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Comment Re:why would an adult talk to another child? (Score 1) 596

How long before the US enacts the "me too" version of this law, potentially exposing us to criminal/civil liability just for letting this kid into our lives?

Never. "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press". This was tested when the Federal courts struck down the U.S. Child Online Protection Act (COPA).

Comment Re:Overkill... (Score 1) 524

But grounding the shield at both ends creates ground loops. You might not notice them right away, but you sure will the first time the MOVs in the surge suppressors at one end or the other shunt a spike to ground, and some of that current decides that its preferred path to ground is over your STP Cat5.

Eventually, after you blow up enough switch ports, you'll stop doing it that way.

Sort of. Shielding must be contiguous to be effective. A shield with a gap is often as bad as no shield at all, and can be worse by focusing the interference on the single most sensitive point in the system, the panel. (Says the electrical design engineer who has had to design equipment that does this right.)

The issue is that much networking equipment is designed for unshielded cable only. You know, like the Ethernet standard specifies. Such equipment often lacks the provisions needed to handle shields properly.

It's generally pretty bad form to ground both ends of any shielded wire that traverses any real length.

Nope. Either the shield must be grounded at both ends (and maybe have a thick drain wire in parallel), transformers must be used to isolate the endpoints, or unshielded cable must be substituted. You know, like cable TV systems, which go to a lot of trouble to do end-to-end shielding properly.

The lesson is that Ethernet's built-in transformer isolation is a gift from the Gods. Don't spurn the Gods with your puny "shielding" unless you have made the necessary sacrifices. Which may very well involve burnt offerings.

Comment Re:Either trivial or bullshit (Score 1) 305

Write simple code. Build complex behaviour from simple start points. Unless you're doing some serious mathematics (in which case it'll have an elegance of its own to those that comprehend the maths) then there's no real need for complicated code that is hard to understand.

You seem to not understand that some people can (1) bang out a big pile of work that is complete but scattered, then (2) see through it to the relationships underneath, then (3) perform a symbolic reduction to reach a state of simplicity, much like simplifying a complicated algebraic equation.

As a matter of course. On everything that falls into their hands. Often doing step #1 mentally.

They will find it painful and frustrating if the organization forces them to plod along, laboriously making every step of the work explicit to the back seat driver. The work will also tend to be of lower quality because their mind is constantly interrupted. Therefore they will tend to flee to another organization.

Which means that they will not be there to promote to system architects and other leaders. The organization will have to make do with people who have a proven lower ability for seeing the big picture and doing synthetic reasoning. Or the org will have to recruit leaders from outsiders who (1) don't know the business, and (2) who want to divorce themselves from hands-on work (because the chain gang approach would drive them crazy).

Now there may indeed be people who are more productive with pair programming. Or with whatever other scheme tickles your fancy. Their existence does not imply that the technique is generally, or even frequently, productive. There is so much variation in human cognition, not to mention personality, that any business operation scheme claiming generality is automatically suspect. There Are No Silver Bullets.

Comment Re:So, the computer notices things are wrong ... (Score 1) 309

If you have a nuclear reaction that is going out of control, then you have to get it in control. Shutting the plant down would mean you don't have the ability to use things like the control rods to do this.

No, the control rods are constantly forced into the core by passive systems (hydraulic pressure, gravity, springs), and only stay withdrawn because of active systems. If the active systems lose power, a few seconds later the control rods will be fully inserted. Many reactors also have pre-pressurized tanks of neutron absorbing fluid connected to the core, a sort of liquid control rod. Provided one of the redundant valves can be opened, that will also quench the nuclear chain reaction. (And I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the valves have a ratchet that makes them stick open until some poor bastard visits them in person with a special tool.)

It's also worth pointing out that many safety systems have no self-protection features like circuit breakers, or even off switches where a well-meaning idiot might turn them off just because fire is shooting out. If a back-up cooling pump develops a short circuit or a bad bearing, it will continue to run until it destroys itself. The idea is that the protection equipment will cheerfully use itself up to protect the main plant.

Comment Re:This is actually pretty scary (Score 1) 344

The problem here is the forensic technicians. Every single one of them needs to be fired.

Indeed. With few exceptions, every scientific instrument that uses fluids is wildly inaccurate. (Precise as hell, but inaccurate.) That means pH meters, gas chromatographs, mass spectrometers, biomolecule sequencers, you name it. To get reliable measurements, you have to run an end-to-end calibration at least every few test runs. For ultra-trace detection, like DNA and high-potency drugs, often every single sample needs to be calibrated.

Failure to do this on such an epic level draws all results of all the labs into question. Even in an academic lab, getting caught at this would be a career limiting move.

Comment Re:Is it even POSSIBLE to waive the 5th? (Score 1) 767

This case is more like, if I ask you a question, you provide an answer, and then later I ask you the same question. You can't claim the 5th this time around, because you've already provided the answer.

Yes, you can. The 5th Amendment does not protect privacy or secrecy, it controls the actions that the government is allowed to take. The government can never compel incriminating testimony. Period. You can carve a murder admission onto a bailiff with an icepick one day, and then the next day refuse to repeat the statements and the government cannot compel you to.

If this were not the case, then any statement that merely suggested guilt would justify torture to extract all guilts. This is not melodrama. The Puritan exiles to America made this rule to prevent the system they were fleeing, a system where a minor infraction would be noted, and the defendant would be dragged before a court and asked to take an oath of total innocence. If they took the oath, the infraction was brought out and they, being guilty, were tortured to extract proof of all other guilts. Thanks to them, incriminating yourself does not grant the government one iota of power to extract further incrimination.

"No person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself ..."

Power

Energy Star Program Needs an Overhaul 306

Martin Hellman writes "DeviceGuru.com ran my piece raising questions about the EPA's Energy Star program. For example, an Energy Star compliant TV that claims to draw 0.1 watts in sleep mode appears to do that — but only seems to sleep about 25% of the time that it is 'off.' The other 75% of the time it draws about 20 watts, for an effective sleep power draw from the user's perspective that is 150 times what the manufacturer claims. Based on the observations described, it is also questionable how many PC's really are sleeping when their screens are blank, even if the user has turned sleep mode on. Given the billions of dollars and tons of CO2 that are at stake, this situation demands more attention."

Comment Re:Infrastructure! (Score 1) 213

... so the Minneapolis I-35 bridge collapses ...

The I-35 bridge collapsed because of a design flaw. (Mostly. The inspection engineers had a case of tunnel vision.)

We don't have local radio now - all programming is run by conglomerates. If that rail car in Fargo derails and leaks methylisocyanate - there is no way to warn the locals.....

You mean besides the Emergency Alert System, which is required by law to be supported by a wide variety of radio transmitters.

Comment Re:Uhno (Score 1) 191

One of the more mind blowing things I read in 2008 was the discovery of a third type of visual receptor besides rods and cones. Essentially there's a third type of receptor that only detects sort of gross levels of light, and feeds directly into the system which regulates your circadian rhythm and is used for some other purposes.

Those are the photosensitive retinal ganglion cells. In addition to driving the circadian rhythm generators, they also control pupil size in response to light. IIRC, research in cats found that they do connect to the visual cortex, although how the signals are perceived is not yet known.

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