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Comment: @medv4380 - Re:Designer babies (Score 1) 131

At this point I view eugenics as nearly always bad. With most "improvement" we'll most likely reduce our diversity, and that's pretty bad.

I'm inclined to ask why that's bad. Sounds like it would solve race hate problems.

Anyway, I think the problem is likely to be the opposite. More likely that whacky people - the sort that currently name their children things like "Pilot Inspektor" and "Crime Fighter", are also the sort of people who would think it fun to opt for a green baby, one who will grow to 8 ft high, or one with four arms.

Comment: @ wile_e_wonka - Re:Anything built before 2001 (Score 1) 554

by nukenerd (#46791887) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

Mod parent up. For example .... how cruddy cars used to be and how much better and more reliable cars are nowadays. Compare a mid-90s Hyundai Excel to Hyundais now, for example.

I don't think cars follow the general trend. For one thing they have moved (in a gradual process) from being an optional plaything (my father only ever used his for weekend drives) to essentials such as getting to work. Another factor (in the UK anyway) was a strong public reaction against cars rusting; rust resistance went through a low point around 1960-1980 but subsequently improved, and it was rust more than anything else which dictates how long a car lasts in the UK. We do not see an equivalent public reaction in most tech areas however because people want to replace eg phones, PCs and TVs because in recent years the tech has become (or is perceived to become) obsolete before the device physically fails.

A third factor (in the UK again) is that most cars are now professionally maintained. 30-40 years ago it was typical for owners to maintain their own cars - with variable degrees of aptitude. I have maintained my own cars since the 1970's and have seen no fundamental reason for increased reliability other than reduced reliance on mechanical control in favour of electronic (eg ignition timing) - resulting in a tendency for occasional total failure rather than constant progressive deterioration.

Despite the hype there has not been any revolutionary change in mainstream car tech in the last 50 years - nothing equivalent to TV changing to digital or the advent of mobile phones.

Comment: @Whatisname - Re:LaserJet II and LaserJet 3 (Score 1) 554

by nukenerd (#46791651) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

It's ... "Survivorship Bias". Old stuff seems like it was better built because all the crappy stuff already made it into the dumpster and subsequently forgotten long ago.

No, while recognising that effect you mention, there is definitely a different culture. When my father and his generation bought stuff they expected it to last a lifetime, indeed to be an heirloom, and it generally did. Thus for example he only ever bought one radio in his life, one tape recorder (THE big thing then). I still have his fully usable Rolleiflex camera and Weston exposure meter (both > 50 years old).

I once bought a house from an old lady with 1950's kitchen cupboards in it. I refitted the kitchen but kept the cupboards for my toolshed. They are very tatty now, but solid wood with dovetail joints - vastly superior to today's chipboard tat, yet run-of-the-mill for their day. They could last for ever.

Comment: @AC - Re:*Yawn* I'll Wait for the Mint Edition (Score 1) 172

by nukenerd (#46782117) Attached to: Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr Released

Shuttleworth has done nothing but help the open source community in every way imaginable.

You mean like commercialising his distro, splitting the community by taking his own direction away from Wayland, and ditto by taking his own direction with the GUI? Or did you intend irony?

Comment: @machineghost - Re:*Yawn* I'll Wait for .. Mint (Score 1) 172

by nukenerd (#46782067) Attached to: Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr Released
machineghost wrote :-

I really don't see why anyone would still want to use Ubuntu when there is [Mint] an equally good (if not better) Debian/Ubuntu-based distro

I don't see why anyone would want to use a distro based on Ubuntu [which is based on Debian] where there are equally good or better distros based on Debian directly.

Comment: Re:road side illumination (Score 1) 184

by nukenerd (#46749973) Attached to: First Glow-In-the-Dark Road Debuts In Netherlands

I personally don't see the point in having lights on most highways given that cars carry around their own illumination

Street illumination is more efficient than headlamps both in the sense of lumens-per-energy-input and in the sense of effectiveness per lumen. In traffic, as in most towns most of the time, most of the headlamp lumens end up buried in the tailgate of the car 10 yards or less in front. The effect of most of what does not is to dazzle oncoming drivers. The most effective illumination is from above.

Of course there is a cross-over point. On roads with non-continuous traffic, lights on the car become more cost-efficient.

Comment: @PPH - Re:Useless (Score 1) 184

by nukenerd (#46749731) Attached to: First Glow-In-the-Dark Road Debuts In Netherlands

Streetlights are OK, but headlights are better. An animal or other obstruction will only appear as a shadow against a glowing roadway.

Headlights are not better. Of all the directions of illumination, that from below eye level, and especially from directly ahead (as oncoming traffic's headlights are), is the least effective. Why do you think that football stadiums are floodlit from high towers and not from knee level? Aside from the fact that fixed lighting from grid power is more efficient than car headlights (in the sense of lumens per energy input) where the traffic is continuous, as in towns.

As for obstrucions appearing "as a shadow" - that's bang on; it is how street lighting at one time worked by design. Sodium lighting was of a wavelength that was relected by "black" asphalt and roadside masonry, so the background was actually quite a bright yellow. Unlit objects, which generally reflected sodium light less than the road, then appeared clearly as black shapes against that background. Vehicles, in turn, formed a dark foil for their own side lights (ie running lights, not headlights).

Given that, in the UK headlights were once only used on country roads where there were no street lights. I remember driving back then in London and could even see cats or dogs crossing the road at night 800 yards ahead. Anyone with headlights on (perhaps after coming from an unlit road) would be angrily flashed at. That "system" was destroyed however in the UK by a period of patchy electrical power cuts when drivers just left their headlights on rather than bother to turn themon and off as they went in and out of lit areas. Not using headlights all the time became frowned on, and now there is no chance of seeing a pedestrian crossing the road from the opposite side behind a barrage on oncoming headlights, until they walk into your headlight beam right in front of you.

Comment: Re:Amazing Insight (Score 1) 161

by nukenerd (#46669629) Attached to: Illustrating the Socioeconomic Divide With iOS and Android
My father-in-law always pays top price for everything and would not dream of trying to negotiate or walking away from an obvious rip-off. He would see that as loss of pride.

And he is as poor as a church mouse, so he does not buy things very often. Of course, paying top price for everything, and his general lack of financial sense, is part of the reason he is poor. If he wanted to buy a mobile phone (although he never would), someone, anyone, would only need to say to him that it should be the most expensive possible iPhone and that is what he would get, even if it took all his life savings; to do otherwise he would consider a betrayal of the other person's "friendship".

When in doubt, mumble; when in trouble, delegate; when in charge, ponder. -- James H. Boren