69 posts • joined Monday 7th February 2011 02:57 GMT
Robotic flying cars considered unlikely
``Highly reliable robotic takeoff, landing, cruise flight and traffic control certainly isn't a dream - the problems are actually easier than robotic ground cars, and they have pretty much been solved already.''
Sure, for objects separated by miles horizontally and thousands of feet vertically.
But that's not the situation for a genuine flying car. Take the road populace of New York City, elevate it all to a variety of altitudes, and watch your autopilots have nervous breakdowns. A population of flying cars in numbers comparable to what we have on the ground is such a difference in degree as to become a difference in kind. Ask any programmer scaling up a program from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of instances.
Someone speaks with forkéd tongue
Examining the eminent Mr Dabbs's 2010 interview with Features Exec, we find the exchange:
Q: Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
A: They are always useful.
@Mrs B J Smegma: In the same location, we find him noting he was the first non-U.S. journo to test the original iMac, so 'twas not always thus.
Send it to Coventry
That is, partition your disk and set up experimental all by its lonesome. I run stable and unstable that way, and I'm about to install wheezy in a third partition.
Of course, this takes a reboot to change. Extra points if you install them on virtual machines. :-)
[For this one, Mr. Holmes is saying ``Elementary, my dear Watson''.]
Would that it were so.
I don't know what law the grandparent poster (AC) is referring to, but you only have to look at ACTA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ACTA) to see an example of the U.S. using its economic weight to force other countries to do the bidding of American corporations. For rampant privacy invasion, check the PNR (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passenger_Name_Record) history, in which the U.S. pressured the EU into sending passenger info to the TSA before the flight leaves. They ``promised'' it would be used only for anti-terrorist purposes, but they've reneged on that, and roughly the entire federal government now has access to the data.
So long as the U.S. packs sufficient clout to present a credible economic threat to its subject nations, we're all screwed. The way things are going, though, maybe the U.S. economy will weaken so much that no one cares anymore.
[Beer because that's what I'm drinking now. Maybe it'll help me feel better about all this.]
Why are they so damn' noisy?
It's all electronics and radio waves, but neither my computer nor my radio make that sort of a racket. Are the magnetic fields so strong that we're hearing the structure being warped out of shape? If so, I hope they have the framework inspected at least as often as an airliners. If not, what's going on?
Name that weapon
Don't look now, but David used a sling---in the picture you see him on the backswing, about to loose his secret weapon. A slingshot is a forked stick and elastic. I doubt even the Wrist Rocket* models are more powerful than a skillfully-wielded sling. (Of course, that's the down side: a sling takes a lot of practice to get good at.) Think of a slingshot as a very small bow, and a sling as an atlatl for rocks.
It's frighteningly easy to extract identities from supposedly-anonymous data sets. Some Univ. of Texas researchers showed it's fairly easy to take Netflix's anonymized preferences list, cross-index it with the IMDB, and identify a number of the subscribers (http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/12/anonymity_and_t_2.html). Given a 5-digit ZIP code, gender, and date of birth, you can identify over 85% of Americans (ibid). If you know where an American works and lives _to the census block_, you can establish identity almost 100% of the time (http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/05/on_the_anonymit.html).
Be _very_ suspicious of claims of anonymization. Schneier notes ``[A]nonymity systems shouldn't be fielded before being subjected to adversarial attacks.''
The ultimate evidence of prior usage
Guido should just drop a note to Tim O'Reilly, asking for an O'Reilly catalog from about 1995. Wouldn't having a book published about it strongly suggest Python's for real and antedates Veber?
LOL! That one's gone into my commonplace file.
Pay per byte
As mentioned above, bandwidth is (or should be) like water or electricity: I don't buy 100 kWh/mo for a fixed price, and have my fridge stop running on the 27th because I had my Xmas display up for the last couple of weeks.
I'm now using a web host that goes against the flow: I pay a certain amount per Mbyte of date transfer, and a certain amount per GB-month of storage, and guess what? It costs less than I can get anywhere else. It would be interesting if some gutsy telco would offer a similar deal for BW---I bet they'd clean up, especially once they started building out based on where they feel the pinch. They could even offer pay-per-byte and fixed chunk at the same time, and let the customers try it both ways.
Unfortunately, there's nothing resembling real competition in any telco/cable/bandwidth provider market I'm aware of, so I'm not holding my breath.
Re: I'm confused...
The deal is that since the galaxy is 212e6 ly away, what we're seeing is something that happened 212e6 years ago---at which time the galaxy was reasonably young. If we could wormhole over there now (whatever that means under general relativity) we'd be seeing an older galaxy, but until then we're stuck with what comes down from the sky.
In general, the further away a galaxy is, the younger it was at the time the light we're seeing now left it. That's why the boffins keep buying stronger telescopes to investigate the beginning of the universe. We see the far away stuff in a state closer to the Big Bang.
What do you do with it afterward?
How well does graphene degrade? What are its effects when it starts leaching out of landfills into the atmosphere / oceans / my backyard? Is this the Ice IX of the 21st century?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Let me get this straight...
The complaint that ``app store'' is generic is coming from the company that claims it has a trademark on ``windows''?
Do you prefer depending on the Pentagon, or the commies?
But you get your own guaranteed slot
Phone service between COs has been multiplexed for roughly ever (at least here in the US). But when you get a route through the network, that 3kHz is _yours_, all yours. So long as the network is up, you get sufficient bandwidth to actually recognize your caller's voice, and no dropouts when a packet gets lost.
The ``analog'' network puts all that in place before it puts your call through, and if it can't, you get the ``all trunks busy'' signal, rather than a connection you can't hear over.
They'll have to pry my landline from my cold, dead hands.... Unfortunately, AT&T is trying to obsolete them, without transferring the same QoS guarantees to the cell network. It warms my heart to walk past the CO and see that 15' wall of batteries inside. Take that, APC.
It's started already
Bruce Schneier (https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/12/china_now_block.html) reports that
``The "Great Firewall of China" is now able to detect and block encryption''
But what if they _can't_ inspect it?
@Fred Goldstein: ``The treaty allows governments to inspect the contents[....]''
If this is indeed true (I've downloaded the PDF, but not yet read it), how long do you think it would take the signatories to decree that the packets _must_ be inspectable---i.e., no encryption. Thus, what we USians have finally gotten the government out of (mostly) will see the world roaring back into.
So far, there's enough pushback here to prevent the feds from decrypting without a warrant (and maybe not even then, depending on what happens when the Supremes get a case claiming the contents of your brain are yours alone). But all the governments which would instantly say ``So sorry, but international treaty prohibits encryption'', and back it up by dropping any packets they can't read, would put paid to anything but steganography.
Re: Let's see if I've got this right...
@Roger Stenning: ``most of these conspiracy theory nuts come from the US, which has a VETO VOTE for pretty much anything''
Well, yes, that's exactly why they're worried. You see, the Trilateral Commission is in control of the U.S. government, and therefore can use the U.S.'s power over the UN to put in another order for a few Black Helicopters. When they've accumulated a sufficient supply....
Not just on your side of the pond
I didn't get to see him on TV, but his books riveted me, and focused my interest in astronomy. I wanted to be an astronomer until I found they don't actually look through the telescopes these days---it's still one of my main interests, though.
As for eccentricity, thanks to him I was the only kid on my block who knew what a blancmange was, decades before Monty Python.
He added much to my life, and I thank him for it.
Re: Someone has to write the assembler too
Ah, yes---my first job out of uni I wrote Z-80 assembly, and indeed maintained the assembler.
My favorite story from that job, though, came from writing FORTRAN on an HP 2100 mini, and maintaining the compiler (proprietary, but we did get the source). About when my program started getting large enough to be useful, the compile started crawling. I noticed the speed went way up when I didn't ask for a variable listing, so I poked around.
