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U.S. Teenagers Are Driving Much Less: 4 Theories About Why

undefinedreference Re:Let's look at inflation adjusted costs. (635 comments)

Combine this with a long-stagnant minimum wage and societal factors (we're slowly going the way of countries in Europe and the Middle East with high youth unemployment and ever-extending quasi-adult periods), it should keep going down in younger drivers. Outside of North America it isn't uncommon to encounter people well into their 30s or beyond that never learned to drive.

When and where I started driving, gas was often below $1 in the late 90s. With today's average prices they'd need to make $15 an hour and get their cars for half the price (the inflation in used car prices is absolutely staggering, many don't even lose a quarter of their value in 5 years, whereas at the time you could get them for less than half their new price, and it went down even more for older cars). There is no denying that the barrier to entry is far higher today.

Personally, I drive less than I did from my teens through my mid-20s because I can now control where I live, refuse to live far from work, and hate traffic. However, I drive more now than I did last year because I moved to a more isolated semi-rural area that allows me to endure less traffic outside of commuting. In all, the miles traveled in my household are down in spite of this, simply because we no longer do the extreme commutes that were necessary in SoCal.

about a year ago
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Third Tesla Fire Means Feds To Begin Review

undefinedreference Re:Lithium batteries are dangerous (375 comments)

While they may not have a steel plate, they never place the fuel tank that low. In the vast majority of cars the tank is surrounded in steel and in a position where a collision with a road hazard will not touch it.

To expand on my original point with your thought: Lithium polymer battery use in surface R/C vehicles is already in the second generation. They had distinctly more fires when everyone first started using them because the only ones available were soft-case aircraft batteries. The sanctioning body quickly codified a hard case rule and now even casual bashers use hard-case batteries. This doesn't negate any of my observations, though. I'm not knocking the Model S (I'd love to have one), but the battery position is clearly primarily for performance and not safety.

about a year ago
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GIMP, Citing Ad Policies, Moves to FTP Rather Than SourceForge Downloads

undefinedreference Re:SorceForge jumped the shark long ago... (336 comments)

If you work for J Random Megacorp with iron-clad IT policies, why are you using GIMP for image manipulation? It doesn't sound like this would be to the exclusion of other methods.

about a year ago
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Third Tesla Fire Means Feds To Begin Review

undefinedreference Re:Lithium batteries are dangerous (375 comments)

Sure enough... Most of the disclaimers are accurate for lithium polymer battery safety, too.

about a year ago
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Third Tesla Fire Means Feds To Begin Review

undefinedreference Lithium batteries are dangerous (375 comments)

Just ask anyone that races R/C. You must treat them with respect, charge them carefully, and never puncture them. Once you break any of these rules, they catch on fire. In spite of this, you only rarely see a lithium battery fire in R/C racing because most racers know how to maintain them properly and when to dispose of them (properly).

Then again, Tesla, in their drive for performance, built these cars with their batteries mere inches from the surface of the road. No gasoline car has their tank that low and even R/C cars have them higher in the chassis and more protected from the surface.

about a year ago
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6TB Helium-Filled Hard Drives Take Flight

undefinedreference Re:Nitrogen reacts with stuff? (297 comments)

Actually, my comment was 95% joke. Their fuel that is "nitrogen enriched" does not contain additional volatile molecules. It's actually a marketing scheme for their detergent blend. Even though I'm sure it's similar to other detergents, the marketing also turns me off because NO2 is also a harmful pollutant (I suspect you were thinking of N2O when you typed that).

about a year ago
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6TB Helium-Filled Hard Drives Take Flight

undefinedreference Re:Nitrogen reacts with stuff? (297 comments)

Which is the very reason I question the marketing effort behind "nitrogen-enriched" fuel. I don't want the most common diatomic molecule in the atmosphere displacing good, energy-rich, hydrocarbon chains in the fuel I'm buying. It's like selling me gasoline with some percentage of ethanol blended in for the same price as gasoline or charging me more for pure ethanol (I will, however, make exceptions for pure ethanol made from a single grain type containing adulterants from being rested for an extended period in a barrel), that is, dishonesty in labeling.

about a year ago
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Mind Control In Virtual Reality, Circa 2013

undefinedreference Re:I question the value (35 comments)

This is exactly what I'm saying: You move as if moving your body. The same signals that would go to your limbs through your nervous system could simply be intercepted and interpreted by a computer.

Our bodies are not terribly different from a basic electronic circuit, wiring in a car, a bus in a computer, or even a network, aside from the mechanism of signalling (which is not actually that different). I wouldn't be surprised if nanotechnology reached a level where this would be possible within the next century.

about a year ago
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Mind Control In Virtual Reality, Circa 2013

undefinedreference I question the value (35 comments)

For better immersion, we'd be better off if we could somehow intercept nerve signals to the body. Thinking "move forward" isn't the same as "getting up, balancing, and walking", which could theoretically be done completely virtually if we could intercept signals from the brain to the body.

If we did that, we could also feed the body movement commands separate from the brain. Imagine playing a video game for a couple hours while our body rides an exercise bicycle through computer control (at varying intensities based on lactic acid feedback). You could play a video game or work in a virtual environment while your body is essentially at the gym.

about a year ago
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Gunman Opens Fire At LAX

undefinedreference Re:Great... (520 comments)

"Assault rifles" are, by definition, automatic at some level (fire more than one shot with a single trigger pull). It's improbable that this person had any type of automatic weapon or assault rifle. Semi-auto isn't unreasonable to expect, in which case it was probably simply a "rifle", which might not sound as menacing, but that's exactly what it was. This doesn't make it less deadly. In fact, curiously, automatic weapons in the hands of untrained people tend to be less effective because the shooters waste more ammunition and can't control them as well. Semi-automatic weapons are much easier to get accurate hits with, while burst-fire weapons are far easier to kill with (especially with small-caliber ammunition, like modern assault rifles used by American forces).

To describe the weapon as an "assault rifle" is absolutely incorrect usage and pure sensationalism.

about a year ago
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Phone Calls More Dangerous Than Malware To Companies

undefinedreference Re:Boeing employee here (82 comments)

There's a difference between them being generated and sent in an email (which is not exceptionally dangerous because it should be temporal (that is, you force a change when they log in and only allow it to be used within a brief window of time) and sending you an email with a stored password on request. Don't mistake the two. Again, the implication that they're storing your password with no more than a basic reversible cipher is very troubling.

about a year ago
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Debian To Replace SysVinit, Switch To Systemd Or Upstart

undefinedreference Re:Really? (362 comments)

What replaced Ubuntu? It's still wildly popular.

about a year ago
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Debian To Replace SysVinit, Switch To Systemd Or Upstart

undefinedreference Re:Really? (362 comments)

I prefer vi(m), but drop to nano when a machine doesn't have it (which is rare, but common enough to be annoying).

Of course, if I have root and I'm working on more than a few small edits, you'd better believe there'll be vim on there before I log out.

about a year ago
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Debian To Replace SysVinit, Switch To Systemd Or Upstart

undefinedreference Re: Really? (362 comments)

I actually like upstart for my simple daemons on embedded systems. Why? I'd need to craft my own init scripts anyway, so I might as well use something that handles this effectively without also loading/running DJB's daemontools.

about a year ago
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Phone Calls More Dangerous Than Malware To Companies

undefinedreference Re:Boeing employee here (82 comments)

Nothing annoys me more than plain text passwords in emails. Double bonus points if it's a password for something sensitive like my financial information (ex: 401(k), which are among the worst offenders in the bad security department...it's not like they have the largest sum of money in my name, after all).

The other disconcerting thing (probably the most frightening) is that they sent you your password in plain text. This means that your password is, at most, protected with a reversible cipher and is likely stored with no protection at all. That means if someone broke in (which doesn't even mean a threat from outside is necessary, and there are probably tens, if not hundreds, of people with accounts and/or passwords to get to the database) they could get your password and potentially every one you ever used. Then the real social engineering begins, when they call your bank with all your legitimate information and every likely password for your account in hand... Scary.

about a year ago
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Avoiding genetic damage with anti-radiation underwear

undefinedreference Would be important... (1 comments)

...if the population of Japan, particularly in the relatively-rural region near the Fukushima reactor, were not well past reproductive age. They do realize they are in the second-oldest (demographically) country in the world, right?

If the workers don't have protection already, something is very wrong.

about a year ago
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PHP.net Compromised

undefinedreference Re:It was already a dangerous site to visit ... (189 comments)

This sounds like a bigger trainwreck than many mixed-HTML PHP sites (which is the dirtiest thing about the language). A well-written PHP-based site will do what you say, but it will have no echo statements or anything else along these lines. Instead, it will use templates with placeholders that it fills with data. When I've worked in PHP, I've done this since the early 2000s. It's simply the only way to keep it clean, readable, and delineate logic from presentation. An added bonus is that you can usually teach a web designer to work with/around simple placeholders much easier than teaching them not to screw up your code.

about a year ago
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PHP.net Compromised

undefinedreference Re:It was already a dangerous site to visit ... (189 comments)

Herein lies the problem. There really isn't another decent cross-platform scripting language for web development. Even the shift toward JavaScript on both sides is full of epic failure (after all, we're talking about JavaScript here, which is only marginally better than the other client-side messes it replaced). Wikipedia uses PHP (albeit with front-end caching), so it clearly can be done right. The fundamental problem with PHP is that it has roughly 15 years of crufty functions with nonexistent naming conventions and senselessly-random parameter orders (contrast this with Python and Perl, two other wildly-popular scripting languages).

Also, don't say "Java", which is a mess that requires outrageously heavy backend support to make it useful for web development. Scripting is the best solution for the large percentage of sites that don't have huge teams and budgets. It's also the best choice for sites with rapidly-changing requirements.

about a year ago
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Researcher Finds Nearly Two Dozen SCADA Bugs In a Few Hours

undefinedreference This is news? (104 comments)

16 years ago I worked on/developed industrial control systems and the fact this industry hasn't moved anywhere on the security front is not surprising. At the time development was still 1970s-80s style, save the punch cards. Most of the software developers had never learned structured programming and would still argue against it a solid decade after their mainstream ilk gave up the fight. Their code style was pure 70s at best and pure chaos at worst when written by the EEs. The newest code was all written in a language that I thought was already in the dustbin of history 5 years before I got there. Network security was completely foreign to everyone there.

The equipment was extraordinarily-buggy on top of our highly-questionable software. I remember numerous long nights isolating and writing workarounds for bugs or code that defended them from the user. These black boxes were all selected by either EEs for electrical characteristics, MEs for physical mounting/environmental characteristics, or some combination of the two. Their prices were high and therefore they gained a strange aura among non-programmers for being infallable objects with exceptional engineering.

The funny thing is the last time I heard from a contact there my software was still in use cooking up parts and the company was still selling injectors using the same crappy DOS-based interfaces we had back then. Mind-boggling. Today I can hardly fathom software that remains unchanged for even a couple years due to the pace of change on the internet.

about 2 years ago

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