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Comment Not too hard (Score 1) 148

1. Detection
Pulses of prime numbers. Not natural phenomenon, same in all number systems. Simple beat with silence:

01111111111 111111111

2. Binary, you speak it
We repeat this in binary, which should be fairly easy to recognize as the previous information aligned to 8 bit = byte values.
00000010 00000011 00000101 00000111
00001011 00001101 00010001 00010011

3. Length of payload in bytes + payload
00000000 00000000 00000001 10110000 = 432
432 x ????????

4. Goto 1, rotate payload.

As for the actual payload.... You could for example send atom configuration from the periodic table.
1 - 1
2 - 2
3 - 2,1
10 - 2,8
11 - 2,8,1
18 - 2,8,8
19 - 2,8,8,1
20 - 2,8,8,2
21 - 2,8,9,2
22 - 2,8,10,2
23 - 2,8,11,2
24 - 2,8,13,1

It will be pretty obvious to any physicist this is the list of elements. Using that and a bit more you can explain the units of mass, time, distance and so on.

For math you can send a list of (input A, operator code, input B, result) and it will be obvious that this operator means addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and so on. Once you have subtraction, explain 0-1 and two's complement and you'll have negative numbers.

Then you can start making advanced concepts like C+O+O = CO2 and describe properties of that gas. I really don't think it's going to become a problem bootstrapping communication, if we could just find someone to communicate with.

Comment Re:...uhh (Score 1) 148

When a race of aliens build a technologically advanced society, it is likely that they will turn to electromagnetic or optical signalling for long range communication, whatever senses they may or may not posess. And once they have that, start listening for word from other worlds, and happen to pick up our signals, it's likely that they'll recognize them for what they are: artifical signals instead of a naturally occurring phenomenon. Once that happens, it shouldn't be too hard for them to pick up on clues deliberately left in the message, whether it's pi or tau or prime numbers, or if they're not using base 10, or whatever.

It also seems likely that, whatever senses they posess, they'll have a way to "visualize" geometric shapes and "pictures" or some other means of provide an abstract representation of the physical world around them, and encode that into signals. If they can do that, they'll be sure to look for pictures in our transmissions, and then a TV signal isn't all that hard to recognize for what it is either.

Sure, beings from an ice planet that use nothing but temperature to communicate and make sense of the work around them may have a hard time coping with abstract visualisations, but lacking EM or optical sensors, they won't be picking up our transmissions in the first place, so the decoding issue becomes moot.

Comment Re:A remarkable number of people are idiots (Score 4, Interesting) 282

Anyhow, if we were to reinstate some sort of poll test, it may not be used to disenfranchise according to racial lines, but you can be sure that whoever is in power will find a way to stop others from voting or to make their vote count less. It's probably impossible to design a system that couldn't be manipulated once you start disenfranchising people. Who gets to define the relevant "knowledge"? How do we measure " intelligence"?

And you must realize that political parties immediately get incentive to do this if the voters most likely to be excluded lean a particular way politically. Say party A is strong with the low income families and party B is more of a middle class party and that statistically if you make the test harder more low income families will drop out because they're already working their ass off making ends meet. Now one party has obvious incentive to set the bar higher, the other to set the bar lower. Here in Norway there's a campaign to lower the voting age from 18 to 16, you can compare the youth vote scores with the parties supporting it and it's obvious why. Voters who've mostly never had a real job, never paid taxes and never had to balance a budget because they live at home with mom and dad with an allowance tend to vote quite differently than people who've had to support themselves.

Comment Re:Rules v. consequences (Score 1) 219

No. Take drunk driving. If you drive under the influence and are caught, you get punished for taking a serious risk. If you drink, drive and kill someone, you are punished for an entirely different thing, namely manslaughter (or whatever the legal term is), not for "driving drunk and being unlucky". And your punishment should (and does) depend on how much the judge deems you to be responsible for the accident, ranging from 0% (unavoidable bad luck or the other guy's fault) to 100% (doing it on purpose). Driving under the influence increases your chances of having an accident. Everyone knows this so if you do drink and drive, it does increase your responsibility for the death. But it makes no sense whatsoever to prosecute an intoxicated driver for manslaughter if no one is dead.

If you drink and hit a person, it is only part bad luck: you yourself have increased the odds of an accident. Is it cruel to punish such a person harder if an accident does happen? I think it's even more cruel to increase punishments for the lucky ones who escape unscathed, causing no harm whatsoever.

Setting punishment for the maximum possible consequences without regard for probability or circumstances doesn't make for a very just society. Yes, some of that statement is subjective. Keep in mind though that respect for the law is subject to whether people feel those laws are just or not. Making a bunch of laws that are felt to be very unjust is a very dangerous thing, as it erodes respect for all of the law.

Comment Re:You're a funny dinosaur, and wrong (Score 2, Insightful) 64

You have to remember that Christianity is at its core a guilt trip. We are all pitiful sinners that can be redeemed by the mercy of our Lord, who selflessly sent his only son so he could die for our sins. That's how it starts in the garden of Eden with the original sin, the seven deadly sins of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride and so on. Who has never had a touch of any of them? Not to mention all the implied ones by breaking the commandments and so on, unless you're a walking saint everybody needs forgiveness for something. Sexuality is of course a big one, take a basic instinct humans have and turn it into something shameful and you'll have a never-ending supply of people needing forgiveness for their sinful thoughts. Fortunately this institutionalized manipulation is in massive retreat though there's still some slut shaming at the fringes but for the most part people seem to feel good about their sexuality. As it should be.

