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Comment: How about the ethics of the economics? (Score 1) 487

by lythander (#41741393) Attached to: Is Non-Prescription ADHD Medication Use Ever Ethical?

Drugs are costly to develop and then Big Pharma are large corporations who want to make money. If they can market these drugs to larger populations (say the smart-drug set as well as patients with degenerative diseases) the costs may come down substantially, and they may be more likely to develop more of these drugs.

Comment: My favorite charities... (Score 1) 263

by lythander (#41389443) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Should a Geek's Charitable Donations Go?

I am a huge fan of the Heifer Project. Feeds people and provides sustainable lifestyles for them. Geeky in a maker-type, back to basics sort of way.

And Johnny deserves a plug, too, though he's a fairly small-scale charity. But he sets the standard for going and doing for others: Hackers for Charity.

Comment: You may not always be a programmer... (Score 1) 1086

by lythander (#40935725) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Many of You Actually Use Math?

Yes, you need a strong grounding in Math to ensure you understand all of the underlying concepts, even if you don't need to implement them yourself. Like learning the CLI before falling back to the user-friendly GUI. Eventually you want to do something the GUI can't, and you're back at the command line.

Besides, most programmers son't spend their whole life as professional programmers. In fact, some who start out in that direction end up elsewhere. Why limit your choices later in life by short-cutting now? If nothing else, the rigor provided by math will suit you well whereever you go. And while you're at it, please take a statistics class. About 85% of americans couldn't tell you what 85% actually means.

Comment: A more reasonable question... (Score 1) 338

by lythander (#40070009) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Monitor Traffic?

Does anyone have a less malicious, less illegal, less profit-driven way to do this at a level that doesn't violate civil liberties?

I have kids who are well-internet-educated. I trust them. But I also want to be able to see what's trying to leave my network. I'm a hardcore security guy, but I have better things to do than spend my free time setting up netflow on my Tomato-USB router. I use OpenDNS as a first line of defense (kids are still young enough to be more likely to find porn by accident rather than on purpose, but I know that won't last.) and I have their internet connections cut off at night so they'll go the hell to bed.

I don't want to spy on my kids conversations, but I reserve the right (and make this abundantly clear to them) to see where they're going and what they're doing. As they get older that will fade a little, especially if we can maintain the level of trust we have today. I want non-intrusive but effective ways to keep tabs on goings on without being a dick.


Comment: If you have skills, you'll be fine. (Score 1) 504

But if you have all these other interests, one does wonder why you didn't pursue them at school too. I'm not denying the value of knowledge gained in a psych program, but knowing that it's one of the worst degrees for post-degree employment and underemployment? I coupled my English Lit degree with one in Math, and lots of physics, chem, comp sci and engineering.

If you continue your education (either with training or a degree program) in whatever field you pursue, you'll end up a better, more well-rounded employee for having the psych degree, but as you can tell it's a bit up hill to start.

Where are you located? I could stand to hire someone like you.

Comment: Legislation moving through Maryland state house... (Score 1) 550

by lythander (#39289469) Attached to: Why Making Facebook Private Won't Protect You

2 bits, written poorly and so problematic on that basis, but with the right idea at their heart:

1) To protect students from having to provide their personal login info for social networks to coaches or administrators. This is in response to NC State (or is it UNC?) requiring exactly that, after the NCAA faulted them for NOT doing it after some NCAA student-booster violation of some sort. Nothing illegal mind you, but they broke NCAA rules.

2) To protect employees (or prospective ones) from having to turn over these credentials.

I say they're poorly written because they are too specific, and somewhat inaccurate, in their technical prohibitions. The university system testified that they were problematic because they would potentially prohibit US from requiring students use antivirus programs or other security measures when on our networks. We hope they're fixing that bit.

Comment: Re:Translation? (Score 1) 148

by lythander (#39273433) Attached to: Exercise and Caffeine May Activate Metabolic Genes

I'm pretty sure that it says that exercise ramps up your metabolism, and so does caffeine, but exercise is less likely to kill you in the process. That this happens isn't even remotely surprising, nor a new development. What seems new is that it is taking place at such a low level in the metabolic process (i.e. at the genetic level.) I think.

Comment: Curious theft choice... (Score 1) 378

by lythander (#39247129) Attached to: Man Convicted For Helping Thousands Steal Internet Access

So as a consumer already paying for cable (because I have an outlet to connect to, unless I've gone to heroic effort to run my own in from the street,) I choose to pay money to one guy's company to get internet access for free instead of paying an incremental increase in service fee for internet access that's "legitimate?" Seems like a fair amount of work and money to "steal" something.

I'm all for sticking it to the man, especially cable companies, but this seems to make not a whole lot of sense.

