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Comment Re:...and nothing of value was lost... (Score 1) 294

Nothing against Farnell/e14/RS, but sometimes it's nice to be able to talk to a person, face to face, when an issue arises. You can take the item back to the store, discuss the issue, look the item over, look each other in the eye, and reach a conclusion as to how to proceed. A phone call, or email, lacks that kind of personal contact. Given the choice between a store and mail order, I'll choose the store whenever I can.

Submission + - Mathematicians Uncomfortable With Ties To NSA, But Not Pulling Back (

An anonymous reader writes: When we talk about how the NSA operates, it's typically about the policymakers and what the agency should or should not do. It's worth remembering that the NSA is built upon the backs of world-class mathematicians, whom they aggressively recruit to make all their underlying surveillance technology work. A new piece in Science discusses how the relationship between mathematicians and the NSA has changed following the Snowden leaks (PDF). But as Peter Woit points out, these ethical conundrums are not actually spurring any change. This is perhaps due to the NSA's generous funding of mathematics-related research. The article talks about the American Mathematical Society, which until recently was led by David Vogan: "...after all was said and done, no action was taken. Vogan describes a meeting about the matter last year with an AMS governing committee as 'terrible,' revealing little interest among the rest of the society’s leadership in making a public statement about NSA’s ethics, let alone cutting ties. Ordinary AMS members, by and large, feel the same way, adds Vogan, who this week is handing over the presidency to Robert Bryant, a mathematician at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. For now, U.S. mathematicians aren't willing to disown their shadowy but steadfast benefactor."

Submission + - How Gaseous, Neptune-Like Planets Can Become Habitable (

An anonymous reader writes: Life as we know it requires small, rocky planets. The gas giants of our solar system aren't habitable (to our knowledge), but a research team has discovered that smaller, Neptune-like planets can be transformed into gas-free, potentially habitable worlds with a little help from red dwarf stars. Such planets are usually formed far out in a planetary system, but tidal forces can cause them to migrate inward. When they reach the habitable zone of their host star, they absorb far larger amounts of x-ray and ultraviolet radiation. This can eventually boil off most of the the gas atmosphere, leaving behind the core: a small, rocky world capable of supporting life.

Comment trust lost is difficult to regain (Score 5, Insightful) 415

With the crazy UI shifts, the security debacles, the hunger for hardware resources, and the generally inconsistent (read: shitty) performance of the various Windows releases, Microsoft has made a lot more enemies than friends over the years. What's worse is that it took their Board of Directors so long to oust Steve Ballmer, who was at the helm during their "screw the customers" years.

So now nobody likes Microsoft, nobody trusts them. The end users merely tolerate them, and even that has its limits. Such a transparent attempt to wring even more cash from their remaining customers is going to do nothing to win back former allies, while at the same time vindicating their critics.

There were once those who cried "break up Microsoft!" during the anti-trust sentencing. If Microsoft decides to go with subscriptions, it may end up bringing about its own break-up with very little outside effort.

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