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Comment very un KDE like (Score 1) 754

That's interesting. In the past, KDE has tried to make their software not dependent on linux functionality so that KDE can work in other places, like BSD and -- god help us -- Windows.

Since I only used KDE on linux, that's kind of frustrating. E.g. KDE refused to use FUSE (Filesystem in Userspace) to access remote files because FUSE wouldn't work on all their platforms (back in 2006). Instead, KDE rolls its own remote access solution which only truly works with KDE-aware applications. In contrast, GNOME uses FUSE behind the scenes so that non-GNOME can seamlessly access the remote files.

So, KDE refused to use FUSE because that was too linux specific (at the time) but now requires systemd? Ugh.

I don't have a problem with systemd, and I'm all for focusing on functionality for the setups that most users actually use (e.g. Windows' lack of FUSE shouldn't stop KDE from using FUSE on Linux, BSD, etc.), but they should come up with a consistent policy for when they rely on an external dependency and when they don't.

(Aside: I wish there was some way users could fund fixes for specific bugs/implementation of specific features on KDE. That way we wouldn't have to wait a decade to get features users have been clamoring for.)

Comment It's probably not aimed at you (Score 4, Informative) 106

Julia is aimed at people who do math-heavy problems (like computational physics), so that might be why you haven't heard of it. I think it's been on /. before.

I've never used Julia (the computing resources I have access to don't support Julia), but I've been following it, and the language looks pretty impressive: the ease of python/matlab with the speed of fortran/c. It's pretty impressive for a language you can use interactively.

Comment I don't think they'd see it if it didn't hit (Score 1) 161

I don't think pilots would be able to see the laser unless the beams are _really_ close to the plane.

If the laser beam is passing through empty space, there's no way to see it. The beam has to hit something to be visible. The atmosphere has some stuff in it, even on a clear night, which is why shining laser pointers at the sky is useful for pointing out starts. However, my guess is that the beam will only be visible to people nearly colinear with the beam and won't be like a blaster shot that's visible even if it pases far from you.

In short if you're shining a beam more than ~20 m from a plane on a clear night, I doubt anyone would even notice it. If you get closer than 20 m, then at best, you're being seriously negligent. If the sky isn't clear, why on earth are you shining a laser into the sky?

Comment Subsidies (Score 1) 154

Everything is cheaper here.

I hear this a lot, and while I'll take your word for it that it's true in practice, I'm not convinced it's true in principle. There are a lot of federal and state subsidies to rural areas -- both direct and indirect. E.g. the only reason there's any telecommunications services out there is the Universal Service Fund -- a transfer from urban/suburban to rural areas.

I've seen it argued that the subsidies go the other way: the federal government sends more money per capita in direct subsidies to urban and suburban areas than rural areas. That ignores state subsidies (for schools, roads, etc.), but more importantly, spending per capita is not the right measure. The measure should be the ratio of government subsidies to government tax receipts from an area -- because that covers the implicit subsidies as well. I haven't seen this broken down on a country by county basis, but if you look at a state by state basis, rural states get some serious subsidies. E.g. Mississippi (the state in TFA) gets $2.34 in federal spending for every $1 it pays in tax revenue. It's $1.81 in Indiana. In contrast, it's $0.48 for New Jersey, the most densely populated state, and $0.54 in your home state. (Source) I don't know if you benefit directly from this, but you definitely benefit from others who are subsidized.

In other words I think the cost of living in rural areas is artificially deflated, and if the federal tax code and subsidies get tweaked, there could be a "giant sucking sound" in rural parts of the country.

Comment Re:I doubt it will stop depopulation (Score 1) 154

The internet can attract jobs back to rural areas.

Yes, I'm sure that good internet access can attract some jobs back to rural areas. However, I don't believe that the carrying capacity is that high; you're mostly talking about small business and self employed people. In contrast _a lot_ of people are leaving rural areas. A lot of recent job growth has been in the service sector, but that only happens where there's a reasonably high population density.

Comment I doubt it will stop depopulation (Score 2) 154

If you don’t at least try to think digitally, the digital economy will disrupt you. It will drain your town of young people and leave your business in the dust.

Unless rural Mississippi has some major perks that I'm unaware of, I'm not sure better internet access will really help those rural areas retain young people. Young people leaving rural areas is not a problem unique to Mississippi. It's happening all over the US, largely due to economic reasons such as the increasing efficiency of agriculture requiring fewer people. (See Rural Flight.) Unfortunately, instead of seeing rural flight as a natural response to economics, some chalk rural depopulation up to incredibly dumb Agenda 21 conspiracy theories, which I'm guessing most slashdoters haven't heard of but which some state legislatures seem to take seriously.

FWIW, I speak as someone who really likes rural areas, but I realize that it's not really compatible with the employment I want. The best I can hope for is living in/near a smallish city and getting enough money to buy a cabin in the woods for weekends.

Comment Controls the media (Score 1) 289

Putin can get away with what he's doing becaus the Russian people support it... Putin got away with what he did in Ukraine because he was able to keep the deaths of hundreds of Russian soldiers largely out of the press, and dismiss those who did tell their stories as full of shit.

