Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:11 rear enders (Score 1) 549

Will that remain true when your premium rises to £3,500/year without those things?

And why would your premium increase tenfold, simply because self driving cars become available?

My best guess as to your answer is "because insurance companies are greedy, and if they can (raise their premiums) they will". Unfortunately the insurance industry is actually pretty cut-throat. Margins are very slim, and premiums are based on expected costs, with those expectations compiled from mountains of data.

If self driving cars become common on the roads driving for everyone becomes safer, not just those people not driving their computer controlled vehicles. In that eventuality insurance premiums will drop for everyone, even those who insist on being 'in control' of their own vehicle. Sure, the premiums for self driving cars may be lower still, but it's a paranoid fallacy that premiums for everyone else will increase.

Comment Re:A receding tide lowers all ships (Score 1) 250

I admit I didn't bother to read this article on the subject, but my first thought on reading the summary was this:

Violent video game consumption was strongly correlated with declines in youth violence. However, it was concluded that such a correlation is most likely due to chance and does not indicate video games caused the decline in youth violence...

So what the article is saying is that when young (presumably mostly male) people started to spend large amounts of their time pretty much alone in their homes, participating in essentially solo activities, as opposed to hanging around with their 'gang' mates outside in public places, the amount of violence they committed against others decreased...

Well, colour me shocked!

Now, personally, I strongly suspect that violence in media, in any visceral form, be that that computer games or tv / film, does desensitise the viewer to similar events in the real world. However, not only is that a seperate issue, it could easily be argued that this is as much a good thing as the reverse.

Comment Re: Moral Imperialism (Score 1) 475

Why are you replying to me? My post was not in response to one of yours.

Irrespective, if someone says 1+1=2 I'd say that depends, at the very least, on which base you're using, and once the phrase "it depends" enters the equation you're back to the fact it's subjective. Denial doesn't change that fact!

Comment Re:The law comes to Deadwood. (Score 1) 489

May be, but not in the tweeting cases prosecuted by the Crown. In each case, the mob sided with the target of the tweets, not the offender. And of course, we're not talking about online school bullying with this particular law. If this law was aimed at stopping school bullying, there would be a provision for underaged offenders, which there isn't. And it would be applied to those school cases, which as of now it hasn't.

Actually, we are talking about online school bullying, along with all the other forms of antisocial behaviour that the act encompasses:

"Revisions to the interim guidelines were issued on 20 June 2013 ... The revisions specified that prosecutors should consider:

whether messages were aggravated by references to race, religion or other minorities, and whether they breached existing rules to counter harassment or stalking; and the age and maturity of any wrongdoer should be taken into account and given great weight."

Whether or not the CPS has actually, sucessfully or otherwise, prosecuted a school kid yet doesn't mean that they can't or won't. That they haven't suggests that a certain sense of perspective remains, for now at least.

To be honest, while you can attempt to spin this as a blow against civil liberties and freedom, if anything it strikes me as mostly political posturing: A politician appearing to get tough on crime. And, like it or not, we theoretically live in a democracy. If the majority of the population of the UK think this law is a good thing (and I stongly suspect that there will only be a small minority of people that think that punishing people for the behaviours described within the law is a bad thing) then it's actually his job to suggest and implement such a policy change.

Comment Re:Courier FTW! (Score 3, Funny) 370

vi is my shepherd. I shall not font.

It soothes my tired eyes
On screens of green; It speaks to me
In the quiet of the night

My code it doth record again
And me to type doth make
Within the paths of recursive loops
E’en for the program’s sake

Yea, though I work in a cubicle
Yet will I not use emacs
For vi is with me, and its colon
Efficiency it does not lack

My console it empowers me
In the presence of my foes
PHBs and HR drones
The source of all my woes

With Mountain Dew and salty snack
I can code, and sigh
How happy can one programmer be
As long as he uses vi :wq

Comment Re:Baby steps (Score 1) 352

My memory of the sorts of problems they faced were ... they made parts of the building out of concrete that they only later realized was either absorbing oxygen or putting out CO2.

As I understand it, the soil they started with had a fairly high organic matter content, compost basically, and this was broken down by microbial activity, absorbing oxygen, and releasing carbon dioxide. This CO2 was then, mostly, absorbed by the concrete in the structure's base, which was, at the time, an overlooked variable in the design of the enclosure, making the O2 reduction somewhat of a mystery. Like I said above, valuable information was gained from the 'experiment', even if what was learned was not what was originally intended as the object of study.

Part of my point here is, you wouldn't want to drag a bunch of people to the moon and then have that problem there. Let's get our shit together first.

Once more I tend to agree with you, but with reservations. We'll never reach a stage of certainty that nothing will go wrong. To paraphrase, it's difficult to make things foolproof, because fools are so ingenious. There will always be an element of risk in any venture of this kind. At some point however someone has to say "We think we've thought of almost everything, and we think we've over-engineered the system and structure for everything we haven't thought of. Let's do this!"

I just want to emphasise, I do think we're essentially in agreement. To put it 'poetically', if you're going to sail the seas for the first time, then it is the "Cs" that you need to focus on: Consideration, Caution & Care.

Comment Re:Baby steps (Score 1) 352

I think this is a problem that we need to confront first: Figuring out how to live in a sustainable closed system.

Were people ever successful in those bio-dome experiments? Are we now able to build an enclosed biosphere that can function sustainably, indefinitely, without bringing in materials or resources from the outside once you get started? There's not much point in trying to build something like that in space until we know how to build a sustainable closed system, reliably, without fail, here on Earth. Doing it in space will be more expensive, and failures will be less forgiving. It seems to me that we don't even know how to live sustainably within the biosphere we inherited, already running, the size of the Earth.

I guess you're asking, perhaps rhetorically, about the "Biosphere 2" project in Arizona. The short answer is no, not on either attempt, but some useful information was gained, which has spurred further, and rather more scientific, investigations.

The first group in there (1991-1993), although they lasted out the full two years of the experiment, experienced several 'rule-breaking' issues including: One member had to briefly leave the facility to be taken to hospital due to chopping off the top of one of her fingers in a threshing machine; Towards the end of the experiment oxygen levels within the facility had fallen so low that extra oxygen had to be pumped in, essentially in order to stop the participants' suffering severe side effects, possibly including death; Near-starvation was also an issue for the participants, though, I confess, I'm not sure if additional food was actually shipped into the facility.

There were a number of other issues that caused problems, but weren't strictly 'rule-breaking' in that they (probably) didn't break the closed system, such as: Fluctuating carbon dioxide levels; 'Plagues' of insect pests, notably red ants iirc; A schism within the group of participants, which ended in an almost complete breakdown in relations between the resultant two groups, to the extent that members of neither group would so much as talk to a member of the other group.

The second attempt lasted a mere seven months, with issues ranging from internal sabotage to external legal complications lending a certain 'colour' to the proceedings.

The facility is still in use, now under the auspices of the University of Arizona, and is being used for a variety of experiments, though much of it is no longer sealed from the outside. It does look like some actual science is being done there now, as opposed to what amounted to the public spectacle that occurred previously, so hopefully some useful insights will eventually come out of it. However, since some of the experiments currently running have an expected lifespan of 10+ years I'm not expecting immediate 'results'.

The key word here is "sustainability". Can we live in an enclosed system, indefinitely, without using up all of our resources or making it unlivable with our waste and pollution? It's the key to being able to conduct long-term space travel. It's the key to being able to build an off-planet colony. It's the key to continuing to live right here on this planet.

I do generally agree with you, but, I don't think we should get too hung up on the idea of an enclosed system, as that's not actually what we live in, and very unlikely to be what we end up creating. In the case of Earth, as a whole, we have an energy input, from the sun and we also have matter input, from in-falling dust.
In the event that we do create a habitable environment off-planet then almost certainly we will continue to ship additional materials to that facility. The occupants of that facility will almost certainly gather and use materials (water, minerals, etc.) from outside their immediate sealed environment. And in the near(ish) future I can easily see us bringing in useful materials from space, such as rare metals from asteroids, water, even hydrogen from our local gas giant.

Over the millennia, mankind has expanded across the planet, into almost every environment, but now, other than the oceans and to a lesser degree the poles, we're running out of new places to go. The only question is whether we have the imagination to spur further, off-planet, expansion, and the public and political will to make that a reality.

Comment Re:please no (Score 1) 423

Consider, I'm going to roll a 6 sided dice. What number am I going to roll?

