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Comment: CA requires commercial licenses for pickup trucks. (Score 4, Interesting) 202

No, but money changing hands (commerce) impacts whether it is "commercial", and requires a commercial license.

"Impacts", perhaps. But it's not definitive. Especially in California.

For instance: I bought a pickup truck, to use as a tow vehicle for my camper and my wife's boat. Then I discovered that CA requires pickup trucks to be tagged with a (VERY pricey) commercial license, regardless of whether they're used for business. (You CAN petition to tag a particular pickup truck as a personal vehicle - but are then subject to being issued a very pricey ticket if you are ever caught carrying anything in the truck bed - even if it's personal belongings or groceries, and regardless of whether you're being paid to do it. (Since part of the POINT of having a pickup truck is to carry stuff home from the store this would substantially reduce its utility.)

The one upside is that I get to park for short times in loading zones.

If we aren't going to require commercial licenses for commercial driving, then why even have them at all?

And if we ARE going to require them for clearly personal, non-commercial vehicles that happen to be "trucks", why NOT impose this requirement on putatively commercial vehicles that happen to be cars as well?

The real answer to your question is "because the state wants the tax money, and the legislators and bureaucrats will seek it in any way that doesn't threaten their reelection, reappointment, or election to higher office" - in the most jerrymandered state in the Union. The Uber case is one where an appraent public outcry arose, bringing the bureaucrats' actions, and public outcry about them, to the attention of elected officials.

The full form of the so-called "Chinese curse" is: "May you live in interesting times and come to the attention of people in high places."

Comment: Re:Different trick (Score 1) 489

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48863083) Attached to: Windows 10: Can Microsoft Get It Right This Time?

A journalist ALWAYS needs to write something that is SOMEHOW different from what the reader believes. (If he's just reinforcing what the reader believes, why should a reader bother reading his output?)"

Actually, studies have shown that people tend to read authors and publications that tell them they are right. Echo-chambers existed long before the internet. So, while you ask why a reader would read that which reinforces his beliefs, the reality is he does.

Echo-chamber yes. But needs some difference, also yes. Even an echo-chamber medium is about giving the reader some new aspect to consider, new argument to use, etc. It may be primarily reinforcing, but it also adds or tweaks aspects to deepen the conviction and/or warp it into slightly better conformity with the common ideology of the journalist's in-group.

So I don't think there's really any conflict between our claims.

Comment: Different trick (Score 4, Insightful) 489

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48851953) Attached to: Windows 10: Can Microsoft Get It Right This Time?

The trick to the Betteridge law is that when a journalist writes a headline as a question, the question is suggesting what most people find improbable; and the improbable rarely happens.

There's some of that. But that's more about choice of subject matter. A journalist ALWAYS needs to write something that is SOMEHOW different from what the reader believes. (If he's just reinforcing what the reader believes, why should a reader bother reading his output?)

The real trick that leads to qusetion-headlines (that are almost always implying something that's wrong) is different.

When a journalist writes a juicy headline as a question, it's because he couldn't find evidence to support the conjecture, but wants to run it anyway.

Usually this is because he guessed wrong. The deadline is approaching, he's got to publish SOMETHING to stay employed, and he just wasted a bunch of time researching something that didn't pan out. Oops! So he runs his orignnal conjecture and the workup he did on it before finding out that it was either wrong (usual) or maybe right but couldn't be supported in the time available (rarely). He just phrases the headline as a speculation rather than an assertion.

That way his credibility isn't wrecked for the future, he gets to publish something, it's interesting and plausible (even though probably totally bogus), and in those rare cases where it WAS right he's scooped his competitors. However it comes out it's a win for the journalist - though it's a bunch of noise for the readers.

Comment: Re:No, the premise is that we want to avoid civil (Score 1) 480

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48800271) Attached to: How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting

The third paragraph should begin:

Low voter turnout is not a problem.

And that last should be:

Conversely, if you would fight you should vote. Withholding your vote in such a circumstance also makes the election less convincing, increasing the destabilization of the government. An election boycott is a vote for genuine war.

