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Comment The TSA redacting process (Score 4, Insightful) 605

This clearly comes from the people who thought up my favourite piece of brain dead "security" from the TSA

When you enter the line to the security gate a TSA numpty checks your boarding pass to make sure you are allowed to join the line. Everyone joining the line has their boarding pass checked, this is a piece of paper often printed on a computer that says what flight you are on, its just about the easiest thing to fake in the history of fakery.

Then you lob everything into the x-ray machine, clearly needing to separate your laptop out as clearly its impossible to see stuff through that. Shoes of course, belts, internal organs...

Then as you step through the body scanner some TSA numpty says "boarding pass please". Pointing out that you've just put all your crap through the machine and that your boarding pass is with your passport and your wallet is of course pointless. The answer... wait until it comes out of the machine and then show the numpty. you are of course also checked at the gate with both passport (hard to fake) and boarding pass (trivial to fake).

So in otherwords the TSA check TWICE a piece of easy to fake information and NEVER check your ruddy passport.

So how did the TSA redact this PDF. Well simple they had the same process. The first person pasted on the black squares. This was then printed out.

The first checker then looked at the printed out copy and said "looks fine to me"

This document was then scanned in and then printed again to be checked by a second checker who said "yup all okay"

And then they put the ORIGINIAL electronic copy on line with the pasting over the top.

The TSA is to security what Micheal Vick is to Pet Care

Comment Every ten years (Score 1) 408

I bought my last PC after a ten year cycle and the next one is heading that way the basic thought went

When they bring out a standard dual-CPU set up I'll upgrade
When they bring out a single chip dual-core set-up I'll upgrade
When the bring out a single chip dual-core 64 bit set-up I'll upgrade
When I can get 8GB of RAM I'll upgrade

3 years ago I got to the stage where my 400Mhz Pentium II was struggling even with DSL to do some of the video editing requirements I had. So into the breach and a 64 bit/dual core box was mine.

Now I'm into the

When SSDs are over 500GB
When I can have >16 cores
When I can stuff 24 GB of RAM into it

Or to put it another way I'm now waiting for the next Mac Pro

As a techy my home machine is always behind the curve because I tune it and keep it clean.

At work however my upgrade schedule is about 9 months as I go through laptops in a brutal manner. This also means that it satisfies my tech lust (ooooh Shiny MacBook Pro) without me having to pay for it.

Comment Re:When facts were respected (Score 1) 83

I'm not sure this is true. In the early Victorian period in particular the drive for rationalism and empirical information was everywhere. The heros of the age were scientists, explorers and engineers.

In Newton's time there was more mumbo jumbo but do remember that they changed the laws of the country to allow him to take up his chair at Cambridge, this led (in part) to the explosion of non-comformist religions in the UK.

Benjamin Franklin was a hero in the US in the early victorian era (IIRTTC) and is a great example of the difference between then and now.

Comment Re:When facts were respected (Score 2, Insightful) 83

The placebo effect is a real thing, and it works better if the placebo is expensive.

It is indeed real but that doesn't make homeopathy real. I have no problems with the placebo effect or even people who deliberately sell a placebo wrapped in mumbo jumbo what I have is a problem with people selling a placebo who don't have the intellectual honesty to admit its just a placebo.

The placebo works, homeopathy doesn't.

Comment When facts were respected (Score 4, Insightful) 83

The Royal Society really does typify the content led questioning society that the world used to be. By establishing a body (The Royal Society) with the express intention of enabling that form of dicussion it represented very much a broad view that facts were what moved society forward rather than opinions.

How far we have fallen from 200 years ago into a world where opinion matters more than facts and where its routine for big companies in particular to hide data that doesn't match the outcome that they want.

The current pieces around Climate Change are a great example as to how far we have fallen, people with zero background, training or experience in a field are claiming that their opinions are just as valid as someone who are studied a field for 20 years.

We have people questioning doctors and demanding antibiotics
We have people believing rubbish like homeopathy because their "opinion" is it works
We have presidents believing that FAITH in something (WMDs) is more important that actual facts
We have people questioning evolution because their FAITH says it isn't so

Hopefully in 100 years our great-grand-children will look back on this as the biggest era of deliberate human stupidy. Its not often the past is actually better but the basis of the Royal Society and indeed the society which it represented 200 years ago is a much more rational and measured one than the FoxNews driven debates of today.

I often think that Fox News would be firmly on the "gravity denier" side if it had been around at the time of Newton.

Comment Xenophon and Socrates (Score 3, Insightful) 511

Pretty OT here but with people making Xenu gags because of the name its worth point out that Xenophon's Conversations with Socrates is one of the few sources for views of the great Greek philosopher and orator.

CoS are of course a shill, its not even a very clever shill, their "e-meters" are almost as dumb as the bullet proof pants that the Mormons try and pedal.

Why should any religion get tax status? They aren't a charity, the money is primarily there to support their own organisation. They are selling a product called "salvation" and people are paying money in the belief they are getting something back.

Socrates wasn't the biggest fan of religion either... question everything.

Comment Re:Gee, it's almost like they have a monopoly or s (Score 1) 330

That would make sense if you could demonstrate how they are leveraging their current "monopoly" (search) to dominate in another area (mobile phone OS, Sat Nav). This is VERY different from having a dominant (and convicted) monopoly in one type of operating system (desktop) and then using that to shift into other operating system areas (Mobile, Gaming, etc).

Its the difference between GE and Standard Oil. Being GOOD at different things is fine.

Comment Re:Finally!!! (Score 1) 278

Seriously, I have trouble dating


from "interviewing" them and their family

Now correlation is not causation but....... I'd suggest reducing the formal interview requirements for prospective dates and particularly don't insist on interviewing their family before considering them for a date.

Just a little hint....

Comment Re:Wouldn't it make more sense... (Score 2, Interesting) 105

Only if you trust the US to not screw around with it for political reasons. Imagine Sarah Palin as President, who is to say she wouldn't scramble GPS for France & Germany because they refuse to support her invasion of Canada? How about if they release those algorithms and keys just to US companies thus undermining European ones (TomTom etc) and say that the keys can only be exported in completed devices.

The issue with GPS is one of trust and control, simply put the Europeans don't trust the US to play nicely and fair in part because they are funding it.

And if it sounds far fetched... remember the US used to forbid the export of crypto.

Comment A reverse-SCO? (Score 1) 493

So based on a fragment of pretty basic code doing a very basic task that most people would write off the top of their head the assumption that it has been stolen from OSS.

This is like the old SCO claim around the Knuth code. There really are some basic bits that date back to the pre-history of IT. This is a long way from evidence and doesn't make the OSS world look any better than SCO did with their claims.

Evidence folks needs to be a bit bigger than a method.

Comment Re:As Rutherford said... (Score 1) 551

The social sciences, of which economics is a part, must do research and gather evidence to back up their conclusions; even those which should be obvious to everyone. This is really not so different from proofs in other fields where even 'obvious' statements must still be proven or at least investigated

This report however does nothing of the sort in that it identifies a correlation between two sets of data (salaries and effectively GPA) and puts forward a theory that because the salaries are, in real terms, falling behind the market that this is why you are getting less high quality people. In otherwords this paper doesn't actually prove anything but just puts forward a theory that then needs testing.

There is nothing in the report that indicates the actually proof of the statement just the repeatment of the statement with some data which indicates a level of correlation. And as stats people and scientists will tell you, correlation is an indication of potential proof it is not in itself proof.

Economics is another example of such a piece and actually has a Law - Goodharts Law (ex head of the LSE) which says any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes which became A risk model breaks down when used for regulatory purposes. (Daníelsson, 2002)

In otherwords their models are fundamentally untestable and hence are not science.

Comment As Rutherford said... (Score 2, Insightful) 551

But a new paper by sociologists

Ernest Rutherford once said The only possible conclusion the social sciences can draw is: some do, some don't

So while its nice that they've tried to have a firm opinion they really haven't, what they've said is that as the salaries in science and engineering fall behind the likes of banking and other world destruction careers the top people aren't going into science and engineering as much.

The phrase "Well Duh!" comes to mind. I'm mean seriously is this research or just some people sitting around a table in a bar after 10 pints drunkly going "you know what, I think that if there is less money in an area that less top people will want to work in it". Now what they spectacularly fail to note of course is that some of the very, very brightest have become the very, very richest people on the planet as a result of science and engineering (and maths).

Good god its hard to believe that people not only get degrees in subjects so vague and obvious but also get to do "research" that would leave Homer Simposon feeling that it wasn't stretching him.

Comment Super computer? (Score 5, Informative) 260

Ummm isn't this just a ridiculously powerful desktop computer rather than a super computer? The current 500th super computer on the top500 list is this machine which has a Rmax of 17 Tflops and an Rpeak of just over 37.6. Now its impressive that this desktop system has 1/37th of the power of the lowest machine on the super computer list... but does that really make it a super computer? Moore's Law says that it will take around 10 years for this desktop box to evolve to the power of that current bottom top500 box. So in other words its 10 years behind the performance of the current 500th best super computer.

If its because it hits 1 Tflops then in a few years time you'll have mobile phone "super computers" as Moore's Law is still moving onwards.

This is a very very fast desktop computer suited to certain simulation elements which are GPU intensive. Nice box, fast box.... but not a real modern super computer.

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