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Comment: Re:Australia does a simple job here (Score 1) 768

by Random Walk (#37895370) Attached to: Student Loans In America: the Next Big Credit Bubble
The funny part of all that is that people could get tuition for free elsewhere. E.g. in Germany tuition is either free or the fees are very low, for everyone (yes, including foreign students), and several of the major universities offer courses in English for international students.

Comment: Re:Finally a Unit that people can understand (Score 1) 256

by Random Walk (#35609950) Attached to: I estimate my radiation dose for my day as ...

It's also highly flawed. The radioactivity of bananas comes from potassium. But the human body controls it's potassium content.. if there's too much, it gets flushed out. So eating bananas will not increase the amount of radioactive material in your body.

This is completely different for e.g. radioactive iodine, which adds to the body's inventory of radioactive material.

Comment: Re:Astronomy! (Score 4, Informative) 398

by Random Walk (#32315498) Attached to: Scientific R&D At Home?

In all fairness, if you want to make a contribution that is worth co-authorship of a paper, you might need at least a good amateur telescope (maybe on the order of 10 inch aperture) and a CCD camera.

With such equipment, and clear skies, you can do photometric monitoring of stars (e.g. for outbursts, or planet transits). Asronomers always have the problem that big observatories focus on big telescopes, and it's difficult to do things that require small telescopes, but long-term monitoring.

One example would be monitoring of the transits of extrasolar planets, to detect timing anomalies (which could be caused by undetected additional planets). Or monitoring stars with planets detected by radial velocity variations, to discover eventual transits. Or monitoring of ongoing gravitational lens events... there are quite a few oportunities for amateurs.

Comment: Re:That's great. (Score 1) 145

by Random Walk (#31342286) Attached to: Over Half of Software Fails First Security Tests

Ubuntu has apparmor sandboxing of firefox as an option that's turned off by default, and even if you turn it on it's not sandboxed enough IMO (firefox can read and write almost anything in the user's home directory with the exclusion of just a few directories).

It's trivial to simply run Firefox under a different user id. I use about three applications that need to access the net (web, mail, chat), and each of them gets started (via a simple wrapper script) under a different, dedicated UID.

Comment: Easy to do in Linux (Score 1) 203

by Random Walk (#30681184) Attached to: 2010 Will Be the Year of Sandboxing Apps
I have a separate sandbox user for each application that accesses the net (mail, browser, ...). Each of these sandbox users is in its own group, and thus has access only to their own files and world readable (and eventually writeable, like /tmp) locations. Applications get started from my "real" account with sudo. I wonder why distros don't support that out of the box at least for the browser, because it would be fairly trivial to set up as part of a "create new user" script.

Comment: Re:practical applications (Score 2, Interesting) 209

by Random Walk (#30656198) Attached to: Whatever Happened To <em>Second Life</em>?
The problem with videoconferencing is that you see half of the audience only through the tiny "keyhole" of the video screen. In a public seminar talk, it's distracting and confusing for the speaker and the part of the audience that is physically present. I've been at seminar talks involving videoconferencing, and I've been in SL seminar talks, and I found the latter a much better, more consistent experience.

Comment: Re:Adult Content Island and verification. (Score 1) 209

by Random Walk (#30655888) Attached to: Whatever Happened To <em>Second Life</em>?

..and their verification process was extremely intrusive and I know many people who just decided to stop using second life entirely over it. It involves basicaly forking over Credit Card information, in some cases a Birth Certificate, and yuor home address..

Totally wrong. Thanks to the relaxed privacy standards in the US of A, there's tons of readily available personal information in online databases that you can use to pass the age verification.

Comment: Re:Without SEEING the formula, it's rather difficu (Score 2, Informative) 160

by Random Walk (#30270578) Attached to: Online "Guilds" Mirror Real Life Gangs

They measure cumulative size distribution (how many groups of size >= N) and churn (how many people leave the group for another one in a given period).

They are able to come up with a simple mathematical model for the behaviour of players (essentially: recruit people with diverse attributes/skills) that reproduces the observed data extremely well. And they also show that the alternative 'kinship' model (recruit people with similar attributes/skills) fails to reproduce the observed data.

I would say that their model does quite a good job at modeling some rather nontrivial data.

Comment: Re:Where is second life big? (Score 4, Insightful) 187

by Random Walk (#30172082) Attached to: <em>Second Life</em> To Remove Free Content From Web Search

It's a big hit among the people who have the creativity to actually do something, rather than just consuming. It's a big fail with those who expect a game with a set goal, those who need to cling to someone/something telling them what to do.

I'm doing freeform roleplay, and it's great fun. There's plenty of roleplay communities in SL.

Comment: Re:Surely informing the school runs against (Score 1) 643

by Random Walk (#30155728) Attached to: Vulgar Comment On Newspaper Site Costs Man His Job
Depends on your local jurisdiction. In Germany there was a lawsuit against a government agency because it logged IP addresses of website vistors. The court decided that IP addresses are individual user information, and the agency was ordered to stop logging IP addresses because it was a violation of privacy laws.

Comment: Re:No place for this kind of crap in America. (Score 1) 643

by Random Walk (#30155458) Attached to: Vulgar Comment On Newspaper Site Costs Man His Job
Au contraire.. it's probably one of the few countries where there is a place for this. In Europe, Greenbaum would now face a lawsuit because of privacy violation (I'm sysadmin in Germany, I am well aware that I would probably lose my job if I did what that Greenbaum guy has done).

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 542

by Random Walk (#29975452) Attached to: X11 Chrome Reportedly Outperforms Windows and Mac Versions

3 - Cut and Paste really isn't an issue anymore, either.

I beg to differ - it wasn't an issue, but now it is one. Once upon a time, every app supported the standard way of cut and paste (right and middle mouse button).. but now we have apps who do it like this, and others who want me to do Ctrl-C / Ctrl-V because someone thought it would be cool to emulate MS Windows and force me to get my hand from the mouse and to the keyboard. And then there are apps where cut and paste would work one way for some input fields, and the other way for some other input fields...

Programmers used to batch environments may find it hard to live without giant listings; we would find it hard to use them. -- D.M. Ritchie