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Comment The greatest humanist in quite some time (Score 5, Informative) 299

Sir Terry Pratchett was the greatest humanist I knew in my life.
He managed to touch the souls of great number of people through his uniquely clear worldview and managed to infuse great human values in the best possible way.
Needless to say, reading and living with his books was one of the most enlightening experiences I have ever had with the written letters.
His wisdom and approach to life will be dearly missed. Him being of the most famoust atheists, I can only say he left this earth forever, to finally settle in our hearts and the souls of those to come after us, growing up to be better human beings, through his books and ideas.
Because ideas never die ...
RIP Sir Terry Pratchett
Long Live Sir Terry Pratchett

Comment I was there - we don't need no russians (Score 0) 155

I first hand experience from the country mentioned, Bulgaria.
The NYT got it pretty wrong...
I have never experienced such a large grassroots uprising of people in my own country as againts the fracking of oil and gas. Period.
When there was a word that somebody up there is doing something about fracking in the land where all the corn and wheat is produced in Bulgaria - pretty much everybody I knew came out on the streets.
Let me tell you a couple of things about my country.
People are poor, do not know a lot about politics, the scene is ripe with populist and desinformation. In a word, we don't give a thing about the stupidity of our leaders or politicians. And there is A LOT of it present. It takes quite a grab to unnerve a sleeping monster like that. And when the plans to spoil our main source of bread and water started to loom, the reaction was lightning fast.
For one thing, we have the internet. So we knew about the consequences from fracking in America. And there was the film "Gasland".
I give it one thing: you cannot easily go back to sleep after you've seen one's tap water on fire...
A lot of naysayers might try to say something about the russians, but the dreaded truth is this was the jolt of electricity that gave a rise to the new generation of conscious people on our streets that start to push back on all the stupid advances and encroaches on our land.
And then, there was ACTA ...

Comment just an example to go by (Score 2) 218

There is a genius Go programmer (as in Weiqi, Baduk, GO game) that IIRC has come out as schizophrenic some years ago.
His name is Frank A. de Groot, author of MoyoGo Studio - a controversial but good go-studying platform. Some time ago, he used to offer his program for a fee, got into trouble with major Go schools in Korea I think (they claimed he used their pro game logs data without authorization). The guy always has an axe to grind with somebody, whether on good ole groups, irc, email or forums. After some time, he started offering MoyoGoStudio for free...
And then, he deleted it. Forever.
Just like that, with all backup copies of it.
Or at least that`s what he claimed to have done, in a bad episode. Next thing i hear, when in a lighter mood, he dug up some god-forsaken source copy and apologized for not taking his pills.
I think the guy IS a genius programmer, but completely fills in the proverb about not every gift being a blessing...
Maybe he can offer some personal, non-anonymous advice on the subject?

Comment long time overdue (Score 1) 726

This is not a surprise to anybody, that has already watched the movie analysis by Rob Ager: http://www.collativelearning.com/Starship%20troopers%20analysis.html
The guy nailed it back there, pretty obvious, but let's just say the world was in denial .... and in shock and awe from the bugs :)))

Comment your best guess on the GPS successor? (Score 5, Insightful) 104

Hi, Dr Ramsey!
What is your best estimate as to what is the US DOD's current GPS backup system?
IIRC Obama cut the budget for LORAN around 2010 and till then the system was financed with the explicit explanation and purpose - GPS backup. But no more...
I am currently teaching ECDIS systems to mariners and I always emphasize the weaknesses of GPS under jamming. Ever since Selective Availability has been switched off, the jamming topic pops up more and more as a soft spot of the whole process, so I think we are not fooling ourselves that the US would let down such a gaping hole in its systems uncovered...

Comment Not the first example (Score 1) 321

This mechanism was very well documented in a businessweek article: Pssst .... Wanna buy a Law?
In a nutshell, the companies lobby and pre-fabricate heavily customized (for their own needs) bills for local governments` use, keep them in the drawer and present them whenever opportunity rears its ugly head. The article describes exactly this bill in action in Lafayette and the havoc it wreaks on the municipality's idea to build its own infrastructure. Very grimmm...

Comment reminds me of an old saying (Score 1) 838

Anyone who'd read "Nation" knows the aforementioned lines actually mean the opposite to the common wisdom and are thus very supportive to Terry's choice, even though they actually convey the continuation of life on terms of one's will, not some deity's one.
Quite a book that was, typical Pratchett, but without the Discworld guise, pity it is not as famous as the rest of the bunch, read almost all of them.
Kudos for Terry, btw, in any way possible.

Comment Re:Brilliant! (Score 1) 300

I second that, too.
Go has a pretty lower entry barrier for learning than chess. That's why it is used much more profoundly in Asia for educating children from a very early age. It is scientifically proven to stimulate more concisely both hemispheres of the brain as compared to chess, too.
View it as a hollistic approach, instead of a one-sided.

Comment Re:That's how you sell an autobiography (Score 2) 249

Do you really expect WSJ to post *anything* else as their opinion?
After all, they represent big capital in a very, VERY conservative way, not to mention that Keith Rupert Murdoch is breathing down their necks.
Just an example of why I can relate, so to speak, to Paul Allen:
When BillG announced his intention to "give away" or pledge half of his fortunes to the foundation of his and his wife's name, I thought: how convenient, this is what some ultra rich people are doing to actually protect their fortunes from IRS. Certainly Soros did it. But is BillG REALLY that philantropic? A couple of years later, the answer came from Bill's father himself, Bill Jr (Gates is 3rd). His father said in an interview that he has been pesking his son about starting a foundation -- NOT ONLY BECAUSE OF TAX PURPOSES -- but for some new challenges...
A sigh... Can't get any much closer than that to the source. BillG I think had some sort of Aspergers that made him what he is - a ruthless and brilliant programmer and a cutthroat businessman. But it didn't made him human.
Not at all.
This was the PR department's job in Microsoft. And it's a good thing that Allen brings some perspective, even after some years, -- AND for profit -- i.e. his auto-bio book sales. It is a good grain of truth in there, somewhere, one that neither the PR people, nor BillG himself would really like to shine out in public. But hell, either of these men is rich beyond caring, so who gives? :)

Comment Why I'm not surprised (Score 1) 413

Nothing particularly new under the sun, and then it's just the MS way... They've been incorporating this kind of things for quite a while now. About a year ago, I attended the offical MS cryptography class 2821A, aka PKI environment managing and setup. The tutor was a very bright guy, great instructor AND seller of MS-related stuff. He was also kind enough to share that some of the bleeding edge stuff they were currently doing was just like what the article announces. The weird part? It was done in Kosovo of all places on the face of Earth... It begs to differ but this reminds me of the opportunities that disaster capitalism offers to, hm, MS innovators. Being able to implement a Layer 1 or Layer 2 discriminatory network that doesn't let a single PC plugin to a simple router and get on the network without all the patches to the OS and the Antivirus soft already present - whoa, that is a whole new level of paranoia. But yet again, it was work done for their banking and financial systems - literrary being recreated from scratch, that recently had to bleed some upper management staff, due to misappropriations and money laundering. Given the ripe atmosphere of rogue law-less-ness, no wonder those boys didn't want to share the pie with some - with any - script kiddies. ;)

Comment Re:Overreaction (Score 2, Insightful) 296

It is a *translucent* layer of material. That is why it could not be picked up by the satellite imagery, besides being of microscopic proportions individually.
This is one of the very few places of distant observations where our advances in technology cannot make up for the loss of *in situ* research, a bit like the HUMINT gaffe and shortage of CIA in the middle east.
Also - a typical example of the proverb about the fallen tree, not reported by the media. When it gets to the point to be reportable and visible from space - it would have been already way too late...
It was accidentally stumbled upon by a strained sailboat, thus the skipper was close enough and slow in the water to take notice and that's how it all started.
There are a couple of movies on the subject, shot on location and the result and the impact from them make all the difference.

Comment some personal observations on the program (Score 3, Informative) 62

I have been in the program from almost the very beginning and I am glad they are coming finally frank and open about it. some more comments and caveats first:
-as anything modern in IT, people sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) so not a lot can be said from within the circle without breaking its terms. Having read the interview, I see the chief has also pretty much kept it this way, let alone only for the terms that are already publicly disclosed -google operates through 3rd party outsourcers and pretty much all non-essential communication is through them and not google directly, that's why the guy can't tell ya exact number about his posse. the big numbers are probably very correct, but I'm not sure about now. there seemed to be a very big wave of cut-offs and discontinued access for raters about a year ago, a lot of people got the boot and I'm not sure why - my bet is just a sweep of the axe. some were gone for a good reason, others very randomly. -the raters have a few spaces and forums to discuss their work, open to public and with minimal chance for an NDA break. -the raters have mods, too, but I haven't seen activity on that from for a while. -the specifics of the most cases have drawn me to a conclusion that for each surveyed example, there are at least 6 or 7 people working and giving opinions about, before a final decision is drawn, so there is your internal balance and weeding out bad judgement. lemme say it again you cannot single-handedly change Google's opinion about a particular site and particular search term. -about natural language processing - this is the scary part. you cannot imagine how good are these guys, especially their algorithms. from time to time they let us sneak peek at it and let me say we had a look at some betas (or alfa-s) of correct grammar processing and translation MONTHS ahead of their official announcement to the world. you could tell it was machine-made translation, but it was good, scary good. And I'm NOT talking English only, no,no. -the pay -it gets delayed about 6 weeks after month's end but is regular and usually not enough for a living, mainly due to the lack of work. first year it was good, very good, but in 2008 it started getting less and less, which is a shame, since it is a nice way to browse the net and get really paid to do it ! ;-) in those initial months, we were mainly dealing with spam, but recently even that is not so much present. -the reason they do not pinpoint sites has to do with the entire structure of the reviewing process - we look at a certain page from the perspective of a concrete search term and it's relevance to it, which is a good compromise. also you can get good content AND spam at the same time. Altogether for nearly two years in it, the terms we are monitoring haven't changed drastically an it can be boring from time to time, but otherwise, you get to see some really weird things people type into the search field. -altogether, recently I was both happy and pissed off at what their focus of work changed -dumbing down. more simpler and simpler explanations and help for the raters, so no surprise. -oh, yeah, one more thing. The leaked Guidelines - way beyond old so of not much use for reverse-engineering and helping the SEO guys. good luck with that :)

Comment practical tips for the deep water (Score 0) 504

I've had my share of sailing, thanks god I wasn`t that deep in the net then ;-) First - the cruise: this is a one in a lifetime experience and get the most out of it. in the case of internet communication, that means get to know the bridge guys, the navigating officers. They have the communications at their disposal, wherever and whatever the pay plan. if you want free time, look to befriend them in the "dead man's watch" - after 01AM local time in the darkness till ~05 in the morning. believe me, they would be happy to have some company and would gladly treat in some time in favor. next: free WiFi in the ports - most definitely get a good Pringles-like pointed antenna. you might consider limiting yourself to a phone and sms messages, now that cruise ships usually have a roaming cell for GSM networks (even pricey, yet) - it is good for emergency calls and such, but not for blogging. bring a lot of offline stuff to read and beat the boredom in the long passages and I mean a lot! for the true junkie- get the BGAN or as the experienced fellas say - OFFLINE POP3 mail client.(thunderbird portable?) when you are put in a non-real-time environment, you are forced to think and distill your answers and writings, thus making them better and also helps time pass faster (believe me, you'll have PLENTY). Enjoy the different experience. Plan what to see in the ports you call. If you are persistent and disciplined, keep a diary on daily basis, helps keep the head clear. meet and interact with as many people as possible. after the 3rd month you'll be pissed off each other pretty much, but if you're aware of that symptom, you'll get over it quickly and it'll be a good lesson in HR. explore yourself and the wonderful places you get to visit! This is a true eyes-opener, don't spoil it just to keep being hooked to the net, beach-rats' way ;-)

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