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Comment: Re:FDA shouldn't even exist in the first place (Score 1) 123

by spauldo (#47397989) Attached to: FDA: We Can't Scale To Regulate Mobile Health Apps

That's all very nice and all, but that's just not the way it works, or really how it's ever worked.

The federal government can pretty much do as they please, powers-wise, and leave it up to the courts to sort out. Because departments like the FDA, Agriculture, Energy, Education, etc. are in generally deemed necessary by most of the people whose opinions actually matter (i.e. not pee-ons like us), they get a pass. You could certainly challenge their constitutionality, but you'd better have a team of very good lawyers and be willing to wait a decade or so for the final decision.

Politicians, in practice, tend to treat the constitution more as a guideline or an obstacle. What really matters is how the powers of influence flow, not what some dusty old piece of eighteenth century vellum has written on it.

Don't like it? Well, you could always move to... wait, everywhere else is pretty much the same way if not worse. The moon, maybe?

Comment: Re:hive mind? (Score 1) 123

by spauldo (#47397921) Attached to: FDA: We Can't Scale To Regulate Mobile Health Apps

A friend of mine works in a lot of internet marketing and used to do things like search optimization and whatnot. Trust me, no matter what user-based system you set up, people will work day and night to subvert it to push their products. Any sort of review or rating system would be corrupted very quickly.

And really, user reviews aren't a good source for medical data anyway. Half the people who leave reviews think streptococci is on special at the fancy italian place downtown.

Personally, I think the FDA just needs to come up with guidelines on what an app can or can't do health-wise without going through the FDA approval process. Something that keeps track of your calories or measures how much you walk in a day should be fine. Something that keeps track of your heart rate might be acceptable with a disclaimer that it's not "medical quality" or something. Programs that interact with medical devices (pacemakers, etc.) probably should be vetted in some way.

Comment: Re:Good news (Score 1) 123

by spauldo (#47397883) Attached to: FDA: We Can't Scale To Regulate Mobile Health Apps

I don't see an "information age" government happening for another twenty to thirty years, and that's probably optimistic.

Those in power tend to be older and more conservative (in general terms, not talking about politics). They're often lawyers, who are used to working on months- or years-long projects where rapid response isn't possible or (to their mind) necessary. Getting them to accept that drastic change is necessary is difficult. When they do try to implement change, there are levels upon levels of management and employees below them that resist the change and undermine it in small but cumulative ways. Add to that the fact that an "information age" government would also be a "privacy invading" government by most standards, so there would be a lot of political pressure to leave things as they are.

That said, out innovating the regulatory state has been happening for quite some time now. Just look at the patent system, for instance.

Comment: Re:Worth trying out? (Score 1) 124

by spauldo (#41700881) Attached to: NetBSD 6.0 Has Shipped

Slackware might not be source-heavy now (I haven't used it in years), but it used to be, if you actually wanted to do anything with the system.

If you wanted to install something that's not in the package sets (most everything, since Pat wasn't superman), you had to download and compile the source code. I never touched a line of C before I started on Slackware, and it was a trip learning to coax code into working. This was back before GNU autoconf was popular. Also, this was back when compiling your own kernel was recommended for performance reasons if nothing else (it was a lot less modular in those days).

It got worse when Pat didn't update to glibc when all the other distros did (yes, he had his reasons, I know). A lot of code was being written with glibc in mind and would require a lot of work to get it to work with libc5. Then you had RedHat's hacked-up version of gcc that caused problems for everyone else... oh, and did I mention imake? I'm just glad I jumped in on the Linux bandwagon after the ELF switchover - some people in here could tell you some horror stories about that.

Anyway, thanks to Slackware's lack of a large package repository, I learned how to get C code to compile, even though I didn't (at the time) know the language. I learned all about how libraries and dependancies worked. I learned how to massage a makefile to see my include files. All that has served me very well over the years, and in these days when Debian's package system spoils me so well, I still get to use these skills (so a small degree) on BSD.

Comment: Re:end of slashdot (Score 4, Insightful) 254

by spauldo (#41690677) Attached to: Former Australian Cop Wants Jail For Internet Trolls

You know, it'd be funny, if so many of you weren't actually stupid enough to believe this.

There's a lot of /. users. Anyone who gets some karma has mod points they can use. Anything you say will likely have someone who disagrees with you on this site. Unfortunately, some people are just a bit too quick with the "troll" tag on the moderation system. Usually other mods will compensate, but shit happens sometimes. That doesn't mean you're a troll, and no one (well, hardly anyone) thinks you're a troll unless you're actually trolling.

Some guy on another story was whining about how /. has this huge socialist bias and was made up of people who feel guilty working for corporations so they demand higher taxes and more restrictions on the GPL. He apparently just doesn't see all the libertarians cluttering up the place in here, just like you don't see all the anti-RMS, pro-Microsoft, and even pro-religion comments in here. They are there, and if they're in the minority, well, that's just the way it goes. You're going to have a minority any time there's more than a few people who disagree.

