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Comment Re:Didn't some country do this? (Score 2) 72

If your users have more difficulty using the open source alternatives for whatever reason, you will spend more money on staff to provide sufficient support.

True - but that comes down to investing in education, and that hurdle is a lot smaller than you might think. A lot of universities teach their students Linux, either directly or indirectly; when most of the advanced SW is available only on Linux, and the teachers all speak from a UNIX/Linux perspective, the students have to either translate everything to Windows terminology - or just pick up Linux. Inevitably there will be a large crowd in the technical jobs, who know and like Linux and are reluctant to use Windows; the last pocket of resistance, in my view, is from the administrative staff, who find they have enough trouble getting their Windows based systems to work and fear that it might be even worse if they have to move to something unfamiliar. Proper education is the obvious answer - once people get used to a Linux based system, they will appreciate the fact that there are fewer problems overall.

Comment Re:Didn't some country do this? (Score 4, Insightful) 72

- yet. That is exactly what people used to say about IBM products - up until the day in 1993, when IBM posted massive losses and had to lose something like half its workforce, if I remember correctly. If nobody has got fired for buying Microsoft, it may well be because management simply are blind to the very significant cost of keeping a Microsoft only environment in the air, especially on the server side.

In the beginning, when Linux started to be taken serious, there was a lot of nonsense being said, like 'You get what you pay for'; then more and more engineers started wailing about how much trouble Windows servers were, compared to Linux, and in the last several years, even management in many companies have moved away from automatically going for Microsoft software. As far as I can see, Microsoft products are beginning to be regarded as legacy software that you can't get rid of yet. It could be that we will see the day when people will get fired for buying Microsoft, when there clearly are much better options available.

Comment Re:Rose tinted glasses (Score 1) 514

Seriously this article makes it sound like life just after a devastating conflict is better than economic prosperity because most people are equally poor.

That's pretty fucked up, and I'm calling BS.

I think I agree, that the article has got it wrong in their analysis, but since we are engineers and generally able to articulate our views, perhaps you could offer some reasoning? Otherwise, all you do it spew out opinion without much weight - those who agree with you will cheer, but the rest will simply ignore you.

It isn't wrong that inequality has always been growing, when societies go through a prolonged period of stability, and that catastrophes have tended to level things out by redistruting wealth and opening up opportunities to the poor. The reason this happens is well-known: when a person or group becomes influential, they will tend to keep others down, so to speak. This happens even in evolution: the first species to arrive in a new niche will tend to fill it quickly, and we have a new, stable situation, where the gap between those that fit into that niche and those that don't, gets bigger and bigger. Of course, what also happens is that species tend to get 'trapped' in their niche - if suddenly the niche disappears, they can no longer adapt, and the more generalised species have their chance for a while.

This is all very natural and good, as far as it goes; the question is - can we change this, so societies don't have to go through this cycle with inequality rising until the next revolution comes and levels out everything? Marx suggested what he thought would be a solution, but it seems to be inherently unstable - however, that doesn't mean that we can't solve the problem and create a better way to run society. We could, for example, build 'revolution' into the system on a small scale in some form: a way to make sure that inequality is leveled out before we reach the breaking point. Perhaps the word 'revolution' has the wrong tint, but it is important that wealth and opportunity is somehow redistributed throughout society, so we don't keep breeding discontent.

Comment About stealing (Score 3, Insightful) 174

If demanding taxes to be paid is "stealing", then what do you call it when somebody uses resources they aren't paying for? You know, if a person feels entitled to exploit the generosity of others and gives nothing back, we call him a parasite and suspect him of being a psychopath, so what kind of person is Apple? And if Ireland gives unreasonable tax benefits to certain, big corporations, does that not skew the market that is the very foundation of the EU (and which, incidentally, is the reason why Ireland wants to be a member)?

I have a good deal of respect for people who honestly believe in freedom and free market capitalism (even if I don't agree), but what you are talking about is just nonsense. The free market only stays free in any meaningful sense, if everybody genuinely agrees to follow the same rules, and that includes taxation and competition.

Comment Re:Redefining words so we can make a "discovery" (Score 4, Insightful) 142

A Continent is a landmass, not a slightly shallower section of ocean.

There is no clear, universally agreed definition of what a continent is. Australia was an island not long ago - and Europe is a different continent from Asia, which is absurd, in terms of geography. And there is an argument in favour of calling New Zealand a continent: it is part of a piece of continental crust, which sits on its own, tectonic plate. I would say it is as good a definition as any. Whichever way we look at it, it is hard to argue that there are more than 6 continents, unless we count New Zealand.

Comment Re:Death To All Jews (Score 2, Interesting) 920

Putting natives population in camps so that you can move somewhere your great-great-great-("...-"*100)-great-grand-father lived is just plain wrong.

I'm not entirely sure that is the argument the Israelis put forward to justify their right to have their own state, but it is certainly the sort of argument you hear from the starry-eyed end-time evangelicals. But if that argument is legitimate, then would also be legitimate for the so-called 'Aryan' Germans to throw the Jews out of Germany with the same argument, or the Celts to 'reclaim' more or less all of Europe etc. Or the American Indians to throw out all of the European immigrants. It's nonsense, and it won't happen for all kinds of real-worl reasons.

Israel's legitimacy stems from the facts on the ground: they have to power to stay, so they will. But at the same time, it is deeply wrong, the way they have treated and still treat the Palestinians; it isn't unreasonable to compare the situation to things like apartheid or the segregation in Alabama in the past - there are many parallels, although there are also significant differences. There's no doubt in my mind that peace could have been achieved long ago, if Israel had acted with more decency and integrety.

Comment Re:Why not go the whole nine yards? (Score 3, Informative) 168

As others have already said, we don't really have a whole, undamaged genome for a mammoth, but an artificial uterus is technologically still very far beyond our capabilities. The only option is to implant the fetus in an existing animal, in which case there may be compatibility issues - the fetus has to be a reasonably close match to the mother, immunologically speaking. A hybrid may be close enough for it to be feasible, and perhaps it is possible to get closer and closer to 100% mammoth by adding more and more for each generation, who knows.

Comment Re:Not going to happen (Score 1) 401

I feel I should make the effort to reply, since you seem to have taken it personally in a way that I didn't intend.

Since you're so willing to callously throw around epithets I'll engage your desires..."you're a moron"

You're welcome. And perhaps you are right - I wouldn't call it callous, though; callous people don't care, and I do. I sometimes start getting rather agitated about these issues, because I feel so many people are being willfully ignorant - they know the facts, but they choose to either ignore or misinterpret them in order to avoid reaching an uncomfortable conclusion.

1) 'resist even thinking about renewable energy'? Seriously, so what's all this solar, wind & other 'renewable energy' technology going in to production at 'record rates' that we keep hearing about?

It is good that there are increasing numbers who are moving that way, certainly. Regrettably, there are still many, who actively work against renewable energy - even people in powerful positions - so I think it is justified when I say that they resist even thinking about renewable energy, and they are also trying to prevent the rest of us from striving in that direction.

2) 'brainless consumerism' - who says its 'brainless'? Exactly what parts of the purchasing & use of products is 'brainless' in regards to people either enjoying their lives more, making it easier to live or being able to support the growing population?

Well, I was being polemic - what better word would you suggest for the fact that we over-produce goods are harmless to our health and the environment, and which to a great extent simply go to waste? Or products that do nothing to improve our lives, but simply drain our resources? It's what you can call stupid luxury: like when people buy expensive luxury foods that they don't like and can't really afford, only to throw it out.

Seriously you actually worry about how or what your grandchildren may have to live through?

It's called parenting instinct - many animals have this. When we have children, we want them to succeed and have good lives, and because as humans we can think far ahead, it is natural to do so. We can, so we should. Nothing religious about it.

As it is now, as long as we remain stuck here, regardless of what we do or don't do about climate change & all the other major issues that could or will cause our demise human kind is doomed anyway...

