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Comment Re:Crazy? (Score 3, Interesting) 183

Sure, but after over 100 years of designing plastics with a wide variety of properties and applications, I don't see why we couldn't make plastics that can be (part of) road surfaces, too. If I understand correctly, the performance in wet conditions still has to be tested, but the temperature tolerance is already wider than that of asphalt. Combating the slippery when wet problem has been done before, too (e.g. the anti-slip coating on bath tubs or fiberglass yachts), although I am not aware of any efforts specifically to support cars and tires.

Comment Crazy? (Score 4, Interesting) 183

I've read the assertion that plastic roads sound like a crazy idea elsewhere, too. I don't think this ideas is crazy at all. Why would it be? We currently pave roads with asphalt which we get from crude oil. It makes sense to me that if we process the crude (or some other oil or source of hydrocarbons; say, recycled plastic) we can make something that works similarly well or even better.

Comment Re:Fourth Amendment (Score 2) 64

Well yes. But this is a protection against government snooping. It's my understanding that the EU right extend to protection against private entities spying. Like what Google/Facebook may or may not collect.

Right. In general, people in the EU worry a lot more than Americans about what corporations do with their data, and a lot less about what the government does with their data.

The article, though, is about government surveillance of its citizens, and suggests that there is no protection against this written in the US constitution, which it seems to me there actually is. Of course, as you and others have pointed out, that doesn't mean the data isn't being collected and retained anyway, but I do think there is actually a privacy law on the books, right there in the US constitution.

Comment Fourth Amendment (Score 3, Informative) 64

a right of privacy is only inferred by U.S. high courts and is not written into constitutions

You mean other than:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

?

Comment Re:The Sad Truth (Score 1) 495

As a European who moved to the USA a few years ago, I don't think that's quite right. Europe varies from people who have a seemingly unshakable faith in the government to people who will not trust any government, anywhere, ever. On one side, people won't stand up to the government, because why oppose them? On the other side, people won't stand up to the government, at least not openly, until they are fairly confident they can topple it.

By comparison, in the USA, I think a lot of people believe that, anything the government does, they will mess up. Still, depending on the issue, people still look to the government to take care of things. In general, I find there is a lot more debate Statesside about what the government should and shouldn't do, and I really like that.

Where I think the differences are is in that many European governments tend to stand up for the people more, whereas governments in the USA tend to facilitate things for businesses more. For example, people in Europe care a lot about limiting companies' access to their information, politicians listen, and the laws governing what companies can do with peoples' information are fairly strict. In the USA, many companies are somewhat reluctant to do business in Europe because of the legal hurdles. For an example of the differences, see the EU directive that requires websites to notify people of cookie usage.

As for broadband Internet, I think the folks on this discussion who said it is about competition have the right of it. Competition in infrastructure is difficult. So many European countries regulate the infrastructure, and the competition happens at the service level. When done well, the companies selling the services don't also own the infrastructure, and so the service providers compete on an even playing field.

Where I live in the States, Comcast owns the television cable and sells cable Internet service, whereas AT&T owns the telephone lines and sells ADSL. There are a couple of independent ISPs struggling to roll out their own infrastructure. If you are in one of the few areas serviced by the independent ISPs, you can reportedly get great service at good prices. If not, you will have to deal with Comcast (expensive, decent speeds, customer service varies) or AT&T (no experience with them, but they are said to be expensive, slow, and horrible). Elsewhere, there may be other providers, but the story is much the same: infra is owned by the same companies selling the service, so you only get one choice per technology. And the infrastructure is expensive to build, so don't hold your breath for multiple cable providers or even just one fiber provider. This is in a wealthy, high-tech, densely populated area. In rural areas, things are likely worse.

Comment No telco employees chiming in? (Score 1) 495

Every time we discuss some tech company on Slashdot, I'm surprised no-one from that company chimes in. In this thread, I have seen a lot of comments from various people, even including some who work for telcos, just not in the USA. Given that there are quite a few cool technologies to play with at telcos, surely some of the folks who work there must be on Slashdot. Am I wrong? Or are they forbidden from joining these discussions, and afraid of the consequences if they do?

Comment Is This a Bad Thing? (Score 2) 676

At first, I thought the story here is that the U.S. government spends 70% of its budget on writing checks. To which my response would have been that moving to something more efficient than the ridiculous banking system we have in the U.S. would then make the federal government much more efficient.

It appears to be that, rather, 70% of the budget is being paid out to individuals - much of it in the form of health benefits, social security, and income security. Is that cause for concern? Direct payments to individuals have increased relative to other things the federal government spends money on. Ok, the percentages move, that's expected. They're now at 70% of the total budget. Ok, that's somewhat interesting. But what's the actual story here? Is some program growing faster than tax revenue to the point that we have to be concerned that we won't be able to afford it anymore? Did total budget decrease, thus making the percentage larger? Do you feel that the government is spending money on things they shouldn't be spending (as much) money on?

The article provides some more detail: it claims the percentage spent on income security will drop from 25% in 2009 to 17% in 2019, as more is spent on "middle-class entitlement programs such as ObamaCare". So I guess the problem isn't with the 70% being paid to individuals, but with the individuals it gets paid to. Fair enough, we all have our own ideas about which groups the government should be sending money to (if anyone), but perhaps it would have been more productive to get straight to that part, instead of suggesting that 70% is rather high, when the thing you would like money to be spent on is actually part of that 70%.

Comment My List (Score 3, Interesting) 531

First things first:

aptitude so dependencies automatically get installed and uninstalled. Edit the configuration to not install recommended packages by default. Keep it lean!

Then:

openntpd (or some other ntpd) so the computer will know what time it is.

sudo so that I can log in as a regular user and still do system maintenance.

openssh-server (or some other SSH server) so I can log in remotely. I usually change the port number. Make sure root logins are disabled.

tmux so that I can have multiple shells in a single ssh session. screen works for this, too, but I recently switched to tmux.

rsync so that I can copy files around efficiently.

After that, it depends on what I want to do with the system. Usually, there will be at least some software development, so build-essential (libc-dev, gcc, make), irb, git. Usually ssh and some network debugging tools like ping and traceroute6.

I like zsh, so if I'm going to be using the system extensively, I'll install that. If this is my primary system, irssi and mutt. If the system has enough memory to run it, emacs24-nox.

If I want a GUI, xserver-xorg, xterm, whatever window manager I happen to like at the moment (wmii), some web browser (iceweasel).

It's been a while since I've last done this, so I may have missed some things, but this seems to be about it. The package names are for Debian-like systems and will likely be a bit different for other systems, but I don't generally maintain those.

Comment 4.8.1 has bugs, some of these have been fixed (Score 4, Informative) 148

Having been somewhat involved in the migration of a lot of C++ code from older versions of gcc to gcc 4.8.1, I can tell you that 4.8.1 definitely has bugs, in particular with -ftree-slp-vectorize. This doesn't appear to be a huge problem in that almost all the (correct) C++ code we threw at the compiler produced good compiler output, meaning that the quality of the compiler is very good overall. If you do find a bug, and you have some code that reproduces the problem, file a bug report, and the gcc devs will fix the problem. At any rate, gcc 4.8.2 has been out for a number of months now, so if you're still on 4.8.1, you may want to upgrade.

Comment Re:'looking at' NoSQL? (Score 1) 245

Check out https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-engineering/tao-the-power-of-the-graph/10151525983993920

To answer your question, you would basically ask TAO for all objects which are connected to the object that represents you by the "friend" association.

TAO would then do whatever database queries are necessary to get what it doesn't already have in cache, cache the results, and return them to you.

Comment Re: and so meanwhile... (Score 3, Informative) 245

Go back further to when MySQL got momentum and Postgres did not do SQL *AT ALL*.

[citation needed]

Actually, let me get some citations for you, although they contradict your statement:

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postgresql

In 1994, Berkeley graduate students Andrew Yu and Jolly Chen replaced the Ingres-based QUEL query language interpreter with one for the SQL query language

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysql

The first version of MySQL appeared on 23 May 1995

So it would appear that Postgres supported SQL before MySQL even existed.

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