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Submission + - Rebirth of CISPA, but 'concerns haven't gone away' (

walterbyrd writes: "The controversial CISPA cybersecurity bill is back — and so is the battle as to whether it’s perilous for Americans’ civil liberties.

The authors of the so-called Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act revived their measure this week with the insistence that it won’t result in a Web user’s private data landing in the hands of the feds. But there’s still a sense among some lawmakers and consumer groups that the bill lacks strong, proper legal checks."


Submission + - Facebook can keep real name policy, German court rules (

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook can stick with its real name policy in Germany, and doesn't have to allow nicknames on its platform for now. The regulator that ordered Facebook to change it policy based its orders on inapplicable German law, a German court ruled.

Comment Good try, but not as good as Celestia (Score 4, Informative) 68

I played around with it a bit, but it seems to be somewhat lacking compared to Celestia, which does many of the same things and more. A couple gripes: Sirius was listed as Alpha Cassiopeiae, though it's Bayer designation is Alpha Canis Majoris. Also, it seems to be lacking nearly all of the red dwarfs that make up the majority of the solar neighborhood. Seriously? No Wolf 359?

Comment Re:promising future treatment (Score 1) 255

So they seem to be saying that a purified sequence of nucleotides is fundamentally different than that same sequence found within a chromosome. To me, that seems rather like saying one could patent benzene (or a short polymer) because you can purify it from crude oil and it is fundamentally different than if you had a beaker full of crude oil. More abstractly, it's like saying you can patent a paragraph from a book because it's fundamentally different than the paragraph in the context of a book. Fair use, anyone?

Personally, I think this is a terrible decision. Now, if they had a particular METHOD for purifying and replicating this sequence, they would have a valid patent. Heck, if the introns that they stick onto these sequences are proprietary, they could patent THOSE as well. Otherwise, they really are just patenting something that occurs in nature.

Comment Their assumptions are way too broad (Score 1) 589

FYI, the total power output of the world is only about 2500 GW, as opposed to their "potential" energy generation estimate of 200,000 GW, which made me start to question this. Specifically, I checked into their assumptions regarding rural power generation. They quote a potential area for use in solar power generation in Texas of around 450,000 km^2. The total area of the state is about 700,000 km^2. So, unless I'm misreading, they would propose to cover roughly 64% of the entire state in solar panels. That's simply not feasible, given that much of the land is used for things like crops, improvements, wilderness, etc.

This isn't to say that I don't believe that solar power is a viable alternative, but the quoted numbers in this study just don't seem to add up.

Comment many of those companies... (Score 1) 572

Are simply investment firms, such as T. Rowe Price, Northern Trust, or Depository Trust Company. They're interconnected and large, but the holdings they have generally do not confer any amount of control (you generally need to hold at least 10% of a given firm to get representation on the board of directors). Likewise, their holdings are generally in name only as nominees since they are trusts or mutual funds. In other words, many of these companies appear big, but they're really just investing YOUR money without any say in the day-to-day operations of the companies in which they've invested.

Comment not just an offer one can't refuse (Score 1) 732

Sure, the big investment banks may be "luring" some engineers into finance, but I think the biggest problem is systemic. Speaking as someone who has moved from physics to finance, I can say that there simply aren't enough opportunities for bright engineers and scientists. For me, it was a number of factors, but I found that finance had ways of thinking that were similar to physics, so the leap wasn't particularly hard. The real deciding point for me, though, was seeing a friend of mine who had a PhD in physics. He was brilliant, doing basic research on spintronics, but he was also working for peanuts and could expect to do so for nearly a decade. Not that money is everything, but it is certainly necessary to pay for things like rent, food, and beer. The biggest problem, it seems to me, is that there aren't nearly enough opportunities for scientists and engineers in this country and they aren't paid nearly enough for all of the hard work they do. This is not a new trend. This country is basically throwing away talent because basic research is severely undervalued. See also the NSF and NASA and how their budgets get treated by Congress.

Comment Valuation analysis (Score 1) 295

I just took a class on this kind of thing. Basically, you take the forcasted cash flows and discount appropriately depending on your required rate of return. We only have one data point, so it's very difficult to really project, but given an approximate cash flow of $500 million and a valuation of about $50 billion, the difference between Goldman's required rate of return and Facebook's growth rate is about 1%. From this, I can deduce that Goldman Sachs either thinks Facebook is a very safe investment or a high-growth company or both. In my opinion, you can only have one or the other and my gut feeling is that they overpaid. On the other hand, I'm just one guy with one data point. They have a ton of quants analyzing this thing, so you can take that how you will.

Comment Software or data? (Score 1) 292

I've been researching my genealogy for almost a decade at this point. It's a lot of work, but I find it fun and enlightening.

Now, there are really two questions here. First, software. There are many different programs out there, the one that I have the most experience with is Legacy. The free version is quite powerful, even if it's closed source.

The second question that wasn't really asked though is regarding the data. You could have the best genealogy software in the world, but it's useless without the data. I'm afraid that simply adding you, your parents, and your grandparents isn't going to do much for you, no matter the website or software. Part of the problem is that the most useful source of information for ancestry, census records, isn't available for any census later than 1930 in the U.S. due to privacy concerns. Most likely, you'll have to find some great-grandparents (ask your parents or grandparents about them) and from there it's relatively easy to bootstrap your family tree back to the 1850s. Unfortunately, the most complete census records are found on, which is a pay site of course, but there are so many other records that they have that it can be worth it to pay the monthly fee (I do). In addition to that, you can also piggyback on other peoples' research through their community.

If you don't feel like paying, there are plenty of other sites out there with free data and the number grows constantly. is probably the best. Rootsweb (owned by Ancestry) is also free and has the World Connect function that will show you family trees (secondary sources). Be persistent. There are plenty of sources out there.

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