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Comment: Re:Religion is a choice! (Score 1) 252 252

Ultimately, any moral structure you choose to enforce is a choice. Including the one you've apparently chosen where inherent properties are given higher standing than chosen properties. Strictly from a physical (inherent) standpoint, there was nothing wrong with Hitler's belief that certain members of the human race needed to be exterminated. Evolution is after all about survival of the fittest, and if those peoples could not survive his extermination attempt, then obviously they were not fit enough for their environment. Others chose to believe differently - that those people had an inherent right to exist regardless of the circumstances they were born into. And they believed in that choice strongly enough to go to war over it even though it resulted in over 50 million deaths

So it's self-contradictory to argue that things based on a choice deserve less protection than things that are inherent. Such a moral position is in itself a choice, and by your definition cannot be defended if e.g. someone inherently physically stronger than everyone else decides to go around smashing in the heads of people who believe as you do (regardless of your race or gender).

Religious intolerance is included because historically it has been one of the main reasons people have been persecuted and discriminated against. Heck, people are being executed for it right now in Syria and Iraq. Probably a lot more than because of their race or gender. Even atheism is a choice (essentially, a religion). The scientific method cannot prove a negative, so it cannot prove that a god does not exist. So to go from agnosticism (uncertainty about whether a diety exists) to atheism (certainty that no deity exists) requires a leap of faith - a choice.

If you boil it down, I think you'll agree that the key principle worth defending is the right to self determination - the freedom to make the choices you want to make. Such choices are worth protecting up to the point where they begin to interfere with other people's freedom to make their own choices. It's all about choices.

Comment: Re:14 years (Score 5, Informative) 105 105

3) There is nothing wrong with hinting you are willing to sell. I'm willing to sell my home for enough money and I still live here. If someone wants to pay me 130% or market (not even an insane amount) I'm out tomorrow. The fact that I would sell for over market doesn't indicate bad faith which is the other thing that needs to be proven.

Hold your horses. Hinting that you're willing to sell is probably the worst possible thing you can do if a trademark owner is trying to take your domain away from you. From ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, the first example of a bad faith registration is: " circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name."

Never signal that you're willing to sell, even as a joke. The domain is your baby, and you want it forever. If they offer an amount you're willing to sell for, then take it. But never admit before then that a certain amount would get you to change your mind. When Nissan (the car company) tried to take from Uzi Nissan (the computer store owner) who had registered the domain long before Datsun ever began using their Nissan trademark in the U.S., they asked him how much it would take for him to sell. He replied, "A million dollars. Why can't you understand I'm not going to sell." Basically he pulled a Dr. Evil. Back when the phrase "a million dollars" was first coined and the average person made a few dollars a week, it meant a ridiculously huge sum of money. But today it's not that much money.

Nissan's lawyers immediately took the first half of his statement, snipped out the context in the second half, and presented it to ICANN as evidence he was squatting the domain to extort money from the trademark owner. ICANN then decided to take the domain away from him and put it in escrow until the dispute was resolved (eventually in Uzi Nissan's favor years later, though he lost millions because he wasn't awarded legal fees). If he hadn't used that particular phrase, he might have been able to continue using the domain throughout the legal proceedings.

Read up on the UNDRP if this is something you're really worried about.

Comment: Re:So this is going to fail like face unlock... (Score 2) 73 73

I can't even start to wonder why a critical, money-bound company would even think of facial recognition for secure payments...

Pass a law making banks and credit card companies financially responsible for fraud in the use of their products, rather than being able to pass the cost off entirely onto merchants like they currently do. Then you'll see money-bound companies take security seriously. (Those absurdly high credit card interest rates pay for people who default on their credit card bills, not for fraud.)

Comment: Re:Oh get over it. (Score 1) 183 183

And all those little taxes, from city, state, and country, all add up to between 40% and 60% of most US citizens' income. How much is enough?

Actually it's about 33% (dipped below 30% during the recession, but has moved back up). But I agree with you. People need to understand that only the sum total of all taxes matter. Even corporate taxes are eventually paid for by individuals - via higher prices for goods and services, or lower wages for employees. In that respect, taxes could be vastly simplified if they were collected from a single point in our economy. If you want a graduated tax (richer people pay more), then the logical choice is the income tax. Nearly all other taxes could be eliminated and rolled into just income taxes. (Exceptions would be excise and regulatory taxes which fund directly-related government services, and property taxes which discourage "sitting" on property waiting for it to appreciate instead of developing it immediately to maximize public utilization.)

In this particular case, the Constitutional prohibition on interstate taxation would've applied. Except the states have been busy whittling away at that and Congress seems unwilling to challenge this usurpation of a power clearly reserved to them. I don't mind if you think the Commerce Clause is wrong, but express your disagreement the way the architects of our country intended - modify the Constitution. Don't try to justify it with painfully convoluted arguments for why the clause doesn't mean what it clearly says it means, just because you can't muster enough votes to amend the Constitution.

Adding new taxes like this also increases the regulatory burden for its citizens and the city itself, which indirectly reduces the taxes effectiveness by increasing the overhead of compliance

I've done business in Chicago. The purpose isn't compliance. The purpose is graft - money paid to government officials and politicians under the table if you "need more time" to come into compliance. I expect certain ISPs and data centers will come to "arrangements" with Chicago where their customers won't have to pay this tax.

Comment: Re:BECAUSE IDIOTS PAY IT! (Score 1) 35 35

Plugging in a USB flash drive, backup drive, using a NAS, or using a Time Capsule works against disasters like HDD failure or accidental microwaving of a laptop... but all ransomware has to do is zero out the backup drive... or just punch random holes in stored files so they are worthless. A lot of newer machines don't have optical drives, much less decent backup software to get the user to back up to them.

This is something I've never understood. External hard drives should have a read-only toggle switch. It will help protect the drive against malware infections. And I know I'm not the only one who's made the bone-headed mistake of copying the corrupted file over the good backup, instead of the other way around.

Comment: Re:if that's true, (Score 1) 477 477

I've always wondered why wifi networks only allow a single password. Why can't they allow multiple passwords? That way you can create a temporary one when a guest needs to access something on your LAN but you don't want to give them permanent access. Right now the only way to do that is an ethernet cable, or change your password to something else, give him access, then change it back when he leaves.

Multiple passwords would also give you the ability to revoke passwords you consider to be compromised, without affecting the ability of others with "good" passwords to continue connecting. I used to give my parents and my sister my wifi password so they could connect when visiting. Then I learned my dad had given the password to a friend who came to visit with him once. I had to change the password, which meant entering the new password on all my devices plus all my sister's devices.

You could even give different privileges based on password. Internet-only. Internet-only at reduced bandwidth. Internet + LAN. LAN-only. Only one other device on the LAN. etc. Kinda like the guest network thing showing up on newer routers, except a lot more flexible.

Comment: Re:Inspire kids to be the next Woz, not Jobs (Score 1) 246 246

I hope I won't be disillusioned by someone who has done research into Woz, but what I have heard of Woz has pretty much been all good. Seemingly kind hearted, personal integrity, not all about the money.

If you've ever run your own company, you'll realize there's a special combination of goodness mixed with hard-assedness which is needed for success. Someone who's all kind-hearted can't bear to lay off people when the chips are down, and ends up sinking the entire company instead of casting off a few employees. You need to be a bit of a dick to make the tough calls, do the hard negotiations, and still be able to sleep at night. At the same time you have to respect and nurture your employees, get them to want to work for you.

If Woz hadn't paired up with Jobs (or someone like Jobs), he would've ended up as a reasonably successful nobody working an upscale programming/engineering job. Likewise of Jobs hadn't met Woz he likely would've ended up a car or vacuum cleaner salesman. The two of them together had that magic combination of technical skill, altruism, and willingness to go with the flow; mixed with selfish drive, ego, and ass-hattery which make a very successful company. The whole was greater than the sum of the parts.

Comment: Re:Hmm that sounds familiar (Score 4, Insightful) 122 122

In the early stages when there's uncertainty about what the best solution is, you want competition. People weren't sure whether AC or DC was the best way to transmit electricity over long distances. So Edison and Westinghouse were both allowed to build their power grids and let economic reality decide which was the more effective solution. Same with the cable companies - what's the best way to wire up, subdivide, and subnet a bunch of residential customers? Nobody really knew, so you want lots of different companies trying lots of different solutions. The ones with bad solutions slowly go insolvent and get bought out by those with good solutions. The government should only provide access to easements so the process doesn't get bogged down negotiating access rights with every customer.

All that changes once you're certain you've arrived at an optimal solution. Westinghouse's AC power transmission lines turned out to be best. And now electrical distribution is operated as a public utility Arguably, cable Internet has reached the same stage. Pretty much all the cable companies have standardized on the same tech (DOCSIS modems), indicating it's an optimal or near-optimal solution. And the apparent end-game is fiber to the home. So it probably is time to start treating cable/fiber Internet as a public utility. Give one company a contract to lay down and maintain the lines, but prohibit it from providing service over those lines. Any company is allowed to offer service over those lines, and the maintenance company has to offer all of them access at the same price per GB/mo of bandwidth.

Comment: Re:What were they testing? (Score 1) 195 195

It was a poorly designed test with respect to driving. From TFA:

To ascertain the effects of extraneous information in a driverâ(TM)s line of sight, professor Spence and his team of students created two tests to measure the outcome. The first involved volunteers completing a number of computer-based tests in which they were required to say how many of a number of randomly organized spots were shown on a screen as quickly and accurately as they could.

Added to this, in some tests a black-outlined square arbitrarily appeared and the subjects were told to report whenever they saw this too. This secondary stimulus was shown at the same time as the spots, but did not appear in all of the trials.

Basically, if you apply this to driving, you're comparing driving by constantly watching the road and never glancing at your instruments and mirrors, to having information displayed on a HUD. Well duh you're going to be more attentive to things that happen on the road if you never take your eyes off the road. But you're going to be a massive danger to everyone else because you'll be going the wrong speed, and you'll be making lane changes oblivious to anyone else who might be in the way.

If they wanted to test the efficacy of a HUD, they should've run a third test case where participants were given the same task, but also required to monitor information being displayed below the computer screen showing the spots. (At a minimum. Information also probably should be displayed on either side as well to simulate monitoring your mirrors.) The question isn't is a HUD distracting from a single task. It's is a HUD less distracting than having to glance away from the road to see your instruments and mirrors.

After having driven a car with blind spot detection (a car in your blind spot causes an orange light on that side's mirror to light up), I'd say the simplified notification is much easier to perceive and comprehend. Before, I had to take my eyes off the road to glance at the mirror frequently, figure out exactly what it was I saw, put it together with what I saw before, and cogitate that the car that was there before is not there anymore, and therefore it is now probably in my blind spot. Now I can actually pay more attention to what's going on in the road ahead of me, and little lights in my peripheral vision automatically tell me when there's a car beside me that I can't see in my mirrors. I still check by turning my head before lane changes, but it's reduced the workload of driving enough that I feel my driving has improved.

Comment: Re: You think Greeks want MORE electronic money? (Score 1) 358 358

Eh. Don't oversell the old gold standard. For starters, a gold standard was typically a steady and persistent malaise of deflation, as economic output increased more steadily than the money supply.

Yeah, anyone advocating returning to the gold standard needs to read some economic history to really see what things were like when we were on the gold standard. 1800-1933 saw 33 recessions/depressions - every 4 years on average - with declines in business activity or GDP of 10%, 20%, and even 30% common.

Since going off the gold standard, we've had 13 recessions in 82 years, or every 6.3 years on average. And aside from the recessions following the Great Depression and WWII, none of them has seen GDP shrink by more than 5%.

Zero inflation/deflation in a currency happens when the amount of currency floating around exactly matches economic productivity. With a fiat currency, a legit government tries its best to expand the money supply to maintain that balance. With a gold standard, whether you get inflation or deflation depends entirely on the ratio of economic productivity to how much new gold is mined. And don't even get me started on how disastrous it is to set a finite limit on the amount of currency you can mine, like Bitcoin does.

Being on the gold standard doesn't mean you have solid monetary policy based on a physical good. It means your "policy" is effectively determined by how much gold people are finding and mining at any given time - its based on luck and good/bad fortune. Yes it prevents abuse by the government printing too much currency. But it avoids that potential abuse by completely removing the economy's rudder, leaving you adrift and completely at the mercy of how lucky gold miners are that year.

The true fundamental currency is productivity. Whether you use dollars, euros, gold, or bitcoin, avoiding inflation/deflation means increasing the supply of physical/virtual currency to exactly match increases in productivity.

Comment: Re:Bogus milestone (Score 2) 249 249

And believe me, on a long trip that difference is critical. He's done several trips (and I've been on one with him) where a 200 mile range just wouldn't have cut it.

I've been saying for years now that unless there's an order of magnitude breakthrough in battery charging technology, using an electric car on a long trip is going to remain stupid. It's telling that the solution closest to working thus far (that doesn't involve stopping for 30+ minutes every 2.5 hours) is swapping the battery pack (all 1200 pounds of it on the Tesla S).

That's a large part of the reason I don't think electric cars will catch on. Not that they couldn't. They could catch on right now if we can break free of environmentalists' pipe dream of all cars being electric. If you can convince people to use an electric car for their daily driving, and rent a gas/diesel car for their few times a year long trips, then EVs become completely viable today. Those long trips probably only represent about 10% of your annual drives, so we could potentially reduce our gasoline consumption by 90% right now.

But environmentalists' penchant for insisting that anything short of a 100% green solution is unacceptable is going to be their undoing. Just like with hybrids when they were first introduced - environmentalists initially hated hybrids because they generate all their energy from burning gasoline. They tried to block approval for hybrids as a way to meet California's LEV and ZEV standards, in hopes of forcing automakers to develop EVs.

Comment: This isn't new (Score 1) 190 190

I'm not sure if Force Touch enough to convince an Android user like myself to switch, but there are definitely some interesting possibilities for app developers.

Why would it make you want to switch? Android apps have been doing it since at least 2011. Android's touch API communicates sufficient information to implement this if you wish.

But this being Apple, they will give it a fancy name, everyone will think they invented it, and they will pretend like they invented it. Just like Siri, which came out after I'd been doing searches, sending texts, and starting apps by voice on Android for at least a year.

Comment: Re: (Score 3, Interesting) 98 98

While the planetary alignment was convenient, it isn't exactly necessary on RTG-powered spacecraft. Pioneer 11 visited Jupiter, then flew to almost the opposite side of the solar system to visit Saturn. Longer travel time (and greater chance of equipment failure during that time) is the only drawback.

Another factor working against a Pluto encounter was the lack of sunlight that far out. During Voyager 2's encounter with Neptune (which was slightly further away from the sun than Pluto at the time), sunlight was so dim that NASA had to reprogram the cameras to take longer exposures than they were originally designed. Then someone calculated that Voyager 2 would be moving so fast that the photos of Neptune would be blurred just by the changing parallax between the spacecraft and Neptune. So they programmed the spacecraft and cameras to rotate slightly during the exposures, effectively panning the camera to cancel out the changing parallax.

All this happened so quickly they got just one shot at it, and they had to do it blind. By the time the first near photos reached Earth, if they had turned out to be blurred, any correcting instructions sent to Voyager 2 would have arrived after the spacecraft had passed Neptune. So NASA wasn't even sure if the closest Neptune and Triton photos would even be aimed correctly. Heck, they weren't even sure they were going to make it to Triton (Voyager 2 flew less than 5000 km over Neptune's North pole to get to Triton). But as it was the last major destination and they'd recently discovered an atmosphere on Triton, they figured what the heck and rolled the dice. As it turned out, they got everything right, and Voyager returned some spectacular Neptune and Triton photos.

A Pluto encounter would've run into the same problem. Except Pluto is a much smaller target than Neptune, whose mass (and therefore gravity) is much less accurately known so properly aiming the camera is even trickier. Even New Horizons (with newer, more sensitive cameras) is going to have to use the same panning trick Voyager 2 used at Neptune. New Horizons is moving fast enough it could cover the distance from the Earth to the Moon in less than 8 hours, so all the close-up photos and measurements of Pluto are going to be over in a matter of hours. And it's basically guiding itself - providing the most accurate measurements we have of Pluto's mass so we can fine-tune its trajectory as it approaches Pluto.

Comment: Jam the control signals (Score 1) 268 268

This seems like one of those cases where the FCC rules limiting frequency interference take a back seat for the greater good. Put noise generator aboard the firefighting planes which jams the control frequencies commonly used by hobby drones and RC aircraft (any drones used by the firefighters can be adapted to use a different frequency - probably military). After these idiots lose control of their precious drone and watch it fall into the fire, they'll learn pretty quickly not to fly them around firefighting equipment.

Comment: SSDs (Score 4, Informative) 513 513

The security team says that SSDs are the only solution, but the org won't approve SSD purchases. It seems most disk scanning could take place after hours and/or under a lower CPU priority, but the security team doesn't care about optimization, summarily blaming sluggishness on lack of SSDs. Are they blowing smoke?

The security team is right. SSDs are the single biggest performance improvement you can add to a computer (even an old computer). If your company is upgrading computers after they get 5-7 years old, but refusing to buy SSDs, they're wasting money. In particular, if they're upgrading management's high-end machines while the low-end machines are still being used by the rank and file, they're doing it completely backwards.

The problem is most people focus on the high-end numbers. How many GHz does the CPU run at? How many MHz does the DDR3 memory run at? Improving the high end doesn't help as much to improve productivity. It's already fast, meaning you're waiting a very small time for it to finish. Making it twice as fast just means the very small wait period shrank a tiny amount and is now twice as small.

If you're serious about improving performance, you get the biggest return by upgrading the slowest components. The slowest part of a modern PC is the HDD. When reading small files (not sequential reads, which really come into play only when copying large media files from one drive to another), they max out at about 1 MB/s. In contrast, the next slowest component - system RAM - is currently on the order of 10 GB/s. In other words, in terms of wait times a 1% improvement in HDD speed will have the same impact as a 100x increase in RAM speed. Now, consider than a SSD will get you at least a 30x improvement in read speeds for small files (about 30 MB/s seems to be average) and there is absolutely nothing you can do with the RAM or CPU which comes anywhere close to the amount of time you'll save by replacing the HDD with a SSD.

If you've got old computers, you should be upgrading them with a SSD instead of replacing them with new computers (with a HDD). Continue to use the old computers + SSD for a few more years, then upgrade them and transfer the SSDs to the new computers. The only exception is if the computer is so old you can't install enough RAM to run modern applications. (Another rare exception would be Northwood and Prescott-era P4 CPUs, which burn so much electricity you'll actually make back the cost of upgrading them via lower electricity bills in a couple years.)

On top of that, SSDs can actually look up small files faster than the computer can request them. So if you've got a virus scan running on a SSD, you can continue using the computer like normal with almost no impact on performance. In fact I usually run my weekly virus and two malware deep scans simultaneously on my SSD laptop, and I can still use it for web browsing or office tasks. When a virus scan runs on a HDD, the HDD has to spend all its time reading files the scan is requesting. As a result anything you try to do with the computer which requests data off the HDD will bog down.

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?