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Comment: Don't hold your breath waiting for news of them... (Score 1) 74

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49351405) Attached to: Facebook Sued For Alleged Theft of Data Center Design

Most of the claims aren't listed so it's hard to draw a conclusion.

And don't hold your breath waiting for them to be listed publicly, either.

If this is over trade secrets, the alleged trade secrets, if legitimate, will still be secret. So unless/until Facebook gets a judgement that the claims are bogus, the proceedings will be under seal.

Even if they ARE bogus it may not be in Facebook's interest to publish them, either. They might be little-known enough that exposing them to their competition might make the competitive environent tougher for Facebook.

So don't be surprised if the "secrets" and the details of the verdict or settlement remain under wraps.

Comment: Perhaps the problem is with the concept. (Score 1) 157

by hey! (#49349767) Attached to: Many Password Strength Meters Are Downright Weak, Researchers Say

What does "password strength" really mean?

If people used a textual representation of number obtained from a reliable hardware random number generator then the meaning would be unambiguous. It's the number of digits in that number. But most people don't do that (perhaps more should).

So what does it mean to say that a password has so many bits of entropy? Well, I guess it means how many truly random bits it would take to index their password from the universe of passwords the user considered. This is more an exercise in psychology than it is in mathematics. You have to figure out how users generate passwords or discount passwords. For example requiring a mix of upper and lower case letters doesn't add as much entropy as you'd think, because most users are mediocre typists who'll avoid using the shift key too often. Requiring digits means that many people will just "0" for "o" and "1" for "L".

So it's really easy to concoct passwords which you know are bad, because you know the methods used to select which passwords you'd consider; if the developers of the strength meter don't take your particular generation algorithm into account the meter will show the password to be stronger than you know it to be.

Comment: Re:Top Gear: The BBC Whovian Reboot (Score 2) 623

by hey! (#49348357) Attached to: Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear

A fourth car races by.

It opens, and the words Top Gear: Mark II appear.

It's a young British woman of mixed Asian descent.

The crowd goes wild.

Seriously, an exotic woman driving exotic cars too fast? Who'd watch that?

I would, because I'm a man and I'm not afraid to admit that on some level I'm a pig. Ideally she'd be smart and funny too, because I don't like to think of myself as being a total pig, but either way I'm in.

Comment: Re:The BBC doesn't have much latitude here. (Score 1) 623

by hey! (#49347911) Attached to: Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear

Meanwhile, the BBC has a chance to reinvent Top Gear with younger presenters

Nailed it. It's like the old saw about the Chinese character for "crisis" being made up of characters for "danger" and "opportunity". No matter what happens now they're going to lose some of their long-term fans. But at some point young people aren't going to be so keen on watching some ancient codger behaving like an ass.

If they play this right it could become like Dr. Who, with a reboot every few years to bring in fresh blood.

Comment: Re:what will be more interesting (Score 2) 623

by hey! (#49347855) Attached to: Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear

Sure. But the man verbally abused and bullied a subordinate. Then he physically assaulted him -- or perhaps by that point the physical altercation was mutual.

At some point you have to ask yourself whether you have your priorities straight. As a fan of the show I'm sorry to the big ape gone. As a fan of civilized behavior I'm happy to see at least a minimum standard of decency in behavior getting enforced.

Comment: Gerrymandered a PRESIDENTIAL election? Say WHAT? (Score 1) 184

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49346483) Attached to: New Bill Would Repeal Patriot Act

... in the last election the powers of greed tried to elect someone who was neither conservative nor liberal but really a direct representative of the 1%. They spent 3 to 4 times as much money, made people stand in 4 hour lines to vote, maximally gerrymandered every district they could...

While your underlying perception is largely correct, your supporting argiments are not. You need to understand the system more if you want to be convincing,

Of particular note is bringing up gerrymandering. In virtually all the states the electoral college votes are chosen in a statewide, popular-vote, winner-take-all contest. Gerrymandering doesn't affect this at all. (Which is good for the Republicans, as the Democrats have been far more effective at it.)

As for spending: With the support of labor unions and the media empires, the Democrats get massive, uncounted, campaign subsidies, while the Republicans mostly have to pay for their own propaganda directly..

The big exception to that is Fox News: But IMHO they, and the party establishment, are what lost for the Rs the last time around. Fox was blatantly pure Neocon (the faction of Romney, the R establishment, and the 1%ers,) The primaries are where the parties' candidates are chosen. Fox's hilariously biased reporting and the R establishments massive (and often violent) cheating, alienated the supporters of Ron Paul, to the point that they would not support him - virtually to a man - and also alienated many Rs who observed this circus. Romney lost five states by margins smaller than the number of people who voted for Paul in primaries and caucuses. Had they not done this, Romney might still have won the nomination honestly, and received eJ.nough votes to swing those states.

So, yes, their money didn't buy them the election. But IMHO what really lost it was intra-party behavior so corrupt that major factions of the party's voters decided they could not be allowed to have control of the government's levers of power - even if the alternative was an exceptionally effective, avowedly-Communist, Chicago-Machine politician

Comment: Re:Most degrees from India... (Score 4, Interesting) 264

by hey! (#49337571) Attached to: Wikipedia Admin's Manipulation "Messed Up Perhaps 15,000 Students' Lives"

I'll see your anecdote and raise you some speculation.

I've worked with a number of young Indian engineers and found them to be roughly comparable to American engineers with the same level of experience; if anything they have a slightly higher level of textbook knowledge because (I speculate) their educational system puts a higher premium on memorization. That turns out to be awesome when you're lucky enough to be hiring someone with that certain spark of talent it takes to be great at the job. On the other hand it also means you can easily end up hiring a dud who interviews great because he happens to have a prodigious memory. When the VC my company worked with asked us to take on some surplus H1B engineers he'd sponsored I had a range of experiences from absolutely top-notch talent to total cement-heads with an encyclopedic recall of the GoF book.

But what I've never run into an Indian H1B who didn't know anything at all about his field, although I'm sure it happens. Given the size and level of economic development in India I'd be shocked if there were not at least a few diploma mills, but you'd be a fool to turn your nose up at a diploma from U of Mumbai or IIT/Delhi.

It can be tricky evaluate a candidate from a different country and culture than you, so you've got to expect that a conscientious company may end up hiring a few clunkers. But if your Indian colleagues were *all* ignoramuses, it suggests to me the companies you worked for were incompetent or bottom-feeders when it comes to recruiting engineering talent.

Comment: Re:the US 'probably' wont use a nuke first.... (Score 2) 339

No, the alternative was to wait.

It should be noted that:
  - The Japanese, like the Germans, had their own nuclear weapons program in progress. (That was how they were able to recognize the nuclear bombs for what they were: Bombs were SOME of the possibilities they were pursuing.)
  - While they thought nuclear-reaction bombs were hard but doable, they were actively working on the immanent bombardment of the West Coast of the Untied States with radiological weapons - "dirty bombs" spreading fatal levels of radioactive material. (Remember that much of the US war infrastructure, including nuclear laboratories such as Livermore and the Navy's Pacific fleet construction and supply lines, were on or very near the west coast. The prevailing winds are from the west and able to carry fallout blankets to them.)
  - The primary reason for using TWO bombs, only a few days apart, was to create the impression that the US could keep this up. The Japanese had an idea that making the bombs took so much resource that the US could only have a very few. And they were right.

As I understand it went something like this: There was enough material for no more than two or three more, then there'd have been about a year of infrastructure construction and ramp-up, after which the US could have started with monthly bombs and worked up to weekly or so. If the US could have gotten to that point unmolested, Japan was doomed. But a LOT can happen over that time in a total war - and big projects can get hamstrung when the bulk of the industrial output and manpower has to be used to fight off conventional attacks meanwhile. The idea was to give the Japanese the impression the US was ALREADY that far along.

Comment: $12,000 with air conditioner? (Score 1) 78

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49335727) Attached to: Better Disaster Shelters than FEMA Trailers (Video)

12 grand with the air conditinoer and some unspecified options that don't prevent it from being stacked up like coffee cups?

For only a couple grand more I purchased, new, an 19 foot travel trailer, with kitchen, (propane stove, micrwave, propane/electric refrigerator) beds for five (if one is a kid) and two are friendlly - six if two are infants), which double as a daytime couch and bedding storage cabinet, TV antenna and prewire, air conditioner, bathroom with enclosed shower, closet, white grey and black water storage for two days if everybody showers daily, a week if they conserve, all hookablel to water and sewer if available, air conditinoier and furnace, lots of gear storage, two nights of battery power (though the microwave and air conditioner need shore power - the furnace runs on the batteries/power conditioner), hitch, dual-axle with tires, awning, etc.

This looks like a very pricey, very heavy, hardshell tent - with some lights, cots, and a big-brother computer monitoring system.

But I bet agencies would love the monitoring system.

Comment: My art is prior. (Score 3, Interesting) 160

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49332793) Attached to: Energy Company Trials Computer Servers To Heat Homes

My first unix box was an Altos. Don't recall exactly when I got it but it finally died in the late '80s.

The thing burned something like a kilowatt. It also had a four-inch muffin fan - blowing outward. While this sucked dust in all the openings, it was convenient for heat scavenging, AND exhaust. The latter was important in my non-air-conditioned college-town house.

I got a couple 4" drier vents, some drier vent hose, and a heat-scavenging diverter valve (which were big that year - for electric driers only!). Took the flapper valve and rain shield off one of the drier vents, yeilding a fitting that I mounted on the pancae fan's four mounting screws. It coupled the airflow nicely into the drier vent hose, which was essentially exactly the diameter of the fan blade shroud. A few 2x4s mad a wooden insert that went into the window in place of the screen unit, with the other vent in the middle of it. Hooked the two together with the hose, with the diverter in the middle of it, and the third hose segment feeding the hot air register.

In the summer the space-heater's-worth of hot air went out the window instead of into the house. In the winter the hot air fed the furnace distributon, providing a base heat supply to the house with the furnace coming on to "top it off" to the desired temperature.

Comment: Re:It has an acronym , so it will fail. (Score 1) 149

by hey! (#49331705) Attached to: Obama To Announce $240M In New Pledges For STEM Education

Not really. His point is that school systems are spending money badly already, so that giving them more money would necessarily amount to "throwing money at the problem" (his words). For my town's schools that point fails in that we don't spend money the way he claims all schools do; we aren't top-heavy with administrators. And we spend just a tad less than the national average per student.

I suppose what you're saying is that since we get better results than the national average for less-than-average outlay, we're doing just fine. That's true, if your standard for "good enough" is "beat the national average"; if you think schools in this country are by-in-large doing a good enough job.

Comment: I think it didn't offer enough marginal value (Score 1) 68

by hey! (#49331653) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Happened To Semantic Publishing?

for the cost of doing it right; and to whatever degree you backed off doing it right you'd end up missing the point.

The big win of text based matching is that nobody has to prepare to be indexed in a search engine, search engine optimization notwithstanding. The big loss is that you get false matches due to polysemy (words that have more than one meaning) and false misses due to synonymous words whose equivalence the search engine doesn't know about.

If you go to something like RDF in which concepts have unique identifiers (URIs), the marginal win is that you get precise and accurate matches where a concept used in two places. I can write an app which searches the Internet for articles on John Williams the classical guitarist and not accidentally lead him to articles on John Williams the movie composer. The big downside is that content providers have to think carefully about how to index your content.

So the problem with the semantic web is that what is realistically achievable with semantic technologies is only a marginal (though real) improvement over what we have now, but that improvement requires content providers to make some effort. I have no expectation that everybody will do this, so the semantic web isn't likely to revolutionize everyone's web experience anytime soon. But I think it can serve many useful niche purposes.

There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be a coincidence. -- Jeremy S. Anderson

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