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Comment Re: configure; MAKE; make install (Score 3, Interesting) 289

And how is car production different from today software solutions? Microsoft or myriad of open source developers create an OS, Oracle or someone provides a database, someone else an integration toolkit, somebody else designs a schema and a frontend and finally a hosting/SaaS vendor puts it all together and configures the whole package.

Comment Wrong community? (Score 1) 149

I am sure there are quite a few modelling enthusiasts among slashdotters, but there are many forums dedicated to model railroading, with subforums focusing on automation and landscaping/structures, complete with video tutorials of cool tricks (some of them really simple).

If you have a chance to kickstart your collection, I would definitely suggest investing any saved money in DCC equipment - it makes many things simple which would be a chore otherwise.

My advice though is similar to the one I would give to someone getting into programming, electronics or any other hobby: don't overengineer, start simple, but with options to expand, be ready to discard everything you created initially and to start again from scratch. Maybe start with some flat but elaborate layout to practice control of points and trains? Or quite the opposite, start with a simple loop, maybe with a siding or a passing loop, but surround it with interesting terrain? Trying to get your first layout to have both complicated track layout and elaborate landscape features may result in a disappointment. You obviously have some fundamental questions to answer too (shunting or mainline? A standalone diorama or a module? etc.)

Comment mods, bots and cheats (Score 1) 170

I'd say: yes, if you look under the hood. How many of us started with editing save files using hex editor?

Modding, creating bots and cheating (all three often overlap) are a great first step. You learn how games are structured, you learn some scripting (Lua, Python, etc. depending on games), even some AI programming for bots.

Comment Re:Why do Free/Open Source gurus use Google+? (Score 1) 169

In a world of unprincipled people (such as people who sacrifice freedom for safety), I guess principled people would sound "crazy" to those people.

Freedom is not one thing, the intentionally vague use of it just hurts your argument. RMS gives up a certain amount of freedoms for safety too so your argument is invalid anyway.

RMS is a todays hermit. He thinks that conveniences of modern life are enslaving him, so he learned to live without them and sees it as liberation. What he does is not different than refusal to use money (seen as Mammon), or many rules by which Amish or orthodox Jews live.

Comment UK = former Soviet block now? (Score 1) 426

Under communist rule maximum detention time was 24 hours, 48 in some countries. It was mainly a tool for harassing opposition. Thousands of people were being repeatedly detained, without any charges. Some were held for 24 hours, then released only to be captured 2-5 minutes later and detained for another 24 hours, rinse and repeat.

Sad to see the UK following such example.

Comment Re:Hope she's learned something (Score 1) 170

It only works for a few minutes, as the flashlight heats up to match your body temperature, and wouldn't work at all where ambient temps are remotely similar to body temperature. She also got only a tiny amount of power and light out of it, which could be provided for weeks or months by a watch battery without the expensive peltier in the mix.

Slightly more interesting than vinegar and water mixed together in a model volcano, but the real question is whether she learned something valuable in all of this.

Others already commented, but the fact is that a flashlight is rarely used for more than 15 minutes and temperatures in whole Europe and most of North America (especially Canada) are almost all the time and everywhere significantly below body temperature, especially when/where a flashlight is needed (e.g. at night or in a basement).

I agree about batteries, but they have a very bad habit of running out of juice just when they are most needed. And it is difficult to look for a replacement battery in darkness ;) This thing is zero-maintenance, so a perfect emergency source of light, not a whole-night-march-through-woods source of light.

Comment Neuland (Score 1) 314

Yet another influential person, for whom, like for the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Internet is "Neuland", Terra Incognita, a "Here Be Dragons" place, foreign and scary.

Comment Re:so still scifi then? (Score 1) 80

"It wasn't long ago that asteroid mining was only found in the pages of science fiction. Now [...] a Kick Starter campaign aimed at raising public awareness about asteroid mining..."

A Kickstarter campaign to raise money to raise awareness still seems like a few steps from mining asteroids...

Also their business model seems somewhat speculative. One of the main ideas seems to be that they can get around the return-it-to-earth problem by not returning it to earth. What good will the mining do then, you ask? Well, they'll just sell the resources to the Mars colony:

Space habitats, space stations are going to need hundreds of thousands or millions of liters of water, but there are some asteroids 75 meters across that are water rich. Just one has enough hydrogen and oxygen to fuel every Space Shuttle that’s ever been launched. It’s useful for fuel, its useful for supporting life and it’s full-blown radiation shielding for all those people talking about going to Mars. So, that is a resource that is of near-term interest.

Yes, it is speculative as any new and breakthrough business plan. It is very risky, very dependent on progress in other areas (like the trip to Mars and establishing a colony there), but it is potentially very lucrative.

And yes, it moved from the sci-fi pages to the realm of business plans and strategies. Far-fetched and speculative, but still business plans with financial backing, even if for the first step now.

The Weyland-Yutani Corporation will not be created in a day, you know.

Comment Re:sig comment, off topic... (Score 1) 162

Excelent offtop :)

The snippet in the sig is sufficient, because Western civilisation forgot about this heritage. The EU documents do not even mention Christian ethics as the foundation of Europe. Which is kind of WTF, because e.g. "Give the emperor what belongs to the emperor, give God what belongs to God, and give me what is mine" is the foundation of religion-state separation. Did it always work properly? No, but we are talking about basics here, not practicalities.

But I agree that the whole citation is much more, it is an atheist admitting that it is possible and beneficial to reconcile science and religion - very strong declaration, very strong.

Comment Re:Is I also said on Ars... (Score 2) 404

Sorry to dissappoint you, but in all totalitarian states (Nazi Germany, Soviet Union and its sattelite communist states etc.) majority didn't care. I remember the '80s in communist Poland, during the Martial Law period. Most people no longer cared. Independent TV broadcasts, which were overlayed on the official TV channel, were despised, as they "deprived people of their sitcoms". Most people just wanted to be left alone. "We have basic food and TV, why bother?" Underground dissidents were considered "troublemakers". And it was shortly after the Solidarity movement, which involved like 25% of the population.

Bread and circuses are more important to masses than freedom. Change is always driven by the few who care.

Comment Re:Well now (Score 1) 775

With glass, all I have to do is say something like, "OK Glass, record video" (or whatever the actual command is).

Well, I would call someone wearing smartglasses and saying "OK Glass, record video" at least as conspicuous as someone taking a smartphone out of a pocket and recording. Wait a decade or so when it will be possible to communicate with wearable computers without speaking.

Comment Re:It's an intersection of concerns (Score 1) 775

You just described a private assisstant. People were entrusting their whole lives, including most intimate details, to selected individuals for ages. And these individuals could cheat on their employers, spread gossips or even blackmail them. This was a significant risk. And yet many people considered this risk smaller than benefits of being able to focus on things important to them, while the assisstant took care of all things mundane. Caveat: personal assistants of this type were extremely expensive. It was not a work assistant, answering phonecalls and arranging meetings 8 (maybe 10) hours a day. These were people living in the same house, sharing lives of their employers.

Fast forward to present and personal assistants become available to almost everyone. Risks are mainly the same: you have to share your life with someone, including intimate details maybe. Difference: instead of a human being you have a piece of software backed by a corporation. So instead of having an individual who could cheat on you, your data becomes a part of a database and you are fed taylored ads (best scenario) or your personal data is sold to the highest bidder and anything may happen (worst scenario). The best scenario does not differ much from having a trusty personal assistant, whom you have to pay, while the worst case scenario is still probably better than being blackmailed by a former assisstant.

So there is risk and there is benefit.

Science is what happens when preconception meets verification.