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Comment A puzzle for you (Score 5, Interesting) 107

Here's a thought problem for you.

Modern humans descended from ape-like creatures on the order of 3 million years ago. Bonobos are further back on the evolutionary scale, call it 5 million years before they become intelligent (massive guesstimate).

Suppose we leave the planet. Would the Bonobos be able to determine that another intelligent species came before them? I can think of no place on the planet that wouldn't wear down and wash away the signs of our civilization.

Suppose we leave the planet, but would like to leave a message. Where should we put it, and in what form? I can think of no place on the planet that would be safe from erosion, and any satellite orbit would decay long before 5 million years had passed. (LAGEOS 1 was predicted to remain in orbit for 8.4 million years, but may only last a couple of hundred thousand years.)

Now consider the reverse. Suppose there was an intelligent species on Earth before us. Where could we look for evidence? If they left a message for us; assuming that they want it found, where would it be?

Comment Probably a non-issue (Score 1) 251

There are a few reasons more likely than the simply no longer supporting XP at all:

* Perhaps this release changes nothing that is relevant to XP. Perhaps all the changes are in codepaths only touched under DX10 or later which is irrelevant to XP.

* Perhaps the early testing was done on limited systems. OK so it is odd for a platform to be ignored in beta tests, but I perhaps if the expected impact on XP is low or zero (see above) they didn't publically release the alpha for XP and someone forgot to update the release details for the beta.

... to state two.


While XP's market share is dropping rapidly now, there are still plenty of home installs out there - plenty enough that ATI/AMD aren't going to risk creating uproar by not supporting them until the official death date from MS (April next year).

Comment Some more (Score 3, Interesting) 458

Here's some trends I've noticed. Every time some politically-charged issue springs up, certain predictable actions seem to bog down debate:

1) Pointing out typos in the article summary or parent poster

Especially when the respondent makes their own typos while picking apart the OP. The flurry of people jumping on board to correct this can be enormous, and push valuable discussion down below the screen, where it has little chance of being seen.

2) Revising someone's analogy

Someone makes an analogy, so someone *else* has to make a better one. If the revised analogy is flawed, again the flurry of people jumping on board to correct this can be enormous and push valuable discussion down the page.

(Maybe when someone makes a bad analogy we should just say "no, it's not like that" and let it go?)

2) Saying it's our fault

I really hate this one. Invariably, someone will come along and say "it's our own fault because we voted for these people". This completely exonerates the politicians involved and makes everyone feel a little bit guilty - and at the same time it defuses calls for action, suggestions for improvement, and the like. "The best way is to use the power of the vote", setting aside that a) much of the time it's an unelected bureaucrat, b) the vote has been hijacked by special interests, and c) even if it were true, we should also be discussion other possible options.

Comment Methodology of poll (Score 4, Insightful) 458

The poll asks two questions:

On another subject, from what you've heard and read, do you think the release of classified documents about the State Department and U.S. diplomacy by WikiLeaks serves the public interest or harms the public interest?

Do you think the United States should try to arrest the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange (Ah-SANGH), and charge him with a crime for releasing these documents, or do you think this is not a criminal matter?

Not blatantly misleading, but there is the distinct odor of bias in these questions, especially when asked one after the other.

The first question didn't directly ask what people thought, it asked them to conclude based on what the media presents. This is very different from an opinion poll. (From what *I've* heard and read, he is a criminal, but when I add experience, logic, and ethics I conclude that he is a hero.)

Then they present the second question in a leading manner by highlighting criminality several ways. "Arrest-Charge-Crime-or-Not-Crime - what do you think?" (A recent poll asked people if "Ben Ghazi" should be deported for his crimes, and many people said "yes, definitely!". It's easy to lead people into the position you want by framing it in the right way.)

Biasing the 1st question the other way might be something like:

Do you believe releasing the documents will make our country stronger?

An unbiased way to do the 2nd question might be something like:

Do you believe Julian Assange is a hero or a criminal?

I agree with the 1st reply-poster above: WaPo is a rag, and these polls hold little merit.

