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Debian Forked Over Systemd

dbc Re:Wow... (193 comments)

You comment is well put. A distro that is "Debian without systemd dependencies" has a very large built-in audience right out of the gate. And that audience is technically sophisticated, with the ability to contribute. Regardless of whether or not you consider that audience a herd of Luddites (which I do not) it has both critical mass and sufficient know-how and motivation to give Devuan a fast ramp, which is the key to survival in today's crowded distro world.

1 hour ago
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Microsoft Rolls Out Robot Security Guards

dbc Ha! Microsoft bought all the prototypes! (140 comments)

I've seen these robots, inside and out. Plywood and body putty, mainly, with off-the-shelf electronics and software glued together. Very spiffy-lookging UI, though. Gotta do the pretty part first, you know.

The CEO of the company has an interesting track record -- no time to google it now as I'm headed for the airport -- but he left the taxpayers of Indiana with a $75 million liability when his company harvested a bunch of tax credits and then cratered. Oh... and I think just a couple of weeks ago this CEO said they had built only a hanful of units so far, like under 10.

The plywood and body putty issue can be solved with a few man-years of engineering so that doesn't bother me too much now except that the PR photos may be a bit misleading. The tendancy of the CEO to harvest large quantities of dollars and then move half a continent away must give pause.

about a week ago
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UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online

dbc Basil? BASIL!? (307 comments)

Fawlty Towers was a documentary, not fiction.

about two weeks ago
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Intel Claims Chip Suppliers Will Flock To Its Mobile Tech

dbc Re:Cost per wafer? (91 comments)

You are partly right. The correct question is to ask *when* cost per wafer matters. You rightly state that Intel's cost per wafer is higher because it is running leading edge processes. To make money doing that, you have to deliver value to your customer in the form of a chip that can only be manufactured on a leading edge process. If your costomer can derive the same value from a chip made on a cheaper process, the ultimate end-game is that your office cube walls end up at an auction house.

about two weeks ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

dbc Re:So, does water cost more? (377 comments)

??? Dude, that is the way my great-grandfather farmed when he moved from New York to homestead in the Iowa territory. Most grains haven't been grown from saved seed for two generations. Pigs are now hybred breeds. Dairy has been using artificial insemination breeding programs for two generations. You are a little behind the times, my friend. Before you go spouting off about agricultural science, I suggest you learn some..

about two weeks ago
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Google's Lease of NASA Airfield Criticized By Consumer Group

dbc And who else would rent it? (138 comments)

The Moffat authority has to be the worst landlord in Silicon Valley. I was involved in trying to find space for an educational non-profit (I am on the board). We looked at some space the Moffat authority had -- what they offered and the prices and terms they put forth were pure, unadultrated lifetime-government-employee unhingedness. It didn't even pass the giggle test. We snorted and moved on. Also... I have some friends at the Carnegie-Melon Silicon Valley campus, which rents from the Moffat authority. What they have to go through is goofy -- the rents are high, it takes forever to get permission to do anything, in part because Moffat has historic status. Hanger 1, in particular, is listed separately on the national register of historic buildings. So not only do you have to find a tennant who actually wants that behemouth space, you need to find a tennant that finds doing business with a capricious, narcissictic, and unhinged landlord entertaining. Good luck.

about two weeks ago
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Google To Lease and Refurbish Naval Air Base For Space Exploration

dbc Hanger 1 is big. No, really. (89 comments)

A few years back when the Navy was still at Moffat, I went to the open house during Fleet Week. They had a lot of interesting stuff going on. Some of the displays were set up in hanger 1, so I wandered in a side door and was looking at displays -- then I heard what sounded like the burner for a hot air balloon. When I looked toward the sound, I noticed it *was* a hot air balloon. They had a couple of balloons set up in a back corner, and they were giving people hot air balloon rides *inside* of hanger 1. And that wasn't the first thing I noticed. Hanger 1 is big.

about two weeks ago
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The Plane Crash That Gave Us GPS

dbc Re:timeline (236 comments)

Yes, well, I can't say if celestial is still part of the curriculum, since I don't sail any more and haven't kept up. I know I would NOT take off from San Francisco to Hawaii with some goofus that didn't know how to do celestical nav and was relying entirely on electronics -- but that's just me. At least not in a boat.... but of course it's been a long time since the airlines navigated the Pacific using a sextant.

about three weeks ago
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EFF Hints At Lawsuit Against Verizon For Its Stealth Cookies

dbc Re:Surprised no violences (81 comments)

Definitely corporate paranoia. I've seen it in action. Company gets big enough that corporate security is a sizable organization. Security hires a couple of professional paranoids to do corporate level security planning. They identify various important people that need to be protected from threats -- they don't have to be actual threats yet, the planners are paid to be professional paranoids and plan for things that *might* happen. And since they can generalize from what has happened to similarly situated executives at other companies, it's hard to say they aren't doing their job correctly. Then you start seeing things like convenient drop-off/pick-up parking near the front door replaced with plazas and fountains so that truck bombs can't park in front of the headquarters lobby.

In any large enough population of employees you will find loonies and criminals, despite the best hiring and interview practices. I even have personal experience -- an employee (a good one) was prescribed some reeeeeally not good for him medication by a well-meaning doctor. The employee became extremely erratic and I was glad for the security measures we had in place. We also got him to a different doctor. In any sufficiently large population, stuff happens -- sometimes quite unpredictably.

about three weeks ago
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Undersized Grouper Case Lands In Supreme Court

dbc Re:If they're going literal.... (251 comments)

Well, I'm kind of with you that this is evidence tampering. But why throw SarBox at them? Why push for two years in prison? This is abuse of prosecutorial discretion. Armed robbery gets lighter sentences -- here we have a case of a fisherman keeping an undersize fish. If somebody gets 3 months of probation for armed robbery, I have a hard time seeing how you can ask for two years for trying to pull a fast switcheroo with a fish. Prosecutors in this country have come unhinged -- they don't prosecute real crime, and they try to notch up wins on soft targets just to make their own win/loss record look good. It makes a farce of the justice system.

about three weeks ago
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Too Many Kids Quit Science Because They Don't Think They're Smart

dbc Re:kids can learn calculus? (273 comments)

eh... maybe. The death march to calculus is not a great way to teach math, IMHO. I think kids should get a big dose of number theory and discrete math in elementary school. Real mathematics is finding patterns, not winning the MIT integration bee.

The best math text books I've seen are from Art of Problem Solving. They do on line math classes, but you can buy the books separately. The on line math classes go at a rocket-ship pace, so they aren't for everybody. The books are wonderful, must kids just will need a slower pace than AoPS on line classes.

That said, yes kids can learn calculus. My daughter finished multi-variable calculus at a local university at age 13. But don't confuse learning calculus with learning real mathematics.

about three weeks ago
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Too Many Kids Quit Science Because They Don't Think They're Smart

dbc Re:The worst thing you can do. (273 comments)

A wealthy friend of the family once told me: "There are two ways to become wealthy: out smart the other guy. The rest of us out work him."

Most people who are wealthy have wealthy parents. It is overwhelmingly the most common way to become wealthy. Virtually nobody makes it to "the top" solely through hard work. Wealthy people always extol the virtues of hard work, but the truth is that there is no amount of hard work will necessarily make you successful. There are too many people waiting with outstretched hands to take advantage of you, or feet waiting to trip you — mostly to assure that you don't threaten their success in this negative-sum game.

Well, that is awfully defeatist. Sure, a lot of people become wealthy because they had wealthy parents. But that doesn't imply that people without wealthy parents can't become wealthy. It is possible, and working at it plays a signficant role. In my case, I am literally an Iowa pig farmer's orphan boy. Money was tight when I was growing up, but I could afford engineering school at in-state tuition at a land-grant university because of frugal habits. I distinctly remember struggling over DiffEQ homework and thinking to myself: "I can either do what it takes to survive this course, or go home and clean hog barns the rest of my life." That was a powerful motivator, so I worked at it. I also worked very hard, long hours at a couple of failed start-ups. But I kept trying. And what do you know, one finally hit and I was able to make work optional at age 42.

The problem with your attitude is that it allows people to give up. Don't give up. Suppose I was still searching for that first start-up hit? I'd rather die still looking for it than give up. (Actually, I'm looking for the *next* one.)

Now, I'm not saying that if you're not wealthy yet you're doing it wrong. A lot of things can get in the way. But if you aren't *trying* then stop whining. Wealth is more a combination of attitude and habit than a state of being.

about three weeks ago
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The Plane Crash That Gave Us GPS

dbc Re:timeline (236 comments)

You are right about GPS being available, but with a limited constellation. But the prices weren't awful -- in the sailing world they were comparable with other navigation electronics. I learned to sail during the transition -- people still had LORAN receivers, and long-haul sailors still needed to know celestial navigation, but a GPS was certainly a gizmo you could afford for you boat. But sailors crossing the Pacific might go hours without a GPS fix, because not enough birds were in view.

about three weeks ago
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Online Payment Firm Stripe Boots 3D Gun Designer Cody Wilson's Companies

dbc Re:Sigh (353 comments)

No, it actually is a generic milling machine. It is *marketed* as a CNC mill with a work envelope adequate to complete a cast aluminum AR-15 lower receiver, and the CNC program to do that comes with it. The law here is very well defined. You are right in that selling a "MetallicaShare" machine is questionable, because violating the Metallica copyrights is illegal. But homebuilt firearms are completely legal as long as all applicable laws are followed. Wilson is selling a legal machine that can do many legal things other than build firearms, and can also completely legally mill a completely legal AR-15 lower receiver.

You may not like it. You may not like the way I cook fish. That doesn't matter -- it is legal. The essence of freedom is letting other people do things you don't so much like, as long as they are doing no harm to you.

As to Wilson having the same liability as selling AR-15 lowers, pfffft. According to FBI statistics, more people are killed every year by blunt trauma (a hammer to the head) than by rifles of all types. Go look it up, it's on line. The hardware store isn't liable for selling hammers. Hammers aren't serialized. You don't need a license to carve your own hickory handle for a hammer head. The hardware store isn't liable for selling you a carving chisel if you kill someone with a hammer using a hand-carved handle that you made with a chisel you bought from them. Murder is already a crime. Knowledge of how to build firearms is not a crime.

about three weeks ago
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Online Payment Firm Stripe Boots 3D Gun Designer Cody Wilson's Companies

dbc Re:Sigh (353 comments)

Except that the laws regarding home-built firearms are very well established and have been well fleshed-out. Believe me, a lot of the corner cases have been adjudicated. Wilson is selling a milling machine. People put hunks of metal in it. A CNC program runs on it. A home-built firearm comes out. That makes Wilson's machine no different from any other CNC milling machine. Look, illiterate craftsmen in Pakistan build AK-47's from scrap metal with hand tools. Are you going to require licenses for metal files now?

about three weeks ago
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Ferguson No-Fly Zone Revealed As Anti-Media Tactic

dbc Re:Personal liability is the key (265 comments)

No, I believe you are mistaken. AFAIK, an individual may bring a private cause of action under section 1983. A quick Google search seemed to confirm that. IANAL.

about three weeks ago
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Ferguson No-Fly Zone Revealed As Anti-Media Tactic

dbc Re:Personal liability is the key (265 comments)

Check out section 1983 of the civil rights act of 1871. Still in force, and has been for nearly 150 years. It was used pretty effectively after the Civil War, when the sheriff might also be a member of the Klan...

about three weeks ago
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How Sony, Intel, and Unix Made Apple's Mac a PC Competitor

dbc Re:Being different was a boat anchor. (296 comments)

There was a time when the PPC was significantly better at multi-media processing tasks than most other processors. And Apple was historically a strong contender in graphic arts and video editing even before the PPC days. Those two things combined are why all those tatooed hippies were willing to pay so much for an Apple machine -- it actually *did* make them much more productive because the PPC hardware was good at media, the media apps were well done, and the connectivity to still and video cameras was much less hassle compared to the baling wire, bubble gum, and prayer it took to get video into a Windows machine.

Eventually Intel added various kinds of SIMD and media instructions to boost media performance, IBM's development tempo on the PPC fell behind and they weren't releasing new chips often enough, and the IBM fab process made the PPC chips rather power hungry. (A friend of mine had a PPC laptop, and has a bad back. One night he tweaked his back, took some gnarly pain meds for it, fell asleep with a PPC laptop on his legs, and ended up in the emergency room for burn treatment. They were that hot.)

Apple put a lot of work into making OS X portable. That went on for a long time and the effort must not be discounted. The first pay-off was being able to switch away from PPC -- to anything they wanted. Intel won that one. But they can build for other chips quite easily, witness tablet/laptops. Apple could decide tomorrow to switch away from Intel, and it would be relatively pain-free. That is the real lesson here -- portability pays dividends. Apple was on PPC in part because they were chasing good media processing -- Apple went to Intel because they were still chasing good media processing. Apple's new A8/M8 chips in the iPhone 6 have good media processing. There's a theme here....

about a month ago
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Xerox Alto Source Code Released To Public

dbc Re:PARC monument (121 comments)

There was a commercially available Smalltalk that ran just fine on the original Mac. Adding it to the Mac ROM image would have added less than 64K bytes to the image (originally 128K) so no way would it have doubled the costs. And it would not have precluded the 68000 C/assembly programs -- it would have provided the same hacker-friendly extension environment provided by BASIC on the Apple II as an addition. For a small incremental cost they could have enabled a huge eco-system of community-created applications -- that was a huge opportunity forgone.

One of the reasons Smalltalk ran well on the Mac is that the main thing that makes a system feel snappy is good rendering -- and of course it relied on the hand-tuned assembly rendering API in the ROMs. Sure, you may have noticed the speed on compute-intensive apps, but that really wasn't the bread-and-butter of the original Mac.

Jobs did learn his lesson, as you point out he corrected the oversight in the NeXT project. But Jobs is also on record as regretting ignoring Smalltalk on that fateful day at PARC, regarding it as a mistake.

about a month ago

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