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Comment: Re:why internet connected? (Score 1) 111

by forand (#47700731) Attached to: Hackers Steal Data Of 4.5 Million US Hospital Patients
Why can't they us a VPN AT LEAST? The GP is not ignorant but perhaps too idealistic. Personally while I don't think it is a good idea to have health records available on the internet I think it is far worse that our electrical system REQUIRES internet access and communication between various points. This is a horrible national security risk while private health records are rather difficult to either monetize or use (financial records excluded).

Comment: Re:Failure of the 20th-Century Environmental Movem (Score 1) 248

by forand (#47699451) Attached to: The Cost of Caring For Elderly Nuclear Plants Expected To Rise
I agree that there was a great failure in the US to build out newer nuclear plants in the latter years of the 20th century. Unfortunately it isn't as clear as you state. Energy produces were spreading mis-information if not lies about nuclear power while the Environmental people were crying about the waste. Nuclear power is NOT without its drawbacks. I remember vividly having a PG&E rep come into our class and go through her whole spiel which included numerous falsehoods. When I called her on it she was literally dumbfounded that anyone would know enough to question her falsehoods. It took me YEARS to realize that while PG&E wasn't being trustworthy about nuclear power the other options where worse (generally). So the energy companies themselves hold some of the responsibility for the failure to build new generation nuclear reactors. People do not like being lied to or mislead and often will assume your goals are suspect because of it.

Comment: Actions speak louder than words (Score 4, Insightful) 200

by forand (#47536403) Attached to: Cable Companies: We're Afraid Netflix Will Demand Payment From ISPs
This might be reasonable if it was coming from a group who hadn't spent huge sums of money fighting to stop legislation that would have made it illegal for either netflix or comcast to charge for the specific route. That being said if Comcast, Time Warner, etc. make Netflix pay to be inside their networks now and in the future Netflix turns around and says "if you don't pay us to stay we will remove our servers from your networks and your customers will have to get Netflix through standard routing" then I have no sympathy for them but they may be right in worrying.

Comment: Re:You have this backwards. (Score 5, Insightful) 749

by forand (#47453177) Attached to: Obama Administration Says the World's Servers Are Ours
I agree with everything you have stated. However, the situation is not one of Microsoft being required to produce their own documents, they are being required to produce other's documents. So the analogy would be that Microsoft has a rental storage facility in Ireland and the US wants them to riffle through a unit and send some documents they find. That is far less reasonable and clear cut as your summary.

Comment: Ethical Responsibility (Score 5, Insightful) 130

by forand (#47344103) Attached to: In 2012, Facebook Altered Content To Tweak Readers' Emotions
This is quite interesting research that should never have been done. I am rather surprised that the National Academy published the results of a study which violated multiple ethical guidelines put in place to protect human subjects. Did Facebook track the number of suicides in the 700,000 sample? Was the rate of those given a sadder than average stream have a higher or lower rate? Do the Facebook researchers address the ethical questions posed by performing such an experiment at all?

Comment: Bad summary/Theory Conflicts with data (Score 2) 347

by forand (#47311399) Attached to: Evidence of a Correction To the Speed of Light

The summary (and linked article) do a poor job of explaining the process and imply some change in the speed of light (there isn't one). The problem with the article ( is that it ignores a bunch of more relevant data: Fermi-LAT observed photons from the same GRB over a very wide energy range placing an extremely good limit on effects like this proposed in the article (

Furthermore this is NOT new; the original article was posted in 2011 and only recently published in the "New Journal of Physics" which has apparently only published 16 volumes and I believe has had its email permanently redirected to my spam box.

Finally why do people link to Medium and not the actual article for physic related news items? We have demanded open, free access to all our papers since the birth of the internet (I speak as a physicist). Do everyone a favor and find the arxiv link and include it in your summary when submitting physics stories to Slashdot.

Comment: Very short time window (Score 1) 686

by forand (#47219099) Attached to: Aliens and the Fermi Paradox
We have had the ability to send out communications to the cosmos roughly the same amount of time we have had weapons capable of killing us all if used improperly. What are the odds that we will have sent something to someone listening before we either kill ourselves or are thrown back into the stone ages by some natural event? Basically I do not find it hard to believe that intelligent life, over time, may not be so great at propagating itself for the time needed to communicate with other civilizations.

Comment: Re:scientific consensus! (Score 2) 129

What is described in both the summary and article are not scientific consensus. Scientific consensus is NOT the "merely mobbing using peer reviews and grant committees." Scientific consensus is just that, you look at what researchers are concluding in their studies and you see if there is a mountain of evidence pointing to a similar conclusion: e.g. virtually everyone who throws up something sees it fall back down points to gravity. But there is almost always someone who sees something really odd: e.g. one person threw up something that floated away and never saw it again like a helium balloon. We, as scientists, do not conclude that gravity has a problem from this but that perhaps helium balloons are special. My point is that scientific consensus is an emergent phenomena: it appears when conditions are right from apparent randomness (like statistical mechanics). Peer reviewers do not get to kill papers because they don't like them, in fact they DO NOT GET TO KILL PAPERS. They get to criticize the work and ask for more evidence and clarification and the authors get to respond. So if your work is rejected it is generally for one of two reason: not good enough to warrant publication in the journal you chose (not everything is published in Science) or you failed to make your work compelling enough in the face of criticism.

Comment: Nest not selling data (Score 3, Informative) 93

by forand (#46792683) Attached to: How Nest and FitBit Might Spy On You For Cash
The article is very misleading. Nest is working with some power companies which offer their customers financial incentives to allow the power company to dial back their AC units during high load times. Pepco in DC offers the same service but you have to pay for their thermostat. This isn't selling user information this is letting the power companies access their customers' thermostats if and only if that customer allows it. Nothing in the article says anything else is happening than this but states it in a very deceptive way. If the article actually had some evidence of something more nefarious it would be fine but as it is just doesn't stand up.

This is a link to the Nest program:

Comment: Poor comments (Score 2) 673

by forand (#46714437) Attached to: Google: Teach Girls Coding, Get $2,500; Teach Boys, Get $0
The comments on this thread are saddening. People seem to have neither read nor understood even the short summary:
  • Google isn't paying students but paying teachers to encourage female students to use the Khan Academy web class.
  • Discrimination is not, not paying for someone else. Google is doing this as a charity. Should charities that focus on small immigrant communities be forced to spend their resources outside of their mandate?

Comment: Re:If ur not coding because you like it . . . (Score 1) 673

by forand (#46714355) Attached to: Google: Teach Girls Coding, Get $2,500; Teach Boys, Get $0
They are not bribing people to code. They are paying teachers to enlighten girls to resources that are available to them to learn to code. Finally I have a question for you: Is a well paid engineer being bribed to do their job? Paying someone to do something for you or for society is pretty far from a bribe.

Premature optimization is the root of all evil. -- D.E. Knuth