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White House Chief Technology Officer Steps Down

waldoj D'oh (55 comments)

I wasn't logged in, but that was my post.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Could We Deal With the End of Time Zones?

waldoj 4PM? For chickens? (990 comments)

What kind of weird-ass chickens do you have? This time of year, it's too hot to be feeding them at 4pm. They eat in the morning and again around 7pm.

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Prepared Are You For a Major Emergency?

waldoj Ham Radio (562 comments)

That's the one really important thing that you've got, that most others don't—a ham radio. That would be worth its weight in gold in any isolating disaster that lasted more than a couple of weeks.

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Prepared Are You For a Major Emergency?

waldoj Flood and Forest Fire (562 comments)

Well, flood and forest fire, yes. My home has a galvanized aluminum roof and is clad in cement fiberboard, so forest fires aren't liable to affect me. And my home is cited on the slope of a mountain perched between a pair of ravines (not that severe, but you get the idea) down which water drains, so flooding would require that the sea level rise a thousand feet. :) Both of these are steps that anybody can and should take when siting a home. The mountain range I'm in hasn't been seismically active for millions of years, so earthquakes aren't a concern.

But we didn't spring for the astroid or volcano-proofing. :)

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Prepared Are You For a Major Emergency?

waldoj Um. No. (562 comments)

Congratulations, you found my home address in...er...1992. Now you just need to create a time machine!

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Prepared Are You For a Major Emergency?

waldoj I'll Tell You (562 comments)

How many ducks and deer do you think there *are*? If there was an actual disaster, the deer, duck, quail, and lizard populations would plummet as a teaming horde of well-armed people suddenly ravage the landscape.

Cornell University Cooperative Extension: "Today there are over 20 million deer in the United States and numbers are rising. [...] Densitites may exceed 40 deer per square mile in some rural areas, and over 100 deer/square mile have been documented near many eastern metropolitan areas. [...] As long as adequate food resources are available, deer populations can double in size every 2-3 years. Eventually some form of population management is needed to control herd growth and maintain deer numbers within the social carrying capacity."

There are plenty of deer.

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Prepared Are You For a Major Emergency?

waldoj Firearms (562 comments)

I almost forgot: firearms. We've got a 12-gage shotgun, a .22, and a 7.92mm 1948 Turkish Mauser. I've only got a couple of boxes of shells, and maybe three dozen rounds for the Mauser (they're expensive) but I have a few hundred rounds for the .22. We can hunt enough turkey, deer, and squirrel to keep us in protein year-round. Right now I hunt rarely, and when I do it's strictly for food (not trophies), but I'm certainly prepared to do so regularly if it were necessary.

If you have never hunted, note that there is nothing about owning a gun that prepares you to do so. If you're thinking "hey, I see deer around—I could eat those," then you are wrong. Learn to hunt now. Get a license. Find somebody to teach you how to gut and butcher a deer. Otherwise, if you do wind up in a bad situation, you might get lucky enough to actually shoot a deer, only to find that you have no idea of what to do with it. Worse still, it'll be gut-shot, and you'll wind up getting some horrible disease from eating venison streaked with deer shit.

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Prepared Are You For a Major Emergency?

waldoj Moderately Prepared (562 comments)

My wife and I like to stay fairly well prepared.

First, our home. We live in a very rural area, on the side of a treed mountain. We built our home last year, and it's passive solar, sited to take maximum advantage of the sun, built very tightly (LEED gold-ish, but we didn't bother to get certified). We maintain the forest, have large piles of wood in rotation being seasoned, and keep a large stockpile of planked wood on hand (milled from the trees on our land). Our neighbors have cows, goats, and sheep, from which they produce milk and meat—handy to have When The Shit Comes Down®. (I use that phrase facetiously—it's a generic term that my wife and I use to refer to anything that may or may not happen in our lifetimes that would disrupt supply chains, limit movement, or otherwise require short or long-term independence.) We paid a few thousand bucks to have an enormous propane tank buried next to our house, in which we maintain a two-year supply of propane. Soon enough we'll have a propane generator, a few solar panels, and a small windmill, which should allow us to maintain ~1.5 kWh of power during about half of the day, but make it possible to peak to 5 kWh when demand requires (until the propane runs out, and then we top out at 1.5 kWh).

Second, food and water. We always keep about ten pounds of oats, twenty pounds of flour, ten pounds of sugar, ten pounds of rice, and ten pounds of dried beans on hand. We always have 20 gallons of fresh drinking water stored, 55 gallons of rainwater, and we maintain a spring. Also, we have a stream. We have a small flock of chickens, a horse, and we're about to get ducks. Six months out of the year we have what's either a large garden or a small farm, and we put up a lot of food in the fall. Not enough to get us through a winter, but we do alright, and feel confident that we could ramp up production significantly, if need be. We save our seed, so the notion of increasing the size of our garden by tenfold with four months of lead time (seasonally depending, of course) isn't totally unreasonable.

Third, medical. We've got potassium iodide on hand (there's a nuclear power plant ~35 miles from us), a dose of Tamiflu for each of us, two very complete medical kits, moderate training in first aid (with more coming soon—see below), and we generally maintain a three-month supply of our medications.

Fourth, general supplies. We have an oil lamp (and, of course, lamp oil), a bunch of candles, several fire extinguishers, a NOAA radio, a hand-cranked AM/FM/shortwave radio, matches, lighters, a flotilla of batteries of all sorts, headlamps, and flashlights. We keep a couple of canisters of propane on hand (rotated through annually, thanks to grilling season) and have a propane heater that can heat our entire house for a couple of days with one of those plugged in.

Fifth, evacuation preparedness. We keep a 72-hour pack by the front door, ready to go, with a couple of hundred bucks in cash, a few days food, tinned water, flashlights, blankets, tarps, matches, fire starters, and so on. We've got sleeping bags and internal frame packs on hand for each of us. The idea is to make sure that if sheltering in place isn't safe, that we can leave without delay.

Finally, a flotilla of books (not all of which we've read, I admit) on wilderness medicine. This Tuesday we're starting an eight-week Community Emergency Response Team training course (held just once a week). This is available in most areas—google around to see if you can take it in your area. That's where you can learn to be helpful in an emergency, rather than somebody who needs help—learn to use a chainsaw, direct traffic, suture a wound, lead a panicked group of people to safety, etc. Recommended highly.

I've come to relish when we lose power in good weather. It's a chance to test out our plans. There are a lot of basic aspects to preparedness that would just never cross your mind until you actually need to carry out that plan. You know how, without power, you keep flipping light switches every time you walk into a room, or thinking "well, I'll just google that...*DOH*"? The same applies to all kinds of things, like having candles...but no matches. :)

more than 3 years ago
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A Blue-Sky Idea For the USPS — Postal Trucks As Sensors

waldoj Vermont? (252 comments)

Both sides of my family are from Vermont—Rutland, on one side, and the White River Junction area, on the other. I've spent a lot of time there, and I think I'm about as familiar as somebody who doesn't live there could reasonably be. And I can say that with fair confidence that Vermont's rural areas are no more rural or isolated than the rural areas of Virginia, where I live. (Compare Vermont's population density and Virginia's population density. While you're at it, compare the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Green Mountains. If you were blindfolded and kidnapped, when the blindfold was taken off, you'd be hard pressed to know if you were in Vermont or Virginia.) Good luck finding any USPS address that has no other USPS address within five miles.

And I'm not at all frustrated about the lack of universal postal service—it's no problem for me at all, having been the case for me for much of my life.

more than 3 years ago
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A Blue-Sky Idea For the USPS — Postal Trucks As Sensors

waldoj That's Already How It Works! (252 comments)

Congratulations, you've just described exactly how the USPS works.

Bajillions of people who live in rural areas (like me) pick up their mail at the post office, because the cost of delivery to their homes is prohibitive. Universal service is not, in fact, universal, and never has been. Even UPS won't deliver to my house—I've got to pick up their packages at the post office (!), too.

Also, your example is ludicrous. Have you ever heard of a house so isolated that it's in a "neighborhood" (?) five miles away and yet, mysteriously, this five-mile-long stretch of road, devoid of any homes or businesses, has a 20 MPH speed limit on its road? Because I can't summon any scenario in which that would be the case.

more than 3 years ago
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Open Source Transcription Software?

waldoj No (221 comments)

I've put a bunch of time into this for a project of my own. The short answer is, no, I have found no such program. I've experimented with a few older programs, but they're useless. Sorry.

more than 4 years ago
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Passwords That Are Simple — and Safe(?)

waldoj YES (563 comments)

THIS

I considered putting this very system into place on a site of mine a half-decade ago, until I realized that I would just be informing attackers which passwords are in use.

more than 4 years ago
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Virginia AG Probing Michael Mann For Fraud

waldoj Not Appointed (617 comments)

Actually, Cuccinelli wasn't "appointed" as attorney general—he was elected. He defeated Democrat Steve Shannon by a huge margin. We chose to have this guy as AG, and it wasn't even close. Any informed voter should have known what they were getting into with Cuccinelli. He's really, really far right, and he's never hid it. It doesn't speak well of Virginia.

more than 4 years ago
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Arizona Judge Tells Sheriff "Reveal Password Or Face Contempt"

waldoj It's a Tool (624 comments)

Face it, a gun is purely designed to maim or kill. It is not a tool and is not designed for any other purpose.

