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Comment: Treadmill desk (Score 1) 307

by Paul Fernhout (#46784537) Attached to: Switching From Sitting To Standing At Your Desk

I set up a treadmill desk several years ago, with a regular treadmill, with a board across the hand holds for a keyboard (bungie cords and a wooden stick to hold up the board), facing a wall with adjustable shelves that I put LCD monitors on. I use a track ball instead of a mouse. I really like the setup, even if I may end using it less that I thought and otherwise alternating between standing or sitting on a tall stool. I had some intermittent problems with the treadmill motor early on that made it hard to use and requiring repairs and kind of broke me out of the habit of using it regularly.

I never go much beyond 1.5 mph on it, and more often slower (even 0.5 mph). I probably have never used it for more than four hours in one day or much more than 2-3 miles. Still, when I am using it frequently, I've found walking outside for long distances to be much easier. I can't imagine any research saying it is the same healthwise as a sitting desk -- unless it was by chair manufacturers. :-)
Dr. Levine's work at the Mayo is what inspired me to try it:

One advantage of a treadmill desk over a standing desk is that you keep your legs moving more so blood is less likely to pool in your legs.

However, I can see that it is not for everyone. I put one together for my wife but she had trouble typing reliably while walking and so just ran it while on calls or watching videos. Otherwise she mainly uses it as a standing desk or also sitting on a tall stool. She would probably have been happier with just keeping the standing desk setup she was using before the treadmill (since you don't have to get up onto an elevated treadmill surface to use those and have more flexibility where you position it).

For mine, I feel like there have been times it has contributed towards knee strain. I think that may be due in part to the limit of treadmills as unnatural walking experiences? One other downside to getting one was that I felt I was exercising more so I walked less outdoors. That probably contributed towards vitamin D deficiency (correctable with supplements, but you have to know to do that). Overall though it has been a good thing,

While it depends on what I'm doing, I also find that walking on the treadmill can actually contribute to my concentration.

Comment: Re:Partial statistics (Score 1) 117

by hairyfeet (#46778719) Attached to: Steam's Most Popular Games

To me the point when HL2 shit the bed is when they pulled a Bioshock Infinite and fell in love with a gimmick...the gravity gun. In HL2 the GG was just another weapon, used in a couple of spots but other than those spots it really wasn't required. What did we get for EP 1? Gravitypaloza. By the time I was being forced to shoot basketballs at striders I was just sick of the stupid gravity gun, just as I got sick of infinite shoving that damned skyhook under my nose going "Isn't this neato"? Sure it was, before you BECAME ANNOYING ABOUT IT!!

As for so many games not played? Bundles, simple as that. You can get so many bundles on Steam that you soon end up with dozens of games and you only have so many hours in the day so...there ya go. Between the big Steam sales and Humble Bundles I probably got a good 50 games in a couple months, just not enough time to play them all before the next killer bundle comes along.

Finally as for Steam being "bloated" on OSX.....ever stop to think that OSX simply isn't very well suited as a gaming platform? Because on Windows you are looking at maybe 60Mb (I have Raptr AND Steam running and barely am using 100Mb) and from what I understand the Steam for Linux also runs quite well, which leaves OSX looking as the culprit from where I sit.

Comment: Re:ARM is the new Intel (Score -1) 109

by hairyfeet (#46776849) Attached to: Intel Pushes Into Tablet Market, Pushes Away From Microsoft

And this is different from what Google is doing with exactly? In case you missed the memo Google has been taking bog standard X86 laptops and locking them down worse than cellphones and as far as EEE? Google is already moved into the third phase by making more and more apps simply not work without GooglePlay API.

