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Comment: RS-232 Christmas Lights (Score 1) 258 258

Was away on a job for Christmas one year and some of the people wanted to decorate the work space for the holiday. We had a xmas tree but no lights and no way to get any (the company said they couldn't justify a chopper run for xmas lights). I took two wires and soldered them to pins 2 and 5 on a DB-9 connector, then ran the wires parallel to each other about a centimeter apart. Tore apart an old device to get a bunch of different colored LEDs out and then soldered them between the wires every 2-3", reversing the polarity of every other LED (used hot glue to make sure they wouldn't short out). Then I wrote a quick little program to open a serial port and turn the break state on and off at intervals of ~700ms. A serial port's idle state is -5V and its break state is +5V. So when I plugged the connector in, half the LEDs would light on the idle state, and the other half would light on the break state. I would consider that unusual.

Comment: Re:Wow. (Score 1) 881 881

You may laugh now, but what will you do when riots break out in 2012? Hollywood is a bunch of Nazis (figuratively speaking). They see fear, and they see profit. They're just cashing in on the game the History Channel has been playing for years. If saying every prophet in the history of the world predicted destruction on 2012 gets you more money, then why not do it, right? Unfortunately, it seems this has gone much farther than the 2000 scare. With so many people freaked out about this whole thing, I think there is real potential for a minor cataclysm in 2012, caused by Hollywood and the television networks themselves. Not the end of the world, but possibly a major blow to civilization.

And I know it seems ridiculous, but you have to remember: Humans are emotional creatures. Poke their feelings and all logic goes out the window.

Comment: Re:Hmm (Score 1) 511 511

Religions didn't start off as a scam. But form any institution, and people will rise to power within that institution to take advantage of its constituents. It happens everywhere, from Catholicism to the government to the Red Cross. While the uppers of many religious institutions may have been taking advantage of the lowers for years, the central belief that holds them together has remained the same for centuries... this applies to all religious institutions that I've seen, except for Scientology: which is clearly, without question, a scam. I honestly can't figure out how Scientology still exists. The fact that people are willing to believe in such a thing as Scientology makes me question my faith as a Christian. And that makes me a sad panda.


New HIV Strain Discovered 263 263

reporter and barnyjr were among the readers alerting us to the discovery of a new strain of the HIV virus, found in a woman from the west central African nation of Cameroon. "It differs from the three known strains of human immunodeficiency virus and appears to be closely related to a form of simian virus recently discovered in wild gorillas, researchers report in Monday's edition of the journal Nature Medicine. ... The most likely explanation for the new find is gorilla-to-human transmission, Plantier's team said. But... they cannot rule out the possibility that the new strain started in chimpanzees and moved into gorillas and then humans, or moved directly from chimpanzees to both gorillas and humans. ... Researchers said it could be circulating unnoticed in Cameroon or elsewhere. The virus's rapid replication indicates that it is adapted to human cells, the researchers reported."

Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man 652 652

Strudelkugel writes "The NY Times has an article about a conference during which the potential dangers of machine intelligence were discussed. 'Impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence, a group of computer scientists is debating whether there should be limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society's workload, from waging war to chatting with customers on the phone. Their concern is that further advances could create profound social disruptions and even have dangerous consequences.' The money quote: 'Something new has taken place in the past five to eight years,' Dr. Horvitz said. 'Technologists are replacing religion, and their ideas are resonating in some ways with the same idea of the Rapture.'"

+ - Analyzing Iran's Election Numbers

CaroKann writes: The Washington Post has an article in the Opinion section analyzing Iran's election numbers.

The authors base their analysis on the assumption that humans are very bad at creating random numbers. They examined the last two digits of the official vote count from each province, looking for evidence of two human foibles concerning how people pick random numbers.

First, when picking random numbers, people tend to pick some digits more than others. For example, humans tend to pick the number 5 less often than the number 7. In the election results, the last digit is a 5 only 4% of the time, and 7 17% of the time. With completely random numbers, each 5 and 7 would appear as the last digit about 10% of the time.

Second, people have difficulty creating random numbers with non-consecutive digits. This pattern also shows up in the results.

They authors conclude that the chances of the election numbers being completely clean are 1 in 200.

+ - Google Suggest Disabled in China Due to Porn->

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes: "The Chinese government has asked Google to disable Google Suggest because it has been suggesting that people search for pornography based on its analysis of the most popular search terms in China. This comes on the heels of a fake CCTV interview being used to support the government requirement that all new computers ship with the 'Green Damn' internet censoring program, which is still in force, despite reports to the contrary. Understandably, average Chinese citizens are not very happy about any of this."
Link to Original Source

+ - Obama Proposes Spy Training Corps for Colleges

Hugh Pickens writes: "The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration has proposed the creation of an intelligence officer training program in colleges and universities that would function much like the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) run by the military services creating a stream "of first- and second-generation Americans, who already have critical language and cultural knowledge, and prepare them for careers in the intelligence agencies." Students attending participating colleges and universities who agree to take the specialized courses would apply to the national intelligence director for admittance to the program, whose administrators would select individuals "competitively" for financial assistance. The students' participation in the program would probably be kept secret to prevent them from being identified by foreign intelligence services, according to an official familiar with the proposal. The intelligence officer training program would build on previous pilot programs including the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program (PRIST) that provides monetary incentive to college students who pursue studies in critical language specialties, area studies, and technical and scientific specialties. Applicants to the PRIST are cautioned that they "must generally not have used illegal drugs within the last 12 months" and that although "friends, family, individuals, or organizations may be interested to learn that you are an applicant for or an employee of the CIA," their interest, "may not be benign or in your best interest.""

+ - Zune's Licensing is Plain Evil->

Rjak writes: "DRM is a bad idea, poorly implemented.

One of the many many valid reasons to drop Zune and it's marketplace is the DRM validation error you see below. The vast majority of the music I had purchased last year is completely gone. There's no refund, the music doesn't exist on the service anymore, the files are just garbage now.

Here's the unbelievable error:

"This item is no longer available at Zune Marketplace. Because of this, you can no longer play it or sync it with your Zune. There might be another iteration of it available in Zune Marketplace."

Screencap Here

Did anyone else have Microsoft's licensing policy as a reason to jump ship? Or was the word "Microsoft" enough?"

Link to Original Source

+ - Attention Young Programmers: Save your money!->

ajole writes: "One reader blogs about how he quit his programming job to become a ski bum bartender after his last couple of jobs have twisted his view of his favorite hobby. The topic caught the attention of several meta-comment sites, including the easily /.'able Here's an excerpt:"I quit my job two weeks ago. I don't want to program at work any more. I'm sick of being inside and stationary, and I'm sick of working in an environment where people don't talk to each other. Over the last few years I've worked for one company producing high-end music software. When I came in I was invincible, and after working for someone with a completely different approach to problem solving (right down to code style), I've become weak and ineffectual. Well, those days are over. I'm going to get my style back and get back on the wagon of invincibility. Programming is art and should be a pure and unadulterated stream of conciousness from the developer to the machine. Python is art. Good design is art. Milestones are art. Good energy is art. [...] I'm psyched to get back to coding for the sake of art, where the idea and the implementation are solid gold. I quit my job, gave up my place, and I'm going to go bar tend in a ski town and program for fun. I've got some PyQt dev kits to write to simplify audio software development, and have a huge Python GIL to deal with. We'll see what happens."

How has your job changed your perspective of programming as an art?"

Link to Original Source

Direct-To-Consumer Genetics Testing Makes a Splash In Boston 78 78

eldavojohn writes "MIT's Technology Review has the scoop on the first annual Consumer Genetics Show starting today in Boston and it looks like the rage these days is genetic testing sans the middle-man physician. And it's getting more prevalent and more available: 'A number of companies offering direct-to-consumer genetic testing have cropped up in the past two years to capitalize on these advances, from 23andMe and Navigenics, which offer genome-wide scans to identify specific disease-linked genetic variations, to Knome, which offers whole-genome sequencing to the wealthy. Any doubts that personal genomics is making its way into the mainstream can be assuaged with a look at Interleukin genetics, a startup that sells genetic tests for heart-disease risk, B vitamin metabolism, and other factors through Amway, the direct-sales company.' Over-the-counter genetic tests may be much closer than you think. The article raises concerns that this information will be misused/misinterpreted or even provide a false sense of security. We've discussed some states prohibiting this last year."

Where's Your Coding Happy Place? 508 508

jammag writes "Cranking out code — your very best code — requires being in the optimal environment, muses developer Eric Spiegel. He explores the pitfalls and joys of the usual locales, cubicle, home, the beach. He claims he's done his best coding on an airplane. In the end, though, he suggests that the best environment is a matter of the environment inside yourself, your internal mood — and to hell with the cubicle or wherever. You have to be focused on quality, regardless of the idiot clients. It's all inside your mind. Where's your coding happy place?"

Comment: Re:Well, hm... (Score 1) 383 383

I can't think of any reason at all why they shouldn't have named it Colbert. They asked what people wanted the name to be, the people said Colbert, and then NASA turned around and said, "oh, we meant what BESIDES Colbert should we call it?"
And for what reason? Is there something inherently offensive about the name Colbert?

It is easier to write an incorrect program than understand a correct one.