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Comment: Re:Passed Time (Score 2) 135

by s_p_oneil (#49172767) Attached to: Supreme Court Gives Tacit Approval To Warrantless DNA Collection

It's unlikely to happen because what you said is mostly BS. A smart phone contains all kinds of sensitive information like logs of where you've been and of private conversations between you and several other people (which may or may not be related to a case the police are investigating). Your DNA can't possibly contain information like that. Today it might be able to tell the police you have blonde hair and blue eyes, but so can your driver's license. Sure it might eventually be able to let the police generate a picture of what you look like based on your DNA, but once again so can your driver's license. It might even be able to tell the police whether you have a small penis (or something along those lines), but I'm pretty sure they won't be able to use information like that against you in court. ;-)

It really is no different than collecting fingerprints at a crime scene, semen from a rape victim, etc.

Comment: Re:I'm sold on LED bulbs... (Score 2) 602

by s_p_oneil (#48002035) Attached to: The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy

I didn't find my favorite brand at Costco, but I second this. I also recommend people try a few different kinds in different light fixtures in their house before deciding. I have a few bulbs that are a real pain in the ass to change (e.g. so high over my staircase or outside that I need a pole to change it), and those were the first to be switched (in the hopes that I never have to change them again).

The initial cost can be high, but if you only buy 1 or 2 a month, the cost is spread out, and your electricity bills should go down gradually over time. As a gradually switch over, I also find myself needing to buy less and less light bulbs over time. The CFL's I was buying were burning out way too fast (faster than incandescent it seemed). I don't know when the first LED's I bought will fail, but so far every last one I bought is still doing fine. A few brands/types I tried give off weak lighting, so I stuck them in fixtures that have 3 bulbs to lessen the impact.

Comment: Re:Telescopes and camping or night-tours (Score 2) 234

by s_p_oneil (#47938351) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

On the astronomy side, I second the camping with a telescope idea. I've had friends tell me about groups of astronomy enthusiasts who schedule nights to meet up in places to star-gaze and/or camp out. Most of them bring their own telescopes and like to chat and show off the various features and techniques, show you things they've found with their telescopes, help you with yours, and so on. Check one out and see if it's a kid-friendly environment for a fun camping overnight (I have no idea if it would be or not, and it may depend on the group). If your kids take an interest in it, you'll have even more reason to pursue it further.

Comment: Re:Backport\Upstream? Seems unlikely (Score 4, Interesting) 304

by s_p_oneil (#46759697) Attached to: OpenBSD Team Cleaning Up OpenSSL

If they end up stripping it down to a minimal library with the core functionality, cleaning up the public interface (e.g. exported functions), and making it easy to create your own OS-specific wrapper around it, then they are actually doing something that should have been done in the first place. If they do it right, it will become much more popular (and most likely more light-weight and secure) than the current OpenSSL project.

Comment: Re:Consumers pay (Score 1) 328

by s_p_oneil (#46758925) Attached to: Netflix Gets What It Pays For: Comcast Streaming Speeds Skyrocket

I think Netflix's business model is more like WalMart's early model. Even if they can get away with it, they avoid raising prices because they want to stay on top by consistently offering the lowest price (usually by keeping very low profit margins). When they were finally pressured to increase prices, they chose to split the streaming and DVD rentals into two separate services (allowing you to lower your monthly cost if you only wanted to keep one). IMO they also fought against the price increase for as long as they could, and while many customers got pissed off and threatened to leave (and many did), there still wasn't a competitor that came close to it unless you count pirating the shows.

Very low margins makes them vulnerable to lobbying/litigation/price-fixing attacks from other companies like Comcast/AT&T, which is what we're seeing right now. This bandwidth throttling scheme is analogous to a price-fixing scheme, and Comcast/AT&T are using lobbyists and lawyers to keep it from being declared an anti-competitive practice. They really don't care about the little bit of extra money they're extorting from Netflix right now. They know Netflix has margins low enough that this will hurt, and they know Netflix's customers are ultra-sensitive to price increases. Either way Netflix will be hurt, which is their primary goal. Both offer more expensive competing services to Netflix, and together both offer the only way for most Americans to access Netflix. It's a clear conflict of interest. They will do the same to Hulu and any other serious competition that pops up.

Comment: Lightning surge (Score 1) 143

by s_p_oneil (#46601961) Attached to: The Highest-Flying Wind Turbine

And when lightning strikes one of these babies, you get a nice surge of 1.21 Jigawatts.

