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Comment Re:Home internet (Score 3, Interesting) 94

WTF will it be looking like with consumers torrenting @ 10Gbps? Meh. Not really thought through this article...

Would we download more though, or just faster? A Netflix 4K stream is 25 Mbps, BluRay Video has a max rate of 54 Mbps, UHD BluRay 128 Mbps. I have a 150 Mbps line and apart from occasionally downloading a season and figuring out it's junk after a few episodes I use the bandwidth regardless. The only advantage is that huge game patches and such download quicker so I don't get stuck just because Steam wants to install a 2GB patch right when I want to play. Even a big family streaming half a dozen UHD monsters shouldn't be able to saturate a 1 Gbps link.

His huge downloads are probably hogging the whole bandwidth because of poor QoS, so 10 Gbps solves the problem with brute excess capacity. Either that or he ran into some kind of soft limiter because 30000*10GB = 300TB a year is way, way outside the norm but they let it pass if you pay the 10 Gbps price. And if the software was a little smarter at caching 30000 images / 2000 working hours = average 4 minutes/photo, download takes about 10 seconds so if it would preload he wouldn't be waiting at all. I'm sure he can well afford the extra $3k/year to just make the problem go away though.

Comment Re:Touch Bar Escape Key? (Score 2) 309

And years of using the escape key as it was is going to retrain my poor pinky (or in my deformed case, left ring finger) to stop all that in favor of caps-lock?

I'm not anti-touch bar I think this needed to be done for a while. I disagree that function keys were particular to an ancient mainframe (I use mine all the time), their meanings are obscure and app specific and the touch bar design is actually a good way of implementing something like that.

However I am also pro-escape key. It seems to me they could have sandwiched the escape key between the power button with the touch-bar in the middle and made it look pretty damn good and lost only a few pixels on either side. Escape and Power are the only two functions in that row that are common to all apps and all needs. Both are used (frequently) to mean "stop your bullshit": on your left you have the persuader and on the right you'd have the enforcer. The persuader stops modal bullshit and does a good job of telling applications "fuck you and the horse you rode in on". The power button is there for delivering the same message to the OS, it's used far less frequently, but when you need it, you really need it.

Comment Re:Positive development (Score 1) 162

The abundance of one species does not a healthy ecosystem make. I have a friend whose family owns a 1700 acre island off the coast of New England. It used to support an enormous white tail deer population -- and not coincidentally it had a plague of ticks, because everything in nature is food for something else. You would not have wanted to visit there back in the 1970s because the tick problem was insane. Everyone in his family has had Lyme disease, which also feasted on the swollen deer population.

Then in the 1980s the Western Coyote made it to New England, and a pack swam out to the island. In a single season they took down most of the deer herd, and now the island is a pleasant and sanitary place to live. And this is not some kind of odd aberration; this is how ecology works. If you disturb an ecosystem (say by killing off all the native timber wolves), weed species take over and they end up riddled with disease.

Weed species the ones who by sheer luck can live in conjunction with or off of large human populations. In a healthy ecosystem they may be cute, but an ecosystem dominated by weed animals can be nightmarish. I know lots of natural science geeks, and for the most part animals don't scare them. I once went for a walk with a girl who picked up a rotting coyote head and put it in her jacket pocket. She was TA'ing an anatomy course and wanted to show it to her students. But even she wouldn't go near a racoon, because unchecked by predation suburban raccoons are chock full of leptospirosis, salmonella and roundworm -- not to mention rabies. Those diseases can and do cripple, even kill people.

A world dominated by weed species would be quite horrible to live in.

Comment Re:More condoms less climate change (Score 1) 162

People per se have almost no impact on climate. It's what people do and how much in aggregate they do it.

Environmentalists are often stereotyped as pessimists, but really most of the people I know who've dedicated their careers are optimistic that technology can address many environmental problems. Sure, they'd like to see the global population stabilized, or even somewhat reduced, because that makes the job of preserving the environment much easier. But they actually believe the sustainability problem can be licked, even without reducing the global population by much.

I'll give you one example of how an actual environmentalist thinks. I was at a meeting with the sustainability director of a major sportswear manufacturer, and he was describing the research they were doing into improving the recyclability of polyester fleece clothing. He made the point that scale is critical to assessing the environmental impact. For a small band of hunter-gatherers, wild animal pelts would be the source of clothing with the least impact; wool would have intermediate impact; a chemical plant that reprocesses coke bottles into polyester resins would have a ridiculously large impact. But if you are making hundreds of thousands of garments, the impacts are actually reversed: the chemical plant has the least environmental impact. Once you turn those bottles into fleece you can continually recycle those molecules into more fleece. He describes recycling as "living off your environmental income instead of your capital."

Environmentalists -- by which I mean the people who are actually working on solutions to environmental problems -- generally believe that even with a large population we can make use of the products of ecosystems without disturbing the equilibria that sustain those systems. As one civil engineering environmentalist I know put it: I = P*S/T ; impact is proportional to population and standard of living but inversely proportional to technology. You can reduce the environmental impact of home heating by reducing the number of people; or you could do it by people getting used to being colder. But you can get the same result by insulating your house and heating it with renewable energy.

It's actually the anti-environmentalists who are the pessimists; they don't believe in people's ability to adapt, and they anticipate nothing but suffering from trying to do anything about problems. Their version of "optimism" is to discount any evidence that problems exist, or to convincing themselves if we do nothing everything will work out for the best.

Comment Re: Sociopaths gonna sociopath. What's new? (Score 4, Insightful) 232

Yep, GP loses at bad-research bingo. Also, he missed the actual problem with this research: the subjects are divided into classes by self-reporting. So the headline should read, "People who consider themselves above other people pay less attention to others." It's not an un-interesting result, but it is not quite as interesting when you put it that way.

I've worked with people of all classes, and anecdotally at least I've found that F. Scott Fitzgerald was right: the rich aren't like you and me; they have more money. Old money at least lives a little bit like the people you read about in Jane Austen books; a lot of their energy goes into socializing with others of their class. So it would be interesting to look at old money/new money this way. Another interesting confounding factor is urban/rural. Rural people tend to be poorer. Urban people actually get more human interaction per time while participating in less per person encountered.

In most interesting social science research it's not the first and obvious way of dividing up people that draws your attention (e.g. rich/poor, young/old, male/female); it's the second cut. That's because most of our pop-psych deals in the first cuts (men are from Mars, women from Venus); the second cut tells us the ways our intuitions are limited.

Comment Re:Not Unexpected (Score 1) 112

Really, they are only strictly interpreting the text of the law as written - legislating from the bench is against the separation of powers defined in the Constitution. What needs to happen now is an updated law to clarify this to the original intent (and hopefully grant amnesty to anyone wrongly covered). Doubtful that will ever happen, but that's what should happen.

I'm not sure what needs to be clarified, a repeat offender seems like a common and trivial concept that the District Court completely messed up by tying it to a particular action. The entire point of using the word repeated is to punish a consistent pattern of behavior, it applies to everything from shoplifters to serial killers. Why should downloaders be an exception? For that matter, why should uploaders be singled out in particular? If I screw up and put something in my shared folder that I shouldn't have it's still one bad act from me. That does not make me a repeat infringer even if I shared a hundred songs and a thousand people took the opportunity to download from me. It just means I screwed up big, once. Same way getting into one fight and hurting four people is not the same as getting into four separate fights and hurting someone each time. The former is still an isolated incident, the latter a repeating pattern.

Comment Re:and if I shoplift a rack full of CD's it's just (Score 4, Insightful) 112

Because copyright law is bunch of crude analogies hacked together that used the physical encodings of information as a proxy for a creator's financial interests in a work. It worked great in the age of print when mainly you were talking about books which were cheap to mass produce but expensive to copy.

But today, conceptualizing an author's rights to a work as a monopoly on copying leads to nonsensical results. Suppose I download a song to the same computer twice, as can easily happen. Technically because the thing I did wrong was copying, I infringed *twice*; however it hardly does twice the harm to the author's interests. On the other hand if I copy that song once but listen to it a thousand times, you could reasonably argue I'm doing more harm to the author's interest than if I downloaded it a thousand times but *never* listened to it.

It's all just a way to get content creators paid; a ridiculously complex and arcane way, but it's familiar because it's traditional. You can't expect it to make sense, especially by trying to draw subtly different analogies.

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In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982