Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:Clearly the ARTICLE's a scam (Score 1) 323

by j-beda (#49376353) Attached to: Sign Up At irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You

Actually, it's impossible to file without W2s.
So, yeah a crook might be able to glem stuff,
they can't file for you.

It looks like if you (the crook) sign up you can view your victim's old W2s, and from them you can fake it for the following (current) year, fill out a tax return based on those faked W2s and get the refund sent to a compromised bank account. Withdraw the refund money and run away.

Comment: Re: Be careful what you ask for (Score 2) 323

by j-beda (#49376239) Attached to: Sign Up At irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You

What, they don't use more gas / pay more gas tax than the rest of us?

Not in proportion to the wear on the roadway they produce. I think the roadway wear goes as either the square or the cube of the weight per axle, and the big trucks weigh a lot more per axle. Nope - looks like it is a fourth power relationship:

"Road damage rises steeply with axle weight, and is estimated "as a rule of thumb... for reasonably strong pavement surfaces" to be proportional to the fourth power of the axle weight."


It looks like the max axle weight is something like 20,000 lbs. while the average passanger vehicle weighs something like 3500lbs, which would be under 2000 lbs per axle. Thus each very heavy truck can be even more than ten times the axle weight of the average car - and 10^4 is 10,000, so that truck can cause as much wear as 10,000 cars. Or maybe that 10,000 factor is per axle (five axles in an "18 wheeler"), so maybe it is a factor of 25,000 when comparing an 18-wheeler to a car.

Wow - trucks really tear up the roads!

Comment: Re:Too much manual formatting compared to LilyPond (Score 1) 35

by j-beda (#49336219) Attached to: MuseScore 2.0 Released

The automatic formatting of LilyPond is much better. The workflow is similar to TeX: you write content in a text format and mark it up, and the software takes care of the rest. The quality LilyPond can achieve is very good. With MuseScore, though the visual interface is more comfortable for many and has a smaller learning curve, there's far too much manual adjustment necessary in scores of reasonable complexity, and usually has to be done again when a piece is modified. It's possible to get the best of both though, by importing a MuseScore into Denemo, which uses LilyPond for typesetting. Some examples here show the difference, compared to using MuseScore alone.

I'm glad that it sounds like there is a way using denemo to go from MuseScore to LilyPond. Is there a way to go the other direction? Having the scores in a format with easy portability and long term viability seems very important.

Comment: Re:How fucking tasteless (Score 1) 341

by j-beda (#49335953) Attached to: Feds Attempt To Censor Parts of a New Book About the Hydrogen Bomb

Except facts and history do not agree with you.

Fact is that Japan offered to surrender BEFORE the bombs were dropped. They had one condition, that their emperor would not be harmed. The US required unconditional surrender.

The US wanted to a) test the effects of radiation on humans (primarily civilian targets were chosen), and b) the US wanted to drop the bombs as a demonstration to (their allay), the Soviet Union.

Not a position piece, but plenty in there to support the above assertions:


I did not know about the offer to surrender with conditions. I do not see a lot of evidence for (a) being a significant factor, but can certainly believe that (b) was a consideration.

Comment: make it light (Score 1) 385

by j-beda (#49290695) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Laptop To Support Physics Research?

Probably nobody will read this since it is way down at the bottom, but in my opinion the best choice would be something very light and portable.

In her chosen field, all of the really heavy lifting will be done on external clusters or the like - so something that can open a secure shell on a remote system and transfer files easily is the only thing that is really neccessary. Larger and larger portions of the scientists I see and/or support are purchasing MacBook Airs because dragging a tiny 11" model around all the time is way easier than anything larger. Then plutting it into a monitor and keyboard when at the desk, and you're good to connect to the server doing the real work.

As much as I like the Macs, there are probably reasonable other ultra-portables that are worth considering if the Windows or Linux environment floats your boat, but the Mac does fit with lots of hardware and software.

Comment: Re:Reddit (Score 1) 114

by j-beda (#49257679) Attached to: Twitter Will Ban Revenge Porn and Non-consensual Nudes

1) The victim needs to complain, and most will never even notice, and
2) It takes 15 seconds to make a throwaway account, and hours or even days for someone to notice, complain, and get a response; then, 15 seconds later...

Not only that, if Twitter enforces its rules the way they are stated, i.e.:

may not post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject's consent [emphasis added]

That "or" is crucial. Amost always, commercial nude photography pays the model (and of course it's consensual), but in exchange for pay, the photographer or company paying for the pictures retains all copy and distribution rights.

What that means, is that the photographer or company -- i.e. the copyright holder -- can distribute those photos without consent of the model, yet perfectly legally. Not only is it legal, it's the way it's usually done.

