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Comment Re:What's really sad (Score 4, Insightful) 308

What's really sad about this is that the act of frisking anyone without any fact-based suspicion is not considered a violation of the constitution.

What's DOUBLY sad about this is that a court found it unconstitutional and LET IT CONTINUE!

The Supreme Court has said that unconstitutional laws are void from the start and do not authorize anything. Government functionaries claiming to operate under such laws and interpretations have no special standing - they'reperforming the act as a private citizen.

If *I* stopped and frisked somebody it would be several felonies - which means it is if the cops do it, too.

Comment Videos ... I wonder .... (Score 1) 144

... [on the] wi-fi networks in the Minneapolis or San Fran airports. [...] the videos you have to watch [when going through authorization/configuration steps] are all dog slow ...

Which got me thinking...

Lately (at work with a company-IT-mandated Chrome browser and thus no flashblock/noscript/...) I've noticed that advertisers on many services I look at (typically due to following news links from Slashdot) are feeding multiple, self-starting, full-motion videos per page.

Videos require ENORMOUSLY more traffic than text, or even fancy (but non-moving) graphics. This trend ENORMOUSLY multiplies the bandwidth requirements to browse such pages.

Combine that with the fact that WiFi is essentially a collision-based protocol, which means it goes 'WAY inefficient when approaching its "theoretical" bandwidth maximum.

Perhaps this, rather than more users or decaying infrastructure, is the (or a major) explanation for the deteriorating service in Mountain View.

Comment There's No Privacy When You Publish on the Net (Score 1) 410

Sure, you may run a mail server next to the dryer, but who knows where your mail is, or how it got there.

The internet is not about point-to-point communication. It's a *publishing* technology. The reason I can see this Slashdot page is because it was published on some servers, not sent over some secure wire to me. I click on a URL and somewhere a server sends the data comprising that page out into the net, broken up in itty-bit packets with my IP address embedded in them, and eventually they all get to me, where they are reconstructed and displayed in my browser.

Email is no different. Sure, you can use encryption. But, that's self-limiting unless the entire world knows everyone else's key, and then what good would encryption be?

Just as criminals rely on "social engineering" to get access to data, it's been used for centuries by governments and others to get access to data other people do not want them to see. No matter how anyone uses technology to secure their internet "privacy" (quotes because it's an oxymoron), you are really just depending that the folks who create the technology have not been "socially engineered".

So... if you don't want someone to find out something, don't publish it, on the net or elsewhere.

Comment Re:Prosthetic inner ear. (Score 1) 16

As I understand it (I'm NOT a doctor):

There are several other inner ear problems that produce vertigo.
What you've described sounds to me like one of the more transient ones. (Meniere's is the major progressive one.)

Even with Meniere's they're very reluctant to disable the inner ear - which also destroys the hearing. (In fact they're reluctant even to install the artificial pressure-relief valve until the hearing in the affected ear has been destroyed - because the surgery will usually damage or destroy it as a side-effect.)

As I understand balance you have three systems:
  - Inner ear "rate gyros and accellerometers" - which also sense gravity.
  - Visual modeling of your location/motion/environment.
  - Proprioception - muscle/tendon tension, joint position, ...
You need any two of the three to walk upright. Disasgeement between the set of three triggers vertigo / motion sickness / car/sea/airsickness, etc. (The system generally learns that disagreement is normal in a vehicle, which is why vertigo-producing diseases usually don't trigger during driving.)

A good authoritative source on this is the California Ear Institute in East Palo Alto.

Comment Re:Fix the Biggest Hole (Score 1) 88

You must also assess the likelihood of someone finding/using that hole.

You must also take into account that fixing the hole means the "someone" will just MOVE ON TO THE NEXT HOLE, raising its probability of being found.

Unless you fix enough that a substantial fraction of the attackers give up and move on to different targets or a different line of work, you've engaged in a futile effort.

This "fix the big, findable problems" approach is an obfuscated form of a familiar system design pathology: Pushing the problems around from component to component, rather than solving them.

Comment Actually, "kid in the basement" often isn't dumb. (Score 1) 88

The author is assuming that the opposition is dumb. It used to be, back when it was a kid in their parents' basement.

Actually, the "kid in the basement" usually wasn't dumb. Typically they'd be far above the average for their school.

Callow, yes.

Further, they had an advantage over the professionals: They could spend a LOT of time, in long, unbroken, sessions, pursuing a problem of their choosing down to the nitty-gritty-bits, until it fell before their persistence. Not having to earn a living, meet a schedule, build something they're not interested in to support a company's work (and do security on the side), commute to a work place (and having the tools available 24/7), having food, housing, and what-have-you provided by the parents, and (during the school vacation) having no distractions whatsoever, let them learn more, faster, and try more things.

Comment Prosthetic inner ear. (Score 3, Informative) 16

A close relative of mine has MéniÃre's disease and resulting debilitating vertigo.

This is a horrible condition where failure of a pressure relief valve in the inner ear results in the progressive destruction of the inner ear's membranes, including those in the"rate gyros" and "linear accelerometers". This repeatedly changes the errors in the ear's balance signals, resulting in repeated and extreme triggering of a reflex apparently intended to eject neurotoxic poisons: Extreme "seasickness", fall down, projectile vomiting and diarrhea, can't even crawl, let alone stand, for several hours. After a couple days the new error is "mapped out" - then another tear in a membrane creates a new error, and repeat.

Meanwhile the loss of the balance signals means additional dependence on vision - and thus bone-breaking falls and additional nausea attacks and headaches (it's related to migraine) from flickering lights and confusing background images. (Even flickers far faster than the fusion rate causes attacks, apparently by delaying and distorting visual location cues during motion.)

It is so debilitating that a substantial fraction of the victims commit suicide.

Biocompatible MEMS systems could be used to create an implantable prosthetic replacement for the balance sensors. (We already know the signal can be coupled to the nerves in question magnetically.) This could result in restoration of the balance function and thus an effective treatment.

Comment Re:Slowly sip the power! (Score 1) 72

From another article about it:

Transmission efficiency is an impressive 85% thanks to the âoeshapedâ part of the technology, which targets the electromagnetic field at the vehicle, so that less energy is lost to the environment.

A tad low for a transformer, but with inches of air gap and moist dirt in the magnetic path you can expect less than ideal efficiency. It's better than many electric motors and most battery charge/discharge cycle losses. It's entirely adequate.

Comment WEP is an expression of intent. (Score 1) 438

Why even have it on at all? You are practically unsecured anyway. Might as well just turn WEP off.

WEP is an expression of your intent.
  - With it off you have an open wireless access point: Anyone can pair with it, and some OSes, out of the box, will try to do so.
  - WIth it on you've told strangers that they're supposed to get permission to use it.

It's just like the lock on a screen door: It takes only seconds for someone to break through. But anyone breaking through loses the ability to claim that he thought you left the door unlocked because you intended that anyone at the door should just walk in.

Comment Re:What about the previous poll? (Score 1) 438

An annoying thing about that poll (and all polls without comments) is that slashdot doesn't display WHEN the poll occurred, nor is it in the URL (which just gives the poll number. So without the comments to give a date/time it's not possible to date it.

Given that the subject was "time until facebook is replaced", when the poll occurred is especially significant.

Comment Re:game animal bullets must expand (Score 1) 780

In war, these bullets are banned by the Geneva convention. Wounds are hoped to be survivable by humans and the bullets are intended to poke a hole in enemy bodies that removes them from battle.

And in terms even a psychopath would understand:

A dead soldier takes one soldier out of action. A wounded solder takes two, plus a medic's time and a drain on the supply lines to provide food, medical attention, and transportation away from the front.

Fewer dead soldiers and wounds with better recovery means fewer vendettas and broken families. This makes it easier to make peace and interact peacefully with a former enemy in the years after the war, and for the warring parties' economies to recover once peace breaks out.

Expanding bullets, on the other hand, are the ammo of choice for personal protection - whether civilian or police. They are more likely to incapacitate an attacker (when fired, as is typical, from a moderate-powered handgun rather than a rifle) and less likely to penetrate an attacker or wall and continue on to injure an innocent bystander. (Generally, deadly force is only justifiable in self-defense until the attack is stopped. Even with expanding bullets it's only about one in five that a person shot until incapacitated actually dies.)

Comment It's also hell on barrels. (Score 1) 780

Steel is banned at many ranges because it can be more damaging to metallic target stands and steel targets.

It's also hell on barrels and chokes, especially in antique shotguns.

But for hunting it's a problem because it's less dense than lead (about 70%), causing it to decelerate more rapidly, reducing both accuracy and range. (At 40 yards #4 steel shot has about half the momentum of the same size lead that left the barrel at the same velocity.) Further, the lower density means you can't load as much mass into a shell of the same length while its higher strength means it doesn't deform and thus doesn't transfer as much momentum to the target. Both of these reduce the "stopping power" further.

Comment The Romans found out about lead ACETATE. (Score 2) 780

What the Romans found out about was lead acetate.

They discovered that lining their wine storage containers made bad or old wine turn sweet, rather than sour. This is because the acetic acid of the vinegar reacted with the metallic lead of the lining, becoming and extremely sweet - and extremely soluble, bioavailable, and toxic - compound (nicknamed "sugar of lead"). This, far more than the metallic lead in the pipes, is currently believed to be the main source of lead-related poisoning in the Romans (especially among the upper classes, who could afford the wines in the fancy containers).

The NRA's point is that metallic lead is enormously less of a toxicity issue than water-soluble lead compounds, and that anti-gunners and anti-hunters are (in its opinion) using "junk science" claims to push for yet another piece of legislation restricting guns, ammunition, and hunting.

The obvious counter would be to bring up NON-junk-science research establishing that metallic lead from shot actually is a significant problem and quantifying the problem. That only works, of course, if such non-junk-science results exist.

That doesn't say poisoning from lead shot is NOT a problem (or not a significant one). But given the number of scientists looking for such an effect, I'd consider a lack of such papers (if, indeed, there is such a lack) would be an indicator that toxicity from shot is so low as to be buried in the noise, rather than that nobody has gotten around to documenting it.

(Now its lack in the POLITICAL DEBATE, of course, could just be a matter of the anti-lead-shot faction going with the most lurid claims as a political tactic.)

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