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Comment: Re:So you CAN buy a license to speed (Score 1) 322

by pla (#46733001) Attached to: Can You Buy a License To Speed In California?
Why not use a mass transit service like subway or tram?

I suspect you meant that tongue-in-cheek, but if not...

The nearest subway stop to me: 213 miles.
The nearest passenger train stop: 90 miles.
The nearest bus stop? 24 miles.

Hell, the nearest taxi service won't even come to my house unless I prepay by credit card.

And although you could fairly say that I live in the middle of nowhere, I actually live in a fairly densely populated region of the country, just not inside an actual city. The US just plain has fuck-all for realistic public transportation.

Comment: Re:Hero ? (Score 4, Interesting) 236

by pla (#46731219) Attached to: GM Names Names, Suspends Two Engineers Over Ignition-Switch Safety
Sure, management wouldn't let him make the change and that is bad.

With this going so high that congress dragged the CEO in to lie to them that this involved anything more than "cheaper to let you die", by naming these two engineers, GM has just given them the power to completely ruin the company.

"We tried to do the right thing and management thwarted us at every turn". Done in one, the CEO just perjured herself before congress, and the class action liability suits put GM (back) into bankruptcy (where they belong).

Unfortunately in this case, engineers tend to have too strong of a "boyscout" streak in them, and the ones implicated here will probably just do their best to ignore the fact that GM just threw them under the bus for following orders.

Or put another way - I don't work in an industry that seriously puts people's lives in danger, and legal would goose-step me out of the goddamned building before they let me do something like GM claims these two engineers did "on their own". So an entire multinational supply and manufacturing chain of command just quietly went along with the whims of two peons that massively violated protocol? Bullshit.

Comment: Re:So you CAN buy a license to speed (Score 4, Insightful) 322

by pla (#46731059) Attached to: Can You Buy a License To Speed In California?
I don't know about California, but in Oklahoma a speeding ticket is going to cost you at least $200. If you avoid two tickets a year, it would pay for itself in 12.5 years.

No one really cares about the tickets themselves. For someone making $200k a year, they would gladly pay $200 every week for the right to zip through crawling traffic.

The real problem comes from getting "points" and the eventual loss of your license. And once that happens, you have drive like a frickin' choirboy or they start giving out real punishments, like spending weekends in a cage (c'mon, let's not pretend people actually stop driving when they lose their license - In 99% of the US, "not driving" amounts to a sentence of death-by-life-on-welfare).

Comment: Re:Rebooting is not a fix (Score 5, Informative) 136

by pla (#46728695) Attached to: Seven Habits of Highly Effective Unix Admins
For some reason, Windows admins have been trained to reboot immediately when things don't work well rather than to figure out why something is failing.

Because in the Windows world, I usually don't have the luxury of digging into the kernel's or driver's source code to figure out exactly why it has stopped behaving correctly. If it doesn't log any errors, doesn't export any useful diagnostic messages, doesn't outright crash on reproducible conditions, and just stops working "right", your avenues of further inquiry get very very ugly, very fast.

I can reboot a VM in well under a minute. For any nontrivial problem that happens roughly twice a month and a reboot makes it go away, it would take twenty years of rebooting to justify spending an entire eight hour day diagnosing the root cause.

And I say that as someone who (in the Linux world) has written his own kernel patches to work around buggy hardware. In Windows, just not worth the time; because even if you do successfully diagnose the problem, you may well have no ability to correct it.

Comment: Re:Right! (Score 5, Insightful) 577

by pla (#46726703) Attached to: Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code
I'm pretty sure that you can't teach politicians to code either, they just don't have the intellectual capability to handle such a task.

The bigger problem I see with teaching politicians to code comes from their comprehension of boolean logic. In computer science, we constantly evaluate the truth of various simple expressions. In politics, their entire career depends on their ability to obfuscate the truth of insanely complex issues in such a way as to make them look true (or false) based on the interest of their highest bidder. ;)

More seriously, though, I have to agree with Bloomberg. Not everyone can code, and of those who have the raw capacity to learn it, many of them would hate actually doing it. Coding requires going into an almost trancelike state for hours at a time, sitting motionless while visualizing the flow of data through complex control structures and eventually interacting with some form of I/O. You try to stick a traditional manual laborer (I mean that in the good way - The kind of guy who enjoys nothing more than an honest day's hard work) into that seat for ten hours, and watch him slowly go crazy.

Comment: Re:I've heard this one before ... (Score 1) 290

by pla (#46721763) Attached to: Nat Geo Writer: Science Is Running Out of "Great" Things To Discover
Personally, I find it just hilarious that TFA fails to recognize two points:

First, that our inability to live long enough to win a prize that takes a 150 year career directly highlights a domain of science that we still have some pretty amazing leaps left to take.

And second, that a NatGeo author of all people would dare to write about another discipline running out of material - How many indigenous tribes do you have left to exploit for stories, NG? And will you do the honorable thing and close up shop when you finally run out, or will you just turn into yet another travel-n'-tourism rag? ;)


We can talk about this again when a human born on Earth can someday physically walk on another habitable planet. I can think of three completely-physically-possible ways to accomplish that, without even giving it much thought: Living forever (with enough energy and the right tools, we can repair anything); near-infinite free energy (fusion) combined with time dilation, uploading your consciousness to a clone made, at the receiving end, from your own digitized and transmitted DNA. Any combination of just those alone would completely reshape human existence, and don't even require getting into the "maybe but probably not" methods like FTL travel or wormholes.

This really doesn't take much effort, you poor uncreative bastard (not you, parent poster - the TFA author). Pick something you can't do that the laws of physics don't outright ban (and even some of those might have a way to "bend" them, if not outright break them). Pick something obvious we have almost no understanding of - gravity; what your dog really wants for dinner; the size of the universe (the Hubble Radius merely describes our causal universe - We actually can't tell whether or not we live in an infinite universe); how to feed everyone in a world that throws away more food than it actually needs; fuckin' magnets (as Hofstadter said, "greenness dissolves" - You can't explain macroscopic effects with turtles all the way down); why hot models like ugly singers; what "causes" radioactive decay; why writers in a dying genre feel the need to prove their inadequacy in other domains of knowledge - And you'll have a breakthrough just waiting to happen.

Comment: Re:Should be objective, not biased... (Score 1) 448

by pla (#46717053) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Start With Linux In the Workplace?
a bog-standard usb/spdif dongle that I own and use from time to time won't work on win7/64. no driver on earth for it. 32bit, yes. 64, no.

So to keep a $30 USB audio dongle working, you plan to forgo all the advantages that come with more than 4GB of RAM?

And you realize, of course, that within the next year or two you'll start seeing more "can't live without it" software no longer releasing 32bit builds?


throwing away working hardware is a sin.

Ever heard of the Sunk Cost fallacy?

Comment: Gonna go with "no" on this one. (Score 5, Insightful) 152

by pla (#46715765) Attached to: Under the Chassis: A Look At Tesla's Battery Shield
Do these updates look like they'll solve Tesla's problems?

Since Tesla's biggest problems come from buggy whip... I mean, car dealership... protectionism, combined with a dislike bordering on zealotry from a media that still considers the Chevy L88 as the engine to beat for every compact sedan they review?

No. No, these updates will not solve Tesla's problems.

Comment: Re:WOWZA! (Score 1) 231

by pla (#46697771) Attached to: How much do you spend yearly on mobile apps?
If the people on /. don't see the worth of buying decent mobile apps - what's the point of them other than to advertise and hijack the masses?

I pretty much only use my tablet as a web browser (and in private browsing / incognito mode by default), and occasionally as a test bed for my own apps (nothing published, just for the hell of it). I can get to virtually any "productivity" tool I need via browser, and for the few things I can't, we have RDP. I can also get to more games than I can ever possibly get sick of via browser; and while they may or may not contain ads, it doesn't much matter - My usage pattern provides a practical privacy barrier in two senses; first, it limits the access of the sites I visit to access my personal information stored on the tablet; and second, it limits the amount of personal information actually stored on the tablet in the first place.

I can count the number of things actually "installed" on my tablet on one hand... A PDF viewer (and I won't count my plain-PDF library of a few hundred books as "apps"), a couple open-source games (for airplane mode), and an offline mapping/gps thingamabob that lets me follow my position on a "live" map even in airplane mode.

Comment: Re:Good for you. (Score 2) 641

by pla (#46695149) Attached to: Meet the Diehards Who Refuse To Move On From Windows XP
I'm not sure where your 98% statistic comes from

You'll notice my first sentence echos the GP's almost word for word. I'll readily admit that as hyperbole, but I didn't start it.

As for those old win98 and 2000 systems you mention - I have had the "pleasure" of helping people upgrade from them, years after they went EoL. One word: Ugly. These things pick up so much malware (not even counting the viruses you can't see, just the obvious shit that doesn't even try to hide) you may as well just publish your PII on the front page of the NYT.

Yes, you can take some steps to minimize the damage, and if you have a realistic upgrade path in the next month, I wouldn't completely panic about missing today's XP EoL deadline. If, however, you just plan to keep using it indefinitely until Microsoft gives in and decides to go back to the look and feel of Win95... What can I say but "Thanks for the contribution to my retirement fund" when you need someone like me to clean up your mess in a few years. :)

Comment: Re:Good for you. (Score 1, Interesting) 641

by pla (#46693115) Attached to: Meet the Diehards Who Refuse To Move On From Windows XP
and yet his efforts will probably stop 99.9% of the crap that affects "modern" Windows versions with their clueless users.

