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Comment: Re:Simple solution (Score 1) 1051

by 246o1 (#48586043) Attached to: Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

Yeah, because litigation is the best social tool and we should be using more of it.
How about, if you come down with something, it's your problem for not getting yourself vaccinated.

Please, RTFS, or learn something about this topic before offering your attempt at insight, please. Some people are unable to get vaccinated (infants, those with certain diseases, etc.), and for some small percent, the vaccines don't work. If they get the disease, it's their fault, too? Or you just don't want to consider anything as complicated as the effects of one person's behavior on another person?

Government

Senate Report Says CIA Misled Government About Interrogation Methods 207

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
mrspoonsi sends this news from the Washington Post: "A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques. The report, built around detailed chronologies of dozens of CIA detainees, documents a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use — and later tried to defend — excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence, according to U.S. officials who have reviewed the document. ... At the secret prison, Baluchi endured a regime that included being dunked in a tub filled with ice water. CIA interrogators forcibly kept his head under the water while he struggled to breathe and beat him repeatedly, hitting him with a truncheon-like object and smashing his head against a wall, officials said. As with Abu Zubaida and even Nashiri, officials said, CIA interrogators continued the harsh treatment even after it appeared that Baluchi was cooperating."

+ - Slashdot Beta Woes 16

Submitted by s.petry
s.petry (762400) writes "What is a Slashdot and why the Beta might destroy it?

Slashdot has been around, well, a very long time. Longer than any of it's competators, but not as long as IIRC. Slashdot was a very much one of the first true social media web sites.

On Slashdot, you could create a handle or ID. Something personal, but not too personal, unless you wanted it to be. But it was not required either. We know each other by our handles, we have watched each other grow as people. We may have even taken pot shots at each other in threads. Unless of course you are anonymous, but often we can guess who that really is.

One of Slashdot's first motto's was "News for Nerds" that Matters. I have no idea when that was removed. I have not always scoured the boards here daily, life can get too busy for that. That excuses my ignorance in a way. I guess someone thought it politically incorrect, but most of us "Nerds" enjoyed it. We are proud of who we are, and what we know. Often we use that pride and knowledge to make someone else look bad. That is how we get our digs in, and we enjoy that part of us too. We don't punch people, we belittle them. It's who we are!

What made Slashdot unique were a few things. What you will note here is "who" has been responsible for the success of Slashdot. Hint, it has never been a just the company taking care of the servers and software.

— First, the user base submitted stories that "they" thought mattered. It was not a corporate feed. Sure, stories were submitted about companies. The latest break through from AMD and Intel, various stories regarding the graphic card wars, my compiler is better than your compiler, and yes your scripting language stinks! Microsoft IIS has brought us all a few laughs and lots of flame wars to boot. Still, we not only read about the products but get to my second point.

— User comments. This is the primary why we have been coming here for as long as we have, many of us for decades. We provide alternative opinions or back what was given in the article. This aspect not only makes the "News" interesting, but often leads to other news and information sharing. It's not always positive, but this is the nature of allowing commentary. It also brings out the third point.

— Moderation. Moderation has been done by the community for a very long time. It took lots of trial and error to get a working system. As with any public system it's imperfect, but it's been successful. People can choose to view poorly modded comments, but don't have to. As with posting anonymous versus with our own handle it's an option that allows us to personalize the way we see and read what's on the site. And as a reward for submitting something worth reading, you might get a mod point of your own to use as a reward for someone else.

Why we dislike Beta and what is being pushed, and why this will result in the end of an era if it becomes forced on the community.

1. Bulky graphics. We get that Dice and Slashdot need revenue. I have Karma good enough to disable advertisements, but have never kept this setting on. I realize that Slashdot/Dice make money with this. That said, the ads sit away from my news and out of the way. I can get there if I want it (but nobody has ever gotten a penny from me clicking an ad... nobody!), but it's not forced into my face or news feed.

2. Low text area. I like having enough on my screen to keep me busy without constant scrolling. Slashdot currently has the correct ratio of text to screen. This ratio has never been complained about, yet Beta reduces the usable text area by at least 1/2 and no option for changing the behavior. I hate reading Slashdot on mobile devices because I can't stand scrolling constantly.

3. JavaScript. We all know the risks of JS, and many of us disable it. We also have an option of reading in Lync or non-standard browsers that many of us toy with for both personal and professional reasons. This flexibility is gone in Beta, and we are forced to allow JS to run. If you don't know the risks of allowing JS to run, you probably don't read much on Slashdot. Those that allow JS do so accepting the risk (which is admittedly low on a well known site).

4. Ordering/Sorting/Referencing. Each entry currently gets tagged with a unique thread ID. This allows linking to the exact post in a thread, not just the top of the thread. In Beta this is gone. It could be that the site decided to simply hide the post ID or it was removed. Either way, going to specific posts is something that is used very commonly by the community.

