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Comment Re:Cultural? (Score 1) 473

In a gasoline engine, how much fuel do you feed to the air? When do you trigger the spark plugs, at what advance? In a diesel, when do you inject the fuel, and how much? Etc...

Yeah, but it's the mechanical engineers job to optimise those parameters. He then tells the software engineer he needs the oxygen level adjusted within 5ms of sensing a change in the throttle. If software engineer stares at him and says "how the fuck I am supposed to meet that deadline on the lame arse 100Mhz 16 bit CPU the electrical engineers gave me when the brake guys are telling me I need to react to wheel slip within 100us otherwise I could kill somebody?". The mechanical engineer will then shrug his shoulders and say "I don't know, that's not my area, but if you don't do it we won't meet emissions standards".

The only way to fix this PR mess was to own up, take it on this chin, and move on. That way they might have a hope of selling the "I was a bad boy but I've learnt my lesson so you can be sure I'll never do it again" line. Blaming the most remote limb, hacking it off, and saying to the world "there I've fixed the problem" sounds awfully like psychopaths are running the show. If that is true we know as soon as a backs are turned, they will do it again.

Comment Re:Lots of interesting comments at -1 (Score 4, Informative) 78

The problem, as I see it, is that by doing it in Javascript, we're introducing a new dependency: the code will only work on a browser produced in 2015.

Well you can rest easy then, because no one is writing this stuff in JavaScript.

What triggered this change is Emscripten, which is a back end for LLVM that targets ... JavaScript. Actually it targets asm.js, which runs at about 1/2 native speed in Firefox (not so fast in Chrome, because Google thinks the solution to the same problem is NaCl).

What that means is any compiler that uses LLVM can now compile to asm.js. Which means any program written in Python, Rust, Go (there are a whole pile of languages) can now be compiled to run in the browser. In particular Clang is a C compiler for LLVM. Dosbox is a x86 + MSDOS emulator, written in C. Ergo Dosbox can now be compiled to JavaScript and this run in the browser. Js-dos is a site apparently dedicated hosting games that does just that. The game console emulators are also written in C. So they to can and now have been compiled to asm.js. Because modern web browsers support WebGL, OpenGL games that have been open sourced (like Quake3) have also been compiled to JavaScript, and run spookelly well. Which is how we get to the plethora of games mentioned in the article. Pity it didn't mention the technology behind it.

But why stop a games? Sqlite3 has been recompiled for Javascript. It can do in browser SQL queries in about 2ms, and is a damned site nicer to use than wandering through a spiderweb of Javascript objects. But why stick to something sane? You can now do ffmpeg encoding in your browser.

Comment Let's send it to /., they'll post anything (Score 1) 17

... including readily available toys.

If it is on wikipedia, it is not news, and there is absolutely nothing different from controlling a ball (1 D) and controlling 1 D of the motion of a toy shark. There are even more complex mindflex games out there that suggest that one could probably rewire one to allow a single person to control the shark. There is a mind controlled UFO (drone) on the market already that is probably much cooler, except oh wait! It isn't an inflatable shark!


Comment I guess /. is short of Sun Tzu readers... (Score 2) 241

[03.02] Therefore, to achieve a hundred victories in a hundred battles is not the highest excellence; to subjugate the enemy's army without doing battle is the highest of excellence.

What more is there to say? The fundamental problem with the US is that we lack excellence and elegance in our entire apparatus of foreign policy and the military. Even with clear targets -- like Iraq in wars one and two -- we could not manage to win without doing battle, and we are failing over much of the world right now.

Of course, we (Americans) live in a country with a large military-industrial complex, with an enormous shadow government funded by organized crime (primarily the importation of drugs that have carefully been kept illegal for decades) that has been around so long that it has turned the money-laundered corner into legitimacy, and with a substantial fraction of elected public officials who think that the world is 6000 years old and is going to end in a battle with Satan Himself any day now (and another substantial fraction of elected public officials who mysteriously exit public life far, far richer than they entered it). In such a system if we aren't fighting a government, taxpayer subsidized war for buth and treauty nearly all of the time, be it a "war on drugs", a "war on the commies", a "war against ISIS", a "war against Carbon Dioxide", our corporations simply fund new politicians that will start one, manufacturing facts and portraying them convincingly to the masses as required.

In a sense, war is the secondary consequence of a failure of diplomacy and the political process. That isn't to say that it isn't effective -- naked force, successfully applied, is responsible for most of the structure of the geopolitical world in which we live. But there have been a few small successes that suggest that we may be able to eventually transcend war and surpass even Sun Tzu's highest degree of excellence. If it is good to achieve one's political, economic, and social goals without doing battle in a conflict between two powers, it is surely better to achieve those goals without doing battle on a global basis. As Sun Tzu also says:

Generally in warfare, keeping a nation intact is best, destroying a nation second best..

The best way to fight all wars would be to keep all nations intact by winning them with diplomatic, social, and economic weapons, by fighting them so that everybody wins. This is the best way to sap the will to fight. This is the highest skill.

In modern times, this has never been truer. The US could at any time win any war or any battle. We have nuclear weapons and technological advantages that are truly unstoppable by any other nation, quite possibly by any other confederacy of nations working together. But we cannot win those battles, or wars, leaving the nations we fight intact, so we refrain from using our full power in almost all conflicts. We have also learned what Sun Tzu probably did not know -- that to win a war against a determined enemy, it is sometimes necessary to exterminate them, and we (thankfully) haven't the stomach for this. In wars of this sort, one must be prepared to fight for lifetimes of not-quite-war, of cold war, until the world changes and enemies become friends and allies without force.

Truly, this is right up there with the highest skill.


Comment Re:First projects should be celebrated even if min (Score 1) 662

So are we just ignoring the fact that the father is a Muslim activist and blames Republicans? He also shows up at churches with the Koran and disrupts. This was a clear provocation. Just like Charlie Hebdo and the Texas cartoon contest, a reaction was not only expected but inevitable. At least nobody died this time.

And my father is a Christian preacher. Seriously? Sins of the father? That's what you think is the most important issue to discuss right now? And not that the kind of people who judge based on the sins of the father are the actual real problem that caused this mess in the first place.

Comment First projects should be celebrated even if minor (Score 5, Insightful) 662

My first computer program was little more than 10 PRINT "HELLO WORLD", but young me was damn proud at the time of making a computer do something ... anything ... and would have loved to share that enthusiasm with others.

It doesn't matter whether Ahmed built the clock from scratch after forging his own components from rocks in a furnace or disassembled something else and made a small change. Who cares. We all had to start somewhere and a little encouragement goes a long way.

Don't let the know-nothings get you down Ahmed. Keep at it.

Comment And in still other news... (Score 1) 282

... the Pope announces that from now on all religious observances in monasteries will be adopted from those of the Unitarian Universalist sort-of-religion. "Hey, it's completely in-house -- our monks will get a lot more work and meditation in not having to waste so much time chanting and going to mass all of the time," he is quoted as saying. "In a few cases it is just plain easier to use the rituals of other religions where using our own would involve a major expenditure or loss of efficiency."

Meantime, President Obama has admitted that he gets most of his best ideas from the John Locke Foundation. "It isn't like their ideas are proprietary," he explained to the press in a surprise announcement. "Besides, every blind squirrel finds an acorn."

There is no word yet upon whether or not ISIS has subcontracted their intelligence service to Mossad as rumored, largely because it has proven nearly impossible to determine whether or not ISIS is aware of the concept of intelligence at all. The Israeli government is playing coy with the issue, refusing to confirm or deny the possibility that ISIS was impressed with the efficiency with which Mossad had infiltrated its ranks. An unnamed ISIS jihadist, when approached by a journalist, was rumored to have whispered to the journalist that they were actually an Israeli intelligence agent right before they cut off the head of the journalist, but the logical contradictions inherent in the rumor make it likely that it was deliberately planted by ISIS...

Comment Re:Bigotry Shmigotry (Score 1) 536

Imagine how the dating scene would change if men could get off (legally, cleanly and guilt free) whenever the had the urge, instead of having to date countless women and pretend to like them to get laid until the right one came along.....

