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Comment Re:Good (Score 1) 491

The article you cite says his disclosures did not lead to any deaths of any military sources. Many believe Manning's leaks precipitated the Arab Spring which could have a death toll over 30,000. And it certainly crippled foreign relations (with the revelations in the e-mails) and may have made the US military and diplomatic processes somewhat less effective in areas where lives were and are at stake.

Also, whistle-blower laws are not automatic, (and I don't know if they should be). The fallout of the Snowden and Manning handling of secrets emphasizes my point. You have to report the crimes up the proper chain -- merely publicizing things you think may be whistle-blower protected is the wrong way to go about it. There are explicit paths required to report something covered by the MILITARY whistle-blower protection act complaints. Releasing classified information directly to the press or anyone public is simply not protected whistle-blower activity, particularly in military circles.

Lastly, it's not clear there were any war crimes. The Apache attacks, the most-cited "war crime" of many in the Manning list, while terrible in retrospect, are difficult to prosecute, and wide latitude is given to military personnel who believe their actions are legitimate. There WERE armed combatants on the ground, and the cameramen were easily perceived from the air as carrying RPGs rather than cameras. There is extensive coverage of this all around the web, including Wikipedia of course. This certainly could have been a war crime, but Manning could not have been certain.

Manning should have known all of this. He could have followed proper whistle-blower protocol. He chose not to. I'd have much more sympathy if he had originally tried the proper channels and was rebuffed, but that's not what happened (unless I missed something -- I'd love to be corrected here). I've seen no useful analysis of the Whistle-blower mechanisms because people don't seem to actually try them -- they circumvent the laws designed explicitly to give them protection then complain or seem surprised when they don't get that protection.

Submission + - Conflicting Views on the Science of Pain

ZahrGnosis writes: Popular Science, a stalwart of the scientific literature community, posted a couple of articles about pain research recently that are causing a bit of controversy. First, they posted an article titled Fetal Pain Is A Lie: How Phony Science Took Over The Abortion Debate that argues fetuses don't feel pain at 20 weeks due to a scientific consensus that the nervous system is underdeveloped at that point. Ironically, this argument has been used for years in a different setting: to claim that crustaceans don't feel pain (justifying among other things the live boiling of lobster). But PopSci also posted an article titled Crabs And Lobsters Probably Do Feel Pain, According To New Experiments. And now there's mild internet flaming going on. I know Slashdot doesn't venture into the abortion arena much, and I'm not trying to wade into political territory so much as understand the competing scientific commentaries (in so much as fetuses and lobster can be compared). But mostly I'm just curious what the Slashdot crowd thought.

Comment Re:How'd the government know what they were Googli (Score 1) 923

I'm sorry, but your facts are wrong... this is the quote from Michele herself: "It was a confluence of magnificent proportions that led six agents from the joint terrorism task force to knock on my door Wednesday morning." (my emphasis). So yes, she mentioned the JTTF first, not the guardian.

We also now know that Michele was never the target, so knowing anything about her would not have helped the police remove her from suspicion; she was never suspected! It was her husband who was accused by a private company due to activity on the computer he used for work (no feds looking through their personal computer), who was for reasons unknown recently no longer employed by that company.

I'm amazed how much misinformation there is about this situation. I think we need to have sane limits in place and sane conversations about these issues... basing any conversations on incorrect facts does not help anyone.

Comment Re:Did you even RTFA? (Score 1) 923

Yep... more coverage seems to have filled in the gaps. I remain crow-free...

Suffolk County Criminal Intelligence Detectives received a tip from a Bay Shore based computer company regarding suspicious computer searches conducted by a recently released employee. The former employee’s computer searches took place on this employee’s workplace computer. On that computer, the employee searched the terms ‘pressure cooker bombs’ and ‘backpacks.’

After interviewing the company representatives, Suffolk County Police Detectives visited the subject’s home to ask about the suspicious internet searches. The incident was investigated by Suffolk County Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Detectives and was determined to be non-criminal in nature.


Comment Re:How'd the government know what they were Googli (Score 1) 923

JTTF denies it. FBI denied it was involved but said it was Nassau and Suffolk county police, but Nassau has denied involvement and Suffolk is trying to confirm that they were not involved (I'm guessing they don't want to say they weren't involved and later have to recant). It's peculiar at best:

Comment Re:Did you even RTFA? (Score 1) 923

The article doesn't even say that... it quotes the FBI as saying it was the Nassau and Suffolk County Police, but according to this article at the gothamist, Nassau Police aren't aware of it.

Meanwhile, confusion reigns at the press offices for Nassau County and Suffolk County police. A press liaison for the Nassau County Police Department told us his phone's been ringing nonstop with inquiries. "I am trying to find out what's going on with this," he told me. "I was told that Nassau County police had absolutely no involvement in this whatsoever. I called the FBI field office in Melville and they knew nothing, the Joint Terrorism Task Force said they knew nothing. But a press rep for the FBI in NYC said Nassau County was involved, so I have to go up the chain to bigger people."

20 minutes later, another spokesperson for the Nassau County police department told me, "We contacted all our commands within the Nassau County Police Department. We did not visit this woman, and we do not know what police agency did visit her." The Suffolk County police department spokesperson said she was still trying to determine whether they were involved. The FBI press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Besides that, it was only speculation on the woman's part that her search results were related, due to the crock pot comment. I'm open to all the government criticism and even the rare conspiracy theory, but seriously this story has an odor... no corroboration, no evidence of cause or intent (even if we assume the visit happened)... it's a bit much to swallow.

If I eat crow later, that's fine, but I'd like more coverage.

Comment Re:Made Up Problem (see semantic web) (Score 1) 142

Yeah, I agree with mugnyte: there is no problem here. Move along.

Can you (siliconbits, or anyone) define the problem space better? What's wrong with the way they work now? Twitter Hashtags annoy some but work great for twitter. Everyone you listed has a different solution in place for tagging so... what's the issue? Why does there have to be only one solution?

Do you want a common HTML/RSS/W3C/whatever standard to define tags? Do you want centralized curated lists of tags that people must choose from? Do you want to make it somehow easier (than just typing "#", or typing a word in a box) to tag?

If you really look at good semantic web implementations -- such as Semantic wiki, you'll see some good ideas around a more "complete" semantic mechanism than tagging, but the two are basically mutually exclusive. What basic tags allow that a full semantic implementation does not is hyper-fast user-entered semantic content. This is not a shortcoming of tags, but their primary feature. It's one of the things that makes twitter so valuable (although one could argue it would still work without tagging)... people actually create and use tags all over the place.

So yeah... what, exactly, is the problem again?

Comment Or they choke you to death: (Score 2) 655

Which actually is an interesting problem. Bug legs are notoriously small, stiff and designed to stick to things... precisely the opposite of what you want going down your throat. Not insurmountable... as with bones in chickens it's going to come down to preparation (boneless) and making good choices (don't eat chicken bones).

And I don't know how I feel yet about getting wings stuck between my teeth like popcorn kernels.

But, you know... tradeoffs. ;-)

Comment Re:*happy campers* (Score 1) 121

I played ET for days trying to figure out WTF was going on. I still don't know. But I did, oddly, enjoy playing it and trying to figure it out.

Actually, that's something I liked about SC2 as well -- I lost the first time I played, after many hours of game-play. By the time you figure out you've lost in SC2, a salvageable save-game was so old as to be basically useless, since one forgets all the places they hadn't visited or what they had and had not yet done.

FWIW, I actually wondered if someone would mention ET when I made that post. Thanks. :-)

Comment *happy campers* (Score 1) 121

In complete agreement -- Star Control II was the best game ever. I normally don't fan-spam on /. but dagnabbit I just had to chime in.

Of course, someone should take odds on whether or not a reboot can come close to doing as well as the orignal (the original #2 that is.. StarCon was a fine but simplistic game and StarCon 3 did not exist. IT DID NOT EXIST I TELL YOU). Still, I'll play a sequel just on the chance it comes close.

Total Annihilation was one of my faves as well... along with absolutely everything Atari did in the 80s. How the mighty have fallen.

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 2) 445

Of course it's pollution. The first google'd definition is: "The presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects." (wikipedia's entry explicitly calls out light as a pollutant).

First, light is clearly a thing, and we've added it to an environment in which it would not have otherwise been. Second there are lots of studies that bright, constant lighting at all hours is harmful to the otherwise indigenous or natural ecosystems: light pollution has been linked to changes in melatonin production, problems with bird migration, sleep cycles in nocturnal animals, the ability of vulnerable animals to hide at night during normal foraging times. Here are a few links:

There are many many more. Sure some human benefits of illumination may outweigh these, such as safety, but with more options becoming available (more efficient, dimmer, more focused lights), those benefits can be had with a lower polluting impact. It's not just a problem for astronomers, although I would like to see the stars a bit better!

Comment I'd recommend LED Strips (Score 1) 445

You can get LED lighting fairly simply these days, and I think it's a lot better for outdoor use. Basically, think christmas tree lights but more subtle. You can get tubes or flatter strips that you can put pretty tastefully wherever you actually need to see. Consider lining walkways with dim LED strips rather than blasting everything with an obnoxious bright light. It's easy to attach them to deck rails or gutter lines. On a dark night they're enough to see what you're doing and where you're going and on a well moonlit night, well, you shouldn't need them. :-) You can light up a pergola well enough that you can sit and hold conversations quite comfortably... to me the softer lighter light feels more natural than a single bright beacon on a pole.

They also have the advantage of being long-living and low cost (typically as they're overall lower wattage than huge floods).

Search amazon for "rope light" or "led strip light". Pre-strung ropes with plugs are the simplest, but you can get long strips of light that you can daisy-chain which require special ballasts (AC adapters).

Comment Local vs. Hosted (Score 1) 196

The question doesn't really specify much about how VMs are used. I use a laptop and desktop with straight-booted Windows and Ubuntu for a variety of things, when I want a dedicated machine (normally either for video games or something CPU/GPU intense like Image/Video processing), but I host local VMs on those machines when I'm multi-tasking (which normally means programming or data manipulation on one hand and Netflix and web browsing on another).

BUT, I only use VMs on my "servers"... boxes with more consistent usage patterns, anyway. Mostly at this point I use Amazon EC2 which is virtual but kind of cheating since its easy to treat the machines like standalone remotely hosted entities. Still, technically that's all-VM all-the-time.

Comment Re:"I have done nothing wrong" (Score 1) 447

Oddly, I think you are correct but for the wrong reasons. The court seems to hold that Treason can only happen with "enemies" when war has been levied. Since the US is not at war with Russia or China (or the UK for that matter), Snowden is probably in the clear on Treason. If they were, however, providing classified information to them could qualify as giving "aid". As Snowden continually seems to consider himself an American, "adhering" is probably not going to stick in any case as well.

Still, the U.S. has not formally been at war since WWII, I believe, although congress has authorized military action since then, and it's unclear if those actions would qualify someone as an "enemy", for purposes of Treason. If it could be shown that Al-Qaeda, (for example, or someone with whom we're in military conflict, or someone who has declared war on the US even if we did not reciprocate formally), received this information and made use of it, would be the only plausible path I can see for a charge of Treason, which I suspect the courts would eventually deny. "Lesser" (than treasonous) criminal charges, on the other hand, are far more likely to succeed.

So, yes, I think he is in the clear, legally, on Treason.

WSJ recently had a good article on it:

Comment Re:To quote Einstein (Score 5, Insightful) 381

I think you're confusing feature-creep with a comment that was meant to be about edge-scenarios. Allowing someone to configure parameters that were never spec'ed to be configured is feature-creep (gold plating, extra coding, call it what you will), and I agree should be avoided and adds unnecessary (or not obviously necessary) "complexity".

Handling an edge criteria that was implied but not explicit in a specification is what is typically meant of "corner case", and is not the same thing you described. Recognizing that the customer asked for something logically impossible (they want two data sets to reconcile, but they are at unexpectedly incompatible cardinalities), or something that, upon investigation while building an app, wasn't precise enough (they asked for this to be their standard green, but their standard list only includes red and blue).

It's nearly impossible to specify all of those prior to coding, which is why the typical "waterfall" development techniques have fallen out of vogue. You're always going to learn things while coding, and this is one of the main contributors towards apparently unnecessary complexity. If I design version 1 of a program perfectly, and customers have new requirements for version 2, it's unlikely that the "simplest" implementation of version 1 will be the one that is most conducive to an upgrade. You end up with a choice between refactoring completely or sacrificing some efficiency and simplicity to graft the new features onto an otherwise good version 1.

I think Dr. Dobbs is nitpicking, though. There are definitely many ways to address, measure, or understand simplicity, and I agree that it should not be THE goal in and of itself. But the idea of making code easy to read, easy to understand both in the micro and macro sense, and just generally "simpler", has many merits.

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