70% of U.S. Government Spending Is Writing Checks To Individuals
At first, I thought the story here is that the U.S. government spends 70% of its budget on writing checks. To which my response would have been that moving to something more efficient than the ridiculous banking system we have in the U.S. would then make the federal government much more efficient.
It appears to be that, rather, 70% of the budget is being paid out to individuals - much of it in the form of health benefits, social security, and income security. Is that cause for concern? Direct payments to individuals have increased relative to other things the federal government spends money on. Ok, the percentages move, that's expected. They're now at 70% of the total budget. Ok, that's somewhat interesting. But what's the actual story here? Is some program growing faster than tax revenue to the point that we have to be concerned that we won't be able to afford it anymore? Did total budget decrease, thus making the percentage larger? Do you feel that the government is spending money on things they shouldn't be spending (as much) money on?
The article provides some more detail: it claims the percentage spent on income security will drop from 25% in 2009 to 17% in 2019, as more is spent on "middle-class entitlement programs such as ObamaCare". So I guess the problem isn't with the 70% being paid to individuals, but with the individuals it gets paid to. Fair enough, we all have our own ideas about which groups the government should be sending money to (if anyone), but perhaps it would have been more productive to get straight to that part, instead of suggesting that 70% is rather high, when the thing you would like money to be spent on is actually part of that 70%.
Ask Slashdot: What Software Can You Not Live Without?
First things first:
aptitude so dependencies automatically get installed and uninstalled. Edit the configuration to not install recommended packages by default. Keep it lean!
openntpd (or some other ntpd) so the computer will know what time it is.
sudo so that I can log in as a regular user and still do system maintenance.
openssh-server (or some other SSH server) so I can log in remotely. I usually change the port number. Make sure root logins are disabled.
tmux so that I can have multiple shells in a single ssh session. screen works for this, too, but I recently switched to tmux.
rsync so that I can copy files around efficiently.
After that, it depends on what I want to do with the system. Usually, there will be at least some software development, so build-essential (libc-dev, gcc, make), irb, git. Usually ssh and some network debugging tools like ping and traceroute6.
I like zsh, so if I'm going to be using the system extensively, I'll install that. If this is my primary system, irssi and mutt. If the system has enough memory to run it, emacs24-nox.
If I want a GUI, xserver-xorg, xterm, whatever window manager I happen to like at the moment (wmii), some web browser (iceweasel).
It's been a while since I've last done this, so I may have missed some things, but this seems to be about it. The package names are for Debian-like systems and will likely be a bit different for other systems, but I don't generally maintain those.
Examining the User-Reported Issues With Upgrading From GCC 4.7 To 4.8
Having been somewhat involved in the migration of a lot of C++ code from older versions of gcc to gcc 4.8.1, I can tell you that 4.8.1 definitely has bugs, in particular with -ftree-slp-vectorize. This doesn't appear to be a huge problem in that almost all the (correct) C++ code we threw at the compiler produced good compiler output, meaning that the quality of the compiler is very good overall. If you do find a bug, and you have some code that reproduces the problem, file a bug report, and the gcc devs will fix the problem. At any rate, gcc 4.8.2 has been out for a number of months now, so if you're still on 4.8.1, you may want to upgrade.
Will Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn Stay With MySQL?
Check out https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-engineering/tao-the-power-of-the-graph/10151525983993920
To answer your question, you would basically ask TAO for all objects which are connected to the object that represents you by the "friend" association.
TAO would then do whatever database queries are necessary to get what it doesn't already have in cache, cache the results, and return them to you.
Will Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn Stay With MySQL?
Go back further to when MySQL got momentum and Postgres did not do SQL *AT ALL*.
Actually, let me get some citations for you, although they contradict your statement:
In 1994, Berkeley graduate students Andrew Yu and Jolly Chen replaced the Ingres-based QUEL query language interpreter with one for the SQL query language
The first version of MySQL appeared on 23 May 1995
So it would appear that Postgres supported SQL before MySQL even existed.
Nuclear Trashmen Profit From Unprecedented US Reactor Shutdowns
Not to detract from anything else in your post, but my understanding of the Fukushima nuclear incident is that the problem wasn't so much that the reactors didn't shut down or that there were runaway nuclear reactions, but rather that there wasn't enough cooling. As I remember it, the reactors shut down just fine as soon as the earthquake hit, but the aftermath of that earthquake caused such a great disaster that it was difficult to get power to the cooling systems and emergency cooling equipment to the site. Do I misremember?
Unlocked Firefox OS ZTE Open Is Now Available On eBay For For $80
I wonder how well this will run. Although Firefox has slimmed down somewhat after the 2.x era, it has never been particularly lightweight in my experience. About every other smartphone OS maker who has gone the "thou shalt build thy apps using HTML5, not native code" has been burned by bad performance, even when they launched with high-end phones.
According to this CNET review, the ZTE Open is at least faster than the Alcatel Fire, which they describe as slow and laggy.
I guess all this means that they are aiming Firefox OS at the low end of the market, where performance matters less than being able to afford a smartphone. However, I've always found it strange that companies do that - if you are going to make a low-end device, wouldn't you want to make the most efficient use of the hardware resources you have by running native code even more than if you had plenty of CPU cycles and RAM to burn?
Microsoft Slashes Prices On Surface
I feel for people who work for Microsoft these days. People I know who have worked there say it is a great company to work for (especially Microsoft Research), but it can't be good for morale that several of their recent major releases have met with so much backlash.
Microsoft Reacts To Feedback But Did They Get Windows 8.1 Right?
In an attempt to grab the niche market, they seem to be eviscerating their core one.. Which I really just don't understand..
Maybe they are betting that the PC will decline and the other devices they make software for (phones, tablets, touch screen laptops, Xbox) will take over. By unifying the UI, they will then offer a consistent interface that people are likely to already be familiar with.
Introducing the NSA-Proof Crypto-Font
The making of the font is a political statement against government machinery and software spying on us and taking our humanity away. As such, I'd say it's quite clever and attention-getting.
Oh, I thought the point was figuring out how many unsuspecting netizens could be fooled into seriously discussing what is obviously a joke.
I mean, first we get a whole uproar about the NSA wiretapping, as if this is news. This was going on when Bush the second was president, and was widely discussed at the time. Really, this isn't news.
Then we get people seriously believing things like the NSA using more storage capacity than has actually been manufactured worldwide, or an operation like what the NSA was purportedly carrying out costing only 20 million dollars.
And now people are seriously talking about a *font* that is supposed to somehow stymie these efforts.
Clearly, someone is playing some netwide joke on us. The thing is, I'm not really amused, because there are real issues here and real people are being negatively affected by all this nonsense.
Introducing the NSA-Proof Crypto-Font
There are more geeks helping the NSA builds a Stasi apperatus than there are geeks working on building a truely anonymous and untappable internet.
Northern Hemisphere Pollution a Cause of '80s Africa Drought
I often hear this argument about NIMBYs, but I wonder how much of a problem that actually is. I'm sure you are right that there will be protests no matter what kind of power plant you want to build, but, in the meantime, around the world (and I believe in the USA, too), fossil fuel burning power plants are still being built. Looks to me like you can get stuff done despite the NIMBYs.
What Keeps You On (or Off) Windows in 2013?
Games. As far as I am concerned, Microsoft Windows is the best platform for computer games, and has been for years. For other things I do with computers, I prefer other platforms, though.
Xbox One: Cloud Will Quadruple the Power, Says Microsoft
"for every console Microsoft builds, it will provision the CPU and storage equivalent of three Xbox One consoles in the cloud"
If they can do that, why don't they just make the actual console more powerful? I don't see how having 3/4 of your processing power located remotely is better than having it locally. And instead of the 500GB local storage that is frankly not that much by today's standards, they could have 2TB of local storage.
I think there's something they're not telling us.
Google Betting Its Google+ Systems Know What's Best For You
There is a difference between "we need this" and "this is a useful feature". As a species, we don't _need_ to buy furniture that someone else has built, but I'm sure most of us prefer it over growing our own trees, mining our own iron ore, extracting our own iron, making our own tools, and building our own furniture. For one thing, we'll have more time to devote to doing other things. This is progress, man. Why all the hate?
Ubuntu Touch Developers Aim for Daily Phone Usability Before June
This is the first I've heard of the project, but from a cursory glance at http://www.ubuntu.com/phone , I'm pretty excited. Have the phone for on the go, then dock it and use it as a full PC when at home. Definitely, sign me up!
Why US Mileage Ratings Are So Inaccurate
I've only driven 2 cars since the 2008 revision to EPA estimates, but they have been close for me. I drove a Honda Civic Hybrid and got about 47 mpg (EPA estimate 45 mpg). Then, credit shenanigans made most cars unaffordable to me, but I ended up getting a good deal on a 2012 Nissan Altima. With my city driving, I get a little over 20 mpg (EPA rating 23). On long highway trips, I get about 30 mpg (EPA rating 32).
So, with one car, I got a few mpg better than the estimate. With the other, I get a few mpg worse than the estimate. Both of them are close. I do note that both frequent stops and high speed tend to destroy fuel economy. I blame the ridiculous number of stop signs for the former, and drivers' choice to exceed the speed limit for the latter.
Why US Mileage Ratings Are So Inaccurate
There's plenty to gripe about with the EPA mileage estimates. My personal pet peeve is not accounting for some fuel saving techniques. When I drive in city traffic, especially on my way to work, I spend a substantial amount of time stopped in front of traffic lights. Some cars actually turn off the engine in that scenario. It seems to me that this is a fairly simple optimization to make. Yet many cars don't have this feature. I've been told it doesn't affect the EPA rating, even though real-world fuel savings are reportedly 5-10%.
Google and Adobe Contribute Open Source Rasterizer to FreeType
I happen to like the way FreeType does this (and Apple and Microsoft's new rendering in Vista (I forgot the name)). Although Microsoft's clamping to pixels avoids things getting fuzzy and hard to read, it also tends to make things look different from how they were supposed to look. Also (I suspect in combination with some kind of hinting), on Microsoft's old rendering, all fonts tend to look the same at small sizes.
FreeType fonts used to be blurry to the point that they would be hard to read. I haven't had that problem for years (I think the autohinter fixed that). Of course, more pixels also help. Yay, higher-resolution displays!
US Officials Rebuke India's Request To Subpoena Facebook, Google
s/the Muslims, /people /
It's not the religion that's the problem, it's some individuals' attitudes. If you attribute this to the wrong property, you are going to both falsely accuse Muslims who aren't part of the problem and let off the hook non-Muslims who are. You can do better than that.