I find it hilarious how many are cheering because "Android has gots teh Linux" when in reality Google is about to make them its bitch. Have fun with that laptop that won't run 90% of the distros on distrowatch thanks to DRM or that latest version of AOSP that won't run half the apps in the playstore because its all tied to Google APIs, but "its teh Linux" so it can't be locked right?....oh wait

Comment: Re:My son does fine with both (Score 1) 352

by SydShamino (#46771227) Attached to: Kids Can Swipe a Screen But Can't Use LEGOs

My first baby will be born in a few months. My intention is for tablets to be used only outside the house, when we are in a public space like a (family-appropriate where I'm not being an ass taking my young child) restaurant, and quiet activity is most important as to not disturb neighbors (even though they should be okay with occasional child noise going to a family-appropriate restaurant). It might be appropriate in a car as well, when I'm alone with them and should be focused on the road, not them.

Real books, being read by a real parent, building blocks, and a shovel and some dirt should be the mainstay of home play. They worked pretty well for me.

Comment: Re:Relevant Skills (Score 1) 352

by SydShamino (#46771151) Attached to: Kids Can Swipe a Screen But Can't Use LEGOs

I have packed a car for a road trip countless times in my life, and my ability to find the correct pattern to fill all available space is directly attributable to my extensive practice with LEGO bricks.

Actually, I think my ability to pack parts onto a PCB layout tighter than most other engineers and layout designers is also drawn from this, and that does have direct job benefits.

Someone who played a lot of Tetris might have the same skills; I was never interested in that game.

Comment: Developers need time to do a good job (Score 1) 580

by Paul Fernhout (#46764497) Attached to: How Does Heartbleed Alter the 'Open Source Is Safer' Discussion?

To really understand a lot of projects to the point where a developer can make substantial contributions often takes a substantial investment of time by a developer. So some combination of full-time employment in the area, government grants, a basic income, or gifts of some sort are required for experienced developers to have substantial time to look at source code. It's true some developers have time to do it as a hobby, and others might have time as students. But to really dig into complex code and keep at it for a substantial period of time require, in US society at least, generally requires some kind of external support (even if just a spouse who earns money). This issue is not helped by the fragmentation of many software projects via forks, the competition between similar FOSS projects, and the proliferation of languages and not-very-good standards which all chew up vast amounts of developer time.

Of course, some people, like Bill Gates, who was born with a substantial trust fund have inherited the wealth needed to allow them to develop free software the rest of their life. However, for good or bad, he did not pursue that choice.
"How to Become As Rich As Bill Gates"
"William Henry Gates III made his best decision on October 28, 1955, the night he was born. He chose J.W. Maxwell as his great-grandfather. Maxwell founded Seattle's National City Bank in 1906. His son, James Willard Maxwell was also a banker and established a million-dollar trust fund for William (Bill) Henry Gates III. In some of the later lessons, you will be encouraged to take entrepreneurial risks. You may find it comforting to remember that at any time you can fall back on a trust fund worth many millions of 1998 dollars."

A substantial "basic income" equivalent to US Social Security from birth would, in a sense, make everyone a millionaire overnight and give them the time they need to pursue public benefit projects, whether doing code review or raising children well. Linux in part is a result of Finland's generous support for students like Linus.
"Torvalds thus decided to create a new operating system from scratch that was based on both MINIX and UNIX. It is unlikely that he was fully aware of the tremendous amount of work that would be necessary, and it is even far less likely that he could have envisioned the effects that his decision would have both on his life and on the rest of the world. Because university education in Finland is free and there was little pressure to graduate within four years, Torvalds decided to take a break and devote his full attention to his project."

Comment: The problem is more "The Big Crunch" (Score 1) 135

The ending of exponential growth of academia around 1970:
"Actually, during the period since 1970, the expansion of American science has not stopped altogether. Federal funding of scientific research, in inflation-corrected dollars, doubled during that period, and by no coincidence at all, the number of academic researchers has also doubled. Such a controlled rate of growth (controlled only by the available funding, to be sure) is not, however, consistent with the lifestyle that academic researchers have evolved. The average American professor in a research university turns out about 15 Ph.D students in the course of a career. In a stable, steady-state world of science, only one of those 15 can go on to become another professor in a research university. In a steady-state world, it is mathematically obvious that the professor's only reproductive role is to produce one professor for the next generation. But the American Ph.D is basically training to become a research professor. It didn't take long for American students to catch on to what was happening. The number of the best American students who decided to go to graduate school started to decline around 1970, and it has been declining ever since."

