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Comment: Not /. - that's TFA and science journalism (Score 1) 80

by bradley13 (#48616071) Attached to: Spacecraft Spots Probable Waves On Titan's Seas

That idiotic quote comes straight from TFA. It amply demonstrates the quality of what passes for "science journalism". In this case, not only the author, but also the editors of ScienceMag give the impression that they think methane is some weird form of water.

Actually, the author not only thinks that methane is water, he simultaneously thinks that it is oil, because he also writes that one of the methane seas "could contain 55 times Earth's oil reserves". Alternatively, he may be mixing information from unrelated theories: previously, the absence of waves was taken to indicate that the seas were viscous, containing heavier hydrocarbons. Reality could be somewhere between the two extremes.

Regardless, TFA is poor journalism, bringing more confusion than enlightenment to the average reader...

Comment: Move away from /. (Score -1, Troll) 190

by bradley13 (#48602805) Attached to: Why Didn't Sidecar's Flex Pricing Work?

I still visit /. occasionally. The last two times, it was to find a Bennett Haselton article. Just to add fuel to the fire: have you read Bennett's Wikipedia page? I do believe he wrote it his very own self.

I think I'm going to stick to Soylent in the future...bye bye again, /., it wasn't nice coming back...

Comment: Currently impossible to stop (Score 2) 157

by bradley13 (#48599781) Attached to: How Identifiable Are You On the Web?

As others have noted, the EFF Panopticlick is the better service.

I just spent far too much time playing around with this, on an extended lunch break. I note the following things:

- You had better disable explicit tracking services (Ghostery), or it all doesn't matter anyway.

- Fonts are a big factor. Fonts are identified through Flash. There is a configuration file "mms.cfg" that can disable this. The location of this file depends on your operating system and on your browser - it took me a good half-hour to find it for my particular configuration.

- However, even after disabling fonts, and even using a "user-agent switcher" to look like a Windows/Chrome combination (instead of Linux/Chrome), I was still uniquely identifiable. The biggest factor were my language preferences, the list of plugins, and the precise browser version. Refusing to report system fonts was also pretty important :-/

In short, there's not much way around it - if you include other information available, like your IP address, you will be uniquely identifiable, and trackable across websites.

What is missing from this picture: Browsers provide an "incognito" mode. This mode needs to be extended to provide only absolutely essential information to the server. The server needs to know roughly what level of standards support you have (e.g., "Mozilla/5.0"), and what language to send content in (one language, not a list with weights). Everything else could be omitted, and virtually all websites would work perfectly.

Go a step farther and disable JavaScript in incognito mode, to prevent explicit sniffing. That will disable more websites, but if those sites start losing traffic, they'll offer versions that don't require JS.

Comment: Win hearts and minds (Score 4, Interesting) 295

by bradley13 (#48595585) Attached to: French Cabbies Say They'll Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber

Oh, yes, causing massive traffic snarls is a sure way to with the hearts and minds of the public. Reminds me of the German train drivers who keep striking, not for more money or better working conditions, but because their union bosses are at risk of losing their negotiating power to a larger union. Makes everybody in German just love the train drivers.

Paris taxis charge to just come and pick you up. Get in the car, and find that the meter has already been running from wherever the driver let off his last fare. Given a new competitor, the taxi drivers could always compete by offering better service, or lower rates, or more reliability, or... Nah.

Comment: Dark matter and the sniff test (Score 3, Insightful) 83

by bradley13 (#48588323) Attached to: Deflating Claims That ESA Craft Has Spotted Dark Matter

I'm just a lowly engineer, but for me "dark matter" has never passed the sniff test. It's a kludge factor thrown in to make equations balance. And a kludge factor so huge that "dark matter" is supposed to outweigh all of the observable matter in the entire universe. The only reason this doesn't sound ridiculous is because we've been hearing it for so long.

If you need a kludge factor that big, it is far more likely that the equations are wrong.

There are other possible explanations. For example, if the speed of light were a function of space and time, then the situation changes completely. All observations of the distant/ancient universe are suddenly thrown into question; the interactions within that distant/ancient universe were also different from what we see locally, today. This particular theory (variability of C) is one that crops up periodically, most recently in 2013. It is difficult to prove, but really, it's no more unlikely than the existence of huge amounts of dark matter that stubbornly refuse to interact with the known universe.

Comment: Personal consequences (Score 4, Interesting) 512

by bradley13 (#48581319) Attached to: Once Again, Baltimore Police Arrest a Person For Recording Them

Move to a malpractice system, like doctors have. Make individual officers personally liable for their own behavior. They carry professional liability insurance, and can be sued if they do something egregiously stupid. Screw up enough, and no insurance company will cover them. Changing jurisdictions won't help, because the insurance companies will be sure to trade information.

Comment: One more step towards a police state (Score 1) 378

And the US takes one more step down the slippery slope. At the bottom lies a police state.

Aside from a few nerds and right-wing blogs, no one noticed. Interestingly, this information is nowhere to be found on mainstream media sites. Why is that, I wonder? Maybe all those conspiracy theorists have a point.

On Swiss TV last night they showed an interview with some of the USAF people flying drones. Surreal: sit down at your joystick, , drop a hellfire missile on a vehicle, go home to the kids. The fact that some debatable-but-large portion of the drone targets are misidentified? The Captain playing the video game really, really didn't want to discuss that. He just shoots what he's told to shoot.

Sad to see - the once great bastion of freedom now tortures prisoners, kills civilians by remote control, and now freely spies on its own citizen's communications. It may be time for y'all to abandon the sinking ship.

Comment: The return of Cthulhu might be really bad... (Score 2, Insightful) 329

by bradley13 (#48564639) Attached to: Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

For those interested, this appears to be the paper. The paper itself is paywalled; you can look at the supplementary material, which includes the diagrams. Oddly, the paper does not seem to be online at the university, even though other papers by the various authors are. Why do I know this? Because I wanted to see the temperature data that they used, so I went hunting.

The paper implies that the temperature data is very noisy, but that they were able to extract a signal anyway. The raw data should be provided in the supplementary material, so that people could attempt to replicate/verify this essential finding. Of course, the raw data are no where to be found. So we have no way to check.

Personally, I'm tired of "science" like this. If you're going to make a claim, put your damn data out there where anyone can see it. Raw data, a clear description of how you processed it, program code if you wrote a program. Otherwise, you're no better than the astrologist pontificating about the influence of Venus on your dog's love life.

Comment: Ah, auto dealer politics (Score 1) 137

by bradley13 (#48545659) Attached to: Tesla Wants Texas Auto Sales Regulations Loosened

I had a friend years ago whose family owned a dealership in Texas. More cutthroat politics are hard to imagine: among the dealerships, the car manufacturers and the government (local and state), some of it pretty clearly out-and-out corruption. Just as an example, they built a new showroom, but the building kept failing some inspection or other. The inspector would write up faults, they would fix them, he would write up new faults...eventually he lost patience and let it be known that the real problem was that he hadn't yet found a blank envelope filled with cash.

This is yet another industry deserving of some serious deregulation. There's no better way to put corrupt bureaucrats out of business.

Comment: With lots of dark meat? (Score 1) 189

by bradley13 (#48484417) Attached to: I prefer my turkey ...

Modern turkeys, like modern chickens, have been bred to have a huge amount of tasteless, white breast meat. This is in the mistaken belief that fats in meat are somehow bad for you. This has gone unquestions since by childhood (to many decades ago); only in the last few years have researchers started actually testing the common knowledge, and they are discovering that it is largely nonsense.

Last time I bought chicken, I specifically bought whole legs, no breast meat. Roast with the skin on, eat skin and meat together, yum! Last time my wife made chicken soup, she also skipped the breast meat, because it's basically tasteless. Her soup actually tasted of chicken, instead of some anonymous vegetable broth.

So - if I were to eat a turkey, it would be the dark-meat pieces...

Comment: Barbarians inside the gates (Score 1) 1128

by bradley13 (#48455473) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

Obviously, none of us have access to all of the information available to the grand jury. I am also quite sure that they were aware of the gravity of the decision they made. It is a reasonable assumption that they made their decision very carefully.

But - here's the big news - even if the grand jury screwed up, we see the existence of a barbaric sub-culture that thinks the right response rioting and looting. The barbarians are inside the gates.

Comment: Clean energy? Ahem... (Score 1) 293

The first non-spam comment on the article: "Clean energy!" Right... That rather depends on where the hydrogen comes from. If it's made by cracking water with energy from coal power plants, well...

Hydrogen has potential, but the manufacturers have some big problems to solve. Accident safety with those high-pressure (700 atmosphere) tanks. Leakage - hydrogen is very difficult to contain. A fueling infrastructure - at least with electric vehicles, any plug will do in a pinch. Transport - if you have fueling stations, you have to get the hydrogen to them, which implies huge tanker trucks with accordingly magnified safety issues.

Those may not be insurmountable issues, but they sure aren't easy...

Comment: Experiences as a manager... (Score 1) 186

by bradley13 (#48435491) Attached to: It's Not Developers Slowing Things Down, It's the Process

I've done my time as a technical project manager. I can't say I enjoyed it, but someone had to do it, namely protect the developers from upper management so that they could actually get their work done. One thing it taught me was to plan around 30% of the project time on the requirements. That still seems insane to me, but that's what it takes. That was my time, working with upper management, documenting things, listening to them waffle, and generally refusing to hand anything to the developers until I had a firm set of requirements, signed off in blood.

When they would then immediately try to change. So during the implementation phase, the two challenges were (a) refusing to accept needless change requests, and (b) having to literally forbid upper management from talking to my developers directly, because they would direct them to make changes that I had already rejected. That latter led to quite a stressful little showdown :-/

FWIW: small companies are a lot easier to deal with than large companies. They have fewer managers and less time to waste on endless meetings. Usually you have a small group of people who really need to be elsewhere, so you can reach decisions fairly quickly. With large companies, there are apparently endless numbers of middle-management drones who want to put their oar in - or maybe they just want the coffee and donuts.

So: 30% requirements, 30% QA/Testing, and 40% development - that's about how the work hours broke down. Calendar time was different, with the requirements phase sometimes taking many months even for relatively simple things that were developed in just a few weeks.

Comment: What's it good for? (Score 5, Interesting) 236

by bradley13 (#48432211) Attached to: Russia May Be Planning National Space Station To Replace ISS

I am totally pro-space, but I just do not understand the ISS. It is hugely expensive to keep and feed crews. And yet, the human habitation makes whole classes of experiments difficult or impossible, due to the atmosphere, the vibrations from movement, etc..

Where human presence could be useful: if we were actually building a space infrastructure. Capture some asteroids, use them for raw material, and build a base to use to get to the rest of the solar system. While lots of construction tasks can be automated, human intervention will occasionally be necessary. But we aren't doing that.

So, what exactly is the point of manned space stations? Is it really worth it? Or would the money, time and effort be better invested in some other types of space activity - automated experimental stations, or - let's dream - building a "real" base in space?

"You don't go out and kick a mad dog. If you have a mad dog with rabies, you take a gun and shoot him." -- Pat Robertson, TV Evangelist, about Muammar Kadhafy