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Comment: Re:Well that's a start... (Score 1) 158

by Sarten-X (#48420879) Attached to: Number of Coders In Congress To Triple (From One To Three)

I'm not sure if you're serious.

The expert system you're looking for is a "judge".

What's actually written in legislation or on a contract doesn't matter. What matters is how a judge will interpret that law or contract in the context of your particular case. Yes, there have certainly been cases where a criminal defendant has gotten away with something because it wasn't technically a crime, and many contracts have been useless because they didn't explicitly prohibit a particular interpretation.

Just like computer programs, all well-tested legal "programs" are far more complicated in detail than their basic design document. There are many edge cases and known weaknesses to account for, leading to many seemingly-irrelevant statements.

Comment: An interesting specimen (Score 2) 200

by Sarten-X (#48399825) Attached to: A Worm's Mind In a Lego Body

I first learned about C. elegans while researching simple neural systems. There's a nice map of the neural connections available. Today, I stumbled across the name again, when Wikipedia informed me that Caenorhabditis elegans is the most primitive animal that sleeps. Now I find that there's a robot worm that I'd consider to be alive.

This guy's pretty awesome.

Comment: Re:Alternative? (Score 1) 377

by Sarten-X (#48374755) Attached to: How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

This is very much the case. Much of west Africa (Ghana in particular is mentioned in TFS) alternates between "too wet" and "too dry". In the dry season, the winds from the Sahara leave farmland covered in moisture-sapping dust, which isn't particularly fertile when the wet season comes, but it sure is good for letting the water run away downhill.

The best chance a farmer has is to have mostly-level farmland where he can control the runoff, to lengthen the short ideal growing season. There's not much land that fits those qualifications. On the other hand, West Africa has a thriving trade network, so getting chemicals and supplies is just a matter of making a deal with the local tro-tro master. Using seeds that are more likely to thrive in the harsh conditions is a pretty good bet for a farmer.

Comment: Re:Manufacutring isn't the problem in the US. (Score 1) 16

by Sarten-X (#48334335) Attached to: Low-Cost 3D-Printed Prosthetic Hand To Be Tested On Amputees In Ecuador

So it's not exempt from environmental regulations (part 25), serial numbering regulations (subpart B of part 801, and part 830), written instruction regulations (subpart D of part 801), or reporting regulations (part 803). Then there's part 806, which requires a report to the FDA every time a design is changed. That could be interesting for a 3D-printed device.

Comment: Re:Old saying (Score 1) 249

by Sarten-X (#48313637) Attached to: New Atomic Clock Reaches the Boundaries of Timekeeping

Just as basic geometry would normally dictate, 3 satellites are sufficient to find your basic location and elevation. (There are actually 2 solutions to the equation, but one of them makes no sense because it's at some point out in space.)

This is a Slashdot discussion regarding how many clocks we need on a boat, planning on using a centuries-old navigation technique, and debating the minimal number of signals we need to receive from space, just in case every timepiece on the vessel fails. The discussion started with pithy sayings.

We cannot assume that "making sense" is a requirement.

Comment: Re:Meet somewhere in the middle (Score 2) 179

The problem then is perception. Network utilization isn't obvious to the end user, so when they're throttled, it just appears that their carrier is slow for no reason. An hour later, it could be fine, so the average self-centered user will blame their carrier for having service that just gets really slow all of a sudden.

With predictable limits, especially with a warning message or a way to check how much data the user has used, the user feels that it's their fault for hitting the limit, especially if the limit's low enough that they come close every month. They know it's coming, so when bandwidth is suddenly throttled to the slower speed, they're not surprised. It's business as usual, not their provider's inconsistent service.

Comment: Re:So people figure out yet... (Score 3, Informative) 117

by Sarten-X (#48239131) Attached to: Pentagon Builds Units To Transport Ebola Patients

Redirect all international flights from risky nations to a small number of quarantine zones

When I flew to and from Ghana, I went through London. Is Great Britain considered a "risky" nation? Should my flight of 100+ people be diverted because one person came from a place where a rare disease is somewhat less rare? If so, then you must also divert thousands of other flights. Soon the logistics of scale creep in, and you're processing a ridiculous number of passengers through this "small number" of quarantine sites.

Let's not discuss the cost of diverting so much travel and disrupting so many plans.

If we have a sufficiently fast, cheap, and reliable Ebola screening test...

...but we don't. We don't have anything remotely like that. Reliable testing takes a few days to get results. Faster screening is asking "do you have these symptoms", but since symptoms don't appear for a week after infection, it's often inaccurate.

