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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

itsdapead Re:Better to starve I guess? (136 comments)

It produces Bt, which is toxic to certain orders of insects, not to humans.

The problem isn't killing off a few humans. Plenty more where they came from. Disrupting ecosystems due to unintended consequences could be far more destructive.

E.g. Transfer natural insecticide "X" from plant Q to plant P, insect A (that had never encountered plant Q) eats P and accumulates X; insect B eats insect A and dies from X, is no longer around to eat insect C, which swarms and displaces insect D, which had an essential role in pollenating crop S...

Of course, X could get transferred from plant Q to P naturally or by old-fangled horticulture - but this will happen gradually, even horticulture will probably take decades, giving ecosystems time to adapt, but GM can make the transfer and roll out the GMO around the world within a few years. Plus, with GM, X might come from a plant from another continent, a seaweed, a jellyfish...

Now, if we could only be sure that the firms making GMO crops were painstakingly exploring all possible ecological side effects, and would scrap a new product at the first hint of any possible problem on a "better safe than sorry" basis, then the benefits of GMO might outweigh the risks. Unfortunately, these are probably the same people who thought that putting diseased sheeps' brains into cattle feed was a good idea, who are resisting attempts to ban neonicatinoids until its absolutely 100% proven beyond all doubt that they're killing bees, and think a 1m strip of ploughed land around a GMO trial field will prevent cross-pollenation.

Plus, as others have pointed out, the problems of food supply are caused by poor infrastructure, overpopulation, growing high-value crops for 1st-world markets instead of food and over-reliance on single crops. These are not generally helped by increasing yields in the already-overproducing rich nations who can afford to buy GMOs.

11 hours ago

Of the following, I'd rather play ...

itsdapead Re:No option for Azad? (273 comments)

Personally, I prefer games where you don't get bits of your body cut off when you lose.


Of the following, I'd rather play ...

itsdapead Missing Option (273 comments)

Mornington Crescent!


Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It

itsdapead In office: Slashdot comment (231 comments)

Dear Slashdot,

I am currently in the office attempting to work, so I am unable to post a funny, informative or insightful comment on this story. I expect to be goofing off again in an hour or so at which time I will give your story my full attention.


3 days ago

Critics To FTC: Why Do You Hate In-App Purchasing Freedom?

itsdapead Re:one thing i don't get (171 comments)

Why would anyone give their credit card info to some random app?

They don't. "In-App purchases" are charged to your Apple Store/ Google Play/Amazon/whatever account. There are APIs to enable this.

You usually have to give your password for this to happen... but there are various gotchas such as a 15-minute window during which you don't have to re-enter your password and other design flaws e.g. asking for your password even for free apps.

So, scenario: Little Johnny asks Daddy to enter password to install free, or maybe 50c game. Daddy checks that game is, indeed $0.50 and enters password, 10 minutes later, Daddy has left the room and little Johnny is asked if he wants to buy 1000 magic berries for $10... and doesn't need a password.

Then, you've got games which mix in-app purchases with real money and an in-app imaginary currency just for good measure...

about three weeks ago

Unesco Probing Star Wars Filming In Ireland

itsdapead Re:Today I Learnt that... (181 comments)

Many puffins died to bring us this information...

about three weeks ago

How long ago did you last assemble a computer?

itsdapead Re:Glad to see you use the term 'assemble' (391 comments)

What? A 6502? You mean you didn't make your own CPU out of TTL? Lightweight! (Seriously, I only ever did that as part of a highly scripted undergraduate lab exercise and it was mostly pre-assembled, but you did see how a simple CPU worked, and got to write microcode).

about three weeks ago

Ford, GM Sued Over Vehicles' Ability To Rip CD Music To Hard Drive

itsdapead Re:Car analogy? (317 comments)

Could someone explain this to me with a car analogy?

Someone invents the Star Trek Matter Replicator.

So, rather than take your new car out and get it dirty, you run it through the replicator to make a working copy for day-to-day driving and keep the original in the garage. While your at it, you make another copy for your Significant Other so that they can (according to their inclination) fill up the footwells with high-heeled shoes and/or dismantle it and leave bits strewn around the house without bothering you, and one for each of your 3 kids, and one for your mate Bob (in return for the speedboat that they let you copy last month).

Ford then sues the replicator manufacturer, basing their damages on the theory that obviously if you hadn't had the replicator you'd have bought seven cars off them instead of one.

Meanwhile, Paramount reveals that it applied for patents for everything in Star Trek in 1969 and, by continually updating the applications to involve more sex and lens flare, they're still valid, so they're suing as well.

This is why we can't haz post-scarcity utopia.

about three weeks ago

People Who Claim To Worry About Climate Change Don't Cut Energy Use

itsdapead Re:No real surprise (710 comments)

Why wasn't this modded funny? That list clearly was ironic, right?

"Solved" is a bit wildly optimistic.

