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Comment Re:Not that crap again (Score 3, Informative) 256

HTML forms are a bad idea for proposal submission.

I've written quite a few grant submission systems (I have a grant cycle running right now, with a deadline of this Friday...yay...). It's a pretty standard deal- web based system that allows for a fair amount of meta data (PIs, co-operators, institutions, name of grant, funding request, etc.). These of course are all part of the HTML forms.

BUT- the proposals themselves- the 2-20 page document where they explain the project- is always a complete mish-mash of stuff that could never go into an HTML form. Formulas, images, etc. Tons of formatting. And typically it is a document that has been shared/edited with other researchers. I ran one system about 15 years ago that was HTML only, and the number of projects that had 8 different PIs, who all wanted edit rights at the same time was way too high. This was pre-Google Wave, and the idea of 8 people simultaneously editing the same text on the web was insane it is now.

Plus, the way that researchers/PIs handle these submissions is to turn everything in at the last possible minute. Any complication on the receiving system will just cause you to get your ass chewed out in the hallway at the next big conference.

I absolutely, 100% never ever want to hear someone say, "I tried to submit my proposal, I typed everything in, then there was an error." Because really, these people will open the page, then sit on it for 3 days as they dink around. When they finally hit 'submit' they're surprised that there was an error. Yes, there are technical ways to mitigate this problem...and the very best way is to have the applicants submit documents.

But, in the case of this article...I usually provide support for these systems. I've been doing this for about 20 years, so I'm fairly good at it. And the absolute quickest way to provide support to someone having problems is to say, "Just email me the document, and I'll submit it for you." 90% of the time I get an email that says, "I figured it out...thanks for your help." 8% of the time people say, "I tried to email the document, but it file was corrupt, so I re-saved it and then submitted...thanks for your help." The last 2% send me the file, I convert it if necessary, and we move on. (that's 2% of the problems, not 2% of the submissions)

There is no reason for me to make a 100% bullet-proof, all-inclusive system that will handle every single different scenario perfectly. It would take too much time. For the very small number of people with a problem, I just do it the old fashioned way. So if somebody told me, "I'm on Linux, and I can't convert my file to PDF, and I don't want to use one of the billion on-line PDF conversion tools, why is the government supporting Adobe and Microsoft!!!, blah blah blah" I just tell them to send me the file. In about 3 minutes I'm done and they are happy. Once upon a time I even hired temps to do this work- but these cases are really about .5% of submissions, and it just isn't worth it.

The article wasn't about the practical aspects of using PDF, it was about the (crap, can't think of the word...) aspect, where someone got their panties in a bunch because the government doesn't facilitate their worst-case-scenario approach to proposal submission.

Source: Been doing this for 20 years for the gub'ment. Yes, there is a guy like me behind most of those systems. See the part of the submission site that says, "For technical assistance...". Yeah, call me or send me an email and I'll take care of it for you. That's why they pay me, and good service is how I make the system look good.

***On the other hand, when you send an email to me, my boss, the funding organization and the overarching agency describing how the system does not function properly, and you were not able to submit your proposal...yes, I will send back a very detailed screenshot laden email pointing out step by step how you failed, and probably send the logs showing that you logged on one time 3 hours before the submission deadline. Goddam I hate it when people blame their failings on the system.

Comment EMP (Score 1) 60

It's all fun and games, until someone sets off a NNEMP device buried under the 50 yard line. ... I think that was part of the plot in a bad movie. I've noticed that a lot of credible threats are taken straight from movies and TV shows.

Comment just honeypot the shit out of everything (Score 3, Insightful) 208

you catch murderers and hitmen by

1.the police answering the ads of "hitmen" (morons, but so are most ISIS supporters)

2. police posing as hitmen and picking up the losers that contract for their services

you can do the same with ISIS

1. answer real ISIS broadcasters with fake supporters who proceed to sabotage operations and outreach in all sorts of ways

2. pose as ISIS and hoover up the social retards who answer the call

but you can only do this if the idiots operate out in the open

drive them underground and you can still do it, like with child porn douchebags. but you've made the job harder and some sympathizers go uncaught

Comment Re:Important consideration (Score 2) 136

it's called fracking

the techonology was first achieved by the rogue state of oklahoma. we have not yet received their list of demands. however, they have shared the dangerous technology with the unstable province of alberta, which has recently upped the ante of horrors:

Submission + - How A Young IRS Agent Identified The Man Behind Silk Road (

circletimessquare writes: Dread Pirate Roberts, who ran Silk Road, was identified as Ross Ulbricht by one agent googling, off work hours, in just two weekends in 2013. Many agents had been working on the case for a year or more, and since agent Gary Alford was new to the case, not FBI, and not technologically sophisticated, no one took him seriously for months. He escalated the discovery and became such a pest about it, one agent told him to drop it.

"In these technical investigations, people think they are too good to do the stupid old-school stuff. But I'm like, 'Well, that stuff still works.'" Mr. Alford’s preferred tool was Google. He used the advanced search option to look for material posted within specific date ranges. That brought him, during the last weekend of May 2013, to a chat room posting made just before Silk Road had gone online, in early 2011, by someone with the screen name "altoid." "Has anyone seen Silk Road yet?" altoid asked. "It’s kind of like an anonymous" The early date of the posting suggested that altoid might have inside knowledge about Silk Road. During the first weekend of June 2013, Mr. Alford went through everything altoid had written, the online equivalent of sifting through trash cans near the scene of a crime. Mr. Alford eventually turned up a message that altoid had apparently deleted — but that had been preserved in the response of another user. In that post, altoid asked for some programming help and gave his email address:

Comment Re:We'll see (Score 1) 226

I just checked Walmart's site, just for being the shit end of outlets that sell such things. They list several explicitly GMRS that are available in my local stores for around $25/pair. I spot checked the manuals on some, and they just said to be sure you're licensed before turning the power up.

The only FRS-only radio that is cheaper is a pair of purple "Disney Sofia the First FRS 2-Way Radios" for $19.54. At least I think that's a pair of radios. The description sucks. I guess being branded as "Disney princess" radios would stop a few people. I'm not sure that I'd want to be seen using a pretty princess radio. :)

Comment Re:To be fair (Score 3, Insightful) 169

To be fair, a lot of people have written a lot of books, that Slashdot readers should have read. Not remembering a name, other than the context "guy who carries lots of electronics with him", is perfectly acceptable.

The electronics kit you're referencing is too new for some of us. My kit was from the late 1970s or early 1980s. I say that because that's when I used one of those "### in 1" electronics kits. I haven't seen mine for over 20-some years. I have no idea who the author of the accompanying book was.

If you pretentious enough to say anyone worthy of being here should know Mr. Mims, you should also be aware that you're spelling his name wrong.

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Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb