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Comment: Re:But is it really plankton? (Score 3, Interesting) 116

by JoeMerchant (#47709071) Attached to: Scientists Find Traces of Sea Plankton On ISS Surface

Well, the cargo ship is one possibility, but when you consider the scale of the oceans and just how close the ISS is to them: if the Pacific Ocean were a sheet of Letter sized paper, the ISS would be zipping along 1/4" above it, and the ISS has been skimming along near the Earth's surface like this for years and years.

Now, think about hurricanes, typhoons, winter storms, and everything else that violently churns the ocean surface - aerosolizing some tiny fraction of it, but still including billions upon billions of plankton that go for a flight every year. Most fall back into the ocean, but some inevitably fly quite high....

What would be amazing to me is if these sea-launched plankton could actually hitch a ride on the passing ISS without getting lethally damaged in the transition. I suppose that on their scale, hitting a wall moving hundreds of miles per hour might not be as disruptive as it is for larger, multicellular organisms.

Comment: Re:Monorail (Score 1) 79

by JoeMerchant (#47684217) Attached to: Google Sells Maine Barge For Scrap

Or, people could grow up and learn to work without needing coworkers in close physical proximity peer-pressuring them into being productive.

The arcology (from 1990s SimCity) or Google's mega structure may never come to pass if we develop sufficient network infrastructure that people can work from their homes, eliminating commute times completely. Sure, physical jobs still need physical presence, but information pushers (read: 90% of government, and most larger corporations), can push that information through video telepresence. I rented a car from the airport the other day, two people sitting at the counter were helping customers in lines 3 deep - then there's this little video kiosk, I walk up to it, pick up a telephone handset, and voila, an agent for the company located hundreds of miles away helps me, just as quickly and efficiently as the flesh and blood counter reps, probably better because he didn't have to get up and drive to the airport during morning rush hour in a big metro city. The people cleaning the cars and guarding the exit still need to be present, but the counter workers could have 20 square foot "office cubes" located in their homes, where they could work 5 or 6 hours a day, be more productive for the company, and spend 1/2 as much time on their workday.

Comment: Re:A rather simplistic hardware-centric view (Score 1) 145

by JoeMerchant (#47663863) Attached to: The Quiet Before the Next IT Revolution

The article starts with the observation that the hardware bottleneck is mostly gone, if you can afford to supply basic coffee to your employees, the IT hardware doesn't cost much more than that - contrast that to 1991 when the PC on my desk cost 2 months of my salary, and our "network" was a 4 line phone sitting next to it (modems came to our office 5 years later).

Then, let's dream about what's next... you can dream, can't you?

Comment: Re:Horseshit (Score 1) 145

by JoeMerchant (#47663787) Attached to: The Quiet Before the Next IT Revolution

If the "transcontinental railroad" is truly built, then the cloud won't be going down (for any significant amounts of time) in the future.

How often do you venture out onto the Eisenhower Interstate Highway system, stymied that you can't use it in the normal fashion (yes, rush hour in metro areas still needs work, mostly population control, I say, but...)?

If your "cloud is down" more than 5 minutes per day, or has a big (multi hour) outage more than once a year, then you have not yet arrived at modern (2014) IT nirvana.

Comment: Re:Exactly same situation... why do you need N? (Score 1) 427

by JoeMerchant (#47635481) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Life Beyond the WRT54G Series?

g was good enough for me, but I bought an n anyway and was very pleased with the upgrade. Corners of the house that used to be spotty coverage became rock solid. The "yard range" went from near the house to almost 100' further into the yard. Sure, g was fast and reliable enough and covered what I needed, but n was a clear improvement and actually useful at times.

Comment: Re:and now we just use H-1B they don't complain (Score 1) 268

There's a local shop that hires a mix of experienced developers, kids still in college, and H1Bs... they have horrendous turnover (average tenure 1 year is because the H1Bs stay put. The college kids bolt at first opportunity, and the experienced ones seems to find better things fairly often too...

Comment: Re:WTF? Jailtime! Boycott violates Anti-Trust (Score 1) 268

The Clayton Act only applies when someone applies it. If you were wronged by these people, bring suit under the Clayton Act and have at them.

Unfortunately, if you're just a bystander, or the statute of limitations has run out, or you have accepted other settlement in the matter, you can't.

Comment: Re:biased algorith (Score 1) 177

by JoeMerchant (#47623741) Attached to: Algorithm Predicts US Supreme Court Decisions 70% of Time

In this particular case, I'm not very impressed with a 70% prediction rate on a binary decision... you could get similar results by saying "Uphold" every time and ignoring all the data.

What would be more impressive is if the algorithm could predict (with greater accuracy) how theoretical courts would perform with new justices assigned to the bench. Say a seat is opening up and there are several candidates for the position, can the algorithm tell you what the outcome of an upcoming case will be with the various choices of new justices?

Comment: Re:Bullshit. (Score 2) 140

by JoeMerchant (#47606247) Attached to: Least Secure Cars Revealed At Black Hat

The manufacturers think they can do it safely. They even have multinational conferences where they get together and the 2 guys from every company who would rather travel than work sit around and agree with each other that they have put in enough safety checks to protect their customers.

The problem is, most people can't mentally scale risk up to millions of copies. The basic engineer's metric is: "I tried it on my test rig as many ways as I can think of and nothing ever failed." Put this guy in a "world class" test facility with all the best toys money can buy and he'll write you all kinds of analyses "proving" that their accelerated degradation models guarantee a trillion hour MTBF. Problem is: when you put a million imperfect copies of a thing into the real world, with a million different people operating them in thousands of different use cases in hundreds of different environments, the "world class" test facility becomes a myopic little ivory tower by comparison.

One of the answers is "post market surveillance" - but that's expensive, politically unpopular, and logistically difficult to implement, though it is getting cheaper and easier, I don't think it's getting any more politically acceptable. Personally, I feel that the commercial arm of the corporations have corrupted the good in onboard diagnostics, putting up a little "feed my mechanics' and dealers' families" light on your dashboard that comes on for every little problem, but still managing to let you get stranded by the side of the road with little to no warning Why would I ever trust such a system to "phone home" with data about my driving habits?

One way to make your old car run better is to look up the price of a new model.