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Comment Doing something just because it's cool (Score 4, Interesting) 43

I think it's time we admit to ourselves that sometimes, we want scientists to do certain things simply because they're cool. That should count as a perfectly adequate reason, so that we can stop this silly game of pretending that we need to do something cool because we inexplicably started caring a lot about settling some very small and boring scientific question.

I see this a lot when people discuss manned missions to Mars. It's a popular idea, but only because it's cool and full of symbolism we like. It's not because people suddenly became nerds about the history of the Martian regolith, and unmanned missions will simply not adequately satisfy their burning curiosity. Of course, the Mars mission would cost an insane fortune. I'm all for cool things, and humanity is pretty rich, but not that rich. Cloning a mammoth, on the other hand... We might be able to afford that!

Comment Different math from K-12 (Score 2) 578

It's hard to do almost any programming without understanding boolean operations (both logical and bitwise), and one will be really limited if one doesn't understand binary arithmetic and how hexadecimal works. I don't think this stuff is ordinarily taught in grades K to 4. One isn't going to understand how what integer types in many languages do unless one understands modulo-2^n arithmetic. Again, that's not ordinarily taught in grades K to 4. It may not even be taught in grades 5 to 12 (no doubt depends on school). None of this is *hard* mathematics, but it's mathematics nonetheless.

Generally speaking, all algorithms should probably be thought of as mathematical entities. So whenever one is trying to figure out an algorithm for a task, one is doing mathematics. It's not the sort of mathematics one typically does in K-12, but it's mathematics nonetheless. And it's not uncommon to have to do a little bit of traditional mathematics on the side to figure out if you're going to run out of memory or take too long.

And even if you're not trying to understand an algorithm yourself, at least you need to be able to understand statements like "Worst case performance of a merge sort is O(n log n) while the average case performance of a bubble sort is O(n^2)" in order to choose between off-the-shelf ones.

Comment Re:Too early (Score 1) 32

a Clinton/Bush matchup pretty much goes Clinton's way since her husband's baggage is easier to tote around than Jeb's brother's baggage. And that's the analysis for a close race!

And you're wrong because Clinton's baggage is not her husband's. Bill's popular, Hill isn't. Jeb has some baggage from his brother, but they're looking at the candidates in totality.

Jeb is a moderate former governor of Florida. Clinton is a scandal-beset senator and former Secretary of State. Jeb is neither loved nor hated, he just "is". Clinton is widely seen as dishonest, scheming, and lacking empathy.

Both have associated baggage from family members, but those family members aren't the people standing. Bill Clinton remains wildly popular in most of the US, if his "baggage" were the issue, Hillary Clinton wouldn't be unpopular.

Look, I know Obama is a centrist technocrat, but jesus, the last eight years haven't been that bad for liberalism in the US. For fuck's sake, you people literally got the best possible candidate and president a liberal could hope for in the climate of 2008 and all you've done is bitch bitch bitch, instead of trying to seize any of that momentum to build for better things.

What. The. Everloving. Fuck?

We've bitched because we're still stuck here with the torture, war on whistleblowers, and other Bush-era bullshit that he was supposed to end. Gitmo's still open. We withdrew from Iraq, but only in terms that we were going to anyway. We started a whole bunch of new wars, in Syria and Libya to name but two. Bush gave Saddam Hussein a show travel. Obama extra-judicially ordered the execution of Bin Laden. Obama extra-judicially ordered many other executions too, including drone strikes that have killed unknown numbers of bystanders. It's tempting to say we continued Bush's presidency with Obama, but it's worse than that in reality, we continued Cheney's vice presidency too.

Does any of that sound liberal to you? Seriously?

And what do we have to show for it? Obamacare? That, if you remember, is the policy we keep pointing out to Republicans is:

1. A minor shakeup of what we had already.
2. THEIR FUCKING PLAN FOR HEALTHCARE. The thing THEY were going to implement.

...because when I hear this patronizing regurgitated bullshit from Obamapologists, that's what it comes down to. Obamacare. Whoopiefuckingdoo. A "Universal Healthcare" system that's just as shitty as we had before, and is aimed primarily at reducing the deficit and protecting hospitals and insurers from financial problems more than it's aimed at providing universal healthcare. Which it doesn't actually provide, though, thankfully, the small bright glimmer of light in the otherwise dark cloud, it does at least reduce the number of people without health insurance.

But our government still murders and tortures people. And we hound them across the world for whistleblowing. The social problems America seems to suffer from seem to be worse than ever. We have no fucking improvements in infrastructure because given a golden opportunity to, Obama decided to run down the center and ask for too little, knowing he wouldn't even get that.

Is Clinton going to invade Iran? She will if a Bush-level Republican would do the same, I guarantee it. She'll fuck up on infrastructure spending, spend absurd amounts of time trying to balance the budget for no good reason whatsoever, she'll ignore social issues just like Obama because, hey, she doesn't need to, right? And she'll do what she can to impress the political establishment by obsessing over the security state and ensuring those damned whistleblowers get what's coming to them.

