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Mysterious Disease May Be Carried by the Wind

stevel Yet another bogus theory, in my opinion (72 comments)

My son contracted Kawasaki Disease in 1987 when he was 4. It was a terrifying experience as the doctors could not explain what was causing his symptoms, including a fever of 104. The poor kid underwent spinal taps and more. Eventually he was transferred to Boston Floating Hospital for Children where they concluded he had Kawasaki. There was no test for it - it's one of those "process of elimination" diagnoses and not all who have KD have all of the symptoms. At that time, there was no known cure but my son was enrolled in a random trial of gamma globulin infusion and, thankfully, the dosage he was assigned turned out to be the one that worked the best. He recovered and tests showed no lasting heart damage.

At the time, there were many wild theories as to what caused it. One of the more prevalent notions was that it was triggered by carpet cleaning chemicals, since debunked. This paper smacks to me of "correlation does not equal causation". I'm especially dubious about the supposed geographic origins given that incidents, while clustered around metropolitan areas, were not confined to the west US coast (we live in New Hampshire.)

Over the years I have read many articles and research papers about Kawasaki Disease. I don't think we're any closer to an explanation than we were in 1987.

about 2 months ago

Intel Pushes Into Tablet Market, Pushes Away From Microsoft

stevel Re:ARM is the new Intel (110 comments)

Intel inherited XScale from DEC, which called it StrongARM, as part of the patent lawsuit settlement that also netted Intel DEC's Hudson, Massachusetts chip fab. Xscale actually did quite well for Intel, but as you say, they sold it off to Marvell.

about 3 months ago

Intel Pushes Into Tablet Market, Pushes Away From Microsoft

stevel Re:ARM is the new Intel (110 comments)

It's done in software with hardware assist - Intel calls this technology "Houdini". Most Android apps are Dalvik which Intel has an X86-optimized implementation of. The translated apps run quite well for most purposes, but yes, there is a performance penalty. I did run some games but probably not the really compute-intensive ones. I found the performance overall quite good - at least as good as my iPad 3 - and to most users the choice of processor would be transparent. For apps which are ARM binary, a growing number are also providing X86 binaries.

about 3 months ago

Intel Pushes Into Tablet Market, Pushes Away From Microsoft

stevel Re:ARM is the new Intel (110 comments)

Intel-powered Android tablets can run almost all Android-ARM apps. Those that are native ARM apps are handled through binary translation. It works very well. I've used a Dell Venue 8 (Intel CloverTrail+ Android) and did not find any apps that wouldn't run just fine.

about 3 months ago

Kickstarted Veronica Mars Promised Digital Download; Pirate Bay Delivers

stevel Re:Not true. (243 comments)

I agree - I've downloaded the movie twice from Flixster. Anyone who thinks that a DRM-free download would be provided is dreaming. WB is offering to pay for downloads from other services such as Amazon and iTunes. The OP reads to me like a lame excuse to justify piracy.

Yes, some number of KS backers are having trouble. I know at least one who hasn't received her code. But it reads to me as if WB is trying to do the right thing, on top of this unprecedented same-day digital release.

about 4 months ago

Transformer-Style Scooter Lets You Ride Your Briefcase To Work

stevel Re:WoSaT (102 comments)

You're not. Credited in the titles as "55MPH Briefcase", but I don't think Jittlov ever got it going that fast.

about 5 months ago

Engineering the Perfect Coffee Mug

stevel Re:Different trick - same result (145 comments)

If by "lumps of stainless steel" you mean Joulies, you missed that the Joulies have phase-change-material inside - probably the same stuff as this mug. This is why I said it was the same trick.

about 8 months ago

Engineering the Perfect Coffee Mug

stevel Re:Coffee Joulies in a mug (145 comments)

Yep - as jcochran says,it's just a repackaging in a dedicated mug. The Joulies web site says:

"Their polished stainless steel shells are full of a very special phase change material (an ingredient in food) that melts at 140F. When you put them in your coffee this PCM begins melting, absorbing a LOT of heat in the process and cooling your coffee down much faster than normal.

"Where does all that heat go? It’s stored right inside your Coffee Joulies. When your coffee reaches 140F (the perfect drinking temperature) the molten PCM begins solidifying again, releasing all that energy back into your coffee to keep it at a comfortable and delicious drinking temperature. The more heat you feed your Joulies, the longer they’ll keep your coffee warm."

about 8 months ago

Engineering the Perfect Coffee Mug

stevel Coffee Joulies in a mug (145 comments)

This is just the same approach as Coffee Joulies, which is a former Kickstarter project. I have a bunch of these, they work well. No need for a custom mug.

about 8 months ago

Speed Test 2: Comparing C++ Compilers On WIndows

stevel Intel compiler does not phone home for licensing (132 comments)

The Intel compilers do NOT "phone home" for licensing. What they do "phone home" for is to send anonymous usage data. When you install, you're asked if you want to opt in to this - it is not enabled by default. Licensing is done entirely locally for single-user licenses. See for more information.

about 8 months ago

No FiOS In Boston? We'll Make an Ad Anyway

stevel For small values of New England (202 comments)

There's more to be annoyed about with this ad (which I have not seen, but I read about in the Globe). If the ad has Wahlberg saying "This is New England", then by "New England" they mean Massachusetts (Boston excluded), Connecticut and Rhode Island. Verizon abandoned northern New England (Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont) years ago, selling off their business to tiny Fairpoint Communications. Fairpoint, which has finally got most of their accounting issues straightened out, have admitted that while they will continue to serve existing FiOS Internet customers (TV was not offered), they are not expanding it anywhere. At least I got FiOS Internet while Verizon was building it out.

about 10 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Secure DropBox Alternative For a Small Business?

stevel Syncplicity? (274 comments)

I don't know much about it, but my employer, probably a larger company than yours, specifies that we should use EMC's Syncplicity Enterprise ( for secure cloud storage. It offers the option of keeping the storage in-house. Worth a look.

1 year,5 days

Book Review: The Human Division

stevel Re:Pretty good book, but serial form has issues (115 comments)

Yes, the side stories definitely add depth - I agree with you there. As for Redshirts, I would have been happier if he had stopped before the three codas. I had not read Old Man's War or, I think, much else of Scalzi's.

Does the "novel" form of the book just concatenate all of the serial chapters, or is the "re-establishment" text reminding readers of what happened before removed or thinned out?

And yes, I see I mistyped the name of the book in my initial comment.

about a year ago

Book Review: The Human Division

stevel Pretty good book, but serial form has issues (115 comments)

I read this when it was released in serial form on Kindle. As noted, it's a collection of largely self-contained stories that form a greater story arc, which is not my definition of a serial. I too was not taken with Redshirts and I liked The Human Condition a bit better - some of the episodes are almost throwaways and don't really contribute to the narrative.

I was a bit disappointed that the ending didn't really resolve what I saw as major plot elements and, while it wasn't a cliffhanger the way Connie Willis' Blackout was, it left me dissatisfied. But overall I think it was worth reading and will probably read whatever comes next.

about a year ago

Auto-threading Compiler Could Restore Moore's Law Gains

stevel Nothing new here (404 comments)

This is nothing new. As in decades-old. Back when I was at DEC in the 1980s we had auto-threading compilers that worked very well on standard application code. Today, Intel has been doing auto-threading in its C++ and Fortran compilers for more than a decade and it is very effective for a large class of applications. Intel's compiler also has features that help you tweak the code for better auto-parallelism, notably the Guided Auto Parallel feature introduced in 2010. Other compiler vendors also have auto-parallelizing compilers.

I've been in the industry for decades, and every couple of years someone comes out with yet another programming language or technique that is supposed to revolutionize application parallelization. This is just another one, and many years behind the rest of the industry from what I can tell.

about a year and a half ago

Apple to Buy Back $10bn of Its Shares and Pay Dividend

stevel Re:Context? (301 comments)

Stock buybacks indeed make the shares more valuable. Paying dividends can entice some institutional investors to buy shares which they would not otherwise do. As long as Apple keeps sufficient cash on hand, this is a general win.

more than 2 years ago

AMD: What Went Wrong?

stevel Re:Products (497 comments)

The fine article misrepresents the facts. The EU case was decided by a commission without legal process. As for the US cases, you can read the FTC decision at . Quoting:

The Respondent, its attorneys, and counsel for the Commission having thereafter
executed an agreement containing a consent Order, an admission by Respondent of all the
jurisdictional facts set forth in the complaint, a statement that the signing of said agreement is for
settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by Respondent that the law has
been violated as alleged in such complaint, or that the facts as alleged in such complaint, other
than jurisdictional facts, are true and waivers and other provisions as required by the
Commission's Rules.

The NYAG settlement can be read at As stated there, the settlement was to avoid further litigation costs, once the NYAG found that its case had "been eviscerated".

In none of the cases to date has Intel admitted any culpability. In none of the cases has Intel been compelled to change its business practices or modify its products. What can one conclude from this?

more than 2 years ago

AMD: What Went Wrong?

stevel Re:Products (497 comments)

And one big thing you leave out - Intel was never "found guilty" of the alleged practices. Lots of high-volume innuendo, but the manufacturers who supposedly got pressured denied that it happened at all. Yes, Intel settled because it was costing too much to have to deal with the discovery and allegations. Look at the recent settlement with the New York State AG (that lawsuit was politically motivated, in my opinion, in exchange for AMD saying it would build a fab in NY.)

I wish AMD well, but they "got lucky" once with Opteron and have not been able, so far, to repeat that success. If you want to blame Intel for being a fierce competitor, fine. But nobody has been able to prove they did anything "monopolistic", despite repeated attempts.

more than 2 years ago

New WiFi Setup Flaw Allows Easy Router PIN Guessing

stevel Re:ok... (86 comments)

No. If your router supports the "external" authentication mode using only a PIN, it is vulnerable no matter which encryption type you use or how good your password is. I did not realize that there was such a mode - I too thought it required the pushbutton.

The easiest mitigation is to disable the WPS PIN on your router, re-enabling it when you want to add a device. Some routers may not have such an option, but at least mine does.


more than 2 years ago



T-Mobile Sues AT&T Over Color of Subsidiary's Logo

stevel stevel writes  |  about a year ago

stevel (64802) writes "Forbes reports that T-Mobile is suing AT&T because the logo color of AT&T's new low-cost carrier subsidiary Aio is "too close" to the magenta color T-Mobile uses. Except it's not, unless you're color-blind, perhaps."
Link to Original Source

SSN overlap with Micronesia haunts NH woman

stevel stevel writes  |  more than 4 years ago

stevel (64802) writes "Holly Ramer, who lives in Concord, NH, has never been to the Federated States of Micronesia, but debt collectors dun her mercilessly for unpaid loans taken out by a small business owner in that Pacific island nation. Why? Micronesia and other countries in the region have their own Social Security Administrations which gave out numbers to residents applying for US disaster relief loans. The catch is that the Micronesian SSNs have fewer digits than the nine-digit US version, and when credit bureaus entered these into their database, they padded them out with zeros on the front. These numbers then matched innocent US citizens with SSNs beginning with zeroes, as many in northern New England do. The credit bureaus say to call the Social Security Adminustration, the SSA says call the credit bureaus, the FTC says they can't help, and nobody is taking responsibility for the confusion."

Netbook run machine rolls 1.3 million dice a day

stevel stevel writes  |  more than 5 years ago

stevel (64802) writes "The owner of games site created Dice-O-Matic, "a machine that can belch a continuous river of dice down a spiraling ramp, then elevate, photograph, process and upload almost a million and a half rolls to the server a day.

"The Dice-O-Matic is 7 feet tall, 18 inches wide and 18 inches deep. It has an aluminum frame covered with Plexiglas panels. A 6x4 inch square Plexiglas tube runs vertically up the middle almost the entire height. Inside this tube a bucket elevator carries dice from a hopper at the bottom, past a camera, and tosses them onto a ramp at the top. The ramp spirals down between the tube and the outer walls. The camera and synchronizing disk are near the top, the computer, relay board, elevator motor and power supplies are at the bottom."

While not called out in the article, the pictures clearly show a Dell Mini 9 running the show (and performing the optical recognition of the dice values.) No, it's not running Linux..."


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