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Comment Democratic issues, minorities, social pressure. (Score 1) 467

Privacy is more than a luxury, it is a way for societies of culturally distinct folks to get along. The previous presumptions that the system could work if there were some way to prevent abuses of power by an elite - maybe by some method of transparency and accountability towards how much time those in authority spend in the bathroom together - these presumptions are in turn neglecting a horrible and common other source of injustice, that of the majority will.
      A dominant large group could easily force cultural, spiritual or philosophical conformity - even while maintaining nigh complete transparency itself.

"We know you went into the bedroom with Jim on Fasting Day!"
"You have been taking tainted literature in the bathroom with you." (Not even pr0n, it might be a bible, or worse - a biology text.)
"You are not wearing acceptable undergarments" (maybe only a few are O.K., or only a few are proscribed, ... meh)
"You have been talking with Jim - you know he is currently 'muted'. "
"You have not spoken to an adviser in 6 months"

These forces are not muted by transparency. Such an environment has little or no defense against massive social pressure, whether by cults, fitness regimes, monster high-school cliques, fads, fashions or any other transgression of a cultural more held by the majority community.

I'm just addressing this one point - the myriad issues that others have raised are theirs to enjoy.

The Media

Submission + - Some Wikileaks Contributions to Public Discourse 3

Hugh Pickens writes: "EFF reports that regardless of the heated debate over the propriety of Wikileaks actions, some of the cables have contributed significantly to public and political conversations around the world. The Guardian reported on a cable describing an incident in Afghanistan in which employees of DynCorp, a US military contractor, hired a "dancing boy," an underaged boy dressed as women, who dance for gatherings of men and is then prostituted — an incident that contributed important information to the debate over the use of private military contractors. A cable released by Wikileaks showed that Pfizer allegedly sought to blackmail a Nigerian regulator to stop a lawsuit against drug trials on children. A Wikileaks revelation that the United States used bullying tactics to attempt to push Spain into adopting copyright laws even more stringent than those in the US came just in time to save Spain from the kind of misguided copyright laws that cripple innovation and facilitate online censorship. An article by the New York Times analyzed cables released which indicated the US is having difficulties in fulfilling Obama's promise to close the Guantánamo Bay detention camp and is now considering incentives in return for accepting detainees, including a one-on-one meeting with Obama or assistance obtaining IMF assistance. "These examples make clear that Wikileaks has brought much-needed light to government operations and private actions," writes Rainey Reitman, "which, while veiled in secrecy, profoundly affect the lives of people around the world and can play an important role in a democracy that chooses its leaders.""

Comment Illegal! They hate us because we are free! (Score 1) 966

So, if you want to make a vast collection of statements without supporting them individually, or arranging them together into a coherent position, that's fine. It's your buckshot. Besides, for folks who agree with enough of your statements, you sound reasonable.
    To folks who disagree, there are a mess of little things to poke at. In a verbal conversation, since there is no thesis, you can use the 'yer all nitpicking and not talking about what I meant.' defense. Luckily, this is not a verbal conversation - it is a moderated forum.
    To folks who attempt to look at what your are saying and understand your point - just a few lame cliches will break their trust of you, so if you don't spell out your thesis clearly, they will not even have the option of understanding what you meant.
    I feel that you are only intending to reach the people who agree or who disagree with you - but are making no attempts to actually support your case to those undecided.
    Normally, this would either be an effective trolling technique, or something a politician might ramble.

These are the reasons I think you are a tool.

Comment Science insists what? (Score 1) 218

OK, I'll bite:

    Sure, if you want to be crazy certain that you are asking the exact right questions, then yes: faith is the only place to find such certainty. The rest of us science folks will just have to make do with testing and questioning our questions, our formalisms, our criteria for evaluating questions, our values, ... just like everything else. :)

Comment Re:Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (Score 1) 343

Not certain what you intend by 'dead organisms', but all what is needed is biomass, e.g. swampy areas. As plates shift, some are driven under others resulting in carbon deposits easily being buried as deeply as we see. At one point it was likely very close to, if not on the surface. Bogs can be very large, and very deep... consider, well, the wetlands that are currently threatened, for example.

I'm not partial to the theories that there is arbitrary oil and coal to be found, provided we dig deep enough. If you are centrally located on a plate, and have deep enough to hit the granite or basalt, respectively - it would be shocking to hit anything else while digging until it is too hot to support the structures in oil and coal. Please contradict me, there are some oddball cases in the middle of plates and I would love to hear about more of them, and about them.

Quite frankly, a non-biological origin for deep oil is the only one folks bother argue, if I remember correctly. I suspect this is because coal contains lots of fossils, thus it is pretty hard to argue samples are non-biological.

Meh, not my specialty, feel free to enlighten me, etc...

Comment Re:Fortified Beer? (Score 1) 297

  So if you like a decent hop, there are a few from Ontario you might like should the opportunity arise to taste them. In particular, when I was doing some school in Guelph (Sigh - poor Sleeman's, got bought by Molsen, transitively via Upper Canada Breweries..., both destroyed as tasty beer-companies these days) - but the Wellington County brewery, also near Guelph, is still an indy micro. They make a Wellington County Ale, which yer more moderate hop-loving friends might like - and fer you, there's the Wellington Best Bitter. Certain pubs will even serve it at the warmer, British temp, though I like it any way at all: very cold is fine by me.
    Now, these are still classic recipes, so no extracts, but they're still tasty imho.

    As far as stronger stuff, the Unibroue brewery out of Quebec makes a bunch of utterly awesome beers, available at 9% (and 12%, when you can find them). (La Fin de Monde, and Maudite come to mind.) They make decent stuff in the 5-7% range too - a nice Belgian-style, some fruity things and wheats fer the summer.

    Anyway, hope you have a chance to try some of them, and mebbe even like them. Google is yer friend here, and um - I have no idea where you are (except in NA) and thus how irritating it might be to get a hold of samples of these things.


Comment Re:It's way too late - No way! (Score 1) 704

    It's never too late, in my not so bloody humble opinion.

        If the kid liked playing with Lego, Mechano, (K-Nex these days?), making wooden stuff or even sand and snow - when younger, then there's a good chance that the spark is there. There are scads of other possible indicators that the talent might be there, too.
    I think one needs a bit of logic - but not as much as people pretend - to be a decent coder. A lot more different talents to be a great geek, but there are stacks of different sorts of geek, so even which skills one is best at is just character.

    What makes a person have potential as a geek - and I think there is just one thing:
  You have to like to fuck with shit .

    Games got me into coding - I liked to play them, and I wanted to make them. Turns out, I enjoyed coding as much as playing games. I discovered I loved debugging, optimizing, and just writing regular code.

    Some kids these days are just getting into coding. Go check out the forums - it's bizarre, they chat like lolcats on meth, but some of them ask real questions and are seriously banging their heads on shit. Answer their questions. I see kids trying to make USB video game controllers using common microcontrollers (AVRs and PICs) to bit-bang the low speed interface - they want to know why their out-of-spec stuff works on the right USB port, but not the left on their laptops (yup - Apple). ;] They need help with problems. Sometimes daft, and sometimes not. Sometimes you remember the class of bug that they are hitting and how long it took you to crack it the first time...

    Maybe if we knew what sort of gamer the subject was we might make a claim as to what sort of coding they might enjoy. Ultimately, the way to find out if someone likes to code - is to try out coding with them.
    Personally, I love pairing, so taking a newb for a ride can be a lot of fun - they can get to see a program develop a lot faster than if they had to crack every problem themselves, but if they are still typing in the whole deal, it will feel much more like you showed them how, but that they actually did it.

    And - you know what? A friend of the family was a coder - he noticed that I liked video games and showed me how one can write them. First via typing things in from Compute! (and perhaps BYTE, is blurry memory)... then via coding in basic - ultimately someone gave me some books on C, and I got a compiler off of a friend in class ('this thing is five disks, and it's not even a game - yer nuts!')... thing came with a shell, micro-emacs (shudder), and a debugger. Debugger meant I could see what my code compiled into, and thus I fell into the hypnotizing pool that is assembly on the 68K...

  I call BS on there not being fresh kids getting into it. Look at robotics, the maker scene, Ubuntu, the modding and addon gaming scenes - find folks who have questions that you know how to answer - and bloody well help them.


PS: The era of 8-bit pixels was the 90s - for consumer-level hardware, if you recall. The 80s were all that irritating bit-planes, monochrome, four, 16 - even 12 colour modes. Don' even think of telling me to get off yer lawn. ;]

Comment Re:Brilliant. Go Steve! (Score 5, Interesting) 609

Not to worry about 'infinite' or 'frictionless' - these characterizations are not the intent of the device so we can just evaluate it as a normal continuous transmission being controlled by the ratio of speeds between a control shaft and the drive shaft. Efficiency for low-torque cases can be quite decent as eccentric bearings, gear-qualities and diameters can be controlled well with current techniques.

    So... with a real torque, there will definitely be significant forces between the two shafts. Clearly, the full torque will be on the central, driving shaft, while some smaller fraction will be on the upper shaft. As we bring the distance between them down, then the torque between them can decrease, but then there will be more stress on the smaller pinions' teeth. Planetary gears are great for this class of problem and he's throwing decent diameter eccentric bearings in where he can too. The bloke seems honest, and has clearly thrown a fair amount of time and energy into the problem.
    There are other approaches to controlling gear ratio via the speed differences between two shafts - he's not trying to do something impossible, he's just trying to do something difficult, successfully. Whether the cost of the bearings and gearing will be favourable when compared to the other approaches is the question. I think his system will work - and decent sealed bearings, high strength pinions, planetary systems - these already exist and are stable tech in current transmissions, even in relatively dirty industrial environments where the transmissions aren't as protected as in cars. In particular, the cost of electronic control for motors has fallen massively over the last years, so if nothing else, the general class of solutions using differential speeds of low-torque motors to control a high-torque transmission is more appealing now.

    So, 'genius', no. Hard-working, self-taught engineer? Yes.

Comment Re:Data to crunch (Score 5, Informative) 53

You have particles entering the detector every ~40ns and hundreds of different instruments making measurements, which leads to a ton of data very quickly.

Not exactly true. It's running at 40 MHz, so that's 25 ns bunch spacing. Further, you don't exactly have to 'crunch' the data as it comes in, there are multiple triggers that throw lots of data away based momentum cuts and other criteria before it ever makes out of the detectors.

In ATLAS, for example, there are ~ 10e+9 interactions/sec. The Level1 Trigger, consists of fast, custom electronics programmed in terms of adjustable parameters to control filtering algorithms. Input is from summing electronics in the EM and hadron calorimiters, and signals from the fast muon trigger chambers. The info is rather coarse at this point (transverse momentum cuts, narrow jet criteria, etc), and at level one the info rate is decreased in about ~2us (including communication time), from 40MHz to about 75KHz. Level2 now does a closer look, taking more time and focusing on specific regions of interest (RoIs). This process takes about 10ms, and data rate is reduced to about 1KHz for sending to the event filter. Here, the full granularity of the detector (the 'detector means all the bits - Inner detectors: Pixels, strips, Transition Radiation tracker - The calorimiters - The muon tubes at the outside radius) and runs whatever selections algorithms are in use. This takes a few seconds, and output is reduced to about 100Hz and written to disc for a gazillion grad students (like myself) to analyze endlessly and get our PhDs.

There is much more to it of course, but you can find info about it on line if you really are interested in the details. Have a look at the ATLAS Technical Design Report:

Comment Re:Brilliant. Go Steve! (Score 5, Informative) 609

Actually, the transmission in the Prius is completely different from this. The Prius takes two full power inputs (the engine and the electric motor), and adjusts the power output from the two (balancing them) to achieve the end ratio. This takes a single full power input (and two factional inputs, perhaps a very small fraction if friction losses are small enough), and produces a variable end ratio. Quite a big difference between them. For the Prius transmission to work, both engines need to be of comparable power (A 100 hp gas engine would need somewhere near a 100hp electric motor). This would likely work with a 100hp engine and a pair of 1/2 hp (or less, depending on precision and friction) electric motors.

And FYI, an OTTO cycle engine is not most efficient at 2000 rpm. It's most efficient at its horse power peak RPM, and at full throttle. Anything less than that (RPM or throttle), and you lose volumetric efficiency. And when I say efficient, I'm saying the power/fuel use is the maximum. It's all about the intake and exhaust design (you can tune them for maximum efficiency at a particular RPM for a particular engine design). That's why hybrids typically use smaller engines. So that you can run it closer to its peak power for longer (40hp at full throttle would be plenty to cruise on the highway and still be able to charge the batteries without needing to be throttled back).

Comment Re:Everyone gets to be an astronaut fireman rock s (Score 1) 1138

I don't think that is necessarily a problem. How much capital do you really need to start a business? It doesn't have to be a lot. It also doesn't have to be yours.

Businesses cost a lot of money. Premises, equipment, materials, bills, staff etc. The main cause of new businesses going bust is a lack of funding.

Comment Re:I'd guess there's a critical period & an at (Score 1) 548

    I feared there was a critical period - there is so much reason to suspect so. So many folks I've met seem frozen, whether in life, in mindset, or in the development methods that they learned during their larval phase.

    I still fear that there is a critical period for scepticism, but I'm at least reassured that folks can learn significantly new perspectives and, in particular, to even go larval again later in life and pick up major new skills, whether new programming approaches or the entire suite of new models and mindsets needed to deal with a new field entirely. I've seen folks jump successfully between different engineering fields, coding styles, industries, etc. ...

    I haven't seen, personally, folks successfully make the jump between the engineering/technical mindset and the serious liberal arts' points of view. Perhaps there is a more qualitatively different wall there than merely a larger conceptual distance - I don't have a decent theory. The people I see who seem to be centred in-between major disciplines like art, science or engineering tend to appear strongest at that very point, in the interdisciplinary space, rather than having two masteries with an intersection where they choose to play. While some can be extremely proficient and have a broad expertise, they have always appeared to get weaker as they traveled from their personal centre. This is a small set for me, though, thus even more anecdotal than the rest of my ramble.

    Sadly, as far as a minimal exposure notion goes this might be extremely hard to dispute by experience. I read an article in Byte 25 years ago on LISP or Prolog, or even did a few weeks of them in a survey course during uni; do these give one enough of a 'seed' such that if one is able to properly discover them later in life it was only because that opening was created so many years earlier? Who can say reliably that they have had no exposure to an idea within a field once entering it. Clearly folks who only got into tech in some year can reliably state they didn't encounter certain concepts before that point - but a single person rambling drunk at a party, something one had forgotten, if that is enough to be a your seed for a future successful exploration of that concept then I can't really claim any significant idea I ever came to understand well later in life hadn't been exposed to me years earlier.

Even reading /. might ...


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