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Comment: Re:as usual faith in humanity is gone... (Score 2) 169

by hey! (#49362099) Attached to: Commercial Flamethrower Successfully Crowdfunded

Having fun isn't necessarily stupid. Having fun with flamboyantly dangerous things isn't necessarily stupid. It's endangering unwilling bystanders that's stupid.

Some people like to build and shoot powerful crossbows, or even replicas of medieval siege weapons. These are extremely dangerous and useless things. The dangerous power of a trebuchet to throw an upright piano 150 yards is part of the charm.

But a trebuchet is something that takes certain amount of thought and sacrifice to obtain and use. This flamethrower thing is more like a powerful handgun. There's been a recent fad for ridiculously overpowered handguns, which pack superfluously fatal power into a convenient, affordable form factor. The recent brouhaha over "armor piercing" ammunition was a side effect of a manufacturer selling a cut-down semi-automatic carbine as a "handgun", even though if you look at videos of people using them they're obviously terrible as handguns. This raised the question of whether 5.56 NATO ammunition should be regulated as "handgun ammunition", and in the end I think the decision not to was reasonablee. These aren't cop-killing or military handguns. They're extremely dangerous toys designed to get your rocks off.

There are some who'd say that because these guns are dangerous and impractical they should be banned. But I don't agree. "Impractical" isn't the same as "useless" because getting your rocks off is a legitimate use for a thing. I think people should be able to enjoy their ridiculous firearms as long as they do it at some kind of appropriate range. I also think there's a real danger though from stupid people who will go plinking in the woods with the things like they were BB guns.

That's really the only problem I have with this flamethrower, whether it's gold, chrome, or gunmetal gray. Any idiot can buy one, but it'd take someone reasonably intelligent and determined to find a place where it can be used safely. I'm not against people buying them, but I am for coming down hard on people who use them where they're a danger or public nuisance.

Comment: Re:This Guy's Talents Should be Put to Good Use (Score 5, Interesting) 178

by hey! (#49361119) Attached to: Prison Inmate Emails His Own Release Instructions To the Prison

Well, in the end you have to ask "did he get away with it?". Or, given that he turned himself in later, "did he have some purpose in escaping that he fulfilled?"

Intelligence is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. It includes things like thinking through unintended consequences before acting that quite clever people are sometimes bad at.

Comment: Re:Why would a PDP8 be expensive? (Score 1) 88

by istartedi (#49357449) Attached to: Rebuilding the PDP-8 With a Raspberry Pi

Absent interference in the market by governments and/or corporations, price is determined by supply and demand, not capability. I can't think of any rational reason for anybody to interfere with the market for PDP8s, so I'm going to assume it's a free market. Although economic theory with its neat little graphs might give one the impression that it's some kind of science, the actual shape of the supply and demand graphs (and thus the equilibrium price) are determined by emotional "ugly bags of mostly water".

Comment: Re:Time (Score 1) 290

by istartedi (#49357217) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Makes Some Code Particularly Good?

Scrolled down for this. I would add, "time and testing" and "testing" usually involves wide distribution. Yes, JPEG, PNG and Open Source compression libraries have had bugs, sometimes very serious ones. I still consider it some of the best code out there. I don't think being able to read the code matters. That's a red herring, unless you need to work on it. If everybody needs to work on it, it's too unfinished to be particularly good code. The only thing I've read in some of these libraries is the headers, and mostly the comments in there. It was literally self-documenting in comments the last time I looked at it. That's some good code.

Comment: Re:Risk Management (Score 1) 727

by Jhon (#49350115) Attached to: Germanwings Plane Crash Was No Accident

"Women and children, first". Do men and elderly have lives that are worth far less on the high-seas?

It's not a matter of what lives are subjectively or objectively worth. Their subjective value is varied and demonstrable -- I'm sorry, but my child's life means more to *ME* than that of some stranger. Their objective value differences are likewise demonstrable -- there's an entire industry based on it. Look up "actuary".

When someone who dies due to an accident, illness or by action and they have lived a full life, how can you not see the additional tragedy of lost potential on the exact same type of death of a child?

Comment: Perhaps the problem is with the concept. (Score 1) 159

by hey! (#49349767) Attached to: Many Password Strength Meters Are Downright Weak, Researchers Say

What does "password strength" really mean?

If people used a textual representation of number obtained from a reliable hardware random number generator then the meaning would be unambiguous. It's the number of digits in that number. But most people don't do that (perhaps more should).

So what does it mean to say that a password has so many bits of entropy? Well, I guess it means how many truly random bits it would take to index their password from the universe of passwords the user considered. This is more an exercise in psychology than it is in mathematics. You have to figure out how users generate passwords or discount passwords. For example requiring a mix of upper and lower case letters doesn't add as much entropy as you'd think, because most users are mediocre typists who'll avoid using the shift key too often. Requiring digits means that many people will just "0" for "o" and "1" for "L".

So it's really easy to concoct passwords which you know are bad, because you know the methods used to select which passwords you'd consider; if the developers of the strength meter don't take your particular generation algorithm into account the meter will show the password to be stronger than you know it to be.

Comment: Re:Top Gear: The BBC Whovian Reboot (Score 2) 637

by hey! (#49348357) Attached to: Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear

A fourth car races by.

It opens, and the words Top Gear: Mark II appear.

It's a young British woman of mixed Asian descent.

The crowd goes wild.

Seriously, an exotic woman driving exotic cars too fast? Who'd watch that?

I would, because I'm a man and I'm not afraid to admit that on some level I'm a pig. Ideally she'd be smart and funny too, because I don't like to think of myself as being a total pig, but either way I'm in.

Comment: Re:The BBC doesn't have much latitude here. (Score 1) 637

by hey! (#49347911) Attached to: Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear

Meanwhile, the BBC has a chance to reinvent Top Gear with younger presenters

Nailed it. It's like the old saw about the Chinese character for "crisis" being made up of characters for "danger" and "opportunity". No matter what happens now they're going to lose some of their long-term fans. But at some point young people aren't going to be so keen on watching some ancient codger behaving like an ass.

If they play this right it could become like Dr. Who, with a reboot every few years to bring in fresh blood.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.