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Comment: Re:That's great. What about OPEN? (Score 1) 283

by rabiddeity (#38431622) Attached to: Law Professors On SOPA and PIPA: Don't Break the Internet

If you want to know why nobody is clamoring for this, go look up the term "false dichotomy". A forced choice between the lesser of two evils? SOPA, OPEN, it doesn't matter, they would both screw up the Internet as a forum for free and open communication.

Here, I'll give you a third option. To fit in with the other four letter words, let's call it NOPE. "No Online Piracy Enforcement." Let the big media companies continue their futile attempts to shut down the Internet, but the government should not lift a finger to help.

+ - Lucky supermarket chain hit by credit card skimmin->

Submitted by rabiddeity
rabiddeity (941737) writes "Shoppers at the Lucky supermarket chain in northern California are being warned to check their bank accounts and credit card statements after a successful skimming attack on self-checkout card readers. The thieves apparently replaced the credit card readers with modified units that siphoned off card information for later pickup. No details on the device internals have been released, but Secret Service agents investigating the crime are calling it "the most sophisticated device they've ever seen in the United States.""
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Opposite. (Score 4, Insightful) 841

by rabiddeity (#37967906) Attached to: Why Do So Many College Science Majors Drop Out?

The student isn't paid to learn, the teacher is paid to teach. You have it backwards.

The professor is paid to present the information; the student pays for the opportunity to learn from an expert. As a student, it is your responsibility to study until you understand the material. University is about taking personal initiative in learning what the professors say is important. And while some of them are poor teachers, all professors were at one time undergraduates, and thus they tend to have a good idea about what you need to understand to be a master of a subject.

If you expect a professor to stuff your head with information without any effort on your part, then you do not understand how the learning process works. If you pay for a gym membership and personal instructor and then never do the exercises regularly and properly, you have no justification to whine that you didn't get your money's worth when you're still out of shape. Suck it up, and take initiative.

Comment: Re:No Privacy == No Security (Score 2) 214

by rabiddeity (#36708450) Attached to: Ex-NSA Chief Supports Separate Secure Internet

You could, right now, get on a bus and travel 3 states over, then jump on a train and go somewhere.

Tell that to someone from Hawaii or Alaska. I'm pretty sure both ship and airline passage require ID.

Regardless, my threshold of "starting to worry about police state" is when they start trying to stick cameras all over DC, or having permenant police checkpoints.

You haven't traveled on any interstate highways that happen to travel by the border with Mexico lately, have you. Try driving from Yuma to Los Angeles on I-8. You will encounter no less than TWO *permanent* US Border Patrol (DHS) checkpoints along the way, where you have to stop and provide identification in the form of a driver's license and submit to a search of your vehicle if they feel like it.

No, this isn't because the US-Mexico border magically moved north a few miles. You didn't cross an international border without realizing it. It's because DHS claims authority over areas 100 miles from all US borders, including sea borders. In this case, you must show papers to travel within the US... and it's not a small case, it's actually a very broadly applicable area.

Seriously man, are you trolling, or are you really THAT ignorant? The noose isn't getting any looser. Start worrying!

Comment: Re:LaTeX (Score 1) 294

by rabiddeity (#35241322) Attached to: Compared and Contrasted: OpenOffice V. LibreOffice

Well said. I don't envy your position. Progress can be slow in academia.

My own thesis advisor couldn't grok why I was using such an obscure tool, but when he requested I change citation formats with a week left and I delivered the change in half an hour I'd like to think he was impressed. Then I showed him how easy it was to create grant proposals that didn't look horrid. I probably didn't convert him from Word, but maybe he'll come around in a decade or so.

If it's any consolation, one of the senior faculty review members for my thesis was a LaTeX fan. He has enough clout that he can coerce his students into using it, and they all appreciate it once they get over that initial hump.

Comment: Re:LaTeX (Score 1) 294

by rabiddeity (#35228930) Attached to: Compared and Contrasted: OpenOffice V. LibreOffice

Actually I've found LaTeX better for collaborative documents than Word. I can use a version control system to do merges very easily if two people are working separately on changes to a tex document. Subversion and Git don't play nicely with (binary) .doc files, and the document merge "feature" of Word always leaves me with hanging invisible style issues. It's inconsistent, it's opaque, and it looks ugly. WYSIWYG, but what you see isn't what's all there.

Tell your colleagues to give you a flat text file for their chapter or portion of the document. Use a substitution tool to change the quotation marks to TeX's admittedly awkward backtick and apostrophe notation, then \input the file into your main document. If they need to edit your text, the tex syntax is human-readable enough that they can ignore what they don't understand. Then demo for them how easy it is to switch between ACM and IEEE formats (or any format of your choice) by changing a single line at the top. LaTeX's learning curve is long, but it's not particularly steep; you can learn to do things like bold and italics and chapter headings as you need to. Citations are a little bit more advanced but most people quickly warm to the idea of never having to look up bibliography styles Ever Again.

