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Kids Can Swipe a Screen But Can't Use LEGOs

Qwertie Re:If I have kids... (352 comments)

I don't think the "use of technology" causes these problems. Rather it is the failure of children to play much with physical objects, as all previous generations have done, and in extreme cases, failure to learn social interaction. That doesn't mean we have to eliminate computers from children's lives, it means children need more parenting and human contact.

2 days ago

Climate Scientist: Climate Engineering Might Be the Answer To Warming

Qwertie Re:Denial of the root cause (341 comments)

Uh, have you noticed that the countries with the most wealth seem to have the least children? So my (naive) view would be that increasing the "material expectations" of the population, by increasing the wealth of the masses, has a better chance of avoiding dangerous overcrowding than keeping the majority of the world poor. One-child policies like China's, while on the extreme side, are also effective.

I suppose when you talk of "material expectations" you are thinking of North Americans and their rampant consumerism. I submit that this is not a problem with "human beings" so much as a problem with Americans and other affluent cultures. "Human beings" are certainly capable of living with less; most often this occurs due to lack of wealth, but there are a lot of things that we could voluntarily give up without harming our quality of life.

For example, when you go to McDonald's, do you really need the 3 napkins they give you automatically? Does your Big Mac really have to come in a box that you immediately throw away? Could re-usable plastic cups be used instead? Likewise in our home life, I know most people could find, if they wanted, ways to reduce waste and use less energy. Did you know you can turn the stove off before you remove the pot, and it can keep cooking for up to several minutes? Did you know apples with blemishes are safe to eat? Personally, I have a good quality of life as I try my best to reduce waste, but I know many of my peers waste a lot of food and goods and their lives are no better for it. I submit that this is an issue of human culture rather than human beings.

4 days ago

UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

Qwertie Re:Nuclear is obvious, an energy surplus is desire (429 comments)

It's interesting to watch the different arguments from pro-nuclear and anti-nuclear forces. The pro-nuclear forces point out that building all new power plants as 100% renewable in the near future is not practical but a mixture of renewables and nuclear is. They go on to point out the relatively high rate of deaths from coal power (such as direct deaths in coal mines, and indirect deaths from air pollution) per unit of power generated, compared to the few deaths from nuclear. They may even then point out that petroleum power in general has a poor safety record compared to nuclear worldwide.

The anti-nuclear crowd, meanwhile, either focuses on a tiny number of accidents like Chernobyl and a couple of problematic, but non-lethal, old reactor designs (like the 1970 pebble-bed reactor mentioned by the parent), as if costly problems are unique to the nuclear industry. After all, why pay any attention to accidents, deaths or cost overruns in fossil-fuel power when we can simply make every single new power plant a renewable power plant? Never mind that not every place in the world has plentiful sunlight or wind. They then move on to the only argument about nuclear that is actually fair--that it often costs more than renewables.

Nuclear faces political and popular opposition, often due to outdated opinions based on a few unsafe reactors from the 60s and 70s (did you know that Fukushima reactor 1 was built before Chernobyl? Or that there is another nearby reactor run by a more safety-conscious company that survived the tsunami?). This opposition and regulatory uncertainty increases costs, plus reactors are traditionally built with the "craftsman" approach where every reactor is large, somewhat unique, and built on-site. It seems to me that costs could be reduced greatly if nuclear reactors were mass-produced like trucks (small reactors seem to work great for nuclear subs!) and distributed around the country from factories, and if they used passive failsafes to make uncontrolled meltdowns "impossible" so that outer containment chambers could be less costly.

But the public opposition is no small barrier to overcome. Remember how a Tesla car makes nationwide news whenever a single battery pack is damaged and catches fire, even though there are 150,000 vehicle fires reported every year in the U.S.? You can expect the same thing with small modular reactors--barring some terrible disaster, all sorts of problems with petroleum power plants will be scarcely noticed, while a single minor nuclear incident will make nationwide headlines. Surely this makes potential nuclear investors nervous.

4 days ago

How the Internet Is Taking Away America's Religion

Qwertie Re:Knowledge (1037 comments)

Atheism is a faith. Atheists cannot prove that there is no creator any more than Christians can prove that there is one, hence you need faith in that belief. Agnosticism, however, isn't a faith.

about two weeks ago

Time Dilation Drug Could Let Heinous Criminals Serve 1,000 Year Sentences

Qwertie Re:We do this already (914 comments)

And we do something very much like a "time dialation" punishment already: it's called solitary confinement. It's extends the days a lot like the proposed "pill or liquid", except that the extended sentence was not proposed by the prosecutor nor approved by a judge or jury.

about a month ago

First Study of the Evolution of Memes On Facebook

Qwertie Re:Evolution? (56 comments)

Like many /. summaries, this one strikes me as attempting to grab eyeballs by digging up unjustified connotations. The "Yule Process" is little more than the well-known idea that the "rich get richer", though there's a particular formula associated with it. So it would be easier to understand and far more precise to say simply "popular memes tend to get more popular". So while the summary says meme evolution "follows the same mathematical evolution that genes follow", it would be more informative but less headline-friendly to say "memes multiply like rabbits" or "memes compete like bacteria growing in a dish", and then we wouldn't be snickering about creationism again. Yes, the researchers studied mutation too--but the "Yule Process" has nothing to do with mutation or evolution (except in the sense that population growth is "evolution" of the population size).

It isn't news that macroscopic processes sometimes resemble microscopic ones. Electrons orbit atoms--just like planets orbit the sun! Photons bounce off mirrors--just like basketballs bounce off floors! Memes mutate--just like genes, but, er, with differences! Question: so what?

about a month and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Trust Bitcoin?

Qwertie Re:As Frontalot says (631 comments)

The mathematics of bitcoin are sound enough. The issue I have with it is the possibility of hacks.

We all know that most computer systems are insecure. In the past, cracking a computer could only yield things like names, addresses, passwords (hashed and salted, one hopes), confidential files... in short, information. But with Bitcoin, crackers now enjoy the tantalizing possibility of stealing money! That makes Bitcoin exchanges (and, if bitcoin becomes popular, all ordinary PCs with bitcoin wallets) highly attractive hacking targets. So how can we be sure that an exchange won't be hacked? How can we be sure that our PCs won't be hacked? This issue--my inability to know that my coins are secure--has made me reluctant to buy them in the past.

Also, what regulations exist to ensure exchanges are secure? What incentives exist to encourage exchanges to be bulletproof against against hacks (or scams / social engineering)? And finally, how can we know that the exchange itself is entirely legitimate?

And by the way, I'm sure conventional large banks and financial institutions occasionally have hacks too, which reminds me of another difference between bitcoin and traditional money management. The difference is that you can mostly trust traditional institutions to compensate customers for any funds stolen from customer accounts (as long as it wasn't blatantly the customer's fault). To what extent is this assurance available in the bitcoin world?

about 2 months ago

Linux x32 ABI Not Catching Wind

Qwertie You got it. (262 comments)

Some people don't see the ABI as being worthwhile when it still requires 64-bit processors

There's your answer. If I'm writing a program that won't need over 2GB, the decision is obvious: target x86. How many developers even know about x32? Of those, how many need what it offers? That little fraction will be the number of users.

about 4 months ago

CBS 60 Minutes: NSA Speaks Out On Snowden, Spying

Qwertie "how to exploit it"? (504 comments)

foreign nations would know what the US does and doesn't know, and how to exploit it.

How does it help "foreign nations" to know how much the U.S. is or is not spying on its own citizens? How can foreign nations "exploit" a lack of domestic spying? How can foreign nations even "exploit" knowledge about international spying by the U.S. government?

What a backwards comment. Ed Snowden didn't release this information to harm the U.S., he did it to inform U.S. citizens about what their tax dollars were buying without their knowledge. This is stuff citizens should have a right to know.

If World War III were going on, you might have a point about keeping spying ops secret. But in peacetime (and this is peacetime, notwithstanding a couple of US-lead skirmishes), there should be less spying and much more transparency.

about 4 months ago

Come Try Out Slashdot's New Design (In Beta)

Qwertie Don't hide half of each post (1191 comments)

Yuck! Most articles used to fit entirely on the front page. In fact whenever I was about to go on vacation, I would download a couple of pages of Slashdot to read offline. With half of each (already condensed) article hidden, I can no longer do that. I will not put up with having to click-through to read every article.

It's hard to evaluate the comment section as it's clearly messed up in my Chrome browser. This is a test: is Unicode is still not úppórtèd?

about 7 months ago

Raspberry Pi, Smart Highways Win World's Biggest Design Prize

Qwertie Re:A question of cost. (91 comments)

It says here that 40 sheets cost $25 (62 cents). At that price, I don't think folks that can't afford refrigeration will be eager to buy it.

I was curious how it can keep food fresh without actually touching the food, so I looked at their web site. Here's what it says under "How it works":

  • Take out one sheet of FreshPaper
  • Toss in fridge drawer or anywhere you keep produce (fruit bowl, carton, bag)
  • Enjoy fresh produce for 2-4 times longer!

Thanks for nothing, web site! Well, their FAQ says this:

How does FreshPaper work?
FreshPaper is infused with organic spices that inhibit bacterial & fungal growth, as well as enzymes that cause over-ripening. FreshPaper is a safe, remarkably effective, organic solution to spoilage.

about 8 months ago

Ask Slashdot: How To Get Open Source Projects To Take Our Money?

Qwertie Re:If you want to donate, just donate (301 comments)

Wouldn't it be legit if you ask the open-source projects to do something for you? Select some feature(s) or bug fix(es) you'd like in a future version, and pay the lead developers to do it for you. Or, some open source projects have lousy manuals--pay them to improve their documentation.

It's not illegal to pay in advance, is it? Just write the contract in advance.

about 8 months ago

China Plans To Stop Harvesting Organs From Executed Prisoners

Qwertie Re:The death penalty is a little different there (200 comments)

For more information about the organ-harvesting program, watch this.

[Arthur L. Caplan, Ph.D, Director of Medical Ethics, NYU Langone Medical Center:] If you're going to go to China and you're going to get a liver transplant during the three weeks you are there, then that means someone is going to go schedule an execution, blood type and tissue type the potential executee, and have them ready to go before you need to leave.

[Damon Noto, MD, Spokesman, Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting:] Starting at the end of 1999 the number of transplants taking place just exploded.

China carries out more organ transplant surgeries than any country besides the United States. But unlike other countries, China has no effective organ donation program. That is because culturally, Chinese people believe the body must stay intact even after death.

China's Deputy Minister of Health, Huang Jiefu has suggested that there are 7,000 transplants every year from the deceased. And that more than 90% come from executed prisoners.The number of criminal executions in China is classified as a state secret, but Amnesty International's estimate is about 1,700.
[Damon Noto, MD, Spokesman, Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting] The numbers just didn't add up. It's just too large of a discrepancy there.

With only 1,700 executed criminals and no effective donation system, where do the rest of the organs come from?

about 8 months ago

Bradley Manning Says He's Sorry

Qwertie Re:I still want to know why (496 comments)

Bradley Manning didn't dump everything. His most famous leak, the 250,000 diplomatic cables, were not simply released. According to Wikipedia, at first Wikileaks itself released just a couple of cables. Next, it partnered with some news outlets to select specific cables to leak (with redactions to prevent harm to individuals). They released 220 cables at first, and a few thousand more later. Granted, the whole set of 250,000 were fully accessible to specific journalists, but it's not at all the same as a "data dump".

Some months later, a boneheaded journalist published the actual password for decrypting the original cables; later, a backup of the encrypted cables somehow became available as a torrent, so the full set of cables could be decrypted. But this was unintentional and of course, neither of these mistakes was made by Manning himself.

I myself question the wisdom of Manning's release of these cables (I respect him mainly for leaking the Collateral Murder video) but the idea that he "dumped everything" is plainly false.

about 8 months ago

Gladwell's Culture & Air Crashes Analysis Badly Flawed

Qwertie Re:Yeah but it makes a good story (213 comments)

After reading TFA, my faith in Gladwell was shaken. But after reading this and some of the articles that the S.H.A.M.E. page links to...

In 1999, Gladwell wrote a New Yorker article defending the explosion of ADHD amphetamine prescriptions to children against criticism from media and public figures. Gladwell's response: "...are too many children taking the drug--or too few?"

Later that same year, Gladwell published a New Yorker piece that blamed skyrocketing prescription drug prices on users of prescription drugs, not on pharmaceutical companies. New Yorker readers responded angrily, tipping off Slate.com columnist Jack Schafer that Gladwell took "speaking fees from corporations and trade associations" that he covered in print, forcing Gladwell to publicly admit that he had had indeed taken money from the pharmaceutical industry: "Have I given paid speeches to companies or industries mentioned or affected by that article? Yes I have."

By ignoring the slander and actually following the links (including Gladwell's article about drug prices), I find myself admiring Gladwell almost as much as I did before reading TFA. Okay, so he makes some mistakes sometimes, but a corporate shill? No.

about 9 months ago

Big Advance In Hydrogen Production Could Change Alternative Energy Landscape

Qwertie Efficiency more than 100 percent (340 comments)

TFA says "Even more appealing, this reaction occurs at low temperatures, generating hydrogen energy that is greater than the chemical energy stored in xylose and the polyphosphate. This results in an energy efficiency of more than 100 percent â" a net energy gain." Truly we will have to reexamine the laws of thermodynamics in light of this discovery!

1 year,13 days

Ask Slashdot: Typing Advice For a Guinness World Record Attempt?

Qwertie Re:Stenotype (307 comments)

While Dvorak is better than Qwerty, it is not the optimal keyboard layout (e.g. R is a common letter but is not on home row) and Colemak is easier to learn for those that already use Qwerty. I tried learning Dvorak and it was fairly frustrating (it didn't help that punctuation and common keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl+X/C/V had moved); you'll learn Colemak faster because it has some similarity to Qwerty. Asset is even more similar to Qwerty, but it isn't designed to be quite as fast so you probably shouldn't choose it for a world record attempt.

Of course, switching to any other layout will "reset" your speed to almost zero at first, and it could take quite a long time to reach the same speed you had with Qwerty.

about a year ago

30 Days Is Too Long: Animated Rant About Windows 8

Qwertie Re:Not again... (1110 comments)

In 4 years when everything has been converted is touch, you'll wonder how you ever managed with a simple "read only" display.

The sad thing is that MS could have made Win8 touch-friendly without changing everything and ignoring all known usability research; all the touch-friendly stuff could easily been added to the traditional UI. Think about it: they could add bigger buttons, swipe up/down for kinetic scrolling, tap and hold for right-click or tooltips, a resizer-blob in the lower-right corner, some multitouch gestures for quickly organizing windows and so forth (bonus points if two users could use different apps on different windows at the same time).

Instead we have... two totally different UIs, one of which is no more touch-friendly than it was before. Plus, to slow down development they told developers "oh hey, we're gonna make you learn a totally newï set of APIs too."

about a year ago

A Gentle Rant About Software Development and Installers

Qwertie Re:The problem is that we still use installers... (338 comments)

When I saw that the user had "several 2-gigabyte zip files downloaded separately to make it more manageable", the problem seemed pretty clear already. This software might have been over 20 GB unzipped, which is larger than the plain text of Wikipedia; how many parallel versions of how many software stacks is this? (Only games can reasonably be this large--because their size comes from media files, which are easy to manage.)

Dependencies are bad unless you have a really good way of managing them, and sheer size is bad because it makes testing very slow and difficult--and installers themselves are already difficult to get right (I therefore avoid writing software that needs any kind of installation but, obviously, large enterprise software can't avoid it.)

Any company that makes a product this large is surely drowning in technical debt. They will have to spend a lot quality time eliminating unnecessary dependencies and brittle old code. In the meantime, users will be unhappy and new customers will be few.

about a year ago


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