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Comment: Re:Fristy Pawst! (Score 1) 155

by CRCulver (#48031169) Attached to: Ebola Has Made It To the United States

In most 3rd world countries, credit is almost non-existent so spending more than you have isn't even an option neither

Have you travelled in Third World countries in the last decade? In Africa and India it's now utterly commonplace for people, even the illiterate, to take out credit to buy a fancy mobile phone. Those acclaimed microcredit initiatives that do social good are now accompanied by innumerable sleasy microcredit lenders that hand out loans easily, and can be brutal about repayment. Credit has been a thing, and a rising problem, in the Third World for some years now.

Comment: Re:Quarantine? (Score 3, Informative) 155

by CRCulver (#48031153) Attached to: Ebola Has Made It To the United States

No it wouldn't. Public health is the most slam-dunk reason to restrict civil liberties. Travel is restricted for much less important reasons, like politics.

Travel has almost never been restricted by the US government, with Cuba serving as the inexplicable exception. The Soviet Union was the big enemy for decades, and yet Americans regularly visited whether for university terms abroad or Intourist package tours. North Korea? The State Department might put out a travel advisory that it's not a good idea to go there, but it's perfectly legal for Americans to participated in the organized tour. That permissiveness even applies to war zones: when the US was bombing Serbia or NATO was carried out air strikes in Libya, you still could freely visit (there was a period when you couldn't bring any goods back from Yugoslavia, though).

Comment: Re:Cost (Score 2) 117

by CRCulver (#48016035) Attached to: World's Smallest 3G Module Will Connect Everything To the Internet

Regardless of whether this might be a good thing for you as a private individual, 3G-connected appliances are already a hit with businesses. Vending machines that take cash are being phased out in many coutnries, and if they take your bank card they need a network connection. Remote monitoring of utility infrastructure is also an application -- it's hard to justifying running fiber out to one box in a rural area, but if it's within 3G range, there you go.

Comment: Re:Should we? (Score 1) 254

by CRCulver (#48015897) Attached to: Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?
This still doesn't necessarily invalidate the proposal I referred to in my original post here. Vinge's novel had its alien civilizations, which chose a virtual reality over space exploration, moving deep underground to avoid worrying about asteroid impacts. (Then the expansion of the sun into a red giant would continue to pose a problem, but at a much longer timescale.)

Comment: Re:Yeah So? (Score 1) 241

by CRCulver (#48015839) Attached to: At CIA Starbucks, Even the Baristas Are Covert
This is a North American thing. In most of the world, coffee shops would never ask your name, even if they are Starbucks-clone chains. Starbucks locations abroad may ask your name, but this is obviously imposed by a customer service manual written in the US, just like McDonalds abroad makes staff smile broadly and recite lines totally out of context with the country around them.

Comment: Re:Should we? (Score 1) 254

by CRCulver (#48014607) Attached to: Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?

If we found a 6 mile long rock headed for Earth and had a year's notice, I doubt we could do anything about it, other than try to survive it (all the fantasies about stopping it aside, we likely couldn't).

Asteroid defence would require merely placing some infrastructure in Earth orbit. That's a lot different than sending human beings outward through the solar system.

Comment: Re:Should we? (Score 3, Interesting) 254

by CRCulver (#48012239) Attached to: Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?

The Earth is thoroughly mapped, explored, photographed, populated, and exploited. There are no frontiers or mystery here any more.

I disagree. Powerful computing may lead to finding plenty of things of interest here on Earth. This theme has been explored by science-fiction writers in recent decades.

For example, Poul Anderson in his series starting with Harvest of Stars depicted humanity splitting into two groups, one exploring the stars, and the other content to remain on Earth and (as post-human machine intelligences) explore mathematics and other pursuits unimaginable to the human race as it is today. Of course, as an ardent Libertarian and advocate for space exploration, Anderson made the Earthbound "navel-gazers" the villains, but he was still aware that human expansion into space isn't a given.

In his novel Marooned in Realtime Vernor Vinge proposed that space might be empty because advanced civilizations don't expand outwards into the stars, but instead move into a virtual reality once they have sufficiently powerful computing power.

Comment: Not a new concern (Score 5, Interesting) 87

by CRCulver (#47998427) Attached to: Study: Multimedia Multitasking May Be Shrinking Human Brains

This idea that multitasking and short attention spans have a negative impact on cognition is not new. It goes back at least to Nicholas Carr's 2008 magazine article that served as the basis for his book The Shallows .

I think there are philosophical issues here. While the human biological organism might be "getting stupider", if our electronic devices are seen as augmentations, then doesn't our total cyborg person remain just as intelligent? That is, people have not become stupider, they have just moved some information processing from the brains in their skull to the devices in their heads.

The appearance of emotional issues might be a serious problem, but on the other hand, let's see how future generations who grow up with electronics from their infancy feel.

Comment: Re:So now it's the year of the Linux desktop (Score 1) 399

by CRCulver (#47998377) Attached to: Remote Exploit Vulnerability Found In Bash
Actually, it was a great idea on a PC. Debian switched to dash among other reasons because the init system was a big bundle of shell scripts, and switching to a lighter shell brought immediate improvements in boot times. A similar desire for optimization (albeit one ready to junk much of the *nix tradition) led to systemd.

Comment: Re:Full Disclosure can be found on oss-security... (Score 1) 399

by CRCulver (#47985937) Attached to: Remote Exploit Vulnerability Found In Bash

Only Nokia's N-series phones running Maemo ... are capable of running bash or sshd (without crazy hardcore modding).

Installing bash on the N900 required enabling root access and intentionally installing the package. Otherwise Maemo's default shell was Busybox. Jolla's Sailfish OS, however, seems to use bash by default in its terminal application.

Comment: Re:So now it's the year of the Linux desktop (Score 4, Informative) 399

by CRCulver (#47985883) Attached to: Remote Exploit Vulnerability Found In Bash

You do realize that bash is (nowadays) installed in damned near every *nix out there (though I think HPUX is still holding out.)

Debian and a few other distros have long since switched to Dash as their /bin/sh. Openwrt uses ash (installing bash would require intentional effort), and I assume that many *nix devices with the Busybox environment in lieu of the traditional GNU toolset also eschew bash. Sure, bash is still common out there, but thankfully not as prominent as a decade ago, and even when present it might not be exposed to an attacking surface.

Comment: Re:Who cares about succinctness .... (Score 2) 165

by CRCulver (#47983495) Attached to: Rosetta Code Study Weighs In On the Programming Language Debate

Succinctness can supposedly have performance implications in some contexts. I had been away from Python for over a decade before I recently picked up the newest edition of O'Reilly's Learning Python . I was surprised at how many instructions that developers previously spread out over multiple lines are now packed into highly idiomatic one-liners. The author, Mark Lutz, claims in several cases that the Python interpreter is likely to run the one-liner faster (even after it's all been compiled to bytecode) than the traditional multi-line expression.

Of course, Python's succintness is not Perl's succintness, but it can take people a long time to get up to speed with what now seems the expected idiom, and there's plenty of room for producing something that other eyes will find baffling.

Never test for an error condition you don't know how to handle. -- Steinbach