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Comment Round numbers are not barriers (Score 1) 347

"Even though the 1 TeV barrier per beam was first broken a week ago ..."

Um, no. There's nothing magic about 1 TeV. It's not a barrier.

Mach 1 was a barrier, because the aerodynamics is very different for a plane flying faster than the speed of sound. This means that new design principles had to be worked out. But nothing magic happens when you ramp up from 0.999 TeV to 1 TeV other than the flying champagne corks.

Likewise, new principles (optical proximity correction and phase shift masking) had to be invented so that we can manufacture ICs whose feature size is smaller than the wavelength of light (UV actually) used to expose the masks. That's an example of a barrier being broken.

But Slashdot should disallow the use of the word "barrier" just because a round performance number has been bettered. Alternatively, we can all just mock the editors every time they do it; you decide.

Comment Nothing to see here, move on (Score 4, Informative) 882

I review papers for technical conferences. I regularly try to keep papers out of the publications. It's a necessary part of the job, because the acceptance rate is typically 25%, and because most of the papers are junk. Scientific publications are not free speech platforms; to be published, an article has to meet the standards and it has to advance the state of the art of the field.

The bar for skeptics is always going to be higher. Otherwise we'd have to rewrite the chemistry textbooks every time some student messes up his lab assignment, because this will produce data that contradicts the theory.

Comment Re:Just use a different license (Score 1) 187

GPLv3 is actually more forgiving than GPLv2 of accidental violations. GPLv2 says that you forfeit the license and you need the copyright holder to reinstate it. GPLv3 provides a mechanism to correct the violation and have your permissions automatically reinstated. If you're producing a product that does DRM, you'll need to avoid GPLv3.

Comment Re:closed up (Score 1) 187

Under GPLv2, if you violate the terms, you lose the license, meaning that you can no longer copy or modify the work at all, and there is nothing in the GPL (v2) itself to get the license back. However, the copyright holder can forgive the violation and reinstate the license.

Likewise, under GPLv3 the copyright holder can give you additional shots to get the license back.

It's important to remember that the copyright holder's powers go beyond the terms. This does create problems for projects with hundreds of copyright owners, like Linux: if you violate the copyright, you apparently need the forgiveness of every Linux copyright owner, or, in the case of the dead contributors, their heirs, or you can never distribute a Linux kernel again (I suppose you could try to make a cut-down kernel without the contributions of the more unforgiving developers). Some might see this as a feature rather than a bug, though.

GPL code can import BSD code; it's only improper if the copyright notices are stripped off (which has happened, so you're right about that).

Comment Re:Overpopulation (Score 1) 467

All along the back of the Sierra Nevada there is a huge valley full of decent land; the problem is water. All the water is being diverted into LA for drinking. If LA starts getting their water from the ocean, then we can begin to grow stuff there.

The Owens Valley depended on irrigation before the water was diverted. This doesn't work long-term, as the water evaporates and leaves salts and minerals behind. Eventually the land can be ruined for agriculture.

Comment Pet peeve: round numbers are not barriers (Score 4, Insightful) 192

I guess it's too late to stop people from claiming that a barrier has been broken whenever some round number has been exceeded. The sound barrier was a real barrier, in that aerodynamics works very differently above and below the speed of sound, meaning that engineering a plane to fly stably above the speed of sound was a nontrivial undertaking. But it was no harder to write article number 3 million than article number 2,999,999. There was no barrier.

Comment Re:I don't get it... (Score 1) 157

Spam is almost exclusively produced by botnets. Vulnerable computers exist all over the world, so it shouldn't be surprising that more spam comes from outside your country (wherever you live) than inside. You, personally, have no one in China or Russia that you correspond with, but a debtor nation like the US is in a rather poor position to f*ck with the legitimate mail traffic of its main creditor. The most effective way to kill spam would be to aggressively eliminate botnets, wherever they are. A machine determined to be a member of a botnet could be isolated, blocked from sending email any place other than the support address of its ISP. Access could be restored when the machine is disinfected.

Comment Re:sanctions? (Score 1) 362

Although I think OJ was guilty, I also think that the prosecution failed to meet their burden of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt. I was amazed at how incompetent they were, which is why OJ's lawyers managed to run rings around them. They made several massive errors: the gloves that wouldn't fit, and there was evidence that blood evidence was mishandled, and the cop who collected the blood evidence perjured himself about his use of racial slurs. The prosecution could have countered all this and really proved its case, but they preferred to try the case in the press instead, yelling "mountains of evidence" a lot. Whenever you hear a prosecutor say "mountains of evidence", watch out. What they are saying is that they have lots of circumstantial evidence, but they either aren't able, or can't be bothered, to distill it down into a clean proof that the charged party actually did the deed.

Comment People often ignore depreciation (Score 3, Insightful) 1137

It's mainly the cost of buying a car. The value of a car goes down the more you drive it. Drive it 200,000 miles and the car you might have bought new for $22K is now worth $2K. That's ten cents per mile. If you don't drive your car into the ground, and buy a new one after five years or so, then you probably lost value equivalent to 20 cents per mile. And then there's the cost of insurance. To get the big savings, you'd have to be able to do without a car, or if you're in a couple, share one car instead of having two.

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