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Comment: Re:Very unlikely to be triggered in the field (Score 1) 229

by Idarubicin (#49602301) Attached to: Long Uptime Makes Boeing 787 Lose Electrical Power

A commercial plane will most probably undergo through several maintenance events and checks during that sort of time frame, where cycling the power is part of the procedure.

It's very reassuring to know that it probably won't happen.

As other posters have noted, 248 days of operation means skipping twenty-plus maintenance and inspection cycles, plus missing one or more engine overhauls. That sucker's going to fall out of the sky due to a hardware problem before the software error gets the chance.

Even in the absence of regular, scheduled, required maintenance, there will be hardware failures due to stuff wearing out, with sufficient frequency to force reboots at less-than-eight-month intervals. Honestly, the FAA is going to ground any airline that was so lax as to get within six months of tripping over this bug.

That's not to say that this bug is a good or acceptable thing, nor that something like it couldn't have much more serious effects. But this particular error is a non-issue from a real-life consequences standpoint.

Comment: Don't know about the technology... (Score 3, Insightful) 86

by Idarubicin (#49598519) Attached to: Humans Dominating Poker Super Computer

I don't know about the technology or the algorithm(s), but the linked article is certainly nonsense.

“You could use the same basic framework to do robust decision making like trying to come up with insulin and glucose monitoring plans [for diabetes patients],” says Neil Burch, a computer scientist at the University of Alberta who helped design a poker-playing AI earlier this year. “You get regular snapshots of glucose levels, and you have to decide how much insulin you should take, and how often.”

Look, I get it. Nobody wants to admit that they're spending their grant money this way because it's fun to get a computer to play Hold 'em. But that's got to be the dumbest justification I've ever read. Human metabolism is complex, but the pancreas doesn't bluff.

Comment: Re:They thought this would work? (Score 4, Insightful) 86

by Idarubicin (#49598509) Attached to: Humans Dominating Poker Super Computer

This is basically a beginning poker player (fresh blood) but who is more consistent. A pro will absolutely clobber it.

In other words, either the researchers involved are complete idiots, or a Slashdot poster jumped to a useless conclusion based on a strawman argument spun from the summary. Hm.

Comment: Re:Fire Rated Safe (Score 3, Interesting) 446

Better check the documentation on your safe. Many are not designed to resist heat. They provide an oxygen sparse environment such that paper won't burn. Thats why you have to let them cool off afterwards, if you open them too soon the oxygen from outside hits very hot paper and it lights on fire.


Underwriters' Laboratories (UL) certifications for fire are based on not exceeding a specified internal temperature (or humidity level) for a specified period of time. UL Class 350 safes, for instance, will maintain an internal temperature below 350 F, and humidity below 85%. This is fine for paper, but not for digital media. For those, you're looking for a safe (or safe + internal container) rated for Class 150 or Class 125 (150 F or 125 F), depending on your specific application.

An airtight safe that still got hot inside wouldn't protect paper. Pyrolysis still takes place in the absence of oxygen, carbonizing any organic matter--including paper. (Heating wood under oxygen-starved conditions is how charcoal is made.)

Comment: Re:Choice? (Score 3, Insightful) 222

by Idarubicin (#49354779) Attached to: Broadband ISP Betrayal Forces Homeowner To Sell New House

If he can't get broadband, he can't do his job. If he can't do his job, he (probably) can't make his mortgage payments. If he can't make his mortgage payments, he can't live in the house.

Except that he can get broadband; he just can't get it quite a cheap as he wanted. Either this story or yesterday's mentions that he was paying $5 a GB for cellular data (3G?), and running up about 30 GB a month in usage. So, $150 per month. The hookup he wanted would have probably cost, what, $40 or $50 a month? If he's living so close to the edge that an extra hundred a month puts him on the street, then he couldn't really afford to live in that house anyway. (Some of us are out of pocket more than a hundred a month for a bus pass to get to work. We suck it up; it's a cost of doing business and living where we choose.)

Of course, this guy also claims to have offered to pay "a good chunk of the cost" of installing the cable to his house, which would have run into the tens of thousands of dollars. If he was willing to splash out for that, then he could have afforded to pay even utterly ungodly cellular data rates for years. Bluntly, the only plausible explanation is that there's more going on here than meets the eye--the financial and technical case don't credibly add up to being "forced" to sell his house. Either he's got additional reasons that he wants/needs to move that he isn't sharing, or he just really craved some attention.

