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Comment Beos/Haiku+AmigaDOS+OpenSolaris+VMS+Osx+Ubuntu (Score 1) 484

Start with the OpenSolaris rock stable (since the early 1992-2010?) ABI, add ZFS for its efficient support of flash, snapshots, encryption, RAID-z... Add BEOS/Haiku's user-meta-data indexed filesystem and AmigaDOS's backward/forward linked file allocation "table" (To turn off the computer, you switch it off, no fscking "start->shutdown" nonsense.) Graft OSX's time-machine onto ZFS's efficient copy-on-write snapshots for an improvement on VMS's auto-versioning files. Use Ubuntu's package manager, huge application repository and ATK accessibility features. Glitz it up with OSX's Quartz extreme GUI.

Comment 3 words, Rental Backed Securities (Score 5, Informative) 940

An Irish language documentary broke the news on the US Mortgage Backed Security driven property bubble back in 2005 so why doesn't it surprise me that another foreign news source is the first to piss off US real-estate corporations and reveal that rental backed securities are also teetering on the brink of disaster? Here we go again, another replay of tulip madness. In the words of Yogi Berra, it's Deja-vu all over again.

The real problem is that boom-bust cycles driven by loose monetary policy (whether it be Reagan's trickle down or Greenspan's helicopter drops) help those with deep pockets. Playing with matches around the global economic gas-tank eventually causes an explosion and as John Maynard Keynes put it, "Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent." (unless you happen to be a corporate slumlord.)

Comment Re: Social mobility was killed, but not this way (Score 1) 1032

The average college graduate has around $30,000 of debt, hardly hundreds of thousands. The average trade school graduate has $10,000 of debt. Given that college grads have significantly higher salaries, and significantly more horizontal and vertical movement potential, I'd hardly say that a college degree is not worth it. ...

You must be talking about the US. In Europe I'd be surprised if the average university debt is even 1/4th of that. The last time I checked Oxford medical school had almost exactly the same tuition as MBTI (before their financial scandals saw daylight.) Asian, South American and African Universities cost even less and techies (unlike some tradesmen) are competing in this global market. Yes, your college degree is worth something but first consider that in India there are tens of millions of middle-class people with PhDs in whatever you think you're an expert at. In Spain, Brazil, China there are hundreds of millions of highly-educated and unemployed university graduates.

If I were a chancellor or comptroller of a state or alumni-subsidized university I'd be worried that people will find out that many US universities don't even give a fiscal ROI, much less a societal one. They are morphing into either trade schools or glorified country clubs.

Those with money focus on the fraternity aspect, rub elbows with wealth and push themselves into a cushy job with friends. They can major in some of the useless esoteric degrees (believe me, philosophy and psychology are quite practical compared to some college curriculum.) The others are channeled down the "trade- school" quick fiscal ROI path. They get a degree in Management Information Systems, Accounting, MBA or Computer Science and hope what they learned is relevant for at least as long as it takes to payoff their student loan.

Yes your college degree is worth something, so is a house, so are dot com stocks, beanie babies and tulips. But it isn't worth as much as most people believe it's worth.

Comment Re:VIC-20 Apple keyboard and data sensor. (Score 1) 258

I was using a Vic-20's resistive analog joystick ports for potometry of a solar eclipse in the mid 1980s but the more hacky invention was my setup for numerical analysis class. The teacher cared about algorithms, not the details of what OS or hardware we were using but the code and results had to be printed out. So I used a pair of transistors and an optocoupler to interface the Vic's TTL RS232 port to a BELL R33 current loop teletype machine. The Vic wasn't terribly fast so the printer would chug out a result every minute or two which I could hear from anywhere in the house. 3.14159265358979...

And that was the most reliable printer I've ever owned.

Comment My first Wintel PC... (Score 1) 258

A (New) Coke bottle, toilet roll tube, floating styrofoam bernouli ball to redirect the power supply fan's airflow over the hot running 386 CPU card on Zenith's passive backplane. This was all strapped to a 1960s era portable reel-to-reel tape recorder case with duct tape. Lots and lots of duct tape.

Comment Re:Germany should pay war reparations for WWII (Score 1) 743

Countries that go to the IMF expecting to have to make the sort of changes to their economy that Western nations would expect in order to consider them for a "payday loan" level credit offering will do just fine. Just like a "payday loan" if you can survive without it, you should...If an IMF loan isn't going to force a country to do what it doesn't want, and be fiscally responsible...I'll bet if Germany had kept that money, they would have spent some of it on investments that have a real return...

German citizens were saving too much money. I saw the posters urging people to dig the Deutchmarks from their back yards and exchange them for Euro. Yes saving is good, but Euros buried in back gardens to not lead to new businesses or a vibrant economy. So Germany used their influence and encouraged the ECB to print money and lower interest rates. This worked brilliantl... for Germany. Their sluggish economy began to pick up. But the one-size-fits Germany fiscal policy punished savers and rewarded debt in all Euro countries including Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal. All this free money was floating around the EU, punishing savers in Greece and Ireland and blowing asset bubbles all over Europe. By time young Irish people had 10% down of a mortgage, the house had doubled in price. Everyone knew this was a bubble but saving was punished so severely that even those who opted for the fiscally responsible path are in worse shape then the 90% who spent money at a time when ECB policy punished fiscal responsible behavior.

The ECB, US Fed and other central banks use their tools to help themselves and those with first access to the money (wealth, banks, corporations). A wiser economic policy in the computer age would allow for a variety of currencies in different economic zones within a country. Lower Alabama and East Saint Louis should not have the same monetary policy as Manhattan and Beverly Hills. Germany shouldn't have the same monetary policy as Greece. The fictional fiscal world we create is punishing the young and poor The austerity already adopted by Ireland (the EU's golden-child) has a severe mis-allocation of public resources, rapidly increased homelessness and deaths. The fact is that people were punished for saving and then later punished for not saving.

"Markets can remain irrational a lot longer than you and I can remain solvent." -John Maynard Keynes

Comment Re:What the fuck are you talking about? (Score 1) 385

I would have to say the technological part was not so bad, but we played with Hitler's love of the occult in 1954 and that ended the separation of church and state, it has been a downhill run ever since here.

OK so Godwin's Law holds true. I was going to send this link to a highly intelligent friend who constantly doubts his self worth but this whole tangle of threads proves that any mention of intelligence on Slashdot soon evaporates into a singularity of shallow thoughts about politics and religion.

I'm depressed not because I'm intelligent but because the world must face such vast infinities of stupid...

Comment Shortwave frequencies = over-the-horizon snooping? (Score 2) 449

Unfortunately, peak fraud is ahead of us with the widespread adoption of a poor implementation of RFID. The EU and ROW were wise to jump to chip and pin while the US dragged its feet for a decade with cashiers expected to be CSI signature verification specialists. But the move to pinless RFID rolls security back to the days when cashiers were expected to peer through lists of bad credit card numbers. Actually it's worse than that because card dup information is conveniently broadcast on 13.5 MHz, in the 22 meter amateur radio band. This is a great frequency for over the horizon broadcasting in summer. Not so good for secure communication over a distance that is supposed to be in the range of a few centimeters.

Its sad because properly implemented RFID has the potential for enhancing the security of paypoint transactions. This implementation will have so much fraud, people will forever associate RFID with fraud.

Comment Music and mathematics (Score 1) 210

How would you explain the relationship between music and mathematics? How can this relationship be leveraged to help reduce innumeracy? (For example a two dimensional touch screen can be used as a visual theremin where each axis plays a frequency. The frequencies can be continuous or as steps in integer ratios corresponding to chromatic, pentatonic, pythagorean, blues, arabic and other musical scales.)
The Military

US May Sell Armed Drones 131

An anonymous reader writes: Nations allied with the United States may soon be able to purchase armed, unmanned aircraft, according to an updated U.S. arms policy. Purchase requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and foreign military bodies would have to agree to a set of "proper use" rules in order for the U.S. to go ahead with the sale. For example: "Armed and other advanced UAS are to be used in operations involving the use of force only when there is a lawful basis for use of force under international law, such as national self-defense." These rules have done nothing to silence critics of the plan, who point out that the U.S. has killed civilians during remote strikes without much accountability. The drones are estimated to cost $10-15 million apiece.

Comment Re:The new power supplies may be sensitve to EMP (Score 4, Interesting) 192

Put your electronic flash next to an AM radio (you might find one in an antique shop ;-) You'll find considerable EMF comes from the electronic flash circuit as it charges the big capacitor. For fun we used to heterodyne this against the EMF from an LED pocket calculator for some very bizarre spacy effects.

Comment Ending stereotypes about US homeschooling (Score 4, Insightful) 700

In the US homeschooling is more popular with the religious right who don't want them "larnin' bout how we's sended from munkehs". In the UK, it's more associated with drippy-hippy Woodcraft-folk types.

This stereotype holds only for those who are unfamiliar with the reality of American public schools. In the US, homeschooling is more popular with parents who understand that typical US public school systems are a collision of bureaucracy, politics and labor unions where education is an afterthought. It is popular amongst parents who understand that No Child Left Behind's (NCLB) obsession with exams leaves behind children with special needs and punishes educational creativity. It is popular amongst parents who believe that being bullied by a drug-soaked mob of feral children and exposed to peer terrorism and gunplay is not a mandatory component of healthy socialization. It is popular amongst parents who believe that by banning Christianity and a handful of religions from public schools while allowing pseudo-scientific dogma, mammon worship, celebrity worship, political party tribalism, sports worship, brand idolatry, gun idolatry, flag idolatry, Apple idolatry and other forms of materialism provides a toxically unbalanced view of reality.

Comment Re:Farewell, TRS-80 (Score 1) 242

As far back as the early 80s I noticed that Radio Shack rarely had the parts to service its own branded consumer electronic products. It's only in retrospect that I understand that this lack of serviceability was being built into all consumer products and was not specific to Radio Shack

It's unfortunate that Radio Shack's leadership missed the Maker movement and hacker renaissance. It didn't help that RS management's obsession with employee polygraph tests in the 1980s drove out the last of the nerds and hackers from their staff. Shortly after RS's CEO announced a return to its hobbyist roots I asked staff at our relatively well-stocked local branch about ultraviolet LEDs and arduinos. They had never heard of either even though both were on their shelves.

Radio Shack nearly killed all independent electronics stores while it killed itself. Thankfully a few brick and mortar independents such as Chester Electronics (ignore their vacuum tube era website) and American Science and Surplus still survive.

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