Comment: Re:Tax Act vs Turbo Tax (Score 2) 385

by SydShamino (#46758283) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

Turbo Tax's DRM stunt also got me to switch - in my case to Tax Cut (now called H&R Block At Home). It moved easily with me from Windows to OSX, and for the last few years it's pretty simple to type "H&R Block coupon" into Google, follow a link, and download the software I need for ~30% off their list price. It's been able to handle both our taxes and those of the grandparents we were responsible for, even as our needs have grown to now include a home business, various types of stock transactions including foreign stock, etc., plus inheritance and estate issues when we filed those final returns, too.

To the original submitter: if you live in Texas, and you only took an hour and a half to do your taxes, you did it wrong. Texans can claim a sales tax deduction because we don't pay a state income tax. The IRS provides a table you can use to guesstimate your sales tax paid, but the amount they give is a lowball, especially for people who have discretionary income to buy luxury goods like technology items - the kind of people who frequent Slashdot. It only takes a few hours of TV watching to enter all my receipts into a spreadsheet to sum them up, and last year I paid ~$2000 more in sales tax than the table would have suggested.* That translates directly into a ~$600 tax break for a few hours work. Unless you make or grow all your own food, and don't buy new laptops and phones and game systems, y'all other Texans should have been saving receipts and saving money.

* Not including taxes on a car, of course, since those can be added onto the table amount anyway.

Comment: Re:Jenny Mcarthy is a free thinker vs. "Experts"? (Score 1) 584

by Paul Fernhout (#46755829) Attached to: Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

AC wrote: "Jenny Mcarthy is a free thinker ... and embodies the best tennants of 19th century science, when people made decisions based on their observations and in light of the best known understanding at the time. Today we have something akin to a blind belief in whatever the church, ughh i mean experts happen to be handing out at the time. Today an expert more often than nought is somebody who is paid to lobby for a paticular world view. Think about it in 2000 all the experts were saying the stock market is going to be going up and up and up. In 2008 all the experts were saying that real estate is a can't loose proposition, and I just happen to have a house you can buy. Stop believing in experts. Believe in yourself. If it is cloudy, and your skin is getting wet when you stand outside, it is probably raining outside despite the fact that the weather experts are on the radio right now saying you will have a clear and sunny day outside. Stand up and have the courage to say it's raining, fuck the experts. Jenny Mcarthy is a hero. So in spite of the fact that I have no advanced degree in meterology, I feel that I can accurately tell if it is raining or not. This used to be common sense, but today there is a global witch hunt on for whomever decides to believe in their own observations vs what the experts in the media are saying."

Conflict-of-interest definitely makes this all harder to sort through. Compare with the book "Disclipined Minds"
"Who are you going to be? That is the question.
      In this riveting book about the world of professional work, Jeff Schmidt demonstrates that the workplace is a battleground for the very identity of the individual, as is graduate school, where professionals are trained. He shows that professional work is inherently political, and that professionals are hired to subordinate their own vision and maintain strict "ideological discipline."
      The hidden root of much career dissatisfaction, argues Schmidt, is the professional's lack of control over the political component of his or her creative work. Many professionals set out to make a contribution to society and add meaning to their lives. Yet our system of professional education and employment abusively inculcates an acceptance of politically subordinate roles in which professionals typically do not make a significant difference, undermining the creative potential of individuals, organizations and even democracy.
      Schmidt details the battle one must fight to be an independent thinker and to pursue one's own social vision in today's corporate society. He shows how an honest reassessment of what it really means to be a professional employee can be remarkably liberating. After reading this brutally frank book, no one who works for a living will ever think the same way about his or her job."

