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Comment Re:Two questions (Score 1) 146

In a big, healthy company, it is inevitable that you will get "infected" with a bad manager somewhere, sometime. I see it like a body catching a cold. Instead of "inertia", I like to think of a company as having a "immune system" to combat colds. If the immune system is strong enough, it will be able to get rid of the "cold", the bad manager.

I'm going to guess that he died from analogy....

(Read it aloud. You'll get it....)

Comment Re:Tea, Earl Grey, hot. (Score 1) 193

Why not spend that time trying to produce a replicator?

Or am I to expect a "Replicating food is killing farmers, and it's illegal!" response?

There was news recently that NASA _is_ paying someone to develop a 3d printer that prints food, for their spaceships. Which I suppose is as close as we can get to a replicator with the tech level we have for now.

Comment Err, no. Both were deflector shields (Score 3, Interesting) 193

Err, no. Both kinds were called deflector shields, in the canon. See:

The lower level one emitted by the navigationa deflector (a.k.a., deflector dish) dish was nothing else than a lower intensity force field, but still a deflector shield. (

Comment Well, sorta (Score 5, Informative) 193

Well, sorta. If you do enough technobabble and you're willing to count close enough as a hit, then getting it right isn't that hard.

Point in case, in ST's case the Navigational Deflector (emitted by the deflector dish) was actually supposed to protect against space debris, micro-meteorites, etc. (Still a good idea, mind you, because when you're moving even close enough to the speed of light, a single grain of sand packs more energy than a broadside from a 20'th century battleship.)

Dealing with particles via magnetic field was actually the job of the Bussard Collectors (you know, those red glowing things at the front of the nacelles), a.k.a., ramscoops. Which actually didn't deflect it, but collected all that mostly hydrogen in the ship's path.

So, yeah, if you make a complete hash of which did what, and how, and still call it a ST deflector shield, yeah, you can count it as a hit.

But then by the same lax standard I can claim that Jesus endorsed binary code. Matthew 5:37: "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." :p

(And yes, I'm a huge ST and SW nerd. I know, I know, I'll go not get laid now.;)

Comment Two wrongs don't make a right, though (Score 4, Insightful) 572

Well, yes, but my experience is that even if I've never screamed at an admin, nor informed them of their mothers' extramarital activities, the majority seem to make it their duty to keep me from doing my job anyway.

In fact, for some (I'm looking at the fucktard duo administering the MQ server,) the nicer you are and more willing to explain why you need a queue for the application already approved by anyone who had a legitimate say, the more they'll abuse that and your time by MAKING you have to explain for weeks or get nothing from them. The guys who do tell them to STFU and do their own job, now those get what they asked for.

Now I have sympathy for admins, and understand that other people shit on their day. But WTH does it solve to in turn have them shit on MY day and my coworkers' day?

If X bullied admin Y, and Y bullies innocent bystander Z in turn, what did it solve, other than make an extra person unhappy? And how does the former even excuse the latter, anyway? Much less make it right. Two wrongs don't make a right.

Comment Re:More important: Why are they drying up? (Score 5, Interesting) 178

Why are the grants drying up?

In many cases, it's not that the money is drying up; it's that the money is increasingly 'focused' on projects rather than administration.

There's a popular conception among donors that the best way to keep NGOs from existing for their own sake (and growing fat and complacent) is to cease providing core funding, instead providing money for individual initiatives. As a happy coincidence, this also keeps NGOs on the string, having to justify every single little thing they do, which makes it easier to ensure that NGOs don't do anything that might make the donors uncomfortable, like speak their mind, or have a conscience or tell the truth.

The 'no core funding' argument has some merits, I'll grant (heh) you, as there have been NGOs who got caught up in navel-gazing, who got lazy and spent more time feathering their respective nests than actually, you know, doing good. That is absolutely something to be guarded against. But this move toward project funding has the unfortunate effect of keeping some NGOs on the fringe, struggling to stay alive. This applies particularly to those who challenge the status quo.

And as noted here, it has a knock-on effect on all NGOs, who find they can obtain salaries and meet project expenses, but can't own any fixed assets or even keep a vehicle running. Perversely, this increases their operating costs, which have to be met somehow. And that results in bigger grant applications for project funding.

Obligatory software analogy: This is similar to tech companies who see design, tech support, permanent staffing and even updates as cost centres and therefore areas to starve as much as possible. This can all too easily lead to more friction in the gears, longer ramp-up times, slower release schedules, reduced quality and sales, and yes, higher development costs, once everything's factored in.

Comment Re:Gosh!!! (Score 5, Informative) 318

I never realized visiting a website required me to "sacrifice my freedom"!

Look, I know it's a lot to ask that you actually pause to reflect before dashing off that Frist Psot and racking up all that precious karma. But why don't you wind down your supercilious, holier-than-thou tone and actually read what Stallmann says about the Javascript trap?

If you did, you'd see that he has a perfectly valid point about how the effect of non-Free licenses, combined with minified (and therefore effectively unreadable) code, especially that which uses dynamically constructed elements, is hard to read, hard to share and hard for the community to improve. The tone of the article is pragmatic, reasoned and doesn't jump up and down crying 'Injustice!' or waving a placard. Much as you might hate this, it's a reasonable technical argument that follows logically from the concept of Free Software itself.

If you want to argue against Free Software on its merits, knock yourself out. I work with both proprietary and Free software all the time, and I see the benefits of both. But when you start pitching a fit and belittling someone else's calm, reasonably stated points without even attempting to address the logic, then you've lost any credibility. Honestly, you can ridicule Stallmann all you like, but you might want to consider what you look like to others as you indulge in this kind of adolescent, pop-collared frat-boy humour.

Comment Re:24 yo? (Score 3, Interesting) 429

I'm going to guess he's going to look back on his life and realize that he was dumb to think he'd seen it all at age 24. He talks as though the Third Age of Middle Earth is ending

In some important ways, it is. The process isn't complete, but there is a fundamental change happening, and it will discomfit some of us.

The days of 'Homesteading the Noosphere' (as ESR put it), are coming to a close. Scale, network topologies, business models and legal encroachment on the principles of individual online freedom are all conspiring to make the technological world we live in substantially more constrained than it's been since the internet became part of our lives.

The land rush is over, the cowboys are gone (either buried or rich) and the homesteaders are being bought out by the speculators and tycoons. Community-based governance is under siege by national and international interests.

And this is being reflected in the tech world. The craftsman's approach to software (always greater in repute than in reality) is decidedly more difficult to practice as a trade than it was. Toolkits are giving way to frameworks and apps replace applications. Backyard-mechanic roadsters and dirt-track races are swallowed up by Nascar - VCs get us excited by the prospect of building only big enough to sell out to someone bigger.

The physical networks themselves are being taken back by the telcos and proffered to governments for surveillance in exchange for ever more egregious rent-seeking behaviour. What we used to call sharing is now piracy. The word 'copyright' now means 'don't copy at all, ever.'

And in the midst of it all, we're grateful to lockin-vendors who make Free software difficult, if not impossible, to use. We rent what we used to own. Even our identities are no longer our own.

I grieve to say it, but unless there's a sudden and immense resurgence of the DIY spirit, especially in peer networking and distributed data, we're going to fall back into the bad old days of the dumb terminal and the smart network. And that network's smarts will not exist for our benefit.

I'm pushing 50 now, and do I fear change? Not really. I just regret the lost freedom, the creative anarchy of the '90s, the ability to hack something cool and new, the chance to achieve things never before possible. It's not gone yet. We could still turn things around. But every day we don't brings us a day closer to the day when we can't any longer.

Comment Re:Impeach Bush!!! (Score 4, Insightful) 248

Hell yeah, if only we could impeach that Bush and get someone new (with promise of hope) instead. Oh, wait...

You know what? Fuck your cynicism. (Not you, your cynicism.)

Speaking as someone who lives in a country with a history of consistently corrupt, dysfunctional governments, without any kind of police presence in the community, with disgustingly poor health and education services, this litany of complaint and hopelessness sounds to me like nothing more than childish whining.

It wasn't always this way, and frankly, I don't care what happened that reduced the Americans in this audience to such a useless bunch of wankers. But merciful god, could you please show at least a modicum of intelligence and - yes, I'll say it - hope?

You people really have no fucking clue what it's like to live in a broken society. But if you don't shut the fuck up, learn a civics lesson or two and start fixing things, you're going to find out. And before you tell me it's too late, I'm here to say that if you think that, you honestly don't have any fucking idea how bad things can get.

There are very definite steps you can take to curtail this kind of intrusion on press freedom, only the first of which is to shout loud and long to your representative not to stand for it. So get off your ass, shut the fuck up with the whining, and get to fucking work.

Hugs, from the developing world.

Comment Re:Just what kids need in third-world countries! (Score 1) 97

I'm not quite clear on the above -- do you mean that:

A. it would be more reasonable to wait years for the telecom infrastructure to become available and then go straight to Internet-capable devices (as opposed to offline devices right away)

B. Internet-capable devices are preloaded (e.g. with Wikipedia), so it's better to get them now as it will eventually be possible to fully utilize their abilities, as opposed to spending on a wave of offline devices followed by online ones

C. Internet-capable devices aren't preloaded, but better to get them for the features they do have as they'll be more useful down the road

I defer to your experience, but was wondering because in cases A & C, it seems to me like any substantial delay would harm the educational & skills development of the kids left waiting, and "A" would result in some kids reaching adulthood without getting their chance.

I like B most, with C as a viable option if B isn't possible.

But emphatically: No, I don't ever advise waiting. What I meant to say is that when someone comes to me with a proposal like this (i.e. to give offline wikipedia devices to students) I suggest that they push harder to get internet into their target schools as well. In my experience, having internet connectivity makes computers many times more attractive to people of all ages in the developing world. Besides, a VSAT dish with generating capacity and a wireless network isn't asking for the moon. It's expensive by local standards, yes, but that's what donor money is for. :-)

The thing that drives me craziest in this job is when people see technology as a kind of either/or thing. You either have exactly the same infrastructure as you would in a downtown office in New York, or you have nothing. This idea is kind of a modulation on that problem, where instead of viewing the world in a binary mode, they've simply misjudged the distance of the steps between.

... In my decidedly less than humble opinion, of course.

Comment Re:Jupiter Tape? (Score 1) 621

People should remember just how terrible Americans are at keeping a secret

How long did the Manhattan Project employ thousands of people before anyone figured out what they were making?

Anthony Beevor, in his excellent history of WWII, tells a story about Churchill and Truman trying to figure out how to break the news of the successful Manhattan Project test to Stalin during the Potsdam conference in '45. They decided that Truman would tell him quietly, in a public room, in order to take him aback a little.

Thing is, Stalin already knew all the details. So there they are, Churchill hanging in the doorway watching Stalin like a dog watching a cookie, while Truman sidles up beside him and whispers the details into Stalin's ear. Stalin, of course, didn't bat an eyelash.

Afterwards, Stalin asked Beria (who had bugged the US and UK rooms) how they interpreted his complete non-reaction. According to Beria, Churchill asked Truman, "So? What did he say?" To which Truman replied, "I don't think he understood what I was telling him."

Stalin and Beria had a good laugh, took all of Eastern and Central Europe, but cancelled plans to invade Western Europe because they really did understand just how big that bomb was.

The moral of the story is: Don't ever assume it's a secret. Someone always knows.

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