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Comment: Re:Falsify the Big Bang (Score 1) 96

by harperska (#48948931) Attached to: ESA: No Conclusive Evidence of Big Bang Gravitational Waves

If you come up with a different theory that can explain doppler shift and the cosmic microwave background, as well as all other phenomena predicted by the big bang theory, while simultaneously correctly predicting observations that the big bang theory fails to predict, then yes, it is possible.

Comment: Re:Demonstrates the need... (Score 1) 220

by harperska (#48929425) Attached to: Anonymous No More: Your Coding Style Can Give You Away

Even when following a coding style guide 100%, there is still generally enough leeway to allow for plenty of personal style. There's the words you use to name things, use of whitespace and grouping of statements, basically everything about a piece of source code that's lost if you compile and then decompile a program. Just like the prose from two different authors are distinct from one other, even if they go through the same copy editor to fit a publisher's style guide. And if your corporate style guide requires your code to be indistinguishable from decompiled code, you need to find a new job.

Comment: Re:Bye_bye, Blackberry (Score 1) 307

by harperska (#48882339) Attached to: Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps

Yes, not enough people understand net neutrality. No, what he is saying is completely illogical and is in fact 180 degrees backwards. His argument isn't wrong due to any libertarian idea about government interference. To understand why his argument is wrong requires understanding a distinction between platforms vs users of said platform.

Net neutrality is about classifying ISPs as common carriers. Common carrier laws state that the providers of certain platforms (e.g. shipping companies, ISPs) must treat all users of that platform (e.g. customers who want to ship a product, websites serving content) equally. The law says nothing about the opposite, and a user of a platform is perfectly within their rights to give preferential treatment to a particular provider over another. If you buy something and have it shipped to you, that retailer will usually either have FedEx or UPS as options, but rarely both.

The Blackberry CEO is arguing two things. First, he is arguing that app platforms should be treated as common carriers. That is a fair argument. I could get behind mandating that app platforms should treat all apps equally (e.g. not give some apps access to certain APIs while restricting access to those APIs for other apps. Such a classification might be necessary if for example Apple started giving access to GPU acceleration only to big game studios that could afford to pay a fee, while small indie game studios that couldn't afford the fee would be forced to use a slower GPU mode). But where he is being completely batshit illogical is where he argues that once app platforms are common carriers, the users must give equal treatment to the platforms rather than the other way around. To use the previous example, it would be as if the government mandated that if you offered to ship something via UPS, you must also offer to ship it via FedEx. Such a mandate has never happened, and probably never will. And arguing that there should be such a mandate for app platforms shows either a complete misunderstanding of common carriers and net neutrality on the part of the Blackberry CEO, or a deliberate obfuscation and intentional confusion of net neutrality in an attempt to gain sympathy.

Comment: Re:Treason is one reason for the existence of 2nd (Score 2) 385

by harperska (#48858533) Attached to: FBI Seeks To Legally Hack You If You're Connected To TOR Or a VPN

First off, the Declaration of Independence was a call to arms, not a legally binding precedent. Only the Constitution can be used as the source of what is considered legal. Second, Using the second amendment to rationalize treason is absurd. The second amendment and the treason clauses are both within the framework of the US government. If you are planning on using the Declaration of Independence as precedent, you are talking about overthrowing the US government, which means throwing out the Constitution and starting over. So if you consider what the Constitution has to say about treason to be moot, you likewise must consider what the Constitution has to say about bearing arms to be moot as well, as you are declaring the Declaration of Independence to supersede the Constitution in its entirety.

Comment: Re:Why is this post even here? (Score 1) 786

by harperska (#48785357) Attached to: Michael Mann: Swiftboating Comes To Science

On the contrary I would argue that it does, if only because the Slashdot community is largely made up of intelligent people who value reason and rationality, except in the one odd case where there is an inexplicable propensity to climate change denialism. So it is cathartic, if nothing else, to occasionally stir the hornet's nest on this one issue where ordinarily scientifically-minded people throw reason out the window to defend a genuinely anti-science political stance.

Comment: Re:In other words. (Score 4, Informative) 127

by harperska (#48365643) Attached to: FCC Confirms Delay of New Net Neutrality Rules Until 2015

The FCC was established by an act of congress (Communications Act of 1934), and therefore mandated by congress to do exactly what it does. And constitutionally the executive branch, of which the FCC is a part, is tasked with defining the implementation of law. The system is working exactly as designed.

As far as other ways to enact net neutrality, the only other constitutionally acceptable way of enacting any sort of regulations is for congress to do it directly. And there is so much partisan infighting that no regulations would ever get made and those that would would be so politically driven that they would be worthless and generally undone after two to four years anyway. Plus, even if congress was populated solely by reasonable and intelligent people who truly had the American public's best interest at heart, they simply wouldn't have time to debate and formalize every conceivable necessary regulation in every sector of public existence. So instead congress creates agencies which are (theoretically supposed to be) free of party affiliation to come up with the regulations themselves. Thus the FCC, FAA, FDA, etc.

Comment: Re: It's the OS, Stupid (Score 1) 252

by harperska (#48178857) Attached to: Apple's Next Hit Could Be a Microsoft Surface Pro Clone

Calling it "Mach" is correct in the sense that the kernel is still the Mach microkernel, which came from NeXTSTEP. It does not have a BSD kernel.

It's BSD in the sense that _much_ of its userland is BSD, but certainly not all.

It also has many things that BSD does not have, which were proprietary from {NeXT/Open}STEP. For instance, the "netinfo" subsystem, the "defaults" subsystem, the plist architecture, Objective-C, XCode (which, afaik, is a modernization of NeXTs InterfaceBuilder).

My understanding, which granted is mostly wikipedia based, is that it is too simplistic to just say that the kernel is Mach. XNU, the kernel used by OS X, iOS, and Darwin, isn't just Mach but rather a mishmash of Mach, the BSD kernel, and a bunch of custom code to implement all that other stuff you mentioned.

Comment: Conventional Wisdom (Score 1) 610

by harperska (#48136167) Attached to: Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows

I'm not so sure about the assertion that alternative energy sources like wind and solar are considered more expensive than fossil fuels. I always thought that they were considered cheaper but not a serious contender to replace fossil fuel plants as the number of places on the planet that they are reliable enough for baseload generation are limited. And even though they don't contribute to air pollution, they aren't necessarily a magic bullet as they have other environmental impacts in more subversive ways (e.g. solar shades out large areas, which can have detrimental effects on the ecosystem that depends on the sun, especially in the desert where large solar installations are suggested, and wind turbines have a nasty habit of killing birds that try to roost on them). So arguing that wind is cheaper than coal seems to be a bit of a straw man argument.

Which is unfortunate, because even though renewables aren't perfect, coal is pretty bad environmentally and I think we do need to figure out a way to phase it out as soon as possible.

Comment: Re:Old issue (Score 5, Informative) 135

by harperska (#48059815) Attached to: Apple To Face $350 Million Trial Over iPod DRM

TFA mentions that is the reason for the lawsuit. Apple used their DRM specifically for vendor lock-in to shut out competition and unfairly raise prices.

That is RealNetworks' allegation as to the use and purpose of the DRM. Apple's rationale for using DRM on the other hand was an insistence from the record labels, according to Jobs' "thoughts on music" essay. The truth will come out in the court case, but I have a feeling that Apple's reason is probably more likely. They abandoned DRM shortly after that open letter at a time when the incentive for lock-in was probably stronger than ever, as they had just announced the original iPhone a month before the letter was published.

With that in mind, it really is silly to claim that any patching of a security flaw is done maliciously, just like how when Apple patches a bug that is exploited by a jailbreak, they are not doing it to 'get at' the jail breakers. They are simply patching a flaw and there is no rational reason for them to intentionally leave that flaw in place.

Comment: Re:Another Factor? (Score 2) 127

The GP argument was that Dream Chaser was rejected simply because it was a spaceplane like the shuttle, implying that the issues with the shuttle were due to it being a spaceplane. Yes, there were plenty of procedural issues that caused the mechanical issues to be a problem. If management had listened to the engineers about the limitations of the o-rings, it could have prevented the challenger disaster. Regardless, the point is that the shuttle had that particular point of failure, which Dream Chaser would not, and it has nothing to do with whether Dream Chaser is a spaceplane or not.

Comment: Re:Another Factor? (Score 4, Interesting) 127

by harperska (#48011697) Attached to: Sierra Nevada Corp. Files Legal Challenge Against NASA Commercial Contracts

Maybe, probably not. All of the problems with the shuttle were not due to it being a spaceplane per se, but due to it being a sideways stack rather than a vertical one. Dream Chaser is designed instead to be on top of a rocket, either an Atlas V or Falcon 9.

Challenger failed because the failed o-ring between the segments of an SRB caused a jet of flame that impinged on the external tank. Falcon 9 doesn't use any SRBs. Atlas V doesn't use multi-segment shuttle style SRBs, and may not use SRBs at all for manned launches. Either way, that particular failure mode would be the fault of the booster and not the vehicle. In addition, by being on the top of the stack, if there is any sort of catastrophic failure of the booster, the vehicle is equipped with a launch escape system that was impossible on the shuttle.

The Columbia accident, as well as countless near-misses that could have resulted in a Columbia style accident, was due to debris detaching from the external tank and striking the orbiter. If the vehicle is on top of the stack, nothing that breaks off of the rocket can physically come into contact with the vehicle.

Therefore Dream Chaser isn't vulnerable to either of the causes of loss of a shuttle orbiter, and being a spaceplane has nothing to do with it.

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