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Comment: Re:What is the significance here? (Score 2) 76

by hey! (#48231075) Attached to: Building All the Major Open-Source Web Browsers

File it under "stuff that matters".

A lot of arguments for open source are based on things which people outside the project could in principle accomplish, but in practice seldom do. So it's reassuring at least that an experienced developer can build the two most popular browsers from scratch. It means the arguments aren't hollow. I've seen closed source projects that were purchased by companies, only to find out that getting them to build on any computer but the one it was developed on is a serious engineering challenge.

That the process of building these browsers from scratch is somewhat arcane will come as no surprise to any experienced developer. But that it's not so arcane that it's impractical to figure out is good news.

Comment: Re:Is that unreasonable? (Score 1) 241

by hey! (#48230459) Attached to: High Speed Evolution

Is it unreasonable for the average height of a population to grow by 7" in twenty generations? I should think so. But if you changed your initial conditions somewhat, maybe less unreasonable.

There are roughly 400 genes known to influence height. Imagine we have a small, isolated population that does not interbreed with other populations -- say on an isolated island. This population's average male height is, say 175 cm for men -- roughly the same as the average American. However the population contains all the alleles neede to generate individuals approacing 7' in height. We then take our population and put them under evolutionary pressure; let's say we shoot everyone who reaches the age of 16 and is below average height. It wouldn't many generations for that population's average height to become quite tall, as "tall genes" begin to predominate.

Let's change that initial condition by stipulating that there are no "tall genes" in the initial population. It's still average height, but maybe it lacks both "tall genes" and "short genes". It would be surprising if the genetic height potential for a newborn changed very quickly, because you've got to wait for a lot of "lucky" mutations and twenty generations is not that long.

Let's go back to our successful initial conditions and change something else. This time the population has all the necessary alleles to produce super-tall people, but it interbreeds extensively with a large external population which is not subject to our culling protocol. Under these conditions the population's height increase will be slow, or non-existent depending on the rate at which individuals interbreed with populations not under pressure.

The bottom line: it depends.

Comment: Re:my thoughts (Score 1) 352

by hey! (#48218699) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

That's because you use ridiculously vaguye language like "easy to transmit". You need to specify the conditions under which the potential transmission takes place. What peoiple don't realize is just how primitive conditions are in Africa, and what a difference it makes. These are countries where medical providers re-use latex gloves, sometimes even hypodermic needles. Granted, this guy was part a medical mission that probably had all the protective equipment, but you have to keep in mind that the primitive conditions that preceded them meant that there have been some TEN THOUSAND cases in the region.

It's immensely labor intensive to take care of an Ebola patient, especially with the precautions required by close contact., but the overwhelming numbers introduces yet another deadly risk factor: fatigue.

So yes, I suppose you could say the medical personnel who contracted Ebola are stupid because they made a mistake under pressure. But what about the rest of us? This epidemic should never have got big enough to pose a global concern. It was our choice to cut the CDC's emergency preparedness budget to a billion dollars below the FY 2002 mark.

Comment: Macintosh 100? Terrible article. (Score 2) 293

by YesIAmAScript (#48218039) Attached to: How Sony, Intel, and Unix Made Apple's Mac a PC Competitor

There's no Macintosh 100.

There were two Mac Portables before the MacBook 100/140/170 came out.

Indeed both were enormous, each even had a lead-acid battery! The first one didn't even have a backlight.

The Sony-designed MacBook 100 was actually designed to just be a smaller version of the original Macintosh Portables, which is why it also was based upon the much slower 68000 processor (the 140/170 used 68030 processors).

The Powerbook 100 was well designed and small, but it wasn't really a big seller. The PowerBook 140 and PowerBook 170 took most of the sales. The later Powerbooks (145b, 160, 180, etc.) were all nearly identical to the 140/170 and not Sony's 100. This seemed to show that Apple didn't really take all that much from Sony's PowerBook 100.

Comment: Maybe we should actually penalize companies (Score 5, Insightful) 281

by dirk (#48216675) Attached to: Tech Firm Fined For Paying Imported Workers $1.21 Per Hour

The reason companies keep doing this stuff is that they have deemed it cost effective. Let's assume they get caught 90% of the time. That means that would have to pay $31500 in fines for the 9 times they were caught and would save $40000 for the time they didn't. They are coming out ahead so the fine are just a cost of doing business. These tiny little fines are not going to stop things like this from happening. At minimum, the fine should be the same amount they would have "saved"(preferably more). At best, we should start putting people in jail for breaking the law just like we do regular people who break the law.

Comment: claimed threat (Score 1, Flamebait) 276

by YesIAmAScript (#48216457) Attached to: Assange: Google Is Not What It Seems

Under a claimed threat of extradition to the US.

There's no actual evidence of it and in fact extradition from Sweden is harder than from the UK.

Let's not forget that Assange is where he is by choice. He says he fears extradition to the US, but there's a lot of other possibilities too. He may just simply fear conviction.

Comment: Re:DOCSYS? (Score 3, Insightful) 290

by YesIAmAScript (#48210145) Attached to: Will Fiber-To-the-Home Create a New Digital Divide?

That is not at all true. A single fiber cannot handle the world's internet bandwidth. And the PON systems used for homes don't even dedicate 1Gbit to each termination (house). You don't have a dedicated connection to a chassis with 2,000 other customers, you are PON split from a single fiber with a lot of other houses, then that goes to a chassis.

"It doesn't matter how it is shared as long as there is no congestion." is a useless truism. It's true for copper too.

I think it's hilarious that you think that your ISP is only oversubscribing their links 2x (2,000 1Gb connections to 1Tb backhaul). That's fantasyland at the prices that residential customers pay.

Comment: Re:Sigh! (Score 3, Insightful) 172

by Sloppy (#48208305) Attached to: Google Announces Inbox, a New Take On Email Organization

I shouldn't have to remind you of the things in the modern world that depends on real-time instructions from software.

You are not one of those things! You GIVE orders to computers, not take! The computer is supposed to be your bitch. Thirty years ago people worried about Terminators, and now I find out that all Skynet has to do, is nicely tell people to jump off cliffs. I can't wait until Google Surgeon, when everyone thinks they should just blindly do what they're told, preferably with impatience and in real time.

Google Surgeon [speaking slowly]: "Snip the art--"

Doctor: [snip] "Yeahyeah doesanyoneknowhow tospeedupthisthing'sspeech?"

Google Surgeon: "--ery, but first, clamp off the blood supply so the patient doesn't bleed to death."

Comment: Re:More changes I don't want ... (Score -1, Flamebait) 172

by Sloppy (#48206627) Attached to: Google Announces Inbox, a New Take On Email Organization

It is positively dangerous when you have to go round a roundabout twice for it to catch up! (In a 40 ton rig).

WTF? How can a mapping program possibly be dangerous or time-sensitive?

(Please don't tell me you are one of those MORONS who relies on software for real-time instructions, instead of having your own plan that was possibly originally aided by software. If you're a moron, then it's not the software that's dangerous; it's that some even bigger, stupider moron allowed you to drive a 40 ton vehicle (or even a 1 ton vehicle) on roads that might have other people within a quarter mile.)

All I can think of, is that the slowness is somehow keeping you from being able to review your route before you it's time for you to leave, so that you end up driving faster to catch up.


An Algorithm to End the Lines for Ice at Burning Man 341

Posted by timothy
from the that-trick's-not-so-weird dept.
Any gathering of 65,000 people in the desert is going to require some major infrastructure to maintain health and sanity. At Burning Man, some of that infrastructure is devoted to a supply chain for ice. Writes Bennett Haselton, The lines for ice bags at Burning Man could be cut from an hour long at peak times, to about five minutes, by making one small... Well, read the description below of how they do things now, and see if the same suggested change occurs to you. I'm curious whether it's the kind of idea that is more obvious to students of computer science who think algorithmically, or if it's something that could occur to anyone. Read on for the rest; Bennett's idea for better triage may bring to mind a lot of other queuing situations and ways that time spent waiting in line could be more efficiently employed.

Comment: Re:Trolls are the lowest form of life. . . (Score 1) 488

by hey! (#48183297) Attached to: In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail

Well, every generalization has its corner cases that require careful thought. So while I agree that trolling per se shouldn't be outlawed, there may be certain uses of trolling that should be criminalized.

Take the libelous component of cyberstalking. At the very least this could be an aggravating factor in impersonation. Also, the law already recognizes libel as wrong, but it requires the harmed person take civil action. The Internet exposes more people than ever to reputation harm, but not all those people have the money to hire a lawyer. Social media have created a whole new vista for defamation, much of which is *practically* immune from any consequences.

So I do not in principle object to a law that criminalizes *some* forms of defamation, particularly against people who are not protected by the current laws. But I'd have to look at the the specific proposed law carefully. Just because people *claim* a new law would do something doesn't mean it does, or that's all it does.

Air is water with holes in it.