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Comment In a biz that says "Viral" and "Exponential" a lot (Score 1) 1

...5% growth over 5 years is barely detectable. Ditto 5% shrinkage. I'm not saying it isn't statistically relevant, just that it implies PHP would still be a solid career choice for a programmer in their mid-20s, at that the time the market has shrunk 25% and jobs were getting tight, you'd be the guy with 20 years experience.

Comment Re:150 years ago... (Score 2) 378

The technologies of the 20th century, much less the 21st (we're already 1/7th of the way through that century), are enough to settle Antarctica. And there are some seriously, seriously overpopulated places on Earth now, and the land values in Manhattan and London are preposterous.
But nobody is even talking about colonizing Antarctica for lebensraum. Not even doing that some decade in the future, ever. Nobody in India is saying "man, when India hits 1.4 billion, we'll just have to move some folks to Antarctica".

Or the Gobi Desert. Or the central plains of the whole of Russia, where some millions of square miles are barely used for anything, not being quite productive enough for grain growing. Only a *little* technology, compared to Mars, would be needed to colonize land areas the size of all of Mars...and are right here at the bottom of a gravity well, with free air(!!).

As Charles Stross says, call me about space colonies when Antarctica is full.

The professor's point is not that humans lack adventurousness or industry; but they don't go doing much more than the one trip and plant-the-flag unless there's profit in it. There's no profit in Antarctica, the Gobi, or the Russian Steppes...and way, way less in Mars, still less beyond it.

It's not even about transportation costs; you could lower those until you could get a tonne to Mars as cheaply as to Antarctica and there would STILL be no space colony unless Mars had something to offer than the Gobi did not.

Comment New features every few months (Score 5, Informative) 83

Just a few months back, had a longish story on PostgreSQL. They were scoring a victory with the "UPSERT" command addition in 9.5, which with speed updates old records, OR inserts a new one, if none. A big feature on your commercial databases. Apparently, PostgreSQL's biggest worry lately is that it has so many developers adding cool new features that there's some resource lacks maintaining and cleaning the base code. (Possibly unfair oversimplification of story.)

I discovered PostgreSQL to get a free geodatabase for mapping, with the PostGIS plug-in...the open plug-in architecture being one of the greatest things about a FLOSS database. After nearly 25 years with Oracle and thinking everything else was a toy by comparison, PG blew me away. Amazing features, high performance, reliable. It's an amazing project, and this news is both impressive and unsurprising.

Comment Why did they buy based on "cores"? (Score 4, Insightful) 311

I was shopping for VCRs about 20 years back and asked the Future Shop guy how much better it was for having (quoting from the card beside the VCR) a "19 micron tape head". Turns out they ALL had 19 micron tape-heads (whatever the hell that *meant*) as it was the spec for a VCR tape head, at the time, at least. It was just another bit of science-y sounding technobabble to put on the card.
Buying based on core count is like buying for the 19-micron thing; it's either a fast machine for your purposes or not. Absolutely the only way to tell that for sure is a test. The only thing that was ever useful with, say, "megahertz" was that it had for a decade or so there a correlation with the performance you'd get in real use. I've never found "cores" to have anything of the sort.

Comment Everybody's a Critic (Score 1) 438

I read my way about half-way, started, skimming, and finally hit the TL;DR wall. It all seems to be criticism of picky aspects of previous series. So very little of it - except right at the top, before the arguments - was about what might be good ideas for a new show. None of these went over a sentence, whereas the criticism always goes on for paragraphs.

You critics should try writing sometime; it certainly seems to be hard for you to be new and creative here.

Comment I just don't care whether LNT models are right (Score 1) 130

While the vitriol washes across the page and the duelling citations go to great indent levels, I'd just like to say, I don't care.

Nobody cares about the 24,000 people dying of coal-related causes in the US every year (over 100,000 world wide), they're just dismissed (emotionally speaking, which translates to newspaper column-inches and TV minutes) as "background", life is tough, has some risks, cars hit people, crazy people shoot innocent people...etc.

So you guys go ahead and argue whether the worldwide cancer death rate would be microscopically higher if all the coal plants were replaced with nukes. I'm sure it's a very interesting argument to doctors and biologists and nuclear engineers and stuff, but the rest of us have lives to get on with and we can't go worrying over problems that are undetectable without a well-run society doing careful statistics on very large numbers.

The cost of coal in lives is so much larger it doesn't require all that careful a record-keeping. I just read that 70% of the 29 coal miners killed in that explosion a few years back had black lung, when the industry average is 3% - caused by cheaping out on the coal-dust suppression, presumably, since that's also what blew up. The uranium-mining industry can't remotely compare. And their industry deliberately pumps all their combustion products straight into the atmosphere, mercury and all; they've harshly resisted any filtration.

Compared to coal, nuclear risks just disappear in perspective.

Comment Re:Give me a raise (Score 4, Insightful) 327

>Somebody has to be in charge.
>Somebody has to be the final authority when tough decisions need to be made.
>Otherwise, you've just got chaos.

A perfect statement of the authoritarian belief system. I say "belief system" not to be insulting but to point out that such statements are often phrased, as here, to have no exceptions, there's no "usually" qualifiers anywhere. So a single counter-example proves them to be incorrect statements. As there are many counterexamples, its a belief system, not a fact.

Decisions can be made by voting, or consensus, for instance. The workability is highly dependent on the group size, the problem, and particularly on whether the group contains a lot of people with authoritarian belief systems. Such people rarely want to contribute unselfishly to a group dynamic, they're constantly looking for "angles" to improve their own personal situation at group expense and the group dynamic quickly breaks down.

But if you can pull a group together where such people are absent or muzzled, they are frequently far more productive that groups lashed to a boss under an authoritarian system. They often have "leaders" - sometimes a number of them, each a Leader at a different type of problem - that other people follow happily because you get results if you follow them - but not bosses that compel obedience.

Comment I hate to sound callous... (Score 2) 178

...but the coal industry in the States kills about 24,000 people per year - and that's just the respiratory stuff, it doesn't even attempt to find out what all the mercury that winds up in the fish is doing to people.

So sorry if it sounds callous to say, "actually, it doesn't matter whether you're arguing over zero deaths, one, ten or a hundred"...but as long as every single article about nuclear issues doesn't start and end with that 24,000 deaths per year (hundreds of thousands worldwide, though China is the really staggering toll), then all of those articles are callous.

Honestly, if 65 people per day were dying of a disease, would it be callous to say "look, the cure only kills about a hundred people in a whole year, fuck those people, deploy the cure". Maybe it would, but with a good:bad ratio of 240:1, it's the kind of callousness we all sign off on when it comes to anything else.

It's actually funny (black humour) to read those super-long posts attempting to prove this or that about the ultimate death toll...but the numbers don't even rise to the 1600 at issue for the evacuation, much less the respiratory deaths from fossil alternatives, much less the whole atmospheric chemistry issue. It's like the bar being set for nuclear is that it must be perfect..."way, way better" is not good enough...

Comment The Right-Click menu? (Score 3, Insightful) 354

This may (also) have been stolen from some other OS, but Win95 was this Great Leap Forward in usability for one innovation alone, the right-click menu. I think it was the first time that "object-oriented" really showed up at the user level. Whatever object you clicked on - file, device, folder, data-object inside an application - you got the list of methods associated with the object, what you could do with the thing. Instead of applications having menus for their various functions, *data* objects had a menu appropriate to that data-item.
If Microsoft invented that, they have to be given some props. Certainly all the larger Linux distros paid them the homage of stealing the idea.

Oh, and minor point by comparison, but still, props: I remember everybody giving rave reviews to their workaround for storing long filenames while remaining backwards compatible with 8.3 names. Not exactly a leap forward, but it countered the Great Leap Backward that 8.3 was and made the transition away from them almost painless.

Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.