* Posts by Bill Michaelson

76 posts • joined 20 Mar 2009


Consumer reviewer Which? finds CAN bus ports on Ford and VW, starts yelling 'Security! We have a problem...'

Bill Michaelson

Driver awareness

Underinflated tires were blamed for a rash of accidents involved Ford SUVs that rolled over. Since then, TPMS is mandatory in US.

I like the system, although it tends to make me obsessive about keeping all the tires properly inflated. I particularly like the ability to flip on the pressure display if I roll over some debris at high speed. This once gave me early warning to exit an Interstate before losing too much pressure in one tire.

My biggest beef is with mechanics who swapped the sensors about carelessly, with subsequent ensuing hilarity as I try to adjust tire pressures.

Call us immediately if your child uses Kali Linux, squawks West Mids Police

Bill Michaelson

Be really worried if...

...your kid has a programming language compiler installed.

We strained our eyes with Lenovo's monster monitor: 43.4 inches for price of five 24" screens

Bill Michaelson

Re: Vertical space rules

"Get a proper 43" 16:9 3840x2160 screen. Trust me."


My $800 43" LG is this. It's like having 4 monitors I typically used in a 2x2 matrix - without the seams. It also leaves desk space for a sidecar or two of 1920x1080 for $100-200 a pop if desired.

The vertical space is good for code, horizontal for the occasional SQL table perusal. The combo for flexible image sizing placement and/or window arrangement. Huge fonts for when the eyes get tired or viewing by a group at some distance.

That thing is way too costly for the utility.

Explain yourself, mister: Fresh efforts at Google to understand why an AI system says yes or no

Bill Michaelson

Re: Bias....

Have we tried categorizing dogs walking on Wall Street? Say, in front of the NYSE?

Bill Michaelson

Sometimes inference is enough, sometimes almost a head-scratcher

When I played with a classification API, the code told me the groundhog in my backyard is a bear. OK, fair enough. Then it told me a concrete bench is a skate park. Well, I suppose the latter classification is more accurate - in a way.

I'm reminded of push-polling except that we barely control how we ask the questions.

MIT boffins turn black up to 11 with carbon nanotubes that absorb 99.995% of light

Bill Michaelson

Suitable for a new car model.

The Chevy Abyss.

What's the last piece of software you'd expect to spy on you? Maybe your enterprise security suite? Bad news

Bill Michaelson

My frikkin' LG dishwasher does this too

It's exasperating. At least my light bulbs are secure. I think.

So you've 'seen' the black hole. Now for the interesting bit – how all that raw data was stored

Bill Michaelson

Re: Flat Earth

"For barometric altimiters don't they set 0' to correspond to the pressure reading at the airport?"

They do. In the US, the first part of an airport condition report such as ATIS contains the phrase "altimeter XX.YY (in/Hg)" so that a pilot can appropriately calibrate the pressure altimeter via the Kollsman window prior to approach.

But the pilot is typically quite relaxed anyway because they have another window in front of them that they can look through to see the runway. As long as the altimeter is calibrated reasonably, there will be adequate error margin for a precision approach with 200' AGL minimum to be clear of clouds, and a precision approach supplements vertical guidance via continuous glide slope indication. A non-precision approach will like have 500' minimums or higher. That's about a half inch of Hg slop.

Uncle Sam charges Julian Assange with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion

Bill Michaelson

Re: Dead naming?

"The indictment against Assange simply opens with 'Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning..'"

Yes. If the indictment opened with that assertion, perhaps for the sake of legal precision to dispel any potential confusion about identity, then referring to Chelsea Manning in the remainder of the document is sufficient and unambiguous.

Bill Michaelson

Re: Dead naming?

It's not confusing. The person from then is now known as Chelsea Manning and she is a woman. We are speaking of her in the present about what she did in the past. She might have had long hair then or had a fondness for pastrami sandwiches that she no longer cares for, but that is of no concern.

We do not refer to someone as a child when we speak in the present about their actions at the age of ten.

We say that Mohammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston. If we say that he was then known as Cassius Clay, it is gratuitously unless we do so to make a point about which that fact is directly relevant. For example we may use the name Clay in the context of citing an event because one fight was publicized as Liston versus Clay, but the winner was the current Ali.

It's not hard.