Coder/geeks tend to appreciate the simplicity of getting output based ONLY on what's in the input file, but you can convince anyone who can appreciate the professional classiness of a consistent document style. I can't count the number of times I've tried to copy and paste from one Word doc to another (while retaining bold and italics) and royally screwed up the formatting somehow without being able to see and fix the problem. Of course if your coworkers regularly use Comic Sans then it's probably a lost cause.

Comment: Re:The Question Is... (Score 1) 113

by rabiddeity (#33743862) Attached to: Researchers Test Space Beer

Depends if lager yeast or ale yeast are used.

Actually this isn't as important as you think. You can make ale with a lager yeast and lager with an ale yeast, it will just take longer and probably won't taste right. The temperature, however, is very important, because different yeasts prefer different temperatures. As it was explained to me, if the wrong temperature for the yeast is chosen either they won't multiply quickly enough and bacteria will overwhelm them, or they will start to consume the wrong sugars and produce bad things like fusel alcohols. (Random trivia: the name "fusel" comes from the German word for a bad brew.)

Grandparent's post is accurate because certain simple sugars settle to either the top or bottom of a fermentation vessel. The yeasts will tend to congregate where the food is, and the food depends on the temperature. Ales multiply quickly and ferment in the top of the vessel, while lagers go nuts at the bottom. Interestingly enough, most major beers nowadays labeled "lager" are actually ales. My guess is that since the sugars are completely homogeneous in space, assuming you can keep the bacteria out you might wind up with a very smooth beer as everything ferments evenly... but it will take longer to brew. Or you might end up with a completely awful beer.

To answer the GP's question, I guess this means that if it ferments further toward the enemy's gate, it's a lager?

Comment: Re:The iPodization of Print is Failing (Score 1) 256

by rabiddeity (#32345974) Attached to: Amazon Kindle Fails First College Test

I can understand that copy editing is a lot of work, and GOOD copy editing is somewhat expensive. But "preparation costs?" Complete horseshit. Typesetting is essentially free unless you need to make physical copies, and it's a job that should be done by the copy editor, not a separate engraver. This isn't the 20th century anymore.

(Of course that particular free typesetter only creates a PDF or Postscript file. I'm sure the excessive DRM schemes and platform-specific obfuscation cost several million dollars to create and apply.)

Promotion is a burden that's essentially already borne by Amazon et al. I can't remember the last time I saw an ad for a book anywhere. Where the hell does that advertising budget go? My guess is the publishers are mainly competing with each other for "prime estate" on the front page, but many people-- specifically college students-- are more interested in finding a specific book than whatever is being promoted most heavily. Even private purchasers are loath to pay $5 for a book they may not enjoy at all; most purchases are via word of mouth or because the reader enjoyed reading previous works by that author. The search infrastructure allowing specific purchases is already there, if immature. A Pandora-style associative advertising system probably isn't far off. I don't see where the publishers fit into either of these cases.

So remind me again where the money is going, aside from lobbying against copyright reform?

Comment: Re:Ignorance, not indifference. (Score 1) 220

by rabiddeity (#32328058) Attached to: Why Online Privacy Is Broken

I would think (and hope) that customers aren't asking for it because they're not aware of the risks, not because they don't care. Like when people stop using debit cards everywhere only after their card gets duplicated.

This.

Two things are necessary for privacy to really become important to the number crunchers. The first is a direct, measurable impact on individual privacy, which is arguably already happening. Whereas there was an implicit agreement of trust before, you now have essentially no privacy on social networking sites. The second is transparency, the wide exposure and dissemination that sleazy advertising companies have full access to YOUR stuff, and have no compunctions about sharing it.

You can tell who is on your side in this matter not by the first, but by the second metric. Everyone is swapping personal data like mad because there are no economic disincentives to do so-- in fact, there is a LOT of money in selling who your friends are and what things they like. The companies that want privacy to be taken seriously, like Google, are exposing the breaches themselves and letting loose the shitstorm, with the expectation that users will demand a reasonable privacy standard. The companies that don't give a flying monkey's butt, like Facebook, do their best to obscure what data is being shared and with whom. If you want to know which companies are really evil, look at who is trying to keep information from you.

Comment: Re:The thing that makes electrics un-economical (Score 1) 327

by rabiddeity (#32299624) Attached to: Toyota Partners With Tesla To Make Electric Cars

There's one other good reason to use an electric car. Pure performance. Electric motors have more torque than any ICE of comparable weight. For people who drive cars for fun, not just utility, electric cars are the way to go.

You say it's better torque for comparable weight-- does that count the batteries? Didn't think so. That better torque curve is offset by significantly higher weight from the battery packs (translating to poor handling in corners). Electric cars also typically fit narrow economy tires (trading grip for higher efficiency) because they're supposed to be "green" and efficient and all that. You wind up with a car that wallows and lurches through a corner like a Buick.

I like the idea of electric motors, but the reality is not all rainbows and butterflies. Otherwise they'd be switching to pure electric engines for Le Mans.

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