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Comment Re:Providing an SJW platform is not a viable busin (Score 2) 284

The mods' sarcasm detectors appear to be faulty today.

Every time Twitter comes up on Slashdot someone goes on a rant about how its decline is all the fault of SJWs, safe-spaces or some other perceived PCness.

The fact that Twitter has never had a viable business model is apparently of no importance.

Comment Re:Post hoc ergo propter hoc (Score 2) 61

Yeah, not impressed by this study. With this sort of approach it's hard to disentangle the various possible causes and effects. For example, people who spend longer on line may have more stuff going through their minds or are people who find it difficult to switch off, which affects their sleep pattern. I know that was one of the causes of my life long insomnia.

There have been much better studies demonstrating the effect of artificial light on sleep patterns. We know that blue light in particular seems to affect our circadian rhythm, so using screens, especially close up in the evening, can send things out of whack.

I've been a life long insomniac, and one of the things that *seemed* to help was to use software like F.Lux on my laptops and similar apps on my phone. They adjust the colour temperature of your screen towards the red later on in the evening. Obviously that's an anecdote, but there does seem to be some pretty reliable basic science behind in.

Personally, I found that the thing that helped the most was a strong routine. The moment I start slipping out of that for more than a couple of days I know I'm going to struggle to sleep. One of the things that will do that is aimless browsing.

Comment Re:One party rule (Score 1) 2837

It'll be interesting to see how Trump and the rest of the GOP get along.

Obviously they now have all the levers of power, but there is a heck of a lot of bad blood there at the moment. I would love to be a fly on the wall when Trump and Paul Ryan meet for the first time after this.

Donald Trump does not seem like the kind of person to let bygones be bygones. Frankly if I were him I'd be pretty pissed off with a lot of Republicans. He'll (rightly) be able to say that he got where he did largely without them, and in many ways in spite of them. I can see some hard bargaining going on over the next four years.

And when he talks about "draining the swamp" in Washington, he and his supporters are talking as much about the GOP establishment as anyone else. There will be a lot of entrenched interests in the GOP who are going to be getting nervous about whether he's going to follow through on what he's promised his supporters.

However a Trump presidency turns out, I don't think this will be like George W Bush, where everyone around him was a GOP old-timer.

Comment Re:And to think the DNC wanted to face Trump... (Score 1) 2837

This. It felt like Hilary was running against herself most of the time.

As much as I'd rather not have Trump as president of the US, I don't envy the choice American's had to make. It seemed like almost any Democrat without a dodgy history would have stood a better chance. Of course we'll never actually know that, all we can do is talk shit and throw about half baked theories.

This really did feel like that early Southpark episode where they had to vote between the giant douchebag and the turd sandwich.

Comment Re:Disheartening (Score 4, Insightful) 164

I don't think it's that there is more of the crap, it's that there's less of the good.

Trolls and trash have been a part of /. since the early days. I have a low 6 figure UID and I can't remember a time when the GNAA and their ilk were not active here. The difference is that then the quality discussions would be numerous enough to make it appear very different. Once upon a time an article like this might gather a couple of hundred comments, many of them from practicing physicists discussing/criticising/explaining the work. Meanwhile the trolls and shitposters would be downvoted. Anyone reading at 3 and up would probably see some good discussion. Now news like this seems unlikely to get even 100 comments, few are from knowledgable people.

It's like the water-level falling on a river and suddenly you can see all the crap that's been dumped there for years. With so few comments on most articles (there are only 3 articles on my front page with more than 100 comments), you end up reading at a lower level, so you see more of the crap beneath the water.

I wish the new owners of /. well, and I hope they somehow manage to revive it, but I honestly think it's too late, discussion has moved to Reddit or more specialised websites with more active moderation systems. Reddit might be full of trash (including whole subreddits), but the volume is so high, that it's submerged underneath the vast mass and only visible if you choose to go and look for it most of the time.

Comment Re:The kids love it (Score 1) 40

I was pretty sceptical about the Micro bit when it was announced. It seemed under-specced compared to all the other small board computers out there.

I was wrong. Talking to people who actually use them to teach, they (teachers and kids) love them. The combination of the on-board screen, accelerometer etc, and the toolchain all combine to make it really quick to get going and build something simple but fun. Like the old 8-bit micros, you can get going almost instantly.

Obviously they have limits, and something like an Arduino or Pi is going to be more use for bigger projects, but for teaching kids the basics and letting them have fun with them the Bit is great. These are designed as a first step, and that's what they are good at.