Comment: Because innocent people are always treated fairly (Score 1) 133

by Idarubicin (#49353115) Attached to: GAO Denied Access To Webb Telescope Workers By Northrop Grumman

Then again, if all was well why would they resist?

If you're innocent, why would you resist talking to investigators all by yourself?


Yes, I realize that this isn't a criminal investigation, but honestly. If I knew there were a chance that any offhand remark or misstatement I made could end up being quoted on C-SPAN by a Senator with an axe to grind...yeah, I'd be pretty damned reluctant to talk. Even if I weren't bright enough to figure that out for myself, I'm pretty sure I can see why my employer would have similar concerns.

Comment: Re:No one is forcing anyone to do anything (Score 2) 536

Currently he's burning 30GB/month on his Verizon service to stay employed, and if it's a big file transfer he drives into town to use the local StarBucks Coffee or McDonalds wifi.

So...meh. At the $5 per gigabyte we keep seeing tossed around, that's $150 a month to work from home, with occasional trips into town for supplies and groceries he probably needed to get anyway. Some of us are out of pocket that much for a transit pass to get to work.

Given that it probably costs north of ten thousand dollars in legal fees, commissions, and taxes to buy or sell even an inexpensive home (and the sky's the limit if the property is more valuable), moving out solely to save even a couple of grand a year in bandwidth fees is a pretty dubious move, financially speaking. Bluntly, there's more to this story than is being reported.

Comment: Re:How About (Score 1) 224

by Idarubicin (#49306321) Attached to: Chevy Malibu 'Teen Driver' Tech Will Snitch If You Speed

Not letting them on the road seems a little extreme but do they have to have a brand new car? What happened to having a beater to putt around in for the first few years?

Giving them an old beater doesn't really solve the problem from the standpoint of the rest of society. A jackass driving a car from 1996 can do just as much damage to pedestrians, cyclists, other cars, and other people as he could driving a car from 2016.

Heck, the 1996 vehicle may encourage more reckless behavior (because the jackass driving doesn't care about the car, and isn't afraid of a few scratches and dents). The 1996 vehicle may be more likely to be involved in a collision even if driven the same way as the late-model vehicle (since safety equipment and systems may be absent, outdated, worn, or broken). The 1996 vehicle may be more dangerous in a collision (predating modern standards for protecting both its occupants and other vehicles or pedestrians).

I'm also a bit surprised by the assumption that so many people here seem to be making that this car will be the teen's own car, or that the teen must be the principal driver. I would imagine that the much more likely scenario is that this will be Mom's or Dad's car (or just the lone family vehicle), and Junior is allowed to drive it from time to time. Mom and Dad also don't want to do all their own driving in a crappy car just to make sure that Junior suffers sufficiently; these systems add some more teeth to the "We'll let you drive the family car, but we have our eyes on you."

Besides, this year's brand new car is next decade's beater anyway. Might as well have a feature that adds value for the resale market.

Comment: Re:System worked, then? (Score 1) 163

by Idarubicin (#49227251) Attached to: On the Dangers and Potential Abuses of DNA Familial Searching

But they didn't suspect him at all. They found their suspect first, then constructed a circumstantial case (a, b and c) against him.

At the very beginning of any police investigation, police don't - or at least aren't supposed to - start out suspecting anybody at all. They are given (or they collect) information which leads to suspicions: testimony by victims or other witnesses, surveillance video, credit card and phone records, fingerprints, blood or semen at the crime scene.

In this case, the police found one line of evidence - DNA from semen - that strongly suggested the crime was committed by one member of a family. They then used a number of other, independent types of evidence to narrow down that original list, and eventually to get a warrant to test their single best suspect's DNA. What is your preferred outcome here, that the police ignore the DNA information that they did have? Or that a warrant to test DNA be denied unless the police have already specifically considered and ruled out all seven billion other people on the planet? Should police not be allowed to investigate cases when their first (or only remaining) lead is DNA evidence?

This is dangerous shit and the police should get slapped for it. And the public needs to step up and make it clear to judges that we won't tolerate them rubber stamping bullshit warrants. Just because there was a happy ending this time doesn't mean that we aren't playing with fire. This guy came one lab mistake away from from having his life ruined.

The police presented a plausible case - not an airtight, conclusive case, but enough to be probable cause - to suspect that the individual at hand was involved in the crime at hand. On the strength of that limited but suggestive evidence, a judge granted a warrant allowing the police to test a DNA sample (not search a house, not seize a vehicle, not throw a man in jail) to rule in or out a match with the DNA they had from their crime scene.

As I noted in my original comment, I can see the potential for a slippery slope type of argument, but the system actually seems to have worked properly in this particular instance. I agree that the situation is vulnerable to errors--but that's true of any criminal trial. A lot of cases have turned on eyewitness testimony that later turns out to be mistaken (often demonstrated by DNA analysis, ironically); does that mean that police should not use witness descriptions to identify suspects to investigate?

Comment: Re:System worked, then? (Score 4, Interesting) 163

by Idarubicin (#49223995) Attached to: On the Dangers and Potential Abuses of DNA Familial Searching

So here we have a guy where there is nothing at all to tie him to the events except DNA match that is actually exculpatory in that its clear he isn't a match for the sample the Police believe is that of the perps; however it does indicate he may be a family member however distant. The police want to confirm this. Is it reasonable to "search" his blood to confirm the match, and is that than cause to search everyone one of his relations, and their offspring?

Your summary may be a bit too brief for the nuances here. It appears that the police found a partial DNA match with the suspect's father (in, remarkably, a privately-maintained - not state-controlled - DNA database), which in turn suggested that a close relative would be match. The police then examined publicly-available genealogy information to identify candidate relatives. From the genealogy records the police narrowed their search to three candidate individuals. Using various other circumstantial information they finally sought a warrant to collect a DNA sample from just one individual.

While I agree that there are legitimate "slippery-slope" concerns, based on the (admittedly brief) description in the linked article, it seems that in this particular instance reasonable steps were taken to minimize the scope and inconvenience (to potentially-innocent individuals) of the investigation. It wasn't a scattershot "We must test the DNA of all your male relatives!", but rather "We want to test the DNA of your one male relative whom we also suspect for reasons (a), (b), and (c)."

Comment: Re:disclosure (Score 1) 448

by Idarubicin (#49105021) Attached to: How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests

Yes, but they get millions to conduct research. I doubt he took that $1.2 million home.

Hard to say, actually. My understanding is that his appointment was a "soft money" position, which means that he would have been entirely dependent on outside grants for all of his funding--including the salaries for himself and any staff or trainees. I wouldn't be surprised if $120K per year, less administrative overhead, doesn't even fully cover his own salary.

Comment: Re:Yes, it's a conflict of interest. (Score 5, Informative) 448

by Idarubicin (#49103621) Attached to: How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests

Dr. Soon may even truly believe his science is valid, but the funding he receives creates a lopsided megaphone which unfairly skews the perception of the debate.

Having a conflict of interest is understandable; hiding a conflict of interest is problematic.

By the same token, all scientists who receive funding from the pharmaceutical industry or groups they influence, should be barred from publishing papers on vaccine safety.

Scientists who receive funding from, for example, the pharmaceutical industry are expected to fully and explicitly disclose potentially conflicting interests--and by golly, they do. It's taken quite seriously, actually. If you look at any article in a respectable medical journal today, you'll find a section of the manuscript that's explicitly headed with Conflicting interests: or something synonymous. It will appear on every article, even on the ones where it's followed by "None declared" or the like, just so that it's clear that the journal asked for and got an on-the-record response from the article's authors. It doesn't remove the potential bias associated with outside funding, but it at least makes the potential for bias transparent.

Lying about competing interests - even through omission - is looked on very poorly by serious, credible medical researchers. Interestingly, one of the many, many types of misconduct engaged in by Andrew Wakefield was his failure to disclose significant financial interests when he published his (now-retracted and thoroughly discredited) Lancet paper suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. (Wakefield wasn't receiving pharmaceutical money, of course; he collected almost half a million pounds from lawyers involved in an anti-MMR lawsuit.)

And while the practice of mandatory disclosure started with the medical journals, the expectation has gradually bled across into other fields as well, particularly among top-tier journals.

Comment: Re:Why did he tape off his light switches? (Score 1) 248

by Idarubicin (#49051181) Attached to: Smart Homes Often Dumb, Never Simple

If he's such a handy guy, he could've just wirenutted the wires in the boxes and put blank plates over them. simple and neat looking!

Well, "handy" is in the eye of the beholder. He's really just "software handy", which is a different thing, for people who don't like to manipulate physical objects. It's kind of like the difference between a real engineer and a "software engineer".

To be fair, it was probably intended to be a very temporary installation and test. (Though it wasn't fair for him to complain about problems caused by his own shortcuts, I suppose.) And he did try to install a switch replacement at one point, with unfortunate results that weren't exclusively his fault.

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Paul Erlich