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Comment Neither - for what *I* need (Score 1) 121

I've just been investigating this very question. I'm develop a tertiary course in "software engineering process". Small teams will need to work together to build *something*. For a variety of reasons, we think that building an embedded system would be a good thing for them to have exposure to, so I'm trying to find a suitable platform to develop on. The current Raspberry Pi and Beaglebone Black both have their strengths and weaknesses, but both would do for the job. But they both cost at least 50 AUD, which is affordable but not equivalent to zero for planning purposes. By contrast, both the C.H.I.P. and the Pi zero are so cheap that the cost can be ignored. However, both platforms require you to break out the soldering iron if you want to attach things to the GPIO ports. By the time you have something you can hook things up to without soldering, you're back up to the cost of a standard Pi anyway.

Comment We can throw hardware at the problem now (Score 1) 308

ATMs and kiosks don't strike me as "embedded systems" any more.

Well, they are "embedded systems" in that they are computers embedded in a mechanical system, but:

  • They don't have hard real-time requirements.
  • They aren't power limited.
  • Equipping them with an overabundance of CPU, memory, and secondary storage is a very minor factor in the cost of the system.

As such, throwing hardware at the problem to make the programming easier seems like an entirely rational approach.

Comment Pay somebody else to worry (Score 1) 212

Do you want a security system or a hobby? Find a professional and let them worry about whether it's been designed and more importantly installed properly.
That said, before you turn your home into a fortress might I suggest you buy a copy of Ground Control a book about British urban planning which has a lot to say about the downsides of "secure" homes.

Comment Not equivalent (Score 1) 283

The Surface Pro 3 is 800 USD and a 12 inch form factor. A Nexus 7 was~200 USD and is small enough to hold in one hand.

All jokes aside, there are plenty of tasks out there for which the Surface Pro 3 or other full-size tablets are oo big. We have built a web app for in-class marking in tertiary software engineering lab classes, and a 7 or 8 inch tablet is the perfect device for carrying around with you and entering marks. A 5 inch phone is too fiddly to press on radiobuttons and can't fit readable descriptions for more than a couple of marking criteria on the page; a full-size tablet requires you to put it down on a desk to use and gets heavy to carry round - and the Pro 3, I suspect, would be particularly bad.

I might get a Pro 3 or its successor one day, but it will be an adjunct rather than a replacement for my own Nexus 7.

Comment Re:So? (Score 1) 313

Sure, people kill people. But it's a lot easier and quicker to do so with a tool designed for the job.

The evidence from the natural experiment that the United States has conducted vis-a-vis the rest of the developed world is stark: having large numbers of firearms, particularly handguns, in civilian hands results in far higher murder rates than would otherwise be the case. And yes, we have murders here in Australia where I live (you have four times as many per capita than we do), but we haven't a mass shooting since 1996 when we banned semi-automatic weapons and made it harder to get pistols. So, frankly, it's you who are living in a fantasyland if you think every Tom, Dick, and Harry having a gun makes you safer.

Comment So? (Score 1) 313

Sure, they may only promote the responsible use of firearms, but in practice that's not what the legal landscape they support results in.

The historical evidence is overwhelming; large numbers of handguns distributed among a civilian population leads to lots of murders; automatic pistols and/or semi-automatic rifles with large magazines lead to occasional mass shootings. Getting rid of large numbers of guns also has the effect of considerably reducing suicide levels.

If you're prepared to live large numbers of unnecessary, painful, premature deaths as a society, well, that's your choice. But no amount of "but we only support the responsible use of firearms" puffery should disguise the fact that the NRA's lobbying maintains a legislative framework that virtually ensures those premature deaths will continue.

Comment Conclusions are important here, not reasoning (Score 1) 305

I am not a Catholic. I find its central tenets nonsensical. As an organization, I find the way it has systematically protected pedophiles within its ranks disgusting. I hope that, over time, it attracts fewer followers.

However, if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride. The church has existed for longer than essentially any other human institution, and it will outlive all of us. Hundreds of millions of people take what its leader says seriously, for good and ill. Therefore, I don't think it's particularly important what the basis of the Pope's reasoning in his encyclical is except as that reasoning is persuasive amongst those who take Catholicism seriously.

What is important is that the Pope is saying "act on climate change", which might help to push some Catholics to do so.

Comment Concorde MKII (Score 4, Insightful) 179

Republicans hate big government, except when it comes to a) building big machines designed to kill people, and b) firing rockets into space.

Republicans have been the primary Congressional force running interference for the old space industry, either by throwing money at the likes of ATK to build rockets that will never fly, or actively blocking SpaceX from competing with the established players on contracts.

While the big government contracting model can get crews into space, it does so at such an exorbitant price it's simply not worth it. SpaceX, or more precisely the discarding of legacy design and especially legacy contracting models that SpaceX represents, at least gives us a chance of a sustainable space program because it is far, far better value for money. It's also far more in alignment with professed Republican principles, as distinct from revealed preferences from observed behaviour.

A revived crewed space program under the old model will result in bugger-all flying, lots of money wasted, and will get cancelled soon enough. Why bother?

A good supervisor can step on your toes without messing up your shine.