"Improved beyond recognition where the laws exist and are enforced" I could go with.

about a month ago

New Raspberry Pi Model B+

itsdapead Re:RPi? That overhyped underdimensioned joke alive (202 comments)

Really guys, you update it but you do nothing about the processor or amount of RAM?!

Seriously, what do you expect for $35? They've done well to add the extra USB without raising the price (and, hopefully, removed the need to buy a powered USB hub which was the real dealbreaker with the old Pi).

The stated aim of the Pi was to always encourage people to muck around with programming and electronics without the risk of bricking an expensive PC. Its quite deliberately built down to a price, so letting the magic smoke out is never a big deal.

Devices like the Hummingboard and the BeagleBone Black (which probably wouldn't have existed without the success of the Pi) look great, but they already cost ~30% more.

about a month ago

FTC Files Suit Against Amazon For In-App Purchases

itsdapead Re:Where is section 5? (47 comments)

Anyone got any ideas where I'm doing it wrong?

You need to 30 gems to get the Magic Scroll of Tort and unlock section 5. Best way is to purchase the "LawyerUp Gold" pack for $14.99.

Thank you for playing Crazy Courtroom Saga 3.

about a month ago

Amazon Fighting FTC Over In-App Purchases Fine

itsdapead Re:The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (137 comments)

What is next, blame Ford because your kid was able to steal your keys off your dresser and wreck the car while you are sleeping?

...if Ford made the key fob in the shape of a cartoon character with a voice chip that kept saying "Hey kids! Pick me up and lets go for a drive" then, maybe.

Yes, parents should take responsibility for their kids - but that doesn't give businesses the right to exploit their slightest lapse.

about a month and a half ago

Tesla Aims For $30,000 Price, 2017 Launch For Model E

itsdapead Re:many are missing something important. (247 comments)

If you actually had one, you'd be aware where the superchargers within 100 miles of you are

I've looked. There isn't one.

To be fair, I live in the UK and they're only just starting to roll out. Last time I looked, the nearest one was in the Netherlands, but now there's one in London, which is about 125 miles away. However, the problem is that it is in London. With London traffic, even if your home or destination is in another part of London, that's not a lot of use. According to the Tesla site they'll have about 10 stations around England by the end of the year - but if they are likewise in the middle of major cities rather than motorway service areas they will be of limited use.

Looking at the US map, there are plenty of states with no chargers.

I've also looked at what I could do with a Leaf or something: there is actually a pretty comprehensive network of 'fast' chargers at motorway service areas, hotels etc. so in theory I could make my most common ~200 mile journey with a mid-way recharge and lunch break... except there's one small problem: these stations typically have one "fast" charger (go and have lunch) and one "slow" charger (check in to the nearest hotel). If you arrived for your charge and somebody had already plugged in and buggered off for a 4-course meal, you'd better hope that you've got enough juice to get to the next one - which means you're going to end up stopping for a top up ad every single bloody charger you pass 'just in case'.

The BMW i3 with range extender looks interesting - especially as the UK/EU version has a bigger petrol tank than the US one (which has been gimped to qualify as an EV in California) - but it costs a fortune compared with other small cars.

about a month and a half ago

Tesla Aims For $30,000 Price, 2017 Launch For Model E

itsdapead Re:Not American, but... (247 comments)

For fuck's sake, read your choice of the article, the summary, or the title before posting. This is a $30,000 mid-range vehicle that would fulfil, entirely, the commuting needs of a vast segment of American commuters (who don't drive long distances or haul boats or other large things).

For fuck's sake, red and comprehend your choice of the article, the summary, or the title before flaming.

Nowhere in TFA does it say that the model E will cost $30,000. Telsa say that the E will be "realistically priced" (whatever that means) against the BMW 3 series and Audi A4. Whoever wrote the summary has helpfully looked up the starting price of an Audi A4 for you.

The Tesla E hasn't been launched yet - its unclear from TFA how far advanced the design is. There's no clue what the range is going to be, but if they're using heavy materials and have less space for the battery 'less than the Tesla S' would be a good bet.

Hint: BMW 3 and Audi A4 are already premium-priced cars. The E is still going to cost more and have less utility because of range limitations.

about a month and a half ago

Tesla Aims For $30,000 Price, 2017 Launch For Model E

itsdapead Iceland = poster child for EVs (247 comments)

You should offer a service: if one of us is feeling guilty about burning gas, but we're not sure if using electricity from gas, oil or nuclear, we can offset our carbon footprint by buying you a Tesla that you can run on 100% guaranteed green* Icelandic geothermal power.

(*well, all those volcanos and geysers probably pump out obscene amounts of CO2 and radioactive shit, but that's not humanity's fault and they're still gonna do that if you don't harvest the energy).

about a month and a half ago

Tesla Aims For $30,000 Price, 2017 Launch For Model E

itsdapead Re:many are missing something important. (247 comments)

How often do you drive across the US?

Why does it have to be across the US?

The problems start when you have to drive more than about 100 miles. Yeah, you can do 200-300 miles in a Tesla (depending on model) but then you have to start to think about things like do you need a heater/ air con/lights? Will you be able to recharge at your destination? If not, is there a supercharger en route? How much distance does that add? Hoe much time does that add?

So, forget trans-USA road trips. Just imagine a 100 mile each-way trip to a meeting somewhere (there and back in a day), with no guarantee of a power point at your destination, with no guarantee of 'goldilocks zone' weather.... and you're already worrying about range, whether there's a supercharger en. route, and having to leave an hour earlier.

That said, Tesla's fast battery swap looks like a much more practical alternative to a gas station. The 'charging station' idea doesn't scale if EVs get more popular: if you sometimes have to queue at a gas station with 15 pumps and a 5-minute turn around time, a couple of charging bays where people park and then head off for a meal just isn't going to cope.

about a month and a half ago

Tesla Aims For $30,000 Price, 2017 Launch For Model E

itsdapead Not American, but... (247 comments)

From discussing this very solution, it seems people (At least american flesh-people) are very opposed to the notion of renting a car for the purpose of driving long-distances, or carrying large things around or just about anything.

... I'm not completely opposed to the notion of buying a "green" commuter car and renting for long trips (assuming that you live somewhere where you can get rental cars delivered at short notice in the event of a family emergency etc).

The notion I'm opposed to is buying a $70000 luxury saloon and still needing to rent another one for long-distance trips. If I bought a $50k+ car it would be precisely because I found myself making long journeys and wanted the comfort.

The Tesla S seems to have a niche for people with a home-based daily commute of, say, ~70 miles each way - long enough to justify wanting to do it in a really nice car but comfortably within the maximum range (so you could still pop out in the evening without waiting for the overnight recharge).

As for gas savings... If you're paying $70k for a new electric car when you can get a really nice gas one for $50k, a couple of k$ a year on gas is hardly a consideration. If you buy a brand new car rather than a 1-year-old one, the devaluation when you drive it off the forecourt could have kept you in gas for a couple of years...

about a month and a half ago

Apple Kills Aperture, Says New Photos App Will Replace It

itsdapead Re:In addition... (214 comments)

Aperture won't run in Yosemite because Apple wants you to use the new app.

Not according to this which claims "an Apple spokesman told them" (distinct lack of "horse's mouth" links, unfortunately) that it would be updated to run on Yosemite.

about 2 months ago

An Army Medal For Coding In Perl

itsdapead Re:A virtuous Perl programmer (192 comments)

I'm always amazed at what non-programmers are impressed by. Code up some major application, and... Why doesn't it have this feature? Why does it have that workflow? What kind of colorblind dyslexic idiot designed this UI? But whip up a simple script to automate some repetitive, routine task and you're a genius!

It suggests that one of these things solved a real problem that the users actually had, while the other solved problems that the developers thought the users ought to have.

A simple solution that does something useful, now, is worth 100 elegant applications that will totally revolutionise your work once they're finished... provided you completely re-arrange your practices to match the software.

about 2 months ago

NYC Loses Appeal To Ban Large Sugary Drinks

itsdapead Re:So torn... (532 comments)

So, I'm torn... freedom vs health... where do I stand?! I... think I have to go with freedom here. I *chose* to stop consuming that crap.

It doesn't have to be a dichotomy. The regulations shouldn't be on what is sold, but on how it is sold.

If someone walks up and ask for a super-gutbuster-megasize McMeal, fine - their decision. However, if someone walks up and orders a regular burger, don't try and upsell them to a larger portion. Don't offer to 'super size them' for a small amount (probably pure profit - I suspect the marginal cost of an extra squirt of syrup and another potato is a tiny proportion of the fixed cost of serving a meal), and don't have 'meal deals' that make a burger, drink and fries cheaper than just a burger and a drink*.

Also look at minimum portions (and this applies to 'better places' too, especially in the US): a Danish doesn't have to be the size of Denmark - if someone is really hungry they can buy two. A "starter" is not meant to be a full meal (calling a 10" pizza a 'flatbread' doesn't make it a starter - been there a few times!).

Even in the supermarket, why do chicken Kievs and suchlike always come in 2 packs? (and, conversely, when things do come in 'serves 1' portions, why are they 1/3 the size of the 'serves 2' version?) Why are bread rolls 60p each or £1.30 for 4?

ANS: because, one way or another, it lets businesses make more money or have a competitive edge. They're not going to change unless they are forced.

* Actually, I usually get diet cola anyway with a burger and (too much) < (too much + more), so its the unwanted fries that are the problem - yeah, I chuck them away sometimes, but its an effort: the easiest way not to eat food is not to buy it.

about 2 months ago


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