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Comment: Re:FCC? (Score 1) 154

by hey! (#49168109) Attached to: Feds Admit Stingray Can Disrupt Bystanders' Communications

The device was approved by the FCC. However the approval process is not in this case transparent. We don't know whether the FCC took into account whether the device's capacity to create interference, or whether they may have played favorites.

One thing we can be certain about is that the FCC didn't worry about Constitutional or laws that protect citizen privacy, and certainly not the use of the devices without a warrant. That's not their bailiwick.

So to summarize the FCC approved this device but we don't know if they did their job. We can be certain they didn't do *more* than their job.

Comment: Re:Brain drain (Score 3, Interesting) 93

by hey! (#49168025) Attached to: Marissa Mayer On Turning Around Yahoo

Well... maybe there's some kind of model in which you would actually look forward to seeing your colleagues in person.

Personally, I've done in both ways. When my partner and I sold our business to a company that was on the other side of the country, I no longer had a two hour a day commute, which was awesome. I also didn't have a team I saw in person every day, which I very quickly grew to miss. And I'm not the most sociable person in the world. I'm more than glad to spend a few days or even weeks working by myself. But as weeks stretched into months, with only emails, teleconferencing, and the occasional cross-country flight, I grew to hate telecommuting. It's great to be able to do it even a couple of days a week, but if I had the choice of woking in bathrobe in the spare bedroom ALL the time or spending two hours in the car EVERY day, I'd go with the commute.

If I were starting another company, I think one of my priorities would be to make being there fun, stimulating, and personally rewarding. I'd make it possible to telecommute, but if people began to see it as their primary mode of working I'd consider that a red flag.

Comment: fortunately, you don't need showers (Score 1) 301

by SuperBanana (#49167907) Attached to: I ride a bike ...

Fortunately, you don't need showers. Bicycling != sweaty. And sweaty !=stinky.

People stink because they cover themselves in chemical perfumes (perfumes, soaps, shampoos, moisturizers, etc) that have limited 'life' before they start to decompose. People stink because they use fabric softener on their clothing (see above...also, fabric softeners are basically fat. Which goes rancid...) People stink because they toss their sweaty clothes into a hamper instead of airing them out.

I'm American. I ride a bike every day, in a city that goes from 0 degrees to 100+ degrees. I don't understand this obsession with sweat. If I'm going somewhere and can't show up sweaty, I slow down, or I get there a few minutes early and cool off/dry off just by...uh...standing around...

People seem to forget that biking is more efficient and thus for the same energy used walking, you can go several times faster, which means for the same energy you are less likely to get sweaty.

Comment: Re:Oh just stop already (Score 5, Insightful) 187

by hey! (#49164973) Attached to: That U2 Apple Stunt Wasn't the Disaster You Might Think It Was

Music, like sex, is a young person's affair. Just drop it after 40, nobody wants to hear it, and no one wants to think about it.

Hey kids! Old guy here dropping in just to let you know that contrary to what AC claims, you'll still like sex and music even when you're over fifty. You just won't be staying up late to enjoy them.

Since I'm here I might as well give you a heads up on some of the things that will change. On the sex front, expect your standards for what is "hot enough to do" to fall straight through the floor. I know this sounds awful to you now, but trust me on this, you've got hold of the wrong end of that stick.

On the music front, at a certain age most people stop being interested in listening anything new. However that age isn't 40; it's more like 22. And notice I said "most". If you make it to, say 26 years old and are still listening to new music, you'll still be doing that at 50.

And same goes for being a miserable person. I know the stereotype is that older people are miserable, but trust me, most miserable older people were miserable young people. They just let it out more, because as you get older you have fewer inhibitions (see the point about sex above).

Anyhow, thought I'd let you know that getting older isn't bad at all, and it sure as hell beats the alternative.

Comment: It's a little unseemly. (Score 1) 214

by hey! (#49164501) Attached to: Spock and the Legacy of Star Trek

The sad loss of a beloved actor shouldn't be a springboard for fanboy hate of J.J. Abrams.

For what it's worth, I think the writers and the actors in the Abrams' movies really get Star Trek. Maybe not so much the director, whose lack of affection for the franchise shows. But even though the aesthetics may not be very Trek, the fundamental Trek ethos that Leonard Nimoy was so essential to establishing was there in the scripts and performances. And that ethos is still something worth studying.

We have managed to turn "diversity" into an hollow slogan; a catchphrase that represents a kind of bean counting of superficial categories. I remember one startup environmental organization I worked for where we had just hired a young man from Mexico City. The founder, an unquestionably brilliant man, was literally rubbing his hands together in glee as he toted up his diversity: one latino male, one asian male (me), one black (African) female, four caucasian females and three caucasian males. And I was thinking, "Yeah, but except for me everyone comes from the same graduate program in environmental studies you founded." What's more except for him and me they all came from the same comfortable middle to upper-middle class background -- people who never had to worry about money. Groupthink was a huge problem, but nobody else saw that until the day they suddenly realized they weren't going to be able to make payroll. Maybe a business major or two on the payroll would have been a good idea...

Star Trek shows a cast of characters who may all have gone to the same school, but think radically different from each other. Nonetheless they manage to work together and are better, more capable people because of that. That's what diversity is really about: working with people who have different viewpoints and attitudes.. Kirk and Spock are the the toughest nuts to crack, because they both have a tendency toward arrogant, even smug confidence in their own judgment. Trust me, you wouldn't want to work for either of these two characters if they didn't have each other.

Aristotle posited three levels of friendship, that of convenience, of pleasure, and of virtue. In the virtuous friendship, your friend is "a second self" -- that is you pursue his welfare as an intrinsic rather than an instrumental good, just as you pursue your own welfare. He valued virtuous friendship even above justice, because it holds society together in ways that even justice cannot. But he missed another point which the Kirk/Spock friendship illustrates: a friend is a doorway into a better appreciation of objective reality. You cannot dismiss the viewpoint of "second self" as easily as you would someone else's opinions.

So again from what it's worth the writers of the Abrams reboot movies really understand this virtuous friendship dynamic, and especially do a nice job with the humorous touches. The overall stories were a bit mediocre, but the character based stuff was top-notch and true to the spirit of TOS.

To bring this back to Leonard Nimoy, others deserve some credit in creating Spock -- the writers, directors and of course Gene Roddenberry. But Nimoy's performance is what brought Spock to life. It's one of those instances of theatrical magic where an actor becomes the character, and banishes any awareness that you're watching someone playing a role. That's a big part of what makes Spock so relatable.

Comment: Re:Bad move (Score 4, Insightful) 356

by hey! (#49161319) Attached to: Google Wants To Rank Websites Based On Facts Not Links

It is seldom the veracity of facts that the debate is over; it is their significance. But that happens to be where this falls idea falls short, because misinterpretation of facts is where the most potent misinformation comes from.

Case in point, "vaccine injury" -- which is a real thing, albeit very rare. Anti-vaccine activists point to the growing volume of awards made by the US "Vaccine Court" (more accurately called "The Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims") as proof that vaccine injuries are on the rise.

It is a verifiable fact that the volume of awards has grown since the early years of the program. That is absolutely and unquestionably true. However, that this is proof vaccine injuries is gross misinterpretation, because the "Vaccine Court" program is no fault. You don't actually have to show the defendant *caused* an "injury", you only have to (a) show the child got sick after being vaccinated and (b) find a doctor to sign off on a medical theory by which the child's illness *might* have been caused by the vaccination.

Since you don't have to actually prove injury in "Vaccine Court", the rise in cases and awards doesn't know vaccine injuries are on the rise. All that is necessary is that more people think that their child's illness was caused by vaccinations, and the low burden of proof will automatically ensure more awards.

And so there you have it. A perfectly factual claim can be cited in a way that leads people to preposterous conclusions.

Comment: Re:Thrilling (Score 1) 22

by hey! (#49160063) Attached to: Spacewalking Astronauts Finish Extensive, Tricky Cable Job

Yeah, cause Mars Exploration Rover, GRAIL, Dawn, New Frontiers, Solar Dynamics Observatory, the Spitzer and Kepler telescopes, all those things are boring science. Only nerds find things like discovering Earthlike exoplanets or determining the origin of the Moon thrilling. They should get their own news site so the rest of us don't have listen to stuff that only matters to them.

Comment: Re:Hashes not useful (Score 1) 308

by hey! (#49159733) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

Again not necessarily. For example the web page and the download server might not be the same, in which case it is not true that being able to modify the download necessarily means you can also modify the webpage checksum.

Another example is when people download and stage a large file on their local network, which is very common practice. If the server on their local network, in a sense the file is modified "in transit", but the malware needn't be anything special or exotic. I'd go so far as to say if you stage anything on your own servers you ought to check its hash religiously before using it.

Yet another example of "not necessarily" is monitoring. It wouldn't be hard to automatically monitor the download page for unauthorized modifications. Of course you should monitor the downloads themselves for modifications, but that takes more time. You can monitor the hashes on the download page continuously from another computer, automatically shutting the page down if anything changes. That wouldn't prevent your download page from unauthorized modifications but it would contain the consequences and it's very easy to do.

This is what I mean by it's the stuff that goes *around* a security measure that makes it work. A hash doesn't do anything unless people check the hash. That includes people who are hosting the file. I often think of this as a kind of diminishing returns exercise; since people often have spent *no* effort on preparing to respond to being hacked, often the best marginal expenditure is in that direction.

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