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Comment: Re:Probably a bad idea, but... (Score 1) 191

by Zocalo (#47937181) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:
I'm in favour of it on behalf of Scottish self-governance, and as a Brit from the NW of England I can only imagine that the feeling that the government in London doesn't give a damn about the provinces is far worse than it is where I grew up. However, overall I think it would be a disaster for both countries. Scotland is much more Pro-EU and Anti-Conservative than the rest of Great Britain, so one likely outcome would be a Conservative victory in the next General Election, resulting in Cameron's promised referedum on EU membership going ahead with a likely victory for the anti-EU crowd in the referendum. Given the likely reaction from the rest of the EU to this, I don't imagine this would work out very well for the rest of the UK.

I'm also deeply concerned by the fact that Salmond's default response to any argument as to a potential problem is accuse people of being "wrong", "bullying", or whatever, but has in almost every instance failed to provide a plan for what the SDP will actually *do* to address the point should they be successful in getting a "Yes" vote. I'm really starting to think they have no idea what they are going to do in the event of gaining independance, other than to thrash out a plan in the aftermath of the vote - as if a half-baked plan is going to work for anyone. Finally, even if Scotland gains independance and manages a successful transition to higher GDP and wealth, does anyone *seriously* think that those benefits are going to be distributed where they are needed, and not simply end up in the back pockets of the politicians and business leaders that get to determine how the new nation is going to work?
Sci-Fi

The Future According To Stanislaw Lem 195

Posted by Soulskill
from the drugs-and-nanotech dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Paris Review has an article about SF author Stanislaw Lem, explaining Lem's outlook on the future and his expectations for technological advancement. Lem tended toward a view that technology would infect and eventually supplant biological evolution. But he also suggested an interesting explanation for why we haven't detected alien civilizations: "Perhaps ... they are so taken up with perfecting their own organisms that they've abandoned space exploration entirely. According to a similar hypothesis, such beings are invisible because technological ease has resulted in a 'Second Stone Age' of 'universal illiteracy and idleness.' When everyone's needs are perfectly met, it 'would be hard, indeed, to find one individual who would choose as his life's work the signaling, on a cosmic scale, of how he was getting along.' Rather than constructing Dyson Spheres, Lem suggests, advanced civilizations are more likely to spend their time getting high.""

Comment: Head for the hills, or the coast, or... (Score 1) 151

by Zocalo (#47883279) Attached to: To prepare for a coronal mass ejection, I ...
CMEs usually lead to an enhanced chance of aurora, so if I'm in a suitable location it's more a case of getting the camera gear out and heading off to somewhere scenic and away from any major source of light pollution. Keep watching the skies, we could be in for something spectacular if it hits us head on.

Comment: Re:No Need (Score 2) 280

by Zocalo (#47856913) Attached to: Is It Time To Split Linux Distros In Two?
I would say the same thing. The user can currently either choose a different "sub-distro" based on their primary flavour of choice, opt for a desktop/server specific spin, or just accept the current one distro to rule them all but just install the necessary packages for what they want approach. There really shouldn't be any need to split a Linux distro (or BSD distro for that matter) in two for this (and why stop there, why not a phone/tablet optimised version, or one for embedded devices...?) - just provide a specific spin for desktop that includes a selection of GUIs and another for servers that includes a broader selection of alternative server daemons and maybe a simple GUI for those that really need it. Apply some task specific optimizations to the default configuration files for bonus points and off we go.

Comment: Re:Er? (Score 2) 314

by Zocalo (#47854073) Attached to: GSOC Project Works To Emulate Systemd For OpenBSD
Where, exactly, do I state that I am putting a GUI on a server? Perhaps you got confused when I mentioned Gnome requiring SystemD as an example of how applications making SystemD a dependency was forcing distros into a Hobson's Choice of either adopting SystemD whether they want to or not, or going through a lot of pain to replace it with an alternative when it breaks major dependencies like Gnome? RHEL, like many distros, includes Gnome - but how many of those distros have adopted SystemD mostly as a result of this, not because it is better or worse than the alternatives?

Note also that I point out that the dependencies work in *both* directions; as antientropic points out Gnome requiring SystemD is absolutely an issue with the Gnome team and nothing to do with SystemD, but it does have implications in that it helps build a mess of inter-dependencies that is making it increasingly hard to strip systems down to the minimum. RHEL's insistance on NetworkManager by default, with all the baggage that brings, doesn't inspire confidence either, as this is apparently one of the next daemon in SystemD's sights - maybe SystemD can improve it, but I'm not holding my breath.

