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Comment Re:why not nuclear? (Score 1) 389

However they did it 6 times and only succeeded 5 times doing that.

The Russians used it to extinguish gas, which sounds harder to me.

The only problem is that if it does NOT work or even makes the situation worse

Well, BP is interested in making money, the administration is interested in getting reelected, which gives me some confidence that they'll try to avoid making things worse. And they could still drill a relief well, as before.

Comment why not nuclear? (Score 3, Insightful) 389

I'm sorry, but I don't see a big problem with the "nuclear option". Underground nuclear explosions have been used quite a bit and they are not a significant radiation hazard. The geology of the area is presumably also fairly well understood. I wonder, though, if they even need a nuclear bomb. The drill hole is tiny compared to the 3 miles of rock it goes through. I would think even a conventional explosive placed some distance to the drill hole about a mile or so down into the rock might be enough to shift the rock and seal it off with little risk of making things worse. In any case, it's good to see people besides BP employees are on the case.

Comment Re:Hey, (Score 1) 215

Google have repeatedly demonstrated some sketchy regard for privacy of others.

Google recorded open, unencrypted WiFi packets. Tons of tools do that. It's not an invasion of privacy.

However officially Google now admit to collecting snippets of payload data which is something they expressly ruled out in the original blog. They say this was a mistake...I have my doubts.

No, it wasn't a mistake, in the sense that the programmer who did it probably didn't think twice about it. Why wouldn't you record open, unencrypted WLAN packets?

I think there is a real difference between data that is public to your neighbors and then someone posting that data on a billboard in the the main street.

Google didn't post the packets that they collected. Even if they had, so what?

Clearly here is an example of data that is not private, in the public domain but is not intended to be distributed to strangers.

If our assumption becomes that data is private unless explicitly marked as public, democracy becomes impossible, because any scoundrel can evade public scrutiny by declaring their behavior to be private.

Privacy is pretty simple: if you don't want people to see what you're doing, don't do it in a public place.

and ensuring my network is buttoned up even tighter the ever.

You're a jerk for implying that Google has been trying to break into anybody's network. In fact, all you need to do as far as Google or anybody else is concerned is to indicate that your network is intended to be private. A minimum level of encryption is sufficient to do that. If you don't encrypt, don't complain if people listen.

Comment Re:Hey, (Score 1) 215

causes that harm is exactly the same, whether we are discussing invasion of privacy

If you broadcast unencrypted transmission over your neighborhood, it's not an "invasion of privacy" if people listen in. If the default assumption were that all unencrypted transmission are private and the government can punish you for listening in, the consequence would be that nobody can make public broadcasts other than the government.

But presumably that fits your world view just fine: only the government can broadcast, only government media or licensed media outlets can take and publish photographs, etc. All communications need to be registered, de-anonymized, and potentially subject to legal review. Any private company or individual that tries to publish or listen outside the approved government channels will be punished, one way or another.

You've been trained to be a good little totalitarian by your government, and you don't even realize it. Stupidity like yours will kill democracy and liberty.

Comment you are so wrong (Score 1) 215

It's a long-standing principle that if you broadcast information publicly, other people can legitimately listen in. That's why Google Streetview (or anybody else) can legally take pictures of you in public, and why amateur radio and CB transmissions are not private. Trying to place restrictions on the recording of unencrypted wireless transmissions is wrong.

FWIW, the actions described would probably be criminal and carry jail time if they occurred in the UK (e.g., under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006).

Then the UK law is wrong as well (hardly a surprise given their history).

most of the world is enlightened enough

Most of the world consists of undemocratic police states.

Comment too much cool-aid (Score 4, Insightful) 222

Multitouch is significant to the mobile battle because it enables the use of gestures, which allows for sophisticated interactions on small devices

You don't need multitouch for gestures; in fact, gestures are an alternative to multitouch. And it's also not needed; even software on iPhone and iPad doesn't use multitouch consistently, with some applications only using it for scrolling, others only for zooming, and few applications supporting rotation or more complex gestures. Someone has had too much of Jobs's cool-aid.

And, besides, Apple didn't invent multitouch, and neither did the multitouch company they bought. What Apple did is what Apple always does: they pick some technology, try to get exclusive use of it somehow, and then hype it up, creating the impression that their products are unique and must-have devices.

You can see their m.o. illustrated nicely in their negotiations with Swype: they were quite interested in Swype when they thought they could get an exclusive deal and dropped it like a hot potato when it turned out they couldn't. Apple isn't about choosing the best technology, they are about choosing something that's different from everybody else and creating the belief that it is better through marketing.

Comment the article is FUD (Score 1) 799

The oil isn't mainly leaking from the drill hole, it's leaking from a pipe; that's why the flow rate is considerably lower than what the platform would have yielded. And the drill hole is not 5 ft in diameter anyway.

Furthermore, we're not talking about a thin layer of rock, we're talking about 3 miles of rock (under 1 mile of water). That's not going to just collapse because there's a small hole in it.

Yes, the oil spill is bad, and, yes, it will kill many animals. BP was careless and should be held responsible. And people should be prudent while stopping it. But it isn't the end of the world.

Comment well, I'm happy that he has (Score 1) 411

I think manned space exploration is a waste of money right now. We need to develop better propulsion systems first and work on space biology, and neither of those is going to be advanced cost-effectively by shooting people into space.

Projects like the Mars rover and Cassini have yielded enormous amounts of material. Let's blanket the moon, Mars, Titan, and asteroids with rovers and automated labs. Let's send gliders to Venus and the gas giants. Let's watch it all in HD stereo, create virtual worlds that allow 3D walkthroughs, etc.

Let's give schools, universities, and anybody who wants to pay a little money telepresence on the moon. Let's develop the robotic technology to prepare a moon base, and the propulsion technology to get to the outer planets fast.

In a few decades, manned exploration will be easy. But if we make it our focus now, all the science and engineering that we should be doing will be put on hold and we'll end up with the same situation that we have been in for the last half century: we may get a man to Mars, but we won't be able to do it again for a long time.

Comment predictable and unavoidable (Score 1) 563

If you're going to punish people for things they do on the Internet, then holding operators of open WiFi spots liable is really the only logical consequence--otherwise you could rarely prosecute.

Germany is somewhat ahead of the curve since Germany effectively has no anonymous speech anyway as far as the government is concerned (phone, internet connections, etc. are all registered with the government). But the same kind of liability is likely going to start appearing in the US if we aren't careful.

Comment that's already the law in the US (Score 1) 563

You wouldn't be charged for "aiding" a criminal (which requires intent), but you might be liable for negligent entrustment:


It's the same thing with a lot of other dangerous things: nuclear materials, poison, explosives, etc.: you need to store them reasonably securely, both to prevent accidental use and to prevent theft.

Comment IDEs for Python (Score 1) 119

There are some excellent IDEs for Python. They don't "come with" Python because they are big and somewhat platform dependent. Python IDEs that are useful for scientific work include Python(x,y), Sage, reInteract, and DrPython (you can find them on Google).

You're right that Python syntax is not perfectly adapted to scientific use, but I haven't found it to be a big deal. By being based on a general purpose language, however, you get a huge set of libraries that you simply can't get for MATLAB. And maybe Python will eventually adopt a couple more infix operators for common matrix operations.

Comment Re:Python for Scientific use (Score 1) 119

I don't want to load 20 modules before I can begin coding. I just want to input my algorithm and get a result I expect

In the real world of scientific programming, that's often not enough. A lot of scientific software needs to collect data from instruments, parse, format, deal with databases, perform visualizations, present user interfaces to lab assistants, interface with foreign libraries, etc. It needs to be unit tested, regression tested, maintained, reused, refactored, etc. Scientific libraries often become big and complex with hundreds of modules and tons of name conflicts.

A language that just loads everything into a global environment and lets you code some matrix multiplications is fine for classroom use, and it's also fine for graduate students who come up with an algorithm, publish a paper, and move on. But that's not good enough for a lot of real-world scientific applications. Another big problem with MATLAB is its licensing and pricing (Octave and Freemat don't address that issue because they aren't fully MATLAB compatible, meaning many libraries just don't run in them).

As a VHLL, Python strikes a good balance between software engineering support and support for scientific programming. And its libraries have long surpassed MATLAB's, except for some specific domains. One could probably design an even better language for serious scientific programming than Python, but until someone does, people are likely going to stick with Python.

If MATLAB works for you, fine, stick with it. But don't presume based on your very limited needs to talk about what "scientific programming" is all about.

Comment Re:bullshit (Score 1) 179

It is very simple to solve this democratically.

Nazi Germany was overwhelmingly Christian and voted to deprive non-Christians of their civil rights and later kill them; tyranny of the majority is not democracy.

The US Constitution has the non-establishment clause; you can vote as much as you want, it's not going away. You probably can't even eliminate it with a Constitutional amendment.

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