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Comment yay for pre-emptive flood prep (Score 1) 85

I work in south Longmont. Where I cross the Boulder Creek, it's usually 3 meters wide and so shallow the rocks on the bottom emerge from the surface of the water. When I was hauling out yesterday after our workplace got an evacuation notice, the creek was a kilometer wide, backed up against the bridge, which is probably 15 meters wide by two meters deep.
Longmont spent eighteen months reworking the Lefthand Creek drainage, deepening it and tearing out all the trees beside it, through the middle of the city. At the time, local citizens were outraged at the expense, writing nasty letters to the newspaper and showing up at city council meetings yelling about what a waste of money it was and how debit spending was the devil. Lefthand filled right up to the top and moved like a freight train, but didn't overtop through much of the town. The place where they stopped the rework, and the creek returns to its shallow, cottonwood-tree-filled drainage, is where it spread out and started flooding basements, according to pictures my friends who live there are sending me. I'm hoping this experience will motivate the city of Boulder to do the same for Boulder Creek. One of my friends lived in a house across from Naropa University, right beside Boulder Creek, that had a big metal sign on the front warning the inhabitants that they lived in a flood zone. That should never happen. That should be parkland, not places where kids live. (She moved, thankfully, because that house had close to two meters of water in the main floor, from pictures I've seen, and I'd hate for her and her two toddlers to still be living there.)

Comment Re:Common arguments... (Score 1) 126

Cameras are only useful if you have someone to go through all the footage, and when the camera isn't the first thing to get vandalized.

But that's not the real problem as I see it. Endless traffic jams is what I envision, because autonomous systems have to err on the side of caution, and stop whenever they face something they haven't been programmed for. There is no such thing as an expert system with common sense.

Comment Re:Weird. (Score 1) 185

Also, the one in something like 30-billion chance that you contract it through a handshake? It hasn't ever been confirmed to happen but is theoretically possible. Also, I hope you don't use public toilets, because some HIV strains have been evolved which can survive for long periods in the open air on hard surfaces. Don't use public restrooms, don't touch handrails, etc.

Not everyone with HIV is gay (most aren't!), has "unsafe" sex, or does IV drugs.

Comment Re:Weird. (Score 1) 185

So you're not a dentist, a physician, surgeon, EMT, tattoist, piercer, virus technician, phlebotomist, LNA, RN, LPN, or a compassionate person with first aid skills so you would never, ever come into contact with anyone else's blood, and you're fortunate enough to never, ever need a transfusion, require dental work, or any surgery or injections? There are people who live straight-edge lives who have contracted HIV, you know - and that doesn't take into account rape victims, children of AIDS patients, and so on.

Also, HIV is prevalently a heterosexual disease now. It hasn't been a predominantly gay disease since the 1980s. FYI condoms are only 90% effective at best, so I hope your whores aren't infected.

Comment Re:Moo (Score 5, Informative) 273

"faculty who aren't on the tenure-track appear to do a better job at teaching freshmen undergraduates in their introductory courses than their tenured/tenure-track peers"

Emphasis mine.

That should not be extrapolated into tenured professors being worse teachers overall. I'm pretty certain that for advanced studies, the opposite is true, if nothing else because the untenured teachers don't have the same chance to specialize.

Comment Re:Look at the person's position... (Score 1) 524

And then please tell me what you all would expect her to say... Please! Knock me over with a feather!

"Okay, I'll do as you say, and grab my ankles. But please wear a condom?"

The only practical recourse I see is to challenge the demands as much as you're allowed to, and tell people as much as you can. And hope that the public one day will be more interested in their dwindling liberties than in Kardashians, price of gasoline and hoop ball.

In other words, it's fighting a losing battle. The nation is sinking, and probably has to reach bottom to find leverage to kick upwards. I don't see 'Tis of Thee returning to glory in my lifetime, nor that of our children. One day, though, there may be an Imperium Romanum 3.0 that does better.

Comment Boot from RAID 1 SSDs? (Score 2) 512

What about putting 2 SSDs into a software RAID 1 configuration? Does that solve the problem?

What you said is my experience, also. I haven't had catastrophic failure of a HDD in perhaps 20 years in a population of perhaps 15 computers. In my experience what most often fails is the HDD electronics, so it is possible to extract the data by temporarily replacing the HDD electronics with a circuit board from another, identical HDD. Also, of course, in the last 20 years we have replaced HDDs because of frequently replacing computers.

Submission + - Unintended Consequences: iPhone Fingerprint ID may Subvert 5th Amendment (wired.com)

FuzzNugget writes: Wired points out how the iPhone's fingerprint authentication brings to light a disconcerting technicality in the right against self incrimination that you might not have considered: "Because the constitutional protection of the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees that “no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,” may not apply when it comes to biometric-based fingerprints (things that reflect who we are) as opposed to memory-based passwords and PINs (things we need to know and remember)."

