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Comment Re: Congrats Linus (Score 1) 105

...Steve Jobs, Einstein and many ither geniuses, ...

There is no doubt that Linus Thorvalds is clever, and he is certainly successful; likewise Steve Jobs. But comparing them to Einstein is absurd; Einstein being clever was when he invented a fridge with no moving parts (see, it wasn't successful, incidentally). But he was far outside the league of those two, and most of the other brilliant scientists throughout history. One of his brilliant achievements was the explanation of the photoelectric effect, which won him a Nobel price (and made him one of the founding fathers of QM) - and that was one of his smaller achievements, just think of that. He was right up there with the likes of Euler, Gauss and Newton.

Yes, Linus is clever, and when linux came out, it was a true revelation to all of nerdkind, because where we had been used to DOS and Windows, or to paying hugely for a real OS, suddenly we had a real OS for free. It was great, and it has got better ever since. But I don't think we do Linus or linux a service by exaggerating.

Comment Re:Followed by: (Score 2) 438

We may still get periods of smaller and less frequent storms even with extreme global warming just as we do today.

Absolutely true. And if I may add a bit along the same lines: As the atmosphere gets warmer, it gets more turbulent - this happens in any fluid medium (ie. water and air); we have probably all seen this experiement in science class in school, where you have a large glass bowl of water, put in a few crystals of something strongly coloured and heat it at the bottom, ad the colours start swirling around. If you were to measure the temperature in different places, you would find that the water rising up is warm, and the water sinking down towards the heat source is cold. This is almost exactly what happens when North America has record cold winters at the moment - the hot air rises up in the atmosphere, the Coriolis effect or something sends it towards the poles, and the cold air is displaced to the south: the Arctic is warming very quickly and the mid-latitudes are experiencing severe winters. Which is why climatologists say this is consistent with global warming; but the "skeptics" insist that is proof of the opposite. The skeptics are of course mistaken - looking only at data that are very localised in time and area is simply cherry picking.

Comment Re:Pile it on.. (Score 1) 301

You were born with a powerful organ, refined through millions of years of evolution, for the primary functions of advanced abstract and critical thinking. Please use it responsibly.

I think I know what you mean, but there is still some ambiguity as to which exact organ you mean - "powerful organ, refined through millions of years of evolution"; it's not everybody that thinks with the brain.

Comment Misuse of scientific/technical words (Score 1) 113

Maybe I'm just being oversensitive, but it begins to annoy me, the way important terms get misused and watered down by IT companies. Not long ago there was something (I have happily forgotten the details) that misused the term 'tensor' for some sort of HW or SW - it had nothing to do with the hugely important and useful mathematical tool, of course, not even in the most stretched sense; it was just "We need some snazzy word for this crap, let's call it tensor". And now "holographic processor" - I find it hard to imagine an application of holography that would justify it's use in a processor, even a graphical one.

It may seem like a very minor problem, but I think it does some harm - when you come to learn an important topic, it is better not to come burdened with confusing misuses of the terms involved; it is hard enough to approach, say, topology, even when you have perfectly good and sensible intuitions about continuity from calculus, but at least there is some sort of "natural" bridge from continuity in the Real numbers to continuity in topological spaces.

Comment Re:Wait, what? (Score 1) 344

I suspect the problem comes from using a spreadsheet as a database.

Or leaving the job of entering data to an assistant who doesn't quite understand the terminologies and abbreviations. Databases are not hard, as we all know, but creating a proper entry form to one is perhaps more work than seems worth it for an ad hoc job. A spreadsheet would do a better job, if it was possible to create custom formats for cells (which would then understand the data better); come to think of it, it probably is, I just haven't done it, so I don't know.

Comment Re:Correction (Score 1) 183

Facebook THINKS it Knows Your Political Preferences

Facebook don't really care if they know, they care if they can make a plausible sounding proposition to their customers, when they sell information about users. Statistics is such a versatile tool for wringing just about anything out of a dataset.

Comment Re:Busywork (Score 1) 347

This question is there purely so that if they do find out that you were planning a terrorist offense they can sling you out of the country without having to bother with a trial, for the offense of lying on an immigration form. They don't expect anyone to actually answer "Yes".

Would that be the sensible thing to do, if you catch comebody in the act of planning a terrorist attack? To me that explanation sounds like an attempt to explain what is basically a bit of meaningless nonsense - if you have enough evidence to claim the person lied on the immigration form, then you have enough for a stronger charge, I would have thought. And wouldn't it be irresponsible to send such a person back to where he came from, in effect letting him go free?

Comment Busywork (Score 3, Insightful) 347

This is not supposed to achieve anything - except for making them look like they are "doing all they can". Last time I went to the Statets, I was required to fill in form that asked me"Are you coming to America to carry out terrorist offences?" or something like that. The things they come up with; I still haven't figured out how anybody can even ask such a question.