They were using a O(n**2) sort. I.e., it would make one full pass over the symbol table for every symbol it emitted.
Ah, the early days, when even econ majors wrote code.
Wishing into existence
"intellectual property is, among many other things, a fundamental property right that can't be wished away."
Fundamental property rights don't need legislation to create them. They get laws to punish those who violate them, but the government doesn't create my right to this ham sandwich---I did when I bought it.
``Intellectual property rights'' are a snare and a delusion. The U.S. Constitution recognizes copyright as a government-granted monopony. The Statute of Anne created it out of thin air. Despite the unfortunate name, copyright isn't a right, it's a monopoly on copying. Remember, theft applies to things the thief takes away from the owner: ham sandwiches, cash, Maseratis, &c. When an infringer copies a photo, the creator still has it. Nothing has been taken.
Much as I sympathize with Mr. Orlowski's anger at the ``freetards'', he loses much of my sympathy when he tries to claim the other extreme is true.
How could you forget Mesklin?
In _Mission of Gravity_, Hal Clement created Mesklin, a heavy-gravity, rapidly-rotating planet home to some intelligent and very strong millipedes. One of the interesting points is that he spent much more time working the physics of such a situation into his plots, and in very natural ways. Much better than the heavy planet = strong (humanoid) inhabitants (and nothing more) of Smith and Niven.
The defence is obvious..
...Just convert all your .jpegs to .pngs.
When did people give up on sound quality?
They'll have to tear my landline from my cold, dead fingers.
I continually wonder, when I get cellphone calls from friends, why there isn't a vast uprising of subscribers demanding that all these electronic marvels provide little things like intelligibility or continuity. Certain of the worst offenders get me telling them to call back when they get a real phone connection.
``Because no affirmative action....''
`` is required by the website user to agree to the terms of a contract....''
That means the ruling only holds in cases where they say you have to agree, but don't make you click something to signify that you do. If they force you to click a button that says you've read the Ts & Cs, they may still have a chance. But I love the ``illusory'' characterization---couldn't have said it better meself.
Why not Ethiopian?
...I wondered. Until I got to Wikipedia's article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Ethiopia), and found there's no such language as ``Ethiopian''. The official language, Amharic, is spoken by about 30% of the citizens. Oromo is the most widely spoken, at around 34% and there are some 75 (90?) others in use. English is the language of secondary education, and the most-used foreign language.
I guess English was a reasonable choice.
Re: Not just an action movie
...and shooting his cuffs immediately after dodging a train-eating digger (Skyfall trailer)
What's the transmission mechanism?
Are badgers coughing in the cows faces? Are badgers driven mad by TB biting cattle? I can't feature cattle eating dead badgers.
Inquiring minds want to know.
Back when an inch was an inch
We had to repair the porch of our 1896 house---it was worn badly by a century of folks tramping in and out. So, it being made of 1" tongue & groove, the builder went out and bought some more. You can probably see this coming: looked at edge-on, the profile of the floor is now roughly
due to the fact that for modern timber, 1" nominal (isn't that a lovely phrase?) is actually 3/4". Shoulda shimmed it before installing, but who knew?
Ultimate electronic voting
It's a snap! On election day everyone steps outside their front door and holds up their ballot for the drones to read. What could be easier?
The trouble is, I'm not sure how long this will remain a joke.
What the devil is that cloud formation?
The ``spectacular scenery'' photo (http://regmedia.co.uk/2012/09/11/cloud_snap.jpg) has clouds of a type I've never seen (at least not from above). Was there a nuke test? Or did a tornado show up that day?
Let me get this straight. Vobile is fed (allegedly---remember NASA) copyrighted materials, and it's able to, in real time, determine whether a random video stream replicates some snatch of said vast store of materials?
a) that's the most impressive capability I've read about, Google's setup not withstanding, and
b) our cheerful belief that the NSA couldn't possibly deal with its gargantuan data feed in such a way as to worry the average Joe is probably blown to Hell.
