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Comment: Re:Media (Score 2) 285

by jd (#47773019) Attached to: Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

Yeah, I can see you do great on statistics, too.

Death stopped being binary some years back (suggest you read medical news) but this isn't about that. This is simple numbers. If device X kills N times out of 100 and device Y kills M times out of 100, where N != M, the lethality of the devices is not the same.

Comment: Re:Media (Score 4, Insightful) 285

by jd (#47772299) Attached to: Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

Cops are not doing a good job. Estimates range from 400-1000 unjustified deaths a year. To put it into context, since 9/11, there may well have been 4 times as many unjustified deaths by cops in America as unjustified deaths by Al Queda.

That isn't acceptable by any standards.

Or perhaps if you'd like, I can put it another way. There have been three times as many incidents of manslaughter and murder by American cop per capita of population than there have been incidents of manslaughter or murder in Britain in total.

That number is WAY unacceptable.

Cops carrying guns confer no benefit to those in the area (80% of bullets fired by police handguns miss their target, they don't vanish and they do hit passers-by, sound crew, hostages, etc).

Cops carrying guns confer no benefits to law and order, since alternatives from stun guns to pain rays (microwave stimulation of nerve endings, if you prefer) to teargas (which isn't great but is less lethal than a lump of lead) already exist and criminals are less likely to carry when running is a more practical option than a shoot-out. That has always been the British experience, which is why you now get regular shoot-outs where British cops are stupid enough to carry where you'd previously have had maybe one a decade versus an armed response unit.

Cops carrying guns confer no benefits to the cop, since dead weight can result a cop becoming dead, accidental shootings are very likely to produce retaliation, and "utility" belts stop utilizing when they terrify locals, intimidate visitors, but bolster thugs who gain greater mobility and dexterity from not wearing them.

Look, this is all very simple. Too simple for nutters, perhaps, but simple nonetheless.

First, preventing crime by eliminating prime environmental and psychological causes is a good start. If there's no crime, there's nobody to shoot and nobody shooting back.

Second, preventing cops turning bad by preventing them developing a "them vs us" attitude is essential and you don't achieve that by giving them scrutineering powers and not those they are scrutinizing. It has to be a two-way street to prevent that kind of mindset.

But that requires one additional ingredient to work properly:

Third, preventing cops turning bad by preventing them from being have-a-go heros. They should work with the community, be a part of the community, guard it from within. And, like all good guards, they should NOT be on constant alert. They should be constantly engaging on a social level, not a paramilitary one. If a crime happens, let the criminal go somewhere where there ISN'T a huge danger to others. Inanimate objects can look after themselves, people need a bit more effort.

It is better to let a gang "get away" from the scene, with no bullets fired, be tracked safely and then be apprehended INTACT when it is safe to do so. Going in there guns blazing will cause excessive damage, risk the lives of those supposedly protected and served, and for what? Some carcases. No trial, no determination of the chain of events, no proof even that the dead body is the guilty party. It can't exactly answer questions in the dock, can it?

No, disarm the cops, give them high-res cameras (and maybe girls gone wild t-shirts, I dunno), and let them be what cops should be - good citizens. They are NOT the army, they should NEVER be allowed military-grade weapons, they should deal with matters calmly, quietly and sensibly.

If they're not capable of that, they're incapable of good. Of any kind.

Comment: If a ruggedized camera breaks (Score 2) 285

by jd (#47772225) Attached to: Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

Then it wasn't an accident. Simple as that. People seem to forget that you can build these devices to withstand any force a cop's skull is likely to take, and more besides.

Storage is a non-issue because you don't need to store a lot locally. Local storage can be limited to the time the cop is outside of radio contact plus the time to clear enough buffer that no information is lost. So unless the cop is riding a motorbike in a cage, it's just not enough to create serious issues.

Battery will be a bigger issue. It'll take a lot of batteries to keep transmitting at a decent resolution. However, as cops with guns cause more trouble than they prevent, that's also easy to fix. Sufficient batteries will consume no more weight than a sidearm plus extra ammunition.

Actually, it might not be that bad. With the proposed mandate for vehicle-to-vehicle communication, a cop radio could turn the entire road network into a gigantic adhoc wireless network. You don't need as much power for a short-range transmission. Might as well get some value out of these stupid ideas.

Comment: Re:Developers prefer Ubuntu? (Score 1) 231

by jd (#47771989) Attached to: How Red Hat Can Recapture Developer Interest

Why would developers want/care about long-term support?

There are a tonne of packages out there that will grab source from a repository and compile in a root jail. You now have binaries for every permutation of dependencies ever produced. Test harnesses (you remember those, the things developers are supposed to use) can give you a list of regressions and compatibility bugs within minutes of a commit.

Long term support encourages developers to be lazy, to presuppose things that may not be true.

Developers are best supposing nothing, testing everything and isolating the conditional (which they should be doing anyway, good software design). If you don't have time to be competent, then you certainly don't have time to be incompetent. So find time.

Comment: Re:Developers prefer Ubuntu? (Score 0) 231

by jd (#47771969) Attached to: How Red Hat Can Recapture Developer Interest

As a developer, I categorically state I hate Ubuntu for development work. It is horribly sub-optimal, poorly organized and package management is unstable and space inefficient. It also doesn't run on several of my white box PCs. Very standard, old white boxes.

Red Hat is only marginally better on efficiency, but recovery is ugly.

Gentoo would be ok, except that compiler flags are a bother. I can't use utilities for using profiles to calculate optimal flags when those flags will vary down the dependency chain.

Linux From Scratch is good, it's essentially how I put together my own systems between the last of the MCC builds and the first Red Hat I considered tolerable enough.

Look, I don't expect miracles immediately. Only after the updates from the repository. There simply isn't any reason for so much broken code and suboptimal configs. Not when Ubuntu is run by a billionaire who can afford a few extra hard drives for high-end builds.

Comment: Welcome to the free market (Score 1) 333

by jd (#47762443) Attached to: Comcast Tells Government That Its Data Caps Aren't Actually "Data Caps"

Where providers are free to gouge and customers are free to... well... complain on Slashdot, but that's about it.

It's only actually free when there's freedom. Freedom to choose between genuinely different providers is a start. If they go to the same tier 2 provider, then the that will define the prices and services, so isn't a choice at all. If they ARE the tier 2, then they're the ultimate source of services and pricetag for all the tier 3s out there.

But there has to be more, since bandwidth throttling dictates bandwidth availability downstream. You can't sell what isn't there - unless you're Time-Warner or Comcast, of course. Try that with a physical product ("It'll cost you $elebenty, payable now, no refund, and if it doesn't do what we claim, that's not a lemon, that's the fault of some unidentified someone doing something somewhere somehow and we'd rather screw you than bother them"). So, freedom to know what you're actually buying and freedom to use statuary rights to obtain that product or a refund.

This is actually one reason I'm a little unhappy with free software. It has been telling vendors that it's ok to not provide what is offered. Not so much by actually doing that - free software has been, in general, superb about being up-front about what it can and cannot do, known defects and limitations, etc. More by saying in the license that the producer is entitled to lie through his teeth without consequence. A quick look at Oracle's conduct shows that vendors have paid very close attention to that clause.

Free Software relies on there being a viable alternative, that users can go elsewhere if dissatisfied. The resilience to fixing bugs in GCC and GLibC, in present and prior administrations, demonstrate that when viable alternatives are scant, such software is too complex to fork or replace unless it gets really, really bad. Which it has occasionally done.

When it comes to cable companies, it's infinitely worse. You're not in a position to run fibre from your home to an alternative tier 2 in another State. Partly because of expense, partly because laws governing interstate activities make it impossible for private individuals, and partly because the cable companies would raise all hell, three quarters of bloody murder and a dash of pint of high water to stop you. Which would not be hard for them, all they need to do is to persuade the tier 2 provider to not sell the capacity. If that failed, they could keep you tied up in knots with the FCC over whether you were an unlicensed telecom operator or not. Mind you, some of you might like knots. I dunno. If all else failed, they could SWAT the people running the cable, get you listed for suspected terrorist ties, or just repeatedly run a backhoe through your cable until you got the message.

You have no choice. You have no freedom. The cable operators have been redefining "monopoly" and "telecommunications" to whatever serves their purpose, not yours, and on multiple occasions. They have been free to do so because everyone likes simplified services and nobody in the States is going to vehemently oppose the "market at work". Even when it clearly doesn't. Not until it is far, far too late to stop things happening.

And we're way past it being too far. It was too far when telecos started replacing copper for fibre at select spots. Supposedly to improve service (which never improved). The reality was that DSL companies competing with the teleco all went out of business where this happened. No great surprise, you can't run DSL over fibre and everyone knew it. It was too late when telephonic "service of last resort" stopped being mandatory in many States. It was too late when ADSL was all private users could buy, SDSL was only sold to select businesses.

It was too late when rival multistate networks got bought up by the Big Telecos with not a murmur from anyone.

It was not because these were fatal in themselves, it's because people had become too stupid and too utterly dependent on being spoonfed by corporate giants (who are far less efficient than any big government ever thought of being, except at defrauding customers). The time for people to learn to think had passed. There wasn't anything left to think about. There were no examples to learn from. All that was left was a self-inflicted oblivion.

It's as if a hundred billion endpoints all screamed out and then fell silent.

And no Consumer Jedi to notice or care.

Comment: The footage doesn't matter. (Score 1) 300

by jd (#47752663) Attached to: Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

The publicity is everything to the terrorists. Censorship is, in some ways, even better for them, as rumours (which they can start) can make unseen footage far worse than reality and the Streisand Effect works just fine, bringing people into discussions.

No, this isn't something you can fix in the middle. You have to fix the users, instead. You have to damp down emotional responses and increase rational duscussion. There is no terrorism without fear, there are no causes without fear.

Eliminating the instinct (it's not an emotion, it's baser than that) of fear us impossible - and probably unwise if possible. But damping it, and raising calm rationality, is possible.

And it will not only make video nasties unimportant, it will make the terrorists who make them an endangered species.

You can't fight terror with blinkers or peril-sensitive sunglasses, or even with weapins. Because terror is in the mind, be it their mind or yours. And to fight in your mind the ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night, a warplane is a very messy, expensive and stupid solution. You can only fight mind with mind.

Comment: Re:My opinion on the matter. (Score 2) 807

by jd (#47752559) Attached to: Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

Skepticism != Cynicism.

When the distinction becomes blurred, you no longer have skepticism.

All things should be questioned. That doesn't mean forever.

All things should be subject to scrutiny. That doesn't mean wasting cycles.

Once an issue is settled, it's settled until new data brings it back into question.

Things should be fixed before they break, not after, but only with something verifiably better. If it's not verified, it's not better.

Enough of the common sense that you yung 'uns lack. Back to the boot process.

The original boot process was never great. A very limited range of states, temperamental scripts, poorly documented behaviours, wide variation in precise behaviour between implementations, potential vulnerabilities, ghastly completion time, horrible dependencies, etc.

This has been replaced with an alternative that is new, shiny and creates exactly the same problems but in a completely new way.

A pox on both your houses.

Still, six is better than the two runlevels offered by Windows, which are even slower, even less stable and even less secure. What's worse than pox. I know, Ebola on Windows.

The lot of you are a disgrace. All three systems are less designed than congealed. And the Unix man pages were written by Vogons. Drunk Vogons. Practicing poetry whilst smashing snails with hammers.

Comment: Well, that does it for Facebook. (Score 1, Insightful) 193

by jd (#47740745) Attached to: Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

Not that I had any trust in them anyway.

Blu-Ray, and indeed any modern optical storage, is very short-lived precisely because it's designed to be cheap. The laser disks used to store the Doomsday Project in Britain were still readable after 20 years. Modern optical storage decays typically within 5. Less, as the density goes up. And failures take out far larger percentages of the storage.

Magnetic tape is still the only trusted long-term backup medium. I wouldn't suggest it for something like Facebook purely because of seek times, but it's hard to think of any viable alternative.

With Blu-Ray, to guarantee to avoid complete disk loss, you'd have to be re-archiving the entire archive annually. That adds an enormous invisible cost to the project. They're not going to do that. Which means there's guaranteed loss of backups. How much depends on the exact storage conditions but it won't be pretty.

As for better ability to withstand conditions, it again comes down to the nature of the storage. Optical disks are highly vulnerable to a lot of things that hard drives are not. Overall, optical storage usually performs very badly in comparison, as the things hard drives are vulnerable to are cheaply avoided but the things optical storage can be attacked by are usually a lot harder to deal with.

I'm sure you're aware that none of the above formats (tape included) are considered "archival quality" - they just don't have the sort of durability required by that categorization. No known digital format does and there's nothing you can do to stabilize them. It's a big research area. For now, tape is considered the only method that is economic and durable, with the lowest loss of data per failure.

Comment: Re:Raptor? (Score 1) 107

by jd (#47740703) Attached to: Air Force Requests Info For Replacement Atlas 5 Engine

They often do. Before, they always did. Absolutely standard practice.

It would be better if the government wouldn't buy anything, even from vendors of vendors, without full accounting. If you can game the system with shells, you might as well not have a system.

Having said that, there's a lot of creative billing because of the specifics of how the paperwork is done, and there's a lot of creative bidding where costs are deliberately deflated or ignored (all for the very best of reasons, I'm sure) with the upshot that the actual cheapest bid isn't necessarily the one that's cheapest on paper, and where actual costs can be 2-3 times the provisional guesstimates.

And, no, contractors actually don't charge a lot. People get out of government work and into purely private enterprise not because the jobs are better (they're usually far worse) but because the pay can be double. That's why government contractors get such a bad image. That's not where the talent pool is. The "get up and go" got up and went. The brain drain is not pretty.

If government wanted people with skills doing the skilled jobs required, they need to outbid the Googles of the world. They need talent with the calibre to get the job done right. The first time. Talent that doesn't have fighter pilots blanking out from lack of oxygen because they actually bothered to design things that work. Talent that doesn't have glass-cockpit aircraft carriers dead in the water because of a division by zero error in a Windows application.

The starting price needs to be higher. Much, much higher. Not only to be realistic, but to be realistic with the people needed to MAKE it realistic.

Comment: Re:Fuck Lockheed (Score 1) 107

by jd (#47740675) Attached to: Air Force Requests Info For Replacement Atlas 5 Engine

Nobody is going to increase their expenses voluntarily. Especially on something like a rocket, where local disasters are very public and very expensive. And doubly not in a situation where increasing the cost of the contract would be a political nightmare likely solved by the contract moving to someone else buying from Russia.

When money talks, nobody asks questions.

Comment: Re:Fuck Lockheed (Score 2) 107

by jd (#47740667) Attached to: Air Force Requests Info For Replacement Atlas 5 Engine

It's what you get in a market economy. Sorry, but outsourcing is cheaper and the cheaper product will win over the better product 99 times out of 100. Especially when it comes to government, where they're legally obliged to go with the cheapest bid.

That's just the way the country is set up. Anyone with a brain would tell you that outsourcing even across State lines, never mind international boundaries, carries political risk. The nation decided, rightly or wrongly, that saving money was more important. If the roll of the dice is against you, well, too bad. That happens.

It also carries geological risks. Putting all the chip factories in one earthquake-prone zone in Asia - and, indeed, along the same bloody faultline, was a marvelous piece of risk management. Penny wise, pound foolish, as us Brits usually say. After the fact and rarely before.

That brings me to the related point of putting vital infrastructure in dangerous locations.

Silicon Valley (a highly polluted zone that exports contaminated water at vast expense to places that dump the water back into Silicon Valley's water sources) is a remarkable piece of stupidity, being as it is, situated on one fault line and close enough to another. Silicon Forest (Oregon/Washington State) has taken up some of the IT load, but given that the locations are still on the Ring of Fire and thus still in dangerously unstable territory, the industry has successfully doubled the chances of catastrophe.

Most of the design engineers not located in these places are in India (a nice, stable location with no deadly diseases rampaging through the countryside and no risk of religious civil war or war with any neighbouring country), Israel (ditto except for the disease AFAIK), China (great choice, no problems there!) and Jaan (not the least bit likely to get into a conflict with neighbours, have power stations explode, suffer earthquakes or tsunamis, or lunatic politicians hell-bent on causing a crisis).

You can not win the game, and you are not allowed to stop playing. -- The Third Law Of Thermodynamics