Anyway, regardless of that, we've made our choice and moved to BSD; SystemD played a significant part in that, but it definitely wasn't the only factor, as I noted in my OP. ?

Comment: Re:Context (Score 2) 228

by Zocalo (#47851467) Attached to: DNA sequencing of coffee's best use:
Improving the qualities of robusta or the hardiness of arabica, either works for me. I love the smell and taste of a well prepared coffee, but the increasing use of robusta has started to mess with my digestive system for some reason (I suspect the part that makes robusta taste bitter) making me feel like I've drunk acid. Adding sugar or salt (depending on the chain) helps a bit, but the result has been to pretty much stop me from buying coffee to drink from the usual high-street chains that are all we available here, and my attempts to offer feedback in the form of suggesting a "premium" high-arabica based brew don't seem to be getting very far.

Comment: Re:Er? (Score 4, Insightful) 314

by Zocalo (#47851361) Attached to: GSOC Project Works To Emulate Systemd For OpenBSD
I have three main issues with SystemD that might help you understand where some of us are coming from:

1. It effectively works as a monolithic replacement for several daemons, contra to core UNIX design tenets, and even though some of those sub-daemons can be swapped out with an alternative, often that works by running the second daemon in parallel - you can't actually disable the SystemD equivalent, let alone remove it altogether. This makes troubleshooting much more complicated when something goes wrong, especially if you have booted a system from a recovery disk to troubleshoot after a crash, compromise, or whatever and can no longer directly access several of the key sources of information necessary to do that.

2. Because of the growing number of packages that depend on SystemD, and vice-versa, it's creating a huge mess of package inter-dependencies that mean that it's getting almost impossible to build a stripped down and hardened server. Ballmer might have been right with his "Cancer" comment, he just wasn't specific enough: Gnome requires SystemD, $distro wants to bundle Gnome, therefore $distro adopts SystemD - and forces the default install of all the other package dependencies that go with it, thereby increasing the attack surface of the system. So much for hardening systems by removing all superflous code, huh?

3. All that cruft seems to be bogging the system down. We are currently migrating a large number (much larger than planned after initial results) of systems from RHEL to BSD - a decision taken due to general unhappiness with RHEL6, but SystemD pushed us towards BSD rather than another Linux distro - and in some cases are seeing throughput gains of greater than 10% on what should be equivalent Linux and BSD server builds. The re-learning curve wasn't as steep as we expected, general system stability seems to be better too, and BSD's security reputation goes without saying.

That said assuming that it "just works" a SystemD based desktop with everything from a desktop application down to the kernel talking through the same set of core services does sound like a nice idea. The problem is that most of us are not actually running Linux desktops; we're running servers and would just like the OS to mostly get the hell out of the way so we can get on with running whatever server daemons we are using. If SystemD were better architected - say a core PID1 init replacement, then a bunch of optional packages I don't even need to install if I want to use an alternative or not bother with at all, plus a massive clean up of the dependency hell that it has introduced - then I'd be a lot happier with it, but as it stands I just can't see including it on a hardened Internet facing server as being a remotely sane thing to do.

Comment: Re:Sigh... (Score 4, Interesting) 789

Well, the like-for-like retaliation from Ukraine won't happen. One of the terms of Ukraine's independance was that they give up the nukes they had left over from the break up of the USSR, but their supposed pay back from that would be protection from NATO if Russia were to invade. Now that a full scale invasion of Eastern Ukraine is clearly underway that comment was almost certainly aimed at NATO in an attempt to give them pause while the Russians consolidate their position and get dug-in.

At this point in time, with almost no response by NATO/the West other than some obviously ineffectual sanctions, my money is on Russia successfully annexing enough of Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea (albeit as an "independant" state with its capital in Donetsk or Sevastopol) that it can resupply the Crimea via land from mainland Russia.

Comment: Re:Too late, we already bailed. (Score 4, Interesting) 613

by Zocalo (#47812197) Attached to: You Got Your Windows In My Linux
Likewise. In the process of migrating a considerable proportion of a large RHEL estate over to BSD here. A general lack of satisfaction with RHEL6 started our look at alternatives - including other Linux distros - but SystemD was our deciding factor in the making the slightly more drastic leap from Linux to BSD. Despite the dream of Linux on the Desktop, most of us are actually running Linux on servers with (hopefully) competent personnel, so we don't really need some cuddly desktop OS that needs to pander to the lowest level of luser or the additional cruft and abstraction layers that brings, let alone the mess of package dependencies that seems to be afflicting Linux at present. In some cases we're seeing significant perfomance gains for what, in theory, should be the same basic set of code so for us it's more performance for less cost, and possibly an interesting call with our RHEL rep when the first tranche of RHEL licenses come up a renewal we are not going to need...

The King is dead, long live the King!

Comment: Re:Wait.... what? (Score 1) 254

by Zocalo (#47796235) Attached to: Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots
Hmm, the plot thickens. I suspected it might just be a regional office based in Russia covering a large area of Eastern Europe that happens to include both Russia and The Ukraine that just happens to be located in Russia, which would have been a fairly sensible choice given that it has a both a larger on-line population and better technology infrastructure. That however does not appear to be the case at all. A quick search on Google shows that FB has been looking into opening a Russian office since early 2010, well before the conflict started, but while some of the stories from 2010 talk about it in the past tense, there is speculation in the future tense about it happening from 2012, and a map of FB offices around the world shows nothing in Russia. My guess is when they say "office", they really mean "department" or "desk", and it's actually most likely based either in the EU or the US.

Comment: Re:Maybe, but maybe not... (Score 4, Interesting) 254

by Zocalo (#47796181) Attached to: Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots
That would be why I wrote "Ukrainians believe", but given the obvious bias shown by certain elements of the media on both sides of the conflict I don't think it much of a stretch that this could actually be happening. My point though was more about the general problem here in that most tend to be local enough to fall within the territory of the same regional office for a given company, and that office is within a country with a stake in the conflict, let alone one that has a track record for having poor freedom of the press, then accusations like this are probably inevitable. Now that the issue has been highlighted, we can only hope that FB et al think about how they might deal with such potential censorship in the future.

Comment: Re:Maybe, but maybe not... (Score 5, Interesting) 254

by Zocalo (#47796087) Attached to: Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots
Reading between the lines of the article I think you probably got the gist of what happens, but missed the crux of the complaint. I get the impression that Ukrainians believe something like this is happening:
  1. 1. Pro-Ukraine poster makes a post.
  2. 2. Pro-Russian bots generate complaints into Facebook's automated systems.
  3. 3. The post gets automatically blocked.
  4. 4. OP appeals to the Ukrainian office to get it re-instated.
  5. 5. OP's appeal is denied because the Ukrainian office is actually in Russia and headed by an alledgedly non-neutral Russian.

There's definitely a potential problem there, and one that will probably be repeated in similar circumstances in the future. Seems to me that the best thing FB (or anyone else) can do in this situation is to remove oversight for posts made by both sides from regional offices in the area in question and hand them off to more neutral offices, at least for posts concerning the conflict.

Comment: Re:Irreversible? (Score 1) 708

by Zocalo (#47766829) Attached to: Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report
Nope, just pointing out that using an absolute like "irreversible" isn't perhaps the smartest thing for the IPCC to do as it will almost certainly be seized on by the climate change deniers. Doubly so since it's demonstrably not the case except in our ability to use current science to resolve the problem.

Frankly the only things left in doubt for me about GW is just how much of a contribution mankind has made (it's certainly not zero, but I don't think it's 100% either), and whether the changes we *can* make to reduce the symptoms will have a worthwhile effect. Given enough will we can obviously reduce our GHG emissions significantly, migrate to cleaner fuels and generally move closer to living in balance with nature, but is that enough? The irony is that the more the AGW deniers are wrong about the level of our involvement, the greater the difference that we can make by changing our ways, but if they are right then we are all doomed to ride this out, wherever nature is taking us.

Comment: Re:Irreversible? (Score 1) 708

by Zocalo (#47765285) Attached to: Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report
"Irreversible" is a very strong word, and clearly incorrect. We're not so much talking about unscrambling eggs here as something than *can* be corrected, and in all likelihood *will* be corrected, just by leaving it alone and waiting long enough. The problem for us humans here today, of course, is that we won't we around that long and in all probability neither will many generations of our decendants. I fully expect the naysayers to latch on to this in combination with the historical record showing that the earth has been warmer than this in the past as further "evidence" that the IPCC has no clue in their rebuttals over the next few days.

The generation of random numbers is too important to be left to chance.

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