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Comment Reminds me of ALOHAnet (Score 1) 106

... of course, they were only dealing with 9600 baud at first, but then again, it was the 1970s:

There were other WISPs in the US ... I know West Virginia, where it was easier to use line-of-sight radio to a mountaintop antenna than try to string cable. But there was no WiFi standard back then ... you had to use WaveLAN or other proprietary standards (so you had to buy both ends of the link from the same company).

Comment Carl Malmud for head of the printing office! (Score 1) 177

I honestly don't know if he has all of the qualifications as a cabinet member (but then again, I don't know our main two presidential candidates have qualifications for being president) ... but so long as we're on the 'appoint people with different points of views than what we've had for decades', I'd recommend Carl Malamud for the head of the Government Printing Office

(he's the guy who's been buying government documents, scanning 'em, and putting them up for free at

Comment Re:I deleted my Facebook account before it was coo (Score 1) 301

I wasn't ivy league, but got my account because someone in my class was trying to bulk up the numbers for the group for our department.

I signed up, with my nickname + last initial.

I haven't gone in to delete it because I suspect I'd have to agree to the new TOS to be able to delete the account. I only logged into it once since grad school, when my neighbor wouldn't shut up about how great it was, and after stringing him along for a while ('you didn't think I'd use my name, did you?' 'Don't forget my account got deleted from (undergrad) when I was fired and I had to change it' 'But I got my account when I was at (grad school)'), and he finally found me to send the friend request, I ignored it and friended his wife.

Someone else has found me, because when I get the annoying messages from them, it tells me I have two friend requests waiting.

Comment Re:No team (Score 1) 112

I worked on a project that was similar to what was described -- four of us all at different institutions, working on a single project.

The management mostly left us alone, and we got the project done. As we're in a more 'maintenance' phase now, we just have annual face-to-face meetings to hash out what we think needs to be done and how long it'd take to do it, and then we present it to the 'steering committee' (management / scientists who use the software) who decide what we should or shouldn't focus on for the next year.

For the most part, the software works because we figured out how to break it down into parts, what the APIs needed to be between the different parts, and then we coordinated between the programmers who was responsible for each parts.

After we were a couple of years into the project, we finally got it cleared through all of the institutions (some of us work for the government) to use IM ... so we just hang out in a channel to chat & let people know if we're seeing problems, making changes, etc.

Unfortunately, the project got a bit derailed a few years back, when the same group plus a few other people got stuck with maintenance of another project that was written by an outside group. (and we're not allowed to fork it) ... and we've wasted so much time on that second project that we don't have the time (or remaining brain cells) left to get much work done on the first one.

Anyway ... my point is -- if you have a good group of developers, you should be able to just point them in the right direction, and let them work ... don't try to 'manage' them any more than you have to.

Comment Re:A few thoughts... (Score 2) 153

The older group are probably more likely to have their passwords written down on sticky notes under their keyboards, or stuck to their monitors.

The older group come from a time when we actually had to remember people's phone numbers, without having them all programmed into our cell phone.

Many of them have also been typing on real keyboards for decades, so it's no big deal to have a 16 character password.

Need a fairly secure password? Use the address of your best friend from 1970. Or the phone number of your favorite pizza place when you were 12 concatenated with your favorite two toppings. Or a couple of lines from your favorite song ... or poem, or movie quotes.

If you have good memory, and aren't afraid to type, good passwords are easy.

Of course, it probably also helps that they likely have something to protect ... and are retired, so aren't working at some company that insists on them changing EVERY LAST PASSWORD every 30 days ... until they get to the point where they're changing it to crap like 'Ih8passwords' and 'FuckYou2' just so they can get their job done.

Comment I'd be happy with b&w if large enough (Score 1) 96

When I was town commissioner (probably about 6 years ago), our president was talking about getting one of those horrible LED monstrosities that you see in front of mega churches.

I convinced the others that they'd be out of character for our historic village, and they're horrible due to causing night-blind issues.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a *single* company that sold an e-ink display of any considerable size. The closest was a company that packaged up tiny squares (I think they were 6"x6") that you'd assemble into a larger screen.

You can finally pre-order a 32" screen for $5k ($6k for color) ... but for it to be visible from the road, I'd likely need an array of 4 of 'em. I could care less about high DPI -- I'd be happy with WXGA so long as it was around 60" diagonal, and could be packaged for outdoor use.

Comment Re:Company Alert: We have a network virus!! (Score 1) 351

We specifically had 'network testing' time at the university computing center where I worked. The games varied, but it was always 5pm (technically, after 5pm & after the last customer was out of the back staff area), and generally ran until just about 6pm (a few of the staff had night classes that started at 6pm).

For Doom (and Doom II), you'd have to sub in a 4th person when you left, or they'd have to start the game & restart it. Duke Nukem allowed more people to start (8?), and you could drop out without it causing problems. Quake, however, allowed you to both drop out & join an already running game -- it revolutionized everything, as we didn't have to wait 'til everyone was ready to start.

(and we could get one large group going, as opposed to the hardware techs & user-support folks running separate games).

We weren't 100% FPS -- although there were also some Marathon and Descent periods. We also played Warcraft II and Command & Conquer ... but those didn't beat the network as much. (I seem to recall Christmas break of one year turning into full day Warcraft sessions)

Comment Beware of "third party storage" (Score 2) 123

Basically, there's a concept that if someone else is holding your stuff, then it's not private, and therefore, they only need a subpoena and not a warrant to get it ... and they don't need to notify the person whose stuff it is (so there's no chance for them to get a lawyer to try to stop it).

This is why someone concerned about their privacy would prefer hosting their own mail server (in their own home, not at a colo) vs. using one of the many 'cloud' offerings:


But you probably don't want to host your own e-mail if you're a government official, and there's any chance of anyone sending work e-mails there.

Comment How is this 'hardware'? (Score 3, Insightful) 235

I follow a fair bit of environmental news sources ... but this is only 'news for nerds' in that it's a case of people sitting at home complaining about things that they have little chance of directly affecting.

The sign that this should be off-topic here is that it doesn't have an appropriate category -- it got shoved into 'hardware'. (I could maybe see it under science (climate change) or technology (issues w/ price competition in energy production) ... but how the hell is this 'hardware'?).

Can we get this back to being a tech website again? Keep the articles on topic, and kill the 'Entertainment' category? ... unless of course, it's Star Wars ... or maybe comic book related ... okay, you can keep 'Entertainment', unless we see some post about some reality TV show with non-tech people in it or one of the dozen or so singing shows.

Comment Re:Too late (Score 5, Insightful) 319

And let's also not forget that the other side can now use such incidents as 'proof' that they are fighting a 'just' war, as it's against people who would torture. ... which helps them recruit and inspire their troops to do more viscous things, as obviously the ends justify the means. (which then inspires both sides to ratchet up the hostilities)

It'd be one thing if we could at least justify an atrocity as maybe we're trading problems down the road for some benefit now ... but there have been so many reports that harsh interrogation doesn't produce good or useful information, that there's no justifiable reason for doing it.

Maybe Cruz should spend more time reading the Butter Battle Book, rather than Green Eggs & Ham.

Comment flesh wound? (Score 4, Informative) 259

I get it ... you recognize that it's Monty Python, and that it has something to do with being incapacitated. Unfortunately, you've committed a faux pas by selecting a quote that's from The Holy Grail, when there were so many others that would've been appropriate from that scene alone. As 'resting' and 'pining for the fjords' have already mentioned, you still had your option of either side of the conversation, either claiming it's dead or denying it.

I personally would've gone with a 'stunned' or 'prolonged squawk' reference ... maybe 'nailed to the perch' reference if those had already been mentioned:

Mr. Praline: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.
Owner: No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!
Mr. Praline: The plumage don't enter into it. It's stone dead.
Owner: Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting!
Mr. Praline: All right then, if he's restin', I'll wake him up! (shouting at the cage) 'Ello, Mister Polly Parrot! I've got a lovely fresh cuttle fish for you if you show...
(owner hits the cage)
Owner: There, he moved!
Mr. Praline: No, he didn't, that was you hitting the cage!
Owner: I never!!
Mr. Praline: Yes, you did!
Owner: I never, never did anything...
Mr. Praline: (yelling and hitting the cage repeatedly) 'ELLO POLLY!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o'clock alarm call!
(Takes parrot out of the cage and thumps its head on the counter. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)
Mr. Praline: Now that's what I call a dead parrot.
Owner: No, no.....No, 'e's stunned!
Mr. Praline: STUNNED?!?
Owner: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin' up! Norwegian Blues stun easily, major.
Mr. Praline: look, mate, I've definitely 'ad enough of this. That parrot is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not 'alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein' tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.
Owner: Well, he's...he's, ah...probably pining for the fjords.
Mr. Praline: PININ' for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got 'im home?
Owner: The Norwegian Blue prefers keepin' on it's back! Remarkable bird, id'nit, squire? Lovely plumage!
Mr. Praline: Look, I took the liberty of examining that parrot when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.
Owner: Well, o'course it was nailed there! If I hadn't nailed that bird down, it would have nuzzled up to those bars, bent 'em apart with its beak, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee!
Mr. Praline: "VOOM"?!? Mate, this bird wouldn't "voom" if you put four million volts through it! 'E's bleedin' demised!
Owner: No no! 'E's pining!
Mr. Praline: 'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

Comment HSPD12 vs. PreCheck (Score 1) 382

Most US Government employees have to go through a series of background checks to have an HSPD-12 badge (aka 'CAC card', as it's required for computer access at many agencies)

The badges allow people access to multiple installations, rather than just the one they work at (and thus, aren't necessary for 90%+ of the people who have them, and mostly fix problems that high level administrators ran into, thus forcing this crap on all of the rest of us).

As we have to go through all of these checks already*, why not just let us into the PreCheck lines? Active duty military are allowed to use the lines. (and as I understand it, the HSPD12 badges allow access to military bases ... at least, the time I went to one for my mom's retirement party, when they asked for ID for the guest badge, and I showed them mine, they asked me why the hell I needed a guest badge)

* Of course, this assumes that we've actually gone through the checks. There was evidence after the Navy Yard incident that the contractor that was doing the background checks never actually did them. I know that none of the people that I had listed as part of the background check told me that they had been contacted ... but I don't know if there were special rules in play because my mom & step-dad had active military security clearances)

Comment Re:How is this different from any normal safe? (Score 1) 232

Most safes can be cracked with sufficient time. (either picking them if keyed, or trying every permutation if it's a combination lock).

I don't know enough about safes to know if any of the electronic locks do anything to slow down how fast you can enter the combo if you fail it too many times ... but as many of 'em are vulnerable to a strong magnet, it might not be an issue.

Most high-end safes that have protection to defend against drilling (ie, trying to bypass the locks), where doing so would break a piece of glass, which in turn releases springs which cause extra bolts to lock the doors. ... but you could still get in with sufficient time ... you'd just have to manage to cut through one of the sides of the safe ... in such a way that wouldn't damage the contents (eg, set them on fire).

The closest equivalent that I can think of would be if you had that glass plate attached to a spring that'd break a vial with acid or sodium to try to destroy the contents should someone attempt to drill the safe ... but I would think you could still pick it and/or brute force a combination.

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