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Comment Think About It This Way (Score 5, Insightful) 656

The verdict is: it's important.

I have two resumes in front of me. I need someone who can write some fairly complicated software. Are they writing the kernel to an operating system? No. But they'll be making complexity decisions between a server and a client. Not exactly new or novel but important to me and my clients.

So I look at one resume and the guy has suffered through integration by parts, linear algebra, differential equations and maybe even abstract algebra. The other guy went to a programming trade school where those are not taught. The trade school likely taught inheritance, pointers, typecasting, and all that good stuff just like the Bachelor's of Science degree would.

Now do my solutions need integration by parts, linear algebra and differential equations? Absolutely not. But if I'm going to pick between the two, I'm going to take the applicant that solved more difficult problems in order to make it to a class. Few people actually care about those concepts deep in their hearts -- and I'm sure neither of my prospective employees did. But in that same vein, no rational developer is going to care at all that my client likes to be able to drag and drop files instead of doing file navigation to find the files he wants. But I want the applicant who's going to do the inane stuff that he doesn't personally view as important.

Challenge yourself. Take the math courses. Take the logic courses. Take the statistics and combinatorics courses. Take the finite automata courses. Prove to yourself that there are no obstacles in your way. They are a great expense of time now but they are a huge investment in yourself -- no matter how pointless they appear to you.

If I had understood what I was doing, maybe I wouldn't mind so much.

You should attack this problem two different ways: 1) increase the amount of time you allot to your own personal enrichment in these topics/courses (three hours is very little time if you are approaching new concepts in math) and 2) seek outside instruction as it's also possible you have a professor who doesn't understand what they're doing either (the teaching, not the subject matter).

Comment Hammond Versus Barrett (Score 1) 192

The more I read about what these guys were doing--and I mean the stuff they've admitted to, not just been accused of--the more I think they are getting what they deserve. Breaking into someone's network to get at information that the public should know is political. Breaking into someones network and racking up charges on personal credit card numbers is criminal. They're like the idiots that smash store windows during street protests.

I agree they are not the good guys. But I also think it's important to mete out justice based on who was doing what. I hope in street protests when windows are smashed that the vandals are correctly identified and brought to justice. Similarly, I hope they find who are responsible for the credit card thefts but it appears Hammond is not and there are reports he did not benefit personally from this intrusion:

Barrett Brown of Dallas, Texas is expected to stand trial starting this September for a number of charges, including one relating to the release of Stratfor subscribers’ credit card numbers. He faces a maximum of 100 years in prison.

More here.

Comment Post Facto Economic Impact -- Not Productivity (Score 4, Insightful) 87

Switching to GIMP, my productivity is about to go through the roof!

It's not about productivity, it's about economic impact. The article is kind of tongue in cheek poking fun of BSA's erroneous numbers manipulation to show that "properly licensed software" contributes oh so much to the economy. For clear reasons, your switch to GIMP from (presumably) a proprietary software alternative wouldn't move you from one column to the other unless you were to somehow pirate GIMP. While pirating GIMP is possible, you'd like just install it legally by downloading it with references to the GPLv3 license. Whether or not you believe it, GIMP with a copy of the GPLv3 is actually properly licensed software -- putting it in the column of the nebulous cloud of software that the BSA claims inflates our world economy to staggering heights.

To try to quantify the "productivity" of GIMP versus something else like photoshop would likely be subjective, nebulous and not 1 to 1. This isn't about productivity, it's about piracy. The author is pointing out how much of the mad moneys comes from open source software and all but accuses the BSA of co-opting that figure to appear to be their own work.

Submission + - Jeremy Hammond of LulzSec Pleads Guilty to Stratfor Attack (salon.com)

eldavojohn writes: After facing thirty years to life imprisonment and pleading not guilty to charges last year, Jeremy Hammond has pleaded guilty to his alleged involvement in Anonymous' hacking of Stratfor. The self proclaimed hacktivist member of LulzSec who has compared himself to the late Aaron Swartz explained his reasoning in his plea: "Today I pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This was a very difficult decision. I hope this statement will explain my reasoning. I believe in the power of the truth. In keeping with that, I do not want to hide what I did or to shy away from my actions. This non-cooperating plea agreement frees me to tell the world what I did and why, without exposing any tactics or information to the government and without jeopardizing the lives and well-being of other activists on and offline. During the past 15 months I have been relatively quiet about the specifics of my case as I worked with my lawyers to review the discovery and figure out the best legal strategy. There were numerous problems with the government’s case, including the credibility of FBI informant Hector Monsegur. However, because prosecutors stacked the charges with inflated damages figures, I was looking at a sentencing guideline range of over 30 years if I lost at trial. I have wonderful lawyers and an amazing community of people on the outside who support me. None of that changes the fact that I was likely to lose at trial. But, even if I was found not guilty at trial, the government claimed that there were eight other outstanding indictments against me from jurisdictions scattered throughout the country. If I had won this trial I would likely have been shipped across the country to face new but similar charges in a different district. The process might have repeated indefinitely. Ultimately I decided that the most practical route was to accept this plea with a maximum of a ten year sentence and immunity from prosecution in every federal court. Now that I have pleaded guilty it is a relief to be able to say that I did work with Anonymous to hack Stratfor, among other websites. Those others included military and police equipment suppliers, private intelligence and information security firms, and law enforcement agencies. I did this because I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors. I did what I believe is right."

Comment And What of the Natural Salts and Minerals? (Score 2) 325

We have reverse-osmosis filtering system on the water source for the humidifiers for the environmental chambers in the test lab at work. It's not unknown technology. The old-fashioned alternative is a still.

Are these breweries currently using unfiltered, unpurified water?

As someone who consumes large amounts of beer, there are salts and minerals that exist in the water that come from certain aquifers that are actually desired to be in place for the beer and can have a negative or positive effect on the yeast. An adequate amount of calcium, magnesium, and zinc is necessary for some of the yeast’s metabolic paths. I believe most brewers add in these things to aid the yeast as much or as little as they want but I am almost certain that RO would completely remove any of this out of the water along with anything bad.

This becomes especially apparent when a very large brewery like Anheuser-Busch or SABMiller buys out a smaller brewery like Leinenkugel's and moves production from Wisconsin to Missouri or where ever it is most convenient for their supply lines. Often they keep the same formula, make little adjustments to it and rely on brand loyalty. And as someone who has consumed vast amounts of Leinies in Chippewa Falls, WI and also on the east coast, I can tell you right now that Leinies out here tastes like shit and I'd much prefer Yuengling, Troegs or any of the more local breweries.

And my suspicions are that they take shit water, put it through RO and don't or can't make proper adjustments to add sconnie minerals resulting in an inferior product. Don't get me wrong, I love RO water. I worked at restaurant that only served triple reverse osmosis water and then added some salts and minerals post process and holy hell that was the most refreshing thing I've ever drank. But these breweries are operating on top of hundreds of years of adjustments to their local aquifers and just asking them to insert RO water into their process is probably harder said than done.

Comment Define "Legitimate" (Score 5, Insightful) 426

What I feel sorry for is any researcher who wants to do some genuine research into cold fusion.

The trick is that you don't put your conclusion before your hypothesis. "Cold fusion" is the conclusion, or the result, of the whole process that would result in your utopian revolutions (again, something that is post conclusion or desired symptoms of the result of this sort of research). When your research begins by you working backwards, that's when the red flags should go up because there is no logical way to work backwards. Sometimes a sci-fi author will imagine something but it takes a very talented scientist/research/inventor/engineer/whatever to go from hypothesis to that end construct -- even then there's often a slight catch or permutation of nonfiction idea.

What this paper appears to do is formalize observations ... which is great (any more transparency is always welcomed). But it's also curious, wouldn't you say? We've been hearing about this for years now and no one can tell me what, exactly, is going on in this solution filled chamber. The critics are rightly asking questions about why the next steps aren't being taken (like getting real world measurements on its power draw versus its power emission). And are suspicious not of the data that is provided by this paper but of the data that aren't provided and would be obviously interesting.

The fear is that Rossi stumbled upon a neat trick that is just not sustainable but he realizes that if he controls the parameters on the experiments, he can make it look like this thing works. Then he rakes in billions and walks away from any involvement in it. It is suspicious because it's being conducted at a university that should be making obvious logical steps forward. Yet we continually only see "demonstrations" like his "public displays" and "observations" like this paper.

My charges are still borderline character assassination/ad hominem and this could very well work. But I've had enough talk of what is "perceived to happen" and I'm afraid that someone has a really neat trick that they've already thoroughly investigated and figured out why it works. And maybe it even fooled them in the beginning. But truly there is no good way to monetize this trick. So they give everyone else only enough information to make them think that it works. Then they capitalize on this public interest and walk away from it just before the reveal.