Errr, have you looked at what internet offers now? Admittedly you only get to touch the screen, but there is a real woman behind it who gets paid to do what you ask and pretend to love it without caring one wit about whether you like her or not.

Maybe you haven't paid much attention to it, but the women on the planet sure have. There reaction was exactly the same as this time round - they embark on crusades to get rid of porn on the internet. Hopefully their successes to date will be an excellent predictor of Dr Kathleen Richardson's success in this time around.

Despite these developments civilisation still stands. My guess is that's because men actually enjoy the company of their partner, particularly one that also reciprocates by appreciating his company as much as he appreciates hers.

The only surprising thing about any of this is as an ethicist lecturing at a University, I expect Dr Kathleen Richardson to be smart enough to recognise we have been inventing machines designed to replace women in sex for literally millennia - starting with his hands. Yet they always end up wanting the real thing. Maybe, just maybe, isn't just sex isn't the only thing men want from a relationship?

Comment Re:Theory (Score 1) 591

My copy of scripture does not say G-d did not use evolution to create Life.

Oh? So you are a Christian Socialist who rejects Genesis, which pretty much states that God did not use evolution to create life (along with countless other absurdities)? What about the parts of the New Testament in which Jesus endorses Genesis and the supposed existence of Noah and his Fabulous Ark? That puts some pretty serious constraints on evolution, I do declare! Not to mention the problems with collecting a few million species from all over the Earth, putting them inside a wooden boat the size of a Wal Mart at the outside ventilated by a single window less than 1 meter square in area, and keeping them fed and alive for 40 days and nights of rain falling at a rate of an inch a minute, and then replacing them in all of their diverse ecosystems all over the planet right down to small Pacific islands, all using wooden boats that lacked so much as a compass and in a single human lifetime with the labor of a single human family.

So sure, if you are a Christian Socialist who just makes stuff up to avoid the problems with the supposed scriptural basis of your belief set, then your scripture might well say that God created the Universe out of Legos or cubic blocks of stuff mined out of a virtual place that doesn't objectively exist (because places that objectively exist are already part of the Universe) and nobody can ever prove you wrong, but you are mistaken when you claim to be a Christian. You are the believer in a religion you just made up that steals some of its ideas and beliefs from the Abrahamic religions but is a formal heresy in all of them.

Just to be picky.

As for both how and why -- scripture is of course far from silent on both of these points (unless it is scripture you wrote for yourself, of course, when it can contain anything -- or not -- that you like) but no matter what, religion can do no more than make unprovable and usually ethically absurd claims as to why as well. They are precisely equivalent in both provability and reason to asserting that we are all power units in The Matrix and that's Why -- because some higher order being needs the power and provides us with a dream world to live in while we do. It's impossible to prove any such claim false in spite of the utter lack of evidence that it is true. All a believer has to do is assert that the Matrix is too well run to ever let you take a capsule and escape it. So sure, we could all be here to participate in a bizarre game that puts reality TV to shame in which if we believe just the right things without evidence (generally as a consequence of the accidents of our birth and how we were raised before we developed the ability to think critically) then we get to go to an invisible place and live there forever in a state of guaranteed happiness, insulated from entropy and evil for eternity, with the optional but commonly accepted adjunct that if we fail to hold just the right beliefs, we are "voted off the island" and believe me, off of the island is not a place you want to be... or, we could use common sense and observation and conclude that the "why" question is unanswerable and hence meaningless.


Comment Re:Theory (Score 3, Insightful) 591

Besides, we cannot positively exclude the possibility that we are all power units in The Matrix, and everything we think we know is false. There is no good reason to think that this is true, but that is not sufficient (especially under the circumstances) to prove it false. The same is true for the religious explanations -- there is no evidence worthy of the term to support them, but provided you are willing to believe in an insane deity who built a deliberately deceptive Universe and who runs it strangely like a reality simulation for absurd purposes, you can't rule them out logically or empirically, you can only state that they are very unlikely to be true, in a very precise statistical sense. Evolution, on the other hand is very likely to be true in general even as almost any given particular theory of evolution is likely to be false, or at least incomplete. Not as likely as it is that gravitation is a true theory to a much, much higher degree of approximation, but still enough to be casually referred to as "fact", part of the self-consistent network of mutually supported scientific beliefs that represent a system that is at least nearly completely consistent with observational data across the board.

Solipsism cannot be logically or empirically ruled out. Magnetic monopoles cannot be ruled out. Absence of evidence is not sufficient evidence of absence, but it can be used to set probability bounds, and when there is no empirical support for a hypothesis that stands in the company of a near-infinity of alternative equally unsupported hypotheses, the comparatively small family of hypotheses that have reproducible empirical support and that are consistent with other observationally verified and mutually consistent hypotheses have a huge, huge edge in the probable truth game.


Comment Windows... (Score 1) 889

... as a VM. Then you can run anything you like (but high end games) from under Linux.

This is by far the best solution. I've been using it since early (still free) vmware days. It also lets you keep functional images of multiple versions of Windows and run WINDOWS software that doesn't run on Windows (any more). I have XP-Pro frozen and encapsulated, virus free, ready to run should I need it or anything inside. I have Windows 7 frozen and encapsulated ditto. I can laugh at broken Vista, my-laptop-is-not-a-tablet Windows 8, and preserve all the work that went into making them semi-functional.

But I've been using Linux as a primary desktop since SLS and Slackware (somewhere in the late 90's?), and I personally almost NEVER boot a Windows VM unless it is to run some very specific application that simply doesn't exist under Linux. Do this and you don't NEED to port Windows apps (except for high end games) to Linux -- they are already there!


Comment Re: Naw, it's Doctors (Score 1) 696

No snakes have been injured in my bike encounters so far as I've been able to avoid them, but I do ride over a bridge over a wetlands creek and NC is lousy with copperheads and all of the North American poisonous snakes have sustained populations in the state, including coral snakes. I've driven around live copperheads (and one unidentified snake that could have been a water moccasin but I didn't stop to look carefully) several times, so I haven't been injured yet either, as you can pretty easily throw them up into your pedals or worse, into your wheels and thence onto your legs in a highly irritated mood from what I understand from reading bike forums. It sounds like actual bites of humans as opposed to tires are pretty rare, though.

The biggest copperhead I've ever seen living or dead was one roughly four feet long that had been run over by a car and was lying dead right in the lane I was riding to work in, right on the edge of Duke's campus and across from a forested swamp. You could see the crushed part where the tire had gone over it very clearly. The snake itself was as thick as my calf, and the head was easily the size of my clenched fist, maybe 3.5" or 4" wide. I've kicked myself for years for not picking up the body and putting the head out on an anthill to clean off the undamaged skull -- it would have been spectacular -- but it was literally too big to easily carry on my bike and I was on my way in to teach a class and had nowhere to put the corpse in the meantime. It was pretty close to the upper limit on the size of Southern Copperheads (reported to be 53"). But needless to say, since that day I watch CAREFULLY when I ride in the gutter or next to the shoulder in wooded or swampy areas (I ride through Duke Forest and wetlands when I ride into Duke from my house). Copperheads in particular are crepuscular hunters and lie on the edge of paved roads in the evening or early morning for the warmth and as pit vipers, they strike at anything warm and possibly edible in the twilight. They aren't particularly venomous and they often won't even treat a bite for anything but tetanus, but a large snake like that can pump a lot of venom into you if it is annoyed because you step on it or ride over it. This thing had enormous venom glands pooching out its triangular-shaped head.


Comment Re: Naw, it's Doctors (Score 1) 696

Sure, but that doesn't mean that they know even elementary things about riding a bike safely. Starting with things like "On the road, a bike is a vehicle and hence should follow all of the rules that pertain to vehicles" such as riding on the right hand side of the road (with traffic, not facing traffic), using signals for turns (and knowing what the signals for turns are!), slow traffic keeping right, being VERY cautious passing any vehicle on the right as a) they don't expect you to be passing them; b) you are probably driving up through their blind spot; c) they can easily e.g. cut you off unexpectedly with an unsignalled right turn or by pulling over towards the curb or shoulder. And so on. Bikes follow the rules of vehicles, but not exactly the rules of vehicles, because common sense has to play a role too and bikes cannot go fast enough to keep up with cars, can be difficult to see or keep track of when one is driving a car or truck, can easily be cut off or forced into a parked vehicle or pothole or road hazard and are particularly vulnerable if hit. Even things like wearing a bike helmet or using some sort of rear view mirror need to be taught because some people think commuting on a bike down a busy street as a brittle-boned adult with your head six or seven feet above the ground is the same as riding it as a bendy-boned kid in a quiet neighborhood cul-de-sac with their head four feet above the ground (and the kid should be wearing a helmet TOO because closed head injuries can ruin your whole day -- for the rest of all of your brain-dead days.

