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Comment: Re: von Neumann probes (Score 4, Interesting) 391

by sylivin (#48636545) Attached to: The Dominant Life Form In the Cosmos Is Probably Superintelligent Robots
It may not be feasible or even desirable. The problem with unlimited mechanical replication is the same problem that happens with biological chemical replication. Errors. You might think digital copying is error free, but that is incorrect. The storage medium can and will cause errors. Self-checking and quality control helps, but eventually any mechanical life form will end up with their version of cancer - an undiscovered error that causes system-wide malfunctions. An intelligent AI would probably realize that unleashing self replicating machines around the galaxy will eventually cause the formation of a group of crazed insane machines that reproduce out of control, and such a group would be a direct threat to it. Remember that errors in biological systems are taken care of by cells that murder malfunctioning ones. In a galaxy-wide mechanical system they would be no way to find, track, and take care of a probe who's children turn cancerous at such distances.

Comment: Use sentences + all character (Score 1) 247

by sylivin (#48529805) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Convincing My Company To Stop Using Passwords?
The best typed password system I've seen so far uses all characters and encourages sentences. A standard password would be something like: "What? Stop looking at my damn password!"

It is easier for the human mind to think in terms of typical language useage. Sure, that password could be shortened to: W?Sl@mdp! but you get a much longer and easier to remember password by letting them type it in plain English. Get away from the 6-12 character passwords permanently and go to sentences.

Comment: International Basketweaving (Score 1) 320

by sylivin (#46291205) Attached to: E-Sports Gender Gap: 90+% Male
Statistics! Let's just edit the story a bit and see what we get:

In other news, The International Basketweaving company, WellWeaved, said, '[A] whopping 90-94% of the viewers were female, and interestingly enough, only about half of the remaining survey takers felt comfortable being identified as male.

DailyNeedle makes the point that competitive basket weaving communities also tend not to be racially diverse. Quoting: 'Although no studies have been done about race in basketweaving, it only takes one trip to a Major League Weaving event to confirm what Cannon says. With the notably racially diverse exception of the underwater basketweaving community, Middle Eastern and white Americans make up an enormous portion of basketweaving players and fans. Black and Asian basketweaving fans are conspicuously missing.'"

Comment: Re:What problem is this solving? (Score 1) 266

by sylivin (#44371111) Attached to: British Porn-Censoring MP Has Website Defaced With Porn

Those two words say a lot. Unfortunately, despite having been exposed to unusual things, you're still associating the things that are frowned upon by the establishment as something abnormal and sick.

Haha, sorry, I was being sarcastic with the whole crazy deviant thing. "Crazy deviant" means whatever society decides, at that time, is deviant. With such a rapidly changing yardstick it can be used to label pretty much anyone at any time.

The Nanny State - protecting us, from ourselves, even if we do not want them to.

Comment: What problem is this solving? (Score 5, Insightful) 266

by sylivin (#44370793) Attached to: British Porn-Censoring MP Has Website Defaced With Porn


What exactly is the problem this legislation is trying to solve? I have seen all sorts of weird stuff on the internet in my years (plus had a few friends that *loved* to send me really wacky things) and yet, somehow, I ended up not being some sort of crazy deviant. But wait - One in a hundred thousand million will be! We must protect the children by censoring half of the internet for the entire nation's population!

Hacking is bad. Censoring the internet for the entire population of your country? Much, much, MUCH worse.

Comment: Sounds like the Onion.. (Score 2) 165

by sylivin (#44370697) Attached to: NSA Can't Search Its Own Email

.. but ends up as truth.

Seriously though, the NSA is directly involved in lying to Congress. Do you think they would have any system that would allow easy discoverability of their misdeeds? I am sure their processes are in place to make any type of lawsuit or congressional oversight as difficult as possible.

Of course, any results this poor fellow would have received anyway would be just pages and pages of blacked out text with the headers and footers as they only "public" information.

