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Comment: Re:Brought it on ourselves (Score 1) 90

by Bob9113 (#48651715) Attached to: GCHQ Warns It Is Losing Track of Serious Criminals

It isn't so much that people are upset that police have the ability to listen in to phone calls or track us. Rather, they are upset that increasingly these powers are being used on everyone all the time, usually without needing a warrant or having any oversight. These powers have been, are and will continued to be abused by the authorities.

Came here to say this, and you said it better than I could. Thanks!

Comment: Re:Can't find anything on Youtube anymore (Score 4, Interesting) 67

It is hard. Producing a new creative work, be it a film, piece of software, book, or whatever, is hard and often expensive. Copying a creative work is cheap to the point that it's barely worth measuring the cost. Lots of influential companies have business models that revolve around doing the difficult thing for free and then charging for the easy thing to make up for it. They're eventually going to be displaced by companies that realise that it makes more sense to charge for the difficult thing - we're seeing this in software already, with open source companies giving away code that's already written for free and charging for writing new features or customisation (or, in some cases, entirely new programs).

In 100 years, people are going to look back on DRM and restrictive copyright in much the same way that we look back at the laws that required motor cars to have someone walk in front of them with a red flag. Regulations that can't possibly work in the long term, designed to prop up an industry that's suddenly found itself obsoleted by new technology.

Comment: Re: Why bother? (Score 1) 377

by TheRaven64 (#48650773) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is an Open Source<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.NET Up To the Job?
Uh, yes? Because that's how you write code that handles errors correctly. Exceptions come from three sources:
  • Runtime exceptions. These don't need to be caught or declared by Java code, but you can generally avoid them by making sure you have null reference checks and using iterators for collections.
  • Exceptions that you throw yourself. You know you're throwing these and the odds are that you want the caller to handle them (if you're using exceptions for intraprocedural flow control, then you're an idiot). So advertise them on your method. Done.
  • Exceptions thrown by methods that you call. These are all advertised by those methods and checked by the compiler (or your IDE), so there's no excuse for not knowing that they're expected.

This stuff isn't hard. You know at every call site what the possible exceptions are, and you know this because the compiler won't let you explicitly throw or fail to handle any exceptions in your methods. The exceptions that a method can throw are in the JavaDoc and are checked at compile time, so you'll get a compile error if you don't either handle or advertise the exception.

Good error handling is one of the key things that differentiates good developers from bad. If it's something that you find hard, in a language that goes out of its way to make it easy, then you might want to consider other careers.

Comment: Re:Big bags of water... that's what we are. (Score 1) 141

by Mr. Slippery (#48648969) Attached to: Can Rep. John Culberson Save NASA's Space Exploration Program?

Yes there are good reasons for going to Mars. Greatest among them is to safeguard the species from any catestrophic impacts on Earth they would extinguish us.

No potential impact to Earth would render it less hospitable to life than Mars is. For speicies survival a set of fortified underground bunkers/mini-cities would be far more practical -- and unlike Mars, we do have the tech to do that.

The suggestion that we currently have the technology to colonize Mars is, in brief, ridiculous. No human has been move than 500 miles from Earth's surface in over four decades, and the farthest we've ever sent a human is under 250,000 miles; at its closest, Mars is 38,000,000 miles away. We do not know how to safely get a human being that distance through interplanetary space, and the first few people we try to send are quite likely to die.

That investment of blood and treasure might be worthwhile if there was something useful for humans to do when they got there, but there isn't. We'll get better scientific results by building and sending better robots.

There is no practical reason to send humans to Mars in the near-term -- say, next five centuries. Especially not when all of our resources are needed over the next century or so to put human civilization on a sustainable footing. We can probably do some useful stuff with humans in Earth orbit and maybe on Luna, but deep space is for robots.

The only justification to put humans on Mars is some vague hand-waving about "inspiration" -- i.e., it's a huge performance art project. Maybe someday humanity can afford that. But not now.

Comment: Stop Being Pawns and Do Our Bidding! (Score 1) 244

by Bob9113 (#48646781) Attached to: Dish Pulls Fox News, Fox Business Network As Talks Break Down

It is unfortunate that the millions of Fox News viewers on Dish were used as pawns by their provider. Hopefully they will vote with their hard earned money and seek another one of our other valued distributors immediately.

Stop being their pawns, do our bidding! Choke their cannon with your dead! And peel us some grapes!

