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Comment: In-Q-Tel is fundamentally unethical (Score 1) 118

by laughingskeptic (#47581865) Attached to: The CIA Does Las Vegas
In-Q-Tel is just a way for the CIA to get around laws limiting their purchasing powers. They are prohibited from buying services the way they want, so instead they 'invest' in the services they want. What they are supposed to do is define their needs and let people bid on providing those services, but then the CIA executives wouldn't get to hob-nob with VCs and drink champagne on yachts.

Comment: Silicon ions (Score 2) 66

They reject most of my theories in their paper, but the don't mention silicon ions as a possible source so I'm going with that. With higher masses and higher charges the silicon ion part of the plasma will be denser and be more affected by the earth's magnetic field at that altitude.

Comment: Re:Work harder at what? (Score 1) 238

Your hyperbole is irritatingly excessive. The NSA is primarily made up of the same type of people who read Slashdot. They are not only not interested in you, they can't legally do anything with the data that they 'might' have related to you without a warrant. They are large, but not so large that they are not resource constrained. I'm sure if you had it your way, the world's premier spy agency would have no data to work with. Maybe you think you would be safer without the NSA, I disagree.

Comment: Has anyone responding to this used Access? (Score 1) 281

It is easy! Soooo easy, not quite as easy as File Maker Pro, but way more powerful and with better forms. You will NOT be doing them a favor by leaving them with something new to them that has poorer documentation and no support. Please, please think of the end user. Libre Office's Base's objective is to be like Access and the current version has many of the UI features but you find the term 'script' shockingly absent from the Libre Office documentation. All of the real power that is in Access is COMPLETELY missing from Libre Office Base.

Comment: Re:I think it's backward. (Score 1) 258

by laughingskeptic (#46959399) Attached to: The Mere Promise of Google Fiber Sends Rivals Scrambling
It is worse, because when you try to drive the AT&T Lambo you find that it only drives fast on the AT&T race track, but 99% of the roads you want to drive on are not part of the AT&T race track. AT&T has demonstrated repeatedly that they are not willing to increase their interconnect infrastructure so your Netflix movies will still hiccup even when you have AT&T fiber to your house. Brilliant.

Comment: In 20 years ... (Score 1) 467

You will have to be a millionaire in order to have anything close to a decent retirement. Even today, In order to retire on $60K a year right now and live another 40 years, you would need in the $1.6M range. People talk about teachers, soldiers and other public servants having low pay, but if you were to value their retirements as annuities you would see that they largely become millionaires when they retire. Being a millionaire isn't what it used to be. Upper middle class will in the near future translate to millionaire.

Comment: Re:Utterly misleading post. (Score 1) 99

by laughingskeptic (#46623537) Attached to: Contact Lenses With Infrared Vision?
Exactly. I have night vision goggles that are not cooled. Cooling is all about signal-to-noise, not the inherent sensitivity of the CCD detector. When the body and lenses of your imaging device are giving off infrared radiation at the same frequency that you are trying to image, you have to integrate the target image that much longer to get a clear picture. Swapping the back-plane technology cannot change this. This article is a prime example of academic puffery.

Comment: Re:Helpful links for intelligence community devs (Score 1) 275

Have you used these algorithms in this application? Apply these algorithms to all the last names in the Social Security death index and evaluate your false positive and false negative stats. You will find that these are not generally helpful. It doesn't matter if an algorithm would have worked in one particular case if 99% of the time the algorithm drives the end user insane with useless results.

Comment: Basic Math (Score 2) 357

by laughingskeptic (#46561183) Attached to: Cryptocurrency Exchange Vircurex To Freeze Customer Accounts
Any organization that attempts to provide exchange services between 'hard' currencies and an inflating virtual currency is doomed to insolvency in terms of the hard currency. The operations of such an organization will always amount effectively to a Ponzi scheme when viewed from the hard currency point of view. A little thought experiment: an exchange takes in $100 for 100 v-coins valued at $1 each. The v-coin value inflates to $2 and the investors decide to exchange their v-coins back to dollars ... how many v-coins can be exchanged before the exchange is insolvent? HALF! DUH! The moment a virtual currency becomes established enough to be treated as a valid investment it is doomed to increase its pace of inflation and then collapse. This can only be avoided if the exchanges charge fees that are greater than the future inflation rate. However if they do this, the virtual currency's advantages will quickly be less than simply trading in the original currency ... so what's the point?

