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Comment Mechanical Turk as a survey pool? (Score 2) 293

I'm a bit bothered by the use of Amazon's Mechanical Turk as a source of survey participants. That's by its nature a group of people with lots of free time and few marketable skills. That's a likely place to find trolls.

Slashdot's moderation system seem to do a good job of preventing trolling. I just hope the Dice management doesn't break it, in search of higher "social engagement" or something.

Comment Re:Stupidity is contagious (Score 4, Interesting) 279

The distros are going with it presumably because they think they need it to turn Linux into a desktop or notebook OS. However, they seem to be ignoring the issues it presents for servers. Let's take my *THREE HOUR* debugging session on systemd yesterday. I had a netboot system up and running. Client boots from Server and mounts root filesystem from Server. I changed from Server A to Server B. Due to an NFSv4 vs. NFSv3 issue, Client could no longer mount the root filesystem read/write. Simple, right? It would've been with SysV init because the errors during the mount would've been spewed to the console and I would've seen them. What *actually* happened is that a bunch of services failed to start. Instead of spewing the error message, systemd "helpfully" told me to run "systemctl status" on the service to see the error message. Except that I never got to a login prompt due to the errors. And I couldn't mount the filesystem read/write so it lost the logs.

Two+ hours later, I managed to disable enough stuff to get to a login prompt where I was finally able to figure out what was going on (never did get systemctl to show me the logs, probably because they couldn't be written to disk and it doesn't seem to hold them in RAM).

Please explain to me what the advantage of systemd is again? Because I'm *REALLY* not seeing it. It took something that was trivial to figure out and made it astronomically difficult. I no longer have any idea what order my services start in or whether that order is repeatable. Yes, SysV init scripts were really long. But once you learned them, you realized that you only had to modify 5 or 6 lines of them to get a new service going. I have yet to figure out how to even create a service with systemd or how I figure out what I'm depending on.

In short, for a server, I have yet to see a single advantage of systemd over SysV init. Maybe I'm missing something and someone will enlighten me, but I'm extremely skeptical.

Am I just resistant to learning new things? Maybe, but learning stuff takes time and my time is money for my employer. So if I'm not getting a return on my investment of time (in new capabilities or reduced debugging time or *something*), why would I invest the time to become an expert on systemd?

Comment Re:Antitrust (Score 3, Interesting) 163

The official position of the U.S. Department of Justice is squishy-soft on antitrust enforcement on tie-in sales. This is partly in response to the "U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit's 2001 decision in United States v. Microsoft (the Internet Explorer/Windows tying case) which rejected application of the per se rule to "platform software," thereby "carving out what might be called a 'technology exception' to that rule.

What's killed the effectiveness of the Clayton Act is Justice Department policy on "economic analysis". The economic argument is that allowing monopolies to achieve economies of scale is good for the consumer. Read the DoJ position statement linked above, especially the sections on "prosecutorial discretion", to see this.

Comment Re: Transaction limits (Score 1) 135

Another is "off chain transactions". ... clearing house ... That's pretty much what happens in the traditional banking system.

You've now replicated the costs and headaches of the traditional banking system, added on top of the costs and headaches of Bitcoin. The whole point of Bitcoin was supposed to be to eliminate the need for centralized, trusted organizations.

Comment No, it's not a conspiracy. (Score 4, Insightful) 135

This isn't a "government conspiracy" sending out bogus transactions. It's some jerk.

If you need to sell Bitcoins right now, Coinbase and Kraken are still up and running. Bitstamp is off line, and Mt. Gox is, as usual, screwed up. Mt. Gox hasn't paid out US dollars since June 2013. Whether they are incompetent, broke, or crooked is a subject of considerable speculation.

There's a technical fix in the works, but it will have the annoying side effect that when you spend Bitcoins in your own wallet, some Bitcoins you are not spending will be tied up for an hour or so. Bitcoin wallets don't really have an "account balance". What they have is a collection of items of different values. When you spend Bitcoins, the wallet software tries to put together a set of items that's over the value to be spent, with one output to the recipient and one output ("change") sent back to you.

Until now, you could can spend that "change" immediately, even though the distributed network hadn't yet confirmed it. It looks like that will be disallowed, and only confirmed items will be usable. The way this looks to the user with a wallet program is that you have a "Balance" and an "Unconfirmed" amount. Soon, when you spend, the "Unconfirmed" amount (which you can't spend) will go up for a while, then go to zero when the network catches up. Bitcoin is a distributed "consistent eventually" system. "Eventually" is about an hour. Longer during busy periods. (That's the next Bitcoin problem. The whole network has a limit of about 7 transactions per second. A few times in 2013, that limit was hit.)

Expect everyone except Mt. Gox to have this straightened out in a few days.

Comment Re:Do they need it? (Score 1) 212

I thought that of all the candidates, Romney was the most moderate of them all. If anything, had he stuck to his guns, rather than try and appease the Tea Party extremists, he had a pretty good chance of winning. Post the GOP nomination, Romney should have gone back to taking a moderate stance, which would have helped him immensely with some of the moderate voters. Instead, he tried appeasing the far right, at which point he pretty much lost any chance of a victory.

Personally, I felt that between Obama and Romney, this country could not lose. While they weren't ideal, they were both pretty competent, well-educated, and sharp, with a proven track record. I'm not sure any of the other GOP contenders even stood a chance (Rick Santorum? Newt Gingrich? Rick Perry? Herman Cain? Heck, Ron Paul?).

Comment O'Reilly has nothing useful to say on this. (Score 2) 142

The article is just blithering without much useful content. They couldn't even get the right illustration. The steam engine shown is just some random engine with Corliss valve gear. This is the engine that powered much of the 1876 exhibition. It was big, impressive, and inefficient, even for that exhibition.

The "Internet of Things" may be the Next Big Thing from the industry that brought you 3D TV.

Comment Why would Russian internet be special? (Score 1) 1

I have trouble understanding how hooking up to the internet in Russia would be any more or less dangerous than anywhere, or why the threat would be more likely Russian. Part of the damage was self-inflicted in the classic way by opening a "suspicious" email (an attachment?) that could have been sent from anywhere to anywhere. As for the compromised phone, I have no idea. This story sounds like a fairly unimaginative effort to ridicule Russia and draw attention to the reporter. Why wait several days to reveal the technical details that people need to protect themselves?

Comment That's a perfectly good desktop PC for business (Score 1) 125

That's a perfectly good desktop PC for business. It doesn't need to be set up as a Chromebook. This thing will be powering call centers and other desktops with modest requirements.

You could probably put Windows 7 Embedded (which is simply a version of Windows that lets you make a distro with unwanted features removed) on it.

Comment Should be radar based. (Score 1) 390

Most of this should be done with vehicle radars, not WiFi. Vehicles should be using radars to see what the other cars are doing. That works whether the other car has special equipment or not. Short range radars are cheap in volume - every automatic door has one. That can do a lot towards preventing collisions.

Radars can be arranged to talk to each other, by acting as transponders. Because the radar knows where the other party is, it's not too important who the other party is. Useful information to send is "My current turning radius is NNN, my speed is NNN, my acceleration is NNN, transmission in forward gear, turn signals off, emergency flashers off, vehicle has occupants." All of which any human observer can observe now, although not as accurately. It's useful to have an ID, but it doesn't have to be permanent. A new random ID each time the vehicle comes out of Park is good enough for safety purposes.

But no. We're going to get some kludge that reports everything to central control for marketing purposes, and might secondarily be useful for something involving vehicle control.

Comment Re:If only Guido hadn't blown it with Python. (Score 1) 505

From memory: Pascal was a language meant for training, not for production use!

Most of the original Macintosh applications were written in a slightly modified version of Pascal. Turbo Pascal had wide usage in the DOS era. But the UNIX compilers for Pascal sucked. The Berkeley one was a hack on the C compiler, and made a subroutine call for every subscript check. So it was too slow to use.

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