Comment Re:Well... (Score 4, Insightful) 532

Likewise. I'm hopefully sceptical :)

At worst there is an interesting effect going on that is worth further study and might provide some new insights into some aspects of physics, or simply improvements to experimental techniques. At best it has the possibility to revolutionise some aspects of space exploration.

I am sceptical that this will live up to the best case, but I really hope that my scepticism turns out to be wrong.

This is what science is all about. There's an odd effect, people are doing experiments, whatever happens we will have learnt something which may one day be useful. This is an extraordinary claim, it requires extraordinary proof, which we will hopefully get.

Comment This is for civil small claims (Score 2) 103

This is for civil small claims cases, in which lawyers are rarely involved and which are largely set up to support people litigating in person.

They tend to be more about arbitration of unpaid invoices or failure to provide a service that's been paid for etc. I have a couple of friends who have used the small claims courts either against non-paying customers or companies that have stiffed them. In all cases they attended in person and were supported by the court staff rather than lawyers, and they all had good things to say about the staff and the system in principal.

These are very much not cases where high paid lawyers square up against each other and slog it out in a dramatic battle of rhetoric. In fact I've heard from a number of people that the judges who preside tend to take a dim view of trained lawyers trying to steamroller or confuse non-lawyers on the other side. These are not cases involving complex points of law. If the case gets more complex then it may be referred to a higher court.

This proposal makes a lot of sense to me for those sorts of cases. While the cost of using the small claims court can put people off using it, the time and disruption, especially if they are running a business, can be more of an impediment. The ability to handle much of the case without having to attend in person would make the whole system much better, and if it reduced the costs it would make the small claims court more accessible to many people to seek redress from companies. There's also lots of potential to design the online system in such a way as to provide lots of help and advice to non-legal people to they can make their case batter, which should also make the whole process more effective and fair.

Comment It's an interesting idea, but this line is bunk (Score 4, Insightful) 298

This is an intersting idea, and it would be fun to see it developed further, but this line really stuck out.

"Shall we continue to get killed because it is easier to produce aircraft with a design from 1950s?"

Bullshit. I'm not saying some improvement in air crash survivability isn't a good thing, but the idea that people are regularly dying because their aeroplane can't disassemble in midair and parachute them to the ground it frankly offensive to all the engineers who have worked over the years to make large scale commercial flying unbelievably safe.

Total number of air craft fatalities worldwide in commercial flight has been significantly less than 1000 per year for the last couple of decades. Something like 3.6 billion passenger journeys will be completed in 2016 (IATA estimate).

Safety is the single worst reason to throw away a tried and tested basic design that is fantastically safe and replace it with a much more complicated and new system.

Comment Re:Bad reporting. (Score 3, Informative) 323

The $13.25 is a calculation by Uber, not by the journalist. The journalists re-ran some of the calculations and got slightly lower figure.

"Internal Uber calculations, provided to BuzzFeed News by Uber, based on data spanning more than a million rides and covering thousands of drivers in three major U.S. markets — Denver, Detroit, and Houston — suggest that drivers in each of the three markets overall earned less than an average of $13.25 an hour after expenses."

Assuming Uber are not lying about the $13.25, that would still mean that if you worked 40 hours a week, every week of the year, you'd make $27,560 a year.

Whether this is a good or bad depends on how much ordinary taxi drivers make for a similar amount of work.

Uber has frequently talked about how much a driver's gross income will be as a way of encouraging people to join up, which is a nice bit of marketing, and standard practice for companies like Uber.

Comment Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" (Score 2) 388

This idea was part of the plot of Margaret Atwood's excellent The Handmaid's Tale.

The story is about a post war world in which fertility has plummeted due to the use of chemical weapons (I think), and the US is now run by an ultra-conservative christian authoritarian government (think a Christian version of Saudi Arabia), and the limited number of fertile women are essentially "breeders" (the Handmaids of the title), slaves who bare children for the ruling elite. It's a fantastic dystopian novel.

The authoritarian regime that controls the US in the story did away with cash. Then at a later point they simply suspended women's access to any kind of payment system. Without recourse to cash they were utterly powerless. I've always felt The Handmades Tale was a far scarier book than 1984 (which is also great), because it seemed much more plausible, especially as such societies essentially already exist.

Unlike some of her other books, The Handmaid's Tale is a short and quick read, well worth an evening or two.

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