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Comment Re:It's only stuff (Score 2) 170

Interesting, thank you.

I particularly find your assertion that violence is likely even if you surrender your property to the robber. Over here, generally people would assume the opposite, as far as I am aware. That is, that complying with the robber's demand will almost surely result in an end to the confrontation unless it happens to be a genuine sociopath and not just a common criminal following the path of least resistance.

If I had to speculate, I would assume that criminals know it's actually less risky to leave the victim alone afterwards. If they're caught for robbery, they'll do a few years in jail, if they get caught for murdering a robbery victim, they're looking at a 20 year or a life sentence. Plus, the authorities are more serious about investigating more violent crimes.

I can not exactly find a statistic like the one you quote from the FBI, but I did find statistics for 2011 about crimes registered by section of the criminal code (link only useful to Latvian speakers so mostly for my own future reference - In those stats, I see 91 homicide in the country in 2011 (that is combined number for murder, aggravated murder and especially aggravated murder, to roughly translate). Out of those, there is only 1 that falls under "murder related to a robbery". Can not say if it was an instance of street crime or breaking into some place.

Looking at robberies in that data, there's 1061 total, of them 66 fall under the most serious category, meaning that someone was seriously harmed or that the criminals were armed with firearms. AFAIK, so much as firing a shot in the air gets the robbery classified under that category, so it should be less than 66 cases where people actually got seriously harmed.

Comment Re:It's only stuff (Score 2) 170

I come from essentially a no-gun area, so of course I have cultural bias, but to me there is a moral element that is really hard to understand.

I carry a phone worth some 400$. Other than that, I carry little that is valuable. I sometimes carry a netbook but overall I can't think of myself carrying items worth more than some 800$ total. Now, if there's a mugging attempt and I draw a handgun that I carry, that means all bets are off. The thug either backs off and runs or I have to be ready to shoot. Even having never so much as touched a firearm, I know you don't draw one without being ready to use it. So all in all, it means I have to be prepared for the possibility of killing the thug.

And that is something I find very hard to imagine being prepared for. Common thugs like that are pretty far down the list of people I have sympathy for, but I still can't see myself killing a human being when all I stand to lose otherwise is a few hundred dollars. I understand willingness to use lethal force to prevent serious injury at the hands of a criminal, but not in a situation like mugging for some electronics. I'd like to hear the perspective on this of someone from an area where people do have guns.

Comment Re:How outdated? (Score 1) 195

Sounds to me like a figure from shortly after Latvia joined the EU. 2004-2005 maybe.

I just looked up the official figures - salary statistics can be filtered by occupation type. So salaries, after tax, for those whose employment officially falls under "computer programming, consulting and related work" are 700$ in 2005 and 1166$ last year, with a peak in 2009 at 1228$ (converted using the current exchange rate for USD). Which is actually good growth for the 2005-2009 period, of course before the huge crisis hit the country. Skilled developers that I know are making no less than some 1400$, which counts as a very comfortable salary there.

Comment Re:Weigh with average income (Score 1) 195

No, that sounds like a horribly outdated figure. 790$ (assuming before taxes) is below the average salary nationwide, the figure being now around 865$ before taxes. Programmers, consistently with the rest of the world, get good pay by local standards, a decent one should certainly have no less than 1300$ before taxes.

Comment Re:Weigh with average income (Score 5, Informative) 195

I come from Latvia, lived in Riga until recently. It's true that it is one of the poorest countries in the EU, and income levels are low by the standards of more developed Western countries, but telecom is cheap there. 100 megabit connections are very common and I had one. About 40USD together with TV and a landline, and that's not the cheapest that was available, it's a particular service provider I like. The prices are consistently affordable even by local standards.

Availability and price of high-speed broadband in Riga is excellent, and Latvia is near the top of country rankings by Internet speed. This is not surprising for those who remember the situation in Riga just over a decade ago. Very limited availability of DSL/ISDN lines that give reasonable speeds, mostly 56k dialup instead, which was very expensive from the ISP bill plus the phone company charges. Real broadband came to the area later, but then it was good.

As a side-note, I have only on very, very rare occasions seen people with Macs in Latvia. Until iPods/iPhones I could go for months without seeing an Apple product, and that certainly has to do with pricing. The price difference between Macbooks and other laptops looks absolutely ridiculous in Latvia.

Comment Re:Hm... (Score 1) 194

I'm not a linguist but am a hobbyist, I've done a fair bit of reading on languages, and I'm somewhat of a polyglot, currently fluent in five languages. It certainly appears to me that linguistic diversity is good to have.

A language really is more than a particular way of storing and expressing information. A language is a worldview. I would go as far as to say that you can't fully understand the worldview of some culture without having a fair knowledge of their language. Way too often, you can't just translate stuff into another language and retain the original meaning. Yes, most things can be translated with a high degree of accuracy, but there are nuances and subtle meanings that are lost. Likewise, losing a language completely means you lose all the accumulated knowledge and culture of the group that used to speak that language.

It's also a fascinating proposition that language affects cognition. I hope we can eventually get research that figures out the particulars of this. In some languages you have large numbers of homonyms and the word order matters a lot, in other languages homonyms are rare and word order is largely free. These things seem to affect how people think. And then there's the East Asian language bunch, where even the basics are very different from Indo-European languages and where concepts are formed differently.

I certainly would like to see a situation where everybody knows some language that can be used to communicate with everybody else. For that reason, I strongly support the use of English. I don't really care which particular language is the worldwide lingua franca, but English is currently as close as it gets, so that's fine by me. But I see a global lingua franca as a communication tool and a supplement to individual languages.

Comment Re:Bull... Fish (Score 1) 134

It's not like this is going to be anything new in principle. Cyberattacks like Stuxnet are just another tool that governments will use in secret ops. This happens all the time. Nations send spies to other nations that try to get classified info, in some cases there are special forces soldiers operating on secret missions in foreign countries - missions that may involve killing - and all of that is stuff that typically gets denied on the official level for many years.

Powerful malware will be used in much the same way as spy plane flyovers in the old days, or special forces insertions. You do it to an unfriendly country, you do not admit it, and you realize that the other country won't launch an outright attack over it as long as you have more conventional fighting capability.


Submission + - 'Big brother' lamp posts can hear, see and bark 'Obey!' at you (

An anonymous reader writes: America welcomes a new brand of smart street lightning systems: energy-efficient, long-lasting, complete with LED screens to show ads. They can also spy on citizens in a way George Orwell would not have imagined in his worst nightmare.

Comment Re:Unity 2D (Score 1) 230

While I'm the anti-Unity GP, I still recommend you try it, if you're half-way proficient with Linux and know how to easily switch back and forth. I mean, sometimes you end up liking something that most people don't, and with a desktop environment there's little to lose. It's not like it takes time to install or to switch back to another one later.

Case in point - I happen to like the MS Office ribbon and think that, except for the Office button (fixed in 2010), it's considerably superior to the old menus, but most people here on /. disagree.

Comment Re:Unity 2D (Score 5, Insightful) 230

I just had a new bit of Unity experience yesterday. I had tried the early horribly unstable versions but switched away very quickly. Yesterday, I did a long-overdue update of Ubuntu on girlfriend's netbook to 12.04. Here's how it went after the upgrade.

She logs in, the computer seems a tad slow (yea, Unity 3D on a netbook). Figures out the icons for launching apps are on the left panel, wants to add GIMP there. Types gimp in the search bar thing, its icon appears. Right-clicks it hoping for a context menu, instead GIMP launches. Tries again, left-click, it launches. Tries again, drags the icon to the panel, it works. Sort of - the panel gets a button for the GIMP, but there's no icon on it, it just appears blank. Next she wants to run Chrome. As she types "chro", the UI freezes and shortly thereafter there's a message that Compiz crashed. It restarts, now GIMP's button shows the icon, too. She browses the Web for a bit, then I take the computer to see if I can turn some stuff off to speed it up. I open a terminal, check performance data there, try alt-tab, doesn't work. Okay. I open the control center, go to Appearance, Compiz crashes again. Then I find online that, to change Compiz-related config, I have to separately install a settings plugin for it. It's not available by default even through Unity is the default DE. At least then I found you can switch to Unity 2D.

I was pretty open to seeing how Unity would perform now. After all, I had only used the early versions. But this experience was horrible - 2 crashes within the first 15 minutes, definite slowness, and I'm pretty sure my gf will soon be asking to switch to a different interface, she's really uncomfortable with Unity so far.

Comment Re:legalize all non-commercial file sharing (Score 1) 242

GP is, as he notes, talking about non-commercial file sharing. That != copyright. The Pirate Party (in Sweden, at least) does not advocate abolishing copyright, though it does advocate reducing the term to 5 years, precisely on the logic that it gives the author enough time to make a profit.

Legal filesharing is compatible with copyright. It just means you're not violating the law when you torrent something, but still violate it if you go and resell that content. Or, say, claim authorship.

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