Whatever your answer is, it's going to be wrong roughly 83% of the time, and your answer will differ from the actual roll by, on average, 1.9. The error factor in your answer amounts to nearly a third of the possible range of answers.

Now consider, I'm going to roll a 6 sided dice 1000 times. What will the average of all those rolls be?

I strongly suspect that your answer is going to be roughly 3.5. And, strangely, the correct answer is likely to be very very close to 3.5. It's unlikely to be exactly 3.5 of course, but the error factor in the answer is going to amount to fractions of a percent.

Well, I'm not totally taken by my attempt at an analogy, though I think it has some potential. I'll have to think on it some more.

...Weather is a simpler, shorter-term analysis than climate, pretty much by definition.

I'm not sure I'm going to agree with this statement however. Is an apple a simpler fruit than an orange?

Comment Re:No, lying headline (Score 4, Informative) 155

Informative? Not so much...

If you're going to go to all the effort to read the article, you might like to spend the extra 3 seconds to follow the linked reference (quoted in your post as [188]).

IID ... today issued a midterm report on its cybersecurity predictions for 2014, revealing we are on our way to seeing many of these prognostications become a reality. Last year at this time, IID boldly envisioned that by the end of 2014:

  We will witness the first ever public case of murder via hacked Internet-connected device.

The article goes on to say:

There has yet to be a proven case of murder via Internet. However, former Vice President Dick Cheney revealed in October 2013 that he underwent surgery to turn off the wireless function on his pacemaker, to prevent it from being hacked.

You end with:

TL;DR: Europol isn't predicting an online murder in 2014. That's just a subeditor who either didn't understand the plain English of the reporter or who chose to outright lie when writing the headline in order to sensationalise it.

A headline has to be short, and unfortunately in that shortening some information is lost. Sure, it would have been more accurate to say "Europol reports that a security firm predicts the first online murder by the end of this year", but removing the bolded part strikes me as an acceptable precis of (that small section of) the article. Complaining that editors sensationalise headlines in order to encourage people to read the full article is akin to complaining that advertisements are designed solely to get you to buy a product. Well, duh!

As for lying, you're as guilty as a lie by ommission as they are of any lie by commission.

Comment Re:please no (Score 4, Insightful) 423

Really? The same models that predict that result in the weather man telling you its going to be a beautiful sunny day while it pours down rain?

Weather models are an absolute joke.


Your weather forecasts are wrong every day? And in every conceivable way (Temperature, Cloud cover, Humidity, Rainfall, Windspeed, etc.)?

Honestly, that would be an achievement in itself!

Or, maybe, they get it right most of the time, but it's only the times they're wrong that stand out?

However, while I'm sure that both 'sides' in this debate are equally guilty of seeing what they want to see, that which confirms their observer bias, I'm not sure that ridiculing weather forecasts is a valid argument against the accuracy and predictive power (or lack thereof) of climate models.

Comment Re:yeah, ok, whatever. (Score 1) 482

Welcome to Western English for Speakers of Other Languages, I will be your affable tutor for this short session.

This promises to be good...

Lets begin:

Congratulations, you've turned your flying start of misunderstanding into a commanding lead of grammatical ignorance by committing the same type of apostrophic* error as the parent of the post you're replying to. And all that by the second line of your post. Just in case you're still confused as to what the hell I am referring to perhaps you'd care to note the usage of the other instances of your and you're in this paragraph.

p.s. this post assumes that English is not your first language. I made this assumption as it would not be proper to assume otherwise, as that would imply that you are a complete fucking moron with not even a basic grasp of the most basic English.


*Yeah, I might well have made this word up, but, damn me, if it doesn't seem to sum up the situation rather nicely.

Comment Re:Thus proving Elon Musk is an idiot (Score 2) 549

I was under the impression that living in low to zero G for extended periods of time was exceedingly bad for human health, resulting in muscle wastage, loss in bone density, and impairment of the immune system.

In addition, it's far easier to provide protection from radiation on a planet than it is in space, at least it is until we're seriously exploiting space based resources such as asteroids.

As for the title of your post, well, it's easy to be disdainful of someone's dreams and ambitions. After all, the easiest way of "bigging yourself up" is to put someone else down. That says more about the person mouthing off though, than about the person being insulted.

Porsche: there simply is no substitute. -- Risky Business