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World's First 3D Printed Estate Coming To New York

sjbe Horses have their advantages (96 comments)

There was no advantage of a horse over a car. None what so ever.

Horses can go places cars cannot. Horses are cheaper than most cars, especially if they have access to pasture. Horses last longer than most cars since a horse typically lives for 20-25 years. Horses make less noise and pollute less (even considering the fecal matter). A well trained horse can get you home in some cases with little input from the rider - no car can do that. You can eat a horse should the need arise - no so much with a car. I don't have to insure a horse. I can herd livestock much easier with a horse than with a car. Horses do not require specially built roads to be useful whereas most cars are fairly useless without roads unless they are specially designed. I can jump a fence with a horse.

Not to say cars don't have huge advantages but there are actually quite a few very real advantages to horses.

13 hours ago
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Why the "NASA Tested Space Drive" Is Bad Science

sjbe Opportunity cost (315 comments)

This process will work out just as it should; I have no doubt that in a year there will be a dozen tests of this and we will likely know for sure one way or the other; in the meantime, I would take a $ 200 bet [xkcd.com] that the standard model will still prevail when this is over.

The problem is the opportunity cost. Is disproving obviously crackpot ideas really the best use of money, brains and time? While sometimes seemingly crackpot ideas actually turn out to be not-crackpot but that is the exception that proves the rule. In this case it looks like snake oil, smells like snake oil and behaves like snake oil. Extraordinary claims, extraordinary proof, etc.

about two weeks ago
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What Do You Do When Your Mind-Numbing IT Job Should Be Automated?

sjbe Entitlement (228 comments)

What a lovely Protestant Work Ethic you have there! I hope your jobless great-grandchildren are just as proud of it.

What a lovely Entitlement Complex you have there! If you think your ability to obtain a paycheck is dependent on you being as unproductive as possible without getting fired then you will be unemployed long before I will.

about two weeks ago
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What Do You Do When Your Mind-Numbing IT Job Should Be Automated?

sjbe Pretending to do work is fraud (228 comments)

Is that accurate?

No. GP post suggested automating tasks and seeking no additional work while collecting the same paycheck for less work. If you can automate a task which saves time then you should go seek out a new task to fill the time. You are not paid to sit on your ass and admire your handiwork. There is a difference between making yourself more efficient at your job so that more gets done and pretending to do work that you have automated to collect a paycheck. The former is worthy of promotion, the later is fraud.

about two weeks ago
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What Do You Do When Your Mind-Numbing IT Job Should Be Automated?

sjbe Fraud (228 comments)

Absolutely, but DO NOT TELL ANYONE. honestly automation will not get you a raise or a promotion, it will just get you extra work. for the same pay.

And if you worked for me and I found you doing this I would fire you on the spot. You are being paid to perform a certain number of hours of work, not to sit on your ass and collect a paycheck. What you are suggesting is fraud, plain and simple.

about two weeks ago
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Transatomic Power Receives Seed Funding From Founders Fund Science

sjbe Re:Big earthquakes are expected events (143 comments)

Bull.

I bow to the eloquence of your argument. [/sarcasm]

Besides. The actual shock that hit the Fukushima area was a 6.6 (as it was over a hundred miles from the epicenter). That ISN'T what damaged the reactor.

All of which is well understood and wasn't under debate. What is under debate is the assertion that large magnitude quakes are so unusual that they cannot or should not be planned for. The fact that a tsunami was the proximal cause of the damage in the case of Fukashima does not mean that large earthquakes as well as their follow on effects can be ignored because they are not common. Once a century or even once per millennium events have to be considered in the design and operation of something as potentially dangerous as a nuclear fission power plant. Large earthquakes may be uncommon but they aren't remotely unexpected in that part of the world. There have been two in the last 10 years in eastern asia, one near Indonesia and one near Japan.

You'll forgive me if I don't take the word of "A. Random Guy" trying to win an argument on the internet.

You can believe me when I tell you I am an engineer or not. I really don't care. I would point out however that engineers are rather common here on slashdot and always have been. When someone here posits that they are an engineer you should probably assume they actually are one. Based on your user number you ought to know that by now.

about two weeks ago
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Transatomic Power Receives Seed Funding From Founders Fund Science

sjbe Re:Declaring victory prematurely (143 comments)

We HAVE tried this form of reactor before. It IS proven technology.

What needs to happen now is the R&D to mass produce and up-scale.

Only one of those two arguments can be correct. If it hasn't been scaled up and put in widespread production then we haven't really tried it. Please note that I'm not arguing that we shouldn't, merely that we haven't yet made commercial reactors beyond a few proof of concept models. While it might work great and I'm hopeful it would, there is a huge leap between proof of concept and full on deployment.

about two weeks ago
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Transatomic Power Receives Seed Funding From Founders Fund Science

sjbe Big earthquakes are expected events (143 comments)

And a 9.0 earthquake is NOT a "routine event".

Maybe not routine but certainly expected. An earthquake of magnitude 8 or greater occurs on average about once a year somewhere in the world. In a location like Japan it is not merely possible, it is almost certain to occur eventually. Over 80% of the largest earthquakes occur somewhere along the Pacific Rim. Anyone who is surprised that a magnitude 9 earthquake struck near Japan is an imbecile.

The largest nuke mankind has ever set off was 50 megatons. So strap 9 of those bad boys together and that's what you're trying to engineer against. Ask an actual engineer about the logistics of building for something like that.

Well I am an actual engineer. Nobody promised it would be easy. Want to build something dangerous? Better plan for some worst case events. If you can't deal with a natural disaster that was as predictable as a big earthquake/tsunami in Japan then perhaps the activity isn't such a good idea.

about two weeks ago
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Transatomic Power Receives Seed Funding From Founders Fund Science

sjbe Declaring victory prematurely (143 comments)

So. Exactly how do we have a "radioactive disaster"?

From the problems you don't predict. From unexpected design flaws. From the black swan events. We have little operational experience with reactors of the sort you describe so there undoubtedly are problems we haven't come across yet. There could be problems with containment materials like embrittlement or corrosion. The design may have flaws we aren't aware of yet. Overlooked/neglected maintenance. Parts of the reactor not being built properly. Improper management of the core mixture. Externalities like natural disasters or wars. Management may take shortcuts in pursuit of economic gain. Etc. There are plenty of failure modes out there and not all of them can be addressed with an improved design.

All the advantages you describe sound great on paper but there are lots of designs that are great on paper but not so great in the real world. Until we've actually tried (and we should) its a little premature to declare that it is perfectly safe.

about two weeks ago
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Transatomic Power Receives Seed Funding From Founders Fund Science

sjbe Haven't solved those problems yet (143 comments)

The thing is, the realities of Chernobyl and Fukushima are the realities of ancient, outdated equipment, bad design and unsound engineering.

Operational nuclear reactors have a service life of 30+ years. Any design you can come up with is likely to be obsolete and the equipment in it outdated possibly even between the time it is designed and built, much less for the full service life. State of the art doesn't remain state of the art for long.

As for bad designs and unsound engineering, those don't magically disappear just because time has marched on. Dealing with that takes a focused effort and even if the engineering is done perfectly, if it isn't built, operated and maintained properly it doesn't matter how well it was engineered. Some of the problems of a bad design only become apparent after the unit is built. Some problems are a failure of management. Other problems occur because most reactors built to date are unique designs with minimal commonality so each has its own unique failure modes and any lessons learned cannot be shared or built upon. Even if we decided to build to a common design there are problems there too because any failure modes will now be common to every installed reactor. We also have the problem that our best nuclear technology is apparently kept secret and used in military vessels rather than for civilian applications. Hard to learn when your best engineers can't talk about what they've learned.

The fact is, we can build reactors that don't blow up NOW.

Explosions have never been the problem with reactors that anyone really worries about. The problem is radioactive material leaking out of containment which can occur in a variety of ways. There is NO reactor design we currently possess that can fully eliminate the possibility of a containment failure. Some designs are clearly better than others but all of them carry very serious operational risks in some form or another.

about two weeks ago
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Hack an Oscilloscope, Get a DMCA Take-Down Notice From Tektronix

sjbe Re:Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page (273 comments)

So if Chrysler sold a car without working air-con and without a working stereo, but if you pay $3000 they will enable them, and then someone discovers that the technological measure is they don't put a fuse in the fuse box, and then you stick a fuse in there, is that a technological measure protected by the DMCA?

I think it has to be something covered by copyright law like computer code. I don't think that particular use case would apply here since it involves nothing that is affected by copyright law.

about two weeks ago
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MIT Considers Whether Courses Are Outdated

sjbe You need both generalists and specialists (205 comments)

The jack of all trades in the IT world is much less more valuable than it was 20 years ago. Specialization and people who are that passionate and WELL educated (have become "gurus") about specific areas are what is valuable today.

Specialization with no understanding of topics outside of the area of specialty is Not-A-Good-Thing (tm). Specialization is important and obviously useful but there are plenty of cases where a generalist is more useful. You need people who can see how parts of a business fit together and can fill in roles that may don't justify hiring a dedicated specialist. The bigger or more specialized the company, the greater the need for specialists but he need for generalists never goes away, particularly if you want good managers. Technical specialists as a crude rule of thumb tend to run into their Peter Principle limit a lot sooner.

I'm not an IT guy per-se but I often am asked to fill that role. I'm have the skill set of a generalist. You can find better IT guys than me but you aren't likely to find IT guys that are also certified accountants or non-IT engineers of which I am both. In my company our IT needs are relatively modest so hiring a dedicated IT guy doesn't make sense right now. As we grow that will (hopefully) change. On a weekly basis I handle work in IT, HR, engineering, accounting and purchasing. Someone who only is an IT guy would undoubtedly do a great job with the IT stuff but might struggle with stuff outside his/her specialty. The important thing for a generalist to understand is where his limits are and to not exceed them. I know a lot about IT but the most important thing for me to know is to know what I don't know.

about two weeks ago
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LinkedIn Busted In Wage Theft Investigation

sjbe Not a credible threat (108 comments)

As a fellow Slashdotter once said, "the best union is the one you're threatening to form".

Not unless it is a credible threat. There is no one actually seriously threatening to form a union and the management of the relevant companies knows this. An actual threat to form a union requires actually talking to (or becoming) union organizers. I'm confident enough I'd put actual money on it that no IT worker reading this has ever seriously taken any of the substantial actions required to form a union of IT workers. It's just a bunch of bitching on a website the management of their company will never read.

about two weeks ago
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Least Secure Cars Revealed At Black Hat

sjbe Re:Bullshit. (140 comments)

My 1960 Dodge Dart (2dr/Phoenix) got over 20 mpg on the freeway, not too shabby. That was with a 240 hp 5.2 liter V8. If you added a high-flow cat to it, it probably would run relatively clean as well, in spite of being carbureted.

I think it is unlikely it would be particularly clean. A car that old would lack an evaporative emission control system which accounts for a fairly high percentage of emissions. It lacks sensors to detect and correct for emissions. It also is carbureted which is demonstrably less clean than fuel injection. Even with a modern catalytic converter, while it might run pretty well, I would find it very surprising if it was terribly clean on the emissions.

about two weeks ago
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LinkedIn Busted In Wage Theft Investigation

sjbe So start organizing (108 comments)

It's about time for one for Tech / IT as a union will put a stop to a lot of this BS and the 1HB abuse.

So what is stopping you from organizing a union? If you think it is so important then why are you not doing it instead of just complaining here on slashdot where it doesn't matter at all? Or are you just all talk and no action? Every time this topic comes up there is a bunch of complaining about how IT workers "need a union" but nobody ever seems to think it important enough to actually bother organizing.

about two weeks ago
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Spain's Link Tax Taxes Journalist's Patience

sjbe Things will be different - ads included (113 comments)

Do you seriously believe that the "new" journalism isn't ad sponsored.

Some is and some isn't. I'm not for a moment claiming ad revenue is going away (far from it) but the revenue sources are and I think will continue to become much more diverse. The companies getting the big ad revenues are companies like Google which are not media focused rather than the New York Times. The company that controls the platform is separating from the company (or people) that generate the content. Furthermore you have things like Twitter and Facebook that are essentially a form of citizen reporting that was not remotely possible previously. The platforms are often (though not always) ad sponsored but the actual journalism often isn't. This disintermediation is going to be very interesting to watch. You'll see some newspapers but less of them. You'll see broadcast TV subsumed into the internet. You'll see alternative funding methods actually gain traction as we move from a broadcast model to a social network model. Some things won't change but a lot will.

What, other than ads, do they have as a source of funding?

Subscriptions, direct fundraising (ala NPR), philanthropic grants, crowd sourcing, paywalls, and cooperatives all come to mind. Ad revenue is relatively easy but it's hardly the only way to fund journalism. The alternatives might not be as profitable but that's a very separate problem.

At least the "old" journalism could get some revenues directly from their readers.

Circulation fees charged were tiny compare to the revenue brought in by ads. They sold the paper cheaply to bring the eyeballs to the ads. They transmitted the broadcast TV for free to get eyeballs to advertisers. Radio was 100% ad supported prior to satellite/internet "radio". Anyone who tried charging a subscription fee for any of those was basically undercutting themselves because people would rather put up with ads than actually pay out of pocket for information/entertainment. Subscriptions only worked for fairly specialized sources of information like topical magazines.

about two weeks ago
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Satya Nadella At Six Months: Grading Microsoft's New CEO

sjbe Re:$100 Billion in cash solves a lot of problems (151 comments)

The thing is, the culture at MS is toxic. The inmates are ruling the asylum.