These posts are meant for discussion, not syncophantic circlejerking. People are going to disagree with you. Yes, some assholes are going to abuse the moderation system. If you don't like it, you're free to create your own private IRC channel and rant to yourself all day long where no one can disagree with you.

Comment: Re:why is this release announcement buried? (Score 1) 124

by spauldo (#41690585) Attached to: NetBSD 6.0 Has Shipped

how exactly do you access a kernel from the network without going via an application?

Hrm, I'd guess you're probably twenty-five or younger, given that question. You missed some good times.

Back in the day the TCP/IP stacks had quite a few bugs in them. Just about everyone lifted code from BSD 4.x (yeah, the original BSD). Once exploits for those started coming out, it was a race to see who could fix them the fastest. Linux (and I assume the BSDs, although I didn't follow them then) usually had a fix out within hours - Microsoft usually didn't have a fix for months, which did a lot for their poor security reputation back then.

The funny bit was when Microsoft released a fix for one of the exploits, which opened up another exploit, so you were guaranteed any Windows machine could be brought down by one or the other. I used that against IRC trolls back in the day. One little ping o' death would lock their machines hard. Not that I'd do that these days...

Anyway, check out this page for more info on it. Nowdays, of course, most of the TCP/IP bugs have been worked out, so this type of thing hasn't really been much of an issue for a while now. However, it's still possible there's bugs that haven't been found.

As an aside, my roomates and I discovered that NT 4.0 on Alpha would just stop if you flood pinged it. We called it the "remote pause button," because it would go on as if nothing had happened as soon as you stopped pinging it. Our friend who had the Alpha on the network was not amused.

Comment: Re:Worth trying out? (Score 4, Informative) 124

by spauldo (#41690463) Attached to: NetBSD 6.0 Has Shipped

I've never really used NetBSD (I've installed it a couple times, but never used it much), but I've used OpenBSD and FreeBSD quite a bit.

It's probably not what you'd want for a desktop system. It will run all the server stuff you listed just fine. The system compiler is gcc, although it likely comes with BSD make, so you'll want to install GNU make for compiling some software (usually it doesn't make a difference, but some projects rely on GNU make).

Packaging is similar to Slackware's package system (or at least how it used to be - I haven't use Slack in years) - it's tarball based. There is the pkgsrc system where you can automatically download and compile software for the system (based off FreeBSD's port system, which I rather like). You can also download and recompile the entire OS if you want (the infamous "make world" on FreeBSD, although glancing at the docs it seems NetBSD doesn't use that exact term).

Binary updates are generally available for security or bugfixes. The system doesn't do this for you (unless you recompile the system from source regularly - see below), so you have to check the errata page often to see if you need to update something. If you do, it's generally as simple as downloading the new binary and installing it using the system install tool.

Source updates are done on CVS trees - you track one of the trees (STABLE or CURRENT) and you get updates. The BSDs differ a bit where this is concerned, so I can't really give any specifics, but on FreeBSD and OpenBSD it's relatively painless once you get it set up. There's a utility to help you update your configuration files in FreeBSD and OpenBSD, so I assume NetBSD has something similar.

It supports CARP if you want to do clustering. I'm not sure if that will cover your needs, but if not, OpenBSD or FreeBSD might. I can attest that netbooting OpenBSD is cake - my firewall runs diskless.

As far as my experiences, well, there's a bit of a learning curve. It's easier if you've worked with Slackware or some other source-heavy Linux distro. The BSDs have a very unified feel to them, probably because there's no separation of userland and kernel development - the base system is developed as one unit, not a bunch of different projects. Like with anything, you have to use it a while to get a feel for it.

I like it. It's not as stuffy as Solaris, but it has a more consistant feel than Linux. Documentation is usually excellent, and the man pages are the definitive resource and usually include examples and explainations. I use OpenBSD for my firewall and nameserver, and FreeBSD for my file/webserver (due to ZFS and better Java support). I would use FreeBSD as a professional workstation (as long as it didn't require heavy 3D work), but not for my home machine.

If you've got the time to put into learning it (which if you know your stuff from Linux, it won't take long), it's well worth it. Throw it on a server and use it for a bit, and see what you think.

Comment: Re:Contradiction (Score 4, Informative) 124

by spauldo (#41690265) Attached to: NetBSD 6.0 Has Shipped

STABLE is just the branch release. It means if you track the STABLE tree, you'll only get bugfixes. If you track CURRENT, you get stuff that'll go into the next version of NetBSD, but stuff will change on you (requiring you to update scripts and such). See the release map for a better explaination.

It has nothing to do with the stability of the OS itself. I can't comment on that, since I haven't used it much, but from what I hear it's pretty good.

Comment: Re:Design for manufacturing? (Score 1) 312

by spauldo (#41690227) Attached to: Foxconn Thinks the iPhone 5 Is a Pain

Did you know in the US you can hire a 12 year old to work the crops?

