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* Posts by Charles 9

3733 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Ex-prez Carter: 'America has no functioning democracy' with PRISM

Charles 9
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Re: Spy on the Spies

"The electorate, in an elected position?"

Don't seem to be doing much for the current situation in American government, are they? The trouble with the electorate is that you can't assume they will act rationally, and once a majority of the electorate are acting IRrationally, you can game the system by playing to their emotions. That's what's happening now.

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Charles 9
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Re: Democracy no more

"How can we return to the kindler, gentler world that we would like?"

Two words: WE CAN'T.

We're entering a world where one bad man can ruin the rest of us. Knowledge is power, but now knowledge is cheap, too, because we're in an AGE of information. Meanwhile, humans come in all types of personalities: including the homicidal maniac and the paranoid lunatic. Put one of the latter together with the vast sum of human knowledge, and imagine the possibilities. They probably won't be pretty.

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Charles 9
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Re: He's right

"It is not clear that the 22nd amendment is especially useful or necessary. It was a reaction to FDR's run of four, which was highly situational, arguably appropriate given the circumstances between 1929 and 1945, and quite unlikely to have been repeated soon. By adding it we have established a requirement for change under circumstances when it might be undesirable or could be meaningless (as, for instance, if the current Vice President moves up because the current President is ineligible). In any case, we have term limits as long as elections are relatively free."

The problem was that FDR was gaining increasing support throughout his terms, not the least because of his political clout (boosted by experience), causing something of a feedback loop. Your experience makes you a better choice over the challenger, winning you another term and MORE experience, etc. And it resulted in a president-for-life that lasted longer than probably even the Founding Fathers would've been comfortable with. If FDR had been in better health, there was a fair chance he'd have the leverage to continue being President even after World War II.

You see that these days with some of the most veteran congresspeople. It takes something quite extraordinary on either side to unseat one of them unwillingly.

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Charles 9
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Re: He's right

Term limits wouldn't do a thing.

1. Experience counts, and if it's not the Congressmen themselves, then it'll be the congressional staff that sticks around after the congressman leaves.

2. People aware of term limits can plan for them by grooming proteges.

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Charles 9
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Re: Spy on the Spies

But then, who oversees the overseer? As for the budget, by Constitutional Law, only the House can set the budget, and what do you think they would do to any potential overseer? Nothing short of an Amendment could make this possible, plus even if you give this overseer the budget, who's going to pay for all this ON TOP of everything else Joe American has to pay now?

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Android MasterKey found buried in kiddie cake game on Google Play - report

Charles 9
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Re: @I ain't Spartacus

Think ad-based apps. No internet access means no ads. No ads = no revenue = no reason for the dev to release for Android. See the problem?

And while it's YOUR phone, it's THEIR app. Go their way or go without, and if more people go without, devs again won't see a reason to release for Android, and remember when the security model was first made, Android was the underdog against Apple. They needed a way to attract developers.

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Charles 9
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"Google should have more strict policies about permissions refusing apps asking for unnecessary permissions. I know by direct experience that Apple Appstore does it and I have to admit that is a good thing for end-users (a bit more problematic for me that I had to do more work to fix my app)."

How about this? For each section of access a program seeks, the developer needs to provide a justification for it. These justifications can be evaluated by Google to see if they match up (if something happens outside the listed justification, the application is rejected), then they can be posted to the Play Store as a "Why?", visible to the user, for each permission an app requests.

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Charles 9
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Re: @I ain't Spartacus

"Why can't vanilla Android have a built in application firewall to let you do that? It is not like it would make any odds to Google's profits."

Even if developers feel betrayed by Google and switch back to the Apple Store exclusively? For a good while, many of the best apps went to Apple first, THEN to Android. Might see a rebound of this if devs lose security control.

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Laser-wielding boffins develop ETERNAL MEMORY from quartz

Charles 9
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Give it 20 years and we'll be shuffling 1TB/hr video'/holovideo files on a regular basis and STILL complaining on there not being enough storage to go around. Because when it comes to mass storage, we ALWAYS seem to find way to fill it up.

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Worldwide tax crackdown planned against tech globocorps

Charles 9
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Re: the tax man cometh.

I understand that corporate income tax is taxed based on net income, but has anyone done a study on the pros and cons of changing it to one based on gross income, removing or limiting the deduction for business expenses?

