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Comment Asset forfeiture? (Score 5, Interesting) 82

Geez, I know this is Slashdot, but really. The guy did have a second copy, but it died - as copies do - at the worst possible instant. In this case, basically as the Mega servers were being seized. Should he have had a 3rd copy? A 4th? Sure, but that's not the point.

The point is: the US government seized servers containing data from thousands and thousands of users. The US government has made no provisions at all for people to retrieve their property. This is theft, plain and simple.

Consider this in meatspace: The government raids a restaurant thought to be violating health regulations. They seize all property in the restaurant: not only stuff belonging to the business, but the wallets, purses and bags belonging to the customers. The restaurant is in limbo - that's bad enough - but why should the customers' private property be seized and never released.

Of course, this is the same country that allows asset forfeiture. I'm sure your wallet is guilty of some crime or other...

Comment It's a fine enough paradigm, but... (Score 1) 416

Functional programming is a fine enough paradigm. It can be very educational to look at a problem from a different perspective? imperative, object-oriented, functional, logical, etc.. Hence, yes, functional programming is a very useful thing. I think every programmer should give functional programming a try.

However: Mixing paradigms within a programming language makes code more difficult to understand, and generally leads to language bloat. It's worse, when the underlying language fundamentally cannot support the paradigm.

Prime example: Java + Lambdas. Java does not support working with code the same way you work with data, which is what functional languages are all about. With reflection, Java allows limited inspection of functionality, but no manipulation. Java lambdas are a way of faking one aspect of functional programming: the ability to pass code as a parameter. However, you aren't actually passing code as a parameter. If you were, then you could alter the value of that parameter at runtime, like you can any other variable. Instead, you're just letting Java fill in some blanks at compile-time, because the interface you select has only one abstract method. This is syntactic sugar that kinda, sorta looks like functional programming, but actually isn't. As such, Java lambdas are a really stupid idea. Anyone who has used them thinks they've done functional programming, but they actually have not.

Comment Just like businesses... (Score 3, Interesting) 249

It's all nice and stuff that Steve Ballmer wants to do this. However, the government really should be doing this itself. Government accounting should meet the same standards as business accounting. Why? Because it is just as important, if not more so. Furthermore, all accounts should be fully public. Why? Because it's our money the government is spending.

For the poster who said that this is too much work: This is what every business in the country has to do. If it's too complicated, the government could consider simplifying things. But the government wants clarity in business accounts, for tax purposes. And we - the citizens - want clarity in seeing how the government spends our taxes. Sauce. Goose. Gander.

Won't happen, of course, because it would become much more difficult to hide pork. Ballmer's idea isn't going to work, because he will be unable to get the information that really counts.

Comment So much wrong with this... (Score 1) 152

The F-16 is a pretty decent fighter. However, using it as a drone attached to an F-35 doesn't make a lot of sense. Just off the top of my head:

- The F-16 is designed for a human pilot. All the systems and design put around accommodating a human make the F-16 a damned expensive drone. It's also much bigger than it needs to be. Finally, the the airframe and general design stops at what a human can tolerate. A purpose-built fighter drone could have massively better performance (for example, higher G's).

- Pilot overload: There's no realistic way that an F-35 pilot in hot airspace is going to have time to manage drones. So either he isn't in hot airspace - in which case he just as well stay on the ground, and let a drone-expert manage the F-16. Or he *is* in hot airspace, has no time for the drones, and lets a drone-expert manage the F-16.

It sounds like they're trying to give this drone a lot of autonomy. I'm not worried about Skynet (not yet, anyway), but do we really want to put life-and-death decisions in the hands of a half-assed AI? "Go blow up that target". A pilot can at least theoretically notice that the target has been misidentified, and isn't a tank but actually school bus. Also: too much push-button death leads to stupid strategies. Reference: All the drone attacks the US has carried out in the Middle East, and the apparent indifference to civilian casualties.

Finally, expensive technology like this is part of the reason that the US military budget is astronomically high. If I were a US taxpayer, I think I'd be annoyed at spending so much money on expensive toys. The F-35 is already a boondoggle; this is just boondoggle icing on the cake.

Comment Related: Knowing what your computers was doing (Score 3, Informative) 467

Related to understanding the whole stack: You also knew exactly what your computer was doing. Why is the disk thrashing? Because you just started a program to do X. There was a very direct relationship to what you asked the computer to do, and what the computer did. Programs and activities had rhythms to them (visual and aural). If you saw/heard something unexpected, this was an immediate indication that something was wrong.

Nowadays: Why is my disk busy? No idea. What program is sending crap across the network? No idea. WTF are those 1000 or so threads doing in the background? No idea on at least half of them...

Comment Even less responsibility (Score 2) 83

That would allow even less responsibility. It seems that US police already shoot first, determine whether they are in actual danger second. Allowing them to shoot by remote-control seems insane. At most, weaponized drones belong in the hands of the military, not the police.

On the other hand, it's certain that bubba is going to strap his shotgun to a drone, just to see what happens. No law is going to stop that.

Comment The broadcast world knows better (Score 5, Interesting) 155

I'm in Europe, so it's not ESPOn, but we occasionally watch sports on television. Aside from the fact that young people watch less television, there is also a serious disconnect with what viewers want. I'll be the same applies in the US.

One example: One of the sports that we watch is tennis. I play tennis. We know how the game goes. A couple of years ago, there was a technical problem, and we could hear the game itself, the crowd, the referee, the players - but no announcers. Bliss . It was almost like being there - heck, with the camera placement, it was probably better than being there.

The announcers talk about the obvious (yes, thank you, I know that was a fault). They gossip (yes, isn't his wife wearing a nice dress). They blather (I don't care what the weather at the venue was like yesterday). They might be marginally helpful for someone who doesn't know the sport, but surely most people watching an event do, in fact, know what's going on.

Television here almost always has two audio channels (often used for alternate languages). We wrote to the station, told them of our very happy experience, and suggested that they use one audio channel for the usual experience with announcers, and one channel for just the live "you are there" experience. Surprisingly, we did receive a response: They were insulted. Their announcers provide a valuable service, and they would certainly never broadcast a sports events without that added value.

That's only one anecdote, but I think it's typical: The people in the broadcast world know what we want, and we had damned well better like it. That is at least part of the reason why their viewer numbers are tanking.

Comment No surprise: US still in recession (Score 2, Interesting) 245

Salaries suck, because the US is still in a recession. With real unemployment well over 20%, comparable to economic powerhouses like Greece, Croatia and Botswana, it's no surprise that salaries are declining. Add in inflation, and they are declining even faster.

There is one overriding reason for the continuing recession: debt. Federal debt in the US is out of control - plus up to $200 trillion of unfunded obligations that everyone is carefully ignoring. If we also ignore those invisible (but inevitable) obligations, the US is still one of the top 20 most indebted nations.

Keynesian economics have been thoroughly debunked. Actually, there was never any evidence that they might be correct. But politicians love them, because they provide an excuse to buy votes by spending other people's money. All of this debt has been built up with promises that never would be fulfilled. But the politicians making those promises are now mostly millionaires, so that's ok.

What cannot go on forever will stop. Debt cannot be infinitely piled on, and countries like the US are reaching the limits of their ability to sell more debt. When this stops, the stopping is likely to be abrupt and unpleasant.

Comment What world are they in? (Score 4, Insightful) 140

Seriously? Ok, for personal communication there are other channels, but professionally? Email seems to be the medium of choice. Announcements for the company, or the department? Email. A colleague who wants something or needs something? Email. A customer? Email. It's a established, reliable means of communication. You can expect a reasonably quick response, but you aren't ripping someone's attention away from whatever they're doing. Business phone calls? Almost none. Everything is by email.

That said, the suits paid some ridiculous amount of money to set up a SharePoint installation where people can create projects and share documents. What an amazingly horrible interface - is SharePoint always this bad? Anyway, the result is that we send documents around by email too...

Comment Meaningless? (Score 4, Interesting) 253

Isn't this kind of meaningless?

"The pattern of a trade-off between rent and length of commute is evident when you look at the cities with the cheapest rent and shortest commutes. Workers in Austin only have an average 16-minute commute to work, but pay among the highest rents at $476 a week. Workers in Seoul, meanwhile, pay the lowest rent, $153 a week, but have to endure a 40-minute commute, the fourth longest on the list."

In virtually any city, each individual makes that trade-off for themselves. Live farther out, have a longer commute but cheaper rent. Live close in, have a short commute but higher rent.

OT: Austin used to be a lovely city, before it was "discovered". Now it's a satellite of California, both in terms of size (and horrible traffic), and in terms of progressive politics. Californian refugees are repeating the same mistakes that drove them out of CA - pushing things like "light rail", "rent control" and all the rest. Whipping up SJW outrage, for example, the recent survey claiming that 15% of UT undergraduates are raped (the trick: "verbal pressure" counts as rape). A sad fate for a once-nice Texas city.

Comment Whoopie doodle doo (Score 1) 91

I'm a "Windows Insider". My wife's little company has a couple of Windows computers, and I wanted to know what Win10 was going to look like, and how the upgrade process was going to go. The Insider program gave me earlier access, so I put Win10 on my gaming computer to look at. That's it. Claiming me as an "Insider" is pretty meaningless.

I don't game every day. But with the telemetry turned off (um...how much do I trust them...is it really off?) how would they know?

Comment Re:Pournelle's Iron Law (Score 1) 166

"private companies like VW, Wells Fargo, Enron, Merck, they have all done harm in ways that aren't covered by the Iron Law, but far exceed it"

First, how do you compare? It's essentially impossible, because those things are not alike.

That said, most of the companies you mention were able to cause harm due to two factors: corporate cronyism, and too big to fail.

The one where that doesn't quite apply may be Volkswagen. But even there: it is becoming apparent that *all* auto manufacturers cheated on their emissions tests, because the government standards are completely at odds with what consumers actually want.to buy. So again, government regulatory involvement has helped screw things up. Simple theory: follow the money. Who is now richer due to the long-term cheating? I'm not an expert in this industry, but it's a given that there's a nice revolving door between the auto industry and the regulatory bodies.

Comment Pournelle's Iron Law (Score 1) 166

Those overhead figures are no surprise at all. NASA has been around more than long enough for Pournelle's Iron Law to take over. The bureaucracy grows to meet the needs of the growing bureaucracy. Any space science that gets done is purely incidental.

This is a fundamental problem with government agencies. When private companies become inefficient, they (in an ideal world) either clean house or they are overtaken by their competitors. When government agencies become inefficient, there is no pressure on them to change, because they generally have no competition.

Comment Re:Conflict of interest (Score 1) 258

The escrow idea really is very good. It's not supposed to be about money, after all. It's supposed to be about safety.

The problem in Switzerland, as presumably elsewhere, is that many towns are serously broke. The cantons dictate somewhere around 90% of a town's expenditures (welfare, schools, etc..). The other 90% is pretty inflexible as well: you've got to maintain your roads, water supply, and so forth. The town I'm in, with around 5000 inhabitants, is in the red every year, and the debt is getting ridiculous.

Comment Privacy? Or just tax evasion? (Score 1) 270

Most likely, the poster's real motivation is avoiding taxes on his BTC profits. The anarchist in me understands this: taxes are the government taking your property by force. On the other hand, few people would voluntarily pay the amount that governments consume, and we don't seem to be willing to dismantle our governments, so...there we are, taxes.

If it's not about taxes, then cash out. If you register with a BTC exchange and cash in your BTC then, yes, the IRS will know who you are. So what? Just pay your taxes. It's not really about privacy, because you can then turn your US$ into cash, and spend that cash as anonymously as you like.

Incidentally, parallel currencies are nothing new. As an example, there has been a parallel currency in Switzerland (WIR) since 1934. It limps along for all of the same reasons that BTC limps along: it's an additional hassle for your average business, it complicates accounting and taxes, and it is an additional (exchange-rate) risk that most businesses don't want to deal with.

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