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Comment: Shooting the messenger ... (Score 1) 193

by golodh (#48025675) Attached to: CEO of Spyware Maker Arrested For Enabling Stalkers
It's quite OK to mass-produce cellphones that can be tapped and controlled in this way.

But apparently it's not OK to sell software to allow people to use their perfectly ordinary cellphone to pick up other conversations from its vicinity.

How about securing the transmissions of cellphones instead of prosecuting someone for doing the obvious?

Comment: Nostalgic for a nice set of chains, are they? (Score 2) 211

by golodh (#47991509) Attached to: Australian Senate Introduces Laws To Allow Total Internet Surveillance
Or simply an overreaction? I really wonder.

Allowing the security services to *monitor* the whole country looks like a panicky move and leaves the door wide open to abuse.

Curtailing the freedom of speech of journalists and bloggers, as in :

The legislation makes it an offence if a person "discloses information ... [that] relates to a special intelligence operation" and does not state any public interest exemptions, meaning it could apply to anyone including journalists. Those who disclosed such information would face up to 10 years' jail.

veers into police-state territory, given the vague way in which it's phrased. I think that the balance between on the one hand safeguarding the effectiveness of anti-terrorism measures and on preventing miscreants from benefiting from bloggers and journalists and a general gag-order on the other has been upset.

For example reporting on the crackdown of the past few days would probably fall under it. Reporting like the articles that exposed the TSA's practices of make-work and unprofessional conduct could fall under it, if the prosecutors happened to feel like it.

I'm not given to quoting historical figures as a rule, but I'll make an exception now:

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. [Franklin, B. ((11 Nov. 1755) Reply to the Governor] .

Have they really considered the costs and benefits of this little gag-law? Are their "Special Intelligence Operations" that fragile that they come apart when people report about them? I can't imagine it.

Comment: Underthinking the problem ... (Score 1) 138

by golodh (#47954751) Attached to: Star Wars Producers Want a 'DroneShield' To Prevent Leaks On Set
As usual with BillyBob and his "coussins", the other extreme is *under-thinking* the problem.

The problem is to find those drones in the first place, especially if they're coming in low and slow, or high enough to be out of slingshot range.

The "droneshield" thingy seems to tackle the problem by analysing ambient sounds. From the webpage the article refers to:

Drones present many threats to military and homeland security forces and facilities. "Low, Slow, and Small" UAS are a growing threat that legacy CUAS will not detect. DroneShield compliments (sic) radar and RF detection systems against smaller, low signature UAS because acoustic emissions are difficult to conceal or spoof.

So it tells you if it hears a drone buzzing nearby, which is useful, ... but it doesn't (yet) do target-acquisition for BillyBob's anti-drone-slingshot batteries.

Comment: Grow up ... and learn about Engineering (Score 4, Informative) 275

by golodh (#47952327) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Becoming a Complacent Software Developer?
That's my advice. Mainstream engineering isn't about individuals, let alone "stars". It's about reliably delivering commodities, in bulk, standardised, to spec and within budget.

Maintenance programming is an example. Large development projects under the "waterfall" method (often) is an example. Custom-building standard systems is another. In such cases you're better off with predictable but competent standardised performance from a team of 9-5 programmers that with mob of empassioned risk-takers.

This "passion" thing is needed when individual performance counts. As in: when the "old" way of doing things no longer suffices (the old machinery has bogged down and needs to be replaced by something new), or when clear efficiency improvements can be realised (this is common engineering practice), or when there is room to experiment (e.g. in Open Source Software), or when your task is to see how far the envelope can be pushed and to come up with something new (e.g. research).

Of course there's a difference between not keeping up with mainstream engineering (as the opening post suggests) and spending your time "innovating" when there are adequate standard methods available.

Comment: Re:As a private citizen (Score 1) 213

by golodh (#47895821) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)
If you believe that, then any ' citizen" of the "Khalifate" (ISIS), North Korea, Iran, China, Russia, or whoever can make the very same claim with the same amount of justification.

And who's to say they're in the wrong to just install a missile battery in orbit to "reclaim their property" or to extract "reasonable compensation" from returning mining vessels?

Or even to send their own mining vessels (possibly armed) to the very same asteroids that Congress so graciously told you that you can keep the mining proceeds of?