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Why data storage technology is pretty much PERFECT

Charles 9
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Re: No more powerful code can ever be devised; further research is pointless

I suspect the "further research is pointless" merely points to the fact that we won't be able to find a better error-correcting system overall than Reed-Solomon because they account for physical limitations. You can create something of equal performance, but never better performance. As you've noted, research instead has turned more toward adaptation (the Information Dispersal Algorithm) and specialization (Turbocodes). I sometimes wonder if someone can find a system equal in performance to Reed-Solomon but simpler to implement, but I'm not an expert in those matters.

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Charles 9
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Re: Make those bits work harder?

That's assuming you can accurately read, write, and maintain 2^n different strengths of magnetism less expensively than just partitioning the space into n cells. The readers may be tiny, but they only have to detect on/off, which is a whole lot simpler than a reader that has to distinguish a spread of different strengths. Also consider, these larger cells may be larger but also more sensitive to changes because there are more ways a change can be registered, meaning neighboring fields may be MORE likely to introduce errors, not LESS.

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Charles 9
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Re: Make those bits work harder?

The thing with your idea is that if you can alter polarities more precisely, it would be easier to just use smaller areas to represent the bits, which is what' has been happening steadily with hard drive technology: the surface area of the drive used as the "bit" gets smaller and smaller. Trouble is, we're reaching a point where physics really is getting in the way. Not in the sense that we're down to flipping single molecules but still at the point where the latent magnetic fields of adjacent "bits" could cause the bit you're on to naturally "rot" and spontaneously switch. That's why the current push is for HAMR: Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording. If the bit can't be changed unless above a certaintemperature, then it's less prone to neighboring fields and can be made even smaller.

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Charles 9
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"*It's violet"

Cute. An advertising falsehood that actually UNDERSTATES the reality. That's something you don't see everyday.

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UK gov's smart meter dream unplugged: A 'colossal waste of cash'

Charles 9
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The thing about household appliances is that they're typically built to last for some time. Sure, planned obsolescence exists to an extent, but the average homeowner expects things like refrigerators, washers, etc. to last for a decade or so at the least (my fridge is going on 20 and only the icemaker's broken). They won't replace the appliance until it breaks, which means if someone's only a few years into an otherwise-inefficient refrigerator, there may be a while before it's replaced with a more-efficient model.

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CONFIRMED: Driverless cars to hit actual British roads by end of year

Charles 9
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You'd be surprised. If the Google cars are any consideration, they'd actually be able to identify the debris on the road (and yes, from a few hundred feet away—only way it wouldn't see it was if it was against a bump, but then YOU couldn't see it, either), size it up, assess traffic to the side in question, and maneuver as needed.

As for dynamic range, computer sensors don't always have to use the visual light range to see. Radar wouldn't be affected by sunrises/sunsets, making them superior to the human eye.

Inclement weather? Again, the computer can see beyond visual light and can use ways to compensate for precipitation (differing radar systems) and road cover (thermal imaging). I'm not too knowledgeable about flooded roads, but I think the car would be able to detect a sizable body of water ahead of it and assume it to be unsafe, stopping the car in the normal manner and requiring manual intervention.

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Charles 9
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Re: We already had them.

The problem with trains was that they had limited flexibility. It was the track or bust. Cars can shift from side to side, allowing the use of lanes which are impractical in trains with their rails. Also, if need be, cars can go off road.

As for the horse, I recall that they had minds of their own, really, which meant they weren't always reliable. For example, it may not be wise to drive a horse in a thunderstorm. Among the list of things that were the bane of any horse driver is the entry "Frightened Runaway Horse".

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Charles 9
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Re: All at once or none at all

But the thing is, when Murphy intervenes, it's going to be from an angle that no one had even had the thought to cover.

For example, would an automated car be able to react well to a low-to-ground obstacle suddenly falling off the back of a truck? What about a child suddenly running out in front from between two cars (thus practically invisible beforehand)? Can the car detect small but significant patches of black ice? How will it react to an accident suddenly starting in front of them? And so on?

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Finally, someone's fixed THAT Android hole. Was it your mobe network? No

Charles 9
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The fact that it can just disable the firewall with a root shell. Even system apps are vulnerable to a root shell. That's why SU apps prompt you before they're given the OK. It's all up to you to make sure what you're allowing does what it's supposed to do because once they get the shell, it's all "caveat utilitor".