Comment: Re:So people figure out yet... (Score 1) 117

by Sarten-X (#48238315) Attached to: Pentagon Builds Units To Transport Ebola Patients

Ellis Island processed a maximum of 11,747 immigrants per day. One terminal of JFK International airport can handle over three times that many.

This is not a solution that scales easily. Quarantining 3,150 people isn't a big deal in itself, but they're scattered among millions of passengers traveling from everywhere else in the world, coming into a few hundred terminals across the country. Back when all immigration came in by ships to New York or California, there were convenient locations to put such facilities. Today, the scale of the problem is far larger than you seem to imagine.

Comment: Re:Cuba sends doctors, US sends soldiers (Score 1) 117

by Sarten-X (#48238155) Attached to: Pentagon Builds Units To Transport Ebola Patients

And you think altruism is purely the cause?

More likely, Cuba is using health care politically:

"Cuba is doing this first and foremost to polish its political image, secondly for economic reasons, and thirdly, so that countries that have received their help will vote in Cuba's favor in international forums like the United Nations," Guedes [a Cuban dissident and exile] told DW.

Of course, money's also a motive, especially considering the economic sanctions still in place against Cuba:

The government in Havana earns more than six billion euros a year ($7.6 billion) through these doctors, because only a fraction of what the doctors cost these foreign nations are paid out in their salaries.

Brazil pays Havana 3,100 euros per doctor per month. Only because of pressure from Brazil's government do these doctors now get at least 900 euros per month. According to WHO representative Di Fabio, the Cuban government receives a daily flat rate of 190 euros per helper.

Sure, I'd love to see Cuba join the world as a serious economic player, but not so much that I'll ignore the other reasons why Cuba has recently been exporting more medical care than cigars.

Comment: Re:I think we might have a methodology for that (Score 1) 117

by Sarten-X (#48238111) Attached to: Pentagon Builds Units To Transport Ebola Patients

I, too, find it strange how often the United States starts hearing cries supporting one of several groups. At first, it's about individuals, who are quick to point out their differences, vying for control of the media spotlight. After a round of polling, the contestants pair off into new demographically-appealing sets, each promising their own brand of radical extremism. Eventually the major players on each side of the major ideological schism form alliances, and the battle for the public eye returns to the same terminology we had four years earlier: Democrats vs. Republicans.

Comment: Re:So people figure out yet... (Score 5, Insightful) 117

by Sarten-X (#48238099) Attached to: Pentagon Builds Units To Transport Ebola Patients

The more restrictive the quarantine rule is, the less likely someone will report symptoms. New cases don't announce themselves with a face-up card and a cube on a map. They arrive with aches and nausea, just like a thousand other ailments. If someone's at risk and starts feeling symptoms, are they going to voluntarily lock down their life for a week until a more accurate (and benign) diagnosis arrives? Of course not. They'll lie, say they're feeling great, then go out in public anyway.

Early and accurate detection is the key, not panicking every time someone gets a cough. If someone's at risk, encourage every report, but don't cause panic. After basic screening ("No, sir, erectile dysfunction is not a symptom of Ebola"), tell patients to be cautious and avoid contact with others. Make the patients feel like their conduct is the most important factor in protecting their neighbors. They're not just one of this week's overreactions. They're the center of attention, until their case is ruled out, like almost all such things are.

Ultimately, outbreaks like this only stop when there's either an effective vaccine/treatment, our when people can not or choose not to spread the disease to others. In the absence of the former, we must rely on others' good judgement to enact the latter. Panic is not conducive to that end.

Comment: Re:Doesn't seem too hard. (Score 2) 202

by Sarten-X (#48232039) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Do I Make a High-Spec PC Waterproof?

Even if it cuts through metal, the simple solution is to just not put the computer in front of the jet. Like you said, put it in a box out of the way, with some baffles to stop water coming in the ducts, and just to be paranoid, elevate the computer within the box, so it's not sitting in a pool of any water that may come in.

Comment: Re: Is Microsoft a company? (Score 2) 283

by Sarten-X (#48229597) Attached to: Ballmer Says Amazon Isn't a "Real Business"

Market cap doesn't have any bearing on ROI. If I'm looking to invest $10,000 for dividend returns, I'll be investing in something with a higher return for the price, with little concern* for the vehicle's total size, as market cap shows.

That Microsoft is bigger than Amazon is actually even more cause for alarm. Amazon has far less cash in their coffers, and does more (at least, more interesting to investors) with it.

* Some concern for diversity should always be held, but that's beside the point.

Nothing will dispel enthusiasm like a small admission fee. -- Kim Hubbard