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Comment: Re:Powerpoint resulted in the loss of 2 space shut (Score 2) 189

by Goldsmith (#49779587) Attached to: Why PowerPoint Should Be Banned


I know Microsoft gets hammered around here, but blaming the Challenger disaster (1986) on PowerPoint (1990) is really stretching the facts to match the story.

Bullet points and slide presentations did not start with PowerPoint. If anything, the "bullet point thinking" of the Challenger tragedy shows that we were already experts at presenting information poorly before we had software tools to make us more efficient at it.

+ - How to know if Iran breaks its word: Financial monitoring->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: This is a fascinating read from Aaron Arnold of the Project on Managing the Atom at Harvard's Kennedy School. Arnold points out that the Iran Nuclear Framework Agreement specifies not only that international inspectors will have access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, but will also gain access to Iran’s nuclear supply chain, in order to verify that components and materials are not diverted to a covert facility. 'To insure additional transparency, the preliminary framework calls for a dedicated procurement channel to approve the supply, sale, and transfer of certain nuclear-related and dual-use parts, technologies, and materials on a case-by-case basis.' Arnold points out that this is a tricky area, because Iran has shown extraordinary skill at getting around financial sanctions, and it's unclear what international body will monitor Iran's financial transactions. The article then details steps that could be taken to ensure that Iran's financial transactions are transparent and cannot be used to obtain dual-use materials, including the requirement that Iran join the international Financial Action Task Force. Great read..
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Comment: The only crisis is a German Bank Crisis (Score 1) 720

Look, we actually have documents (go look at wikileaks, no I won't do your work for you) that prove that Germany has been instrumental in making sure that Greek milliionaires avoiding taxes aren't followed to their Swiss deposits and other tax frauds.

The only problem is that the German Banks might have to suffer a loss for Liar's Loans they made under the Goldman Sachs "promises" that Greece could be in the EEC (EU monetary combine), which even internal German audits show was known to be a lie.

The banks losing their money is what is supposed to happen when they make bad loans.

That and the lack of repayment by Germany for the war looting of Greece during WW II, which has never been repaid.

Does Greece have a strong economy? No, but it never has.

Is there massive tax fraud in Greece? Yes, but there always has been.

Is this a major risk for the EU? No, because .... wait for it ... Greece is less than 0.1 percent of total EU GDP. Total.

All the rest is sturm und drang by Reichsmarshalls in Den Stadt.

Comment: fix the motivating factors (Score 1) 349

by Goldsmith (#49775055) Attached to: Can Bad Scientific Practice Be Fixed?

This is a general problem in science (not just biomedical research). I'm a physicist, and we see the same sorts of issues.

It all comes down to how academic research is funded and judged: number of papers, number of students graduated, and amount of money raised. Inside granting agencies, this is how different research efforts are compared to determine which programs get (more) funding and who gets cut. The importance of the work, the correctness of the work, and the ethical behavior (or not) of the researchers are not considered. Scientists are not stupid, if those are the metrics used to determine funding, they optimize for those things.

If we want to fix science we need a different set of metrics.

I'd suggest replacing the three metrics above with: number of validated results, public interest, and amount of private investment in the work. This would apply specifically to government granting programs.

"Validated results" requires a third party to validate, that should be government labs validating academic/commercial work (we're talking about reviews of government grants) and the opposite for new work done at government labs.

"Public interest" is much easier to track now than it used to be. A simple metric would just be google search ranking (although I'm sure something better could be used).

Private investment may seem overly commercial to some people, but we have a big problem right now with a lack of development of scientific work. Last year was the first time since 2000 that private investment in startup companies exceeded government investment in basic research (in the US). Commercialization is much more expensive than basic research; we're still only passing on a fraction of the potential practical work. We need to motivate people doing basic research to work more with industry (where appropriate, right). In addition, you have several diseases (usually "orphans") where private donations for disease research are greater than government investment (i.e. Lyme disease). Maybe that's fine, but the granting folks need to take a look at why that is and whether they're really investing public dollars where they need to go.

Lastly, I would change the system every 10 years or so. The longer any set metric is used, the more likely it is that people are gaming the system rather than working in the public interest.

+ - The Scientific Method and the Art of Troubleshooting

Submitted by writes: Karl Popper came up with the idea in the 1930's that scientists should attempt to falsify their hypotheses rather than to verify them. The basic reasoning is that while you cannot prove a hypothesis to be true by finding a number of different confirming instances (though confirming instances do make you more confident in the truth), you can prove a hypothesis to be false by finding one valid counter-example. Now Orin Thomas writes at WindowsITPro that you’ve probably diagnosed hundreds, if not thousands, of technical problems in your career and Popper's insights can serve as a valuable guide to avoid a couple of hours chasing solutions that turn out to be an incorrect answer. According to Thomas when troubleshooting a technical problem many of us “race ahead” and use our intuition to reach a hypothesis as to a possible cause before we’ve had time to assess the available body of evidence. "When we use our intuition to solve a problem, we look for things that confirm the conclusion. If we find something that confirms that conclusion, we become even more certain of that conclusion. Most people also unconsciously ignore obvious data that would disprove their incorrect hypothesis because the first reaction to a conclusion reached at through intuition is to try and confirm it rather than refute it."

Thomas says that the idea behind using a falsificationist method is to treat your initial conclusions about a complex troubleshooting problem as untrustworthy and rather than look for something to confirm what you think might have happened, try to figure out what evidence would disprove that conclusion. "Trying to disprove your conclusions may not give you the correct answer right away, but at least you won’t spend a couple of hours chasing what turns out to be an incorrect answer."