Comment: No, the premise is that we want to avoid civil war (Score 1) 480

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48800253) Attached to: How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting

No vote is better than an ill-informed / non-informed vote.

Ya know, I'm not so sure about that. The whole premise of democracy is that we are, collectively, smarter than any of us individually.

Democratic and Repubican forms of government are NOT based on such a premise.

The entire point of such forms is to avoid civil war. They do this by modelling the war - well enough that the faction that loses the election is convinced that, if they try to reverse the result by force of arms, they will lose that, too.

Low voter turnout is . If people don't care enough about an issue to fight for one side or the other, (let alone not caring enough to even examine the sides), not voting for a side picked randomly, or on the basis of name recognition or the like, does no harm.

Voting in such a circumstance may cause a lot of harm. Just like visibly corrupt elections, a visibly frivolous electorate reduces the ability of the election to convince the losers they've really lost. Further, it gives them the idea that they were cheated out of what they "deserved" and could win - giving them an opportunity to start a war AND claim the moral high ground in doing so.

Conversely, not voting when you would fight is a vo

Comment: The real point is blocking vote-buying schemes. (Score 1) 480

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48799689) Attached to: How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting

... electronic systems that let people track their own votes can be used by others to track those votes.

The real point, and why it's illegal (in many jurisdictions) to show you how your vote was counted:

If you can prove to yourself your vote was counted for candidate Foo, you can prove to candidate Foo's campaign machine that your vote was counted for Foo, and collect the vote-buying money or other rewards. (Also: Strong-arm operations, like crooked unions, organized crime, and/or political machines, could get you to divulge your vote with various threats.)

But maybe it is time to ditch the secret ballot... at least for some things.

Absolutely not. The point of voting being secret is to keep people from intimidating voters into voting for someone other than their personal choice.

Comment: "Allah" is just Arabic for "God". (Score 2) 1350

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48760269) Attached to: Gunmen Kill 12, Wound 7 At French Magazine HQ

They bombed the London Tube for Allah...

"Allah" is just Arabic for "God". (Literally "The God" i.e. the one, the only, monotheist deity.) Christians who speak Arabic use the same word for the Christian deity - which Muslims recognize as the same entity. The word has the same root as Yahweh, Jehova, JHVH.

Interestingly, Muslims explicitly recognize Christians and Jews as "People of The Book", and the Torah and the Bible as explicitly their people's version of a heavenly-mandated collection of the genuine revealed word of God - though allegedly corrupted by time and translations. They claim there are many such books, but these two they explicitly recognize as valid instances.

They also explicitly recognize Jesus ("Issa") as a prophet (their second highest ranking one, if I have this right), Mary as their only known female prophet, and include the Second Coming in their end-times predictions. ("Prophet" is defined as someone who receives messages from God, directly or via heavenly messenger.)

Comment: A pity hard write protect is no longer an option. (Score 1) 181

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48754889) Attached to: Inside Cryptowall 2.0 Ransomware

When you use a usb drive, you'll be safe, until someone plugs it into that machine not knowing that as soon as they do, it will begin encrypting what's accessible on that usb drive.

Disk drives - hard, floppy, etc. - used to have a hardware write protect feature. (Switch, punched-notch, etc.) Set it and there was no way the stored content could be changed. A backup that you'd set would not be vulnerable to rewrite attacks when plugged into an insufficiently-cleaned machine to restore the files.

Then drives came out where software could override the write protection.

Then the feature went out of fashion. Drives were apparently a bit cheaper that way.

A pity.

Comment: It's like GPL (Score 1) 124

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48751075) Attached to: Toyota Opens Patents On Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology

So to make invention still go you first need to patent it, then you release it for free to all. Why do we still have patents at all, again?

Because that's the current law and getting it changed is an exercise in futility.

So, just like copyright and the GPL, they have to patent it first to keep OTHER people from patenting it and locking them out of their own invention. Once that's done they can go ahead and give it away if they want (or cross-license with people with other patents on useful stuff).

Sure it would be nice if patents went away on a lot of stuff - or even everything. It would be nice if other countries wouldn't try to conquer us if we disarmed, too. But as long as patents are there, inventors are forced to stay armed.

Comment: Re:No, not practically, no. (Score 1) 124

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48751037) Attached to: Toyota Opens Patents On Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology


The fastest I've gotten a pump to run is about 1/10th gal/sec. That's 6 galons per minute. So you fill your tank every time you're six galons down?

My "car" - a Ford F-150 pickup truck - has a 37 galon tank, which I normally run nearly dry before refilling when I'm using it in the SF Bay Area. (I keep it full when I'm in less forgiving areas - like the Nevada desert.) At 6 gal/min maximum that's a 6+ minute fill up - plus "topping off" to a round amount, two trips to the cashier. (No WAY I'm trusting that much cash to the bill eater kiosk.) Waiting in line, getting change and reciept, hitting the rest room, ... Call it 15 to 25 minutes.

Fortunately I only have to do it a couple times a month.

Comment: Re:Re usability (Score 1) 151

the tanks themselves had nowhere near the shielding required to be used for human habitation (both radiation, and micrometeorite).

So you collect them into a cluster and store consumables (like water) that perform shielding in the outer layers.

Also: You really don't WANT shielding most of the time - unless you're up there for years. Primary cosmics mostly go right through you, while shielding produces lots of ionizing secondaries that tear you up. Then you need a LOT of shielding to block the secondaries. Its mostly the occasional solar storm that requires shielding.

This was looked at in detail over the last several decades. The tanks would have been very valuable for a lot of stuff. But not to NASA programs. Lots of politics involved.

Comment: Re:Re usability (Score 1) 151

The foam insulation would have off-gassed significantly and dumped all sorts of crap into your orbital environment, ...

Originally they were to be painted with a coating that would have kept the foam together, etc.

Then somebody looked at how much that coating weighed. (It comes right out of payload.) And they decided not to paint the tank after all and let the foam get shredded a bunch on the way up (after it wasn't really needed if you weren't going to re-use the tank for anything).

They actually burn some extra fuel to be sure the tank goes back DOWN and crashes in a desired area, so it doesn't go into low orbit, become short-lived space junk, then later come down in some unpredictable place along that orbit after "space weather" - mainly the varying expansion of the upper atmosphere - causes the orbital decay to proceed at some varying and unpredictable rate.

I recall space advocates being livid that the tanks were not being orbited and collected for orbital construction.

Comment: You beat me to it. (Score 1) 252

IMHO the smart home OS will look like QNX.

It might not BE QNX, but it will at least look like it.

QNX is doing just what is needed, and has been for decades. It's about the most rock-solid OS out there. It's tiny and fast.

(What little I've seen of it reminds me of what "super" - my clone of Wiser's clone of the core of Dkikstra & Riddle's T.H.E. - might have evolved into if it were oriented to being invulnerable to failed or hostile tasks rather than being completely dependet on the tasks it supports being well behaved and perfect.)

Comment: Hardware verification, not software QA. (Score 1) 449

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48724915) Attached to: How We'll Program 1000 Cores - and Get Linus Ranting, Again

Verification is the process of checking that software works correctly. The more complex the system, the more complex the process of verification.

You said "verification" but you're thinking of "software quality assurance". Though "verfication" is sometimes used to describe a step in that process, when used standing alone (at least here in silicon valley), it refers to the analogous process in integrated circuit design.

Verification is a BIG DEAL in integrated circuit design. A good hardware project will have at least as many verification engineers as designers (and hardware designers will freely act as verification engineers - on OTHER designers' modules - during the later stages of a chip tapeout, without taking a carreer hit.) It is the limiting factor in when the chip design hits silicon and when it hits the market.

So IMHO the previous poster is talking about the up-front quality assurance processes and costs of hardware, rather than software, complexity.

(Releasing a rev to a software product due to a QA issue missed due to added complexity may be costly. But releasing a rev to silicon takes months and millions of dollars of sunk cost. They're not in the same league.)

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie