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Comment: The Freedom to not starve... (Score 2) 304

Paraphrasing Tom Morello, "Freedom is the freedom to starve."

A very interesting Sci-fi book "By Light Alone" by Adam roberts takes this concept to the extreme... Basically, the invention of photosynthetizing hair that makes it mostly unnecessary to eat, quite unexpectedly needs to a pretty scary inequality dystopia, and part of the issue is exactly that people no longer need to work to not starve. Also a really good book in my opinion driven by some interesting characters.

Comment: Don't blame the submitter... (Score 1) 125

by js_sebastian (#47658073) Attached to: The Fiercest Rivalry In Tech: Uber vs. Lyft

This is just low-down mafia-level diversion bullshit. This isn't rivalry, and Uber/Lyft aren't fucking tech, they're taxi services that HAPPEN to be tied to using a smartphone - guess what Taxi drivers are tied to all day? A smartphone AND a CB radio AND a bunch of other shit that makes them actually worthy of the tech title.

Submitter should be stopped from posting any more stories until he figures out exactly what is tech worthy. Of course, given the 7 digit UID, not likely.

This was on the front page of the business section of the wall street journal today, including the catchy title about a tech rivalry, so if you disagree that they are tech companies, don't blame the submitter.

From my point of view, Uber and Lyft are using technology to try to disrupt a huge industry, which makes them more interesting than yet another social network or phone app that hopes to live off monetizing users through ads.

Comment: Don't believe we have impact? (Score 5, Insightful) 342

I'm not convinced people in mud huts were numerous enough or destructive enough to manage the megafauna extinctions. A lot of this hysterical screaming about how we're destroying the planet seems a lot like hubris.

On certain level, the idea that we have that much power pleases the egos of some people.

It may seem like hubris, but the fact is, it's not. Look at this:

The preponderant majority of land mammals in the world, by weight, are either humans or food for humans. For vegetation, the picture is not much more encouraging: all of the world's wild forests weight less and cover way less land than our agriculture does.

There was a whole special report in the economist about the idea that we are now in a different, man-made geological era, the "anthropocene":

Comment: Re:California = 1D10T Errors (Score 1) 420

When you demand the government subsidize you with free grazing land because you don't own enough land to raise your cattle without it? It is similar to the government subsidizing people with kids with food stamps because they don't have the money to feed them. Whats the difference?

Our hamburgers do not contain any government-subsidized kid meat, you insensitive clod!

Comment: Not so specialized anymore (Score 1) 355

by js_sebastian (#46773929) Attached to: Kids Can Swipe a Screen But Can't Use LEGOs

Those same pieces can be used to build what ever you can imagine.

No so easily nowadays. Lego comes with huge numbers of very specialized pieces which are taylor made for that particular model. You can get the basic bricks but most Lego today is aimed at building one model and then playing with it rather than getting a pile of bricks and letting your imagination run wild.

Not quite true. This was a trend at lego some years back, back when the company was in a bit of a slump. More recently, they try to limit the number of new custom pieces designed for each set. Quite apart from re-play and creative value, each new part requires an expensive and costly to maintain custom mold (we're talking some 100k euros if I recall correctly). In a documentary I saw, the lego designer was saying that for the police station she was developing she was not using any custom parts (that were not already in use in past sets) so she was able to instead add a custom police-dog figure.

Comment: Lego is high tech (Score 1) 355

by js_sebastian (#46773843) Attached to: Kids Can Swipe a Screen But Can't Use LEGOs

It also fails to acknowledge that LEGO is itself technology -- relatively modern, high technology in the grand scheme of humanity

It actually is... saw a documentaries on their factories and design process, it's pretty high tech. Designer scults a model out of clay, 3-D scans it, refines it on the computer. Then they build a custom metal piece into which plastic will be poured to create the pieces (don't know how that part works but each one costs some 100k) and have machines that pump out large numbers of pieces with fairly demanding tolerances (so the pieces will hold together tightly but not jam), which go into conveyor belts that automatically sort the right number and type of pieces into the different sets, etc...

Comment: Re:No problem (Score 1) 423

by js_sebastian (#46597709) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Preparing For Windows XP EOL?

It's not stupid. It's quite common for specialised equipment to rely on drivers written for a particular OS. We have a 3 year old transmission dynamometer that cost us $180,000 that is controlled by redundant commodity x86 hardware running XP. There is no need to keep the OS up to date as it serves only one purpose.

Stupid lusers these days think all "PCs" are to be connected to the Internet and used for browsing file sharing sites.

Before you pay 180k for a piece of hardware, you should require either one of (a) a support contract that commits them to developing drivers for the foreseed lifetime of said hardware or (b) an open source driver and specification that allows you to develop the driver yourself. A combination of the two is also possible, where the source code and spec is held in escrow, and you have access to it only if they go under or breach their support contract.

Comment: Re:Teach the fundamentals (Score 1) 246

Precisely. When I was at UCSC, the students were agitating for a course in ... [wait for it] ... VAX Assembler.

The department (quite rightly) ignored our plea.

lol the wisdom of history! I think you have now earned the right to include "get off my lawn kids" in your slashdot sig without losing karma.

Comment: Re:Really? (Score 1) 125

by js_sebastian (#46155079) Attached to: Asus Announces Small Form Factor 'Chromebox' PCs

I'd just like a standard PC in that form factor. The only real "full" PC I've seen that might be decent would be Apple's Mac Mini, especially in the video department.

Something that size with 128GB SSD, decent CPU, decent GPU, and 8-16 GB of RAM would be a nice change, and since it would mount on the monitor (if it followed the VESA standard), it would be completely out of the way.

..and I would want mine to be fanless, with no spinning of any kind involved to make noise in my living room. And for that, I'm more than willing to sacrifice some performance.

I recently solved this with a box from fit-PC, bought diskless and fitted with a 128GB SSD. But the asus offering would have been interesting if I did not yet have a fanless living room box, particularly given the price (so long as I can swap in a reasonably sized SSD, and boot it into my choice of linux distro, of course).

Comment: Re:This is more of authentication than encryption. (Score 5, Informative) 106

by js_sebastian (#46102733) Attached to: Building Deception Into Encryption Software

TFA was murky, but generating bogus data? If one is brute forcing a data blob, how can it make stuff up?

Actually, it wasn't murky. That it cannot work for arbitrary data types is spelled out towards the end. This is for data of which the encryption system knows the data type well enough to fake it, and the encryption system has to be built to target the specific data type. The examples given are credit card numbers or passwords.

For instance imagine a password manager that, for every decryption attempt with a wrong master password, returns a different set of bogus but plausible passwords. How would a brute force attack automatically determine which one is the "real" set of passwords of the user, even if it can guess the right password?

Comment: Re:the old college time table does not work for al (Score 1) 122

by js_sebastian (#45844861) Attached to: Are High MOOC Failure Rates a Bug Or a Feature?

The college time table does not work that well for people who are working.

Exactly. But a good thing of MOOC is that you don't have to stick to the time table: you can take your time and spend several terms before finishing a class if you have other priorities, especially if you don't care about certificates.

I signed up for a class on ancient greek literature (not exactly my field) on edx last june, when the class was about to end. I continued it in the following term, but did not quite manage to finish it and will do the last few lessons this month. For me this is a success because I had a good time and learned some interesting stuff, and will eventually get to the end of the material, but in terms of MOOC statistics I have failed to complete the class twice already.

Comment: does it have to be PHP? (Score 0, Offtopic) 227

by js_sebastian (#45214139) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Do You Choose Frameworks That Will Survive?
Maybe one reaosn PHP framworks come and go is how broken the underlieing language actually is and just how much a framework needs to do to compensate for that, leading almost to a new language that therefore needs a very big community to even survive.

For comparison of how simple a framework can be when the underlieing language is sane, just look at python flask. Not that i'm saying that's the solution to your particualr problem.

The reward of a thing well done is to have done it. -- Emerson