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Comment independent publishing (Score 3, Insightful) 68

I'm noticing that recently there has been a growing trend towards independent publication of books, music, movies, and other creative works.

I really hope this continues to take off (with enthusiastic support from our wallets and voices) because it weakens the influence of the *IAAs and various copyright consortia that have an annoying habit of lobbying governments for legislation in no one's favour (not even the artists) but their own.

Comment TFA (Score 1) 277

I just read the article and it's quite good. The author goes into detail about how he used a series of checksums and source verification to find the bug, isolate it and fix it. I found it quite fascinating and I recommend reading it if you have a few minutes of time.

Comment More than the Great Lakes? [citation needed] (Score 2, Informative) 255

The article does not mention anywhere that the amount of water on is more than the great lakes system.

Firstly, the water is in the form of hydroxyl and the mineral apartite (article didn't go into more detail). Secondly, TFA states the amount of water is under 5ppm. Yes, parts per million. I can't see how anyone could arrive at the great lakes value unless they took the volume of the moon and took 5ppm of that, which is ridiculous.

Firstly, the moon's not a uniform material. Secondly, to get anywhere close to this amount of water, you'd need to mine and refine the majority of the moon. It's like saying we have 300 quintillion gallons of water on earth while neglecting to mention that 97% of it is salt water and some more of it in the ice caps.

The real takeaway from the article is that the previously estimated amount of water was 1 ppb and now it's around 5 ppm.

Comment Re:That's Great But... (Score 5, Insightful) 688

This development may actually be the worst thing possible for the people of Afghanistan.

The discovery of oil or abundant mineral wealth in many African states has caused severe corruption, wars, and generally speaking, bad times for those citizens. Specifically, Nigeria -> oil -> widespread government corruption and little development of general population. Congo -> diamonds -> civil war that's lasted for decades.

If those states are any hint of what happens when lots of valuables are discovered in a weakly governed state, then there's going to be trouble in Afghanistan.

Comment Re:Cost effective? (Score 1) 261

That's true, but for smaller cities mass transit is terrible.

Having moved from a city of population 5 million to one of population 800 000 I have first hand experience of this. I went from 5 minute waits to 45 minute waits in -30C weather. Even bikes are a better choice than mass transit here.

Comment Re:Self-selection bias (Score 2, Informative) 233

It also doesn't differentiate between mobile and fixed broadband speeds, which should affect the numbers significantly.

Why can't it differentiate between mobile and fixed broadband speeds? The user agent string from a mobile browser should be different from a desktop one. The only exception is if the mobile connection is tethered.

Comment Re:Good idea? Bad Idea? (Score 2, Interesting) 96

I think the biggest surprise here is the update to Xen 4.

Xen 4.0 has barely been released for 3 months and they're moving to it for SLES? Insanity. There's barely any time to determine known bugs. What production environment would want to risk everything from downtime to data loss by using practically untested code?

That said, Xen 4.0 has some really nice features with regards to the Remus checkpointing project. It essentially provides instant failover (with persistent network connections) to commodity hardware. Definitely a feature to keep your eyes on for upcoming RHEL/SLES versions.

Comment Re:People Still Use Ubuntu? (Score 1) 320

The majority of the complaints against Ubuntu that I have seen do not deal with the popularity or the user friendliness.

Instead, they focus on things like the poor signal to noise ratio in support forums, and the cowboy, flying by the seat of the pants approach they take towards to the X server. There's far too many critical Xorg bugs in most releases, and this usually stems from all the extra patches they apply to Xorg and their strict adherence to release dates.

Comment Re:Sub-Orbital == Final Frontier? (Score 4, Interesting) 190

I was actually having an interesting conversation with a research policy advisor in my country last night about this topic.

In her opinion, government research grants should be spent on fields which do not have immediate commercial value, because companies are likely unwilling to pursue it themselves and also because the future value of a technology is difficult to gauge.

For example, when the transistor was invented, it was impossible to tell that one day they would be miniaturized to the point where handheld computers were available. Any attempt to place a value on the invention of the transistor would have massively undervalued it. Companies in the past may have pursued the approach of funding research for giggles, but the business model today has changed and almost everything needs to have profit making potential.

Now there's no way to definitively determine whether a research field will be valuable in the future, but space exploration is probably one of the ones with a large potential. I say this because of the overlap with the rest of the aerospace industry, applications for telecommuncations and materials research.

Comment Re:Right (Score 1) 376

There was an awesome comment in the Globe and Mail in reply to this op-ed by handle:Atreya. I'm reposting it below:

I believe that this article is factually incorrect. The OECD Broadband report HAS a measure of Broadband connections per household. The authors claim that is the real measure of penetration. Then why didn't they use it? The reason is because it would contradict their findings. It shows Canada is 7th, and the US is 17th out of 30.

Also, their claim about actual broadband speeds is patently false. The Google broadband speed tests called Measurement Lab is a much more transparent measure of actual broadband speeds. It shows that European countries have better actual speeds than us in Canada and the US. I can also say from personal experience that the Internet was faster.

Finally, the claim that Canada has the worlds most advanced 3.5G network is a joke. No one else in the world cares about 3.5G. They are going from 3G to 4G. And Canada was far behind the rest of the world in 3G deployment (only Rogers offered it). Also worth mentioning is that Videotron is only in Quebec, and they are still in the planning stages. Other carriers around the world, including the US are much closer to actual deployment.

The truth is, we pay too much for too little in Canada. And that is simply because of deregulation and a lack of competition. We need both. I'm left to wonder if this article is any way related to Bell's parent owning this newspaper.

Comment Re:Fire teachers? Good luck (Score 2, Insightful) 446

It's very easy to point the finger at unions and the difficulty of being fired, but when you look closer at the issue it's not so simple.

As the child of 2 teachers, I hear stories from my parents all the time about the horrors of the teaching system.

In my mother's elementary school, the parents regularly threaten to sue the school board over the grades that their supposedly perfect children are not receiving on homework. The board caves every time a lawsuit threat is filed. I can't even begin to imagine what would happen if the teachers themselves were easier to fire. You'd have great teachers being sued by parents and losing their jobs all the time.

My father's high school is a robotics teacher one of the leading edge tech schools in the city, with over 20 world place finishes in these competitions. Recently, he came under fire from his principal because he wasn't willing to play along with her personal ambitions that were detrimental to the student's education. If it wasn't for his union rights, he would have lost his job over a matter of politics and an unethical principal.

I've had more than my fair share of poor teachers, and I do wish that they could be encouraged to quit. However, I think that stripping union rights would be a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water. There's many better ways to encourage good teaching, such as through positive reinforcement systems.

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