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Black Holes Not Black After All, Theorize Physicists

Chalnoth Re:What about existing evidence? (212 comments)

Obtaining observations that are close enough to the event horizon for this theoretical model to make a difference are really really difficult to perform. For instance, our current best estimates for the radius of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy are only able to nail it down to smaller than five and a half times the Schwarzschild radius. So I'm pretty sure that this model is well within current observational limits.

It probably won't be long, however, before we have observations that can distinguish between a Schwarzschild-radius black hole and this new model of a black hole.

yesterday
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Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

Chalnoth Re:Carbon impact is misleading (156 comments)

Electrolysis isn't economically feasible. It just takes too much energy.

about a week ago
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Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

Chalnoth Re:Carbon impact is misleading (156 comments)

In principle, this is possible. In practice? I have no faith that it will actually be done.

about a week ago
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Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

Chalnoth Re:Absolutely - it is filthy (156 comments)

Electrolysis is energetically very expensive. We don't have huge amounts of electrical power to spare for such wasteful pursuits. I doubt we ever will.

My naive expectation is that fifty years from now, we'll have transitioned most of our energy over to wind and solar power, with primarily algae-based biofuels making up for situations where we need to store energy (e.g. long-distance transportation). I'm a bit skeptical that nuclear will really take off. It'd be nice if the engineering challenges for breeder reactors were overcome, but I'm not sure they will be.

about a week ago
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Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

Chalnoth Carbon impact is misleading (156 comments)

The issue is that the dominant technology for producing hydrogen is steam reforming, which emits carbon monoxide and/or carbon dioxide as byproducts. This means that hydrogen fuel cells are most definitely not "carbon free" in any reasonable sense.

Perhaps at some point in the future it will become more common to generate hydrogen through some other means that doesn't produce CO/CO2, but we're definitely not there yet. So I'm not really sure that this technology is any better than electric vehicles. (which face a similar problem, but effective technologies to produce the electricity are already cost-competitive and on the rise as a result).

about a week ago
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Selectively Reusing Bad Passwords Is Not a Bad Idea, Researchers Say

Chalnoth Re:Dumb dumb dumb advice... (278 comments)

At some level, security boils down to trust. At least, it does today. You have to ensure that your password manager is controlled by an organization that you trust: one that has very strict security safeguards. I do think that LastPass meets this requirement, though you're welcome to investigate yourself.

That said, in a few years we might not be so concerned about this sort of thing. We might be using secure keys instead of passwords, such as the keys that Google is working on.

about a week ago
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Selectively Reusing Bad Passwords Is Not a Bad Idea, Researchers Say

Chalnoth Re:Simpler approach... (278 comments)

If you use a password generator, it doesn't have the weaknesses you mention. It really is 5000^4 entropy. Which is about as good as an 8-character randomized password from a generator that uses 64 characters. And if you're going to consider longer passwords or using more special characters, then you should compare that against simply adding more words.

You can obviously vary the number of common words used to increase or decrease the strength of the password. The point is that random word combinations are likely going to be easier to remember.

That said, a potentially even better method is supported by LastPass's generator: generate a pronounceable password of arbitrary length. I like to use this generator for passwords that I have to enter manually.

about two weeks ago
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Selectively Reusing Bad Passwords Is Not a Bad Idea, Researchers Say

Chalnoth Re:Dumb dumb dumb advice... (278 comments)

Except password managers are far, far easier to use than remembering the passwords for a bajillion sites. The answer to the problem of password reuse is to lower the bar to make use of a password manager at the browser level. That means having encrypted cloud storage of passwords combined with an extremely easy-to-use password generator.

I do think that Lastpass gets about 90% there, but still has some hurdles for casual users (you have to install a plugin, and some of the password generator options can be a little confusing for casual users).

about two weeks ago
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Pseudonyms Now Allowed On Google+

Chalnoth Re:The Internet is meant to be anonymous (238 comments)

It's easy to say that when you're not at risk for harassment. Internet can and does spill over into real life, and many people in marginalized groups or politically-oppressive areas do not feel safe posting under their real names.

Implementing a real name policy, therefore, has the effect of silencing many voices of women, minorities, and people in politically-oppressive regimes.

I don't believe for a moment that it has a significant impact on trollish behavior.

about two weeks ago
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Pseudonyms Now Allowed On Google+

Chalnoth Re:They did that now? (238 comments)

Early-on, they banned quite a few users who had used names which Google's algorithms thought weren't really names. This was especially annoying for people who had decidedly non-English names. It's easy enough to find a number of articles from soon after the launch of Google+ that revolve around this issue.

about two weeks ago
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Yahoo's Diversity Record Is Almost As Bad As Google's

Chalnoth Re:Sensationalist summary (435 comments)

Never mind that there is a pervasive cultural tendency to disregard a woman's accomplishments and focus solely on her looks.

