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"Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms

Chandon Seldon Re:jessh (394 comments)

Absoutely not.

Shutting a city down for a day *guarantees* huge damages. Let's look at Boston. There are 240,000 households, each with a median income of $70,000/yr. Let's use a really simplfied model, and say that there are 365 days in a year - so each day is about $200 per household in wages. That means that shutting down the city for a guarantees a loss of $48 millon.

For salaried workers, that's a loss for their employer. For hourly workers, that's a loss for the to the household.

Without a government intervention, people would have gotten to make their own judgement calls. And they could have made that judgement call based on the weather information this morning, not what we had yesterday afternoon. Based on the actual weather, lots of people would have said "lol, no - I'm not going into work today". And others would have made the completely reasonable decision that they could make it to work fine.

2 days ago
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UHD Spec Stomps on Current Blu-ray Spec, But Will Consumers Notice?

Chandon Seldon Re:Nope (331 comments)

It's physically impossible for the human eye to discern the difference between 720p and 1080p on an average-sized television, much less the difference between 1080p and 4k.

And in the 1970's, it would have been physically impossible for the human eye to distinguish between NTSC and 720p on an "average size television" at a "normal viewing distance", because people had 14" TVs that they watched at 20 ft.

Personally, I'm a fan of the 70" TV at 6 ft, or the 30" display at 18in. And for that, I can see the difference between 1080p and 4k clearly even without my glasses.

4 days ago
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Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

Chandon Seldon Re:Households without a PC (647 comments)

I'm teaching a university level intro to programming course right now, and we have absolutely no problem supporting users with any reasonable operating system on their computer. We're using the HTDP curriculum with DrRacket. We start having the students write interactive GUI programs week two.

There are dozens of other platforms that handle cross-platform development equally easily. You can go whole-hog IDE with Java and Eclipse. You can teach Python with Idle. You can teach programming with C or C++ and the GNU toolchain (Cygwin is pretty easy to install). You could even teach C# with MonoDevelop. There's really no need to use single-platform stuff to teach basic programming.

about two weeks ago
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Your Entire PC In a Mouse

Chandon Seldon Will be a better idea with USB-C (165 comments)

There's really only space on a mouse for one wire coming out, so if that wire is HDMI it'll be annoying to hook this thing up to a keyboard.

On the other hand, if they built this thing with a USB-C port then it could be pretty neat. You could sit down at a desk with a USB 3.1 Hub, a keyboard, and a monitor and just plug in your mouse and be ready to go. The USB 3.1 cable would happily handle power, video, and the USB keyboard.

On the other hand, it'd probably make more sense to just have a regular mouse at the desk and hook up your cellphone or something to be the computer.

about two weeks ago
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FBI Seeks To Legally Hack You If You're Connected To TOR Or a VPN

Chandon Seldon Re:Bad idea (382 comments)

You can't really separate those things. The simple fact of securing information is that once it's out you have zero control over where it goes.

As a company, the only outside people who should get access to your information are your lawyers and entities that have signed an NDA. Unless GCHQ is going to sign an NDA, a competent Airbus managment can not tolerate snooping.

about two weeks ago
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Tesla vs. Car Dealers: the Lobbyist Went Down To Georgia

Chandon Seldon Re:Lobby = Corruption (190 comments)

How else would regulators and lawmakers get input on policy?

If you're going to pass a law that effects, say, orange juice production then it's important to consult with Dole Food Company to find out what the impact of the proposed law will actually be. Nobody else knows, and you can't just guess.

Now, you know they're going to give you biased testimony. If you're trying to decide what drinks to subsidize for low-income school lunches, the (completely legitimate) scientist from Dole is going to tell you that sugar isn't the greatest for kids, but that the sugar in orange juice isn't as bad as that in Coca Cola because it's from oranges not corn. And the other nutrients in orange juice totally make up for the disadvantages of fruit sugar - you wouldn't want those disadvantaged kids getting scurvy.

The guy from Coke is going to tell you that all sugar is the same. It's just a carbohydrate, and in fact it raises blood sugar less by weight than the hot dog rolls the kids are drinking it with.

And there's no real way to get an unbiased voice. You could use government funds to fly a scientist out to the hearing, but then you have to pick who to fly out. You're a lawmaker, and you're not going to be able to pick a sugar metabolism scientist. That's not your field. All you can do is try to find a stakeholder to suggest someone. Who are you going to call? The American Medical Association now finally might send someone who says "kids shouldn't be drinking sugar", but how do you balance that against the orange juice guys and chocolate milk guys saying that the sugar isn't a big deal compared to the other nutrients in the drinks?

