* Posts by Daniel 18

131 posts • joined 1 Apr 2011


UK.gov tells companies to draft contracts for data flows just in case they screw up Brexit

Daniel 18

Re: A chocolate teapot that ignores the law

............EU businesses can simply refuse to exchange personal data with us after March 2019 unless this problem is fixed prior to Brexit............

The way I'm reading this, does it not mean that they have no choice but to refuse such data transfers, under EU law?

The glorious Brexit uncertainty: The only dead cert on data rules for tech biz in 2019

Daniel 18

Re: My prediction is...

"(we are subordinate to the US but that is to a large extent inevitable and apparently does not matter)"


But not nearly as subordinate as you will become if you leave the EU.

With ZERO input into decisions.

Boeing 737 pilots battled confused safety system that plunged aircraft to their deaths – black box

Daniel 18

Re: Hey software, get the fuck out of the way!

"The worst part was that the Airbus also silenced the stall warning when the AoA was out of range high - this caused the co-pilot to pull back on the stick whenever the nose came down, because that shut off the stall warning that would return when the AoA came back within range."

More irony here. The system was designed to avoid information overload by muting bad or irrelevant data - and the pilot was misinterpreting that.

Holy moley! The amp, kelvin and kilogram will never be the same again

Daniel 18

Re: SI

Just go on UTC for the planet and have done.

No more time zones, no more changes, just set your working hours when it makes sense in your location for your business.

Light and dark will happen the same regardless. and there is no real advantage to changing time to accommodate that, particularly in a connected world with ample electric lighting.

If the local light patterns make something reasonable, then do it - just don't mess with the clocks, change your times for events.

Tick-tock, tick-tock. Oh, that's just the sound of compromised logins waiting to ruin your day

Daniel 18

'Sticky' Fundamental Misconception

" and because it's so simple to put tools such as face recognition or fingerprint scanners on our devices – why not use it internally too?"

A lot of people think that biometrics can be used for authentication, but they are not really secure.

At best, they are an alternate form of user name, not an adjunct to passwords.

Revoking your face, fingerprints, or iris pattern is likely to be difficult and painful.

UK.gov finally adds Galileo and Copernicus to the Brexit divorce bill

Daniel 18

Re: Remind me...

"Cake? I'm sure I heard something about everybody getting to have their cake and eat it."

A sneaky ploy that will only work on people who have never played Portal.

Who knew games could be so educational?

Daniel 18

Re: The punishment beating will continue

"Having unicorns seems like such an awesome idea until you find yourself spending all your time cleaning unicorn sh!t off the carpet."

Oddly, I've never wanted unicorns.

Maybe that's why I found the version of unicorns in Glen Cook's "Sweet Silver Blues" so satisfying.

Phased out: IT architect plugs hole in clean-freak admin's wiring design

Daniel 18

Re: Bridge rectifier?

"This rectification was invariably done with a massive selenium rectifier about 8 inches long."

This sounds like some kind of transitional technology to me. What year were these built, roughly?

I remember taking apart old TVs - no solid state rectifier though, that part was done with a vacuum tube, and the right tube gave you a full wave rectifier.

Daniel 18

Re: Plot twist? What plot twist?


If single phase power is 120V, three phase will come in at 208V.

Instead, homes usually have a centre tapped feed, giving a choice of 120V or 240V single phase. The latter is used for things like clothes dryers, water heaters, central air conditioning, and stoves.

Other things - stuff plugged into wall sockets, furnace motors, lights, sump pumps, garage doors, etc. are generally 120V.

As a result connection is simpler and more compact than 240V, with no need for things like fuses in appliance plugs and the option of designing for a two prong plug.

Also, it seems like 120V doesn't bite as hard as 240 - the few times I've had undue excitement with 120V, it wasn't too bad, but rather startling.

The 208V stuff shows up in some moderately heavier commercial and industrial installations like store refrigeration systems, large AC units, I susect for elevators, some computer gear, and so on.

The 'big stuff' may use higher voltages like 400, 600, or 800V... steel mills, motors moving 1100 tonne bridges, lock gates, subways, and the like generally go for higher voltages.

(And while it may be a bit odd, if you put me in the motor room of a big lift bridge, I will actually go over and read the specification label on the motors...)

