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Comment Re:Of course, this is natural. (Score 3, Informative) 164

** or is that knots?

My dear Sir, miles are a distance unit and knots a speed unit: a knot is a (nautical) mile per hour.

Interestingly, while imperial miles originate in a "biometric" (roman miles were 1000 two-pace steps), nautical miles fit very well in the "geometric" spirit of the SI: a nautical mile is one minute of arc measured along any meridian, ie the distance between the poles is 180×60 = 10,800 NM. The meter was originally defined as 1/10,000 of the distance between the equator and the pole, so these definitions are quite close. Although the definition of both the NM and the m have changed a bit as they were standardized, the international definition of 1NM=1852m is pretty darn close to the expected 20,000 / 10,800 = 1851.85m.

Note that as a European I use metric exclusively: for me, a pound is 500g and an ounce is 100g, and a cup is something I put coffee in. That is, until I step foot on a sailing boat, when suddenly the only units that makes sense are knots and miles. Metric is for landlubbers, I guess :)

Comment Re: MacBook Pro (Score 1) 235

I got the "hiDPI" XPS 13 before they finished the linux version, but it works like a charm.

Two issues:
- It occassionaly hangs (flashing caps = kernel panic?). I blame the broadcom wifi chip.
- The hiDPI is gorgeous but sometimes annoying if applications assume that 10pt should be enough for anyone. My main gripe is actually that it is difficult to work with an external monitor. The hiDPI 13" requires something like 16 - 18 pt fonts to be usable, which is completely silly on a normal 27" HD screen. So, if I have both plugged in any setting is wrong, and as far as I know there is no way to automatically adjust zoom settings per screen that works even when you move a window from one screen to the other. I run ubuntu with the i3 tiling window manager so it's possible that default gnome/kde/unity came up with a fix, but I don't think so?

Comment Re: Not really related to Amazon. (Score 5, Interesting) 106

1) The car analogy actually works better than you think - nowadays 'private lease' is becoming more and more popular, where indeed the leaser/driver doesn't even pay for oil change and in some instances gasoline. You pay a fixed monthly sum and you get a car (and of course the lease costs are higher because people stop taking care of the car as well as they would with their own car)

2) Any insurance scheme (whether company or government) wants to minimize costs. This can be done by discouraging claims (with co-payments, thresholds, or exclusions) but also by encouraging good behaviour. Often, small medical costs (e.g. GP visit) should be encouraged rather than discouraged, even if only 1% of these visits can prevent (or spot early) a condition that can be tremendously expensive. A house insurance can force you to have a smoke detector installed, or they can pay a smoke detector for you - it doesn't really matter since in the end the costs come out of your pocket. Politically, it can be better to pay a GP visit for someone than to force them to visit a GP at their own expense, especially because enforcement is difficult and voiding someone's insurance in the case of serious illness without having made the required GP visits can be seen as inhumane, and emergency visits are often guaranteed by the state even for the uninsured, two risks which are less so with housing/car/etc insurance. So, just paying out the small claims can be easily a winning option if it prevents later costs. In the Netherlands, some (privately run) health insurance companies even subsidize gym/fitness subscriptions or diet advice, so apparently they believe that these costs can be recouped due to decreased risk and/or improved public image or sales.

3) Relating to an earlier post made above, that health insurance is a scam and as a healthy person you'd be better off paying out of pocket: It's correct that insurance encourages risky behaviour, and that people at risk are more likely to value insurance, which is for example why disability insurance for self-employed people is ridiculously expensive (at least down here). However, health insurance in general suffers a bit less from these problems than other forms of insurance, since people don't actually like being sick, and getting a $2M payout for your cancer treatment doesn't actually leave you any richer (of course, some people still engage in short-term behaviour with long-term risks such as listed by GP). Moreover, a lot of really catastrophic health risks are simply random and impossible to pay out of pocket unless you're Warren Buffet.

4) Relating to the GP that obamacare is bad because it forces people to buy insurance: By forcing everyone to participate, you reduce the problem that risky/unhealthy people are the only ones buying insurance, driving up the premiums and further discouraging health people from participating in the risk pooling. If there is a strong negative societal effect from uninsured people, it can be worth it to sacrifice some individual rights to self-determination to help avoid the vicious cycle of unhealthy insured people and high premiums.* And there are strong negative effects of uninsured people: the direct dollar cost of providing them with emergency service and (later) medicare for conditions that would have been cheaper to treat in an earlier stage; the indirect cost of decreasing taxes and increasing social spending when people are sick and disabled; and the humanitarian cost of having people suffer from treatable conditions just because they're poor and/or unlucky. So, there are strong benefits to universal coverage even for the healthy, and due to the risk premium the only way to achieve it is if it isn't voluntary.**

*) In fact, the reason why the US system of employer-tied insurance works at all is precisely because it forces healthy employees to participate, thus greatly reducing the premiums compared to buying private insurance (in the old system, at least).

**) Of course, if you're ideologically libertarian, you would simply not pay emergency service, medicare and social benefits and simply not care if some poor person dies from pneumonia, but in that case I'm not too sure I really want to have this conversation with you :)

Comment Re:Question (Score 5, Insightful) 138

You know what's scary?

(1) That someone on friggin' slashdot has no clue what the # in a url is, and thinks that asking it is easier than just friggin' googling it

(2) That another poster on slashdot answers in apparent earnest with "I usually see it used to make you jump down to a particular heading in, e.g., a wiki article. I think it also activates stuff in scripts sometimes?"

For crying out loud, where did all the nerds go? Reddit?

Comment Re:Narrowminded Fools (Score 5, Insightful) 313

Just like in the good old days!
s/spammers/bad guys/g
s/spam/autonomous weapons/g

Dear Musk, Woz, Hawking, and Robotics/AI Experts

Your post advocates a

( ) technical (X) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting autonomous weaponry. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Bad guys can easily use it to harvest weapon designs
(X) Defense systems and other legitimate uses would be affected
( ) No one will be able to find the bad guys
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
( ) It will stop autonomous weaponry for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
(X) Users of weapons systems will not put up with it
(X) DARPA will not put up with it
(X) The military will not put up with it
(X) Requires too much cooperation from bad guys
(X) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
(X) Many weapon producers cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
(X) Bad guys don't care about illiegal weapons in their arsenals
( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
(X) Lack of centrally controlling authority for weapons
(X) Open relays in foreign countries
(X) Asshats
(X) Jurisdictional problems
(X) Unpopularity of weird new treaties
(X) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of arms control
(X) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes (!)
(X) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
(X) Extreme profitability of autonomous weaponry
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
(X) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with bad guys
(X) Dishonesty on the part of bad guysthemselves

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

(X) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) Blacklists suck
( ) Whitelists suck
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
(X) Why should we have to trust you and your treaties?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
(X) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
(X) I don't want the government limiting my arsenal
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

( ) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
(X) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
(X) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
house down!

Comment Re:Easy grammar (Score 1) 626

Around here, we call that a "40" (1.1829 liters), although only the worst beers are available in that size. I think it's because drinking that much beer before it goes warm largely implies you aren't very interested in the taste.

If you let it go warm you're not doing it right....

Comment Re:Most ambitious (Score 2) 132

Highway driving is also the most boring part of driving, and on longer trips often the largest part. City and local driving is kind of fun, you have to pay attention and hopefully you get some nice scenery and usually takes at most 30 minutes. Highways are just boring and can easily take 10+ hours. Fully automated highway driving (even requiring me to stay behind the wheel but letting me read, work or sleep until/unless an alarm goes off) would certainly be a killer feature.

I guess adaptive cruise control plus lane assist or whatever they call it comes close, so it should be possible to get it on the market soonish?

Comment Re:Write-only code. (Score 1) 757

There should be one-- and preferably only one --obvious way to do it.

So, tell me, should I prefer

borbs = []
for orn in orns:
    x = compute(orn)
    if x > 12:


borbs = [compute(orn) for orn in orns if compute(orn) > 12]

And please note that this is from someone who is actually Dutch, so it should be obvious to me, right?
(and it comes from someone loving and professionally using python for >10 year)

Submission Solar eclipse puts Europe's power supplies at risk

mrvan writes: An eclipse of the sun next month could disrupt Europe’s power supplies because so many countries now use solar energy, electricity system operators have warned. “The risk of incident cannot be completely ruled out,” the European Network Transmission System Operators for Electricity said on Monday, adding the eclipse on March 20 would be “an unprecedented test for Europe’s electricity system”.

Normally, it is generally cloudy in some parts or Europe while the sun shines in other parts: “Within 30 minutes the solar power production would decrease from 17.5 gigawatts to 6.2GW and then increase again up to 24.6GW. This means that within 30 minutes the system will have to adapt to a load change of -10GW to +15GW,” if it is a sunny day and all solar power stations were producing at full load. Solar power covered just 0.1 per cent of all the electricity produced in Europe from renewable energy sources around the time of the last large solar eclipse in Europe in 1999, according to the network, known as ENTSO-E. But since then solar power generation has soared to at least 10.5 per cent, as countries subsidise green power to meet EU renewable energy targets.

Comment Re:Electric not the answer (Score 3, Informative) 212

1500 Tesla's were sold in the Netherlands last year out of 400k in total, or around 0.4% [link]. However, in total electric+hybrid cars were about 4.3% of total [link]. So, while they are obviously not the majority, they are certainly not rare either. Amsterdam has almost 500 public charge locations [link] and in the center (where parking space is scarce) there are designated parking spaces for electric cars where they can charge, see e.g. this street view of what would be the closest parking spot to my house if I had an electric car. There are two taxi companies that use electric vehicles exclusively, which is good news since taxis have disproportionate impact on air pollution, one drives Nissan Leaf and the other Tesla. As far as I know they are not directly subsidized apart from general subsidies on electric cars, so they must be commercially viable.

All in all, electric cars are not some sort of pipe dream, they are out there and have small but growing market share, and infrastructure is growing with it. For each consumer a different tradeoff will be in order (e.g. I use my car a couple times every month so got a small gasoline car instead, while a friend commutes 50km every day so he got a Tesla). It still uses some government subsidy, but honestly, so do oil and traditional car makers.

Comment Re:The Dangers of the World (Score 2) 784

There is a lot of things that I dislike the US* for, but as a European, I'm really grateful that they put their bodies on the line *twice* in the previous century to bail us out, even if both cases they would be completely right to say "you had it coming"**. So, a big "Thank you" to NotDrWho's parent and all his brothers-in-arms.

*) And the same holds for my country, and for Russia, and China, Israel, Egypt, Germany etc etc. Politics are messy
**) For WOI by entering in ridiculous alliances, letting minor incidents escalate, and thinking that War would be a great way to reinvigorate the continent; for WOII by not following the US'/predisent Wilson advise and instead enforcing draconian measures on Germany (looking at France), for electing and keeping in power a maniac (looking at Germany) and for trying to placate said maniac instead of doing something about it when it would have been easier (looking at all of us)

Comment Re:IceWM == frosty (Score 1) 30


Switched to xmonad a couple years ago, and I realized that all I ever need is (shortcuts for) multiple workspaces, terminal, and a program launcher.

(Interestingly, I actually much prefer the way floating windows are handled in xmonad in the rare occasions that they are useful (move with super+drag, resize with super+right-drag, what more do you need... plus those small and difficult to reach resize handles or title bars are a really stupid idea)

~$ sudo apt-get install gnome-desktop-environment
After this operation, 441 MB of additional disk space will be used.

non, merci!

Comment Re:Cinnamon and MATE (Score 1) 89

If you have an "obscene amount" of money, for a sufficiently obscene definition of obscene, you can add any feature you like to any open source project and get all the support you would even need, including a butler to click the buttons on the screen for you.

If you think that the price of a windows/adobe/matlab license qualifies an obscene amount of money, well, you're out of luck.

Dinosaurs aren't extinct. They've just learned to hide in the trees.