Being more serious, I think this is a really good idea, but I would think big storms would be the biggest problems for these things. Of course, FTA:

"The largest barrier to implementation right now is the need for a product that is reliable in all weather conditions for long periods of time,"

Comment: Hey, I have the perfect solution! (Score 1) 704

by s_p_oneil (#46397877) Attached to: Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

Hey, I have the perfect solution! After each deposit, the bitcoin exchanges should print the critical bitcoin info out on paper (encrypted first with a private key) then destroy the electronic copy. Then, in case they get robbed by a physical thief who is also a hacker, they should destroy all copies of the private key. See? It's perfect.

Comment: Maybe it's because only 300 people know about it? (Score 3, Insightful) 255

by s_p_oneil (#45978005) Attached to: Google Removes "Search Nearby" Function From Updated Google Maps

Maybe it's because only 300 people know about it? Yes, that was a joke, but seriously Google Maps has millions of users, and Google knows how many people click on it. If the vast majority don't (even if it's due to not having a clue), I could see why Google might drop it.

Comment: Re:Where is "racial" discrimination? (Score 1) 409

by s_p_oneil (#45951143) Attached to: Lawsuit: Oracle Called $50K 'Good Money For an Indian'

Good point. I missed that part of it. Though in cases where the company feels they can get away with giving you a smaller increase (like if they think someone from rural Georgia won't notice and/or complain), a lot of businesses will. It's not racially biased, it's business.

Comment: Re:Where is "racial" discrimination? (Score 1) 409

by s_p_oneil (#45950665) Attached to: Lawsuit: Oracle Called $50K 'Good Money For an Indian'

I don't think it matters. Companies will pay significantly less for employees in rural Georgia than they do for the same employees in Silicon Valley because rural Georgia has a much lower cost of living. This is standard business practice everywhere. Is that racial (or any other kind of) discrimination? Of course not. This is the same practice regardless of whether the manager technically said "for an Indian" (which sounds less politically correct) or "for someone living in a low-cost area like India" (which sounds more politically correct). And IMO it doesn't count as whistle-blowing to call someone out on a business practice that is neither illegal nor immoral. He's being fired for being a dumbass and making a big stink about nothing, not for being a whistle-blower.

Comment: Re:Sometimes those warnings are muted (Score 2) 94

by s_p_oneil (#45777305) Attached to: 2013: an Ominous Year For Warnings and Predictions

"That'd be nice - 'science' could just stick to doing sciencey things, then, instead of creating contrived and falsifiable histrionic reports about things which, almost invariably, will not prove out to be true."

All of this started when NASA was asked to do "sciencey" things with a clear non-political goal, namely to start tracking/modeling/predicting global weather patterns to help the US prepare for natural disasters like hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, floods, droughts, etc. However, those things are very hard to predict without trying to look at larger climate patterns, which means gathering and crunching as much data as they could pull together. When all of that data pointed toward a potential long-term danger, NASA scientists did their jobs and informed their bosses of the potential danger.

Is that danger 100% clear? No. Did NASA scientists claim it was 100% clear? No. People like Al Gore may have, but last I checked, he wasn't one of NASA's scientists. Have the predictions remained constant over the years? No, they've been modified as more has been learned, and they will continue to be modified because there is always more to learn in every field of science. Have their discoveries and claims been backed up by other climate/weather tracking organizations like the ESA? Yes. The only thing that is 100% clear here is which side of the fence has been politically motivated the whole way and which side has not, which side has been trying to learn more and which has merely been obstructionist, etc.

The human race has never been short of people like the hunters who killed the very last of the dodo birds and smashed the last of their eggs, poachers who illegally hunt elephants and tigers toward extinction, fisheries who dredge the ocean floor because it's getting so much harder to find/catch enough fish to stay in business, or loggers who illegally cut down the rest of the trees in the Amazon rain forest. Every one of them is certain that the world is too big for their contribution to make a difference, and every one of them is wrong. Most global warming deniers aren't doing anything illegal or immoral (unless they're actively publishing fake scientific "studies"), but they have the same mind-set.

"I don't see what your point is. People (and the companies they run) make choices in the interest of self preservation and self-interest."

They sure do. And just like when someone's (or some company's) choices involve something illegal like human trafficking, it is the government's job to put a stop to it. It is also the government's job to decide whether something that is legal today should remain legal. They'll never be able to satisfy everyone, but it's their job. Of course, we can't outlaw coal and oil without harming everyone (yet), but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be trying to look for ways to head in that direction.

"The Street finds its own uses for technology." -- William Gibson