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Comment Re: The anti-science sure is odd. (Score 1) 329

It's why we had a change in language from global warming to climate change

We had the change from global warming to climate change because idiots kept ignoring the 'global' part and saying things like 'this summer is rubbish, so much for global warming!'. The weather is a complex chaotic system. Global warming means that the total amount of energy in this system is increasing. This is very simple to understand - more energy is arriving from the Sun than is being radiated into space, by quite a large amount. This is trivially measurable by pointing an infrared camera at the night side of the Earth from space (which NASA does).

The effects of this are more difficult to communicate, because they're not the same everywhere. Adding more energy to the air and water in the middle of the Atlantic, for example, is likely to cause more hurricanes to form, but it may also disrupt the gulf stream and lead to significantly colder weather for a lot of places.

In the 1600s the Thames used to freeze over so that you could safely walk from one side to the other

You mean right at the height of the Little Ice Age?

If that were to happen now climate 'scientists' would be up in arms.

If it were to happen now, then it would not be part of a prolonged cooling trend that had been going on for around 200 years at that point and was just reaching its peak, before starting to warm again. The global temperature then passed the peak of the previous warm period (the Medieval Warm Period) in the last century and kept climbing. But you knew all of that, right?

Comment Re:Surprise? (Score 2) 33

Yes, probably a lot of people. Before it was purchased, WhatsApp had a very strong privacy guarantee and made a marketing point of the fact that their protocol's end-to-end encryption meant that they couldn't spy on you even if they wanted to. When Facebook bought them, they announced that there would be no changes to this guarantee.

Comment Re:"Some" data? (Score 1) 33

It was always a stupid-sounding idea to use Whatsapp (I mean that as a totally independent fact, relative to whether or not Whatsapp was actually any good or not). From the very beginning, it was just someone's proprietary app that used an undocumented protocol. Nobody who is trying to do things right, is going to use anything like that.

Of the proprietary messengers, WhatsApp was the least bad. It was founded by people who grew up in the Soviet Union and left with an abiding hatred of surveillance, had a very strong privacy policy, and did end-to-end encryption. Also, using Erlang on FreeBSD, it had a lot of geek cred. Unfortunately, when Facebook bought it there wasn't much chance of it keeping the philosophy of the founders. On the plus side, they did donate $1m from the sale price to the FreeBSD Foundation.

I used to be a big advocate of XMPP, but it's largely been mismanaged into the ground by a lack of leadership in the standards body and a lack of decent reference implementations for the client side. Tox seems like the best bet at the moment for producing something that is both secure and open, yet with implementations that you can give to normal humans and get them connected.

Comment Re:'No win no fee' is the problem (Score 1) 153

Someone is still paying. Either the law firm is footing the bill itself, or it has insurance to cover the cost of losing (which will become very expensive if they lose too often). An individual lawyer will still be paid if he loses, but he won't keep his job for long if he keeps taking no-win-no-free cases and losing them.

Comment Re:Crowd source the egress (Score 1) 114

If the address of your door is a "wildly different address", then why isn't that just your actual address?

To add to the other reply:

I used to live in a house in a row of terraced houses. My address was a the number of my house along that street and the street name. There's only one problem: there were two ways to get to my house and neither of them was from that street. The houses were all a bit above the street, with their front gardens raised above the street and the only way to the front door of the first 9 was to go around the corner at the end of the street then walk along the footpath that ran along the front, parallel with and above the street that gave us our address. My neighbour had a flat at the back of one of these houses and also had an address on that street, yet the only access to her flat was via the back door, which opened onto a street with no name. People would periodically ring my doorbell and ask where her flat was.

Comment Re:Crowd source the egress (Score 1) 114

A slow off-the-shelf chess computer from the '80s can beat well over 90% of the population at chess. In the chess club when I was at school, I think that there was only one person who could beat it on its hardest difficulty setting, and he was the under-13s UK chess champion. The fact that it took Deep Blue to beat the best human player in the world is irrelevant: self-driving cars don't have to be better than the best possible human driver, they just have to be better than most human drivers to be a big improvement.

Chess is also an irrelevant comparison, because the problem is very different. In chess, you have 16 pieces at the start. Once you've made a few moves and they're all free to move, each one has multiple possible moves. Let's simplify and assume that each one has only one possible move. At the end of my turn, there are 16 possible board positions. At the end of your turn there are 16 possible combinations for every one of mine, so that's only 256, but after another round we're up to 65,536 different positions. 16,777,216 after three rounds and so on. Almost all of the difficulty in chess is working out which part of this space is worth exploring. Your goal is to reach an end state dozens or hundreds of moves into the future that meets some conditions.

In contrast, when driving there the other cars have few options (speed up, slow down, turn) as do other obstacles. Your model only has to run tactically, not strategically. You don't have to worry about every step in the game, only that in the next round you become closer to your destination and you don't crash. You only have to model a few seconds into the future. As long as you are heading in the right direction and you can safely stop if one of the obstacles that you're tracking has a comes into your projected path then you win that round and you continue to the next.

Comment Re:Can you handle the truth? I didn't think so. (Score 1) 329

There are a lot of different kinds of pollution, but most of them have very local effects. Spill toxic chemicals into a river and that's local and observable. As nations get richer, there is a natural tendency to regulate this kind of thing, because you're damaging your own assets if you continue to pollute. In contrast, things like carbon dioxide and CFCs rapidly disburse in the atmosphere. There's little incentive to reduce your production of them if no one else is, because your contribution only increases the net amount of harm by a little bit and you only suffer a small proportion of the total. You need a global agreement to make any impact. In terms of tail-pipe emissions, compare carbon dioxide and lead: the former quickly spreads out and there's almost no local impact, the latter is inhaled, builds up in teeth and bones, and collects on the roads. If you live in the USA, lead in petrol in China has no impact on you, but carbon dioxide from burning petrol in China does.

Comment Re:Surprising --Not! (Score 1) 329

Volcanoes throw ash a lot higher than most fires (the Icelandic volcano a few years ago threw up enough ash that it was dangerous to planes even at their normal cruising altitude of a few km up). The ash reflects the sun, so has a cooling effect. They also produce carbon dioxide, which has a warming effect. Which of these will win out varies quite a bit between eruptions. In contrast, smallish fires only throw ash a few metres up (if that) and it quickly settles, whereas the carbon dioxide disburses into the atmosphere.

Comment Re: The anti-science sure is odd. (Score 3, Insightful) 329

And yet that's precisely what the original poster was complaining about. Climate scientists have progressively refined their models over the last few decades as more data became available and as computational power increased to the level that they can run simulations on a desktop that would have needed a supercomputer in the '80s (and far more complex ones on modern supercomputers). When they refine their models and obsolete some of their old predictions (or those of other researchers - there's nothing an academic enjoys more than proving another one wrong) then you grumble about the wrong predictions. When the new models predict some of the same things as the old, then you complain that they're not adapting their hypothesis.

Comment Re: Pierson's Puppeteers (Score 2, Informative) 329

Because of 1), much more energy will be spend on air conditioning, while many buildings in today's colder climates don't need much heating even during winter season, because they are built as low energy houses, where just the short sun period during the day is sufficient to heat the house enough for the inhabitants.

To add to that:

Air conditioning works by pumping heat out of buildings. There was an article in The Guardian earlier this week pointing to a study that had found that use of air conditioning had raised the temperature of some cities by 2 degrees (centigrade), which meant that people ran their air conditioning more, leading to a vicious cycle.

In contrast, keeping a house warmer than the outside is much cheaper. Humans with no technology are 100W heaters. All other machines that we put in a house generate heat as a waste product. With modern insulation, it's very easy to reduce the outflow of heat. Heating a house for a day can easily consume less energy than cooling it for a week.

Comment Re:Pierson's Puppeteers (Score 4, Informative) 329

but if you asked every parent if they'd want a safer world for their kids and grandkids etc, they would all say "yes"

They'd all say 'yes'. Around 90% of them would actually mean it (you'd have thought that sociopaths would be a lower percentage of the population of parents than the general population, but apparently not). Of those, a very small percentage would honestly be able to say that they also want a safer world for everyone else's children. If your children are going to inherit a survivable part of the world, then why should they care that if a billion or two other people that they've never met will suffer and / or die? Herd mammals did not evolve to have an emotional response to that (and, for the most part, that's a good thing - you couldn't function if you had an empathic response to all of the suffering in a world of over 6 billion people). That's why appeals to emotion in things like this are a waste of time.

Comment Re:Good at desensitizing too! (Score 2) 80

Very effective at making operators forget that they are training to kill other human beings, make it easier to unthinkingly shoot when told regardless of right/wrong.

I don't think video games are particularly effective at changing the way people think about real combat, when there are real people downrange.

What does work well is what has always worked well... tribalism and intentional dehumanization, which includes calling the enemy "hun", "jerry", "jap", "slope", "slant", "gook", "raghead", "tango", "target", etc., and attributing subhuman and evil characteristics to them.

Comment Re:Defective by Design (Score 2) 203

Apple pay isn't on android, by definition. Unless you're talking about the competing Google Pay, which is a different competing standard.

You mean Android Pay, not Google Pay. And it's not a different, competing standard. Both Apple Pay and Android Pay use the same NFC technologies and standards.

On the name, I should point out that it's somewhat understandable that you call it "Google Pay", since Android Pay is a successor to Google Wallet, which was Google's original NFC payment solution, released in 2011 (long before Apple Pay). The Google Wallet approach was a little different, though. Because of payment network limitations, Google used a "proxy card" solution, where a Google-issued credit card was what was actually used to pay at the point of sale, and Google then charged your credit card on the backend. That approach had problems both for the user, who might not get full credit from rewards cards, and for Google, who lost money on every transaction due to the difference in fees between the card-present transaction at point of sale, and the card-not-present transaction used for user's payment, but had the supreme advantage that it would work with any credit or debit card. Banks also really disliked the proxy card solution because it threatened to take too much control of the payment systems away from them. With the intermediate routing step Google could have arranged to use any payment system on the back end, and then used its clout to get the point of sale updated to a solution that didn't involve the banks, and removed the banks from the process completely. There's no evidence Google was going to do that, but the banks were afraid of it and chose to make Google's life very hard in all sorts of ways around the NFC proxy card (and its physical, plastic analogue, which Google issued for a while).

Apple waited until networks were ready to do "network tokenization", and until some more banks were ready to handle NFC transactions, both of which are required to enable the Apple Pay model where the payment is done directly against the user's card, with payment clearinghouses routing the the transaction directly to the bank that issued the credit card. Android Pay uses this same model, with the difference that if you have a credit card which was previously used with the Google Wallet proxy card solution, Google "grandfathers" your card in and continues using the proxy. This direct model fixes the disadvantages of the proxy card solution, but means that you can only use cards whose issuers have set up the necessary infrastructure. But these days, lots of them have. In particular, the big bank service providers like First Data have got everything set up so their clients who issue credit cards can do NFC. This means that nearly all small banks and credit unions can do it, and most of the big banks can do it. Some of the big banks, and many of the medium-sized banks still aren't set up.

(Note that I've intentionally left out some details, like the first version of Google Wallet using a direct, non-tokenized approach that only worked with one bank, and some of the other intermediate steps. I figured this was long enough.)

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