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Comment: Re:What kind of "deal" - he has nothing to offer? (Score 1) 76 76

Every country with intelligence agencies, including the US, has "illegals" -- that is, spies who do not have diplomatic cover. Valerie Plame is one of the most famous examples, and the operation that pinned down Osama bin Laden's location and cut the power to the neighborhood almost certainly were operating without diplomatic cover.

Most intelligence agency employees of any country aren't in immediate danger and have mostly office jobs, but there are at least a few doing things that can land them in jail if only by being present in another country using false identification.

Comment: Re:On the other hand... (Score 2) 191 191

One of the things I've run into dealing with groups in India might be cultural, but it certainly can get in the way. Everyone has a job, it's strictly defined, and rarely does anyone do something that is not explicitly in their job, especially if it's explicitly in someone else's job. When it's in nobody's job, a manager can get it added to someone's job, but that seems to take a lot of discussion over who is the most appropriate person to do it, which can cause further delays. In one frustrating case, simply disabling a line in snmpd.conf to stop "public" from being an accepted community string took days to figure out whose job it was, even though several people had sudo access and could have made and documented the change.

Comment: Re:Greece is a republican's wet dream. (Score 1) 1243 1243

There may well be issues with graft, but there are also issues with taxpayers. Not paying taxes is a national sport in Greece. When Athens started looking at Google Earth and comparing addresses in rich areas with swimming pools (for which there is a separate tax) with the list of addresses paying the tax, they found that they were under-collecting by a factor of about 50: they had a list of 324 addresses and found at least 16,974 pools. In 2010, only a few thousand people in the entire country admitted having an income higher than 100,000 euros, and huge swaths of obviously well-off people (multiple houses and cars, successful businesses, etc.) claimed incomes less than 12,000 euros, exempting them from taxes.

Greece has to undertake a lot of reforms that will be painful for them (like raising the retirement age from 55). The creditors will almost certainly have to make some concessions of their own. It's not going to be pleasant for either side, but the potential cascade effects are potentially severe enough to knock Europe back into recession. Then again, being too lenient with Greece could trigger a cascade of its own with Spain, Portugal, and Italy coming back to demand more lenient terms for their loans, which would have its own problems.

Comment: Parts of AmigaOS of course (Score 1) 426 426

Assigns (randomly named identifiers for things in the file system). ARexx (fully integrated, comprehensive scripting support, don't care about the language, throughout the OS and all applications). Screens (the ability to group windows and more importantly tasks together). A design that doesn't require constant disk access and thus remains responsive at all times. I'd also choose any windowing environment that is not X11, and since we're talking Amiga anyway I'll choose Intuition (a sane windowing environment).

You can sort-of pretend all of these things exist in Windows or GNU/systemd, but in reality they are pale imitations of the original. Screens for example - that works because applications have knowledge of them, and use them intelligently, not because you just happen to be able to assign windows to a workspace manually.

The Almighty Buck

Leased LEDs and Energy Service Contracts can Cut Electric Bills (Video) 52 52

I first heard of Consumer Energy Solutions from a non-profit's IT guy who was boasting about how he got them to lease him LED bulbs for their parking lot and the security lights at their equipment lot -- pretty much all their outdoor lighting -- for a lot less than their monthly savings on electricity from replacing most of their Halogen, fluorescent, and other less-efficient lights with LEDs. What made this a big deal to my friend was that no front money was required. It's one thing to tell a town council or non-profit board, "If we spend $180,000 on LEDs we'll save it all back in five years" (or whatever). It's another thing to say, "We can lease LEDs for all our outdoor lighting for $4,000 per month and save $8,000 on electricity right away." That gets officials to prick up their ears in a hurry.Then there are energy service contracts, essentially buying electricity one, two or three years in advance. This business got a bad name from Enron and their energy wholesaling business, but despite that single big blast of negative publicity, it grows a little each year. And the LED lease business? In many areas, governments and utility companies actually subsidize purchases of anything that cuts electricity use. Totally worth checking out.

But why, you might ask, is this on Slashdot? Because some of our readers own stacks of servers (or work for companies that own stacks of servers) and need to know they don't have to pay whatever their local electric utility demands, but can shop for better electricity prices in today's deregulated electricity market. And while this conversation was with one person in this business, we are not pushing his company. As interviewee Patrick Clouden says at the end of the interview, it's a competitive business. So if you want the best deal, you'd better shop around. One more thing: the deregulated utility market, with its multitude of suppliers, peak and off-peak pricing, and (often) minute-by-minute price changes, takes excellent software (possibly written by someone like you) to negotiate, so this business niche might be one an entrepreneurial software developer should explore.

+ - Man killed by Robot in German car factory 1 1

CopingStrategy writes: From the Guardian: A contractor was setting up the robot at a car plant in Baunatal, Southern Germany, when the robot grabbed and crushed him. The robot normally operates within a combined space, grabbing auto parts and manipulating them. The 22 year old was grabbed and crushed against a metal plate.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 834 834

The B-52 requires complete air superiority in the area that it operates because it can't hide from radar except by jamming, so just building a new version wouldn't really work. The B-1 has speed on its side (thought not as much as the original specs) and the B-2 has stealth. The tentatively named B-3 is supposed to replace all of the heavy bombers, though the B-2 will probably stick around for a few decades. That's a reasonable goal, unlike that of the F-35.

It's supposed to use mostly existing technologies instead of planning for advances as happened with (and expanded the cost and schedule of) the B-2, F-22, and F-35. Whether they can actually do that is a giant question mark, but the Air Force is allegedly targeting $500 million to $600 million per plane as the final cost.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 834 834

The Harrier can't meaningfully hover with a full weapons load, either, and it really only takes off vertically at air shows. STOVL is short for "short takeoff, vertical landing". They've been planning ramped takeoffs and vertical landings at sea from the beginning, just like the Harrier uses.

I'm not fond of the F-35, but don't ascribe features to its (at least as problematic) predecessor that aren't there.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 834 834

No, because the F-16 was designed as a multi-role fighter and it did extremely well. When it was announced that both the Air Force and Navy would use it, there was concern because of memories of the F-4 (a good plane for its time, but certainly not without its problems) and the compromises it had. When it was announced that it would also replace the Harrier and was planned to become the most common plane in the military, that's when people started fearing the worst.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 4, Interesting) 834 834

The main problem is the Marines wanting a replacement for the Harrier, something that can do STOL/STOVL operations, and that is completely under their control. The JSF was already under development, and the contractors said they could figure out how to make it fit the Marine requirements. What we got was a fighter that can't dogfight, a strike aircraft with a pitifully small payload, and the political impossibility of starting over from scratch.

One of the lessons that came out of this and the Zumwalt-class destroyer programs is that the military should stop trying to cram every feature into a program. While the proliferation of designs led to unwieldy logistics in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, the attempts to simplify everything have resulted in a reduced overall capability and the need to extend the lifetimes of planes the new projects were meant to replace. The F-15 and F-16 will still be around for decades, and may form a larger part of the tactical strike platforms than the USAF would like to admit. The same will probably be the case with the F/A-18E against the Navy's F-35C.

Dedicated designs are the most efficient. Some of them turn out to be spectacular at other jobs. The F-15 was designed with the adage "not a pound for air-to-ground" and yet from it was developed the F-15E Strike Eagle, an extremely effective air-to-ground platform. Hopefully the military is listening when it goes trying to build its next platform, a replacement for the B-1, B-2, and B-52 expected to come online between 2035 and 2045.

There is very little future in being right when your boss is wrong.

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