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Comment Some questions here. (Score 3, Interesting) 156

First, "at a rate 10 times the previous gold standard" is interesting, but meaningless. What is the actual rate, and how is it measured?

Second, what is the cost and availability of the materials needed for the catalyst? Does this require some kind of unobtainium? The article is very vague here.

Third, Is this something we can practically manufacture in any kind of real scale or are we talking microscopic results measurable only in the lab?

Comment Re:That said -- (Score 1) 699

Well, because I've had some hazmat training as part of my volunteer firefighter work, I am at least somewhat aware of basic chemistry which could be misused to cause harm but which would be very unlikely to fall into the category of things which would be caught by the checkpoints I've seen. Some, for example, could be impregnated in ordinary clothing and would not be at all obvious.

Note that 1) I do -not- know all the things those machines look for, and have never tried to found out; 2) I'm not a chemist and can't offhand even recall the name of the stuff I have in mind (though I did see a live demonstration of its effects once); and 3) I certainly don't advocate trying any of this kind of thing.

My point is that if I, with a very limited exposure to this kind of information, can conceive of ways to exploit the system then I have no doubt people with real expertise in the related fields would have absolutely no problem coming up with far more dangerous "solutions" if they thought about it for any length of time.

Comment That said -- (Score 1) 699

If I thought these security measures actually worked, I would be all in favor. I don't believe they do. I believe someone with a moderate level of expertise should have no problem bringing the materials through such a screening that would be sufficient to cause a fair degree of mayhem either on board a plane or even in a terminal.

Hell, if I really thought we'd be more secure, I'd walk through the damn scanner bare ass naked. I'm not exactly a body double for the statue of David, but what the hell, it is only a human body and nothing to be so ashamed about. A little less body shame and a little more violence-shame wouldn't hurt our society at all.

Since it does not really add to the security of the situation, however, I am not in favor of this kind of intrusive search strictly for the purpose of security theater. Hiring lowest dollar contractors at least possible wages to perform such an important role is itself a fool's game.

Comment Was this woman wearing pants? (Score 1) 699

I'm sorry, but no matter much this woman felt violated -- and surely she was bothered by the search -- I find it hard to believe in "....a particularly invasive search involving multiple incursions of a finger into the passenger's vagina." I just find that somewhat implausible unless either the woman wasn't wearing any pants or underwear or else the TSA person was a remarkably talented person with a fair degree of privacy for what I would expect in a security line.

Somewhere, maybe, there is some exaggeration going on.

Comment Re:Why? (Score 5, Informative) 272

Lithium Ion batteries are inherently unstable and have to be charged and discharged very carefully. Unlike the old school batteries you'd think of, these batteries have a controller to manage them built in. When that fails, you have big problems (remember the defective ones a few years ago that would just burst into flames?)

Comment Re:Scientific Linux 6 (Score 1) 201

Thanks for that. I've been using CENTOS and been quite happy with it. For what I do, I don't need to be (and will never really be) up to the minute with versions anyway -aside from keeping up with security patches to the extent I can. Are there good reasons, other than speed of the release cycle, to move from CENTOS to SL?

Comment The site has some valueable information. (Score 1) 285

It is useful for me to be able to tell my clients, who generally insist on web sites supporting IE6 and above, as well as Firefox and Safari -- that according MICROSOFT, this is a bad idea.

Further, it is useful in helping me make the case to not have to support IE6; because the site shows only 12% of browsers are IE6 and something like half of those are in China (who my customers aren't generally targeting). In fact, In the USA it is now less than 1% of browsers.

Armed with this cart from Microsoft, I can say to my client "Ok, it's going to cost you 30% more for me to build your web site if I have to support IE6 and it will only help you with something like 1/2 of 1 percent of potential browsers. (BTW: I totally just make up that 30% more number to make the point, but I think that might be a fair place to start if I had to put a number on it).

Comment I was at a live pre-run a couple of weeks ago. (Score 3, Interesting) 293

At IBM "Lotusphere" event, the closing general session was a preview match. It was done as close the the same was as an actual jeopardy show but with contestants picked from a small mini-tournament of attendees, and a comedian as host instead of Alex T.

Having been present at this (and getting my picture taken next to the Watson "icon/screen") and then watching the Nova episode, I can say for sure that the Nova show was a very well done description of what happens; as well as Watson's strengths and weaknesses.

