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Comment: Re:Social Networking is a mess (Score 1) 75

by ultranova (#48897909) Attached to: Twitter Moves To Curb Instagram Links

with width and height specified (via CSS, of course)

...Why? Width and height of an image are functions of its content and have nothing to do with style. What do you gain by specifying them separately from the IMG tag itself, apart from more complexity (and probably slower page loads due to the need to download and parse more CSS)?

Comment: Re:I have an even better idea (Score 1) 263

by ultranova (#48897833) Attached to: Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

Children, people banned for the more serious traffic offences, the blind and poor sighted, and older people who fail the driving re-test they must take periodically. How they get around is their own problem.

How children get around is usually their parent's problem, actually. And it quickly becomes my problem if the group who cannot drive becomes large, since that means they cannot get to work. Guess who's going to pay for either their upkeep or the security force needed to keep them from rioting?

I understand it's fashionable to display a near-sociopathic lack of empathy nowadays, but it can very quickly cross over into sheer stupidity, and usually does.

One solution is not to live somewhere they can only reach by driving a car. I live in a remote area and I accept that one day, when I get old, I might have to move into a city.

Choosing where you live requires resources, which requires income, which in practice requires being able to drive or hire someone who can. Which gets us back to large amounts of people being prevented from driving very quickly becoming my problem.

Comment: Re:Oh yay, more about the bullshit clock (Score 4, Interesting) 123

by ultranova (#48897653) Attached to: Doomsday Clock Moved Two Minutes Forward, To 23:57

You know, when something says that we are so close to destruction for over half a century... well you have to wonder why anyone would put any stock in it. It is a bit hard to reconcile with being on the edge of destruction, and yet everything continuing to not be destroyed.

Did you know the most dangerous drivers are not those who have just gotten their license, but those who have had a bit of experience? The reason is that new drivers are all too aware that they're one bad decision away from being gruesomely killed, while those who have driven for a while let their guard down because "nothing's happened so far, so nothing ever will".

This is true for dangerous acitvities in general. Someone who's handling boiling acid for the first time will make damn sure to think what they're doing. Someone who's done it a hundred times is busy thinking what they'll be having for lunch. And then acid gets somewhere it shouldn't, and suddenly things get very exciting again.

We haven't been destroyed because we've been very lucky. During Cuban missile crisis American ships actually dropped depth charges on a nuke-carrying Russian submarine. The captain and the political officer were all for launching it in retaliation, but the idea was vetoed by Vasili Arkhipov. And it's not the only time humanity's fate has hung on the decisions of a single person.

And of course this is all ignoring the possibilities of, say, biological warfare advancing technology is bringing to within reach of even non-state actors. You may not have noticed, but some of these actors are nowhere near as rational nor benevolent as the Soviet Russia of old.

Finally, the dawning of the Information Age is challenging whole new facets of human capacity for evil. Hypocrisy is quickly becoming impossible as privacy continues to erode. At the same time, anonymity serves to strip away pretensions of civility and expose the grinning skull beneath all too many faces. With Industrial Age, the choice was "cease warring or die"; with Information Age it's "stop being hypocrites or have your souls crushed". Given that it took two world wars to get humanity to the point where we had any chance to survive harnessing the power of the atom, I shudder to think what it'll take to prepare us for omnipresent computation.

We're running a gauntlet, a purgatory forcing us to choose between our shadow or increasing amounts of pain. Every aspect of our existence is being confronted by its shortcomings like never before, for there are no more second chances. Humanity will either demonstrate it has mastered its dark side before it will master nature and reach the stars, or it will send itself to oblivion so more worthy beings might inherit them instead. It's not two minutes to midnight, it's Judgement Day.

Comment: Re:Poor Alan Kay (Score 1) 131

by ultranova (#48897431) Attached to: Bjarne Stroustrup Awarded 2015 Dahl-Nygaard Prize

for backwards compatibility with C (IMO Vala does better -- YMMV)

If this is a priority, why not just use C?

But it does a reasonable job of "good enough" on all three fronts, and that is what has made it so enduringly popular over the last few decades.

Or, more cynically, it's simple enough to pick up basics fast yet has enough complexity to take years to master and an endless amount of obscure gotchas for true gurus to demonstrate their superiority. In other words, once it got adopted it helped establish a pecking order of programmers, who then have every incentive to keep it popular to protect their investment and the resulting status.

There is no field of human activity where psychology didn't rule supreme.

Comment: Re:Defective by design. (Score 1) 186

by dgatwood (#48896661) Attached to: China Cuts Off Some VPNs

They're well defined now. AFAIK, they were nonstandard when initially proposed. Every time someone wants to deviate from accepted standards, there should be a darn good reason why, and I'm just not seeing any reasonable justification for creating a whole separate transport-layer protocol for something that basically behaves like a normal, connected stream.

And it isn't just explicit blocking that's a problem. Firewalls and NAT often make life miserable for users even when those firewalls aren't trying to block the VPNs. That's why as far as I'm concerned, if you're passing traffic, you should use TCP if you need the data to be robust and reliable, UDP if delayed delivery would make the data worthless, and ICMP for the usual network management purposes. IMO, everything else is anathema. :-)

Comment: Re:Defective by design. (Score 1) 186

by dgatwood (#48896633) Attached to: China Cuts Off Some VPNs

My point was that there was no valid reason for each of these VPNs to each use its own transport-layer protocol. A normal, connected TCP socket would have done the job just as easily. Every time someone strays from the expectation that all packets are either TCP, UDP, or ICMP, it means every hardware-based firewall maker (and every software-based firewall IT person) has to do extra work to deal with it, and hardware that worked before suddenly doesn't work or (if you're lucky) requires firmware updates. The fact that using a different protocol makes it easier to block is just another in a long list of reasons why the proliferation of transport-layer protocols is a bad idea.

Comment: Re:Defective by design. (Score 1) 186

by dgatwood (#48896613) Attached to: China Cuts Off Some VPNs

Okay, fair enough. I usually lump firewalls and routers in the same bucket, because outside of backbone hardware, most routers also act as firewalls. The point is that a lot of (badly designed) consumer routers (firewalls) do stupid things like routing only TCP and UDP, or treating those other protocols as "special" under the assumption that VPNs will always be used from the inside out, never from the outside in, resulting in all sorts of fun.

Comment: Re:That makes sense! (Score 1) 92

by ScentCone (#48896591) Attached to: Bomb Threats Via Twitter Partly Shut Down Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport

Bringing a fighter jet to a bomb threat. That makes sense!

You don't have much of an imagination, do you? Or pay any kind of attention to actual events, pretty much ever?

Escort aircraft can make observations and help with communications and recordings that can't be made any other way. One of the threats suggested the bomber was on board, implying the possibility that he might make demands which could include, possibly, making that aircraft into a weapon aimed at a metropolitan area ... which might require destroying the aircraft before that could happen. Fighters are routinely deployed when other aircraft stray from where they're supposed to be, cease communicating, etc. Which you'd know, if you paid attention.

Save a little money each month and at the end of the year you'll be surprised at how little you have. -- Ernest Haskins