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Comment Re:Canadian Border Guards... (Score 2) 275

The first line of Canadian border guards is trained to ask unexpected and misleading questions. The first few times I went through without a problem, as I naturally engaged in the conversation and, probably, showed expected surprised reactions to the probing. That would be like the grandparent poster explaining how'd he find his friend.

After a couple years I got tired of the game and answered, but shortly. Like: - What are you doing in Canada? - I live here. - Where do you live? - Waterloo. - What do you do in Canada? - See my residence permit, it says I'm a spouse of a student. That's it. - Do you work? - My residence permit does not require me to work, sir. - (starts getting annoyed) Are you working? - Yes. - What do you do? - I'm a university professor. - What do you teach? - My contract does not require me to lecture. I do research. (I later learned to skip this one. Professors teach, everyone knows that.) - What do you research? - Physics. - Where are you coming from? - (name of the country I've been on the flight from). - What did you do there? - It was a business trip, sir. - What business? - University business, sir. - Are you bringing any goods with you? - No sir, just as I have stated in my declaration. - Why? - It was a business trip sir, I did not have time to buy.

After the above, I usually ended up in the immigration office, then a full customs search of my bags. The immigration office would admit me, sometimes with a farewell statement "You are not (sounding) frendly. But that's okay".

Eventually I decided to find out what was triggering the searches, and whether I was at a real risk of not being admitted home after one of my numerous business trips. I requested at the first check to be routed to the immigration, and had a long conversation with the immigration officer. I asked to clarify things. The Canadian officer asked me lots of questions, explained the law permitted them to deny me entry (because I didn't have permanent residency) but they saw no reason to do that, and stamped my passport. Then the female officer switched language and told me in clear Russian, which I translate here: "When a weird-looking bloke in a t-shirt with long hair and discheveled beard says he's a professor, we have to investigate". Well, these reasons are not something I can fix :).

This is the only country where I'm regularly interrogated at the border. In Europe and the rest of the world, the guards either silently look at my visas and ask nothing, or ask 1-2 quick questions about the duration and purpose of the trip. Customs have never been interested in searching my usual luggage. To me, Canada is a stark contrast to the rest of the world.

Comment Re:Paying ransoms should be outlawed (Score 1) 87

Nope, there likely isn't any expensive data locked. That would be a minor inconvenience to lots of faculty and staff, likely an embarrassment and some deadlines missed, and next time they will remember to back up properly themselves and give proper heat to the IT staff to do their job. If someone lost any significant amount of work, that is well-deserved and a necessary educational experience. I am actually a professor at another Canadian university (Waterloo). I have a dozen of computers and servers in my research group that hold all sorts of expensive data, and I think it should be that way. No ransoms.

Besides, there are other non-economical reasons why ransoms should not be paid.

Comment Re: Long overdue (Score 2) 348

Can they instead keep full state of the page you were in and make forward button work such that all form data is not lost?

If you accidentally press back button you can just press forward button to get back to where you were.

In my limited understanding, this behavior is controlled by the website, not browser. This is done on purpose and is part of web standards (standard practices, at least). Sites can specify to preserve the form content through page back/forward, or they can specify to delete it after the page is left. Many sites use both options on purpose. The default in website software is usually to delete, as this is best for secirity (login screens, submission of cc and other personal data... most typed-in things are best gone after the page is left, just to be sure in case another user is using the same computer). Removing or modifying this browser behavior would break things in a major way.

Comment Summary (Score 1) 238

First law of media: whenever a news title ends with a question mark, the answer is no. So, FTL communication: nope, and entanglement can't help it.

NASA-sponsored research at U. Illinois: use superdense coding, with some interesting twists (note to myself: read about it). That's no FTL, but usung fewer photons for communication than the number of bits communicated. Such technology may become applicable in a distant future.

Comment Re:can't do anything much with encrypted data (Score 2) 251

Out af an academic interest, blind computation (remote execution of an encrypted client's program on encrypted client's data) is possible in theory, but it's very far from being todays' technology. It's possible both classically (with computational complexity assumptions), and quantum (unconditionally secure in theory).

Comment Re:BB does what I need (Score 1) 138

My spouse's and friends' S4 can't navigate with GPS for very long, definitely drains battery when plugged in normal USB socket (not high-current). Maybe there is a difference in settings or software from yours. Z10 will drain battery empty in roughly a couple weeks when shut down. Maybe that's worse than some other models, but my point is there need to be an electrical disconnect if the battery is to be preserved in long shutdown periods. That's my usage pattern, by the way. When I'm not traveling, I rarely have a need for the phone. I just know it's there in the bag with full battery when I need it.

Comment BB does what I need (Score 1) 138

In short, BB works for me. Maps with driving navigation? Yes. (Hello my power-hungry Android friends, can your phone navigate with GPS and charge up off a USB socket? Z10 does that.) Shutdown the phone for weeks without charging then switch it on with live battery? Yes. (That requires inserting a post-it between battery contacts. Impossible with Apple phones.) Phone? Yes. SSH client? Yes. Wifi hotspot? Yes. Flashlight? Yes. (No app required.) Facebook, dunno, I don't use that stuff. Most things are inconvenient on a small screen anyway, so I carry a notebook for real work.

Comment Re:Entitled (Score 1) 146

So why do these authors publish their papers through expensive journals instead of just uploading to slideshare.net or scribd?

Besides the career advancement others have mentioned, another main reason is that peer review in mainstream journals performs a significant quality check on both the results and the clarity of communication. The system is not without its failures, and it does not work well every time, but by and large it works and it is better than any known alternative. Notice I have written mainstream journals. There are "peer-reviewed" journals out there that will publish anything. But, in any area of science it is generally known among scientists which journals follow good practices and which are junk.

Putting a manuscript online is easy nowadays. E.g., in many areas of natural sciences arXiv is a de-facto repository for nearly all papers published in the field. Papers often appear there many months before they appear in the journal. Yet it's rarely that a paper ends its life in arXiv. Most are submitted to journals, receive anonymous reviews, are revised (sometimes more than once), copyedited, and finally published. This can often be traced by several revisions of the manuscript in arXiv.

The problem we are dealing here is that running a journal and managing the editorial process (at the minimum, peer review and publication decisions) still costs money. These have to be recouped somehow. Hopefully it shakes down over the coming years and we'll have a better system than subscription-based journals that only universities can really afford.

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