking "specimen?" To which von Braun shouts "spacey-man!" LBJ also misunderstands von Braun's pronunciation of "chimp." It's a pretty darn funny scene either way.


Microsoft Lays Off 2,100, Axes Silicon Valley Research

schnell Re:Year of Linux on the desktop? (109 comments)

Anyhow, good luck without your researchers.

What, all 50 of them in Silicon Valley? FFS, I didn't even RTFA but I got enough from the summary to understand that this is less than a rounding error compared to Microsoft's overall R&D and engineering staffs.

Also, can we make it Schnell's Law that anyone who mentions the Year of the Linux Desktop without irony has triggered Godwin's Law about the Occam's Razor of Linux zealots' Panglossian combination of The Seven UI Laws, the Joel Test and Newton's First Law of Motion? Unless of course they have done it as part of a Russian Reversal.

5 days ago

Apple Edits iPhone 6's Protruding Camera Out of Official Photos

schnell Re:Parallax. (425 comments)

Yes, amazing things like announcing a smart watch (Multiple manufacturers are already selling these), introduced a larger form factor for their phone (Multiple manufacturers started this trend years ago), and introduced an NFC payment method (Multiple parties have already implemented this)

For fuck's sake, can we get rid of this tired meme finally? "Apple never invented anything" is a straw man faithfully trotted out by anti-Apple fanbois time and time again, seemingly oblivious to the fact that this is really not the point. Anyone who tells you "Apple invented X" is almost certainly wrong, and anyone who says "Apple never invented X" is missing the damn point.

To wit:

* Apple did not invent the Personal Computer. Apple took the idea and made (one of) the first PCs that were user-friendly enough that lots and lots of people wanted to buy it.

* Apple did not invent the GUI. Apple took the idea and made the first GUI that was user-friendly enough that lots and lots of people wanted to buy it. (Note: it took them two tries to get it right, including the Lisa.)

* Apple did not invent desktop publishing. Apple took the idea and put together the right user-friendly 3rd party software, GUI and laser printers that made lots and lots of people want to buy it.

* Apple did not invent USB, nor was it the first to use it. They took the idea and put it into a computer that was "cool" and user-friendly (and whose users were forced to use USB whether they liked it or not), and lots and lots of people started to buy USB devices.

* Apple did not invent UNIX, or *NIX-derived PC operating systems. They took the idea and made the first *NIX-based OS that was user-friendly enough that lots and lots of people wanted to buy it. (Note again that it took Steve Jobs two tries to get this one right, including NeXT.)

* Apple did not invent MP3 players. They took the idea and made the first MP3 player that was user-friendly enough and supported by an ecosystem that made it easy for people to legally buy music so that lots and lots of people wanted to buy it.

* Apple did not invent smartphones. They took the idea and made the first smartphone that was user-friendly enough that normal people wanted one instead of just work-issued mobile email tools, so lots and lots of people wanted to buy one.

Do you see a pattern here?

So please, please can we get over this "Apple didn't invent anything" BS and recognize what it is that Apple actually does, and hence what criteria their success or failure should be judged on? Apple doesn't live or die on being first. They live or die based on being the first one in a given market to do something really well ... at least until other people catch up and equal them. And then they are on to the Next Big Thing. If they ever run out of Next Big Things, then they are done.

about a week ago

Google Hangouts Gets Google Voice Integration And Free VoIP Calls

schnell Re:Hangouts is, in turn, part of plus, right? (162 comments)

This is usually the part where someone says, "You don't have kids, do you?" I don't, but I fail to see the pressing need for a cell phone just because you have children.

Umm, yeah, that's because you don't have children.

WRT kids, you want a cell phone for:

  • Your kids' school/nanny/day care to call you about an emergency, even if you are home, at work, or in transit
  • Your child to tell you that their after school activity/field trip/lesson/sports practice/whatever ended 30 minutes early or an hour late and they need to be picked up
  • For older teenagers, giving them their own (locked down) cellphone so that you can track their location in case of an emergency

It's clear that you don't have a living situation where having a smartphone is of any advantage - such as apps that can provide directions, show the best route through rush hour traffic, show mass transit times/schedules, book restaurant reservations, receive public safety/AMBER alerts, read the news or talk to friends while mobile is important. That's all well and good.

It's also pretty clear that you don't have the type of job where responding to e-mails or phone calls in a hurry or outside regular hours is important. So, for you, I would agree that a cellphone is superfluous. For many, many other people, having a cellphone (especially smartphone) is very useful. So your mileage may vary. I would just expect that your experience will become less and less common over time.

about two weeks ago

Device Boots Drones, Google Glass Off Wi-Fi

schnell Re:Seems fine to me. (184 comments)

I think the notion that police are there to protect you or me is somewhat archaic.

I've read your posts before so I know I'm tilting at windmills by trying to engage rationally. But you do know that, Ferguson aside, there are more than 4,000 police/sheriff agencies across the US and that day-in, day-out, 99% of what they do is actually protecting/helping people? Somebody has to respond to 911 calls, and defuse domestic violence incidents. Somebody has to take drunk drivers off the road. Somebody has to investigate rapes, assaults and violent crimes. Those people are the police.

I know a number of police officers personally. Pretty much all of them are nice socially, although I can tell that a few of them like their job a little too much and I wouldn't want to meet them on the wrong side of "at work." And, like many other middle-class people, all my early (pre-college graduation) interactions with police were about underage drinking when I thought to myself, "boy, these guys could be doing something more valuable somewhere else."

But ultimately the police in the US do an unpopular job - by and large - very well, and pretty much all of them that I have met do really care about making the public safer. There are bad cops - maybe the nature of giving people authority makes there be a few more bad cops than abusers of any other random job - but they are the minority by far. I know it's fun and cool to act like every cop is the Bad Lieutenant or Judge Dredd or something, but it's ignorant and disrespectful to say that thinking police are there to help you is "archaic."

OK, karma seppuku committed. Mod away.

about two weeks ago

Stallman Does Slides -- and Brevity -- For TEDx

schnell Re:Where to draw the line (326 comments)

From what I can tell, he draws the line quite clearly. There is no place for traditional paid commercial software. It is okay to make money writing software, but it is never okay to keep even a single line of software secret from the general public.

Fair enough. Clear line. I guess the problem is that I - as a tech professional but non-programmer - could not give a dead rat's ass about access to a single line of the source code of the software I use. I do not have the skills, time or interest to do a security audit, understand the source of, or contribute to a single line of code to any one of the thousands of pieces of software I have used over the past 30 years. I am happy to pay money for the software I like (especially as I have grown older and had more disposable income), although I have always preferred to find gratis software when it was of equivalent or better quality. But, to be very honest, the "gratis" element mattered to me, not the "free" element. For example, I was and continue to be a huge fan of the MAME project but I do so because I don't have to pay for it, not because I expect to contribute any arcade PCB dumps or source code.

When I was younger, I downloaded and used metric shitloads of "pirated" software that I used because I could, but that was thanks to the "Internet community" of crackers and file sharers, not to the "free software movement." I didn't care about the license, I just wanted the best available software for my platform that I could afford (i.e. $0).

So thank you Richard Stallman for your efforts in making a lot of software gratis for people like me so I could get software for free without feeling bad (really) about "pirating" it. Gratis software was a revelation, and I don't think much of the early Internet would have happened without gratis Apache, Perl or Linux/BSD, for example. But most users of that software cared, frankly, far far more for the "gratis" component than the "libre" element. I hope that someday that Stallman understands that his principles are of interest (Pro or Con) to ~100% of the people who make software, but are of interest to ~.01% of the people who use software.

And at the end of the day, the mass market of people who use software will vote with their feet and wallets and decide who "wins" based on if the free software is good enough that it's worth not paying for vs. the non-free software. So maybe couching this argument more in terms of user experience that means more to the "99 percent" (i.e. software users) would behoove Stallman instead of speaking to the "elite" of software developers if he wants to make a long-term impact on freedom.

about two weeks ago

Protesters Blockade Microsoft's Seattle Headquarters Over Tax Breaks

schnell Re:well... (246 comments)

MS just donate to politicians to reduce the amount of taxes they pay

Kinda sort of but not really. What most posters here seem not to understand is that it is 100% normal for companies who employ lots of people in area X to negotiate with that city/county/state's government to say in effect "because of us you have many thousands more people paying property/school/sales taxes and supporting the local economy. Other places would be willing to offer us a break on our corporate taxes if we moved there instead and benefitted their economy. So why don't you?"

On some level this sounds like playing dirty pool but it's really not... it's the exact same thing you would do if you had your employer behind the eight ball in salary negotiations: "Other companies are willing to pay me X for my skills, so why don't you match it or I will leave?"

So long story short, every company with the clout of Microsoft (which IIRC employs >40K employees in Washington State/Seattle Metro area) gets local or state tax breaks that Joe Schmoe's auto garage does not. Apple gets tax breaks in Cupertino, Google gets them in Mountain View, Sprint gets them in Kansas City, Verizon gets them in Basking Ridge NJ. In the greater Seattle area, Microsoft, Costco, Starbucks and other businesses with HQs there get them... Seattle felt the sting years ago of not offering enough tax breaks to Boeing and seeing their corporate HQ relocated to Chicago. (If you're interested to see who's probably getting big tax breaks where, look at the map of Fortune 500 headquarters by city.

So it's rational to give large companies tax breaks to keep them in your city as a way to keep your economy strong. It may seem unfair, but all these cities and states have done enough research to conclude that doing tax favors for these big companies is worth more than taxing them at regular rates and losing the employment. So it's neither illegal or irrational on the part of the government or the corporations.

about two weeks ago

Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

schnell Re:I can't believe we're afraid of these assholes (542 comments)

It's like they WANT to remain in the 8th Century. Why is it exactly that we're afraid of them?

Because while they're eager to keep an 8th century moral code (and dress code for women), they seem decidedly more modern in their choice of military forces and interest (but not yet attainment of) nuclear weapons.

Because, you know, when you're the Grand Ayatollah, some "Bikinis" are OK but definitely not others.

about three weeks ago

Google's Megan Smith Would Be First US CTO Worthy of the Title

schnell Re:Revolving door (117 comments)

Academia is part of the real world, easily as much as industry is.

HA HA HA hee hee hee ha. Wait, you were serious?

Academia, technically, is part of the "real world." It's just the part with 180 degree different rules and priorities than the "industry" part that employs most Americans is. I have plenty of friends in academia and I love them to death but when we compare "what's happening at work" I will talk about the life or death of some multi-million dollar project that's keeping me up at night, and they will reveal their big pain point at work is that some guy caused an uproar at a conference because he give a citation in a paper to an ally and finessed his work around giving a citation to someone who he got in a snit with several years ago about different interpretations of a theory.

Now, that doesn't make one job better than the other but they sure are different. As they say, same planet, different worlds. Or, as the great academic Dr. Ray Stantz once told a colleague, "Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn't have to produce anything. You've never been out of college! You don't know what it's like out there! I've worked in the private sector. They expect results."

about three weeks ago

No, a Stolen iPod Didn't Brick Ben Eberle's Prosthetic Hand

schnell Re:Thanks (122 comments)

Reporting in general seems (or perhaps it's always been this way, but I just wasn't as aware of it.) to have gotten a lot more lazy recently, especially with the explosion of news blogs and other internet only news sources.

You are correct, it has gotten a lot more lazy recently. Once upon a time, when newspapers were printed once or twice a day and TV news aired only at 6 pm and 10 pm, there was a lot more time to get your facts straight and - most importantly - request a balancing comment from the "other side of the story." Today, there are so many sources of "news" - heavy finger quotes there - that operate in near real time that people are exposed to lots of rumormongering in the guise of journalism due to pressure to be first to get clicks (and the low reportorial standards that accompany a rush to publish in minutes).

Generally speaking, if I see something sensational online I will wait until I see it from an outlet that hires actual reporters (like CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, et. al.) instead of "bloggers" who just scour Twitter for unsubstantiated scoops (like Gawker properties, Deadspin, whatever) or "writers" who are just paid to write opinions with no pretense at balance (like Slate, HuffPo, Fox News, et. al.). So even if Facebook "told" me that Robin Williams was dead at noon, I was perfectly content to wait until someone did some fact checking and reported it on two hours later before I believed it.

about a month ago

Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

schnell Re:Send in the drones! (848 comments)

We pissed nothing away invading those two.

Iraq: 4400 American lives lost - some of whom were people some of us knew and loved - in the service of a falsely-premised, bullshit-justified war. So fuck you.

Oh, and if you care about that sort of thing, we also pissed away $1.1 trillion in Iraq. Which is, like, kind of a incredible shit-ton of money.

Also, fuck you again for diminishing the loss of the thousands of American personnel and hundreds of thousands (if not more) of Iraqi civilians who died.

about a month ago

Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

schnell Re:NOT LULZ - LIES ! (848 comments)

Same EXACT crew who declared Iraqi WMD confirmed fact.

I have yet to hear George Bush, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell or George Tenet weigh in on the Russia/Ukraine conflict. Or did you mean someone else?

How many times will you be neo-conned, by the "bogey-man dictator" ploy?

Sometimes there actually are real bogey men dictators. The Bush administration lied terribly about the rationale for invading Iraq 11 years ago. Does that necessarily mean that all the countries of Europe that are decrying the activities of Vladimir Putin today are lying? Because Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande are not exactly the first people I think of when I hear the term "neo-con."

about a month ago

Comcast Training Materials Leaked

schnell Re:I have worked at a few ISPs (251 comments)

example would be bell labs.. then the business got greedy and killed innovation.

The Slashdot crowd can't have their cake and eat it too. "Classic" Bell Labs did a tremendous amount of innovative research that transformed the telecommunications and computer industries. But they did it precisely because they were a regulated monopoly that had no competitors and fat, government-regulated margins. In essence, the old AT&T spent lavishly on Bell Labs projects that in many cases they not only didn't make money on but were actually forbidden (like UNIX) to make money on because they had no need to be competitive.

But on the flip side, everyone here seems to agree that monopolies are bad and competition is good. Which, for consumers and shareholders, I agree is ideal. But if you're looking for someone to subsidize basic research with little or no investment return potential, don't look to a competitive company to do it. Even Google's "research" is almost always connected to a profit-making initiative, although whether they actually bring it to market is a much different question.

So long story short - the old Bell Labs only made sense as a luxury that could be afforded by a monopoly that had cash to burn. If you want competition, you don't get businesses that can throw cash into a burn pit for the benefit of science.

about a month ago

Comcast Training Materials Leaked

schnell Re:McDonallds should sue ... (251 comments)

Ugh. Please don't make me sound like I'm defending Comcast, which I loathe.

But the fact is that every large consumer-oriented business has a part of their playbook that every employee who touches the customer should be a salesperson. Are you the McDonald's cashier? You're selling. Are you the rep in a Verizon store? You're selling. Those are easy. Do you work the fry machine? Then you don't talk to the customer, and you're not selling. That's the difference in your example.

But pretty much every consumer services megacorp has done the research and learned that every "touch" you have with a customer needs to be a selling opportunity, and you get very good sales results - which seems counterintuitive, but it's true - if you do so. When you call for support, that's a touch and up-sell opportunity even if you were angry when you called in; same when the DSL/cable installer shows up to your house, even if they are late showing up. You may be angry at first, but a shitload of real-world research shows that most consumers are simply unaware of any given company's latest/greatest/whatever, and you might be interested in it once you have vented your frustration with $MEGACORP.

