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Goodbye, Ctrl-S

American AC in Paris Re:I'd rather not use (521 comments)

a text editor that is so error prone that *needs* to autosave constantly("continuously"). Or software in general, for that matter.

You've got it backwards--it ain't an error-prone text editor, it's an error-prone human. Even conscientious, process-driven users make stupid mistakes and forget to save their work (especially when they're on a roll.) This protects us from ourselves, not the machines we're working on.

Now, you may be among that handful of people who never forgets to save--in which case, I congratulate you on being in one of the outlier cohorts that software engineers really shouldn't ever spend their time worrying about. :D

about 2 months ago
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Report: Samsung Building VR Headset For Its Phones & Tablets

American AC in Paris Timeline (49 comments)

Year 1: "You guys, this is even better than [current industry leader]'s tech! Amazing!"
Year 2: "Hardly anybody who has updated to version 5.4 still bleeds from their eyeballs. [current industry leader] hasn't updated their tech for months!"
Year 3: "Samsung is the undisputed leader in virtual reality headsets! They've shipped five times as many units as [current industry leader], and there's no stopping this tidal wave!"
Year 6: "Hey, you should really check out the high-end Samsung VR units. They're every bit as good as [current industry leader] nowadays."

about 2 months ago
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The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence

American AC in Paris Re:Driverless Cars Are Boring (255 comments)

So they drive like I do. Safely. I have zero tickets. I've never even been pulled over.

Those "laws" and "signs" aren't arbitrary guidelines out to ruin your day. If everybody would actually follow them then accidents -

Hold on, another point here. The word accident is bullshit. Accidents imply that the situation was unavoidable. 99.999% of vehicle collisions are entirely preventable by simply following the rules. (Properly maintaining your vehicle is part of the law too)

Oh, I do--haven't had a moving violation in 7+ years, back when I was younger and stupider.

That said, I got nailed by a car that decided to try to make a right turn through my car last November. I was in the right lane, going the speed limit, didn't have anyone in front of me, and even saw the other driver overtaking on my left--but there was no way on this green-and-blue earth I could have reacted any faster than I did. A robot -probably- could have, and may well have saved the annoyance of having to go to a body shop to have the other guy's insurance fix it.

From my own perspective, I'm hard-pressed to see how I could have avoided this collision. And frankly, it doesn't really matter that the other driver could have--that doesn't do me a whole lot of good. I don't get to pick and choose who drives next to me.

about 2 months ago
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The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence

American AC in Paris Re:Driverless Cars Are Boring (255 comments)

You're, uh, kinda preaching to the choir. I'm a speed-limit, right-lane, two-second-rule kinda guy.

about 2 months ago
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The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence

American AC in Paris Driverless Cars Are Boring (255 comments)

There was an article a short while ago written by a journalist who rode in a driverless car for a stretch. There was one adjective that really stood out, an adjective that most people don't take into consideration when talking about driverless cars.

That one word: boring.

Driverless cars drive in the most boring, conservative, milquetoast fashion imaginable. They're going to be far less prone to accidents from the outset simply because they don't take the kind of chances that many of us wouldn't even begin call "risky". They drive the speed limit. They follow at an appropriate distance. They don't pull quick lane changes to get ahead of slowpokes. They don't swing around blind corners faster than they can stop upon detecting an unexpected hazard. They don't nudge through crosswalks. They don't cut off cyclists in the bike lane. They don't get impatient. They don't get frustrated. They don't get angry. They don't get sleepy. They don't get distracted. They just drive, in a deliberate, controlled, and entirely boring fashion.

The problem with so, so many of the "what if?" accident scenarios is that the people posing said scenarios presume that the car would be putting itself in the same kinds of unnecessarily hazardous driving positions that human drivers put themselves in every single day, as a matter of routine, and without a moment's hesitation.

Very, very few people drive "boring" safe. Every driverless car will. Every trip. All the time.

about 2 months ago
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Driverless Cars Could Cripple Law Enforcement Budgets

American AC in Paris Re:How do you pull over a driverless car? (626 comments)

Would it pull over if it sees the blinking lights / siren behind it?

Probably, yes--after all, a strobing emergency light is fairly easy to detect, and as automated cars grow in number, you'd likely see more elegant mechanisms for alerting driverless vehicles of the presence of emergency vehicles. I'd imagine that manufacturers would keep some form of the "big red button" emergency stop button we've seen in a number of prototypes, as well.

Could you spoof it with a bunch of blinking xmas lights on the side of the road?

Unless you have some pretty heavy-duty strobing Christmas lights, probably not. That said, there'll probably any number of ways you could spoof the behavior of an official vehicle. In doing so, though, I'd imagine that you'd fall afoul of the same impersonation laws that exist and work quite effectively today.

about 2 months ago
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Adobe Creative Cloud Is Back

American AC in Paris Re:Creative Suite Six will be Adobe's XP (74 comments)

Don't overlook Flash--the development tool, not the plugin environment. Flash CC now does a decent job of exporting timeline animations to HTML5 without the overhead of converting to video. It's quirky, and there's still a lot more they can do there, but I suspect Flash-the-authoring-environment will continue to be the 800-pound gorilla in the web animation department for some time to come.

about 2 months ago
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US Climate Report Says Global Warming Impact Already Severe

American AC in Paris Re:Frequent hurricanes? (627 comments)

Actually, the Dust Bowl was mostly caused by human actions, but please don't let _facts_ cause you to pull your head out of the sand.

Oh, sure, next thing you'll be trying to tell us that we're going to have a massive, multi-year drought because some East-coast scientists say that farmers are planting their crops wrong. You:

1. Clearly know nothing about farming,
2. are obviously a shill for the Roosevelt administration, and
3. want us to throw out generations of farming wisdom and spend huge amounts of money on a problem that doesn't even exist.

Only an idiot could look at the past decade of incredible crop yields and scream that everything's going wrong. Get off the telegraph, moron.

Josiah H. Blough (Dust-Bowl-skeptic)

about 3 months ago
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Anti-Virus Is Dead (But Still Makes Money) Says Symantec

American AC in Paris Makes sense (254 comments)

When the back door was made of cloth and paper, there wasn't much sense in trying to fool the user guarding the front gate. Now that we've locked that down with a steel door and a proper deadbolt, it's a lot easier to try to sneak past the guard--and it's a lot harder to upgrade a guard than it is to upgrade a door.

I think we're entering a period where forensics and an effective legal apparatus are going to become the primary means of defense.

about 3 months ago
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US and UK Governments Advise Avoiding Internet Explorer Until Bug Fixed

American AC in Paris On it! (153 comments)

Downloading Mosaic as we speak!

about 3 months ago
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Google Using Self-Driving Car Data To Make Cars Smarter

American AC in Paris Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (174 comments)

When the computer is good enough that you haven't had to do any driving in the past 3 months, how much are you really going to be paying attention when something goes wrong?

I'd suggest that once this is consumer-ready, the vast majority of "something goes wrong" scenarios where the car doesn't know what to do would fall into one of two categories:

  • "I don't know what to do, therefore I will come to a complete stop (and pull over to the side of the road, assuming I can identify a safe path);" or
  • "If I can't react adequately to this situation, there's very little chance that you, meatsack, would have done even half as well as I can manage right now."

These things'll never, ever be perfect. They will almost undoubtedly reach a point where they're at least an order of magnitude safer than humans, though. That'll be more than good enough for most people.

about 3 months ago
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Survey: 56 Percent of US Developers Expect To Become Millionaires

American AC in Paris Shock (467 comments)

In case y'all hadn't noticed, our community is rife with hazardously inflated egos. This is a natural extension thereof.

about 3 months ago
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First Glow-In-the-Dark Road Debuts In Netherlands

American AC in Paris Re:Just use headlights (187 comments)

Those of us who don't live in cities have been driving fine at night without streetlights forever.

Of course, y'all have significantly more accidents than us mollycoddled city slickers, so you may want to reconsider the use of "fine" in this context.

about 3 months ago
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Lies Programmers Tell Themselves

American AC in Paris Re:gotta love a site... (452 comments)

that does not work _at_all_ if you have a halfway decent content- and tracking-blocker installed

...well, once you've blocked the content, and once you've blocked the tracking, there's not much left to work with, yeah?

:D

about 4 months ago
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Lies Programmers Tell Themselves

American AC in Paris The Whopper (452 comments)

"Well if you let the programmers run the show, things would be so much better."

about 4 months ago
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WV Senator Calls For Ban On All Unregulated Cryptocurrencies

American AC in Paris Re: Well, we're at the fighting stage I guess (240 comments)

Monetary policy is all but moot for people who simply have no capital to spare. Deflationary currency isn't going to do any better than inflationary currency + investment on this point.

The other thing -- and I am surprised you did not touch on this -- is that a deflationary currency is anti-consumerism. Why buy something when saving that money makes it worth more in a year or ten?

I touch very greatly on this. It's anti-consumerism and anti-investment. Why waste money upgrading or properly repairing the combine in the field when you're better off just letting that money enrich itself over time? Sure, you might get a better crop yield, but then again, you're sure to see your money increase in value, so just kinda run things by the skin of your teeth, and only spend when it's absolutely, entirely necessary.

You end up with a society where the people who can afford to not produce do just that: they live entirely off the fact that their money is going to be worth more tomorrow than it is today. Their lives are enriched by very literally doing nothing with the enormous wealth they have, whereas the people who actually are doing the work see their incomes steadily drop and reap virtually no deflationary benefit, owing to their near total lack of wealth.

A deflationary monetary policy, by its very definition, rewards people for hoarding their wealth instead of investing it in a productive fashion. Classes calcify; the wealthy take no risks and become wealthier as a result, and the poor have to make ends meet with an ever shrinking portion of the total wealth of the society, because the majority of money is locked away and earning value for itself. There is ample historical precedent for this. It almost always ended badly.

And with bitcoin, you keep your own coins, you don't deposit them in a fractional reserve bank that uses it to stimulate business.

...and yet we have all these exchanges for Bitcoin cropping up everywhere. It's almost as if there's inherent and significant value in institutionalized finance even in the Bitcoin world. It's almost as if banks actually provide an array of useful services that people are willing to pay good money for. As if most people acknowledge that yes, I could simply carry a wad of legal tender around on my person, but this bank over here enables me to transact my business so much easier and in so many ways. Odd.

This is what the Earth needs. We cannot go on consuming our childrens' futures. We must end our senseless consumption in the name of "progress" or the Earth will lose enough of its ecological web that we can no longer survive. Some say it is already too late. I maintain there is hope but we must adopt a more sustainable civilization or we will perish.

Oh wait, so your recommended vector to ecological stability is through a generations-long process of grinding productivity down via deflationary monetary policy? That is inane. After singing praises--lower costs for food! Greater saving! Helps the poor save!--you're now going to turn right around and sing the praises of how it naturally destroys productivity.

There exist far more direct, far more effective, and--despite the fact that we currently have a snowball's chance of getting them enacted--far more realistic and implementable ways to improve and protect the ecology of our planet than convincing everyone to throw sand in the gears until things eventually fall apart.

At the end of the day, the biology of deflation means our money more closely matched natural systems governed by scarcity.

You wish to align to a state of nature. On this, I will defer to Thomas Hobbes:

"In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently, not culture of the earth, no navigation, nor the use of commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth, no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

The life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. This is the direction you think we should move.

about 5 months ago
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WV Senator Calls For Ban On All Unregulated Cryptocurrencies

American AC in Paris Re:Well, we're at the fighting stage I guess (240 comments)

A deflationary currency helps the poor because the prices of goods go down over time.

The price of labor also goes down over time. Or, to put it another way, the amount of money you earn for the same amount of work goes down over time, since the money is worth that much more. Now, unless libertarians are also going to defend maintaining a constant minimum wage (ha!) this becomes an issue for people who rely on paychecks as their primary source of income--or, put another way, the vast majority of households out there.

Whatever you can save, no matter how little, becomes more valuable over time.

This is perfectly true, and perfectly useless to the poor. When you need to prioritize whether to feed your family, keep the electricity hooked up, heat the house, or be able to take the bus to work, saving $10 a month is a flat-out luxury. There are millions of working households in America living in this state[1]. MILLIONS.