Comment Re:User friendly (Score 1) 311

Desktop Linux is a great operating system for those who have put in the many hours needed to understand its quirks. It's a great operating system for people who never so much as install a new sound driver. For the remaining 80% of users it's a usability nightmare.

Hmm. Well, Linux is not a desktop OS, it is server OS, on which you can also run a graphical desktop - which you can, incidentally also run on other architectures; I have heard of various X desktops, even for MVS, although that may have been an urban myth, as I have never actually seen one. In UNIX, the graphical desktop and the applications that go with that environment are only applications - together you can them a "sub-system", at most. I don't like the way the GUI layer in Windows seems to reach far down into the OS; a lot of the irritating things in Windows, as well as the many problems over the years, have their roots in this.

As for your "80%", who you claim have a nightmare installing sound drivers, I simply cannot recognise that. It has been years since I had to do anything to get my HW to work. Graphics drivers seem to have been the main problem, but then you download and install something from the OEM and follow the instructions. I'm not big on sound - I use it occasionally, and it just works for me.

This, in turn, means it's all but impossible to provide a simple, straightforward instruction to a user for how to do something with her machine. Even something that should be dead simple. As soon as a user has to modify a config file or open a command prompt that's a huge roadblock. And no I'm not saying "be like Windows". That implication is a cop-out.It's not about doing things the way Windows does them, it's about making it "just work", and when it doesn't offering highly intuitive graphical interfaces for changing the way it works.

Really? I mean, really? In UNIX, you open a text editor, any text editor, and often the config file in question has embedded instructions; and when not, there are several places to find instructions - there's even a command line manual in most cases. KDE, and I believe GNOME as well, have GUI interfaces to most of that stuff, but I find I prefer the command line, not least because once you have learned how to do it in Linux, you automatically know most of how to do it on BSD, AIX, Solaris, HP-UX, etc etc etc, whether it is X configuration, user database, networking, filesystems or whatever. Comparing to Windows, I find that I have trouble finding my way through Control Panel from one release to another, because they change the layout, the names and the icons so often. Plus, of course, it gets even worse if the desktop is in some national language - just try to figure out things in Chinese, Japanese or Korean in Windows; in Linux: not even remotely a problem, you use the command line.

Write drivers that interface with Gnome and KDE environments and provide GUI's for every setting. If a driver doesn't gave a Gnome and KDE GUI that covers 99.99% of use cases it's not finished. Make it so a user never, ever has to open a command prompt.

No. Simple as that. Drivers are loadable kernel modules, and that is where they belong. The GUI desktops already have tools that will help the user configure things and reload drivers, and I believe they are still working on improving things - that will have to be good enough, in my view. GUI tools have no place anywhere near the actual kernel, all sorts of problems lie down that road.

Comment Re:The name says it all... (Score 0) 162

Well, on the same sort of theme, it is said that that the Labour leader in UK, Mr Corbyn, has a keen interest in manholes, This is not as unusual as it may sound - apparently this is quite common amongst the Tories, although Mr Corbin likes to point that his particular interest is in drain covers.

Comment Slashdot: shilling for Trump? (Score 0) 526

Since the surreal reality-show of first the primaries and now the real election got started, I have every day seen anti-Clinton articles on /. - sometimes several on the same day. I don't recall even one that calls out Trump for anything he says or does. Yet, in overseas media it is the opposite way: you see the occasional mention of Clinton and her emails, but every day there's a new outburst of some sort from Trump - slagging off women, contemptuous remarks about disabled people or Mexicans, incitement to violence, his constant denial that he did or said things that were in fact recorded etc. In the name of honesty and/or decency, isn't it time for Slashdot to come clear about their support for Trump? Or perhaps start presenting a more balanced view that is a little more faithful to the facts? I've been a regular on this forum for years, I have contributed to discussions, my comments are quite often modded up, and I have often enjoyed the exchanges, even when I get slapped. But I feel cheated by the apparent dishonesty of the editorial team; as an engineer, I can have a lot of respect for my opponents, even if I disagree strongly with them, but only if I think they are worth my respect. So, come clean - give us all a clear statement of your position, not some woolly-mouthed, corporate fluff without any meat on.

Now, to comment on Ms Clinton - and the ongoing nonsense about "her criminal activities" - nobody is a criminal, until the jury and judge of the proper court of law have pronounced a verdict based on evidence presented by both a prosecutor and a defence lawyer; innocent until proven guilty, remember. So, she is not a criminal, and the fact that she has yet to be arrested or even interviewed under caution suggests that they haven't found clear enough evidence. And that is after how many months of intense scrutiny? By now they must have gone though her knickers with an electron microscope, and they haven't found evidence to incriminate her? Is it credible that she - who appears to have been rather incompetent with her email server - has managed to eradicate only the really bad bits out of how many emails and documents? 50000? And been able to it so well that even the best of FBI or whoever, can find no trace? And apparently she did it on her own, since no super-expert has been found, who has done it for her. Honestly, people - there isn't anything to find.

And how many of the esteemed readers of Slashdot can honestly claim that they have never done anything remotely as "bad" as what she has done? Never made an illegal copy of some game, application, music CD or a movie? Stolen a pen? What is the fuss about, then? Ms Clinton is human, some as everybody else, and that ought to reassure people; she can and will make mistakes, but the important thing is how often, how bad they are, and how she handles the situation when it happens. I'm sure everybody remembers when her husband cheated on her - I have no idea what went on behind the scenes in the family, but they pulled through and worked their way out of the problems, when many families would not have been able to. To me that speaks of backbone, character and strength of personality, traits that a president needs, in my view.

In comparison, what do we know about Mr Trumps' character? So far, he seems to be extremely attention seeking, extremely quick to take offence at any criticism, extremely quick to be astonishingly offensive himself; he's now on his third wife and he seems to be overly fond of Russia and eager to please Mr Putin. Does he even want to be president? Perhaps not - he wants the attention and the power, but I don't think he wants the responsibility, especially when things go wrong - as some things will inevitably do for any president. I would encourage the reader to study the characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder and form their own judgement. In my view, Mr Trump has a dangerous number of narcissim in his character - given the right amount of flattery, he will do anything for anybody, and he will react disproportionately to anything that takes aware his illusion of glory. And it will always be somebody else's fault.

Comment Re:Judges don't understand technology (Score 1) 95

Sure, some judges may have decent knowledge, but as a whole they only ever had to learn law. The trouble is, they have been hoodwinked by The media who are driven by money - not right and wrong.

I think you are misunderstanding the purpose of judges - and possibly the legal system. One of the things that really surprised me the first time I saw it in print, was the legal definition of "justice": Justice is whatever the law says, as interpreted through the courts - whether or not this in any way matches any moral viewpoints of what justice is. And the purpose of a judge is to interpret the word of the law as it has been interpreted by legal practice; ideally, a judge should ask "Did X break the law or not?" and make his judgement accordingly, without looking at whether the law is reasonable or morally defensible - or makes any sense at all. Understanding of technology is almost irrelevant - it is the job of the legal councellors to bring in the relevant expertise and to convince the judge/jury that they are right.

As to whether the law should be "right" or "fair" or "just" in some wider, moral sense - that is a question for the lawmakers, and ultimately, the voters.

Comment Re:And so it begins. (Score 1) 111

Germany has managed to carry enough post-Nazi guilt to respect privacy, but their underlying culture is fairly authoritarian

That is an interesting thought; If I'm not entirely mistaken, the Germanic culture is what dominates most of Northern Europe - including the UK, not to mention the Scandinavian countries - and in fact was transported to the US as well. I seem to recall that there was some point where the States weren't quite sure whether to choose German or English as the national language, or is that an urban myth?

The point is that making sweeping statements about this or that culture is most of the time meaningless. For every reactionary German, like Otto von Bismarck, you will find one or two of the most brilliant free-thinkers, who were Germans. The (currently) popular, national stereotypes are at best ephemeral; just take the so-called, English stiff upper lip. Not many centuries ago (in the 17th century, I think), the English were apparently known for their tendency to burst into tears at every occasion - for some reason that was fashionable. I don't have the time to look it up atm, but there was a program on the BBC about it a while ago (last year).

As for the using image recognition in public spaces, I think the sensible view would be that it doesn't really have much to do with privacy. Public spaces are simply not private, for one thing; and however much conspiracy theorists like to imagine some sort of almighty computer that can keep tabs on where everybody is at all times, the fact is that no such technology is likely to be even possible any time soon, and there is not going be much of an incentive for it either. People have been imagining these things for a very long time - 1984 was written in 1949, I think, and Brave New World in the 30es - and it is perhaps not surprising that powerful new technology and science can seem worrying to people, but I think it is simply because they don't understand the subject very well, especially when it comes to the limitations of a new technology.

Of course, I don't know what "They" are thinking any more than everybody else - "They" presumably being some murky people somewhere in government or the secret services. But if I were to hazard a guess, it would be that they have a database of pictures of terror suspects, which they will use to try to automatically match up with people passing through airports and other likely terror targets. If they get a potential match, they will investigate further, just to make sure. Perhaps I'm being naive, but I can't for my life imagine what anybody in government would want to check the whereabouts of every single person on the planets for - 99.999% of us live very plain and un-interesing lives, at least in terms of national security.

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