Again, I have no love for Comcast (I am a Xfinity subscriber in Seattle for TV/Internet and for more than two years I have struggled to read my cable bill and figure it out in a line item fashion) but they are certainly no more evil than almost any other large company in this respect.

about a month ago

Xiaomi's Next OS Looks Strikingly Similar To iOS

schnell Re:Sitting on the floor? (181 comments)

Does he also park in the handicap space?

I have no idea if it's true, but a story used to circulate among Apple employees that one engineer worked up the bravery to leave a note on His Steveness's windshield that suggested he "Park Different." There was reportedly an effort to track down the offending employee by Apple security but it never bore fruit.

about a month ago

Cisco To Slash Up To 6,000 Jobs -- 8% of Its Workforce -- In "Reorganization"

schnell Re:While Buying Back $1.5 Billion In Stock (207 comments)

when the poor stop getting earned income credits totaling in the several thousands every year

I get your drift, but the Earned Income Tax Credit program is a poor example of something to pick on. EITC is one of the very few financial aid programs out there that both Republicans and Democrats like because they agree it's effective. The short version is that the EITC rewards you for going out and getting a job, which is where the "earned income" in the name comes from. It was created to combat the paradox that getting a low-wage job can disqualify you from getting certain types of welfare, resulting in you making less money by working than if you just lived off government assistance. So EITC "grosses up" your working income to make sure you have an incentive to be gainfully employed and you aren't losing out on benefits because you're working.

You don't get the EITC by being jobless or living off public assistance; it in essence gives you an additional incentive to work. So while you may think that our welfare programs are busted in general, EITC is not the piece of that program to criticize.

about a month ago

Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office

schnell Re:Where do I sign up? (327 comments)

What was the result of all of this government regulation of a natural monopoly? Prices for long-distance calls dropped rapidly. Services were upgraded in many areas that were previously "unprofitable". Technologies that made heavy use of previously existing infrastructure(ADSL) spurred technological advances.

This doesn't necessarily invalidate your point, but your recap of the results of the Judge Greene decision and the divestiture of AT&T is a bit off. The original Department of Justice rationale - this suit being pursued under the conservative Reagan administration, which you would have thought wouldn't wanted to do it - for splitting up AT&T was that it was an un-natural combination of heavily regulated industries (local phone service) and largely unregulated industries (long distance). The ultra-conservative DoJ anti-trust bigwig who actually pursued the case did so on the doctrinal belief that you should either be in a regulated business (rates set by a local Public Utility Commission, as local phone services are/were), or in a competitive business (market pricing) but not both since it allowed the competitive business to be subsidized by the regulated business and distort competition.

What was going on was actually the reverse - AT&T made lots of money selling long distance but not much selling local phone service, and in effect it was subsidizing your local phone bill with what expensive long distance service cost. So, while opening up the LD market to lots of competition did in fact drive prices down for consumers, most people's local phone bills went up because the ILECs were no longer being subsidized. Local phone company "innovation" pretty much went into the toilet (remember, they toyed with making modem users buy separate additional phone lines, and their idea of "broadband" in the early '90s was still ISDN). It wasn't until the advent of ADSL as a way to compete with other emerging broadband technologies forced their hand in the late '90s (in concert with the 1996 telecom deregulation act) that there was much innovation or cost savings for customers in play.

So in some ways the Ma Bell breakup was an interesting exemplar of the "law of unintended consequences" and a demonstration of how heavily regulated services can sometimes drive higher prices and lower innovation than ones with a more open market. Competition will always make a company move faster than regulatory bureaucracy - so your "HEAVY regulation" mentioned above would need to not just be regulation per se but the type that also incentivized investment and competition.

By the way, if you're really interested in the Ma Bell divestiture and its consequences, be sure to pick up The Deal of the Century by the Washington Post reporter who covered the trial and its aftermath.

about a month and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Should I Fight Against Online Voting In Our Municipality?

schnell Re:Vote Selling? (190 comments)

Suppose a person is for example willing to spend $100,000 to obtain 10000 votes, in order to win an election

That's what happens today, except it is spent on TV ads, direct mail, paid media placements and talking heads. Paying people for their votes directly would probably be cheaper for everyone involved except the advertising and PR firms who reap a windfall each election cycle.

