Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Privacy in danger (Score 1) 65 65

In densely populated areas, the logical endgame is for devices to create their own mesh networks, independent of any active networking you might provide to them. Then all it takes is any path from your device to the mothership for your data to leak.

Homes with built-in Faraday cages and their own internal repeaters with firewalls for signals you actually want to let through is one possible technological response, but obviously worthless the moment someone creates a path outside the cage, for example by ever leaving the house.

A more practical alternative would be finally passing laws to regulate this area and protect privacy in meaningful ways in the context of 21st century technology, while still allowing beneficial applications of these technologies for those who don't want to be digital hermits. Given the modern reality that even if you opt out of everything those around you might not, the most reliable ways to prevent abuse of data by corporations are to ensure that it is not profitable to do so and/or the executives responsible for setting the policies will go to jail as a result.

Comment What you can pay for instead... (Score 1) 126 126

I hope that what you're missing is the businesses that supply professional laptops will continue to offer them with Windows 7 and no junkware for the foreseeable future. They'll cost more than all the consumer junk that is subsidised by pre-installed promo junk and spyware and so on, but if you want a system that actually works in your interests, someone will probably sell you one at a viable price unless some sort of legal agreement actively prevents it.

I also hope that this is finally the must-get-worse-before-it-gets-better moment for all the nasty recent trends of never-finished software, built-in spyware in everything, and subscription everything. Something as big as Windows screwing as many people as it's presumably going to screw might actually bring enough people to their senses that the industry reconsiders the path it's been following lately.

As I've commented before, I don't see Microsoft themselves changing course again as long as Nadella is at the top. He is exactly the guy the board hires if this is what they want to happen. However, given that Win10 is already looking less appealing than Win8 and people are still only just finding out all the ways it's a mess, the current generation of leadership at Microsoft may be short-lived if they can't turn avert the impending train wreck very quickly.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 293 293

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect cyclists to have adequate lighting on their bikes at night.

Neither do I. Then again, until the streetlights were turned off in the places I've been talking about, most of them already did.

It's very rare that an entire journey would have street lighting at any time of night.

Around here, it's completely expected. The local authorities have put huge emphasis on promoting cycling in Cambridge over the past decades, and both the streets and the major cycle/pedestrian paths are normally lit during the dark hours, making cycling one of the most efficient and sustainable ways to get around the city. Turning off significant amounts of lighting is a surprisingly cycle-hostile and retrograde step, until you realise it's a different level of local council responsible for making that decision.

Then again, I live in a village with green fields on all sides.

I suspect both the priorities and the expectations in rural areas are quite different to those in densely populated cities or suburbs. I probably wouldn't buy a small hatchback if I lived in the middle of nowhere or a huge 4x4 for driving around the city either.

Comment Re:The Onion had it right (Score 0) 110 110

As they say in Russian (a rough translation): saving those, who are drowning is up to those who are drowning. They also say: while you can hope that a god will help you, you should help yourself.

Basically there are enough people on the African continent to make it possible for those very people to figure out how to solve their own problems. I don't see African solutions to problems in Indonesia related to Avian Flu as an example.

Comment Re:When do I get to be a multinational corp? (Score 0) 299 299

Of-course people have these rights. You, as a person, have the right (meaning that you cannot be oppressed by government) to move out of a country and do your business in such a way as to minimise your taxes. Not having an entitlement to do that does not mean you do not, as a person, have the right (protection against government oppression).

Not being able to afford something does not mean you don't have a right to do it, having the right to do it does not mean you are also supposed to be given an entitlement to afford doing it.

Your lack of understanding of the concept of rights is not unique, most people don't get it.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 293 293

Thanks for the offer. I think our local councillor here is already taking them on, and we'll certainly be offering to help. We've probably already got enough resources for this if they're interested in actually reading evidence.

As for the other place where my family and some old friends are, unfortunately I'm told their local council have made it pretty clear that they have no interest in reviewing the situation or changing policy in the near future, so it seems for now that battle has been lost. Until something tragic happens, presumably. :-(

Comment Re:When do I get to be a multinational corp? (Score 0) 299 299

That lack of global jurisdiction is used by both the rich and the multinational corps to skirt laws and taxation that are unfavorable to them in their home country.

- which is an extremely important right of people, the right not to be enslaved and kept in any particular country against their own will, the right to freedom of association, of private property, liberty and life.

Comment Re:Crooks are afraid of the dark, too (Score 1) 293 293

Unfortunately, things are unlikely to change unless there is a drastic event that makes them change back to keeping the lights on. You're going to have to have someone fall and break a hip, get drastically beaten in a robbery, or just get worked over by thugs.