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Ubuntu 13.10 to ship with Mir instead of X

Charles 9
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Re: Fragmentation can be a good thing in this case

Nope. It worked live, but once installed it died...every time. And the live is too slow and unreliable to use on a regular basis (the CD drive is crapping out and the USB support is 1.1 only with no boot support).

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Charles 9
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Re: Linux Graphics... is rubbish

" The idea of tying things to the hardware is quite frankly a childish way of thinking that belongs back in the 80s with things like the Atari ST."

Until they rediscovered the simple fact that, when it comes to serious number crunching like 3D graphics, nothing beats dedicated hardware chips, and if you're gonna keep the beast fed, you want as few obstructions between the GPU and the rest of the system. So high-performance 3D drivers strive to be lean and mean and close to the metal: out of necessity. It's like hand-tuned code; sometimes, when speed matters, there's really no substitute.

And while Linux may be a multi-user operating system, a group of 1 is still a group AND the system must recognize that physical displays play by different rules to remote ones.

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Charles 9
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Re: Perhaps..

You want to make a buck in Linux applications? Just sell them commercially. Some companies actually do that, and nothing in the Linux license prevents this, as they're only interested in keeping the KERNEL free. If integral parts of the distro want to be free as well, that's up to them, but binary blobs sold commercially? Entirely possible. Otherwise, Valve wouldn't have dared to try to migrate Steam to Linux. Now, granted, you need a market for your software, but that's more a matter of market research rather than development.

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Charles 9
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Re: Fragmentation can be a good thing in this case

Meanwhile, trying to do the same on an old Dell laptop with Xubuntu has the opposite effect: I need an external monitor just to see the screen because installing it causes the laptop screen to go dark: using both free AND non-free drivers. A check at the logs shows neither driver can recognize the chipset/screen combination and basically falls out. Finally gave up on the whole mess and put XP back on (thanks to the OEM sticker), so depending on your hardware it CAN be hit or miss.

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Charles 9
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Re: Linux Graphics... is rubbish

Part of the problem with X is conflicting goals. X was designed to be useable remotely. That's why it has a client/server architecture and is network-transparent. Which is a problem when you need to optimize performance because the best way to do THAT is to get close to the metal. A network layer is an obstruction in that scenario.

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Charles 9
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Re: Ubuntu, the Maralinga of Canonical's nuclear testing

"Here's a thought. You've already got millions of users who want a nice desktop and laptop operating system. How about keeping them happy?"

Because in his mind (and Microsoft's, mind) they're a dying breed. Soon they'll be niched and the big money will be in phones and tablets. He obviously is unwilling to concede the market to Google and Apple, so for him it's "adapt or die" time.

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Dead STEVE JOBS was a CROOK - Judge

Charles 9
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Re: Use the fines to prop up physical book publishers/sellers @Dan Paul

Well, provided it's in a language you understand, dead tree books are remarkably simple and require no external power or artificial illumination if used in daylight, so they're pretty good when you're away from civilization. They also handle getting wet better, so they're better for beach and poolside reading.

That said, in the balance of things, I prefer the compact e-reader to paper books, especially in traveling where weight and volume must be considered. I deal with the ownership issues by obtaining books from legal suppliers that don't lock their books too tightly.

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Charles 9
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Re: Use the fines to prop up physical book publishers/sellers @Dan Paul

Actually, there still IS a compatibility issue with the printed word: LANGUAGE. I imagine the literacy boom of the 12th century wouldn't have turned out so well if there weren't people around able to translate all the Spanish books from Arabic to Latin. One nasty thing about the printed work: they're more difficult in that sense to convert.

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Charles 9
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Um, you know Amazon's an American company, too.

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Charles 9
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Re: "the decisions are made by human beings ... are they going to see any time for fraud?"

There's another issue, too. Corporations are multiple people. What if the completely-innocent actions of multiple people result in a gestalt-like violation. In this case, the violation is worse than the sum of the individual actions that caused it, yet no one person is aware of the whole, probably not even the board or CEO (too micro). So who gets the blame in this instance if no one action was bad but taken unknowingly as a whole it is?

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Charles 9
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I think the judge made a salient point about Apple's "argument" of breaking Amazon's monopoly. If Amazon was leveraging its monopoly power, why didn't they charge Amazon with dumping (which IS considered an unfair trade practice--using loss leading to undercut new competition)?

