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Comment Re:Why now? (Score 4, Insightful) 234

I haven't followed Pao's case so I have no informed opinion on it.

However, I do believe that jury selection processes are so tainted that it's tough to get a fair trial. The process is supposed to be about finding jurors without biases that would affect their decision, but it's actually about putting people on the jury that can be swayed by the prosecution and defense.

I had jury duty a few months ago and, during the selection process, the prosecutor asked who all the scientists and engineers were. It turned out to be about a third of the jury pool, and none of us was selected except a single one who worked for a government lab. Did the case involve any scientific or engineering matters? Not really. It was a drunk driving/hit and run/leaving the scene of an accident thing. My hypothesis is that the police botched the investigation and there was no real physical evidence of guilt, and that the case was based on he said/she said.

The prosecutor deliberately removed people from the jury pool because they could think critically and would not blindly swallow assertions. And it worked: I checked the court records and the defendant was convicted.

Comment Just what we need in the oval office... (Score 3, Interesting) 553

Another narcissist whose business failures are repeatedly blamed on others. (HP's market cap rose by billions on the day she was ousted.)

We need to diagnose narcissists early and send them all to Empathyless Island, where they can prey on each other instead of us.

A good article on why narcissism is bad, even in the cold, sociopathic world of capitalism.

Comment Binoculars (Score 5, Interesting) 187

Don't buy a telescope. Instead, get a good pair of 10x50 binoculars and an intro astronomy book with pictures.

A telescope will always take some setup and you'll be less likely to go to the effort as time goes on. With binoculars, you just grab them and go. That's a much better way to keep beginners interested.

Submission + - U.S. Rejects Demands For ACTA Transparency (

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Trade Representative issued a release just prior to the launch of the New Zealand round of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement negotiations that has left no doubt that the U.S. is the biggest barrier to official release of the ACTA text. Unlike most other ACTA countries that have called for transparency without condition, the U.S. has set conditions that effectively seeks to trade its willingness to release the text for gains on the substance of the text.

Submission + - The iPad vs. Microsoft's "Jupiter" Devices (

harrymcc writes: A dozen years ago, Microsoft convinced major manufacturers to put Windows CE inside devices that looked like undersized touchscreen personal computers. The platform was code-named "Jupiter" and shipped as Handheld PC Pro, and it flopped--it turned out that people wanted full-strength notebooks. But in retrospect, it was a clear antecedent of what Apple is doing--much more successfully--with the iPad.

Submission + - Wikileaks' international man of mystery (

AcidAUS writes: The founder of WikiLeaks lives a secret life in the shadow of those who blow the whistle. A detailed profile of the Australian founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, by Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald.

Submission + - Proposed Ban For Electronic Cigarettes ( 13

Anarki2004 writes: There is yet another ban that nobody asked for being proposed in several states currently. From the article: There is debate about whether or not the FDA has jurisdiction over e-cigarettes. There's a bill currently in Congress that would further complicate that debate. The Family Smoking Prevention And Tobacco Control Act was passed by the House on April 2nd, and is now in the Senate. One of its provisions would allow the FDA "to review and consider the evidence for additional indications for nicotine replacement products." That could be interpreted to allow e-cigarettes to fall under the FDA's jurisdiction.

As a former smoker and an extremely satisfied user of electronic personal vaporizers, this ban would force me and thousands of others to either switch back to analog cigarettes, or give up nicotine all together (which as any smoker/former smoker knows is not an easy task). The only people who will benefit from this law are pharmaceutical companies peddling smoking cessation products, and the tobacco industry. This proposed ban does absolutely nothing to benefit the citizens.

Comment A hardware solution for click abatement (Score 1) 519

Tactile feedback is very nice, but I hate audible clicks.

A couple of decades ago I worked for Wang Laboratories and extensively used their "workstations" (basically smart terminals with a proprietary interface). Wang was the king of word processing when the professional world was just switching over from their Selectric typewriters.

To make these users feel more at home, the workstations included a mechanical solenoid that would trigger on every keystroke. This not only produced a loud, typewriter-like click, but also yielded a a tactile, typewriter-like thud.

I'm sure some engineer worked very hard on that solenoid to make the workstation sound and feel just like a Selectric, but I hated the noise and implemented a hardware solution: I clipped a solenoid wire with a pair of cutters and regained blessed silence. Many of my co-workers asked me to perform this simple service for them as well.

Later workstation models would mimic the key click by playing a sound through the speaker, but I could turn that off with an option.

"I never let my schooling get in the way of my education." -- Mark Twain