And don't even get me started about riding at night. The closest I've ever come to killing somebody -- lifetime -- was driving my car across Duke's Campus Drive (a road that connects East and West Campus). I was crossing it on a dirt road, and at that time there was a stop sign but no nearby street lights so it was completely dark except for my headlights, which were very slightly angled up as the cross-road was on a gentle slope relative to Campus Drive. I stop. Look left -- nothing but black. Look right -- stygian dark. Glance right again, left again, and start to accelerate. JUST as I start to punch it forward, looking straight ahead, a bike flashes directly in front of my vehicle. No lights. Driver wearing dark clothes and no helmet, face turned towards me, terrified eyes wide open as he realizes that I'm moving straight at him. My foot moving faster than thought to mash the brakes so I missed him by a whole foot. And he vanishes into the night.

And the worst part of it is -- I'm sure that he thinks he was in the right, had the right of way, bikes can do anything they want, the laws of the road or mere laws of common sense don't apply to bike riders. If I'd hit him and by any miracle NOT killed him (he was booking, the collision would have thrown him ten or twenty feet in the air with no helmet) I'm sure he would have sued me and of course who knows what would have happened to me in the hands of the law regardless of the letter. At the very least I would have had to live with killing/maiming some other human, my fault or not.

I'd say that you can't fix stupid, but stupid wasn't the problem if the kid was a Duke student (as was very likely). Ignorant, yes, stupid, probably not. One hopes that the numb-nut learned from the experience and invested in a BIKE LIGHT, as even riding between campuses on a road that IS the moral equivalent of a neighborhood cul-de-sac down an unlit stretch shared with cars and then running RIGHT IN FRONT OF a car that is stopped at a stop sign and about to go when they cannot possibly see you can kill you just as dead as an ISIS IED.

Other advantages of a license -- right now in NC, if one reads through chapter 20 (the vehicular laws of the state) one discovers that bicycles are considered to be vehicles and subject to all of the laws of the state except where they cannot be applicable. However, this just makes the laws themselves inconsistent, as small children can ride bicycles on city streets where they cannot operate motor vehicles. It also creates a serious problem with how precisely to treat alcohol and bikes. Is a bicycle rider guilty of DUI if they ride a bike with blood alcohol over 0.08? If they are stopped and convicted, do they lose their license for a year, four years, forever? Oh, wait, they don't HAVE or NEED a license to ride a bike! Indeed, people who have lost their license because of DUI often ride bikes to get places because it is the only legal means of transportation! (One of my sons is riding out his first-offense year and while he can drive to or from work in the town of his residence during the day, he cannot drive at night, but he can certainly bike anywhere, anytime).

Then we could talk about insurance. Bicyclists are perhaps the most vulnerable people on the road, or at least are in a close race with motorcyclists for the honor. NC state law does require helmets for bike riders under 16, but AFAICT does not require it for adults, and what motorcyclists risk in speed, bikers can easily make up in legal risk by not wearing a helmet or by driving on heavily travelled, dangerous roads without bike lanes during dusk or dawn rush hours, where even a light is difficult to see and everybody on the road is tired and cranky. ANY accident on a bike is likely to result in substantial injury to the biker, no matter who is at fault, and may well result in substantial damage to the vehicle(s) involved in the accident even if nobody is hurt. Bikes nowadays can easily cost $1000 (or even more) -- my commuter bike cost around $800 before I tricked it out and added safety or convenience gear. Bikes are a common target for thieves. Yet there is a big legal hole in insurance requirements for bike riders. If a bike runs into the side of my STATIONARY car and dents in side panels, throws the rider through a window or onto the roof, leaves them injured and my car with $2000 or more in damage, anything can happen with legal liability and who pays for what. The biker is de facto an uninsured driver until proven otherwise, and if they are indigent or simply very poor, I can be left holding the entire bag, quite possibly including their medical expenses or even long term compensation if there is even a HINT that I was stopped "improperly". Note that it is by no means clear that, definition of a bike as a "vehicle" notwithstanding, a bike rider will be held to the same standards for "fault" and responsibility for braking that a car driver would be, especially with only one set of insurance-backed deep pockets to be pilfered for the substantial expenses incurred. If it gets in front of a jury, anything can happen.

So it is not at all surprising that deaths and damages in bike accidents are on the rise. More people are biking, which is good and healthy, but they are doing so in ignorance of both law (I had to spend 45 minutes reading the actual statutes to learn as much as I indicated above, and I'm semi-responsible and have READ through at least common RULES for the road for bikes even though they are not uniformly implemented as LAW, state by state) and subject to laws that in most cases are simply ancient, dating back to a time when people accepted a lot more personal risk, on roads that are terribly designed in terms of bicycle safety. Most of our streets were laid out with widths and curbs and gutters and parking rules and lanes that simply ignored their POSSIBLE use by a mix of bikes and cars, assumed that bike usage would be limited to a handful of kids or hobbyist riders at rates of a bike or so a week, not at rates relevant to commuter biking where bikes pass at the rate of a bike every few minutes. The risks and consequences are enormously amplified by the multiple opportunities for disaster on roadways that simply aren't designed for bikes at all or are retrofitted with a "bike lane" as an inconsistent afterthought, and where drivers of ANY kind of a vehicle receive basically zero education about how to safely operate a bicycle on a public roadway, what the laws are that apply to a bike, and the need to insure bike riding the same as one insures any other substantial risk to life, health or property that takes place on a shared commons.


Comment Re: Naw, it's Doctors (Score 5, Insightful) 696

Yeah, one major part of the problem is that even in supposedly "bike friendly" towns where they have a "bike lane", that lane ranges from 8 inches wide to less than a meter wide. Sometimes several times within a stretch of 1/3 of mile. There is often crap in it -- branches, leaves, rocks, bottles -- or open grates over storm drains. In the summertime south they can even have middling large poisonous snakes in it, especially early morning or late evening.

I'd love to ride my bike to work, and sometimes do in spite of the fact that the "bike lanes" I ride in have all of the features on the list above -- averaging around 18 inches in width (but actually disappearing altogether without warning as the road passes under an overpass where the pylons come down right on the edge of the road so there isn't any shoulder either). I've been blown past by full-scale dump trucks going 55+ mph and missing me by whole feet.

I lived in Durham for decades without hearing of a single bike fatality and few accidents. In the last few years, friends of mine have been killed or been dumped in the ICU for weeks, all because of precisely the conditions you list above -- you're damned if you ride in the lane because it provides the illusion of having enough room but when it is 8" wide, it doesn't, and you're damned if you ride out in the lane because there are folks on the road you don't think you should be there or are drunk and are driving massive vehicles at unsafe speeds even before you show up in their sights.

Personally, I think that if official policy is "riding bikes is good, reduces energy consumption, promotes good cardiovascular health" then government needs to make a serious commitment to making safe bikeways. In my opinion, that means unobstructed, clean bike lanes at least 1 meter wide NOT including gutter/grate or curb if present, and not borrowing from the road shoulder. It also means providing protected dedicated function bikeways that parallel things like 4 to 6 lane roads where biking will NEVER be safe, so you aren't forced to ride on roads that are dangerous to cars, let alone bikes, to get from point A to point B.

Finally, yeah, it wouldn't be crazy to license bike riders who plan to ride on non-neighborhood streets, even if it is a one time license that you get after you prove you understand the rules of the road and how they practically pertain to bikes. Accidents are often caused by bikers, not just by car or truck or motorcycle drivers. I've watched people biking down the road on the wrong side, thinking that they are some sort of pedestrian.


Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.