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Comment Re:Too many species use them as food (Score 2) 470

This is hypothetical. Even if somebody indiscriminately releases millions of genetically modified death-skeeters, it would not make mosquitoes extinct. There are more than 3,500 species of mosquito, for one. Also, from the BBC article, "Would it be wrong to eradicate mosquitoes?

The question is likely to remain hypothetical, whatever the level of concern over Zika, malaria and dengue. Despite the success of reducing mosquito numbers in smaller areas, many scientists say knocking out an entire species would be impossible.

"There's no silver bullet," says Hawkes. "Field trials using GM mosquitoes have been a moderate success but involved releasing millions of modified insects to cover just a small area.

"Getting every female mosquito to breed with sterile males in a large area would be very difficult. Instead we should be looking to combine this with other techniques."

Comment what common core addition method? (Score 2) 367

Hello. I'm a math teacher, licensed to teach in two states, currently teaching algebra 2 and AP calculus. What are you talking about? I'm familiar with the common core state standards (CCSS). I've never heard of a "common core addition method." Care to enlighten me?

Please give a link to the online version of the CCSS that describes this algorithm. If, instead, you're seeing this algorithm described in some crap textbook your school district got from the lowest bidder, well, that's too bad. The publishers don't have their books vetted by common core. They are completely independent.

Comment Cryptography is hard (Score 1) 410

There is a point about security that all the glib commenters here (disable fingerprint allow PIN blah blah ) get wrong: real security is very hard to get right. As Steve Bellovin points out, the Needham-Schroeder key exchange protocol was published in 1978. It took seventeen years to find a flaw in it that allows a man-in-the-middle attack. It was "proven" mathematically correct, too. Still think Apple should just disable fingerprint auth on the iPhone 6? Then you're a fool who has no business commenting on cryptography. If you really want to do cryptography and get it right, you need to approach the subject with a large serving of humble pie.

Apple is damned if they do and damned if they don't here. Bricking the cryptographically secure device when hardware tampering is detected is the right thing to do.

Comment blame the man (Score 5, Insightful) 245

I blame management, the prosecutors, and the judges. There was a serious lack of oversight, obviously.

Let's say she worked 250 days/year, a conservative assumption. That means she was averaging ~ 6E4/(9*250) ~ 27 analyses/day. Assuming 8 hours actual work/day, that means she was completing an analysis roughly every 18 minutes. I'm a physicist. I've worked in a manufacturing facility with a chem lab that analyzed production samples. Hell, sample prep can take 20 minutes! There is no way she was completing these analyses accurately. Her boss must have known something was amiss. A reasonable assumption is that he or she knew so and had wink/nod arrangement with the prosecutors and the courts.

Our "justice" system is deeply flawed, and this is more evidence of the systemic flaws in it. Kudos to Ms. Lithwick for covering this beat.

Comment Re:Cry me a river (Score 1) 253

The IRS is an unbelievably bloated agency.

I call BS. Do you have any evidence of bloat at the IRS? The Boston Globe has reported that the IRS is not "up to the basics of its job." The IRS makes billions of dollars in fraudulent payments "because it lacks the ability to check whether many returns are accurate before refunds are mailed." The IRS relies on tax preparers to file accurate returns. Guess what, they often screw up. The agency is "so short-staffed it cannot answer nearly 40 percent of phone calls, and it has failed to meet its own 45-day deadline to respond to millions of letters per year from taxpayers." Etc.

On Point Radio had a show about the IRS 11 months ago. Listen and learn:

Comment Re:Makes sense if you have an older Mac (Score 1) 592

I've got a 2009 era MacBook Pro. Originally it ran Snow Leopard but since then I have upgraded OS's as they came out and now I'm on Yosemite. One thing I have noticed is that memory requirements have steadily gone up. At the moment I'm running an email client, Skype, Chrome and a password manager and it's using over 6GB of RAM. The same thing on Windows 8 uses less than 4GB of RAM. On Linux it's about 2.5GB of RAM.

The MacBook is pegged at 8GB of RAM - I can't add any more than that. So just a very basic load, like above, and I'm almost maxed out on RAM on OSX. That is unacceptable to me - almost unusable.

Memory usage understanding fail. Yosemite is using the RAM you've given it. It will most likely never get into swap unless you do some insane stress test.

Check out Siracusa's comments on Mavericks' compressed virtual memory system ( By all accounts, compressed virtual memory in 10.9 and 10.10 is a net win for swap usage, battery life, and performance. Have you ever seen swap usage > 0?

Comment Don't be a sucker (Score 1) 386

Driverless cars open up huge possibilities. Think of long distance trips, ...

I don't believe it. Where's the evidence of driverless cars cars that can replace cars driven by human drivers in all weather conditions, in heavy city traffic (rush hour in any big city), with a mudslide, a temporary detour, thunderstorms, reckless drivers, flood waters, drifting snow, a wreck up ahead, temporary lane restrictions, etc., and all the other unexpected events that human drivers deal with every time we get behind the wheel? I have seen pictures of the "driverless" car and articles written by credulous reporters. I looked at the official driverless car site on google+. I'm not impressed.

Where is the evidence? How about a map of the streets and roads the car has actually covered? How about turning it loose in Brooklyn at rush hour and seeing if it can make it to the Newark Airport?

Comment Re:By yourself you know others (Score 2) 583

Indeed. I could not agree more. It's only been 4 days since the views of machine learning expert Michal Jordan were posted on /. Sounds like Elon musk lends too much credence to horribly reductionist cartoon models of the brain. As Jordan says in the interview, "... it’s true that with neuroscience, it’s going to require decades or even hundreds of years to understand the deep principles." (my emphasis) He's talking about the brain and the nature of intelligence.

We have the faintest pico–glimmer of a clue about how the brain works. How can we emulate it with a machine?

Comment two-step verification (Score 2) 336

Did the brute-force attack sidestep Apple ID two-step verification? I'm guessing no, and that none of the celebs who were hacked had bothered to enable the two-step login shuffle. You might think a celebrity could afford to hire someone to beef up their online security and advise them in such matters. Why don't they?

Comment the real scandal is fraudulent returns (Score 1) 465

This focus on Lois Lerner is a republican red herring. The real scandal at the IRS is the billions in fraudulent return payouts they make every year. The Republican-led congress has cut the IRS budget by a $billion, but it's a net loss when one factors in the loss due to the fraudulent return payouts (identity theft) and the reduced take from collections (about $8 billion). Read the article at the Boston Globe website. The IRS budget cut increased the deficit.

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Over the shoulder supervision is more a need of the manager than the programming task.