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Comment The article is deeply flawed. (Score 3, Insightful) 195 195

The Deepwater Horizon accident caused loss of life, loss of expensive equipment, bad publicity, fines, and payment of significant damages. BP corporate interests were heavily impacted, and it's hard to imagine that any US regulatory change would focus more attention on safety and efficiency in future drilling.

Hey, the US doesn't OWN all of 'offshore', or even Gulf of Mexico, you know! If BP wanted to do something silly again, they could dodge any and all regulation, by simple selection of a foreign drilling site.

But, BP won't do something silly again. Not for a long time. BP will, for purely profit-seeking reasons, manage better in future. BP employees, for their own personal safety, will be more inclined to caution and prudence.

The best thing the US government can do, is to insist on full disclosure of any and all safety-related information, that could be of use in future planning (including regulation) by any and all persons, anywhere in the world, The courts (not regulators, not legislators) did perform that function, I hope adequately. BP cooperated, responsibly (IMHO).

The author of the article clearly wants restrictions on 'them', as a kind of punishment for a criime, even if it means some kind of ex-post-facto criminalization. He's missing the productive possibility of doing things better, because he wants to see someone's time wasted in a public pillory.

Comment Re:More needed to be used as a heart valve (Score 1) 65 65

Ok lets say it has to be a permanent heart valve. So to calculate how many days it will take to go through 10 million cycles ...nearly 4 months. So unless they can get say 100 million or more out of it I don't think this will find much use outside of a temporary heart valve.

That was ten million THERMAL cycles, where a thermal pulse was used to reset the material to its exact original shape. It can flex thousands of times, weaken, then one thermal cycle can restore it to its original shape (reset it, in other words). It can't be intended to thermal-cycle as fast as one heartbeat, certainly!

It's unclear how the heat is applied inside a living body, and unclear what structure made of the alloy makes it good heart-valve material (is it a flap, smart hinge, an adjustable spring, or a motor?).

Comment Re:Garbage (Score 1) 179 179

This is such a transparently bogus argument, one doesn't NEED to shoot holes in it to see the light. NASA must continue to plan and operate space missions for weather/climate monitoring, because that's in their charter. NOAA has no business 'taking over' parts of NASA.

Snide references to nonexistent rivalries and 'siphoning billions' are complete rubbish. I suspect someone has hired a PR consultant, and not a very bright one, to compose this longwinded, rambling diatribe. It would even work, if it got everyone's eyes to glaze over (the technique is sometimes called 'reductio ad nauseum') .

NASA must serve (excerpts from its charter)

(1) The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space

... (3) The development and operation of vehicles capable of carrying instruments, equipment, supplies and living organisms through space

... (8) The most effective utilization of the scientific and engineering resources of the United States, with close cooperation among all interested agencies of the United States in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, facilities, and equipment.

Comment Re:I will never understand (Score 1) 104 104

The right way to level things (in all court dealings) would be to have both parties pay into a legal fund that compensates the lawyers for both sides.

In the US, law is based on the Roman model, with each party allowed to hire a representative/advocate. There ARE other models; in Sharia law, I'm told, the judge is the investigator for both sides of an issue. Alas, by the US constitution, 'due process' is required, and it is customary to have each party hire/choose/command their own representative.

A 'legal fund' payment scheme would likely be overturned on appeal, as not being 'due process'. It would also be corruptible in the sense that a chosen lawyer for a large corporation could anticipate lots of future work, while the lawyer for an individual or small group would have less incentive.

Comment Re:I will never understand [assignment of fees] (Score 2) 104 104

Simple way to level things -- make the compensatory stakes (not counting fines) the smaller of the two sets of legal fees. That way the small person has nothing to lose if they are in the right, and an acceptable cost if they are not.

Unfortunately, that would mean the judge might not review the fee schedule. This induces a corporate attorney to assign all his compensation and overhead for a period of months (even if he did other tasks during that period). It would also encourage big-fee-but-a-secret-kickback negotiations (which are not discoverable, due to attorney-client privilege). This is a common failing when relying on factoids that are determined by the recordkeeping and other actions of ... your opponent (dare I say, enemy?). Example: a shell corporation sues, the lawyer for the shell corporation 'hires' out lots of expensive work to the parent corporation for technical support. When the lsoer pays for this work, the parent corporation profits twice... and the second payment is tax-free (it's a recovery of 'costs').

Comment Let's not allow tunnel-vision to prevail! (Score 1) 649 649

Industry concerns are mounting that modifying these ECUs and the software coding that runs them could lead to vulnerabilities in vehicle safety and cyber security. Imagine an amateur makes a coding mistake that causes brakes to fail and a car crash ensues. Furthermore, automakers say these modifications could render cars non-compliant with environmental laws that regulate emissions.

This is not about replacing brakes, oil changes, replacing spark plugs, etc. It is about making software changes that most people do not have the experience or knowledge to do.

The "industry concerns" are just horror stories from hired lawyers. That DMCA is a criminal law, and it doesn't only cover "most people", it covers everyone. And it covers many situations other than "modifying these ECUs", including normal repair/upkeep/modernization for the durable-goods item that is an automobile (or truck, or self-propelled vacation home).

Face it, manufacturers completely abandon product service after a few years, which causes aftermarket suppliers at the high end, and junkyards at the low end, to take over. When you criminalize aftermarket/junkyard operations, some manufacturer gets another new-product sale (and some owner has to abandon his vehicle for metal scrap value). So, some (not all) manufacturers might hire lawyers to argue for criminalization.

I wince whenever I hear flaky claims like "most people do not have the experience or knowledge..."; heck, most people don't have the experience or knowledge to read Slashdot. That is just arrogance, and dismissal, and is entirely unworthy.

Comment Re:Not faultless (Score 1) 536 536

If broadband was an absolute necessity, the idiot software developer should have moved to a civilized place. Hell, I'm sure he could have found a comparably priced home in a neighborhood serviced by a fiber provider.

Yeah, blaming the victim is always a popular activity. He IS in a civilized place,
and the distance to a service location is about half a mile. This suggests
that he could set up a one-room office somewhere in walking distance of
his home, and get the internet service there.

But, the infrastructure cost to dangle half a mile of wire onto existing poles
is much less; there is an effective policy (of long standing) of requiring
electric utility services to connect any customer, but allowing internet
utility services to charge arbitrary fees and/or deny service entirely.

As for 'a fiber provider', that's COMPLETELY out of the question. There's no
license for fiber right-of-way until/unless the law is changed/regulations are amended.

Comment Re:What on earth (Score 1) 234 234

What on earth is "an Uruguay syndrom", and why does google have no idea either.

An attempt to be cute with the concept of the "China syndrome," ... self-sustaining molten nuclear fuel melts its way through the earth - then up and out the other side (*eye twitch*).

The problem being it's utter bollocks. Anything that becomes molten will mix into the fuel and dilute it, lowering the reaction rate and moving you further and further away from a self-sustaining reaction.

It IS nonsense, but the amount of fuel in a reactor only generates large amounts of heat if there's a
core and a careful geometric distribution of the fuel. When the fuel melts and runs out of the core, that
geometry change alone quenches the chain reaction. There's still heat, there's still mess, but
not reactor-scale chain reaction. Neutron flux is the real hazard, not that
there will be so much heat that the bedrock (or even the containment metal vessel) melts.

Comment Re:There's a little-known SAG requirement (Score 1) 145 145

Yeah, the cliche engine was working hard when this show was designed and marketed.
A mature woman psychologist in charge of the technical wizards... that's suggesting that the young whiz kids are still living with mom, and/or a bit of therapy is what every tech genius really needs.

If Snowden wants a fair hearing, he'd better not wait for this show to impact the public consciousness.

Comment Re:Hang on WTF? (Score 1) 191 191

He created the work while employed by someone. That someone provided him with all the equipment and capabilities to do the research why the hell should he be awarded the patent?

If you are part of a team who gets the patent? It seems to me only logical that the entity that commissioned the work, invested the resources and made it happen ie the company should own the patent.

