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A Library For Survival Knowledge

Second_Derivative Oil? (272 comments)

You can mine coal fairly easily after the apocalypse, sure, but that isn't going to power an internal combustion engine, only an external one.

All of the readily available oil on the planet except for maybe the Arabian Peninsula has been drilled out. New prospecting is almost exclusively performed on oil rigs that are far offshore, which requires a lot of advanced technology to access (such as helicopters, which are powered by, er, oil).

No, if we get bombed back to the stone age then we're staying there. Maybe we can rise up to some liberterian's wet dream of a coal-powered, diseased, and poisonous world of struggling city-states where the average life expectency is 30, but no more than that.

about 3 months ago

Scientists Successfully Grow Full Head of Hair On Bald Man

Second_Derivative Re:Not the same as male pattern baldness (109 comments)

Yup. This guy has an auto-immune disorder. Pattern baldness is caused by premature death of hair follicles. Treating that would require a way to bring those cells back from the dead or some really nifty tricks with stem cells to replace them.

Not that that's going to stop a deluge of clickbait crap about this over the next few weeks, I'm sure.

about 7 months ago

Chinese Gov't Reveals Microsoft's Secret List of Android-Killer Patents

Second_Derivative Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (140 comments)

This is so damn stupid. If somebody can unwillingly violate your patent then that means your patent is bullshit pretty much by definition. Well, to a reasonable person anyway, the legal system apparently has other ideas.

about 7 months ago

"Smart" Gun Seller Gets the Wrong Kind of Online Attention

Second_Derivative Re:You need keys to drive a car (1374 comments)

Being able to drive a car right this second isn't usually a matter of life or death.

about 9 months ago

Linux May Succeed Windows XP As OS of Choice For ATMs

Second_Derivative Orgs make public win32 to linux transition noises (367 comments)

...in order to extract more favourable terms during licensing negotiations with Microsoft, nothing more.

Nothing to see here.

about 10 months ago

Intel Dev: GTK's Biggest Problem, and What Qt Does Better

Second_Derivative GTK+ is standalone (282 comments)

Qt, on the other hand, is its own universe. It's written in a weird dialect of C++98 (though I'm sure it works just fine in C++11 these days), it has its own object model, networking stack, container library, threading library, graphics primitive library (i.e. not Cairo). This object model also leaks into its language bindings if you don't want to write your software in C++.

It's the same problem that Java and C# also suffer from: they're not cross-platform, nothing is. What they actually are is their own platform built alongside a perfectly good already-existing one, and you can see the seams.

There's more to each platform's UI than what bitmap you skin buttons and checkboxes with. If you want a cross-platform application, then write a completely different UI for each platform using those platforms' native UI toolkits. Sadly "good enough" is the order of the day here, so you end up with platform-refugee applications that look like shit.

1 year,13 days

Victory For Apple In "Patent Trial of the Century," To the Tune of $1 Billion

Second_Derivative Re:Apple stifling innovation in lawsuit (1184 comments)

Game changers earn a short-term first-mover advantage, and given the revenues generated from Apple's iPhone division I don't think they've had any shortage of THAT. Longer term, people will copy innovators and incrementally improve on their new technology, and everybody benefits as a result, in the form of accelerated innovation and lower prices. As the law stands right now, competition is severely hindered in order to extract even more exorbitant revenue than what the Free Market(R) naturally has to offer. You can't have a competitive marketplace when you have to ask the incumbent's permission to compete with them.

Anyway, fuck Apple and fuck the iPhone. Dictatorial control wrapped up in a shiny package, and the masses love it. It is the antithesis of the equalising power of technology that made the field so attractive to me in the first place.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Why Aren't You Running KDE?

Second_Derivative Because, in my opinion, it looks really ugly. (818 comments)

If I'm going to use a desktop for hours on end then I'd prefer that it had aesthetics that don't make me barf. Primary colours everywhere, sharp specular highlights, drop shadows, grey gradients, chunky 3D bezel effects, even the spacing between visual elements and their sizes are just all horribly wrong. I can't understand how anybody could stand looking at that, but I guess KDE has a sufficiently large user base that at least some people disagree.

GNOME 3 might not be ideal, but at least it looks nice. Actually, in my opinion, I think it looks even nicer than Apple's stuff, but again that's just my personal sense of aesthetics talking. If they made the workspace management a little less rudimentary (e.g. if they went back to having a fixed number of workspaces that you could create and destroy on the fly, and allowed you to re-arrange the workspaces themselves as opposed to just the windows on them), then I think I could get used to it. It's still extremely bare in terms of currently-implemented functionality, but hopefully this will improve over time.

more than 2 years ago

William Shatner Wakes Up Crew for Final Discovery Mission

Second_Derivative Re:Pretty Ironic.... (185 comments)

So that would be why all those towns full of "retards that can't take care of themselves" such as Detroit and Camden see their population dry out rapidly?

Come on mate, please don't swallow this "welfare queen" propaganda. It is not in your best interest, never mind the best interests of the world at large.

more than 3 years ago

Land of Lisp

Second_Derivative Re:Modern Computers do come with BASIC (330 comments)

You're kidding about VBScript, right? Short of abusing Scripting.Dictionary in some rather awful ways you can't even define data structures in it, and writing code that spans more than one module involves the use of some obtuse XML crap (.scs files) which most people don't even know about. VBScript has its place but using it for anything other substantially more complex than short straight-line automation scripts is lunacy.

You could write some ephemeral JavaScript programs in an .html file that can't even interact with the filesystem, sure, but these creations would be obvious fourth-class citizens on your shiny 21st century computer, which doesn't yield a particularly satisfying experience for the novice programmer.

No, if a kid with an internet connection wants to start programming stuff then in some senses the ground has never been more fertile. Even if you're not willing to leave Win32 you can quickly and easily download IDLE or a win32 build of Ruby, and the latter has plenty of really gentle tutorials to ease a novice into the world of programming, to the point where the interested reader could probably stumble oneward from there through Wikipedia well enough for most of the intermediate concepts to stick. The sort of things you can easily accomplish with MinGW and a bit of Googling today would have absolutely blown my ten year old mind back when anything above the level of BASIC was a forbidden art unheard of outside of obscure BBSes (which show up on your parents' phone bill) or a university library.

On the other hand, a modern PC environment is a frightfully complicated beast compared to an Amiga or a Spectrum. That I think is far more of a problem than the availability of simple tools and documentation these days... that and a more comfortable consumption-oriented environment on a modern desktop that doesn't force you to make your own fun.

more than 4 years ago

Anti-Google Video Runs In Times Square

Second_Derivative Nobody ever mentions the second part of that quote (346 comments)

"but if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines including Google do retain this information for some time, and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act. It is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities."

Which is basically the most direct way of saying "the NSA has a gun to my head" that that is available to him. Honestly, I'm not all that worried about Google in and of itself. They seem to be fairly transparent about what they do and why they collect that information in the first place, and they are staffed by a lot people with similar views to the prevailing opinion on Slashdot (though these views are necessarily going to be much more moderate than a lot of the views expressed here, or they wouldn't be working for Google in the first place).

No, the fact that Google is a treasure trove of personal information for the United States' various three-letter agencies is far more worrying to me than any ill will on the part of Google, particularly given the US' eagerness to conduct national and corporate espionage to secure themselves any economic advantage for the United States. Or to scour the world for all the entities that they might consider to be a threat, real or imagined. Naturally I'm just another unimportant geek and not a visionary engineer or a trade negotiator, so I shouldn't have anything to fear personally from this system (yet, anyway), but nonetheless I still find this unbridled use of dirty tactics to be morally repugnant. /That/ is the real message we should be hearing about Google, but I doubt that it lines up with the interests of whoever is controlling this particular drawerful of sock puppets.

more than 4 years ago

Is a US High-Speed Railway Economically Feasible?

Second_Derivative Re:Another stupid idea that will increase the defi (1139 comments)

A private consortium tried just that back in 1991 in Texas. Then Southwest Airlines called in a few favours and had the project destroyed (some details on Wikipedia here.). Free market capitalism may or may not have worked here (if it did then one could certainly expect other consortia to follow suit) but the Texas state government never gave us a chance to find out.

more than 4 years ago

Microsoft Losing Big To Apple On Campus

Second_Derivative Re:damn (764 comments)

It is the year of Linux on the desktop if you count smartphones as desktops

more than 4 years ago

'Bloatware' Becoming a Problem On Android Phones

Second_Derivative Re:This is why I was for the Nexus One (415 comments)

Nexus One has precisely this problem, which is why I didn't buy it. It comes with a Facebook app and an Amazon MP3 Store app, neither of which are removable without rooting the phone. Yes there's an officially sanctioned mechanism for rooting and reflashing the devide, but I shouldn't have to void the warranty to remove unwanted functionality.

more than 4 years ago

Droid X Self-Destructs If You Try To Mod

Second_Derivative Re:I do! (757 comments)

For fifty freaking bucks a month, just so you can send text messages AND make calls? are you fucking kidding me?

My experience of America so far is that for every walk of life there's a government-backed corporate monopoly eager to bend you over the barrel, but even by American standards the GSM networks are fucking highway robbery (yes I know Verizon isn't even GSM, but they're no better in any other respect either). I have my own non-smart phone and I want to continue using it instead of switching to your country's third-world technology.

No, fuck T-Mobile and fuck every other carrier over here too. Why should I beg and show gratitude for something that's a basic service in every other part of the world.

more than 4 years ago

Finland To Legalize Use of Unsecured Wi-Fi

Second_Derivative Re:Scandinavian countries seem wise (151 comments)

It's also the country that passed Lex Nokia not too long ago. Certainly the Finnish situation isn't as bad as it is in the UK and the US, but it's still not perfect.

more than 4 years ago

How Did Wikileaks Do It?

Second_Derivative Re:GPU Parallel processing (973 comments)

Brute-forcing problems are exponential in key size, though. Add a few more bits to your key, and even if you could turn the entire mass of the sun into Tesla blades, cool it, and power it, then that still wouldn't help you. It's true that the last few years have seen the emergence of commodity hardware with some truly terrifying amounts of compute power, but these security standards are engineered against "turn-the-solar-system-into-a-supercomputer" assuptions of adersarial compute power just to account for semi-unexpected revolutions such as these.

Something else is probably afoot here.

more than 4 years ago

Obama Backs MPAA, RIAA, and ACTA

Second_Derivative Re:First rebellion (703 comments)

Posting to retain a reference...

more than 4 years ago

Europe To Block ACTA Disconnect Provisions

Second_Derivative Re:I'm an American... (194 comments)

They're standing up to your government. Why the hell aren't you?

more than 4 years ago

Google Italy Execs Convicted Over YouTube Bullying Video

Second_Derivative Re:Bread and circuses (391 comments)

Isn't that the whole point of this judgement?

Some owner of an Italian-language search engine must have done an awful lot of whining to his friends in the judiciary recently.

more than 4 years ago


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