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Comment Re:Users. (Score 1) 210

I'd say learning to use the steering wheel is equivalent to learning to use the mouse. As neither the car nor the computer are going to do anything useful without this knowledge. Learning to use the brakes however, is a fairly good analogy.

Someone operating a motor vehicle who does not know how to use the brakes will operate his or her machine at high speed, wondering why it is not operating faster, careen around the road system posing a danger to themselves and others and will only stop when slamming into something and at the very least heavily damaging their machine.

Someone who is not willing to understand what vectors malware uses to infect a machine will typically operate his or her machine at what is for them high speed, wondering why it is not operating faster, careen around the internet from page to page posing a danger to themselves and others and will only stop when receiving such a terrible infection as to bring the machine to its knees requiring either a format or someone very knowledgeable about malware to clean it up.

Comment Re:what is a living molecule? (Score 1) 270

Fire exhibits all of these. Is it alive?

Homeostasis - Adjusts flame temperature to match fuel and oxidizer chemical composition and ratio of availability
Organization - Collects to maximize burn rate given state and configuration of fuel and oxidizer
Metabolism - Oxidizes a fuel to release energy to sustain itself
Growth - Expands to cover a fuel source
Adaptation - Will attempt to consume all available fuel by any means necessary
Response to Stimuli - Is influenced by and reacts to stimuli such as wind and the movement of fuel sources
Reproduction - Can start secondary fires on fuel sources not yet reached by wind, flash over, and other effect

Comment Re:Wow (Score 3, Interesting) 1142

At my university every one except the engineers have to take a information technology 101 course. This course basically boils down to "This is how to use Microsoft Office products." The students get quizzed on inane bullshit such as what all the shortcuts are to perform operations and where obscure menu options are located. The products taught range from Microsoft Word to Microsoft Access. Why someone who is getting an introductory course to computers would need to learn to use Access is beyond me. Very little time if any is devoted to explaining how a computer works, so students who have passed this class will still come into the student IT support office and refer to their desktop towers as the hard drive.

I think something much more vital to learn would be safe computing practices. Such as don't run or download free smiley and screensaver applications advertised on website banners. Unfortunately the school disagrees and Access is deemed a more important use of time.

Thankfully I'm here for engineering so I don't have to take the course but I've heard plenty of horror stories from my tech savvy friends who are here for things like business.

Comment Re:Science Fiction? (Score 1) 782

To be honest, I felt that this movie came as close to hard sci-fi as you could expect from Hollywood. Nothing was dismissed with handwaiving or technobabble. Without boring the average viewer who has no idea what magnetic flux and gaia theory are they were able to put in little one-liners here and there that allowed the more informed viewers to connect the dots and see that everything made some kind of sense. I'm the kind of guy that finds it hard to suspend disbelief in a movie when some sort of orbital insertion craft instead of doing a de-orbit burn burns straight towards the planet. Throughout watching all of this movie I never felt as if I was required to suspend disbelief as even when presented with the unbelievable I had already been given enough hints to the science to explain it or knew it would be coming shortly.

Comment Re:Unpopular (Score 1) 193

NASA's budget is already pretty small, 17.2 billion. The current stimulus plan is valued at 135.15 billion. In other terms, NASA's budget would have covered 12.7% of the economic stimulus if allocated in that way. The type of reform you're talking about would require more than the entirety of NASA's budget. What is amazing to me is the number of jobs for our educated persons that are created with that 17.2 billion dollars and also the amount of technology we get back out of it. I understand you believe that we need to pump more into economic recovery but please look somewhere with deeper pockets than NASA for the money.

Comment Re:What about the banks? (Score 5, Interesting) 422

You realize that the way two factor security is supposed to work is that is requires you to know something and have something right? The way that two factor security is usually done from what I've seen is requiring a password that the client knows and a rolling code from a small device the client has. As long as a bank does not allow that same rolling code to be used twice it doesn't matter what kind of keystroke logging, mouse gesture capturing, or screen recording is used nor how fast it is sent to the bad guys.

For you car enthusiasts, it's like taking the engine with you when you leave the car. Even if the car is hot-wired, it's not going anywhere without that thing you still have.

Comment Re:Cars (Score -1) 884

You don't have many cars or buildings out in the ocean. Most of the Earth is covered by ocean. Most meteoric impacts are going to be in the ocean. The better question is "why haven't we seen more boats taken out by meteors?" However the odds are still greater that any given plane will be hit by a meteor than any given boat because airplanes travel over both land and water.

Comment Possible Application (Score 1) 115

The only application where infofuses would actually outperform other forms of communication I can come up with is the transmission of a message from a location other than where the sender is located with little complication. Simply attach a normal long delay fuse to an infofuse atop a high structure such that it will light the infofuse at a predetermined time when someone will be looking. Essentially a data drop-off point. I can imagine several espionage scenarios where this could be useful. It would be much more difficult and noticeable to rig a lantern, semaphore, or radio system to do the same thing. It also beats dropping off a one-time pad encrypted note in that the receiver of the message is not required to be in physical contact with the message. In addition there's the prospect of signal interception or discovery. With some mechanical lantern or semaphore system the apparatus would likely have to remain after the message was sent, allowing for the possibility of reverse engineering the device to determine what message was sent. Once an infofuse burns up the best you can do is determine what signals were sent but not in what order.

Comment Re:Let me be the first to say: (Score 1) 341

Keep in mind that for the longest time something excel could do that calc couldn't was determine the linear regression for a set of data and display that regression equation on the graph. That's a fundamental difference I've encountered that's forced me to use Excel in the past. Open office can now display the regression equations on the graph but there are bound to be more fundamental differences out there.

Submission + - Which Google Should Congress Believe? 1

theodp writes: "In Congressional testimony last month, Google's VP of People Operations told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration that, due to limits on the number of H-1B visas, Google is regularly unable to pursue highly qualified candidates. But as Google stock tumbled in after hours trading Wednesday, Google's CEO blamed disappointing profits on a hiring binge and promised Wall Street analysts that the company would keep a careful eye on headcount in the future. So which Google should Congress believe?"

Submission + - A Pilot on Airline Security (

Paperweight writes: Dave Mackett, president of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance, recently wrote how unsafe and hole-ridden airline security still is, in spite of all the money being blown on it. There is simply no deployable technology that has a prayer of keeping a motivated, prepared terrorist out of the system. The US Transport Security Administration misses more than 90% of detectable weapons at passenger checkpoints even in their own tests. Until the mindset behind airline security is changed, using an airliner as a weapon of mass destruction is as easy today as ever.

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