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As Prison Population Sinks, Jails Are a Steal

Garfong Re:2,266,800 (407 comments)

If I remember correctly, prisons are punitive (i.e. post-conviction), jail is not (e.g. people who have arrested but not yet processed, pre-trial but not on bail, etc.)

about a week ago
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Goodbye, World? 5 Languages That Might Not Be Long For This World

Garfong Re:If you wanted us to believe your Op-Ed... (547 comments)

My objection to this feature is that (as far as I know) emacs is the only editor that has it. So if you're in a mixed vi/emacs/whatever shop you quickly get a tab-space soup. Worse, unless you're careful you can easily start introducing whitespace-only changes to portions of a file you're working on, making merging changes between branches unnecessarily difficult.

about two weeks ago
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Goodbye, World? 5 Languages That Might Not Be Long For This World

Garfong Re:If you wanted us to believe your Op-Ed... (547 comments)

Really? This has to be something specific to how he had emacs configured, because as a long time emacs user this certainly isn't the default.

On the other hand, emacs has the equally insane default behaviour of assuming tabstops are 8 characters, and if you have more than 8 characters of initial whitespace it will fold it down into the minimum number of characters by replacing spaces with tabs. Fortunately there's a setting which will turn this behaviour off and force emacs to always use spaces.

about two weeks ago
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Fusion Reactor Concept Could Be Cheaper Than Coal

Garfong Re:Costs (315 comments)

I'm not holding my breath -- fusion power has been 20-30 years away since the 70s.

about two weeks ago
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Belkin Router Owners Suffering Massive Outages

Garfong Re:In retrospect (191 comments)

I think you need to review your boolean logic. !(a && b) is equivalent to !a || !b

about two weeks ago
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Complain About Comcast, Get Fired From Your Job

Garfong Re:Discovery? (742 comments)

Getting a lawyer to send a nasty letter is cheap. Filing a lawsuit and going through discovery is expensive.

If you can get what you want from a letter, why bother with the lawsuit. On the other hand, if the letter doesn't work, you can always escalate to the lawsuit with little money lost. The letter probably also puts them on notice they need to preserve evidence.

about two weeks ago
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NASA Eyes Crew Deep Sleep Option For Mars Mission

Garfong Re:Just Go Nuclear and Get There Quick (236 comments)

Which section says that? Searching the Outer Space Treaty for the word nuclear, I can only find prohibitions on nuclear weapons, not nuclear power. IIRC the USSR launched several small nuclear reactors into earth orbit.

about three weeks ago
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Earth Gets Another Quasi-Moon

Garfong Re:Capture it (54 comments)

Not this again.

I'm assuming you're just trying to be funny, but the usual formulas for gravity as a strictly attractive force apply only in an inertial frame. But it's possible, using calculus, to change the co-ordinate system to derive comparable laws of physics for a system which follows the Earth. In this frame of reference, gravity is much more interesting. So it's entirely possible, that from the point of view of an observer on the Earth, Earth's gravity is pushing this asteroid away.

And for what it's worth, as far as I remember we've never made enough 0 net charge antimatter to directly measure the force of gravity between antimatter and matter, but the assumption is that antimatter and matter attract. Otherwise funky stuff like time travel and warp drive would be possible.

about three weeks ago
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Tim Cook Says Apple Can't Read Users' Emails, That iCloud Wasn't Hacked

Garfong Re:Is this technically impossible - no. (191 comments)

Fair enough. As I said, I suspected this was not actually what Apple was doing.

I was responding to GGP claim that services like Lavabit were logically impossible, which clearly isn't true: Lavabit existed. But as you say, Apple is obviously not doing the same level of encryption.

about a month ago
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Tim Cook Says Apple Can't Read Users' Emails, That iCloud Wasn't Hacked

Garfong Re:Is this technically impossible - no. (191 comments)

I can read my mail, so can he. It's only logical.

Not true. They could be encrypting your emails with a public key as soon as the email hits their server, and have the private key encrypted based on your password. Then you could only access at most the email of users who were currently logged in.

But I think it's more likely that they don't have any tools to read user's emails, but they're still stored on the server essentially in the clear.

about a month ago
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If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

Garfong Re:Renew this! (444 comments)

You're probably right -- I do need to review my thermo. University was many years ago, and thermo was taught in a hot class room in the middle of summer by a prof who was in his 60s and coasting to retirement. But I meant to claim that lithium battery chemistry was thermodynamically reversible _in theory_, whereas a heat engine (such as a gasoline engine) is not. Although I'm not really sure if this is true either, but practical efficiencies are in the 90% range (according to the sources cited by wikipedia), which includes internal impedances, and other real-world losses. So it seems likely to either be theoretically thermodynamically reversible, or very close.

But you were the one who said the hydrocarbons were being burned (in your previous post). In this case, lithium battery discharge/recharge cycle is up to ~90% efficient, whereas gasoline burning has an average efficiency of 25-35%. So ignoring the efficiency of the hypothetical gasoline recovery process, that's a difference of at least 55%.

I think it's ironic that you consider a difference between 100% and 90% completely invalidates what I'm saying, but me pointing out a difference between 90% and 35% is being pedantic.

about a month ago
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If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

Garfong Re:Renew this! (444 comments)

Recharging lithium batteries and recovering hydrocarbons from exhaust waste are not equivalent. Lithium battery discharge is a reversible process, so the original state can be recovered by input of the same amount of energy as was originally extracted from the system. Gasoline & turbine engines (like all heat engines) are non-reversible, which means it takes more energy to recover the initial state than was extracted as useful work. This is because only a portion of the energy produced by burning hydrocarbons can be extracted as work -- the rest escapes as heat.

about a month and a half ago
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German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

Garfong Re:define "customer" (290 comments)

I don't know if this applies here, but from what I hear contract law is very different in Germany. The example I've heard is when you buy something from a store in a common-law country, there's an implied contract for sale of the goods. In Germany, apparently there's about three implied contracts.

about a month and a half ago
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Universal Big Bang Lithium Deficit Confirmed

Garfong Re:Quite accurately? (171 comments)

Then it would show up as extra energy.

about a month and a half ago
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Universal Big Bang Lithium Deficit Confirmed

Garfong Re:Quite accurately? (171 comments)

1. With a BA in physics (mid-90's), I was taught about the Big Bang and elements calculation multiple times. In every single instance I was shown the calculated and observed percentages, and they were always given as a good match, as part of the proof. I'm really confused that now it's been known for decades that they *don't* match. Were my books lying to me? Was this observation adjusted the year I graduated college, and I just missed the controversy?

It's possible that for the version of the model you were given, order of magnitude was considered a "good match". I still remember my prof leading our class through a calculation of heat capacity of copper using quantum mechanics, and getting a value which was off by about this much, and it was considered a "good match" because given all the simplifications needed, even getting something in the right neighborhood seen as confirmation of the overall approach.

Also, according to Wikipedia, measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation within the last 15 years have fixed some of the parameters of Big Bang nucleosynthesis, so it's possible what was considered a minor discrepancy which may be explained by future research has become a discrepancy which has been highlighted by recent research.

2. I'm also really curious to hear which elements have a *higher* concentration, to make up for the missing lithium. If we were just short a bunch of lithium, all of the other elements would be higher, percentage wise, and thus all of them would be off. Since the others are spot-on, I've got to think there's at least one element out there that's disproportionately high to balance it out.

Not necessarily. From what I remember, Hydrogen and Helium are so much more abundant in the universe than Lithium, that a 3x difference in Lithium concentration could easily be 1% or less in H or He concentrations.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

Garfong Betteridge's law of headlines (471 comments)

What smartwatch apps could I see myself using? No.

Which is actually the closest answer I can give to this question -- I can't see myself owning a smartwatch.

about a month and a half ago
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Out of the Warehouse: Climate Researchers Rescue Long-Lost Satellite Images

Garfong Re:Straight to the pointless debate (136 comments)

Or another way of thinking of it is you're using the measured data to estimate a hidden variable which is what you're really interested in. E.g. in this case you have a number of measurements near cities, and you're trying to estimate the global/wide-area average temperature. So you apply a correction to get from city temperature to an estimate of the wide-area average temperature.

(This is mostly in response to GP).

about 2 months ago
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NASA's Greenhouse Gas Observatory Captures 'First Light'

Garfong Re:How is CO2 leading cause of warming? (143 comments)

The ability to accurately model the details of a system is usually not required to model the average, long term, behaviour of the system.

Rolling dice is a complex chaotic system. Yet despite my complete inability to predict the results of any roll, I'm confident that casinos will make money on craps tables.

about 2 months ago
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Hack an Oscilloscope, Get a DMCA Take-Down Notice From Tektronix

Garfong Re:A comment from the linked site: (273 comments)

Many oscilloscopes are Windows PCs with signal acquisition cards and special software, in an oscilloscope case. So the theory is probably that the pre-loaded oscilloscope software is the "protected work".

about 3 months ago

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