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User Journal

Journal Journal: Chances of being killed by police in the USA

So 104 people were killed by police in the USA during August, 2014. To my eyes, that's an absolutely enormous figure. As a Brit, I compare it to the 1 person killed over 3 years by the UK police. Yes, they're two different countries, yes there's a lot more people in the US, yes they have different cultures, yadda yadda yadda; people are dying here.

Let's do some maths:

  • Population of the USA: 319 million (source:
  • Percentage chance for a person to be shot in August is then: (104 x 100%) / 319,000,000 = 0.000033%

That's a scarily huge percentage, given that it's normalised by population. Bear in mind that police in the USA are not ... shy ... at shooting at suspects, and neither are they 100% accurate. Some of the casualties are in fact bystanders.

Now let's consider extrapolating for the period of time that most shootings occur (i.e.: suspect between the ages of 15 and 40), and see how that changes things:

  • Chance to be shot over 25 year period = (104 x 12 x 25 x 100%) / 319,000,000 = 0.0097%
  • Rounding that, since this is an extrapolation, we get 0.01%

Now that's an amazingly large percentage chance of being shot dead by a policeman. Let's do the same thing for the UK:

  • Population of the UK: 65 million (source:
  • Percentage chance for a person to be shot over last 3 years is then: (1 x 100%) / 65,000,000 = 0.0000015%
  • Therefore percentage chance for a person to be shot in August 2014 is 0.0000015 / 12 / 3 = 0.0000000427%
  • Therefore percentage chance to be shot over 25 year period is 0.0000000427 x 12 x 25 = 0.0000128%

Compare 0.01% and 0.00001% and remember these are normalised by population. Yeah.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Soylent News 4

I've not been posting on Slashdot much this week, because I've been trying out Soylent News, which is using (and old version of) Slashcode (with some improvements) and lacks corporate overlords. It seems to have captured most of what I like about discussions in Slashdot, although is suffering slightly from not having nearly as many active users (50 or so comments is still the norm and it probably needs 100+ to be sustainable).
If you've not visited yet, I'd recommend giving it a go.

I'm TheRaven over there.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Getting a Job 4

Someone on Slashdot recently claimed I hadn't read Keep the Aspidistra Flying because I thought the ending was depressing. After I finished my PhD in 2007, I've managed to avoid the same fate and have successfully avoided having a real job for almost five years. I've done freelance programming and written four books, and had a lot of time to post on Slashdot (as you can tell from the fact that, so far, I've posted more than anyone else this quarter) and do open source stuff (Ohloh ranks me in the top 2,000 geeks with no life^W^W^W^Wopen source developers).

That's about to change though. I had two interesting job offers recently (I seem to get job offers from banks very often, but I have a very low tolerance for tedium, so I'd probably have been fired around day 3 if I'd taken any of them). One was from Google in Paris (yay!) but working on boring things (boo!). The other was from Cambridge University, which is about as well paid as you expect in academia (aww!) but basically involves working on the same stuff I do for fun (yay!) with some very intelligent people (yay!). Oh, and it's in a city where a quick search found four tango classes (yay!) and property prices not much lower than London (oops!) and which is both small and flat enough that I can cycle everywhere (yay!) and so does everyone else (look out!).

So, in a few weeks I'm moving to Cambridge. I'll miss looking out at the sea, but being able to dance tango more than once a week should be some compensation. There also seems to be a lively salsa scene, although having to learn yet another set of names for the same Rueda steps is going to be a little tiresome...

When I visited, I went for drinks with some of the makerspace guys the night before my interview (I have no idea how much I drank, but it didn't seem to affect my interview performance too badly...) and met someone who worked on the C++11 atomics spec (which I was in the middle of implementing at the time) and someone who had ported 2BSD to a 32-bit PIC with 128KB of RAM, so it definitely seems like a city with no shortage of geeks...

User Journal

Journal Journal: in which i am a noob all over again 17

I haven't posted a journal here in almost three years, because I couldn't find the button to start a new entry. ...yeah, it turns out that it's at the bottom of the page.

So... hi, Slashdot. I used to be really active here, but now I mostly lurk and read. I've missed you.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Wow, I Need to Get a Life 5

This weekend (I think, maybe earlier), Slashdot published some statistics about the most active people. Apparently I am in the top four most active commenters for the past month and the past quarter. This is quite depressing.

In happier, and unrelated news, my FreeBSD commit bit was approved this weekend, so I can now cause untold destruction on the Internet at large...

User Journal

Journal Journal: What Phone? 6

My current phone is a Nokia N80. I've had it a few years and I'm reasonably happy with it, but it has a fault with the charging circuit and it's pretty bulky, so I'm thinking about replacing it. Unfortunately, there seem to be about 3,000 different options with no competent way of way of working out which one is sensible.

I mainly use my phone as... a phone. So, the most important feature for me is the ability to make and receive calls. Because I am a cheapskate, this includes SIP (and WiFi), since my SIP provider charges a lot less than my mobile provider when calling landlines. I really like WebOS in terms of UI, but that seems to rule the Pre out because the only WebOS SIP client is alpha quality and doesn't integrate with the address book. This is something that Nokia does really well - the SIP client is fully integrated, so I can just select someone from my address book and select Internet Call to make the call. No extra skill required.

Beyond that, the only thing I really need is to be able to sync contacts via bluetooth and to use it as a modem via bluetooth - both pretty standard features, I'd assume, since my last three phones have had them.

In terms of smartphone features, I'm not that bothered. A programming environment that supports native code so that I can port my ObjC runtime would be nice - I have no interest in VM-based crap - but aside from that I don't have any strong requirements.

I would, however, like decent battery life and a small size, and ideally a nice camera. The bulk and poor battery life of my N80 means that I quite often leave it at home.

So, any suggestions?

User Journal

Journal Journal: I'm Signing Off 9

I've come to Slashdot probably 340 days a year for the last eleven years or so. I used to get my news from it, but since Digg and now Reddit appeared, there hasn't been much point to that. Instead, I read the comments, which were filled with Goatse, Diarrhea trolls, and useless memes, but which had some really bright and insightful people posting.
The place used to be caustic, but donning a protective suit was worth it.

I don't get that anymore. As one poster put it yesterday, "Has Slashdot become Yahoo! Answers? Kill me now!" I totally agree. "There are no stupid questions" has replaced "Read 'How to Ask Smart Questions' or GTFO!" I liked the old way. Slashdot isn't a support forum where we need to have a code of behavior, is it? We're geeks: If you do, say, or ask something stupid, own up to it, learn, and move on.

Anyway, I'm one of the last few of the old guard from the '97-'98 era still frequenting this place (this is my second ID). I don't think I have it in me anymore.

Does anyone know a site where jerky curmudgeons like me sit around and discuss the news? I don't, and recommendations like Reddit don't really pass muster.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Google Apps Certification is Pointless

I just got my Google Apps for Education Qualified Individual certification, which cost US$90, and which includes the most useless set of tests over nine hours. I have been married to Google Apps for fours years now and admin two basic domains, and yet very few of the questions had any relevance to administrating or using the products. They were multiple choice, T/F, or cloze.

Google really needs to give us a demo domain and ask us to complete various tasks, similar to how the RHCE works. People respect that cert. Instead, I got a cert modeled after the useless and disrespected MCSE.


Journal Journal: Trolling the TSA 10

Absolutely brilliant idea... As far as I heard though, airports are constitutional-free[1] zones, so it's complaining for nothing.

[1] Also note I'm no US citizen and probably don't understand the US constitution and it's not applicable to me. They can take me, torture me, hack me up in small pieces and it's all legal ;-)


Journal Journal: I don't have the impression they read my email -- .cn scam 4

Dear Sir,
Thanks for your prompt reply.As far as we know, Mr. John Zhang want to apply for the following names:
And Internet Brand "jawtheshark ".
You would know domain name takes open registration, this is international domain name registration principle. So Mr. John Zhang has right to register it.
If you think his registration will confuse your clients and harm your profits, we can send an application document to you and help you register these domains within our approving period. This is a better way to prevent domain name dispute. If you think his application will not affect your company, you can give up, we will finish his registration. Hope get your decision as soon as possible so that we can handle the next step

Best regards

Your Sincerely

So? Any of you have any idea what I should do next to toy with them?


Journal Journal: Let's see if they bite -- The .cn scam 3

I wrote them the following... I wonder if I'll get a reply:

Dear Avery,

I thank you for contacting me regarding this issue. First let me be clear that Mr. John Zhang is indeed a business partner of mine. He has been in charge for our operations in the Asian market. I personally cover European market and we have several other partners serving the Americas and the Arabic countries.
Alas, Mr John Zang has fallen in disgrace with our company as he fleeced the shareholders of for over 1.000.000$. We have filed suit against Mr John Zhang and he is currently searched by law enforcement in Europe and North America. Currently, we are trying to get an international search order by Interpol to get this criminal.

If I were you, I would most certainly refrain form doing business with Mr. John Zhang. If he gets caught, it is most certain that his assets will be seized and official investigations will be opened with companies that were informed about his criminal background. While I am convinced that your company is honest and true, it is a minor disaster for any company to have to open their books to law enforcement, which will most certainly happen if you do business with Mr John Zhang.

I hope this information will be useful to you and I wish you much success in your future endeavours.


Dick Boobcock

General Manager

-- -- Speciality Laser products for Selachimorphas.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Mr. John Zhang -- The .cn scam 1

Dear Sir/ Madam

I'm sorry to disturb you so abrupt. We are a domain name registration service company in Asia,

On 3th November. we received a formal application submitted by Mr. John Zhang who wanted to use the keyword " jawtheshark " to register the Internet Brand and with suffix such as .cn / / /.hk /.asia / domain names.
After our initial examination, we found that these domain names to be applied for registration are same as your domain name and trademark. We aren't sure whether you have any relation with him. Because these domain names would produce possible dispute, now we have hold down his registration, but if we do not get your company's an reply in the next 5 working days, we will approve his application

As authorized anti-cybersquatting organization we hereby suspect Mr. John Zhang is a domain investor. so we need you to attach importance to this issue.

In order to handle this issue better, Please contact us by Fax ,Telephone or Email as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely          2010-11-5
Oversea Marketing Manager
Room 1008,
International Building,
No.38 YueLong road,NanTong City

Obviously this is a scam and should be ignored. However, I am so tempted to reply that, yes, John Zang is a former business partner and that he owes me in excess of 100k$ and if they follow suit to the registration I will have to impound on their property... Or somthing like that. Fellow trolls, any ideas?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Why so much NIH?

I'm still confused as to why Microsoft, Yahoo! and Google don't agree amongst themselves to use their own services + XMPP + some plugins to openly replicate Facebook and immediately become big players in the social business. When your competition is eclipsing you like FB is, you need to start making some hard choices. There's no collusion if it's an open platform, right? Old and slow. Old and slow.

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