Comment: Fund the alternative... (Score 1) 346

by lythander (#39201727) Attached to: Eric Schmidt: UN Treaty a 'Disaster' For the Internet

Google has deep pockets, and has been known to do good things for their own sake (no, I don't buy the whole "don't be evil" thing, but there's a decent track record there) Setup or fund existing mesh networking systems to allow a grassroots network (with a new name) that is decentralized completely. I know research is going on in this area for a variety of reasons, put more brains and money on it and make it happen. "Work toward saying to the UN: You can have the Internet, we're done with it now."

Comment: Consider yourself fortunate and be a good guy... (Score 1) 290

by lythander (#39197277) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Leaving an IT Admin Position?

I understand the desire to eject and focus on the new work, and certainly that there may have been more than one reason to want to make your move in the first place. I work at a university as well, and understand the challenges and difficulties in moving up inside them.

That said, recognize that if you've done what many sysadmins do and hacked together a bunch of tools to make everything hum without excellent documentation (I certainly have) then you owe your replacement (if not your former bosses) some assistance. You are part of institutional memory and even if you documented your solutions well, you likely didn't document the reasons behind them, or the politics that surrounded them. The new guy/gal will need that context.

Give your one-day hand-over, and in it, set a very clear protocol with boundaries that everyone can agree on (including your new bosses) for providing assistance to the new sysadmin. Make it clear that off-hours is out of bounds, or create a process that avoids you hiking across campus on no notice. Questions will arise over the next several years, though they should taper more or less exponentially. Expect it and be prepared. The value to you of not being a dick about it will be enormous, especially if you plan to stay there for a substantial period of your career (and as a fellow uni employee, why would you not?) will be substantial.

Comment: Scientist Engineer (Score 1) 403

by lythander (#36181810) Attached to: 8 of China's Top 9 Govt. Officials Are Engineers

At least not explicitly. They both live on the same side of a road that most of us here chose never to cross, but they aren't the same thing.

Also important in this discussion though is the fact that engineers have been implicated as a group as being especially good violent extremists. (Viz. one , two , three , and of course, four.)

Probably also suited to running authoritarian, quasi-market-based state. Just a thought.

Comment: Geek Dads (and moms) unite! (Score 1) 414

by lythander (#35111740) Attached to: Sputnik Moment Or No, Science Fairs Are Lagging

I have helped organize and judge science fairs at my kids' school. I've moved on, and my younger son doesn't participate any more, because we do cool stuff instead. Built an arc light. Had a mythbusters-themed birthday party with liquid nitrogen fun and thermite. All the while learning how the stuff worked. We take apart things and try (emphasis on try) to put them back together.

In elemantary school, when little science is being taught in school, and the scientific method isn't at all, it ends up falling on the parent to emphasize the paper aspect of the science: a hypothesis, collecting data, recording data, control groups, etc., and if the parent isn't a scientist, or inclined that way, its just not going to go well. Frankly, at that age, important as process is to real science, it's terribly boring (and often it's boring at any age.)

I personally think that a maker faire with a long lead time and a strong effort to get parents involved with their kids would be much more meaningful to many of these kids, and likely incent the kids to further pursue these activities more than the science fair from our collective youths.

Comment: 8-Track tapes (Score 1) 615

by lythander (#35070882) Attached to: Do Tools Ever 'Die?'

I worked for a railroad electronics company that at the time (~1999) was the last place making 8-track tapes for use in locomotive data recorders (like the black boxes in planes.) And then we quit and went to solid state memory, and quit making tapes, which of course meant the industry would have to buy new recorders.

Comment: Re:Environmentalism = genocide? (Score 2) 279

by lythander (#34987336) Attached to: Genghis Khan, History's Greenest Conqueror

They already do call for depopulation. While most of the world has decried the huge unjust deprivation of China's population to procreate ad infinitum, radical environmentalists have long hailed the policy as green, and in need of spreading.

The planet is a tool, and a resource. As it is also our primary residence, it should be kept pristine for our habitation. But it has no purpose beyond our sustinance, and without human life is meaningless (at least insofar as "meaning" is something humans provide.) People, please get a life.

Comment: Teach and let him find his own. (Score 1) 614

by lythander (#34271020) Attached to: Sciencey Heroes For Young Children?

I'll throw in for Jamie and Adam, since they are both really well known and worthy of the adulation.

Far better to have your children live the life of math and science, makers and doers, and let him come on his own. Expose him to your (our) world and let him decide for himself.

Finally, remember that there is no reason he couldn't also like Hockey, or football, or anything else that the muggle world indulges in. We do our children (all of them) a huge disservice when we act like to be a geek you can't also play a sport, or be interested in something outside of the traditional geek pursuits. Geekdom is creeping ever farther afield to encompass more and more (geek cooking, geek fashion, etc.) Heroes need to be something one chooses organically, so take him on a journey, don't hand him one.

"Success covers a multitude of blunders." -- George Bernard Shaw