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Comment: Re:Magnets are not what they once were (Score 1) 446

by azmodean+1 (#33748864) Attached to: Safety Commission To Rule On Safety of Rulers In Science Kits

I know it's just too hard to RTFA, but then you get crap like this. It's not about the ruler being sharp, it's about testing the rulers and paper clips for dangerous chemicals like lead. The problem being that it's exactly the same as the ruler that you can buy without this testing as long as it doesn't say "for kids" on it.

This seems to be some kind of power grab by the committee to try to regulate everything that might come in contact with a child and that they can make an argument that it is marketed to kids.

Having said that though, didn't the kits used to just have an invoice of mundane objects that you had to round up to do the experiments? It seems like a waste to have rulers and paper clips in every kit.

Comment: Re:Can't you simulate a chemistry set with softwar (Score 5, Insightful) 446

by azmodean+1 (#33748774) Attached to: Safety Commission To Rule On Safety of Rulers In Science Kits

The Consumer Product Safety commission should only be concerned about things that are really hazards when used correctly or things that are easily used incorrectly, for example, lead based paint on children's toys, yeah thats a real concern. The fact that some children -might- -possibly- use some materials in a science kit and get hurt is nearly non-existent.

Surprise! That is exactly what this is about, but the commission is being stupid. The makers of the science kits are bundling ordinary objects like rulers, paper clips, etc in their kits, and the commission is saying that they have to have a testing regime in place that tests everything that goes into the kits for lead and other toxic chemicals because it is arguably marketed to kids. The solution will be that the kit makers will stop making science kits, even something completely innocuous like "how magnetism works kit", because the burden of testing everything that goes into the kits outweighs the potential profit.

There was a very similar story a while back about low-powered motorcycles marketed to kids that had lead in the ENGINE. The end result looked like it was going to just destroy the market for the product simply on the basis that there was lead in it, regardless of the fact that even if a child disassembled the engine and ate the part in question, it was present in an alloy that would not release the lead into the child's system.

What the story is really about is the committee trying to make their mandate apply to absolutely everything, regardless of whether it had any real chance of causing damage to children.

Comment: Re:Founding Fathers do facepalm (Score 1) 347

by azmodean+1 (#33565060) Attached to: Pentagon Aims To Buy Up Book

Adults can decide to watch it, but I think we'd agree that children below a certain age (as determined by their parents) shouldn't watch stuff like that, without triggering the "think of the children" or "censorship" alarms.

The problem with this is that you are not describing what is generally referred to as censorship. What you are describing is parents controlling what their children are exposed to, which I think shouldn't be interfered with, and should likely even be promoted, such as by legislation of means that parents can use to control access to content.

The implementation that we have of this concept though, is that the broadcast of "potentially offensive" material is chilled by the levying of heavy fines against the broadcaster, (this includes television, movies, books, and probably other formats that don't spring to mind as readily) instead of providing parents with effective means of controlling access to the content. THAT is what is generally referred to as censorship, and what I have zero tolerance for. The problem is that when the government steps in to protect "the children" or anyone else, they tend to "protect" everyone equally, most of which neither want nor need their "protection".

Comment: Game over for Twitter (Score 1) 109

by azmodean+1 (#33564118) Attached to: Why Twitter's T.co Is a Game Changer

The one thing they can do that nobody else can -- because they're the message bus -- is to rewrite tweets in transit.

And if they do this they go straight from, "Doesn't seem all that great, but I might find a use for it at some point" to, "I will never, ever send a single message via this medium.".

That's extremely dangerous ground, I don't think even your average user is going to be happy about their messages being rewritten, much less the trend-setters with thousands of followers who are the source of Twitter's popularity.

I remember thinking a while back, "It would be nice if one of the more open alternatives had a chance to get off the ground, but Twitter would have to do something monumentally stupid to drive their customers away.". Thanks Twitter, for being more monumentally stupid than I could imagine.

Comment: Re:Home Brew (Score 1) 322

by azmodean+1 (#33563460) Attached to: Is DIY Algae Farming the Future?

I know anti-government paranoia is de rigeur here on /., but come on man, what other home production has been outlawed (with the exception of substances that are illegal to possess in the first place)?

-Farm animals? (sort of, generally outlawed in city limits, check your local laws, but if you're outside a city you're generally fine)

-Fresh vegetables? (not that I've ever heard of)

-Alchohol? (Sort-of, there are production limits, but they are actually quite reasonable, and really do seem aimed at penalizing unlicensed distribution rather than the act of production itself)

-post-production? (cheeses, breads, preserves, processed meats) (not that I've ever heard of)

-drugs? (yep, but as I mentioned, they're illegal to possess, that's a whole different discussion)

So overall it's regulated, but I've never noticed any real trend to "stamp out" at-home production of foods.

Now if you're talking about the government wanting a cut of any "cottage industry" production where it is intended for sale, well of course they want their cut, that's the system we have.

Practically speaking, trying to exempt anything except, "for personal use only" is just asking for companies to try and pretend to be some kind of cottage industry so they can work around being taxed.

Comment: Re:Make it taste good first (Score 1) 322

by azmodean+1 (#33563312) Attached to: Is DIY Algae Farming the Future?

At no point does he say, "I can only eat 15 grams a day" or anything similar. At no point does he say that algae should be used as a source of calories.

What it excels at is providing various nutrients. Take a look at the nutritional data, and set the display to "Tablespoon", which is half what he says he eats daily. The vitamin load seems quite high to me for such a small amount of food, then there are amino acids, "good" fats etc...

Are you at all likely to get all the nutrition you need from this stuff? Not at all, but it looks like a pretty well rounded supplement to me. Note my assumption here is that when he says "15 grams", he means "the equivalent of 15 grams of dried Spirulina", if he literally means "15 grams of live Spirulina", I can't determine the nutrition information since I don't know how the drying process affects weight and nutrient content.

The appeal is that you can produce this stuff for extremely low cost and it has really good health benefits, in addition to actually lowering your impact on waste processing facilities (if you take the "urine as a fertilizer" approach).

And if you're squeamish about using urine for growing things, grow up. It's the same thing as people who object to head-on fish because, "I can't eat it if I can see it's face!". In other words, you're eating foods grown in bodily waste already, and having your head stuck in the ground (or elsewhere) won't change that.

Comment: Re:Next time (Score 1) 327

It DOES mean that companies like Naxos who make money selling CDs of classical music will loose sales (not that that's a bad thing IMO)

Naxos buys up lots of quality recordings that would never otherwise see the light of day

...because they are locked up by copyright in the first place, right? When the only means of acquiring the music was by physical medium, buying the rights to it and selling at a marginal markup was laudable. Now that the publication cost is almost nil, is perpetuating copyright of these works, even at a fair price, really such a good deal?

Regardless, it sounds like they're just working within the system we have, I haven't heard their name on any of the particularly egregious articles I've run across, so live and let live.

Comment: Re:Next time (Score 1) 327

^^^ THIS! ^^^

I'm not an audiophile by any means, I use "decent" (sub-$100) headphones for all my listening, and I don't pay all that much attention to the decoding and amplification paths of my equipment (no gold-plated cables here), but a night at the local symphony (or for that matter the local pops) is money well spent in my opinion.

Comment: Re:If they'd been using (Score 1) 191

by azmodean+1 (#33561398) Attached to: Child Abuse Verdict Held Back By MS Word Glitch

Right, it works fine as long as you haven't experienced how REAL change tracking works.

As a programmer, I'm used to being able to do all kinds of analysis of the change history, so when I see, "ooh look, I can see who made the changes", I'm extremely unimpressed. Also the implementation (in MS Word 2003) doesn't particularly impress in stability, performance, or presentation.

Comment: Re:But false advertising hardly seems the answer (Score 1) 286

by azmodean+1 (#33525008) Attached to: The Real 'Stuff White People Like'

The thing that this thread seems to be ignoring is that BOTH sides are lying, and BOTH sides expect the other side to lie.

The thing is, this is not a side effect of online dating, this is the same as regular dating!

Your typical person (male or female) presents a generic, uninteresting set of interests tailored to appeal to the opposite sex, and only slowly as a relationship progresses do they drop the pretenses and reveal their real interests. That is assuming that they really want a long-term relationship. In that case the have to "play the game" long enough to get into a relationship, then they can start being genuine.

The reason for this is all the people who aren't interested in long-term relationships, and whose primary interest is the process of dating itself. The actual interests these people have is immaterial, because the activity that they are really interested in is... DATING. The whole process is a game, and the rules of the game dictate that you fit a certain mold pretty precisely based on sex/age/race/etc.

If you really just want to meet someone you are really compatable with, you either need to "play the game" and try to find someone else who is doing the same thing AND who shares your interests (remember, they aren't allowed to tell you about those interests initially), or you can try to avoid the whole dating scene and find someone with matching interests through some other venue, such as by pursuing the more social aspects of your interests and attempting to meet someone who shares them.

The whole thing about women saying they are interested in outdoorsy stuff when they really aren't is just a side effect of those activities being "in" right now, so it becomes extremely difficult to find people who actually have those interests via regular dating (including dating sites).

