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Comment Re:Holy flamebait batman! (Score 5, Interesting) 909

It's currently 2016, getting close to 2017, so we're rapidly reaching the two decade mark.

I would say that Slashdot has a strong *libertarian* bent, not necessarily a conservative one. It's definitely gotten more pronounced in the last few years, going from grumbling about government to out and out hatred of government. Even the on-topic comments about tech have gotten pretty bad, with tribal shit-flinging drowning out the rare piece of actual insightful commentary.

Comment Ballot stuffing isn't how you steal an election (Score 2) 531

The people tearing into electronic voting are going after the wrong target.

In a state where there is only one news agency (the government one), it's possible to steal an election by ballot stuffing, fake votes, etc. In a state where there are a fairly large number of independent and semi-independent news agencies, it's pretty much impossible. If all the pre-election polling and exit polling indicates candidate A is winning by 7%, and candidate B suddenly comes out with a 5% lead despite that, everyone starts taking a *really* close look at the election mechanisms, because statistically you just don't see that kind of inaccuracy across the board.

To steal an election in America, you have basically three options:

1. Have a deniable asset do an unanswerable last-minute negative campaign. Think "election day mailer claiming candidate B has ties to organized crime." It doesn't need to be true, it just needs to skew the "undecided" voter long enough to go to the polls, because we don't invalidate election results after that kind of event here.

2. Gerrymander the districts so your party has an overwhelming advantage. This is very well-described elsewhere, so I'm not going to go into the mechanics behind it, but needless to say it works and it's legal in a lot of the country.

3. Make it harder for members of the other party to vote. Want to make it harder for the elderly to vote? Put restrictions on voting by mail, because many of them have mobility issues. Want to make it harder for the poor and working class to vote? Put specific ID requirements (driver's license is a common one since there's not a whole lot of reason to have a driver's license if you have no car) in place, or restrict polling place hours so that they won't be able to vote during work. There's also the popular "play games with the voter rolls" stunt, but we're starting to wise up to that one, so it's getting less effective.

So there you go. Want to steal an election? Manipulate who is allowed to vote and how their vote is apportioned, not how their vote is cast.

Comment Re:Not JVM (Score 4, Interesting) 172

I do some application development in Swift on iOS. It's... well, it has some issues, many of which stem from the issues you've pointed out.

First, not every interface or function you need is available in Swift, so you end up spending a lot of time converting back and forth between the two languages in your code. This massively increases complexity and is generally a Giant Pain In The Butt. I really wish they'd finished making their system calls on iOS available in Swift (rather than having to bounce back to objective-C all the damn time) before they pushed it out to the public.

Second, swift (and specifically how they use it on iOS) is an irritating blend of "we want things to be user friendly" (read: idiot proof) and "we don't want to hide too much out of the way." As a result, people coming from lower-level languages (like C or C++) will spend time fighting a some of the assumptions the system makes, and people coming from higher-level languages (like Java or Python) oftentimes will fall through the gaps.

Take memory management, for example - it has garbage collection, so you don't need to worry about malloc and free, but it doesn't have extensive garbage collection, so as soon as you start using multiple references - sorry, pointers - in multiple places you start needing to worry about keeping track of how you're referring to things (strong vs. weak) so you don't end up using more memory than you need to.

So, no, I don't really like Swift. It's not bad, and I'd work with it if I had to, but it's sort of sitting awkwardly between something lower level and something higher level and fully abstracted, and figuring exactly what they did and did not include is a pain in the butt to work with and around sometimes.

Comment Re:why carry crude to in tanks on moving vehicles? (Score 5, Insightful) 144

Pipelines have their own share of problems: Leaks, maintenance access, property arguments, security difficulties, animal migrations, the list goes on. They're definitely *a* solution, but not necessarily *the* solution.

If the suspicions of the folks in the article are correct, then it's simply a case of the manufacturers trying to take advantage of the fact that contents are sold by volume, not by weight... with the minor caveat that the extra volume has a tendency to explode. The real solution, then, would be to smack the greedy bastards pulling the stunt and ensure the oil is separated enough to safely transport.