Town admits 'a poor decision was made' after baseball field set on fire to 'dry' it more quickly

Bill Michaelson

Drying vegetaiton is a cottage (hangar) industry...


Uber driver drove sleeping woman miles away from home to 'up the fare'. Now he's facing years in the clink for kidnapping, fraud

Bill Michaelson

I didn't know the driver could change the destination.

Live and learn.

Radio gaga: Techies fear EU directive to stop RF device tinkering will do more harm than good

Bill Michaelson

Re: What's the problem....

I don't suppose you are familiar with the options available to consumers in the old days of Ma Bell? You could rent an "extension phone" for a few bucks each month. Ever heard of Carterfone? Restrictions were rationalized in the name of protecting the network from damage. Plus ça change...

Secret mic in Nest gear wasn't supposed to be a secret, says Google, we just forgot to tell anyone

Bill Michaelson


I note that in Figure 3B, the diagram indicates that the cameras are in the eyes, and the microphones are in the ears. Hardly deceptive!

Oregon can't stop people from calling themselves engineers, judge rules in Traffic-Light-Math-Gate

Bill Michaelson

Re: Incredible

And the other is my own state of NJ where I pump my own gas and have evaded arrest. But we are making progress on the braiding front...


Perhaps I can call myself an (e)ngineer, so long as I don't capitalize it. Or capitalize on it?

Chinese biz baron wants to shove his artificial moon where the sun doesn't shine – literally

Bill Michaelson

It won't bother the fauna. Really.

They asked.

Stupendous hubris.

Battle lines drawn over US mass surveillance as senators probe NSA's bonfire of phone records

Bill Michaelson

Re: Far left, far right and other labels that damage discourse

To the extent that there is ever a spectrum, referring to such is only meaningful within very limited context and even at that, not very useful.

Political stances of individuals are multi-dimensional. We would do well to remember this always.

Libertarianism gets a bad rap because it has come to be defined by various types of indiscriminate anti-government extremism. That's unfortunate, because one might think that some core beliefs of so-called libertarianism are compatible with social justice as characterized by those whom we might label as "left."

Oddly enough, when a Tesla accelerates at a barrier, someone dies: Autopilot report lands

Bill Michaelson

Re: OlaM

AirLINER autopilot (flight management) systems typically do all that good stuff. Aircraft autopilot systems of earlier vintage and lower grades can be as simple as a wing-leveler or a heading or altitude hold device and can indeed direct the airplane into a mountain or other obstacle. It is the pilot's responsibility to know well the capabilities and limitations of the specific system and supervise the operation appropriately at all times. It is also worth noting that the more capable systems require the most complex and nuanced supervision, thus requiring the most training and experience to do safely.

Yet even the simplest of such aviation mechanisms are called autopilots.

There is a distinction between the level of training, experience and certification required to operate airplanes as compared to automobiles, owing to several factors. That is a core issue. The other core issue is the regulatory environment that has allowed the deployment of these tools to insufficiently prepared drivers.

You have suffered without red-headed emoji for too long. That changes Tuesday

Bill Michaelson

Who needs 280 characters...

...when you've got hieroglyphics?

Don’t fight automation software for control, just turn it off. FAST

Bill Michaelson

Re: Even in the extremely unlikely event that fully autonomous vehicles ever become viable

In my admittedly optimistic view there is room for a happier alternative - wherein the increasing disparity between human frailty and robotic reliability leads to higher certification standards for human drivers. Still, I might not be able to afford the insurance as a human driver.

Cryptocoin investors sue Chase Bank for sky-high credit card charges

Bill Michaelson

Re: I agree with Chase bank too

Interesting thought. On the other hand, I would argue that only the initial purchase is covered, and some time beyond that Coinbase has fulfilled its sale obligation by crediting the customer's custodial account with the appropriate amount of cryptocurrency. If the customer does not transfer the crypto out after some reasonable period, Chase should be off the hook with regard to any protections associated with the transaction.

Also, you should be careful with your adjectives.

Block blocked: Google to banish cryptominers from Chrome Web Store

Bill Michaelson

Re: These people have made cryptocurrencies too annoying to use

You don't need the blockchain. You join a mining pool.

Blackout at Samsung NAND factory destroys chunk of global supply

Bill Michaelson

Re: I'm smiling today.

But aren't you kicking yourself for not buying 100 more?

Bill Michaelson

Re: The maths don't add up...

I don't get it. The power went out for only ten minutes during his heart and lung transplant operation. That's a tiny percentage of a ten hour procedure. Makes no sense whatsoever...

Ex-Google recruiter: I was fired for opposing hiring caps on white, Asian male nerds

Bill Michaelson

Re: Reverse discrimination is now political correctness.

Michael Young would find the down voting, at this date, interesting.

Test crash dummies: Pearson VUE broke half-way into all-day exam

Bill Michaelson

Pearson, huh?

How about telling thousands of schools in the State of New Jersey, with hundreds of thousands of students being tested - oops - never mind, we'll have to just do this another day...


Crypto-cash souk Coinbase forced to rat out its high rollers to probing US taxmen

Bill Michaelson

Re: I am surprised its taken so long

Yeah, this is puzzling. It's been several years since brokerages have been required to record and report basis info too. But as recently as three years ago, CC were unclassified as assets for the IRS. I guess that was the "first they ignore you stage." Now we are even beyond "then they laugh."

Bill Michaelson

They are not "located"...

Except perhaps, if you consider the distributed public ledger a location. Or perhaps you mean the secret key? It's in a capsule that I implanted in my cat. So my bitcoins are getting some sun ATM, I guess...

Bill Michaelson

Re: Bitquestions

It's cap gains in the US according to the IRS. They are treating it like securities, not currency. This is at odds with a handful of other federal agencies who have classified it differently for their convenience, but for now, that's where the IRS stands.


High-freq trade biz sues transatlantic ISP for alleged spiteful cable cut

Bill Michaelson

Re: High-frequency trading companies = parasites

Which illustrates the problem of context for the definition of value and highlights the perverse incentives inherent to capitalism.

Slashing regulations literally more important than saving American lives to Donald Trump

Bill Michaelson

Re: All vehicles within 4 years?

Pretty much, I suppose.

Ask airplane pilots how ADS-B is working out. I don't think you will hear many complaints.

Vietnam bans Bitcoin as payment for anything

Bill Michaelson

Re: Tulips again

"You missed other reasons it could become a bubble - if people stop using it, either because of governments cracking down against it (which is already happening) or because of a loss of confidence due to exchanges or wallets being hacked (which has happened before, and will surely continue to happen)

"Bitcoin has first mover advantage but there are no barriers to entry for similar "currencies" to exist, as Litecoin, Dogecoin and so forth have demonstrated. A crisis in confidence in those will impact Bitcoin as well, though the specific circumstances would dictate whether that leads to more or less confidence in Bitcoin."

This seem accurate. Bitcoin, interestingly, has no pretense of underlying value. Its value is purely based on abstraction, that of people's faith in its value. Ironically, that might be its greatest strength as compared to other stores of value.

Bill Michaelson

Re: Tulips again

"And surely the fact that BC can be mined implies that there's a system of perpetual quantitive easing in place. Since I am not familiar with the processes by which new BCs can be introduced without them devaluing the existing ones so I am prepared to be corrected here."

Surely not. The absolute cap is 21 million coins, expected to be reached in about two decades. About 60-70% have already been mined. Inherently deflationary. I assume you don't hold any.

Dot-Amazon spat latest: Brazil tells ICANN to go fsck itself, only 'govts control the internet'

Bill Michaelson

Late to the party?

I think the Brazilian government arrived long after the actual rain forest. But if they are really concerned about preservation, there are other ways to demonstrate that other than haggling over a gTLD.

Ethereum will have transaction chops of Visa in 'a couple of years', founder claims

Bill Michaelson

Re: The whole point of bitcoin is that it isn't subject to governments.

Why do you (apparently) believe exchanges are required to transfer bitcoin? Do people not use paper money in pubs in China?

America throws down gauntlet: Accept extra security checks or don't carry laptops on flights

Bill Michaelson

Did someone really say...

"...we can't play whack-a-mole?" Unironically?

Break crypto to monitor jihadis in real time? Don't be ridiculous, say experts

Bill Michaelson


Therefore we should not be allowed access to tools to lock up stuff for ourselves more effectively? Because it is futile?

