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Comment Re:ITT (Score 1) 278

3. The unhelpful belief that your guy has to WIN in order to get your voice heard is an equally serious problem. It is a mindset that makes people avoid third parties.

Yes, it is true; if you vote for a candidate and he doesn't get into office, it is less likely that your issues are going to be immediately dealt with. It is equally possible that the major-party candidate who is politically closest to your choice may also lose the election.

But here's the thing: the major political parties are aware of this danger too. Third-party candidates can cost them votes, or even an election. That's why they will do anything to shut them out of the process. Currently, the main way they do this is by convincing everyone that voting third-party is "throwing your vote away". But they will also COMPROMISE their policies if it will get them back the voters who would otherwise vote third-party. If enough people start voting for ultra left-wing candidates, you can bet the Democrats are going to swing further left (and vice versa for Republicans) in order to win back the support of their constituents. Voting third-party threatens the status quo; more than anything it sends a message to the old guard about the people's dissatisfaction with their performance.

Voting isn't about getting your guy to win; it is about making your voice heard. Shout loud enough (e.g., get enough people to vote for) for a particular policy and the politicians will listen. It might not happen in the current election but you can bet it will in the next. An election should not be a popularity contest; it is a referendum of the will of the people.

Shake things up; vote third party.

Comment And we STILL can't read it (Score 5, Insightful) 278

Its full 30-chapter text will not be available for perhaps a month

Doubtlessly to be released to public 24 hours before the Congressional vote...

If the reason for keeping it secret is that the negotiators didn't want to be swayed by day-to-day changing public opinion, what reason not to release the text immediately? It's not as if they have to print it all out; I'm sure there's many a web-designer who could whip up a site with the content of the treaty in less than a day.

Hell, stick it in a TXT file and dump it on an FTP site somewhere. Nominally this agreement is for the betterment of all involved countries; there is no reason not to make the information available immediately.

Unless... say, you don't think the negotiators weren't working in the best interests of the citizens they are supposed to represent, do you?

Comment Re:Poor Earth (Score 1) 94

Well, it is the largest satellite compared to the size of its planet. Sure, there are bigger moons (Titan, Ganymede and Callisto) but they are dinky in comparison to their planets. The Moon is almost a quarter of Earth's diameter; that makes it unique in our solar system.

It also makes it very useful, since it is an obvious first step for large-scale exploitation of space. It has a lot of resources, a useful - but not overly strong - gravity field and is relatively close. Venusians or Martians would probably have a far harder time conquering the solar system due to their lack.

So I don't think out Moon is that boring after all.

Comment Re:In the comments below the interview... (Score 4, Insightful) 90

It doesn't make sense to have an invented place speak a real language in lieu of an invented one. It just creates a confusing context.

Worse, it opens the studios open up to criticisms and accusations of bias. Imagine if they used an ancient dialect of Persian as the language of the Evil Wizard and his minions.; the uproar - both in the Middle East and the Western world - would be amazing (it works in reverse too; have the GOOD guys speak the language and they are accused of pandering or an anti-American bias). Either way, it's probably going to cost them some sales.

Made-up languages have the advantage of being neutral; nobody cares if the Orcs speak a butchered version of Sindarin except the geeks... and they'll just pay to see the movie three or four more times so they can gather evidence for their arguments ;-)


Google Launches Brotli, a New Open Source Compression Algorithm For the Web 215

Mark Wilson writes: As websites and online services become ever more demanding, the need for compression increases exponentially. Fans of Silicon Valley will be aware of the Pied Piper compression algorithm, and now Google has a more efficient one of its own. Brotli is open source and is an entirely new data format that offers 20-26 percent greater compression than Zopfli, another compression algorithm from Google. Just like Zopfli, Brotli has been designed with the internet in mind, with the simple aim of making web pages load faster. It is a "lossless compressed data format that compresses data using a combination of the LZ77 algorithm and Huffman coding, with efficiency comparable to the best currently available general-purpose compression methods". Compression is better than LZMA and bzip2, and Google says that Brotli is "roughly as fast" as zlib's Deflate implementation.

Comment Re:Even this is wrong (Score 1) 684

Landing (and taking off) will definitely be the tricky bit; getting the descent/ascent module there with enough fuel would be expensive. But - again, assuming we say 'to hell with it!' and ignore all costs - it is definitely doable. We might have to use several vehicles (one for crew, one for fuel, one for the descent module, etc.) but it can be done. The actual transit isn't that much of a concern; NASA seriously studied using Apollo-era space-vehicles for a year-long manned trip to Venus in the mid-'70s (not to land, just go there and back). If they thought it was possible with the tin-foil spaceships of that era, think of what we could do with our overpriced but modern ceramics, capacitors, engines and computers.

