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Submission + - Scary USB marketing device 8

snookerhog writes: My boss just came back from a trade show and passed me one of these USB marketing devices. I assumed that it was just a micro flash drive that had some web links or PDFs on it so I stuck it in my computer. After a brief delay and quick driver install, my Run window (Windows 7) opened on its own and typed in a URL to the advertising company's website. This little device is not a storage media, but a crafty little keyboard emulator.

this tech is new to me and it seems pretty scary, especially since I am logged in to my computer with admin rights. Anyone else played with one of these?

Lies, Damned Lies and Cat Statistics 175

spopepro writes "While un-captioned cats might be of limited interest to the /. community, I found this column on how a fabricated statistic takes on a life of its own interesting. Starting with the Humane Society of the United States' (HSUS) claim that the unsterilized offspring of a cat will '...result in 420,000 cats in 5 years,' the author looks at other erroneous numbers, where they came from and why they won't go away."

Comment Re:SURVEY SAYS?? ...Meh. (Score 3, Insightful) 327

All server-to-server communication is TLS encrypted and authenticated. All wave origins are verified using digital signatures, so, to quote from wikipedia,

Therefore, a downstream wave provider can verify that the wave provider is not spoofing wavelet operations. It should not be able to falsely claim that a wavelet operation originated from a user on another wave provider or that it was originated in a different context.

Thus, spam really ceases to be an issue

DomainKeys does similar things for e-mail.

Waves can be embedded. Blog comment sections can be replaced by waves; forum threads by waves. All comments would appear in your inbox. Email cannot even hope to replicate this other than with the clunky-and-annoying "notify me when someone responds" forum setting.

First, I might not want all this integrated into my e-mail inbox. Second, Facebook (and probably OpenSocial, Google's other thing) does this - integrating forums, discussions, comments, likes into posts, which are arguably wave-like.

You can easily add people to the discussion. The only way to do so with email is to re-forward the whole chain of emails to them and ask them to reply-all; or to include them in the next reply-all and hope that noone else responds first. This is a pretty glaring flaw of email that Wave fixes.

I'll argue it's much easier to scan through an e-mail thread than do a playback on a wave. Real-time playback is cute but I don't have time for it. And reading the wave linearly doesn't help since people can modify things in between.

There are of course a ton of other reasons why Wave was more than just "chat with a couple of features", but these were big. Wave had the chance to completely redo how we communicated, freeing people from having to keep track of 10 different IM networks + email + forums + blog comments.

Google couldn't even integrate GMail with wave. One of the main reasons I gave up Wave was having to keep track of two Google inboxes.

Its a little disheartening to see so many people (even techies) who dismissed it out of hand given how much better it was (with no disadvantages that I can discern).

I don't think people dismissed it out of hand. When it first came out, people lined up for accounts. It just didn't offer anything much in addition to what we had.

Finally, given the above, how can people POSSIBLY be responding "and nothing of value was lost" in an honest to goodness impressive attempt that was completely opened to the public (source for the servers was released!)? Is everyone really that in love with MS Exchange?

Maybe nothing of value was lost precisely because everything has been opened up anyway? Anyone who wants another shot at convincing people that this is a Good Thing(tm), can quite easily do so. I agree that there was phenomenal engineering involved and that may well be used in many scenarios.

Comment Looks like nobody read TFA, as usual (Score 1) 430

This isn't about thought crime, this isn't about proclaiming anyone guilty. From TFA (the Yahoo news one):

selected IBM predictive analytics software to reduce recidivism by determining which juveniles are likely to reoffend. Identified at-risk youth can then be placed in programs specific to the best course of treatment to ensure offenders do not re-enter the juvenile justice system.

So this is about treatment and rehab, not about proclaiming guilt. The persons in question have already been determined guilty, and whats being done here is determine the best course of action.

With the new analytics system in place, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice will analyze key predictors such as past offense history, home life environment, gang affiliation and peer associations to better understand and predict which youths have a higher likelihood to reoffend.

This is totally scientific. Basically, this is the same principle as let's punish a serial killer differently from a person convicted of second degree murder.

Prior to predictive analytics, the organization used Excel for basic analysis on projections for the number of delinquency cases they would take in, which had limited functionality.

So this isn't some brand new evil that IBM is committing. They were already using simplistic modeling, IBM is just providing more powerful modeling.


Submission + - All Your Apps Are Belong to Apple (

nigham writes: EFF is publicly disclosing a version of Apple's iPhone developer program license agreement. The highlights — you can't talk disclose the agreement itself (EFF managed to get it via the Freedom of Information act), Apple reserves the right to kill your app at any time with no reason, and that Apple's liability in any circumstance is limited to 50 bucks. The entire agreement (PDF) is here.

Comment Does online-only include offline support? (Score 1) 664

Google's been pushing offline support pretty strongly on a number of devices. It would be a real waste if my computer were inoperable if the network were down. There's no reason I shouldn't be able to play chess, or write a document or take notes when I'm on a plane or far away from civilization. Even phones have airplane modes these days. I wonder if there is any sort of a file system at all on the Chrome OS. If not, it will be raise the bar for writing apps (even with offline mode support) since you simply have to write code to sync data as well.

Comment Re:It makes me very suspicious indeed. (Score 1) 229

Why? Because the "orbitals" are actually solutions of the Schroedinger Wave Equation. They are images or a probability distribution in abstract space. Electrons are not clouds or points, they are things we don't really understand but describe by means of quantum mechanics. So I am deeply suspicious of the picture, because there is no physical object of that shape to image.

I completely agree. Besides, from what I remember from high-school physics, how we "see" *anything* is when light falls on an atom/molecule, these electronics get excited into higher than natural states. When they go back to their natural states, they emit a photon that is characteristic of the material (color etc.). Given this, I don't see (pun intended) how it's possible for such a photograph to be taken.


New Startup Hopes to Push Open Source Pharmaceuticals 101

waderoush writes "Nothing like the open source computing movement has ever caught fire in biology or pharmaceuticals, where intellectual property is king. But drawing inspiration from the people who make Linux software, and the social networking success of Facebook, Merck's cancer research leader has nailed down $5 million to launch a nonprofit biology platform called Sage, which aims to make it easier for researchers around the world to pool their data to make better drugs. 'We see this becoming like the Google of biological science. It will be such an informative platform, you won't be able to make decisions without it,' says Merck's Eric Schadt, a co-founder of Sage. He adds: 'We want this to be like the Internet. Nobody owns it.'"

Comment Re:i think its clear (Score 1) 729

Scientists are always looking for ways to falsify their theories. That is the very essence of science.
It's not the essence, but the method of science. The essence of science is that the universe *is* governed by laws; a statement that most scientists would not accept as falsifiable. As scientists, we are happy to accept that a particular theory is falsifiable, but the conclusion from that is always that "we have to look for another theory", not "maybe there is nothing that explains this phenomena".

Of course, the laws discovered so far have stood up to some pretty heavy scrutiny. I'm just pointing out that it is true that science simply assumes the existence of natural law.

Submission + - 25 Years of the Emoticon (

raylu writes: The Emoticon will be 25 years old this September. From the Carnegie Mellon article,

"It has been fascinating to watch this phenomenon grow from a little message I tossed off in ten minutes to something that has spread all around the world," said Fahlman [the creator of the smiley].

In the more humorous NYTimes article,

More than once, Alexis Feldman, the director of the Feldman Realty Group, a commercial real estate company in Manhattan, has been moving forward on a major deal when, she said, "at the 23rd hour, I get an e-mail from the broker saying, 'Sorry, my client is not interested in the space, too bad we couldn't make the big bucks' — then there's a frown face!"

The original thread and some others are reproduced here.

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