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Comment: Re:Big company moves into town, sales soar... (Score 3, Interesting) 83

by Kwyj1b0 (#46744307) Attached to: Seattle Bookstores Embrace

Whether it's Amazon or not is irrelevant. In any large company, there's going to be a percentage who like the dead tree copies of the book. Got to a restaurant when the staff are on a break, you'll find some folks eating Mackers/KFC/their own sandwiches.

This. The greater the population, the more people will wander into your store - even if it is just to get out of the rain. Sudden showers also drive traffic to your store. Is rainfall your new ally?

OTOH, I find it silly that people talk about Amazon being the enemy of your company. The true enemy of your organization was that you were relying on physical constraints to force customers to your store due to a lack of choice - especially now that Amazon is charging tax in many states. If you provide a service to your customers that Amazon cannot duplicate (being non-physical) then there will be a sizeable segment of the population that will flock to you. I visit my public library and stores because they offer a benefit that Starbucks and BitTorrent do not - a special of the day, an illusion (and sometimes real) friendliness, and an update on local events that I don't get from a vending machine. If you claim Starbucks is driving you out of business, you would have gone out of business by a bunch of vending machines.

Yes, amazon can run at a loss much longer than my local bookstore owner can - which is why she is friendly, holds book reading events, and takes an effort to ensure her customers leave the store happy. She doesn't compete with Amazon on price - she does it on service. When my Kindle DX malfunctioned long after the warranty expired, Amazon customer service replaced it without hesitation. Best Buy would charge me a restocking fee if I changed my mind five seconds after I paid.

Comment: Actively run the exploit... (Score 3, Insightful) 77

by Kwyj1b0 (#45998537) Attached to: VPN Encryption Vulnerability On Android

TFA says that you need to run a malicious app that intentionally exploits that system. They tested multiple android devices (and I'm assuming different versions of the OS). Also, does this work with every VPN service (like Cisco AnyConnect), or only the native system?

Would it be possible to test if any existing Play store app accidentally/intentionally triggers this exploit? I (like many Android users) don't pirate apps (even though my phone is rooted), but if the popular Play store apps are compromised, that would be a big deal for me.

Comment: Re:Really? (Score 5, Insightful) 157

by Kwyj1b0 (#45751707) Attached to: Rough Roving: Curiosity's Wheel Damage 'Accelerated'

I know weight is important and all, but .75mm of aluminium? Really? Maybe they should have less scientists over there at NASA and more people with common sense who can raise their eyebrows.

Yes, every time something goes wrong, let us point out how "stoopid" those scientists are in hindsight and claim that the "common sense" solution would have worked. Of course, it couldn't be that the people there did a lot of simulations, analysis, and decided that 0.75mm was a reasonable (not perfect - nothing is black and white) thickness and the disadvantage of thicker wheels was outweighed by the advantages of thinner wheels.

Yes, the designers took a risk - that is their job. To clearly assess the tradeoffs and come up with a good design that trades off risk and performance at an acceptable level. Something doesn't work out as you expect? Use that knowledge in the next iteration. At one extreme you have a lot of equipment with no wheels, and the other extreme you have just wheels, no equipment. You want to do the designer's job? Go ahead, show me what your "common-sense" analysis of the tradeoffs are - what equipment would you cut for thicker wheels, and back it up with a detailed discussion on how the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

Comment: Re:NSA failed to halt subprime lending, though. (Score 1) 698

by Kwyj1b0 (#45714633) Attached to: NSA Says It Foiled Plot To Destroy US Economy Through Malware

When you have plenty of other things you can pick from ("The IRS didn't pick on certain political groups" or "It wasn't Al Queda, it was random people on the street upset about a YouTube video!" or "You can keep your health insurance, period"), why trot out this one?

True, but the impact of the lies are not all equivalent. The OP went for the most dramatic (and slashdot leaning) approach. But the lie about WMDs (and yes, misleading people with the truth is still a lie in my book - might not be technically a lie, but it sure is a scumbag move) resulted in far worse damages than the IRS "scandal" or stupid statements made by clueless politicians.

Comment: Re:I'm an atheist. (Score 1) 674

by Kwyj1b0 (#45657349) Attached to: New Documentary Chronicles Road Tripping Scientists Promoting Reason

Do you constantly reexamine the existence of Santa?

Yes, as a matter of fact. My parents claim they were the ones who brought those gifts. However, I never actually saw them doing so. Therefore, I cannot rule out that they were in fact brought by Santa, or the Easter Bunny, or Tooth Fairy, etc.

I notice you left out the pedo-bear... repressed memories?

Comment: Re:If they are SO REALLY CONCERN about religion .. (Score 0) 674

by Kwyj1b0 (#45657333) Attached to: New Documentary Chronicles Road Tripping Scientists Promoting Reason

And how many Muslims do you know?

In the thousands ?

And I am not kidding.

Of the people that I know many of them are Muslims.

Many of them are very bright, except for one thing - you just can NOT discuss religion (or faith) thing with them.

Unlike the Buddhists or Christians or Jews where you can have civil discussion, or even debates on matter pertaining to whether if there is a "God" or matter such as "If the different religion worship the same God" or the very act of suicide bombing killing the innocent can be call "a service to God" ... you just can't have such discussion with the Muslims.

Fair enough. I do not have this experience (as I rarely discuss religion with anyone - people tend to treat agnostics as easier to convert than atheists). However, I wonder how much that has to do with the questions. Suicide bombings (while vile) tend to put people on the defensive - I certainly know people get touchy when you take the worst examples of their history and hold it up for criticism, especially if you do not show in depth knowledge of their religion (especially Muslims in US might be more sensitive, because of a perceived bias against them)

When you said they don't know when to "use" religion, I didn't know how to interpret it (and I still don't) - most religious people I meet never "use" their religion in any way, apart from going to a temple/church/mosque, and observing a few traditions - and that isn't really a "use", more like a habit. As a result, I took (from the tone of your post) the term "use" to mean justification of an action, especially unpleasant ones.

OTOH, I totally feel Dawkins has gone overboard (as has Bill Maher, etc). Look, we get it - they don't like religious people (and maybe with good reason). But have they really converted anyone who was a practicing religious person? Not in the sense of "Meh, I go to church once in a while" type of person, but a devout believer? What are they trying to prove by bashing religions and getting people defensive? Any time they want to work on practical stuff (overturning bad legislation, for example), I'll support them. But forgive me if I don't just want to get into a religious person's face and try to make them feel live morons.

Comment: Re:If they are SO REALLY CONCERN about religion .. (Score 5, Insightful) 674

by Kwyj1b0 (#45656497) Attached to: New Documentary Chronicles Road Tripping Scientists Promoting Reason

most Christians and Buddhists that I know understand the role of religion (and when to NOT use religion).

Not so for the Muslims.

And how many Muslims do you know? Most Muslims also know when NOT to use religion. There are more than a billion of them - if half a billion of them did not know when to use it, I think we might have a tad bigger problem that we currently do.

Remember, the kooks you see on TV are like the kooks you see for other religions as well - they are the minority. Hell, the way faith is involved in politics in the US and informs policy decision (veiled as some other excuse) has done far more harm to the LGBT community than most other religions.

Comment: Re:Kindle Fire (Score 1) 370

by Kwyj1b0 (#45633573) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Easy Wi-Fi-Enabled Tablet For My Dad?

Since I don't have mod points, I'll second (and add to) this comment.

My scenario was almost identical - elderly parent, not tech savvy. I got a Kindle Fire HD five months ago, and have had no tech support calls. I added the most common apps to favorites (like Skype, E-mail, Browser), and configured them (disabled in-app purchasing, added e-mail accounts), and handed it over.

The carousel is one of the best features for this use case - my dad doesn't want to pin 20 widgets to the home screen; the carousel easily allows him to browse the most recent apps (the four or five he uses) and books and videos without having to shift home screens, navigate to an app drawer, or any of that. In fact, he might have forgotten all about the favorites since everything he needs is on the home screen (well, except the prime videos, and he discovered that on his own).

While it wasn't on the Fire HD, the new mayday functionality might be useful as well. And the audio and screen are really good (especially the audio - better than all my other tablets, and even my laptop speakers). He likes the swype feature - a huge drawback to the iOS devices (apart from the complexity - seriously, until you see how simple the Fire is, you won't understand how much the multiple home screen nonsense, hidden settings, etc. obfuscate a system for someone who doesn't want to learn about tech).

The drawbacks are the google apps are missing - especially Youtube. You can root it easily enough, but I'd recommend not going overboard - make underlying system changes, but don't change the UI. I feel the carousel is best for the usage scenario you have in mind. KISS principle.

Comment: Difference with other STEM? (Score 1) 207

by Kwyj1b0 (#45630879) Attached to: Excite Kids To Code By Focusing Less On Coding

What is the difference with other STEM subjects? For example, I liked learning calculus (ok, I didn't really learn calculus in the mathematics theory sense - measure theory and stuff - till grad school) in high school, though mainly I liked the use of calculus to physics (projectile motion, mechanics, electrostatics). Now, you might consider physics a "cool" application, but it really isn't - it is just as cool as say, building Pascal's triangle. If anything, I can see the results of programming almost instantaneously. I hated actually doing experiments with my hands (like proving Newton's laws using a block of wood and a weight).

So why is there this perceived need to make "coding" fun? It is as fun as any other subject in STEM, no more, no less (blowing things up in the chemistry lab is different; now that was cool. I thought - rightly or wrongly - that I had no aptitude for it because I couldn't figure out (at a high school level) what might happen on paper before doing the experiment for most things, like flame colors or what might give the best explosion).

Comment: Mixing issues (Score 2) 129

by Kwyj1b0 (#45627721) Attached to: Facebook Patents Inferring Income of Users

If algorithms can be patented, then sure. If FB is using a unique algorithm to infer income, it might be granted (that I think patenting mathematics is absurd is irrelevant - if you believe your algorithm is so great, keep it a secret. Application of mathematics to one area shouldn't be patentable). I'd be surprised if Amazon doesn't look at your shopping history and suggest products in your price range. If I never bought anything over $25, why should they show me a product costing over $10,000?