Other social problems with mainstream science:

All that said, a lot of time the experts are right -- for example, expert Civil Engineers designing and building bridges. Thinking is hard work, and a lot of "free thinking" may be re-inventing plausible but otherwise bad ideas. Perhaps the more variables involved, and the less we know about them, the more problematical the notion of "Expertise" becomes, other than to admit ignorance (which does not sound that impressive)? However, 2000 years ago, perhaps bridge building was more by trial and error, same as much medicine today? Certainly Cathedral building shows a process of trial and error before civil engineering became better understood in terms of materials and structures.

Here is a related diagram about different types of problem domains, where perhaps bridge building today is in one area but medicine in another:
"The Cynefin framework has five domains.[12] The first four domains are:
    * Simple, in which the relationship between cause and effect is obvious to all, the approach is to Sense - Categorise - Respond and we can apply best practice.
    * Complicated, in which the relationship between cause and effect requires analysis or some other form of investigation and/or the application of expert knowledge, the approach is to Sense - Analyze - Respond and we can apply good practice.
  * Complex, in which the relationship between cause and effect can only be perceived in retrospect, but not in advance, the approach is to Probe - Sense - Respond and we can sense emergent practice.
    * Chaotic, in which there is no relationship between cause and effect at systems level, the approach is to Act - Sense - Respond and we can discover novel practice.
    * The fifth domain is Disorder, which is the state of not knowing what type of causality exists, in which state people will revert to their own comfort zone in making a decision. In full use, the Cynefin framework has sub-domains, and the boundary between simple and chaotic is seen as a catastrophic one: complacency leads to failure."

Disclaimer: My wife contributed to developing that framework,

BTW, other ways to keep kids healthy are through superior nutrition, which is mostly ignored in the USA when looking for a "magic bullet":
"Scientific research has demonstrated that humans have a powerful immune system, even stronger than other animals. Our bodies are self-repairing, self-defending organisms, which have the innate ability to defend themselves against microbes and prevent chronic illnesses. This can only happen if we give our bodies the correct raw materials. When we donâ(TM)t supply the young body with its nutritional requirements, we see bizarre diseases occur. We even witness the increasing appearance of cancers that were unheard of in prior human history.
    When you have a child, you have the unique opportunity to mold a developing person. One of your greatest gifts to them can be a disease resistant body created from excellent food choices beginning at youth. Ear infections, strep throats, allergies, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADD or ADHD), and even autoimmune diseases can be prevented by sound nutritional practices early in life. Common childhood illnesses are not only avoidable, but they're more effectively managed by incorporating nutritional excellence into oneâ(TM)s diet. This is far superior to the dependence on drugs to which we are accustomed. No parent would disagree that our children deserve only the best."

It would help to have better tools to make sense of all this sometime conflicting advice. My proposal on that:
"There may well be "experts" out there who know good answers for these questions specifically about salt, but they probably are not you personally. Statistically there might be a small number of experts out of billions of people, so most people thinking about how much salt to eat are not goingto be experts. So, almost everyone is left wondering which experts to trust? Even if all the experts agree, they could still be wrong, or their general advice might be easy to misinterpret for your particular situation. And if you specifically by chance are an expert on salt intake, then you probably are not an expert on phytonutrient intake or cancer treatments, and so you would be faced with this same issue in some other area of personal health. So, there can be a gap between what an expert (or community of experts) know, and what an individual or local community knows and then acts on. Part of the value of better software tools, including educational aspects, may be to help bridge that gap between expert knowledge and individual practice. "

Comment: Using nuclear waste to protect wildlife (Score 1) 429

by Paul Fernhout (#46755693) Attached to: UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

Like at Chernobyl, as I suggest here:
"At SUNY Stony Brook, I knew one grad student who studied wildlife (turtles) in a reservation around a nuclear contaminated area, and while there was more mutations, in general, the wildlife was thriving [because human activities including hunting and habitat destruction were effectively excluded]. ... So, despite the problems, half-seriously, I suggest designating the NY Adirondack Park (where I live) for a nuclear waste disposal of glassified (vitrified) apple-sized lumps of waste. :-) That would be very good for a resurgence of wildlife in the Park. I might move out, but I would know a place I love would be "forever wild" for sure. :-)"

See also: "Chernobyl Area Becomes Wildlife Haven"

Comment: Nuclear risk was never "paid for" (Score 1) 429

by Paul Fernhout (#46755615) Attached to: UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

"Keeping old plants online is simply the capitalist thing to do: They're bought and paid for and still work. Why would you shut them down?"

In theory, fission-based nuclear energy is quite workable. In practice so far, within either a Soviet command economy or a Western capitalist economy, the "externalities" of systemic risk of meltdown (like Fukushima) have not been accounted for in up-front costs. So, these plants have never been "paid for". It is just that the general public has been forced to take on a risk, either as individuals or as a society. Fukushima is a tragic example of this. And many people affected by Fukushima are just left to pay many of the disastrous costs on their own, plus taxes go up for everyone, plus there are many other costs (like inspecting Japanese seafood or seaweed for radiation). So, the cost of Fukushima was not paid for up front. If the plants had been shut down sooner, huge future costs would have been avoided. Because capitalistic organizations eventually specialize in internalizing profits while socializing risks and costs and capturing their regulators via revolving doors and (legal) bribes, high risk nuclear power is a particularly difficult thing for such societies to manage. Sure, we could build much safer reactors, including probably thorium ones, but even now plans for new reactors are not fully fail-safe. TRIGA is an example of an alternative that is much more fail-safe.

Of course, I could say much the same for coal plants and their environmental affects. as externalities. Oil dependency also has huge costs in military defense of supply lines and pollution risks like the Exxon Valdez in Alaska or recently the US Gulf Coast.

That is why many renewables (as well as energy efficiency) have been cheaper than fossil fuels since the 1970s, all things considered. But all things were not considered, so we got coal and oil and bug health costs and big defense costs all paid either on health insurance premiums or taxes, not electric bills or at the gasoline pump. Even PV has externalities (including potentially cadmium runoff from some types of panels, as well as potentially blighting the landscape), although overall they are probably much less than coal and oil, and ideas like "solar roadways" may reduce the blight problem, as well as reduce the need for above ground electrical wires.
"The Solar Roadway is a series of structurally-engineered solar panels that are driven upon. The idea is to replace all current petroleum-based asphalt roads, parking lots, and driveways with Solar Road Panels that collect energy to be used by our homes and businesses."

With the costs of PV solar falling as predicted decades ago, to now reaching "grid parity" in more and more areas, it is rapidly becoming uneconomical to install anything but solar, especially as battery and fuel cell technology continues to improve for energy storage.
"Predictions from the 2006 time-frame expected retail grid parity for solar in the 2016 to 2020 era, but due to rapid downward pricing changes, more recent calculations have forced dramatic reductions in time scale, and the suggestion that solar has already reached grid parity in a wide variety of locations."

Hot fusion or cold (LENR) fusion may change that equation. I don't see fission being more cost effective than solar anytime soon though, although maybe factory-made micro reactors (like Hyperion) will prove me wrong on that.

Comment: Thanks, Jon; hope you're onto better things (Score 1) 103

by Paul Fernhout (#46752363) Attached to: Why the IETF Isn't Working

1998: "'God of the Internet' is dead "
"Jon Postel, a key figure in the development of the Internet from its inception, died at the weekend of heart problems aged 55."

Now, thanks to a successful internet, I have learned all about how to prevent and reverse heart disease by eating more vegetables and getting enough vitamin D (a problem for many indoors-oriented technies). Sadly, too late for Jon. Hopefully not too late for Roblimo though?

The failure to adopt SQLite as a de-facto "Standard" for web browsers shows a deep problem, since a shared FOSS codebase is probably the best standard we can have.

Contrast that with suggestions of making de-facto standards by on the ground successes with working code. Which is what SQLite has done in a whole area of embedded storage.

Like Alan Kay has said, any standard with more than three lines is ambiguous. I can agree having had to work implementing a couple standards at IBM.

When in doubt, mumble; when in trouble, delegate; when in charge, ponder. -- James H. Boren