I warned when Reddit tried to do this that they were going to get themselves in hot water if they tried to enforce their rules as written. I now have to say the same about Twitter.

Probably all of these sites retain the ability to limit what you may post, regardless of your ownership of the content. If Reddit wants to ban images of left handed Antarticans, they are prefectly able to do so, even if I own all rights to the images. They are not required to permit anything they do not want to.

Comment: Re:Ah, come one, don't we trust the Feds? (Score 1) 90

Some of us have worked on the ISP side of the house (disclosure: I worked for a small one that was crushed by Time Warner a long time ago) and view the Netflix debacle in a different light. Netflix has a history of trying to pass their costs onto third parties, by abusing settlement free peering, pushing their "Open Connect" devices on ISPs without offering to pay the usual co-location expenses, or trying to cheap out on envelopes that wound up jamming in sorting machines and causing USPS all manner of difficulties. That one turned into a major spat as I recall, with USPS having to threaten to revoke their bulk mailing/pre-sort price discounts before Netflix was willing to back down.

The long standing model for internet traffic has been sender pays. If you're dumping more traffic into my network than you take off my hands you pay me to get it closer to its destination. If you're taking more off my hands than I'm taking from you then I pay you. In the final example, we exchange roughly equal amounts of traffic and agree to do so without remuneration.

Is that model still valid today? It's hard to say. It did build the internet as we know it today, for better or worse. It would be easier for me to be sympathetic if this wasn't a pissing contest between Netflix and ISPs. The arrogance of Netflix is truly astounding, from my perspective as someone who worked in the ISP business, and I see it as billionaires arguing with other billionaires about who should foot the bill for their respective business models.

I'm confused. Netflix dumps their traffic onto the interwebs through some sort of ISP (paying them for the privledge), don't they? And when that ISP interconnects with my ISP they do the "sender pays" sfuff you talk about. Then my ISP gets it to me. How is Netflix doing something wrong here? Was their ISP not paying their internconnection bills?

I thought what happened was that Comcast acting as my ISP realized that they could throttle the Netflix traffic and extort money out of Netflix beyond what Netflix's ISP was already paying them to carry the traffic. That seems unjust. As a customer of this ISP, shouldn't I be able to decide what data I want to access, without the providers of that data needing to pay extra fees to reach me?

Comment: Re:beware of FATCA (Score 1) 734

by j-beda (#49193961) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

Take a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... . My spouse is American, though we're lived in Canada for 16 years and are raising our kids here. The new tax implications are a serious issue. I know 1 person who has renounced their U.S. citizenship due to the new tax implications, and I'd love for my spouse to do the same to simplify our tax situation and prevent the U.S. from making a grab at our Canadian retirement savings.

Personally, I'm not hurrying to register our children with the U.S. to secure U.S. citizenship.

Keep in mind that the US law on the subject does not require registration to "secure" their US citizenship. As the children of a US citizen, they ARE US citizens (provided at least one of their US parents was born in the US or resided there for a certain amount of time - thus your grandchildren might not automatically be US citizens). Not registering your kids does not protect them from the US considering them to be citizens and thus subject to all this non-resident stuff that is so problematic.

Possibly, in your case, registering the kids while they are young and it is relatively easy to do might be better than trying to get all the documentation done when they are older. I do not doubt that it would be possible to get hit by a huge bill from the IRS while at the same time being denyed entry into the country due to lack of documentation of US citizenship. The multitude of different parts of a government don't always behave in a consistent manner. Presumably your wife is already familiar with the various tax reporting requirments, so as the kids get older they should be taught what she has already learned. Most of the biggest issues turn up due to being suprised by the requirements and not filing them properly.

Comment: Re:Hmmm (Score 1) 734

by j-beda (#49193905) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

Keep in mind they are only responsible for filing for taxes if the income's in the United States and their residency is 50% or more in the United States. AND YES they DO keep tabs on that kinda stuff.

Yes they do keep tabs on this sort of thing, but unfortunately US citizens regardless of their residency, are required to file taxes each and every year as long as their income is above whatever the threshold is for residents of the US - virtually every adult citizen falls under this requirment.

In addition to filing taxes, just the requirement for reporting foreign financial accounts can also be pretty onerous, with pretty low thresholds. Once you have a few years of retirement savings, you've probably hit that requirment (the aggregate value of all foreign financial accounts exceeded $10,000 at any time during the calendar year). And if you were the treasurer of your local social club or somehow had signing authority of an account that wasn't your own? That counts too.