I'm not sure if they'll show it on the live TV show taping, but in the run through we saw, they showed Watson's top 3 picks with a level of confidence on each. It was as interesting to see the second and third choices as it was to see what it actually came up with for an answer.

A couple of things were updated from when they must have taped the Nova show. First, Watson was far more strategic when it came time to place bets than it had been shown on Nova. Second, it was far better at understanding weird language in the categories.

I'm looking forward to the show.

Comment So, let me get this straight... (Score 5, Insightful) 525

RAM is cheap.
High speed uplink is not cheap.
Peering agreements are manipulative, expensive, and sometimes extortionate.


The poorly designed, poorly peered, under allocated back haul links can't handle the traffic that routers want to push through them -- but since RAM is cheap, operators just add RAM to the buffers so that when those back-haul lines slow down for a second the packets can get pushed through.

And we're blaming the buffer for the problem?

Comment Retailers take note: (Score 1) 464

As a CUSTOMER, I strongly prefer a single-queue system. The few stores I know where this is in place feel far more efficient to me at the checkout line than those who do not.

As to the self-checkout lanes; I don't mind them at the grocery store where most of them items fit in bags and the UPC codes are well managed. Where I hate them is places like big-box hardware stores. I once heard an interview with a big wig at Home Depot, where I claimed that the self-check lanes would allow them to put more people on the floor to help customers. It was so much bull that I couldn't believe it he'd said it. There are no more people there and the ones that are are no more helpful. The self check lanes have one purpose - saving money. Less employees means less benefits. A hardware store is the last place (other than a plan nursery I guess) where I'd expect self-service scanners to be at all useful. Also, in a place like that, how hard would be it be to play the "weighs the same as" game? Find a couple of items with similar weights and sizes but vastly different prices, buy one of the cheap ones and take it home. Make self stick on labels with the UPC code of that cheap item. Use the stickers to cover the upc code of the expensive item. Scan, pay, profit. A human cashier would probably catch that.

Comment Damn. It's all downhill for now. (Score 2, Interesting) 177

You start with something small and fast.

Soon you're all about embedding this and that and everything else. Now you're all about bloat.

See, I use foxit. I like foxit. I don't install the embedded reader because I don't like it to be embedded. That's my choice. You may not agree, but that's cool because that's what choice means.

Now, Chrome embeds its own viewer. There goes my choice. There goes the lightweight browser. Hello monoculture software. Hello exploits.


Comment Decide what you want. (Score 3, Insightful) 897

          If you want to be another common fish in a huge ocean, learn C# and sharepoint development. If you want to be hip and cool, but are willing to compete with low price coders from developing countries, go with LAMP development. If you want to be a big fish in a small pond and can self promote and communicate well enough to pull it off, pick something painful but useful to corporations ( Rational / Websphere / Oracle / Siebel / SAP development ).

I do most of my client based work using Lotus Domino as a back end server and data platform. The development IDE is freaking horrible compared to visual studio or pure eclipse. The documentation is poor at best. There are a lot of workarounds you have to know. In many respects, it's a terrible thing to have to learn. HOWEVER, I've been doing it for a long time and am very very good at it. I'm never short of work, and I can accomplish things with it for my clients in less time and at less cost than any other platform I've ever found. I also use visual studio to build desktop applications, c++ to write custom modules for my Asterisk servers, javascript for web front end stuff, bash shell scripts for linux back end stuff, etc etc etc.... Right tool for the job and all that.

              I know by writing that I'll draw a bunch of crap from cool kids that hate the platform I use to make a living, but I'm willing to bet most of them would trade annual incomes with me in a heartbeat if I gave them the chance. I've managed to have my own business for close to 18 years by focusing on what works rather than what's cool -- and by never letting myself be just another commodity programmer among a giant pool of people with similar (and frankly better) skills.

Comment Could be far more important. (Score 1) 145

This could mean a breakthrough!

This single rabbit could actually be one of the ORIGINAL rabbits used for testing, who happened to have that singular genetic mutation which allows it to live on indefinitely (with the exception of accident and predation of course). Having captured the rabbit, they'll now be able to figure out what mutation occurred and suddenly immortality for humans is just around the corner.....bwahahahahaha

Or maybe it just ate something. Whatever.

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