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Comment Re:The problem is that we still use installers... (Score 1) 338

When I saw that the user had "several 2-gigabyte zip files downloaded separately to make it more manageable", the problem seemed pretty clear already. This software might have been over 20 GB unzipped, which is larger than the plain text of Wikipedia; how many parallel versions of how many software stacks is this? (Only games can reasonably be this large--because their size comes from media files, which are easy to manage.)

Dependencies are bad unless you have a really good way of managing them, and sheer size is bad because it makes testing very slow and difficult--and installers themselves are already difficult to get right (I therefore avoid writing software that needs any kind of installation but, obviously, large enterprise software can't avoid it.)

Any company that makes a product this large is surely drowning in technical debt. They will have to spend a lot quality time eliminating unnecessary dependencies and brittle old code. In the meantime, users will be unhappy and new customers will be few.

Comment Re:I disagree, rather strongly. Here is some math. (Score 1) 1576

Obviously it makes a difference in general who is president. The point being argued is that the particular two candidates we got aren't likely to be that much different.

Back in 2008 I certainly thought and hoped Obama would be a big change from Bush, but it seemed like nothing changed. He continued or expanded Bush's policies of warrantless wiretapping, the Bush tax cuts, increasing executive powers (in often-unconstitutional ways, such as the war in Libya remaining unauthorized by congress), continuing the war on drugs, etc. The Wall Street "reform" bill was the smallest imaginable response to the horrendous behavior of the financial firms. Troop deployments were not immediately decreased but merely shifted around. There was that new "insurance care" bill, but if Romney had won his presidential bid in 2008, isn't it possible, even likely, that we would have ended up with something similar from him?

You mention Iraq--we hope neither candidate would start another war the way Bush did, but do we really know they wouldn't? And Obama didn't really bring peace to Iraq, did he?

Comment Re:Tweedledee won ! (Score 1) 1576

Oooh, they finally managed to kill one man half way around the world from me! I feel so much safer now that Bin Laden is gone... the chance of dying from a terrorist attack may have been well below 0.00001% before but... I bet it's down to, like, half of that now!

Say... how much did it cost to wage the war that killed this one man?

Comment Re:It's all in a name (Score 1) 221

The people you would approve of aren't running for office? Well gee, don't you think that could have something to do with our voting system?

First-past-the-post favors a two-party system and incumbents in particular. Right now, most rational independents wouldn't consider running for office, knowing they can't really win. That means that the independents that actually do run for office are few in number and either (1) know they can't win and just want a bit of spotlight for themselves or their message, or (2) are insane. It's no great surprise if you don't approve of any of them.

Mind you, all these single-seat election systems are very flawed: they always reject (N-1)/N of the candidates running, which means everyone that runs (apart from the forerunner) must be willing to burn lots of cash with low chances of success, which tends to favor rich people (and a few others who have either strong stomachs for failure, or delusions that they have a shot).

The other flaw with FPTP, IRV, Approval and so forth is that they assume that I want to vote for someone local. Where I live has nothing to do with who I want in the federal government! Why can't I choose among candidates across the country, or at least across the state? Give me Direct Representation! (not to be confused with direct democracy.)

Comment Re:So I suppose Obama (Score 1) 805

Technically espionage is just obtaining secret information in an illegal manner. Whistleblowing occasionally meets that definition, too. But the connotation of espionage is "state spying on potential or actual enemies primarily for military purposes" (from Wikipedia) whereas the goal of Wikileaks is to show us secret evils that are hidden from us, i.e. its goal is whistleblowing.

Now, I'm inclined to think that WikiLeaks' release of so many diplomatic cables was irresponsible, but WikiLeaks never did what they were commonly accused of, they never simply leaked 250,000 cables--they provided access to the cables to several news organizations in an encrypted archive, and IIRC less than 1000 of the cables were actually published or summarized by these news organizations.

Some time later, one of the news organizations foolishly made the password to decrypt the archive public in a book, but by that time the falsehood that "250,000 cables were published" was a popular belief.

Comment Re:imprisoned indefinitely without trial (Score 1) 805

You may be correct that the legal papers in the case and the extradition are all legit, with dotted Is and crossed Ts, but how likely is it that international extradition proceedings would be started against a man for having consensual sex that was turned out to be a little too agressive, or without a condom? To be sure it sounds like Assange was irresponsible, but it's hard to imagine that these proceedings would have started without political motives. Have you seen Naomi Wolf's take on it?

See also

You're right that the "enemy of state" thing is overstated and hyperbolic (an eyeball grabber - "made you look!") but there is no doubt that some U.S. mucky-mucks are extremely pissed at WikiLeaks. I bet some of them would be happy to punish Assange by any means necessary, to discourage anyone else from ever leaking classified information. Collateral murder is not the kind of thing you want to be public.

Comment Re:All Edison's fault (Score 1) 1080

One thing my uncle noticed about CFLs were that they may make incandescents last longer if you mix incandescents and CFLs in the same light fixture: the CFL has a large initial power draw, which lowers the current flowing through the incandescent in the first one or two seconds of operation, allowing the traditional light bulb to light up more slowly, extending its lifespan.

Comment Re:Play God (Score 4, Insightful) 455

Or, you could just not worry about this weird video because it had well under 10,000 views before it appeared on Slashdot and currently has only 22 likes. And half of those likes may come from people that enjoy watching crazy nutters. The only harm comes from people believing the video, and the Slashdot crowd won't.

Comment Re:not bad (Score 4, Informative) 170

Google's numbers are especially tame. 300 million watts (total) is far below one watt per user (gmail alone has at least 350 million accounts). Certainly if you use Google services on your 30-watt laptop, you use more power than Google uses to serve you. According to Google, "in the time it takes to do a Google search, your own personal computer will use more energy than Google uses to answer your query."

Since Google offers almost all services for free, it has a strong incentive to minimize resources per user. I expect the paid services are the ones that use the bulk of the energy, but all data centers together are still a tiny fraction of total worldwide power usage.

Comment Re:OPUS (Score 1) 361

Neil young would not be impressed. Opus is dedicated to being lossy; it specifically discards anything the human ear can't hear. Opus only supports 16 bit Stereo up to 48kHz (multiple Opus streams are required for e.g. 5.1 audio), and what's more, Opus will discard all frequencies above 20 kHz, no matter how high you make the bit rate. Even if you make the bitrate so high that you might as well be using FLAC, it will still discard the highest frequencies.

Comment Re:USB keyboards connected to a Hub (Score 1) 325

Mod parent up, it is cheap per-student (one computer, one large screen), it can sort-of be used without power (you can type, you just can't tell if you are typing correctly), and it could do double duty as a video player. No doubt a Linux guy here on Slashdot can suggest some way to make 20 keyboards input into a single application?

Comment Re:This is going to get ugly (Score 1) 228

I think I understand their approach to national security too: it helps increase the power of the federal government, it pleases the lobbyists that want the government to purchase billions of dollars worth of equipment from a particular manufacturer, and it distracts people from more important issues that the politicians would rather not discuss. When looking for motives, ask: who benefits? I wish people were not so foolish as to think that terrorist attacks can be stopped via airport security. Obviously the terrorists know that airport security exists, so they will attack trains, malls, concerts or busses instead. I also wish people could get it through their heads that terrorist attacks are too rare to worry about. And that the best medicine is prevention (don't breed terrorists through foolish foreign policy).

Comment There are much better ways to spend money (Score 3, Interesting) 228

If a simple pat-down "induced PTSD and sexual abuse trauma", it is more likely to suggest a problem with the passenger rather than the TSA. Even so, America really can't afford billions of dollars in unnecessary equipment and personnel just to provide security theatre, especially since this particular theatre is not the slightest bit entertaining when it happens to you.

And when you can get away with ignoring a court order, isn't that a symptom of a larger problem?

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