And no, this has nothing whatsoever to do with "political correctness". This is simply being fair. You didn't have to mention appearance, or age. You could have just said, "There's quite a lot of women employed by the IT company I work for." But no, you had to slip in that extra dig about their appearance, and you then have the gall to claim that it isn't demeaning to those women to derail any discussion of their accomplishments for an attempted discussion about their looks instead.

about a month ago
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Yahoo's Diversity Record Is Almost As Bad As Google's

Chalnoth Re:Sensationalist summary (435 comments)

IT demographics are somewhat different from CS demographics. But it's still tone-deaf and rather sexist to bring appearance into it when appearance is irrelevant. Especially given the widespread cultural attitude that for women, appearance matters more than accomplishments.

about a month ago
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Yahoo's Diversity Record Is Almost As Bad As Google's

Chalnoth Re:Sensationalist summary (435 comments)

Not when discussing men's job choices they don't. Commenting on appearance is most definitely not symmetric. Not even close. Both men and women talk about women's appearance more in contexts where appearance should be irrelevant (e.g., job choice).

about a month ago
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Are US Hybrid Sales Peaking Already?

Chalnoth Bad Statistics (377 comments)

This article is just an exercise in crappy statistical thinking. The source of the claim is linked in the article here. A cursory glance at the graph demonstrates that aside from two weird years (2009 and 2014), hybrid sales have indeed been keeping pace with the number of hybrid models. When the entire premise of your conclusion depends completely upon the endpoints of your graph, your conclusion is probably crap.

My interpretation of the graph essentially boils down to, "No reason to believe that hybrids have 'peaked' just yet. We'll know more in a couple of years. But there's absolutely no reason to panic right now."

about a month ago
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The Profoundly Weird, Gender-Specific Roots of the Turing Test

Chalnoth Re:How is that stranger? (136 comments)

Nope. Almost all of the difference between men's brains and women's brains appears to be culturally-produced, and has little to nothing to do with, "optimal reproductive strategies." I'm pretty sure that no purported difference in brain structure or behavior between men and women has held up under scrutiny. I'm sure there are some differences that are not dependent upon culture (else we wouldn't have transgender people and everybody would be bisexual), but those differences are so small as to be unmeasurable in practice (so far).

about a month and a half ago
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New Permission System Could Make Android Much Less Secure

Chalnoth Re:How is this a good idea? (249 comments)

The problem with moving in that direction is that this moves Android in the direction of TOS agreements: nobody bothers to read TOS because they're too long and take too much time to read.

Sure, it's true that grouping permissions reduces how fine-grained the information is, but it also lowers the cognitive burden, making it more likely that people will actually pay attention to the permissions that an app has. Users should naturally assume that an app that has SMS permissions may, at some point, send SMS messages, and should therefore be wary about installing such apps.

about a month and a half ago
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Netflix Trash-Talks Verizon's Network; Verizon Threatens To Sue

Chalnoth Re:Redbox Instant (364 comments)

I think you missed the point that allowing cache servers to be built lowers the overall cost to the ISP for their network. Also, they shouldn't be advertising bandwidth they can't deliver.

about a month and a half ago
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Netflix Trash-Talks Verizon's Network; Verizon Threatens To Sue

Chalnoth Re:Redbox Instant (364 comments)

They don't actually need to throttle anything. They just have to fail to build the infrastructure required to support the bandwidth needs of their customers from a Netflix source. Basically, as video streaming has increased, it's created bottlenecks in existing internet infrastructure. If they don't keep up with the new bandwidth demands, they can't deliver the content.

Video streaming providers like YouTube and Netflix have been colocating cache servers at ISP's for a while now. These cache servers are actually cheaper for everybody: they're cheaper for the ISP because they don't need to build out as much new upstream bandwidth to keep their service going. They're cheaper for the content provider because the content provider doesn't get as many hits on its datacenters. And everybody else in between has a less-congested network.

So really it's a matter of ISP's like Verizon and Comcast refusing to allow Netflix/YouTube to build cache servers at the ISP's sites, despite the clear benefits to everybody.

about a month and a half ago
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Seattle Approves $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage

Chalnoth Re:Behind the curve (1040 comments)

Indexing to inflation really isn't enough, sadly. This is more or less what has happened to the minimum wage since 1968, when the minimum wage was about $10 in real dollars (the minimum wage has dropped somewhat in real dollars when Republicans have had enough power to block minimum wage increases, but has mostly tracked inflation).

What is really needed is to have the minimum wage track productivity. This is what the minimum wage did from the time it was first implemented until 1968. Back then, a person could actually support a family with a high school education. If the minimum wage had tracked productivity since then, it would today be around $20/hr.

I really hope that this increase in the minimum wage in Seattle is just a start. It's a good thing, for sure, but I hope that complacency doesn't settle in over the next few years. It needs to be increased further.

about 2 months ago
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Is Google CEO's "Tiny Bubble Car" Yahoo CEO's "Little Bubble Car"?

Chalnoth Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (190 comments)

Google actually does support public transportation. They're paying some $6.8 million to fund a San Francisco public transit program, for example.

Honestly, the big problem with public transportation isn't companies like Google. It's racism and classism. Here's a good article describing how racism has crippled Atlanta's public transportation and exacerbated the effects of this winter's snow storm, for example.

about 2 months ago

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