This is loaded language. Firstly, creation of an artwork doesn't automatically confer ownership onto an employer. Unless, you are perhaps talking about slavery?
An employee who does research and development will usually have some kind of salary or bonus or profit participation arrangement that pays him for his creation. He can also expect his name on the patent (he has a moral right to sign his work). He ought to expect, though, that the exclusive rights that come with a patent are a company asset. This will be in his employment contract, generally.
Another employee, who mops floors, can expect to be able to patent a new wetmop design, even if the idea came to him at work, without any ownership claim by his employer.
Either of these employees can patent a new species of apple that they grew in their backyard, the employer gets nothing of that (unless the contract is VERY oddly written).

The phrase 'all the equipment and capabilities' is likewise loaded: there's no equipment required for a patent, you just have to describe the invention clearly enough for it to be fabricated. The 'capabilities' might include your grasp of arithmetic, an inspiring letter from Aunt Lucy, an instructive afternoon repairing a broken lawnmower. Bringing your pencil from home would be a major threat to corporate claims on your work product if these rights had strong dependence on ownership-of-tools!

The compensation this inventor expected, pursuant to his employment contract, wasn't paid. He sued, but Japanese courts don't have strong tools to compel an accounting by the employer, and the inventor accepted a settlement without ever seeing full disclosure of the book value of his patent(s).

Comment Re: The theorem part (Score 1) 187 187

If x and y are prime, x^ln y = y ^ ln x.

It's also true of non-primes, and trivial to prove.

But, it's not generally true, because x, y must be
nonzero... and requiring primes does achieve that
distinction. A weak theorem is better than a false conjecture

Comment Re:In other words, it's a Utility. (Score 1) 117 117

I would like to see why you think it's run well (really).

The article has sentences like this, " Itâ(TM)s essentially a bottomless bucket, as long as it's used efficiently and in a cost-effective manner." So which is it, a bottomless bucket, or something that must be used efficiently? Which is it, free, or something that you have to worry about...

The resource is 'free' only in the sense that it isn't encumbered by administrators outside
the state educational system. The indication that it's run well is the claim that the network
has been nearly trouble-free (i.e. that the telco horror-story of $100 per month per user
of 'costs' is a fantasy).

When public servants run a wide-area network, they provide a wide open window
to view the cost and performance tradeoffs. It's worth looking out that window and
noting the landscape. For-profit service providers only show you billboards... and bills.

Comment Forced upgrade path, Re: Nosedive (Score 5, Informative) 598 598

you can't run a version of Safari on 10.6.x that will actually load content on sites like Youtube).

That's because you are using a version of Safari that hasn't been updated for about 6 years. ...Fortunately, you have several alternatives:

1. Update OS X to Yosemite. It's FREE (as in beer).

Yeah, FREE (as in beer) and UNAVAILABLE (as in roast dodo).
The "forced upgrade policy" means that a generation of
Macintoshes is arbitrarily decared too old for the installer to put a newer OS onto it.
My MacPro, four Xeon cores and 20GB of RAM, with six drive bays,
doesn't have a MacOS upgrade path beyond 10.6.8, won't load any Safari
browser version that came with 10.7+, and most prebuilt browsers
of other pedigree are just as OS-intolerant (TenFourFox being the notable exception).

Apple's OS and app install process discriminates on the basis of last-time-we-got-paid-for-hardware.

Comment Re:The idea is good even if the leaders aren't (Score 1) 706 706

That said, I still think the basic notion of regulating internet access is an idea with merit even if the ruling parties aren't exactly brilliant at it.

Really? You just tossed out the constitution. WTG! And by that, the right to communicate with whomever you choose (1st) without oversight (4th).

Nonsense! The constitution (of the USA) hands control of 'post offices
and post roads' as well as 'navigable waterways' to Federal goverment.
That puts ALL of telecommunication as known in the eighteenth
century into Federal jurisdiction.

And as for 'right to communicate', as far as a non-neutral Internet is concerned,
only some service providers, never their customers, have access to that. Network
neutrality regulation is a way to extend access to the leaf nodes of the Internet.
Ought we, as a society, do that? I think so.
Is there another practical way to do that? I think not.

In these matters the only certainty is that there is nothing certain. -- Pliny the Elder