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Dear Linus, STOP SHOUTING and play nice - says Linux kernel dev

Charles 9
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The thing is, while all of us us probably agree with Torvalds' REASONS, many of us have a beef about his TONE. If one is competent but lazy, it shouldn't take much more than a, "This code isn't up to snuff. Show us what you can REALLY do." to motivate them: a good punch in their pride. If the contributor really can't cut it, a firm, "Come back when you can really bring something to the project." can put a firm end to the conversation. Tirades can take you over a precipice and actually cause a BACKFIRE. People might take tirades the wrong way and, instead of hunkering down or leaving, decide to declare war on you and start slinging mud BACK. I would think that's the LAST thing you want in a mailing list: lots of off-topic sniping.

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Charles 9
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Re: Passion is one thing

But there's more than one way to get your point across. So what if the Internet doesn't do subtle? Whatever happened to "civil but firm"? Torvalds' rant could easily have been rephrased on the lines of:

"You committed bug-ridden code to the project such that others mistakenly assume it to be stable. In future, warn us beforehand when submitting unstable code. Otherwise, do not submit the code until it is in a stable state."

See? No profanity at all, and no "fake politeness" either. But also pretty cut-and-dry in what's being mentioned and requested: no subtlety at all.

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Be still, my quivering atoms: Here's a new way to count a second

Charles 9
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Trollface

Re: Contrariwise...

Wonder if the note writer considered his sleep cycles (which means dealing with days--considerably shorter than seasons) when writing the note?

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Charles 9
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Just for the record, against the most precise clocks known to man, how far are we still from the theoretical limit of Planck time?

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Human error blamed for toxic Russian rocket explosion

Charles 9
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Re: What about pre-flight tests?

Redundancy adds weight, and rockets are VERY weight-sensitive, meaning you run the risk of it being too heavy to fly.

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Charles 9
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Re: Typical Management.

Except you forget the adage about the foolproof: never underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. Even if you design it with one-way connectors, some complete buffoon who managed to slip through the cracks will find SOME way to jam it in the wrong way.

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Are driverless cars the death knell of the motor biz?

Charles 9
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Re: Maintenance cost increase

The average driver may be crap at anticipation but machines are crap at the unexpected. We can break from script if the need arises, such as someone or something suddenly appearing in front of us. How well could an automated system interact to such an event without false alarming?

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Charles 9
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Re: I love the idea and desperately want one but what about professional drivers

You assume the capitalist who saved the money will actually DO something with the money that will employ people. The thing is, there are fewer and fewer chances for the capitalist to invest where people are involved. If he buys a new machine, that machines was built by OTHER machines, with few if any people needed to oversee them. If he invests in markets or commodities, are they not managed by computers?

Look at this way. What happened to leather makers when leather demand tanked? They couldn't switch jobs because (1) their trade was too specialized and (2) the other industries that could take them in were already fully employed. They were blocked from adapting, so they just dropped off the map.

Meanwhile, even as fewer people are needed to do the same amount of work, the number of people has continued to climb. What we're seeing is something of a "tipping point" where it's starting to dawn on the labor force that they're on the cusp of being made redundant. Even the service sector (a bastion of human labor due to the desire for face-to-face interaction) is slowly being assaulted by such concepts as automated loaders and self-service stations.

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Charles 9
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Re: Death knell

The thing is, the price of that freedom has gone way up, to the point that it's practically unaffordable for most. Unless people are SO desperate for their own car that they'll pay in blood, personal car ownership may be a fading trend. Besides, do we really, REALLY need to be able to go anywhere on a moment's notice?

As for the automotive industry, consider that cars will sill be bought and maintained: just not by people, and cars will still need petrol on a regular basis. Given that their paths can be unpredictable, there will still be a need for petrol stations scattered throughout. Also, as for privacy in a car, even that's going away due to the insurance companies (trust me, pretty soon it's put a GPS tracker in your car or you can't get insurance, period).

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Charles 9
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But the thing is that personal attachment frays when the driver has to sit in traffic jams twice a day. As noted, at least when one is a passenger, they can engage in other things besides keeping their eyes on the road.

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Charles 9
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Young kids? Try drunks when the bars close for the night. They HAVE to get rides because of their condition, yet their condition leaves them likely to leave some of the worst messes you can imagine in a vehicle.

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Charles 9
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Re: So what the author is suggesting is...

