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Comments

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Why didn't the Universe become a black hole?

Dasher42 Re:WTF. (5 comments)

General relativity only says *matter and energy* can move no faster than light. It does not say that about space-time, which is free to do so, and has.

Welcome to modern physics and the reason real scientists are hoping to build a real warp drive. I like it better than the Bible. ;)

about a month ago
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Brookings Study Calls Solar, Wind Power the Most Expensive Fossil Alternatives

Dasher42 Externalization (409 comments)

Talk about a skewed, worthless study from Brookings. Garbage in, garbage out.

As Amory Lovins ably pointed out, its data is old. It also does not consider the entire cost of production, usage and cleanup. Cleanup costs count too! Are West Virginia, Ohio, British Columbia, Alberta, the Niger River basin, or Ecuador's rainforests, or the Gulf of Mexico just not in Charles Frank's back yard? I guess not. Screw people for living there, then. Do not the geopolitical considerations of an aggressive military foreign policy required to keep the oil flowing not count too? Screw those GIs and the people who live where they're sent in oil wars, too. Exxon's got to make a buck.

That's what externalization is. It means omitting key and pertinent parts of the picture and just sticking it to whomever is dealing with the consequences.

Solar panels are rapidly getting more efficient and cheaper to make, and you can put them directly on site where they're needed so you don't have to lose electricity to resistance across a far-flung grid with its necessary redundancies and overproduction, which are required in the event that a powerstation needs a maintenance cycle.

Someone's just keen to keep a bloody monopoly.

about a month ago
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How long ago did you last assemble a computer?

Dasher42 Homebrew - still more fun (391 comments)

My most recent build was a Core i5 ITX with 16 GB of over-spec DDR and a GeForce GTX 550 Ti I had sitting around. I don't care about the latest games; I'd rather code and take breaks for Civilization or BSG: Diaspora or Nethack or some interesting moddable or open source game. Ubuntu and Arch Linux are my OS's, with Crossover for the occasional dip into gaming. Windows shall never touch its bare metal. KVM with pass-through to its Nvidia graphics is a godsend. I don't care what the headlines say, Linux desktops have been my favorite since the late 90's. Macs tend to win for laptops, but this could soon change. Nowadays, I'm more comfortable staying Unix-like only in my computing than ever.

If only Linux music players had the level of smart playlists that iTunes does, and support for more professional grade audio/MIDI interfaces (this means USB doesn't count). That would, for me, be perfect.

I want an FPGA in my next machine.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Correlation Between Text Editor and Programming Language?

Dasher42 Joe (359 comments)

Joe. For Python, C++, bash, and in days of wretched drudgery for which Larry Wall will surely answer for one day, Perl.

Ever since the days of Slackware CDs and the Linux 0.98 kernel, I have happily used joe, a Wordstar-like editor with features and size comparable to vim. It's carried me through maintaining 80,000 line C++ codebases and I do my Python work in it quite happily. There are plenty of macro and regex capabilities, block text marking, everything I need without the weight of an IDE.

There hasn't been a single vi or emacs proponent that could do anything in their editor of choice that I couldn't do, and probably quicker. It goes like this: "But it's installed by default on Solaris!" I get my editor with a quick compile, and I know enough vi and nano to get there. It's super fast to install it on any modern Linux distro. "But it'll work when the terminal settings break!" Not a reason to select an editor for heavy coding. "But you have to make sure you have got properly formatted EOL characters and manage your spaces!" I do it just as well as they do; we're not talking about Windows Notepad here. "But more people use it!" Pike off, imaginary objectors.

If it works and meets spec, you use the tools you get the best results in.

about 3 months ago
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Germany Scores First: Ends Verizon Contract Over NSA Concerns

Dasher42 Re:Zimmerman telegram? (206 comments)

Yeah and if MI6 had grown a spine and called bullshit on the CIA case for WMD's in Iraq maybe that country would not now be on the cusp of becoming an Islamist Caliphate and 179 British soldiers would not have died what is increasingly looking like pointless deaths. At least the Germans had the good sense to see that the CIA 'evidence' for Iraqi WMDs was a steaming pile of horse manure and the strategic foresight to realize that intervention in Iraq would highly probably become the kind of FUBAR it currently is. Could it be that Germany (and France for that matter) learned some lessons from WWI, WWII and the cold war proxy conflicts that Britain might be well advised to take to heart?

Ummm - they did. In the time between Colin Powell's UN address and the State of the Union address by President Bush, I was able to read links on foreign media where MI6 was warning the CIA and the CIA was passing the warning upward. That's "the facts fixed around the policy" for you: only a tiny minority of the USA's population knew as Bush spoke that he was deliberately using hoaxed information as a pretext for an unjustified war.

Similarly, "full" transcripts of Hans Blix's testimony to the UN about the findings of weapons inspectors in Iraq were carried on CNN and the BBC - but the BBC's was the one actually full. The rest of the world got to see the entire thing; most of the US public had omitted from its media all the most convincing evidence that WMDs in Iraq were a fiction, and no cause for war.