Comment: Re:Really?!? (Score 2) 1448

by sylivin (#44239013) Attached to: Orson Scott Card Pleads 'Tolerance' For <em>Ender's Game</em> Movie

I loved loved loved "Ender's Game" as a youth, but 10 years ago, when I discovered Orson Scott Card's blog and his perpetual stream of scientifically illiterate bigoted ravings, it really tainted everything with his name on it for me.

Err... what? What kind of person stops reading books because they dislike the author's political views and it "poisons the experience?" Did you refuse to read any Charles Dickens in school due to his commentary on the class system? What about Mein Kampf? I expect about 99.9999% of people would disagree with his views, yet many people read it anyway - often required reading in colleges. How about movies? Can't watch an action movie anymore because the director's political views are too unlike your own? Does this also apply to television shows? Music? Every aspect of culture in existence?

Welcome to humanity. Here you will find a ton of people that you will never, ever agree with. However, many of them can still spin a good yarn and create fascinating worlds of fiction. You are doing yourself a disservice if you shut out elements of culture when you disagree with those that write it.

Comment: Backwards Capitalism (Score 0) 383

by sylivin (#44238519) Attached to: Judge Rules Apple Colluded With Publishers to Fix Ebook Prices

The first major hurdle Apple had to explain is how, by adding another competitor, prices went *up.* As we see in almost every sector, as long as supply isn't restricted (such as with natural resources), a new competitor should always lower prices as they compete for the same amount of eyeballs. Prices wars can often be ruinious (see: the flat screen HDTV industry) and only those with the best supply chain and most competitive parts suppliers can hope to survive.

Apple did a pretty crappy job of explaining any of that and the DoJ just repeatedly pounded it home. In the end, this is good news for consumers and possibly authors as well. If self-publishing becomes more common they will see vastly more money in their pockets. Of course publishers do often provide important quality control roles, though if they can no longer promise exposure and production then we might see a steady move away from them. Perhaps a new independant review and editing industry will rise in the e-book industry for quality control purposes.. either that or a lot of people's crappy fan-fiction will end up at market.

I, for one, can't wait for a Edward and Jacob fan fiction love story to hit Amazon.

Comment: Re:Why is this interesting? (Score 1) 170

by sylivin (#44174861) Attached to: Google Science Fair Finalist Invents Peltier-Powered Flashlight

Not to be harsh but why is this on slashdot? Is it because it was invented by a young female? (If a nerdy boy with really thick glasses invented it, would people care less? Probably.)

1. Because it is nerdy. Hellloooo science fair.

2. Because the item involved is a common household item (flashlight) and nerds like innovations on common household items.

3. Because she is a girl.

Girls are rare in science which makes their contributions more newsworthy. Maybe someday in the future that will change, but probably not in our lifetimes.

Don't worry - I'm sure once the winner of the Google science fair is announced we'll have a story on slashdot for that as well and I'm sure it will be an interesting topic to talk about also.

Comment: Re:Why does it only last 20 minutes? (Score 1) 170

by sylivin (#44174749) Attached to: Google Science Fair Finalist Invents Peltier-Powered Flashlight

Shouldn't it work as long as the ambient temperature is lower than body temperature?

Or does the battery she put in it after not getting it working in time only last that long?

The device is powered by the heat differential. Both your hand and the LED inside are sources of heat, while the only way to remove any heat is via the air. Once the aluminum body is >= to your body heat the device will no longer work.

You can probably get it to last longer by storing it in the 'fridge beforehand, or waving it around like a crazy man to carry off more heat. Either way, after not using it for a period of time it should cool down to background temperatures and will be useable once more. Granted, this isn't going to change the flashlight world, but a batteryless flashlight that works in an emergency as long as the house is less than 90 degrees F might be useful in quite a few places in the world.

Also, remember that waste heat is one of the main forms of inefficiency is almost any device made by humanity. From power plants to cars to electronics - they all have to deal with the problem of waste heat. If she makes even one company decide to focus their attention on larger scale devices to use waste heat in a productive and economical manner then she has helped us all.