If not, I apologize but I also wouldn't be buying into this idea until we start with a hypothesis and tests are reproduced around the world and the true reason behind this anomaly is well understood and indeed a good energy answer. It's totally possible he doesn't know yet and his greed is the reason we only get tastes of this device. If that's true, however, we still don't know if it's a good answer to our energy addiction.

I only hope there are enough details in this paper for other researchers around the world to better reproduce and analyze these results. I'm sorry if this is just a matter of an ill-equipped laboratory at Bologna University but with all the interest this has generated, I would be surprised if that was reason.

In conclusion, start with a hypothesis, openly publish your methods and results. Wait for others to reproduce. Your rigor and its results will be your vindication if you fear being attacked for doing research. Just don't start your research by saying, "I'm going to make cold fusion and cheap energy is just ten years away." That's when you're openly attacked for good reason -- that's not science, those are words that you spout to get money.

Comment WGET? The Devil's Tool! (Score 5, Funny) 120

Lee added that the Scripps Hackers eventually used Wget to find and download "the Companies' confidential files." (Wget was the same tool used by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg in the film The Social Network to collect student photos from various Harvard University directories.) The rest of the letter pretty much blamed the "Scripps Hackers" for the cost of breach notifications, demanded Scripps hand over all evidence as well as the identity and intentions of the hackers, before warning that Scripps will be sued.

Folks, there was a big bad security breach. Now, *adjusts his massive belt buckle* we're investigating this like we would any other serious crime. And right now we're just trying to identify weapons used in this heinous attack. Now, we've discovered that the hackers were using a very vicious mechanism in this attack. In a murder, you might find a revolver used to put two bullets into the back of a poor old defenseless lady's skull in order to get all her coupons and a couple of Indian head pennies out of her purse. Or perhaps in a pedophile case, you'll find the "secret candy" that was used to lure the children into a white panel van with painted over windows.

*expels a long tortured sigh*

Well, I gotta say, in my thirty years on the force, I wish we were only dealing with something like that today, honest to God Almighty I really do. Instead this artifact was discovered at the scene of the crime. Now, I'm not asking you to understand that -- hell, I'd warn you against even openin' up your browser to the devil's toolbox. But let me, a trained law enforcement professional, take the time to explain the gruesome evidence just one HTTP request away from you and your chillun'. The page is black. Black as a moonless night sky when raptors swoop from the murky inky nothing to take your kids and livestock back up with them silently. On it is a bunch of white text that makes no sense to any God fearun' man on this here Earth. That's what they call a "man page" probably because it is the ultimate culmination of man's sin and lo and behold it displays a guide to exact torture on innocent web servers across this great and holy internet.

Even if you want to use this "man page" for WGET to learn how to use Satan's server scythe, you would have to read through almost twenty pages of incomprehensible technobabble like what that kraut over in Cali -- the one who took his wife's life -- spoke. And if you want to just see an example, it's not at the top! No, why, it's all the way down at the bottom. For this one, they don't even have examples. Just enough options to kill a man. Probably gave Steve Jobs cancer, they never proved all these options in these pages didn't. Buried in the mud of a thousand evils lie more evils.

And why, oh why are we even wasting taxpayer money on these Scripps Journos? Who needs a trial when the evidence is in the tools they used? Folks, I think it's time we WGET one last thing, I'll WGET a rope and you WGET your pitchforks and torches ... let's go down to Scripps and put all this computer business behind us. Okay?

Comment I Guess This Is Allowed Now? (Score 3, Informative) 43

Sorry to respond to my own comment but for Ben Rothke it looks like he just reposts his Amazon reviews here:

Book Review: The Plateau Effect: Getting From Stuck To Success is identical to this Amazon review.

Book Review: The Death of the Internet is identical to this Amazon review.

Book Review: Everyday Cryptography is identical to this Amazon review.

Book Review: Liars and Outliers is identical to this Amazon Review.

It just keeps going ...

Comment Also a Violation of the /. Book Review Guidelines (Score 3) 43

I post this having not read a single page of this book. I was interested in getting this book for my attorney wife. When looking at it on AMAZON.COM, I noticed that the post here is a copy of only ONE of TWO reviews the book has on Amazon.com. The other review is HORRIBLE. http://www.amazon.com/Locked-Down-Information-Security-Lawyers/product-reviews/1614383642/ref=cm_cr_dp_qt_hist_one?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addOneStar&showViewpoints=0 Read/order with caution.

As someone who occasionally writes reviews for Slashdot (and usually reads all of the ones posted), this is a clear violation of the book review guidelines:

First, an important one: by submitting your review to Slashdot, you represent that the review is your own work, that it is original to Slashdot, and that it is unencumbered by any existing or anticipated contractual relationship; further, you are granting Slashdot permission to publish your review, including any editing the Slashdot editorial team finds necessary and appropriate. (Major edits will involve consultation by email or other means.) If you've reviewed the book elsewhere anywhere besides a personal home page (for instance, on Amazon) please be sure that your review for Slashdot is substantially different.

(emphasis mine) There is no difference that I can see ...

Comment And Yet You STILL Refuse to Name Them? (Score 4, Interesting) 84

No, of course not. And once I left the country, all attempts to do any formal charges simply disappeared because there was no way that they could do any formal charges. They had no evidence. They had nothing on me other than I refused to give a $2 million donation back in 2012. You know, so all they can do now is cause me a little bit of chaos and inconvenience, which I think they can cause me no more now.

As I tried to ask during the first interview who are these people? What have you got to lose in naming them right now? Do they have power in the United States? What's holding you back?!

They can cause you no more chaos or inconvenience and yet you refuse to name them -- WHY? This could only be further evidence in your accusations! Do I have to buy your book to find out or something?

Comment Brain Dead Action Trumps Philosophy & Ethics (Score 4, Insightful) 514

I haven't seen Into Darkness but a lot of this review covered what was painfully realized in the first movie: no longer is Trek about philosophy, ethics, tolerance, gray areas and real world problems. It's mostly absolute good versus absolute evil. I think the driving force behind the bad guy in the first movie was largely a misunderstanding ... which is incredibly boring. His motivation was confusingly laughable.

Unsurprisingly I'm pretty sure I heard JJ Abrams tell Jon Stewart that "he never liked Star Trek" on The Daily Show. Well, now he's had a chance to kill it by turning it 100% into a modern day blockbuster action flick and shirking any attempt to tackle an interesting philosophical or ethical dilemma as the main plot. As the modern reemergence of comic book and super hero movies have shown, those films are a dime a dozen that anyone can do. Tackling something deeper while still holding our attention is the hard part. The Watchmen was a good candidate for it but fell short. I'm sure JJ Abrams would rather cover up the complicated parts that question good versus evil with another lens flare.

Comment No. Bad Conclusion. Bad. (Score 4, Informative) 116

The finding overturns the notion that this repetitive, non-coding DNA, popularly called 'junk' DNA, is necessary for life.

False. Unsurprisingly, nowhere in the paper was this dubious claim even approached. Instead you can find this even in the summary:

However, extreme genome size reductions have been reported in the angiosperm family tree.

Emphasis mine. And then further into the actual paper:

Relaxed selection pressure for unnecessary functions probably led to gene losses, whereas in other cases, gene family expansions may have been promoted by selection. Evidence for localized selection on the U. gibba gene complement, however, does not provide support for the existence of genome-wide selective forces that might favour reduction of nonessential, non-coding DNA.

There would likely be no bladderwort had there been no junk DNA in its ancestral line and other findings point to such noncoded DNA as necessary for evolution.

I believe a more prudent falsifiable hypothesis would run along the lines of (and I'm sorry, I'm only a software developer): Due to relaxed external selective pressures the bladderwort's RNA polymerase has become adept at writing coding errors to the 3% noncoded DNA during replication and this actually still serves a vital function -- especially if the bladderwort is to survive in a much larger window than a few generations.

Comment And You Are Some Magic Insect Sorting Entity? (Score 4, Informative) 626

I say "Because OMFG, gross!!!"

If you live in the United States, you likely already engage in accidental entomophagy. Allow me to introduce you to the USDA's guide to what are the acceptable levels of insects in your food. Go head and CTRL+F on that page for 'insects.'

Having particularly good eyesight, I don't think I've ever eaten a blackberry that didn't have thrips or aphids on it. Guess what? They're delicious on blackberries!

Of course, getting my Wilderness Survival merit badge on my way to Eagle Scout gave me the opportunity to forage for edible insects and I would actually recommend the fly larvae that attach to grassland stalks and form 'bulbs' around them. Taste like walnuts! Too bad it takes forever to harvest them or I'd make a product out of that for the granola-brains community.


"Dramatic Decline" Warning For Plants and Animals 696

An anonymous reader writes "Worldwide levels of the chief greenhouse gas that causes global warming have hit a milestone, reaching an amount never before encountered by humans, federal scientists said. Carbon dioxide was measured at 400 parts per million at the oldest monitoring station in Hawaii, which sets the global benchmark. More than half of plants and a third of animal species are likely to see their living space halved by 2080 if current trends continue."

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