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Comment: Biased by 20th century tech (Score 1) 90

by mcvos (#49707463) Attached to: On the Taxonomy of Sci-Fi Spaceships

While this claims to be about Sci-Fi ships, it's really about 20th century naval ships, and the SF inspired by 2th century navies.

The article is interesting for its historical perspective, but if you pay any attention to that historical perspective, you can't help but come to the conclusion that the taxonomy has been turned upside down several times over the past 200 years. For centuries, sea battles were about a big line of ships delivering massive broadsides, with just frigates in a support role. Then suddenly, we get cruisers and massive iron battleships with a fairly small number of enormous, long range guns in turrets, which rule for a moment and then become obsolete again due to torpedoes and aircraft.

But the current supremacy of aircraft carriers is not something that will translate to space; carriers rule because they combine the advantages of two different media: the speed of small air craft, and the steady platform and durability of a large sea-going ship. But in space, every ship will have those advantages. There's no need for carriers, because any ship can be as fast as a fighter, and any ship can be as stable and self-sustaining as it wants to be. Very likely, fighters won't make any sense in space. The only reason they're so popular is because they're cool, and we're used to them because of our 20th century view. Space navies will be totally unlike modern navies, and any similarities in name between ship types will exist only because we like the names and making up new ones is hard.

Why am I talking about a 20th century view, and not 21st century? Because our current ship taxonomy is entirely the product of 20th century developments. No doubt the 21st century will change everything again, but we don't yet know how. Although unmanned drones will feature heavily. So maybe if we're going to have fighters in space, they're going to be unmanned drones. Maybe space battles will consist of smart torpedoes dogfighting with the smart missiles that try to intercept them.

Comment: Victim? No, but it's annoying. (Score 1) 227

by mcvos (#49602423) Attached to: Want 30 Job Offers a Month? It's Not As Great As You Think

I wouldn't call myself a victim for having skills that are highly in demand. Still, a lot of recruiters seem woefully incompetent, for sending me offers from completely different countries (when I'm even losing interest in working outside the city; commuting by bike is definitely a perk).

But even relevant positions come constantly and when I still have plenty of project to work on. I wish I could pass them on to my unemployed non-programmer friends.

Comment: Re:Start with Stem cells and.... (Score 1) 183

by mcvos (#48957275) Attached to: Telomere-Lengthening Procedure Turns Clock Back Years In Human Cells

Mutation is a normal result of human reproduction and a vital driver of evolution. You just don't want it to get so far out of hand that new babies aren't viable. Of course somewhere in our reproductive process those telomeres also have to get longer again. No idea how that works. Might be important, I guess.

Comment: Re:Quality not Amount (Score 2) 210

by mcvos (#48874291) Attached to: Tracking Down How Many (Or How Few) People Actively Use Google+

Absolutely. The quality of content is far better than on FB or Twitter. When G+ was a year old or so, an image was circulated comparing the most discussed people on 3 social networks. On Facebook and Twitter is was Rihanna and Justin Bieber, on Google+ it was Einstein. I'm regularly having interesting political, philosophical and ethical discussions there. And most importantly to me personally: it's probably the best RPG community on the Web.

Looking only at the number of public posts is fairly meaningless; lots of people share only to specific circles in order to not spam their followers on one topic with posts on a different topic. Even more people don't post much themselves, but are very active in other people's conversations. It's a social network, after all, not just a blogging platform. But people love to use the lack of public posts to shame Google for some reason.

It's not that all is perfect, though. The quality of the content took a serious hit through the integration with YouTube (home of probably the lowest quality comments on the web). And through pushing birthdays and phone numbers of my G+ contacts to my calendar and phone, Google seems eager to punish people for having any Google+ contacts at all. Google should stop fucking about and just give us more tools to manage our stream so we can follow more people on topics that interest us, without having to see their posts on topics that don't interest us.

Comment: Google+ is great (Score 2) 210

by mcvos (#48874209) Attached to: Tracking Down How Many (Or How Few) People Actively Use Google+

What sucks about Google+ is that Google tries to artificially inflate the numbers by forcing it on YouTube and other services, and they seem to be actively punishing people for using both Google+ and any other Google service, but on its own, Google+ is great. It was great during its early days before Google started to mess it up. The people who use G+ use it a lot and post far more interesting stuff on it than you're likely to see on FB or Twitter.

Google should learn to be happy with having something good, rather than ruining it by forcing it on people and then punishing them for it. And they should work to improve it further, rather than adding crap. I mean, who ever asked for polls, of all things? We want better tools to manage our stream. That's Google+'s strength, but there's so much more that could be done here. Instead we get polls.

Comment: Re:This is not the most important part of the chan (Score 2) 164

Wrong. On some estimates so far, that group is actually a minority of the small and microbusinesses affected by these measures. It certainly isn't "most".

Really. Maybe I learnt something new today, or maybe we're talking about different things. You see, I'm not talking about Grandma's Handmade Socks or the local pizza delivery service - they're not worried about cross-border commerce. These businesses are the vast majority of microbusinesses. But they are not affected by this measure.

Every small-time RPG publisher selling a few PDFs per week is affected by this. And many believe they're even affected if they don't live in the EU. Some have announced they won't be selling to EU countries anymore (which still means they need to figure out where their customers are from, of course).

Big part of the problem is that information is sparse and very late. The law may be from 2008, but most shops only heard about this a few weeks ago. So now people are panicking. Justified or not? Nobody really knows.

Comment: Re:This is not the most important part of the chan (Score 1) 164

I got the impression that this was already the rule for physical objects. And there it makes sense, because at least you know what address you're shipping it to. It'd be crazy to do this only for downloads and not for physical stuff.

By the way, the argument that is significantly hurts the common market, is a really good one. I'm sure that should be able to get some people to take a closer look at the effect of this new rule; it goes completely counter to the primary purpose of the EU. I've also heard from a number of non-EU shops that they're not going to sell to the EU anymore because of this. I think a lot of people are panicking a bit too much, but the result for EU customers is clearly a very negative one if this means they can only buy stuff from local or very large webshops.

Comment: Not really a tax increase (Score 2) 164

The summary calls it a tax increase, but the tax rates aren't changing (or if they are, it's up to the individual member states, not the EU). What the EU is doing is closing a tax loophole that allows big companies (Amazon and the like) to put their European office in a tax haven so they don't have to pay any sales tax in the EU. But now they have to pay the VAT rate in the country where the customer is, rather than where their own office is.

In principle that's totally reasonable. What upsets a lot of people about this new rule is that small time PDF publishers may have to register for sales tax in 28 countries as well as collect data on where their customers are (and the rules for that are really confusing) and keep that data for 10 years, when previously they didn't have to know anything about their customers (because they just downloaded the thing, and payment was handled by a payment provider), and they didn't even have to pay any VAT at all because they were below their countries VAT limit, due to their low volume of sales. The new rule doesn't seem to specify any minimum.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." - Bert Lantz