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Comment Re:Not just MS Office (Score 1) 137

Since El Capitan offers basically no user visible changes (just backend ones like locking down your own computer from you), there's literally no reason to "upgrade."

It at least "feels" like they've done something good with the scheduler and/or memory management. Switching between windows and tasks when the processors are all saturated is much smoother.

Comment Vote by Mail (Score 4, Interesting) 263

Related is the voting revolution happening in the western US -- vote by mail, with scanned paper ballots. Colorado, Oregon, and Washington already send a mail-in ballot to every registered voter. Arizona and California are clearly heading in that direction. Once those "big five" western states have adopted, the smaller ones -- some of which already have permanent no-excuse absentee ballots -- are likely to follow along. I admit to being biased; I love that my polling place is my kitchen table.

One of the interesting things I've noticed is when I raise the subject with friends, the ones who are opposed almost always grew up east of the Mississippi, and are terrified that large-scale fraud will occur. There's a PhD dissertation for a sociologist or political scientist in there somewhere.

Comment Re:A step forward, but... (Score 2) 399

If L-M had a compelling case that they could deliver what they say, on the budget they claim, they wouldn't be begging for money -- the big utilities that have spun off their generating components would be lining up to provide the funding. Hell, the states of California and New York would provide funding. That L-M is begging says a lot about the quality of the information they can actually show.

Comment Re:That must be a joke. (Score 1) 1067

NaN is a reasonable "Default" value for 1/0, and has the advantage that it propagates without you checking for it.

Or disadvantage that it propagates. Many years ago I spent weeks banging my head against a pile of 10,000 lines of badly structured Fortran on CDC equipment that I had inherited responsibility for. That hardware cheerfully allowed division by zero, storing the equivalent of NaN as the result. At a relatively enormous distance away in both source code and execution, the NaN was used in an addition operation and at that point the machine generated a fault. Ultimately the problem was an off-by-one upper limit in a DO loop, but finding it made me crazy. It would have been far easier to find if the divide-by-zero had generated a fault.

Ever since, I have been rabidly of the opinion that divide-by-zero is an error condition, and that execution can proceed only if the programmer has provided some sort of try/catch structure that catches the fault.

Comment Re:See how it is already done (Score 1) 257

The Buffs still in the air are newer than that, dating only to the early 60s. While much of the airframe may be original kit, everything else in them (including avionics and other electronics) has been replaced multiple times, the electronics with all-new designs. The most recent upgrade cycle started in 2013.

Comment Re:The kernel was tied to the culture (Score 4, Insightful) 469

Consider the following anecdote:

Around 1994 or 1995 I was starting an applied research project that needed an oddball sort of network widget. I e-mailed Alan Cox, whose group was handling most of the Linux network staff at the time, describing what I was trying to do. I got an e-mail back the next day that was basically: "Sounds cool! Ethernet sockets might be able to do the job (draft documentation attached). If not, let me know and we can discuss the best place for you to add a hook to the IP stack." Ethernet sockets were sufficient; I had a basic version of the widget up and running after a couple of long weeks; it was impressive enough that mgmt let me run with.

No way any of the other kernel projects were going to treat me that well.

Comment Re:No, but... (Score 1) 109

I know a small group of people who have developed a software package that, among other things it can do in terms of reading, can score essays. The license fees are quite steep, but the customers seem happy. From casual conversation, there were a number of properly designed studies that showed the software was somewhat better than people hired to score essays on a piece-work basis (the typical arrangement for large national tests). That was a few years ago; the software has probably improved more than the human readers since then.

Comment Re:Idiotic (Score 1) 591

Indeed. I used to be a budget analyst for the state legislature in my state, and the cost for the various procedures that are followed in the event the prosecutor is asking for a death sentence runs about a million dollars. The extra costs cover a very thorough audit of the process, from initial investigation through final sentencing, and the costs of the appeals up through several levels of courts. State prison costs run about $35K per year per inmate, so that million dollars would cover almost 30 years of incarceration. The entire legal process from beginning to end typically takes ten years, so the state will pay for 10 years incarceration in addition to the million.

The death sentence is seldom sought. We do have one case in progress now where the prosecutor is seeking the death sentence; the accused killed 12 and injured 70 in a mass shooting. I can fairly safely say that the accused did it, as he offered, through his attorney, to plead guilty if the sentence was life without parole. After almost three years, the case has reached jury selection. The trial will be a travesty of dueling experts arguing over whether the accused was insane at the time or not. I figure there's a fair chance the verdict will be not guilty by reason of insanity, and he'll still get life without parole despite all the bills the prosecutor is racking up.

Comment Re:Energy use (Score 1) 332

I'm a westerner, and biased, but the West has more cause than other regions to say, "Let's watch and see if this next-gen stuff works somewhere else before we try it." Ranging from open-air nuclear tests in Nevada to Hitachi screwing up a billion-dollar repair to New Mexico fining the feds $54M for sloppy practices at WIPP, and a whole bunch of things in between.

Comment Re:Energy use (Score 1) 332

For various reasons, added nuclear is a political non-starter in the American West broadly and California specifically. The states in the Western Interconnect are down to six commercial reactors. If it were put to a vote, Washington would almost certainly close the reactor at the Columbia Generating Station; similarly, California would likely vote to close the two reactors at Diablo Canyon. PG&E, the operator at Diablo Canyon, has put the license renewal on hold while they look at the impact of California's new thermal pollution standard. Since conforming would likely require adding (large unsightly) cooling towers at a price of $2-4B, I suspect that the renewal application will eventually be withdrawn, and Diablo Canyon will shut down when its current licenses expire in 2024 and 2025.

Comment Re:Lies, bullshit, and more lies ... (Score 4, Insightful) 442

A friend of mine who works as a high school counselor is telling people to go business, accounting, or law.

The job market for new graduates from anywhere but the big name law schools is terrible, has been getting worse for years, and shows no sign of improving in the future. Word is getting back and enrollment at lower-tier law schools has fallen off so much that the schools are getting desperate. Many have lowered their admission standards, and they've started lobbying to make the state bar exams easier.

Comment Re:HOWTO (Score 1) 1081

As the article notes, no medical personnel would have to be involved. So the prosecutor who sought the death penalty could be required to throw the switch/open the valve/whatever. I've always thought that prosecutors would be much more reluctant to ask for the death penalty if they were the ones who had to do the killing.

It's not hard to admit errors that are [only] cosmetically wrong. -- J.K. Galbraith