On the other hand, what does this have to do with redlining? My outrage that statistics is being patented has nothing to do with the fact that FB should be allowed to show whatever ads to whomever they please. They are not a government organization (and haven't taken taxpayer money) that shouldn't be allowed to discriminate between consumers.

Comment: Who does the research? (Score 3, Interesting) 308

by Kwyj1b0 (#45627621) Attached to: Physicist Peter Higgs: No University Would Employ Me Today

The system isn't designed to support outliers - no one in the auto industry complains that they are having Ph.Ds design cars using CFD simulations and a lot of technical know-how. Would Ford have been able to start an automotive company and be challenging today? These moments of individual brilliance changing a field are few and far between. The entire system is geared towards improving the average, rather than gambling on the outliers.

Another differences is that the nature of research has changed as well (at least in the engineering side). Even a brilliant researcher requires massive computational facilities, expensive equipment, and a lot of programming. So they hire grad students and supervise them, which needs grant money. To convince your sponsors that they are getting their moneys worth, you need a lot of publications. If the sponsorship mentality is - "see what you can do, we aren't going to be looking at publication count", things would be quite different. But can you imagine the outrage if an academic gets a one million dollar grant and turns out one paper on the effect of honey-bees on rainfall or some such topic? The NSF is being held up as a political punching bag. Everyone is in a CYA mentality. Not the "try your best, and if it doesn't work we will still stand behind you because we want to cultivate an environment of innovation." mode.

Comment: Re:Wrong problem? (Score 1) 174

by Kwyj1b0 (#45614535) Attached to: Two Million Passwords Compromised By Keylogger Virus

I thought of that, and I'm not sure how much of an impact that has in reality. The password 0 doesn't occur in this list. However, someone with a password of 0 is extremely insecure.

But from a practical standpoint, these companies might want a six or more character password with multiple cases, etc. To try and brute force a lot of passwords is extremely impractical. On the other hand, just trying the most common password again and again is much faster, and I can still own a significant number of accounts.

There is no data here on bad password habits (like using a name, year of birth, or other such habits). If a significant portion of users did that, it is important to consider those as well. But on the whole, there are more systemic flaws, which was my point. This whole blame users for poor habits is counter-productive. If you don't realize that the system is flawed, you blame 'lusers' and have no incentive to fix the system (which should be the goal of anyone designing a consumer-friendly yet secure system).

Comment: Wrong problem? (Score 5, Insightful) 174

by Kwyj1b0 (#45603333) Attached to: Two Million Passwords Compromised By Keylogger Virus

The data says that the 10th password in the list was used by 1000 users out of two million. The top ten, combined, accounts for 36,000 (eyeballed) of the two million passwords. That doesn't seem like an epidemic to me. A bit less than 2% - that is actually, IMO, quite good. Two percent of internet users are bad at understanding security? Wow.

The keylogger is a bigger problem - so long as I type in my passwords, the keylogger can always find out what I am doing! I could have a 20 character really secure password, to no effect. Hell, things in real life are much worse. My pin is 4 digits long, banks identify me by the last four digits of my SSN (which, quite helpfully, they send out in the mail they send me). Maybe it is time to stop bashing people for choosing insecure passwords, and try to fix the systemic problems?

Comment: Subscription to resources (Score 1) 90

by Kwyj1b0 (#45562685) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: DIY Computational Neuroscience?

Kudos on your dedication to be self taught, but the questions you raised are one of the things that a university is great for. To make a meaningful contribution in mathematically-oriented fields (such as computational neuroscience), you need to have the following:
1) Access to latest journals and papers: This should help answer question (1), (2), and (3) - use the tools others are using. If you find an open-source tool, that is great. But often, people in the field will expect you to use a standard framework that has been vetted by lots of other researchers.
2) Access to latest data and tools: Matlab costs quite a bit (esp. with all the toolboxes that you might require). Most universities give you the license for free.
3) Like minded individuals are (for better or worse) almost all at universities and research labs and the main interactions come from conferences. Journals are good for non-interactive peer review, but if you want collaborators, you need to head to conferences. This is also where the university name (and financial backing) can help - "Oh, you work with $BigName? I'd love to collaborate with you!"

You don't have to spend a lot of money either. You can take non-degree enrollment (so you can work at your own pace) while still having a lot of access to the tools, data, and collaborators. In addition, you haven't mentioned your background. So you might find it harder or make trivial mistakes that betray your inexperience or out-of-field characteristics. Most graduate (including Ph.D.) students take a lot of classes on basics (at the start) so that they know the vocabulary and concepts necessary to read and understand the cutting edge research. Without that, you are likely too dependent on the tool. I have known lots of people in industry who swear by Matlab (for example), while not realizing how poor it is compared to more sophisticated optimization tools, especially when you get into large data-sets (which I assume you will be involved with).

Never test for an error condition you don't know how to handle. -- Steinbach