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Comment Switzerland Has Something Similar (Score 1) 490

They probably don't use computers for it, but the Swiss public can overturn new legislation by instigating a referendum. I believe it requires something in the region of 50 thousand signatures to kick off a referendum. This is a good compromise between purely representative democracy (which is often not very representative at all) and absolute direct democracy . Let the government do its job making dull but necessary new laws etc, but if they get out of line with some new law etc, we should have a constitutional and effective way of striking it down that doesn't involve mass protest and teargas.

In Britain, referendums are rarely granted by the government and in a number of cases they have promised them and then actually backtracked. They don't like handing power over to the public. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be for the public to simply overrule the government over something like TPP?

The question is, how do we get there?

Comment Re:If there are patent issues (Score 1) 355

It was a horrible mess, everything had to be re-written to be compatible because it was really an entirely new language. Developers were left in the lurch

I worked for a company with large amounts of VB6 code, certainly over a million dollars worth of developer time. The company simply could not afford to do a rewrite. I still can barely believe that Microsoft would screw so many businesses by doing that.

I vividly remember everyone gathering around as I used the project conversion wizard to convert from VB6 to VB.NET. I knew it wouldn't really work due to fundamental differences in the languages, but I felt we had to go through the motions. We sat there and watched the estimated time of completion climb and climb and climb. Eventually I think it just crashed.

At the time we had a big meeting and I tried to convince the company that we should move away from Microsoft technologies to avoid similar pain in the future. However, such is the "Gravitational Pull" of Microsoft products, we ended up sticking with them.

Of course, if there had been a compatible rival product (some kind of Borland VB) then it would have been much harder for Microsoft to abandon the language. This could be an issue if they try to abandon .NET due to the existence of Mono.

Comment Makes No Cost Sense (Score 1, Insightful) 226

Even if a solar panel in Geosynchronous orbit generated 100x more energy than an equivalent panel on earth (which seems unlikely), it makes no economic sense to put it there since you could put several hundred panels on the Earth's surface for a small fraction of the cost. In fact you could fill an entire football field full of panels for a fraction of the cost of the space based solution. Just through sheer numbers they would generate more than the space-based panel even on a cloudy day.

Simple repairs are also orders of magnitude cheaper for the ground-based solution.

Comment Clueless BBC Video (Score 3, Interesting) 490

In slow motion you can see that the bullet barely travels any distance at all. - Quote from the video

What we in fact see is that the object that "barely travels any distance at all" is the spent shell casing. This is completely fine as the aim is not to magically embed the spent shell casing into the target. That is what the projectile part is for. The projectile is likely to have whizzed off as expected, albeit not with great accuracy.

As for the general usefulness of plastic firearms, even if they can only fire a few shots, there are clear advantages.
1. You can obtain a firearm without it being registered to you or exposing yourself to criminal firearms dealers/police sting operations.
2. They are less detectable.
3. You can melt and/or burn the murder weapon with ease.

The tone of the video is a bit odd. It's comes across like a video trying to convince kids not to play with fireworks. It's not as if we all have loads of ammunition laying about here in the UK just waiting for a 3D Printed gun to come along so we can finally have some fun. Making something that can fire a bullet (at least here in the UK) is not the main obstacle to a working firearm. The main obstacle here is obtaining the ammunition.

Comment Re:But to really propel Russia Today to the fore.. (Score 2) 254

I could point out that the BBC is really just Britain's Russia Today, and go into details why, but it would be a distraction from the more fundamental issue.

Most news organisations operate in the same non-objective way whether they are government controlled or completely commercial. They report more favourably on their host country (and allies) than on enemies. For example, the BBC will report on Iranian police violence against protesters very harshly. It will be implied that the police violence is extreme and unwarranted and the unarmed and peaceful nature of the protesters will be emphasised (with protester violence even being ignored). In contrast, the same kind of violence perpetrated by UK police will be reported very differently. It will either be under-reported ("Police scuffled with protesters") or the focus will be on protester violence.

All you have to do to see this for yourself is do a search and replace on country/city names in articles. Suddenly that article damning Russia for the Seige of Grozny will be an article damning the US for the Seige of Fallujah. You will notice that sentences like "What right does the US have to order the citizens to leave." are quite jarring and do not seem like the kind of thing the news would normally say in this situation. This is your clue that something is very wrong with mainstream media reporting.

Comment Average Joe today, "Mover and Shaker" tomorrow (Score 1) 393

The thing is, yes, the NSA et al are not interested in the average Joe as long as he remains an average Joe. But if that average Joe suddenly emerges as a "threat", by organising some big Occupy movement etc, they will already have all the private dirt on him they need to discredit him if necessary. This is why the average Joe should care, even if he doesn't. It's about the future, not just the present.

Comment Re:This is bullshit. (Score 1) 737

The vast majority of industry trade shows look quite professional. A small minority of industries that attract people with developmental problems (automobiles, guns, and games) don't.

I can't speak for the "vast majority" of trade shows, but many of the energy industry shows I've been to have had "booth babes". It is quite a common tactic (not the only one, but common nonetheless). It's about catching your eye. This can been done with brightly coloured displays, animated signs, movement etc, but with a large male patronage, attractive women seems to be effective.

If we are going to damn some companies for being so "stupid" or exploitative that they require beautiful women to attract men to their products, then perhaps we should also damn them for using other cheap tricks like bright colours, flashing signs etc.

Is it really wrong for attractive women or men to exploit their good looks for commercial gain? How about a man exploiting his natural physical strength for financial gain? Is it really so much better to be exploited for your brain than for your body? Being exploited for your brain can be very demeaning indeed. If I could earn good money standing around smiling at a trade show, I'd certainly consider it. Perhaps I'd feel exploited, I don't know, but I've certainly felt exploited in software development jobs I've had.

Comment Unbreakable BNC Connections (Score 4, Insightful) 159

Those BNCs were pretty tough connectors. When I first got an IT job, the network consisted of two 486s connected via a BNC cable dangled over the carpet across the room. A clumsy co-worker tripped over it and both machines flew off the desks, hit each other in mid air like conkers and crashed onto the floor. The BNC cable and connectors were completely undamaged though.

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