Then it sounds like a good old fashioned purge may be just the medicine the doctor ordered. Cull the biggest troublemakers and adjust the incentive structure to something sane. It's a virtual certainty that 10% of the people are 90% of the problems.

about two weeks ago
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Satya Nadella At Six Months: Grading Microsoft's New CEO

sjbe $100 Billion in cash solves a lot of problems (151 comments)

If they don't, where is the money (viz income) going to come from in the Operating System space?

Windows is going to be a cash cow for some time to come. I really don't see that changing even with the debacle that is Windows 8.

Satya is IMHO between a rock and a hard place. Balmer has left him up shit creek without a paddle.

Not really because he has one HUGE card he can play. Microsoft has approximately $100 billion in cash and cash equivalents. They can simply buy other companies if their core business starts to erode faster than they can build up new businesses. They have almost enough cash to buy both General Motors and Ford at their current market caps. They could buy Hewlett Packard in cash and have enough left over to buy Best Buy, Blackberry, and the wildly overpriced Tesla Motors.

Microsoft may have serious problems in their Windows and Office business but they are by no means stuck for options if they care to exercise them.

about two weeks ago
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Spain's Link Tax Taxes Journalist's Patience

sjbe Not dying, just changing (113 comments)

the problem of the destruction of journalism is an extremely serious one and we should worry about it far more than we worry about protecting the freedom to destroy it.

Journalism is not being destroyed. Journalism as we once knew it is being destroyed but that is a very different thing. It's being replaced by something different because the business model that it used to depend on is under attack. Newspapers and TV stations depended on local monopolies based on the expense of distributing information and they were absurdly profitable for a long time. The internet and other forms of media have knocked much of that pricing power away and now for the first time in a long time they are having to compete. Journalism may never again be as profitable as it once was but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Ad sponsored journalism always had a built in conflict of interest even when they were scrupulous about keeping the business and content separate.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do About the Sorry State of FOSS Documentation?

sjbe Developers often still get paid (430 comments)

Free software is....well...free. The people who wrote it don't get paid.

Frequently that is not at all true. Most free software is developed by professional developers in conjunction with their day job. It is released as free but for many important software projects the developer probably actually did get paid for their time. Sure there are a non-trivial number of developers who really are doing it for non-financial reasons in their spare time but the number is far smaller than most people think.

Bad documentation is not unique to FOSS. Commercial software is often just as bad.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Creationists Editing Darwin's Origin of Species

sjbe sjbe writes  |  more than 4 years ago

sjbe (173966) writes "Proponents of intelligent design have been distributing an edited version of Darwin's "Origin of Species". The edited version reportedly contains a 50 page introduction written by Ray Comfort favoring creationism. The full original text of the book is included with the new version. Over 1000 copies were allegedly handed out near Washington University in Saint Louis without any notice to or approval from the university. The author reportedly draw connections between Hitler and Darwin so Godwin's Law may need to be invoked."
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XM Sirius Merger approved by DOJ

sjbe sjbe writes  |  more than 6 years ago

sjbe (173966) writes "A year after announcing the merger the Justice Department has given the thumbs up to the proposed merger between satellite radio companies XM and Sirius. The FCC still has to give their approval but historically the two organizations rarely contradict each other on proposed mergers. It will be interested to watch if the merger can stop all the red ink from these two money losing companies."
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Ziff Davis Files For Bankruptcy

sjbe sjbe writes  |  more than 6 years ago

sjbe (173966) writes "Ziff Davis Media Inc., publisher of PC Magazine has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filing is reportedly to reorganize the company's capital structure, particularly with regard to subordinated debt. Papers were filed in the US Bankruptcy court in Manhattan. The company's parent Ziff Davis Holdings Inc. also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Full details are available from Bloomberg."
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Lax TSA Website Exposes Traveller's Information

sjbe sjbe writes  |  more than 6 years ago

sjbe (173966) writes "According to a January 2008 report from the US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, from October 2006 through February 2007 traveller's who utilized the TSA website to attempt to remove their name from the No-Fly list risked having sensitive data, including social security numbers, exposed due to poor security practices. The contractor responsible, Desyne Web Services was awarded a no-bid contract to design the website. The TSA's technical lead on the project reportedly had a conflict of interest having been a former employee of Desyne. The security vulnerabilities were pointed out by Chris Soghoian, a Ph.D. student at the University of Indiana's School of Informatics. The TSA has since taken action to remedy the vulnerabilities but no action was taken to sanction the responsible parties for the vulnerabilities."
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