Don't let someone cover their ass at Langley or in DC. The falsification of evidence started from the top.

about 3 months ago
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Aliens and the Fermi Paradox

Dasher42 Radio: the first assumption (686 comments)

I don't really find Fermi's paradox to be at odds with the finding of exoplanets and the increasing intrigue around panspermia. We're pointing dishes at the heavens with SETI based on the idea that intelligent life necessarily acts the way our 20-21st century civilization would, and use radio to communicate.

Already, we're looking at quantum teleportation and entanglement and non-broadcast communications. We're already moving past the means of communication we expect other advanced civilizations to be communicating with. That wasn't the first assumption.

Other prior assumptions have included that we are the one intelligent species on this planet. Why, because we use tools? So do caledonian crows. Because we have organized warfare? Chimpanzees have been observed in the wild sharpening sticks and moving in formation. Because we have language? Humpback whales have callsigns at the beginning and end of their songs that will actually cause consternation amongst other humpbacks if spliced and played back around another's song. There's even evidence to suggest that dolphin's sonar is a form of visual language: they're literally sending ultrasound holograms to each other, which would explain why their brainstem has roughly twice the "bandwidth" ours does.

Slime mold solves mazes. Plants hooked up to electromagnetic sensors hooked up to MIDI synthesizer units can figure out how to play ordered music instead of send random signals, and even play in styles "by ear" - one anecdote I've heard has it that a group of them at Damanhur played ragas for two weeks after a classical Indian musician visited. Bees tell each other where to find the flowers. Ravens have a theory of mind.

There are many forms of intelligence, and we've been hung up on the fact that we have symbolic language and tell stories about the past, future, and fictional as a litmus for one form of it. We are just beginning to recognize the many degrees of intelligence living on Earth with us. The Inuit have a proverb: "Every animal knows something more than you do." There's some truth to that.

When we expect to find life out there that is necessarily a magnified form of 20th century Westerners, we're starting with what we know, but let's prepare for a huge level of diversity on the theme of life, and what kind of technology (if any) other life would actually use. I'm pretty sure it's out there, and IMHO, it's almost certainly going to surprise us in many ways when (if?) we finally run into it.

about 3 months ago
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Which desktop environment do you like the best?

Dasher42 Why Unity got my vote (611 comments)

It's not that I like Ubuntu's moves to act more like Apple, or that I think that it's the best engineered, but Unity with the CompizConfig Settings Manager provide the look and feel and the configurability that I like. Changing up the keyboard bindings is the most significant. I say that having spent significant time on Gnome 2.x, KDE 3, Windowmaker in times long ago, and sampled the others along the way.

That said, the number one thing that I want is a consistent standard for custom keystrokes. That's simply necessary where people come from diverse backgrounds onto a platform like this; some have muscle memory for Mac, others for Windows, others something else, and maybe in the course of a day we're hopping amongst these platforms. Please, set a configurable single standard. I shouldn't have to redefine the key to switch a tab or fullscreen a window separately for Qt/GTK/individual apps or find it impossible to do so.

Until then, the Compiz grid extension with Unity is giving me more of what I want than the others.

about 4 months ago
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Goodbye, Ctrl-S

Dasher42 This article is drivel (521 comments)

CTRL-S still suspends scrolling on my terminal now just like it did in 1997 on Slackware. What nonsensical software is the author using?

about 4 months ago
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Linux Sucks (Video)

Dasher42 He's full of shit about LibreSSL (293 comments)

A fork of OpenSSL which is stripping out support for VMS, Win16, and other ancient platforms by the *OpenBSD* group is making a bug more likely? It's supposed to make another Heartbleed twice as likely? This guy is completely full of shit. He has no idea what coding is, he just wants to hear himself talk. Give me 8:32 back!

about 4 months ago
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The Mere Promise of Google Fiber Sends Rivals Scrambling

Dasher42 Re:Monopolies? (258 comments)

It's almost like those cable and data monopolies stocked the government with their people so that the government would work for them and not the citizenry.

You know, like they talk about with that fancy "regulatory capture" thing.

about 4 months ago
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Scientists Create Bacteria With Expanded DNA Code

Dasher42 Re:This will be mankinds greatest mark on the worl (85 comments)

In a hundred years, there will be nothing but abandoned cities under flood waters. Humans and many other animals will be dead. But there will be some bacteria with this extra base pair.