Comment Re:Rules v. consequences (Score 1) 219

Speeding causes deaths, too. Should speeding, even a little, be punished as severely as drunk driving? People die from falling objects too; should you be sent to jail for accidentally knocking a flowerpot off your balcony? A lack of serious consequences is no defense for violating the rule, but it is a mitigating circumstance when it comes to setting the punishment. And conversely, rule-breaking may well earn you a stiffer punishment in case you do cause an accident. If you hit someone with your car and you were found to be speeding or drunk, you'll be more likely to be held fully responsible than if you were operating your car within the rules of the road.

Risk and impact determine to what degree the actual consequences weigh in the sentencing. Moderate speeding carries a small risk, and thus results in a small fine only. The risks for drunk driving are much more serious, hence the stiffer punishment. And in some areas, like chemical plants or aerospace, the risks are such that no rule breaking at all can be tolerated. In this case, the rules are clear, and should certainly have been clear to a commercial operator like SkyPan, and I agree with a stiff fine in light of the serious potential outcome of their reckless use of drones. However we should not apply the same rigour in sentencing to all areas of our society. Almost all of our activities come with a risk to others, and personally I think that in a lot of cases our society has become way too risk-averse.

Comment Re:RAM is not cheap (Score 1) 207

Yeah, DDR3 prices hit rock bottom right before Christmas 2013. I was considering upgrading to 32GB just because it was so cheap, but really I had nothing maxing out 16GB. Still don't really, even now running a ton of crap I'm only using 8-9GB and the rest is cache. For prosumer money ($1000) you can even get 8x16GB DDR4 for an X99 motherboard, prices have bottomed out but so has demand for most people too. Faster CPU, GPU, SSD and so on great.... more memory? Meh. I suppose it could be cheaper, but at least on the PC it's not much of the total anyway. It's usually the tablet and laptop producers charging an arm and a leg for RAM upgrades.

Comment Re:Benefit to end users? (Score 1) 674

The question is also how much has he tired from politics in general or the LKML in particular. Because whenever you are building something together with other people, you'll have disagreements on how it's supposed to be built and how it's supposed to work. One of the freedoms of open source is copying the code and going home, saying I'm build my own kernel. By myself. Exactly how I want it to be. And I don't have to discuss or argue or respect any majority opinion or prove why it's a good idea or anything. And when I'm done people can use it or not use it, I don't have to market it or make a business case for it.

So he wants to ditch the politics and just write the code, good for him and it could even result in some nice features if somebody else goes up to bat for it on the LKML or one of the other places opinions clash. But there's always going to be a place like the LKML, there's always going to be disagreements there and in any sufficiently large group of people there will be jerks and drama queens. The question is if the LKML is a particularly bad case or if you could actually create something better. Maybe it's just my experience, but often when you try you end up attracting all the malcontents of the current incarnation and the new place is actually worse since they all expect this to be the place they get their way.

Comment Not really (Score 5, Informative) 674

Branching happens all the time, either to develop a feature or because it's doing something that upstream won't accept. One man maintaining his own patches isn't a fork. A fork would imply that that you're planning to diverge from or replace the project you branched from, nothing in his post indicates he wants to compete with Linux or the LKML. He's just saying I'll make my own patches and provide them for those who want them, but I'm not going to bother trying to upstream them. Kinda like Debian and Ubuntu, Canonical made a lot of patches for Debian but they weren't trying to fork it. They just rebased off it every six months, being a downstream variation. He's making a downstream variation with some interface from BSD. Big whoop.

Comment Re: Rule #1 (Score 2) 278

I'll do you one better: my last client migrated from Mediawiki (encyclopedia) and Confluence (team sites) to Sharepoint. What a disaster. Sharepoint looks nice in demos, but there are some serious issues with the architecture, it does not scale up well and TCO for large deployments is enormous, and it tries to be everything at once (documents management, team sites, content management, wikis, and it sucks at most of them). And we had the expensive contractors to roll it out and try to sort of make it work as well. I'll take Confluence over Sharepoint.

Comment Re:Hubris and Self-Interest (Score 1) 278

The "neatly contained" part is key to SOA and microservices: it's not just a matter of having a problem that lends itself well to decomposition, but also about having the right people to do the architecture. It's not a trivial job, and if you get it wrong you'll have to refactor and redefine a whole mess of services, and your project can escalate out of control quite quickly that way. Refactoring a monolythic project is easier.

Comment Re:Rule #1 (Score 2) 278

Rule #2: Don't work for a startup unless there's some equity in the offing. Preferably not in the form of stock options that give the owners the option of simply firing you before they vest. If a company demands a lot from you (startups usually do) and your contribution makes a sizable difference in the success of the company, you should ask for a slice of the pie.

Comment Re:Emissions testing needs to be fool proof (Score 1) 104

Passenger car emission standards are g/mi and are the same for all fuel types. Epa is exploring ways to combat this type of fraud. But any test they make needs to be objective and reproducible for all vehicles, so it may be hard to eliminate this cheat vector.

No. What they need to do is to create an objective and reproducible test, then a "sanity check" where the car is driven an ordinary, mixed road trip with a sensor attached to the exhaust pipe that can't in any reasonable way be distinguished from ordinary driving. The latter will obviously be somewhat variable due to the particular route, road conditions, environmental temperature, traffic and so on but I imagine it would be a fairly narrow band that could be considered normal. If it exceeds that, start investigating.

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