Getting off this planet may well happen at some point, but I don't think it will happen before we have learned to live sustainably on this planet; and anyway, if we can't live within the very generous resource limits we have here, how would we be able to survive in space or on another planet in the solar system, where things are far less favourable? But as I keep saying, it would really be such a small effort to change our ways.

Comment Re:No (Score 1) 374

I can think of lots of things I'd like the house to do, and which are technically feasible.

So can I, but in my case it already does it: provide shelter, give me a private space etc. All this is a matter of taste, of course, but I don't want technology to do things for me, if it means that I will slowly forget elementary skills. A good example, in my view, is the ready-meal culture: what was once an obvious life-skill that everybody would need, is now regarded by some as nearly impossible. The absurd thing is that anybody can learn how to cook a very good meal with little effort and as fast as (or sometimes faster than) the time it takes to unwrap a ready meal, stuff it in the oven and heat it. People have given up the skill, and are now trapped in a situation where they feel they have to expensive, but poor quality food.

But to get back to the point - I wasn't so much talking about whether these products would become common or stay common, even after the fads have died down. It's like the pocket calculator - once they were among the most desirable gadgets in the world, and you could get them with many different features, and they are still popular - but they have settled down to a very limited number of designs; laptops, phones and tablets fulfill most of the needs now, and most pocket calculators are limited to the very basic arithmetics. Same with IoT: I'm sure we will see loads of gadgets that do something that isn't actually all that useful - like being able to turn the heating up or down while you're away from home - but then, when they start breaking, most won't be replaced. The ones that turn out be of real value to people will probably be of a few, relatively simple designs, and they will be robust and/or cheap and easy to replace. My guess is that there will only be a relatively small need for developers in that industry in the long run.

Comment Trust and respect (Score 1) 158

It is easy to criticise this sort of things as intruding on privacy, but I think it misses the mark. Seeing how people in general accept - and sometimes even ask for - more and more CCTV in the public spaces, I think it is clear that privacy isn't the main concern - it's about feeling that you are trusted and respected. Privacy is important in the sense that we all need to have a private space, where we can put our guards down and just be ourselves, but in general, in public and in our workplace, we want to feel that the basic assumtion is that we are honest and trustworthy.

Comment No (Score 1) 374

Two of the reasons for learning C are:

1. It is a good, general programming language that can allow you to produce efficient code.
2. You want to be a good programmer with a good understanding og the HW and the OS

I'm not convinced the growth in IoT thingies is other than an ephemeral fad. There will be a period with a lot of innovation, then it will settle down on the relatively minor subset of gadgets that are actually useful and wanted, and there will no longer be a lot of need for programming skills in that area. But the C language has already demonstrated its staying power (as have certain other languages like FORTRAN and COBOL to the surprise of many), and it will be relevant to know for years to come, no doubt.

Comment Re:Not going to happen (Score 4, Informative) 401

...we really ought to be getting our asses in gear and looking at the impact of mitigation strategies at the 'global environmental engineering' scale, and maybe doing a few local-scale tests to help build better models to aid in the assessments.

The idiocy in this is not only in engaging in dubious and expensive schemes that will either not work, may exacerbates the instability of the climate, could be irreversible, might lead to run-away effects etc etc - but we are doing this to avoid having to simply make a few, easy adjustments to our lifestyles, like cut back on brainless consumerism and the myth that the economy must - or even can - grow forever. We are already living on borrowed time; we are using up limited resources and we still resist even thinking about renewable energy - we are only able to feed the 7+ billion people on the planet by spending lots of energy on producing artificial fetilizers (something like 40% of the nitrogen in our bodies now comes from artificial fertilizer - check for yourself). We are already at the point where it would take just 1 year or so of disruption in our chemical industries to produce a worldwide hunger catastrophe, just to put it into a bit of perspective.

All in all, we really do need to be willing to accept changes - wasting effort on hare-brained shemes is stupid. Climate is only one of the big threats we face, and we can to some extent simply adjust to it, but unless we learn to curb overconsumption in a serious way, it won't matter all that much. Call me alarmist if you will, but I'd much rather be ridiculed by morons today, than have my children and grand-children live through the alternatives.

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