As for frequencies, originally it was 110V at 25 Hz, but back somewhere around the 1930s, they decided that was inefficient and changed to 60 Hz - much better for transformers.

When I was a kid, antique radio gear sometimes showed up with 25Hz transformers, which were way bigger and could be used at much higher loads on the newer 60 Hz current.

Rights groups challenge UK cops over refusal to hand over info on IMSI catchers

Daniel 18

Re: Three?

I suspect it will connect to another network's tower, in order to provide SIM free access to emergency numbers.

It just won't make ordinary connections for you.

FBI boss: We went to the Moon, so why can't we have crypto backdoors? – and more this week

Daniel 18

Re: Man on the sun

I suspect that most people who could understand the math around the halting problem could understand the math about crypto back doors.

It did take a year or two of university math to prepare to prove the relevant theorems. How many government funtionaries or politicians will have that? (which hints at a wider and deeper problem)

Official: AMD now stands for All the Money, Dudes!

Daniel 18

It all depends on what you are trying to do....

Nvidia does not provide adequate support and documentation for open source drivers, which means you are stuck with either slower drivers or whatever limitations the proprietary drivers carry, such as poor or no support for switchable graphics, and incompatibility with Wayland, which will likely replace X as the basis of windowing.

AMD provides the information before release of the GPUs, so open source drivers are about as good as proprietary drivers, Wayland works, and switchable graphics support is much better.

I have been quite irked by the complications of trying to get graphics on an Intel/Nvidia laptop do the things it should - particularly in driving multiple GPUs, Intel drivers also seem to fail to remove themselves properly when an un-install is triggered. Very messy.

I look forward to getting an AMD APU laptop, which will probably clear up a lot of issues.

I suppose I could get easier graphics by running the spyware that is Windows 10, but that's not really acceptable. Currently the only major operating systems for small (non mini/mainframe) devices that looks reasonably secure is a well chosen and configured Linux or BSD. Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and Chromebook all look or have been proven inadequate.

Sysadmin sank IBM mainframe by going one VM too deep

Daniel 18

"I once heard someone refer to an exclamation mark as pling, which confused me somewhat!"

That's a new one.

I've mostly heard it referred to as 'bang' or 'shriek', depending on context / language.

Dear Samsung mobe owners: It may leak your private pics to randoms

Daniel 18

Re: Or you're worried about the bill?

"In Australia (not a country known for being a telecomms value leader) my $10 plan includes unlimited MMS to other Australian numbers."

Lucky you. My plan includes 150 SMS messages (out) a month, 100 prime time minutes, free nights and weekends, no data, for only $30 but I had to threaten to drop the carrier to get a special plan.

Galileo, here we go again. My my, the Brits are gonna miss EU

Daniel 18

Re: Fgs

"The Commonwealth already has one (IRNSS). Perhaps we could ask them nicely?"

The Commonwealth doesn't have one, India has one.

If you ask nicely and permit increased immigration they might let you join in... but it is a regional system with coverage of the area containing targets for their nuclear missiles.

I'm pretty sure the UK is farther away, and likely wants coverage for different target areas.

No fandango for you: EU boots UK off Galileo satellite project

Daniel 18

Re: Dictionary anyone?

"So the elected representative of any given area doesn't have to actually represent the will of the voters who elected him/her? And actual representation of the voters is bollocks? Wow! No wonder British people are totally disillusioned with their politicians if they only represent their own personal views."


Like most words in English 'representative' has multiple definitions:


Definition of representative: (Mirriam-Webster; other dictionaries similar or identical)

1 : serving to represent

2 a : standing or acting for another especially through delegated authority

b : of, based on, or constituting a government in which the many are represented by persons chosen from among them usually by election

3 : serving as a typical or characteristic example - eg - a representative moviegoer


You are using definition 3, in a somewhat inappropriate context, unless you assume the population in a given voting district is sufficiently homogeneous that a single person could be typical of them all.

In discussions of political systems, the normal definition is 2a - a person is given authority make decisions and act on behalf of the largest group of voters (somehow defined, or some other selection group).

In any first past the post system with more than two significant parties, elected representatives almost invariably receive fewer than half the votes - they are elected by a plurality*, not a majority. None the less, they are expected to represent the interests of everyone in their riding. Different groups in the riding may disagree on how to do that, but most people want broad benefits for everyone, not 'privilege me and be damned with everyone else'.

