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Comment: Re:Money (Score 1) 43

by bill_mcgonigle (#49196069) Attached to: Mozilla: Following In Sun's Faltering Footsteps?

Alright everybody - if you think Firefox is better at everything, step over to this side of the line. If you think that Chrome is better at everything, step over to *this* side of the line. Yes sir? Yes, you. Opera? Listen - you just get the hell out of here, and leave your meal ticket on the table. Everybody else: being shouting!

Comment: Re:Well done, smart guy (Score 3, Interesting) 144

by swb (#49195357) Attached to: How Activists Tried To Destroy GPS With Axes

I'm not sure MLK could have done it today. He might have wound up with a 20-year sentence for terrorism.

King probably would have had his plagiarism and adultery exposed in the media, which would have served to discredit him. That's how they do it these days.

I'm reading a book about airliner hijackings, "The Skies Belong to Us" and one of the central hijacker subjects was an African American whose father was a career Navy sailor. He was assigned to a station in Coos Bay, Oregon until his family was basically driven out by the town's racist behavior -- thugs at their house, demanding they move, his mother spit on by women(!) at the grocery store and his 10 year old son beaten in school so bad he was hospitalized. All of this happened to a basically middle class black family in the Pacific Northwest, not to some sharecropper in Alabama, and something that never made the news or became a publicized incident.

So on the other hand, it's difficult to really grasp the magnitude of racial discrimination and hostility of that era in today's era. I think even Fox News viewers would find some of the pre-Civil Rights era behavior shocking and repulsive, so it's hard to know exactly how the public would treat someone nonviolently resisting this kind of oppression even if he was "exposed".

Comment: Re:How to totally screw up my ability to code: (Score 1) 142

by bill_mcgonigle (#49194301) Attached to: Musician Releases Album of Music To Code By

If you play music, my code will go to crap, since I'm trying to do two things with the same set of neurons.

Some of the most amazing brain work is done by /dampening/ the neurons, not hyper-exciting them. For me, music distracts enough of them that the rest can stay focused on the code. aka "in the zone".

For some reason, instrumental is fine for me and talk radio is fine for me, but lyrical music does not work at all. Maybe I'm programming more in the 'song' region.

Comment: Re:We almost lost two! (Score 1) 92

by bill_mcgonigle (#49194197) Attached to: Harrison Ford's Plane Crashes On Golf Course

'Geek' is more the 'script kiddie' version of a nerd. Nerds know what a wire-wrap gun is, even if they're more into grinding lenses for homemade telescopes.

This is fairly well-trodden territory. Nerds are hard-core specialists, fascinated with particular topics. Math nerds, bio nerds, telescope lens nerds (sure, why not?), etc. It's possible to be a multiple-nerd, but Geeks are more obligatorily generalists and tend to be makers.

Comment: Oh Come On, it's a Press Release (Score 4, Insightful) 75

OK, no real technical data and some absurd claims here.

First all-digital transceiver? No. There have been others. Especially if you allow them to have a DAC and an ADC and no other components in the analog domain, but even without that, there are lots of IoT-class radios with direct-to-digital detectors and digital outputs directly to the antenna. You might have one in your car remote (mine is two-way).

And they have to use patented algorithms? Everybody else can get along with well-known technology old enough that any applicable patents are long expired.

It would be nicer if there was some information about what they are actually doing. If they really have patented it, there's no reason to hold back.

Comment: Re:Yes. What do you lose? But talk to lawyer first (Score 4, Insightful) 567

by hey! (#49193289) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

Personally, I don't see that any of these things as compelling practical advantages, given that the kids already have dual Swedish and Belgian (and therefore EU) citizenship. If they were Moldovan and South Sudanese, that'd be a different story. Or if they were citizens of a country from which getting a visa to enter the US might be difficult in the future.

But most importantly I think this is one of those decisions that you just don't make primarily on a cost-benefit basis. It's not like deciding to join Costco or subscribe to Hulu. Citizenship entails responsibilities. If you want your kids to shoulder those responsibilities and feel allegiance to the US then it makes sense to get them that citizenship come hell or high water. But given that they already have two perfectly good citizenships from two advanced western democracies with generally positive international relations worldwide, I don't see much practical advantage in adding a third.

Still, I wouldn't presume to give advice, other than this. The poster needs to examine, very carefully, that feeling he has that maybe his kids should be Americans. The way he expresses it, "sentimental reasons", makes those feelings seem pretty trivial, in which case it hardly matters if they don't become Americans. After all, most other Belgians seem to get along perfectly well without being Americans too. But if this is at all something he suspects he might seriously regret not doing, or if it nags him in ways he can't quite put his finger on, he needs to get to the bottom of that in a way random people on the Internet can't help him with.

Comment: Your friendly neighborhood word pedant here (Score 0) 142

by hey! (#49191827) Attached to: Developers Race To Develop VR Headsets That Won't Make Users Nauseous

... with some food for thought.

The ending '-eous' or '-ious' is added to a noun to produce an adjective that means producing whatever that noun is. Something that is 'advantageous' produces advantage for example. Something which is ignominious produce ignominy (shame, embarrassment). Something that is piteous arouses pity in the onlooker.

I think you see where I'm going with this. The word the headline writer should have used is 'nauseated', although making users nauseous in the pedantic sense would certainly be a concern for the developers of any product.

Comment: Re:Ah, come one, don't we trust the Feds? (Score 5, Insightful) 87

We support the government when it acts in the interest of the public, and oppose it when it acts against the interest of the public

Obligatory car analogy: Toyotas mostly get people around just fine. They had a problem with uncontrolled acceleration. It happened a few times with bad consequences. They were shady and tried to hide it but finally came clean. So people still drive Toyotas and the acceleration problems are fixed.

Now ... imagine that there were at least three stories a day about people being killed by malfunctioning Toyotas and then we found out that Toyota was using its onboard electronics to record everything everybody who rides in them is saying, to be used against them in the future, and remotely detonating a few of them every few days. Most people still get from point A to point B, but still a bunch of people are getting killed because they own a Toyota.

We'd stop driving Toyotas and their resale value would fall to almost zero. It's good that we have Honda and Nissan and Tesla (et. al) to choose from, because we could quickly and relatively easily make that choice.

Now, what do you do when Toyota is the only car manufacturer and they're constantly running people into brick walls at high speed, and the frequency is increasing rapidly? Why should they even bother fixing the problems?

Comment: Re: International waters (Score 1) 61

The first stage is suborbital, so that's not really an option.

Yes, you're right of course. I must've been thinking Dragon v2 rather than the first stage burnback. durr.

Still, fuel is currently only a couple percent of the total cost of a launch, so even if you had to double the amount used you'd still see negligible effect on the total launch cost.

Interesting - kerosene may well be cheaper than shipping a rocket across an ocean.

Comment: Re:I'm dying of curiousity (Score 5, Interesting) 163

by bill_mcgonigle (#49190219) Attached to: Software Freedom Conservancy Funds GPL Suit Against VMWare

it's a fairly cost-efficient way to buy more time and make business.

It sure is, and the people making such decisions face no consequences for violating the license. Yeah, maybe the corporation will get slapped with a tiny fine that reflects some small percentage of the money saved by incorporating the GPL'ed library, but how is that really any disincentive? It's more of an inconvenience, or simply a cost that gets processed through the EMC legal department, and then only maybe.

The money being spent on the prosecution won't actually change much behavior - there might be better causes to donate your money too (especially if you don't believe in imaginary property) than funding this expedition to behead a hydra.

Comment: Re:basically how the UAE works (Score 1) 240

by swb (#49189189) Attached to: Facebook Rant Lands US Man In UAE Jail

Seems a bit unnecessarily old-fashioned, since with computerized passport control these days

You're assuming that escape from UAE will be on a flight through a border control.

If you escape without passing through border control, having a passport will make it a damn sight easier to get INTO another country. The lack of an exit stamp from your last country might be a hassle at entry somewhere else, but a lot less of a hassle than not having a passport at all.

Comment: US Reasoning is Decent (Score 1) 323

In the US, if the cops can convince a judge that they know the evidence is on your device (say, they saw you recording when a murder happened), then they can compel you to testify your knowledge of the crime.

If they want to go looking on your device for information to incriminate you, then that's compelling testimony against yourself, so it's forbidden.

The first case is, of course, subject to lying cops saying, "we saw kiddie porn on his screen when we broke in", which will happen (the way they plant drugs, shoot people and animals and lie about it, etc.). Then it's up to a non-corrupt judge to throw out such evidence based on the cops' lies. But if you're up to something illegal you have to weigh the contempt charge against the danger to yourself of disclosure, and if your password sucks or the judge and cops are corrupt, both.

Frustratingly, the USG claims that the rules for itself don't apply at the border - ostensibly it's operating outside the Law in those scenarios. What could SCOTUS really say about this? - they only judge the Law, not lawlessness.

Comment: Re:Yes, but it's about social control, not driving (Score 1) 343

by swb (#49188941) Attached to: Would You Need a License To Drive a Self-Driving Car?

Frankly, I think a lot of taxes aren't about revenue but more about ways of controlling something when there's no constitutional or legal framework for doing so.

For example, the National Firearms Act didn't outlaw machine guns, it just required they be registered and taxed. Outright bans probably wouldn't have been viewed as constitutional when the NFA was passed in the 1930s but taxing and registration served as a control mechanism. The $200 transfer tax is $3500 inflation-adjusted, which would have kept automatic weapons out of the hands of most people.

The same is probably true for cars -- freedom of movement is largely held to be a constitutional right, and it probably would have been difficult to regulate free movement by automobile without significant constitutional challenges. Cars can confound this logic, though, as the road network is complex and expensive and taxation serves a useful funding purpose, plus operating vehicles on the road is inherently dangerous and there's a reasonable safety need for insuring drivers have some understanding of the rules of the road.

All the evidence concerning the universe has not yet been collected, so there's still hope.