That would be one interesting outcome - but in order to replicate, the bacteria needs these proteins that it won't get in nature. Take it outside the lab, and it won't last long. That has intriguing implications.

about 4 months ago
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Asteroid Impacts Bigger Risk Than Thought

Dasher42 Re:Am I reading this right (172 comments)

I would say that the tsunami that would result from an ocean impact would be broadly devastating, and damage a large number of dense urban areas. How much of the ocean's surface area is a serious risk, would you say?

about 5 months ago
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Why Portland Should Have Kept Its Water, Urine and All

Dasher42 Don't tell Portland (332 comments)

But every bit of water we've got has been dinosaur piss and shit at some point.

about 5 months ago
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Linus Torvalds Suspends Key Linux Developer

Dasher42 Re:informal poll (641 comments)

I've been running Linux on my desktop more than any other OS since 1998, and only sometimes do I set up dual booting. Usually Wine or VMs are enough compatibility, and I would rather code on a Linux machine than Mac or Windows anyday.

about 5 months ago
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Saturn's Moon Enceladus Has Underground Ocean

Dasher42 Re:Life? I doubt it. (51 comments)

It does matter, though, where life starts and evolution takes it. Life is unlikely to emerge initially from the conditions most hostile to it, but given enough of an incubator, it can get started and incrementally evolve through natural selection to survive wherever there is something to feed it. Given that, Viol8 could be right. The energy and nutrient input isn't immediately obvious. ...Unless the tidal motion supplies energy, and organic compounds are widely spread throughout the universe and are present in the materials the solar system was formed from.

about 5 months ago
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OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

Dasher42 Pick your battles (1482 comments)

I think marriage is medieval property-transferring bullshit, but I really don't agree with anyone who thinks only straight couples should be allowed a screw-up.

However, the NSA is already spying on everyone, so I think you'd be stupid to write off the leading open-source browser for a machine with anything of importance on it. Choose some goddamn battles! I'm going to put basic privacy from abusive power higher on my list.

about 6 months ago
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Iran Builds Mock-up of Nimitz-Class Aircraft Carrier

Dasher42 So which country is crazier (298 comments)

Which country is crazier, the one defending its own bounds or the one going half-way around the world to attack it?

about 6 months ago
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Conservation Communities Takes Root Across US

Dasher42 Re:Agriculture for nerds. Stuff that matters. (116 comments)

But, being a closed loop system, any contaminants (such as nitrites, which is toxic to plants) produced are retained and tend to build up in the system. And ask anyone who keeps fish tanks how much work it is to keep a fish tank clean and balanced, even if you have a well established bacteria and plant system.

That's exactly why you should research this. A definitive aspect of aquaponics is that it includes a combination of nitrosomonas and nitrobacter bacteria which successfully convert ammonia and nitrites into nitrates which the plants consume. This means that the system takes a bit of time to ramp up to bring the fish, bacteria, and plants into balance, but once it is going, it is very low maintenance. There's a significant difference between this and the typical aquarium.

This kind of closed loop is definitely going to shake up agriculture in some form, not only because of its much smaller water consumption and higher density, but because the current state of agriculture is extremely oil-dependent for both its machinery and its fertilizer and pesticide production. Reducing that dependency is going to matter a great deal.

about 6 months ago
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Eric Schmidt On Why College Is Still Worth It

Dasher42 Eric, look... (281 comments)

Everyone assumes similarity to themselves and their lives.

This is why rich people look at poor people and don't see how poor people live, but how absolutely lazy or irresponsible someone who grew up rich would have to be to wind up in those straits. They cannot assess the huge differences in opportunity, education, social connection, or positive expectation. They can't imagine seeing the world from a place of limited opportunity. Even the best-hearted of them can take a "poor vacation" and try to live the subsistence life, but growing up feeling you can't just walk away from that is one of the biggest aspects.

So what to Eric is expensive college tuition is ridiculously impossible for many others, especially considering that jobs aren't even available to that many college graduates anymore.

Higher education has been made the tool of class stratification. You're lucky to be born with the funds to have the odds on your side. And even if you give education all you've got, heaven help you if you're one of those who doesn't have health care coverage - recent changes being a bit late for those I know who tried to bootstrap when college was all they could afford.

about 6 months ago

Submissions

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Managers versus mechanics on the Deepwater Horizon

Dasher42 Dasher42 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Dasher42 (514179) writes "Word is out today in the LA Times that hours before the initial explosion on the Deepwater Horizon on April 20th, there was an altercation between BP's officials and the rig's mechanical engineers. The officials wanted to use a high-risk procedure to rush the job, since they were over budget, and ignored objections from the staff and a slew of warning signs.

Apparently, the managers won that argument, and cut their headcount too."
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How bad is the Gulf Coast oil spill?

Dasher42 Dasher42 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Dasher42 (514179) writes "Claims are circulating on the internet that the Coast Guard fears that the Deepwater Horizon well has sprung two extra leaks and raises fears that all control over the release of oil at the site will be lost. The oil field, one of the largest ever discovered, could release 50,000 barrels a day into the ocean, with implications for marine life around the globe that are difficult to conceive of. So, considering that losing our oceanic life with subsequent unravelling of our land-based ecosystems is a far more possible apocalyptic scenario than a killer asteroid — what do we do about it?"
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