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Comment Re:I know you're trolling (Score 3, Insightful) 163

Yes, reduced demand in China is the single largest contributor to the ongoing bankruptcies in the coal industry. However, on the electricity generation front, coal is being displaced by cheaper options like combined-cycle natural gas, wind, and solar. This means that coal is unlikely to make a come-back. Those supported by the coal industry would be wise to ignore Trump and get on a different career path.

I used to be very pessimistic that society could reduce its fossil fuel use, but the shift away from coal has forced a change of mind.

Comment Re:linux etc (Score 1) 585

Wonder no more. Microsoft's interest is in having Windows on as many computers as possible. If supporting a particular platform will make them enough money, they will support it. Some notable ARM-based platforms are getting Microsoft's attention. Witness the Windows 10 IOT core for the Raspberry Pi.

I could imagine Microsoft doing DRM on individual systems as you suggest, to ensure licenses are paid for. However, now that operating systems and most commonly-used software tools are commodities, I don't think it is worth the effort.

Don't get me wrong. I'm no Microsoft fan-boy. It's just hard to believe Microsoft would hasten their demise by going heavy-handed with DRM.

Comment Re:This is the wrong answer (Score 1) 193

Your comment gives me the impression you feel large-scale goofing-off is a given. At one time, I would have completely agreed. No more.

Early on in my career, I often joked about being about 10% productive. When struggling with a problem, usually debugging, it was too easy to run out of steam and start surfing. I joked, but it really bothered me. So I quit. A few years later, I started in system administration for an organization that mattered. The work was fascinating, and the organization was providing a service to society that I could get behind, but we didn't have the resources to keep up. It was incredibly rare that I wasn't fully applying myself, despite regularly having to interact with some pretty toxic people and deal with intense internal politics. So there were days spent reeling from some of the questionable decision-making and the work-load was so high that there were Friday afternoons that I had nothing left to give. Even so, I probably only checked Slashdot a few times a year at work. With some effort, my productivity was above 90%, but it was wearing me down.

Now I'm happy to be in software development for an organization who's service won't change the world, but the people are great, the work is interesting, the pay is good, and work stays at work. The closest I get to goofing-off is work-related conversations that go off on tangents. Without little effort, productivity is very high.

My point is that productivity is a skill. In the right environment, it is easy to practise, but one can even learn, as I did, to be productive in toxic environments. And we shouldn't ignore our productivity in our personal lives, where it can have a larger impact than within the work-place. This is my current focus.

Comment Re:"3 whole buttons to talk to Nana? Bullshit!" (Score 3, Interesting) 114

Uh. Won't that just mean more fragmentation? And therefore, by your own logic, doesn't that just make the problem worse?

There isn't yet a decent cross-platform solution. Something as easy to use as Facetime, but covering all important platforms. And until Duo covers Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, it isn't that solution either. But Google would seem to be interested in covering the major platforms. Users definitely want a solution with complete platform coverage. Contrast that with Apple (definitely) and Microsoft's (less so) interests being against having a cross-platform solution.

I'm tentatively hopeful.

Comment Re: Not a surprise (Score 1) 59

Not really. It kept Apple alive, but not much more.

Maybe a quarter of the school labs I saw from the late 80s to mid-90s were Macs. (Keep in mind that the computer market was much more diverse back then.) Most school Mac "labs" consisted of four computers, because that's all they could afford, even with heavy discounts. Outside of school, my circle of about a dozen nerd friends only included one Mac guy until the early 2000s. I knew of only one business, an advertising firm, that used Macs, and they only had two.

Of course, the education sector did keep Apple's heart beating until they could come up with the iPod...

Comment Re: Why? (Score 1) 235

The investments in which the very rich put their money are usually far removed from production. It is much more common to invest in derivatives, that are basically a bet on an event in the real economy. This makes the bulk of stock market investing more like a casino than a way of giving worthy businesses the resources to create new products and grow.

But don't take my word for it. Have a look at the recent comments made by Charlie Munger, a billionaire and vice-chair of Berkshire-Hathaway, which is Warren Buffet's company.

It would be nice if your perception of the markets, where most investment money was used to get resources into the hands of builders and creators, but it simply isn't so.

Comment Re:Pollution in China (Score 1) 88

Regulating pollution by industry has been wildly successful in the US. There are still plenty of pollution events that one can point at, but the overall levels of air and water pollution have fallen at the same time that population has grown and standard of living has risen. The EPA deserves a great deal of credit for this fact. Canada's protections seem comparatively weak by comparison, but our population is so small enough and our land area so large that we get away with it.

I really have a hard time imagining a regulatory system applied to consumers. Don't get me wrong. I'd love to see it done, as it would close the "pollute in another country" loophole, but it's just really hard to imagine.

Comment Re:Ha (Score 1) 340

There isn't much in a mammal that will make a fellow sick should he eat it. There's a few bits one should avoid, but they don't add up to much. Most of the entrails are perfectly edible. Of course, one has to empty the gastrointestinal tract of its contents before chowing down, but the actual animal tissues are fine. Same goes for the bladder. Basically, just the skin and bones are tough eating, but not harmful. Bones can be crushed to expose the marrow and cooked, but I'd have to be pretty hungry to actually consume the bone itself. The skin is a pretty sizeable proportion of an animal and perfectly edible. Pig and chicken skin is consumed in western society, but not cow or sheep skin for some reason.

I'm not sure I would argue that animals were "made" to be eaten, but the fact is that a lot more of an animal can be eaten than western culture chooses.

Comment Re:Missing the point a bit? (Score 1) 122

Embedded projects are exactly what these boards are aimed at. If anyone is thinking of these as a general purpose desktop, they should think again. But as a dedicated device for an embedded project, these are very interesting. The CHIP's built-in WiFi and otherwise RPi-like specs make it compelling. I have more than a few Arduino projects that would be much more convenient to develop on top of Linux. A $10 board that can run Linux and can talk to a wide range of sensors and devices would be very tempting.

Comment Re:What exactly are you backing up? (Score 1) 118

Yes, but once you have a Windows network to the point where anyone can sit down at any workstation, with all user data being stored on a file-server, you no longer have to back-up the user workstations. I managed several networks of between 50 and 200 workstations, each with a single Samba-based DC and file-server that was backed up off-site via rsnapshot. The workstations were imaged via FOG. Once we had a working image for a workstation (which could take a couple of days to prepare from scratch), the bottleneck in deploying workstations was physically putting them in place and hooking them up. We could image forty machines in about 25 minutes. Best of all, we could reimage machines remotely. This meant I could set up forty workstations on a Friday afternoon, register them with FOG and deploy an initial bare-bones image, then head back to my office to fine-tune a new image before redeploying it (from my office). Active Directory took over from there. If a workstation started acting up, we could trigger reimaging remotely, and 7 minutes later the user had a fresh workstation. In that environment, rsnapshot worked fine backing up about 8TB of user data from about ten Samba servers over a 20Mb/s WAN. Nightly back-ups rarely took more than an hour. Storing many snapshots (7 nightly, 4 weekly, etc.) didn't have much of an impact on the required backup storage. It was also nice that rsnapshot could run a script on a server before and after backing up. So one could dump a database to a file before backing up.

Comment Re:Every single gag order needs to have an expirat (Score 1) 81

You've hit upon something important. Most Slashdot readers haven't been served any kind of gag order, but I'll bet quite a few of us are under NDAs and confidentiality agreements. In a nutshell, the situation is that, if you have signed this sort of agreement, it can be used as leverage against you, even if you aren't breaching it in any way. Just the threat of legal action can be used to push you around. You could be forced into a court room to argue against an organization's claims. Even if squeaky clean, an organization can usually bankrupt an individual long before hitting the court room. If an individual were to successfully defend against claims in court, they would still likely end up losing several hundred thousand dollars. It turns out these sort of SLAPP suits are common. So lets say you realize that your employer is breaking a law in a way that you can't stomach. If you've signed any kind of confidentiality agreement, unless you aren't very sure that you can report the problem to the authorities (don't even think of going to the media) anonymously, or that legislation that protects your disclosure is in place (talk to a good lawyer to be sure), you are in a bad place. A person in this situation should probably just quit and stay quiet.

Comment Re:Dumb as a Rock (Score 1) 77

If anyone is wondering how pubwvj achieved a $7k build, it's all about size. The house is really a cottage, and a very small one at 252 square feet. That's probably the most important factor in keeping the cost low. They also used some fairly uncommon building techniques, including a ferrocement roof. I believe pubwvj is an engineer, meaning he likes to solve problems, of which there would be many in this sort of construction. He may have been able to get around any code issues with an engineer's stamp. Then again, it may be that a 252 square-foot structure isn't required to meet code. Looking over the construction diary, I don't think I would be worried about the safety of the building, it seems sound. The cost is about what I would expect for an owner-built structure of that size, even a more conventional structure. And I wouldn't abandon the idea of such a small home out-of-hand either. Looking around our home, which is about 1500 square feet plus a basement, the vast majority of the space is used for storing stuff we don't use (mostly equipment for former hobbies of mine). If we got rid of our junk, we could probably be quite comfortable in a 250 square-foot cabin/cottage, assuming it was well designed.

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Optimism is the content of small men in high places. -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Crack Up"