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Comment Authority Be Damned (Score 1) 203 203

The main lesson of any person or site posing as a techno-authority is that authority itself is now impossible, if it can be said that it ever was doable. I look at this place every day, at Ars, and at How-to-Geek (who regularly presents some surprisingly remarkable insights). Once a week I'll look over Motherboard's, BB's, and Wired's posts; and for the rest there's social media. As annoying as it can often be, following Anonymous's twitter feed frequently delivers pearls from sites I otherwise wouldn't visit. And for really important stuff I follow Glenn Greenwald of Intercept and the EFF and the Tor project's feed.

Comment Re:Who watches this crap? (Score 1) 135 135

A wise and insightful set of observations. I offer that praise, of course, only because the Reindeer reflects my own experience in working with that odd codebase known as "English." I once encountered a question at a LinkedIn group I follow, which asked: "How do you prefer to write -- with pen and paper or computer?" And my answer was, "neither." I further explained that a typical 1,500 word piece gets "written" when I'm out walking, sitting in meditation, or hitting golf balls at the driving range. Very often, the "scribbling" part is done with a pocket audio recorder, so that the typing becomes more a secretarial act than a creative one (editing, however, is an entirely different story).

Perhaps the only area where I might differ from the Reindeer is in the matter of handling distractions. For me, the "cow in front of my train" can often become part of the thought. This piece, for instance, developed from such an interruption (someone drawing my attention to the Goswami rant that became the main subject of the essay). Sometimes, I have found, distraction can itself be focus disguised.

Now, as for the topic here: if the experience of watching someone code (or write, paint, or even dig a ditch) is an opening into the creative process of the work, then it's worth the watch. That is to say, it's more likely to be a waste of time than a learning experience, but the one good encounter may be worth the ten bad, as long as you can quickly recognize the difference.

Comment my father told me (Score 4, Insightful) 583 583

If only I'd listened:

A long time ago, in the mid-80’s, I got my first corporate job. I was going to be employed by one of the biggest real estate firms in NYC, working in a gleaming midtown tower and doing Important Things in a suit and tie. The shirt whose buttons could withstand my pride had not yet been invented. To celebrate before I started, I went home to bask in the glow of accomplishment amid family. In short, I imagine I was thoroughly insufferable.

Anyway, shortly before I left to return to New York and begin my corporate career, my old man took me aside. “Brian, congratulations again, and I mean that,” he said, smiling. “I just want you to understand one thing before you start. The company will ask for your loyalty — demand it, in fact. It will give you none in return. The company will ask for your sacrifice, and give you none in return. The company will ask for your trust, and give you none in return. How much of these things you give the company will depend on you and your judgment. Just don’t expect anything back except the paycheck. Do your best, but expect nothing in return from the company.”

Submission + - Senator Paul stands for over ten hours in Senate over NSA bulk data collection. ->

An anonymous reader writes: Sen. Rand Paul held up a vote on the Fast Track Authority for a eleven hour dissertation on the flaws of the Patriot Act, the replacement the USA Freedom Act, bulk data collection including credit card purchases, the DEA and IRS's use of NSA intel. for "parallel construction", warrant-less GPS bugs on vehicles, as well as the important distinction of a general warrant v a spacific one.

The memes that have been created are clever too, "I don't normally take over C-Span2, but when I do -people watch C-Span2." Of course, the expected #StandWithRand and posting selfies with people actually watching C-Span2.

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Comment For Two-Millennia Durability... (Score 4, Insightful) 200 200 can't beat bamboo strips. The oldest original versions of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching are written on rolls of bamboo strips. Not sure how they scan electronically, and you will have to keep your pet pandas away from them, but for document durability, you can't beat that format...

Comment Re:So? (Score 1) 461 461

One of the most underrated of all professions. Consider: must be strong yet gentle; analytic yet intuitive; a scientist and an artist. Must have psy skills to deal with the phobic behavior of all who come into that chair. Must be handy with power tools in very small spaces. I'm always astonished to encounter someone who performs that occupation capably.

Comment Re:so what? (Score 1) 202 202

Agreed: in the widest context the question arises, "so what?" I'm not bothered in the least by the ads, and I usually push them a few bucks when I notice one. And if I'm bothered by the ad, I scroll past it -- oh, the pain! Really now, for what wiki has given to the Web, to society, to journalism, to education -- and compared with the depredations of Wall St. and corporate America -- how can this be even vaguely construed as a scandal?

Submission + - Ubuntu may beat Windows 10 to phone-PC convergence after all

An anonymous reader writes: Despite the recent announcement that Windows 10 phones will be able to be used as PCs when connected to an external monitor, Ubuntu—the first operating system to toy with the idea—hasn’t conceded the smartphone-PC convergence race to Microsoft just yet. “While I enjoy the race, I also like to win,” Ubuntu Foundation founder Mark Shuttleworth said during a Ubuntu Online Summit keynote, before announcing that Canonical will partner with a hardware manufacturer to release a Ubuntu Phone with smartphone-PC convergence features this year.

Submission + - The shape of the glass could determine how fast you get drunk... ->

lurking_giant writes: The speed at which we drink alcohol could be influenced by the shape of the glass, and markings on the glass might help us drink more slowly, according to new research from the University of Bristol, presented today at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in Liverpool.
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Submission + - caught sharing DNA database with government->

SonicSpike writes: In 1996, a young woman named Angie Dodge was murdered in her apartment in a small town in Idaho. Although the police collected DNA from semen left at the crime scene, they haven’t been able to match the DNA to existing profiles in any criminal database, and the murder has never been solved.

Fast forward to 2014. The Idaho police sent the semen sample to a private lab to extract a DNA profile that included YSTR and mtDNA—the two genetic markers used to determine patrilineal and matrilineal relationships (it’s unclear why they reopened the case after nearly 20 years). These markers would allow investigators to search some existing databases to try to find a match between the sample and genetic relatives.

The cops chose to use a lab linked to a private collection of genetic genealogical data called the Sorenson Database (now owned by, which claims it’s “the foremost collection of genetic genealogy data in the world.” The reason the Sorenson Database can make such an audacious claim is because it has obtained its more than 100,000 DNA samples and documented multi-generational family histories from “volunteers in more than 100 countries around the world.”

Sorenson promised volunteers their genetic data would only be used for “genealogical services, including the determination of family migration patterns and geographic origins” and would not be shared outside Sorenson.

Despite this promise, Sorenson shared its vast collection of data with the Idaho police. Without a warrant or court order, investigators asked the lab to run the crime scene DNA against Sorenson’s private genealogical DNA database. Sorenson found 41 potential familial matches, one of which matched on 34 out of 35 alleles—a very close match that would generally indicate a close familial relationship. The cops then asked, not only for the “protected” name associated with that profile, but also for all “all information including full names, date of births, date and other information pertaining to the original donor to the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy project.”

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Comment Re:And the seventh mas extinction? (Score 1) 93 93

I hope Chris Carter's paying attention -- he may want to work in a revision of his earlier view by that name (opening of season 7 of X Files) as he prepares the neXt big thing for FoX. That whole ancient alien astronaut theme could use some dusting anyway.

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten