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Comment: Inane caption (Score 1) 56

by GoddersUK (#49325245) Attached to: NASA's Abandoned Launch Facilities
What annoys me about slideshows like this is the complete lack of information provided about the photos. Captions like "Abandoned Space Program Facilities" just aren't very helpful - we already know that. What was it? Was it a lab where they tested different propellants, a workshop where the engineers could fab prototype components for Saturn V? That's all it takes to make the difference between "meh, pretty photos" and "this is really interesting".

Comment: Re:What a stupid piece. (Score 1) 314

In general terms the second law holds that every process that ever happens increases entropy. At some point (far, far, far in the future) energy will be distributed entirely evenly throughout the universe - at this point no physical process will be possible because there can be no net flow of energy. A truly "renewable" process, according to your definition, is impossible because it would have to not increase entropy; it would be a form of perpetual motion machine.

More specifically in this case: The water in your reservoir came from rain. Rain was evaporated from the sea using the sun's energy. The sun's energy arises from the fusion of a finite amount of fuel. Once that fuel is expended there can be no more evaporation, thus no more rain and no more hydroelectric power (ignoring, of course, the fact that by this point the earth will have been fried to a crisp by the expanded sun...).

Comment: Re:Broken Analogy (Score 1) 317

a) It's a reactive system though, so I think it's a stretch to call it monitoring. From the article you linked:

Unlike Twitter's tool, Facebook is not automatically monitoring content that is posted on the social network. Instead, users are invited to get in touch if they notice troubling content from any of their contacts, and Facebook will then reach out with the offer of help, support and tips.

b) Nowhere in that article does it state Facebook will contact a third party regarding your mental health.

c) It's a separate issue, but I don't think it's necessarily wrong that when you hit the report link on abusive content Facebook look over that and contact relevant authorities if there's something unethical: that's called running a responsible business.

Comment: Re:End of business model (Score 1) 82

by GoddersUK (#49299259) Attached to: Taxi Companies Sue Uber For False Advertising On Safety
I wouldn't be so sure. We should have had driverless trains for years now, for instance. Unfortunately unions keep blocking it. (We're reaching the point now where every time they go on strike about driverless trains they bring their own obsolescence closer because guess what... computers won't go on strike!)

Comment: Re:Broken Analogy (Score 1) 317

The real argument here is whether or not Facebook should be monitoring individual posts to the point of being able to call 911 on a person.

From TFA:

in the meantime some unknown person who read this post informed police

So it seems they don't.

FWIW I don't believe a word of TFA.

Comment: Re:With Uber at least there is tracking and identi (Score 1) 82

by GoddersUK (#49298819) Attached to: Taxi Companies Sue Uber For False Advertising On Safety

Licensed cab drivers have comprehensive record checks.

In places where the regulators aren't simply an extension of the taxi unions and want to see innovation and an improved service they work with Uber and Uber drivers have comprehensive checks too. If Uber are using unlicensed drivers in your city you've got the regulators to thank for not licensing them as much as Uber for employing them.

Licensed cab drivers have adequate insurance.

See above, although AFAIK Uber drivers are required to have appropriate liability insurance everywhere.

Licensed cab drivers (in any decent place) drive very identifiable cars, and anyone else trying to drive in a similar car will stand out like a sore thumb.

I can't speak for other cities but, in London, anyone can drive a black cab as a private car, you just can't use it as a taxi. The reason people don't is that they're designed to be practical as taxis, not private vehicles. (Interestingly a number of celebrities drive them precisely because it means they don't stick out like a sore thumb.) And unlicensed taxi drivers certainly exist and do drive black cabs (although they're a much smaller problem than minicab drivers operating a hail and ride service outside their license... but the passenger has made a conscious choice in those cases so I don't have a problem with that).

Licensed cab drivers (in the best places) have to take some of the toughest exams in the world for spatial awareness (i.e. London's "The Knowledge" exam).

If this is so great then taxi drivers don't need to fear competition from Uber, the markets will choose their superior knowledge. Oh wait, it turns out this feted exam utilises obsolete technology (the human memory) to create an excessively high barrier of entry to protect the jobs of taxi drivers who don't want to face true commercial competition.

An Uber driver need give so little evidence to become a contractor that he could easily have faked his identity.

That depends heavily on jurisdiction. Again, if the regulators would work with Uber this could easily be overcome. It also ignore the fact that it's much easier to know I got the driver I ordered with Uber while if I hail a random cab I have no idea if the driver's license is genuine, even if it is a really rigorous process to get a genuine license.

An Uber driver has much less invested in his job, so does not stand to lose so much if he drives the long way (any decent place regularly tests its taxi drivers for honesty) or otherwise abuses his passenger.

Yet again Uber wins. They can review the route and arbitrate appropriately. With the traditional taxi even if you know the drivers details and file a claim it's basically he said, she said. But hey, the current system works so well why change it?

An Uber driver (who already has false id) wanting to cause great harm will switch off the GPS and/or report that the fare is no longer in the car.

Yet he's still the last known point of contact with that person. If I were a psychopath that puts me a darn sight nearer the centre of the police's radar than I'd like. So yes, it's an effective deterrent.

Many genuine taxi services have cameras in the cabs, which is a much safer prospect if you think a technical solution to a social problem is the way to go.

Oh sure. Once you know which cab they hailed off the street you can review the footage. These solutions (trip logging/camera) are neither solving the same problem nor mutually exclusive.

