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Comment Back to the future (Score 1) 108

We had a genuine Lisp->C transpiler (we just called it a converter) way, way back when (in the late 1980's, probably before a lot of you were born and maybe even in some cases before your parents were born) at Thinking Machines Corp. The system software for the Connection Machine CM-1/CM-2 (which was effectively a gigantic coprocessor) was originally written in Lisp for the Lisp Machine (Symbolics 36xx IIRC), but eventually we figured out that we needed it on *ahem* more conventional platforms. Rather than rewriting all the code, someone hacked together a Lisp->C converter.

Comment Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (Score 2) 629

This organization is hardly impartial. It's a conservative organization that was originally formed in the 1940's to fight "socialized medicine". It takes a number of decidedly off-beat positions, including that HIV doesn't cause AIDS, that human activity doesn't contribute to climate change (what this has to do with medicine is beyond me), and so forth. See their Wikipedia entry.

Now, having an opinion isn't grounds for not voicing one, but under the circumstances I think this is relevant information about this group.

Comment Cheaper to use 2.5" hard disks (Score 1) 385

4TB 2.5" external hard disks go for about $120, and I bought one for about $100. That's $25-30/TB. Amazon sell 15x25GB archival-grade Blu-Ray disks for $67.50, which is $180/TB.

And not even that much more expensive to use SSD's (if you're worried about stiction) than archival-grade Blu-Ray disks. I'm seeing internal SSD's in the $240 range; USB3 enclosures are cheap. If you want it packaged, it's going to set you back a bit more, but still less than double the price of archival Blu-Rays.

Comment Mandatory signing (Score 1) 236

Three showstoppers:

1) I have a bunch of old extensions that are not signed. Things like FLST, OpenNewWindowFromHere, and others. I'm not much interested in losing that functionality.

2) I sometimes like to edit extensions with, you know, emacs or something. Things like FLST, where I like the tab flip behavior but not the focus last selected tab itself, which the developer didn't provide a way to turn off while keeping tab flipping.

3) Some extensions have code that can't be given to Mozilla for verification because the code is proprietary.

I'm fine with signing to be enabled by default. I'm not fine with not having a workaround for that. I want to decide for myself what gates I want closed.

Comment Clear as mud, and what about signing? (Score 4, Interesting) 318

What does "[c]ontent blocking software should focus on addressing potential user needs (such as on performance, security, and privacy) instead of blocking specific types of content (such as advertising)" mean? Most users *want* to block specific types of content, namely advertising (particularly obtrusive, bandwidth-heavy ads). People don't want to block something just because it's bandwidth-heavy, otherwise they'd be blocking videos and such that they do want to watch.

And how's this going to play with Firefox's mandatory extension signing that's scheduled to take effect with FF43? Will they refuse to sign extensions that don't follow these guidelines, thereby going beyond a model of simply ensuring that the extension isn't harmful? Will they get around that by defining extensions that don't follow these guidelines as "harmful", even if they're doing exactly what users want?

There's a really slippery slope Mozilla looks like it's heading down...

Comment High end Dells (Score 2) 237

I've bought used high end Dells a generation or two behind for the past 15 years, ever since I've had a laptop. I've had an Inspiron 8000, 8200, 9400, and for the past 4+ years a Precision M6500, which is a beast -- i7-920XM,16 GB RAM (which can be expanded to 32 GB), 2x2.5" bays, optical bay, mSATA, 17" WUXGA screen w/Radeon HD7820, a pair of USB3 ports, and an eSATA port. The only things I've had to replace have been the keyboard twice (due to my sloppiness around it; it's no more fragile than any other), the battery, and some memory that developed errors (not likely due to the laptop). I've run various versions of openSUSE on it with no problems of any kind, and no blobs either. The tech's a bit dated -- first generation i7, SATA2 (3 Gb/sec), only 2 USB3 ports -- but with the mSATA it's plenty fast for the photo processing I do on it. If you need something more up to date, you can pay a bit more for a used M6600 or M6700, although you'll give up the WUXGA. No mechanical problems with the lids and that that I had with the 8000 and 8200 (the 9400 was disappointing, having a 64 bit processor but basically set up as a 32 bit system that couldn't exceed 3 GB of usable RAM).

There's no comparison between the low end and the high end Dell laptops. The high end ones are built solidly, easy to repair and upgrade, and just plain feel solid. Of course, this puppy isn't light, and the power brick itself is substantial. Battery life isn't great either. But if you want a solid system that will run Linux well and won't give you any trouble, this is worth considering. If you want a smaller system, the Precision M4x00 is a 15" screen but otherwise basically the same, I believe (it may not have the second drive bay).

Comment Phablets! (Score 1) 277

I'd have gotten the Galaxy Mega except that it's considerably inferior (less RAM, slower processor) to the Galaxy Note 2 that I wound up getting. I have it in an Otterbox Defender case that at least doubles, if not triples, the thickness of the phone.

I have no difficulty holding and using it. I can do it 1-handed when I want for simple things like dialing, but I prefer 2-handed operation in general most of the time. A smaller phone would be very hard to use that way. Even the Note feels annoyingly cramped compare to my 10" tablet (HP Touchpad running CyanogenMod); the 15% bigger (linear) screen of the Mega would have been preferable. Dunno offhand whether there's an Otterbox-type case available for it; that's a dealbreaker.

Comment Re:burden of proof goes the other way (Score 2) 449

But the consequences to an airplane full of people, and people on the ground in the path of any hypothetical debris, are very different.

Most explosives that are stable enough to make it from a person's home to an airport are stable enough not to detonate without an appropriate detonating device. Once they're safely in that barrel, there's nothing to activate them. If they're in the air, in the possession of someone who wants to do something bad with them and has something to detonate them with (which might not be obvious), they can be activated.

Again, I'm not defending this particular rule, which looks to me to be a massively overbroad reaction to a one-time incident.

Comment The one has nothing to do with the other (Score 2) 449

The FAA's role is to be extremely cautious. Aviation's one of those things where minor mistakes can have disastrous consequences. Same kind of thing as with medical devices: they had better work, perfectly, every time. And since individual components can fail, the backup systems also need to just plain work. The more outside factors can interfere with the system, the harder it is to analyze down to some large number of 9's. So don't expect the FAA to move quickly when it comes to authorizing any changes, including RF that might or might not be generated from the cabin. Given the wide range of consumer electronics, they want to make sure that the worst case scenario won't come close to generating problems for the avionics, particularly during takeoff and landing. They'll get around to it, but only after doing lots of homework. I wouldn't want to fly on a plane whose owner is allowed to cut corners on safety; the airlines would do everything they could to save money.

The internet is a very different kind of system, and the role of government regulation is different. I *do* want government regulation of the form that protects us from "regulation" by private service providers -- things like upload/download limits, preferential treatment for certain kinds of content, functionality with all devices (I don't want to be told that I have to run Windows, for example). Net neutrality requires either effective government regulation or real competition, and for some strange reason, real competition in telecommunications doesn't seem to be a stable situation. Look at what's happened since ATT was broken up; the industry has reconsolidated around a couple of big companies that seem content to divide up the pie rather than seriously compete with one another.

Chattanooga, Tennessee is doing very nicely with public internet. Around here my only choice for fast internet seems to be Comcast, with its high prices and 250 GB monthly cap (I ran a script on my system, and found that it's not hard to hit half of that, on a much lower bandwidth DSL line). Verizon hasn't bothered to build out FIOS to my area, and while that may be fast compared to most of the US, it would be very slow in Chattanooga (or many other countries).

I just don't believe that that kind of situation is going to get fixed without government regulation. Google is in the process of building out Kansas City (?), but that kind of piecemeal approach isn't going to solve the broader problem.

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Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.