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Comment At work, oblivious (Score 1) 320

This was a few years after I'd graduated with my engineering degree. I was working on a robotics project, and I would often bring my lunch and eat it in the lab/office that we had. So I was at my desk when the tragedy occurred.

My co-worker came in from the mall where he'd gone to get lunch, and said something like, "The shuttle blew up, eh?", and I was stunned. (Yes, I'm Canadian.) When I got home, I watched the explosion on the news, but after the first few times couldn't watch it any more. And for probably twenty years afterwards, that piece of tape was a trigger -- I would see the image of the flame leaking out from underneath the craft, and have to look away, with tears in my eyes.

I was most saddened by the excellent Time magazine article that detailed the arguments between the engineers "It was too cold overnight -- we're not sure the vehicle is safe to fly." and the managers "NASA going to lose a lot of face if we don't launch and postpone again." So NASA launched, over the objections of the engineers. And we know the rest.

Comment Re:Call me old-fashioned .. but you took out the l (Score 1) 1032

And now I have a mortgage that's having it's 25th anniversary, and is almost twice the size it was when I started. Why? Raising a family.

I'm not bitter -- just continuing to pay it down. It might be paid off by the time I'm in my mid-70's, but the odds are I'll sell the house (a small bungalow in Toronto) before then. For now (touch wood) the real estate market is healthy, so right now I have some equity .. but not as much as you'd think after making payments for 25 years.

The last time I was debt-free was Fall, 1990. That was a long time ago.

Comment Call me old-fashioned .. but you took out the loan (Score 4, Insightful) 1032

I was very fortunate -- I went to university in Canada, where university tuition is lower. The tuition for my last semester (four months, Winter '82) broke $1,000 for the first time. My parents had also taken out a Registered Education Savings Plan for me, which kicked in, I think, $800 for the last three years of my four year degree. And I had my Co-op work terms. With all that, I still needed a loan (it was around $2,500) to get me through the last year (OK, some of that may have paid for the month's vacation I took after finishing school).

I paid $500 of the loan off in my first six months after school, then a few months after that, received a notice that they'd start charging interest if the loan wasn't paid off in full by the first anniversary. I was earning $22,000 annually, but my expenses were low, so I managed to make four monthly payments of $550 per month to get it all paid off.

It didn't occur to my to skip out on the loan, although it was a relatively small amount. The only other loan I'd taken out was for a motorcycle -- four $400 payments -- and dodging those payments didn't occur to me either. I'd borrowed money, I had to pay it back.

I think the writer of TFA is in denial. They need to mend fences and start paying off the loan. You borrowed some money and promised to pay it back. Yes, it's inconvenient, but it's the responsible thing to do. Grow up.

Comment Can't wait to get this installed in my house (Score 5, Informative) 514

Great idea. My power supplier currently has rates based on TOU (Time Of Use -, and I'd love to be able to charge up the battery supply for my house overnight at cheap rates, then run off the battery the rest of the time.

I just hope it's not going to be one of those "Only available in the United States" deals.

Comment Re:Here's the key... (Score 1) 185

Disagree. I was pursued by Google in 2007 and in 2013 (both times they contacted me out of the blue). I turned thirty in 1988.

My understanding is that they want bright people who can think on their feet. I can still do that, even at my (heh) advanced age. :)

Submission + - Time to migrate to GitHub as Google Code closes (

Mark Wilson writes: After nine years, Google Code is closing down. Starting today, it is no longer possible to create new projects, and over the course of the coming ten months, the service will be mothballed. Google Code was Google's attempt to help the open source community by offering somewhere to host projects, but the growth of the likes of GitHub and Bitbucket has taken its toll and Google Code has filled up with spam and abuse.

Competition in the world of project hosting has become fierce, and Google feels it's time to pass on the baton rather than fighting for attention. Google has itself moved many of its own open source projects to GitHub. Don't panic if you’re not quite ready to jump ship — there's still a little time to play with.