Comment Why not on the side? (Score 1) 86

I'm still confused why everyone insists on dumping the menus and buttons on the TOP of the browser window. Web site design, for various reasons, tends to follow a fairly vertical layout: You scroll up and down to get at more content, with little to no side-to-side scrolling. Our screens, on the other hand, tend toward horizontal layouts, with aspect ratios getting increasingly wide.

It makes no sense for us to put menu bars at the top when we could put them at the right hand side, and the content in a narrower, taller window. We'd see more relevant content on our web pages, it keeps the tabs closer to the scroll bar, and minimize/maximize/close buttons are close by as well. Vertical pixels are valuable. Horizontal ones are cheap. Make the buttons and tabs use cheap pixels, please.

Comment They're not all bad (Score 4, Insightful) 550

Disclaimer: I purchased a Surface Pro for personal/school use.

The RT was, quite frankly, a bad idea.

The pro has a lot going for it, if you're in the market for a moderately high-powered x86 ultrabook with a stylus and touch screen. Basically, it's the cat's pajamas for people that need something exactly like that (I do audio recording and some graphic design work when I'm out and about), and it's an overpriced novelty for anyone that doesn't. No remorse here, I love the thing, but I know I'm not a typical end user and there aren't enough people like me to support the kind of R&D that goes into this sort of device.

The RT takes all of the advantages the pro has, and throws them out the window.

You're left with an underpowered, oversized tablet with an underwhelming user interface and no applications to speak of. It's pretty much the perfect storm of uselessness. Which makes it no real big surprise that it's selling badly.

At least with the pro they can sell it to the developer/designer folks (my sister, who does photoshop work on a regular basis, was drooling all over it) instead. The RT? Not so much.

Comment Cute idea, but... (Score 4, Interesting) 144

...I see a few issues, some fixable, some less so.

First, while removing the boiler from the whole "steam plant" equation really does help the safety side of things, you have to be VERY VERY SURE that your separator removes ALL the water from your exhaust. Why? Because if you have even a tiny bit of water in your oil tank, and your heat it to 700F, it's going to boil and expand... and suddenly your low-pressure oil reservoir systems just turned into a really weak boiler full of oil that's hot enough to burst into flames. Instead of venting superheated invisible steam that can strip flesh from bones in seconds, you're going to be spurting oil around at temperatures that cause spontaneous combustion when meeting atmospheric oxygen. Not sure if that's really a step up.

Second, while oil and water don't mix, they do tend to form a really annoying to work with mayonnaise-like suspension of oil globules in water when mixed together really well. This takes a long time - or a lot of energy - to completely split apart.

Third, in addition to the previous problems with separating mayonnaise, heat dissipation will be an issue. Internal combustion engines carry a LOT of their waste heat away with exhaust, but in a closed-loop system like the one they're proposing here you need to remove the 85% of the energy you don't convert into work. Steamboats traditionally do this with a condenser that sits in the water, but if you're not near a large body of water, well... let's just say your condensing apparatus is going to be a huge, complicated, and difficult to work with because even if you don't have a high-pressure steam BOILER you're still going to have a high-pressure steam CONDENSER.

You could, of course, run the oil at a cooler temperature... but that drastically cuts back on your efficiency, because your power depends on having a lot of pressure inside the cylinder, and that pressure comes from the steam, and the pressure of the steam depends on the temperature... well, you get the idea. Basic thermodynamics.

So anyway. It's a cute idea, but unless they've got some really amazing tricks to solve the glaring technical fiddly parts I don't think it's going to get very far. I hope I'm wrong... but I don't think I am.

Comment Re:It doesn't matter (Score 4, Informative) 714

Er. I happily pay taxes, because I enjoy the services they purchase. Roads, regulation of industries, national defense, etc. Sometimes I don't agree with the purpose to which my money is put - but as long as my perspective is properly represented and considered, I don't feel that my taxes are 'theft at gunpoint.' The representatives as a group may opt to take a path different from the one I would personally choose, but that doesn't mean what I've given is wasted.

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