Capabilities, not intentions
A touchstone of military strategy is that you plan based on what other countries can do, not what they say. You can be sure the US military knows what, for example, the Brits are capable of, and have contingency plans to deal with it.
The same must apply to any computer or software you deal with. Microsoft sells you software which can phone home with a notification of every app you install. All planning thereafter should be based on what they could do with this info in the worst case. Just like the gummint saying ``Don't worry that we can wiretap you without a warrant. We'll be good, promise!
Customers are _not_ paying for bandwidth. (readable version)
They're paying for access to the network and a chance to fight over the bandwidth found there.
If they were paying for bandwidth, users of bloated-traffic apps would pay their fair share, and presumably the telcos would have incentive to use that money to upgrade the network so they could get more such users. Result: PROFIT!
As an example of how that works in another arena, I commend you to nearlyfreespeech.net. They charge you $1/GB bandwidth (or less, down to 20 cents for volume users) and 1 cent ($0.01)/MB-month. (I have nothing to do with them, other than being a satisfied customer.)
I have no idea why most punters want fixed-price plans, because that guarantees you're paying for more than you use. If you're not, they'll bump you up to the next price level.
[Note to webmaster: I also commend you to LWN.net, which offers only a preview button under the entry field. Once you've previewed, you get a submit button under the preview, but still only the preview button under the comment-entry field. This would prevent idiots like me from posting garbage as I did above, to the relief of all readers.]
Melinda Gates position not technical
Melinda Gates was (is?) indeed a leading technologist. (Her last position at usoft was General Manager of Information Products.) She's also a powerful woman, through her work in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. But on that evidence, she'd never be number four on the list if she hadn't married the boss.
(Please don't gripe that I'm misogynistic or unfair. I admire her greatly, and she indeed belongs atop any list of influential women qua women. She's just not the no. four _technological_ woman.)
P.S.: We need a ``misguided'' icon---perhaps a GPS screen?
Re: Please zap my retina with a laser!
Yes, please! A torn retina, if not tacked down by laser or cryotherapy is a one-way ticket to blindness. (N.B.: None of the above discussion mentioned retinas.)
Hydrogen is not a fuel---it's a transmission mechanism
See frank ly's post above. To get the hydrogen to fill up your tank, you need to obtain the hydrogen. To get it from the sea, you need to supply the energy necessary to pry the H2 loose from the O (which is all you'll get back when you burn it), plus enough to cover the inefficiencies of the process.
How much better just to take said energy supply and send it directly to the vehicle, cutting out the middle-hydrogen? And we don't need to spend massive amounts to build a hydrogen-distribution network and hydrogen-storage stations---we've already got a reasonably-good one for transmitting energy in the form of electricity.
Since burning/fuel-celling H2 is better than petrol for on-street pollution prevention, we could even set up fueling stations supplied with water and electricity, and crack it there to fill a car's hydrogen tank. That way we avoid all those nasty hydrocarbons out the tailpipe, and the cost of distributing hydrogen qua hydrogen. I hope we can build a fossil-fueled electric plant with better efficiency than internal combustion.
At least they admitted it didn't work
All too often, super-duper military projects are made to work (see the Star Wars tests where the target broadcast its position to the hunter), and never, ever, say die. Yeah, they tried something that perhaps would have been better ignored, but they seem to have reported the results honestly.
``customers who haven’t subscribed to Netflix for 12 months or longer''
OK, are we talking about
a) people whose subscriptions expired over a year ago,
b) people whose subscriptions were in effect for less than a year, or
c) some other group entirely?
English is a wonderful language. Please use it carefully.
What's behind it all?
That is, does the ITU offer anything like documentation for these claims?
Ask your MP
To read to the House the Hon. Mr. Macaulay's comments on the subject.  It seems to me it deserves to be read every 160 years.
(I can't ask mine 'cause I'm stuck with the Mickey Mouse copyright situation to your west.)