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Comment Re:The Basic Test (Score 2) 166

After you fold a business which ONE item of the following do you have left?

        a: Smoke

        b: Established business relationships

        c: Acquired market expertise

        d: Developed technology

        e: Amazingly comfortable office chairs

There's a reason why the VC community is build to lather, rinse, repeat. What motivates you to get one of these right, but not the other?

Some startup ventures pretty much leave behind a smoking crater, but that certainly isn't the only story here.

Comment "exotic" as ordering function (Score 1) 98

Physicists use "exotic" as an ordering function, with the overly explained on one side and the underly plausible on the other side. Welcome to the great watershed of fundability.

I use the word "exotic" to mean "outside the observable light cone". This also translates to "amazingly cool" and "so glad you're funding this out of your own pocket".

If there's one place public money does NOT belong, it's outside the observable light cone.

Comment an even better technology (Score 1) 474

I would have guessed the cheapest electricity now comes from hydro-electric dams that have already paid for themselves three times over, and might continue to operate for another 100 years.

(I tried to determine the expected lifespan of Robert-Bourassa not long ago, but the reality is that no-one really knows, depending of subtleties of surface water chemistry over timespans barely investigated. They pencil in "100 years" at time of construction, probably more for the bankers than the engineers. To a banker, 100 years is aleph two, the last countable infinity.)

Oh, you meant the cheapest marginal new construction, as viewed from the second margin of cherry-picked bank loan shovel-ready favourability.

And once you exhaust hot, sunny, and dry and California's low coefficient of tropical fungus, then what?

I know, I know.

Have the entire Amazon rainforest collect rainwater, aggregate it all into a single large flow, and run it through a BIG honking generator.

I'm just sure it would work. And who even knows just how long those puppies would spin? Why, fifty years from now, if the climate becomes wetter than ever, it might almost be practically free.

Comment a nostalgia too far (Score 1) 184

I got rid of one from my junk closet not long ago.

The blasted thing capped my burst typing speed to about 90 wpm, by which point it kind of feels like running on wet sand—the wet sand of some strange Pop Rock planet.

I was mainly using to install obscure distributions on old beater boxes.

I'm presently typing on a Compaq 247429-101 Erase-Ease keyboard (though I never use the left thumb backspace key).

This thing has been a total workhorse and it has a brilliantly long PS/2 cable.

Every year or so it begins to look like Lister's revenge and I have to pop all 100 keys and scrub every damn side of every damn key cover from the curry crossing (the giant steaming bowl of tan goodness typically perched on the edge of my glass desk, three inches above and six inches behind home position; just like my typing, a minor embolism every 99 spoonfuls or thereabouts—I could really use a special backspace key for this other problem.)

Comment those fabulous loose lips of Rosie the Riveter (Score 2) 146

"When asked about Thursday's failing grade, the TSA said, 'TSA cannot confirm or deny the results of internal tests and condemns the release of any information that could compromise our nation's security.'"

Just a question.

Is there any way to achieve national security without the clear and present danger of public exposure and embarrassment hanging over government apparatchiks who fail to deliver their mandates?

Because somehow I don't think that "loose lips" is the only way to sink ships.

Crackerjack government agencies with the curtains drawn. There's a Costa Concordia in every box suite.

Comment Re:As a strategy, it may not be bad... (Score 1) 240

Electric motors actually become more efficient as they become more powerful, not less (upping the peak power requires lower resistance wiring, which wastes less energy when the vehicle is cruising).

Ah, yes, the modern "overdrive" is a handy-dandy burly conduit demassifier.

Only I'm not sure whether this cancels out drag effects once your heavy windings become so large as to erupt, steampunk style, from the hood, like giant copperhead engine minions. Can't have everything, I guess. Still, the efficiency with a stiff tail wind would be unrivalled. Up svelte periscope, and away!

Comment Re:No one is forced my ass (Score 1) 342

And where do you think this $10M comes from? It is being added to the price of the product.

This is getting pretty close to "follow the money" as a certifiable intellectual disability.

Indeed, the American adversarial "free" market regulatory function is implemented more cheaply—as perceived through a conspicuously charismatic megadollar mental metal-detector—by "big" government oversight in many other free-market(ish) democracies.

But isn't it funny how, at the end of the day, one needs to add up the contribution of all the feedback loops* before deciding whether the cost of doing business as merely usual—even mildly** unfettered business-as-usual has no known upper bound—is somehow too penny-painful to countenance (at which point the merit function apparently becomes x!=this, and the land grab is on).
___

[*] Your mission, should you delight is discarding hundreds of unknowable terms that especially rankle your nose hairs, and choose to accept this as a more dignified profession than scouring McRestRooms.

[**] Post Glass–Steagall, where we rushed to embrace TARP because it was the screaming deal of the 21st century compared to what otherwise*** might have been (hint: the A in TARP does not stand for "asset").

[***] Once every decade or so, the truly wealthy gather together for an Iowa Writer's Workshop of collective dystopian ideation. The rest of the decade, they can barely manage a passable crayon sketch of a stick-man fleeing a house on fire. It's their one great artistic outlet (only don't get them started on provenance, which though superficially similar, is definitely not the same thing).

Comment not your father's least surprise (Score 2) 551

It requires existing root access in order to create a new user. So if someone exploits it, you are already fucked.

You must be new here. The Doctrine of the Useful Idiot is referenced these days almost hourly. Hence, you must be really new here.

In this case the "useful idiot" is the trusted repository administrator, who permits a package to be hosted from upstream because it doesn't look suspicious in any way (unless the obscure rule about user accounts with leading digits is top of mind—as if every project doesn't have at least one wonky anomaly, most of which, if pursued, turn out to accord with "who knew?"—and Poettering-appropriate paranoia level is set to deep fat fry).

The trusting user will run the package installer from the trusted repository using "sudo". There's your TRANSITORY, apparently harmless root. No weird system calls. No overt fingerprint of escalation. Mission accomplished. Tick, tick, tick ...

Under Poettering, the principle of least surprise is obeyed by allowing any departure from convention, no matter how thinly understood on the ground where it matters, to lead to an unchecked root escalation.

This was not your father's principle of least surprise.

The long cascade of trusted upstream is become our new Leviathan. Can one even finish a review of inbound patches any more before the next batch arrives?

Work started in 2002 to repaint the bridge fully for the first time in its history, in a L130 million contract awarded to Balfour Beatty.

Up to 4,000 tonnes of scaffolding was on the bridge at any time, and computer modelling was used to analyse the additional wind load on the structure.

The bridge was encapsulated in a climate controlled membrane to give the proper conditions for the application of the paint.

All previous layers of paint were removed using copper slag fired at 200 miles per hour, exposing the steel and allowing repairs to be made.

The paint, developed specifically for the bridge by Leigh Paints, consisted of a system of three coats derived from that used in the North Sea oil industry.

240,000 litres of paint was applied to 255,000 square metres of the structure, and it is not expected to need repainting for at least 20 years.

The top coat can be reapplied indefinitely, minimising future maintenance work

Software security engineers, eat your heart out. The veritable mascots of unfinishable business sit there drinking tea, while we double down on making things worse.

For the record, Trump is also making a good case for himself as the President of Least Surprise.

This, too, was not your father's least surprise.

Comment Re:Coveted... (Score 1) 85

simply by meeting some criteria

Colonel Klink couldn't have said it better, nor George Orwell. In the former case, Klink can't eff himself to find out. In the later case, it's guaranteed to be a movable feat.

Splitting the difference, they once made a feature length movie about this. It was called The Right Stuff, the whole movie about a bunch of guys (fewer than fifteen that I can now recall) who "simply" met some criteria. Not much other plot. Just that.

Comment the birth of a legend (Score 0) 95

Your grandfather's Hewlett Packard made calculators that were the envy of engineers everywhere. The pilgrims of NASA jet-packed to the blast-proof Taj Mahal by the Boeing load.

Your father's HP made printer ink that was the envy of Rupert Murdoch. Bean counters sprouted sturdy beanstalks, and spouted unto the clouds in ecstasy. (This was before the one true cloud to rule them all.)

Today's HP makes drivel that's the envy of one last, eccentric greybeard who lives in a ratty shack near the beach, with old newspapers piled so high, they are visibly blocking the sunlight from entering through any window.

He's never been quite the same since that fateful first day of summer vacation when the family station wagon backed out the driveway over top of his calculator, and he rushed in triumphantly to rescue it, to hold it high, and proclaim to his family and all the neighborhood "See!"—only it didn't work.

Ever again.

Turns out, there's a first time for everything, and this just wasn't his lucky day.

In a twist of linked fate, HP's corporate erosion would lead to a multitude of ratty beach-house might-have-beens, similarly bemoated by crowing yellow copy of yesteryear with curled, crumbling corners.

*cough* mmmmmRISSSSTOR *cough*

We think that was just a sneeze, but we're not sure.

Meanwhile, all that mite-infused pixie dust they exhale through pursed lips into their last remaining sunbeam—somehow fingering in through a kink in the panoply—surely can't be good for the lungs.

Comment Re:Serious question: (Score 1) 78

What you're referring to as a "coup" another person might refer to as a "wake-up call". While I'm sure the founding fathers did not foresee Twitter in its precise present form, it's far too soon to consign their prescient safeguards to the water under the bilge.

Second, our surveillance powers detected the threat before the election took place, and the Obama administration warned Russia in direct language to lay off on the worst of their meddling or face serious consequences from an American counter hack (picture the clone-army Mossad, with corresponding resources). Obama probably should have done more, but the optics were complicated (thanks for furnishing Exhibit A), so he dithered despicably.

Third, Trump would have earned 90% of the same votes with no Russian meddling at all.

So American now has a president that only 45% of the population would have voted for in a perfectly dry, vodka-free election, giving the Koch brothers their last, Act III simultaneous erection (hate to disappoint you, but don't count on erection 2021, boys, you've totally shot your loads).

Based on the caliber of your post, let's have a car metaphor.

The founding fathers were not building a democratic Ferrari. They were building a democratic Land Cruiser. The ugly kind that's surprisingly hard to kill.

Short of a roll-over at high speed somewhere along Armageddon ridge, it's probably going to outlive America's latest and greatest asshole taking his turn at the urn behind the wheel.

Comment slanted nose in the clouds (Score 1) 376

Note that we were doing it in 1945 with what passed for technology at the time....

What "passed for the technology" in 1945 was nothing to sneeze at. On the other hand, both military and civilian safety remained on (cold) wartime footing for a long while thereafter.

Just think. Heisenberg and Einstein were old hat. Turing and von Neumann were new hat. While 1945 did lack for the transistor, the laser, the quark, and the structure of DNA, it didn't lack for the rocket, the atomic bomb, the jet engine, penicillin, general relatively, quantum mechanics, the Reynolds number, the intercontinental undersea telegraph cable, radar, a generalized theory of computation, or the Mk. XV Norden bombsight.

That would make for a very heavy "Ancient Technology 101 for non-implants" even by the highly accelerated standards of 23rd century Starfleet Academy.

Compare to what passes for clue in 2017.

Comment Re:Slanted Article is Slanted (Score 1) 376

If you are stupid enough to burn plastic, you get what you get, but as a kid we burned plastic from time to time and we didn't suffer any ill effects.

One extra cancer at age 50 out of a hundred home-alone firebrand toddlers cosplaying Legoland Nero counts as an "ill effect" in my ledger.

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