Maybe ultimately you have a different definition of liberalism to mine, but as I've said before, Obama's purpose as president appears to have been to tell us that elections don't matter, that no matter how liberal someone appears before being elected, we'll still end up being fucked over. The country will continue to drift right.

It's been a terrible eight years for liberalism. Utterly and completely terrible. We still had HOPE in 2008. We don't even have that any more.

Comment Re:Misleading title - didn't pass Windows 8 (Score 1) 242

I was very excited by 10 until I installed it on my tablet and found that it was something other than an updated Windows. I definitely think the GP should hold off using it if they're happy with Windows 7, which was a high quality operating system.

Issues:

1. It's bug ridden.
2. Can't comment on performance vs Windows 7, but on my tablet it's awful compared to Windows 8.1. UI latency is terrible.
3. Still insists on tying use of apps to Microsoft accounts.
4. Sizable amount of default UI seems to be constantly pushing you to buy or download things.

10 is "big" and has some nice features, but I really wouldn't push anyone to upgrade unless they've test driven it first and like it.

Comment Re:By what measure, success? (Score 1) 242

It would be difficult NOT to image Windows 10 not achieving at LEAST a 5% market-share when ALL of the installed copies of Windows 7 and 8 out there harass users to upgrade to 10 for free.

But... and it's a big but... not all the installed copies of Windows 7 and 8 harass users to upgrade to 10 for free. Or even offer the option.

To be harassed, you:

1. Need to have a PC that's allowed to upgrade automatically. That eliminates virtually all corporate versions of Windows, which is disproportionately high amongst Windows users.

2. Need to have a PC where the user clicked on the little Windows notification icon, and went through the steps needed to "reserve" a copy of Windows 10. That's not everyone. That's probably not even the majority of the Windows users not covered by (1) above given most users have no idea what that little icon is. For them (people like my wife) the only Windows 10ism they'll ever see is something in a notification bar they usually never look at.

3. Need to have a PC that's "ready" to install. My tablet notified me after two weeks. A week or so later, my main gaming PC notified me that it was ready. They're clearly still pushing it out.

(1) and (3) are dealbreakers beyond the user's control. You could possibly argue that (2) is where the user has made some choices that relate to their interest in Windows 10.

5%, in that context, isn't bad. It's not great either, but it's certainly respectable.

Comment Re:To be expected (Score 1) 242

Yeah that link was posted to Slashdot a few days ago. It's mostly inaccurate concerning Mac OS X - the Dock, for example, was a NEXTSTEP (capitals deliberate) feature from the mid-eighties, for instance. The nearest vaguely Windows 95ish thing you can say about the OS X dock vs older OpenStep docks was that it moved to the bottom of the screen. And the comments about buttons to close/minimize etc originating in Windows 95 are completely ludicrous. It's like he never used a GUI before Windows 95. (I think Mac OS X did copy Alt-Tab though, so there's that, if he'd bothered to mention it...)

Windows 95 was a significant step forward for PC users, but it didn't really do much that wasn't out there on other platforms already. The Start button was mostly a new concept, but Amigans, GEM users, and Mac users didn't really see anything we hadn't seen before.

Comment Re:Even if you opt into HTML5? (Score 1) 175

I'd like example URLs so I can try them on my PC and in the Firefox browser on my Android tablet.

I'll let you know, I've "opted in" on all my browsers but frequently, for some reason, get videos delivered via Flash instead.

Contradiction in terms.

There are degrees of terribleness. The current HTML5 DRM system, which requires each browser on each platform independently support each third party DRM scheme essentially means that content providers get to dictate which operating system and browser you use.

To compare that to Flash, which works on every platform that Flash is available for, is absurd.

Comment Re:Too early (Score 1) 32

Be careful dismissing Republican candidates as clowns during a primary. They always look like clowns then.

Nobody wanted Romney or McCain near anything until they won the nominations either... I think it's a bad idea to read too much into Republican dislike for their choices at the moment, they have a horrible habit of backing the nominee even if they've spend the last eight years saying what a terrible person that nominee was. They'll do it grudgingly, but they'll do it.

Now, that leads us to a likely contest between two McCains: Clinton and (Bush/Christie/whatever) and that's genuinely hard to predict. I'm inclined though to suggest Jeb Bush would win against Hillary Clinton. It'd be tight, but while Bush looks like an out-of-touch rich twit and has the nominal albatross, Clinton also looks out of touch and is widely considered (rightly or wrongly) dishonest.

My sense is that Clinton vs Christie would probably be a Clinton win, for obvious reasons.

The other wildcard is Rubio: other than waffling on immigration, what is he known for? If he can survive the primaries and avoid looking too ideologically right wing, he'll be able to define himself during the election campaign itself, which is a very useful campaign edge that few of the other candidates have.

But like I said, I'm not 100% convinced it'll be Clinton at this point. She's still the most likely, but - well, I'm not going to vote for her in the primaries. God knows who I'll vote for, but something has to happen to the Democrats to swing them back left, or else they'll continue to be "centrist" media puppets for the rest of eternity.

Comment Re:Flash is dead, long live Flash! (Score 2) 175

That's some wishful thinking. If it's dead, how is it that most video sites insist on using it? Where is the support on - forget all browsers, just the big four - for a common real time streaming protocol in HTML5?

From what I can figure out, the only major video site that's switched to HTML5 - and THEN only for most, not all, videos, is YouTube (and some clones of YouTube.) Hulu, Amazon, et al, are still using Flash. Support for iDevices and Android isn't via HTML5, it's via specialized apps, essentially going from a generic cross platform proprietary system to per-platform super-proprietary systems.

Flash isn't dead. It's old, and wants to retire, and everyone wants it to retire, but it's the only one in the office who knows how to manage the creaky old systems we still use, and HTML5 is the new hire we refuse to send on courses to learn "real time streaming" and other things Flash does all the time.

Pretending Flash is dead isn't going to kill Flash. Putting pressure on Mozilla, Microsoft, Google, and Apple to include HLS (and other standardized streaming formats) in their browsers will help, as will demanding the browsers cooperate on a DRM system that isn't the current "Attractive to content providers, terrible for everyone else" crapfest.

Comment Too early (Score 1) 32

Clinton looks like being the Dem nominee, but it's way too early in the cycle to say she absolutely will be. She has a popularity problem to overcome, and there's a sizable ABH contingent within the Democratic Party. She's stunning for her almost complete lack of charisma, her ability to make any displays of empathy or emotion look fake, her enthusiastic embrace of clearly flawed establishment positions on every issue, and a resume that looks like a set of check boxes rather than useful experience.

I can more confidently say I think Sanders is toast, and I don't see Warren as terribly likely either. Sanders is too much of a Ron Paul candidate to do anything but make a lot of noise. Warren has future potential, but she would have had to start "campaigning" four years ago. She's shown herself to be "tough on bad things", but not really anything else.

On the Republican side:

- Again, too early to completely rule out Trump but I'm finding it ridiculously unlikely he'll get the nomination. That view might change if he actually polls well in any early primaries.
- I honestly can't tell about the others. Well, I think the Republicans are unlikely to nominate the religious or ideological extremists (who are mostly positioning themselves for future jobs on Fox anyway), so that leaves - of the ones Fox is picking for their main debates - Bush, Christie, Kasich, Rubio, and Walker. It's tempting to find reasons to disqualify each. Bush is an establishment figure loathed by the grassroots... like Romney (2012). Christie is a populist pseudo-centrist loathed by the grassroots... like McCain (2008). Walker and Kasich are merely known as right wing governors at this point, like numerous former nominees. And Rubio is treading a relatively untrodden path and is fairly popular.

So, TL;DR, I just think it's too early to assume anything. Clinton may win, but if she does, she'll be our McCain (2008) candidate, and we might just lose as a result.

Comment Re:A free search engine (Score 1) 152

In many countries, it is illegal for a company to unfairly exploit its dominance in one market to gain advantage in another market.

But Google aren't doing that.

The argument of these complaining companies boils down to "our business is so crappy and generic that we have no customer loyalty at all, and as such our customers simply click on whatever result comes first when they search". Therefore they argue "we should be first because otherwise it's not faaaaaaaair".

If the only justification for your existence is that hapless customers end up at your website due to an accident of ranking, why should anyone care about your business? Facebook, for most of its history, wasn't crawlable at all - the entire site was behind the login screen. Literally the only search term they showed up for was Facebook. Guess what - it didn't hurt them at all, because their customers wanted to go there.

Comment Everything in your life will be a governance gizmo (Score 4, Insightful) 147

I've been trying to keep my job skills fresh so I can keep up with the "next big thing". But I'll be damned if I can figure out what the hell IoT really is and why it's taking off. Yes, I know it's connecting things to the internet. But to what end?

It will allow Apple, Microsoft, Google, the US Government, and others to turn every device in your home into a governance/surveillance device. It won't just be your TV watching you a la 1984, it will be your thermostat, your keyboard, your couch, your bedside lamp, hell, not just your bed but your baby's crib and the baby's rattle.

That is why they are so keen on the "Internet of Things." What? You thought it was to benefit you? Really? Then I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

Comment Re:Does it have to be in China? (Score 1) 135

The Far East has plenty of factories that can ramp up production of any virtually any non-radical design in a matter of weeks. The West has no such industry, most factories aren't set up to build anything but specific products for the owners of the factory concerned, and it takes months to segue into new designs.

Which is why China is kicking our ass.

And that won't change either, as long as we assume manufacturing is somehow beneath us as a nation.

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