The kind of attitude you display leads straight to armed conflict (if the rewards are high enough). Are you prepared to fight that conflict and hold the rest of us harmless from it, both financially and militarily?

Somehow I doubt that.

And last but not least: how about giving private citizens and private companies the power to mess about with chunks of rock near Earth's orbit? And what if those clowns decide it makes financial sense to install a motor on a really big asteroid and push it into earth orbit (for easier access)? And how about if North Korea or the Khalifate do that?

A little less short-sightedness there please.

Comment: Exactly: it's not about R, it's about statistics (Score 2) 387

by golodh (#47863051) Attached to: Unpopular Programming Languages That Are Still Lucrative
As far as I can see around me, there are not many openings for mere "coders" who just happen to have picked up some training in R.

Most R code does things like model fitting, parameter estimation, data visualisation, data analysis etc.. The code mostly is just a way to capture and operationalise an idea in statistics or data processing. If you can recognise, grasp, and follow through that idea then the code usually starts to make sense pretty quickly.

On the other hand, if you can't, then you'll be hard put to understand the code on its own terms and you really shouldn't try to modify it because you won't know what to look out for.

As I see it, the openings in "R" are for people who are "numerate", know about statistics, data analysis, a little database knowledge and who also happen to know R.

People like that are also likely to be able to work effectively with SAS, SPSS, SQL, Matlab and other high-level programming languages.

Comment: Lets use Anthropo-sedatives instead .. (Score 1) 819

by golodh (#47845499) Attached to: 3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room
I'm just waiting for a response to your suggestion from one of the more cost-cutting carries along the following lines: "Dear Daniel Ravennest, having studied you proposal with the utmost attention, we failed to note any innovative elements in it.

We would like to point out that your suggestion has already been implemented in the form of business class or first class travel.

Rather than complicating matters by offering a more heterogeneous product palette, we are currently researching a range of options which we consider to be both more realistic and more closely aligned with our mission and our strategic objectives.

One such programme, which we propose to field-test within the next three months, consists of administering sedatives and muscle relaxants (provided free of charge during the initial testing phase) to all economy passengers around 30 minutes before boarding. This courtesy relaxant will be individually dosed to wear off within hours of touchdown.

We believe that this will both eliminate disorderly conduct, increase security, reduce catering demands, and prevent injuries on the flight."

Comment: Apparently regulation is "socialist" (Score 5, Insightful) 312

by golodh (#47810051) Attached to: Uber Now Blocked All Over Germany
As far as I know (it's mentioned in the original article), German law demands things like adequate insurance cover, driver's health certificates and high vehicle maintenance standards. Sounds reasonable huh?

This applies for all taxicab companies, no matter their size. What Uber is doing is to make an end-run around those laws by offering taxicab rides from drivers who *don't* meet those requirements. Makes it easy to undercut people who do abide by the law eh? Sounds like unfair competition to me.

So how the hell is enforcing such laws "Socialist"?

And whoever decided this Anonymous Coward's drive-by comment qualifies as "insightful"?

Comment: I'd really think about this before I'd like ... (Score 1) 643

by golodh (#47772385) Attached to: U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras
Taken at face value there's a lot to be said for having police officers wear camera's.

They're Officers of the Law after all, so it's only right and proper that everyone goes *on record* each and every time they appear within a police officer's sight, yes?

Only ... what about a guarantee that we can have free access to the (unedited !) footage in case of a dispute? It doesn't say so anywhere, so it's not guaranteed.

And what about retention times of that footage? Will footage of person X being drunk and disorderly as a teen suddenly surface when said person runs for public office fifteen years later? Or footage showing him/her in a brawl? Or footage of them being less than civil when receiving a traffic citation? Or answering the door at 11 PM after a complaint about noise? Or kissing someone outside a disco? And err might their religious beliefs, political affiliation, race, ZIP code, or sexual inclination perhaps affect the probability of that happening?

And what's to stop police officers from automatically evaluating the tapes afterwards record everyone's faces, ID everyone in sight, and store contact reports on every single member of the public they meet? It's a logical next step, right? And it's bound to please Homeland Security into the bargain. So how would you like it if police departments everywhere could save a bundle by getting federal subsidies on body camera's in exchange for footage and contact reports?

