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Comment Re:Ending with? (Score 1) 365

' . . . ending with the proof of self being required at polling places, to rent a house, buy a gun, open a bank account, acquire credit, board a plane or even attend a sporting event or log on the internet.'

Ending with? I think in my state (plus federal laws/reg) we've got at least 4 of those already. And that's not counting opening an account with the gas company.

It's so hard to craft sarcasm in writing so that it's recognized for what it is.

Security

Submission + - Password hacking 101 (arstechnica.com) 1

RNLockwood writes: Ars Technica published an article about password hackingin which the author explained how he learned to hack passwords using the most simple tools available to a neophyte. Hacker who do this for profit use lists of hashed passwords and user name that have been 'liberated' from companies and sold or posted at certain websites. Longer passwords grow exponentially harder to crack than short ones(it takes much, much, longer) but computing power increases much more slowly. At my work we have several passwords and the one with the most stringent requirements must be exactly 12 characters long, have upper and lower case, etc., must be changed every two months, and can't be repeated for a 24 password cycle. It's difficult to create acceptable passwords that both meet the requirements and can be remembered.
Media

Roku Finally Gets a 2D Menu System 80

DeviceGuru writes "Many of us have griped for years about Roku's retro one-dimensional user interface. Finally, in conjunction with the release of the new Roku 3 model, the Linux-based media streaming player is getting a two-dimensional facelift, making it quicker and easier to access favorite channels and find new ones. Current Roku users, who will now begin suffering from UI-envy, will be glad to learn that Roku plans to push out a firmware update next month to many earlier models, including the Roku LT, Roku HD (model 2500R), Roku 2 HD, Roku 2 XD, Roku 2 XS, and Roku Streaming Stick. A short demo of the new 2D Roku menu system is available in this YouTube video."

Comment Re:30 years? try 60 (Score 2) 161

How about that! Some time around 1945-1948 my mother objected to me reading comics and I replied that there was a stamp/icon on then that said that some educational group approved the comics. She must have rolled her eyes. I had quit reading them before 1954. There was a great rise of "juvenile delinquency", especially in cities, at that time and "experts" came up with all sorts of reasons, completely untested reasons mostly. We now know that much if it was due to lead from leaded gasoline and from leaded paint in the environment.

Comment Re:30 years? try 60 (Score 2) 161

Were people really saying that about comic books 50 years ago? I sure don't remember that but then I was in the Navy and mostly out of the US. Of course they were saying that reading lots of comics might stifle ones reading ability (include TV here). They were right about TV IMHO.

The Hays code was expressly designed to ensure movies were not sending a message of immorality - which kinda translates to "don't show or imply anything which might suggest sex" and make sure everything is in "good taste".

Comment Re:Same old same old (Score 1) 277

It should be noted: “relative to the private sector, the federal workforce is less than half the size it was back in the 1950s and 1960s”

Does the "federal workforce" referred to in that article refer only to people who work directly for the government? Afaict there has been a trend away from the government directly paying people to do work for them and towards the government paying contractors to do it.

Yes, federal workforce are those civilians who receive a Federal paycheck, but that can include permanent full time, career conditional (not yet permanent), temp, term, part time, interns, students, and seasonal (I think that's most of the categories). Right now this may not include the Judicial system nor the Postal Service - I'm not certain. Some agencies make use of agencies that provide contract workers but they are not 'federal workers'. With sequestration agencies may need to cancel some contracts that provide workers (or goods and services) and many seasonal workers will not be hired.

I don't know how seasonals and workers other than permanent will be treated but expect that they can 'just' be let go more or less. There are also contracts for some jobs for "as needed" workers and I imagine that they won't be activated unless it's an emergency and then other employees man need to be furloughed to pay for them.

Comment Re:Same old same old (Score 2) 277

Whenever a government department is threatened with cuts, they announce that they'll cut front-line staff and not overpaid managers or worthless paper-pushers. That's why government spending expands forever until the economy collapses.

That's not how it works at all. First almost everyone is furloughed, that is, gets unpaid holidays. DoD will furlough their 800,000 civilian employees one day a week starting April 1. So 800,000 will loose 20% of their pay! Other Departments/Agencies my furlough more or less days per week or delay until after April 1. Of course employees don't spend what they don't get and the deductions for health plans and retirement stay the same. AFAIK the furloughs can last only 22 workdays or 30 calendar days and then a RIF (reduction in force starts automatically). When furloughs will start depends on the financial state of the Federal agency. Some, such as DoD will start at the earliest time, April 1. The Forest Service (US Dept. of Agriculture) will be able to hold off until 1 May or later, for instance.

The reduction in force list is developed mostly by formula and depends on skills, seniority, military service, etc. I think that most of the lists have been (or are being compiled) but not released. An employee on the RIF list can 'bump' a an employee not on the list if the employee is qualified for the position (some other conditions, too) and then that employee can bump someone else and so on. RIFs are expensive in present but will result in savings in the future.

It should be noted: “relative to the private sector, the federal workforce is less than half the size it was back in the 1950s and 1960s”
http://fcw.com/Articles/2012/09/13/Size-federal-workforce.aspx?Page=2

Comment Re:Horrible summary (Score 1) 350

This is one of the most horrible and stupidest summaries I've read in a long time. Enzymes are biochemical catalysts. Ethanol and acetaldehyde are substrates. The substrates get converted into end products with the help of enzymes and energy. Ethanol does not get converted *into* an enzyme known as acetaldehyde. Ethanol gets converted to acetaldehyde by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, through the loss of one hydrogen atom. In the next step, acetaldehyde gets converted into acetic acid (same thing as in vinegar) by the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase through the loss of another hydrogen atom. Acetaldehyde a lot more toxic than acetic acid. If you block the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (which lacks naturally in a minority of East Asians), there will be an accumulation of excess acetaldehyde, causing very noxious symptoms. This is exactly what drugs like disulfiram ("antabuse") do. What a badly written summary. Both the submitter and the editor need to read some biochemistry or learn to use google before posting rubbish.

Right on!

Comment That question was asked in the mid '70s (Score 2) 605

In the mid '70s when I was in grad school there was a discussion about whether education standards had been lowered and the general opinion was "yes". It was pointed out that the average grades in particular high school and university classes had been rising and that increasing numbers of freshmen were required to take make up courses in "language arts" as they couldn't write well. It was suggested that the proficiency level in the 2nd year of university corresponded to the proficiency level of high school graduates from 20 or 30 years before. One would think that the decline would have bottomed out by now; perhaps part of this perception of decline is just perception.

On the other hand this decline appears to be correlated with the "baby boomer" explosion and the introduction television in every household.

There must still be some records around of the required proficiency in written language skill from previous decades which could be compared with today's.

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