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Comment Re:Curly braces = good. Indents = bad. (Score 1) 173

If that's not your cup of tea, that's fine. I just find it interesting that (a) it does not actually cause problems in practice and (b) when I hop over to a language like C++ I find that curly braces are just noise and feel wholly unnecessary - just extra stuff to help the tools along, and not there for my benefit as a developer.

I'm exactly the opposite. I've used C for two decades and Python for one. I'm perfectly comfortable in either one and use both on a daily basis. Yet given a choice I'd go with C's curlies any day. Python code always looks unbalanced and incomplete to me, like the end of the function got

Comment Re: We Need More Programming Languages! (Score 1) 173

Unless you're talking about tabs versus spaces. If a compiler encounters one or more spaces at the beginning of a line, it should throw a fatal error. Four spaces my ass... learn to indent properly, dammit.

I could get behind this if and only if the compiler enforces *exactly* one tab per indent level, and prohibits tabs anywhere else in the line. Without these rules the whole magic of the "anyone can adjust the tab width however they like" feature of tabs gets hopelessly broken.

Comment Re:the elephant in the room (Score 1) 239

Today if you do not carry a cellular phone most cars do not "phone home" with data about your travels.

I don't know about that. Even my cheap-ass 2013 Hyundai phones telematics home to the mothership. I'm not sure what all information is included, but every month they sent me a nice report telling me the current odometer reading, oil pressure, tire pressure, and that I should really, really take it in to my Hyundai dealer for scheduled maintenance and a complete rotation of my wallet. They stopped sending me reports after the trial period, when I wouldn't pay to subscribe. They probably still collect the data, though. I expect this is true for any car which has an OnStar-like service available. Which is just about all of them these days (at least in the US).

Comment Re:Instruction Book (Score 1) 231

Can we leave an instruction book - stone tablets perhaps - explaining we are not gods, and that they should adopt a rational moral code that does not require our approval, or approbation.

"Hey look, it says here right off that we shouldn't worship them as gods, and that we shouldn't call them gods. But since this was clearly written by the gods, it must be a translation problem. Surely it means we shouldn't worship any other gods, and that we shouldn't call them gods without reason. Okay guys, first rule: Thou shalt have no other gods before me. And, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. There, that about covers it for worshiping other gods or calling these guys gods. What's it say next? Don't kill, lie, cheat, or steal. Well yeah, that's pretty obvious. But since it's so obvious why'd they throw in this weird part about the rationale not being based on a system of rewards and punishments? Are you sure the word 'not' belongs there? See, it makes a whole lot more sense if you just strike that one word. Otherwise it makes about as much sense as pointing to a tree and saying, 'See that delicious fruit? Don't eat that.' What kind of idiot would do such a thing?"

Comment Re:Here's an idea... (Score 2) 260

The only thing the TSA gorillas are achieving is to make tourists stop visiting the US.

Well, isn't that their job? Their whole mandate is to stop tourists! And they're damned good at it! They... Wait, what? "Terrorists?" They're supposed to stop terrorists, not tourists? Shit, somebody better tell them that...

Comment Re:Most likely explanation (Score 1) 248

I find this excerpt from the NASA report to be the most telling. (Emphasis mine.)

Thrust was observed on both test articles, even though one of the test articles was designed with the expectation that it would not produce thrust. Specifically, one test article contained internal physical modifications that were designed to produce thrust, while the other did not (with the latter being referred to as the "null" test article).

So, they tested the real drive, and a dummy fake drive, and measured thrust for both of them. That's a pretty good sign that the thrust is indistinguishable from noise in the experimental setup.

Comment Re:All according to plan (Score 1) 256

guaranteed minimum income

Never going to happen in this country. The status quo hangs on to their ideology like a junkie and his heroin. When the pitchforks come out then maybe, but I suspect the 1%, once they finish strip mining this country, will flee leaving us to rot.

I'm a huge proponent of some sort of basic income solution, but I fear you're right. And it's not just the 1% who oppose it. There are a lot of working-class people who have a visceral opposition to "freeloaders" sponging off of their hard work. It doesn't matter if you can show that such a system makes sense, it feels wrong to a heck of a lot of people.

Someday automation is going to be capable of doing most unskilled labor, and quite a bit of skilled labor as well. At some point we're either going to have to admit that there's not enough work for everyone but that's okay, there's plenty of wealth to go around. Or we're going to have to do dumb-ass things like forbidding certain types of automation from doing certain types of work, just to have an excuse to keep people "working".

Comment Re:Come the fuck on (Score 4, Insightful) 366

What he said. And for ongoing backup, keep the disk at a buddy's house and rsync your files to them periodically. And reciprocate. Keep their backup disk at your place and let them rsync to you. Done. You're safe and you've made the world a better place.

Although I imagine that our "anonymous Slashdot reader" who asked this question wouldn't know rsync if it bit them on the ass, being the marketing person for Storage Spaces and all. Come on, the only purpose of such a fucking obvious question is to get some front-page name recognition for the product. Nice timing, too, slipping it onto the feed Sunday night, ready for everyone's Monday morning Slashdot-and-coffee ritual. Kudos.

Comment Re:So glad I don't work with her (Score 1) 290

Best case I think would be auto-dictation with voice attachment, so that you could send a voicemail, with all the convenience of recording such, and have it automatically (and accurately) converted to text [...]

Google Voice transcribes my voicemail and emails it to me. It's *wonderful*! It's usually reasonably accurate too, especially if you know the caller and can squint your ears a little and read it in their voice. Even when it's complete mambo dogface banana-patch it's at least worth a laugh.

Comment Re:Heu.. ???? (Score 1) 400

This is a serious question from a Unix user who is curious about PowerShell... I like the idea of piping objects around. Does it play with anything outside the .Net ecosystem? Is there some sort of platform-agnostic object notation or broker that would let me exchange objects with external (non .Net) programs? Say I write a script in Python. Is there any way to export the Python objects such that PowerShell can manipulate them?

Comment Re:Depends on your definition of "life" (Score 3, Insightful) 250

Or because no one has found a way around that pesky speed-of-light barrier, and the vast distances simply make inter-species communication, let alone travel, utterly impractical. This has always seemed, at least to me, the least romantic but most pragmatic answer to the question of why we don't meet aliens, or even hear from them.

I can't buy that, either. Intelligent machines must be possible -- after all, we're just meat machines, and unless there's some divine entity handing out souls there's nothing particularly special about us naturally-evolved organisms that couldn't be duplicated in an artificial organism. So it should be possible to purpose-build intelligent machines and send them out as interstellar probes. Make it so the intelligence can hibernate for the journey by powering down.

Now, let's say the probe is only moving about the same speed as Voyager, 17 km/s. We know that's easily achievable. At that rate it'll take about 17,000 years to travel one light-year. So let's say our robot probe travels 100 light-years to a nearby star (1.7 million years travel time) and sets up shop. After another 300,000 years it's ready to launch two more probes. Each of them goes 100 ly and repeats. At this rate it only takes 2 billion years to span the galaxy, and we end up with something like 10^300 (2^1000) probes. Maybe we ought to build in a limiter that stops reproduction when a probe hits an already colonized system...

Mind you, that's with some really pessimistic numbers. And it doesn't even need machine intelligence, I just think a machine has a better chance of functioning after a couple million years of travel than a hibernating meat popsicle does.

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Heard that the next Space Shuttle is supposed to carry several Guernsey cows? It's gonna be the herd shot 'round the world.