While this is listed in the "small business" section of the IRS website - it applies to everyone:

Then there is Form 8938 - slightly higher thresholds but still pretty low:

If you don't file? Penalties of "up to the greater of $100,000 or 50 percent of account balances; criminal penalties may also apply" if they decide it was willful.

Comment: Re:Have you talked it over with them? (Score 1) 734

by j-beda (#49193773) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

NO, parents make decisions for their kids when they are too young to do so. This is an adult decision and its best to leave them out. If you want to ask them which parent they want to live with sure, but not everything.

If the decision need not be made until the 18th birthday, making it before talking to the person it effects seems a bit premature. Talking to someone aobut their future in their mid to late teens is certainly justified. If you think your 17 year old shold be left out of decisions of this nature, then I would argue that you are doing something wrong.

Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 734

by j-beda (#49193751) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

But they won't let you keep old citizenship if you decide to become a citizen of the USA.

I've seen it happen a lot.

But "renouncing your foreign citizenship" in front of a US judge does what exactly? If any of those people went back to their "old" country, would that country say they were not a citizen? For most places on earth, the answer is that the "birth country" doesn't care what you might tell another country, and untill you tell them that you don't wanna be part of the team, you're still on the team.

The US has no ability to remove your foreign citizenship, and no mechanism to require it, and US court decisions recognizing the retention of foreign citizenship. Some references to court cases are on Wikipedia


With all that said, the US also has no reqirement to recognize the foregn citizenship of any US citizen.

Comment: Re:We need to make full time 32 hours a week or le (Score 1) 187

by j-beda (#49161615) Attached to: Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More Robots

We need to make full time 32 hours a week or less and make OT pay cost so much that very few people are pulling 60+ hour weeks.
Also make the min level to be on no OT salary pay to be something like 80K-100K+ COL.

Rather than an immedate large jump, perhaps better would be to gently increase the number of statutory holidays and/or decrease number of hours that qualify for "full time" at some predictable rate over the long term. Every few years add another holiday, or decrease the work week by twenty minutes. If we had done this type of thing a few decades ago, things might not be getting so bad right now.

The world's productivity per worker has increased many times since the 1920s when labor first got organized and things like standard work days got put into place. I wish there was some natural system that would divide gains from increased productivity equally between the employerer, the employee, and society at large (each of them contributes something to the success of any venture), but any system I can think up requires all sorts of taxing and accounting and enforecement and would in in practice probably be unworkable and open to huge amounts of abuse.

Universal health care and perhaps a guaranteed subsitance income would seem to be required if continue to advance our automation skills faster than new jobs are created. Or we can wait for the starving masses to rise up and tear down the existing system. That won't be pretty.

Comment: Re:What about the online use of these cards? (Score 1) 449

by j-beda (#49094455) Attached to: Credit Card Fraud Could Peak In 2015 As the US Moves To EMV

The way it's done with my bank is that you set a phrase that only you know, which is displayed when the page is spawned.

Bruce Schneier (IIRC) described the obvious hack for that the day Visa came out with it...

The attacker (whether a fake merchant, or a MitM) waits for a request for you to verify your identity. It then presents your information to the real site (keep in mind the attacker builds this connection, so encryption doesn't mean a damned thing). The real site responds with your known prompt-phrase, so you "know it's legit". Attacker then prompts you with that phrase, and waits (and records) your response. Attacker passes your response on to the bank, and the transaction goes through successfully.

Except, that the attacker now has everything he needs to produce as many fraudulent charges as he wants.

You are correct that this is defeatable, but it requires more work by the attacker and I don't think anyone has bothered to do so yet because there are enough easier targets to work on. It is a little bit like house security - your locks and other things do not need to be perfect, they just need to be good enough to cause the "bad guy" to give up and try some other place - the vast majority of thefts from homes end up being from homes with unlocked doors.

Since it requires more work to defeat, the merchant can have higher confidence that transactions authorized by this mechanism are less likely to be fraudulent.

Comment: Re:Black Hat 2014: A New Smartcard Hack .. (Score 1) 449

by j-beda (#49094411) Attached to: Credit Card Fraud Could Peak In 2015 As the US Moves To EMV

Because I have a wife whose card hits the same account and I don't go through my back statements each month. I put EVERY transaction on my credit card, from buying a coffee to parking to supermarket and everything else in between. That means my credit card statement is LONG. Yeah I know I should keep every receipt and check it against the statement at the end of the month but no.

We also put virtually everything onto the card, but fortunately my wife doesn't do that much purchasing so her items are not too difficult to figure out.

I use MoneyDance for our accounting, and it has a mobile app that syncs with the desktop software. I try to enter transactions on my phone as they occur (and often take a photo of the recipt at the same time) which makes reconciling against the data file downloaded from the card's website and the montly statement much easier.


Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.