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Gartner: Internet of Things Has Reached Hype Peak

sirlark Re:Gartner cynic here - enlighten me (98 comments)

PHB's love them, they feel like they've learned something important because PRETTY PICTURES.

about a month ago

John McAfee Airs His Beefs About Privacy In Def Con Surprise Talk

sirlark Re:Privacy is an illusion (124 comments)

The only thing we have going for us, is that the vast majority of us won't raise the eyebrows of any government employees in our lifetimes. The sad part is that a lonely few will, and they'll be dealt with unfairly and harshly.

Which means it falls to us as the vast majority to hold those who abuse their governmental power to account when they deal with someone unfairly. A duty, I'm sad to say, we are all falling woefully short of...

And before anyone bitches about me just bitching, here is the first and most important step you can take. Inform Yourself! Check your putative representative's voting records, and compare it to what he's saying. Go out and but a newspaper from the "other side", to get balanced view of things. Challenge your friends when they make wild, or even just unsubstantiated, statements. A phrase I like personally (from CSI) "state your source". It's gentle, and mostly non-offensive, and goes down well as a pop-culture reference. And lastly, if you don't have the resources to fact check something, suggest it to a fact checking agency. They don't work for free often, but if you put something on their radar, they can at least look in to it when some suitably close paid for work comes in. Better yet, tip off the opposing politician's campaign, and get them to pay for it.

about a month and a half ago

Verizon Throttles Data To "Provide Incentive To Limit Usage"

sirlark Sell BandWIDTH not data (316 comments)

What I don't understand is why they don't just make everyone's life easier and sell the unlimited plans by bandwidth, not 'data limit', i.e. unlimited 1Gb/s costs X, unlimited 2Gb/s costs more etc. Pay for your speed, and never sell more than some fraction of a towers total bandwidth, so that two or three big down loaders at once don't clobber everyone else.

about a month and a half ago

Driverless Buses Ruled Out For London, For Now

sirlark Re:How many drivers? (84 comments)

I agree that the distribution of the benefits of progress is a big problem, but consider also the distribution of losses. By its very nature, technological progress tends to cut low-skilled jobs, because those are the easiest to automate. In general, when progress happens it means we as a society have to become more educated just to get on the bottom of the employment ladder. If anything, the distribution of benefits should be generously apportioned towards creating and extending free education up to graduate level at least. When driver-less cars come into widespread usage, there will be some replacement of lost jobs with other ones: maintenance of driver-less cars, design and production of apps/entertainment systems for driver-less cars, etc. Those are all skilled labour positions. However, there's one thing that doesn't require any skill. Owning a car. And owning a driver-less car allows a single taxi operator to run multiple vehicles. Sure it requires a capital investment, but the point is, it doesn't remove the income stream entirely, in fact, it might even allow more income if handled correctly.

about a month and a half ago

Math, Programming, and Language Learning

sirlark Re:Your Results Will Vary (241 comments)

Higher Math is not necessary in all fields of programming but it is certainly very necessary in many.

... which means that higher maths is really domain specific, and not necessary for programming. Otherwise I could say the accounting or biochemistry were necessary to learn to program, if that's the field I started out in learning to program

about 2 months ago

Interviews: Ask Lawrence Lessig About His Mayday PAC

sirlark Re:Irony (308 comments)

There's a chapter in Freakonomics that covers this iirc. The summary goes something like; spending money won't make people like you, and if people dislike you they won't vote for you. If they don't dislike you, then money spent is positively correlated with supporting votes.

about 3 months ago

Open-Source Hardware For Neuroscience

sirlark Re:less money yes, less time no (41 comments)

Agreed! Firstly, as the P pointed out, a significant amount of time goes into getting grants to fund the experiments. This isn't going to go away, funding is still required, but it will mean that YOUR lab now has a chance of getting the grant, as opposed to the lab that already has the machine available for use because it was funded by the last grant. This means a wider variety of labs doing the science, which is a good thing. Also, having worked for a commercial science institute that really pushed the idea of 'brand name equipment saves you time and money', I can assure you, it's not the case. Our brand name equipment was ALWAYS down, waiting on a repair guy to be flown in from another continent, because the local guy didn't know how to fix it, or didn't have the parts. On top of that, we often had to run experiments multiple times because the results were suspect. The machine operator ended up with more repair skills than the first-level call out guy after about a year... that saved us time! So I'd say having in-house skills for maintaining your CORE equipment is a good thing. Open source design and hopefully some interchangeability in parts, a bonus!

about 3 months ago

Game Characters Controlled By Player's Emotions

sirlark Bureaucracy! (44 comments)

Does anyone remember that old game: "Bureaucracy"? The aim was too keep your blood pressure low enough not to have a stroke and die while dealing with everyday issues. Maybe a remake with this sort of controller is in order, then it could measure your real blood pressure.

Then, maybe, someone can use the measurements as evidence in a suit against... well basically every cable, internet, or phone company, building contractors, and government institution.

about 3 months ago

NSA's Novel Claim: Our Systems Are Too Complex To Obey the Law

sirlark Re:Too Big to Be Indicted... (245 comments)

The banks, on the other hand, are very easy to "kill" — just stop using them.

Except when the government steps in with your taxes to bail out the bank that goes bankrupt because everyone stopped using it; and that is assuming Joe Consumer actually has a big enough effect in the first place, because banks don't get deposits only from the man on the street. The money is in the loans. And you can't just stop using a bank if you have a loan. Can't buy a house without a loan either generally, and buying often makes more sense than paying off your landlord's mortgage.

about 3 months ago

Whistleblowers Enter the Post-Snowden Era

sirlark Re:Missing the point as usual (129 comments)

Good points, both the P and the GP. I should rephrase and re-summarize as: There can be no legal whistle blowing of legal but unlawful activities. I would consider Snowden's revelations lawful, but only some of them legal. Some of the stuff the re released describes clearly illegal activities. Whistle blowing of illegal activities is essentially reporting a crime, and there's a long tradition of reporting crimes (especially corporate ones) to the press instead of the cops.

about 4 months ago

Whistleblowers Enter the Post-Snowden Era

sirlark Missing the point as usual (129 comments)

actively promotes federal whistleblowing through lawful disclosures (Emphasis Mine)

It's not about disclosing illegal activities. It's about disclosing activities that shouldn't be legal, or activities the public should be made aware of because their government is doing it behind their backs, even if legally. Yes, the ballot box is supposed to be the place to sort it out, but the ballot box presumes an informed citizenry. An informed citizenry presumes a system where whistle blowers are protected if they're actions are indeed in the public interest.

There can be no lawful disclosure if revealing legally classified documents is unlawful, even if the legal system facilitating the classification of those documents doesn't enjoy the broad support of the people. The correct term, that doesn't allow legal weaselling is "the public interest".

about 4 months ago

Who Helped Kill Patent Troll Reform In the Senate

sirlark Re:Kudos (157 comments)

Seems to work for the US military *ducks*

about 4 months ago

Measles Virus Puts Woman's Cancer Into Remission

sirlark Re:What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (74 comments)

This means that we tend to focus on treatments for currently untreatable cancers, and once we have something that is semi-OK, the rate of improvement goes way down. It doesn't go to zero, by any means, but the incentives shift in a way that is both perfectly logical and kind of perverse.

It's called the law of diminishing returns, and applies to nearly everything sadly

about 4 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Easy-To-Use Alternative To MS Access For a Charity's Database?

sirlark Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (281 comments)

Two things:

1. The cost of MS license in the third world is really high comparatively, even with academic and non-profit discounts. I've worked at a school in South Africa where the licensing costs of a small lab could have hired an extra teacher. You don't get academic/non-profit discounts if you buy once-off licenses, to get those you've had to go with subscription model since at least 2003

2. The support offered by Microsoft at the school did not cover desktop support, or if it did, that support was so slow in coming as to be useless. That's one reason I had a job. IN this case using off-the-shelf software carries no support advantage, and little usability advantage. Chances are nobody at the school can use a Access, or even excel particularly well. From the original poster suggestion of running it on a VPS I assume they have internet, and are probably more familiar with a browser and word than excel.

All that said, the idea of just using a spreadsheet makes a lot of sense. From a reporting perspective, it makes life easy, and getting data to UNICEF et al is as easy as emailing a copy. I'd avoid Microsoft though, and go with libreoffice.

about 4 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Beginner To Intermediate Programming Projects?

sirlark If you want to learn (172 comments)

If you are into learning, and don't already have a specific goal you can work towards, I strongly suggest re-inventing the wheel, specifically the file manager wheel, it covers a LOT of ground and will earn you invaluable experience. After writing one you will have solid experience in

  1. File management, and filesystems
  2. GUI coding and almost all of the common widgets
  3. or you could do a text based file manager, up to you
  4. Basics like arrays (lists), mappings (dictionaries), structures (no real equivalent in python, but can be mimicked with classes or dicts
  5. User interface design
  6. program design, this project can be done in a variety of ways, some good, some bad, be prepared to get it wrong throw it out and start again. Also done right, there are lots of small components (e.g. a file copy dialog) that aren't overwhelming to start with. The biggest step in going from beginner to intermediate is learning how to decompose the big problem into lots of little easy to handle small problems... this is the 'art' of computer programming.
  7. A file manager covers a lot of different data structures, and hence the algorithms that use them, vectors, trees, graphs (these three alone get you a LONG way)
  8. Finally, a file manager consists of a LOT of glue code, in fact, most of it is glue code, and writing glue code gives you more practical experience than anything else, because YOU have to figure it out yourself.