Comment: Re:What took them so long? (Score 2) 193

by Bob9113 (#48646299) Attached to: Cyberattack On German Steel Factory Causes 'Massive Damage'

If "production networks" cannot be rendered totally secure, they should not exist. Moreover, if they do exist they should be wholly insulated from the Internet

There's always a connection to the Internet. Sometimes it is sneakernet, sometimes it uses photonic information dellivery to bio-ocular scanning device, which uses cranial data storage and processing, and meatfingers to transmit the data through an array of buttons commonly called a "keyboard"; but there is always a connection. Hacking airgapped networks (which are still networks, just with some strange hops through biochemical computers) is just another stop on the path. If we can trick a computer into accepting a "dangerous" value, we can do the same for humans. If we can train humans to reject those values, we can train computers to do the same.

Humans are just another kind of programmable machine on the network we call Earth, with different kinds of exploitable flaws. Right now we trust the machines more than we should so their security is weaker than the humans in many cases, and so the machines are the targets. But that will change though hard experience.

Not trying to contradict you, just noodling on the nature of being a node on a network.

Comment: Re:Yet another clueless story on automation (Score 1) 567

by TheRaven64 (#48645719) Attached to: What Happens To Society When Robots Replace Workers?

Most of the developing world just doesn't have this problem.

Actually that's not true. India and China did very well out of being a cheap place to manufacture things because of the low labour cost. Now, factories that are almost entirely automated are replacing those staffed by unskilled workers. This means that no one is building them in developing countries and creating jobs there. The only reason that companies like Foxconn have for picking places in Africa for manufacturing now is the the lack of environmental regulation: a few politicians get paid off, but the local economy doesn't benefit and the local environment gets polluted. The path Japan took, of cheaply copying things, being a cheap place to build factories, developing local skills, and then competing internationally with original products, doesn't exist anymore.

Comment: Re:It's hard to take this article seriously (Score 1) 567

by TheRaven64 (#48645709) Attached to: What Happens To Society When Robots Replace Workers?
Exactly. Few workers would complain about automation if they owned a share in the company proportionate to their contribution to the profits. If a robot means that the company can produce more without their going to work then their income would go up and so would their leisure time. Instead, they become redundant in a shrinking job market and the owners get richer.

Comment: Re:Why bother? (Score 1) 377

by TheRaven64 (#48645633) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is an Open Source<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.NET Up To the Job?
Java doesn't require you to catch every exception, it requires that, for every exception that cam be generated in a method, you must either catch it or advertise that your method can throw it. This makes static analysis and reasoning about exception much easier, because you know exactly what exceptions a particular method can throw. Handling exceptions at the wrong place is a problem with the programmers, not with the language or VM.

Comment: Details matter (Score 5, Informative) 241

by overshoot (#48644069) Attached to: Study: Red Light Cameras Don't Improve Safety

The original red-light camera trial was in Scottsdale Arizona. The city farmed out the study to a university research group, and the cameras were installed at a random selection of the worst red-light-accident [1] intersections. The trial was publicized and ran for several years. The timing of the lights was not changed.

The conclusion of the trial was that the cameras reduced both accidents and injuries. Scottsdale then ran the cameras for years with general public approval, in part because the city has some pretty rational traffic ordinances (like raising the speed limit if most people are going faster anyway) and an open set of books on the program.

The cities that treat red-light violations as a revenue source and especially those that cut yellow times to increase red violations have only themselves to blame for poisoning public opinion. If anything, cameras should be paired with longer yellow times.

Scottsdale is strange that way. They also did studies that showed that traffic flows better and reduces accidents by having left turn after green rather than before. Those results have been mostly ignored by other cities.

PS: I've seen some of the footage from the cameras, by the way -- one truly amazing one of a guy who totally spaced and drove right through an intersection well after cross-traffic was flowing but amazingly managed to miss all of it. Hard to believe.

[1] Skip the joke. It's ancient.

Comment: Re:Yet another clueless story on automation (Score 1) 567

by Waffle Iron (#48643039) Attached to: What Happens To Society When Robots Replace Workers?

You certainly could get to a point where it's just too much of a bother to even keep track of a low-achieving human employee vs. having a robot do it. Those people could essentially become unemployable. Some people could be encouraged to try harder to achieve, but in many cases you can't get blood out of a turnip. Every year the percentage of people who fail to make the grade could increase as robots gain capabilities.

I'm sure your fine with that because they're receiving what they're worth. But if it's not handled correctly, these hoards of "useless" people could end up stepping out of your little free market box, turning into angry mobs and burning everything down.

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan