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Comment: Re:Wildly premature question (Score 1) 81

by Bruce Perens (#48620117) Attached to: SpaceX To Attempt Falcon 9 Landing On Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship

If we look at jet aircraft, wear depends on the airframe and the engines, and the airframe seems to be the number of pressurize/depressurize cycles as well as the running hours. Engines get swapped out routinely but when the airframe has enough stress it's time to retire the aircraft lest it suffer catastrophic failure. Rockets are different in scale (much greater stresses) but we can expect the failure points due to age to be those two, with the addition of one main rocket-specific failure point: cryogenic tanks.

How long each will be reliable can be established using ground-based environmental testing. Nobody has the numbers for Falcon 9R yet.

Weight vs. reusable life will become a design decision in rocket design.

Comment: Ph.D. is NOT a career move (Score 1) 274

by aussersterne (#48614685) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

An English major is NOT getting into a STEM Ph.D. program, no matter what.

Even if they were, job prospects are worse for STEM Ph.D. holders than for MS/BS holders—there are far fewer jobs that require Ph.D. level qualifications outside of the professoriate and academics, and for Ph.D. holders in particular, employers are absolutely loathe to hire overqualified people.

Inside the professoriate and academics, the job market is historically bad right now. It's not "get a Ph.D., then become a lab head or professor," it's "get a Ph.D., then do a postdoc, then do another postdoc, then do another postdoc, then do another postdoc, really do at least 6-7 postdocs, moving around the world every year the entire time, and at the end of all of that if you've managed to stay employed at poverty wages using highly competitive postdocs that you may not even get, while not flying apart at the emotional seams, you may finally be competitive enough to be amongst the minority of 40-year-old Ph.D. holders that gets a lab or a tenure-track position, at which point the fun REALLY begins as you are forced onto the grantwriting treadmill and feel little job security, since universities increasingly require junior faculty to 'pay their own way' with external grants or be budgeted out."

And that's INSIDE STEM, which this person is almost certainly likely to be uncompetitive for as a B.A. holder trying to get into graduate programs.

Much more likely is that with great grades and GRE scores they'll be admitted to a humanities or social sciences Ph.D. program, with many of the same problems but with CATASTROPHICALLY worse job prospects due to the accelerating collapse of humanities budgets and support on most campuses.

Ph.D. is absolutely not the way to go unless you are independently wealthy and are looking for a way to "contribute to the world" since you don't actually have to draw a salary.

For anyone with student loans, it's a disastrous decision right now, and I wouldn't recommend it.

I say this as someone with a Ph.D. who is on a faculty and routinely is approached by starry-eyed top students looking to "make the world a better place" and "do research." Given the competition out there right now, only the superstars should even attempt it, and then only if they're not strapped for cash. Hint: If you don't know whether or not you're a superstar, you're not.

I think in a decade I've strongly recommended that someone enter a Ph.D. program once, and greeted the suggestion favorably maybe three times total, out of thousands of students, many of them with the classic "4.0 GPA" and tons of "books smarts."

In short, I disagree strongly with the suggestion. Unless you absolutely know that you're competitive already on the academic market, DO NOT GO. Don't listen to the marketing from the schools; it's designed to drive (a) your enrollment and tuition, and/or (b) your cheap labor as a teaching assistant/research assistant forever once you're in the program. It's a win for the institution, not for you.

The easiest sanity checks: Do you know exactly what your dissertation will be about and what you'll need to do, in broad strokes to conduct your research, as well as what resources you'll need? Do you already have personal contact with faculty on a well-matched campus in a well-matched department that are championing you and that want to bring you in as one of their own students/assistants?

If you answers to either one of these questions is "no," then while you may be offered a position somewhere, you will be on the losing end of the deal and would be naive to take it.

Comment: Re:I'm shocked. (Score 4, Interesting) 186

by Frobnicator (#48611429) Attached to: Apple Wins iTunes DRM Case

i'd be surprised if apple didn't win the case.

At the jury level this is expected. The appeal was expected either way. And in the longer term this may turn out differently.

Anti-trust concerns usually do benefit the consumer in the short term. And as the article points out, the jury specifically wrote that the features have an immediate benefit to the consumer.

Usually anti-trust problems are not immediately bad for the consumer. In the short term the consumer sees a lower price, easier access, and other conveniences.

In the long term the market ends up with monopolies and oligopolies, a loss of vibrancy, a slowdown in innovation, less desire to follow expensive advances, and worse customer experiences. Think of your local telco and cable companies as prime examples.

I expect that like so many other technical cases the jury's verdict will be overturned on appeal because juries in the US rarely understand the actual law. While criminal law is usually pretty straightforward for a lay jury, things like IP law and business law are often miscommunicated or misunderstood when handed to a jury of random citizens.

+ - Kawa 2.0 supports Scheme R7RS

Submitted by Per Bothner
Per Bothner (19354) writes "Kawa is a general-purpose Scheme-based programming language that runs on the Java platform. It combines the strengths of dynamic scripting languages (less boiler-plate, fast and easy start-up, a REPL, no required compilation step) with the strengths of traditional compiled languages (fast execution, static error detection, modularity, zero-overhead Java platform integration).

Version 2.0 was just released with many new features. Most notably is (almost) complete support for the latest Scheme specification, R7RS, which was ratified in late 2013. This LWN article contains a brief introduction to Kawa and why it is worth a look."

+ - Personal Drones Coming to Dominate the Hobbyist Radio Control Market->

Submitted by aussersterne
aussersterne (212916) writes "Drones continue to be in the news, with more and more "personal drone" incidents making headlines. It's easy to think of such stories as aberrations, but a well-known market research company has studied the radio control hobbyist market on eBay and found that sales of radio control helicopters and, more importantly, "quadcopters" (which are most often understood to be the "personal drone" category of items) are now—when taken together—the dominant form of radio control items sold on eBay. Radio control quadcopters in particular are growing much more quickly than the rest. Are we poised to see personal drones become much bigger influences on news and popular culture? Is it time for regulation?"
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re: PRIVATE encryption of everything just became.. (Score 4, Interesting) 378

But cloud is great, right? They told me cloud is great!

Yes, cloud is great as a convenience for you.

It is also great as a convenience for NSA and other agencies. The text of the bill allows that anything that was encrypted can be kept indefinitely. If your web site says HTTPS then it is fair game for permanent governmental storage.

Also, they can retain it forever for a number of reasons:

From the bill now on its way to the President's desk: "(3)(B) A covered communication shall not be retained in excess of 5 years unless ... (ii) the communication is reasonably believed to constitute evidence of a crime ... (iii) the communication is enciphered or reasonably believed to have a secret meaning; (iv) all parties to the communication are reasonably believed to be non-United States persons;"

#2 should be troubling. Does your communication (which is not limited to just email, but also includes web pages and any other data) have any evidence of a crime? Evidence that you downloaded a movie or software from a warez site, or looked at porn as a minor, or violated any of the policy-made-crimes that even the federal government has declared they are not countable? With an estimate of over 300,000 'regulations-turned-crime', plus laws that incorporate foreign laws (the Lacey Act's criminalization of anything done "in violation of State or foreign law"), pretty much anything you do probably violates some law somewhere in the world. Better preserve it just in case somebody eventually wants to prosecute you for that crime someday.

#3 refers back to a vague definition of "enciphered" that does not just mean encryption. The "secret meaning" could be as simple as data inside a protocol, Who is to say that the seemingly random bytes "d6 0d 9a 5f 26 71 dd a7 04 31..." used as part of a data stream are really not an encrypted message? Better record it just in case.

And of course #4, the law has a careful wording about communications between "non-United States persons". Considering the "internet of things", all those devices talking to other devices are not communications between United States persons. It was your camera (a non-United States person) communicating with a data warehouse (a non-United States person), so better exempt that from the 5-year retention policy as well.

Comment: Re:PRIVATE encryption of everything just became... (Score 2) 378

PRIVATE encryption of everything just became mandatory.

Go look back at the bill, start at page 22.

Observe that unencrypted communications can be retained for five years. But any encrypted communications can be kept indefinitely.

Also note that the law doesn't say anything about who enciphered it nor about if they are able to decipher it. If it was encrypted at any point along the journey it qualifies for unlimited retention.

Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 545

by Frobnicator (#48567323) Attached to: Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?

The last company I worked for gave us comp time in lieu of OT.

That is another classic way to skirt the law, and is often done innocently as a lack of understanding.

Employers can use comp time in some circumstances, but it must be at the overtime rate. That is, if you were at the 1.5x rate they need to compensate you 1.5x the hours, if you were at the 2.0x rate they need to compensate you 2.0x the hours.

Many employers will compensate the hours 1:1. They cannot simply shift the hours from one week to the next and tell you "don't show up for x hours". It needs to be "don't show up for (1.5*x) hours" or whatever your proper overtime rate is.

Comment: Re:No (Score 5, Informative) 545

by Frobnicator (#48535109) Attached to: Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?

For programmers in CA, normally they are non-exempt, although I'm sure many skirt around it. My understanding is if you want a favorable equity package, you'll accept exempt status. If you want an hourly wage and a life, you declare non-exempt.

Both the Department of Labor and the courts disagree with your assessment.

The actual job duties themselves, not the job title, not the method of payment (hourly vs salary), and not the contract, determine if an individual worker is exempt from overtime rules.

This has been challenged time and time again in the courts. The concept of a "working foreman" is often mentioned since management is exempt from overtime. If the individual can show that at least half the time is spent on non-management tasks they are not exempt. If you spend 49% of your time or less doing management tasks you are not exempt. Even if your job title is "Managing Director", even if your contract calls you an exempt worker.

Other companies frequently fight it claiming that since they pay on an annual salary basis rather than an hourly basis they don't track it and therefore don't have to pay. These arguments lose.

Many companies like to skirt around the law since it saves money. Many companies (wrongly) claim that workers on an annual salary are exempt from overtime. Many companies (wrongly) specify that a position is exempt from overtime when legally it should not be. Even if you are paid on a regular salary instead of hourly the company is still obligated by FLSA overtime regulations.

If in doubt, make a phone call to the department of labor or whatever your state's equivalent is. They can ask a few questions and determine your status. Businesses violating the law are generally forced to pay back wages to the individuals and back taxes to the government. Since government really hates to miss tax money they tend to enforce this whenever discovered.

Comment: Re:Then demanding decryption will not be "reasonab (Score 2) 446

by Frobnicator (#48509691) Attached to: 18th Century Law Dredged Up To Force Decryption of Devices

Google and Apple can help them by making the encryption breakable.

Nope, that battle has already been fought. That would constitute compelled speech.

They can compel the company to provide information (such as source code) for their current data. Subpoenas have been doing that for decades.

They can compel the company to help them perform certain research.

They can even use NSLs to compel the company to intercept certain communications.

But at least so far, they cannot compel the company to modify their product to become defective.They still need to do that themselves, commonly by intercepting shipments or less commonly modifying chips inside the supply chain. Note that both routes are considered clandestine, they don't compel the business to intentionally release a faulty product, instead they just sabotage the results.

Comment: Re:Sony chose to wage war against North Korea (Score 0) 81

by Frobnicator (#48509475) Attached to: FBI: Wiper Malware Has Korean Language Packs, Hard Coded Targets

... well-known Hollywood UBER-zionist specifically designed as a psy-op against North Korea and its leadership. ... Sony was ONLY allowed to buy its way into Hollywood when its Japanese supremo's agreed to allow Israel-friendly managers ... their desired propaganda directions ... Japan has been a servant state to Israel ... was FORCED to introduce sanctions ... Saudi Arabia and Egypt (powers in the US sphere of control) ... Sony's vicious attack against North Korea ... serve their zionist masters on their knees. ... Sony is still loathed for daring to think it has a place in Hollywood. ... Most first class cyber-attacks emanate from Israel ... What you 'earn' while you remain ON YOUR KNEES is worthless- a lesson Japan is going to learn the hard way

You started the troll so well with your first paragraph.

At least the remaining portion was fun to read. I'm not quite sure how Sony would need to sell out to Isreal before joining Hollywood, that one is confusing. The claims that the NSA is secretly beholden to Israeli Military was fun. The claim that Saudi Arabia and Egypt are under US control made me especially laugh.

Thanks for the entertainment.

"Anyone attempting to generate random numbers by deterministic means is, of course, living in a state of sin." -- John Von Neumann