Comment: Treat Uncompensated Time as Explicit Loan (Score 1) 107

by laughingskeptic (#46553637) Attached to: Startup Employees As an Organized Labor Group
I have been down the startup road a few times in my career. Most of the time, things don't go as planned and the people who make out the best at the end of the game are the debtors of the company. They get paid first. So try and make sure you are on that list. The promises behind stock options are great, but most of the time you are better off being explicitly owed.

Comment: Re:Wrong target (Score 1) 295

Agree. If federal student aid was capped at 1000 X minimum wage per year (like it effectively was in 1981) then tuitions everywhere would come down. The country has been hoodwinked by the Universities that education is valuable and therefore must be expensive. I got a great education in the 80's for a pittance by today's standards that I paid for entirely on my own. I borrowed money for school, but it was a safety blanket that I fortunately did not need to tap and was able to pay back when I graduated without ever having had to pay a dime of interest. These for-profit schools are taking advantage of the marketing campaigns and congressional payoffs of the major schools, setting up in a strip center with low overhead and making a killing off of the backs of the students they trick into going into debt for their programs.

Comment: Re:The job equivilent of a college CS education (Score 1) 197

by laughingskeptic (#46445067) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Online, Free Equivalent To a CompSci BS?

"You don't need any math more complex than simple algebra."

I can only partially agree with this statement.

Software implementations do not live in a vacuum. If the domain you are developing software for depends on higher math then the software engineers working in that domain NEED to have an understanding of higher math, physics, etc. depending on the domain. I have seen disasters when this is not true. For instance I know of a software team that was charged with computing locations based on the TDOA algorithm for the US military. However earlier in their data pipeline they had truncated nanosecond accurate times to milliseconds because that programmer couldn't conceive of why anyone would ever need time to be more accurate than milliseconds. The team as a whole could not understand why their location results seemed random (+/- a continent). They had no understanding of hyperbolic math, the implications of the speed of light or any of the other basic things they needed to understand to solve the problem. They had been handed an algorithm which they had dutifully translated into code, so in their mind the problem must lie with the mathematician that gave them the algorithm. The mathematician was not a software engineer and was not in a position to use a debugger to notice that the times had been truncated. When the team was told what was wrong via a very specific bug report regarding the truncated times, they, as a group were angry and killed the messenger.

Comment: Re:Not sure how similar this is to hashing (Score 1) 97

by laughingskeptic (#46317097) Attached to: Naming All Lifeforms On Earth With Hash Functions
You are equating "hash function" and "cryptographic hash function" with your assertion "one of the key properties of a hash function is that small changes in the input result in a completely changed output". Not all hash functions are cryptographic hash functions. Inside operating systems you may see a hash function that is no more than a simple masking of bits because that is all that is required.

Comment: Re:Bullshit! (Score 1) 597

by laughingskeptic (#46248105) Attached to: Financing College With a Tax On All Graduates

You are right and wrong. For Texas schools at least, the real number is 4X and that is bad enough without the hyperbole. First, we need to accept an inflation factor and I think the best one in this case is the minimum wage that most college students would make on a part time basis. In 1981 a year of college cost around 716 minimum wage hours (based on my actual expenses). Today a year at UT costs around 3,000 minimum wage hours according to UT's estimates. What has changed? All of the facilities are much nicer and the square footage of facilities per student is at least 2X what it was in 1981. In other words all that tuition and fee money is going to construction companies, not to educating students.

In this light, I am afraid that providing money to the universities via taxes will just perpetuate the current insanity when what we really need is for universities to once again become efficient at providing education.

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...