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Comment: Re:Either fast breeder or thorium (Score 1) 417

Every time this comes up, either a fast-breeder or a thorium crackpot comes out of their holes.

What if we just stop wasting resources?

Take transport: why does it take > 30 kW to move around one ~80kg bag of flesh&bones? Because it's too cheap. Why don't we insulate homes more? Because the alternative is too cheap. Ad nauseam.

Sometimes the appropriate technology is advanced, sometimes moving a pile of dirt into the right place does the job. Here's an example:

Yes, you can retrofit many existing homes to this standard. You can even use sandbag-laying equipment for this purpose. What's in the way are regulations built to suit developers and homeowner's associations built around building and flipping energy-guzzling disposable McMansions - for starters.

The latest methods for building these homes resemble 3D printing and they only need a fraction of the solar panels a regular home does to be completely off-grid. Add rainwater harvesting and composting, and you just cut out the need for energy-guzzling waterworks. Add gardens and greenhouses, and replacing the first 50% of your food consumption from carbon-intensive sources is easy. Moreover, very little portland cement - itself alone responsible for 11% of humanity's CO2 emissions - is needed for this.

The gadget-oriented can still go to town automating the opening and closing of shutters and convective cooling to complete this completely self-sufficient home that could supply most of its occupant's food. Building one of these is a survivalist coup. Building a lot of these is a strategy to turn this crisis around without even touching a nuclear reactor.

I just want to highlight that we can easily bring our consumption down to a level that we can easily scale renewables up to 100% for.

Comment: Re:Strictly speaking... (Score 1) 417

Do you realize that carbon dioxide uptake from the atmosphere is what's driving ocean acidification? Compare the map of the world's forests to one hundred, one thousand, and ten thousand years ago. Add the fact that industrialization over the past two centuries got hundreds of millions of years' worth of sequestered carbon and released it into the atmosphere. What's this to the natural world? A top-level mass extinction.

The ecosystem's screwed. Whether it's beyond recovery is the question. Seeing as how humans come from an ecosystem, not a factory, we've got to be doing more about this than we are.

Comment: Re:Ancient Chinese wisdom (Score 1) 116

Any civilisation that in 5000 years never managed to invent the fork and carried on using 2 sticks to eat with isn't that great.

Really? You're sure that they just couldn't figure a fork out?

Here's the story of chopsticks. Having potential weapons at the dinner table became a real problem in times of tension, and it became a violent, rude spectacle to stab or slice your food at dinner with others - think state functions or otherwise. It implies what you might be thinking to do to others present. Hence, leave the knives in the kitchen with the cooks. Hence, you don't use those stabby forks. Spoons and chopsticks become the social acceptable ways to eat.

Not that everyone learns from the past however old their civilization is, but China's cultural roots are extremely sensible. Save your slurs for the stupid officials who are acting authoritarian in childish ways. They're not good examples of any culture.

Comment: LLVM assembly (Score 1) 641

by Dasher42 (#48555779) Attached to: How Relevant is C in 2014?

Since we actually have a widely accepted portable assembly language now, I have been pondering this very question. LLVM assembly holds a lot of potential, similar to how the TAOS operating system promised back in the early 90's with its virtual processor assembly:

The guy who inspired me to want to program used to write assembly on a 386 with a slightly hacked copy of the 8086-oriented freeware assembler CHASM. He read compiled binaries in hex like code. I asked him, "Doesn't it take a lot more time to write in assembler?" "Not that much", he replied, "You break things down into functions and build libraries of code you don't have to reinvent, just like in C." The guy was freaking brilliant.

We've so frequently created new languages around new ideas in programming, and that's great, but eventually the number of abstractions becomes quite an issue. People are willing to write operating systems like MenuetOS in assembly in x86_64 asm. That's great. I'd love to see a compiler there to do validation of code, uphold Ada-like programming by contract, that sort of thing, but I'd love to see assembly programming make a comeback.

Comment: Re:C is very relevant in 2014, (Score 1) 641

by Dasher42 (#48555659) Attached to: How Relevant is C in 2014?

About those C++ templates, you said, "unless you stick to a very restrictive subset of C++ that's almost C, then you'll end up generating too much code (C++ templates are not just a good way of blowing away your i-cache on high-end systems, they're also a good way of blowing away your total code storage on embedded chips)."

