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Comment: Re:What has changed? (Score 1) 180

by Animats (#47960005) Attached to: Secret Service Critics Pounce After White House Breach

There was a time that a citizen could walk right up to the White House.

That lasted until WWII.

Until the 1980s, anyone could enter the Pentagon and wander around the corridors. (George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, decided during WWII that there was no way a building with as many people as the Pentagon could keep spies out, and requiring badges would give a false sense of security.) In the 1960s, anyone could enter most Federal buildings in Washington, including the Capitol and all the House/Senate office buildings, without passing any security checkpoints.

Comment: Keeping it reasonable. (Score 1) 180

by AJWM (#47959989) Attached to: Secret Service Critics Pounce After White House Breach

Isolated event, and the guy was brought down. There'll always be a risk as long as their are fanatics or loonies who don't give any though to their own personal safety, but there comes a point of diminishing returns.

Suppose they hired 10 times as many Secret Service agents? That just increases the odds of one of them going bad and offing the President himself. (Not a likely event, but having 10x as many agents also means more chances of confusion in a crisis, etc, etc.)

Security is never perfect (wasn't there an incident some years back where an intruder wandered into the Queen's living quarters at Buckingham Palace?) That's one reason we have a line of succession -- it's not like the government collapses in the case of an untimely death.

Mind, given the choices of VP over the past few presidencies, that line of succession might actually be helping lower the odds of someone trying to assassinate the Prez.

Comment: The President was out. The Secret Service did OK. (Score 1) 180

by Animats (#47959581) Attached to: Secret Service Critics Pounce After White House Breach

It was a Friday evening. The President had left for Camp David earlier, and his main protective detail went with him. Most staffers had gone home. The guy got just inside the outer doors, where there is a security checkpoint, before he was tackled.

The Secret Service made the right choice not shooting the intruder dead on the lawn. They certainly had the capability to kill him. They would have been heavily criticized, with pictures of the dead body on national TV.

On September 12, a man wearing a Pokemon hat and carrying a stuffed animal jumped the White House fence. He was tackled and arrested. Should he have been killed?

Comment: Re:Comparable? Not really. (Score 4, Informative) 105

by Animats (#47957187) Attached to: Is Alibaba Comparable To a US Company?

When someone buys a share in Apple, they actually get an ownership share in Apple.

Apple, yes. Google or Facebook, no. Google and Facebook have two classes of stock. The class with all the voting rights is in both cases controlled by the founders. The publicly traded shares cannot outvote them, even if someone bought all of them.

Until recently, multiple classes of stock were prohibited for NYSE-listed companies, which tended to discourage doing this. (The classic exception was Ford, which has two classes of stock, the voting shares controlled by the Ford family. This predates that NYSE rule.)

This matters when the insiders make a big mistake and the stock starts going down. There's no way to kick them out.

Comment: Crash not computer-related (Score 5, Informative) 164

by Animats (#47955905) Attached to: Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains

The Red Line crash was not computer-related. The signalling system for the Washington Metro is a classic electromechanical relay-based system. Just like the New York subways. The Red Line crash was caused by a failure of a track circuit for detecting trains, trackside equipment using an audio-frequency signal sent through the rails and shorted to the other rail by the train's wheels. All those components are pre-computer technology.

As with most railway systems, manual driving isn't enough to prevent collisions, because stopping distances are often longer than visual distances. That was the case here.

The Washington Metro had been sloppy about maintenance of trackside equipment. They do have a central computer system, and it logs what the relay-based signal systems are doing, although it can't override them. They had logs of previous failures, and should have fixed the problem.

Comment: Re:White House (Score 2) 132

by Animats (#47955101) Attached to: Star Wars Producers Want a 'DroneShield' To Prevent Leaks On Set

the US Government use UCAVs to keep the airspace around DC clear.

Actually, the current response to airspace incursions in the DC area is an F-16 and a Coast Guard helicopter. The F-16 is in case it turns out to be hostile, and the Coast Guard helicopter is for the usual case, which is a clueless VFR pilot who needs directions. This happens several times a week. The FAA now insists that all pilots operating within 60 miles of DC (actually 60NM of the DCA VOR) take this online course. Amazingly, there are still clueless pilots wandering into this airspace, although fewer than a few years ago.

Comment: Some info seems bogus (Score 1) 368

by Animats (#47954977) Attached to: Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple

Some of that info seems bogus. 10,000 CNC mills? Unlikely. 10,000 CNC machines of all types across all of Apple manufacturing, maybe.

There's a nice video about how Apple machines a round can for their round desktop computer. They're going through a lot of steps to make a can, yet they're doing it in a low-volume way. Here's how soft drink cans are made. Same shape, but much higher production volume.

Apple is doing this to justify charging $2700 for an x86-64 machine with midrange specs.

Comment: Re:Google's storage (Score 4, Interesting) 368

by Animats (#47954875) Attached to: Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple

There are amusing efforts to sell disk drives to Google. Near Google HQ there is a movie theater complex. I once saw an ad run before a movie. Two minutes of sales pitch for bulk purchases of enterprise hard drives, with lots of technical detail. Clearly this was addressed to a very specific audience.

Comment: 40 hour weeks != complacent. (Score 1) 255

by Vellmont (#47949699) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Becoming a Complacent Software Developer?

People develop lives and other interests. If you'd like to dedicate yourself to one thing, great. But you have an odd idea about the nature of liking what you do. Liking what you do is very different from wanting to do it all the time. The world is an interesting place with a lot of different things in it. Don't assume people that have other interests (Family, hobbies, houses, travel, leisure) aren't passionate about what they do, they've just realized that there's more to life than computers.

In fact, a good way to get burned out is to do exactly what I suspect you're doing. Working really long hours, and dedicating lots of your free time to software. Cut it out, and maybe you won't get burned out.

Comment: Re:DING DONG! (Score 2) 140

by Zeio (#47948905) Attached to: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison Steps Down

No, not at all. If you know who Mark Hurd and Safra Catz are, you will be wishing for kind, nice old Larry back.

I was in a meeting with Safra a while back. I was a fly on the wall. Then a discussion came up about engineering details. Not too relevant to business besides timelines.

She interrupted the line of thinking and said the "Little people will take care of this."

She is amazing to hear speak, she has her business acumen, some technical chops, and she has her stuff together. She is one lean, mean chainsaw. Larry is seriously tame compared to her.

And Hurd, well, he is known for slash and burn techniques that do well for shareholders (in consort with a favorable market) but usually reduce headcount in sometimes painful ways. HP has many coffins with Hurd's name on it.

Larry is going to sit in a lawn chair enjoying retirement and watch Hurd and Catz vie for total power, control and domination. I put my money on Safra. He gets to watch a cage match to see who wins the title of Larry, Turbo Version 2.0++

Professional wrestling: ballet for the common man.

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