I have regularly taken taxis in places where an unlicensed driver had a not insignificant chance of being a fatal choice, e.g. in Manila years ago when Western tourists were being regularly kidnapped. As with all effective business, one was relying on the reputation of a firm and its employees - something that simply doesn't exist with Uber because they have no employees. Even in more stable countries, the same principle applies.

I can't speak for other cities, but in London most taxi drivers operate either independently or in unliveried vehicles, so cabs don't pass your standard. I'm not sure why you think the technical difference between an employee and a contractor is relevant here either? It makes very little difference whether they sack an employee or terminate a contract. The effect is still the same.

Comment: Re:What about HL2: Episode 3 (Score 1) 214

by GoddersUK (#49292593) Attached to: Gabe Newell Understands Half-Life Fans, Not Promising Any Sequels

I could care less about HL3.

Obligatory PSA regarding your butchered idiom.

On topic: Completely agree. In the Zero Punctuation review of The Orange Box Yahtzee observed that:

Episode 2 does suffer a little from being the middle child, there's no real beginning and no real end so the story tends to meander around and it's difficult to shake the feeling that we're just killing time before the next episode wraps it all up.

Over 7 years later we're still waiting... :(

Comment: Re:Insurance (Score 1) 217

Enough commenters have said something along those lines that I think it deserves a response

Kickstarter is an investment platform. Investment does not require you to receive equity or similar (indeed, in the broadest sense, any financial transaction that offers a (potential) return can be considered an investment). In the case of Kickstarter the return is twofold: the formal reward the project gives you for the backing and the creation of a product you wanted to see, but that wouldn't have made it to market otherwise.

Really this latter one is the whole point of Kickstarter: I want to be able to buy x, but it isn't available. Some other people want to make it but don't have the money. I'm not a serious investor - I don't want to jump through the hoops of VC or Angel investing - here is a way I can help make the product a reality so that I can have it in my life. Call it a donation if you will, but it's not a traditional altruistic donation in the way that one might donate to the Red Cross or the local Scouts. And it certainly is an investment: You are giving them cash in the hope that you'll have the opportunity to get whatever product they're developing. But there's certainly no guarantee it's going to happen.

As for all the people calling it a rubbish investment platform: at the end of the day that decision is for the investor to make. If you think it's rubbish don't use it, simples.

Comment: Re:Lost focus (Score 1) 52

by GoddersUK (#49169799) Attached to: Interactive Edition of the Nuclear Notebook

Yes, I'm sure Ayatollah Khamenei and Kim Jong Un will join in with the ban and won't begin plotting the obliteration of civilisation. The reality is, even if the US, Russia, UK, China, France, India and Pakistan all claimed to have decommissioned their nukes we wouldn't know for sure. The state that secretly hasn't may gamble they're the only one and use them. And then you have states like Israel that probably have nuclear weapons but will neither confirm nor deny it. No, we're safest keeping a nuclear stalemate balanced between the major power blocs with the majority of the nuclear armed states openly so.

FWIW, out of the states listed above (excluding Iran and NK, but including Israel) I'm not most worried about east-west relations; it's the two states that are less than friendly with each other but share a large land border with sporadic violence between them (one of which could, not inconceivably, have an Islamist government at some point in the future) that make me most jittery (on the plus side they're probably only interested in nuking each other and neither of them are near me). Israel don't worry me too much because all the countries they're likely to want to nuke are close enough to Israel to make that a very unattractive option. Iran and NK are the wildcards - NK in particular because they're already almost totally isolated from the rest of the world and I doubt Kim Jong Un gives enough of a rat's arse about his people to care if they get atomised.

Comment: Re:Insurance (Score 1) 217

Why? Kickstarter is an investment platform, not a preorder platform; this is the single most important thing to understand about Kickstarter. In return for investing in the product you get some kind of reward, often the product, but you are not purchasing the product. You are investing in the product, and that carries a much higher level of risk than in a simple purchase - one of those risks is that the product will fail to deliver to the original spec. If you don't want the risk don't use Kickstarter, you can't get insurance on other forms of investment like stocks and shares. Also, it's most likely that purchase of the insurance would be heavily weighted towards more ambitious/higher risk products; so I'm sceptical that it would be viable. (Unless you make it mandatory... but I think that would drive profitable, low risk products away from the platform.)

Certainly in some cases there may be issues where a product team has misrepresented what they can do, squandered funds or created some other issue of fiduciary trust; in these cases there are legal routes to seek recompense. In cases where a project just fails for some reason... that's part and parcel of R&D, the backers knew the risk. And, this project, seem to have followed completely the correct course releasing the fruits of their labour to the community for others to build on: in this way the original backers don't lose out, they can still exploit the benefits of their investment.

Comment: Re:But can we believe them? (Score 3, Insightful) 99

Initially I thought we could probably believe that they believed it. But then TFA said this:

...we are conscious that [they] have ... legal support that go[es] far beyond that ... typical. And, we are concerned that they[NSA, GCHQ et al] could be involved in such indiscriminate operations against private companies with no grounds for suspicion....

This seems to be a bit more than simply "you can't prove a negative"; it seems to be a warning carrying overtones of much that's been left unsaid. The reference to legal support seems to suggest that Gemalto have been on the receiving end of a visit from the men in dark glasses. "No grounds for suspicion" sounds like a ominous reference to suppressed truth, rather than just Russell's teapot

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."