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Comment Early 80's - Apple ][ and Apple Basic (Score 1) 632

Our school had 4 Apple ][ computers and one Apple ][c - and our very limited "Computer Math" class required passing a test to get in. I was in the "Computer Math" class in it's first semester at the school. My final project was (of course) an AD&D character generator written in Apple Basic (the only option we had) which allowed a large amount of flexibility in how random the generated character actually was. You could specify a race and a class and it would take the randomly generated amounts for each stat and adjust them as needed to make the character "legal" according to AD&D rules (by moving points from one stat to another as needed). If you wanted a fully random result it would generate everything randomly, including randomly selecting race and class from all that were valid with the given stats.

After generating the character it was printed out in a format that lined up almost exactly with the "official" AD&D character sheets. When we turned in our project we were required to turn in the floppy disk and a prinout of the code. Mine took a stack of around 3" of fan-fold printer paper. Not sure how many pages that was, but it was a lot. About 1/4 of that code was dedicated to pinting with the proper formatting.

So, what did I learn overall? I learned that programming was pretty damn cool, and that things which are really simple to do are often quite difficult to program correctly.

Comment Re:But that's not the real problem. (Score 1) 1651

Not everywhere fails to apply the traffic law to bicyclists. I was 14 and got a speeding ticket (on a very steep hill) in Central Oregon for doing 52 in a 35 zone. Whether I was actually going that fast or the speed was inflated on the ticket I don't know, but I do know that I was blowing past traffic, including the city cop that pulled me over. I was in the bike lane, which was actually separated from the road by about 2 feet of soft shoulder so I wasn't worried about it while zooming down the hill. Of course, I was 14 and wasn't worried about much of anything as we all know we are invincible at that age. The traffic court judge reduced the fine from whatever it was (somewhere around $100 if I remember correctly - a lot of money for a kid, especially then) to $9 dollars - which was all the money I had on me at the time minus one dollar. He further instructed the court clerk to give me the $1 in coins and I was instructed to use said coins to call for a ride home, as I was banned from riding my bike within the city limits for two months.

Comment Headline comprehension fail (Score 1) 75

From the headline I assumed that Fijitsu were creating a robot in order to pass their math exams. "What the hell," I figured, "as far as extra credit goes it shows a fairly comprehensive understanding of the subject." But then I thought, "how did Fujitsu collectively fail their math exams?" (Or, if you are the other side of the pond, their maths exams).

Comment Re:Question (Score 1) 705

Ugh. Sounds like just the kind of doctor you don't want in the first place. My wife has ME/CFS and has tested positive (by antibody) for XMRV. Our doctor admitted up-front that he knows little to nothing about it. (It currently gets a minor mention in med schools, nothing more.) She provided him with studies and email addresses of clinicians and researchers working on it. He was genuinely appreciative and has been doing as much as he can within the limits of what the insurance allows to implement the suggestions made by those researchers and clinicians he has since contacted.

Hopefully you can find a doctor who is more open to actually taking care of patients rather than showing off how much "smarter" he or she is than anyone else.

Comment Question (Score 5, Insightful) 705

Has this sort of argument been brought up before in other areas? Your complaint to the school board was well-formed, properly formatted and grammatically correct, yet you are not a board-certified English teacher. Perhaps even: You took your car to the mechanic and told him it was a quart low on oil, yet you are not a licensed mechanic.

Come on, is this is the best idea they could come up with to shut down the complaint?

Comment Not really one third ... (Score 1) 338

If you take the time to actually read the article you find that out of ~1,040,000 species previously named, 300,000 are definitely distinct species. ~480,000 are pseudonyms for those, and another ~260,000 are as of yet undetermined as to their status as distinct species. Since those others are undetermined, it cannot be said with any certainty that they are not distinct species. It would be just as (un)truthful and (in)correct to lump those in with the 300,000 known species and call it more than half.

Shoddy work on the part of the reporter.

Comment There is a way to do it even ignoring First Sale (Score 1) 281

The best I can tell from the wording of the exemption to the DMCA for unlocking cell phones to use on a different carrier, is that it must be done by the owner of the phone using software they legally obtained. So, ignoring First Sale, if he had sold these phones along with a legal copy of the unlocking software and a step-by-step instruction manual, that would have been fine (assuming he could legally re-sell the software).

The question comes, in my mind, where the principal of First Sale applies in this case. Since he (presumably) legally obtained the unlocking software, he was legally unlocking the phones. I would think that First Sale would come into play at the point where he purchased the phones and any resale after the fact would be unencumbered. Of course, IANAL and I don't speak legalese.

Any chance an IP lawyer with DMCA knowledge/experience could enlighten us?

Comment It's unclear ... (Score 5, Informative) 325

From the article: It's unclear whether it would lead to an automatic, more intrusive pat down by federal Transportation Security Administration officials.

No, if the image is unclear, the TSA's reaction is not. If you are not sure, check out what Dave Barry went through when the image of his groin was "blurry" http://www.npr.org/2010/11/15/131338172/humorist-dave-barry-and-the-tsa

Comment Re:Seems to Be Some Confusion (Score 1) 563

The problem is that by the time a password has passed the threshold for "popularity" it is likely already too late. Any password that is likely to be "popular" is likely to be in a dictionary somewhere (I am talking about cracking dictionaries, not Webster's or OED).

From the article:

"Since no passwords are allowed to become too common, attackers are deprived of the popular passwords they require to compromise a significant faction of accounts using online guessing.

emphasis mine

What comprises a "significant faction?" Is it 10%? 5%? 1%? How about .01%? For a site with "millions of users" (like Hotmail), .01% is tens of thousands of accounts. .001% is still thousands of accounts. For sites like Facebook (as a f'rinstance) even one compromised account can put hundreds more at risk - and with a simple link to malware posted as a status update on one owned account it can spread quickly to infect thousands.

Maybe it is time to start thinking in terms of keys (like SSH) that are stored in a USB key and fingerprint protected. Or is that too paranoid for mass consumption? I can see it becoming popular given the right push (in the media, especially), though.

Comment Re:Slight Misfire above.... (Score 1) 476

I happen to be far-sighted. I wear glasses when reading or working on the computer, but not usually when I am using my phone. I can guarantee you that at 8 inches I cannot make out the pixels on my 3GS, much less so for a display with even smaller pixels. Hell, at 8 inches I can't make out the text.

So I guess for me the claim holds up.

Comment Re:Homeowner? His responsibility (Score 1) 574

My neighbor has a tree in her yard. Its branches reach to my house. At point, they touched the house and windy day knocked some of the siding off. I paid to fix it, and paid to have the tree cut back... but my point here is this: should I have to pay yearly to keep her tree from poking my house again? Its her tree, why should I have the expense of making sure it doesn't cross onto my property?

Actually, in that case, you should have recourse to have your neighbor pay for the damages if you have already spoken to her about the encroachment and asked her to rectify it. We have neighbors with plants that over-arch and encroach and we just clear it with the neighbors that when we are working on our yard we will lop off the offending bits. But if we wanted to be whiny about it we could make them do it.

And, not to you, but to all those who are coming up with flawed analogies of broken glass and poisonous gas, and so on: As far as the EM from legal devices she uses legally in her house - that is not encroachment in that the devices are legal and cleared for use in residential properties, the energies that are put out are low (especially by the time you get all the way into the neighbor's house), and the energies are also within the norm for any built-up residential area. This is not like piping poisonous gas onto or blowing a foghorn at the neighbor, this is like planting a non-indigenous tree whose pollen blows around in the wind. (Although where I am the cherry trees are indigenous and the pollen is wreaking havoc with my allergies even now).

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