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Comment: Re:The Fix: Buy good Chocolate! (Score 4, Insightful) 322

by w_dragon (#48399587) Attached to: MARS, Inc: We Are Running Out of Chocolate
I'd say chocolate is more like coffee. There are a few snobs who will happily pay incredible prices for what they're told is the best quality, a lot of people who want something that tastes right, and the majority that have never tasted it without drowning it in milk and sugar.
The Almighty Buck

The Downside to Low Gas Prices 554

Posted by timothy
from the speak-for-yourself-hummer-buyers dept.
HughPickens.com writes Pat Garofalo writes in an op-ed in US News & World Report that with the recent drop in oil prices, there's something policymakers can do that will offset at least some of the negative effects of the currently low prices, while also removing a constant thorn in the side of American transportation and infrastructure policy: Raise the gas tax. The current 18.4 cent per gallon gas tax has not been raised since 1993, making it about 11 cents per gallon today, in constant dollars. Plus, as fuel efficiency has gotten better and Americans have started driving less, the tax has naturally raised less revenue anyway. And that's a problem because the tax fills the Highway Trust Fund, which is, not to put too fine a point on it, broke so that in recent years Congress has had to patch it time and time again to fill the gap. According to the Tax Policy Center's Howard Gleckman, if Congress doesn't make a move, "it will fumble one of those rare opportunities when the economic and policy stars align almost perfectly." The increase can be phased in slowly, a few cents per month, perhaps, so that the price of gas doesn't jump overnight. When prices eventually do creep back up thanks to economic factors, hopefully the tax will hardly be noticed.

Consumers are already starting to buy the sort of gas-guzzling vehicles, including Hummers, that had been going out of style as gas prices rose; that's bad for both the environment and consumers, because gas prices are inevitably going to increase again. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, taxes last year, even before the current drop in prices, made up 12 percent of the cost of a gallon of gasoline, down from 28 percent in 2000. And compared to other developed countries, US gas taxes are pretty much a joke. While we're at it, an even better idea, as a recent report from the Urban Institute makes clear, would be indexing the gas tax to inflation, so this problem doesn't consistently arise. "The status quo simply isn't sustainable, from an infrastructure or environmental perspective," concludes Garofalo. "So raise the gas tax now; someday down the line, it will look like a brilliant move."

Comment: Re:Number is irrelevant compared to severity (Score 1) 170

by w_dragon (#48322115) Attached to: NSA Director Says Agency Shares Most, But Not All, Bugs It Finds
I would guess that they release when it is likely that they themselves are exposed, or when it is possible that the exploit is already used by others, which may increase their chance of being caught. Their ideal exploit to keep secret is probably in the realm of mathematical cryptographic weaknesses, random number generators being weighted, and other things that are really hard to find and hard to determine if your data has been exposed.

Comment: Re:Ought to bring down ... (Score 4, Interesting) 151

by w_dragon (#48306347) Attached to: Ford Develops a Way To Monitor Police Driving
I worked in IT for a police force for a time. These systems have already been in place for more than 10 years, Ford is just making them an option on the Interceptor rather than requiring an after-market solution. And yes, police do get in shit for going 50kph over the speed limit without their siren on. Not that that stopped some of them.
Science

Killer Whales Caught On Tape Speaking Dolphin 152

Posted by samzenpus
from the losing-the-accent dept.
sciencehabit writes Two years ago, scientists showed that dolphins imitate the sounds of whales. Now, it seems, whales have returned the favor. Researchers analyzed the vocal repertoires of 10 captive orcas, three of which lived with bottlenose dolphins and the rest with their own kind. Of the 1551 vocalizations these seven latter orcas made, more than 95% were the typical pulsed calls of killer whales. In contrast, the three orcas that had only dolphins as pals busily whistled and emitted dolphinlike click trains and terminal buzzes, the scientists report in the October issue of The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. The findings make orcas one of the few species of animals that, like humans, is capable of vocal learning (video)—a talent considered a key underpinning of language."

Comment: Re:So, it has come to this. (Score 1) 742

by w_dragon (#48088379) Attached to: Complain About Comcast, Get Fired From Your Job
That's interesting. Here in Ontario it's the opposite, people are almost always let go without cause and given at least the minimum severance required by law so they won't sue. I'm not a business owner, but I think the employment insurance payments are set based only on an employee's pay. Fascinating how much small differences in similar government programs can affect behavior.

Comment: Re:Not surprising (Score 3, Interesting) 392

You haven't worked much as a developer. Having built systems used by tens of millions of users I guarantee you that every time Amazon rolls out an update to the store or cloud software there's an ops person biting their nails hoping the system doesn't die. When Google released Gmail they only allowed each user to invite a certain number of friends in order to slowly ramp up the system. Writing any software that is made to have millions of users on day one is really fucking hard.

On top of that steps 2 and 3 require interacting with external systems who may also not be able to handle load well, and probably use a combination of buggy and poorly documented interfaces, and step 5 requires reading a bill so long that the people who voted for it didn't bother to read it. You're grossly trivializing the problem.

Comment: Re:Standards (Score 1) 152

by w_dragon (#47822331) Attached to: Can ISO 29119 Software Testing "Standard" Really Be a Standard?
It's worse than that. Large companies will lobby government to make sure that not only government contractors must be certified on the standard, so must anyone who sells to certain regulated industries. Want to sell to airlines or food processors, even if it's non-critical software? Hope you're certified.
United Kingdom

UK Prisons Ministry Fined For Lack of Encryption At Prisons 74

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the not-like-prisoners-are-people-anyway dept.
Bruce66423 (1678196) writes The Guardian reports that the UK Information Commissioner has levied a fine of £180,000 on the Ministry of Justice for their failure to encrypt data held on external hard drives at prisons. The fine is nominal — one part of government fining another is rather pointless, but it does show that there's a little bit of accountability. Of course it's interesting to consider the dangers of this hopefully old way of storing backups; but the question of whether we do a lot better now is quite pointed. To make matters worse, one of the unencrypted backup hard drives walked away.

Comment: Re:And how long does it take... (Score 3, Informative) 190

by w_dragon (#47725529) Attached to: How Does Tesla Build a Supercharger Charging Site?
The only places you need quick-charge station are places where people will be traveling long distances. Most of the time people will charge overnight at home. Most highways have areas where you could easily build a huge lot with rapid chargers. I suspect the larger issue most places will be finding and transporting enough power to charge perhaps hundreds of cars at one time.

Everyone can be taught to sculpt: Michelangelo would have had to be taught how not to. So it is with the great programmers.

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