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Comment: Re:This seems different (Score 1) 101

by dgatwood (#48473719) Attached to: Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality

The thing is, every company could do those things if they want to. Individuals could do so if they wanted to. It's no different than having a 1-800 number. You pay so that the person calling you doesn't. There's no neutrality violation there; if anything, it improves net neutrality by providing a reasonably priced mechanism for allowing other companies to be on equal footing with Comcast, who almost certainly does not charge their customers for the use of their own, in-house video-on-demand service. You might reasonably argue, however, that it does so only if the cost of said toll-free service is regulated.

Comment: Re:Waiving data charges is fine with net neutralit (Score 3, Insightful) 101

by dgatwood (#48473687) Attached to: Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality

Yeah, but nobody talking about net neutrality wants all packets to be equal. They want all destinations to be equal, i.e. they want traffic from Netflix to have roughly the same likelihood of reaching its destination as traffic from the cable company's VOD service.

Subsidizing traffic doesn't violate net neutrality, because it doesn't affect the delivery of data, only the cost to the end user. Even if the Internet were regulated in precisely the same way as telephone, subsidized traffic would still be allowed, because it is fundamentally no different than a 1-800 number or a collect call.

So using that as an excuse to argue against net neutrality represents a very fundamental misunderstanding about what net neutrality is about. It isn't about preventing content delivery companies from using the tools at their disposal to deliver content better and faster; it's primarily about preventing content delivery companies who also own last-mile infrastructure from having an unfair competitive advantage over content delivery companies that don't.

Comment: Re:Quantum Mechanics and Determinism (Score 1) 332

The universe as a whole is NOT deterministic as Quantum Mechanics proves. QM is based on true randomness (obvious a simplification but go with it for this conversation).

The fact that the theories that describe QM are based on true randomness does NOT mean that the universe as a whole is not deterministic.

First, we already know that QM is limited, because it doesn't account for gravity. Second, even if QM as it is formulated today did accurately describe the universe to the best of our ability to measure it doesn't mean that another theory that is deterministic couldn't also describe the universe.

Many of the arguments made on the basis of QM go beyond the actual math and are just fairly subjective interpretations of the implications of the theory. It might be established that you can't measure the position and velocity of a particle with arbitrary precision, but that doesn't mean that a particle doesn't have a precise position or velocity. QM tends to be formulated in terms of describing what you'd get if you performed an experiment. That doesn't necessarily mean that the universe actually works in this way.

Think about it - how could you even prove that a given chain of events was or wasn't deterministic? You can't ever reproduce the same chain of events perfectly, so it is impossible to test. That means any claim that there is or isn't determinism in nature is basically unfalsifiable.

Comment: Re:I think (Score 1) 332

Really? Do you define your moral compass to directly align with the law? Let's look at what you said.

He was explaining the Geneva Conventions/etc. That isn't an argument about morality.

Define organized. Define military, Define what constitutes an insignia. Your definition of privileged combatant excludes every combatant relevant to a modern war (at least for the US which is where the automated death machines are coming into play). Terrorists groups aren't in organized military structure, they don't wear insignias, and they don't follow the laws and customs of warfare. So by your definition of civilian, they are all civilians and in some cases both civilians and combatants.

I'm sure those terms all have definitions, and as you point out they exclude most of the folks the US tends to end up shooting at of late.

The Geneva conventions were written so that nations with big armies could decide who they are/aren't allowed to shoot at. It isn't an accident that the definition for privileged combatants exclude terrorist groups and such. Forces not wearing uniforms are basically not afforded any protections under the conventions.

How is a drone or even a soldier supposed to know the difference between the men carrying the guns? If he is standing with the other men when the soldier fires on them and he fires on the soldier is he a combatant and okay to kill then, even though he is a civilian acting in self-defense? What if the soldier is replaced with a machine? Now it's a human being defending his life and not putting another at risk.

These problems aren't unique to drones. I can't specifically answer your questions as it is a bit unclear who is shooting at who in your description above.

If you're a civilian and somehow get caught up in a firefight with an organized group of soldiers on the other side, your best bet is to run or try to surrender. If you have a gun using it in self-defence is almost certainly suicidal. That isn't going to change if you add robots to the mix. This has nothing to do with morality - it is just a fact that when you shoot at soldiers they're going to consider you the enemy and they're almost certainly more likely to come out on top.

Comment: Re:I think (Score 1) 332

Then there's also the question of, how many wars have there been lately where both sides were clearly identifying themselves? Those fighting have gotten the hint that it's a dumb idea to engage bigger powers in anything other than asymmetric/guerrilla/whatever warfare.

And this would be why the large powers that worked out the Geneva Conventions wrote them in a way so as to offer no protections for people engaging in guerrilla warfare. It isn't like this is something new. There just haven't been any large-scale wars in a long time.

