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Comment: Not putting up with jerks (Score 3, Interesting) 213

by Animats (#47732661) Attached to: When Customer Dissatisfaction Is a Tech Business Model

You don't have to put up with jerks.

  • Internet provider - DSL. No packet filtering, good support, no nonsense.
  • Phone - Caterpillar B15 ruggeized Android phone.. Bought from Caterpillar dealer, not carrier. Declined Google account at first power up. Google services disabled. No updates from Google.
  • Cellular carrier - T-Mobile. Has no control over phone. No carrier apps.
  • Email - IMAP server. SpamAssassin spam blocking.
  • Main desktop machine - Ubuntu 12.4 LTS.
  • No Google account. No Twitter account. No pay TV. Ad blocking on all browsers.
  • Main news source - Reuters. (More news about Ukraine and ISIS, less about Bieber and Apple.)
  • Main food store - Trader Joe's. No "club card" required. Good prices.

For almost every crap business, there's a competitor that isn't crap. Find them.

Comment: Re:Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.... (Score 2) 111

by 93 Escort Wagon (#47731579) Attached to: NSA Agents Leak Tor Bugs To Developers

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts....

Remember, the NSA is the group that originally gave us Tor. If I was one of the original developers, and I took pride in my work - it is likely I would continue to help the project improve, even if my employer had changed focus.

Also, remember that the NSA is not just one huge monolithic group with only one task on their plate. I find it easy to believe that some folks there question the wisdom of attempting to cripple security (such as they seem to have done with the elliptic curve ciphers). Plus code breakers and cryptographers are, in general, going to be working at cross purposes - it's the nature of their jobs.

Comment: Re:Yes Google and FB are the ones to protect us? (Score 1) 111

by 93 Escort Wagon (#47731507) Attached to: NSA Agents Leak Tor Bugs To Developers

Are you aware that Google is one of the last big internet guys who refuses to cooperate with the Chinese government?

What are you talking about? Google pretty much capitulated to the Chinese government on all fronts a couple years ago.

Do some DuckDuckGo'ing if you don't believe me. I'd suggest not searching for this using Google, since using that engine for this seems to bury some of the less favorable stories - the ones at the top are the ones that use language refer to Google "reluctantly" giving in.

But in any case there have been multiple instances over the past several years where Google has made noise about standing up to China, then more quietly reversed course months later. But people only seem to remember the original noise, which means Google has an effective PR team.

Comment: Re:not the battery door (Score 1) 96

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#47727657) Attached to: Your Phone Can Be Snooped On Using Its Gyroscope
As much as I mourn my HP Touchpad (Oh man did WebOS multitasking curb-stomp Android multitasking at the time and even considerably later); if you are still running WebOS you probably have bigger security issues. The last update for any Pre models was December 2011, and Touchpad models January 2012. That's a long time for a relatively full featured OS to go without any fixing.

Comment: Re:Hope So (Score 2) 364

Especially for missile subs. There's a reason(aside from property values and a desire to keep tourists away) that the cold-war-classic hardened silos in the US were sprinkled around various parts of nowhere; because it was basically assumed that any fixed silo Team Ivan knew about would be getting nuked and so putting them near major cities and industrial centers was a bad plan; but the whole point of nuclear missile subs is highly resistant second strike capabilities through spending as much time sneaking around underwater as possible.

The risks of being caught in drydock are hardly zero; but a submarine base is a rather different asset from a silo.

Comment: Re:Did the fall of the Soviet Union (Score 1) 364

If memory serves, even more of the post Soviet republics didn't have much in the way of proper warheads-ready-to-roll; but were largely cooperative with international efforts to bundle up the alarming quantities of fissile goodness hanging out in various abandoned facilities that were 'guarded' mostly in the sense that some of the looters were also drawing paychecks.

Nukes, at least, can be waved around; but suddenly unfunded nuclear R&D programs are just a nightmare for everyone involved.

Comment: Re:Here's the interesting paragraph (Score 3, Insightful) 364

I don't know what the wacky world of inheriting nukes in state breakups looks like in terms of precedent(given that our only real experience with it is 'making shit up while the Soviet Union crumbled' there may be little more than handwaving); but it wouldn't at all surprise me if both Scotland and the (slightly less)United Kingdom would have a very strong shared incentive to come up with an amicable deal.

Unless you have the ability(decent strategic air force, missile sub capabilities, or hostile neighbors within easy shooting range) and the desire to wave your nukes around, being a nuclear power is actually kind of a shitty job. Nukes are, well, the nuclear option, so they are of little use except in extreme circumstances; they are expensive and technically demanding to maintain, their PR value is deeply mixed, you have to protect them to avoid proliferation, and they have finite shelf life.

If Scotland wants to get out of the nuclear game; but the UK wants to hold on to some Global Influence, it would be a very, very, mutually convenient arrangement for Scotland to offer a sweetheart deal(if they have some sort of legal claim, maybe a relatively token payment or concession, otherwise just some handshakes and a photo-op) on the warheads in exchange for the UK packing them up, remediating any especially badly contaminated facilities, and otherwise making them Not Our Problem Anymore.

The hypothetical Scottish exit would likely be cleaner than that of the former Soviet republics, so they wouldn't be quite as badly situated; but the post-Soviet states that inherited fissile goodies were generally quite happy to accept Russian, American, or any other outside assistance in just getting the stuff off their hands as fast as possible. Having a real nuclear arsenal is expensive and requires commitment. Having a decaying one is just a proliferation clusterfuck waiting to happen.

Comment: No big deal (Score 2) 175

by Animats (#47726537) Attached to: How Does Tesla Build a Supercharger Charging Site?

This is a straightforward industrial electrical installation. There's a pad-mounted distribution transformer and meter provided by the power company, a weatherproof load center provided by the customer's electrical contractor, and the Tesla supercharger control unit and outlet stations. No big deal to install. There's a comparable installation at every large standalone store.

That's a small charging station. Here's the build-out of a bigger one. Black and Veach, which does infrastructure construction for the energy and communications industry (substations, cell sites, etc.) is doing the job. They see it as a lot like building out cell towers. (If you watch that video, you may wonder why the transformers and switchgear are on raised platforms. Probably because there's a flood risk at that location.)

Installing a gas station's underground tanks, which today are dual tanks with leak detection, is a much bigger job. There's a big excavation, lots of plumbing and wiring, and several different trades involved.

Comment: Re:Makes sense I guess. (Score 1) 174

In the specific case of humans(and other placental mammals, presumably), it probably doesn't help that "aggressively invade immunologically foreign tissue, stimulate growth of blood vessels to support voracious demand for oxygen and nutrients" is one of the qualifications that you must have to avoid dying before your mother even noticed you.

That sort of capability is classic tumor; but you aren't going to hack it as an embryo unless you are capable of it.

Comment: Re:"new" research (Score 1) 174

The stakes are obviously higher when the subject is sentient(at least the subject tends to think so...); but even organisms that are barely 'multicellular', like slime molds, have some rather fascinating mechanisms surrounding the issue of maintaining organism-level cooperation between individual cells subject to their own selective pressures.

With the slime molds some of the really tricky bits happen when the normally free-living cells congregate and form a stalk that is mostly (dead) structural cells with some spore forming bodies at the tip. This behavior is apparently adaptive at a colony level; but it involves a bunch of formerly independent cells deciding which 90% get to die in order to form the support structure and who gets to be the reproductive structure. All without access to general purpose cognition, game theory, or any similarly handy tools.

Comment: Re: "Not eradicated" isn't needed (Score 4, Informative) 174

Multicellular organisms do have a variety of lethal failsafes that are supposed to stand in the way of cancer. Unfortunately some fraction of potentially cancerous cells are sufficiently defective that apoptosis is interrupted and they can proliferate.

Comment: Re:nuke it in orbit... (Score 1) 116

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#47722791) Attached to: Scientists Find Traces of Sea Plankton On ISS Surface
I'm not sure why this has you so worked up; but nothing about my proposal requires assuming that all true aliens are made of silicon and element-115 or similar sci-fi handwaving.

Looking at terrestrial organisms, we see various limits on what biochemistries actually work; but we also see a lot of variation. Some of it in fairly critical systems, much of it churn. Depending on the exact resources available and any special difficulties involved we can, and do, build robust phylogenetic trees. In cases that we care more about, or are better behaved, we can sometimes nail heredity down to the individual level despite the fact that conspecifics employ pretty much identical chemistry.

It may well be the case that an alien is based on pretty much the same chemistry as terrestrial life, even that there aren't any other options; but a carbon based alien with DNA that just coincidentially fits neatly into a terrestrially evolved phylogenetic tree? That would be quite a trick.

"There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them" - Heisenberg