Farm laws are so grandfathered that George Washington would find some of them outdated. Those same laws also allow teenagers to hire on for harvest, which is a good thing for a lot of them (my father learned to operate a non-syncronized transmission that way, which served him well later as a truck driver). That said...

You can hire a 12 year old to do almost anything in the U.S., as long as it's not sex work, dangerous work (not counting farm work), or work requiring an adult for legal reasons (contract law, etc.). You won't be able to get insurance for them, and you can only work them on weekends and after school for a certain number of hours. It's generally worth it if you want your lawn mowed, and probably not worth it if you want someone to manage your shipping department.

Comment: Re:Hey if China is whining about building them.... (Score 2) 312

by spauldo (#41690081) Attached to: Foxconn Thinks the iPhone 5 Is a Pain

What you get in China, is that the factory that makes those mini screws you need for the iPhone is just down the road. This doesn't happen in Oklahoma - the industries have all left. The logistics of doing it in the US are nearly impossible.

Not so. Parts like screws, plastic, wiring, etc. can all be had in Oklahoma and anywhere else in the U.S., produced in America by Americans. I pick up and deliver parts like these from factories all the time. These types of materials have such low margins that there's no point in importing them from overseas - the cost difference is negligible, and you can ship the parts without having to deal with customs, lost containers, or all the crap that goes down at the docks.

Imagine how many of those tiny screws it takes to weigh 45,000 lbs. (your average truck load). How big a difference does it make on your bottom line if you have to ship those from Arkansas or Texas? The garage door company I usually deliver for gets its springs from Iowa and its steel from Arkansas and Indiana. My company uses those loads to get us home.

The raw materials are often imported - oil, metals, etc., but that's the commodities market, which is a completely different ball of wax (which we pick up in Arizona, BTW, for a foundry in my town).

What we don't have here is Foxconn and other similar semiconductor fabs that can keep up with the Chinese fabs. They've got the market cornered on semiconductors and circuitboard manufacturing, and they're open to the highest bidder for any company that wants them to retool for their product. We don't have the 3rd party fabs here or the specialized manufacturing businesses that would supply them, so it's a chicken-and-egg problem.

Second, if you wanted to build that screw factory, in China, you just grease the right palms and build a screw factory, maybe with State financial support. In the US you begin a 7-year permitting process.

Ah, corruption. You make it sound so grand. If you were building said screw factory in Oklahoma, you'd have the town donating the land for you and absorbing half the building cost just to get your jobs into their town. I know; I've seen it firsthand, both with a meat packing plant and a call center. Yes, there's permits and whatnot you have to get, but if you're building in a town with high unemployment, those are mostly a formality.

It sounds to me like the planner from your anecdote was either a) looking for a bribe or b) just trying to make herself feel important by making a business bow to her demands. Either way, it's just an example of a bad civic employee that needs to be fired. You get those everywhere, welcome to the human race.

Comment: Re:Fucking Retarded (Score 1) 418

by spauldo (#41593283) Attached to: PETA Condemns Pokemon For Promoting Animal Abuse

Use of the word "retarded" as a derogative term is demeaning (it's the 21st century!), as it's a medical term.

It's an early-to-mid 20th century medical term. It replaced "idiot", also a medical term.

Today, "mentally challenged" covers that same general area, with specifics going to individual maladies (cerebral palsy, down syndrome, etc.). Social workers are generally not to use the term "retarded" (at least in Oklahoma and surrounding states), since it's not considered derogatory.

In the 21st century, it's a mildly offensive word that means "stupid." Politicians and social workers should avoid using it, and everyone else should avoid using it in polite company, but it's not a medical term anymore.

Comment: Re:But that's not the real problem. (Score 1) 1651

by spauldo (#41556301) Attached to: To Encourage Biking, Lose the Helmets

No. Common sense has to prevail here - imagine a world where any activity that has an element of risk requires a tax stamp. Rollerblading? Hiking? Painting your house? Crossing a busy street?

I feel that the rights of a person to do what he or she wants with his or her own property or person ends only where it affects other people, and in many places extends beyond that point (for instance, free speech even if it's offensive). Those rights do lead to a higher cost of government. I find that acceptable; without the right to self determination, you're no longer a citizen but a slave. That whole "freedom isn't free" bit isn't just about national defense; it's about the duty of every American to support the American ideals of freedom, and part of that is allowing people to be stupid if they wish to be.

Certain activities are riskier than others, and in those cases I do support a tax to recoup the costs. That's why I don't complain too much about tobacco taxes, even though I smoke (they are getting a bit unreasonable though) and I don't mind the idea of taxes on alcohol. Not wearing your seatbelt does make it more likely for you to die in an accident, but in reality it only raises your chance of death on any random trip in a car by a tiny amount. I don't feel that warrants a special tax.

A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems. -- P. Erdos