Keep in mind that nations are basically defined by their sovereignty. They aren't really subject to laws in the same way that ordinary citizens are. International law is really just a set of protocols everybody tends to follow because it works to their benefit. The Geneva Conventions basically say that if you don't firebomb our civilians we won't firebomb yours, and to help make that happen we'll both agree to not have civilians fighting guerrilla wars. When one side in a war decides to ignore them, they do so at the risk that the other side will also decide to ignore them.

Also, I think the effectiveness of guerrilla warfare is sometimes overstated. It works very well when the state you are fighting doesn't really have a big stake in the game, and is governed by some kind of democracy with a free press and all that. It only tends to work against occupying forces, since it lacks the ability to project power. It also relies on the fact that the occupying power desires to have peaceful relations with the existing population.

If you tried to use guerrilla warfare under other circumstances you would probably not be as successful. If you were fighting against a opponent governed by a dictatorship who occupied your country solely because they need your natural resources they might just decide to nerve gas the entire local population and move in their own workers to exploit your resources. If you were fighting against even a democratic opponent but they felt that their way of life was at risk, they might resort to brutal measures to put down the revolt (maybe they're engaged in a larger war and need your country as a base of operations). If some local tribe had attacked an essential US base in the pacific in WWII I doubt the local marines would have put up with it.

Comment: Re:LOL (Score 1) 427

by Rich0 (#48471857) Attached to: How Intel and Micron May Finally Kill the Hard Disk Drive

But big sequentually accessed files like video or music are perfect for a hardddisc, It's random access & thousands of little files where SSD's shine because of zero seektimes.

Sure. However, there seems to be some kind of argument that SSDs will completely replace hard drives for consumer use. That doesn't seem likely to me. SSDs are great for many things, maybe even for most things, but there are many common use cases where they just aren't adequate. Their cost may very well come down, but so do hard drive costs.

Comment: Re:Recognize the crisis in US Big Pharma... (Score 1) 69

by Rich0 (#48471845) Attached to: Canada's Ebola Vaccine Nets Millions For Tiny US Biotech Firm

I wasn't really trying to debate that part of your post. I don't know what their original agreement was, but if they promised to develop it then they may very well have failed to uphold the agreement.

I think part of the issue here is that Ebola was a dead-end financially until recently. It is still speculative that anybody will make money off of it. So, companies weren't exactly beating down the door to develop it. Really the solution in these kinds of cases is for the government to just hire a company to do the work on a cost+plus basis or something like that, with the government retaining the patent rights. Of course, that would cost money, which is probably why it wasn't done.

Heck, I think that the government should be doing this a lot more even for potentially profitable areas. I'd like to see how a cost-plus model works for drug development. The resulting drugs would be cheap, with the taxpayers paying all the bills. This model could compete with the current patent-based model and we could see which was more effective in the long run.

Comment: Re:In Finland (Score 1) 495

by sconeu (#48470755) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

Follow up to parent.

DISCLAIMER: IANA Structural Engineer.

I live in Los Angeles. The point of the building codes here is NOT that the structure be undamaged by a quake, but rather that the struct not collapse during a quake. It can be as severely damaged as all get out, but if it doesn't collapse, then the occupants have a much better chance of survival.

I always tell people, the safest place to be during a major earthquake is "somewhere else", but if you can't be somewhere else, then you want to be in Southern California. We *know* that the quake is coming, and we build to survive it. For example, where would you rather be during a 7.5 quake: Los Angeles, or St. Louis? STL is sitting on the New Madrid fault, which cut loose with an 8+ quake in the early 1800s.

Comment: Re:BLUE ray (Score 2) 177

by pavon (#48470487) Attached to: Jackie Chan Discs Help Boost Solar Panel Efficiency

If you look at the absorption and efficiency plots in the linked nature abstract, the improvement is pretty broad spectrum as it is. Based on the Fourier analysis plots, it does seem like a slightly wider pit spacing would better concentrate the energy in their desired sweet spot, but CDs and DVDs would be too wide. HD-DVD actually looks like it might have the most ideal pit spacings.

Comment: Re:BLUE ray (Score 4, Insightful) 177

by pavon (#48470359) Attached to: Jackie Chan Discs Help Boost Solar Panel Efficiency

Now that they have a proof of concept, it is an obvious thing for researchers to try different pit sizes and patterns in order to optimize the efficiency

Actually, that already happened. As the abstract of the paper notes, previous research has already identified how to theoretically optimize patterns, but arbitrary patterns require expensive photo lithography equipment to create. This research shows that an existing inexpensive mass production technique generates results that are almost as good as the optimized patterns, but not quite as good because the spacing of the pits is a bit too periodic (especially across tracks rather than along them).

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.