Notably, this lacks some other fundamental stuff to programming: SQL (a little knowledge here goes a long way too), graphics coding (the basics I learnt before openGL have stood me in good stead over the years), and I'm sure there's more. Still, a file manager is a good choice IMHO

about 4 months ago

US Government To Study Bitcoin As Possible Terrorist Threat

sirlark Re:Your tax dollars hard at work (210 comments)

No, you wouldn't charge him with bank robbery... but you would sure as hell do a DEEP investigation into conspiracy to commit bank robbery.

about 4 months ago

Kerry Says US Is On the "Right Side of History" When It Comes To Online Freedom

sirlark "Right" as in "right wing"? (261 comments)

So the U.S. is on the "Right", as in "right wing", side? I see what you did there. Be prepared to be black bagged for pointing this out to the sheeple...

about 4 months ago



Nasa approves 'impossible' space engine design that apparently violates the laws

sirlark sirlark writes  |  about a month and a half ago

sirlark (1676276) writes "In a quiet announcement that has sent shockwaves through the scientific world, Nasa has cautiously given its seal of approval to a new type of “impossible” engine that could revolutionize space travel.

In a paper published by the agency’s experimental Eagleworks Laboratories, Nasa engineers confirmed that they had produced tiny amounts of thrust from an engine without propellant – an apparent violation of the conservation of momentum; the law of physics that states that every action must have an equal and opposite reaction."

Link to Original Source

Physics Community Afire With Rumors of Higgs Boson Discovery | Wired Science | W

sirlark sirlark writes  |  more than 2 years ago

sirlark (1676276) writes "The latest rumors circulating around the physics blogosphere suggest that scientists with the Large Hadron Collider will announce the discovery of the Higgs boson within weeks. “The bottom line though is now clear: There’s something there which looks like a Higgs is supposed to look,” wrote mathematician Peter Woit on his blog, Not Even Wrong."
Link to Original Source

Julian Assange loses extradition appeal at Supreme Court

sirlark sirlark writes  |  more than 2 years ago

sirlark (1676276) writes "Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has lost his Supreme Court fight against extradition to Sweden to face accusations of sex offences. The judgement was reached by a majority of five to two, the court's president, Lord Phillips, told the hearing. Mr Assange's legal team was given 14 days to consider the ruling before a final decision is made, leaving the possibility the case could be reheard."
Link to Original Source

Computer game designed to treat depression as effective as traditional treatment

sirlark sirlark writes  |  more than 2 years ago

sirlark (1676276) writes "Researchers at the University of Auckland tested an interactive 3D fantasy game called Sparx on a 94 youngsters diagnosed with depression whose average age was 15 and a half. Sparx invites a user to take on a series of seven challenges over four to seven weeks in which an avatar has to learn to deal with anger and hurt feelings and swap negative thoughts for helpful ones. Used for three months, Sparx was at least as effective as face-to-face conventional counselling, according to several depression rating scales. In addition, 44% of the Sparx group who carried out at least four of the seven challenges recovered completely. In the conventional treatment group, only 26% recovered fully.

One has to wonder if it Sparx specifically, or gaming in general that provides the most benefit. Given that most of the symptoms of depression relate to a feeling of being unable to influence one's environment (powerlessness, helplessness, ennui, etc) and games are specifically designed to make one feel powerful but challenged (if they hit the sweet spot)."
Link to Original Source


Building a plug and play solar generator

sirlark sirlark writes  |  more than 4 years ago

sirlark (1676276) writes "I don't own property, I rent, as do a significant portion of the population I'm sure. I would still like to do my bit for the environment though, and have purchased a geyser insulation blanket that can move a round with me, I recycle plastic/paper/glass etc. But the really significant changes I could make are forbidden, specifically solar or wind power generation. As long as I rent, I can't install solar panels, and I don't even think wind power generation options exist on a single urban property scale. Unless I can convince each and every land lord I encounter to install solar panels, which has never happened, and likely never will as there's no pay off for the land lord since they don't get they energy savings, I can't afford to install solar panels everywhere I go, because they don't pay off in the time before I move again. Also, most land lords flat out refuse to allow that kind of modification to their property, even if I offer to pay (conditional on a long lease).

So, to all you electrical engineers out there, how easy would it be to develop a commercial product that can be used as simply as a gasoline generator, or better yet, plug in to the normal wiring of a house or flat via a standard wall socket? Even if it doesn't generate enough to power the entire house, every little helps. I was thinking something one could mount on a wall that gets a lot of sun, or a rooftop, and can be installed easily with with a ladder and maybe a buddy. Most importantly, something that can be installed and removed without requiring an electrician, and is hopefully as simply as running a cord from the generator to the nearest wall socket."

Best way to promote a new open source project?

sirlark sirlark writes  |  more than 4 years ago

sirlark (1676276) writes "Hello fellow /.'ers, apart from shameless self promotion on slashdot, what suggestion do others have for promoting awareness around a relatively new open source project. It's something I've written myself, and it's now at the stage where I'm running out of close friends who'll let me test on their machines... I need to open up to public beta testing. The project is already on sourceforge. For those that don't want to RTFA, the project is a code generator that takes an SQL file full of CREATE TABLE statements with markup in the comments and generates all the PHP forms required for the usual CRUD operations plus a bunch more... I'm working on a decent web page containing a demo which may take a week or so to get up and running."
Link to Original Source


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