The US (or whomever) would have to build (or rebuild) much of its space industry of course, but even with a 10-year deadline it is possible. We got to the moon in less than that. Remember, for this thought experiment we are supposing a "it doesn't matter how much it costs" attitude here and can assume the whole nation's industry has been suborned into this project. You can crank out a lot of rockets if you ignore any economic or safety limitations ;-)

Our technology hasn't been the limiting factor for decades, only our will.

Of course, no nation is going to ignore the costs and - given that restriction - ten years is unfeasible. Not to mention it is a rather pointless effort at this juncture. We would be better off to build up space-industry in and around the Earth-Moon system first; not only might those have more immediate returns, but it would make manned Mars exploration and exploitation all the easier. But until we get those basics, exploration is best left to the robots while terraforming and colonization are little more than pipe-dreams. Sending people to Mars now would be little more than another penis-size competition for the involved nations.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 5, Interesting) 684

Even that is wrong. Given enough resources and a reduced concern for the health and safety of the astronauts, we could probably reach Mars about as fast as we could build the ship and launch it towards the red planet. We've had the technology to launch - and land - men there since the '70s. But both the cost and risk were considered too extravagant, especially considering the lack of significant reward for all that effort. While a ten-year deadline might be a bit tight considering the US would have to build up the industry to support such an effort, if it really wanted to it could very likely get a man to Mars and back within that schedule. It would just cost A LOT more money than is prudent and we'd probably see a number of astronauts either splattered across the Martian surface or stranded down their until their life-support systems gave out (landings and lift-offs are hard).

Otherwise, most of Regis' other arguments are bunk. It would be a long, cramped, unpleasant journey? People have suffered far worse; the early antarctic explorers, or sailors from the Age of Sail. Hell, we have refugees cramming themselves for weeks at a time into tiny boxes that would seem luxuriously expansive to any astronaut in hopes of reaching a better life. And the lack of gravity only HELPS here; yes, it is initially disorienting to see people hanging at "nauseating angles" but it opens up a lot of wasted space, making what appears to be a very cramped habitat much more spacious because all that wasted space on the walls and ceilings can be put to use.

Nonetheless, I do ultimately agree with Regis' premise that Mars should not be the goal simply because Mars is a dead-end. I mean, what are you going to do once you get there that can't be done here on Earth? Dreams of terraforming aside, in the short term (read: next few centuries at least) man will only be able to live on Mars if encapsulated in climate-controlled metal-tubes. And if people are going to be stuck in metal tubes anyway, it might as well be tubes that can MOVE places instead of being anchored to rock at the bottom of a steep gravity well. L5 colonies, asteroid mining, and ultimately island-hopping our way through the Solar System, the Oort cloud and beyond are far more entertaining and profitable enterprises than being tethered to another planet just because its there. Forget Mars; it's a luxury that we can look into after we get the basics down. In the mean time, if you really want to explore off-world colonization options, use the Moon; it's closer.

Comment Re:What the hell happened to us as a nation? (Score 5, Interesting) 956

It isn't fear of terrorism that causes this sort of reaction. At least, not directly. I don't think the police or teachers were necessarily worrying themselves that they might get blown up. Rather, it was a fear that - if the clock was a bomb used in a terror attack - THEY WOULD GET BLAMED for not doing something about it earlier. It's the same reason our politicians are so willing to pass the most obscenely unjust laws to chase down criminals: the penalty for not passing the law is disproportionately greater than passing it. If even one crime could have been prevented by the non-existent law (or had the clock been a bomb), far more blame is assigned to the people-of-authority who MIGHT have done something about the crime than to the actual criminal performing the act itself. It's no wonder people over-react in these situations. They aren't worried about being attacked by terrorists; they are worried about being attacked by us.

Comment A perfect example (Score 4, Insightful) 65

This case is a perfect example of why this sort of data should be encrypted on the device and in no way accessible to anyone except the owner. Because if there is a backdoor to this data, whether protected by "procedure" or a escrowed key, it /will/ be abused. If it is not the government abusing this privilege, then it will be by a corporation, or by an individual with a personal grudge, or by criminal elements (or even worse, by marketing departments!). It doesn't matter what sort of "controls" you put on those back-doors, ultimately they will be ignored and abused. The number of people who get "hacked" in this way may be low, but even one is too many.

This case should be dredged up every time a law-enforcement agency insists that easy access to personal data are a necessity in this digital age. They claim that there are protections in place to prevent this sort of thing; evidence (and common sense) show that this is nonsense. The only way to prevent this sort of abuse is not to remove the temptation from third-parties entirely; make the data on the device (or service) inaccessible unless you have the key to decrypt it, and ensure the only the owner of the data has that key.

Comment Re:Audited Code? (Score 1) 121

Doesn't anyone do thi? Belkin - Seagate - Android. Isn't it about time companies check their products?

Why should they, when corporations aren't held accountable in any way?