Wrong. A gun is a thing that's designed to a put a hole in that thing over there. Just last week I was using my Mossberg to put holes in targets and, to spectacular effect, a full can of shaving cream. In a decade of ownership, I've never once used that particular gun to maim or kill.

more than 5 years ago
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Woman With Police-Monitoring Blog Arrested

waldoj Re:I've Been Following This (847 comments)

She's not acting in the manner of a journalist, by which I mean that there is no goal to her coverage, no public interest being served, no story being pieced together. She's simply taking private information about private individuals who happen to work for the local government (albeit in a very private capacity) and making it public.

First, I don't think you're in any position to judge whether or not she's acting in the capacity of journalist or if the free speech she is exercising is worthwhile.

If none of us are in the position to judge anything, then I think we can safely shut down the /. commenting system, can't we?

The whole point of free speech is that no one gets to judge what is and is not worthwhile.

Yes, that's the point, but that's not really how it works out. Here in Virginia, for instance, we have a shield law that's been established by the judiciary. If a reporter follows around police officers for the purpose of writing a story in the public interest, that's not stalking, that's journalism. But if an individual does it in order to...well, in order to just harass them, that's illegal.

The only criteria is if the speech is infringing upon someone else's human rights as protected under the law.

"Human rights"? Um. No.

Second, isn't all the information she gathered public information. She just followed people around in public and gathered together public records that a lot of people don't know are public.

You haven't been reading Slashdot very long if you think that the gathering of lots of ostensibly public information about an individual and making it public isn't an abuse of privacy. A listing of all of the websites that you visit is public information, in the sense that it's probably possible for me to track it down, with a little sleuthing and calling in a few favors from friends at DoubleClick and Google. (I'm talking in the abstract here, obviously.) You don't post under your real name here, but I'll bet I could find it out. That's public. Hell, given that, I bet I could figure out and post your address, phone number, e-mail address, social security number, criminal history, home value, workplace, career history, educational background, etc., with some spare time and a big of legwork. But you probably wouldn't want me to make all of that public, because it would totally freak you out and definitely be a violation of your privacy...despite it being public information. One might even call it "stalking."

But then, equating a secretary at a courthouse and police officer in this instance is slightly disingenuous as they have different levels of authority and pose different levels of risk to the people from abuse of that authority.

It's not disingenuous, it's making the point that the notion that a "public employee" vs. a "private employee" is a false dichotomy. The fact that somebody works for the government (as do I, in a roundabout away) does not suddenly make their private life an open book. What a police officer does on his own time, provided it's not illegal, should as private of a matter as what a secretary does, or what anybody else does.

Further your selection of a position of secretary and pronouns indicating it is a woman while the stalker is a man seems like something of an emotional, fear based appeal.

That's right. The point being that we can't have laws that are different for different sexes. Is it OK for a woman to follow a man, but not a man to follow a woman? Of course not. You're paying attention -- that's good. :)

more than 5 years ago
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Woman With Police-Monitoring Blog Arrested

waldoj I've Been Following This (847 comments)

I've been following this story for a few years, or rather following it as it developed.

Her ex-husband is Kevin Strom, a prominent white nationalist and white supremacist* who was arrested for possession of child pornography and beating his wife (while threatening worse if she testified against him) a couple of years ago. He'd been stalking a ten-year-old girl, regularly cruising by her house, giving her gifts, sending her love letters, and proposing to her. (The kid's parents were none too thrilled.) It turned out, bizarrely, that none of that is illegal -- but possession of child pornography landed him in prison for a couple of years. He was released earlier this year. He was also, incidentally, an inveterate troll of one of my blogs, so I've got a special dislike for the guy.

Anyhow, Elisha is every bit as much of a racist as Strom, only she's also a feminist, which means that racists think she's scum, meaning that basically everybody hates her. Based on her blog entries, commenters on my blog have come to the conclusion that she was having an affair with one or more of these police officers. To my knowledge, she's never had any interaction with JADEâ"that is, neither she nor her husband have been busted for drug possession by them. So her interest in them appears to be romantic. Spurned, she's started stalking them, and expanded her interest to include all members of JADE.

What I can't shed any light on is whether or not this arrest is appropriate. I've been involved in a couple of high-profile bloggers' free expression cases (as a defendant in both cases), and though you'd think I'd rush to defend somebody in her positionâ"cretin though she may beâ"I just don't think it's cut-and-dry enough. The fact that she's putting this stuff on a blog seems to be irrelevant, by which I mean it's not a special form of expression here. She's not acting in the manner of a journalist, by which I mean that there is no goal to her coverage, no public interest being served, no story being pieced together. She's simply taking private information about private individuals who happen to work for the local government (albeit in a very private capacity) and making it public.

