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Comment Just go EV already (Score 1, Insightful) 154

All of this drawn-out study and deliberation and the protracted uncertainty and wasted manufacturing and expense for users makes very little sense, when it's abundantly clear that all road transport is set to become electric in a very short space of time.

Just go there now and save everyone a lot of time and effort, and improve air quality at the same time.

Comment No surprise at all, just abuse vs hope (Score 5, Insightful) 119

The survey ranking of the top 3 winning technology leaders is no surprise whatsoever. One of them is revolutionizing the EV, energy, space and transport sectors with a large number of leading technologies and hence gives people great hope for the future, while the other two are best known for their profiteering and abuse of the public. It's hardly a contest.

If you want to be known as a technology leader then you shouldn't be a leeching middleman as everyone will hate you, and rightly so. And if you do something technical then you should do it well, instead of doing it absolutely appallingly on purpose because that gives you greater profit --- I'm thinking of Amazon product search here, which is undoubtedly the worst search system that has ever been implemented in online shopping (advertising unrelated things in disguise). Prime Video has a similar purpose, mainly a vehicle for Amazon to put non-Prime content in front of you and make you pay for the privilege of their direct advertising. Oh and Bezos, you really shouldn't be abusing your employees either, it's bad karma.

Regarding Facebook, there's not a lot to say in terms of technology because all the company does is provide a website which monetizes and hence abuses people, so you have to scrape the barrel to find anything technical at all to say about them. One example of FB tech is that their techies release some fine open-source packages behind the scenes (only programmers hear about this though), but this is incidental to FB's primary product which offers no technical leadership at all. In fact they've given us technical regression since FB has closed off much public communication into a walled garden. Zuckerberg offers no hope at all.

So there we have it, not really a contest among those three. I'm sure there must have been other worthy companies in the surveyed 700, but among these three corporate leaders only Musk deserves to be called a technology leader. The other two should be filed under "Abuse for profit".

Comment Fulfillment, not earning, satisfies Maslow (Score 1) 540

Work also satisfies Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

That word "work" needs splitting into its constituent parts before it can be discussed in the context of Maslow, because it carries so much baggage.

The "earning money for food and shelter" part of working is firmly at the very bottom of Maslow's pyramid. The ceiling at that lowest tier is simply survival, and it's very grim to realize that by far the largest part of humanity is huddled together down there and living from day to day.

In contrast, "doing something which interests you" belongs in one of the higher tiers of the Hierarchy of Needs, one of the tiers concerned with personal fulfillment. Earning money while doing something interesting does not appear in that tier, because it has already been satisfied in a lower tier.

This is one of the reasons why a Universal Basic Income fits in well with Maslow's upward progression of a thinking species, as it frees people from the fight for survival and enables them to seek out occupations which are interesting to them in social or intellectual ways.

Comment And what exactly is Ubuntu Budgie? (Score 4, Insightful) 49

It's pretty hilarious that neither the Slashdot summary, nor the Budgie Remix front page (which doesn't even have an About link), nor the Budgie video, nor the Softpedia link, actually say what distinguishes Budgie from any other Ubuntu.

In the absence of information, you can't blame people for thinking that it's just a remix for the purpose of being different. If that is not so, then how about providing some information that might give people a hint? You've hidden it so well that none of the news rebloggers has any idea.

Comment Nuclear too expensive and too slow (Score 1) 376

Bringing a new nuclear plant online safely takes decades, and decomissioning one takes even longer if you include its nuclear waste. Nuclear is not an agile solution. This won't change in the near future, or perhaps not at all until "nuclear" becomes synonymous with fusion, not fission like today.

Nuclear is also an extraordinarily expensive technology which limits its uptake to only the more afluent of nations. Furthermore it is highly regulated for very good reason, and the politics of nuclear power again limit its global uptake. If we have to rely on nuclear to get us out of the CO2 mess then we are doomed, because it's a global problem.

But we don't have to rely on nuclear, we can just stop burning fossil fuels, and stop using so much energy overall. It would require an immense social adjustment to achieve this, but it has no roadblocks other than making people care enough to do it.

The main showstopper to controlling our current destruction of the planet is profit-seeking capitalism, because it would die in the absence of perpetual growth. Nobody has yet come up with a solution for dealing with that.

Comment Re:3COM robots are 3-laws safe! (Score 2) 68

AC asks:

How would those laws be applied to military robots designed to kill? Replace "human being" with with "American"?

When a robot is designed to kill in violation of Asimov's 3 Laws of Robotics, then Newton's Third Law comes into play:

-- Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

This law operates even in the absence of robots.

Comment Choose none of those languages (Score 5, Insightful) 241

"Would you be inclined to embrace Wolfram's approach, Apple's Swift Playgrounds, Microsoft TEALS' Java-centric AP CS curriculum, or something else (e.g., R, Tableau, Excel+VBA)?"

