* Posts by Charles 9

6236 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Lettuce-nibbling veggies menace Mother Earth

Charles 9
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Re: @Frumious Bandersnatch - An apples to apples comparison would surely show...

And to be fair, to be able to live on an Inuit diet you pretty much have to be an Inuit due to biological adaptations to consuming such a specialized diet (if I recall, it's notably high in fat, so much so that visitors can't handle the diet straight up).

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Charles 9
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Re: but who eats lettuce?

The US has similar restrictions, too. I think it's more due to the "unknown" nature of human leftovers that warrants the ban: in particular for animals destined for human consumption. Basically, if you don't know what the animal's eating, you could be contaminating it (and some of these contaminants can bioaccumulate, meaning they stay in the animal for a long time), making it unsafe for consumption,

Anyway, uneaten food can be separated and composted, so it's not like it'll be a total loss.

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Charles 9
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Trollface

"From compressed and processed ocean-bred algae. Not at all from people."

Fine, but algae still counts as a plant, meaning plants do get harmed (and killed) in the process. If there were such a thing as PETPV, they'd be throwing fits.

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Charles 9
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But where will the raw materials for our food grade 3D printers come from?

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Charles 9
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Are there any long term studies regarding growing, harvesting, and consumption of tomatoes, given they are related to nightshade ?

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How to solve a Rubik's Cube in five seconds

Charles 9
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Re: Algorithm./ Technique

Point is, either way, you end up with a solved cube, a fixed computer, or in an earlier example, a sorted list. May not be the optimal solution, but unless utmost efficiency is critical, many times you can get away with "good enough". Selection sort may not be the fastest sort around, but it has its uses when space is tight because it can sort in situ.

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Samba man 'Tridge' accidentally helps to sink request for Oz voteware source code

Charles 9
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Re: Don't rely on just one system

Trouble with your ideas:

Sometimes an election doesn't result in a goverment. With no outright majority and no coalition to take it over the line, you have to try again, which leads to the other problem.

Waiting for a new government to form before dissolving the old one can put a bias towards the incumbent to keep a rival government from forming, corrupting the system.

And meanwhile, what if some urgency occurs between governments? Even with a fallback, some could be banking on the fallback.

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Charles 9
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Re: First past the post

But sometimes, simple isn't the best solution. Consider this. The US has been pretty much stuck at two parties for the better part of two centuries (the parties shift here and there, but third parties usually don't last long as a major political player in the US). It's a natural consequence of a winner-take-all system like first past the post: it causes political affiliations, and everything that goes with them, to polarize to maximuze the potential to be the winner. The differences grow over time to the point that he key element of politics, compromise, becomes less viable like the situation today.

Say what you will of complexity, but some complexity can be considered necessary complexity in order to help protect the ability of outside voices to have a say.

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Charles 9
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"The machine should be probed with different inputs (all unknown beforehand to the machine), only one of which is the real one, the others being test suites with known outputs."

Still, designed carefully, a secret subversion system may only be reachable by an intricate series of inputs (like a knocking or multiple ping-pong system) such that the odds of hitting it by chance are infinitesimally small. In every other case, it will work as designed...until that once-in-a-billion-plus input.

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Charles 9
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Re: Complex? It's an STV election...

The trick is not the ballot itself, it's making sure the ballot isn't changed, switched, or removed after the vote is cast as well as making sure no additional "stuffed" ballots are inserted into the process. The reason for a move to machines is to find a system such that any given vote is counted once, only once, never changes, and can be proven to be all three. Having a machine reading the votes provides an alternate set of eyes that requires a different kind of technique to subvert than bribing vote counters (and once a person is found to be a vote counter, that person could be persuaded or coerced). Also, a system that leaves a receipt to the voter provides a way for the voters themselves (if they wish) to triple-check the results outside the scope of the election machine.

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Charles 9
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The problem is that voting software is valueless even with open source because the machine can just be subverted elsewhere.

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Charles 9
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Re: Is source code necessary to validate correctness?

Having an open codebase does squat against a hardware subversion (and El Reg has had articles about that such as subverted hard drive firmware), and given the importance of elections, you have to assume someone will have the resources to secretly subvert any voting machine maker to hide a secret code in a normal-looking chip that only gets activated on a secret code set at the hardware level, otherwise totally invisible. How do you battle something that resourceful?

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Charles 9
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The only way the election process can possibly be truly transparent is to do the whole thing by hand: otherwise, any form of automation or mechanization can be construed to change the results in a way human senses cannot detect. The entire process from start to finish must be able to be seen by our innate senses. But then how do you process hundreds of millions of votes by hand in a timely manner and on a budget (and no, two out of three is not acceptable when whole countries depend on the results)?

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Charles 9
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Re: Is source code necessary to validate correctness?

But what's to prevent the voting machine pulling a VW: what I would call being a Janus, putting forth two different faces during testing and during actual use, and if it's done at a low enough level, there's no way for the testers to tell the difference between them, even if they have access to the source code (as someone said, there is no proof that the compiled open source you obtain is the same that is used in actual production, which may be hidden away in a component such that you can't detect it without expensive equipment).

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Adobe: We locked our customers in the cloud and out poured money

Charles 9
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Re: re: For an indie, it's a bit of a piss take.

Last I checked, plumbers don't rent their wrenches and painters don't rent their canvas.

As for the struggling artist, don't forget the rent/property taxes, the groceries, and the utilities (particularly in this case electricity and Internet access) among other things.

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Charles 9
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Re: Short view?

Nope, because the newcomers have to associate with the incumbents, and guess who has their nuts. It's like writers and Word. Many would like to get away from it, but to get their stuff published, they have to go through the editors, and the editors swear by Word due to its annotation features. So if the only way to town is across a frozen river, you better learn to ice skate.

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US House okays making internet tax exemptions permanent

Charles 9
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Re: Legal limits

"Additionally, many Americans do not recognize any government claim to authority over the Internet, so people ignore all claims to taxes."

But the governments and ISPs can counter that the Internet runs on their pipes, airwaves, and sovereign territory. It's like with oil: you have to get it from point A to point B somehow, which means transport is as essential as the commodity itself. And data does have a physical form in the electrons. So like it or not, data that flows through privately-owned cables or through government-regulated airwaves is subject to regulation.

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Charles 9
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No state can enforce interstate commerce because the Constitution (via the Interstate Commerce Clause found in Article I) explicitly makes it a federal matter (which also means the Tenth Amendment can't be used as it's an enumerated power). And the feds aren't interested in helping the states in this matter because it means giving away power, so they're basically SOL unless they can push a compelling case before Congress. And who runs such a brokerage? A private firm would gain power that can corrupt it, and too many people distrust the government to get it done right, either.

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Charles 9
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Re: Hidden Stuff

"We don't recognize any governments claim of authority over any aspect of the Internet, and we will actively obstruct any corporate or government actions that we believe to be an infringement on our rights or freedoms."

Good luck. What's the Internet without bandwidth? ISPs own the landlines and the governments both own the airwaves and hold sovereign power over any landlines in their territory.

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Charles 9
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Re: @Tom No, this is bad, really bad.

Not so easy. Taxes have three or four tiers (federal, state, county/region, and usually municipal), and these tiers usually don't talk to each other. And even within each tier, taxes may be assessed differently for different things. Take Virginia. Each locality has a different tobacco tax on top of the state sales tax, then you get areas that charge an additional tax for hot-served food, there's confusion over whether or not energy drink count as grocery or merchandise (merchandise has twice the tax rate), and then there's the sales tax exemption for medicine and the tax holiday in August for school supplies. And all it takes to change these again is for a legislature to pass another Act or a city council to pass an Ordinance.

AND the federal government is notoriously inefficient. So do you still believe keeping track of such a complicated tax structure (which is necessarily complicated because the country is complicated) can be "trivially" done?

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Charles 9
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Re: What's so wrong with tax?

"I dislike the fact that I'm the one required to file the tax. I'd rather have the federal government mandate a flat tax to be collected (per payers address) and the business is responsible for paying the correct proportion to the states,"

The problem being they'll never agree on what that rate will be because states have different strategies for taxation, and a "one tax fits all" solution doesn't accommodate this. There are tourism-heavy states like Florida and Nevada that use sales taxes to draw the most money from tourists who they wouldn't get any other way. Other states are "live-in" states where people or businesses tend to settle down (Oregon and Delaware spring to mind). Instead of sales taxes, income and related taxes are the norm for raising revenue. Then you have odd states like Alaska (rural, sparse, and extremely rugged) where simplicity is the best solution (seeing as reaching everyone in the middle of nowhere is a challenge), so they use alternative methods like property tax.

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Charles 9
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Re: Hows did Sears

I vaguely remember the order forms from those catalogs with the blanks for items numbers and so on. Many of them keep a blank for "(Insert State Here) residents add (Insert Percentage Here)% Sales Tax". Pretty sure that was because that was there the order forms went and therefore where the taxmen of that state could demand documentation.

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Charles 9
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"Now what happens in future if they want to change rules on sales taxes, do they have to repeal the whole act?"

No, all it takes is another Act to amend any Act that existed before. Happens all the time, such as with the DMCA, which amended the last Copyright Act, which IIRC was about 1995, which in turn amended other Copyright Acts from before.

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Charles 9
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Re: Totally Skewed Outlook!

"I sympathize with the States. The lack of sales tax imposed on online sales is a true loophole in the principle that they are allowed to tax anything bought by a resident."

Ah, but here's the rub. The buyer normally pays B&M sales tax at the vendor's state. If a Virginian heads to DC on a trip and buys something in DC proper, he pays the DC sales tax (which is higher than Virginia's). So now ask, where is the buyer officially buying the goods? At the seller's state or at the buyer's state? How was this resolved back in the catalog-and-telephone days?

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Charles 9
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"What taxes the USPS pays is a matter that states could raise with the federal government through their congressional delegations."

As a federal bureau, the USPS usually cannot be taxed except by the federal government. All Post Offices are officially US Government property (thus why state and local police cannot normally police a post office, the feds see to that themselves) so become exempt from state property taxes. I think refueling is usually done on-site with the fuel obtained by a federal supply chain so again the states don't get fuel taxes. As federal employees, state income taxes are questionable (depends on the laws), so state revenues from post offices are limited (the same is true of military installations and other federally-owned property).

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Charles 9
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Re: I see a problem:

"How does that help Oklahoma when all the businesses are in California, etc.?"

Then Oklahoma has to find a way to encourage physical presence, as by law that's the only way Oklahoma can enforce this.

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Charles 9
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Re: I see a problem:

Any state where the business has a physical presence (like California and New York where Amazon keeps warehouses) can assess sales taxes against that physical presence. Anywhere beyond that is beyond their scope due to the Interstate Commerce Clause, which by default makes cross-border commerce a federal matter. That means things like store pickup (which require a B&M presence) still get taxed.

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Boffins teach cars to listen for the sound of a wet road

Charles 9
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Re: What the what?

Not true. Every car that passed it altered the conditions of the road by driving through it. Furthermore, it's rare for two cars to be exactly alike in terms of physics when they pass over a wet road. What one car can pass safely another may not simply because they're lighter/heavier, have less downforce, balder tires, etc.

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Charles 9
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You wouldn't say that after you've taken a run through Donner Pass. High altitude, significant grades, and frequent snow, often blowing to near-zero visibility.

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Russian "Pawn Storm" expands, rains hell on NATO, air-gapped PCs

Charles 9
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Re: How do you get the data out?

"Well, by definition they wouldn't be "compatible with Windows and NTFS" in that they wouldn't be mountable by Windows."

As in they'll work with the right program, a la TrueCrypt/VeraCrypt. And it would require a driver-like low-level interface to interact with the devices at the block level (like a low-level Hex Editor). And of course it would have to employ a robust encryption system throughout so that at the least contents can't be easily seen. Additional work would be needed to conceal the fact a secret filesystem is being used (namely, writing random data into all free space in the drive before creating it; that way you have the excuse of cleaning up the drive prior to reusing it, excusing the proliferation of random-looking data in the free space).

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Joining the illuminati? Just how bright can a smart bulb really be?

Charles 9
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Re: cart before horse

At least if it goes down, it's quick to get back up. You can't say the same with underground wiring which can be broken up by a stray shovel or swamped by a flood or storm surge. Trust me, we checked the numbers and determined (especially on the coast with their high water tables) that it wasn't worth it.

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Charles 9
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Re: bulb/lamp/pear

At least the logic's there. It does look like a pear, too.

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HTTPSohopeless: 26,000 Telstra Cisco boxen open to device hijacking

Charles 9
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Re: Is there a workaround or isn't there?

And replace it with WHAT, pray?

Because if one of the biggest names on the Internet is selling eternally-vulnerable unpatchable hardware, what does that say of every other supplier on the market? Rip and replace simply means someone else when you bend over.

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Brit filmmaker plans 10hr+ Paint Drying epic

Charles 9
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Re: Shipping forecasts

Use an old computer-generated voice and turn it loose on a large local phone book.

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UK gov sinks £25k into Pi-powered cyberdesk

Charles 9
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I recall those desks with glass panels and racks in the chair well to sit CRT monitors so people didn't have to crane their necks to see what they were typing.

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eBay scammer steals identity of special agent investigating him

Charles 9
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I think it's more a case of "Impersonating a Federal Officer" which, yes, is a federal offense (18 US Code § 912).

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GPS, you've gone too far this time

Charles 9
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Re: How far off? @Gomez Adams

It may me geographically shorter, but it may also be temporallly longer due to traffic or an accident. If people change lanes frequently, it's usually because the lane is backed up and moving slowly, so going around may requiring traveling further in terms of length but also allows traveling at a higher speed, offsetting the loss.

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California cops pull over Google car for driving too SLOWLY

Charles 9
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So what happens when you get a law-vs-law clash, where a car is BOTH prohibited from driving too slow in relation to other cars AND prohibited (due to vehicle classification) from going OVER a specified speed? Especially when the minimum becomes higher than the maximum, meaning the car can't help but break the law now?

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Charles 9
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"The real fun comes when looking at the history of maximum speed limits on open highways. At present, it's 65 mph unless posted otherwise...like 70 mph on some. The *original* limit was "reasonable and proper"."

It mostly goes to population density. The sparser the population, the less the risk of a high-speed collision and therefore the safer it is to raise the limit. It also matters if your state is of some significant size like Montana and Texas. Texas houses the longest single chunk of singly-maintained highway in North America (it's piece of I-10, ~880 miles long, over 1/3 of the entire 2,400-mile-plus Interstate), and it's probably one of the few states known to post an 80mph limit, especially in the rural stretches of I-10. Montana I think used to have "reasonable and prudent" for its chunks of Interstates like I-90 but had to scale it back to only 75mph.

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Charles 9
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Re: Klingt reichlich erfunden

You're supposed to start reacting when you see two or three cars in your rear-view, which you usually CAN see. Five's simply the limit upon which the police can intervene.

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Charles 9
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Re: I'll betcha a dollar that...

Or worse, a "ghost driver": someone who manages to go the wrong way down a motorway and ends up making a head-on collision with both cars at speed. Now you have two cars crashing at the sum of their respective speeds. Even with crumple zones, a ghost driver collision is tough to live through simply due to the sheer forces involved.

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CloudFlare drinks the DNSSEC kool-aid, offers it on universal basis

Charles 9
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Re: Trust is supposed to be a two way street

Well then, you better get off the Internet, because that level of paranoia approaches Don't Trust Anyone, and since trust is required to perform any real communications...

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GCHQ director blasts free market, says UK must be 'sovereign cryptographic nation'

Charles 9
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Re: Do they have internet in prison cells?

"It's like this: a body is found with an axe poking out the chest. There is a criminal around somewhere, the murderer, and there are suspects. The criminal is a criminal whether or not they are a suspect."

Not necessarily. The criminal may be the same as the victim: in this case, a Darwin Award Winner trying to play with axe juggling.

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Roamers rejoice! Google Maps gets offline regional navigation

Charles 9
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Re: maps.me uses openstreetmap

2D-only. A similar app already exists in F-Droid which by default is FOSS.

I'd prefer one that has a horizon perspective, better suited for driving navigation.

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Charles 9
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Re: Useful in tunnels?

It does. A compass (usually via tri-axial magnetometer) and tri-axial accelerometer is enough to maintain reckoning until you emerge, and you'll find most phones of note will have these features standard these days. Even my old Nokia N95 had a compass; don't know about the accelerometer, though.

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UN privacy head slams 'worse than scary' UK surveillance bill

Charles 9
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Re: HumInt and SigInt both require wisdom

"Confirmation Bias is approaching data with a personal bias and so wrongly confirming that bias. What I meant is more innocent, more common, when we approach data with no expectations and yet still misunderstand it. Normal human error."

Confirmation Bias IS Normal Human Error. Bias is an inherent human trait based on experience. We can't help but be biased because experience shapes perception, subconsciously. IOW, we can't help but be biased just as we can't help but measure speed in relative terms: there's no absolute reference point to check otherwise.

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Drones are dropping drugs into prisons and the US govt just doesn't know what to do

Charles 9
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Re: Put up a net

And the next thing you know, the drones will just cut the nets. Either that or the prisoners start hoisting themselves up to rip them down and use them for escape attempts.

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How to build a city fit for 50℃ heatwaves

Charles 9
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Re: Underground

Actually, south-facing windows make sense in the Northern Hemisphere because in the winter you want as much sun as possible to stay warm, and the sun tends to be heavily to the south in the winter, creating a shallow angle. In the summer, the sun is more to the north so comes down at a sharper angle which you addresses with features like porches and overhangs.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the directions are reversed, so you're better off facing windows north.

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Google engineer names and shames dodgy USB Type-C cable makers

Charles 9
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Re: Not "Linux commands"

Uh...what Radio Shack?

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Charles 9
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Re: Er....

I don't know why a USB 2 charging port is 1.8A and a USB 3 charging port is 1.5A, but I'm guessing it's because I've misread/missunderstood something.

Because USB Charging over the traditional cable was always limited by the spec to 1.5A. It's just that many devices push the envelope towards 2A. Type-C cables BTW are allowed to go up to 3A by spec.

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