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Comment: It's built by Boston Dynamics (Score 2) 44

by Required Snark (#48622923) Attached to: Navy Develops a Shark Drone For Surveillance
Given their track record, it will probably work. They did the Big Dog and Cheetah quadrupeds and the PETMAN and Atlas humanoid robots.

Boston Dynamics is now owned by Google, so Google is now a direct provider of equipment to the US military. Maybe this means their motto has been modified from "Don't do evil" to "Don't avoid evil."

+ - Sony leaks reveal Hollywood is trying to break DNS, the backbone of the internet-> 1

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "A leaked legal memo reveals a plan for blacklisting pirate sites at the ISP level

Most anti-piracy tools take one of two paths: they either target the server that's sharing the files (pulling videos off YouTube or taking down sites like The Pirate Bay) or they make it harder to find (delisting offshore sites that share infringing content). But leaked documents reveal a frightening line of attack that's currently being considered by the MPAA: What if you simply erased any record that the site was there in the first place?

To do that, the MPAA's lawyers would target the Domain Name System (DNS) that directs traffic across the internet."

Link to Original Source

+ - Bitcoin is the worst investment of 2014->

Submitted by Required Snark
Required Snark (1702878) writes "According to Quartz, Bitcoin is the worst investment of 2014. Year to date it is down 52%. Reasons given are it's relation to "dark web" sites like Silk Road, the collapse of Mt. Gox, and the possibility that it is dominated by speculators.

An interesting observation is that nationally sponsored currencies have a built in advantage.

Money derives much of its value from its government support, in that the government has the power to make it legal tender. That is, the government says not only that currency can be accepted, but it must be accepted. That political choice is what ensures that the currency has an actual utility, that is, it can be used widely for actual transactions. That’s what makes a currency useful.


Link to Original Source

Comment: How to colonize Mars (Score 3, Funny) 26

by Required Snark (#48607707) Attached to: Mysterious Martian Gouges Carved By Sand-surfing Dry Ice
The ultimate bottleneck on human travel to Mars is funding, not technology. Given an Apollo program approach the time could easily be cut in half from current 20 to 30 year estimate.

Since this is a public relations issue, what's needed is a rabid single issue voting block that can sway elections and spark fear in the hearts of elected officials, like the NRA. It helps if the issue can be simplified to a simple "for us or against us" mentality.

So here's the pitch:

Surf a Martian Sand Dune on a Block of DRY ICE in 1/3rd Gravity!!!

Every extreme sport enthusiast will go nuts. And if they are anything, they are fanatics. That's why it's called extreme sports. So there is an already existing community that can be recruited and is crazy enough to focus on only one thing. Additionally, the demographic is alienated from politics, so they don't have to be recruited from existing voter blocks.

I see a Kickstarter campaign, and possible participation from Red Bull and GoPro. What could possibly go wrong?

Comment: Murder for profit (Score 4, Insightful) 263

by Required Snark (#48593481) Attached to: Judge Rules Drug Maker Cannot Halt Sales of Alzheimer's Medicine
At best, this is gaming the system for guaranteed profit. At worst, it's murder for profit.

This is not an environment were the consumer can just automatically go to another vendor. The myth of a free market does not apply because there is no parity between the user and the producer. Although generics exist, they cannot always be substituted, and sometimes they don't even exist.

Medical companies are profit driven to the extent that they cannot be trusted. They routinely lie about both the safety and the efficacy of their products. This puts the health and even the lives of patients at risk all the time.

For example, De Puy/Johnson and Johnson produced metal on metal hip implants, and their own internal data showed that they were failing at a high rate and requiring additional surgery. Additionally, metal fragments were released into the bodies of recipients and causing metal poisoning. They decided to phase out the product because of "declining sales" and did not do a recall or inform doctors or the FDA.

At the beginning of 2010, DePuy Orthopaedics said they were phasing out the ASR Hip Implant because of declining sales, but never mentioned the high failure rate data from an Australian implant registry. In March 2010, the New York Times reported that DePuy issued its first warning to doctors and patients about the high early failure rate. However, at this point, they still had not issued a recall of the product. In fact, they claimed any statements referencing a recall were false.

Regulation is a necessity because the history of drug and medical equipment is filled with business practices leading to horrible outcomes, including needless death.

In addition, drug companies get huge direct and indirect subsidies from the government. A lot of the basic research is government funded and handed over the the drug companies at no cost. When a drug is going off patent, it is legal for the patent holder to pay other drug companies to not produce generic versions. This is the polar opposite of free enterprise. It's legalize collusion to maintain state sanctioned monopolies.

I'm routinely baffled and angered by self-styled "defenders of capitalism" who excuse dangerous and grossly anti-competitive business behavior. If the government did things like this they would be screaming like stuck pigs, but when the same or worse is done under the flag of capitalism it somehow is transformed into a sacred act, and negative consequences are left out of the picture. It seems obvious to me that the same kind of scrutiny should be applied to any big organization. Only being critical of one side is just stupid. Stop doing it.

Comment: US flag on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V (Score 2, Informative) 166

by Required Snark (#48590077) Attached to: Airbus Attacked By French Lawmaker For Talking To SpaceX
When I see the US flag prominently displayed on the Atlas V rocket I wonder why there isn't a Russian flag right below it. The first stage liquid fuel engines are Russian built RD-180's. Without them the thing would just sit on the pad and go nowhere.

Yea 'Merica!

Comment: The geographical presentation is flawed (Score 2) 53

There is an intrinsic problem with the map presentation: it ignores the relative number of papers from each country. This can lead to a distorted perception for countries with a small number of papers in the data set.

To quote the article "It shows only the incidence of flagged authors for the 57 nations with at least 100 submitted papers, to minimize distortion from small sample sizes." If a country has a total number of papers in the hundreds it implies the number of authors is also low. Therefor, a small number of authors who routinely plagiarize can have a major effect.

It's analogous to a small town with a very low crime rate. All it takes is a few significant incidences to cause a huge jump in the statistics.

For comparison, it would be interesting to see the rates for other kinds of text reuse. From the article:

After filtering out review articles and legitimate quoting, about one in 16 arXiv authors were found to have copied long phrases and sentences from their own previously published work that add up to about the same amount of text as this entire article.

For comparison it would be useful to see the percentage of this reuse displayed on another map. I have a strong suspicion that countries that look good on the presented map would not look nearly as good by this measure.

Comment: C is relevant because it is low level. (Score 2) 640

by Required Snark (#48553957) Attached to: How Relevant is C in 2014?
C is important because it directly presents the actual machine memory model. If you want to have an understanding of how software works, you need to understand this. People who never learn how memory is really organized lack fundamental knowledge.

It's as if engineers could skip calculus because there are automated systems that will do it for them. Even if they never work directly with calculus, the experience is critical to being a competent engineer.

Yes, C has features/bugs that can be really ugly. But as a professional you can make a system like C and it's runtime libraries work then you are much better equipped to do other complex tasks. The experience can result in careful habits that will help your entire career.

Comment: Re:Contracts Not Really Enforceable (Score 1) 398

by Required Snark (#48552199) Attached to: Displaced IT Workers Being Silenced
Ah yes, the downtrodden shareholders. Selfless upper management live near the poverty line in order to maximize value for the shareholders.

Is your head encased in a concrete block? Have you ever looked at the winners and losers in the US economy? Upper management in the US don't give a tinker's damn about shareholders, customers, or employees. They screw everyone in their pursuit personal wealth. Large companies are run primarily for the gain of the corrupt insiders.

Look at what happened in the financial sector in the ten year run-up to the 2008 crash. The people at the top were wildly irresponsible because they were making obscene amounts of money. After the crash, none of them suffered at all.

Consider Angelo Mozilo the former CEO of Countrywide Mortgage. Conde-Nast Portfolio placed him the second on their list of the 25 worst CEOs of all time. It's hard to know the exact figures, but at one point his compensation was $470 million. Even though he had to personally pay a $46 million fine to keep from being criminally charged, he still ended up filthy rich. With the post 2008 stock market gains he may be worth more then $470 million by now.

Meanwhile, the shareholders at Bank of America, which bought Countrywide, are still paying for the bad loans that he was responsible for creating. The only reason banks are profitable right now is because the FED discount rate is between 0.0% and 0.25%, which is basically free money. A senile poodle could run a profitable business with 0% loans.

Those 0% loans from the FED are de facto backed by the people of the US. Effectively the common national debt increases. So the CEO class makes personal profit by siphoning wealth from everyone. We have an economic system that redistributes income upwards. The proof of this is the ever increasing wealth gap between the top 10% and the declining fortunes of the 90%.

So why are you making excuses for greedy incompetent psychopaths who will destroy anything as long as they are making money? What's wrong with you?

Comment: Re:Genetic viability is also a long term concern (Score 2) 118

by Required Snark (#48546349) Attached to: How One Man Changed the Ecology of the Great Lakes With Salmon
The shorter version: you didn't bother to read the article.

It talks a lot about the actual decision making process, which you did not reference. It also goes into great detail on how sport fishing has been a major driving force in fishery policy since the introduction of salmon in the late 1960's. It ends with the current dilemma of balancing between the re-emergence of trout as the primary sport fish vs the salmon, which are not doing well. The irony is that a trout friendly ecosystem is much closer to the way the lakes were before the man made changes that lead to the introduction of salmon in the first place.

You'd rather just whine in complete ignorance rather then read something interesting and become more knowledgeable. Pathetic.

Comment: The hack fits North Korean psychology (Score 2) 85

by Required Snark (#48545617) Attached to: North Korea Denies Involvement In "Righteous" Sony Hack
This is the kind of retaliation that seems to fit the North Korean mold. It doesn't matter if they did it themselves or had someone else do it for them.

There seem to be two general styles of politically motivated hacking. One is the NSA/CIA style: the goal is to get as much information as quietly as possible. One of the things that the Snowden/Manning leaks revealed is how extensively the NSA was able to do this.

The other style is the highly visible attack. This is the kind of thing that the Syrian Electronic Army engages in. Much of what they do is intended to be high profile whether they claim responsibility or not.

Despotic leaders like Assad and Kim Jong-il want to see damage and humiliation inflicted on their enemies. It's fundamental to their political strategy. They do this internally to victims of their regimes and externally to their foes.

Rationally it doesn't make much sense for North Korea to waste this kind of capability on a single company. That kind of activity would be better used on a strategic target, say a western defense company or infrastructure in South Korea. (There have been attacks on South Korean banks that fit this description.) But Kim Jong-il is not a rational leader. Atacking Sony because of a perceived personal insult seem just like the kind of thing he would do.

Comment: When will they block Slashdot? (Score 4) 135

by Required Snark (#48539999) Attached to: British 'Porn Filter' Blocks Access To Chaos Computer Club
There are plenty of examples of "bad behavior" on Slashdot. I've been accused of this myself, for not being "polite". So it seems obvious that it's only a matter of time until someone in London figures out that collectively Slashdot is a "bad influence" and it gets banned.

Which side won the Cold War again? Oh yeah, "Ignorance is Strength". That side.

"Anyone attempting to generate random numbers by deterministic means is, of course, living in a state of sin." -- John Von Neumann