Not so much. Buses travel on predetermined routes. The idea being proposed is like a cross between it and a taxi, which unlike the bus has the capability to go anywhere a car can go. Another possible cross would be a lift, where software has to carefully schedule the routes of the cars so as to gather the most people in the quickest amount of time. Imagine a server that keeps track of the cars in service. As it fields calls with pickups and destinations, it can search for the car that can field that request most efficiently, using already-existing trip-planning systems. It's a dynamic routing system, made possible because the system always knows where each car in the fleet is located at all times yet has the flexibility to change the routes as needed.

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Idaho patriots tool up to battle Jihad with pork bullets

Charles 9
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Re: All right then

We'll answer as soon as the city folk are willing to answer the same question. After all, it's from the rural areas that the food, clean water, etc. originate. Many power plants are away from cities, too, due to NIMBY issues.

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Inventor lobs spherical, throwable camera

Charles 9
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Re: Nice idea but

"the wall will show a cold patch if the cold water is directly hitting and cooling the wall."

Unless there's another fire between you and the wall you're actually trying to hit. Firefighters trying to attempt a rescue will want to focus their water efforts on creating a rescue lane to allow them to reach people trapped inside (to firefighters, people come before property). The further in you go, the less one can rely on direct line of sight, which is there having an eye further inside may be of use (you can throw it in before it's deemed safe for actual people to go in). This also has an advantage over a quadcopter in that it has no trouble with confined spaces.

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Charles 9
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Re: Nice idea but

For the fire scenario, you're forgetting the rest of the blaze going on which can cause incidental heating of the surrounding area. Also, the fire itself is usually at temperature beyond the useable range of IR systems (think over 1000 degrees when its high end is in the 500s). This would mean that most of the house is in the high end of the scale if not beyond it, even when you start getting the water down, so IR may not get you a quick-enough reaction. Plus, infrared has one nasty quirk—it doesn't transmit well through glass.

IR is used in rescue scenarios that don't involve fire because the buildings in the other cases are cool, making human body heat stand out on the person and whatever they touch. They're also handy for people lost in wooded areas or around water (or in inclement weather). I'd be curious to know its utility in avalanches.

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Charles 9
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Re: Not new though, trival variation

What about a NONtrivial addition of software?

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France's 'three strikes' anti-piracy law shot down

Charles 9
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Re: You can't.

"The idea that someone passionate about music wouldn't want anyone to hear their compositions if there were no copyright law could only be promulgated by someone who doesn't understand music."

Oh? If I'm not mistaken, most of what we would consider the greatest works of art in the world weren't made out of the goodness of the artists' hearts. They were commissions, for the most part, meaning they were in it for the money just like everyone else. Even a starving artist has gotta eat.

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Barnes & Noble chief walks as Nook ereader stumbles

Charles 9
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Disturbing...

This raises a few questions for people still fond of dead trees. I admit to being a ebook lover, but I tend to find other ways to put material in them, keeping the dead tree versions as backup.

The thing is that we're talking Barnes & Noble, the #1 bookstore comapny in America. If the #1 bookstore company in America is struggling (after seeing former #2 Borders just up and vanish a few years ago), one has to wonder about the overall health of the book business in general, though I haven't heard a peep as of yet from current #2 Books-A-Million.

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US Navy coughs $34.5m for hyper-kill railgun that DOESN'T self-destruct

Charles 9
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Re: "..the railgun could usher in the second era of the dreadnoughts.."

There's also the matter of recoil (railguns DO NOT make any attempt at bypassing Newtonian physics). Like it or not, you're going to need some mass to absorb all that kick or a broadside shot is going to seriously list (if not capsize) the platform on which it's mounted.

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Throwing arms let humans rise above poo-flinging apes to play CRICKET

Charles 9
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Re: fastest baseball

"Catchers also have to develop enough strength and accuracy to "gun down" a runner trying to steal second, from a standstill at home plate, throwing the ball almost twice the distance from the pitcher's mound to home."

It's more challenging than that. They're actually starting from a SQUAT, so they have to jump to their feet to make their throws to second. Not only that, they also have to wait on the actual pitch, so they really don't have a lot of time unless the catcher anticipates a steal and calls for an intentional high throw which they take AS they jump to their feet (however, that's an intentional ball so can't be used when there are already three balls—that's why a runner is likely to try a steal on three balls).

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