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Comment: It kind of makes sense...but it doesn't (Score 4, Interesting) 630

by Xoc-S (#46752799) Attached to: IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt
Survivor benefits are paid to the children, not the surviving parent. The parent only get the money as the custodian of the children, and is supposed to use it for the benefit of the child. The parent doesn't report the benefits on his or her tax return. If the child makes enough money during the year to file a tax return, the child does. So the IRS is going after the party to which the money was given. But of course, it really makes no sense...the child did not actually receive the money. The child has no records of receiving the money, or of any overpayment and can't contest it. It's unlikely even the parent has the records. And it is implied that the IRS can try to collect money from whomever they can get it from, not just the child of record.

Comment: Reflector is the way to go (Score 1) 88

by Xoc-S (#46414931) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Reviewing 3rd Party Libraries?
FXCop (now incorporated as Code Analysis) is not a security tool. It looks for bad coding practices not malicious software. This might catch some stuff in the process, but it is not the main purpose.

On the other hand, Red Gate's Reflector decompiles the code into C#, VB.NET, F#, IL, or MC++. You can then look for malicious code. I mainly look for code accessing classes in the System.IO namespace, System.Web, System.Net, or similar namespaces, because these are the ones that are likely to either mess with existing files or connect to the Internet.

You can use the ILDASM (Intermediate Language Dis-assembler) program that comes with the .NET Framework, but it only decompiles into intermediate language (IL). This is enough to find the calls, but most people are not adept at reading IL.

Reflector is worth every penny. Besides looking for security problems, I use it all the time to figure out what the Framework is really doing, fix bugs in other people's libraries, sign code that wasn't signed originally, translate VB.NET code to C#, etc. (To translate code, compile it in one language and decompile it with Reflector into the other.)

Science

+ - Ask Slashdot: Explaining to my girlfriend that humans didn't ride dinosaurs-> 4

Submitted by
p00kiethebear
p00kiethebear writes "Dear Slashdot. Remember when you learned that Santa Clause wasn't real? I have a wonderful and beautiful girlfriend. She treats me so right in every way. We've been together for almost a year now and everything seemed to be going perfectly until this morning. Over breakfast we were discussing dinosaurs and she told me a story about how her grandfather, fifty years ago, dated footprints of a dinosaurs and a man that were right next to each other to be within the same epoch of history. I laughed when she said this and then realized that she wasn't joking. She seriously believes this. She believes dinosaurs and humans walked at the same time together. Her grandfather told her this when she was little so regular logic and wiki isn't going to be able to contest her childhood dreams that she has been raised to believe. The odd thing is that she's not religious, it's just what her archeologist grandfather taught her. More important than just backing up evidence to the contrary, how do I explain this to her without crushing her childhood dreams? Is it even worth discussing it further with her? Have you ever had a loved one or family member that believed something that made you uncomfortable?"
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Excel's year 1900 bug (Score 1) 214

by Xoc-S (#43133649) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Many Time Standards Are There?
Excel does not treat 1900 as a leap year. Excel's epoch, though, is December 30th, 1899 instead of the 31st to be compatible with 1-2-3 for all dates from March 1st, 1900 onward, allowing for 1-2-3's bug. Excel and Word, and all other Microsoft products that use VBA as a macro language, use the OLE Automation date format that works just fine on all dates from January 1, year 100 to December 31st 9999. Dates are treated as a double with the integer part being days and fractions being the fraction of a day. Negative numbers give the dates before the epoch. The only weird thing is the date of the epoch, which causes things such the Time function to return the time on December 30th 1899, if you retrieve the date portion.

Comment: Badly named suite (Score 5, Insightful) 89

by Xoc-S (#42368213) Attached to: Microsoft Kills Expression Suite — And Makes It Free, For Now
This was a failure in marketing, not technology. When this came out, it took me a while to differentiate the products because of the first word in the name being the same. I finally figured out to just drop the word "Expression" and concentrate on the second word. I think it was a huge mistake trying to use the term to group a disparate set of products. They should have called them Microsoft Design, Microsoft Blend, etc. and then packaged them as "Microsoft Designer Suite". Blend is actually pretty cool.
EU

+ - Kicking ACTA's Ass: Geist's 10 Minute Takedown at European Parliament->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "As protests in Europe against ACTA have grown, skeptics have argued that most criticisms are based on misunderstandings or incorrect information about the treaty. This week, the European Parliament held its first public workshop on ACTA and Canadian professor Michael Geist took ten minutes to demonstrate why the agreement raises major concerns on process, substance, and likely effectiveness. The video and transcript are a must for anyone looking to become informed on ACTA with a full report apparently coming soon."
Link to Original Source

Comment: What if the content is no longer retrievable (Score 1) 1009

by Xoc-S (#38950983) Attached to: Defendant Ordered To Decrypt Laptop Claims She Had Forgotten Password
What if through some (magical) combination of hardware and software, after say two months, if you didn't log in, the contents became completely irretrievable? Then if you were arrested, you only had to hold out for two months before they would have to release you. Contempt of court means that they can only hold you while you can possibly give them what they need. If it is impossible for you to comply, which would be true after two months, they have to charge you with something else (obstruction of justice?) or release you.

Comment: Why? (Score 3, Insightful) 235

by Xoc-S (#34900870) Attached to: Cassandra 0.7 Can Pack 2 Billion Columns Into a Row
Only a completely de-normalized flat-file database would need anything like that number of columns. That would mean many duplicate pieces of information, and a complete maintenance nightmare. The only purpose I can see is to have views of existing normalized data for fast searching, but that would be read-only data.

This is a feature in need of an application and I can see very few applications.

Comment: Monolith facts (Score 1) 199

by Xoc-S (#34782086) Attached to: Crowdfund a Moon Monolith Mission?
Some monolith facts:
  1. The monolith can be any size, but the proportions are 1:4:9. It's actually infinitely dimensional, so the next three are 16,25,36. Notice the pattern?
  2. The monolith is found on the moon in the crater Tycho. Tycho is the one with all the streaks coming from it on any picture of a full moon; like arrows pointing at the crater saying "find monolith here".
  3. When the sun hits the monolith for the first time in the 4 million years since the apes were impregnated with the idea of the use of tools, it sends a message to the rebroadcast station near Jupiter (Saturn in the book) saying this planet has sufficiently advanced to be able to reach their moon, check them out!

Comment: foldit can't be just a game (Score 1) 80

by Xoc-S (#33146634) Attached to: Gamers Beat Algorithms At Finding Protein Structures
The primary problem with foldit is that it can't be just a game. Since it is trying to simulate science, the game designers can't simplify features to increase playability. So when player frustration sets in due to the complexity, there is no simpler version or cheat mode. You are competing against nature, and nature is a bitch.

This causes many people to give up on foldit after a short while, because it takes time to learn what gains points. What is cool about the game is that many of the best players know relatively little about biology. It's a game that anyone can play, it's just hard to do well at it. If you like logic puzzles, crosswords, soduku, chess, or Go, you will probably like foldit.

Comment: Bill always expected to give away his money (Score 5, Interesting) 407

by Xoc-S (#32569808) Attached to: Bill Gates's New Version of the Einstein Letter

In 1994, Bill Gates gave an interview to Playboy. He stated then that he was going to give away his money. In it he says:

PLAYBOY: Does your net worth of multi-billions, despite the fact that it's mostly in stock and the value varies daily, boggle your mind?

GATES: It's a ridiculous number. But remember, 95 percent of it I'm just going to give away. [Smiles] Don't tell people to write me letters. I'm saving that for when I'm in my 50s. It's a lot to give away and it's going to take time.

PLAYBOY: Where will you donate it?

GATES: To charitable things, scientific things. I don't believe in burdening any children I might have with that. They'll have enough. They'll be comfortable.

http://beginnersinvest.about.com/od/billgates/l/blbillgatesint5.htm

Comment: Some people are just very good at this (Score 5, Interesting) 144

by Xoc-S (#32262404) Attached to: Foldit Player May Have Created a Useful Protein
I played fold.it for a few months a year and half ago. I was better than most at it, but there was one guy who almost always got the best score on every protein he worked on. He was a mutant at it; the Michael Jordan of protein folding. I joked that it was like The Last Starfighter , he was being selected for being taken off planet by the aliens who developed the game. He had a way of identifying parts of a protein that could be modified to improve it. By studying people like him...on what they see that nobody else does, can lead to improved automated algorithms, which can lead to significant improvements in medicines.

Finding optimal folds of proteins is an NP-Hard problem, so having any heuristic algorithm improvements can vastly increase the chance of having automated tools find useful folds in reasonable amounts of time.

Real computer scientists don't comment their code. The identifiers are so long they can't afford the disk space.

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