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Comment Re:MOOC = Massive Open Online Course (Score 2) 112

MOOC is not a commonly used term. The ones you mentioned are. Do you understand the difference?

Do you understand the difference between publishing a summary on CNN and publishing on a site where MOOC should be as commonly known as a term like SSD? If you are even remotely part of the IT industry, it is very unlikely that MOOC is a term you are unfamiliar with.

In terms of common usage, I would put MOOC in the same category as a term like UAT.

A) I know what MOOC means, but have no idea what UAT means.

B) Is Slashdot suffering a financial problem which requires that posting text be compressed into acronyms to save space? Is there a place we can send donations to help them get through this rough spot?

Comment Such access is not surprising at all. (Score 1) 103

Apparently Uber leaked the keys on GitHub, and allege that this IP address visited the page - along with tens of thousands of other visitors. It wasn't some sort of Mission Impossible nighttime raid or anything, they published things publicly.

If I were CTO of a company, and I saw a Slashdot posting about "YourCompetitor leaked all of their keys on GitHub!", I would probably click through. ESPECIALLY if I were in charge of preventing similar leaks from the company I worked for.

Hell, I'd probably keep an eye on what kinds of things my competitor published on GitHub simply to inform what kinds of things my company might want to publish, simply to stay competitive.

Comment The article alleges no connection, though. (Score 5, Insightful) 103

Apparently they leaked the key on GitHub, and allege that this IP address visited the page - along with tens of thousands of other visitors.

If I were CTO of a company, and I saw a Slashdot posting about "YourCompetitor leaked all of their keys on GitHub!", I would probably click through. ESPECIALLY if I were in charge of preventing similar leaks from the company I worked for.

Comment Re:Good for them (Score 2) 191

So what crime do I need to commit to get a free degree? Gotta make sure I stay in at least four years.

I think you have that backwards. Once you've been imprisoned, you're going to have a helluva time getting a job even with a degree. I see this as people finding themselves in a worst-case scenario, and picking up the pieces and making the best of things. You could go out and make the best of things all on your own, right now, no need for some external party to force you to face harsh choices.

Comment Re:Radios? (Score 1) 241

How in the name of all stupid plot devices does each and every space suit, vehicle, structure and other large chunk of habitat equipment not have its own, independent up-link to the multiple Earth-Mars radio relays we already have in orbit around that planet? I squirmed for the first hour because that was too much disbelief to suspend; over the years as habitat equipment appeared on the surface prior to habitation a big collection of radio equipment would unavoidably accrete; they'd be tripping over redundant radio gear.

Yeah, this bugged me, too. AFAICT the overall idea was that they did all these earlier missions to land supplies and stuff, but they didn't have a literal constellation of satellites in orbit to allow reasonable communications? Some of the responses to your post ask things like why we don't have sat phones, etc ... well, there's a difference between a few billion people with communications devices and six of them.

Additionally, mars geosync orbit should be lower, and the atmosphere shouldn't block as much and being 20 years in the future we should have better batteries and antenna and all that. And, even if half of that is wrong, you'd still expect the character in this book/movie to be able to malloc up a sufficient antenna and power to blast a shortwave SOS in the direction of earth.

Comment Re:Catch the rounded ones early (Score 2) 300

But, from the point of view of a child, a computer language is just a language, like French, German, or Japanese. The earlier a child is introduced to a language, the easier it is for a child to pick up.

Those other languages are natural languages which co-evolved with the humans who speak them. Computer languages are designed to express things to computers, and computers are not humans - they aren't even aliens, they have no innate consciousness, so they do not work with you to adapt your communications. Every little bit of it is artificially constructed and stylized, all the way down. Computer languages are no more like human languages than the jargon used by biologists is like a human language.

Or, let's take a more direct counter-argument - very few people learn computer languages during the early childhood learning window when children are supposed to be optimized for such learning. And yet many people seem to have no problems at all learning new computer languages well into their adulthood. This is really fortunate, too, because most computer languages have a limited shelf life.

Comment Re:For how long are we "advanced" enough (Score 4, Informative) 365

I'm no expert, but I remember reading that digital communication is virtually undetectable at galactic distances, because it fades way more quickly and becomes indistinguishable from background noise.

Nah, it's worse than that. Spectrum is finite, so the incentive over time is to use interesting encoding techniques to smear the data across the available spectrum. If you don't know the protocols, a given frequency mostly looks like noise in the time domain. And there are similar incentives to fill up the frequency domain. And there's incentive to use lower power, so that more transmitters can share the frequency, so those are all going to merge into a mess, too.

Basically, by design our radio output is tending towards noise which will be impossible to differentiate from a light year away.

Comment Re:Not many morals in the federation really (Score 1) 485

But the left keep claiming that Star Trek is a 'post-scarcity society'. In a post-scarcity society, you just click your fingers and you have a boat. You click your fingers, and you have a starship.

That's what 'post-scarcity' means. If you can't click your fingers and have a fleet of starships so vast that they block out the stars, you don't live in a post-scarcity society.

Citation needed.

Comment Re:The elephant in the room (Score 1) 176

It could be changed, by reforming the welfare programs to stop making having welfare babies out of wedlock pay. There are a lot of possibilities for doing this, such as not giving out welfare benefits on a per child basis, not giving out services to the parent but directly to minors (a soup kitchen type setup). Also get rid of the Earned Income Tax Credit. The problem with the way that many of these programs work is they give more money to the parent or every illegitimate child, the parents can then use this money how they want, on themselves.

You make it sound like the biggest problem is that women sit down and say "You know what? I think I need a baby so I can screw the welfare system."

AFAICT, the actual problem is that not having control of reproduction leaves the women unable to implement long-term goals of not being on welfare. In which case there would be more impact from making access to long-term birth control like IUDs and implants cheap and easy.

Comment No arrow keys means I don't care. (Score 1) 240

The useless part of the keyboard is the number pad. I want that space so that my arm isn't hanging so far out to reach my pointing device. But I'm not willing to gain more space in that area at the expense of high-usage cursor-movement keys, that's completely unacceptable. So feel free to drop the 6 entirely.

Comment Re:Congratulations, Microsoft! (Score 1) 231

Yeah, I had RAM Doubler for Macintosh, too. But this is actually included with the OS. The sibling commenter pointing out that OSX wins by a year wins that competition, though.

I was actually imagining that some crusty old fart would crop up to tell us you could do it in VMS or something but so far nope

NeXTSTEP 3 (I think) had this in the early 90s. Then the rationale was that compressing pages on the way to disk reduced I/O load.

Like: http://www.nextcomputers.org/N...

Comment Re:Efficiency (Score 1) 904

It is known that hydrocarbon powered cars typically turn chemical energy into mechanical motion at about 35% efficiency (45% for Diesels). It is known that large power plants generate electricity from fuel at about 50% efficiency. The process of charging a battery is about 75% efficient, turning electrical energy into chemical energy. The reverse is also true, for battery discharge (75%), and the electric motors of an electric car are about 95% efficient. We multiply these numbers to get the overall efficiency of conversion of original fuel energy into mechanical motion for the car: about 27%. Even allowing for regenerative braking energy-recovery, it looks like ordinary cars win the efficiency thing here. We need better than that!

Traditional cars and power plants don't use the same inputs. Even if electric cars are less efficient, they can potentially be powered by renewable energy sources rather than hydrocarbons.

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist