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Comment Re:he should know better (Score 1) 205

That way both rights can be upheld and everyone should be happy. That's exactly what has happened in this case so I'm shedding no tears for anyone. The system is working, I see no reason for anyone to be complaining.

Except the ones who are "complaining" (in your terms) are ALSO exercising their free speech rights. Sure, a company should not be compelled to broadcast speech, but on the other hand they presumably want to attract customers. If they refuse to broadcast speech in a way that customers find unfair, the customers may not come. If enough people complain about such policies in public forums, the companies might be convinced that broadcasting the speech is in their interest. THAT is ALSO the "system working," by allowing complainers to exercise THEIR free speech rights, even if you don't agree with their perspective.

Comment Re:I might be getting old (Score 1) 141

Should I walk to the east and board an Elven ship to Valinor, for my time has passed?

Uh, the undying lands lie to the WEST. Cirdan waits for the elves on the Western shore so they can sail west! Unless you want to go hang out with the blue wizards, I don't know why you're heading east.

Comment Re:Pffft (Score 1) 65

Most business' neither need nor use a real time O/S. All applications that allocate random blocks of memory must find a way to deal with garbage collection, built-in GC makes it easy for the coder. Manual GC just means the coder must manage memory himself, which is mandatory on a proper real time O/S.

Comment Re:Short FPC history and goals overview (Score 1) 65

The summary says: "Twenty-three years ago, development started on the first version of the Turbo Pascal and later also Delphi-compatible Free Pascal Compiler" Perhaps you should re-read the summary, your paraphrase edits out the bit that makes all the difference???

Comment Re:As a techie (Score 1) 103

As a techie I find it absolutely amazing that there is a taxi company that didn't accept credit cards.

First off, many (most?) black cabs in London DO accept credit cards. TFS and TFA are unclear -- but the difference is NOT that you couldn't get a black cab that accepted credit cards before. It's just now ALL black cabs will be required to accept them.

Second, do you travel much?

Even in the past year, I've been asked in at least two major cities (in the U.S. and in Europe, not London) whether I needed a cab that accepts credit cards when I ordered one. Five years ago, it was still very common to be asked that question when you ordered a cab. While many cabs accepted them, you simply couldn't depend on it -- and (if my experience is indicative) you still can't depend on it in some places, even major cities.

I agree the Uber angle doesn't warrant being mentioned here, but the article has merrit even without that.

Credit cards have been accepted in cabs for many years, but it hasn't been consistent. Now London is forcing all drivers to accept them. While this is of very mild interest to tech people I suppose, it's hardly major news. It's kinda like if a city required all licensed restaurants to accept credit cards instead of being a "cash only" business or location. Would that be of significant tech interest??

(Actually, if any city tried to do THAT, I'd imagine the discussion here would be the opposite and it'd end up in "Your Rights Online" -- "How DARE they force us into a cashless economy! Today it's forcing businesses to accept credit, tomorrow it's no cash allowed! My right to anonymous transactions must be upheld!!!")

Comment Re:Less service? (Score 2) 438

I don't know how the expected lifetime service cost shakes down; but what the dealership cares about is the margins on the service and maintenance they perform; not the absolute cost.

I would suspect that battery swaps, while they involve a very expensive part, would be pretty unexciting for the dealer. Unless the manufacturer is extraordinarily tight-lipped, the price of the battery will become public knowledge; and the procedure for swapping it out(while it might require equipment that makes DIY impractical, depending on where the battery is located and what needs to be lifted) should be rigidly documented and leave little room for variation in how much labor you can bill for.

Somebody has to do the swap, and presumably they won't do it for free; but there is little room either for value-added expertise(as with problems that require diagnostic work) or just plain sleazy invoice padding(as with problems where the customer doesn't know the cost of the parts, or which parts are necessary, or what the expected labor time is); it's a rigidly scripted drop-in replacement of a single module.

Comment ...or the difference may be totally insignificant. (Score 1) 477

The marginal increase in the probability of an someone being a terrorist given that you know he's an engineer may be startling in relative terms, but in absolute terms it's insignificant.

Estimates of total active membership in terror groups worldwide is under 200,000, but let's assume there's even million active terrorists just for the sake of having round numbers and not having to quibble over where to put the decimal point. There are seven billion people in the world, so the rate of terrorist participation in the general population is 14 thousandths of a percent; let's call that p(T), and call the probability that someone is a terrorist given that they're an engineer p(T|E). Let's look at the absolute marginal difference being an engineer makes, i.e.:P(T|E) - P(T)

i. p(T) = 0.0001428
i. p(T|E) = 9 * P(T) = 0.001286
iii. P(T|E) - P(T) = 0.001143

So being an engineer increases your chance of being a terrorist by at most about 1/10 of 1% under wildly pessimistic assumptions. In fact the marginal difference is really more like 1/50 of 1%. Now it's interesting that the rates of terrorism are so much larger among engineers than other people, but it has little practical significance and being an engineer myself that's what I'm most concerned with. If you were designing a surveillance program and were picking out groups that need keeping tabs on, 1/10 % is a grasping-at-straws number

Comment David Edmundson answers your questions (Score 5, Interesting) 666

All of your questions are easily answered by reading the link provided at the top of the article:

Why does the desktop care who's booted it up?

The Init System "We don't care. It doesn't affect us."

logind Allows KDE to provide user-switching features.

Device Management Allows KDE to have access to your mouse and keyboard without root access and without random applications being able to sniff your keystrokes.

Inhibitor Locks Allows KDE to react to notifications like "the system is about to go down" and delay until a condition is met (example: delay a suspend until the lock screen is displayed and all your desktop windows are hidden behind the lock screen).

timedated and Friends Allows KDE to set time and date without root; allows KDE apps to be notified if time and date gets changed. (KDE currently runs a daemon just to watch for time and date changes, and they would like to get rid of this daemon and simplify their code.)

User Units If KDE takes advantage of the "units" in systemd, then when any part of KDE crashes or hangs, systemd will restart the misbehaving part.

that implies they won't work on *BSD at all. Right?

"Projects like [SystemBSD] bring the interfaces we need to BSD and as it gets more stable we should be able to start distributing features."

So really, choice is being taken away clear across the board. Either that or I'm missing something really big which implies systemd is not a strict dependency.

I encourage you to read the whole article and see what big things you are missing.

I don't know about you, but when I read that article I didn't think "Man those KDE guys are idiots, why would they want any of that." It all makes sense to me.

It's easier for me to believe that SystemD has some merit than to believe that all the Debian core developers are idiots, plus all the Ubuntu developers, and now all the KDE developers and for that matter the Gnome developers.

My biggest concerns with systemd are the monoculture of it all, so projects like UselessD and SystemBSD sound great to me. Force the SystemD guys to document and justify everything, and provide alternatives.

Comment "Doc" Smith's utlimate vacuum tube (Score 2) 102

About 70 years ago, E. E. "Doc" Smith wrote a series of books that are wonderful space opera: the "Lensman" series. The space battles just keep escalating throughout the series, getting more over-the-top.

My favorite plot point: they used the principles of a vacuum tube to make a device whose pieces included grids mounted in the asteroid belt, with more in other orbits closer in to the sun. In effect they turned the inner Solar System into one honking big vacuum tube, and created a weapon that could concentrate a significant fraction of the sun's output onto attacking enemy fleets. This was called the "Sunbeam". (Believe it or not, this wasn't the end of the escalation. The battles got even bigger after that.)

When you say "ultimate" vacuum tube, I think that one is pretty hard to top.

P.S. 200-word crossover fan fiction: what would have happened if the Battlestar Galactica reboot show had found Earth, and it was the Earth of the Lensman series?

When I was a teen and read those books, I just enjoyed them, but now I'm thinking that it would take a lot of trust to allow Kimball Kinnison to run around acting as judge, jury, and executioner. As readers of the books, we know that he was vetted as deeply as anyone could be by the Arisians, so he can be trusted with that kind of power; but it would be hard for the ordinary people in the world of the books to trust him that much.

Comment State the obvious, get flamed anyway... (Score 4, Insightful) 313

If anything, it seems like deGrasse came closer to giving team Space!!! what they wanted to hear than I would have expected, in that he left open the implication that nation states might develop serious interest in colonizing nearby rocks and would then very likely find themselves in need of contractors for various purposes; and enable some more fully private side activities.

The ROI of getting things into earth orbit is well established; and it has a correspondingly robust market, with more outfits clamoring to enter it. Satellites are all sorts of useful and need more or less continual replacement, repair, and so on. Nobody doubts that.

The technical feasibility of snagging asteroids and chopping them up is still in the more speculative stages; but that also has an obvious possible ROI if the technical challenges can be overcome.

The case for the moon or mars, though, isn't just a matter of corporate shortsightedness, it's a matter of "Please, tell me about the ROI, within, say, the next 250 years...". Planetary colonization would undoubtedly be cool; and might be something that a nation state would get interested in as part of a prestige contest(like, say, the last time we were at all serious about the moon); but nobody ever seems to have any plans, aside from vague references to Helium 3, for what would make lunar or martian living more cost effective than some sort of aggressive colonization of underutilized desert regions or something similarly unsexy. The bounteous iron mines of mars? The endless plains of razor-sharp, static-clinging, vitrified silicates of the moon?

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Jean Giraudoux