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Comment Attenuating waves and generating harmonics. (Score 4, Interesting) 216

This device will also interfere with the radio signals. It will both attenuate them and create harmonics due to the rectifiers.

"Raising ground resistance" by having radio-energy-utilizing devices pull power from the air is a non-trivial issue.

Example: A former colleague had, previously, been a plant manager for a factory in a small African country. The plant was in the country's capital, home to their "voice of the fearless leader" high-powered radio station.

One day, while touring the plant, he found a collection of burned-out fluorescent tubes, and had them hauled away. Shortly after he was contacted by his maintenance head, who asked him not to do it again. It seems there was a black market in burned out fluorescent tubes.

The radio station was so strong that, if you put three feet of wire on each end of a burned-out tube it would light up quite nicely from the radio power. A lot of people couldn't afford electricity and light fixtures. But a burned out tube and six feet of wire was readily available. So much of the town's houses were illuminated this way.

So many were, in fact, that the radio signal would no longer reach the edges of the country. So Fearless Leader would send his troops through town when the attenuation got to be a problem, and they'd confiscate and smash the tubes of all the improvised radio-powered lights they found. After each such raid, the people would be down at the plant to buy more "dead" tubes, creating a profitable side-business for the maintenance guy.

Comment Re:Units! (Score 1) 216

They told us about a similar case to this in EE school in the '60s. This is the story. (I have no footnotes to see if it's real...)

Power company ran high lines over a dairy farmer's land. But they would still charge him tens of thousands to run power to his site.

Farmer ran some wires under the high-tension lines and coupled well enough (B and/or E fields) to pull a bunch of power. Stepped it down with some transformers and ran his milking machines with it.

Power company noticed the drain on the high-line, looked for the source of leakage, found the farmer, and sued. Farmer said that "they should keep their power in their wires". Judge agreed and threw the suit out.

Power company, not to be stymied, analyzed how the farmer had designed his tap. Then they switched the power on the high lines in order to throw some destructive transients into his equipment (without bothering the regular grid, of course). Farmer's equipment didn't have adequate surge protection to handle this sort of thing. Result: His equipment was destroyed and his milking barn caught fire.

The lesson was about the dangers of transient on transmission lines and the fact that the energy is actually transmitted in the space AROUND the lines. But it had the subtext that trying to take advantage of the latter is really hazardous due to the former.

Comment Re:All in favor of Elop getting the job? (Score -1) 292

But, that said, maybe a breakup and spin-off of non-core divisions is exactly what Microsoft needs. This whole 'chasing Apple/Sony/{$newTechMarket}' thing is slowly killing them.

First, your sed input string syntax is bogus. But more importantly, this has been Microsoft's business strategy since not long after it encorporated: "Extend, Embrace, Extinguish." It isn't killing them in the long term, and analysts only ever look at the short term. I shouldn't have to explain the problem of short term thinking.

Comment Re:Dear Slashdot... (Score 2) 160

Acquiring knowledge has generally been expensive. Libraries cost money for both the building and books. Education costs money, even if it is free to the student.

The internet changed all of that. Acquiring knowledge now costs such a tiny, tiny amount, that we can afford to give it away to every single member of the human race... and we give up very little for the honor of doing so. As a society, we have the privilege of being able to give every single person on this planet free and total access to the collective knowledge of all of the sciences, technology, culture, all of it.

And yet we don't. What does that say about us, as a people?

he internet has been a wonderful resource to make knowledge easier to access, but the infrastructure costs money.

No. Nothing costs money. A cost is something you give up. The cost of a car is all the things you could have gotten instead of the car. People often confuse the value of a thing with the price of a thing, and in a capitalist-driven society, it's hardly a surprise. The infrastructure doesn't cost money, it costs whatever we could have built instead of the infrastructure.

Now, consider all the possible things that we could have built instead of the internet. Instead of giving free knowledge to the world. Can you think of a better way to spend that potentiality? Because I cannot. No sir, your argument does not hold.

By a similar token the need for the NSA is an ugly reality. Not every group or society on the planet is willing to live in peace within their own borders.

The need for an organization that keeps tabs on legitimate threats to our safety and security, yes. The NSA... in its current form, is suboptimal for that task. It has been warped and distorted by political pressure both internal and external into something that is rapidly losing its effectiveness in that capacity. We're building data centers and collecting data, but managing intelligent assets is about more than collection, it's about analytics as well. The NSA has been overburdened with information -- tasked with watching everyone, everywhere.

It's the result of an unprecidented mass-failure of basic cognitive reasoning on the part of our entire governmental superstructure. They overvalue what they don't know, a fallacy known as the ambiguity effect. It's why we spent trillions fighting a war on terror, but we spend a mere fraction of that fighting drunk driving. They also over-value certain types of information -- a person's race, national origin, etc. All this profiling. It's been proven time and time again that the moment you develop a profile for the type of person you're looking for,.. the organization you're fighting will simply select candidates that are outside of that profile. We've created an institutional-sized case of confirmation bias with our security screening procedures. But it gets worse. The NSA is a classic example of information bias... that is, they seek information even when it's irrelevant to the choices presented. Or put another way: They're so focused on gathering more information that they've effectively paralyzed themselves.