Given that the contents of your personal electronic devices are a collective product of your private thoughts and personal memories, shouldn't that right, by extension, apply regardless of the authentication system?

Submission + - The resignation letter of the year - current academia described as it really is (junod.info)

muecksteiner writes: Apparently, an EPFL PhD student recently resigned from his studies in disgust, and sent an open letter to all faculty to describe his motives for doing so. Even if the story of how the letter was written were to turn out to be not entirely true — the content certainly is. A depressing and unfortunately spot on accurate assessment of contemporary academia.

Submission + - New Report Of Poison Gas Use In Syria - 1,700 Years Ago (huffingtonpost.com)

cold fjord writes: The Huffington Post reports, "Even as Syrian President Bashar Assad faces international criticism over allegations of illegal chemical attacks, it appears the region may have seen chemical warfare as far back as 1,700 years ago. One of the earliest documented incidents of poison gassing may have occurred in an eastern Syrian province. ... Dr. Simon James came to his startling conclusion after reexamining the remains of about 20 Roman soldiers who died in a narrow space and under mysterious circumstances while defending their city from Persian attackers around 256 A.D. ... "For the Persians to kill 20 men in a space less than 2 meters high or wide, and about 11 meters long, required superhuman combat powers — or something more insidious," James said in a statement. "I think the [Persians] placed braziers and bellows in their gallery, and when the Romans broke through, added the chemicals and pumped choking clouds into the Roman tunnel. The Roman assault party were unconscious in seconds, dead in minutes.""

Submission + - Stealthy Dopant-Level Hardware Trojans 1

DoctorBit writes: A team of researchers funded in part by the NSF has just published a paper in which they demonstrate a way to introduce hardware Trojans into a chip by altering only the dopant masks of a few of the chip's transistors. From the paper:

Instead of adding additional circuitry to the target design, we insert our hardware Trojans by changing the dopant polarity of existing transistors. Since the modified circuit appears legitimate on all wiring layers (including all metal and polysilicon), our family of Trojans is resistant to most detection techniques, including fine-grain optical inspection and checking against "golden chips".

In a test of their technique against Intel's Ivy Bridge Random Number Generator (RNG) the researchers found that by setting selected flip-flop outputs to zero or one

Our Trojan is capable of reducing the security of the produced random number from 128 bits to n bits, where n can be chosen.

They conclude that

Since the Trojan RNG has an entropy of n bits and [the original circuitry] uses a very good digital post-processing, namely AES, the Trojan easily passes the NIST random number test suite if n is chosen sufficiently high by the attacker. We tested the Trojan for n = 32 with the NIST random number test suite and it passed for all tests. The higher the value n that the attacker chooses, the harder it will be for an evaluator to detect that the random numbers have been compromised.

Submission + - 2001: Richard Stallman warns of government surveillance overreach after 9/11

An anonymous reader writes: After seeing an article from the immediate aftermath of 9/11 on the 'This Day on Slashdot' sidebar today, I decided to browse the archives and take a look at what was posted around the same time. It was oddly nostalgic; apart from coverage of the attacks, there's news of the Nintendo GameCube being released, and of Star Wars: Episode I arriving on DVD. There are also headlines about concerns of privacy vs. security in the new age of terrorism, and one piece that stands out is Richard Stallman's article on the potential loss of civil liberties in the wake of the tragedy. Written a month before the passage of the PATRIOT Act, and over a decade before anyone knew Edward Snowden's name, Stallman's words are nothing less than prophetic:

"If we are not careful, the deadly attacks on New York and Washington will lead to far worse secondary damage, if the U.S. Congress adopts 'preventive measures' that take away the freedom that America stands for. I'm not talking about searches at airports here. Searches of people or baggage for weapons, as long as they check only for weapons and keep no records about you if you have no weapons, are just an inconvenience; they do not endanger civil liberties. What I am worried about is massive surveillance of all aspects of life: of our phone calls, of our email, and of our physical movements... Even more ominously, a proposal to require government back doors in encryption software has already appeared."

Twelve years later, all of it has come true.

Submission + - We've Seen the Jobs Phone. Now It's Time for Woz's.

theodp writes: Over at Scripting News, Dave Winer has a hobbyist phone on his wish list. Innovative phone manufacturers, Winer suggests, should 'make a smart phone with a really great scripting language, with all kinds of scriptable tools on board. Instead of disallowing scripting, disallow apps that can't be scripted. Make a great simple programming environment that runs on desktops or laptops that plugs right in, but it should also be easy to write scripts on the phone itself. Dave concludes, "We've already seen the Jobs phone. Now it's time for Woz's." Having ditched App Inventor, it would appear that Google isn't interested. Microsoft Research has the idea, if not the right implementation, with TouchDevelop (video). Any other existing or in-the-works projects that might fit the bill?

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This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough hunchbacks.

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