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Comment Leaving work: CH example (Score 1) 128

which causes those insurances to go up in cost for everyone, even those not having kids.

In some countries - like Switzerland - the same social insurance is paying other reasons to leave work:
- military duty (it's one of the last country to have compulsory military service - young men are forced by law to leave work ~1 month each year during ~10 years. insurance covers the salary during this time)
- alternatives to military duty
- some other public service (e.g.: some trainings from the national sport organisation)

In that perspective, raising kids is seen by the current law as one of the different form of duties that a citizen can accomplish for the greater good of the nation and which deserves that the salary lost during that time gets partially re-imbursed.

Things to keep in mind:
- Switzerland, like most developed countries and specially like most European countries, has a fertility rate lower than the critical 2.1 (currently it's around 1.5 child per couple). It currently manage not to have its population collapse thanks to immigration. So helping parent raise children is actually *VERY MUCH NEEDED* in order to encourage the fertility rate and avoid the population drop. That's why nearly all of European countries (like my Swiss example, but also lots of other, e.g.: Germany) have paid parental leave.
- Switzerland is a direct democracy. Law get voted by the general population (and not by some lobby in some "pseudo-representative" congregation like the US). Thus the fact that this law was voted in means that *the greatest part of the population actually thinks it's a good idea*. When other posters say "there is consensus in most of the societies that kids are a good thing", in the particular case of Switzerland this consensus among the population has been clearly demonstrated during voting.
Your idea that it's a bad thing that social insurance help pay for kids IS NOT shared among the biggest part of a whole country which effectively voted democratically such law into power.

Comment C vs Pascal == Perl vs Python (Score 2, Interesting) 132

I remember despising C for its absurd syntax ("==", "!=" etc.).
I still do.

And I was the opposite, I despised the vebosity of pascal (begin/end/etc.) and it's tendency to try to hide some low level details on the grounds of making it easier to learn.
To each his own preferences.

That's a definitive proof that the Perl vs Python debate didn't actually need theese language and the whole concept dates back much further in computing history.

Comment Modern DE (Score 1) 754

Or one of the many BSDs.

That's going to be tricky.

The key point is that the poster wanted a *modern desktop environment*.
So probably Gnome 3, KDE Plasma 5, Unity 8, or whatever the newer versions that are going to show up in 2016.

And most of these desktop try not to reinvent the wheel, but re-use the building blocks that systemd (I mean not only PID1, but all the various other tools that are hosted under the same umbrella) provides.
(e.g.: Cgroups handling, automatic on-the-go creation of isolation silos, hardware management, etc.)

Linux is much more than plain old POSIX. It provides tons of really useful advanced features (containers, capabilities, etc.) that where'nt part of posix. Systemd (project umbrella) provides tons of tools to leverage these function, that where simply completely underused back at the era of "cobbled together convoluted shell scripts". These functionality are useful, and together with the level of automation that systemd provides, makes life of desktop environment maker much easier.

BSD is also much more than plain old POSIX. But it's *differently* more so (jails instead of containers, different API for capabilities, etc.)
Handling these OSes would require either tons of API-specific code and wrappers, next to the simple systemd-leveraging (i.e.: what TFA complain against)
or requires that BSD also progressively migrates toward some higher level tools the simplify the handling of these functionnailties (i.e.: the various systemd alternatives that some time pop out. But still nothing concrete as of yet).

So probably, in 2016:
- you could either use Linux with KDE/Gnome/etc. but have a hard dependency on at least a dozen of deamons handled by the systemd project.
- or you could use one of the niche Linux distro with a unusual very geeky desktop environment (e.g.: some obscure tiling windows manager, and emacs with tons of plugin as the default browser/email client/file manager)
- or you could use BSD but you'll get an oldish release of MATE / KDE sunset.
And only the first of the three above get the best hardware (and, e.g., suspend/resume) support, due to having the most paid developpers working on it.

But, probably around 2018:
- you could use BSD with their very own "systemB" (project that give the same kind of abstractions) with the latest Gnome 4, KDE Plasma 6, Unity 9 (now running on Wayland), etc.
- or you could one of the less mainstream Linux distribution that swaps the component of systemd project with component of alternatives giving the same advanced features.
- or actually hope that by then systemd will have been reviewed enough and cleaned. (One of my hopes, given how widespread it is going to be. On the other hand openssl *WAS* widespread when Heartbleed happened)
- or cheer for the OpenBSD guys as you follow them on a "Valhalla Rampage" blog about "LibreSyD" (like systemd, but with all the weird pieces of code removed).

Comment NeXTSTEP is in Mac OS X (Score 2, Informative) 249

If NeXTSTEP was so great, then why didn't it become as popular as Windows? {...} Yet that never happened! NeXTSTEP and its descendants toil away in near obscurity while pretty much everyone uses Windows!

Are you aware that Mac OS X is a derivative of NeXTSTEP ?
And that iOS is in turn a distant cousin of Mac OS X ?

These are immensly popular OSes (lots of Mac Books and Mac Air, around), and they are descendant of NeXTSTEP.
Apple rehired Steve Jobs, partially to get hold on the technology as a replacement of the aging Mac OS Classic platform.

Comment Bitcoin: A bit counter productive (Score 5, Insightful) 274

I understand that cutting of the money supply for terrorist is very effective, and I can understand bitcoin as it can move large amounts of money

Also, you need to understand that the main keypoint of bitcoin: is that it's distributed.
Bitcoin protocol advantage isn't that you can move these large amounts of money anonymously.
Bitcoin protocol advantage is that it's only the poeple involved that get to make the call, there's no central authority.

This lack of central authority is done by the distribution. Every single transaction is broadcast to the whole network, and is stored into the blockchain: a huge virtual ledger of which every single node in the network has local copy. That's far from anonymous. That's publicly broadcast.

The bitcoin protocol still provides pseudonymity. In the blockchain, transaction aren't stored together with some username/identity. There is none as there's no central authority with which to register. Instead in the blockchain, transaction are signed with cryptographic key. And each user's wallet generates constantly new cryptographic keys specific to this user.

For an individual, it might not be easy to track every single such use of cryptographic key, in order to be able to trace a "money trail" between 2 users on the network.
But for a government, even more for an entity as the whole european union, that's well within their capability of "Big Data" analysis.

Much more easy to track than plain cash: with plain cash, you only get to read the serial number when the ATM handle out the money at one end of the chain, and when the deposit machine gets the cash back later. Any transaction that has happened in between is left to the imagination of the detective.
Whereas with bitcoin, it's as if every single movement of cash note was publicly broadcast. Be it when the cash changes hands (e.g.: an actual transaction between a merchant and a seller) or simply changes pocket (metaphorically symbolising the constant stream of generated crypto key as part as the normal function of a wallet).
A single individual might not follow it.
But a government could at least do the tracking, alghouth they can't block it (that's the whole point of the "no central authority").

Also, law is still law, and all the law against money laundering still apply against any institution that handles money. No matter if the money is plain cash, or credit cards or, in this case a weird protocole with no central authority.
BTC exchange, payment processor, etc. all requires user registration, and all require all the other procedures in place against laundering.

Simply, the transactions happening bitcoin will happen without any control from 3rd party (just like cash changing hands, although better traceable, as mentionned above).
Unlike transaction with credit card and central payment processor like Pay-pal, where the Visa, MasterCard or Paypal companies are able to freeze accounts and reverse transactions.

Bitcoin protocole still offers advantage for the average citizen: absence of monopoly.
(mainly the main advantage of cash, except that it also works online.
or the main advantage of SEPA payment, except that it works anywhere in the world, not only between european bank account supporting the protocol and a faster speed being minute to hours instead of next-day to days)

- freedom to chose one provider and interact as long as everbody else supports the same protocole.
- not a single company being jury judge and executionner (like with credit card companies and charge-backs), but instead enabling complexe multi-party scheme, were seller and buyer can freely agree before hand on a 3rd party arbiter (a role that the various consumer associations and certification groups in europe would be happy to play)
- not being at the whim of Visa/MasterCard freezing acount. Currently it's not possible to use a Credit Card to pay anything that they don't like.
(e.g.: you can't donate money to whistleblower. Wikileaks got their account frozen. In fact bitcoin was started in the reaction of such incidents)
in fact anything that is perfectly legal in your jurisdiction and culturally accepted in your society, but is disliked where the payment processor happens to be headquartered, is at whim of being frozen.
Such things are impossible with bitcoin protocol. There's no central authority that can prevent of freeze them. Only local law apply locally to buyer / seller. (Meaning if selling weapons is illegal or heavily regulated in your jurisdiciton, police is going to whatch you, even if you don't use credit card to charge your customer).

Comment And the problem is that terrorist dont encrypt (Score 1) 145

we'll get to hear about how we have to outlaw telling people how to use encryption

If we're going to have a world where the conversations of private citizens cannot be eavesdropped on then it's a natural by product that criminals and terrorists will also benefit from this.

And the weirdest part is that, as Schneier has written on his blog ("Paris Terrorists Used Double ROT-13 Encryption"), the terrorists don't even use encryption to begin with.

It's not a case of secret services complaining "Oh my god, the terrists use unbreakable encryption! And Tor!!! We can't do nuthin' !!"

It's a case of terrorist operative having such a horrendous track of information security (actually good for us!), that some less stupid guys in ISIS decide that maybe it would be a good idea to give some introduction about encryption and anonymity, lest any operation ends up being followed by more arrests due to clues left. (As was the case in paris last wednesday)

So apparently terrorists are using *less* encryption than the average citizen (which isn't a big surprise. Bright people aren't very likely to blow themselves up in the name of some random $IDEOLOGY/$DEITY. Thus the average terrorist is rather bright than the average citizen. There might by a couple of brighter bulb among the terrorist, but they are few, and are at the top, far away from actual danger, and profiteering out of the indoctrinated masses)

Which is good for the rest of us. It's easier to win against stupider opponents.

And which also means that it's not a solution to ban encryption.

First and fore most:
- benefits of encryption and anonymisation (for the average citizen everywhere: protection one's data, avoiding becoming victim of identity theft, industrial spying, etc. for citizen of totalitarian government: better protecting themselves and avoid getting arrested for having said the wrong word at the wrong time)
far out-weight the draw-backs (a few malevolent individuals might want to use it to hide they nefarious projects).

And now we see that poor schmucks stupid enough to blow themselves up are also too stupid to even properly use encryption.

Comment Democracy (Score 1) 202

Direct democracy doesnâ(TM)t work at any scale.

The pure direct democracy Switzerland begs to differ.

The United States founding fathers were correct in that the biggest threat to any populace is its own government.

...if this government has power.
If the government's only role is to organise things, and the final say for any decision is taken with democratic vote (ie.: nearly every single law gets voted by the general population before acceptance), the government can't pass any stupid or oppressive law.
(Unless the majority of the population is dumb enough to approve it. That can happen occasionnally. But in a country where the general population is happy - thanks to good welfare and good economy - and educated, it tends to be rare)

When any segment of society looses fundamental rights, no ones rights are safe.

So put all the segments of society in charge, and be done with it.

Or do you prefer to still concentrate all the decision power in a few elect ?

And then have the general population running constantly armed with deadly force in order to be ready to kill any rogue elect (and risking killing each other in the process. a lot)

Comment Units (Score 2) 75

when your charger only outputs 1Ah

Maybe you should stop buying $1 chargers that can't even get their units right.

No, no. The parent was right. 1A*h*.

The 1$ charger is able to maintain 500mAh for 2 hours, after which point it breaks. And explodes. And puts your dog on fire in the process. You should really not buy 1$ no-name electronics from shady chinese manufacturer.

Comment Current: that nearly 20A (Score 4, Interesting) 75

you just need to plug it somewhere in a coffee shop, work, ... to get to 50% charge in just 5 minutes, which is usually {..} enough until the evening to then charge it fully.

Which is also a whoping 18 amps down the cable (or 6C in charger parlance). Which (due to RI^2) is quite some thermal loss, and require large cables.

Which is also 90W, as much as a heavy laptop charger (definitely *NOT* the kind of mini charger that your Asus eeePC/etc. uses. Think more the kind of heavy huge brick that Lenovo packs with its bigger Wxx-series laptops [=100W], or the biggest of the Dell laptop charger [=90W] sold with some of their docks)

For the "50% in 5 minutes" charging to work, you would need:

- to move from the 5V used by regular USB to higher voltage in order to reduce (due to P = UI) the current to something that doesn't require the same size of cabling as an electric oven or a domestic electric car charger (= 15A to 25A appliances).
USB-C could support "USD Power Delivery" which asks for 20V support when charging 100W - thus only 5A current.
So you need to move everyone to USB-C before starting this. (Good luck. See how people are eager when they need to re-buy every single other cable and dock that they have)

- massively improve charger technology so the charger isn't 3x bigger that the phone it self. (is not coming anyway soon)
or design special charger that can sustain 100W for 5minutes and then limit their output for a certain time to avoid burning (seems to be the only realistic option)
or have all the coffee shop deploy a network of 20V / 100W standardised chargers (good luck with that. See how long it took until trains started to equip their coaches with mains current for laptops. And how not every coffee shop is filled with 5V USB ports every where).

But you will definitely NOT quickcharge your phone with a miniature wall wart that looks no bigger than a standard mains plug.

You could in a pinch use your laptop/chromebook USB-C powerbrick to quick charge your phone. But that means that you have a backpack with your laptop in it. At which point it would be easier to plug the phone to the laptop itself, and have it slow charge to 100% over the charge port. That's if you don't also have a powerbank in said backpack.

So although it's a nice idea, it will take some time and effort until it works smoothly, due to the shear amount of energy.


Coincidentally, 5minutes is *ALSO* the 50% charge time you would get if the technology gets ported to the cells used by Tesla in it's car.
(well not that surprising given that basically it's your "phone to 50% in 5m" situation only massively parallelized as Telsa batteries are just huge array of the same simple lithium cell).
(But that would require Tesla Supercharger able to pump 810kWh instead of the actual 135kWh. Yup, almost a megawhat to quick charge your car. And don't even start to think about the kind of cabling and/or voltage needed to push that power.)

Comment Power (Score 3, Insightful) 202

We need to take any and all actions reasonable to ensure that those in power remain rightfully fearful of the governed masses.

Or you know, you could begin by not giving that much power to the government.
There's this small thing called "direct democracy" (= where it is the actual people who have the final say on everything. Not some representatives, but the general population). You should try it sometimes.

Oh, and please no dummy complaints that "it only works in very small territories". Come on. It's 2015. We're in the Internet Age.

Comment Only in Belgium... (Score 1) 202

This Belgian minister is unfortunately not a stupid idiot. He just has a different goal than we do: this isn't about catching terrorists but about trying to drum up support for increased government surveillance.

Then luckily it's all in Belgium. A country where government and regulation seem optional, to the point that the country essentially did without a government for almost 2 years at one point in time.

Comment Ultra-sound. (Score 2) 223

1. Mics don't pick up ultrasonic

Actually they do, on purpose.
It's simpler and cheaper to pick-up a wider range and filter afterward.
Than managing to produce a "perfect" microphone that has I high response on the whole range of human hearing, and drops sharply outside without causing any harmonic distortion.

Mics that pick up ultrasonics + software filter is cheaper than high quality mic + high quality hardware filter.

So most mics can pick up ultrasonics and do. (all it takes is one rogue software NOT to filter them).

2. Speakers don't reproduce ultrasonic

You subwofer might not, indeed.

But the cheapo piezo that is most small electronics device and used as a tweeters in speaker systems can produce them without any problem.

So overall lots of devices could produce them without you knowing (or with only your dog knowing).

3. And even if these somehow did, Nyquist already limits it all

Yup Nyquist. Nyquist predicts that the max frequency will be at half the max sampling rate.
Most audio pipe-line work at CD quality (44 ksamples) or higher (48 ksamples).
That makes a max of 22-24Khz. Well above the typical 10Khz that most people tend to hear.

And that's without taking into account the tendencies of some audiophile on insisting to run everything at 192Khz 24bits.
It's completely useless for humans, but that would help a bit this whole story.

Look at a high-end mic's response curve.

Which is high-end, and thus tries to mimick human range (plus some headroom to avoid distortion).

Low quality cheap microphone might accidentally have weirder response curve. (Specially piezo-based one. They would suck at the low range, the would have abnormal high ultrasound drop off, and they are dead cheap).

Most barely get above 16 kHz, after which they drop off very fast.

...which is well enough above the typical 10Khz limit that most human hear.

High-freqs are directional, meaning if you get off-axis even a little, even more drop-off.

so what? the point of advertisers isn't to generate some ultra-high bandwidth transmission techniques that can carry 1Gbps data over 10km.
The point is only to get some very basic presence/absence (some ad is playing on some TV nearby the phone) and maybe a few bits worth of data (enough to transmit a tag, so the server might be able to know that AD n xyz that got sent to device #A was heard by device #B and thus both device probably belong to the same person).
And that doesn't need to be a constant flow of information. If the ad presence/absence works a couple of time per day, that's already enough data for marketeers.
If the tagging works well enough to match device a couple of time per months, its already enough for marketeers to wet their pants and/or order an extra round of blow.


bullshit that has already been demoed in conferences.

the news isn't that you can do communication over ultra-sonics using of-the-shelf parts. that has been known for years.
the news is that some advertisers are interested to actually do it in the wild.

The internet at play and the eager ignorants ready to believe anything it proclaims.

That's Ars. They tend to have a little bit less dummy content than your garden variety of "internet-crackpot-theory-cesspool".

Comment Audiophiles!!! (Score 1) 223

the question is why does a phone intended for *human* consumption even allow frequencies beyond human hearing?

But Audiophiles! And Golden ears!!! And 192Khz 24bits!!!!!
Maybe you can't hear the difference, but that's because you didn't buy the necessary "Monster" polarized cables.
It really change the warmth of sound !!!! And the ultra-sound cause harmonics!!! (*)
(sarcasm over)
(* = actually true depending on the installation. but has the exact opposite effect: these harmonics are distrotions and generally degrade the output quality by outputing singal that was never here in the first place)

More seriously:
- Technical limitation: it's simpler and cheaper to have a microphone and a ADC that can pick up higher frequencies, and then filter them in software, rather than design a microphone that has perfect pick-up in the human hearing range but abruptly stops at the hearing limit and has no distortion.
(I think Xiph have a few documents about this. Or was it one of the anti-Audiophilie post of some real-world-physics-based-science blog ?)
So: your phone and lots of other electronique device can hear above the 10-16 Khz limit because hearing at 24-48Khz and downsampling causes less harmonic distortions. But afterward the rest of the audio software pipeline works in a reasonable audio bandwidth.
(Unless you consider a rogue piece software that on purpose keep sounds in the 16-24Khz range - such as adware)

- Technology: smartphones use piezo speaker, instead of magnetically driven. These can have good response beyond the human hearing range. (In fact, the ultra-sound emitter on your car's sonar parking assistance is very probably a piezo speaker).
So if your smartphone has 192Khz/24bits DAC (because "audiophiles"! because in fact it's not much complicated to handle higher bitrates/audio bandwidth, and that makes a bullet point for maketing to boast about),
and the audio circuit lacks proper high quality filters (because it's cheaper)
and the audio device is a piezo (like in anything smaller than a speaker set),
your smartphone can output ultra-sounds (as do any speak-set using a piezo for tweeters).

And unlike the recording situation, it doesn't even require a rogue software: CD quality (44 ksample) or higher (48 ksamples) is considered the golden standard at which most audio pipelines operate. And thus any software could output 22Khz-24Khz sounds if they like.

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig