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Comment Four types of arguement (Score 4, Insightful) 152

There are four the types of arguments, of increasing power:-

1. Detailed technical arguments.

2. Simplistic factual arguments.

3. Emotional arguments.

4. Authoratative arguments.

Mugs like me tend to rely on detailed technical arguments. Simplistic factual arguments are much more powerful, but will always be trumped by an argument that appeals to people emotionally. And arguments from respected people in authority (like film stars) trump everything else.

So Nuclear = Nuclear Bombs = Satan. No amount of geeky statistical analysis can change that.

Comment Re:Win 95 + Office 95 only needed 8 meg! (Score 1) 277

No, you could not do all that stuff on a 512K Amiga. There is a lot more functionality in a Win 95 box such as a sophisticated word processing, proper font support, quite large spreadsheets, decent video, Netscape.

Up until about Windows 95 more memory meant more real functionality. But since that time it is hard to put your finger on anything new in functionality other than bloat. And I would not say modern computers are much more secure -- their attack surface is so much larger.

As to installing MS-Dos, yes, floppy disks are slow. But Windows 95 booted a lot faster in real time than my current Windows 8 machine (particularly if you include the slow period when services start). Win 95 was quite fast unless you tried to work on huge data sets, like a whole book in Word.

Comment Win 95 + Office 95 only needed 8 meg! (Score 2) 277

For most users, Windows 95 plus Office 95 plus Netscape plus Eudora could do everything that that they do today. (The big exception is 3D graphics on modern games.)

Most users today only use a fraction of the power of Word 95 and Excel 95. Netscape was more than enough to run Facebook and Google Search and classic web pages which is what most people actually use the web for. Windows 95 could even display passable video. And Emacs gave me a powerful IDE.

It could be a bit unstable, but now that Microsoft had finally discovered 32bit instructions 20 years too late it was very programmable. It also cursed us with the registry.

And all this in just 8 megabytes of memory. Not 80, 800, or 8,000 needed today, but just 8.

So what are the other 7,992 meg on my computer doing? They are filled with stuff (including whole VMs), I seem to need it. Sure 8 might have become 16 and then 80. But how on earth did it become 8,000?

There is nothing substantial that I do today that I could not do on Win95 with, say, 32 meg. (OK, so I could not run bloatware like Eclipse, maybe that is my point!)

Comment Food for lawyers (Score 1) 280

So what happens when one chef happens to arrange the vegies the same way as another? Or if, when prosecuted for photography, we can find prior art?

Or, heaven forbid, someone else cooks something that *tastes* the same.

These new laws will definitely inspire culinary innovation. You can expect to see a large investment in producing culinary IP as a result!

Comment Re:all voting should be paper and pencil (Score 1) 393

What is wrong with just using a piece of paper, like we do in here in oz. With scrutinieers on every booth. Australian elections cost about $5/voter with all votes counted manually. I have scrutineered, it works fine, very few disagreements. Plus we have proportional voting, 1, 2, 3 not just an X, which adds very little to the counting burden, and should definitely be adopted in the US.

While it is easy to mistake incompetence for conspiracy, it would seem that there is a very good reason for the use of machines in the USA. And being hackable is not an issue. I am totally amazed that Americans put up with it.

Comment 5 years is more than he would get in Swedish jail (Score 1) 226

He obviously believes that the risk of extradition out of Sweden is real, because there is no way he could be sentenced to more than 5 years for these minor offenses. The case against him is weak, which is why he was allowed to leave Sweden in the first place. They are obviously politically motivated, hence the refusal to question him in the UK. (Once the question him the have to charge him with something very specific, which would be embarrassing as there is nothing to charge him with.)

It is most unlikely that Sweden would now extradite him now, it would be a huge loss of face to them. More likely the UK will send him out once he eventually leaves. But that said, if I were him, I would not want to bet my life on it. The US jails are very nasty, nothing like Swedish ones.

Comment Re:The US's real desire (Score 1) 226

The US would argue that Assange encouraged Manning to leak. If that fails they would argue that he did something else, maybe spitting on the sidewalk, to quote Al Capone. Does not matter, under US law he can be sent to jail for a very long time for very minor offenses.

Comment Re:But but but.. (Score 1) 278

Heroin was developed to be less addictive than Morphine, which it is. And little Betty did not inject the cough medicine, nor did we end up with a huge population of addicts.

While I would not recommend the use today, it is indeed not nearly as bad as the anti-drug industry has made it out to be. And Bayer produced pure heroin, not adulterated with whatever powders happened to be lying around.

Submission + - Australia copyrights its laws

aberglas writes: A legal company has bought the rights. True! If the Parliaments job is to make money from selling laws it is failing miserably given the cost of running the show. What we need is many more new laws to make the copyright more valuable ... no, wait....

(But we do not yet have the US draconian penalties for infringement, so things get passed around anyway. Until the secret FTA gets implemented ...)

Comment Re:Still A Good Idea (Score 1) 245


Some doctors are definitely better than others, just like software engineers. Nurses have been known to hide patients from some doctors. But without some sort of metric how do you detect the outliers?

The trouble with those metrics is that they were simplistic, designed by uninspired bureaucrats, as all metrics normally are. So you only have a choice between no metrics and bad metrics. The latter is probably better, IMHO.

Focusing on standardized teaching tests is similar. If you are going to do it, the tests need to be good. The Australian NAPLAN tests are actually not too bad, although they are limited.

Comment Execute the message (Score 1) 208

If we do receive a message that looks like a computer program, we will, of course, execute it. What could possibly go wrong?

We might not be able to find aliens, but they could find us. We have been broadcasting for 100 years, so the number of stars in that light sphere is growing.

How could they cover the vast distances of space? In star wars type space ships? Of course not. We live in an information age, so they they would transmit themselves as computer programs.

("They", of course, would not be little green men but instead be software running on tiny supercomputers.)

"The fundamental principle of science, the definition almost, is this: the sole test of the validity of any idea is experiment." -- Richard P. Feynman