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Comment: Re:hmmmm (Score 2) 285

Plus there's the concentration issue - parts per trillion doesn't make for much of a problem in any case. Even the authors didn't make this out to be a health problem....

That seems to be the point of the summary: that the study found small levels of contamination in a fairly confined region and were able to track that contamination (likely) to an uncharacteristic defect in one production facility. It sounds like a thoughtful, reasonable description that responsible producers could take as a warning to pay extra attention to storage facilities. Thus all the more disturbing that the producers' response was to go into full-bore discredit the tree-hugging scientists mode. Like when your doctor says "it's a cold: take two asprin and call me in the morning," and you sue him for diagnosing a non-existent tumor and botching the brain surgery.

Comment: Re:Any chance (Score 1) 121

by tburkhol (#49619669) Attached to: Internet Customers Surpass Cable Subscribers At Comcast

TV is a high profit partially exclusive business with little competition, internet is a low profit comodity with lots of competition. Why would anyone choose to abandon all that money?

According to some calculations the margin on Internet is around 97%, while the margin on video is only 55%. After all, the cable company doesn't actually have to share Internet revenue with any of the content creators, but powerful TV content, like ESPN, TNT, TBS, and FOX, can demand awfully high royalties from the cable cos. The physical infrastructure is identical, and most of it was laid to provide video. They basically get the internet for free.

Comment: Re:Not necessarily! (Score 1) 121

by tburkhol (#49619635) Attached to: Internet Customers Surpass Cable Subscribers At Comcast

Several years ago, as a cost-cutting measure, I put up an antenna and got rid of Comcast cable TV. Too many channels I was ostensibly paying for but never ever watching. I'm perfectly happy with OTA broadcasts and the local stations, major networks. I'll supplement that with a small amount of programming from the Internet, but not anywhere near as much as you might think. I think I'm not alone in this, I think many people are going back to OTA broadcasts for the one-time cost of an antenna and saying 'FU' to cable and satellite costs, it just doesn't show up as much because beyond the cost of the antenna there's no subscription for anyone to track.

The broadcasters know, though. 5 years ago, I had OTA access to 7 channels. Since then, most of those have split (ie, channel 2.1, 2.2, 2.3), adding an all-weather channel, an all-crime channel, and half a dozen channels with reruns of MASH, Gunsmoke, and Star Trek (ToS). There's 14 OTA channels now, and I don't think the expansion is done.

Comment: Re:Under? (Score 1) 121

by tburkhol (#49619509) Attached to: Internet Customers Surpass Cable Subscribers At Comcast

It's not been unheard of that installations from the islands are run over the grass...If sufficiently nestled down between blades, the coax often survives a few mowings...

My neighbor's got bare coax running 50' from their house, looped around nails along a wooden fence, across my yard, to the comcast drop, with enough excess wire that it makes standing loops and some switch-backs in the ivy. It's bright orange, though, so not much chance of accidentally mowing it. Been that way for five years. The last service guy didn't bother to put the housing back on the drop, so the connectors sit out in the rain and the snow.

Comment: Re: Proxy? (Score 1) 295

A copy of XP from release day to last supported day costs a whole lot less to buy a single retail copy, than to volume license it for most companies.

Windows XP lived for 6, 8, or 13 years, depending on how you count. I can see a computer lasting for 6 years (certainly today, though 2001-2007 saw a lot of functional progress), but definitely not 13. Since the retail copy is licensed to a computer, upgrading the computer means buying a new retail copy. Volume licensing lets you just track the number of computers and the number of licenses, and simplifies record keeping. My recollection is that volume licensing had a break-even with a 3-4 year hardware cycle. And there are an awful lot of accountants out there who will recommend a business rent anything rather than buy it just because it looks better on the balance sheet.

Comment: Re:Sort of dumb. (Score 1) 525

by tburkhol (#49615189) Attached to: Recruiters Use 'Digital Native' As Code For 'No Old Folks'

I've used email longer than any of those kids have been alive. That makes me more of a native than they are I suppose, even though I'm not on Facebook.

I suspect that, among other things, "digital native" means "more comfortable communicating by Facebook and Twitter than by email." Older workers, who started with email and found it to be completely adequate for all their text communication, are completely out of band with text, twitter, snapchat, and this bizarre phenomenon of sending photos of yourself holding hand-written notes.

Comment: Re: Will I get arrested for posting in /.? (Score 1) 250

no, dumbass. you did mot make a specific, credible threat. thats why the pearl harbor reference is stupid; its not a credible threat. however, a mass shooting is.

What I want to know is: when did any random loser posting anonymous 60-character messages become a "credible" threat? This seems like the 21st century version of pulling the fire alarm to get out of an exam.

Comment: Re: i don't understand the premise of the post (Score 1) 250

that was the person you replied to's point, people threaten others every day, yet these charges would never be brought against them.

Because threats made by a random driver, often through a closed window, against another random driver in traffic are widely believed not to be serious. If the threatening driver proceeds to follow the threatened around, it does become criminal.

Besides prove it is a threat and not just you being over sensitive.

That what the courts are for: to determine whether a "reasonable" person would interpret the behavior as a legitimate threat. eg, actors on stage regularly shout "Fire" in crowded theaters, and you are probably clever enough to shout fire, as a member of the audience, in a way that people realize you're "joking."

That was one of the big changes after 9/11: it stopped being possible to "joke" under certain circumstances. Joking about carrying a (picture of a) gun through security gets your "gun" confiscated. Using the phrase "another 9/11" "another Columbine" (or, at VA Tech, "another 4/16") on the internet gets you a visit from NSA or the local police. There used to be procedures for distinguishing real bomb threats from idle or frivolous threats, but they're pretty hard to apply to 140 characters.

Comment: Re:That just shows my point (Score 1) 182

Thanks for totally ignoring the last point that actual speeds are a fraction of the rated speeds.

If your cable company is only providing a fraction of the nominal bandwidth, what makes you think that fraction will stay the same when you upgrade? ie, you're buying 100M and getting 10M, and you imagine that buying 1000M will get you 100M. It's just as likely that you'll continue to get 10M, because the bottleneck is somewhere other than the wire between your house and the CO. Are you sure the game company is prepared to deliver their demo to 10 or 100 concurrent users, each at 1G bps?

Comment: Re:What's the problem (Score 1) 631

by tburkhol (#49584695) Attached to: Disney Replaces Longtime IT Staff With H-1B Workers

The problem is that H1-B's aren't really hired. They are temporary workers to whom the company need feel no long-term obligation. They are temporary residents to whom the government need feel no long-term obligation. Bring a few of them in, let them work for a bit, then send them off when the project is done: perfect workforce flexibility.

The H1b program, like unemployment insurance, is a good idea but is subject to abuse. Fraud in unemployment benefits individuals, and we have all manner of documentation, regulation, and verification to minimize that abuse. Fraud in H1b benefits corporations, and we basically trust them to do the right thing.

Comment: Re:But why? (Score 1) 634

by tburkhol (#49569849) Attached to: How To Increase the Number of Female Engineers

"more societally meaningful" ?! And I don't get it either. My job does not get more societally meaningful; if I don't do my job (Software Engineer, Industrial Automation), you don't get any power to your home, don't drive a car, don't get air condition in the mall and many more things. Sure I am only a small cog in that bigger scheme of things, but without engineers modern society would not exist.

So, you can design a controller for an automotive assembly line or a controller for a cow dung-fired power station. It's the same basic work, but in one case you're building cars and in the other you're bringing electricity to a developing country. You can design a CNC mill or a CNC embroidery machine, but I'm guessing that you won't find embroidery machines in any class project.

I would like more women in engineering; many of the colleagues I like to work with are women. And talking with them, the content of their work is not what is holding them back. In some cases it may be social or cultural and in other cases just "math is hard".

I have many female technical colleagues, and they seem to find math no more difficult than the males. If the social/cultural thing holding women away from STEM is just that they don't find car analogies as engaging as a typical male STEM student, well, would it really damage the male students to have a couple of problems related to more feminine stereotypes? Analyze the stresses in a 4" stiletto heel instead of a tie-rod?

Comment: Re:But why? (Score 1) 634

by tburkhol (#49569357) Attached to: How To Increase the Number of Female Engineers

The idea of changing the course content is presented as a "solution" to the "problem" of low female participation in the engineering workforce.

My school used to teach "Statics" to mechanical engineers, "Intro Biomechanics" to bioengineers, and "Physics 1" to everyone else. Each of these covered the same content, in pretty much the same way, but used different examples to illustrate principles. It's surprising how different people respond to calculating the supporting forces of a bridge and the forces required to do a push-up, even though they are the exact same problem.

If you get more women interested in STEM by doing nothing more complicated than replacing some of the car-related examples with emergency shelter-related examples, what exactly is the problem in that?

Comment: Re:Easy fix (Score 1) 247

by tburkhol (#49567599) Attached to: The Engineer's Lament -- Prioritizing Car Safety Issues

Tell me again why I should blindly put my trust in engineers?

Because it's better than blindly putting your trust in salespeople. Look, mistakes happen. People have different interpretations of the cost of failure and different tolerance for risk. Things are going to blow up, and post hoc analysis will often identify changes that could have prevented the disaster. But unless you plan to design, validate and build everything yourself, you have to trust someone. So the question you're really asking is whether you should trust someone with quantitative, technical knowledge of the performance and capabilities of the system or should trust someone who just thinks it looks "ok."

Believe it or not, accident statistics and post-failure analysis are part of engineering (regardless of how much it looks like part of regulatory bureaucracy). Performance and failure tell the engineers where its appropriate to revise models and correct designs. This means fewer people get killed by lance-shaped hood ornaments or impaled on steering columns, and it means the next mode of failure is going to be more obscure. It's why we think only a moron would use cosmetically appealing aluminum whiskers to support a steering wheel or put a gas tank directly in front of the rear bumper. It's why traffic deaths have fallen from 150 per billion vehicle miles in 1935 to 15 today. So, yeah: trust engineering, not marketing or accounting.

Comment: Re:Pinto (Score 1) 247

by tburkhol (#49567463) Attached to: The Engineer's Lament -- Prioritizing Car Safety Issues

What causes crashes is hunks of metal ramming into other hunks of metal.

No, that defines a crash. "Cause" is something that precedes "effect." To say that the effect happened because the effect happened is childish reasoning. Most children learn to relate cause and effect around 3 years old: it's a pretty basic concept.

Skiing is inherently dangerous. In order to use a ski slope, I have to acknowledge this risk. Why aren't car manufacturers covered with a similar legal conract?

They are. If you tailgate and wreck the car in front of you, the manufacturer is not liable. If you're switching radio stations and drive into a ditch, the manufacturer is not liable. However, if the your skis were made of balsa wood laminated with PLA, then the manufacturer may be liable when they shatter on the first mogul, and you break your leg.

UNIX was not designed to stop you from doing stupid things, because that would also stop you from doing clever things. -- Doug Gwyn