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Comment: X-Prizes + deregulation (Score 1) 348

The best suggestions I have heard consist of two things:

- Clearly defined X-Prizes for private industry: First company to achieve X receives Y prize money, second company receives fraction-of-Y. The total cost of the X-prizes will be a tiny fraction of what a bureaucratic government effort would cost.

- Remove as many regulations as possible from private industry - let it be a "wild west". Example: plenty of people want to volunteer for high-risk space missions. Currently, worker-safety regulations cannot be disregarded, no matter how many waivers the people sign. Get rid of that - as long as people know what they're signing up for, the government should stay out of it.

The de-regulation bit also includes lots of other things. Just as an example, the endless environmental impact assessments required before you can build a launch facility. There are mountains of regulations that stand firmly in the way of actually making progress in space...

Comment: This again... (Score 5, Insightful) 227

Do we have to hear about this every second week, year in and year out? On average, girls are - for whatever reason - less interested in math, physics, chemistry. Meanwhile, boys, on average, are less interested in things that revolve around social interaction. Likely, these preferences are based in biology. Make sure the playing field is as level as reasonably possible, and then leave off. Let individuals decide what they want to be.

The other aspect addressed by the article is race. Here, there may also be biological factors in play, but within the US cultural factors play a huge role - specifically: support for education within the family. Cultural issues are very, very difficult to address - because, cultural change needs to come from within the culture itself. There is very little to be done about it by the tech companies, or even by the educational system.

Comment: Locks are there to keep honest people honest (Score 1) 185

by bradley13 (#48004663) Attached to: Security Collapse In the HTTPS Market

Security prevents casual theft. When vulnerabilities are found, we fix them, to maintain a basic level of security. Sufficiently determined criminals may be able to break your security anyway. With https, the route that is always open is directly monitoring your computer directly, where the data is unencrypted. They are, after all, criminals - and it is the job of our governments to help chase them down and put them out of business.

What is frightening about the today's situation is the discovery that many western governments are among the worst of the criminals. Governments have more resources than criminal organizations, and (short of vigilantism) there is no one who can enforce the law on the government officials involved. This is the real dilemma we face, as we consider our security systems.

Comment: What is the cause? (Score 3, Interesting) 299

by bradley13 (#48000503) Attached to: Forest Service Wants To Require Permits For Photography

I haven't been able to find anything, but presumably something triggered this? Did some major Hollywood movie move in 20 trailers, 30 trucks and a demolition derby - and lay waste to a national park?

I mean, the proposed rule is stupidly worded, but I expect - thirteen layers back - it was meant to solve an actual problem.

Comment: This requires external consultants...why? (Score 1) 124

Is the management at the USPTO so incompetent that they cannot do this themselves? If you are a manager, you know what your people are doing. If you don't, you should be fired. The solutions to this problem are bleedingly obvious, but unpalatable, so they need to spend millions paying someone else to give them the options, that they then won't implement...

Comment: Why? Because... (Score 0) 444

by bradley13 (#47887401) Attached to: If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

Renewables are "predictable and reliable"? This quote is all over the net in summaries of TFA, but it does not exist in TFA, nor even in Prof. Lombardo's original article.

It's great that Tesla is putting this effort in. Note that they have chosen a very special location - masses of sunshine, shallow and easily accessible geothermal, etc.. However, as usual - if the title of the article contains a question, the answer is in the negative - no, others cannot do this.

The expense is massive; Tesla is doing this primarily for political "green" points. It takes massive amounts of land. It requires a special location. Few other companies will be in a position to reproduce this.

And - to get back to my first point - renewables are neither predictable nor reliable. Tesla is not going off-grid, nor could they. There have been plenty of previous references on Slashdot to the actual (non-)reliability of wind farms and solar. Even geothermal has its limits, not only location, but for each location there is a hard limit as to how fast can you remove heat.

Comment: As usual, much ado about nothing (Score 0) 427

by bradley13 (#47862507) Attached to: UN Study Shows Record-High Increases For Atmospheric CO2 In 2013

This is an excellent example of where a microscopic amount of critical thinking would go a long way.

CO2 dissolves in water, yes. Atmospheric levels used to be immensely higher, yes. Ocean life very similar to today's survived just fine, yes.

Hence: "should be scaring the pants off us", no.

It is this lack of critical thinking, this "oh noes, the world is ending" that I find totally irritating about the AGW folks. Is the earth warmer that it was 100 years ago? Sure it is, so what? It's a minor increase, climate is dominated by negative feedback loops (blindingly obvious). No need to panic, and anyway, warmer is historically better...

Comment: Re:Would be nice to see Scala replace Java (Score 2) 94

by bradley13 (#47842147) Attached to: Scala Designer Martin Odersky On Next Steps

Exactly. It's been a while, but I remember tracking down one bug in a framework that managed other classes. The developer had assumed that all objects were, in fact, different objects. However, with Strings, Java used its cute little cache. In the framework this meant that two objects that should have been different had the same reference (== was true), which led to problems. The details escape me - it's been a while - but tracking this down was not trivial.

It's all well-and-good to say that you should only ever look at the object values and not care about the memory references. However, anyone writing any sort of framework-level code will, in fact, be working with object references. With your own classes, of course, it's no problem. But Java's simple classes (Integer and String certainly, not sure about others) violate the semantics of object management. Worse, it is inconsistent, since it depends on the specific value of the objects (which the language itself should never look at).

As the parent post so aptly put it: this is "the bash-your-head-on-the-table level of stupid design".

Comment: Would be nice to see Scala replace Java (Score 1, Informative) 94

by bradley13 (#47841521) Attached to: Scala Designer Martin Odersky On Next Steps

Every time I teach a beginner's course, I am reminded of just how ugly Java really is. Here's a simple example:

- Comparing two "int" variables, you use ==
- Comparing two Integer variables, you probably want .equals()
- But it is possible to have two different Integer objects with the same value - this is when you wand ==
- But Java wants to save memory, so in fact == and equals yield the same result for values from -128 to +127

That's one example, but there are lots more. A more advanced example are the generics that disappear when the code is compiled. I understand the arguments for doing it this way, but I disagree with them - if you have generics, you ought to be able to query the types at run-time. There are lots and lots of highly questionable design decisions - basically, 20 years of backwards compatibility.

It's past time to clean house. Building a new language on top of the established JVM technology seems like a very good idea indeed. Perhaps Scala can fulfill this role...

Comment: Never talk to US law enforcement (Score 4, Insightful) 92

by bradley13 (#47754771) Attached to: Early Bitcoin User Interviewed By Federal Officers

This guy actually talked to the federal agents who came knocking on his door? Stupid, stupid...

Assuming these were probably FBI or Secret Service agents, my understanding is that the only record allowed of the interview consists of their handwritten notes. You are not allowed to make a recording. This means that, afterwards, they can put any spin on the interview that they want. If you disagree, they can and will throw you in jail for lying to a federal officer.

The only possible reply to these officers should be "I have nothing to say to you".

Comment: That's not to agile's credit (Score 1) 239

by bradley13 (#47727979) Attached to: Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'

Project management method "X" methods work great, if you have a good technical project lead and a good team; otherwise it sucks.

You can replace "X" with Agile/Scrum, or you can replace it with any other damned thing - it doesn't matter. A good team with a good project manager will get good results. A bad team, or a teach with a lousy PM, will not. The current love affair with Scrum is driven by PHBs looking for a magic way to get good results out of bad teams. It's really that simple.

It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. -- Jerome Klapka Jerome