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Comment: Somewhere, OpenBSD fans are smiling (Score 1) 180

/. announced OpenBSD 5.7 the other day and the usual crowd came out to say, "so what", and "nobody uses it", etc. Well, this is why it has fans. Yes, yes, there were Linux and FreeBSD machines run well enough to be proof against this exploit...it's that OpenBSD machines tend to be safe out of the box and you have to make a real effort to de-secure them.

Comment: Head scratching... (Score 1) 440

by rbrander (#49556229) Attached to: Debian 8 Jessie Released

Despite a CompSci degree and over 15 years of using nearly every breed of Linux at work and home, I feel like a guy who just wants the car to go listening to automotive engineers get angry over a debate on number of cylinders.
I upgrade only when forced to, these days: Linux met all my needs years ago. I was just compelled to upgrade from a long-obsolete Mint to 17.1, which I gather will be around for years before all support stops.
Is there any hope of this particular Good Thing vs Bad Thing debate being settled by, say, 2017?
That's all most of us want to know.
Proof's in the pudding, guys. My hat is off to everybody who tries out the new distro and takes the proverbial arrows in the back so the rest of us can know about a year or so from now if all the dark predictions about "systemd" come true or not.

Comment: I have a depressing feeling about this... (Score 5, Funny) 157

by rbrander (#49546665) Attached to: Wormholes Untangle a Black Hole Paradox

...in fiction, basic discoveries of this magnitude promptly lead to anti-gravity, flying cars, space travel, and replicators.

In real life, some PhDs are pleased with themselves and now understand why we exist and aren't a cloud of random particles - but I *still* don't get a damn jet pack.

Oh, well: the announced today that they have asthma figured out at last and can probably cure it soon. I don't have asthma, but I'm glad we also got a practical discovery.

Comment: The fun of being clueless (Score 1) 154

by rbrander (#49539865) Attached to: Hubble Spots Star Explosion Astronomers Can't Explain

...is that you get to speculate more wildly. Suppose two stars that are not yet (or never could be) able to supernova, smacked into each other at some very impressive clip. Their cores interact and there is briefly a mass in a state for a supernova...which is blown apart in the early seconds of the supernova because uniquely, the relevant core material is asymmetric and the two lobes are separated.

Is that possible? Is it gibberish? I don't know, because I never studied astronomy except by watching, well, umm...Nova, ironically enough.

So there's a lesson for you kids: don't study too hard, just read a lot of science fiction. You'll be dumber, but still have fun.

Comment: Re:So let me get this straight (Score 1) 686

by rbrander (#49539673) Attached to: Except For Millennials, Most Americans Dislike Snowden

>not my place to choose to release it.

"Not my place", meaning "the decision was made above me", meaning "I was only following orders". Destroyed as a defence by an American, Robert Jackson, at Nuremburg. No, not a Godwin violation, it just happens to be the series of trials at which it was established that nobody, nobody is below the job of personally evaluating whether the actions of the organization for which they work are criminal, and not merely refusing to take part, but actively opposing the crimes.
Snowden's reasons were clearly stated as arising from constitutional violations that went all the way to the top. Snowden took action not because he was in political disagreement about policy choices, but because his organization was exceeding its legal mandate and violating American civil rights. And the principal authors of a "patriot" act agree with him on that, so it's not like his viewpoint was deluded.

Comment: Criminals? No, not for coding... (Score 1) 305

by rbrander (#49262469) Attached to: Prison Program Aims To Turn Criminals Into Coders

..."Enterprise Software Systems Architect". "Framework Analyst". "Data Modelling Architecture Consultant".

These are the positions that suck $200/hour out of your accounts as they ask you to explain for the fourth time how you manage your list of projects and track their progress and pay their bills. Tens, then hundreds of thousands will disappear like Danny Ocean and the Boys had visited your bank, as your hoped-for upgrade to your Access application is turned into a web-based app with 20-second response time.

Former(?) criminals would be the 'best fit' for these jobs as a certain indifference to the customer's costs, stress and general suffering is valuable.

Comment: Re:Physics violation (Score 1) 690

by rbrander (#49015293) Attached to: Free-As-In-Beer Electricity In Greece?

> Isn't there SOME loss of heat in creating order, information inside a computer?

Article in Scientific American some years ago about that: as it turns out, it can be shown thermodynamically that processing information has to increase entropy because it *destroys* information. Net. You put more data into a calculation than you get out. 5 + 7 can be turned into 12, but not the other way around; the 5 and 7 are lost.

Comment: Re:WTF (Score 2) 297

by rbrander (#49006349) Attached to: Canadian Climate Scientist Wins Defamation Suit Against National Post

Can you provide links to the stories of these "skeptic scientists" (isn't that redundant?) Are you talking about people with peer-reviewed papers being fired because their boss didn't like the results of the work? Or are you talking about people who couldn't get properly-done science published because a peer-reviewed journal had it in for them?

Or are you talking about "scientists" that had strong opinions NOT backed up by science of the kind that can pass peer review?

Even that is fine; firing people for opinions, even ones they cannot prove scientifically, is pretty bad - but I'd like to see the cases, see if they have merit.

I mean, thanks for your link to "climate audit" - the middle of a mathematically-complex *criticism* of a scientific paper; but I know I'm not competent to adjudicate that dispute. Peer-reviewed journals *ARE* able to, generally, and if this criticism could only get published at "climateaudit.org", and not the Journal of Climate or any of 21 other climate-related peer-reviewed journals, then I'm sorry, but I have to assume it's not very good.

My reliance on peer-reviewed journals is not the logical fallacy of "Argument by Authority"; that refers to statements like "Penicillin works because the King has proclaimed it". The statement "Penicillin works because 35 careful studies of infection outcomes showed positive and repeatable results" is another kind of authority altogether.

Comment: Mainstream for the second time, maybe (Score 1) 141

by rbrander (#48788881) Attached to: 3D Cameras Are About To Go Mainstream

I have a fun book called "3D Hollywood" with dual-photo pages by silent film great Harold Lloyd (contemporary of Chaplin). Lloyd was retired by the 50's, with a huge home, "Greenacres", in Hollywood. He was a buff for the then-popular 3D film cameras and the photos are of film sets, Hollywood parties, including those of a 3D photographers club that included other famed actors of the time, like Dick Powell, Ronald Colman, Edgar Bergen - father of Candace, whose teenage coming-out party was shot with 3D portraits. Lloyd also had several 3D photos of Marilyn Monroe who shot a scene by the pool at Greenacres.
Then the fad went away, probably along with the 50's 3D movie fad, though Lloyd continued his hobby through the 60s. Now that 3D cameras are being made again, the purveyors are acting like it's the first time. But it really is the second.

Comment: That's 2%, not 4% (Score 1) 401

by rbrander (#48592507) Attached to: The Shale Boom Won't Stop Climate Change; It Could Make It Worse

Burning methane has about half the CO2 emissions per unit energy as coal, basically all carbon. Add in the effect of 2% losses from drill to furnace, and you have the same greenhouse effect as using coal for the same job.
For residential use, there's no question that many handling processes, storages, and miles of ever-smaller pipes has losses well above that.
Even for heavy industrial consumers connected straight to major supply pipelines, it's surely over 2% loss; from leaks around the wellhead to every stage of the plant processing to pipeline joints, leaks happen.
Gas is a cleaner-greener fuel in that all the other bad stuff in coal emissions are not there; coal kills perhaps 24,000 Americans per year - but the greenhouse impact of gas is certainly worse than coal, or oil.

Comment: How much is that in dollars? (Score 1) 375

by rbrander (#48504545) Attached to: The Cashless Society? It's Already Coming

Despite a lifetime of gadget-loving, I'm a smartphone holdout. (My employer pays for my cell, and it's dumb. ) But what I really note about smartphones is they're quite heavy, most of the volume must be battery - and they still need nightly charging.

The movie "No Country for Old Men" made an impression on me that cash weighs something - that $2M was 50lb, even in hundreds. It seems to me the weight of a smartphone, even just in a mix of 5's 10's and 20's, is the weight of more cash than I spend in a week. How many bills is the weight of, say, an iPhone 5 equal to?

I wonder if those of us who have only a 3-oz DumbPhone now will find our pockets heavier or lighter after we are compelled to get an iPhone 9 to buy lunch.

Comment: It will come in by steps (Score 1) 454

by rbrander (#48444647) Attached to: In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

It's always struck me as obvious that driving will be automated in order of difficulty of job. First, trains (already done for many of them). Then buses in "BRT" systems (where the buses have a dedicated lane) and then buses on regular roads. Only after all of these have become routine sights will you see your automated Car2Go -type taxi services.

But just automating mass transit will increase the use of it. Why are trains lumped together in 3 cars that only come by every 15 minutes? To save on drivers. One car every 5 minutes is the same capacity but one-third the waiting time.
And you could be getting to the station from your house from bus stops where a small van comes by every 5 minutes, too. Chopping out that time-consumption (and where I live, COLD waits for half the year), would probably double interest in mass-transit right there.
Effects that make mass-transit more appealing have a positive feedback loop effect going for them, because of the same "network effects" that drive adoption of new popular communications like fax then E-mail the social media. If twice as many people take the train, then it comes every 2.5 minutes, and they start building tracks to more places.

Meanwhile, there's then a positive feedback loop hurting the car industry. The fewer people buy cars, the more expensive they get and the more likely your employer is to charge you for parking, because only half the employees even use it, and why should you be subsidized? These positive feedback loops can lead to "tipping points" more quickly than most people would tend to predict.

Chairman of the Bored.