Submission + - OpenSSL To Undergo Massive Security Audit

rjmarvin writes: Now that its codebase is finally viewed as stable, OpenSSL is getting a good top-to-bottom once-over in the form of a sweeping audit As part of the Linux Foundation’s Core Infrastructure Initiative, the foundation and the Open Crypto Audit Project are sponsoring and organizing what may arguably be the highest-profile audit of a piece of open-source software in history. The audit itself will be conducted by the information assurance organization NCC Group, and its security research arm, Cryptography Services, will carry out the code review https://cryptoservices.github.... of OpenSSL's 447,247 line codebase over the next several months.

Submission + - US Wind Power Is Expected to Double in the Next 5 Years

merbs writes: The US Department of Energy anticipates that the amount of electricity generated by wind power to more than double over the next five years. Right now, wind provides the nation with about 4.5 percent of its power. But an in-depth DOE report released today forecasts that number will rise to 10 percent by 2020—then 20 percent by 2030, and 35 percent by 2050.

Comment Chat messages - quick, archiveable, searchable (Score 2) 115

Text chat is great -- you can go back later and re-read the conversation and confirm what you agreed on. Face to face is great -- if you follow up with an E-Mail or a ticket update; but you have to remember to do that.

For example, think about the last face to face meeting you had. What notes do you have from that meeting? How many issues were resolved? And how long was the meeting. Compare that to a couple of quick chat message exchanges.

Submission + - Can anyone suggest a credential escrow service? 4

talexb writes: I have a web site client who would like to have login credentials to take over their web site in the event that I get hit by a truck (heaven forbid). I'm happy to give them this information, but I worry about unauthorized use — the well-meaning client gives them to a friend 'just to look around' and the friend does something that breaks a production web site (yes, I have backups). I'd love to have that information stored somewhere on the web, in a way that's protected and secure, yet easily available by the right person with the right passphrase.

Submission + - Best PDF handling library, for our own definition of "best" ;-) (

Fotis Georgatos writes: I got recently engaged in a conversation about handling PDF texts for a range of needs, such as creation, manipulation, merging, text extraction and searching, digital signing etc etc. A couple of potential picks popped up (PDFBox, itext), given some Java experience of the other fellows. And then comes the reality of choosing software as a long term knowledge investment! ideally, we would like to combine these features:
  • open source, with a community following ; the kind of stuff slashdotters would prefer
  • tidy software architecture; simple things should remain simple
  • allow open API allowing usage across many languages (say: Python & Java)
  • clear licensing status, not estranging future commercial use
  • serious multilingual & font support
  • PDF-handling rich features, not limiting usage for invoicing, e-commerce, reports & data mining
  • digital signing should not go against other features

I'd like to poll the collective slashdot crowd wisdom about if/which PDF related libraries, they have written software with, keeps them happy for *all* the above reasons. And if not happy with that all, what do they thing is the best bet for learning one piece of software in the area, with great reusability across different circumstances and little need for extra hacks?

ROTG is not at all a good answer; I'd really like to hear the smoked out war stories. It is easy to obtain a list of such libraries, yet tricky to understand how many obtained success with them!

Submission + - Organic Cat Litter Chief Suspect In Nuclear Waste Accident (

mdsolar writes: "In February, a 55-gallon drum of radioactive waste burst open inside America's only nuclear dump, in New Mexico.

Now investigators believe the cause may have been a pet store purchase gone bad.

"It was the wrong kitty litter," says , a geochemist in Richland, Wash., who has spent decades in the nuclear waste business.

It turns out there's more to cat litter than you think. It can soak up urine, but it's just as good at absorbing radioactive material.

"It actually works well both in the home litter box as well as the radiochemistry laboratory," says Conca, who is not directly involved in the current investigation.

Cat litter has been used for years to dispose of nuclear waste. Dump it into a drum of sludge and it will stabilize volatile radioactive chemicals. The litter prevents it from reacting with the environment.

And this is what contractors at were doing as they packed Cold War-era waste for shipment to the dump. But at some point, they decided to make a switch, from clay to organic.

"Now that might sound nice, you're trying to be green and all that, but the organic kitty litters are organic," says Conca. Organic litter is made of plant material, which is full of chemical compounds that can react with the nuclear waste.

"They actually are just fuel, and so they're the wrong thing to add," he says. Investigators now believe the litter and waste caused the drum to slowly heat up "sort of like a slow burn charcoal briquette instead of an actual bomb."

After it arrived at the dump, it burst."

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