Choose none of those named above, nor any other proprietary language or platform. It is quite incredible and irresponsible that someone would recommend bringing up children into a form of corporate mental slavery and proprietary dependency.

Give your children freedom. There is no shortage of unencumbered free and open source programming languages that will serve their educational needs very well indeed. Once they are young adults armed with some knowledge and experience, they can choose their own proprietary chains if they so wish.

Comment Auth secrets should always be LOCAL (Score 2) 23

When authentication secrets are stored centrally on a website then they are always at risk, regardless of the methods used to protect them. Good sites make the stored information hard to crack, and poor sites make it easy, but they are all at risk --- from internal employee corruption if nothing else. Those secrets will leak because when stored at a single point then they are all accessible to the attacker at a single point. Mass leakage is just a matter of time.

A vastly more secure approach that has been well known for decades is based on PKI, in which the user stores their auth secret locally in a private key, one half of a {private,public} PKI key pair. The server only gets to know the user's public key, and it's pointless for an attacker to crack that because the public key is public information that can be distributed freely through keyservers. (The PGP/GnuPG keyserver network has been doing this for decades.)

When a user creates an account on some website, she provides the identifier of her chosen public key (she may have lots of them). When logging in to the account subsequently, the server looks up her public key identifier in the info held for this account, fetches her public key from the keyservers, then it sends her a random string encrypted with her public key. She decrypts it with her private key (which is only held locally by the user, nowhere else) and sends the decrypted string back. The server accepts the login if the returned string matches the random string that it picked, which is not stored anywhere and varies on every login, and it rejects the fraudulent login attempt if the match fails. All this can be completely automatic.

That's strong distributed security, and it's resistant to MITM attacks and does not store any authentication secrets on the central service so those secrets cannot leak when the service is compromised.

This kind of PKI-based approach is not rocket science. Why this old but secure scheme isn't used by websites is a big mystery. The reason isn't user inconvenience, since PKI can be packaged up to look trivial to end users if developers take the trouble. And so, websites get hacked and their users' auth secrets get revealed by the millions, surprise surprise.

Comment Branding and image are not the problem (Score 4, Insightful) 226

Rebranding and image polishing are undertaken only when a company knows that things aren't going too well for them. Many Firefox users would probably agree with that, at least the technical users know it all too clearly.

However, the problems are not caused by the brand being unsavoury or the image tarnished. The brand and image are fine. Where problems have appeared it is because Mozilla developers have been forcing unwanted change on their users, forcing them continually to find remedial fixes to preserve friendly and productive old functionality. Browsers are not kettles, people don't want a completely different look each year.

The fact that Mozilla is now undertaking brand and image refurbishment clearly indicates the nature of the problem. The immense and unbridled ego of Firefox developers has put them in complete denial that Mozilla's problems are caused by them and them alone, and that has left their management with only one alternative, to play with branding and image.

It will achieve nothing of substance.

Comment IPv6 deployment is not a switchover (Score 2) 150

We've done little to nothing to move people to IPv6. .... The majority of home connections are still IPv4 and the majority of ISPs still only offer this.

What you say is not wrong, but many people will interpret it incorrectly as suggesting that there is a "switchover" from IPv4 involved. That's not how IPv6 was designed and planned at all. IPv6 was designed right from the start to run alongside IPv4, and "migration" or "transition" are poor words for what will mainly be an expansion of IPv6 use, and it may have very little early effect on IPv4.

Nothing will stop IPv4 from continuing to run other than the failure of old IPv4-only equipment and its replacement by IPv6-only gear, which will be uncommon (most replacements will be dual stack). IPv4 is quite likely to remain with us for many decades ahead, even if consumer ISPs cut it off earlier to save costs. IPv6 adoption may not even decrease IPv4 usage much at all, with the full 32 bits of IPv4 address space continuing to be used right up until the bitter end until it's stopped wholesale simply out of embarrassment. But that would be a long way off.

Short version: IPv6 merely expands IP use. It will be seen as a (very drawn-out) "switchover" only by individual users as their communication involves more and more IPv6, because single users don't scale. But on the Internet as a whole the rising adoption of IPv6 doesn't require a decrease in IPv4 use at all.

It is NOT a zero-sum game, but a growth of IP because the IPv4 bucket is too small.

Comment They already are "superheros" (Score 1) 451

Don't make these cars into superheroes or some retarded wish like that.

When's the last time you saw a manually operated air bag?

In these high-speed, blink of the eye situations, cars already perform as if they were superheros, and that is exactly what we want. We are greatly outclassed by machinery in most high-speed tasks, and this will become ever more so because it is to our advantage.

From the perspective of an automaton, choosing between alternative outcomes in the event of an imminent crash is no harder than choosing to deploy an airbag. Calling such functionality "superheroic" doesn't really add anything useful to the topic, but if you insist, they'll certainly behave that way.

Comment Easy to explain, it's a rational plan (Score 5, Informative) 149

Can anyone explain any way this would be worthwhile?

Sure. It's obvious to most people but it might as well be explained in case some folks haven't thought about it.

  • 1) Energy will be cheap during the day because the sun is overhead and that power source is effectively free and limitless.
  • 2) The sun isn't available at night, but solar power could be captured during the day and used at night, if storage were available.
  • 3) The battery storage of the article provides that storage.

There you go, it's pretty simple and very sensible. It's also a good idea to add the following prediction to the above as well, as it's really a foregone conclusion and hence very safe to forecast:

  • 4) All normal land vehicles will be electric in just a few decades. Burning fossil fuels may even become illegal, if not because of global warming and pollution then because it's far more valuable to use hydrocarbons as a raw material for industry. Burning money is silly.

Adding item (4) means that everyone will want the energy storage of (3) for recharging their cars when they get home. Paying the grid for that power when the sun can provide it for free during the day would be poor domestic economics. This pushes towards needing even more battery capacity.

Elon Musk is quite a visionary, but he's also a clever cookie when it comes to business. He knows where all this is going and is sewing up the future in EVs, mobile power storage, recharging stations, solar panels, and fixed power storage. He's got it all covered.

Comment War against mass surveillance continues (Score 2, Insightful) 71

Snowden's social tweets aren't of any great consequence, but media stories about him still play a vital role because the war against mass surveillance of western populations continues.

Without pushback by media and citizenry, our so-called democratic states were on an unhindered evolution from relative freedom to strong and very opaque police states. Snowden's efforts brought some much-needed illumination and public input to the whole area. After all, our governments are supposed to be working on our behalf against the bad guys, and not treating the entire populations of our countries as the enemy.

Some people are expressing boredom about Snowden's social activities. Well that's easily handled, just ignore the stories if you have no interest in them. They still play an important role in the media, because the pressure brought about by his revelations still needs to be maintained. And he's probably trying to have a social life too, which can't be easy in his circumstances.

Comment War on Darknets == covert War on Privacy (Score 2) 222

This reminds me of the Penn and Teller BS episode where people sign petitions to "End Womens' Suffrage".

Your observation is accurate beyond mere criticism of the survey. The governments are deliberately raising the profile of this new "War on Darknets" because they don't dare call it what it really is, namely their War on Privacy . The deception created by tech-sounding wordplay which the majority don't understand is central to making their plan work, because otherwise they encounter pushback from the masses who value their privacy.

"Darknet" has no specific meaning in CompSci, and so it can be used to denote any communication which NSA, FBI and DOJ do not control. This is very much a "thin end of the wedge" issue, because their desire to see and control everything will end only when there is no privacy left at all. These people don't believe in limits on their power.

Comment Risky, delayed liability, and unnecessary (Score 3, Insightful) 485

Nuclear energy (from fission) has a very large number of disadvantages. Here are just a few:

- It's inherently and obviously risky --- even its greatest proponents know that, but they just choose to minimize the importance of that risk and its deadly consequences. There have been more than enough nuclear reactor disasters already, yet some people just don't learn. Even with better designs, accidents will happen from geophysical causes and through human failure, as well as by deliberate action. You can't prevent this from happening, so don't create such deadly installations (and juicy targets) in the first place.

- Radioactive waste from fission accumulates a massive liability for future generations. It forces our own chosen risk onto our descendents without giving them any choice in the matter. This is unethical even in the best of cases, but in the worst case it's downright criminal because some of those radioactive stores will unavoidably release their contents (even explosively with human help) and result in human casualties and suffering --- maybe your own descendents. Don't gamble with the lives of others.

- Nuclear energy is out of step with a world that is rapidly converting to clean, inexhaustible energy harnessed from the environment. Nuclear is not just unclean but deadly unclean, and it's very demanding on the planet's resources as well. It adds to our debt on the planet instead of reducing it.

- According to a growing number of climatologists who are witnessing first-hand the unfolding climate disaster in the Arctic and Antarctic, our existing several hundred nuclear reactors could quite possibly be the direct cause of our extinction in the decades ahead, after the indirect cause (CO2 and methane) lead to death by starvation of billions and make the world's economies collapse. Nuclear reactors can't be rapidly turned off and made non-radioactive --- the full process of decommissioning takes some 50 to 60 years as an industry average, and it takes a LOT of money. There will be no money available under conditions of economic collapse, cooling will be interrupted, and many will go into meltdown. Even if you choose to disbelieve the warnings of specialists, the risk remains. Knowing what we already know about rising sea levels and epic storms, we should not be adding to the risk.

Dr. Brice Smith of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research summarized this very well:

"Nuclear power is a very risky and unsustainable option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Trading one potentially catastrophic health, environmental and security threat for another is not a sensible energy policy." --- Source.

The whole idea of adding more nuclear power is hazardous and ill-considered, and it's also unnecessary.

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