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Comment: Re:Shut it down (Score 5, Informative) 177

Different ways of looking at it:

The space program has been, on average, 1.15% of the US budget. Giving it a proportional share of the debt means that it contributed 204 billion.

Even if you consider space exploration as entirely frivolous, it has only contributed 508 billion to the debt (before interest). That amounts to 2.85% of the debt.

Yes, the US needs to get its "house in order". Yes, NASA needs to produce better results in order to justify its existing budget. On the other hand, attacking the space program will do very little to address the debt problem. Actually, it will do very little to address the deficit. (Again assuming that space exploration is completely frivolous, it only accounted for 2.48% of the deficit in 2013.)

Comment: Re:Put this same government in charge of healthcar (Score 3, Insightful) 250

by MacTO (#48679857) Attached to: Newest Stealth Fighter's Ground Attack Sensors 10 Years Behind Older Jets

First of all, those older jets are upgraded while the F-35 is being delivered according to a contract. That's not government incompetence. That's contract law, and no respectable contractor is going to write an agreement where the specifications can change at the last minute. In all probability, the military has already accounted for this and has planned upgrades.

Second, very few people are saying that government should control healthcare. They are saying that the government should control health insurance. Other countries already do this and have had very positive outcomes.

Comment: One year, as a demonstration "sport" ... (Score 1) 232

by MacTO (#48668987) Attached to: Should Video Games Be In the Olympics?

I think it would be good as a demonstration sport for one of the games, if they select the game carefully to align with what the games are.

The thing is, the games are mostly about physical competition along with physical factors that have a strong psychological element such as endurance and reaction time. Video games are poor at the former but rely heavily upon the latter, which is why I think they would be excellent as a demonstration sport but not as an ongoing element of the games.

Comment: Re:How about a traditional ebook? (Score 1) 178

by MacTO (#48658765) Attached to: Study: Light-Emitting Screens Before Bedtime Disrupt Sleep

This study doesn't really address that since it is based upon a very narrow selection of devices (i.e. the iPad). Indeed, none of the studies that I have encountered have addressed that because they are based upon a narrow range of technologies. I have seen anecdotes suggesting that eink based devices are less disruptive to sleep cycles, but my opinion on that is: if it works for you, great, but don't attribute it to anything more than wishful thinking and selection bias.

A study like this doesn't apply to eink based readers because it doesn't isolate the cause. Is it the intensity or spectrum of the light? Is it our response to the type of device in question (e.g. iPads are more exciting than ereaders)? Is it the difference between the screen brightness and ambient light? For all we know it has something to do with polarization or how the screen is refreshed. While some of the variables that I mentioned are dubious, they are still unexamined variables so we cannot make a comparison across a broader range of devices than those studied. (Then there is the sample size ...)

Comment: Re:I disagree (Score 2) 257

by MacTO (#48490503) Attached to: The Driverless Future: Buses, Not Taxis

Reading the article may help: they are talking about small buses which often have a dedicated lane. There is, of course, a desire to use this for regular buses.

As for the difficulties presented by public transportation, I can assure you that there are many problems presented by private vehicles. Even if you ignore the need for high capacity roads to handle an a large number of vehicles, you also have to dedicate a large amount of infrastructure to parking (may that be straight out land use or parkades). Large numbers of vehicles being operated by people with different skill levels and motivations also make roads very unpredictable places, which increases the probability of accidents. A dependence upon vehicles also radically changes the social environment.

Comment: Just have fun playing games ... (Score 1) 720

by MacTO (#48488537) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Making a 'Wife Friendly' Gaming PC?

It sounds like you're more interested in having a gaming machine than you are in enjoying the games, thus the presumably high spec machine that needs to shed excess heat. Well, most games don't actually need that. Just tone down the settings, reenable your PC's power management settings, and enjoy the bloody games for their entertainment value.

If that's not enough, then it's time to consider other things. It may be a purely technical problem, such as cleaning out the system or replacing noisy fans. It may also be a social problem, i.e. your wife is trying to find time to spend with you when may be spending your time gaming.

Comment: Do your own research first ... (Score 4, Interesting) 267

by MacTO (#48428963) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop?

If most of your applications are open source, switching to BSD will be fairly straight forward on that front. That's particularly since you're coming from Gentoo (i.e. you'll probably have to compile a lot of the software that you want to run under BSD).

The biggest hurdles are going to be the sorts of things that a generic question cannot address. Is your hardware compatible with the version of BSD that you've selected? Unlike Linux, where everyone is using the same kernel and has almost the same access to kernel modules, different implementations of BSD use different kernels. As such, selecting an implementation depends as much on low level details as it does on the userspace. (While I've pointed out hardware compatibility, any feature that is found in the kernel needs consideration.)

Another consideration is whether you're comfortable with managing BSD systems. Unlike hardware support, this is difficult to assess objectively. Some people like the core OS being a unified system that you update all at once. Other people like the piecemeal approach of Linux. Keep in mind that the core OS could mean everything from the kernel, to development tools, to the X server. (It does vary a bit from implementation to implementation.)

