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Comment: Automated sorting of mail and metadata? (Score 2) 65

by userw014 (#49537019) Attached to: New Privacy Concerns About US Program That Can Track Snail Mail

The USPS has been using automated systems of sorting mail for decades. It's why mail across town goes to a consolidated center (perhaps halfway across the state) first for sorting into carrier routes and has been for decades.

That Homeland Security want to capture this information - which has long been determined to accessible (the original pen-trace) isn't surprising at all.

And they only have to photograph/image the ones that the machines can't read. It's only surprising to people who drink the conservative kool-aide that government can't do anything right.

Comment: Counting IPv6 addresses - one, two, twenty-three.. (Score 1) 389

by userw014 (#49519947) Attached to: Why the Journey To IPv6 Is Still the Road Less Traveled

I've been playing around with my own (tunneled) IPv6 prefix at home for some time now. (I think Comcast will deliver IPv6 to me - but I haven't bothered yet.)

I run IPv6 on some of my home LANs, but not on the one I have with legacy equipment on it like webcams, TV sets, printers, and other "Internet of Things" like devices that never get patches. Those networks get the usual NAT'd IPv4 stuff.

On my IPv6 networks, I have EUI addressing turned off - a pseudo-random address gets generated from time to time (within the IPv6 LAN network prefix), and I often see those devices having multiple simultaneous IPv6 addresses. I believe that this is the default anyway for modern OSes.

And so I think that any counting of adoption by full 128-bit IPv6 addresses will dramatically over-count IPv6 adoption - even if NAT could be taken into account. Google's technicians will know this. Google's marketeers might not care.

Comment: Forward thinking - after a fashion (Score 1) 649

by userw014 (#49519845) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

Young people are already abandoning car ownership as a value in and of itself. This kind of lawyered-up intellectual property protection will only insure that innovation will be eliminated in the automobile market - and continue to discourage personal ownership of vehicles. The Trans Pacific Partnership will help spread this pernicious model across the world, so everyone will become sheeple together.

Comment: Re:ISS as a space garbage bulldozer? (Score 1) 167

by userw014 (#49514231) Attached to: ISS Could Be Fitted With Lasers To Shoot Down Space Junk
I understand the idea of ablation propulsion works - I just have no (intuitive) feel for it. I can't help but think that it amounts to burning off paint on one side of an object in order to provide reaction mass for pushing it the other way. Perhaps if the system could survey the space junk and was able to target within a millimeter or so at a range of 1000Km, it might be able to push the junk into a different orbit - but deorbiting seems very ambitious.

Comment: Don't do it smarter, do it bigger (Score 1) 672

by userw014 (#49510513) Attached to: William Shatner Proposes $30 Billion Water Pipeline To California

So, instead of fixing the horrible problem that California's (the West's - pretty much all of the US's) archaic system of legacy water rights has created, the solution is to do more of the same, except more expensively? Isn't one definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again, expecting things to change?

As for it being a fix for California's immediate drought problem - as I recall, the project he compares this to - the Alaska Oil Pipeline - took 20 years to survey, design, & build. Even if the political and legal environment could work it's way around the idea that this is extremely urgent and absolutely necessary, I don't see a water pipeline taking less than 10 years to build - 5 years at massive cost.

Comment: ISS as a space garbage bulldozer? (Score 1) 167

by userw014 (#49510231) Attached to: ISS Could Be Fitted With Lasers To Shoot Down Space Junk

This is not exactly how I envisioned the ISS years and years ago - as a kind of space going pooper-scooper.

Unless the laser can cause the space junk to emit reaction mass - from the space junk, I don't see how heating it with a laser is going to be effective. It's space-junk, after all - and while we sort of know what we put up there (for certain values of "we") I doubt we know the characteristics well enough to blast the stuff from orbit well enough to avoid causing more problems.

Lastly, 3000 tons (metric or english) is a lot of mass to do this with over the anticipated remaining life of the ISS and the power available - but I'm just going by a gut feeling about the power budget of the ISS.

Comment: This is crazy (Score 1) 587

by userw014 (#49414537) Attached to: Hugo Awards Turn (Even More) Political

I'd never given much thought to the Hugo or Nebula awards, other than they seemed to be an attempt to promote Science Fiction writing beyond the Semi-Literate Boy's Comic Book Adventure model of writing. (I.e.: you could still write Boilerplate Boy's Adventures - as long as you used multi-syllable words.) However, the idea that they wouldn't be a festering nest of some kind of politics was ridiculous. That politics would be whatever the dominant clique would be.

That the outward expression of the politics has anything to do with the Culture Wars is somewhat startling. It's as if the people running the show think that now that Science Fiction has some kind of money earning power (at least occasionally) that the awards mean something more than advertising for fizzy sugar water that really is fizzy and sugary when you buy it at the store.

Personally, I've been finding it hard to take enjoyment in the genre as much as I used to. Of course, most Science Fiction doesn't age very well - technological developments and their consequence in real life too often rip apart the necessary suspension of disbelief necessary to enjoy the other elements of the story. However, I'm also finding discomfort in some of the same sorts of issues (which I'd prefer to think of as moral or ethical rather than political) embedded in some stories (and favored by some authors) that I used to either overlook or had a different perspective on when I was younger. That kind of change is inevitable - a lot of the stories I enjoyed most when I was younger use the polemics of extreme positions in order to remark on (then) contemporary issues (and they did it very well.) But many of those issues have changed since then - some resolved, some partially resolved, and even a few that have become irrelevant. (Think of some of the perspectives on privacy and government intrusion expressed in works from the 1960s - they seem rather naive now in a world with Amazon, Facebook, Google, Stingrays, and the Patriot Act. If only we could go back to a Nixonian era of privacy!)

However, my own laments about maturity and the disappointments of aging aren't the issue here. That issue is the petty nature of the issues inflaming these awards. The issue here is that these cliques forget that the purpose of the Hugo and Nebula awards setting some lower bound to distinguish the illiterate hack writer from the literate hack writer. It's a damn low bar, but I'd rather it not be stirring up the mud in the pigpen.

Comment: Re:Same Thing Almost Happened to Me (Score 1) 536

While I can understand your bitterness, I recall years ago looking at a cute little farm house just outside of town on a few acres of land. It was partially appealing because it was priced low (this was during the go-go housing price inflation of the early 2000s) and a large corner of the property was filled with 2nd (or 3rd) generation woods (weed trees) and that corner looked like a great way to make some money by selling of part of the property to someone to build a house on.

But when you looked into it, you learned that this area was outside of the city water/sewer system, and the soil was dense clay and water logged. There was no place on the corner to put a septic field, and in fact all of the available space for a septic field on the original property was already in use - so the house couldn't be expanded to have more bathrooms, a dish washer, etc.

In some parts of the country, you might have had a chance for some financial compensation from the developer/realtor for misrepresentation of the property if they had claimed that broadband was available.

Comment: Re:There might not be Proper English (Score 2) 667

by userw014 (#49266959) Attached to: Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English'

Using gizgoogle.net against the WSJ article ends with this statement:

  • Muthafuckas should not be stigmatized fo' tha way they speak, n' they certainly should not have stupid, made-up linguistic superstitions drilled tha fuck into they heads.

Is this where Hollywood gets it's dialogue from these days?

Comment: Open Source vs. Open Standards confusion (Score 1) 287

by userw014 (#49249973) Attached to: NTP's Fate Hinges On "Father Time"

Information Week is confused about the difference between open standards (TLS, Domain Name System, Network Time Protocol) and open source (OpenSSL, BIND, NTPD). But they're a rag anyway. For that matter, they seem to be confused about the difference between definition and geography - Greenwich Mean Time is a known source of reliable time, as is the US Naval Observatory.

Yes, there's an issue here about a critical component of technology - but the Information Week explanation just contributes to ignorance and stupidity in general.

Comment: Re:Computer abuse and fraud act? (Score 1) 67

by userw014 (#49249865) Attached to: Obama Administration Wants More Legal Power To Disrupt Botnets

The article mentions "certain frauds" but doesn't try to enumerate or summarize what frauds - and I haven't gone looking at the law itself to see what the "certain frauds" is.

Could the new definition include crap-ware pre-installed on workstations or that comes with other downloads? What about phone or tablet apps that download advertising? What affect would this have on the app stores?

Comment: Re:Homeopathy - Faith based treatment (Score 1) 447

by userw014 (#49249199) Attached to: Homeopathy Turns Out To Be Useless For Treating Medical Conditions

Compared to what? A very small set of largely anecdotal stories from my (then) wife.

My point is that I acquiesced to (limited) homeopathy because I saw it as a harmless treatment that satisfied the need to do something, anything in order to keep marital peace. An ugly reason that vanished when we divorced.

Frankly, most of the treatments for things like aches and nose-bleeds were just something to do to calm the patient (victim?) and let the body's natural processes take care of things. Kind of like the hoary advice of Take two aspirins and call me in the morning but safer. (Aspirin can prevent blood coagulation and lower a fever temperature - which interferes with a conventional medical evaluation.)

It was a way to impose a wait on people unable to accept that.

Comment: Homeopathy - Faith based treatment (Score 1, Interesting) 447

by userw014 (#49245885) Attached to: Homeopathy Turns Out To Be Useless For Treating Medical Conditions

I wish the article was more than a link to a commercial news site that was itself a link to a press release. There's no direct information here, and I'd have liked to see if the review had included an analysis of any disclosures of funding or affiliations.

Personally, I'm in an annoying position in regards to Homeopathy. My ex got involved in homeopathy for things that conventional medicine didn't seem able to cure or ameliorate - before we divorced. It seemed to help her and it seemed to help our (young) kids when she used it to reduce the duration of a cold or reduce some pain or control nose-bleeds. She'd stick with conventional medicine for real injuries, etc. And because she said that my disbelief interfered with the treatments, and because this didn't interfere with conventional treatments - and because I needed peace in the family, I tried to go along.

But the whole anti-corporate, conspiracy driven, magical thinking defense was hard to accept (although it would make entertaining storytelling.)

Somehow, it seemed to work for her. That's easy to explain away as the "placebo affect", but there's also a social effect too that occurs when you have a community of people you can interact with who will take an interest in you, etc. It's really hard to self-administer a placebo - unless it's wrapped up like homeopathic treatments are. As for the cost of homeopathic treatments - well, they cost more than sugar pills and a kit of homeopathic medicines (with a handy-dandy guide for administration) will set you back a lot of money (especially if you're going through a divorce - ending with loosing your job in the Great Recession). But my (largely unused) kit has lasted me nearly 10 years now, sitting in the back of my linen closet underneath a pile of old towels.

If you can keep your wits about you about using homeopathic remedies only on things that conventional medicine doesn't treat AND which aren't chronic, etc. -- well you might be able to use it successfully. But you're on a dangerous edge. Still, it's better than self-medicating with alcohol or other intoxicating substances. And (potentially) about the same as just ignoring the aches, pains, etc. of life until they get so bad you can barely make it into urgent care.

At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.