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Comment: Re:Who watches the watchers (Score 1) 209

by dkf (#46801577) Attached to: Google and Facebook: Unelected Superpowers?

The United States Federal Government was obstinately set up to minimize the aforementioned trend, but several big mistakes (Reynolds v. Sims and the 17th Amendment top the list) along the way and 200 years of mission creep have undermined most of the protections put in place.

You're claiming that Reynolds v. Sims was a bad decision? Without it, you could have stunning levels of effective disenfranchisement; all the party in power would need to do is to allocate all the strongholds of their opponents to as few seats as they could get away with (preferably one!) and split the remaining ones among the areas that they dominate, rapidly leading to an effective, perpetual one party state with no hope of ever changing it.

Any functioning representative democracy has to have something similar in place to limit the levels of unfairness. It might not stop shenanigans, but it limits things quite a lot. If you want to argue against it, please explain on what grounds you believe it to be a problem, and why what you would replace it with would not be worse.

Comment: Re:Texas needs water, not oil (Score 1) 182

by dkf (#46799327) Attached to: Obama Delays Decision On Keystone Pipeline Yet Again

Why can't we have a pipeline that brings fresh water, instead of oil?

Just make it illegal to use water for fracking and agriculture while there's a drought on and you'll have plenty of water for people to drink. Oh, you really want the water to support those industries? Let industry pay for what it costs to get it if they rely on it so much.

Comment: Re:Governance could be a problem... (Score 2) 62

The technology sufficient to divert an asteroid, especially with limited warning(which precludes some of the subtler 'attach an ion drive or give it a slow shove with a laser' type schemes), is probably pretty punchy, possibly 'basically an ICBM but better at escaping earth's gravity well' punchy.

Not if you detect it far enough out. If you've got plenty of time, even a small force (e.g., from laser ablation) is quite enough to divert an asteroid well away from the Earth; it's amazing what a small force applied over a long time can do, especially if you've got negligible friction.

Comment: Re:This does not seem to be news (Score 2) 76

by dkf (#46798325) Attached to: Preventative Treatment For Heartbleed On Healthcare.gov

Like everyone else they don't know if anything was taken. And frankly, Heatbleed is probably the least of the security issues Healthcare.gov has... I'd be way more worried about backbend systems, and then it doesn't matter what your password is.

As I understand it, the majority of the implementation of healthcare.gov is Java. Java's SSL implementation doesn't have the heartbleed bug at all (and implementing this bug would actually take a lot more work than doing it right). If there's a problem, it's most likely in a front-end load balancer; I don't know if you'd see a lot of user credentials in that case, as the damage wouldn't be in systems that handle client authentication.

The database(s) might be affected too, but you probably can't reach them from a normal system; the heavily firewalled approach is a favorite of Big Software Contractors and is actually right in this case. I suppose if they were affected, processing the update to them (carefully as you don't want to lose data!) would count as preventative treatment while still properly supporting the assertion that no real damage was done.

Comment: Re:Not a problem for MGP (Score 1) 376

by dkf (#46796435) Attached to: Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

The same ethyl alcohol is used for vodka, gin, rum, scotch, bourbon, brandy, tequila, Canadian whiskies, and liqueurs. MGP also sells some ethyl alcohol for fuel use, although for them it's a sideline, not their main business.

What a lot of brands I'd never heard of. Some of them have names that are confusingly similar to ones I've encountered, but not one is actually a known brand to me.

But at least some of the things are aged properly in the time between the bottle being filled and it leaving the plant. I mean, it's gotta be all of a few minutes!

Comment: Re:It is not the timelyness, it is the format. (Score 1) 100

by dkf (#46794031) Attached to: Minerva CEO Details His High-Tech Plan To Disrupt Universities

Lecturing is an ineffective way to teach because most people cannot pay attention to and retain a traditional lecture.

That's why students are told to take notes. That's why students are told to study outside lectures; tutorials and — where appropriate for the course — practical sessions in labs reinforce the lecture. You don't learn by just listening to someone, but it is part of how you learn.

Comment: Re:Not that good (Score 1) 176

by dkf (#46790175) Attached to: Heartbleed Sparks 'Responsible' Disclosure Debate

A site-license of almost any software will be a negliegable part of your operating budget.

It depends on what the software is. Some things are genuinely expensive, enough that while maybe a Fortune 500 can handle it, the many smaller companies out there tend to swoon at the prices charged. (These pieces of software tend to be in areas without major OSS competition.)

Comment: Re:So much nonsense in terms (Score 1) 256

by dkf (#46785851) Attached to: Criminals Using Drones To Find Cannabis Farms and Steal Crops

But a 400W LED fixture would produce nearly the same heat overall [as 400W HPS lights].

Well yes. Duh. All those watts have got to go somewhere, and that's virtually all going to be heat eventually. What matters is how much light you get for that power. And LEDs and HPS are fairly similar (enough that the details of exactly what you're doing and how they were manufactured matter; the luminosities per unit power are similar, according to Wikipedia).

Comment: Re:Not a surprise (Score 2) 132

by dkf (#46774849) Attached to: Code Quality: Open Source vs. Proprietary

Actually that was Eric Raymond, and it is evident that in fact there never are enough eyeballs (at least ones that can comprehend what they are looking at). The theory is sound but in practice it is not.

It's a fundamental truth that, the more of the system you have to comprehend to truly understand it, the harder it is to debug. Syntax problems? Trivial. Global liveness checking? Much harder. (There's just so many ways to screw up.)

Comment: Re:The Economist is British . . . (Score 1) 285

by dkf (#46774673) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Good Print Media Is Left?

The Economist is a *lot* more US-normative than most UK publications, yes. For one thing, a lot of their market is US; for another, they're generally proponents of the US and UK becoming more similar -- mostly by the UK changing.

Having bought the Economist in various places around the world, you should be aware that the apparent focus of the magazine is different in different places. The content is formally the same, the articles are identical, but the ordering is not; this changes surprisingly strongly how one feels it is centric towards one place or another. Always buy in the US? It will be US centric. It's quite different in France.

Comment: Re:Not a surprise, but no reflection of O/S vs Pro (Score 1) 132

by dkf (#46774635) Attached to: Code Quality: Open Source vs. Proprietary

First, we shouldn't confuse Coverity's numerical measurements with actual code quality, which is a much more nuanced property.

Yeah, but good quality might well correspond to some sort of measurable anyway. Provided you've got the right measure. Maybe some sort of measure of the degree of interconnectedness of the code? The more things are isolated from each other, across lots of levels (in a fractal dimension sense, perhaps) the better things are likely to be.

Maybe that would only apply to a larger project, and I'm not sure what effect system libraries (and other externals) would have. Yet the fact that it might be a scale-invariant approach makes me a bit more hopeful, as it wouldn't be so susceptible to the "ravioli code" problem, where the code's nicely packaged up into little pieces, but the pieces interconnect in a horrible mess of higher-level spaghetti code. Worked on a large project? You'll have probably seen it in the wild. (Yeah, I've had people argue to me that their code didn't use goto and so it had no spaghetti code problems, despite the fact that everything was so nastily interconnected that nobody else could understand it. If that's not indicative of a problem, what is?)

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