Bill Michaelson

Privacy mean bupkis to him

"What’s needed is not a clampdown on encryption — after all, it’s essential for financial transactions and the modern economy... the Home Office has developed sensible proposals that require a judge to give permission before real-time communications can be monitored — ensuring that suspected terrorists can be stopped before it’s too late, while also protecting against the mass surveillance that the public is worried about."

Notice the implicit distinction between needs and wants. He seems believe encryption is only "essential" for banking. The other consideration is lip service to placate the masses. But they do not deserve robust protection from abuse by authority.

Retirement age must move as life expectancy grows, says WEF

Bill Michaelson

Re: So... we should do the opposite...

"Why should people be paid a salary, yet not contribute and work in some manner (obviously assuming they are able)."

They shouldn't.

But why should they not be paid a dividend for their share of the common wealth of society? We do believe in capitalism, don't we?

Pai guy not too privacy shy, says your caller ID can't block IP, so anons go bye

Bill Michaelson

Re: Phones and cars

"Sorry officer. Just adjusting my insulin pump."

Would that be your Bluetooth-connected insulin pump?

Bill Michaelson

Re: >If I'm calling to report a crime, why wouldn't I want to talk to the police?

Yes, they do, and it's not enough. You excised the comment about diminished capacity, or disregarded it. Perception of the actor is key. A person in such a situation does not consult a lawyer to inquire about local laws. They want to be anonymous, and we want them to report the emergency without delay.

Those who only consider the pitfalls but do not understand the value of anonymous speech need to think harder.

Comcast accused of siccing lawyers on net neutrality foe

Bill Michaelson

Title confuses me

Is the sense of the title reversed? Who is the foe of net neutrality?

Last week: 'OpenVPN client is secure!'
This week: 'Unpatched bug in OpenVPN server'

Bill Michaelson

Re: I think the headline is way off!

Yeah, thanks. I read it and said to myself: "Whuh? OpenVPN has a web interface?"

Relieved by your clarification. I carry on...

Verizon is gonna axe its 'unlimited' data hogs

Bill Michaelson

Re: To all the wireless carriers...

Half-right. "Unlimited", does not mean infinite. It means there is no limit. It means that you can use the available bandwidth throughout the contract period without limit. Aggregate data transfer will be finite. It is the responsibility of the service provider to provide that data transfer accordingly. It is not the responsibility of the consumer to consider the network load implications.

Contradictory fine print is inherently deception.

Forget aircraft – now cretins are laser-blinding ferry boat crewmen

Bill Michaelson

Re: Bah!

A minimum age for possession, or appropriate adult supervision is probably a reasonable legal constraint. Beyond that, yes, misuse must incur appropriate penalties.

Mercedes answers autonomous car moral dilemma: Yeah, we'll just run over pedestrians

Bill Michaelson

Aviation parallel

In flight training I was taught to constantly consider one's options in the event of complete engine failure. This inevitably leads one to consider hypothetical situations in order to be primed for action. One of these is the beach below. Land on the sand, unless it is populated. If there are people, ditch in the water, at considerably greater risk to one's own health. Similar situation with golf fairways vs. rougher terrain, etc.

Maybe I've been planning it wrong?

Super Cali: Be realistic, 'autopilot' is bogus – even though the sound of it is something quite precocious

Bill Michaelson

Re: Autopilot on an aircraf.....

Correct. Even the most sophisticated autopilot system that includes the capability to land the airplane is only there to reduce the workload of the pilot - in order that the pilot can devote more attention to monitoring the progress of the flight more carefully and assuring safe operation. A machine assumes zero responsibility.

When drivers understand this, so-called self-driving - or whatever we call them - cars will bring a net positive value to us.

Self-driving Google car T-boned in California crash

Bill Michaelson

We all compensate for each other

The human system works because we correct each others' errors. I frequently adjust for other drivers' moves that are dangerous mistakes, and I know others have done the same for me - obviously more times than I can know.

I wonder how effectively the robot does this. Will we need to go to robot-only roads to each a real safety improvement?

Unimpressed with Ubuntu 16.10? Yakkety Yak... don't talk back

Bill Michaelson

I just want KDE 4.X

But I couldn't get it to run on 16.04. Cannot/will not deal with the regressions in KDE 5. So I moved back to 14.04 for desktops.



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