Yes, the Russian people support Putin, but I'm guessing that a lot of that is because he controls the media and can manufacture crises at will. In short, I think the second sentence in your quote explains the first rather than the other way around.

Look at this plot of Putin's populairity rateing. His popularity had been slowly but steadily declining from 2008 to late 2013 -- dropping to a low of ~60% around the end of that period. What happens after that? A fortuitously timed olympics that stirred patriotism, and a manufactured Ukraine crisis to amp things up further. Putin's popularity jumped to something like 85%.

Yes, a 60% approval rating is high by international standards but is low by the standards of a media-controlling leader with authoritarian tendencies. I don't think it's a coincidence that a manufactured crisis followed a steady decline to a 60% approval rating. Perhaps he saw what was happening, decided 60% was a lower limit on what he would tolerate, and brilliantly boosed it after that. (He got lucky with the timing of the olympics, which would have boosted his popularity above 60% on its own since Russia did so well at the olympics, but maybe he decided that boost wasn't enough or would be temporary.)

Comment They still haven't recovered from 1990 (Score 1) 360

Bottom line the Japanese have no real trouble right now. I have never seen more jap. Tourists outside of Japan since the last decades.

Regardless of the cause of Japan's 1990ish mess, the fact is that their situation has not really improved since. Seriously, their GDP per capita has gone nowhere over the last two decades; your anecdote about Japanese tourists doesn't disprove that. Japan is still a wealthy country because they were ahead of the curve in 1990, so there have always been a lot of Japanese tourists.

Comment Employ everyone digging ditches! (Score 1) 360

so they employ people to do jobs that machines could do cheaper, because if you lay them all off, they will be a burden on society.

Why wouldn't they be able to find new jobs? Does society really benefit when you keep employing people to dig ditches by hand when you could just use an excavator? Why focus on making jobs rather than making progress?

Note that Japan has a _lower_ labor force participation rate (the number of employed people as a fraction of employable people) than the US (59.6% vs 62.5%). So even if Japan is not replacing people with machines in order to keep people employed, the result seems to be fewer people employed!

This effect is not news to economists, although it can be counterintuitive. The focus on keeping jobs at the cost of technological progress is known as the "make work bias", and it really isn't beneficial for anyone in the long term. See this for an economist explaining the situation:

Comment Well, something is amiss with Japan's economy (Score 1) 360

Look at a plot of GDP per capita over time for Japan. It has basically gone nowhere since 1990 (there's been some up and down but the trend is basically flat). Japan had a notably higher GDP per capita than the USA in 1990. The current situation is reversed by roughly the same amount.

Now, is this proof that old technology is to blame for Japan's famously stagnate economy? No, but it's telling that Japan has both 1990 technology and 1990 GDP per capita. In contrast, the USA has been continuously modernizing its technology and GDP per capita has followed suit, and a lot of the US economy's growth has been in the tech sector.

So yes, they have no proof, but it does sound about right.

Comment Re:No, relativity really does matter for GPS (Score 1) 248

Maybe. But it's telling that relativistic effects were considered in the design phase; the designers identified relativistic effects as being important. Perhaps they could have corrected for it after the fact. (Was/is the system really capable of being updated every two minutes?) If the designers didn't account for relativistic effects, they would have had a rude shock to discover that their multibillion dollar program kept failing every two minutes... I think a better argument is that they could have designed a system that didn't account for relativistic effects _if_ they knew that the effects existed, were important, and required a frequent-update mechanism to correct for.

Regardless, GPS has other examples of basic science turning into innovation. How about the atomic clock? It was first proposed with a concrete theory in 1930 (Rabi), but the first accurate one was produced in 1955. There's a good reason they didn't put a casio wrist watch in the satellite.

Comment Re:Bullshit, corporations can't wait decades (Score 1) 248

You can probably get away with just Special Relativity, rather than needing full blown General Relativity

It's actually closer to the other way around. The effect from general relativity is ~5 times stronger than the effect from special relativity (link below). I wouldn't have guessed that either.


Comment No, relativity really does matter for GPS (Score 1) 248

Allowing for relativistic effects makes it more accurate, but it would work fairly well without doing this.

No, GPS would be inaccurate to the point of being useless without accounting for relativistic effects. There are many references explaining this out there (see google), but here is one (emphasis added):

The combination of these two relativitic effects means that the clocks on-board each satellite should tick faster than identical clocks on the ground by about 38 microseconds per day (45-7=38)! This sounds small, but the high-precision required of the GPS system requires nanosecond accuracy, and 38 microseconds is 38,000 nanoseconds. If these effects were not properly taken into account, a navigational fix based on the GPS constellation would be false after only 2 minutes, and errors in global positions would continue to accumulate at a rate of about 10 kilometers each day! The whole system would be utterly worthless for navigation in a very short time. This kind of accumulated error is akin to measuring my location while standing on my front porch in Columbus, Ohio one day, and then making the same measurement a week later and having my GPS receiver tell me that my porch and I are currently somewhere in the air kilometers away.


e-credibility: the non-guaranteeable likelihood that the electronic data you're seeing is genuine rather than somebody's made-up crap. - Karl Lehenbauer