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Comment: Re:why internet connected? (Score 4, Insightful) 108

by Sarten-X (#47700407) Attached to: Hackers Steal Data Of 4.5 Million US Hospital Patients

This is utterly ignorant.

Many (if not most) healthcare providers in the US are affiliated with a larger organization, such as Community Health Systems. The branch offices need to have access to patient data from other affiliated providers, and given that this includes emergency rooms and other urgent-care facilities, the information must be available as quickly as possible. Physical separation is not a reasonable option.

Comment: Re:Amost sounds like a good deal ... (Score 1) 358

by Sarten-X (#47699981) Attached to: Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up

If you're not guilty, you have both the right and the duty to fight.

This is a terribly scary proposition. We've been here before, and it didn't work well the last time, either. This is why we Americans now have the Fourth Amendment, requiring due process (with various levels of proof) before interfering with someone's life.

For one, they can fight the ban legally with their ISP (unless, of course, they're guilty and their ISP has the records to prove it). Then there's free wifi networks. Going to a friends. The library. Buying a data plan for your smartphone. Switching ISP.

It's amusing that all of the things you mention, if used for illegal downloading, would generate "proof" at the ISP. If I used a coffee shop's free network for downloading, there would be records of that at the ISP tracing back to the coffee shop. Under your guilty-until-proven-innocent system, the coffee shop would be legally stuck behind a redirect until they pay the ransom or pay to fight. Of course, a coffee shop won't likely have a sysadmin able to prove that it was a guest (rather than an employee) that performed the downloading in question. Even if they miraculously win and get reconnected, I can just walk in next week and download again.

Comment: Re: False dichotomy. (Score 1) 198

by Sarten-X (#47672751) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

And we have a winner!

Most hardware I buy these days comes with a quick-start guide to just make the thing work. It shows users the basic installation they need to get something working, so they can learn on their own. A well-designed product will encourage such self-guided learning, as it empowers the user.

However, not everything is suitable for a quick-start guide. It's not the right place for preferences, advanced settings, unusual configuration, or alternative use cases. That all belongs in the manual which can then, except for the troubleshooting section, be designed with the assumption that the user has a basic working system and has used the product successfully.

Comment: Re:Question (Score 1) 218

by Sarten-X (#47649545) Attached to: Point-and-Shoot: TrackingPoint's New Linux-Controlled AR-15s

Is that because mother's milk doesn't have enough salt?

In short, yes. It's a problem mostly in places where the mother's milk doesn't have enough of pretty much anything, but salt's the one that kills first.

Consider a place where an average salary is $40 a month. Unfortunately, there are millions of people (infants and mothers included) who live where half of that would be considered a wealthy income. Surely you've seen the desolate scenes on TV where they ask for some number of cents per day to buy little Mary a pair of shoes to walk over the rocky debris to school... We're talking about those places, and worse.

These are places where having clean water isn't as great a concern as having any water. Most of the local population is undernourished, including the mothers. Without proper nutrition, they produce too little milk, and what they do produce is too poor in nutrients to support the infant.

From a biological perspective, salt is fascinating*. In the body, it serves to provide many of the ions needed to control molecules, and it holds water in various places. That's why eating salty food makes you feel dehydrated - your salty blood pulls water from the other tissue. Similarly, when that salt makes its way to your urine, more water is pulled with it, making you urinate more (spawning many myths (and some facts) about salty drinks cleansing the body).

In an infant with a salt deficiency, the lack of salt prevents the intestines from working properly, as the cellular channels lack the energy to open. That prevents nutrients (including salt) from being absorbed into the blood. The blood's low salt level stops the absorption of water, leaving the feces liquid, which will quickly be released, carrying the vital salt with it. Where an adult would be able to hold their stool in longer or try to eat more food to compensate for the lower absorption rate, an infant can't do that of its own will, and the mother can't just produce more milk on demand, especially if she's also undernourished.

The cure is a solution - one of "clean" water with salt and sugar (as fuzzyfuzzyfungus noted above), that can easily be absorbed, raising the blood's salt level, allowing more nutrients and water to be absorbed.

If I had known the cure were that easy, I would have told more people. One problem is that people just don't know that is the cure (even if they are worried about diarrhoea as an issue)

Unfortunately, it's also not as easy as telling people on the Internet about the condition. People with access to the Internet aren't likely to be affected by it. It is pretty common knowledge among related volunteer organizations, but there is a severe lack of knowledge in the local communities where the problem is deadly. There are many medical volunteer groups, and they do great work... but the problem is bigger than their limited resources can cover.

* My biochemistry knowledge is remembered from five years ago. The facts presented may or may not be entirely true.