If you create a government science board, it'll have to hire established scientists. They got funding somewhere for their previous research. Unless you want to fund someone to find out why sugar is bad, you won't find someone who will say it. And then all you've got is the thing you asked for - it's obviously not worth anything.

about three weeks ago
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Tesla vs. Car Dealers: the Lobbyist Went Down To Georgia

Chandon Seldon Re:I'm shocked, SHOCKED! (190 comments)

Commercial regulations are an interesting beast.

Ostensibly, they exist to improve the functioning of the market. For example, in the US packaged food is required to have nutrition information labels so that customers can distinguish different products nutritionally. And this can be very valuable. If you're on a low salt diet, it's important to be able to find the canned green beans that actually have less salt in them.

Unfortunately, they have a bunch of other effects as well. They create barriers to market entry. If you want to sell packaged food, you have to make sure every package has identical contents and then have those contents lab tested to determine the exact nutritional ratios. This means very tight manufacturing tolerances, and mean that any packaged food that says "homemade" on it is lying - unless someone has a food production factory in their house. Packaged food that isn't manufactured on a very precise assembly line is illegal. This may not be a bad thing - we expect packaged food to be consistent - but it's a thing.

And, as we see in the Tesla situation, it locks in established business models. There's no specific benefit to the consumer from the exact model of car sales we have compared to any of the other possibilities. But everyone used that model, so it became mandated by regulation in some places.

The problem comes when you take into account the way regulations get made. Regulations (and laws) are proposed by people who want some new policy enforced. Then they're evaluated based on the input of experts and stakeholders. In practice, "experts and stakeholders" means paid lobbyists, because nobody else has the time to show up for a hearing on how cars are sold, how food is packaged, or whether there should be a tariff on sugar.

The study of how this works is a branch of economics called public choice theory. Spoiler: The public interest is not the primary driver of regulation. Regulations where the benefit to existing producers from locked in business models or barriers to entry are greater than the costs are what gets enacted. Any benefit to the public is frequently a side effect, and is very carefully tuned to optimize cost vs. market advantage for the regulated industry.

about three weeks ago
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Cryptocurrency Based Basic Income Program Started In Finland

Chandon Seldon Re:Sounds suspiciously like welfare. (109 comments)

There are several concrete basic income proposals that would potentially decrease the cost of welfare while providing a basic income to everyone.

e.g. This Newsweek Article

about three weeks ago
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Obama Proposes 2 Years of Free Community College

Chandon Seldon Re:Free? (703 comments)

The community college I went to had transfer programs and transfer agreements with several local 4-year schools. Every credit I took transferred (although a couple courses transferred as "generic electives" rather than to similar courses, since the 4-year school wasn't convinced by their course descriptions).

I had no trouble doing a 5-year masters in CS at a reasonable state school starting from community college.

about three weeks ago
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Researchers "Solve" Texas Hold'Em, Create Perfect Robotic Player

Chandon Seldon Re:Perfect? Really? (340 comments)

You're underestimating how big 3 x 10^14 is.

Your "here" is in a specific game state. That's current game state. It probably won't come up again unless you play another 3 x 10^14 games.

about three weeks ago
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In-Flight Service Gogo Uses Fake SSL Certificates To Throttle Streaming

Chandon Seldon Re:When were you last a network engineer? (163 comments)

Nonsense. Comcast figured this out ages ago. For each TCP stream, you set the first 64k to be high priority and everything after that to be low priority. You declare UDP packets with the same (source, dest) to be a stream and do the same with those.

If you want to be more clever than that, you can favor constant rate low-bandwidth streams. This makes VoIP and gamering users happy.

Finally, you also track per user usage. The first X megs in an hour is default priority, and anything after that is progressively lower priority or even throttled. For airplane internet, I'd make X like 50.

about three weeks ago
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In-Flight Service Gogo Uses Fake SSL Certificates To Throttle Streaming

Chandon Seldon Re:Get What You Pay For (163 comments)

Absolutely, because everyone paid the the same for the same service.

It's perfectly possible to do per-user load balancing. If you advertised "up to 100 Mbps, speeds may be lower at peak times" and then oversold a 1 gig link to 100 people, then prioritize the first 10Mbps of each user's packets. Everyone's online games, VoIP traffic, streaming music, web browsing, and email will work perfectly. That one guy who's streaming 5 HD Netflix movies will have to suck it up. The guy who's torrenting will get 50Mbps of low priority traffic and probably not even notice

about three weeks ago
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Bill Gates Endorses Water From Human Waste

Chandon Seldon Re:There's one significant difference (245 comments)

In most of the world, clean fresh water simply isn't a rare resource. Globally, the stuff is so abundant that humanity really couldn't "waste" it if we actively tried.

The problem is that moving water is expensive, and in some specific places water is *locally* rare. In those places water conservation makes sense, because the alternatives are really expensive. But that doesn't mean anyone should be worrying about water supplies in, say, the eastern US.

about three weeks ago
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Ubuntu 14.10 Released With Ambitious Name, But Small Changes

Chandon Seldon Re:Anyone else not bother with the interm releases (110 comments)

The main reason for a six month release cycle is to provide drivers for new hardware.

Since hardware drivers are integrated with the kernel and window system, supporting new drivers requires upgrading the core system.

If aren't upgrading your hardware constantly, there's no reason to update beyond the latest LTS. If you're buying this week's Nvidia card or a laptop with a new wireless card, then you'll want to use the latest Ubuntu release to get support for it.

about 3 months ago
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Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

Chandon Seldon Re:Glad society is stable for that long (218 comments)

Bullshit.

First, radioactive materials aren't that dangerous. You don't want to be near them, but it's only moderately worse than any other common industrial waste. Second, people can read signs even after revolutions. If you put "severe radiation, stay out" on a concrete building, it'll be fine.

about 3 months ago
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Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

Chandon Seldon Re:Fission = bad, but not super-bad (218 comments)

Mining uranium is one of the dirtiest parts of the process. The idea that we should mine out all the easily accessible Uranium is just as foolish as to drill all the oil or mine all the coal.

With breeder reactors, either designs like the LFTR or more established designs like SFRs, we don't need to mine significant amounts of additional fissionables for a century. And with the SFRs there's not much left to develop - we can just deploy the existing designs more widely.

about 3 months ago
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Netflix Video Speed On FiOS Doubles After Netflix-Verizon Deal

Chandon Seldon Re:Boycott will end this in less than a week (204 comments)

As Level 3 already pointed out, requesting traffic settlement is absurd when your customers don't even have symmetric connections. It's just gaming the system, and when people game the system the system changes.

about 3 months ago
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Four Dutch Uberpop Taxi Drivers Arrested, Fined

Chandon Seldon Re:Biased summary (282 comments)

All of them, if we're serious about this democracy game we claim to be playing.

If you're going to say that the government owns the roads, then the government is separate from and rules over the people. We have a word for that, it's called Feudalism.

about 4 months ago
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Debian Switching Back To GNOME As the Default Desktop

Chandon Seldon Re:How many of you are still using Gnome? (403 comments)

KDE 4.0 was bad, so lots of people switched to Gnome 2.

KDE 4.3 was decent, and Gnome 3 was awful, so lots of people switched to KDE.

Gnome 3.10 and KDE 4.13 are both fine. If they both keep working on polish and extension support for a while rather than trying to reinvent themselves again then everything will be peachy.

about 4 months ago
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New Release of MINIX 3 For x86 and ARM Is NetBSD Compatible

Chandon Seldon Re:Drivers as processes? (93 comments)

Sure. So we've upgraded from the system crashing to one write failing.

about 4 months ago

Submissions

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Shadowrun Online Kickstarter trending on 10% short with 24 hours to go.

Chandon Seldon Chandon Seldon writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Chandon Seldon (43083) writes "Shadowrun Online is an online multiplayer tactical RPG set in the world of the venerable Shadowrun tabletop RPG. Their kickstarter is asking for $500k, and with 24 hours to go it's looking like it'll come up just short of that goal. They have an awesome concept: A turn-based tactical RPG based around four-player online co-op missions with persistent characters. They're planning to support Linux and that ridiculous Ouya console. They're trying to use Kickstarter to bring an amazing setting to life without publisher interference. Your pledge could make this happen."
Link to Original Source
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Chandon Seldon Chandon Seldon writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Chandon Seldon (43083) writes "According to Hot Hardware, Intel has entered negotiations with graphics card manufacturers to make mid-range discrete graphics cards based on Intel graphics chipsets. It looks like AMD has a deadline on actually providing Open Source 3D drivers (or at least programming documentation) — once Intel starts competing they really don't want to be stuck playing catchup like they are on CPUs."
Link to Original Source
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Chandon Seldon Chandon Seldon writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Chandon Seldon writes "Contrary to many earlier expectations, it turns out that Dell's prices for its Ubuntu PCs are cheaper than similar Windows Vista PCs for all three Models. With the savings for skipping the Microsoft Tax ranging from $50 to $140, it looks like kickbacks for pre-installed software weren't that big a deal after all."

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