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Google Told To Expand Right To Be Forgotten

swillden Re:This is clearly futile... (149 comments)

The Internet is full of half-truths and outright lies. Search engines do not deliver results based on the truth value of sites, but on popularity, page ranking and such.

That has nothing to do with this. If someone has put lies about you up on a news site, you can and should be able to get that information taken down at the source. In fact, dealing with defamatory writing is something we figured out how to do long ago. It's called "libel" and there are all sorts of laws around it.

The "right to be forgotten" isn't about taking down false or misleading information. It's about suppressing accurate but unpleasant truth.

7 hours ago
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Jackie Chan Discs Help Boost Solar Panel Efficiency

swillden Re:BLUE ray (177 comments)

removed the top plastic layer, exposing the recording medium beneath; cast a mold of the quasi-random pattern; and then used the mold to create a photovoltaic cell with the same pattern

So you use your expensive photo lithography equipment to create a master, make as many molds from that as you like, and then create the photovoltaic cells from those. The mass production of BD-ROM discs is irrelevant, it just makes your master cheap, but when you're making 10,000s of cells the cost of the master is unimportant.

Sure, but the cost is very relevant when you're doing research. This Blu-Ray disc experiment demonstrates that the theoretical work done previously will probably work as well as the theory predicts.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

swillden Re:In Finland (495 comments)

Especially for side to side movements.

The AC gave the more authoritative answer, but for a more intuitive one spend some time playing with blocks of jello.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

swillden Re:In Finland (495 comments)

Unfortunately the resonance frequency of buildings is not affected by hight but by the length and the width of the building.

Not for side-to-side movements.

yesterday
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2014 Hour of Code: Do Ends Justify Disney Product Placement Means?

swillden Re:Of course not! (125 comments)

Did you miss the second sentence?

2 days ago
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Google Chrome Will Block All NPAPI Plugins By Default In January

swillden What's amazing... (107 comments)

What's amazing is that this 1996-era hack for extending the functionality of the Netscape browser, in a rather kludgy and unsafe way, still exists at all in 2014. I took a class at the Netscape office in Mountain View in 1997 to learn how to write NPAPI plugins and thought then that it was an ugly hack that deserved to go way soon, though I was glad it existed to solve my immediate problems. Not only did it not go away (though MS removed NPAPI support for IE a long time ago), nearly all major browsers today still support it.

Good for Google for deprecating this crap. Firefox (which is to some degree a descendant of Netscape) has also been reducing its support, per the WP article.

3 days ago
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Multiple Manufacturers Push Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars, But Can They Catch Tesla?

swillden Re:I don't think hydrogen makes sense (281 comments)

But don't ignore other advantages of hydrocarbon fuels simply because you don't like the idea of spewing carbon into the atmosphere.

FWIW, I don't worry over much about carbon. My EV purchase was based on purely economic analysis. Having driven an EV for a while, what I really dislike about gas burners is the noise and the smell. This isn't an environmental concern, or not a global environmental concern, anyway. It's about the environment of my garage.

3 days ago
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Multiple Manufacturers Push Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars, But Can They Catch Tesla?

swillden Re:I don't think hydrogen makes sense (281 comments)

I suppose. I generally want to stop every few hours for an hour or so anyway.

3 days ago
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Multiple Manufacturers Push Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars, But Can They Catch Tesla?

swillden Re:132 stations is not "blanketing the US" (281 comments)

When they get the number of stations into the tens of thousands then I'll concede the point.

I don't think the number needs to be anywhere near that high. Not remotely.

Don't make the mistake of thinking of supercharger stations as analogous to your average neighborhood gas station. They're nothing like that. Supercharger stations are only needed for long-distance travel. They're analogous to the big travel centers you find along the interstates and other highways which carry significant amounts of long-distance traffic, and the numbers required are similar to those of travel centers. If there's one every hundred miles or so along every long-distance travel corridor (which in the US is mostly just the interstates, though there are a few areas with long-distance highways) then coverage will be complete.

With electric vehicles, 95+% of charging is done at places where vehicles spend lots of time parked, primarily homes and workplaces. Such charging doesn't need to be particularly fast. Fast charging only matters when you're driving distances beyond the range of your battery.

You mention North Dakota, for example. Move the slider on that map to 2015 and you'll see they plan to put three superchargers there. That will cover the long-distance travel across ND, and most long-distance travel within ND. Add another supercharger on highway 2, midway between Grand Forks and Minot and you'll have covered nearly all of the rest. Add four of five more and you'll be able to get to any destination in the state without worry.

3 days ago
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How the World's Agricultural Boom Has Changed CO2 Cycles

swillden Re:Corn Subsidies (184 comments)

Throw away Malthus - you have to give up the theory of evolution.

Darwin cites Malthus repeatedly in his books and for very good reason: without Malthus, there can't BE evolution.

Randomly-driven evolution, no. But we aren't very far from being able to deliberately evolve ourselves, to achieve specific purposes.

There's a good argument, though, that deliberate, directed evolution is also evolution by variation and selection... it's just that the variation and selection is carried out in brains and in computers rather than in genotypes and phenotypes. In fact, there's a good argument that all knowledge creation is via variation and selection, including all knowledge created by humans, though there we call the process speculation and criticism and much of it happens internally so that truly bad ideas never get uttered or written.

So, no need to abandon the theory of evolution.

3 days ago
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How the World's Agricultural Boom Has Changed CO2 Cycles

swillden Re:Corn Subsidies (184 comments)

No convincing needed, its happening naturally and just a question of when the peak is Total fertility rate 1950–1955 : 4.95 2010–2015 : 2.36 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T...

Yes and no. What you say is true, and further it appears we've already reached and passed the maximum number of children born per year, in absolute terms. But the population is still growing because the world population is youth-heavy. Assuming we stay on the current trend of gradually declining births and assuming we don't start living longer than 100 years in large numbers, this means the world population will stop growing at about 10B, then start a very slow decline, but that will be far above the levels Spy Hunter thinks we should reach.

I don't think I'd want to live in Spy Hunter's world, though. I certainly wouldn't want to live the "hunter-gatherer lifestyle", which was fully Hobbesian (nasty, brutish and short). In some senses perhaps those people were "healthier" than we are today, but they experienced a lot more pain and died a lot sooner. I suppose Spy Hunter is theorizing some world in which we eat like hunter-gatherers but live in a technological civilization, but that seems like a silly approach when we can, instead, continue our research into human biochemistry to understand exactly what humans need (with much more precision than "eat like hunter-gatherers", who almost certainly never got an ideal diet) and into food production, until we can create food that is healthy (ideally so), safe and flavorful.

3 days ago
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Multiple Manufacturers Push Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars, But Can They Catch Tesla?

swillden I don't think hydrogen makes sense (281 comments)

At least, compressed hydrogen gas is really questionable.

Besides the well-known problems associated with containing hydrogen, I'm skeptical that it makes sense to build out a whole new distribution system. We have an extensive network in place for distributing gasoline and smaller ones for distributing compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid propane (LP), but hydrogen gas is very different from any of those three. We also have a network in place for distributing electricity. Granted that it will have to be beefed up in many ways to support a society of all electric vehicles, that still seems like a much easier task. Particularly since with the increasing deployment of home PV generation, the electric grid might not need to be beefed up as much as we think.

It all really comes down to the cost of batteries. The only saving grace of compressed hydrogen vs batteries is that big batteries are expensive. And somewhat heavy, but probably not much heavier than the tanks needed to contain hydrogen. So is it cheaper to build lots of batteries and improve the electric grid where needed, or to build out an entirely new distribution infrastructure?

My money is on electric vehicles. Battery prices are falling just due to small incremental improvements plus scaling, and there are a number of technologies on the horizon that promise to significantly increase the kWh/$ ratio. Yes, yes, many of them have been "on the horizon" for a while, but there are so many promising technologies that it seems very probable that at least one will work out. Note that I'm not talking about recharge times, because Tesla has already solved that problem... given ~300 miles range and a one-hour recharge time, you're good even for cross-country trips.

Another option that might make a lot of sense is fuel cells that run on gasoline or CNG. Those would have many of the benefits of an EV (quiet, powerful electric drive; very simple, low-maintenance drive train), but could use existing fueling infrastructure. They still emit some CO2, but less than ICEs.

(Disclaimer: I own an electric vehicle.)

3 days ago
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2014 Hour of Code: Do Ends Justify Disney Product Placement Means?

swillden Re:Of course not! (125 comments)

It's reprehensible that they leverage this incredibly popular brand to teach girls to code when they could be using it to sell Happy Meals and next year's landfill fodder. Shame, shame!

You're missing the point: Disney is exploiting the incredible popularity of Hour of Code among young girls in order to boost their poorly-performing movie.

That might be shameful if it weren't so completely ludicrous.

4 days ago
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In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

swillden Re:Thank You Jerry (453 comments)

Your wild guess about the future is as good as any.

So... you don't have any any rebuttal to his reasoning?

The interesting part of such prognostications isn't the conclusions, it's the rationale.

4 days ago
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Google's Project Loon Can Now Launch Up To 20 Balloons Per Day, Fly 10x Longer

swillden Re:No hot air (114 comments)

The only reference to helium is for leak detection tests.

Because you can measure hot air balloon leaks by looking for helium?

4 days ago
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Google Launches Service To Replace Web Ads With Subscriptions

swillden Re:Invite link? (309 comments)

After all, they have like 98% marketshare, while the 2% belong to those more questionable networks (the ones that advertise for sites that Google won't touch - e.g., torrent sites and the like).

Actually, 33%. They're by far the biggest single player, but aren't anywhere close to 98%. Google's share of mobile ads is larger, at 56%.

http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2013/06/13/in-online-ads-theres-google-and-then-everybody-else/ (that's 2013, but things haven't changed much in 2014, and I couldn't find a 2014 link that included both all digital and mobile ads).

about a week ago
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The EU Has a Plan To Break Up Google

swillden Re:Standards (331 comments)

Fantastic link.

They have 2.36GB of data on me.

At least this is reassuring...

"It may take some time before it is ready to download. Don't worry, we'll email you when it's ready."

I'm not sure how to respond, as well as process the data load.

How much of that is your Gmail?

about a week ago
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Number of Coders In Congress To Triple (From One To Three)

swillden Re:Well that's a start... (163 comments)

<counter-pedantic>Not in C++.</counter-pedantic>

Eh? The C++ standard explicitly forbids "void main()". From the standard:

An implementation shall not predefine the main function. This function shall not be overloaded. It shall have a return type of type int, but otherwise its type is implementation-defined. All implementations shall allow both of the following definitions of main:

int main() { /* ... */ }

and

int main(int argc, char* argv[]) { /* ... */ }

about a week ago
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Firefox Signs Five-Year Deal With Yahoo, Drops Google as Default Search Engine

swillden Re:Migration away from Google? (397 comments)

WHY IT ISN'T THE DEFAULT - is anyone's guess.

It's quite obvious, actually... it's not the default because it doesn't work as well for most people. Verbatim is good when you're searching for fairly specific terms, spelled correctly. If you're asking a more general question, with words that may appear in many variations, or if you don't spell well or are lazy, then the "new" Google works dramatically better.

I think a lot of complaints about Google search today, especially by people who have been around for a while, really boil down to the fact that the old search tricks don't work very well any more. In the early days of search we all learned how to create effective search queries, by picking carefully targeted search terms, combining them in particular ways, omitting any extraneous or "filler" words and lots more that make search queries look very different from natural language. But the search engines (or at least Google) have been changing along with the user base, which is now comprised of almost entirely non-technical people who haven't been using the web for long enough or heavily enough that they learned to compose searches that catered to the engines' weaknesses.

So, today, Google focuses on optimizing for the now-common case of search queries which are most often natural language questions, typed quickly and carelessly. The search engine tries hard to figure out what the user meant, rather than what they said. To those accustomed to being very precise and saying exactly what they mean, this is somewhat infuriating, because they don't want the machine to guess at what they meant, they told it what they meant. For the average user, though, who is more accustomed to dealing with people, who are good at guessing what is meant, the new system works much better.

Personally, I've adapted to the new reality. I tend to type complete sentences for my search queries, framed as questions, including typing the question mark (not because I think it's useful but just because I'm thinking a question sentence, so my fingers emit a question mark). I also don't worry much about typos. I find it works very well, often much better than what I can get with an "old-style" query, with or without "verbatim".

(Disclaimer: I work for Google, but on Android, not search. All of the above is just my personal experience plus speculation, not inside information.)

about a week ago

Submissions

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Details of iOS and Android Device Encryption

swillden swillden writes  |  about 2 months ago

swillden (191260) writes "There's been a lot of discussion of what, exactly, is meant by the Apple announcement about iOS8 device encryption, and the subsequent announcement by Google that Android L will enable encryption by default. Two security researchers tackled these questions in blog posts:

Matthew Green tackled iOS encryption, concluding that at bottom the change really boils down to applying the existing iOS encryption methods to more data. He also reviews the iOS approach, which uses Apple's "Secure Enclave" chip as the basis for the encryption and guesses at how it is that Apple can say it's unable to decrypt the devices. He concludes, with some clarification from a commenter, that Apple really can't (unless you use a weak password which can be brute-forced, and even then it's hard).

Nikolay Elenkov looks into the preview release of Android "L". He finds that not only has Google turned encryption on by default, but appears to have incorporated hardware-based security as well, to make it impossible (or at least much more difficult) to perform brute force password searches off-device."
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Google Wallet now works with any card

swillden swillden writes  |  more than 2 years ago

swillden writes "Google posted on Wednesday: 'we’re releasing a new, cloud-based version of the Google Wallet app that supports all credit and debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. Now, you can use any card when you shop in-store or online with Google Wallet. With the new version, you can also remotely disable your mobile wallet app from your Google Wallet account on the web.'"
Link to Original Source
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Google+ for Google Apps Released

swillden swillden writes  |  about 3 years ago

swillden (191260) writes "Finally addressing a problem with the new Google+ social network that has generated a great number of complaints from long-time Google users, Google has announced the availability of Google+ for users with Google Apps accounts. The feature isn't enabled automatically for all Google Apps domains, though, it's necessary for the domain administrator to turn it on."
Link to Original Source
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Real-world RAID0 performance

swillden swillden writes  |  more than 5 years ago

swillden writes "I recently got the opportunity to play with some fairly high-end hardware and I was very surprised at the poor I/O performance. The machine was a 4-way Xeon with a high-end RAID controller and five 300GB SCSI Ultra-320 15,000 RPM drives, to be configured as a very high-performance database server. I didn't care so much about the real database workload, though, I just wanted to see what kind of data rate I could get, for fun.

Given that each of these drives individually can sustain over 100 MB/s, and given that I'd expect RAID0 to scale roughly linearly with the number of drives, I was expecting in the neighborhood of 500 MB/s. What I got (according to bonnie++) was about 200 MB/s, less than half the expected data rate. Disappointed, I decided to give Linux MD RAID a try, which got me up to about 240 MB/s, 20% faster than the hardware RAID, but still disappointing.

My question for the slashdot geeks that play with this kind of stuff all the time is: What kind of performance should I expect out of a system like this? Does RAID0 always scale so poorly? And, just for good nerdish fun, what's the fasted storage I/O you've ever seen?"
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What examples of Security Theater have you seen?

swillden swillden writes  |  more than 5 years ago

swillden writes "Everyone who pays any attention at all to security, both computer security and "meatspace" security, has heard the phrase Security Theater. For years I've paid close attention to security setups that I come in contact with, and tried to evaluate their real effectiveness vs their theatrical aspects. In the process I've found many examples of pure theater, but even more cases where the security was really a cover for another motive.

Recently, a neighbor uncovered a good example. He and his wife attended a local semi-pro baseball game where security guards were checking all bags for weapons. Since his wife carries a small pistol in her purse, they were concerned that there would be a problem. They decided to try anyway, and see if her concealed weapon permit satisfied the policy. The guard looked at her gun, said nothing and passed them in, then stopped the man behind them because he had beer and snacks in his bag. Park rules prohibit outside food. It's clear what the "security" check was really about: improving park food vending revenues.

So, what examples of pure security theater have slashdotters noticed? Even more interesting, what examples of security-as-excuse have you seen?."
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swillden swillden writes  |  more than 8 years ago

swillden writes "I've come across an increasing number of GPL programs lately that display an EULA-style click-wrap agreement during installation. While not exactly wrong, this seems like a bad idea to me, since it perpetuates the idea that you must agree to some arbitrary set of conditions in order to install and use a piece of software. In this case the conditions are very liberal (there are none, really), but still it reinforces the notion that you can't install a package unless you agree.

The FSF says that such click-wrapping is neither required nor forbidden but it seems like a bad idea to promote the click-wrap meme, even if the license is user-friendly. What do slashdotters think?"

Journals

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10 seconds that can help boot Orrin Hatch out of office

swillden swillden writes  |  more than 8 years ago

I'm sure all of you have seen the many articles about various wacko things Senator Orrin Hatch has done to support the RIAA and MPAA. Among other things, he'd like to empower the media industry to remotely destroy the computers of people they suspect of illegally sharing files.

Wouldn't be great to give him the boot? You can help, by doing nothing more than voting on a web site.

See, for the first time in quite a few years Hatch has a serious contender for his seat. Pete Ashdown is a smart, tech-savvy businessman who's taken a year off to run his campaign. Ashdown is the sort of moderate Democrat who has a chance to win in Utah, and Utahns have expressed their opinion in polls that Hatch has been in office long enough and they'd like a change.

However good Ashdown's chances in theory, though, campaigning is about money, and he needs it.

That's where this vote comes in. Barbara Boxer has some campaign cash she's going to give to one of the Democrats running against a long-term incumbent senator. If Ashdown can win that vote, he'll have a great warchest to start the campaign with. It won't be enough, but it will give him a good start and will hopefully prime the pump for other large democratic contributions.

So go vote, and get all of your friends and neighbors to do the same! Even if they're Republicans, they still have to appreciate that an utterly one-sided race like Hatch has had in the past is not good for democracy. Get them to vote!

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