Comment: Re:Question (Score 5, Insightful) 218

by Sarten-X (#47644979) Attached to: Point-and-Shoot: TrackingPoint's New Linux-Controlled AR-15s

How many more children will die because of this invention?

I'm going to go with "none in the foreseeable future".

Must we have something worse than Sandy Hook for people to wake up and say "no" to gun violence

How about the Bath School disaster, where 45 people died, mostly children? Or perhaps looking away from human causes, we could consider infant diarrhoea, which kills a couple million children per year and can be cured with a few pennies' worth of salt? How about political violence and genocides, which kill thousands of civilian children?

The simple answer is that there is no simple answer. The Bath School disaster was done with explosives. Infant diarrhoea is mostly a problem because parents don't have access to medical care, or realize that they need it. Political conflict is never so simple as having the good guys fight the bad guys - all sides think their righteous virtues are worth dying for, and worth having innocent people die for.

The reality of life is that it's trivial to kill someone. A human body is an incredibly complex machine, with billions of interacting parts, and it's just so easy to screw it up fatally. Sure, you could ban guns with fancy sights, but it's still just as easy to build a bomb, grab a knife, or slip a bit of poison into a meal.

Let's say "no" to pithy slogans and short-sighted politically-convenient campaigns.

Comment: Re:So start organizing (Score 4, Interesting) 108

by Sarten-X (#47606509) Attached to: LinkedIn Busted In Wage Theft Investigation

As a fellow Slashdotter once said, "the best union is the one you're threatening to form".

Once you actually have a union, you also have a bureaucracy, and rules, and obligations. Sure, they're there to help you, but it still means headaches. On the other hand, if there's just a lot of complaints, the informal process is more flexible and can more easily reach an agreement, as long as the company in question is willing to compromise.

Comment: Re:Nothing (Score 1) 430

Of course. I don't mean to suggest that programmers are always blameless. Short tempers are found everywhere.

[Alice] reacts with anger at the implied accusation of [unprofessional work] ... which anger is reflected back by [Bob] inferring that [Alice] is not just uncaring but incompetent.

That's the problem, in a general form. One person offends the other, who retaliates with something to offend the first, and the partnership is doomed.

My point, which I believe still stands, is that from the demonstrated linguistic preference of the writer, it seems likely that he's the sort of person to take offense most easily, and return it in an amplified form, rather than the kind of person to put aside such minor transgressions for the sake of the project.

Comment: Thanks, Slashdot! (Score 1) 113

by Sarten-X (#47600917) Attached to: Spain's Link Tax Taxes Journalist's Patience ill defined and short sighted and ends up protecting a dying industry, while undermining a vibrant one. In another case of disrupted industries turning to lawmakers to solve their problems, this one makes no sense at all, especially given the state of the Spanish economy and the fact that it comes 15 years too late to even matter.

The dying industry tried to hide their biases. Thanks to this new and vibrant community of "editors" who don't care about silly things like journalistic integrity, it's easier than ever for me to just accept whatever outrage the media hands me.

Thanks, Slashdot, for enabling me to be the lazy American we all make fun of!

Comment: Re:Nothing (Score 1, Interesting) 430

Including the foul language makes it very clear that the poster is biased, and can't (or won't) set aside that bias long enough to have a discussion.

My impression is that the writer sees his contributions as an altruistic gift that the programmers should be absolutely grateful to receive. Meanwhile, the programmer sees the documentation as just another aspect of the project, conveniently being handled by someone else.

Consider, then, a scenario where the programmer has implemented a function only enough to suit his needs, as for a library, but the writer wants to document every behavior of the function, as a writer should. At this point the writer asks the programmer to describe the complete behavior, but the programmer like can't, sa he hasn't defined or cared about behavior outside his necessary subset. This scenario, one of many with the same result, starts a disagreement where the writer expects more support from the programmer than the programmer is willing or able to provide.

Given the verbiage used in this post, we can infer how quickly a discussion about such a disparity of priority would heat up. I would not be surprised to learn that the writer had been dismissed from projects because of his attitude toward the programmers.

Comment: Re:This was Google at its worst (Score 1) 79

by Sarten-X (#47596311) Attached to: Google Sells Maine Barge For Scrap

...So what's your point?

Should Google just hold on to billions of dollars in cash reserves? Should it play safe, only buying up established projects after someone else has paid the initial investment? Should it fall back on its established market share and produce nothing notable for a few decades?

Or perhaps, should Google take its gratuitous amounts of money and throw it at silly projects, hoping that one might take off and become the next step in the evolution of mankind's technology?

Biology is the only science in which multiplication means the same thing as division.