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Comment Re:It only works without humans (Score 1) 503

This depends on the technology. If you have self-replicating machines to do your building, then it doesn't matter what size thing you want - you set a machine off and tell it to come back once it has built what you want. Apart from resource depletion in an area (so just go choose somewhere unoccupied and otherwise useless), there is no real cost to this. If you achieve machines that can build other machines from raw materials unsupervised, then a stupidly-gigantic weapon - or 16 billion of them - is pretty much trivial except for the waiting time. Set and forget, come back when you want one to use. It would have basically a zero governance requirement.

In other, related, news, we don't really have a clue what post-scarcity looks like.

Certainly the "society with no reliance on coercive force" is attractive, although "virtually unlimited access to coercive force" might be a more realistic eventuality.

Comment Legal issues might be a problem... (Score 1) 267

I'm not sure about your specific legal jurisdiction, but as I understand it, some places have rules that are basically, "If you have a policy and do not technically enforce that policy, then the policy does not exist, and you liable for anything done over that connection." So, if you are making it easy for employees to go to any sites they want and then you get busted for someone accessing kiddie porn, you had better hope you have good logs - although that might not be enough. The sad thing is that the better option is (as many have suggested) to trust your employees and let them self-manage, however you do potentially leave yourself open to some nasty outcomes if you are not covering yourself enough. Now, if you are tracking, by employee, which sites are being visited and when, then I'm not sure where this puts you (and I would expect it varies depending on jurisdiction) - however, employees are much less likely to go somewhere nasty if they know the boss can review their logs at any time. At the very least, you should be able to see who went where and when - and you should actually check this regularly. As someone who has been on both sides (admin and user), it would be nice for those times that I need a site that has been (in my opinion) incorrectly blocked, but the extra step of "I have to specifically do something to get around this" would probably discourage time-wasting and less-than-savoury behaviour. But, a lawyer might not see things the same way - if you allowed access, you might still be responsible for what someone did with that.

Comment Re:Totally this... what else could you possibly wa (Score 1) 484

Yessss... And the file access capabilities of a non-jailbroken iPhone. :-) Thank you for getting me out the M$-only slump I was in! (Of course, I've heard that you could get Windows 95 on floppy disks, and it wasn't apparently much better than the Slackware example).

Comment Re:um (Score 1) 484

This applies to most OSes now though. Windows needs a lot of drivers from the Net on any machine I've ever used, and has just as many updates - more on a fresh install. Mac OS X has stupidly-large updates on a fresh install (several GB). Also, I'm not a developer. :-) I don't know of any OS anywhere that is designed to work separately to an internet connection now, so I'm not really sure what your point is...

Comment Re:I want... (Score 1) 484

No, not really. I spend more time on Windows than on Linux. In fact, until a few months ago, I hadn't touched a Linux install for a few years, however I was quite surprised at how slick it has all got now when I did get back to installing Mint on a machine I had. I was just pointing out the fact that really the "Which OS are you using?" question is starting to go the way of "Which web browser was this site designed for?" - i.e. it kind of doesn't matter any more. No, Linux' device support isn't perfect, and no, support in WINE for other software isn't perfect, but it's all a lot better than it used to be, and covers most of the requests that the post I replied to was asking for.

Comment Totally this... what else could you possibly want? (Score 1) 484

  • The multitasking prowess of DOS.
  • Ribbon interfaces on everything.
  • The beautiful colour palette and icons of Windows 3.1.
  • The stability and driver handling of Windows ME.
  • The simplicity of configuring drivers of Windows NT.
  • The memory footprint of Windows Vista.

The sad thing is that I was trying to think of a variety of examples, and they were all from Microsoft. Hmm.

Comment Re:That is easy. (Score 1) 484

The sad truth is probably that the wonders of WinFS were actually nothing more than vapourware - something that looked like it might work on a very limited subset of possible inputs but which was found to be completely unworkable when faced with the real world of untidy data. Of course, I would hazard a guess that we are probably in a space now where image recognition and machine learning are at a point where that metadata-filling and searching is actually possible - it might not be all under the same patent portfolio though. Google is probably the closest, at a guess. It would require sending all your data (or hashes of it) to external servers for processing though, and that might be one of the limiting factors. Yes, it's the 21st Century, but not quite that much yet.

Comment Re:Linux Mint + Windows Games & Photoshop (Score 2) 484

Yeah, pretty much this. Also, I find that a much under-appreciated feature of Cinnamon is that it has a working "do not let an app steal focus" option; it is really quite amazing how much under most OSes, we get used to something being able to interrupt us mid-typing. Of course, I do sometimes have to get used to the fact that this can also mean that the app I wanted to start only appears on the taskbar and not on top of what I'm doing, but I'd far rather than that have something jump to the front two or three times while it opens, like I get on Windows.

Comment Re:I want... (Score 4, Informative) 484

You do realise that most of those wishes are granted with any modern Linux install? Hardware support has gotten a lot better (mostly it's just "install and go" now), software support is either (a) native versions of the stuff you want, or (b) installable using WINE (not everything works well with WINE, but it also is much better than it used to be). Installing software on Linux is in my opinion easier than most OSes, as long as it's in the main catalogues: just go to your software manager, do a search, click install. Even for more obscure stuff, it's maybe just adding a repository, which is a simple "Google for it, then copy and paste a line or two of text". Apparently, Linux also has native ZFS support.

Or am I missing something here?

Comment Title easy to (amusingly) mis-read (Score 1) 50

"Russian Cargo Ship Successfully Makes Orbit" is awesome if you (like I did) read the start of it and picture a large sea-going cargo boat. Had to do a double-take once I finished reading the phrase, and still didn't understand it until I grokked the meaning of "ISS" in the "will supply ISS" part... Mental image of a giant metal boat loaded with shipping containers flying up into the sky just made my day.

Comment Re:The other annoying trend (Score 2) 419

NoScript, because some of us aren't stupid enough to let anyone run anything without our permission. Until you have tried browsing with NoScript, you won't realise actually how much utter rubbish is being hoisted on your browser. I've seen sites with 30+ scripts requesting to run, and really none of those are needed - well, none of those should be needed, but for some incomprehensible reason, a lot of sites won't display basic content without you having JavaScript enabled, which is idiocy on so many levels... Still, most sites only need about two scripts (the ones that are actually useful), and the rest (ads, trackers, things that decide popping a huge banner up in my face as soon as I land is a good idea) are less than worthless. A good site will provide the basic content without relying on client-side scripts; this is how the web was designed to operate. But the original comment there (that the Forbes site won't load if you have adblockers enabled) is awful - and a lot worse than just being lazy and relying unnecessarily on JS.

The thing is that it's not hard to build a nice site without client-side scripting - you can even do beautiful drop-down menus in nothing but CSS, if you're smart - and the more complex you make something, the more likely it is to break (just try using a mobile browser for a while). This is entirely unnecessary, and I don't want malicious sites (or malicious ads on legitimate sites) hijacking my machine just because I had to leave scripting open simply to view the content.

Comment Re:Obligatory reading (Score 3, Insightful) 419

Love your explanation of why engineering problems are hard (everything is a compromise of something else, nothing is as simple as it first seems), although I disagree with you about nuclear power. Why should "how much money it makes" be the ruling metric? That's extremely foolish. Despite the high-profile cases, nuclear power is actually one of (if not the) safest forms of power generation. We are ruining people's health and the environment by using things like coal, so we need an alternative. So, nuclear power doesn't make lots of money - so what? If that's all we are measuring things by, then it explains why so many things are screwed up. Apply the same engineering thinking you explained to the performance metrics question: any single-metric performance measurement will be wrong ("good" overall is measured by a number of competing and sometimes conflicting factors; so, in your case "profitability" is a poor reason to say "nuclear isn't a solution").

The prevention and clean-up do need to be factored into the use of nuclear power, but we also need to drag the technology forward to safer designs, not keep limiting it to unsafe, inefficient forms that haven't changed in half a century.

Comment Re:Obligatory reading (Score 3, Insightful) 419

Not necessarily. Time won't solve basic physical limits. Chemical batteries, as most will know, have very limited lifetimes. The RTG on Voyager 1 has been going for more than 37 years. If you rule out radioactivity or nuclear power, then your only options in space are chemical or something like solar. Solar has problems, as Philae has demonstrated. The issue with chemical is that there are hard limits on how much energy you can store in the bonds between atoms - even if we invent a wonderful new rocket fuel or battery type, the maximum limits can still be worked out and they will never exceed that (there's a reason why we use ion engines for space probes, and it has to do with "mass you have to carry" and "how much it can change your speed"). "More technology" will never overcome these problems, unless you come up with something really exotic (like zero-point energy). One that is easy to understand is solar on Earth: we can make it more and more efficient, but we can never exceed 1kW/m^2, as this is the total amount of solar radiation reaching the surface (and, I don't think we've got better than about 30% efficiency). It doesn't matter how wonderful your technology gets, it can never beat basic physics.

The only "high-yield, low launch risk" technology I could think of would be fusion (as deuterium isn't radioactive), but we are yet to get that viable. Apart from that, you're dreaming of magic, no matter how much time you wait.

Comment Amigas used to rule... (Score 1) 456

So, back in the early 90s when we Amiga fans were thinking that the Amiga was the machine of the future, this wasn't really what we would have expected - that one of the last serious uses of one would be controlling an AC system... Well, at least while it controls their AC, they'd be able to still properly multitask and play MOD music and have several layers of side-scrolling beauty, haha. Times have changed.

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