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Comment Re:We are being kinectically assimilated (Score 1) 84

The headline gives the impression that this is being done right now. The timeline also gives a hint of the level of commitment. Before the "promised" SDK, we've heard stories like http://www.next-gen.biz/features/hacking-kinect -- So this response, whatever the spirit, is delayed. It is definitely not one of the "right" things Microsoft has done recently. (There may be others.)

Comment Re:Nothing to see... (Score 1) 615

I am in complete agreement. "Inventions" are defined too loosely themselves. Their utility has not been defined in terms of a specific purpose and context. The time-scale (and therefore chronological context) of the invention has not been defined. If all premises are ill defined or undefined, there is no point to debate. Each reply to the post is a new argument in a new context. So, absolutely, nothing to see here.

Comment Obscure Security and Marketing Fud? (Score 3, Informative) 145

Bad blocks are inherent in NAND flash. SLC NAND Flash devices are more reliable (have fewer errors) and costly. MLC NAND Flash devices are less reliable (have more inherent errors) but are affordable and easily available. NAND Flash devices are known to progressively degrade until the number of bad blocks is too high to reliably store data. Inherent errors during manufacturing increase on usage (both read and write.) Most Flash Storage Devices will ultimately become too error-prone to store data. The industry might want to justify inherent errors (and gradually increasing errors) by calling it a fingerprint. They are still searching for techniques to make NAND Flash more reliable.

The article fails to provide mathematical basis to prove that two NAND flashes cannot have the same bad blocks on manufacturing or at some point of usage thereby obscuring identity. NAND flash controllers are designed to check and resolve errors using known algorithms. Most controllers allow hardware to hide errors while allowing OS device drivers to read the NAND flash medium. The Operating System and the NAND Flash Controller are at least two points were any such fingerprint can be compromised. The Filesystem adds another layer of abstraction. The number of "Real" bad blocks and remaps is usually stored on the NAND Flash. Altering the Bad Block Table is not difficult.

Hard Disks interestingly have similar failure rates and complex issues like Data remanence which have been studied. I wonder why no one proposed a signature scheme for using errors on Hard Drive Platters to identify them. Computer Forensics for Hard Drives has a longer track record of being studied. Marketing fud can be ignored.

Comment A good Investigation Report (Score 3, Interesting) 403

Pitot tubes were invented in the 1700s by the French Engineer Henry Pitot and later modified for airspeed measurements. They are also used to measure aerodynamic speed in Formula racing cars too among other uses. Here is a comprehensive article following the crash investigation that is informative with photographs and the timeline of theories.

I read both the articles posted. They do not qualify as the best investigation reports. They seem to be building "What if" scenarios from all data that is available. Other A330 failures (no recent crashes reported) and Other places where ice in Pitot tubes led to failure (The Wikipedia article has a lot of information on this and planes which had problems notably, the X31.) The investigators are clearly under pressure to say what they have found and they are unable to report "nothing" to the press. With no luck in recovering the Black Box, the investigators (like they talk about Pilots not good at flying aircraft without the aid of in-flight safety systems) have to do it the old forensic way (reminds me of Crichton's Airframe). That is going to take time and the press, the Aircraft companies using A330s are impatient to know why.

Clearly no recent theory has come close to deducing the true reason for the crash. As I remember the first news item that appeared on the AF447 was that the plane "vanished" from Radar and was sought for by the Brazilian Air Force before the crash site was positively identified. The last exchanges between the Pilot and the Aircraft tower followed by an automated message from the aircraft remain the main clues apart from the debris in this horrific accident.
Medicine

Submission + - First Images of Memories Being Made (eurekalert.org)

TheSync writes: "Eurekalert reports that researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill and UCLA have captured the first image of protein translation that underlies long-term memory formation. A fluorescent protein showed the increased local protein synthesis during memory formation, which requires cooperation between the pre and post-synaptic compartments of the two neurons that meet at the synapse."

Comment The Constitutional Right to Privacy (Score 1) 836

There is no debate on the fact that this is an invasion of privacy. It seems to be a sort of test to keep tech savvy people (would that be everyone?) out of the hiring process. I am shocked at this. Here is an interesting note, the US constitution aside from the 9th amendment does not guarantee the right to privacy. The right to privacy is enforced by the interpretation of the First, Third and Fifth amendments and of the Ninth amendment itself. The Fourth Amendment contains an explicit interpretation of the right to privacy specific to computers. They are still open to interpretation. So the issue is just not about private passwords here, there's a lot more being brought up. In India, Article 21 of the Indian Constitution expressly guarantees the Right to Privacy. There is some confusion and no explicit mention in the constitution of Britain either. From the little reading I have done, the right to privacy (and therefore keeping my own passwords from the state) has been created through addendum and interpretation of prior articles of constitution rather than a specific article or amendment mentioned in the constitution. ---- IANAL
Google

Submission + - Microsoft: Google broke Windows search (pcpro.co.uk)

Barence writes: "Microsoft has accused Google of breaking Windows Desktop Search with its new Outlook plug-in for Google Apps. The plug-in disables Windows Desktop Search upon installation by removing a registry key. What's more, uninstalling the Google plug-in doesn't restore the registry key, leaving Windows and Outlook search facilities crippled. Google now admits its software disables the search facilities — as well as Adobe and PGP encryption plug-ins — and says it's updated Google Apps Sync so that it repairs the registry keys properly."

