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Comment Re:Please (Score 1) 367

Its like saying "Hey, Chevrolet, you know your customers like the radio station set to 101.9, why cant you engineer your cars to respect their choice instead of forcing your nefarious 101.5 agenda."

Yeah, but this is a Mozilla car analogy we're talking about here.

In the current 2015.7 model, release, the UX team has decided that a 5-button hamburger menu on an AM dial (and only from 1100Khz to 1150KHz in 10KHz increments) is all that's needed. Users who want to access a wider range of frequencies in the AM band are free to write an extension or purchase a third-party radio head unit.

To further improve the user experience, we remind prospective extension developers that in the Aurora channel for the 2016.1 model year, the about:config setting for frequency.megavskilohertz has been removed, along with the FM antenna. The UX team has made this recommendation based on telemetry that suggests that few drivers actually listen to FM radio, especially since the 2013.6 model, in which the AM/FM toggle switch was removed because the UX team for 2012.1 felt it was cluttering the dashboard.

Comment Re:Whats left unsaid... (Score 1) 120

The FCC can't strike down a state law. They can argue in court against it or work towards its repeal. They aren't that powerful.

I'm going to have to leave this now, but as a parting shot: The Washington post explicitly says that the FCC does indeed have the power to "preemt" state law (direct quote). (As I understand it without having to go via a court, though I assume that the state can sue the FCC if they want to appeal the decision).

Is this a mischaracterisation of the actual legal process?

Comment Re:Whats left unsaid... (Score 1) 120

You cited Tennessee. Tennessee prohibited public electric companies from offering those services without running it like a public utility.

That's not what I've read from the FCC ruling that nixed that law. I must confess that I haven't read it all, but can you cite that which supports your point? What I've read from i.e. the amicus briefs to the FCC the law prohibited the electric company from servicing someone that didn't get their electricity from same company (or wasn't "in the area serviced"), not that they did any of the things you mention. (And in either case the FCC didn't like that law and struck it down).

But I am saying that you are mischaracterizing the problems in the USA.

OK, I'll bite. What would be a fair characterisation then? Or isn't there a problem to begin with? (Again the FCC in their 2015 broadband report seems to think there is.)

Comment Re:Whats left unsaid... (Score 1) 120

In other words they don't want socialized internet.

And this is why I'm glad that I'm here, instead of over there. What purpose does the municipality serve other than to serve its inhabitants? And what better way to serve them than with infrastructure, especially that kind which succumbs to a natural monopoly anyway? (Running many different fibre networks is as dumb as running many different electricity lines, or roads, to a house).

Now, if you want to preserve the market, then by all means, do what we do here, and stipulate that the municipality can't offer service on said network, instead having to open it to all and sundry who want to do so. That provides the customer with both potentially high speed internet, even in out of the way places. If you look at the places where e.g. the local electric company rolled out fibre and was stopped by legislation (Tennessee?), these markets weren't served by anybody else, and still isn't), and you have a market for service where companies can offer there services. Legislating against the electric company pulling the fibre is just counter productive; legislating that they would have to open their network, now that would be another thing.

But as that would lead to real competition, at a lower total cost, not crony capitalism, I don't have high hopes for you...

Comment Re:Whats left unsaid... (Score 1) 120

$2500 for a rural connection seems very cheap.

No, its usually about twice that, with the rest in subsidies from the EU. But, the power of a co-op should not be underestimated. Since they can both do work and grant land (cheaply).

And when I check speedtest net, they list an average of $3.52/MBps which would give a much higher cost for 100/100. This article from the BBC also lists much higher prices; $90 for speeds over 45 Mbps on average. (Granted it's two years old).

Now, that rural infrastructure is subsidised is no surprise. Everyone does that, even you. Only problem is you only do it for phone service, which used to be important. We've said that internet service is equally important, while you don't. That's the gist of the problem.

And that's where your regulatory capture comes in. There have been numerous stories here on slasdot on states that have explicitly forbidden local municipalities to be involved in fibre/broadband, instead legislating that that can only be done by corporations. Who then don't actually deliver any infrastructure. Municipalities or co-ops are in most of these cases banned by law from addressing the problem. If that's not regulatory capture, I don't know what is...

Comment Re:Whats left unsaid... (Score 1) 120

Yes, sorry I meant co-op. As in "cooperative".

And of course I meant "oligopoly"...

And the subsidies are mainly EU, subsidies. Not Swedish per se. (And they're for rural areas. In the cities we have competition, which makes the market work.)

Myself, I pay $50 or so for 100/100Mbps including IP telephony. Fibre in an open city network (laid down by one of the utilities, district heating in my case), with my choice of ca eight different ISPs. I paid nothing for installation, but a more reasonable price would have been around $2500, which is what most people pay these days. In a rural setting you get about as much extra per drop in various (EU) subsidies.

Comment Re:Whats left unsaid... (Score 1) 120

Sweden and Finland are perfect examples where median population density is quite a bit higher than the USA. Both countries have huge spaces which are very sparsely populated.

Yes, that is true. However, even these parts of the country, at least in Sweden, have good broadband access. It's actually cheaper and easier for them than more urban areas, since there's more farmland/forest where digging is cheaper and easier. They're using national government money/legislative support to get a feed and then create co-ops to do the actual installation. It's been quite a thing for the past decade at least. (As a case in point a friend just got fibre to his farm, where his nearest neighbour is a kilometre away, at about the same time that his house, much more urban, was hooked up. Co-op in the country, and ISP in the burb.)

Now, when it comes to urbanisation, I would have always thought that the US was more urbanised than Sweden in particular (we're still in the process of urbanising), but according to Wikipedia you're less urbanised, by one measure at least. However, not by a lot. I'd say that the differences in degree of urbanisation does not explain the majority of the large differences in broadband access or price. My money is on other factors, chiefly unhampered oligopoly in the market combined with regulatory capture. Both of which we lack. (We even got the former government telecom company to start installing open fibre networks, i,e. where you have your choice of ISP, rather than being tied to just them. And we didn't even have to legislate, just compete... People realised a bad deal for a bad deal.)

(Interestingly Norway is much worse off, relatively speaking. Mainly due to a lack of government support. Instead choosing to leave it to the market, which means the telecom incumbent(s). Guess what the results are? Yepp, much more like the US. Lack of access, and where you can get it, more expensive.)

Comment Re:There is no cure for absolute fucking stupidity (Score 1) 232

I'm not sure that firefighters as an analogy should be stretched too far (we have female firefighters in Australia - a higher percentage than you) - police work would be perhaps a better comparison. I suspect there's more of a "duty" call there - with all respect to firefighters.

You make a lot of interesting points, the intersection of contracted forces and pregnancy is an interesting one that I haven't put much thought into, but I'd thought I'd just limit myself to this one point.

The main difference between police and fire fighting I would say is that the former has physical requirements they're based on a situation that will never arise. I.e. police (like most soldiers to tell the truth) train and prepare for a situation that will never come. The overwhelming majority of police never draw their service weapon in the line of duty for example. And comforting crying children after a traffic accident, or filling in the umpteenth burglary report can of course be fulfilled with a minimum of physical prowess. (OK, most uniformed police in "outer" service do a bit of impromptu wrestling during their stint, so there's that. But we also know that this is where WPCs fair the worst. And in Sweden we've seen an up-tick in police brutality reports as we've had more WPCs. They have to go for the Mace/pepper spray instead of wrestling...)

With fire fighting it's different in that they actually train for what they'll do. Fire fighting does actually involve the hard physical work that the requirements are put there to ensure that they can perform. OK, they don't do a lot of dragging their downed comrades to safety, but there's plenty of other stuff (i.e. smoke diving) that actually is as tough as it looks.

So with that in mind, it's not at all surprising that we'll see more female police than fire fighters. The jobs are different in that with police you can get away with skirting requirements due to whatever pressure or other consideration as those requirements are there to ensure performance during an emergency. In fire fighting, those requirements are there to ensure you can manage to do your regular duties.

So, it depends on whether you're training to train, or training to fight...

P.S. In the Swedish army we were taught that the Israeli experience was that while women soldiers in combat postings did fine, the men around them didn't. The "cave man reflex" (not my terminology) made men expose themselves far to much when women were in danger, to the detriment of the mission. But perhaps that's the sort of macho behaviour that training and indoctrination can deal with, and I don't know how large this effect was in either case. It's just a point of interest.

Comment Re:There is no cure for absolute fucking stupidity (Score 1) 232

I don't believe in equality - it's a myth. Equal opportunity is different. In no way am I suggesting that equal number of women, can, or should be in active duty - only that the criteria should be meeting the operational standards. If women meet the same standards required for active service - good for them, good for those they serve, and good for those they serve with.

While that is a laudable sentiment, and one that I can get behind, don't be surprised if you end up with approximately no women in your battalions.

We've seen the exact same thing happen in Sweden. Female fire fighters (well, not necessarily them per se, but other's speaking for them) complained about the macho culture that prevented women from being fire fighters. The had the numbers to support their arguments, there were very few females that were deemed to pass muster.

So, instead of the somewhat arbitrary previous hiring process, that did contain standards but also left room for judgement, quite a lot of work was put into defining what the actual requirements that had to be met to be a passable fire fighter were researched, tested and put into practice in the major fire departments in the larger cities.

The results were quite telling. At the smaller departments that kept the old process in the interim, the same abysmally small number of female applicants were hired, but in the cities, with their brand spanking new, objective, doesn't-leave-anything-to-subjective-judgement, not a single female fire fighter was hired after. Not one. *)

And if you look at the statistics that's not really that surprising. When you have strength, endurance, and psychological requirements that only a relatively small portion of the male population can pass, the number of females who could pass it in the general population becomes close to zero to begin with. And when you combine that with the small number of women who could see themselves in that line of work and even apply, it becomes a once-in-a-blue-moon even that the stars have aligned so that you will get a woman who both can pass the requirements, and would be interested and willing to do so.

*) A few years after two women actually managed to pass the physical requirements test by having been coached specifically. So out of 1000 fire fighters in my city there are now two women that are qualified for actual fire fighting (including "smoke diving"). The first time they tried coaching four women from neighbouring cities that already worked as fire fighters, but none of them passed... And just for reference, the physical requirements aren't completely over the top: Being able to run 3000 meters below 13:15, 30 kg bench press 35 times in under one minute, or lifting a 15 kg bar to the chin 40 times, etc. etc. These are requirements I myself would have had a shot at 25 years ago before I got old, slow, weak and fat, and I was no prime specimen of the male gender, far from it.

The physical differences between the sexes, at least in modern societies, are just that large. And if you say that "Women are OK, but you know, given the requirements there won't actually be any women," have you then actually opened up the position to women?

Comment Re:Made of Unabtanium (Score 1) 120

In an HX thruster, liquid propellant is pressure- or pump-fed to a lightweight planar heat exchanger. For orbital launch, the propellant of choice is liquid hydrogen. H2 provides a vacuum Isp of 600 seconds, sufficient for a robust single-stage-to-orbit capability, at a heat exchanger temperature of only 1000 C (less than 2000 F). The heat exchanger can therefore be made of ordinary materials, rather than exotic high-temperature alloys, which allows building cheap expendable vehicles.

Kare, Jordin T. "Modular Laser Launch Architecture: Analysis and Beam Module Design." Final Report USRA (2004).

This report is about laser heat exchanger launch system but should be valid. Dr. Kare has studied both laser and microwave launch systems. A single-stage-to-orbit vehicle does not shed tanks or stages. When it reenters the atmosphere is it a big empty tub with a very low cross-sectional mass density. The temperatures it encounters are dramatically lower than a capsule or the shuttle.

In other words, this is far from being the most difficult part of the system.

Comment Re:Unknown unknowns bullshit (Score 1) 27

Apart from those there sometimes are unforeseen unknowns. Either because things that were considered known turned out to misinformation or simply because the customer had needs that they forgot to tell us.

It gets even better. In project management terms we also actually try and quantify the "unknown unknowns", not just the "known unknowns". Rather, at the outset we try to get a feel for the risk that things will crop up that we didn't or couldn't foresee or plan for. This is based on things like; Have we done something similar in the past? (i.e. our degree of experience) What is the state of knowledge in the world about this task? What's the state of science? How good have we been at dealing with unforeseen consequences in the past? Can we limit the impact of any unknown unknown to a part of the system/project? (i.e. were are the risks the largest, can we do without those parts in a pinch?) etc. etc.

Any project manager that doesn't deal with the unknown and unknowable unknowns isn't doing their job. Its called risk management...

Comment Re: approves an anti (Score 1) 446

You obviously don't know the first thing about genetic engineering, or about the complexity of gene interactions even in manipulated genomes..

And neither do you. And that's my main point.

You then go on about avoiding a well known danger and how GM might be safer in that respect.

But that's not the point. It's the unknown unknown, that's the danger.

And with GM you open up whole vistas of unknown, unknown. The computer analogy is very apt. Even in the "deliberately designed world of computer programming" we can't foresee the consequences, and our experience is quite clearly on the side of outright manipulation being more dangerous than random chance change. The risks from the known unknown is readily dealt with in both situations, you have to check for known dangerous compounds using both methods, so your "you can be certain since you didn't fiddle with that" (paraphrase) doesn't fly in that case either. (Also a well known result from the complex systems that are computer programmes, "But that couldn't possibly affect that..." Famous last words.

But in either case, your characterisation of mine in particular, and our in general, concerns aren't about "unsafe" GMO's in the sense of knowingly "directly harmful to humans", it's "letting known psychopath organisations play with fire". We, well I specifically, don't distrust science and technology, we distrust you (in the "ya'll" sense of "you"). We didn't trust Dow Chemical when they said "trust us, our chemicals are completely safe", and we don't trust Monsanto now, when they're doing and saying the exact same thing. And the risk isn't really that we're afraid that they'll poison us outright (not that we hold them above such behaviour, just witness the British when they realised that scrapie had jumped the species boundary to cows and decided against saying anything lest they harm the British beef industry), we believe them to be smarter than that, no, its basically everything else, including the rest of the ecosystem, economy, and laying their grubby hands on a strategic resource...

Note that here in Sweden we don't just ban GMO, we also ban Belgian Blue, because we don't believe in the concept of breeding for what is a genetic disorder in animals just to make beef $0.10 cheaper by the pound. Banning the use of artificial growth hormones in animal husbandry, and the use of antibiotics to promote growth in same, is just plain common sense (esp. the latter).

We note that you don't care one way or the other about any of these. So that you don't care about GMO, and the risks with said, isn't surprising in the least, but also not very much of an endorsement... Especially since our farmers, even though we've "hamstrung" them instead of letting red blooded american capitalism be our guiding star, still manage to overproduce themselves into an unsustainable market situation, almost just as bad as yours. We don't actually need them to be more efficient, and we can't afford them to be anyway...

Comment Re: approves an anti (Score 1) 446

False dichotomy. There are a lot of ways to speed up the process other than GM/"Hybrid DNA". Irradiation is still widely used in countries that don't allow GMO. If changing 1 gene makes you uncomfortable, then using mutagens to RANDOMLY change thousands of them in unknown was should scare this shit out of you.

Not really. You see, random mutation from radiation is a fact of nature, and it's been going on for a long time. It's a sledge hammer approach and most mutations will result in a non-viable seed. It's a method that's limited in power and hence risk.

The chances of being accidentally clever on purpose is essentially zero with a random mutation approach. You're basically just speeding up nature. Can that result in dangerous crops? Sure, but experience tells us that to really screw up you need to add intelligence into the mix. The risk of tomatoes all of a sudden sprouting fish genes that might code for a fish protein that could kill those allergic to fish is as near to zero as damn it, with the random approach to "genetic engieering". With GMO the chances of success are several orders of magnitude higher.

I think of a car analogy off the top of my head, but in my own field, computer security/safety the examples abound. Even though the safety/reliability field is a difficult one, we can at least reason about it, because the insults to those systems follows the laws of nature and are amenable to statistical analysis. Not so with security. There we have an intelligent attacker that can change things, not at random, but at will. That means that a small software or hardware flaw that, statistically speaking, could never hurt us, can become our undoing each and every time. Those completely improbable circumstances that need to arise by chance for the danger to be realised, can be put in place by the intelligent attacker at will.

So, you can't really even begin to compare the power of random genetic mutation as a tool for changing DNA to (more or less, well "less" but still) being able to edit that DNA as you please. They're not in the same league, and hence while restricting Monsanto to the former is a cause for concern, giving them access to the later is a cause for abject terror. It's the difference between them having access to a hand grenade and a nuke...

P.S. And they know it. If they were of equal power and utility, they would just abandon GM as not being worth the bother and press on with random mutation. But they are different, and that's why they're not happy being restricted to the much less powerful of the techniques.

Comment Re:Don't buy it! (Score 1) 65

And the folks at Bletchley Park would have had a much harder time breaking the Enigma code if not for the 2 Polish mathematicians who originally reverse engineered the pre-war business version model of the machine and forwarded all their research to England prior to Germany invading Poland.

I don't know about "much harder". It was a help that's certain and they provided a few insights, but if Turing's biography is anything to go by, it wasn't crucial. Turing and his ilk did most of the work esp. when it came to automating the process. And it's the automation that made the process quick enough to be of practical value.

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer