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Comment My experience: I question whether this is true. (Score 1) 549

I've found that hearing aids have increased in function and greatly decreased in cost.

A caveat: I've bought my hearing aids with my own funds, so the many comments about government, insurance companies and so forth may be accurate for those who obtain them through other sources, but for those who deal only with the private providers have seen many technological improvements for less money.

I bought my first pair (yes, two ears) in about 2000: they had all the computerized noise cancellation/augmentation stuff available at the time and cost about USD 6000 for the two. I bought a newer, more powerful pair about six years later for about the same amount; that is improved technology at the same price.

My latest pair, bought about three years ago is functionally FAR superior to any I've had before, and cost 1/3 as much. Yes: USD 2000 for the pair. This last purchase really emphasized both the technology improvements AND cost reduction that have been available in recent years.

Comment Re:Inefficient by *design* (Score 1) 362


I learned touch-typing on QWERTY in high-school in the '60's: the theory was that all college-bound students needed to type. At the time, I was disgusted, but put up with the course.

Fast forward forty years. Math, science, everything be damned: learning to touch type was the best course I ever had in preparation for a 35-year career in coding. Dvorak yadda yadda yadda: great, but none of my clients had Dvorak keyboards, so that would have been pointless. Is QWERTY the greatest ever? Perhaps not, but it works (particularly on modern, non-jamming machines) and it's what works in the normal workplace.

So: thank you QWERTY, and thank you, touch typing. I have a nice retirement today, thanks to my success in normal IT.


Genghis Khan, History's Greenest Conqueror 279

New research suggests that in addition to being one of history's cruelest conquerors, Genghis Khan may have been the greenest. It is estimated that the Mongol leader's invasions unintentionally scrubbed almost 700 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere. From the article: "Over the course of the century and a half run of the Mongol Empire, about 22 percent of the world's total land area had been conquered and an estimated 40 million people were slaughtered by the horse-driven, bow-wielding hordes. Depopulation over such a large swathe of land meant that countless numbers of cultivated fields eventually returned to forests. In other words, one effect of Genghis Khan's unrelenting invasion was widespread reforestation, and the re-growth of those forests meant that more carbon could be absorbed from the atmosphere." I guess everyone has their good points.
Classic Games (Games)

Hank Chien Reclaims Donkey Kong High Score 122

An anonymous reader writes "If you can say anything about Hank Chien, it's that he evidently doesn't take defeat very well. Sure, he knew not so deep down that his Donkey Kong World Record score wouldn't last forever, but he couldn't have foreseen that it would have been toppled so quickly. Twice, even. But he also knew that more Kong competition would be coming his way; namely Richie Knucklez Kong-Off in March. So Hank had something to prove, and prove he did. Scoring a massive 1,068,000 points in less than three hours, Hank has officially reclaimed the high score in Nintendo’s 1981 arcade classic."

Comment Re:"Too fast to be true" (Score 1) 194

I've worked with NIST, and largely sorta respect 'em: yeah, they're bureaucrats and, yeah, they share some characteristics with the rest of the dumbocracy. On the other hand, they _do_ try, and I my impression has been, after working with other fed agencies, that they're better than most. But not perfect, and probably not as 'alert' (i.e. as guarded with development funds) as private corporations would be.

And, yeah: let's see the details on the fast ones. If they can be disproved, so much the better, but if good, they're math triumphs.


IT Worker's Revenge Lands Her In Jail 347

aesoteric writes "A 30-year-old IT worker at a Florida-based health centre was this week sentenced to 19 months in a US federal prison for hacking, and then locking, her former employer's IT systems. Four days after being fired from the Suncoast Community Health Centers' for insubordination, Patricia Marie Fowler exacter her revenge by hacking the centre's systems, deleting files, changing passwords, removing access to infrastructure systems, and tampering with pay and accrued leave rates of staff."
The Courts

Man Sues Rockstar Saying GTA:SA Is Based On His Life 124

dotarray writes "From the article: 'Rockstar Games are no strangers to legal action, but it doesn't come stranger than this. An American model, Michael Washington (known as "Shagg") is suing the publisher — as well as parent company Take Two Interactive — because they based Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on his life.'" It's a good thing Washington never learned the infinite ammo cheat.

1928 Time Traveler Caught On Film? 685

Many of you have submitted a story about Irish filmmaker George Clarke, who claims to have found a person using a cellphone in the "unused footage" section of the DVD The Circus, a Charlie Chaplin movie filmed in 1928. To me the bigger mystery is how someone who appears to be the offspring of Ram-Man and The Penguin got into a movie in the first place, especially if they were talking to a little metal box on set. Watch the video and decide for yourself.

Comment Interpretation... (Score 1) 327

It's a nice -- but musically off the tracks -- idea. The problem is that music, and this is especially true of classical music where a single work can be recorded by scores of artists, is not just a matter of mechanically reproducing sound from notation; it's a matter of interpretation.

If this project succeeds in hiring excellent musicians, and if the resulting recordings bring rave reviews, that means that _one_ recording of, say, Beethoven's Ninth is open sourced, but it has no effect on the legitimate desire for other alternate performances. Yes, it does make one recording available to those who don't want to pay, though it does little to free the intellectual content of the work itself, because that intellectual content is derived from the original composer _and_ each interpreter.

Worse, if they produce something that is artistically uninteresting, even while a 'faithful' representation of the score, they've accomplished little.

Comment Re:Why not (Score 2, Insightful) 520

..."Unlike the other freaks on here, I do NOT like a work environment where I have zero privacy, where I get distracted every time someone walks by or a big crowd gathers around a neighboring engineer and has a loud conversation, and where I can't have a private phone conversation without everyone in my group hearing every word I say."

I generally agree -- over several decades, most of my projects were implemented by small groups, where personal space is important. Much to my surprise, however, I found that a group room worked very well on one large project. Mind you, the reason it worked may have been project specific, but for what it's worth:

It was a big integration project, with both infrastructure and application people needing immediate problem resolution -- about 30 developers total. We set up a LARGE conference room with a U of tables around three sides. There were a couple of tables in the front for meeting leaders (for the infrequent meetings and conference calls) and, just as importantly, extra stragglers.

The groups arranged themselves informally around the U, with related team members close to each other for quick-over-the-shoulder consultation, and with the other groups in easy reach for cross-disciplinary issues. There was little management 'interference' (though, of course, they checked in), 'cause they trusted the teams to work out the details.

Through many previous (and smaller) projects, I've preferred to work alone, and I was surprised at how well this worked out. We spent about three months at 10-12 hours a day (yes, five days a week, so we could decompress), and much to my eremitic amazement, even I felt that this arrangement worked very well for a project that was complex and reaching deadline.

Thoughts on arrangement: First, no close face-to-face stuff. We had about 20 feet between opposing sides of the U, so this was a non-issue. Secondly: no back-to-back (classroom style). This not only leads to looking-over-your-shoulder syndrome, but also a reduced face-to-face invitation for collaboration.


4G iPhone Misplacer Invited To Germany For Beer 164

eldavojohn writes "You may recall the hapless engineer who left a fairly sensitive iPhone at a bar recently. Well, in a PR stunt, Lufthansa has invited him to visit Germany on their dime after citing his latest Facebook status, 'I underestimated how good German beer is' as well as his obvious passion for German beer and culture. It's not clear if Gray Powell has decided to 'pick up where he last left off' (as the letter puts it). I know what my decision would be."

Comment Re:basic math (Score 3, Interesting) 449

Since the original post is so brief, it's difficult to determine its intent. However, the usual intimation of such quotes is to imply that the 3/5ths valuation was immoral because slaves should have been counted fully, i.e., as 5/5ths.

But this is exactly counter to the various political goals of the time: the northern colonies, who were more generally against slavery (yes, there was still slavery in the North, but I'm describing averages) wanted the slaves to not be counted at all, while the southern colonies demanded that they count as a full person.

The reason? The census -- and it was only the census for which this definition was intended -- determined how many representatives each state could send to Washington. Northern, and sorta generally anti-slavery colonies, wanted to not count the slaves at all; if they're not fully-enfranchised citizens, why should the 'owners' get the Federal advantage of the extra legislative muscle that the extra census count would provide?

The southern colonies, on the other hand wanted slaves fully counted so as to maximize the pro-slavery clout that the South might exert through the additional members in the House of Representatives.

So, the old saw that evaluating slaves as "3/5ths human" is both a gross misrepresentation of the original intent (it had nothing to do with their status as human beings), and of the political impact of this count: the politically correct view would be to count them as zero, thereby depriving the slave-holding states of the census advantage.

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