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Comment: Oil? (Score 1) 272

by Second_Derivative (#48251747) Attached to: A Library For Survival Knowledge

You can mine coal fairly easily after the apocalypse, sure, but that isn't going to power an internal combustion engine, only an external one.

All of the readily available oil on the planet except for maybe the Arabian Peninsula has been drilled out. New prospecting is almost exclusively performed on oil rigs that are far offshore, which requires a lot of advanced technology to access (such as helicopters, which are powered by, er, oil).

No, if we get bombed back to the stone age then we're staying there. Maybe we can rise up to some liberterian's wet dream of a coal-powered, diseased, and poisonous world of struggling city-states where the average life expectency is 30, but no more than that.

Comment: Re:Not the same as male pattern baldness (Score 2) 109

Yup. This guy has an auto-immune disorder. Pattern baldness is caused by premature death of hair follicles. Treating that would require a way to bring those cells back from the dead or some really nifty tricks with stem cells to replace them.

Not that that's going to stop a deluge of clickbait crap about this over the next few weeks, I'm sure.

+ - Ask Slashdot: Can some of us get together and rebuild this community? 21

Submitted by wbr1
wbr1 (2538558) writes "It seems abundantly clear now that Dice and the SlashBeta designers do not care one whit about the community here. They do not care about rolling in crapware into sourceforge installers. In short, the only thing that talks to them is money and stupid ideas.

Granted, it takes cash to run sites like these, but they were fine before. The question is, do some of you here want to band together, get whatever is available of slashcode and rebuild this community somewhere else? We can try to make it as it once was, a haven of geeky knowledge and frosty piss, delivered free of charge in a clean community moderated format."

Comment: GTK+ is standalone (Score 2, Insightful) 282

by Second_Derivative (#45975917) Attached to: Intel Dev: GTK's Biggest Problem, and What Qt Does Better

Qt, on the other hand, is its own universe. It's written in a weird dialect of C++98 (though I'm sure it works just fine in C++11 these days), it has its own object model, networking stack, container library, threading library, graphics primitive library (i.e. not Cairo). This object model also leaks into its language bindings if you don't want to write your software in C++.

It's the same problem that Java and C# also suffer from: they're not cross-platform, nothing is. What they actually are is their own platform built alongside a perfectly good already-existing one, and you can see the seams.

There's more to each platform's UI than what bitmap you skin buttons and checkboxes with. If you want a cross-platform application, then write a completely different UI for each platform using those platforms' native UI toolkits. Sadly "good enough" is the order of the day here, so you end up with platform-refugee applications that look like shit.

Comment: Re:Apple stifling innovation in lawsuit (Score 2, Insightful) 1184

Game changers earn a short-term first-mover advantage, and given the revenues generated from Apple's iPhone division I don't think they've had any shortage of THAT. Longer term, people will copy innovators and incrementally improve on their new technology, and everybody benefits as a result, in the form of accelerated innovation and lower prices. As the law stands right now, competition is severely hindered in order to extract even more exorbitant revenue than what the Free Market(R) naturally has to offer. You can't have a competitive marketplace when you have to ask the incumbent's permission to compete with them.

Anyway, fuck Apple and fuck the iPhone. Dictatorial control wrapped up in a shiny package, and the masses love it. It is the antithesis of the equalising power of technology that made the field so attractive to me in the first place.

Comment: Because, in my opinion, it looks really ugly. (Score 1) 818

by Second_Derivative (#40289011) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Aren't You Running KDE?

If I'm going to use a desktop for hours on end then I'd prefer that it had aesthetics that don't make me barf. Primary colours everywhere, sharp specular highlights, drop shadows, grey gradients, chunky 3D bezel effects, even the spacing between visual elements and their sizes are just all horribly wrong. I can't understand how anybody could stand looking at that, but I guess KDE has a sufficiently large user base that at least some people disagree.

GNOME 3 might not be ideal, but at least it looks nice. Actually, in my opinion, I think it looks even nicer than Apple's stuff, but again that's just my personal sense of aesthetics talking. If they made the workspace management a little less rudimentary (e.g. if they went back to having a fixed number of workspaces that you could create and destroy on the fly, and allowed you to re-arrange the workspaces themselves as opposed to just the windows on them), then I think I could get used to it. It's still extremely bare in terms of currently-implemented functionality, but hopefully this will improve over time.

Networking

$300M To Save 6 Milliseconds 524

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-is-money-friend dept.
whoever57 writes "A new transatlantic cable (the first in 10 years) is going to be laid at the cost of $300M. The reason? To shave 6ms off the time to transmit packets from London to New York. The Hibernian Express will reduce the current transmission time — roughly 65 milliseconds — by less than ten percent. However, investors believe the financial community will be lining up to pay premium rates to use the new cable. The article suggests that a one-millisecond advantage could be worth $100M per year to a large hedge fund."

Comment: Re:Pretty Ironic.... (Score 1) 185

by Second_Derivative (#35411130) Attached to: William Shatner Wakes Up Crew for Final Discovery Mission

So that would be why all those towns full of "retards that can't take care of themselves" such as Detroit and Camden see their population dry out rapidly?

Come on mate, please don't swallow this "welfare queen" propaganda. It is not in your best interest, never mind the best interests of the world at large.

Comment: Re:Modern Computers do come with BASIC (Score 2, Interesting) 330

by Second_Derivative (#34116186) Attached to: Land of Lisp

You're kidding about VBScript, right? Short of abusing Scripting.Dictionary in some rather awful ways you can't even define data structures in it, and writing code that spans more than one module involves the use of some obtuse XML crap (.scs files) which most people don't even know about. VBScript has its place but using it for anything other substantially more complex than short straight-line automation scripts is lunacy.

You could write some ephemeral JavaScript programs in an .html file that can't even interact with the filesystem, sure, but these creations would be obvious fourth-class citizens on your shiny 21st century computer, which doesn't yield a particularly satisfying experience for the novice programmer.

No, if a kid with an internet connection wants to start programming stuff then in some senses the ground has never been more fertile. Even if you're not willing to leave Win32 you can quickly and easily download IDLE or a win32 build of Ruby, and the latter has plenty of really gentle tutorials to ease a novice into the world of programming, to the point where the interested reader could probably stumble oneward from there through Wikipedia well enough for most of the intermediate concepts to stick. The sort of things you can easily accomplish with MinGW and a bit of Googling today would have absolutely blown my ten year old mind back when anything above the level of BASIC was a forbidden art unheard of outside of obscure BBSes (which show up on your parents' phone bill) or a university library.

On the other hand, a modern PC environment is a frightfully complicated beast compared to an Amiga or a Spectrum. That I think is far more of a problem than the availability of simple tools and documentation these days... that and a more comfortable consumption-oriented environment on a modern desktop that doesn't force you to make your own fun.

Comment: Nobody ever mentions the second part of that quote (Score 1) 346

by Second_Derivative (#33468456) Attached to: Anti-Google Video Runs In Times Square

"but if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines including Google do retain this information for some time, and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act. It is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities."

Which is basically the most direct way of saying "the NSA has a gun to my head" that that is available to him. Honestly, I'm not all that worried about Google in and of itself. They seem to be fairly transparent about what they do and why they collect that information in the first place, and they are staffed by a lot people with similar views to the prevailing opinion on Slashdot (though these views are necessarily going to be much more moderate than a lot of the views expressed here, or they wouldn't be working for Google in the first place).

No, the fact that Google is a treasure trove of personal information for the United States' various three-letter agencies is far more worrying to me than any ill will on the part of Google, particularly given the US' eagerness to conduct national and corporate espionage to secure themselves any economic advantage for the United States. Or to scour the world for all the entities that they might consider to be a threat, real or imagined. Naturally I'm just another unimportant geek and not a visionary engineer or a trade negotiator, so I shouldn't have anything to fear personally from this system (yet, anyway), but nonetheless I still find this unbridled use of dirty tactics to be morally repugnant. /That/ is the real message we should be hearing about Google, but I doubt that it lines up with the interests of whoever is controlling this particular drawerful of sock puppets.

Comment: Re:Another stupid idea that will increase the defi (Score 5, Interesting) 1139

by Second_Derivative (#33296392) Attached to: Is a US High-Speed Railway Economically Feasible?

A private consortium tried just that back in 1991 in Texas. Then Southwest Airlines called in a few favours and had the project destroyed (some details on Wikipedia here.). Free market capitalism may or may not have worked here (if it did then one could certainly expect other consortia to follow suit) but the Texas state government never gave us a chance to find out.

No hardware designer should be allowed to produce any piece of hardware until three software guys have signed off for it. -- Andy Tanenbaum

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