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Comment: Re:the solution: (Score 1) 486

by pla (#48038913) Attached to: The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine
He thinks he is pointing out absurdity of gun control laws, but that's because he is (or appears to be, I don't actually know him) emotionally invested into getting rid of all gun control laws.

Agreed, though his motive has no relevance to the fact of his success.

Gun control advocates should be very pleased, because now governments have a much more urgent reason to think about how the law might work with 3D-printed weapons.

I honestly don't mean this insultingly, but that response shows that you have completely missed the point. The law won't work with 3D printers, or even just cheap CNC machines - Not now, not ever.

To date, only expense and practicality have made the entire concept of "gun control" even remotely feasible. Expense, in that CNCs cost a lot of money, and practicality, in that even though you could technically make these things by hand, it would take hundreds of hours of tedious work. Keep in mind that a cheap modern drill-press makes every tool Samuel Colt had available look like a Fisher-Price "My First Toolbox" by comparison.

For the law to patch this "loophole" requires nothing less than a complete ban on 3D printers, while artificially keeping the price of CNCs and similar technology much too high for the average Joe's garage workshop. Okay, let's say the law actually does that - The joke just goes one level of meta. We already have people building their own 3D printers. Do you next plan to regulate all stepper motors, require registration and proof-of-destruction for every inkjet printer sold, and ban Arduino boards?

Yes, the law absolutely needs to come to terms what it means to live in a world where anyone can manufacture any sufficiently small physical object on a whim. "Shut... Down... EVERYTHING!" ain't it.

Comment: Re:the solution: (Score 5, Insightful) 486

by pla (#48037965) Attached to: The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine
But in the mind of libertarian nutball Cody Wilson, lawmakers will just say "Welp, he beat us, time to pack up and go home, I'll see if I can charter an APC for us since it's gonna be like Somalia out there. This is the worst day since the basic theoretical disproof and repeated cracks of DRM made us give up on digital copyright issues."

Not quite - He knows perfectly well that the haplophobes won't just pack it in and go home, just as the anti-DRM crowd know that Sony won't just give up and release everything without adding in-house developed viruses to them.

More importantly, he does what he does to point out absurdity. CA's legislators will pass a band-aid over this particular reality-hack, and Wilson will find a way to mercilessly mock that, as well. The cycle can pretty much continue indefinitely; but most importantly, at each step, they look like fools and he has yet again made his point.

Comment: Re:Pigeons? (Score 2) 90

by pla (#48037809) Attached to: China Worried About Terrorist Pigeons
In many languages there's only one word for both doves and pigeons. In Dutch it's both duif, in German it's both Taube, in Japanese it's both hato, etc.

...While in English, we have two equally nonspecific words for the same group of birds.

Taxonomically, doves and pigeons don't refer to distinct species, they both refer to any of hundreds of members of the family Columbidae. At best, you can say that doves "tend" to look smaller and lighter-colored

For the car analogy, we tend to refer to the largest passenger vehicles as SUVs and the smallest cars as subcompacts... Yet neither word actually refers to a specific nonoverlapping set of models, and we actually have cars advertised as subcompact SUVs.

Comment: Data != knowledge (Score 5, Interesting) 264

by pla (#48027189) Attached to: Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time
During Windows 8 testing, Microsoft said that they had data showing Start Menu usage had dropped, but it seems that the tools they were using at the time weren't as evolved as the new 'Asimov' monitor.

No, Microsoft, wrong conclusion. See, your data told you the $deity's own truth, that start menu usage has dropped. Most people pretty much use desktop shortcuts 90% of the time, so your stupid fisher-price jolly candylike tiles may look like crap but don't seriously impact that specific usage pattern. More accurate data collection won't change that.

What your data didn't tell you? That remaining 10% of the time doesn't just mean people "forgot" they had a shortcut and decided to use the start menu for the fun of it. Using the start menu drastically beats having to hunt down actual executables somewhere on the HDD, particularly for administrative-type tasks that might go six folders deep into the Windows directory, and have insanely long command-line arguments as a bonus (ie, a lot of the control panel apps).

Data doesn't equal knowledge. The stats can tell you "how often", but not "why".

Comment: Re:You raise? Call, mofo! (Score 1) 475

by pla (#48025947) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power
How are they supposed to make money if they can't have the price arbitrage?

Net metering already gives them price arbitrage, as I've said over and over. During the day they buy from me at standard offer, and sell at peak usage rates; then at night they buy from the ultra-cheap baseline capacity generators and sell to me at standard offer rates. The KWH may "net" under that scenario, but make no mistake, the dollars do not and the utilities make a fortune off it. They just want even more.

Renewables demand a smart, gear and maintenance intensive grid

National security - The real kind, not the political theatre kind - Demands a smart gear and maintenance intensive grid. That we don't already have one that can easily handle distributed generation speaks volumes about what the utilities have spent the past century doing with all those profits.

but the money for all that investment to the tune of tens if not hundreds of billions apparently is supposed to fall out of the sky.

You missed the part where their biggest fear involves millions of private citizens paying tens of thousands of dollars each to upgrade one tiny section of the grid at a time. That works out to half a trillion dollars. How much more do you want?

Comment: Re:You raise? Call, mofo! (Score 1) 475

by pla (#48025931) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power
Hmm. $5,000 up-front in order save $14/month?

Not "just" $14/month - Did you miss the part about the utilities wanting to do away with net metering, an arrangement that lets the power companies resell my nice cheap standard-rate excess capacity at peak-usage rates? Yet still selling a similar load of nice cheap off-peak hours back to me? "I'll pay you to roll this boulder up that hill; but then I'll take a turn, and you can pay me the same to roll it back down!"

That would effectively make solar financially pointless for most middle class people (the ones who can both afford solar yet still have an incentive to save on their electric bill; the ones who work and therefore don't use much electricity in the middle of the day). So try more like $140 (though that obviously depends where you live), your normal electric bill minus 10-15%. That works out to more like a 2.9-year payback, rather than 29.

Comment: Re:The obvious solution will meet fierce resistanc (Score 4, Insightful) 475

by pla (#48024147) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power
Pay solar at wholesale rates, or, make grid interconnect a separate fee, and charge them for that.

Grid interconnects already appear as a separate fee in most places. Perhaps not at its fair market value, but go fuck a goat if you think I'll pay over a dollar per KW for my occasional nighttime use.

Solar advocates, of course, can't stand the idea they should actually have to pay for the delivery of goods and services, even if it costs them a measely five bucks a month

Try $14, for me. And yeah, I consider that fair. Ending net metering and charging me when they resell my peak-demand production for 10x what they pay me for it? Yeah, I can afford batteries, can they afford every other house going off-grid?

Comment: You raise? Call, mofo! (Score 1) 475

by pla (#48024131) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power
Dear electric companies:

Your time on this planet as profitable private entities has come to an end. Rejoice! You had a good run. But it has ended.

If you succeed in eliminating net metering... Honestly, I bought a $20k solar installation; do you really think I'll put up with your bullshit instead of spending another $5k on batteries and going totally off-grid, costing you even your scammy $14/month "connection charge"?

Think about this long and hard, boys. Right now, you get peak-usage power from me at your totally fictional "residential standard rate", that you turn around and sell to time-of-day commercial customers for 10x what you pay me for it. Which of us do you really think will suffer more if I tell you to come get your meter and shove it up your CEO's ass?

Comment: Re:Bzzzzt:: wrong! (Score 1) 182

by pla (#47967265) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Who Should Pay Costs To Attend Conferences?
As a business owner, I can tell you that training is wildly expensive.

As an engineer, I can tell you that not training is much, much more expensive.

The last training my employer sent me to, this past spring, cost them a bit under $3000 total. For that $3000, they can:
1) now brag that they have a Foo(tm) certified developer working on the project (quite possibly worth far more than that $3k by itself), and
2) I can now actually do some key parts of the project without wasting a month or three bootstrapping the same info I learned in a week.

And just to put #2 in perspective, I cost my employer almost that much per week. You want "wildly expensive"? Waste a month of my productive time. That sort of short-sighted penny-pinching gets expensive fast. Yes, sending me off for training costs more than the list price of the training; it has an ROI many, many times that upfront cost, however.

As a former employee, I can tell you that conferences - on the whole - are wasted time and money for the employer.

Then you've gone to the wrong sort of conferences. I have yet to go to a conference that didn't help my employer more than having my butt in a chair for a week (and yeah, you could easily twist that into an obvious slam). And as a bonus, yes, conferences do offer a bit of a mini-vacation, so I come back refreshed and excited, on top of whatever more academic or networking-related benefits I get from going.

That said, I will agree with you and others who deride the FP's implied sense of entitlement. If my employer didn't see the value in improving the breadth of their in-house expertise, hey, their call; though I can promise that hell would get chilly before they directly benefited from anything I pay for out of my own pocket (fortunately not a problem at the moment - my current employer has a truly awesome continuing education program, and as long as I'll put in the time, they'll put in the dime for just about anything even remotely reasonable).

Comment: Adapt or go crazy. Simple as that. (Score 3, Insightful) 275

by pla (#47949503) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Becoming a Complacent Software Developer?
I constantly wonder how they became this way.

Someday, you will get a project with physically (or at least, mathematically) impossible requirements. You will, rightly, point this out. You will end up needing to doing it anyway.

This won't happen just once. Over the course of your career, you will literally lose count of the number of such requests.

