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Comment: Re:Enh as much as I dislike Oracle... (Score 1) 39

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46785245) Attached to: Oracle Deflects Blame For Troubled Oregon Health Care Site
I'd assume that their legal team would be running around the company quietly busting skulls if they didn't.

"Incur significant legal exposure during the course of fucking up a high-profile project for a government client" isn't one of those good strategies.

Doing one or the other can actually be surprisingly lucrative; but both, less so.

Comment: Ask Vlad Anything (Score 2) 328

by mbone (#46780915) Attached to: Snowden Queries Putin On Live TV Regarding Russian Internet Surveillance

When did Slashdot become infested with NSA apologists?

Putin does this show annually. I am sure that the callers are vetted, but the questions tend to be wide-ranging, and don't really seem scripted to me. (I liked the one about buying Alaska back.) After all, it's a 4 hour show.

Now, as for Snowden, I see this as positive. State security is not talked about that much in Russia, and he brought it up. While Putin said pretty much what Obama might have said in 2010 (in other words, it's fair to doubt whether he was being truthful), it gets it out in the open, and all in all I think that is a good thing.

Comment: Re:perception (Score 1) 312

Actually, the total tax burden for the working and middle classes in the USA is not that different from much of Europe. If you deduct the amount that the US citizen pays for health insurance from the amount that the EU citizen pays in taxes (while receiving socialised medical coverage), it's often quite a lot more. Part of the reason that the US has what appears from the outside to be an irrational distrust of government is that they get such poor value for money from their taxes. This leads to a nasty feedback loop (population expects the government to be incompetent, so it's hard to get competent people to want to work for the government, so the government becomes more incompetent, so the population expects...).

Comment: Re:Government picking favorites (Score 3, Insightful) 82

Don't forget market power: something that no sane individual trusts a telco to exercise benignly, and which even ardent free-marketeers recognize as pernicious if abused.

If fatty were benevolent, well liked, and known for fairness and decency, there'd be no reason to kick him out just for being the fat guy. However 'benevolent', 'well liked' and 'known for fairness and decency' are not concepts you associate with the phone company. Terms like 'smirking, sociopathic fuckweasels' more usually come to mind. You don't want any of them getting their hands on more market power than absolutely cannot be avoided.

Comment: Re:Government picking favorites (Score 2) 82

Wireless is no substitute for wireline, this much is undeniable.

How, though, is it relevant to a discussion of how to divide scarce spectrum between competing wireless use cases(doubly so when both of them inhabit markets shaped in part by a semi-substitutable wireline implementation of the service they offer)?

The question isn't whether wireless is the future (it isn't, and anybody who says it is is probably lying to save on capital investments) but whether broadcast television is the best use of an unfortunately finite natural resource; and, if it isn't, whether we owe broadcasters some sort of dignified exit strategy or whether we can just kill them and get on with our day.

Personally, I'd be the first to agree that the default 'Sell to Ma Bell or The Exaflood will eat your babies or something, something' policy is utter bullshit. Given the notable successes of ISM-band wireless protocols, despite the fact that the ISM band is kind of a slum, I'd advocate letting the poor telcoes suffer with their 4G and allocating more relatively unencumbered spectrum.

However, I'd also be the first to axe broadcast television as an institution, leaving not one transmitter upon a tower, to free up that additional spectrum. Broadcast TV is a howling wasteland and its arguments that it offers some sort of valuable public service aren't exactly getting more convincing as time goes on.

Comment: Re:Skateboard comparison = fail (Score 1) 98

I suspect that the hover mechanism could do a fair bit of the work; but I posited additional elements because it would be a bit of a downer if the hover mechanism were tuned too far in the direction of being a good thruster/steering element, since you'd be walking a potentially touchy compromise between being capable of aggressive maneuvers and being inherently stable, rather than liable to assist you in tipping over even faster and harder that gravity would cover if you leaned too far out of the equilibrium position.

Just for the sake of consumer safety and not reducing bystanders to hamburger too often, the preferred arrangement would probably be some sort of EDF/Vectored thrust arrangement: all the advantages of a standard electric propeller (ambient-temp exhaust, none of the noise and fuel-line hassle associated with teeny internal combustion engines, runs on normal batteries rather than some sort of hobby fuel); but no exposed blades to do surprising amounts of damage upon somebody's first mistake.

You'd have to avoid going too deep into propeller-beanie-chic zones of absurdity; but if you could get the actually-hovering bit worked out, I suspect people would overlook that for the chance to zoom around at dubiously sensible speeds.

Comment: Re:Bad, Bad idea (Score 4, Insightful) 132

by timeOday (#46774967) Attached to: Industry-Wide Smartphone "Kill Switch" Closer To Reality
What you describe is probably exactly how the kill switch will be implemented. (How else would it be implemented?)

All the hyperbole in here is silly. Try not paying your phone bill and you will discover there is already a "kill switch." The questions at issue are administrative - how to share the list of stolen phones between carriers, set the criteria for putting a phone on the list, etc.

Comment: Re:"print" vs "digital" is pointless distinction (Score 3, Insightful) 278

by timeOday (#46774315) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Good Print Media Is Left?
Your point is only true in theory, but not in fact. Because of how it evolved, the Internet broke the culture of willingness to pay for journalism. This has turned out to have some bad consequences - namely a decline in quality, and the dominance of ad-supported information, and unthinking acceptance of the ad-supported press.

Comment: Re:power cars? technically no (Score 3, Insightful) 154

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46773179) Attached to: 'Thermoelectrics' Could One Day Power Cars
My (admittedly pretty hazy at this point) memory of heat engines is that their theoretical peak efficiency depends on the thermal delta they manage to achieve. Exactly the same resource that thermoelectric materials scavenge (albeit at miserable efficiency) into electricity.

Anybody who actually has some grasp of the matter want to chime in on where and why you would use thermoelectrics (and how efficient they would have to be) rather than simple insulation or one of the various waste-heat-recovery systems that transfer some amount of the heat remaing in outgoing exhaust gases into incoming working fluids?

Is the thermoelectric advantage purely that, assuming material reliability is OK, they are a 100% solid state, trivial to scale from 'handle with tweezers and magnification' to 'pretty large', and their output is easy to transfer and useful for all kinds of things after just a little DC-DC cleanup, or are there actually situations where they might be absolutely more efficient than insulation and heat recovery, rather than just easier to tack in almost anywhere in a design that you have a few extra cubic centimeters and expect a temperature difference?

Comment: Re:Militia, then vs now (Score 1) 1450

by hey! (#46772927) Attached to: Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

It's not a "re-examination". It's a butchering.

You say that like it's necessarily a bad thing.

We've got to stop acting as if the Founding Fathers were like Moses descending from Mount Sinai with the Constitution chiseled on a couple of stone tablets. They were brilliant, enlightened men for their day, but the Constitution is not a document of divine inerrancy.

The US Constitution is the COBOL of constitutions. Yes, it was a tremendous intellectual innovation for its time. Yes, it is still being used successfully today. But nobody *today* would write a constitution that way, *even if their intent was exactly the same* as the founders.

For one thing it's full of confusingly pointless ("To promote the Progress of Science") and hoplessly vague ("securing for *limited times*") phraseology that leaves courts wondering exactly what the framers meant, or whether they were just pointlessly editorializing ("A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State").

It's also helplessly out of date. The Constitution was drafted before the existence of mass media and advertising; before photography even. It was the appearance of photography in newspapers that woke people up to the idea that they might have privacy rights that were being threatened. A Constitution written in 1900 would almost certainly have clauses explicitly recognizing a right to individual privacy and empowering the government to protect that right. A Constitution written in 2000 would almost certainly have clauses restricting the government from violating individual privacy.

And then there is slavery, an outright *evil* which is enshrined in the founder's version of the Constitution. That alone should disqualify any claim they may have had to superhuman morality.

So if we take it as given that the US Constitution is not divinely ordained, it's not necessarily a bad thing that the current generation should choose to butcher what the founders established. Would you re-institute slavery? Allow *states* to deprive citizens of liberty and property without due process? Eliminate direct election of senators?

So it's perfectly reasonable to butcher anything in the Constitution when you're proposing an *amendment* to the Constitution. That's the whole point. We should think for ourselves. In doing so, we're actually carrying on the work the framers themselves were doing. Every generation should learn from its predecessors, but think for itself.

Never appeal to a man's "better nature." He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage. -- Lazarus Long