You will also run into a bunch of stuff that you'll have to relearn, particularly if you're accustomed to working in the shell. Software packaging and installation is the first one you'll bump into, but BSD also has it's own set of utilities. Some of these utilities are quite similar to the GNU utilities, but the extended functionality is quite different.

If you want to switch to BSD, I suggest doing it on a secondary computer first. If you run into specific issues, ask specific questions. Odds are that those issues can be resolved, but it will take time to sort through all of them. BSD can be an immense pleasure to use, but it involves a lot more than which applications are and aren't available.

Comment: My guess ... (Score 2) 197

by MacTO (#48421981) Attached to: Is a Moral Compass a Hindrance Or a Help For Startups?

... and it is only a guess:

Most startups need a moral compass in order to recruit and retain employees who are invested in the success of the company. If the startup doesn't offer that, there is a high probability that quality employees will move on when better opportunities arise. (Examples are higher pay, better benefits, or a more stable job. These are all things that startups find difficult to provide.) Depending upon their clients, it may also serve to separate the startup from the competiton.

Yet Uber (and the likes) are not your typical startups. Since they are trying operate in a highly regulated industry, and in an industry where the regulations vary from place to place, they are very politicized. Unfortunately politicized issues make it very difficult to have a clean fight because those with a vested interest have the existing power structures (politicians, courts, etc.) on their side.

Comment: Ask other parents in your area ... (Score 1) 107

by MacTO (#48414181) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Professionally Packaged Tools For Teaching Kids To Program?

If you live in the city, there's probably after school programs or summer programs geared towards kids and computers. Some are technical while others are creative, but most of them provide a mentor who guides groups of children through creative projects. Depending upon your child's personality, she may find it a much more appealing environment.

Comment: Re:9 months? (Score 3, Insightful) 62

by MacTO (#48412347) Attached to: Crowdfunded Linux Voice Magazine Releases First Issue CC-BY-SA

Perhaps it is a good idea to read Linux Voice before commenting upon it's value, simply based upon the merit that it is a magazine.

While certain aspects of a magzine do go out-of-date quickly, others don't. Nine month old news, not so great. Nine month old reviews are okay. They'll introduce you to a product, even if some information is outdated. Nine old month tutorials can be useful.

Magazines do have merits other than content. The flow of information is more paced. Reading the news daily (or even hourly) means that you are more likely to run into redundant details across multiple articles. It also means that there is less time to write comprehensive stories, verify details, and edit the material. I'm not saying that they're perfect, but you really have to wonder about the quality of a lot of the online media when they publish as much a day as a magazine publishes in a month. Actually, I don't have to wonder. I've gone to many sites where the articles range from terrible to excellent, primarily because the authors range from terrible to excellent. Yet they won't cut the terrible authors because it's more important to have a continuous stream of updates than it is to invest in quality.

Comment: Re:Better go kick WSUS into a sync... (Score 3, Informative) 178

by MacTO (#48411651) Attached to: Microsoft Releases Out-of-Band Security Patch For Windows

Even if you did have something better to do, would you rather be testing and deploying security updates or cleaning up a security breach?

It is easy to be unhappy about security updates because of the implied security bug, a bug that shouldn't have been in there in the first place. Yet we also have to remember that people are investing a lot of time into discovering and exploiting design/implementation flaws because we invest so much into computers and networks. It doesn't matter whether the mistake shouldn't have passed the muster of code review or it it's so obscure that it would take security experts years to understand its implications, someone is going to find it. It is, unfortunately, something that we've been seeing a lot of lately and it is something that won't disappear in the future.

(We also shouldn't be targetting Microsoft because most platforms have seen critical security updates and even critical security breaches lately. It doesn't matter how proficient the developers are, nor does it matter who they work for. What matters is the value of the systems and data being compromised.)

Comment: Re:Deficit eating (Score 4, Interesting) 323

by MacTO (#48397539) Attached to: MARS, Inc: We Are Running Out of Chocolate

The deficit they're talking about is around 1% to 2% of the annual production. Assuming that you sell the reserves prior to selling the new crops, and put the unsold new crops in reserve, the reserves could last for decades with none of the stock being over a year old.

Of course that is a highly simplified view, but it does allow for multi-year deficits without actually running out of cocoa. Of course a low reserve also means that there could be serious problems if the yields are particularly bad one year. (But at least it's just cocoa. A staple crop would be an entirely different issue.)

Comment: Re:Got you, Mrs. Sampson (Score 2) 80

Either the eraser end or the tip of the pencil. The fact that a high school physics teacher couldn't answer the question doesn't surprise me. It isn't a high school level problem. It also isn't the sort of thing that would cause me to question everything that a teacher says. It simply represents a limit to the teacher's knowledge, rather than a teacher communicating incorrect information. It simply means that you have to take an extra step in learning: either looking for other resources or figure out the solution yourself.

If mathematically you end up with the wrong answer, try multiplying by the page number.

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