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Comment: Re:Dark Matter? (Score 1) 59

by Xtifr (#49231359) Attached to: The Milky Way May Be 50 Percent Bigger Than Previously Thought

So if they haven't even accounted for a significant fraction of our own galaxy, what does that mean about dark matter?

As far as I can tell from a bit of quick research, absolutely zilch. Since dark matter is mainly hypothesized to explain the observed motion of galaxies, and most of the evidence for it comes from observing other galaxies and, especially, galactic clusters, the size of the Milky Way has no bearing.

Also, as someone else pointed out, this is about volume in any case; the actual mass of the Milky Way is probably not a lot different from previous estimates—but all estimates of the size and or mass of the Milky Way are necessarily rough in any case, since it's too close to see very well.

Comment: Re:The correct word is FEWER! (Score 1) 592

by Xtifr (#48848663) Attached to: Why Run Linux On Macs?

The article you link to, amusingly, contradicts the point you think you're trying to make.

"Less has always been used in English with counting nouns" (emphasis mine).

It may help you to understand that article if you realize that to actual linguists and lexicographers, the term "prescriptivist" has the same connotation as the word "creationist" does to a biologist. :)

Comment: Re:Debian on shiny Retina Macbook Pro (Score 1) 592

by Xtifr (#48848639) Attached to: Why Run Linux On Macs?

I don't know about OP, but for me, the main reason I avoid OSX is that I haven't found a way to turn on focus-follows-mouse and turn off autoraise. As far as I'm concerned, that alone is more than sufficient reason to avoid the system completely. Of course, there may be a way--I haven't looked very hard, since I don't actually own any Apple hardware. But more to the point--I'm familiar with and happy with Linux and my heavily customized environment, and don't have much interest in trying to learn how to duplicate all the things I like/want/need on some other system. So if I did get Apple hardware for some reason, I'd still probably run Linux, as the path of least resistance. But if I could find a way around the broken focus system, I'd at least begin to consider OSX as a possible-to-use system, rather than avoid-at-all-costs. :)

Comment: Re:Book Analogy (Score 1) 260

by Xtifr (#48343461) Attached to: Computer Scientists Ask Supreme Court To Rule APIs Can't Be Copyrighted

Except that only the names have been copied. Google provided their own story. (Which is proven by the fact that Oracle didn't allege copyright infringement on any of the actual code except one trivial function, which was dismissed as de-minimus, especially since it had already been replaced.)

The thing you seem to be overlooking is that functionality is something that is specifically excluded from copyright protection. (Which is why trying to make book analogies for software is usually a complete waste of time and highly misleading. Functionality is almost never found in works of fiction; in books, it appears mainly in "how-to" works and the like. And you can't copyright "telling someone how to install a door".) Google may have copied the functionality, but that's perfectly legal, as long as they didn't copy the code. Which they didn't, except for the names.

Comment: Re:I mean, aren't (Score 1) 260

by Xtifr (#48342157) Attached to: Computer Scientists Ask Supreme Court To Rule APIs Can't Be Copyrighted

More akin to words (or perhaps standard phrases). The programmer uses them to express something creative (a program), but they themselves are simply tools of creativity, not creative expressions in themselves.

This is why computer languages have been ruled non-copyrightable. And APIs are simply extensions of a computer language. In some languages (e.g. tcl), the boundary between language element and API is arbitrary and subject to change without notice.

Comment: Re:Number is irrelevant compared to severity (Score 1) 170

by Xtifr (#48320187) Attached to: NSA Director Says Agency Shares Most, But Not All, Bugs It Finds

The NSA's mandate includes both data penetration and data protection! For this reason, I suspect it's not the severity, but the obscurity that matters. A vulnerability that's easy to find is going to make government machines easier to penetrate, so they're likely to want to close them. A vulnerability that requires standing on one leg while juggling two white cats and wearing a clown nose is something they can keep to themselves, because it's so unlikely that anyone else will stumble across it.

Comment: Re:Barrier to entry (Score 1) 125

by Xtifr (#48295343) Attached to: It's Official: HTML5 Is a W3C Standard

It wouldn't stop working, but needing to develop new apps for multiple platforms currently acts as a barrier to entry to new video providers.

That's a reasonable argument for standardizing encryption/DRM, but not a reasonable argument for making it part of the HTML standard. Rolling your own encryption is indeed a crappy idea, but the solution is to create an encryption/drm standard, rather than hijacking some only-vaguely-related standard and trying to cram it in there. Especially since encryption/drm needs to work with more than just html.

Comment: Re:It's sad (Score 1) 427

by Xtifr (#48022701) Attached to: Google To Require As Many As 20 of Its Apps Preinstalled On Android Devices

Remember when simply bundling IE was a monopoly abuse?

Saying that MS "simply bundled IE" is like saying that John Dillinger "simply withdrew money from a bank".

Google is behaving in exactly the same way

Only in the sense that I'm behaving in exactly the same way as John Dillinger when I withdraw money from my bank. :)

(The difference, in case it's not obvious, is that when I withdraw money from my bank, I don't do it in a way that violates any laws.)

Comment: Re: Out of the frying pan... (Score 1) 192

by Xtifr (#48017721) Attached to: NVIDIA Begins Requiring Signed GPU Firmware Images

For older cards, the OSS driver might end up being better than crapalyst.

Actually, it's the newer cards that are reported to have better performance with the latest OSS drivers.

This is a pretty recent development, though. A little over a year ago, everything I'd heard was in line with what you're saying. But when I heard about all the improvements in the recent OSS drivers, I took a chance and bought a box with ATI, just a couple of months ago, and I must say that it's been absolutely smooth, effortless, and 100% hassle free. With a 3.12 kernel (now upgraded to 3.14). And no catalyst.

If your experience is older than that, then I think your information may be out of date.

Not that I'm saying you should switch or anything. No skin off my nose. Just saying your data may be out of date.

Comment: Re: Out of the frying pan... (Score 1) 192

by Xtifr (#48012749) Attached to: NVIDIA Begins Requiring Signed GPU Firmware Images

The 3d stuff does work, just not for the latest cards.

Are you sure? You may need a more up-to-date kernel than your favorite distro provides to support the latest cards, but I certainly had the impression that AMD is actively pushing code into the mainstream kernel. Southern Island and Sea Island chipsets are both supported in 3.16 (and possibly earlier).

3D performance on many ATI/AMD cards is actually better with the open source kernel drivers than with the proprietary drivers if you have a recent enough kernel, according to some reports I've heard.

Comment: How about... (Score 1) 209

by Xtifr (#48012625) Attached to: My toy collection is ...

Small and moderately important. Almost none of it would qualify as "great sentimental value", but I can't say they're not important to me at all. Especially my penguin collection. I got a couple of plushy Tuxes from trade shows many years back, and several of people in my family became convinced that I was collecting penguins, so they started giving me any penguins they found. I wasn't, and am not, collecting penguins, but it turned into a nifty little collection despite my lack of effort, and I'd miss it if it disappeared.

The Star Trek DS9 action figures were given to me as a joke. Which is all that needs to be said about that. :)

The Bruce Campbell action figure is rather a treasure. Even if it's (or perhaps especially because it's) Autolycus, King of Thieves, rather than Ash.

The rest is just doo-dads, but fun doo-dads.

Comment: Why should I pick one? (Score 1) 410

by Xtifr (#47987141) Attached to: It's Banned Books Week; I recommend ...

* Brave New World: an underrated classic, full of terrifying ideas, many of which are far beyond Orwell's worst nightmares, but at the same time, well-written and engaging. Very much worth reading. A personal favorite.
* Farenheit 451: a critique of television that also works as a critique of censorship in general. Lacks the scope of BNW or 1984, but still well worth reading.
* 1984: slightly overrated classic. Very timely warnings when it was written (1948), full of obvious and still-current threats, but without the grand scope of BNW, and also a bit of a slog to read. Orwell had great ideas, but lacked Huxley's literary flair and his grand vision. Worth reading as an icon of the genre if nothing else, though.
* His Dark Materials: a YA pop fantasy series mostly famous because of the author's dislike for organized religion. Narnia for atheists. Fun if you're into that sort of thing, but popcorn.
* A Clockwork Orange: If it weren't for the movie, I'm not sure this would be famous. The movie is good. The book is so-so.
* The Handmaid's Tale: haven't read.

Comment: The real problem (Score 1) 124

Yeah, blame it all on the examiners--don't pay any attention to the management which requires them to process and pass as many patents as they can in as little time as possible, because that brings in the most money. It's all the fault of those "lazy" employees who basically do what they're told! :p ;)

If you really want to change things, don't measure performance by how many patents are granted! Because there's no surer way of guaranteeing that bad patents will be passed than that!

Comment: More options! (Score 1) 228

by Xtifr (#47867265) Attached to: DNA sequencing of coffee's best use:

Geeze, these options lack vision! How about...

Coffee plants that can grow in different climates--underwater might be good, since that may be where many of us will be living soon. :)

Self-brewing coffee plants that you can just drink directly from.

Giant coffee plants that can be used in construction, so your house smells like fresh-brewed coffee at all times.

Super-intelligent mobile coffee plants that can be used as soldiers in my plans to take over the world!

Old programmers never die, they just branch to a new address.