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Comment Smells like Teen Science (Score -1) 88

That's hilarious. I wonder what happens to blue light when it goes through the yellowing lens of a non-young adult? Oh, it alters the frequency? Of course. So, the relevant light could be blue or could be green depending on the individual? Of course. But I would like to use technology to eliminate the effects of living in a completely unnatural light environment created by technology! Good luck with that.

Comment Not a surprise, but no reflection of O/S vs Prop. (Score 4, Insightful) 139

First, we shouldn't confuse Coverity's numerical measurements with actual code quality, which is a much more nuanced property.

Second, this report can't compare open source to proprietary code, even on the narrow measure of Coverity defect counts. In the open source group, the cost of the tool is zero (skewing the sample versus the commercial world) and Coverity reserved the rights to reveal data. Would commercial customers behave differently if they were told Coverity might reveal to the world their Coverity-alleged-defect data?

Again, having good Coverity numbers can't be presumed to be causally related to quality. For example, Coverity failed to detect the "heartbleed" bug, demonstrating that the effect of bugs on quality is very nonlinear. 10 bugs is not always worse than 1 bug; it depends on what that one bug is.

Comment Not the same (Score 1) 218

>more dangerous than what goes on every weekend at RC modeling sites
My local RC park is marked on my aviation maps, which are updated with some regularity. People flying random devices at random places at random times pretty much have to be more dangerous than that, if they don't show up in the computer when I'm planning my flight route. As drone usage increases, we'll logically eventually see the first GA aircraft crash caused by a drone. It would be logically preferable to make the rules for avoiding that before it happens, but the custom in the U.S. is to wait until someone dies, then make a rule that's draconian, then fight back and forth over tightening and loosening based on what news events garner the most eyeballs over time.

The saving grace will be that MOST drones will be in positions that are illegal for GA aircraft most of the time. Still, even if a guy kills some little kids by hitting a drone while illegal buzzing his own house, involvement of any RC device will become the legal topic de jeur I imagine.

Comment Re:Three choices, pick one. (Score 2) 986

Probably there are more choices. For example:

Find a sympathetic Congress person to hold a public hearing
with NSA plus real Computer Scientists to inquire
on the feasability of using the data they already have
to identify gun owners in the U.S, to identify all Jews
in the U.S., to identify all Catholics, all Mormons,
all Tea Party sympathizers, etc.

Don't take on a superior force if you can instead use
small effort to pit two superior forces against each other.

Comment Re:Common knowledge? (Score 1) 188

No. Wrong. Completely wrong. Completely misses the point.

Writing is a quite different cognitive activity than "thinking". Writing about things provides distance and helps overcome the limitations of working memory that can prevent you from seeing the same problem by just "thinking". Writing documentation produces very different results than just thinking about the code.

Comment Not an Old-School Problem (Score 3, Interesting) 575

Most "old school" programmers have some interpreted language in their toolkit. People who think "old" means 40 probably have Python/Perl/etc. People who are really old probably had Basic/Awk/etc. So, nothing to do with how long you've been programming, more to do with how narrow your background is. As with learning any new language, there's no getting around the basic advice of: Write More Code.

Comment Re:Seen this article everywhere now. (Score 2) 253

No, it's just one of those things that people who work in cancer research are aware of and, eventually, that awareness leaks into the public and the press realizes that the research community knows something the uneducated public would find astounding.

Let me give you a human example of the cost of screening. I was sitting in a mammography waiting room once when a women came in for her screening. The receptionist informed her that she could get screened, but the radiologist was out and she would have to wait a day to get the results. The woman became upset and demanded there be a radiologist present. The receptionist gave the same reply.

Eventually, the woman was sobbing and explaining that, though she was a nurse, false-positive mammograms had sent her in for biopsies three times already. The last time had been 5 years earlier and she simply stopped returning because she couldn't face another biopsy. This was the first time she had got her nerve up to come in for a mammogram again in all that time, and there was no way she could leave that office and not know if anything (false or not) had been found.

And that's not even a case with serious physical costs for screening, "merely" psychological costs: that caused someone to stop getting screened.

Likelihood of a false positive by your tenth mammogram? Nearly 100%. Since you're presumably working in some kind of technological field, you should really realize that technology always has a downside and not assume that anyone recommending shoving less technology down patients throats simply has a profit motive.

Comment Re:Or they could do MORE frequent screenings. (Score 1) 253

Two reasons that won't work. Restrict the discussion to breast/prostate cancer for simplicity. Both are highly treatable if they haven't mutated enough to have the ability to metastasize. You can't make an imaging technique that checks every cancer cell to see if even one(!) has gained the ability to metastasize.

Second, the vast majority of people will INSIST on surgery if they know they have cancer. I used to try to explain to people that most of us have already (if we've got grey hair) thyroid cancer, but it is highly unlikely to harm us. Then I realized I was just causing people to run to their doctor to demand an X-ray of their thyroid. People can't process things like "likelihood" when it comes to cancer, which is why the fact that screenings can cause more harm than good is very difficult to have a rational discussion about.


Athena's Free Firewall Browser 23

athenasec writes "Firewall Browser is a free configuration analyzer (download here), released by Athena Security, which works on Cisco, Check Point, and Netscreen firewalls for searching rulebases based on address or service ranges — the way change requests are actually made. The tool is available as a free download with no limitations, user license restrictions, or registration hurdles. Users can slice and dice any firewall-related question about the network, service objects, and security rules for a multi-vendor environment from a single flexible interface. There is also this how-to guide for applying the tool to day-to-day operational tasks."

Submission + - Software Tools For Buggier Bloated Software (

RonBurk writes: Software tools are putting more power in the hands of more programmers. Is that a good thing? That it often is not can be seen by examining the case of modern parser generator tools. In principle, they offer more power and ease-of-use than the older generation of tools. In practice, they make it easier for programmers with no parser experience create buggier and more bloated software.

Submission + - USDA Launches Apps for Healthy Kids Competition 1

theodp writes: The USDA is calling all techies to participate in the Apps for Healthy Kids competition, part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity. A total of $40,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to developers of 'innovative, fun, and engaging tools and games' that utilize a USDA nutrition dataset to encourage children to make more nutritious food choices and be more physically active. The nation's CTO used what some say are dubious statistics cited by the First Lady to encourage attendees of the Game Developers Choice Awards to join the competition. Contest judges include Segway Roller Derby-playing Steve Wozniak and Zynga CEO Mark 'I-Did-Every-Horrible-Thing-In-The-Book' Pincus. The Apps for Healthy Kids website advertises that the site is 'Powered by ChallengePost,' a startup that counts Judge Woz as a Board member.

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