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Comment Re:Which programming language! (Score 1) 179

C: Which programming language is the most popular?
A: That's right.
C: What is?
A: No, Which is.
C: What?
A: What didn't make the top 10.
C: What didn't?
A: That's right.
C: ... Ok, so if I were going to program using the most common language, it would be which?
A: Right.
C: What's right?
A: No, What didn't make the top 10.
C: What didn't?
A: Right.
C: Which language didn't?
A: No, Which was the top language.
C: Which was?
A: Right.

Comment Clippy v2.0 (Score 1) 58

Guy1: "I heard they're going to make Portal 3"

Guy2: "Really? No way! I loved the Portal series. I need to find out more about this."
Guy2: Begins typing 'portal' into the Cortana search box

Clippy: "It looks like you're searching for porn. Here are some suggestions."

GF: "WTF are you doing on the computer?"

Comment Re:site still down? (Score 2) 118

Yeah, probably DNS propogation. It works for me.

The IP address was set to localhost for a while to get the attacks off of the net.

Shouldn't the IP address be set to one of the attacking IP addresses, so the person/ISP with the compromised device has to deal with all that traffic? Collect the attacking IP addresses, find which ISP is the source of biggest share of them, and redirect the entire attack back at them. When they clean their act up (e.g. implement BCP38), move on to next ISP with the most attackers. Rinse, repeat.

Comment Re:Rule of thumb (Score 1) 253

It depends on the local ordinances. Several jurisdictions (usually ones where lots of celebrities live) have made it illegal to deliberately peer over high fences or vegetation added for the purpose of privacy. These laws were made to thwart paparazzi who would get onto ladders or helicopters to shoot photos of people on private property. In that case, flying a drone over your own property could be considered illegal if it were for the purpose of peering over the privacy barrier.

Comment Re:Or You Could Just Not Be That Neighbour (Score 3, Insightful) 253

Yes we could try having a conversation about it. The drone owner could've asked the property owner for permission before overflying his property. He failed to initiate that conversation, believing that he could just fly wherever he wanted, everyone else's rights be damned. The property owner simply responded in kind. This tit for tat strategy turns out to be one of the most effective solutions to the Prisoner's Dilemma. At getting people to behave cooperatively.

I agree that just shooting the drone was a dick move. But it was the drone operator who made the first dick move. You shouldn't shoot first, ask questions later. But neither should you fly first, ask questions later.

Comment Re:This is stupid (Score 1) 256

You make yourself successful. Only you.

...and mostly no. You have to take advantage of opportunities, but you don't create opportunities by yourself.

From what I've seen, it's mostly yes. I've worked with multi-million dollar company owners, and people working minimum wage. In both cases there were plenty of people who had the same opportunities presented to them. The successful ones took advantage of those opportunities to better themselves (one of the millionaires used the exact idea I had thought of in 1994 when the web was new, except I decided it was too much effort and didn't bother trying). The handful of people I've seen claw out of family poverty and minimum wage jobs were the same way - they were eager for the chance and did everything they could to do a good job, and were quickly promoted. The others just wanted to clock to hurry up and hit 5pm so they could get out of there.

There is an element of luck involved so you're not entirely wrong, but self-drive makes a huge difference in my experience.

If you go to a school it's reasonable to expect (if not assume) that you're being provided useful education. It might not be moneymaking in itself, but if they promise that it will be, then it had damned well better be. If they are promising job placement, then they need to deliver. If they don't, they're committing fraud, and they rightfully should be held accountable.

That's pretty much my conclusion about this whole ITT thing too. Like the housing loan crisis, you have to expect that there will be unscrupulous people who will try to take advantage of others through fraudulent self-promotion. To counter these folks, you set up accrediting or appraising organizations. The average person only goes through each level of school once, and a sample size of one is not sufficient to properly appraise if a school is effective at providing an education. Same with mortgage-backed derivatives, which most people have never even heard of. In both cases you have to rely on "experts" who've studied the fields and have enough experience to properly appraise the school or the investment instrument. When these experts get lazy and just start rubber stamping schools or investments as OK because "nobody is gonna know the difference," chaos ensues.

It was a failure of the accrediting organizations which precipitated both messes. They were being paid for a professional opinion, and they collected the money but didn't put in the effort to provide a professional opinion. In ITT's case, ACICS lost their Education Department recognition. In the housing collapse's case, unfortunately nothing has happened to the rating services which told investors that securities backed by mortgages in danger of default were in fact solid investments.

Comment Black swan events (Score 4, Insightful) 213

Three Mile Island was the only major commercial nuclear accident in U.S. history. Nuclear power in the U.S. has generated 24,196,167 GWh between 1971-2015. At an average price of 12 cents/kWh, that's $2.90354 trillion. So the approx $3.4 billion in cleanup and lossses from TMI is 0.117% of that. Or in other words, at a retail price of 12 cents/kWh, the historical cost of cleaning up nuclear accidents in the U.S. is 0.014 cents per kWh.

In contrast, subsidies for different energy sources are 23.1 cents/kWh for solar, 3.5 cents/kWh for wind, and 0.2 cents/kWh for nuclear. (Tables ES4 and ES4. Solar received $4.393 billion in subsidies while generating 19,000 GWh. Wind received $5.936 billion while generating 5,936 GWh, and nuclear received $1.66 billion while generating 789,000 GWh.) That's right. The subsidy for solar is 1650x more expensive than cleaning up nuclear accidents. The subsidy for wind is 250x more expensive.

Nuclear decommissioning costs are already paid for by the NRC's Financial Assurance fund. A portion of the revenue from electricity sales are placed into this fund.

The problem with insuring nuclear plants is just a quirk of statistics. The more times you roll the dice, the narrower the bell curve becomes and the more predictable the average outcome. e.g. A 1d100 has an equal chance to produce any result between 1 and 100 - the probability distribution function is a straight line. 2d50 produces a triangular PDF, with the values in the middle tending to be more likely. 10d10 produces an even more compact PDF - a narrow normal curve with results in the middle much more likely than the extremes. And 100d0.5 will always produce 50 - its PDF is just a single peak in the middle.

This is a problem for insuring nuclear plants - because they produce so much energy you don't need very many of them. Whereas there are thousands of coal plants, and (potentially) millions of solar installations, there are only operating 100 nuclear plants in the U.S. So insuring a nuclear plant represents a greater risk for the insurer. Even though the mean outcome will be that there is 1 accident every 30 years, the chance of a 2nd or 3rd accident is still significant and the amount the insurer has to pay out may easily surpass how much they've collected in premiums if they assume the statistically most likely outcome of a single accident.

The insurance company's response is to increase the premium to also cover that 2nd or 3rd event even though they're unlikely. In contrast, with thousands of coal plants they can be much more confident that there will be (say) only 10 accidents every 30 years, and 20 or 30 accidents is extraordinarily unlikely. So the premiums can be lower, even if the average risk (mean) is exactly the same. If there were some way to build thousands of small-scale nuclear plants instead of 100 large ones, private insurance wouldn't be a problem. You get around this problem by creating the largest insurance pool possible, which in this case would be nationalized insurance covering all 100 nuclear power plants.

Statistically, per unit of energy generated, nuclear power is the safest power source man has invented.

Comment Seems to me this is a design flaw of the web (Score 1) 195

The web is asymmetric. A single host (or hosts in the case of a CDN like Akamai) sends files to thousands or millions of clients (web browsers).

This seems like something a distributed symmetric system like bittorrent could fix. Each browser already caches files for the web sites it's visited. If they could also be made to serve those cached pages to other web browsers (with a checksum to allow the new recipient to detect and discard corrupted caches), that would solve server overloading. The more popular a site/page is, the more computers it's cached on, and the more "load" it can take - it's self-scaling.

Making it SSL-only would prevent manipulation of the content (cache the page pre-decryption) since you'd need the original site's private key to alter the content in any meaningful way. A bad actor could still turn their cache into gibberish, but you should be able to counter that with automated blacklists of computers with corrupted caches, and using multiple parity copies for redundancy - sort of a distributed RAID. Basically the same problems bittorrent has to deal with.

Comment Re:Confusing summary from CNET article (Score 1) 49

Why are they using the mean? Isn't something like this precisely when you're supposed to use the median? Ok, that means they have to store a lot more data (time spent per each individual view, instead of just aggregate time viewed and aggregate number of viewers). But presumably they're already keeping track of every video every FB member has viewed, so this wouldn't be that much more data.

Comment Re:Popcorn. (Score 1) 382

The Trump University stuff will need to go to trial before I can form an opinion. What most non-business people don't seem to understand is that any business endeavor is a risk. There's a chance you may succeed, there's a chance you may fail. The idea is to try to find or create business ventures which have a higher than average chance of succeeding, and spend your time (and money) on them.

In that respect, it does not surprise me at all that some of the people who paid for Trump University weren't successful afterwards, and were dissatisfied with the course. Are their numbers large enough to characterize Trump University as fraud? I don't know, and with the press highlighting only the people who were dissatisfied it's impossible to say.

If you want guaranteed success, put your money into a savings account or CD at the bank. If you want a better return than the paltry 0.25%-1% those instruments will give you, then you need to be prepared to take some risks, and be ready to blame failures on yourself or just bad luck instead of on others. The better businessmen pick themselves up and brush themselves off after a failure and move on, chalking up the time and money lost as a cost of learning lessons on what not to do in the future. The poor businessmen dwell on their failures and don't move on, trying to pin the blame on someone else, thus decreasing their chances of finding a new successful venture.

Comment That's the wrong way to think of it (Score 1) 198

Conversion efficiency is a big deal when you're using a mix of renewable and fossil fuel energy sources. It makes little sense to send renewable energy to a train at (say) 20% efficiency causing a shortage in the electrical grid which needs to be made up by a fossil fuel plant operating at 50% efficiency (overall average 35% efficiency), if you can instead use the renewable energy directly on the grid at 70% efficiency and power the train with fossil fuel at 40% efficiency (overall average 55% efficiency).

This is a very common error I see made by people advocating renewables. They like to compare to a nonexistant zero state. You need to compare to the next best (or better) alternative. Or in other words, you can't think of this in terms of where the energy for the train (and only for the train) is coming from. You need to think of it as having x MWh of renewable energy, and where is the best place to send it to maximize the reduction in fossil fuel burn. In that respect, it is deceptive describing vehicles as "zero emissions" - all they do is shift the emissions elsewhere. The act of charging up their batteries or hydrogen tanks requires energy, and implemented poorly it can actually end up requiring more energy than just burning diesel.

Comment People tend to think others will behave as they do (Score 5, Insightful) 133

If you're a music executive who made it to where you are by cheating musicians and paying them as little as possible, and by overcharging customers at every opportunity, you will tend to assume other people will behave the same way you yourself do. It will literally be inconceivable to you that a lot of people, even given the opportunity to get something for free by piracy, would rather pay you what they consider to be a fair amount for your work.

Comment Re:Which RAID level? (Score 1) 467

Back in the 2000s, most single-drive Toshiba laptops were set up this way in RAID mode. You could switch it to IDE mode, but you couldn't even install an OS (not even Windows) in that mode. I think it was to enable that tech Intel was pushing for a while to use a USB flash drive as a disk cache. It was a major PITA recovering data off these laptop drives because Windows wouldn't recognize the partition when I popped the drive into another computer. At least until I figured out it was still a NTFS-formatted partition, just the filesystem type ID was just set to something other than NTFS (0x7) to tell the laptop that it was a "RAID" partition.

Comment Re:This is my shocked face (Score 1) 272

Those of us who are older have seen this all before. Japanese products were crap, until the Japanese finally figured out what they were doing, got consistency and reliability down, and by the 1980s all the best stuff was made in Japan. Same thing happened with Taiwan and Korea in the 1990s-2000s.

I haven't seen any evidence that China won't follow the same path. They're just still at the point where getting paid is more important to them than establishing and maintaining a reputation for making quality stuff.

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