I used to use the -fno-implicit-templates parameter on g++: when I was doing C++ heavily. I also usually didn't have more than two templated types, mostly to keep the debugging simpler. Do you still have any quantification for the overhead with C++ code generation versus C's as you used it? Did you try options like this? And how heavily templated was the code?

Comment: Externalization (Score 3, Informative) 409

Talk about a skewed, worthless study from Brookings. Garbage in, garbage out.

As Amory Lovins ably pointed out, its data is old. It also does not consider the entire cost of production, usage and cleanup. Cleanup costs count too! Are West Virginia, Ohio, British Columbia, Alberta, the Niger River basin, or Ecuador's rainforests, or the Gulf of Mexico just not in Charles Frank's back yard? I guess not. Screw people for living there, then. Do not the geopolitical considerations of an aggressive military foreign policy required to keep the oil flowing not count too? Screw those GIs and the people who live where they're sent in oil wars, too. Exxon's got to make a buck.

That's what externalization is. It means omitting key and pertinent parts of the picture and just sticking it to whomever is dealing with the consequences.

Solar panels are rapidly getting more efficient and cheaper to make, and you can put them directly on site where they're needed so you don't have to lose electricity to resistance across a far-flung grid with its necessary redundancies and overproduction, which are required in the event that a powerstation needs a maintenance cycle.

Someone's just keen to keep a bloody monopoly.

Comment: Homebrew - still more fun (Score 2) 391

by Dasher42 (#47591725) Attached to: How long ago did you last assemble a computer?

My most recent build was a Core i5 ITX with 16 GB of over-spec DDR and a GeForce GTX 550 Ti I had sitting around. I don't care about the latest games; I'd rather code and take breaks for Civilization or BSG: Diaspora or Nethack or some interesting moddable or open source game. Ubuntu and Arch Linux are my OS's, with Crossover for the occasional dip into gaming. Windows shall never touch its bare metal. KVM with pass-through to its Nvidia graphics is a godsend. I don't care what the headlines say, Linux desktops have been my favorite since the late 90's. Macs tend to win for laptops, but this could soon change. Nowadays, I'm more comfortable staying Unix-like only in my computing than ever.

If only Linux music players had the level of smart playlists that iTunes does, and support for more professional grade audio/MIDI interfaces (this means USB doesn't count). That would, for me, be perfect.

I want an FPGA in my next machine.

Comment: Joe (Score 1) 359

Joe. For Python, C++, bash, and in days of wretched drudgery for which Larry Wall will surely answer for one day, Perl.

Ever since the days of Slackware CDs and the Linux 0.98 kernel, I have happily used joe, a Wordstar-like editor with features and size comparable to vim. It's carried me through maintaining 80,000 line C++ codebases and I do my Python work in it quite happily. There are plenty of macro and regex capabilities, block text marking, everything I need without the weight of an IDE.

There hasn't been a single vi or emacs proponent that could do anything in their editor of choice that I couldn't do, and probably quicker. It goes like this: "But it's installed by default on Solaris!" I get my editor with a quick compile, and I know enough vi and nano to get there. It's super fast to install it on any modern Linux distro. "But it'll work when the terminal settings break!" Not a reason to select an editor for heavy coding. "But you have to make sure you have got properly formatted EOL characters and manage your spaces!" I do it just as well as they do; we're not talking about Windows Notepad here. "But more people use it!" Pike off, imaginary objectors.

If it works and meets spec, you use the tools you get the best results in.

Comment: Re:Zimmerman telegram? (Score 3, Interesting) 206

by Dasher42 (#47330081) Attached to: Germany Scores First: Ends Verizon Contract Over NSA Concerns

Yeah and if MI6 had grown a spine and called bullshit on the CIA case for WMD's in Iraq maybe that country would not now be on the cusp of becoming an Islamist Caliphate and 179 British soldiers would not have died what is increasingly looking like pointless deaths. At least the Germans had the good sense to see that the CIA 'evidence' for Iraqi WMDs was a steaming pile of horse manure and the strategic foresight to realize that intervention in Iraq would highly probably become the kind of FUBAR it currently is. Could it be that Germany (and France for that matter) learned some lessons from WWI, WWII and the cold war proxy conflicts that Britain might be well advised to take to heart?

Ummm - they did. In the time between Colin Powell's UN address and the State of the Union address by President Bush, I was able to read links on foreign media where MI6 was warning the CIA and the CIA was passing the warning upward. That's "the facts fixed around the policy" for you: only a tiny minority of the USA's population knew as Bush spoke that he was deliberately using hoaxed information as a pretext for an unjustified war.

Similarly, "full" transcripts of Hans Blix's testimony to the UN about the findings of weapons inspectors in Iraq were carried on CNN and the BBC - but the BBC's was the one actually full. The rest of the world got to see the entire thing; most of the US public had omitted from its media all the most convincing evidence that WMDs in Iraq were a fiction, and no cause for war.

Don't let someone cover their ass at Langley or in DC. The falsification of evidence started from the top.

Comment: Radio: the first assumption (Score 1) 686

by Dasher42 (#47221189) Attached to: Aliens and the Fermi Paradox

I don't really find Fermi's paradox to be at odds with the finding of exoplanets and the increasing intrigue around panspermia. We're pointing dishes at the heavens with SETI based on the idea that intelligent life necessarily acts the way our 20-21st century civilization would, and use radio to communicate.

Already, we're looking at quantum teleportation and entanglement and non-broadcast communications. We're already moving past the means of communication we expect other advanced civilizations to be communicating with. That wasn't the first assumption.

Other prior assumptions have included that we are the one intelligent species on this planet. Why, because we use tools? So do caledonian crows. Because we have organized warfare? Chimpanzees have been observed in the wild sharpening sticks and moving in formation. Because we have language? Humpback whales have callsigns at the beginning and end of their songs that will actually cause consternation amongst other humpbacks if spliced and played back around another's song. There's even evidence to suggest that dolphin's sonar is a form of visual language: they're literally sending ultrasound holograms to each other, which would explain why their brainstem has roughly twice the "bandwidth" ours does.

Slime mold solves mazes. Plants hooked up to electromagnetic sensors hooked up to MIDI synthesizer units can figure out how to play ordered music instead of send random signals, and even play in styles "by ear" - one anecdote I've heard has it that a group of them at Damanhur played ragas for two weeks after a classical Indian musician visited. Bees tell each other where to find the flowers. Ravens have a theory of mind.

There are many forms of intelligence, and we've been hung up on the fact that we have symbolic language and tell stories about the past, future, and fictional as a litmus for one form of it. We are just beginning to recognize the many degrees of intelligence living on Earth with us. The Inuit have a proverb: "Every animal knows something more than you do." There's some truth to that.

When we expect to find life out there that is necessarily a magnified form of 20th century Westerners, we're starting with what we know, but let's prepare for a huge level of diversity on the theme of life, and what kind of technology (if any) other life would actually use. I'm pretty sure it's out there, and IMHO, it's almost certainly going to surprise us in many ways when (if?) we finally run into it.

Comment: Why Unity got my vote (Score 1) 611

by Dasher42 (#47136997) Attached to: Which desktop environment do you like the best?

It's not that I like Ubuntu's moves to act more like Apple, or that I think that it's the best engineered, but Unity with the CompizConfig Settings Manager provide the look and feel and the configurability that I like. Changing up the keyboard bindings is the most significant. I say that having spent significant time on Gnome 2.x, KDE 3, Windowmaker in times long ago, and sampled the others along the way.

That said, the number one thing that I want is a consistent standard for custom keystrokes. That's simply necessary where people come from diverse backgrounds onto a platform like this; some have muscle memory for Mac, others for Windows, others something else, and maybe in the course of a day we're hopping amongst these platforms. Please, set a configurable single standard. I shouldn't have to redefine the key to switch a tab or fullscreen a window separately for Qt/GTK/individual apps or find it impossible to do so.

Until then, the Compiz grid extension with Unity is giving me more of what I want than the others.

Comment: He's full of shit about LibreSSL (Score 4, Interesting) 293

by Dasher42 (#47042889) Attached to: Linux Sucks (Video)

A fork of OpenSSL which is stripping out support for VMS, Win16, and other ancient platforms by the *OpenBSD* group is making a bug more likely? It's supposed to make another Heartbleed twice as likely? This guy is completely full of shit. He has no idea what coding is, he just wants to hear himself talk. Give me 8:32 back!

"Say yur prayers, yuh flea-pickin' varmint!" -- Yosemite Sam