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Comment Re:What's changed? (Score 1) 172

On the internet, short of blocking them on social media, you are confronted with them constantly.

Actually, I think it's the ability to block (or just de-friend) that creates the biggest part of the problem. It creates echo chamber effects, which help ideas morph into their most virulent and effective forms, especially ideas that demonize the holders of opposing ideas -- which, from a memetic evolutionary perspective are really cooperating ideas, not competing at all.

A good, though somewhat annoyingly dumbed down, explanation of this process and effect is this youtube video. If you haven't watched it, you really should -- and then think about the ideas that you hold and consider the possibility that they have evolved specifically to push your hot buttons in the most effective way possible, and how you can counter that.

Comment Re:What could possibly go wrong? (Score 1) 70

Perhaps: Well the ocean temperature dropped enough, but turns out the local increase in salinity due to the cloud whitening machine spraying salt in to the air has killed off the entire Great Barrier Reef. Oops.

It should be trivial to calculate the potential salinity increase. Do you really think environmental scientists trying to protect the reef won't bother to check that?

Comment Re:What's changed? (Score 4, Interesting) 172

The problem is that social media reduces us to the way we present ourselves. While that certainly is part of who we are, it's not the whole story.

One of the most popular maxims of ancient Greek philosophers was "know thyself", and the reason they considered it important is that it turns out to be a lot harder than it sounds. You think you know yourself, but chances people who spend a lot of time in close physical proximity to you understand you in ways you don't.

But online your identity is mediated by how you present yourself. This is not only inevitably somewhat dishonest (in ways that may be more obvious to others than to yourself), even when you are trying to be honest you at best are presenting who you think you are.

Comment Re:"The science is settled" (Score 2) 56

Some of the science is settled, certainly. Methane is a greenhouse gas; nobody expects that to change. Atmospheric methane decays primarily through a long, well-documented chain of reactions starting with oxidation by the hydroxyl radical; the carbon in the CH4 eventually ends up in a CO2 molecule. This is nothing new, and nobody expects it to change.

The precise dynamics by which CH4 interacts with hydroxyl radicals in the atmosphere is far from settled science, and nobody should be particularly surprised that there are things about the process we don't know. Not knowing some things about a process doesn't mean we can't know other things about that process.

But some people obviously do believe it means that. They do not distinguish between not knowing everything and knowing nothing. Implicitly requiring scientists to know everything before you consider science credible makes everything a matter of opinion, and all opinions more or less equally valid, at least as far is evidence is concerned. And it's easy to see the attraction: if everything is a matter of opinion you can believe whatever you find comforting. Why not believe Adam and Eve rode around on dinosaurs? After all scientists don't know everything, which means science is never "settled".

But of course settling questions with evidence is what science is all about. True, there is no science so settled it cannot be attacked; but there *is* science sufficiently settled that claims to the contrary require extraordinary evidence.

Comment Re:Cox has low customer satisfaction? (Score 1) 70

Yeah, I know why they're hated as a cable TV company, but the ISP side of Comcast has always been pretty decent in my experience, and I don't know anyone who has anything bad to say about that side of them. Sure, the data caps is an ongoing concern, but they haven't implemented anything evil on that side, beyond introducing the concept to begin with.

Comment Re:Libreoffice is a thing (Score 1) 204

git is a tiny fraction of what's needed to replace OneDrive - unsurprising given it's a source code version control/management system. If you were to start from scratch creating a OneDrive alternative, you'd probably start with Apache, not git. Add versioning and more advanced permissions to Apache's WebDAV implementation, a web interface to the same directory (preferably linked to something capable of at least viewing Word etc documents online), and client tools to sync with Apache, and you're pretty close to being there.

Comment Re:I believe it (Score 1) 75

I've been saying this for years: the reason that the same stupid security holes keep popping up is that they keep showing up in the tutorials that people use to learn new systems and languages.

The cognitive burden of learning a new system is rough on most people, so it's tempting to make things easy on them. In fact you might have higher satisfaction from students if you do. It certainly makes them feel like they're learning more for less effort if they can make something happen that looks right. But you should never, ever model a bad practice for beginners, even if you have the intent of going back and explaining to them that they shouldn't do it that way. It's better to say, "OK, you don't understand this particular bit, but don't worry I'll come back to it later."

Comment Re:DRONE ON (Score 1) 247

So working to reduce our waste volume is the only realistic plan.

Not the only one. Another is to learn how to engineer the climate. Actually, in the long run that will be necessary anyway, because the Earth's climate has significant natural variation, enough that for most of the planet's life-bearing history it's had a climate that we wouldn't like very much. There's also evidence from both Greenland and Antarctic ice core records that the planet occasionally undergoes very rapid spontaneous (i.e. not driven by obvious causes like large volcanic event) climate changes -- faster than the current anthropogenic change. We need to learn how to manage the climate.

Reducing our "accidental" impact will make the job of engineering appropriate deliberate impacts easier, of course.

Comment Re:Baddly worded summary (Score 4, Insightful) 97

I suspect this may enable them to lower their prices or increase their margins.

Linux support on popular high-end hardware is close to flawless -- or becomes so after that hardware has been out for a year or so. But if you start looking at the plethora of low end laptops, especially, you are in for a world of minor headaches. I find it takes me about a week of research to get a cheap, relatively new laptop working flawlessly. Sometimes the fixes Google turns up for your model don't work because you have a different revision number. Most people, if they attempted to install Linux onto a recent, low-end laptop, would find a lot of things not working, like sound, or keyboard special keys. It's not rocket science to fix, but for them it might as well be.

This is not what 99% of the world signs on for when they buy a laptop, so it makes sense for someone to have a business that does this for people. But if you're in the business of doing that, you have to pay yourself for your labor. That means you can compete at rock bottom prices because that's where you're starting from in your costs; and in any case starting with a better quality device minimizes the work you have to do dealing with stuff like broken ACPI firmware.

Which means when you count the cost of your value added, it's really hard to sell a rebranded laptop at a competitive price. Selling high quality rebranded hardware at relatively high prices and small profits may be a way to bootstrap your business, but the only way to get serious volume sales at a profit is going to be to have a computer manufactured to your specifications.

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