Even when you can save $10--or even $50--a month, and even when your family manages to avoid savings-rending life events for several years, (like an illness or injury that knocks an earner out of commission for a couple of weeks, or the car breaking down, or needing to move for a new job, or needing to move because your landlord is converting to condos, or getting downsized, or you have another kid, or needing a prescription medication for a chronic condition, or wanting to send your kid to college, etc, etc) you'll have a stack of money that is worth...very little. Keep it up for a few decades, (with the number of dollars actually saved constantly shrinking, thanks to the fact that you're earning fewer of them,) and you'll have a stack of money that could maybe sustain you for a few years of retirement. That's winning.

[1] http://www.prb.org/Publication...

about 5 months ago
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WV Senator Calls For Ban On All Unregulated Cryptocurrencies

American AC in Paris Re:Well, we're at the fighting stage I guess (240 comments)

It's not your greenbacks or gold coins that build a factory; it's the people, equipment and raw materials that do it. If Joe McDuck doesn't want to buy them, then all that means is that Joe Glamgold gets them cheaper.

Do you think that the class that controls wealth controls only monetary wealth? They own the land, too! They own the resources, too!

Where do you, plucky upstart, get the land and resources to build your factories, when the land and resources are part of the wealth of the hoarding class? I can answer that for you: you don't. The people who control the world's resources--for there no longer exists a rich frontier from which a plucky upstart can carve an existence--get to dole and rent them out as they see fit. They're not going to indulge you, plucky upstart, with the chance to knock them from their perch; that would be stupid of them. They might let you run the things that they own, as the world will still need foremen, but they won't have any incentive to cut you in on the big action. That would be a needless risk.

Ultimately, you end up with a massive, destitute underclass that eventually snaps, revolts, and slaughters the hoarding class. This typically comes at the cost of very many lives needlessly lost, very many things needlessly destroyed, and very many institutions wiped out, regardless of whether or not they were dysfunctional.

You would create an entire class of people who would control the substantial majority of human wealth and would have strong incentive to completely disconnect themselves from productive activity.

That might be an improvement over the current situation where speculation and outright manipulation disturb said productive activity to the detriment of everyone.

There's historical context for this. It's called the landed gentry. In olden times, they controlled the vast majority of wealth in their societies, and despite the occasional fall from grace or meteoric rise, the landed gentry was quite stable, and landed families could maintain themselves over centuries.

As it happens, systems of landed gentry throughout history have had this nasty habit of having the destitute masses snap, revolt, and slaughter them, at great cost. Funny, that.

about 5 months ago
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WV Senator Calls For Ban On All Unregulated Cryptocurrencies

American AC in Paris Re:Well, we're at the fighting stage I guess (240 comments)

The wealthy are getting more wealth and the poor are basically screwed. they are rapidly on the way to becoming a permanent dependent underclass.

...so how would implementing a deflationary currency, where people who control wealth are given strong incentive to simply sit on it, make this any better?

Today, the wealthy make more money by reinvesting it and reaping the benefits. While this perpetuates the increasing disparity between the wealthy and the poor, it at least forces their wealth to circulate through society.

You make things deflationary, then the wealthy will simply sit on their pre-existing heaping hoards of wealth, as it's effectively guaranteed to increase in value, risk-free. They'll have enough wealth to continue to live like gods, but instead of having to send their money off to other people as risky investments, they'll be able to simply make sure to never spend their hoard faster than it appreciates in value. It's like living off the interest, but they get that interest by doing exactly nothing with their wealth. You would create an entire class of people who would control the substantial majority of human wealth and would have strong incentive to completely disconnect themselves from productive activity.

How on earth does that make the disparity between rich and poor better?

about 5 months ago
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WV Senator Calls For Ban On All Unregulated Cryptocurrencies

American AC in Paris Re:Well, we're at the fighting stage I guess (240 comments)

bitcoin is to banking what guns are to feudal castles.

Let's say, hypothetically, that we woke up tomorrow and the U.S. Treasury announced that they'd be abandoning the traditional definition of the USD and effectively re-launching it as a cryptocurrency.

Would the Bitcoin community, as it exists today, be happy about this?

If your answer is "no", then ask yourself: which is more important to today's Bitcoin community--the cryptocurrency itself, or the financial system that has grown around it?

about 5 months ago

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