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Comment Re:Why air gaps? (Score 2) 168

If you're talking about things that happen with p < 10^-5 you can can't test to any kind of reasonable confidence level. Engineers have to use the collective experience of the profession as a whole as a guide, in addition to actual testing.

Since phone design is interdisciplinary -- involving marketing, industrial design and engineering -- engineers will just have to push back when the designers and marketers try to take that half millimeter away. This case will be a touchstone for future generations of EEs, the way the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is for civil engineers and Therac-25 is for software engineers.

Comment Re:Dangerous (Score 1) 334

I'm pretty sure I'd see features like independently powered exit row lighting, emergency exits, inflatable slides/rafts, life vests etc.

In design and engineering you can't make things failure-proof, but you can plan for certain failure-modes. Yeah, if you lose a wing at 10,000 feet or do a nose dive at Mach 2 into the ground nobody is going to survive. But there is plenty of design that goes into an airplane that is aimed at very rare situations like the loss of all engines.

Comment Re:Unfortunately no and I have a reason (Score 1) 355

The Abelson and Sussman textbook, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, uses LISP (actually Scheme). There are quite a few LISP fanatics who passionately feel it is still the best programming language made, citing such reasons as the simplicity of writing an interpreter for it. However, that textbook is pretty difficult. The authors didn't appreciate how hard recursion can be for many students to understand, and LISP and functional programming in general uses recursion so heavily it's the proverbial hammer for every nail of a programming problem.

Well, that's what you get when you beta test your textbook with MIT students. But that said, CLRS is no picnic for people who aren't very good at math, either.

Comment Re:Analyzing a car purchase over 1 year? (Score 1) 36

True. And the cost/arrest concept is broken too. Would the arrests have been made anyway? Could they have been made another way?

When people have a tool they use it, whether it is the use-case that was supposed to justify the purchase -- and that can be a good thing (because the widget is earning its keep) or a bad thing (using a tool that's overkill, to expensive to operate, or counterproductive). The real question is what did they specifically buy this for? If the cost justification was that it was going to allow them to make x arrests per year, it's probably a failure. If the cost justification is some other kind of scenario that doesn't necessarily happen every year (e.g. the Beltway Sniper), then the question is whether they're using this thing reasonably.

Comment Re:Stop using cars at all. (Score 1) 238

Which precisely describes the opposite of Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens.

Nobody is saying you ought to be forced to take the streetcar from Mayberry to Petticoat Junction. From Monmarte to the Bastile -- transit makes more sense than driving, especially if you factor in time for parking.

Comment For the Bank of Russia it's not even pocket change (Score 3, Insightful) 78

It's just numbers on a spreadsheet. The Bank of Russia is Russia's central bank and there is literally no amount of money you can steal from a central bank that will harm it. That's because they're the people who issue the fiat in "fiat currency".

The harm is to the economy as a whole, in the form of inflation. In this case we're talking about the release of thirty one million spurious extra bucks into a two trillion dollar economy. Just a tiny bit of inflation, diluted to homeopathic concentrations and applied to everyone who uses rubles.

Of course the bank has to pursue this because it undermines confidence in the system, but this is as close to a victimless crime as any illegal way of obtaining thirty-one million dollars can be.

Comment I find this kind of depressing. (Score 1) 235

I'm all for things that go boom. I love weird, clever little gadgets. I admire a clever and subtle subversion of a system, even when I don't condone its use.

But geez; this thing is not exactly elegant. It uses a fairly basic circuit to exploit the completely unsurprising fact that the interface isn't designed to handle high voltages.

Comment Re:Not much. I do look at data which may upset you (Score 5, Interesting) 327

Attempting to simplify the crises in Syria by pointing at climate change seriously under states all other factors. Hell, one of your own links (the usda one) clearly shows that Syria has been able to meet its needs IF allowed via imports

The USDA link shows no such thing; it shows Syria eating up its reserves as it fails to import enough wheat to make up the shortfall. Yes, Assad underwrote the price of bread, but there wasn't enough subsidized bread to meet demand, forcing people to buy non-subsidized bread which increased in price six-fold. The net bread expenditure went up by 20% in a country where many people spend half their income on food.

I'm not a reductionist; situations like this have multiple important factors. The Assad/Islamist thing had been simmering for decades -- generations really. Had that situation been different, the climate shock might not have destabilized the country. In point of fact bread prices were an issue throughout the Middle East and a major factor in the Arab Spring. Syria was arguably better positioned than most other Arab countries, but the stress of having 5% of your population displaced on top of the deep and old fault lines broke the country apart.

This is precisely how climate shock is going to work. It won't be like the proverbial frog in a pot of boiling water; it'll be formerly rare occurrences happening more frequently and stressing vulnerable populations. Take sea level rise; cities won't drown slpowly, but what was once a hundred year flood will become twenty year flood. That will stress coastal cities, and the results depend on how stable and wealthy a particular city is.

For example were sea level to rise almost a meter by 2100 (as is now within the scope of mainstream positions), the very wealthy coastal city I live in would go the Venice route and build a tidal barrier, which would conservatively cost at least ten billion dollars. Chittagong Bengladesh, however, will be screwed. My city has twice the GDP of Bengladesh as a whole even though it has 3% of the population.

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