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Comment Re:Status was NOT divulged, only email identities (Score 1) 65

The problem isn't who, exactly, was on the list - and what their HIV status might be.

The problem is the PERCEPTION in the general public about what the HIV status must be of people on that list. My guess is that a vast majority of people would assume that they are all HIV sufferers...that's incorrect, but that's what they'll assume.

At least one person who replied right here on Slashdot is advocating that the names of people with HIV should be public knowledge.

So - what is the intersection of people who (stupidly) think the names should be made public and people who (stupidly) assume that everyone on the list has HIV? I think we all know that this is hardly an empty set!

Hence it is very likely that people who DON'T have HIV will be publically identified as people who DO have HIV...and the consequences of THAT can be fairly extreme, both to interpersonal relationship - and (in some places) to getting a job, getting health care coverage, etc.

Also, it's really trivial to find someone's name from their email address - and to find their street address from those pieces of information.

So, no, this is not the small matter you're's potentially devastating.

Comment Re:Why shouldn't this be public anyway? (Score 1) 65

So your position is that the entire country (world maybe) should have access to identity information for everyone who currently has a potentially fatal, communicable disease? Knowing their email addresses would hardly be adequate to help people avoid the problems you describe, so you must (logically) be advocating for revealing actual names and work/home addresses.

Hmmm - so what other diseases should be accorded such special status?

Unless you have some kind of unseemly bias, you must be concerned about all diseases that are at least as communicable as HIV, and which cause at least that number of deaths - would that be a reasonable low bar for you?

So...let's see - in the UK, about 6,000 people die every year from HIV/AIDS - and about 25,000 die from influenza.

Oh [citation required] huh? OK - the numbers are here: (6,000 people died from AIDS in 2012) (28,000 people died from influenza in just two weeks in January 2015)

How about communicability?

To be infected by HIV, you need to exchange body fluids - pretty unlikely to happen, statistically.
To be infected by influenza, you just need to be standing nearby when they sneeze - incredibly likely.

So - unless your position comes from a specific bias against HIV sufferers *because* of the most common routes of infection - you should reasonably be pressing the government to release the names of all known influenza sufferers instead.

I think we know what your feelings are in that regard - so we can only conclude from your post that it's pure, unreasoning bias.

Comment Re:Easy problem to solve: Ban CC: (Score 1) 65

Certainly both BCC and CC have their valid uses - but you'd be amazed the number of people who don't understand the difference. Even after I pointed it out, the HR team at a company I worked for a few years ago would still send out emails about upcoming events and benefits stuff to the entire company using CC. Then a huge number of "Thanks for telling me!" types of replies would wind up being spread around the entire company.

Perhaps mail clients should retire the acronyms and spell out more explicitly what happens. Maybe have just one box for CC's and when you hit SEND, ask whether you want the recipients to get each other's email addresses or not.

Comment Pet Hate: What makes this a "Robot"? (Score 1) 39

Dunno about you - but isn't a "robot" a "a machine that has an onboard computer and moves autonomously"? This doesn't look like it has any onboard compute or battery - so it's more like a remote-controlled vehicle or something,

This has annoyed me about a bunch of other so-called "robots" too - the RoboWars competition is mostly just a bunch of radio-controlled vehicles.

The whole idea of autonomous control, sensors and self-containment seems important in the definition of the term.

I'm sure this machine could eventually become a component of an actual robot - but it's not one yet.

    -- Steve

Comment Re:Well, sure, but... (Score 1) 295

You get just under 3kbytes on a QRCode - so there would still be sharp limits on what could be stored there - but certainly it could contain a tiny URL *and* a bunch of other data. Also, there is an issue with very small items in that a max-resolution QRcode would be too small to print cheaply. a QR code that only has to contain a URL could be smaller than the current bar code (because it's 2D).

Comment Re:Well, sure, but... (Score 1) 295

What it would take is for government to step in and require it. That's how come we have food labeling at all. They could specify the rules for what has to be recorded and how - just like they do now.

All I'm proposing is that the argument that there isn't enough room on the label for any more information is kinda silly. You only need a pointer to the information to be printed onto the label - not the information itself.

Comment Re:Well, sure, but... (Score 5, Insightful) 295

There is plenty of room on the label for a tinyurl.

If you were to accept that you needed a smartphone in order to read food labels (a big "IF") - then the entire label could be replaced by a QRCode which links to a page with *ALL* of the information. The actual label could then be simplified to a really simple "UNHEALTHY/HEALTH" number going from 1..10 as proposed previously to simplify things for the 95% of people who aren't going to read anything more detailed than that anyway.

For people like you - I'd imagine that using a phone to get vitally important data that would never fit on a label is less of an imposition. Furthermore, it would be easy to have software provided for you that would allow you to scan the product and get a personalized "OK TO EAT"/"DO NOT EAT!" indicator as set by your doctor.

Come to think of it - you wouldn't even need any extra printing at all...pretty much all labelled food already has a bar-code on it - it would be simple enough to prepend a standard URL onto that number to turn it into something that a special app could use to pull all of the necessary information. Legislation to make product vendors add this information would then be simple enough.

Comment Re:Older Car Radios... (Score 1) 210 *might* be that your radio used an IF (intermediate frequency) to decode the AM or FM encoding...

This signal is sufficiently high in frequency that it actually 'leaks' outside the radio - and, I suppose, might be picked up by a radio in a nearby car. But the IF's frequency isn't close to where you're I'm not sure this completely explains the story.

(In Britain, there is a television licence you're supposed to pay to operate a TV receiver - and at one time the government used "Television Detector Vans" that drove around to houses that didn't have a TV license and picked up the IF frequencies that televisions inadvertently send out...allegedly, they could tell which room the TV was in - AND which channel you were watching - so the IF frequency must be different for different radio channels.)

I dunno - this is one of those stories that sounds kinda OK in theory - but I really doubt it would work in practice.

Comment Re:brute force the unlock code on car stereo (Score 2) 210

I heard you could fix that issue by putting the stereo into the freezer for a while. Allegedly this takes the memory chip down below it's minimum operating temperature and erases it so the stereo boots up with factory defaults. Never tried it myself, but it's a trick that car stereo thieves are known to use.

Comment Paperclip saves fairground ride. (Score 5, Funny) 210

I was working on one of those gigantic 'motion theatre' fairground rides:

This was back in the era of 286 PC's - running DOS. The software was suffering timing issues and we really needed a hardware timer interrupt - but DOS already stole all but one of them - and we simply didn't have enough.

I needed a *roughly* 1kHz interrupt to monitor some ride function or other (I forget exactly what) - so I came up with the idea of putting a bent paperclip between the RxD and TxD lines of the RS232 port and using the serial port interrupt. I'd send a character out through the serial port - and at 9600 baud, with one stop bit and one start bit the character took ~1/960'th of a second to arrive back in the serial port which point it triggered an interrupt - and I could send another byte out to make it happen again.

We used paperclips on a couple of machines as an emergency hack - but later versions used a 'dongle' plug that went into the RS232 port with a wire soldered across those two pins)...this plug was named the HPE..."Hardware Paperclip Emulator".

Don't be irreplaceable, if you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.