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Comment Re:Hasn't even begun to begin yet (Score 1) 76 76

The teacher's assertion was different from mine. I said that I don't like such words. She made a statement about what kind of business would succeed or fail. Her mistake was to neglect the published views of such luminaries as:

"You’ll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public".
- Phineas T Barnum (Barnum’s Law)

"Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public".
- H. L. Mencken

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 293 293

I'd be curious about the distribution of the lights. Turning off lights in cities isn't going to help astronomers much. And if they're turning them off in places where there are few people walking, such as rural lanes, it might help astronomers without hurting pedestrians. (Criminals would be less likely to gather there, though those pedestrians had better be really aware of cars.)

I could see it working if there were more streetlights than we really needed. If that were the case, it could yield positive results. But it would also be invalid to extrapolate from those to the majority of lights in more densely populated places.

Comment Re:Doubtful (Score 1) 868 868

Indeed. There was an article floating around a few months ago with a hypothetical review of a gasoline-powered car if electric cars dominated. A lot of the downsides of ICEs that we take for granted would be really aggravating if we hadn't grown up with them.

Gasoline Car Test Drive: Noisy, Wasteful, Polluting, Fast But Pricey Refueling

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 868 868

Even for you, there could be considerable advantages to hiring an automatic car rather than owning one. You offload the maintenance overhead (though that's smaller for an electric car than an internal-combustion engine); that doesn't save money but it does save time. What would save you money is if your car were off servicing four or five other families during the times you didn't need it. Cutting a $30,000 expense by a factor of 4 or 5 would be a huge cost saving to you. Even if the service imposed an overhead of a factor of 2, it's still not an amount of money you'd give up on lightly.

It need not even reduce your flexibility, if you could summon anybody's car on five minutes' notice. It's easy to see how that could happen, if large fleets were deployed strategically, even in the suburbs. (It would work less well as the density dropped, but even in a residential neighborhood, a car can move a fair distance in five minutes. Your house, your work site, your grocery store, etc. are all likely to be five minutes from a lot.)

There are still advantages to just having your own car. Mine is full of my crap, for example. I haven't taken my toolbox out in a while, but I will, and I don't know when. If I were calling for a car every day I wouldn't lug my toolbox around, and thus wouldn't have it. Customization is nice. Not having to worry about peak usage times would be nice (though peak usage will also coincide with peak traffic, which I try to avoid anyway).

Still... I'd consider ditching a car entirely if it saved me that much money. My car hit 200k miles, and while it's a Honda, I'm still gonna need to fork out $20k within the next few years. (I'm cheap, and don't want a luxurious car. I just want it to get me places.) A two-car household would likely make it very compelling to at least split the difference.

Comment What is the prognosis? (Score 1) 59 59

Hands are just incredibly complicated. There are a lot of tendons and ligaments in there, and I imagine that fine motor control comes from a lot of different nerves. How much dexterity can he be expected to get out of this?

I imagine that getting it done young means that he's got years to re-establish connections and train pathways for it. Still... anybody know how good it might get? Will he be able to play the violin?

Comment Re:Hasn't even begun to begin yet (Score 1) 76 76

As so often before, Henry Baker sums up the issue to perfection:

"Once again, in our asymmetric world, people who live in glass houses shouldn't be throwing rocks—especially at those who don't live in glass houses".

It's quite certain that, of all the nations in the world, the USA has far more to lose from "cyberwar" than any other.

Comment Re:You don't fight "cyberbattles". (Score 1) 76 76

I'm not convinced. History is full of instances to the contrary: cases in which a general failed because his army was too big for him to control. Indeed, there is a well-known story about a war in which the leading general of Nation A was warned that Nation B's commander-in-chief had 50,000 soldiers whereas Nation A had only 20,000. Nation A's general smiled and relaxed. "Why are you acting so pleased to hear that you are outnumbered two-and-a-half to one?" asked his alarmed subordinates. "Ah, I know General X," he replied. Given 10,000 men he is very competent. I think he could just about handle 20,000. But given 50,000 he will spend all his time trying to keep track and get organized. While he is doing that, we shall move in quickly and defeat him. It will be easy".

Comment Hasn't even begun to begin yet (Score 1) 76 76

Disclaimer: Like many other, I abhor and reject all terms including "cyber" except "cyberspace" in its proper meaning (see William Gibson's novel "Neuromancer") which has very little in common with the Internet or any other present-day technology.

That said, yes - "cyberwar" is entirely possible and would be immensely harmful. But no, we have not seen anything even slightly related to full-blown "cyberwar". If it happened, we would notice: trust me. It would blow the doors off computer systems most people have no idea exist: systems that give them power, light, water, network access (of course), banking, medical services, education, food, etc. etc. Our present posture in this respect is basically that of a person camping in the woods who has been told there are grizzly bears around, and whose response has been to tie himself up stark naked and hang himself from a tree at convenient nibbling height.

It must have been about 20 years ago that I began lecturing and writing about the security risks of software systems. I always kept it as short and simple as I could, since I realize that security is not only very counter-intuitive but (to most people) appallingly boring. But I usually wound up with a warning: there were many threats, ranging from the trivial to the extremely serious; there was hardly any defence; and hardly anyone was taking the trouble or investing the resources to put up any defence at all. The only good news, I added, was that so far criminals had made no real efforts to exploit all the juicy vulnerabilities spread out before them. That wouldn't necessarily last, I warned.

The same remarks, mutatis mutandis, apply to "cyberwar". It would cause far more harm than criminal exploitation, because the objective of war is to bring about complete defenselessness and unconditional surrender. Look at Iraq after the second Gulf war, and imagine that happening to all the IT infrastructure you know about (and that you don't know about). And, due to the design of the Internet and the amazingly insouciant carelessness of governments and corporations, our infrastructure is almost completely unprotected. What we have seen so far is analogous to a few spies and skirmishers probing the most obvious weaknesses. They have deliberately refrained from even hinting at what they could really do, because (as Sun Tzu pointed out)

"Speed is the essence of war. Take advantage of the enemy's unpreparedness; travel by unexpected routes and strike him where he has taken no precautions".

Comment Re:It's IBM's fault. Everyone copied the PC. (Score 1) 683 683

My Osborne 1 split the capslock key into two regular-sized keys, one for CTRL and the other for capslock. That worked well. (And I really miss Wordstar. Amazing what they could cram into 64k. They had to play silly games, loading and unloading parts of the software from the floppy disk, a really primitive kind of virtual memory.)

Comment Misleading headline (Score 5, Informative) 1169 1169

Hillview Police detective Charles McWhirter of says you can't fire your gun in the city.

He wasn't charged for shooting a drone, he was charged to discharging a gun within city limits. Reckless endangerment doesn't have anything to do with drones it means he was being a risk to public safety.

Comment Re:Eventuality? (Score 5, Interesting) 550 550

It has the advantage of once having been worth something. People have a fondness for it. It might tempt back some of the old users. Social networks have an advantage in that they're worth more when more people are there, and that history might just barely let them leverage that.

The main value of the site, at least to me, was always its user base. I didn't RTFA because the commenters would often be able to give me a better summary of what was really going on. Especially when TFA was clickbait; I could see why it was clickbait without having to read it myself. Or for sciencey stuff that's out of my domain, Slashdot often had people who could explain it at my level. (That is, more than the average layman, but less than a grad student in that field.)

I'm not gonna get my hopes up, but I'll note that I'm still here, though mostly lurking. There may be others waiting for an improvement to the site's management to contribute more.

A right is not what someone gives you; it's what no one can take from you. -- Ramsey Clark