The question here is simply, I think, whether stalking laws are meant to cover people who are public employees. If a racist who advocates violent rebellion against black Americans starts following the a black secretary who works in the county office building, documenting her every move publicly, can the police intervene? Or is that his right, because she's opted out of a right to privacy by working for a government agency? There is a legitimate argument to be made that it is his right, in order to be consistent with what is to be expected for more prominent public employees. But a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, after all, so maybe we should put less thought into being consistent and more into protecting our citizens. I'm not being vague to be cute -- I really don't know what's right here.

* I regret that covering these nutcases involves learning things like that there's a difference between being a white nationalist and a white supremacist.

more than 5 years ago
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Recovery.gov To Get $18 Million Redesign

waldoj The Definition of "Design" (434 comments)

Those of us who are website developers will recognize the misuse of "design" committed by ABC News here. To a layperson, "design" means "make" when it comes to websites. They're not spending $18M to redesign the website (presumably), but presumably on a total overhaul of the thing.

more than 5 years ago
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Obama Appoints Non-Tech Guy As CTO

waldoj Re:Good Choice (252 comments)

A guy can dream. :)

more than 5 years ago
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Obama Appoints Non-Tech Guy As CTO

waldoj Good Choice (252 comments)

I worked with Aneesh earlier this year on an open government project here in Virginia. He asked me to function in a very small role in developing stimulus.virginia.gov, basically to serve as a programmer/open government guy to advocate from the inside for increased openness and strong adherence to public, open data exchange standards on the website and its API. Aneesh isn't a geek, but he "gets it," if I may return to that old chestnut that we all employed round about 2000. He might not know Unicode from Latin 1, but he surrounds himself with people who do know the difference, he gets the gist of it from them, and chooses the path that provides the most accessibility for the most data to the most people.

The guy is, incidentally, utterly exhausting to try to keep up with. I'm somebody to whom people say constantly "when do you sleep?", and even I find Aneesh an absolutely whirlwind of activity.

The only downside for me here is that Aneesh had expressed interested in me joining Governor Kaine's cabinet as "Senior Advisor for Open Government" (or something like that). I'd been in talks with my employer about taking a leave of absence. Now, of course, that won't happen. But since the (apparent) tradeoff is having Aneesh as the nation's CTO, that's A-OK by me.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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Congressman Demands Parody Website Investigation

waldoj waldoj writes  |  more than 4 years ago

waldoj (8229) writes "First amendment group the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has handed out their always-amusing Muzzle Awards on the occasion of Jefferson's birthday, and the ten "winners" constitute a worst-of list of free speech violators in the past year. Of most interest to Slashdotters is likely the top spot, which went to Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), a hero of the far left, who tried to get the U.S. Attorney General to open an investigation to determine who set up a website parodying his own website. Also of note is Southwestern College prohibiting free speech on campus except for on their "free-speech patio" and Alabama barring the sale of a California wine with a painting of a nymph on the label."
Link to Original Source
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Year's Top Censors Receive Muzzle Awards

waldoj waldoj writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Waldo Jaquith writes "The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has announced the 'winners' of their annual Jefferson Muzzle awards, given to government entities that have done the most to quash citizens' rights to free expression. The honor (such as it is) this year goes to The Democratic and Republican National Parties, Camp Lejune Marine Base, three colleges, two high schools, and a pair of judges, all of whom violated egregiously the rights of individuals. My favorite is Yuba College, which told a student that he could assemble and speak publicly on campus, but only on Tuesdays and Thursdays between noon and 1 PM. They feel dumb now."
Link to Original Source
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Year's Top Censors Receive Muzzle Awards

waldoj waldoj writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Waldo Jaquith writes "We've all heard the stories of outlandish censorship over the past year. The student who was expelled from Valdosta State University for criticizing the school on Facebook. New York state refusing to let somebody have a 'GETOSAMA' license plate. The judge who barred a rape victim from using the word "rape" in her testimony. The FCC. Period. Well, they and ten others are all getting their comeuppance, in the form of the Thomas Jefferson Center's 17th annual Jefferson Muzzle Awards. The dubious distinction goes to those organizations who have done the most to stifle free expression in the past year. The FCC, appropriately enough, got a lifetime achievement award."
Link to Original Source

Journals

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My Very Own Troll

waldoj waldoj writes  |  more than 12 years ago

I never thought that I'd use this journal system, but I just want to point out how amused that I am to have my very own troll. Gosh, I'm just so proud.

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