Comment Mercenary outlook (Score 4, Interesting) 208

This seems a rather mercenary outlook to me. You are asking for suggestions on how to spend your spare time with the goal of keeping yourself employed, without regard to whether you would enjoy the subject or process.

I'm all for goal-driven careers, but studies show that the most successful people are the ones who like what they do. It largely doesn't matter whether the skill is the most "in demand", it only matters whether the skill is in demand "enough". This is illustrated by successful people in (what we would consider) pedestrian careers such as furniture sales, property rental, or owning the local laundromat (which, BTW, is the most common way to be successful).

The first step is discovering what you enjoy. The easiest way to do this is to spend 1 hour in quiet solitude. This is unexpressibly difficult if you've never tried it - you need a situation which has no interruptions whatsoever (kids, phone calls, other people), and you need to stick with it for the duration. Solo long road trips, long walks, hiking, and biking work well for this.

For the first 1/2 hour your head will be full of day-to-day thoughts, reminders, personal maintenance, reviewing memories, and so on. After awhile, this will quiet down and your mind will start to wander. Whatever you think about most is likely your source of joy.

Figure out some skill that feeds into your joy, choose a project that requires this skill and which also feeds into joy, and resolve to complete the project by the end of summer. Write the goal down (this part is important!) with as much detail as you can, stick it in an envelope, and put it away for later.

Your brain has likes and dislikes, as well as a goal-setting mechanism that you can use to your advantage. If you want to be happy, you should start the process of being happy right now, while you still have leisure to do so.

(Oh, and to answer your question: I'm writing a paper on hard AI.)

Comment Re:Wrong by law (Score 1) 601

He is merely wrong by law, not by morality. If I might remind the slashdot crowd: authority is doing what you are told, regardless of what is right; morality is doing what is right, regardless of what you are told.

Being an independent thinker, I side with morality, and therefore he is a hero.

To quote the excellent Rap News 19: Whistleblower:

Some praise these acts as heroic, worthy of mimicking
Others condemn them as illegal and prohibited
But, can't both be equally applicative?

To be good humans we're sometimes
called upon to be bad citizens.
Some nations were even born by
breaking laws of the tyrannous.

Do you support heroes from days of yore
who in order to cause reforms disobeyed the law?
Then what about those in the present
who heed the same call?

Comment Re:GPL "Infection" (Score 1) 224

The GPL is all about preserving access to code. If you use GPL code, you have to publish that code. If you make changes to it, you need to publish those changes as well. This is to stop people "proprieterizing" GPLed code by making a few incompatible changes and releasing it.

Well then the GPL has failed because that is exactly what these people are doing. They're altering the GPL code, offloading code to proprietary files, then releasing the whole thing as a finished product. I presume this can be done with split .c files as well, in which case the GPL has this flaw from the start.

Submission + - Want NSA Attention? Use Encrypted Communications (informationweek.com) 1

CowboyRobot writes: Bad news for fans of anonymizing Tor networks, PGP and other encryption services: If you're attempting to avoid the National Security Agency's digital dragnet, you may be making yourself a target, as well as legally allowing the agency to retain your communications indefinitely — and even use them to test the latest code-breaking tools. Those revelations come via leaked documents that detail the operating guidelines for secret NSA surveillance programs authorized by Congress in 2008. Those documents include a one-page memorandum from a U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) judge, saying that the guidelines don't violate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.

Submission + - 51% of IT Pros Admit That Their Companies Are Being Pwned (carbonblack.com)

rmurph04 writes: According to identity management firm Cyber-Ark's Global Advanced Threat survey, 51 percent of business executives and IT professionals believe a cyber attacker is currently on their network or has been on their network during the last year. Another key finding from the report was that 80 percent of respondents believe cyber attacks are a greater threat to their countries than a physical attack.

Submission + - Citrix XenServer open sourced (paritynews.com)

hypnosec writes: Citrix has released XenServer 6.2 and with that has open sourced its product and made it available through a new website – XenServer.org. XenServer, which has been a mixture of proprietary tools from Citrix and open source components, comprises of Xen hypervisor running on a modified version of the CentOS Linux alongside specialized user tools. Citrix describes its latest move as a step to fend off the "confusion created amongst developers and users" of the product.

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