+ - Amazon Germany pays 0.1% tax rate in 2014, funnels sales through low-tax haven->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: E-retail giant’s German branch paid just 11.9 million euros (approx. $16 million) in tax last year, equivalent to a 0.1% tax rate considering the company reported $11.9 billion in gross sales in Germany in 2014. German corporate income tax stood at 29.58% last year which would mean Amazon Germany would have been expected to pay $3.5 billion in tax in 2014. is the group’s largest and most successful market outside of the U.S., according to its annual sales records. However following investigation it has been revealed that almost all of the company’s German sales and profits were reported from businesses in Luxembourg, a low-tax haven. Amazon said last week that it had implemented a number of changes across Europe, including in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Italy from May 1st, in order to ensure that future sales would be managed in the countries themselves.
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Comment: Too damn complicated (Score 4, Insightful) 112

by Stargoat (#49770203) Attached to: Privacy Behaviors Changed Little After Snowden

It's too damn complicated for level 1 techs, let alone end users and the general public, to attempt to opt of surveillance, or even intelligently express their dissatisfaction with government and corporate policies.

Politicians don't care and corporations do. These policies will persist until people's lives are strongly negatively affected. Will it require significant damage as a result of foreign powers hacking into the industrial grid? Probably. God knows we aren't in the streets protesting TSA security theater, and its difficult to get more privacy invasive than seeing folks naked.

Comment: Re:Lets all chant together (Score 3, Informative) 203

And under Firefox, don't forget to tweak your about:config: = false # DOM storage is cookies reborn
plugins.enumerable_names = "" # Useful for fingerprinting
network.http.sendRefererHeader = 0
network.http.sendSecureXSiteReferrer = false
general.useragent.override = "???" # May not be worth it.

If you don't need them, WebGL and WebRTC are just big security holes:


Not privacy-related, but...

network.prefetch-next = false # Don't load pages without asking (esp. at work)
network.http.pipelining = true # Improve load performance.

+ - How Employers Get Out of Paying Their Workers

Submitted by writes: We love to talk about crime in America and usually the rhetoric is focused on the acts we can see: bank heists, stolen bicycles and cars, alleyway robberies. But Zachary Crockett writes at Pricenomics that wage theft one of the more widespread crimes in our country today — the non-payment of overtime hours, the failure to give workers a final check upon leaving a job, paying a worker less than minimum wage, or, most flagrantly, just flat out not paying a worker at all. Most commonly, wage theft comes in the form of overtime violations. In a 2008 study, the Center for Urban Economic Development surveyed 4,387 workers in low-wage industries and found that some 76% of full-time workers were not paid the legally required overtime rate by their employers and the average worker with a violation had put in 11 hours of overtime—hours that were either underpaid or not paid at all. Nearly a quarter of the workers in the sample came in early and/or stayed late after their shift during the previous work week. Of these workers, 70 percent did not receive any pay at all for the work they performed outside of their regular shift. In total, unfairly withheld wages in these three cities topped $3 billion. Generalizing this for the rest of the U.S.’s low-wage workforce (some 30 million people), researchers estimate that wage theft could be costing Americans upwards of $50 billion per year.

Last year, the Economic Policy Institute made what is, to date, the most ambitious attempt to quantify the extent of reported wage theft in the U.S.and determined that “the total amount of money recovered for the victims of wage theft who retained private lawyers or complained to federal or state agencies was at least $933 million.” Obviously, the nearly $1 billion collected is only the tip of the wage-theft iceberg, since most victims never sue and never complain to the government. Commissioner Su of California says wage theft has harmed not just low-wage workers. “My agency has found more wages being stolen from workers in California than any time in history,” says Su. “This has spread to multiple industries across many sectors. It’s affected not just minimum-wage workers, but also middle-class workers.”

+ - Can SaaS be open source AND economically viable?->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: The CTO behind Lucidchart, an online diagramming app, recently cited the rbush open source project as an invaluable tool for helping implement an "in-memory spatial index" that "increased spatial search performance by a factor of over 1,000 for large documents." My question is this: what risks does a SaaS company like Lucidchart face in making most of their own code public, like Google's recent move with Chrome for Android, and what benefits might be gained by doing so? Wouldn't sharing the code just generate more users and interest? Even if competitors did copy it, they'd always be a step behind the latest developments.
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+ - Researchers devise a system that looks secure (but is it easy to use?).->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: The article in readwrite says that a team of British and American researchers have developed a hacker resistant process for online voting ( called Du-Vote. It uses a credit card sized device that helps to divide the security sensitive tasks between your computer and the device in a way that neither your computer nor the device learns how you voted. If a hacker managed to control the computer and the Du-Vote token, he still can't change the votes without being detected.
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+ - Congress Seeks to Quash Patent Trolls->

Submitted by walterbyrd
walterbyrd writes: The process is moving quickly. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the bill by the end of the month, readying it for a final Senate vote this summer, and the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee is likely to vote this week on a similar measure. That gives observers optimism that Congress will finally enact patent-troll legislation after a failed effort last year. “The Senate version really does seem to be hitting some sort of sweet spot,” says Arti Rai, co-director of the Duke Law Center for Innovation Policy in Durham, North Carolina.
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Comment: Already running on your phone (Score 1) 94

by WillAffleckUW (#49753053) Attached to: NSA Planned To Hijack Google App Store To Hack Smartphones

Look, just operate under the general assumption that we live in a Police State that makes Eastern German Stasi look like kindergarten cops.

Then you'll be a good serf.

Is it unconstitutional and illegal?

Of course.

Will they do anything about it that actually changes anything?


Blessed be those who initiate lively discussions with the hopelessly mute, for they shall be known as Dentists.