I don't actually like the idea of buying votes - I think accepting money for a vote is fundamentally prostituting your most basic civic rights. But that's a choice and I don't see why prostitution isn't legalized, either. I guess my point is just that "vote selling" is only one degree of separation away from the status quo today and might actually be a more efficient way of getting to the same place.

about 2 months ago



US Rust Belt Manufacturing Rebounds Via Fracking Boom

schnell schnell writes  |  about two weeks ago

schnell (163007) writes "A New York Times article reports that Midwestern "Rust Belt" towns and their manufacturing economies in particular have rebounded greatly due to the US resurgence in fossil fuel production, driven by production of shale gas and natural gas from "fracking" and other new technologies that recover previously unavailable fuel but are more invasive than traditional techniques. “Both Youngstown and Canton are places which experienced nothing but disinvestment for 40 years" ... “[now] they’re not ghost towns anymore," according to the article. But while many have decried the loss of traditional US manufacturing jobs in a globalized world and the associated loss of high-wage blue collar jobs, do the associated environmental risks of new "tight oil" extraction techniques outweigh the benefits to these depressed economic regions?"

When Beliefs and Facts Collide

schnell schnell writes  |  about 3 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "A New York Times article discusses a recent Yale study that shows that contrary to popular belief, increased scientific literacy does not correspond to increased belief in accepted scientific findings when it contradicts their religious or political views. The article notes that this is true across the political/religious spectrum and "factual and scientific evidence is often ineffective at reducing misperceptions and can even backfire on issues like weapons of mass destruction, health care reform and vaccines." So what is to be done? The article suggests that "we need to try to break the association between identity and factual beliefs on high-profile issues – for instance, by making clear that you can believe in human-induced climate change and still be a conservative Republican." But given the propensity of all humans towards cognitive bias and even magical thinking, should we just resign ourselves to the idea that democracies will never make their decisions based purely on science?"

The Fall and Rise of Larry Page

schnell schnell writes  |  about 5 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "Slate's has a long, detailed story about how Larry Page founded Google, how he struggled with its growth, and ultimately how he came back to reinvigorate it. The story recounts fascinating details about Page's relationship to Sergey Brin, the combative culture Page fostered in the company's early years, his resistance to having engineers managed by non-engineers, the company's struggle through its rapid growth, and how Page once even wanted to hire Steve Jobs as Google's CEO."

Ask Slashdot: What Online News Is Worth Paying For?

schnell schnell writes  |  about 8 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "The increasing prevalence of online news paywalls and "nag walls" (e.g. you can only read so many articles per month) has forced me to divide those websites into two categories: those that offer content that is unique or good enough to pay for vs. those that don't. Examples of the former for me included The Economist and Foreign Policy, while other previous favorite sites The New York Times and even my hometown Seattle Times have lost my online readership entirely. I also have a secret third category — sites that don't currently pay/nag wall, but I would pay for if I had to — Ars Technica and Long Form come to mind. What news/aggregation sites are other Slashdotters out there willing to pay for, and why? What sites that don't charge today would you pay for if you had to? Or, knowing this crowd, are the majority just opposed to paying for any web news content on principle?"

It Pays To Be Pretty

schnell schnell writes  |  about 9 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "A new study from the University of Illinois in Chicago has quantified how being physically attractive is correlated with being rated as "intelligent" or "promising" and earning higher pay in the workplace, not just in adulthood but as far back as high school. It may not be as simple as rewarding people who are pretty to look at, as one of the study's authors noted that it may be more a result of "early successes and confidence boosters may create a self-fulfilling prophecy in which the attractive high school students end up being more successful in adulthood." Being attractive is also associated with some risks, since "more attractive teens also were more likely to drink heavily and have more sexual partners.""

Stuxnet's "Secret Twin" Was Even More Damaging and Better Hidden

schnell schnell writes  |  about 10 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "Cyberdefense analyst Ralph Langner reports the results of a lengthy investigation into Stuxnet in Foreign Affairs, revealing that the Stuxnet we know was only the later and more obvious part of a sophisticated cyber attack on Iran's nuclear enrichment program. Two years before the release of the better-known Stuxnet variant, an original version was launched with a more subtle and stealthy mission — wearing down centrifuges gradually through improper overuse. While it couldn't spread itself as easily as the later Stuxnet, it was deliberately designed to degrade centrifuges slowly and remain invisible. The author also speculates that the discovery of the later Stuxnet version was actually beneficial to the US, since if another country was outed first as having engaged in cyberwarfare, it would seem a "Pearl Harbor" that made the US look weak in terms of its cyberwar capabilities."

How Blockbuster Could Have Owned Netflix

schnell schnell writes  |  about 10 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "Your age probably determines whether you think of Blockbuster Video as a fond memory or a dinosaur predestined for extinction. While the last Blockbuster rental at the last remaining Blockbuster video store took place last week, Variety retells a now-classic story of how Blockbuster could have bought Netflix for a song, but didn't because it failed to take the new DVD-by-mail and video streaming markets seriously. Who is next to join Blockbuster, Polaroid, Borders and Best Buy on the ash heap of superseded retail business models?"

How BlackBerry Blew It

schnell schnell writes  |  about a year ago

schnell (163007) writes "The Globe and Mail is running a fascinating in-depth report on how BlackBerry went from the world leader in smartphones to a company on the brink of collapse. It paints a picture of a company with deep engineering talent but hamstrung by arrogance, indecision, slowness to embrace change, and a lack of internal accountability. From the story: "'The problem wasn’t that we stopped listening to customers,' said one former RIM insider. 'We believed we knew better what customers needed long term than they did.'""

The Techie General Who Made the NSA What It Is Today

schnell schnell writes  |  1 year,12 days

schnell (163007) writes "Foreign Policy magazine is running a fascinating portrait of Gen. Keith Alexander, the "techie general" who leads both the NSA and US Cyber Command. It paints a picture of a leader with both a career-long background of SIGINT engineering skills and exceptional political savvy, expanding the NSA's scope to fulfill his "big data" vision and its ability to map far-flung connections into a picture of intelligent threat analysis. While some of the anonymous intelligence officials quoted in the story call into question the results of Alexander's big data approach (including impressive-looking "contact maps" for suspected terrorists that included unrelated points like pizza shops), Alexander's techie vision for the NSA has transformed its mission into one of potentially much greater usefulness ... but also one with the potential for much greater abuse."

"Into Darkness" Really the Worst "Star Trek" Movie Ever?

schnell schnell writes  |  1 year,18 days

schnell (163007) writes "Despite maintaining an 87% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the Star Trek faithful at a recent convention have spoken and rated "Star Trek Into Darkness" the worst movie in the franchise. So bad, in fact, that it came in 13th in a list of 12 Star Trek films — the extra slot coming because 1999's brilliant Galaxy Quest was considered in the voting. But was the movie really that bad? Simon Pegg thinks not and has a f-bomb to share with its critics, but how about you?"

Snowden Masqueraded As Top Officials To Mine NSA's Deepest Secrets

schnell schnell writes  |  1 year,25 days

schnell (163007) writes "As government investigators continue to try to figure out just how much data whistleblower Edward Snowden had access to, MSNBC is reporting that Snowden used his sysadmin privileges to assume the user profiles of top NSA officials in order to gain access to the most sensitive files. His sysadmin privileges also enabled him to do something other NSA users can't — download classified files from NSAnet onto a thumb drive. “Every day, they are learning how brilliant [Snowden] was,” said a former U.S. official with knowledge of the case. “This is why you don’t hire brilliant people for jobs like this. You hire smart people. Brilliant people get you in trouble.”"

