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Comment Quick plug for JASNH (Score 5, Informative) 174

Just taking this quick opportunity to post a link to my favorite journal, the Journal of Articles in Support of the Null Hypothesis: .

JASNH is one of the few places where you can submit a paper that says "we tested for X effect on Y and found no evidence that X affects Y". Generally this research is unpublishable and people will tweak parameters to get something career-advancing out of their research; I like JASNH because of the reminder that "falsifiability" can really happen.

Comment Could be worse (Score 2) 131

Picking 90% of the winners from the first two days of applicants is not great, yes.

Give them credit for owning up to their mistakes, at least. It could be worse -- it's widely believed that the 1969 draft lottery was so un-random that people born in later months were dramatically more likely to be picked for an early draft!

Comment Everything old is new again :) (Score 5, Informative) 112

Hey, guys, for a good time, have a look at On Command Video Corp. v. Columbia Pictures Industries, 777 F. Supp. 787 (N.D. Cal. 1991).

On Command was doing literally this exact thing, but 20 years ago and (1) with VCRs instead of DVD players; (2) with the VCRs at the hotel front desk and you in your hotel room, instead of with the DVD players in California and you anywhere on the Internet.

Things did not work out well for On Command. However, the legal landscape has changed somewhat in more recent years -- a more relevant ruling might be the 2008 Cablevision DVR case (see discussion e.g. at

Comment Re:Does anyone have a link to the indictment itsel (Score 4, Informative) 379

OK, I did some digging in PACER, where it looks like the documents have probably been filed but are probably still sealed.

The relevant case is in the Southern District of New York ( - anyone can sign up for a PACER account, they're free but you pay 8 cents per page, and if you charge less than $10 in a quarter it's free).

They're using an existing case, 1:10-cr-00336-LAK, which is all about the arrest and indictment of a gambling payment processor dude a year ago in April 2010.

See for more on the dude.

So the timeline is:
1) Gambling dude is arrested in 2010 and charged with some gambling-related crimes. See his indictment at
2) Some time recently, he is (according to an Australian newspaper) secretly released from prison and prosecutors have not said whether he's still being charged
3) These 11 people are all being charged with 9 new crimes (documents not yet available, but apparently they'll be stored in this place / as part of this case number)

There have been a bunch of sealed documents added to the case recently; maybe they include the complaint and indictment that the press release talks about. You can see the history I got from PACER at

Comment Does anyone have a link to the indictment itself? (Score 1) 379

The Slashdot article links to a press release about the indictment (, not the indictment itself.

In understanding legal issues, I am all about "reading the source code". Has anyone found a copy of the actual indictment itself that lists all the details about what these folks are being charged with?

Even better would be a link to the criminal complaint which I assume preceded the indictment. Those things are usually dozens of pages long, full of fascinating, juicy facts, and end up being filtered by the news media into reports that sometimes skip some of the cool details you can see yourself if you "read the source code" of the complaint. I'd be eager to see this, but so far none of the news sources reporting on the issue have disclosed it.

Comment How quickly we forget: "posture photos" (Score 5, Informative) 468

From the 1940s to the 1970s, Ivy League colleges took naked pictures of every incoming freshman, supposedly for use in scientific studies of the students' posture.

I am not making this up. See, e.g., this Times coverage from 1995.

I'm not going to make any kind of normative statement about whether people should say Yes to Cal's offer, here, but just wanted to point out that weird-ass instrusions into student privacy are nothing new.

Comment Re:Looking at that entry (Score 1) 44

The contest is to figure out a way to make more bits available.

It is not obvious that Twitter messages are always guaranteed to carry 4339 bits of information (which is why the original post announcing the contest offers only 4200 bits).

Any attempt to use "compression" as we usually understand it would be pointless because you can't always fit x bits of arbitrary data in an x-1 bit channel.

If it makes you feel any better, a lot of commenters didn't get it, either.

Comment Store small, high-value secrets (Score 1) 546

Type up your passwords and encryption keys and put the device in a safe somewhere.

It seems like a 1 kilobyte file is more likely to last on a hard drive if you store 50 million copies of it. (And if you store 500,000 copies of the file on a CD, you're less likely to be screwed by a scratch.) Is there an easy way to automate this duplication? Some weird "very small, very-high-repetition on same volume" file system, or just a perl script?

Comment Re:Memory?...keep their cool?? Huh??? (Score 1) 200

Not sure what you mean by keeping their cool, but you can't be referring to heat since they both run cooler than any PC.

We use six previous-generation Mac Minis in our office (1.83GHz Core 2 Duo).

We tried stacking four of them on top of each other, but saw frequent system instability related to overheating issues. No surprise there, really.

One of the other two occasionally fails -- the system freezes completely with no response to keyboard or mouse input. This pretty much only happens when we run it out in the sun during the day, though; so we just close the blinds and hard-reboot the machine.


Submission + - UCLA Probe Finds Taser Incident Out Of Policy (

Bandor Mia writes: Last November, it was reported that UCLA cops Tasered a student, who forgot to bring his ID, at the UCLA library. While an internal probe by UCLAPD cleared the officers of any wrongdoing, an outside probe by Police Assessment Resource Center has found that the police actions on Mostafa Tabatabainejad were indeed out of UCLA policy. The probe was conducted at the behest of acting UCLA Chancellor Norman Abrams.

From the report:
"In light of UCLAPD's general use of force policy and its specific policies on pain compliance techniques, Officer 2's three applications of the Taser, taken together, were out of policy. Officer 2 did not take advantage of other options and opportunities reasonably available to de-escalate the situation without the use of the Taser. Reasonable campus police officers, upon assessing the circumstances, likely would have embraced different choices and options that appear likely to have been more consistent both with UCLAPD policy and general best law enforcement practices."


Submission + - Hacker's Case May Add to Students' Privacy Rights

An anonymous reader writes: Article in Inside Higher Ed says the legal loss of a hacker in federal appeals court may result in students at public universities having MORE privacy rights. The hacker lost, but federal appeals court also said he had (generally) a right to privacy on computer in his dorm room: enkamp

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