5. Eye candy. Most of us are not here for "eye candy" and many have allergic reactions to eye candy. Slashdot has a good mix currently. It's not as simple as the site starting with a r-e-d-i-t, which is good. That site has a reputation that keeps many of us away, and their format matches my attitude of them (s-i-m-p-l-e-t-o-n). At the same time, it's not like watching some other "news" sites with so much scrolling crap I can't read an article without getting a headache. The wasted space in beta for big bulky borders, sure smells like eye candy. Nothing buzzes or scrolls yet, but we can sense what's coming in a patch later.

The thing is, the community cares about Slashdot. We come here because we care. We submit stories because of that, we vote because of that, we moderate because of that, and we comment because of that. At the same time we realize that without the community Slashdot loses most of its value. We respect that we don't host the servers, backup the databases, or patch the servers. Slashdot/Dice provide the services needed for Slashdot.

It's a give give relationship, and we each get something in return. Slashdot gets tons of Search hits and lots of web traffic. We get a place to learn, teach, and occasionally vent.

Look, if you want to change default color scheme or make pre-made palettes for us to choose from, we would probably be okay with that. If you want to take away our ability to block ads by Karma, or move the ads to the left side of my browser window, I would be okay with those things too.

If you want to make drastic changes to how the site works, this is a different story all together. The reason so many are against Beta is that it breaks some of the fundamental parts of what makes Slashdot work.

User input until recently has not been acknowledged. The acknowledgment we have received is not from the people that are making the decision to push Beta live. We told people Beta was broken, what it lacked, and we were rather surprised to get a warning that Beta would be live despite what we told people. People are already making plans to leave, which means that Slashdot could fade away very soon.

Whether this was the goal for Dice or not remains to be seen. If it is, it's been nice knowing you but I won't be back. A partnership only works when there is mutual respect between the parties. A word of caution, us Nerds have good memories and lots of knowledge. The loss of Slashdot impacts all of Dice holdings, not just Slashdot. I boycott everything a company holds, not just the product group that did me wrong.

If that was not the goal of Dice, you should quickly begin communicating with the user base. What are the plans are to fix what Beta has broken? Why is Beta being pushed live with things broken? A "Sorry we have not been communicating!", and perhaps even a "Thank you" to the user base for helping make Slashdot a success for so many years."
Privacy

CBS 60 Minutes: NSA Speaks Out On Snowden, Spying 504

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-did-he-get? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "This week CBS New's 60 Minutes program had a broadcast segment devoted to the NSA, and additional online features. It revealed that the first secret Snowden stole was the test and answers for a technical examination to get a job at NSA. When working at home, Snowden covered his head and screen with a hood so that his girlfriend couldn't see what he was doing. NSA considered the possibility that Snowden left malicious software behind and removed every computer and cable that Snowden had access to from its classified network, costing tens of millions of dollars. Snowden took approximately 1.7 million classified documents. Snowden never approached any of multiple Inspectors General, supervisors, or Congressional oversight committee members about his concerns. Snowden's activity caught the notice of other System Administrators. There were also other interesting details, such as the NSA has a highly competitive intern program for High School students that are given a Top Secret clearance and a chance to break codes that have resisted the efforts of NSA's analysts — some succeed. The NSA is only targeting the communications, as opposed to metadata, of less than 60 Americans. Targeting the actual communications of Americans, rather than metadata, requires a probable cause finding and a specific court order. NSA analysts working with metadata don't have access to the name, and can't listen to the call. The NSA's work is driven by requests for information by other parts of the government, and there are about 31,000 requests. Snowden apparently managed to steal a copy of that document, the 'crown jewels' of the intelligence world. With that information, foreign nations would know what the US does and doesn't know, and how to exploit it."

Comment: Re:Economics (Score 1) 178

by 246o1 (#45402049) Attached to: Desert Farming Experiment Yields Good Initial Results

I guess the excessive per-capita economic output in rich countries can be correspondingly reduced?

We don't create more natural resources, oil, pH-balanced seawater, or clean air in rich countries. We are just (generally) more effective at turning the resources we have into desirable things. Which makes it easier for us to consume more resources. Your implication is completely wrongheaded.

Comment: Re:Do the kids still chase the newest video card? (Score 4, Insightful) 75

by SuperAlgae (#45079143) Attached to: AMD's New Radeons Revisit Old Silicon, Enable Dormant Features

It's true that the OP's comment did not give much explanation, but it at least had a constructive tone to it. Your response, however, was sarcastic and insulting. You have some good insight. Your comment history shows a lot of intelligence, but so much of your energy seems to go into belittling others. If you take a more constructive approach, you'll reach a lot more people. Occasionally a sarcastic remark can be an effective way to make a point, but it usually just turns people away and makes your effort go to waste.