Comment GnuCash is the best, but Spreadsheets easier (Score 2, Interesting) 291

I personally have used GNUCash but have restricted it to Savings Accounts and for Bill pay. I am quite happy doing a balance sheet as a spreadsheet. I've found OpenOffice Calc to fall short of some features, GNUmeric fits in where Calc fails.

Looking back at MS Money, I think GNUCash has the features to take it head on. KMyMoney is so full of features [serious] that learning to get used to it just keeps you away. The UI though is quite sleek if you are a KDE fan. I've tried it sometime, but import/export options across open source formats has been in many cases lousy.KMyMoney2 changes the file format from KMyMoney, the earlier versions which also makes it less of an option.

Microsoft's Money (not among the options really) requires .Net and some web/aspx stuff to run that might make all the Windows Antivirus/Netprotect/whatever rules really difficult to maintain. It does have a sleek and less scary UI compared to its earlier versions.

Comment Role of Vaccines vs Anti-Flu Drugs (Score 3, Interesting) 147

Using the new In-Cell growing technique many companies seem to be coming up with vaccines in a shorter period than earlier. Medicinenet has an informative article on Flu Vaccines and immunization candidates, and goes on to say why they are required. This is a good read to understand why vaccination is being given importance here. The 1918 "Spanish" Flu epidemic Virus which is very similar to the recent outbreak was re-created in a laboratory in 2005 by Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger and colleagues at AFIP. Comparison with Avian flu strains led to the conclusion that Human Flu Virus strains are derived from Avian flu virii.

Among young people and children Flu vaccines claim to be 70%-90% effective, while this drops down to 30%-40% in people aged over 65 who may have other secondary complications. Hence the scale of vaccination required for the present outbreak (which has been repeatedly noted for not being as lethal as the 1918 Flu strain) may be entirely different covering only those in a risk category. More stress is on drugs that help in combating the Virus in an infected individual. These are usually amino-acid chain suppressors like Tamiflu. There has already been mobilization and distribution of the drugs to combat such an outbreak. The WHO has done a recent donation of drugs to Nigeria. This is however related to continued support of a H5N1 outbreak since 2006.

The role and importance of the Vaccines that would be available is not yet certain. It seems that the stress is more on treatment. Insofar stress on prevention without the involvement of Primary Medical care personnel. Only those who suspect infection have been requested to visit quarantine or medical facilities for treatment. The W.H.O's present stand with the Flu Virus has been a direct result of criticism during the second widespread Avian flu H5N1 attack incidents in 2006. Attention is being given to Avian Influenza as a pandemic because it leads to complications and secondaries making it difficult to fight other diseases with stronger morbidity. -- No Greater Friend, No Greater Enemy! (Lucius Cornelius Sulla)

Comment Flu Vaccines vs Anti-Viral Drugs (Score 1) 368

Using the new In-Cell growing technique many companies seem to be coming up with vaccines in a shorter period than earlier. Medicinenet has an informative article on Flu Vaccines and immunization candidates, and goes on to say why they are required. This is a good read to understand why vaccination is being given importance here. The 1918 "Spanish" Flu epidemic Virus which is very similar to the recent outbreak was re-engineered in a laboratory in 2005 by Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger and colleagues at AFIP. Comparison with Avian flu strains led to the conclusion that Human Flu Virus strains are derived from Avian flu virii.

Among young people and children Flu vaccines claim to be 70%-90% effective, while this drops down to 30%-40% in people aged over 65 who may have other secondary complications. Hence the scale of vaccination required for the present outbreak (which has been repeatedly noted for not being as lethal as the 1918 Flu strain) may be entirely different covering only those in a risk category. More stress is on drugs that help in combating the Virus in an infected individual. These are usually amino-acid chain suppressors like Tamiflu. There has already been mobilization and distribution of the drugs to combat such an outbreak. The WHO has done a recent donation of drugs to Nigeria.

The role and importance of the Vaccines that would be available is not yet certain. It seems that the stress is more on treatment. Insofar stress on prevention without the involvement of Primary Medical care personnel. Only those who suspect infection have been requested to visit quarantine or medical facilities for treatment. The WHO's present stand with the Flu Virus has been a direct result of criticism during the second widespread Avian flu H5N1 attack incidents in 2006.

Comment The Paid Editing Debate dates back to Jan-2007 (Score 1) 168

Here's a note about a man who claimed that he was being "paid" by Microsoft to edit Wikipedia articles. He also claimed to be a contributor for OOXML on Wikipedia. His contributions following this article were being dismissed as biased.

There are two parts to this issue. They are (1) "Should Wikipedia offer to pay those who edit articles?" and (2) "Should any Wikipedia contributor get paid for contributing articles?" On (1), Wikipedia's stance is clear, they are not willing to pay anyone to edit articles. They would like to continue with their open model with little or no moderation. On (2) they are merely talking about the quality of the resultant article. They seriously do not have a mechanism to stop a 3rd party Wikimedia contributor from contributing for money or for the sake of love of the subject or for personal bias.

IMHO, Wikipedia must avoid policing any and all editors unless they are on their own Payroll. Their open model has served as a simple mechanism to collect relevant information on a topic which may or may not necessarily be accurate. There have been enough debates that have concluded that Wikipedia cannot be quoted as a citation for serious scientific study due to lack of moderation and verification of sources.

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