And that is exactly what a lot of us are afraid of.

It is notable that a couple of the local authorities who first tried these changes have since reverted. It's hard to know the real reasons for that decision given all the factors involved, but allegedly the safety implications turned out not to be as favourable as expected.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 293 293

The trouble is these decisions at local authority level are always partly motivated by political concerns (often with a NIMBY element) and always have one eye on the money jar.

The actual study this is all based on has quite a few significant limitations, many of which the original authors did acknowledge right on page 1. I set out a some of them in another post in this discussion. Unfortunately, newspaper headlines and biased councillors both have a way of only highlighting the over-simplified conclusion and not all the caveats that go with it.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 293 293

Of course you should slow down if you can't see properly. No-one is suggesting otherwise.

On the other hand, forcing people to do so makes formerly cycle-friendly streets cycle-hostile, so now people who might have to come home late are driving instead, undoing years of work to promote cycling as an alternative mode of transport.

Or, we could just have sensible, cycle-friendly levels of street lighting to encourage the sustainable, environmentally tolerable, high capacity modes of transport that we actually need.

Sure, you can get dramatically more powerful cycle lights, but most bike shops don't routinely carry them around here and hardly anyone actually has them. So at a minimum, this adjustment for changing street lighting seems to require everyone to buy much more expensive bike lights. At a time when people not buying bike lights at all is a significant safety problem that comes up every year here, I'm not sure that policy is realistic.

Comment Re:Crooks are afraid of the dark, too (Score 1) 293 293

We have looked this up before. If your external windows are overlooking public space and someone's reasonable lighting is partially lighting that space as well, then unless it's obviously excessive it is unlikely there is anything enforceable that can be done, any more than you have an enforceable right to demand council-operated street lighting around your home all be turned off because you don't like it. I'm not even sure there should be anything enforceable that can be done in that situation, but that's just my personal opinion. I'm just pointing out that for lighting under council control, there may be extra steps they can take to moderate the impact anyway.

Comment Re:Crooks are afraid of the dark, too (Score 1) 293 293

Why the fuck would a 80 year old be walking down a dark street alone?

I could counter with the obvious "Why shouldn't they, if they want to?" and point out that a member of the previous generation of that family was still happily and capably walking to visit friends or go shopping at nearly 100, but that doesn't really get us anywhere.

In the specific case I had in mind, I'm talking about the oldest member of a family walking back with the rest of his family to their car, after visiting my family.

That person is perfectly capable of getting themselves to the car without needing help from anyone else, as long as they can see where they are going. In fact, as a matter of independence, I'm quite sure they would want to do it themselves. Most people I know of that generation who are still with us take great pride in maintaining that independence as much as possible and not becoming a burden on others, and I firmly believe we should all help them to do so for as long as they can for basic quality-of-life reasons.

Of course their children would help if necessary, and so would anyone from my family, and so would other neighbours if they saw there was a problem. No-one here is suggesting leaving an octogenarian in difficulties to fend for themselves. I'm just saying they shouldn't be put in those difficulties in the first place if it can reasonably be avoided.

Turning off the lights has a disproportionate effect on older people -- not just octogenarian kind of older, but also drivers or cyclists in say their 50s or 60s who would routinely travel independently and probably wouldn't describe themselves as old, but whose eyesight will nevertheless be far less effective in the dark than it was in their twenties. The cut-off point will be different for everyone, but at some point the effect will be enough to make people who would otherwise have felt confident going somewhere not to go out any more, and I don't think that is a good thing.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 293 293

Many people have expressed their discomfort to their local councillors. In our particular case, we've also already received a mass mail from one of our local councillors making it clear how strongly she objects to these changes and asking for more people to publicly support her campaign to reverse the policy.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 293 293

You're absolutely right that we should question dogma and look for real evidence before making policy on these sorts of issues. But in this case, other evidence I've seen does support maintaining good street lighting.

Some major UK motoring organisations analysed STATS19 data (the same data used by the study we're talking about here) a few months ago when this issue last became a hot topic. IIRC they found evidence that accident rates that had been falling reassuringly in recent years on various road types had fallen by far less on roads where lighting had been reduced. Again IIRC they found evidence of significant higher fatality rates on unlit roads vs. lit. I think the particular report I'm remembering here was by the AA, though probably some of the other major road safety groups have also produced material on this by now.

Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists. -- John Kenneth Galbraith