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NASA Launches Four Spacecraft To Study Earth-Sun Magnetism 21

An anonymous reader writes: Late Thursday NASA used an Atlas rocket to put four new, identical spacecraft into orbit. "The quartet of observatories is being placed into an oblong orbit stretching tens of thousands of miles into the magnetosphere — nearly halfway to the moon at one point. They will fly in pyramid formation, between 6 miles and 250 miles apart, to provide 3-D views of magnetic reconnection on the smallest of scales. Magnetic reconnection is what happens when magnetic fields like those around Earth and the sun come together, break apart, then come together again, releasing vast energy. This repeated process drives the aurora, as well as solar storms that can disrupt communications and power on Earth. Data from this two-year mission should help scientists better understand so-called space weather."

Senator: 'Plenty' of Domestic Surveillance We Still Don't Know About 107

An anonymous reader writes: In a recent interview, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has complained about the Obama administration's failure to shut down the NSA's bulk collection of phone metadata. This program and most other programs we've heard of were disclosed by Edward Snowden. But Snowden couldn't tell us everything. When asked if there were further domestic surveillance programs about which the public knows nothing, Senator Wyden said, "Yeah, there's plenty of stuff." The ones he knows about are classified, so he couldn't elaborate. "Even in cases where the public has been informed of government practices, Wyden warned the government still collects far too much information on millions of citizens with virtually no accountability."

Comment Kinda.... (Score 1) 93

"Banking is protected by law, any lost money will be reimbursed."

The controlling federal laws are the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA)( (15 U.S.C. 1693 et seq.). If you report an ATM or debit card missing before someone uses it, the EFTA says you are not responsible for any unauthorized transactions.

However, unlike credit cards, if someone makes unauthorized use of your debit or ATM card and if you do not learn of the transactions and report them after 2 business days but less than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you, you are liable for $500. After 60 days, “All the money taken from your ATM/debit card account, and possibly more; for example, money in accounts linked to your debit account.”

"Cars and houses have insurance."

Yes, but there are deductibles to pay, hundreds if not thousands of dollars before the insurance company begins to reimburse the insured.

Civilians do not understand what /. readers know: internet security is illusory. That's why we have encryption. It's not that they don't have "a bloody clue." They are not computer literate, don't know what an IP address is and couldn't tell you why a denial of service attack is bad.

Civilians have been told the internet is a safe place to buy things, send images by email and store payment data and the like. They believe it. Those people did what are in retrospect foolish things, merely because believed what they were told.

The only way to never see yourself naked on the internet is to never take nude photos. Period. After that, it's just a matter of percentage of chance. Not fair or right, but true.

Comment Sure. Say this when you are 74. (Score 1) 478

It's easy to say things like this when you are 40 or 50 or 60. I'm 50 and this sounds quite logical to me.

Of course, at age 21 I never thought I'd see 30.

When you are still alive at 74 and feeling ok, the instinct to survive doesn't allow for anything other than "keep going." No higher level thinking kicks in and says "Right. It's all down hill from here. Fuck it."

You will want to see one more sunset, see your great-grandchildren, smile at one more memory.

Ezekiel J. Emanuel is 63, he has 12 years left. Talk to me in 11, Doc.

Comment This can't be about the Fourth Amendment... (Score 1) 96

The Fourth Amendment only applies to the Federal government, and no state statute can reduce or increase those rights. Of course, the state itself may be limited by the Fourth (through the Fourteenth), and in that case, no state statute can reduce those rights. California may try to pass laws that provide additional protection not governed by the Fourth, provided it does not violate the Supremacy clause, and that's fine, but its unlikely to limit federal activities expressly provided for by federal statute.

There is no real dispute over the right to wiretap without a warrant (although some claim to the contrary, its not the Federal government doing the claiming), at least not since the Bush administration got into hot water over that issue.

As to the applicability of the Fourth to metadata acquisition, the Supreme Court addressed that point more than thirty years ago in Smith v. Maryland. Cases claiming that Smith is somehow inapplicable to the NSA issues are working their way through the courts, and time will tell. But it is still a legal reach to assert
that metadata acquisition somehow violates the Fourth Amendment, without qualification, given the clear Supreme Court law on the subject.

Comment This is a radical decision (Score 1) 303

The question whether copyright existed to protect the "look and feel" of an application was open until the Supreme Court affirmed (4-4 en banc without opinion) the First Circuit decision in Lotus v. Borland. That case took decades to litigate, but addressed whether Borland was permitted in Quattro to execute Lotus 1-2-3 macros (the damned "/" tree of letter commands), even though the macro language was not aptentable. The mere "embodiment" of the "/" tree was deemed by Lotus to be protectible copyright. (In my view, Kapor should have been made a pariah for this assertion, but hey, its just me.)