In fact, stuff like this works to their benefit. "Oops," they say. "We recommend our newer product where this security issue has been fixed." And given the cost of entry for these markets and that apparently all corporations now engage in this sort of behavior, there is nothing for the customer to do but accept it. Writing properly audited code is not only expensive, it quite possibly would cost them sales.

I'd recommend regulation to fix this sort of thing, except the government has too much advantage in allowing these vulnerabilities to continue too.

Law suits might work for a while, at least until they start adding verbiage to the post-sale click-through license agreements that require us all to agree to these "accidentally" open ports as a requirement of use our of purchased products.

Comment The Five Steps of Climate Change Denial (Score 4, Insightful) 370

1) There is no such thing as climate change
2) Climate change exists, but it isn't happening now.
3) The climate is changing, but it isn't being caused by humans
4) The climate is being changed by humans, but we can't (or shouldn't) do anything about it.
5) We could have averted climate change, but it is too late now.

Apparently, we've just passed step 3. With step 4, expect a deluge of reports about how we shouldn't try messing with the climate because we just don't understand it well enough and probably will make things worse, or because any benefits from changes WE make will be lost because THEY following suit (for various values of "they", but most likely China or India) or because the potential loss of revenue to a few entitled mega-corporations is far too important to risk by imposing ecologically-responsible regulations. In short, the arguments will be that since we can't make everything 100% better, why should we make any attempt at all?

Climate change deniers will continue to be wrong until we reach step 5, when they will suddenly - and to all our misfortune - be right. We can only hope that the ecological mess they cause in the name of short-term profits won't be so catastrophic for the rest of us.

Comment Re:wan port (Score 4, Interesting) 123

One Ethernet WAN port, one Ethernet LAN port, one USB port, and a jack for the power.

While I understand Google's logic behind this, but that's really a deal-killer for me. Even though many of my devices are wireless, I still rely on wired connections when I want a stable, fast and (comparatively) secure connection. Sure, I could pair this up with a second router or switch, but if I'm paying $200 for the damn thing, I'd expect it to cover those basics.

Of course, I was already wary about this just because it is a privacy-destroying Google device (having said that, I'm using Google's DNS servers in my current router so I probably don't have a leg to stand on in that regard). No web-based interface is a stupid idea too; touch-screen based interfaces are too fiddly for my liking. And despite TFAs claim that OnHub is "something you could put anywhere in your house without much embarrassment", I think the thing is hideously ugly. Anyway, in general I don't want people to see the networking infrastructure and a discreet flat box is much easier to tuck away than this round monstrosity. Not to mention the price is outrageous.

I'm really not sure who this device is aimed at. Sure it is easy to setup, but ordinary users are unlikely to drop $200 on a wireless router when they can get one that works fairly well (and really isn't that hard to configure either) for $50 from Walmart (or included "free" with their modem). Meanwhile, everyone else is going to look at OnHub's dearth of features and configurability and then pick up more capable hardware.

In short: No web-interface. Less Ethernet ports than an ASUS. Lame.

Comment Why are freebies excluded? (Score 1) 36

It is disappointing that free items sent to the vlogger by the manufacturer are excluded from this requirement.

While the reviewer is free in these situations to slag off items sent to him gratis, there is still a greater likelihood he will overlook issues and give the item a better review rather than risk losing the opportunity to get more free items. In many ways, the reviewer is still in the employ of the manufacturer, except instead of being paid in cash he is being paid in merchandise. There is an unspoken expectation from the company that the vlogger will give the free item a good review, and if the vlogger fails to perform to expectations, he is "fired" and no longer receives any further "paychecks", e.g., free items from that company.

The audience should be made aware of this connection between the reviewer and the company behind the product, even if no actual cash or editorial direction has been given.

Comment Re:Also on Windows 7 - Anyone else having issues? (Score 2) 203

You can use gpedit.msc to restore the option to verify before installing updates.

Do the Home versions of Windows10 come with GPEdit.msc? I know that - starting with Windows Vista - the Group Policy Editor (GPEdit.msc) was a feature reserved for the "enterprise" editions only (Pro, Ultimate) and was not included in the Home or Starter editions of the OS. Nominally this was acceptable because Home users have no use for domain-level tools such as a group policy, but unfortunately many Windows features can only be toggled with GPEDit.msc, including several Home users might have interest in.

Nominally there is nothing GPEdit.msc can do that can't be replicated through manual registry editing, but there is no readily available source mapping registry keys and strings to each of the GPEdit options (I am also not aware of any non-Microsoft alternative to GPEdit.msc, although there are hacks to transfer GPEdit.msc from the enterprise editions to the consumer editions).

Since Windows 10 Professional already has the option to disable updates, it is disingenuous to suggest GPEdit.msc as an alternative as an alternative unless that tool is included with the Home Edition.

He's dead, Jim.