And this isn't the first time this has happened, even here in America. All intelligence agencies go through phases where they become complacent and the intelligence feedback cycle goes off the rails, which isn't corrected until a catastrophe. Pearl Harbor. 9/11. Aldrich Ames. "The list goes on and on." After each major shakeup, there's a refocusing and efficiency goes up... for awhile. Until it deteriorates to the point that a new crisis emerges.

There will always be another boogieman in the closet. There will be another 9/11. Another Snowden. Another Pearl Harbor. These things cannot be prevented -- only the illusion that they can be. When we discuss how we wish to combat these yet-unseen and unknown forces, we must be mindful of how we structure our institutions, and what restrictions we place on them. The restrictions are not just to protect us, but the integrity of the intelligence cycle as well.

The NSA has been co-opted into a massive dragnet for political gain by people who want to suppress certain elements of society. This needs to stop. Not because of privacy, or because the terrorists will win, or blah blah fuckity blah... but because it's not sustainable. As any engineer will tell you, if you say "Build a computer", they could hand you a microwave. Say "build a computer with a monitor," and they hand you a calculator. "Build a computer with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse", and you might get a kiosk. Restrictions provide structure -- it enables us to create something that's actually useful to us, like, say, a laptop, instead of a microwave. The NSA needs restrictions in order to be useful to us.

There are may things limiting human potential. One of the biggest is human nature.

A rather nilhist perspective, but hardly a new one. Even the Romans had a phrase to describe this: Ad mores natura recurrit damnatos, fixa et mutari nescia - Human nature ever reverts to its depraved courses, fixed and immutable.

You leave your city, or your country, because you find it's full of crime, immorality, and violence. And that is fine. But ask yourself: What do you expect of the place you are moving to? Because you will find the same wherever you go. It is your expectations that creates the reality you live in. If you expect human nature to be greed, lust, and immorality... then that is all you will ever see or achieve. For this reason... I do not believe human nature limits human potential... I believe they are one in the same. The greatest advances of the 21st century will be in an expanding definition of what it means to be human. And to be honest, I think greed, lust, and immorality, have had their time for us to explore. We should be getting on to other things now.

Comment Re:Dear Slashdot... (Score 4, Insightful) 160

No, it's not a footnote - it's a fairy tale. (Well, I guess legends and other fiction could appear in a footnote...)

"In the earliest days, this was a project I worked on with great passion because I wanted to solve the Defense Department's problem: it did not want proprietary networking and it didn't want to be confined to a single network technology."
-- Vinton Cerf

"It's difficult to imagine the power that you're going to have when so many different sorts of data are available."
-- Tim Berners-Lee

"My goal wasn't to make a ton of money. It was to build good computers."
-- Steve Wozniak

"Artists usually don't make all that much money, and they often keep their artistic hobby despite the money rather than due to it."
-- Linus Torvalds

Shall I continue, or is it sufficiently obvious how wrong you are?

Comment Re:Dear Slashdot... (Score 2) 160

Do you really not see a difference between an experimental, opt-in location system and an international, clandestine spy program?

They're functionally identical. Every phone you buy today has the same basic EULA: All your personal data is ours, to do with as we please. Try going without a cell phone; We're expected to be wired in. Employers want cell phones. Parents want cell phones. There was an article on slashdot talking about wiring in 5 year olds. This is the future; the interconnected society. You want to be a part of society, you have internet, you have a phone -- you're connected.

And pardon me, but considering how pervasive it is, how deeply it's integrated into our lives, and how little protection there is for all of it... an international, clandestine spy program is far better, at least from a human rights standpoint.

Comment Re:Dear Slashdot... (Score 4, Insightful) 160

Or you can not use any Google products. Gmail, google maps, search etc are free so that they can advertise to you and collect data on you.

Funny story. In the early 90s a new network started being used regularily by hundreds of colleges, science labs, and educational facilities. It had been built up for military purposes as an experiment, but after building a new one, the military turned it over to the academic community. It was a global network, massively redundant, and was initially used to exchange files and e-mail. Researchers quickly developed some simple protocols to allow anyone on the network to exchange information freely with anyone else on the network. A need arose to catalog and organize the rapidly increasing number of nodes on this network, and the information just started pouring in. That network... was called the internet.

It's original inventors hoped that this free and equal peer-based network they had built would be used to share human knowledge across cultures around the world, bringing together millions, and now billions, of people together. They never asked for money. They didn't believe in advertising revenue to support it... the people who built and maintained the network did so not out of greed, or desire for wealth, but because they genuinely believed in one of the foundational principles of science:

Knowledge should be free.

I know today it's just a historical footnote, that greed and the desire for wealth has created not one, but seven of the largest companies on the planet, whose sole business plans are to exploit the free exchange of information by putting up artificial barriers and charging for access to things, while spying on us and abusing the data flow... and that today, we just accept this.

But those of us that built the network remember there are other motivations than greed... some of us still build things for others, because we want them to be free. Because we want them to have knowledge, and information -- because we understood, instinctively, that the biggest advances of the 21st century wasn't going to be in science or technology, but in an expanding concept of what it means to be human. We couldn't put it into those words, not then, but we knew it would be important that this resource remain free and open to all -- that the fastest route to human growth, worldwide, everyone, everywhere, would mean making sure knowledge was equally available. Because knowledge is power... and we knew, from tens of thousands of years of human history, that when you try to hold onto knowledge, to power, it corrupts you. It destroys you. It sucks your soul right out and pours in a neverending need for more... more what? More everything.

And so those of us who were around back then recognize Google, and the NSA, and all these other organizations and governments for what they are: An unnatural restriction on the potential of the human race. They're strangling us with their greed. They're creating the next Dark Age... because the power imbalance between the information-rich and the information-poor is growing, exponentially. And Google is one of the central players.

Google... is evil.

Comment Dear Slashdot... (Score 5, Insightful) 160

Do you still think Google is trying to stop the NSA from spying on you, when they are gathering the exact same information, and unlike the NSA, don't have any rules restricting their use.

When will we stop saying who can and cannot spy on us and steal our personal information, and start saying that the answer is nobody. Whether you're the NSA, or you're Google, you are evil. The end.

Comment Re:I stopped using Chrome (Score 1) 260

I stopped using Chrome because it's extensions were not up to par with Firefox addons.
And now I feel less inclined to use Chrome at all.

Ditto. What does Google hope to accomplish with this? Switching to Firefox takes less than 5 minutes.

I stopped using Chrome because they kept forcing updates that changed the interface, without asking for permission or providing a reverse-compatibility option.

The last straw for me was when they deleted the ability to purge entries from the suggestion pop-down in the address bar without completely purging the browsing history, shortly before I typoed up a not-safe-for-work URL. I'm now back on Firefox evan at my desk, while the rest of the company is still on Chrome.

I'm with the FOSS people on this point: Reducing a user's control over his own computer - especially in job-threatening ways - is evil.

Comment Re:Walled Garden: One brick at a time.... (Score 1) 260

Did Google recently buy a brick factory because...

They're a big business, like Apple. Like coca cola. Once you establish a brand in people's mind, you can do whatever you want as long as you keep being trendy and hip. Congress has called several committees to investigate Google, Apple, Microsoft, and others, and amazingly it was mostly "We love your stuff! Kindof a lot! But, er, you know, uhh.. there's these, uhh... questions... well... more maybe just er, if you want, you know... aww forget it. we love you. take our money.

I mean people actually bought that crap about Google fighting the NSA. And now they're doing evil left and right, maximizing profits... and everyone's like "Oh noes! How could you do this to us?" But next week... they'll be like... oh google, how could I ever have hated you?

Comment Re:Quintessential classic military sci-fi book? (Score 1) 732

You know what's interesting about a good story? It means different things to different people. Millions have looked at the Mona Lisa and every one of them came up with a different reason why she's smiling. Who's to say their interpretation is any less valid than another's?

But whatever. Everyone else's meaning they find in life and art matters less than your own interpretation of it. Because, like the author, you too are an asshole.

Comment Re:Quintessential classic military sci-fi book? (Score 1) 732

You can't spend your life hating the ignorant, and if you let your own anger over a person's beliefs cloud their works and other words, then you're no better than the very bigots you disdain.

No, I just happen to not like bigots. That's not ignorance, that's having standards. And being angry over an injustice isn't "clouding their works", it's refusing to participate in that injustice. In this society we give the artist money in exchange for their work. If the artist chooses to make it available for free, then it can be said it is divorced from the person. But if they ask money, and say they're going to put that money to use oppressing others, then denying them your money isn't an act of ignorance, but an appeal to one's better nature.

Sorry, but he's an asshole and a bigot. He gets zero money, and I will not speak kindly of his work; Not until it's in the public domain, which in this country, will not be during my lifetime.

Comment Re:Quintessential classic military sci-fi book? (Score 0, Offtopic) 732

"Ender's Game" is very much about the hard choices that governments have to make in a time of existential crisis and how they frequently push off the responsibility for those choices on those executing them.

Well it was, until we found out that the author of this scifi piece was a raging asshole. Now Ender's Game is about a homophobe who wrote a book about war against an alien species... and he's come face-first into a culture war that's been brewing for a long time. Some people have even suggested that the 'aliens' are just stand-in proxies for homosexuals and are subsequently exterminated. A similar parallel was drawn between the cylons in Battlestar Galactica being a reflection on terrorism in contemporary society.

I guess the only thing we can really say about all of it is that scifi can show us at our best... and at our worst. As to which it is, and the author's motives... that's a whole new can of worms.

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