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If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

stereoroid One word: Minecraft (511 comments)

If Java can be made to do that, that's got to mean something ...

about 2 months ago

Why Microsoft Shouldn't Patch the XP Internet Explorer Flaw

stereoroid Re:It never ceases to amaze me... (345 comments)

I deal with this kind of user regularly, some of them being in (shall we say) advanced years. They aren't interested in the computer for its own sake at all, it's basically an appliance to them. It may as well be a washing machine or a toaster, and they simply aren't willing or able to handle any more complexity than that. Some modern TVs are too much e.g. the idea of multiple source inputs is beyond comprehension to these users. I'm not exaggerating.

Now think of what it means to install Linux. First you have to get the PC ready for it. If I was new to Linux, I would want to do it on a 2nd PC, say a cheap laptop - rather than just blow away a working system. OK, so you have to create a boot disk ... and it's game over. The pinball machine just went in to Tilt.

Now picture these users behind the wheel of a car, on a road near you ... oil? Whassat? The "check engine" light came on, so I checked the engine, and it was still there ...

about 6 months ago

LinkedIn Accused of Hacking Customers' E-Mails To Slurp Up Contacts

stereoroid Someone didn't read the screen, methinks. (210 comments)

I know LinkedIn offers to read your existing email accounts for contacts, so that you can connect to them, but you can just ignore that. It isn't mandatory, but if you don't read what it says on screen, you might think it is. So I'm more inclined to suspect that's what happened: the complainant entered his email address and password when prompted, and now thinks he's been hacked.

about a year ago

Possible Cure For MS Turns Common Skin Cells Into Working Brain Cells

stereoroid Re:Cautiously Optimistic (87 comments)

The damage done in MS is to the nervous system, and all that new myelin could do would be to prevent further damage. That's still very much worth pursuing if it allows a healing process to take place - whether natural or another man-made therapy.

about a year and a half ago

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

stereoroid Whatever happened to Zsasz? (263 comments)

At the end of Batman Begins, Zsasz (Tim Booth) was shown walking out of the opened jail, and is (for all we know) still at large, doing unspeakable things to the children of Gotham. Won't somebody think of the children?

more than 2 years ago

Sales of Unused IPv4 Addresses Gaining Steam

stereoroid It's Big Business (329 comments)

I'm of the opinion that Class A addresses were behind some of the large IT mergers. For example, DEC ( was taken over by Compaq, who were later taken over by HP ( So HP owns two adjacent Class A address spaces. That's got to be worth a pretty packet, and they don't really need 32 million addresses, do they?

more than 2 years ago

Electronics Prototyping Plate Kit Board For Raspberry Pi Coming Soon

stereoroid Re:Where's the Camera support? (74 comments)

Then why bother getting a Raspberry Pi at all, if you aren't going to try anything even slightly unusual?

more than 2 years ago

Electronics Prototyping Plate Kit Board For Raspberry Pi Coming Soon

stereoroid Re:Where's the Camera support? (74 comments)

You can attach just about anything to the I2C & data busses - ADCs, DACs, controllers ... and cameras. Search for "I2C camera" for examples,

more than 2 years ago

Why Tesla Cars Aren't Bricked By Failing Batteries

stereoroid Re:This IS a LiIon failure mode though (362 comments)

OK. so my question is then: what does "bricked" mean, technically, in the Tesla battery case? If a protection circuit has kicked in and isolated the battery, then that should save the battery itself from permanent damage. The story is that Tesla is charging $40,000 for replacement of the complete battery pack, which suggests that a protection circuit has NOT saved the battery from permanent damage. Either that or the battery can be fixed and resold, and they're ripping off the customer. Those are the only possible explanations for a $40,000 bill, and neither look good.

more than 2 years ago

Obama Pushes For Cheaper Pennies

stereoroid "Obama" didn't do anything. (825 comments)

I'm not from the USA, so I find it bemusing how everything your Federal government does gets labeled "Obama's". Do you really think the President sits there in the Oval Office, micromanaging every single aspect of the Federal government's operations? You even keep his label on things that might have started with him, but ended up far away e.g. "Obamacare" is a long way away from the "single payer" reforms he wanted: the bill that passed Congress was seriously compromised by partisan interests, and he's getting blamed for the effects of changes he had nothing to do with and fought against unsuccessfully.