Note I'm not looking down on anyone for this, if my life were a bit different it seems like it would be a fascinating pastime. The deception only becomes a problem if both of the participants aren't on the same page about it.

Given the above, if you go into a normal dating scene expecting people to be genuine with you from the outset, there are definitely going to be problems.

Comment: Re:Only if it's an option (Score 1) 103

by azmodean+1 (#33508760) Attached to: Infinite Mario With Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment

And you're totally sure you can't have the same experience if the content is procedurally generated why?

Playing both Zangband and Dwarf Fortress, which are both totally dominated by procedurally-generated content*, I've commiserated in the same way that you mention with many other players of the same games, because the same situations emerge, even if the precise content and layout of the game changes from play to play.

Similarly, people are able to discuss and bond over experiences in multiplayer games, where the gameplay is crucially dependent on the behavior of the other players, which will necessarily change from game to game.

Also I find your analogy to bonding over experiences in a war interesting, as no two soldiers have *ever* had the exact same set of experiences as each other, but all the same they can experience an extremely strong sense of shared experience since certain aspects of their experiences correlate so well.

*both games have a handful of hard-coded scenarios and/or locations, but the trend is to improve the procedural generation to provide comparable content rather than to proliferate more hard-coded content.

Comment: Re:30 minutes? (Score 1) 131

by azmodean+1 (#33508452) Attached to: Smallest Manned Electric Plane Flies

As I see more and more focus on aircraft fuel efficiency, I keep wondering if somewhere down the road we will see catapults for regular airports to cut down on the amount of (portable) energy expended on takeoff. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean super-high-performance catapults like you see on an aircraft for extreme-short-runway takeoff. What I mean would be a system that provides similar acceleration to what the aircraft experiences now, but with most of the force coming from an external source so the aircraft can get into the air while expending less fuel.

Now it's probable that the amount of fuel burned while still on the runway is trivial compared to the amount burned during the initial climb, in which case the concept would be pretty pointless. Anyone know enough about fuel consumption rates to weigh in in this?

Comment: Re:Emotional Things I Wish I Knew Earlier (Score 4, Insightful) 590

by azmodean+1 (#33492038) Attached to: Programming Things I Wish I Knew Earlier

I think there are several factors that contribute to this:
1. Programming is a very popular and easy to enter field.
2. It's actually pretty easy to get by as a programmer without really understanding what you are doing.
3. Regardless of how much you hear about it, modularity, reusability, and highly structured programming do not have good penetration in Software Engineering.
4. Because of #3, it is all to easy for otherwise competent programmers to paint themselves into a corner and generate software with really messy architecture and/or implementation.
5. Programmers OFTEN have to clean up after other programmers.

So, due to #1 and #2, there actually are quite a number of really bad programmers running around.
Due to #3 and #4, there are quite a number of otherwise decent programmers who produce working but unmaintainable code.
Due to #5, most programmers have ample opportunity to experience a great deal of pain from other programmer's incompetence.
Due to human nature, programmers tend to assume that all that bad code comes from #1 and #2 rather than #3 and #4.

And more speculatively and unrelated to the above:
6. Lots of programmers tend to hang out on Usenet, internet fora, mailing lists, and IRC, where harsh criticism is de rigeur, and internalize the habit of harsh criticism in their professional lives.

Comment: Re:Some tips from a C guy. (Score 1) 590

by azmodean+1 (#33491820) Attached to: Programming Things I Wish I Knew Earlier

I'd understand your response if the GP had said, "stay away from object-oriented languages FOREVER", but he didn't, he said, "stay away just until you are comfortable with lower-level languages".

The point isn't that C++ and similar languages are BAD, but that they hide things from you. When you are learning to program, that is BAD, but when you are writing production code, you will generally want to eliminate points of failure, and a great way to do that is to use a higher-level language that hides things like memory management from you.

One-liner version: C is dangerous to program in, even for great C programmers, but great C programmers make better programmers no matter what language they use, because they understand how the underlying system works.

Comment: Summary (Score 4, Informative) 272

by azmodean+1 (#33440488) Attached to: Yale Researchers Prove That ACID Is Scalable

Short Summary:
We make some claims about scaling ACID databases, but then don't support them.

Longer summary:
We don't like NoSQL and enjoy making baseless cracks about it such as it being a "lazy" approach.
In our paper we demonstrate that our unconventional version of an ACID database scales better than a traditional ACID database in a specific environment, while merely throwing away some robustness guarantees and changing how transaction ordering works.
No direct comparison to any NoSQL implementation is made.

So yea, I'm not holding my breath for companies to start migrating away from NoSQL.

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