And what about members of the public? Doesn't this mean they're at liberty to film each and every encounter involving a police officer too, e..g. wearing Google Glass'es? Think police departments will be happy about that? And what about wearing Google Glass all the time when you go outside? There's bound to be interest in all that footage from someone ... so you can perhaps make it pay for itself.

Secondly ... what about sound? Supposing the officer (or member of the public) said something really, really offensive that the camera didn't catch. And then you pound on the footage of what ensues. Nice way to introduce bias, no?

Thirdly ... how will police officers like it when they're on the monitor every minute of their shift? It's great when you want to find cause to fire someone and are looking for a suitable pretext. Just have someone sift through all the footage of a month, find the one or two instances said person goofs off, and take a "principled stance" condemning those particular instances and you're done.

All reasonable and obvious considerations I'd like to see addressed before I'd start "liking" a gizmo like this.

Comment: No better moustrap at all ... (Score 1) 306

by golodh (#47572915) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math
Let's not delude ourselves here: Amazon isn't "building a better mousetrap" at all and nobody needs Amazon to sell e-books.

What's happening Instead is that Amazon is using its marketing clout and its "brand recognition" to carve out a monopoly for itself.

Face it: anyone who can set up a website can sell e-books. You don't need a warehouse, you don't need fulfillment services. You just need a web-server and an e-shop.

You also need customers however, and that's where Amazon's added value is. It has a big catalog of paper books and lots of customers who'll turn to Amazon *first* if they're looking for a book. Any book. And yes, that makes it easier to sell e-books too.

In all other respects Amazon's added value is practically zero here, and it takes a lot of chutzpah to propose to charge 30% of the book price for that.

What Amazon noticed however is that *their* turnover is highly price-elastic and that they're well positioned to make money at high turnover rates. Needless to say that their turnover is an *aggregate* of sales of lots and lots of different titles. That doesn't mean that each separate title has the same price elasticity, or that its profit is maximised by adopting their uniform price.

Amazon simply wishes to grow its business by throttling direct sales and specialised retail channels and would like more or less uniform prices (like any other supermarket).

Nothing wrong with that of course, but it's 100% self-serving.

Comment: Depends on what debate you you mean of course ... (Score 1) 278

by golodh (#47483417) Attached to: The debate over climate change is..
In academic circles the debate is scientific.

As in: is it getting warmer on average?, can we say that's a climate change or is it another kind of structural change in our average weather situation?, and if so, what part of it is man-made? Arguments are based on data and backed up by models; datasets are being questioned, data filtering is being questioned, models are being questioned. Things work as they should, and the current majority opinion among scientists is: yes, global warming is most definitely happening, and yes man probably has a large part in that.

As soon as politics comes into it, the debate becomes political and thoroughly commingles the question "what's going on?" with "what are the consequences if global warming is happening?" and "suppose we all went onto an austerity programme, how much help would that be in practical terms, and would it be cost-effective (supposing that global warming is man-made)?".

What you see is a split between people who argue: yes global warming is happening and it's a valid reason to tell everyone (else) what to do in terms of conserving energy and scrapping their SUV's (roughly coinciding with the "centre-left").

And between people who think "we're not going to let a bunch of hippies tell us to change our lifestyle, so we'll attack the basis on which their demands rest, which happens to be global warming. (the "far right"). Those people are known as "climate-change deniers" and are conducting a totally different debate.

Their debate is about the question "Are we going to allow others to use this global warming scare as lever with which to impose measures on people that just so happen to coincide with their (centre-left) political agenda anyway?".

They obviously don't want that, and apart from denying obvious facts they are searching for ways to discredit people who provide those facts. That's a lot easier than debating facts anyway, and those are the ones you hear calling for private emails from researchers they don't like.

Where private citizens get into it, the debate splits even further along political lines. Citizens tend to follow politicians and opinion leaders they like and will defend what their chosen opinion leaders say and attack those opinion leaders they don't like. Simple. For such people it's not about facts (they wouldn't know how to check them anyway) but about credibility and ... who they would like to be on top come next election. Nothing new here, but that particular debate was never meant to be "scientific", so we shouldn't wonder that it isn't.

So it all depends on what debate you mean: the one among scientists, the one among politicians, or the one among citizens.

Nothing succeeds like success. -- Alexandre Dumas