Giver her some props. After all, this is way more impressive than your baking soda and vinegar volcano science fair project.

Comment: Android games suck (Score 1) 143

by sylivin (#44131505) Attached to: Google Developing Android Game Console
Let's face it, the vast vast vast vaaaaaaaaast majority of games on the android market suck. The ones that don't suck usually are slightly novel and become hugely popular - then rapidly die off within a few months.

There are some "premium" games made by SquareEnix and the like, but I don't see being able to build an ecosystem around just a few vendors. The problem is a large, saturated market full of cheap, crappy, time waster games.

I know we like to make fun of the PS and Xbox game markets, but many of those games really are works of art. They have storylines, art direction, and voice acting. They are designed to be "experienced" in a sitting, whereas the vast majority of Android market games are to be consumed in little sips to kill time.

Of course, Google also has the money and the horsepower to push and help to create a real game ecosystem based around Android. They are going to face a major uphill battle though.

Comment: Middlemen everywhere (Score 3, Interesting) 309

by sylivin (#44131165) Attached to: Tesla Faces Tough Regulatory Hurdle From State Dealership Laws
As a bit of a counterpoint, remember that we use middlemen *everywhere.* Amazon, Walmart, grocery stores, department stores... the list goes on and on. Damn near every single business we buy from is a middleman.

Usually it is in our best interest to go through a middleman as it ends up with savings for everyone. The middleman usually buys in bulk (thousands of items) and then sells to us (1 at a time) at a markup. The manufacturer gets the benefit of a steady, predictable cash flow while we get the convenience of buying one at a time.

Of course, that's how it usually works. Not everyone wants that though. In today's connected world we can pay a premium straight from the manufacturer for items custom created directly for what we need. Cars, as large capital investments for most people, are a perfect example of this - especially as the "premium" is usually the same price that you would be charged from the middleman anyway. For middlemen to survive they need to provide a "value added" effect to the merchandise and I do not see that happening with most car dealerships.

tl;dr version: You use middlemen every day, usually love it, but if they don't provide extra value they shouldn't exist.

Comment: Editing of Information (Score 4, Interesting) 161

by sylivin (#44123149) Attached to: Interview: Ask Jimmy Wales What You Will
Wikipedia has become so large that students and youth in particular deem it the official truth. As such governments, companies, and individuals will constantly try to spin that to their own advantage.

Do you believe you will ever be able to reconcile with governments in regards to information they deem classified showing up on Wikipedia and private citizens that consider articles about them to be libel? Or, perhaps, is that just a fight you will need to struggle against for all eternity?

Comment: Re:When is "not enough" still good enough? (Score 1) 577

by sylivin (#44110863) Attached to: Obama Reveals Climate Change Plan
In all fairness, he wasn't able to pass a detailed climate plan when the Democrats had a supermajority in Congress and the Presidency at the same time. Several years ago it was Democrats that shot down their own plan - this time they can at least point at the Republicans when this executive fiat fails. It is also important to note that within the next 10 years our emissions will likely start rising as both the economy improves and shale gas gets into full swing. When the US ends up as a net energy exporter there will an awful lot of gnashing of teeth if someone tries to shut down or restrict that revenue flow. On the plus side, dirty coal plants will be phased out no matter what the legal fallout of this new plan is. As gas supplies become cheaper due to shale gas it will be uneconomical to continue modifying coal plants to keep up with pollution controls. Burning methane in a natural gas plant usually ends up being a far "cleaner" option from a particulate point of view, though from a CO2 point of view it is pretty much a wash (less CO2 required to take it from the ground though). Of course this is supposed to be about climate change. Do you think shutting a few coal plants and building some uneconomical renewable energy will change that? There is only one power source that produces almost no CO2 emissions and keeps the vast majority of its pollution all in one place instead of spewing it into the atmosphere. Also, it's the same power source that almost no one wants to touch with a 10 foot pole.

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl