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Ask Slashdot: How To Handle Unfixed Linux Accessibility Bugs?

zmooc Use windows (266 comments)

Just use windows. It doesn't really work any better but at least they don't break core functionality a few times a year and then take months to fix it...

Ok maybe I'm exaggerating and this is only an Ubuntu problem; it's been years since I've been annoying-bug-free for more than 3 months with...

about three weeks ago

Hungarian Law Says Photogs Must Ask Permission To Take Pictures

zmooc Re:Out of step with reality (149 comments)

I agree that street photography is not some kind of unalienable right. However, I do NOT agree there's a reasonable expectation of privacy in the public space, not even in Germany. With the law as it currently is (though not as it is currently enforced), photo-journalism in public spaces becomes quite a hassle. If we'd all live by the law, our era would effectively become a rather dark one in history; for example just about any photograph depicting the demolishing of the Berlin Wall would have been illegal.

Most Western countries have no restrictions on taking photographs in the public space but they do have laws to protect subjects against negative consequences in case such photographs are published. I think that's the right balance, especially if photogs behave responsible (unlike many paparazzi, which are actually legal in Germany...)

about 1 month ago

Hungarian Law Says Photogs Must Ask Permission To Take Pictures

zmooc Re:Out of step with reality (149 comments)

Your law may not be properly upheld in practice but that does not change the situation of Germany being in the very small club of countries where the art of street photography is effectively illegal or at least very cumbersome.


about a month ago

The Science of Solitary Confinement

zmooc Re:"Corrections" (326 comments)

3,500 prisoners serving a life sentence... that's rougly about 1 in 100,000. 80,000 is about 1 in 4,000. In the random western country where I live, only 1 in 500,000 are serving a life sentence. I cannot find numbers for the number of those in solitary confinement but with a total of 1 in 2,000 people in jail, about half would have to be in solitary confinement to match the US numbers.

So, no, I don't think those staggering numbers take the edge out of the argument, they
confirm it. The US has been leading the ranks of prisoners per capita for ages and is one of only a handful of western countries in the top 100.


about a month and a half ago

Iconic Predator-Prey Study In Peril

zmooc Re:not that simple (84 comments)

Isle Royale is being preserved today as a wilderness, but it isn't an "untainted" one, and hasn't been for a couple hundred years. It is what it is because of human activities.

As long as those human activities are merely that: human activities, I would still consider the island untainted in a way; there's nothing especially unnatural about most human actions, even if those actions often bear effects that might be described as a plague. This changes, however, when those human activities start involving actively trying to "shape" "nature", as is proposed by the ecologists this article is about. In my opinion this would instantly change the situation on this island from "nature trying to find a new balance after a small infection with humans" to "not nature anymore".

Through some strange feelings of guilt about the way it has affected nature in the past, mankind has somehow developed the idiot idea to try to keep the few occurrences of nature that we have left exactly like they are now. By doing that, we're slowly turning nature into a museum. Instead of doing that, we should have the decency to let nature be nature, even (or especially) when it changes in a way that we don't like.

This may (will..) probably mean die offs and those obviously aren't a good thing. According to humans, that is, mostly because of their somewhat irrational love for big mammals, cool trees and fear of change. But nature doesn't give a fuck, it doesn't consider humans special. The place will look totally different in 10, 100 or a few 1000 years anyway. Just let nature be and it will find a new balance. Maybe not on a timescale meaningful for the average human, but it will. Because that's what nature does.

about 2 months ago

Laser Headlights Promise More Intense, Controllable Beams

zmooc Re:brighter? (376 comments)

Now we get to be blinded by lasers, great...

The FA states:

To ensure no one gets blinded, the lights work together with BMW's camera-aided digital high-beam assistant, which dims the light if it detects an oncoming car or another car up front.

about 2 months ago

What Are the Weirdest Places You've Spotted Linux?

zmooc Re:Coffee machines (322 comments)

The main operation for which they require a full featured operating system is to fill up their 64MB of RAM:P

about 2 months ago

What Are the Weirdest Places You've Spotted Linux?

zmooc Coffee machines (322 comments)

Really not that weird, but the coffee machines where I work all run Linux 2.6.something.

about 2 months ago

Fighting the Flu May Hurt Those Around You

zmooc Re:human germs don't like higher body temp (351 comments)

In Europe we call temperatures of more than 100 boiling, not fever. I'm surprised your kid lasted a week.

about 3 months ago

Internet Commenting Growing Away From Anonymity

zmooc No we are not (384 comments)

Internet Commenting is not growing away from anonymity at all. However, some high profile sites that value traffic over content have determined that boring places tend to attract more people since the vast majority of people simply is extremely boring. Anonymous non-boring commenting will always be around. It's just not compatible with the desires of the bulk of advertisers that pay for the boring parts Internet.

about 4 months ago

Is Computer Science Education Racist and Sexist?

zmooc Re:No. (612 comments)

selling is more highly valued than building

It is?! Not in my world.

about 4 months ago

Is Computer Science Education Racist and Sexist?

zmooc Re:No. (612 comments)

While part of that is definitely true, it probably is not the main explanation. In countries that have taken gender equality very far and managed to increase the freedom to choose a job tremendously, what happens is that men and women use that freedom to do typical jobs for their gender.

I think the documentary "The gender paradox" explains that incredibly well.


about 4 months ago

How long do your computer mice last?

zmooc Depends (361 comments)

The typical maximum mouse age in my house is easily derived; it is at most equal to the age the youngest user had when the mouse was first used by that user.

about 4 months ago

Where Does America's Fear Come From?

zmooc Nothing new (926 comments)

Where is the U.S. heading?

Nowhere special. The US has been like this for ages. Apart from some details (TSA, leaks, technical possibilities) there has not been any real big change.

The fear has been around for just about always. And when there's nothing left to fear (like communism or alcohol) something new will be made up (like terrorism or drugs). Since the US spends more on its military than on social security, the military has become some kind of social security. It must be kept busy.

about 5 months ago

Most Drivers Would Hand Keys Over To Computer If It Meant Lower Insurance Rates

zmooc Re:lower insurance? (449 comments)

We will not have a robot driving the car (or a computer) for a very long time.

I think you're wrong. The reasons you state only apply to irrational human beings; anybody responsible for any kind of commercial transportation will decide otherwise and prefer the cheap computer over the expensive human driver anytime. In more or less closed areas that's been going on for years now; those huge mining trucks have been driving around autonomously for at least 5 years now and container-terminals have been using self-driving cars for much longer, albeit in much more controlled conditions.

Once such trucks start to appear on the road, it probably won't be much longer until self-driving taxis appear. These may very well be much cheaper than regular taxis and in some cases probably cheaper than regular public transportation. I find it highly unlikely such taxis will be avoided. In fact, they may very well become extremely popular with the somewhat drunk public that'd rather avoid taxi drivers:P

As such taxis become more common, it's highly likely they will slowly but steadily start to replace self-owned cars. They're simply more convenient and cheaper.

In fact, many cars on the road today already have a lot of the self-driving stuff on board. They DO take over when the human fails. It probably won't be long before such automated safety-systems become mandatory and by then any car can be considered self-driving but by default it'll probably be in a mode fooling the stubborn human into thinking he's driving.

about 5 months ago

How Safe Is Cycling?

zmooc Data (947 comments)

No one has good statistics, for example, on crashes per mile ridden.

In the Netherlands the chance of getting seriously injured or dying in a traffic accident is 4.7 times larger on a bike than in a car (per kilometer). The Netherlands probably has the safest bicycle infrastructure in existence so if we can't do better the situation is clear: riding a bike is much more dangerous than using a car. Note that cycling includes mountain biking and other sports accidents while motor sport accidents are not counted in the car fatalities.

Another thing to consider is that many bicycle related fatalities are related to carelessness of the bicyclist while in cars this is less so. As a bicyclist you probably have more control over on your own fate than you do in your car, where technical problems and the simple fact that you may be a passenger are also a factor. When acting carefully, bicycling is probably much safer than the numbers indicate.

However, that only takes accidents into account. While there are a lot of them, we're still talking about a only few accidents per billion kilometers driven while most people don't get much farther than about 100000 kilometers in a lifetime. So obviously by far most bicyclists never get involved in a serious accident at all. Even though driving a bike is 4.7 times more dangerous than driving a car, the risk is still _extremely_ small.

On average, bicycle accidents are responsible for a shortening of the life expectancy in the Netherlands by about a WEEK while regularly riding a bicycle increases life expectancy by several MONTHS! So while the chance of dying in a bicycle accident is much larger than the chance of dying in a car accident, the certainty of dying when never riding a bike is much larger than when not doing so;-)

Also interesting to note is that additional exposure to polluted air while riding a bike lowers life expectancy by up to a few WEEKS. Obviously that's much more than the traffic accidents.

But that's the Netherlands. Bicycling may very well be MUCH more dangerous in countries that aren't equipped with a ridiculous amount of bicycle lanes. If the chance of a lethal bicycle accident is 10 times or so higher in the USA, the car is probably the better choice. Given the lack of data and given my experiences bicycling in other countries I really wouldn't advice riding a bicycle in actual traffic anywhere but in Netherlands...

Sources (in dutch):
- Article on the 4.7-number: http://www.swov.nl/rapport/D-2012-05.pdfâZ
- Health benefits of cycling: http://www.groen7.nl/gezondheidsvoordelen-fietsen-veel-groter-dan-risicos/
- Accidents/kilometer: http://www.swov.nl/rapport/Factsheets/NL/Factsheet_Risico.pdf
- More numbers: http://www.trouw.nl/tr/nl/4492/Nederland/article/detail/3323533/2012/09/28/Ergernis-en-ongelukken-op-drukkere-fietspaden.dhtml

about 6 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Best SOHO Printer Choices?

zmooc Get a proper simple laser (381 comments)

After the stack of somewhat dead inkjetprinters reached the ceiling of my basement, I decided to get the printer my mom had been using for 5 years without a problem (apart from the plug falling out once:P). That was a Samsung. I've been using it for 2 years and it's awesome. Would highly recommend it.

Also got myself an A3 Konica-Minolta color laser printer but that may be a bit pricey for your needs. Would also highly recommend this.

Whatever you do, don't get an inkjet. Probably any laserprinter with proper driver support (linux support!) and a network connection is just fine.

about 6 months ago

Digital Revolution Will Kill Jobs, Inflame Social Unrest, Says Gartner

zmooc Clear trend (754 comments)

I've been very interested in this subject for quite some time and have done some number crunching on employment rates in different sectors (as determined by our national statistics agency). Practically of them are in decline except for these five:
- Catering
- IT
- Security
- Medical and other care
- Sport and recreation

(and to a certain extent waste management/recycling)

Jobs in these sectors have been growing steadily for the past 40 years. I think we can expect that trend to continue; these are exactly the jobs that are not easily automated. The others will slowly be taken over by the machines. This in itself is not a problem, though. The problem lies not in automation, humans will find new things to do. There is a problem though, and that's that as humans are replaced by machines, the money earned by these machines will be "trapped" within businesses. Without employees, there's no salary to pay and there will be no mechanism to keep the money going around. Economy will slow down, possibly come to a standstill. And this may very well be exactly what we've been experiencing the past few years (albeit partly caused by outsourcing to China instead of automation - for now).

There are several "solutions". The obvious one would be huge taxes and welfare. However, as stuff becomes automated really quickly, nearly everything businesses currently do will become commodity rather quickly. On the one hand this means everybody can do them, on the other hand it means nobody will be able to excel in them nor will any new business be able to enter such markets. Due to this, probably not too many businesses will remain. And when that happens, we will end up in some kind of planned economy. If we smart and/or lucky, that is; the alternative would probably be some kind of dystopian oligarchy of the owners of the machines.

Marshall Brain wrote quite a nice story about exactly this situation, its problems and the possible solutions. For a story it's rather bad, but it provides so many insights into the intricacies of this problem that it's definitely worth a read.


about 6 months ago

Newly Discovered Meltwater Streams Flow Beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet

zmooc Re:The (actual) Surf (130 comments)

I cannot find any data on the Pacific ocean near Australia, but in many places oceans are getting slightly cooler. This has nothing to do with melt water, though; there's much too little of that to have a measurable influence, especially at your latitude. Instead, it is most probably due to changing currents.

However, a very likely alternative cause for you guys feeling colder would be that you're getting older; as people get older, they feel colder quicker.

about 6 months ago

Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Approve Work On DRM For HTML 5.1

zmooc WHATWG (307 comments)

Due to slowness and creating other "less ideal" conditions, the W3C is quickly becoming an irrelevant marginalized nothing. They've their control over the HTML5 spec long ago; all browser manufacturers follow the HTML5 spec that's maintained by WHATWG (which, coincidentally, was formed by those browser manufacturers out of discontent with the way W3C managed it. Apparently they've learned nothing from that since this DRM stuff will marginalize them even further. Nowadays, W3C approving stuff has just about nothing to do with what browsers will support or what the Internet will look like in the future.

about 6 months ago


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