You therefore have two choices - Stop caring, or have an aneurysm from frustration and rage.

Note, however, that you don't need to lose your love of coding. You just need to learn to accept, with a calm and detached indifference, that your paycheck requires you to write defective-by-design code. If it helps, you can make little games out of it - As one of my personal favorites, I write the code to function correctly and then, as the last step before showing something to the user, I throw it all away and replace the results with the requested garbage.

Comment: Re:Reporting bias? (Score 2) 460

by pla (#47947367) Attached to: Science Has a Sexual Assault Problem
I've got to think that women are more likely to actually report sexual harassment than men are.

I don't think that rates of reporting substantially undermine the presence of a problem, but I do have to agree with you.

Men learn from a young age that we crave sex, think about it constantly, would bang anything with enough paper bags available, blah blah blah. And while most of us realize that doesn't actually hold true, we tend to passively accept it as part of our social identity. Thus, when some troll-woman flirts a little too shamelessly or even grabs your ass as you walk by (which in this study would have counted as an assault), we just brush it off and even take it as flattering (even while thinking "do... NOT... want!").

I would therefore agree that we very likely see a serious reporting bias here that tips the scales toward the female side. That said, where do we draw the line (for both genders) between "testing the waters" and "harassment"? Clearly it doesn't "hurt" those men who just brush it off and move on with their day; do we seriously accept, in the modern world, that females count as emotionally weaker and unable to bear similar compliments from ugly guys?

Personally, I consider this issue more complex than "just don't do it" (which will no doubt enrage the SJWs, but, fuck 'em)... We exist as a sexual species, and no amount of social conditioning can change that fact; on the flip side of that, clearly some people don't get the fact that "no" doesn't mean "try again later".

Comment: Re:Cross between a music album and a video game (Score 2) 358

by pla (#47946005) Attached to: U2 and Apple Collaborate On 'Non-Piratable, Interactive Format For Music'
It appears that U2 and Apple are proposing an interactive album format that combines the music of a record album with the interactivity of a video game.

Jokes aside, they did stress the "interactive" part of this as a key feature.

I can't speak for all Slashdotters, but personally, I listen to music primarily at times that I can't interact with it (beyond the mostly-passive* act of "listening to it") - In the car, at work, while mowing the lawn, etc. When I actually have the spare time and attention to interact with something, I will usually chose to interact with other humans, or actual video games, or playing with the cats, etc. I may still have music on, but I don't "interact" with it.

I would therefore have to consider this a complete non-starter. At least Neil Young's boondoggle actually did have some technical merit (while completely ignoring the reality that 99.9% of people will take "good enough" over "perfect" if it saves them a single penny). This? The "solution in need of a problem" trope gets somewhat overused, but it definitely applied here in full force.

* Yes, I do get that some music requires actively listening to it to fully appreciate it. U2 ain't that.

Comment: Bring it, "Draftsmen"! (Score 1) 92

by pla (#47937325) Attached to: Alice Is Killing Trolls But Patent Lawyers Will Strike Back
because as you and I have seen over the years, every time there's a court ruling it just means that you have to word the patent claims differently.

Good! Let 'em try to twist it into something still allowed but borderline, like business method patents - That knife cuts both ways, and for enduring a few more years of patent abuse, perhaps we can finally get those banned as well.

Comment: Yes, and "just say no". (Score 3, Informative) 232

by pla (#47925255) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development?
I suspect we've all encountered managers that don't grasp the difference between "managing" and "intimidation". But after your first job out of college, you will discover that you have better things to do with your life than burn the candle at both ends for a crappy job.

More importantly, the "death-march" style of project management doesn't produce good results. What you describe can't become the norm, simply because any company that uses it will find itself internally paralyzed, completely unable to adapt to a changing market. When individual projects stretch on for longer than the company's strategic plan, the threat of firings doesn't really mean much because none of you will still work there in five years.

Find a new job today and save your sanity.

Comment: Re:Not much different than the fire starting laser (Score 1) 180

by pla (#47912549) Attached to: How Governments Are Getting Around the UN's Ban On Blinding Laser Weapons
How is blinding someone with a laser worse than killing or maiming them with a bullet?

This world holds a lot of horrors worse than death for our tribe of domesticated monkeys. Personally, I would rather die than go blind... But of course, given that we as a society regularly allow the infirm to live past birth, holding such a belief has become gauche to an extreme. Handbasket, please.

That said, this has nothing to do with issues of morality and mercy, and everything to do with military logistics. A dead enemy merely means one less fighter for the other side. A crippled one still means one less fighter, but also means risking still-tactically-useful men getting him out of combat, then wasting precious medical resources providing immediate treatment, and then (in most civilized countries) supporting him for the rest of his life.

"It is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try, but the result's the same." - Mike Dennison