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Comment How does "Joe" know? (Score 1) 115

Let's take a relatively smart, but also relatively ignorant, common man whose router, pvr, smart tv, etc have been compromised.

And if one or some of one's devices are partly responsible for this:

How would he know?

What steps can he take to find out if he's part of the problem?

And, perhaps as importantly, if he finds out he is, what can he do* to fix the problem and prevent it happening again?

There's no prize for good advice, but a detailed and thorough answer would be of use I'm sure :-).

*Yep, I can think of a few things: reset / re-flash / update; use a border firewall; ... but, if your devices have been 'pwned' before, if they're inherently vulnerable, what then?

Comment Re:Nope (Score 1) 284

The obvious answer to this would be children. Not every time, sure, most of the time all they end up with is something equally as complex as themselves, but, given that life seems to have evolved into some very complex forms from some very simple ones, I'm somewhat puzzled by your obtuseness.

In a different vein, as to whether a computer or a computer network, or a city is currently more or less complex than an individual person is debatable but, given enough time, it's a debate that's only going to have one conclusion.

Comment Re:Nope (Score 1) 284

Sault's law says a thing cannot make an artifact as complex as itself.

I've never heard of this law, but in a sense it sounds legitimate. It misses one rather significant point though...

I am not alone. Two people working together can achieve more than two people working alone, and, moreover, by working together they can achieve things that are simply not possible by two people working alone. And this scales, i.e. three people working together can achieve more that two people, and so on. The same applies to the machines that we make - in essence it only takes two machines working together to be able to make a machine more complex than either one of the originals.

it is unlikely any civilization would get even close to simulating the universe it lives in.

Without any supporting arguments this is a very 'interesting' position to hold. Respectfully, I disagree. I rather suspect that once a civilisation reaches a certain level of technical expertise it is an almost forgone conclusion that they will get around to, and reasonably close to*, simulating the universe.

*For certain values of reasonably and dependent upon the starting conditions the simulator chooses to input.

Comment Re:If a snail were driving it fast. (Score 2) 175

Very few people know, but some years back I actually used to be a professional snail racer. I was very successful too, as my primary racing snail, Guinness, was so fast, by snail standards anyway, that for years he was unbeatable.

Unfortunately, like for all of us, age started catching up with him and he started slowing down. Not much at first, but, race after race, it became more and more noticeable. I must admit watching him get slower and slower was a thoroughly depressing experience and I tried everything to get him back on form: the finest fresh pea plants to munch on, fetching female snails waiting for him on the finish line, longer rest periods between races - but nothing seemed to work.

I had practically resigned myself to his eventual defeat when the idea hit me. It was obvious really. Look at any snail, what's the first thing you see? A huge great big heavy shell. Surely removing that burden would enable him to go so much quicker, quicker even than before, when he was in his prime. What could possibly go wrong? So, with all the delicacy and precision I could manage I took a surgical scalpel and carefully removed his shell.

Alas, once I'd done that, if anything, he just looked more sluggish...

Comment Re:a maintenance nightmare (Score 1) 188

Again, look at the link and see that offshore wind is behind onshore wind and PVs. It only beats biogas in terms of costs. All other "green" energy sources (other than biogas) have a lower LCOE. So why push nearly the most expensive option?

Cost, as in the price of installed capacity, is not the only factor when considering how to generate the power we use. There are social, political, geographical, and other, factors that influence the decision.

Some reasons why we might, specifically, choose to install offshore rather than onshore wind:
    1. There are no prime (reliable wind speed > 7 kph) onshore locations available for development.
    2. Diversity in location leads to diversity in supply, leading to a more consistent generation of power.
    3. "Riskier" technology investments give higher ROI.

This is barely scratching the surface. There are plenty of possible reasons, some of which apply generally, some of which might or might not apply depending on the specifics of the planned investment / project.

With regards to the LCOE of Biogas, as given in the report you indirectly linked to, it's worth pointing out that the report itself specifically states that those plants (well, the subset it considered anyway) all function as CHP plants, but since the report was about the cost of electricity generation the 'heat' part was simply ignored. Cost is a slippery concept when we can ignore whatever externalities we like in arriving at the final figures (and this applies just as much to the cost of the coal plants in the study).

Comment This is, mostly*, a joke! (Score 1) 161

Our universe exists 'on' the 4-dimensional soft skin of an 'onion'. Matter and energy as we see it deforms the surface of the skin, and it is this deformation that we perceive as gravity. What we call dark matter is simply the cumulative effect of the (contents of the) other skins of the onion on ours, which we cannot yet directly measure, having no way to 'focus our measurements' outside our universe.

Several solutions exist for special cases of the three body problem, but I'm sure you're after a general solution. As it happens a general solution to the three body problem has been shown to exist, by Karl F Sundman, which takes the form of a convergent infinite series, but as the series takes so long to converge it is practically useless.

Having taken a somewhat different approach to the problem, I have discovered a more practical and surprisingly elegant solution, but unfortunately /.s character limit is too low to allow me to post it here...

*I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out which bits are which ;-)

Comment Re:would have voted for Trump had it been Gingrich (Score 1) 413

Recently I have been reading The Geek Manifesto and one of the many interesting points it makes involves Republicans and science:

"We need to be careful, though, that in making science a political issue we don't allow it to become a polarizing one. It would be dangerous for its interests to become too closely aligned with those of a single party. The risk is that the other side will see us as hostile opponents they will never win over, and fail to give us the hearing we deserve ... excess politicization of this sort has been a significant factor in the damaging breakdown in relations between science and the Republican Party in the US."

In other words, faced with perceived attacks on their worldview they have retrenched, creating additional walls. One of the problems here is that these walls cannot simply be smashed down, it's a battle that cannot be won by 'violence'.

Unfortunately it is also the case that there are a number of people who benefit from the continuing 'war' between the Republican Party and science, I think we have an inkling as to who they might be.

I wish I could see, and suggest, an easy solution to the problem, as we'd all benefit from everyone, on all sides of the political spectrum, seeing slightly more clearly, and being less antagonistic to each other. Then again, perhaps that is part of the answer, be less antagonistic to people who do not share our opinions. Be prepared to listen to them, I mean really listen, and look forward to that golden moment when they say something that causes us to change our mind, however ridiculously unlikely that may seem.

Comment Re:There had to be a first case... (Score 2) 379

I too am not sure I agree, but, there's one thing I'm particularly curious about, and that's the role of the truck driver in the crash.

I'm not familiar with the 'rules of the road' in the US, but I did look at the police sketch of the accident scene. The truck turned left, crossing oncoming traffic. The truck driver is reported as saying "The Tesla was moving so fast I didn't even see it" or words to that effect.

Yet, as far as I can tell, there's no indication that the Tesla was exceeding the speed limit for the road it was on. Moreover, the diagram of the road indicates that visibility along the lane the Tesla was travelling was good. Why did the truck driver turn across the road when he did, if it was not safe? Is visibility on that junction actually insufficient to allow for safe turning, given the speed limit at that location? Did the truck driver think "Ah sod it, I'm in a hurry, I'm sure those oncoming drivers will slow down, and this will merely inconvenience them"? Was he distracted (or at least as distracted as the driver of the Tesla)?

Yes, of course this crash does raise questions about the safety of auto-drive systems, and suggests, to me at least, that radar detection, if technically feasible, might be a useful addition to the collision avoidance systems, but I'm not sure I'd lay the entire fault with either a failing in the car, or with the driver of the Tesla.

Comment Re:New computers will probably come with 3 years.. (Score 1) 285

It's called an ellipsis, and the use of it signifies that there are words missing. When used at the end of a sentence they imply there's more to be said, but the reader should be able to fill in the blanks, from the context of whatever has already been written.

I'm sure you'd know this if you had any great ability in, or facility with, the English language...

Comment Re:Interact? You can't! (Score 1) 43

I think this is because of the options set by the poster of the original 'story' you're seeing.

If a post is Public, and you see it, there's no problem with emoting or posting.

If a friend of yours emotes or comments on a post that's intended for friends only, and you are not a friend of the original poster you can now see the post, but are unable to emote or comment on it.

The entire situation is further complicated by the custom privacy options, including exclusion lists (damn, did I just say that:-/ ).

Disclaimer: The above is almost certainly a simplification. There's rather more important things to worry about than an inability to comment on a random Facebook post.

Comment Re:A Petition for a Second Referendum (Score 1) 1592

You seem to be convinced that the people who voted to leave the EU are little more than gullible fools too stupid to figure out that the "Leave" side wasn't always entirely though the "Stay" side was!

How do you tell when a politician is lying? Their lips are moving...

I'm sure that the majority of those that voted to leave the EU did so in good faith, and for, to them at least, good reasons. Without knowing what specifically those reasons were I can't really comment on whether I'd agree with them or not, nor the reason for any disagreement I might have with those reasons. I do not, generally, question the intelligence of voters on either side.

We're all guilty of being gullible (if you care to term it in such a negatively emotive fashion) however, at some point, on some subjects, and, given the way that our brains work, it can be, in the right circumstances, relatively easy to 'push our buttons', thus sidestepping any rational thought processes we might otherwise have used, in favour of a quick, and wrong, 'answer'.

I suspect it was exactly this kind of sneering arrogance by supporters of "Stay" along with their obvious belief that money is the answer to all questions, that played a pivotal role in yesterday's vote.

I'm sorry that you consider my post to be sneering. I'm sorry if it came across as arrogant to you. Neither was my intention.

I'm also sorry that a single mention of a monetary figure within my post was enough to 'convince' you that I'm motivated by money, or that I believe money is the answer to all questions. Nothing could actually be further from the truth. The fact is though that many people are motivated by money, or, more strongly, motivated by fear of losing what money they have. It is this last point that both sides of the, to my mind ugly public campaign, focused on to a large extent.

I guess you could say that any of the factors that played a role in people's decision making process were the pivotal factor, at the end of the day it only takes one final straw, whichever one that happens to be among the many.

And speaking of straws, at the end of the day that's what I'm clutching at. I am desperate, and can you blame me? We have been a member of the EU for two, possibly three, generations now. While it certainly has issues, it is be no means perfect, it has had a positive impact on all our lives in the areas of consumer regulations, employment law, the environment, and, almost certainly though more controversially, the economy. And that's just for starters...

The results were so close that I think it would be fair to say that there is, currently, no clear cut mandate to make such a radical and irreversible change to the way this country operates, both locally and on the international stage. A second referendum would clear that up. People, pretty much everybody, from both sides of the debate, are now much more aware of what the outcome of leaving will be. A second referendum would give everybody the opportunity to benefit from that awareness. And if the vote goes the same way there can be no denying the informed will of the people, and it will go a long way towards healing any rifts between the two sides of the campaign, politically and socially.

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