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Comment Re:A clear example of how lobbying hurts everyone (Score 0) 375

Except that people generally pay more for ethanol in their drinking water - cocktails all around! Seriously though - ethanol may cause engine damage from water content in older engines, but it certainly doesn't create any environmental hazard beyond what gasoline combustion already creates. Comparison to MTBE doesn't make sense. The economics of ethanol production in the US are of course very screwed up by corn industry subsidies, but if you can make the stuff cheaply in real, undistorted terms, it's a fine renewable fuel for use in cars made to tolerate such blends.

Comment Ugh. (Score 1) 123

Why would you post this today? Sometime last week you updated the mobile code and broke scrolling. Seriously. On the Android 4 browser you can now basically no longer properly scroll the mbeta.slashdot.org site. It's like it's eating touch and/or scroll events for lunch. You clearly tried to fix this, because you can now fling again, but if you are in contact with the touchscreen, the site stops scrolling within a second or so. This problem was not present a week or two ago. Very, horrifically annoying. Showstopper bug. Go fix it, do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars.

The other annoying thing - the horrifically slow and error prone paging between stories. And stop trying to intercept swipe events on comments - I'm not trying to switch stories, I'm generally trying to click something to expand/reply/etc. But it's even worse because the story switching is so horribly slow, and has no "loading..." or other user feedback.

Basically, go work on this for another month or so then let us know when it's fixed.

Comment Re:There's a reason for that. (Score 4, Interesting) 633

Weird opinion - the US is near the tops in terms of food quality in the world, based on my experience. And has a far superior amount of diversity in its high quality fine dining options to most countries I've visited in Europe and the Americas. Try eating your way around New York, San Francisco (and throughout the bay area), Napa and Sonoma Counties in California, Charleston in South Carolina, or any of the foodie meccas around the US.

Comment Re:Does it really matter (Score 3, Interesting) 432

I'll never forget when I was a 20 year old intern at a financial firm, and I was invited to a meeting with a CEO from a medical services company we were considering investing in. The analyst I reported to was in his late 20s, a business school graduate, who was admittedly a cocky bastard. First, he let me show up on time to the meeting and talk with the CEO for 15 minutes before he bothered coming. Probably just to put the CEO in his place, letting him know he was on par with an intern.

When the analyst finally showed up, he was wearing a button down shirt, slacks, and no shoes. He said to the CEO "it's casual Friday, hope you don't mind that I took my shoes off". The CEO, looking only slightly flustered, then said, "no not at all", and proceeded to take his shoes off for the meeting too.

Some things are just too weird to make up. But yeah, nothing says I've got a sack too big for words like walking around the office in business casual, or even a suit, and no shoes.

Comment Re:Accounting terminology (Score 4, Informative) 115

When a company acquires another company, that acquisition becomes a part of the balance sheet of the acquirer. Essentially, the value of the assets they purchased are recorded as if they are worth what they paid for them.

Much of this value, especially with software companies, is carried in the form of "goodwill" on the balance sheet. This is the excess payment over and above the book value of the acquired company (i.e. the value of its assets). If a company gets bought out for $6.3 billion dollars and had $100M in book value assets recorded on their own balance sheet (computers, chairs, buildings, machinery, etc.), then the acquirer records $6.2B in goodwill on their balance sheet,

If the assets that were acquired generate fewer profits than expected, the company may have to record what's called a "goodwill impairment" - the stuff they bought has been demonstrated to be worth less than $6.2B, so they have to record a paper loss in their annual profit and loss statement, which comes out of the goodwill asset on their balance sheet. In theory, the accountants are supposed to look at the business unit every year to see if there is any impairment of value that would require the reporting of a loss associated with the goodwill impairment of that unit. In practice, these things often seem to just sit around for a few years then get pulled out of a hat when the CFO decides fuck it, we're losing money this year anyway, time to write off all that dumb shit we've been carrying on our books that we bought before the economy went kerplop.

Even worse the a goodwill impairment, the entirety of that goodwill can be written off, creating a paper loss equal to almost the amount they originally spent on the company. Which is apparently what happened here.

It's like Microsoft took $6.2B and lit it on fire. They just didn't realize it had all burned up until now, even though the actual cash was gone several years ago.

Comment Re:Rosalind Franklin (Score 1) 112

While it was clearly her data that they used, I've never heard any source state that she had already solved the problem of the exact structure of DNA. She probably realized that the crystal indicated a helical structure, but I don't think she knew exactly what it looked like or how it worked. So yeah, she deserved more credit then she received at the time, but I think it's possible to swing too far in the other direction, taking credit away from the guys who worked out much of the annoying details of the problem.

Comment What am I missing? (Score 5, Insightful) 279

My understanding is that the best known general cryptanalytic attacks on AES are only marginally better than brute-force. Even AES-128 is essentially unbreakable under any known attacks then, since brute forcing a single AES-128 password is so far beyond feasibility, it's absurd. My understanding is that the best known attacks on AES are side-channel attacks, which require only modest computational resources, but need access to the encrypting machine, and related-key attacks that are only effective for certain small classes of keys.

So we can then assume that NSA has a general attack on AES that makes it many, many orders of magnitude easier to break than the best known published attacks? Or is this more likely to be disinformation spread to make people *think* that AES is broken by NSA? My understanding was that NSA is generally somewhat but not extremely far beyond the academic state of the art these days.

And there have been several reports of FBI and other federal agencies being unable to recover AES-256 encrypted hard drives. So if NSA has the capability to do so even for small numbers of keys using existing computing power, they obviously keep it incredibly restricted and under wraps.

So... this is BS by somebody, right? Either congress is getting BSed into funding stuff that won't do what they're being told it will do, or the public is getting BSed into believing that using encryption is pointless because NSA can real-time decrypt anything, so just don't bother, mmm'kay?

Comment Won't people eventually start noticing? (Score 1) 236

If increasingly the currency of the digital world is information aggregation, collection, and targeting, won't people eventually start to realize that *this* is their valuable asset and they should be compensated for giving it up, assume control in some meaningful way of their online persona?

I know there are several startups trying to move in this direction, and I don't know if any of them have it figured out yet, but it seems that Facebook's blunt approach and Google's ham-handed attempts should eventually be beaten out by a more crafty, nuanced approach, assuming the market mechanism still works in this realm and the network effects aren't as strong as many people assume they are (and the history of the online world, and of social networking, tells us they aren't).

Comment Re:Cool, but... (Score 1) 218

Not even remotely close. They seem to do quite well with things like schools, churches, public buildings, but not at all so well with restaurants, shops, and commercial places. In the immediate vicinity of my office just adjacent to New York City, geonames has perhaps 1/10th of the number of places that Factual has.

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