From outside the USA, you have to wonder why anyone wants the job in the first place: you need to be a starry-eyed idealist, who's seen too many episodes of "The West Wing", or a raving theocrat who wants to overturn the Bill of Rights, to think you'll get anything done in 4-year timeslots ...

more than 2 years ago

Europe's 'Right To Be Forgotten' Threatens Online Free Speech

stereoroid Well, self-regulation hasn't worked, so ... (410 comments)

Facebook et al have been warned about their misuse of users' data for years now, and have shown no signs that they take privacy seriously. So it's going to take regulation to rein them in. I'm not sure how I feel about this, , but my opinion wouldn't change anything, and the "free speech" argument is spurious. Was speech somehow artificially "restricted" years ago, just because the Internet hadn't been invented? "Social networking" could go away tomorrow, and we'd all survive just fine.

more than 2 years ago

Don't Worry About Global Warming, Say 16 Scientists in the WSJ

stereoroid Re:Not a climate scientist, just an engineer here (1367 comments)

One of the signatories to that piece is aerospace engineer Burt Rutan, whose company designed Spaceship One and other advanced plane designs. He's been arguing, for years, that global warming is an engineering problem, which benefits from being treated as such. This way of thinking affects how you diagnose the problem, and (more relevant) what you do about it. In engineering safety terms, the ideal way to deal with a problem is to prevent it. (Hardly controversial.) However, that does not mean that problems must be avoided at all costs; that is simply unreasonable. There needs to be some kind of cost-benefit analysis. If you can't reasonably avoid all problems, you work to mitigate their effects. What are the possible effects of "global warming"? Nature will be (mostly) fine, it's mainly about the impact on people, and there is much we can do to minimise the impact.

Where I am in agreement with Rutan is that there's too much alarmism about the impact that global warming might have if true. The oft-quoted 1m rise in mean sea level, for example: exactly why would that be the end of the world? Especially if that rise happens over centuries? Are the Maldives worth saving, for example? If you look at a city like London, for example, there are buildings along the Thames Embankment, some of which might be at some risk of flooding after a 1m rise in sea level. It's not correct to say that "London is under threat". Buildings do not last forever, nor are they expected to. I lived in London for years, and am struggling to think of a building of national historic value that would be at risk. One exception might be the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament), but that is already sinking under its own weight.

Likewise, I don't have a problem with the idea that we could see more and stronger tropical storms - I read John Barnes' Mother of Storms when it first came out 18 years ago. (I'm not a "believer" in this stuff - "belief" is just not necessary. If that's true, and it can't be avoided ... what are we going to do to manage the situation. Why is it that cities in the Far East are regularly hit by typhoons, but it's not a disaster every time? There are lessons to be learned from how their infrastructure and building construction methods are better able to deal with the same levels of wind and rain that cause billions of dollars of damage in the USA.

While I don't agree with everything Rutan says, I'm with him on the need for people to stop panicking, and to start thinking about the practical implications of what could happen. For example: don't build houses on flood plains, or on slopes at risk of landslides if there's a lot of rain on them. Leave hillsides alone, let the natural vegetation hold the soil in place ... and recognise that landslides are going to happen anyway. It's a fool's errand to think you can prevent them at all costs, and it's a better idea to just stay out of their way. The same logic applies to other "human impacts": using intelligence can keep people out of harm's way.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Camera For Getting Into Photography?

stereoroid Re:You're not ready for a DSLR. (569 comments)

I have to disagree. An entry-level DSLR also has picture modes similar to a P&S camera, so you can get the shot if you're in a hurry and don't know exactly how to do it manually. I've had Pentax SLRs for 15 years now, and while the bodies get old, the lenses don't, as long as you look after them. I have a lens that's at least 30 years old but still works on the latest Pentax bodies. I'm never going to be a professional sports photographer or papparazzo - which are the only reasons I could need (or afford) the top Nikon or Canon bodies. For everything else, and especially for enjoying photography as an art form, I would not dream of switching away from Pentax now.

Why do you need the larger SLR lenses? Because they offer wider apertures (lower f-stops), and that gives you two things: better photos in low light (for a given sensor), and more control over depth of field (DOF). If you really want to get in to photography, you want to learn DOF control (which includes manual focusing skills): these days it is, in my opinion, the thing that can make a photo great (or not), and is a core creative tool to have. It is one way you make a photograph tell a story, making it about more than just the objects in the photograph.

Lastly: there's no shame in letting the camera help you at times - don't believe camera snobs who tell you're not a "real photographer" unless you go all manual, all the time. I make an analogy with driving: a stripped down car with a powerful engine and a manual stick shift makes for a rewarding experience on a racetrack ... but you still have to drive to and from the racetrack, and you don't want to be fighting your car when you need to be watching the traffic. With a camera, sometimes you want full creative control, and other times you want to be talking to the people you're shooting rather than futzing with your camera.

If you do use picture modes, though, learn what they do, and why, and that can be educational in itself. For example "Portrait mode" will open up the aperture to offer a shallow depth of field, so that the subject is in focus but the background is nice and soft. However, the camera can't tell you which lens or zoom level to use: portraits are usually better with longer lenses, in the 80-100mm (full frame equivalent) range, since that tends to flatten the features a little (not too much), flattering the subject. That's a guideline, not a rule, and anything goes creatively - but if you ever see a wide-angle close-up of your face, you'll understand why that's not really done except for comic effect ..!

about 2 years ago

EU Debates Installing a Black Box On Your Computer

stereoroid Not Gonna Happen (459 comments)

Like Members of Congress in the USA, EU MEPs come in all shapes, sizes, and states of sanity. This guy's just flying a kite, but any such law would apply the the MEPs too, and you can assume some of them have skeletons in their hard drives. Fuhgeddabouttit.

about 3 years ago

HP Spent Over $80M To Get Rid of Its CEOs

stereoroid Re:Where are the shareholders? (261 comments)

"Isn't there one person that has worked at HP all their life that can step up and be CEO?"

Yes: Ann Livermore, who's been there for nearly 30 years now, and has been rumoured for the top job several times. I expect she will get it at some time in the future, assuming she wants it, and there is a HP left to manage.

more than 2 years ago

The London Riots and Facial Recognition Technology

stereoroid "Ring of Steel"? (482 comments)

The "Ring of Steel" surely refers to the City of London, a.k.a. the Square Mile or Financial District. Security there is heightened because it was an IRA target on more than one occasion. There wasn't much rioting there this time, though I was there in 1999 when the anti-globalisation protests were taking place. But the rest of Greater London is not "ringed" in any real sense - nothing that onerous in Tottenham, for example.

more than 3 years ago

Smart Power Grid Could Wreak Havoc On Itself

stereoroid Needs a SLA model (331 comments)

SLA = Service Level Agreement. Instead of saying "off peak = midnight - 6am", the utility agrees to provide power for an agreed duration at the off-peak rate, for those purposes e.g. "3+ continuous hours between 10pm and 6am". They can vary the time to suit their loading: some days it might kick in at 10pm, other days at 3am.

Some days you get only the 3h you absolutely need, other days it might be available all night. You don't care if you're asleep, do you, as long as they meet the SLA and the night jobs get done? If they don't, there would be a penalty, of course.

more than 3 years ago

Limits On Growth of Energy Use and Economies

stereoroid Read "The Party's Over" (Heinberg) (482 comments)

I'm almost all the way through it. Very sobering stuff, only a few bits I have quibbles with. Or, if you don't have the time, read the synopsis.

The point about the assumption of growth is an important one. The world's financial systems are built on that assumption i.e. anyone who lends money expects to make a profit on the loan, after inflation if applicable. That's true of all loans, from the smallest micro-loan to the trillions in sovereign debt owed by the USA.

more than 3 years ago

US Patent Regime Is Absurd

stereoroid Re:Podcast about this (202 comments)

The piece on This American Life is basically the same as the Planet Money piece mentioned in the Economist article - the same Planet Money people did both. When TAL did their award-winning show on sub-prime mortgages, it was a compilation of Planet Money shows from the foregoing months.

They're the go-to guys when it comes to clarifying these financial issues. I've been listening to them for years, and can highly recommend them. I mean, how many other journalists actually went out and bought a toxic asset?

more than 3 years ago

Wolfram Launches Computational Document Format

stereoroid Re:But don't you need an application first? (167 comments)

Well, I think it's a given that Mathematica support will not be long in coming. Great if you can afford it, which I can't, so I'm waiting for 3rd-party support. Maybe I can roll my own basic tools.

more than 3 years ago



Ireland's Blasphemy law comes in to effect.

stereoroid stereoroid writes  |  more than 4 years ago

stereoroid (234317) writes "As of January 1, it is a crime in Ireland to commit Blasphemy. The law was changed in July 2009 to fill a gap in the Irish Constitution, which states that it is a crime but does not define what it is, an omission highlighted in a Supreme Court decision in 1999. A July story in the Irish Independent described the situation in more detail. The story has also been covered in The Guardian (UK) today.

To mark the occasion, Atheist Ireland published a list of 25 blasphemous quotations on the website, from such controversial figures as Bjork, Frank Zappa, Richard Dawkins, Randy Newman, and Pope Benedict XVI. (The last-mentioned was quoting a 14th Century Byzantine Emperor, but that's no excuse.)"

Link to Original Source


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