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Comment Beware experts dismissing risks without fact-check (Score 1) 166

Every time someone in the nuclear establishment says that a particular kind of horrible worse case accident can't happen, there is a one word answer: Fukushima.

This. Also, part of the technique for the 'can't happen' brush-off is to quote enormous odds against. After the 2011 Japan earthquake/tsunami we heard first how such things were about one-in-a-thousand-years, now we're hearing The NRC staff in its 2014 study said a major earthquake could be expected to strike an area where spent fuel is stored in a pool once in 10 million years or less.

They have all omitted to mention the 1896 Sanriku earthquake and tsunami, which was practically as devastating as the 2011 event, and in the same general area, killing even more thousands of people. Maybe the experts would try to use the excuse that the magnitude in 1896 was just a little smaller than in 2011. But it certainly was in a similar league, and so the risk of such events causing that order of devastation in that area is more like once in 120 years, not 1000 or 10,000,000.

Ok, so that applies to a specific seismically active geographical area. But the unjustified brush-off merchants are mobile, and express their 'expert' views everywhere. So we need to beware so-called experts using brush-off statistics, and look carefully into their so-called facts.


Comment Updates too often mean 'dependency hell' (Score 1) 320

I was so excited when I got my iPhone 4. It's old, I know. Everything worked so well.

Now... itunes has changed so much I can barely use it.

This is just so true.

It's as if incompatibility is the new compatibility, and many updates break other things.

Too often, agreeing to an update means you just clicked on 'enter dependency hell here'.


Comment Re:Assholes (Score 0) 57

Not sure who the parent post refers to as 'these people'.

But the story shows how there is a contrast, in attitudes towards big-business mistreatment of customers, between UK government regulators (easy, cuddly, "just toe the line, will you please Mr Bigco"), and other European organisations (less messing about, more ready to hand out fines for violations).

Not difficult to see where customers are more likely to be better protected by law.


Comment The car OS is not ok if it kills any people at all (Score 2) 610

I'd be happy with a car OS that kills less than 30,000 people per year.

If a car manufacturing defect kills anybody at all, then there should be manufacturer's liability for it.

They don't get a free pass just because of the kind of manufacturing defect, there's no privilege against liability just because it's a software defect.


Comment Re:how to (try to) deal with falsehoods on wikiped (Score 1) 372

Why is anybody who just wants to correct some misinformation going to go through this much work? I'd just be like, "fuck it then." And that's exactly what's happening.

To an extent I feel the same way.

But then the original ideal of wikipedia was a kind of democracy where it doesn't matter who speaks, only what is spoken. That in turn means that you or I don't just have status to give an edict and say 'this is wrong', we have to do a bit, to show how and why. Ok, it looks a lot as if the a-holes have hijacked the procedure in many cases.

But it's not all that much more work to stick in a flag and give reasons on the talk page, before coming back later to listen to what anybody else has said before making the deletion.


Comment how to (try to) deal with falsehoods on wikipedia (Score 3, Interesting) 372

I've told this before but it's worth repeating. I live in a very small town (>50 people), the wiki article says that the town was devastated by a fire in the 60s. I removed it because there was no fire, at all. It was reversed and added back and I was told I needed a reference or cite. How do you cite something that didn't happen?

The fire wasn't cited either, but it's still there.

I don't have a complete answer, but one of the things you could do is stick in a 'citation needed' flag. Then you could post on the article's discussion-page to state your challenge to the false content, and say that if no citation is forthcoming you'll delete the unsupported content. That may flush out any a-hole who wants to start an edit war (which is something that can attract WP sanctions anyway), and then if you have the stomach for it you can argue/fight directly if needed -- and if you haven't become tired of all the bullshit.

(Seems to me, btw, one of the neat things about this very flawed wikipedia thing is that at least it did (does?) raise consciousness about the need for checking suspect 'facts' and proper sources. There have even been 'citation needed' T-shirts.)

Maybe you could even stimulate the creation of a 'reliable source' (according to the wikipedia policies) by getting the nearest local newspaper to run a letter or article about wikipedia's false claim about your locality. Then cite that.



Comment Those kinds of patent laws used to exist (Score 5, Interesting) 225

Curiously enough, some of the points made by 'anon' in the parent post here used to be part of some patent law systems in really ancient times (like 16th-18th centuries), but they were one by one abandoned, by court decisions or legislative amendments:

>> 1) Patent times are FAR too long in many cases and should not be renewable.

An early example of a time limit, fixed in 1623 in England, was 14 years from a really early time-point when patent grant took place -- which used to be almost immediately on application (compared with today's long process).

>> 2) Minor minor changes to the original patent should not result in a new patent.

One of the very early judges (even 16th century) said that small improvements were only like "a new button on an old coat" and refused to uphold the patent, setting a precedent that lasted a couple hundred years till overturned.

>> 3) Patents should only be issues where there is an actual product ... not a process.

Definition of invention used to be 'manner of new manufacture' in several countries, but that's gone now pretty much everywhere.

>> 4) Software falls under copyright and trademark laws and therefore patents do not apply.

The old definition (see 3) automatically excluded this kind of thing from patenting.

>> 5) If you have not created and sold a product to the public using said patent within 2 years of filing then you loose ALL rights to it.

For many decades (during the 19th & 20th c. in many countries, but not including US, I think) the patentee's failure to make & sell the invention used to be called an 'abuse of monopoly', it enabled others to claim the grant of (royalty-bearing) licenses by right, and it could also expose the patent to a risk of cancellation. So there was a way to achieve no exclusion from a patented invention if the patent holder wasn't doing anything about it.

it's of interest to ask 'who lobbied' for all of the changes that got rid of these old safeguards.


Comment Smaller chunks 400GB would transmit/store easier (Score 1) 394

They probably need to divide that gargantuan thing, 400GB, down into smaller, more manageable, chunks before encrypting it. Then they might get more people cooperating with them. How many people can download and store 400GB in one chunk?

Also, the bigger the chunk, the more easily corrupted, and the corruption takes out the possibility of decrypting the whole thing?

Comment Re:100% serious question [about searchability] (Score 1) 264

>I've never, ever found anything on search engines.

Pity about that, I've found them useful in a variety of subjects, usually topical or technical. Your experience stated at that level of generality could have two causes. (a) You could be searching for some difficult target subject, where the web-objects you want to see just don't have any characteristic searchable 'flag' words with relevant meaning. (b) It could be your search technique, not searching by the 'flag' words that do characterize your subject.

Case (a) would cover subjects where the only characteristic words are heavily used elsewhere too, bringing search results with low 'signal-to-noise ratio'. Examples are person-searches using very common names.

You mention searching for software. Searches in some software areas could be difficult, I guess, if the only 'flag-words' are either pretty much meaningless or over-generalized tokens, or else, words arbitrarily transferred from other contexts in defiance of their usual specific meaning. (Maybe their authors haven't thought about searchability, or else just don't want them to be found in searches.) If that's the special stuff you're searching for then you may be SOL :(

Comment supported how? (Score 2) 354

>>But if you're going to pick a single language to be used by everyone for all purposes, then why pick something kludgy like JavaScript?

>Because it is the only language that is universally supported in browsers. Would be nice were that not the case, but it is the fact that we have to live with.

"Because it is the only language for which there are claims of universal support in browsers."


Comment Very expensive to find out if it's legal or not (Score 1) 285

Well, you could do worse than to look at 17 USC sections 106(3), 602, 109, 107, and the recent Kirtsaeng decision from the US Supreme Court (find that here: [] )

So, that's the tale of somebody who was challenged on his right to dispose of books that he lawfully had sent to him from outside the country.

He had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to get the adverse claim dismissed.

Is that much like an enouraging example??

Or is it to tell the OP that he needs to get used to the custom of treating law-courts as a kind of social meeting-place?


Comment Are there still memory leaks? (Score 1) 156

Is there something named Firefox that isn't a browser but uses the same silly exponentially increasing versioning scheme?

I used to use Firefox, and the thing about it that I remember 'increasing' was its memory consumption, due to leaks, up to the point that the computer practically froze. I stopped using Firefox when all I could get was denial that there were problems.

So how is the memory leakage issue now? (If there are reliable good reports, then maybe I might dare to try Firefox again?)


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