99% of the crap that affects "modern" versions of windows makes use of bugs that date back to the days of XP and older. And as these long-standing bugs get discovered and patched, effectively the very act of MS releasing a patch will serve as an advertisement to the world of malware about the existence of a new XP exploit that will never get closed.

Continuing to use XP for any box either connected to the network or publicly-accessible (ie, kiosks) at this point amounts to begging the world to hack you - Nothing short of willful negligence.

Comment: Re:Something From Nothing. (Score 1) 392

by pla (#46692323) Attached to: Why Are We Made of Matter?
Wouldn't you prefer that they create conditions where students learn a lot more? After all, failure isn't an objective.

If I believed in the trivially-false progressive delusion that no dumb kids exist? Sure. I would also prefer that the Rockefellers give everyone a gold-shitting unicorn when they turn 18.

In this world, however, a good three quarters of people shouldn't go to college. If we want to elevate the "trade" schools to have a "similar" status (with a wink and a nod), hey, great. But when we push everyone to go to college and then half the incoming freshmen need to take remedial math and English... Then no, failing half the freshmen out in their first semester would provide the greatest benefit to everyone. It would save those who don't belong there a ton of money; and when when you pack a real class with morons, they distract from the actual instruction time for people who do belong there.

TLDR: Yes, Virginia, there are stupid questions. And you waste the class time I paid for by asking an awfully lot of them.


/ Hint #1 that you don't belong in college: If you feel the need to waste class time arguing with the professor about how he grades (particularly about how much partial credit he gives wrong answers) - Just go home.

Comment: Re:Money money money (Score 2) 163

by pla (#46679433) Attached to: It's Time To Plug the Loopholes In Pipeline Regulation
Yes, it is. What you meant to say was, "I find it unlikely that anyone would offer me what I consider my home and experiences to be worth."

Fair enough, but it amounts to the same thing under the present discussion. Of course someone could conceivably offer me enough money that I would gladly take it and buy my own private Caribbean island. I won't hold my breath on RDS offering me $100M for my 3Br cape in the middle of nowhere, however.


Please be more clear with your wording in the future. Blatant trolling like the above does no-one any good.

My wording perfectly communicated my intent, although I will admit to a bit (and just a bit, not anything over the top) of hyperbole - Though make no mistake, people do exist who wouldn't voluntarily sell at any price. I certainly wouldn't go so far as to call my comment "trolling", though - I meant every word of what I said. People bought out under eminent domain seizures - Or in this case, under "oops we turned your block into a hazardous waste dump, collect your $300k checks on the way out of town" conditions don't get compensated for their emotional investment in their property. Simple as that.

You want "fair" compensation, or the closest thing we can get to it? Every time we hear about one of these minor disasters, the CEO's family homestead gets bulldozed and turned into high-end luxury housing for everyone displaced. CEO doesn't have enough land? Work through the entire board until everyone has a new place to live. Of course, that would often fail because the soulless CEO finds it more convenient to live in a series of condos scattered across the world, but we can at least try to demonstrate to these scum why I wouldn't sell my home for twice its appraised value.

Comment: Re:Something From Nothing. (Score 1) 392

by pla (#46679253) Attached to: Why Are We Made of Matter?
There's a video of someone asking astronomy graduates from an Ivy League university what causes the phases of the moon and the seasons, and most cannot answer.

And I graduated from a state school known for its quality engineering programs with a degree in CS, and half my graduating class could barely write HTML, much less actually code.

Unfortunately, the reality of a modern college education has become more a matter of opportunity than actual rigor. I would love to see colleges failing out half their freshman classes - except, that ignores the reality of the modern college as a business rather than an institution of higher learning. Bad for business, having a reputation for "firing" the majority of your clients.

Make no mistake, you can still get a lot out of a college education - I like to believe I took full advantage of my time there. But you can also get by with an insultingly high GPA (we can't just "pass" them, every precious little snowflake deserves A's, dontchaknow) just by showing up.

That said... I have trouble believing that astronomy graduates can't visualize how the steadily changing angle from which we view a 50% illuminated sphere gives rise to the appearance of "phases"... The light half of it shadows the dark half, and we see part of both from a sideways perspective.

Comment: Re:Money money money (Score 1) 163

by pla (#46678285) Attached to: It's Time To Plug the Loopholes In Pipeline Regulation
I answered your actual question. Now, you' seem to be mocking it, based on how my answer does not apply to a question you did not ask

Fair enough. I should not have mocked your answer, and I apologize for doing so.

I thought it clear, though (from my subject, if nothing else), that I asked my original question rhetorically. I simply don't find that even remotely an acceptable answer.

The "cutting edge" is getting rather dull. -- Andy Purshottam

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