The First Circuit held that when expression (if you can call the letter tree expression) equates to funtionality, it has merged with the unprotectible functionality. That has been the basis of almost all Copyright law since that time regarding reverse engineering and competition in the software industry. Any other rule would yield considerable chill to adopting new technologies, and in implementing imrpovements. The Internet itself might not have evolved as it did.

The most significant example was the Phoenix BIOS, a reverse-engineered implementation of the BIOS for the IBM PC that made clones possible. Under the Federal Circuit rule in Oracle, the Phoenix (and its progeny) would have been infringing, and we would live in a very different world than we do today.

I am cautiously optimistic that the Federal Circuit will take this matter up en banc and reverse, or perhaps SCOTUS will set it right. Until then, the conflict between Oracle and Borland cases will create a chilling uncertainty in the industry that will educate my granchildren's education, but serve little other good purpose.

In my view, an API merges with its functionality and should be unprotectable. That was the law everywhere in the United States, until today.

Comment Generally Accepted Accounting Principles - GAAP (Score 1) 93

Which they don't follow. There's ALL sorts of games you can play with revenue recognition alone.

Anyone here want to rely on Chinese accounting practices? http://www.chinaaccountingblog...

There are no securities laws in China similar to those in the US that require transparency so investors know what they are buying.

Hell, this will be a great IPO, just flip it on the first day. Make your profit and watch it crash.

And now to illustrate: the classic accountant's joke.

There once was a business owner who was interviewing people for a division manager position. He decided to select the individual that could answer the question "how much is 2+2?"

The engineer pulled out his slide rule and shuffled it back and forth, and finally announced, "It lies between 3.98 and 4.02".
The mathematician said, "In two hours I can demonstrate it equals 4 with the following short proof."
The physicist declared, "It's in the magnitude of 1x101."
The logician paused for a long while and then said, "This problem is solvable."
The social worker said, "I don't know the answer, but I a glad that we discussed this important question.
The attorney stated, "In the case of Svenson vs. the State, 2+2 was declared to be 4."
The trader asked, "Are you buying or selling?"
The accountant looked at the business owner, then got out of his chair, went to see if anyone was listening at the door and pulled the drapes. Then he returned to the business owner, leaned across the desk and said in a low voice, "What would you like it to be?"

User Journal

Journal Journal: It's surprising to me how vicious atheists on /. are....

I mentioned my faith as a thing that guided me and there was a maelstrom of haters. WTF? If you don't have a religion, you don't hear me trying to convert you. I don't give a Parson's fart if you do. And I don't really care what you think about me. It's just amazing that atheists want to spend so much energy to mock other people.

Kinda fucked up, really.

Comment Just $300,000 more over a lifetime? (Score 1) 281

New York University is now $42,000 a year tuition for liberal arts 4 year undergrad. Add $13,000 for housing, $4,000 for meal plan and food, and $1,000 for books and supplies and you are at around $60,000 per year undergrad at NYU, or $240,000 for a 4 year liberal arts degree. This is for a school that ranks 32d nationwide in universities. (

Tuition: (
Housing: (
Meal plan: (
Books: (

US News and World ( reports over a graduates lifetime, that degree really only adds $300,000 extra salary as a direct result of a degree. Why would you give up the opportunity cost of earning for 4 years at a job as well as $240,000 to get $300,000?

Because the jobs you get for the rest of your life are not the ones where you ask "Paper or plastic?" Not the back breaking, "working for the Man" bullshit jobs that you get without a degree. Instead of jobs, graduates get careers: with health insurance, vacation and promotions. Quality of life is better.

I am quite happy with what I got. I still talk with people from school. It was hard, but I feel I got my money's worth.

Comment Causal Nexus (Score 1) 281

Is it that people do better because they went to college or that people who are willing to delay gratification, work hard, broaden themselves intellectually, converse with smart people who also become successful and build a network of successful people?

The kind of person willing to shoulder debt and phone it in will never win. Just because you attended a college and got a degree doesn't mean it did anything for you.

College is an opportunity to intern, find mentors, meet peer groups and try things you might want to do for a living. It's also a place to expand beyond the modalities of your earlier life. A Liberal Arts degree requires subjects that allow a person to appreciate the world in a better perspective.

Comment Re:I wonder (Score 1, Interesting) 154

I'm not sure what country you're from, but in America, morals are for suckers and poor people.

You are wrong.

I am an American, I am far from poor and I am no man's fool. I live by the moral compass taught to me by my parents, my church and my conscience and I have done very well in my 50 years on Earth.

The most precious commodity is the ability to sleep at night.

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