Comment: Re:Do the kids still chase the newest video card? (Score 1) 75

by SuperAlgae (#45078813) Attached to: AMD's New Radeons Revisit Old Silicon, Enable Dormant Features

I didn't really understand this to be anything other than complaining about the consoles being underpowered...

Yes, you didn't really understand. The OP did not acknowledge that having console architecture closer to PC architecture solves the problem. He acknowledged that it is an improvement, not a solution. As an example, Xbox has always had hardware architecture pretty similar to a PC, but that does not mean games ported from Xbox to PC take good advantage of high-end PC hardware. It still takes more work for the dev team to create higher quality assets (textures, models, etc) and make use of advanced HW features. A company focused on the console release probably won't bother.

It could be argued that there is too much emphasis on graphics anyway, but it's understandable if somone who spends 4-5x the cost of a console wants games to take advantage of that superior hardware.

Comment: Re:In place upgrades still unsupported? (Score 2) 134

by SuperAlgae (#43759637) Attached to: Linux Mint 15 'Olivia' Release Candidate Is Out

I've done in-place upgrades on Ubuntu at least a couple of times. I never saw a single problem from it. I was surprised it worked so flawlessly since it seems like something that could be hard to get right.

I've not been happy with a lot of Ubuntu's recent decisions, but in my experience this is one thing they got right.

Comment: Re:Cartoon Face Generation (Score 1) 117

by SuperAlgae (#43724089) Attached to: Microsoft Patents "Cartoon Face Generation"

Even 20 years ago I would probably use the term "smart" rather than "clever". Using the location of features to represent a face is pretty intuitive, and although there are other concepts covered in Microsoft's patent, none of it looks especially innovative. Of course, the issue here goes beyond Microsoft and is more about the patent office.

I understand that the patent office has limited resources and a lot of requests, but they need to do a better job with the resources they have. I suggest something like the following, which forces the patent submitter to better describe why they deserve the patent ...

The submitter is required to provide an ordered list of the innovative aspects of the patent. They must describe each such "assertion" in less than 500 characters. An assertion can reference details in the patent body, but the core argument must be brief and clear. The patent office (with input from the public) starts at the top of the list to review the asserted innovations. Once two assertions are struck down, every assertion after the second rejection is implicitly rejected. This gives the submitter motivation to put the most innovative assertions at the top of the list, and it limits the amount of mundane filler a patent reviewer must sift through. All rejected assertions become like prior art for use in evaluating future patent applications.

Comment: Re:Hold your horses (Score 1) 117

by SuperAlgae (#43719277) Attached to: Microsoft Patents "Cartoon Face Generation"

The point is to get the scale of the task more manageable. There are already ways for the public to make arguments against patents (though I'm sure there's room for improvement), but when the burden is on the reviewers (whether in the patent office or outside) to counter every piece of fluff in the application, it becomes a huge task. I suggest something like this...

The submitter is required to highlight what they consider to be innovative aspects of the patent with the most novel listed first. They get only a few lines (maybe 500 characters) to describe each of these "assertions". An assertion can reference details in the patent body, but the core argument must be brief and clear.

A reviewer can then start at the top of the list to review the asserted innovations. Once the patent office (considering input from the public) strikes down two assertions in the list, every assertion after the second rejection is implicitly rejected. All rejected assertions become like prior art for use in evaluating future patent applications.

Comment: Re:Hold your horses (Score 1) 117

by SuperAlgae (#43718211) Attached to: Microsoft Patents "Cartoon Face Generation"

From looking at the patent, the problem is it appears to be a pretty status-quo technique with only arbitrary differences from what anyone else might do. If anything there is really innovative, I'd like someone to point out what it is. To be fair, this article says less about Microsoft and more about the patent office's low bar for granting patents.

I understand that the patent office has limited resources and a lot of requests, but we cannot continue to depend on the court system to sort out what is novel and what isn't. For one, the courts are really bad at it with inconsistent results at best. Also, waiting for courts to resolve the matter does not prevent companies with lots of lawyers from using bogus patents to threaten and extort. Even if a patent is meaningless, smaller players cannot afford the legal battle.

The burden should really be on the patent submitter to point out exactly what is so innovative as do deserve a government enforced monopoly over the approach. If the patent is 90% mundane details, it should not be the job of the patent office to pick out what is worthwhile. If the submitter cannot make a concise and convincing argument, then they don't deserve a patent.

Comment: Re:about (Score 1) 116

And so with software. Software is properly governed by copyright, not patents. Where the software represents novel business practices or formulae, those business practices and formulae may be patentable. But according to ages-old court precedent, software itself never should have been.

I was under the impression that patent law does follow this rule and that "software" patents are really just business method patents in the context of software. The problem is that the idea of a "business method" is too broad and too easy to dress up as novel even when it isn't (especially when it applies to software).

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