Area 51 No Longer (Officially) a Secret

schnell schnell writes  |  about a year ago

schnell (163007) writes "The first-ever declassified story of Area 51's origin is now available, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act filed years ago by George Washington University's National Security Archive. The (only lightly redacted) document is actually primarily a history of the U-2 and A-12 ("Oxcart") spy plane programs from the Cold War, but is remarkable for being the first-ever official unclassified acknowledgement of the Area 51's purpose and its role in the program. Interesting tidbits include that the U-2 program was kicked off with a CIA check mailed personally to Lockheed Skunk Works chief Kelly Johnson for $1.25M; a U-2 was launched off an aircraft carrier to spy on French nuclear tests; and the U-2 delivery program itself was actually done under budget, a rarity for secret government programs then or now."

The paradox of Julian Assange and Wikileaks

schnell schnell writes  |  about a year and a half ago

schnell writes "The New Statesman is publishing a new in-depth article that examines in detail the seemingly paradoxical nature of Wikileaks' brave mission of public transparency with the private opaqueness of Julian Assange's leadership. On one hand, Wikileaks created "a transparency mechanism to hold governments and corporations to account" when nobody else could or would. On the other hand, Wikileaks itself was "guilty of the same obfuscation and misinformation as those it sought to expose, while its supporters are expected to follow, unquestioningly, in blinkered, cultish devotion." If Wikileaks performs a public service exposing the secrets of others but censors its own secrets, does it really matter? Or are the ethics of the organization and its leader inseparable?"

WW2 carrier pigeon's code may never be broken

schnell schnell writes  |  about 2 years ago

schnell writes "Earlier this month, a man cleaning out his fireplace in Surrey, England, found a 70-year-old carrier pigeon skeleton with a coded message strapped to its leg. Pigeons were widely used by the Allies in WW2 to carry messages between Britain and the continent, but since the message is short (27 five-character groups) and because the cipher books used at the time should all have been destroyed, it's unlikely modern cryptographers will ever be able to unravel its sender, intended recipient or message contents. “Without access to the relevant code books and details of any additional encryption used, it will remain impossible to decrypt,” a [GCHQ] spokesman said... might this become another 21st century challenge for amateur cryptographers like the Beale ciphers?"
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Are socially shared photos free?

schnell schnell writes  |  more than 2 years ago

schnell writes "Stefanie Gordon took a now-famous photo of Space Shuttle Endeavour out the window of her airplane seat and tweeted it to friends. By the time she was leaving the airport, she was barraged with media requests. The photo has been viewed nearly one million times on hundreds of websites, but Stephanie was paid for the photo by only five news organizations. Stephanie doesn't feel slighted, but a professional news photographer would have been paid many times what Stephanie received. In today's climate, are amateur photos shared on Twitter or Facebook basically free for all websites to use? Is re-tweeting or re-sharing automatically fair use?"
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Can apps really damage a cellular network?

schnell schnell writes  |  more than 3 years ago

schnell writes "In recent FCC filings, T-Mobile described how the behavior of one Android IM app nearly brought their cellular data network to a breakdown in one city. Even more interesting, the US carrier describes how just the 300,000 unlocked iPhones on their network caused massive spikes in data usage. T-Mobile is using these anecdotes as evidence that mobile carriers shuold be able to retain control over the applications and devices on their network to ensure quality of service for all users. Do they have a point?"

Major GTA IV bug leaves PS3 users in a lurch

schnell schnell writes  |  more than 6 years ago

schnell writes "So it turns out that the PS3 version of Grand Theft Auto IV was shipped before being adequately tested. Upon starting my saved game tonight GTA froze up during gameplay. Even following the online suggestions that I uninstall the game and delete my saved games didn't fix the problem. Then I discovered that I wasn't alone with this issue. It seems this bug was initially discovered on the 60 GB (hardware backwards-compatible) PS3 but is also being seen on other models. I have already bought the game so Rockstar has my money — I just want them to step up to the plate and fix this so I can play the game I spent $60 for!"
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