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Comment: Is this a joke? (Score 4, Informative) 68

by RobinEggs (#46550229) Attached to: Mute Witness: Forensic Sketches From Nothing But DNA
You're really not seeing how a rough picture of the perpetrator could help solve crimes, simply because many people will share the same rough picture and have some similar underlying DNA?

Right now DNA often comes in near the end of an investigation; you have to select people to test based on traditional detective work, and then you must legally acquire their DNA to match with your sample. If suspects don't want to give you DNA simply because you asked nicely, you have to be fairly sure of their guilt - and able to convince a judge of why you're sure - before you can get their DNA involuntarily. If this test became effective, the sample you got at the beginning would show you who among the likely suspects to test against, and probably lower the bar for getting legal clearance to take their DNA.

Not to mention you clearly have no clue how DNA testing really works; if it's important you can and will be able to match a decent sample to one and only one person. There are commonplace genetic tests that can produce 1 in 10 trillion profiles of a person's or sample's DNA to match against. The fact that this DNA processing produced a rough sketch matching X number of people is irrelevant when you'll be able to narrow that group to very few or one with the most basic detective work.

Comment: Sex+Gender = Lots of combinations (Score 1) 462

by RobinEggs (#46245583) Attached to: Facebook Debuts New Gender Options, Pronoun Choices
A lot of this comes down to sex vs gender.

Sex is your biological status: what organs and hormone levels do you have, and how have they developed? Sounds straight-forward, at least at first.

Gender might be defined as a social role and group identity you take on which is influenced most significantly in most people by their sex. So most people pick from one of the two massively dominant genders, wind up pretty content about it, and have organs matching everyone else in their camp.

But what if you have testes and breasts? And hormone levels pretty much in between the standard man and the standard woman? You might end up legally forced to adopt an 'official' sex based on your chromosome data or what went on your birth certificate, perhaps, but does that help you pick a gender? Does that actually reflect your sex? Probably not. Do you identify more with another sex? What about another gender? If you want to change over, how much will you do and what changes are possible?

The organs you have, the hormone levels you have, and how you feel about them all affect what sex you become and what gender you select. People who aren't comfortable being a traditional man or woman and sleeping with the opposite are simply trying to work out all the permutations and nomenclature now that they're somewhat more free to do so.

If a given person is polite about it and doesn't expect you to memorize a bunch of fluid terms to use for them or coddle their sexuality more than you would anyone else, just let it be and don't worry about the variety of possibilities. They'll work themselves out and they aren't likely to affect you. If they're a dick or an irrational activist about it, and there's plenty of those also, just ignore them and/or fight to keep them from defining your life any more than you're allowed to define theirs.

You can look into the definitions in any Women's or Gender Studies website; or you can ignore it for now and simply be a decent human being to the people you meet, ignoring their chosen combination unless they step on your own rights.

Comment: Re:The title says it all. (Score 1) 2219

by dkleinsc (#46185587) Attached to: Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

Also, it's worth noting that this response from timothy was written only after a fairly serious effort to replace with something better (as noted in both our sigs). The suits are thinking something along the lines of "We're going to lose to a competitor! Do something!" and decided that we'd trust timothy more than some PR flak. Of course, the fact that they'd think that indicates to me that they do not know their community - timothy is actually one of the less-respected "editors".

Comment: Re:There's no need for a new bill ... (Score 4, Insightful) 535

by dkleinsc (#46153601) Attached to: US Democrats Introduce Bill To Restore Net Neutrality

What the ISPs really want is all the benefits of being a common carrier without any of the responsibilities. And that's exactly what they got with the Net Neutrality ruling. Given that AT&T is in the running for the top campaign donor in the country, it's unlikely that will change anytime soon (Seriously, it would be easier to list the politicians not on the take from AT&T).

Comment: Re:It's incredibly frustrating... (Score 4, Insightful) 535

by dkleinsc (#46153505) Attached to: US Democrats Introduce Bill To Restore Net Neutrality

And then I won't want my hard earned money going to poor people like I was.

Also, if the government didn't force me to give any of my money to those people, then I'd be rich.

(Seriously, a lot of people think that this is the only effect of government programs designed to help poor people, even when they know people who are benefiting from those programs.)

Comment: Re:And A Rebuttal (Score 1) 360

by dkleinsc (#46151365) Attached to: Why Games Should Be In the Public Domain

There's another argument here as well: If you've made a really successful game, but the copyright is going to run out before you retire, you'll be more motivated to make a second successful game because you know your gravy train is going to dry up. And yes, that works for all kinds of copyrighted things: For example, many one-hit wonders happily call it quits because that's good enough, rather than trying to write more hits.

Comment: Better Austin Powers reference (Score 1) 202

by dkleinsc (#46150621) Attached to: Many Lasers Become One In Lockheed Martin's 30 kW Laser Weapon

Gentlemen, phase three. We place a giant "laser" on the moon. Let me demonstrate. ... The laser is powerful enough to destroy every city on the planet at will. We'll turn the moon into what I like to call a "Death Star". ... Since my "Death Star" laser was invented by the noted Cambridge physicist, Dr. Parsons. I thought we'd name it in his honor - the Alan Parsons Project.

Comment: Re:Developers are like dentists (Score 1) 308

by dkleinsc (#46142105) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Do You Do If You're Given a Broken Project?

That's not entirely true though: There is such a thing as objectively bad code. Bad code takes forever to run, has security holes a mile wide, is extremely verbose and repetitive, makes unwarranted and undocumented assumptions about how the universe interacts with the code, and of course has no automated tests whatsoever.

Now, when you discover this, the right approach is not to rewrite the whole thing, but instead to isolate and fix one small part of the problem. Fixing that one small part of the problem usually goes like this:
1. Create a complete (with 100% case coverage) and passing unit test suite for the one small piece. If there's a bug in the program that makes correct unit tests fail, first verify that it is in fact a bug in the program and not your tests, then make the smallest possible change to make the tests pass.
2. Write the new and better version that satisfies all those tests.
3. Put the new version in place in a test environment, and manually poke at it for a while to ensure that everything that relies on it works properly.
4. Then, and only then, make it live.

Comment: Re:Make a real assesment (Score 1) 308

by dkleinsc (#46141665) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Do You Do If You're Given a Broken Project?

If you're a contractor who's just started, there's also a polite way to bow out or reset their plans: "After evaluating the situation more closely than I was able to during contract negotiations, this is not a task I am capable of completing to your expectations. I have put together this estimate of what it would take to do what you asked for. Would you like me to continue with the goal of meeting this new estimate, or would you like to find another contractor that might be able to better suit your needs?"

Never trust an operating system.