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Comment: There is an easy workaround (Score 1) 205

by Dr. Spork (#48042589) Attached to: Will Windows 10 Finally Address OS Decay?
When I install Windows, I work hard to set up everything exactly as I like on install day. Then I make a backup of the OS partition - which has only programs, no photos, videos, etc. - using Acronis TrueImage. Then I proceed as normal, and when something gets screwed up, I just restore from backup. This completely undoes any effects of winrot, and the system immediately feels like it was installed that day. What I usually do then is update my applications and settings, and immediately make a new backup. A full restore takes about 4 minutes, and a backup with max compression takes something like 12. I find this so convenient that I use no antivirus. When I start to suspect that I may have installed malware, I just restore from a backup, and four minutes later, my system is perfect. I've been doing this since Win2K days, and if this method weren't available to me, I wouldn't be using Windows.

Comment: Re:Not so.... (Score 2) 491

by Dr. Spork (#48010687) Attached to: Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit
That's a useful chart, but it shows that the growth of coal in Germany is far larger than the total portion of solar. So if you want to call that growth a "fluctuation," you should call the contribution of solar a "rounding error" or something. What I learned from the chart is that in Germany, the burning of household trash produces twice as much power as solar, and this is growing much faster than solar. I bet it's also costing the customers far less and provides other benefits, like municipal hot water. So yes, Germany is having a bit of a trash burning revolution, and I applaud this. The solar thing though, I don't think that's going so well for Germany.

Comment: Re:Really? (Score 1) 491

by Dr. Spork (#48010587) Attached to: Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit
Um, you tell me about the coal burning plants that Germany shut down, and I'll hunt down the links for the 12 ginormous coal-burning powerplants that have opened up since 2010. The largest of these are designed to burn fucking lignite (brown coal, the dirtiest thing we have ever used for power in the history of mankind). This is not 1812, it was 2012. CO2 emissions are growing faster in Germany than anywhere else in Western Europe, while US emissions are sinking over the same timespan. Germany acts like it's some model citizen because everyone loves to hear about solar this and that, but most of their power comes from coal. Also, most of their new capacity comes from coal. Every year this decade, even the proportion of German power that has come from coal has increased. Yeah, coal. For this I hardly think they deserve any congratulations.

Comment: Re:Maybe... (Score 2) 196

by Dr. Spork (#47901699) Attached to: The Future According To Stanislaw Lem

I wish that people would stop this silliness about population controls. Have you been asleep for 40 years? Right now, in an age when European politicians are pulling out their hair trying to get people to make more kids, it's hard to find an industrialized country that it making children at the replacement rate. Many countries are actually shrinking, including populous ones like Japan, Italy, Russia, etc. Many more would be shrinking were it not for immigration. In countries like Mexico that are traditional sources of emmitrants, fertility rates are plummeting as well. It turns out that all you need is a bit of prosperity, urbanization and female education, and you can quickly generate negative population growth rates. If there's a reason to worry about global population, it's that we won't have enough kids to care for the world's retired.

Comment: False positives are far too easy (Score 4, Interesting) 80

by Dr. Spork (#47738923) Attached to: Spot ET's Waste Heat For Chance To Find Alien Life
Basically, this method of searching for aliens returns a positive whenever there is something producing heat which we don't see/understand. I have a feeling that the universe is quite full of such things. But maybe explaining these will help us make scientific advances. When astronomers first discovered a pulsar, they labeled the signal LGM for "little green men". But since then, we learned a lot about astronomy. Explaining apparent anomalies is good for science, and if you want to make the process sexier by talking about possible alien civilizations, I don't see much harm.

Comment: My Windows Skype just booted me during a call! (Score 5, Interesting) 267

by Dr. Spork (#47618973) Attached to: Skype Blocks Customers Using OS-X 10.5.x and Earlier
I was using the last pre-MS version of the client, which had the "ring all speakers" option. I have several sound devices in my computer, and when my headphones are plugged in, they on their own don't ring loud enough to hear an incoming call. Luckily my HDMI monitor has speakers that don't get any use, except that Skype could make them ring with the "ring all speakers" option. They were loud enough to hear calls. That was until about an hour ago.

My client just stopped working, booted me off the network, and after messing with it for a while, I finally got the message that my Skype version is too old, and that I either get the new crippled client, or I can't Skype at all.

Many people have petitioned to have the "ring all speakers" re-implemented. It worked great. But Microsoft's answer has been: Fuck you, we will never do that. Stop pleading, we don't care. It didn't bother me too much until today. I just thought I'd stick with version 5.10.116 forever. Oh well. So thanks, Skype, for making my life shittier today. Boy am I happy I pre-paid a year of unlimited Skype Out!

Comment: Yeah, maybe considering it for the plebs online... (Score 1) 205

by Dr. Spork (#47612767) Attached to: MIT Considers Whether Courses Are Outdated

Listen, for the rest of MIT's history, the experience for the core students on campus will remain the same: Dorms, semesters, course sequences, grades/evaluations, professors in classrooms, papers, projects, parties, etc.. Why am I so sure? Because MIT is an elite school, and elites will want their kids to get the classical education which made them elite. It's just as much about soaking in the culture, encountering other people, putting together a study crew, a party crew, having a shared experience that includes a bit of hazing, etc.

Sure, MIT will also have a mass education system for the plebs, and they'll brand it with their elite name. But that stuff is not for the "real" MIT kids, except as a supplement. I'm confident that if they design the modular multimedia tutoring system well, many plebs will learn a lot from it. But the only effect of this will be to learn the material. They won't be transformed into MIT elites, even if the letters "MIT" appear somewhere on their diploma. For better or worse, rich parents will always want to send their kids to universities with dorms, semesters, course sequences, grades/evaluations, professors in classrooms, papers, projects, parties, etc. - in hopes that they will osmotically absorb something like culture. The more it reminds them of Hogwarts, the more money they'll be willing to pay. MIT would be stupid to get out of that business, and they're not stupid.

Comment: Re:And it's already closed (Score 1) 81

by Dr. Spork (#47579627) Attached to: Nevada Construction Project Could Be Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory
It's also a pretty tough negotiating strategy. If the governor A doesn't match the bid of governor B, Musk actually fires a lot of governor A's constituents, and the whole thing is egg on his face. Since governor A doesn't want that, he might decide to offer Musk some terms that are actually bad for the state, but will cause less personal blowback for the governor than the mass firing would have. But then there's governor B has the same incentives, and also doesn't want headlines about mass firings in his own state. He might actually decide to accept an even worse deal for the state, so as to avoid the bad headlines and instead look like a hero. So this sets up a race to the bottom which could easily save Musk more money than he spent on the cancelled construction project.

Comment: Re:And it's already closed (Score 1) 81

by Dr. Spork (#47579569) Attached to: Nevada Construction Project Could Be Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory
It is possible that this is just an interruption of work, while Musk brings in new contractors who can actually keep deadlines. According to the article, the fired construction crew missed all their construction milestones. That could be the reason for the layoffs, not a cancellation of the plans.

Comment: Re: Such a Waste (Score 1) 156

by Dr. Spork (#47566997) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

This is a good point. The book certainly didn't feel that way. The problem is that for the Hobbit movies, Jackson started with the original material and then decided to overdo everything about 5x beyond how Tolkien wrote it. So they can't just ride in barrels down a river - an incredibly perilous thing to begin with.

Here's how I picture Jackson deciding to "improve on" the original. They can't just ride in barrels, they have to ride in inexplicably stable barrels that don't take in water, down a river with some crazy fucking rapids, yeah!, while ... let see, why not make them be shot at by elves who otherwise never miss, but this time each shot will miss by like a milimeter, and then some other fuckers are gonna come attack them and come within a milimeter of killing them like a million times, and then good-guy elves will start shooting at those other fuckers, doing acrobatics and other bitchin elf shit, meanwhile the dwarves will be all "hoooo noooo! OOOooooo!" and we'll just keep doing that for like 20 minutes, and then more shooting and swiping and rapids, and by the end, each dwarf will almost-die like 200 times, because, you know. Tension.

You know that if Tolkien sees this he'd be like "Duh, I totally should have written it that way to begin with, it's waay more radical and gnarly!"

Comment: If slashdot had a TV channel... (Score 3, Insightful) 127

by Dr. Spork (#47490353) Attached to: Dungeons & Dragons' Influence and Legacy
They would be wise to get a celebrity D&D campaign. Just imagine an evening with Cory Doctorow, Stephen Colbert, George R. R. Martin, Matt Groening etc, all sitting around a table, trying to lawyer rules and hold off a raid of hobgoblins! That would be a "reality" show that I could watch!

Thus spake the master programmer: "After three days without programming, life becomes meaningless." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"