There are a number of reasons for representative rather than direct democracy, including the practical difficulties of the latter, delay, costs, the difficulty of meaningful discussions in groups the size of the whole electorate, and lack of expertise, time, and support resources for analysis on the part of the general population.

We want our government to represent us (definition 2a), not to be representative of us (definition 3).

We expect our professional representatives (politicians) to have above median skills, knowledge, contacts, time, research material, and focus on issues. We want them to be better than one random person plucked off the street and put in charge. That's why we elect them, why we have policies and platforms, why we go to or read transcripts of candidate' debates.

Making them robotic parrots of an 'opinion' expressed by a minority of the population and supposedly completely encompassed by a one time decision based on a few words of variable honesty, clarity, and meaning and answered in a binary manner will, more often than not, fail to serve the interests of the population as a whole.

Real life questions and even more, their answers, are longer and more complicated than can be answered by a 'yes' or 'no' to a brief sentence.


* This is not necessarily bad.

While first past the post is not perfect, neither is any other voting system. Indeed, in political environments with more than two significant parties, proportional systems are usually less democratic.

The math is complex, and I can't reproduce the calculations and explanation from memory, but studies of voting in multiparty parliaments show that proportional systems tend to transfer power and control from the two largest parties to smaller, less broadly supported parties.

Consider, for example, the disproportionate per MP influence wielded by the DUP.

In most proportional systems with more than two parties, no party has a majority, pretty much forever.

I see a satellite of a man ... Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, that's now 4 sats fit to go

Daniel 18

Re: Receiving the signal

"For now, all the separate systems require a separate receiver, so you need to check which ones they can actually use. GLONASS support is fairly common in addition to GPS, and Galileo isn't too unusual, so it's quite possible a current phone will work them all. Beidou and NAVIC are currently only regional, so you're unlikely to find support for them in phones not sold in the relevant regions."

Actually, if you look at the specifications for the available smartphones, most of the new ones have support for A-GPS, GLONASS and often BDS (see phonearena or gsmarena for specs on many phones). A few phones can receive Galileo, but it seems to be fairly uncommon.

I have some hopes that Galileo may be added to that list, but currently chipsets and integrated tri-band antennas for the three bands used by the A-GPS, GLONASS and BDS GNSS systems are widely available.

Given that there are a billion or more people in China buying smartphones, and most of the phones are built there, I expect that those three will remain the 'standard' set. It is possible that the Chinese government may even quietly encourage all phone manufacturers to include BDS.

BeiDou-3 currently has 9 satellites up, with 35 planned by 2020, giving global coverage. India's NAVIC and the Japanese QZSS are regional and likely will be ignored by most chipsets and most phones sold outside those regions.

If Galileo has sufficient advantages or can be added at insignificant cost it will likely become the fourth 'customary' GNSS in most devices.

A hypothetical British GNSS would probably come in after the other minor systems, given relative populations and sizes of economy... in other words, unless it can be handled by a receiver designed for one of the three or maybe four major systems, it will be a regional specialty item in phones and GNSS receivers.

'Incomprehensible failure' – Canada's $1bn Phoenix payroll IT fiasco torched by auditors

Daniel 18

The history of computing/IT is largely the history of failed 'magic bullets' which were going to make everything easy, solve all the problems, slash costs and delays, and often, eliminate programmers, analysts, IT professionals, etc.

Some highlights from the list include COBOL, subroutine libraries, time sharing, spreadsheets, relational databases (no need for IT pros getting between end users and their data if you have one of those!), remote computing, GUIs, structured programming languages, gotoless programming, object oriented languages, the cloud, microservices, agile, devops....

In many cases these fads are driven by a blind faith that a particular technique will solve all the major problems, or a desire to fix irritants that are the result of a solution to a previous problem... which often returns when the new magic bullet sweeps away the technique or practice that eliminated the older problem.

Often these ideas are 'validated' by anecdotal results achieved by the people who designed and built the new tools or techniques.

Curiously, random user populations with diverse skills and requirements often under-perform when compared with the developers or researchers using the tools they designed to solve the problems they are working on.

Daniel 18

Re: Let's just skip that step

"In the automotive assembly plant world, this would be going with production tooling and skipping prototype tooling."

Or going to production on F35s before making them actually work...

Is this one of those universally applicable errors?

Daniel 18

Re: Ouch

Am I the only one to suspect that a 6,000 page specification is too long to be a useful specification document?

Would anyone read, comprehend, and remember the whole thing? Would any group of people doing 'specification level' analysis be able to discuss it adequately in a week?

A detailed design document, possibly, but even that seems overly complicated for a payroll system, even one that can do retroactive payments.

Microsoft, Google: We've found a fourth data-leaking Meltdown-Spectre CPU hole

Daniel 18

Re: Its quite depressing really

"Federico Faggin designed the Z80 in 1974. It was, I'd bet, the last non-risc CPU that one person could get their head round. Since then people have designed bits of CPUs but how the hole thing works, along with the non too simple problem of the operating system running on it, is beyond one persons ability to fully understand."

Off hand I don't know the exact date or chip generation, but it's been decades since CPUs were designed directly by humans, rather than by human guided design tools. That has to translate to a lessened understanding of what is going on 'under the hood' in detail... not that humans could do all the circuit analysis the tools do, even in a lifetime, for a chip with tens or hundreds of billions of transistors, data paths, etc.

Daniel 18

Re: Its quite depressing really

"Maybe the engineers that design the CPUs think the same. They just want to design the fastest chip possible and not have to think about the security of it."

In part, it's a matter of metrics. Engineers are not particularly rewarded for producing theoretically secure chips, they are rewarded for producing faster chips on time for the sales types to hype them as faster than the competition.

In part, it's because a few engineers have months or years to design incredibly complicated chips, many many attackers, some lavishly supported by nation states, some by criminal organizations, some in a quiet basement somewhere have decades to find the small flaws that can be exploited.

Wanted that Windows 10 update but have an Intel SSD? Computer says no

Daniel 18

"Even then, I only run Windows in a NAS VM for the one application which the developer insists on using .NET. Everything else is either macOS or Linux."

Seems to me the last time I loaded something that wanted .net into WINE, it sent me away to download a .net package from the distribution repository... If you don't need a full VM, WINE may let you run it under Linux/WINE.

Blighty: If EU won't let us play at Galileo, we're going home and taking encryption tech with us

Daniel 18

Inherent limitations of LEO GNSS systems

"The attraction of doing a LEO GNSS constellation is that life for satellites and payloads at that altitude is relatively easy. It's below the Van Allen belts (low radiation), the orbit is only 90 minutes (easier thermal management), you still get a decent UV flux to make solar panels work well. Orbital decay is an issue, but that's not so bad really."


I have a suspicion that the accuracy issue might be a bit of a problem, particularly since you will need a lot more satellites due to horizon issues, if they are in a low orbit.

Suppose that you have 500 satellites in LEO rather than 25 in MEO.

Position is determined relative to the known location of each satellite according to the downloaded ephemeris.

Now the fun interactions begin.

Each satellite needs a highly accurate clock, which is not cheap, and probably bigger than a cubesat, all by itself.

Changes in orbit due to drag are not easily predicted - remember the problem deciding where the defunct Chinese space lab would come down, even just a day or two ahead? Drag varies with a number of factors, not all predictable. This causes errors in satellite locations, which causes errors in inferred position, and thus location, altitude, and speed. As a result the ephemeris must be recalculated and redistributed much more often, to avoid inaccuracy, and random inferred position changes as the set of satellites above the local horizon changes. In any case, satellite position accuracy will degrade much more rapidly than with MEO satellites, and the degradation is probably more rapid for smaller satellites (consider the square/cube law).

Any attempts at drag mitigation will add complexity, size, weight, and/or cost... and may introduce other sources of variation, particularly if mitigation success is variable.

The fun continues. Because there are 20, or 30, or 40 times as many satellites, the ephemeris is that many times larger, and takes longer to download. Cold start times for a GNSS receiver go up by a roughly similar factor. Warm start times go up, and warm start accuracy and validity - time in which a warm start is an option - decay faster.

All the satellites need to have the same ephemeris, because cold start times, and probably refresh times will exceed the time the same satellites are visible, or there has to be added complexity to handle an ephemeris where the data differs in recency and accuracy. This will also impact accuracy, and require more resources in both satellites and receivers, not to mention tracking and satellite updating.

This is more complicated, not only because of the size of data, but also because the satellites won't be visible to any one ground station for an extended period, so either upload speeds need to be faster, you need a lot of ground stations (or some unlucky LEO satellites will have stale data, because of a dearth of visible ground stations from their particular orbit for a random interval), or the update has to be relayed by satellites farther out that can see many LEO satellites for an extended period. Without the relay satellites you will probably need to implement rolling ephemeris updates, to get the data up in catch as catch can fragments.

How to manage that and the activation / use of the new data is an interesting exercise that will take more time to analyze than I have available now (and probably more knowledge and a system design to set the parameters).

I am not sure that an LEO constellation can deliver the consistent accuracy of a MEO constellation, and if it can, will probably require a lot more effort, complexity and cost in both hardware and software as well as operation. If some of this complexity lives in the receiver, the cost of that component may well go up.

The higher drag of LEO, particularly the effect on small satellites with a higher cross-section to mass ratio, may necessitate continuous replacement launches as the small packages re-enter. Increasing drag during orbital decay may also compromise positional accuracy for satellites that have not yet re-entered the atmosphere. Avoiding decay through active (thrusters or the like) or semi-active (drag minimizing attitude control, etc.) will add to size, weight, complexity, and cost while forcing another set of technical trade-offs onto the project while probably introducing resource dependent lifespan limits.

Any increases in receiver cost, or power draw, or greater accuracy limitations will make such a constellation a much less likely candidate for inclusion in any navigation system / receiver chipset when there are already several other GNSS systems that can deliver good quality service.

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

Daniel 18

Re: We had crashes because the autopilot disengaged without the pilots noticing...

"Which was that I thought pushing the yoke would disable the autopilot and give the pilot control. After all, there might be times when you see another plane late, and want to be moving the stick quickly, without having to reach for the off switch first."

I believe this is the approximate case, with later systems being more nuanced.

I seem to recall reading at one time that Boeing disengaged the autopilot completely, while Airbus dropped into an 'alternate law' mode. Thus the Boeing pilot had total control and was responsible if control inputs broke the airplane or caused loss of control, requiring the pilot to deliberately moderate control inputs, while the Airbus pilot could demand maximum maneuvering, leaving the computer to ensure that the aircraft would not fail structurally, or go into an uncontrollable state. Sort of like old mechanical power brakes versus ABS brakes.

In modern fighter jets the computer is never wholly out of the loop, as those planes cannot be flown without computer assistance, but I have no idea what the policies / law structure might be.

Daniel 18

Re: We had crashes because the autopilot disengaged without the pilots noticing...

"Anyway, pilots still have (or should have...) the proper training to take control - with autonomous cars, will the user still be required to have driving skills?"

One might expect that a vehicle will work for any authorized person (paying for a trip, owning the vehicle), but non-autonomous mode will require a licence to drive and a key, token, or code to enable manual mode, or verification of licence possession... or perhaps just a button and automobile analytical code to call the car rental company if driving operation characteristics indicate incompetence or inability.

Facial recognition software easily IDs white men, but error rates soar for black women

Daniel 18


"The real problem is that the way cameras and lenses work just isn't as efficient as the way the human eye works."

Do we have scientific evidence of this or are we glossing over the possibility our eyes are even worse at it but we don't acknowledge it?"

Any serious photographer knows that the human visual system can see things that are difficult or impossible to photograph, while in some circumstances the camera (particularly modern digital sensors) can catch things the human eye cannot.

More often than not it seems to be the camera which is fussier about lighting, subject motion, focus, sensor movement, dynamic range, etc.

Daniel 18


I'm actually not at all surprised. It's always been more difficult for cameras to pick up details from darker surfaces"


Darker subject

= fewer photons sensed per unit time

= less differentiation in signal levels from subject


= lower signal / noise ratio

This isn't just a 'calibration card' problem, it's a physics/measurement/information theory problem.

Daniel 18

Re: I'm not being racist...

"You strip the hair and makeup off of anyone and I wonder how accurate a human would be at spotting gender. I'm willing to bet your own accuracy would change between different races and colours."

Experiments show that the ability to recognize individuals varies with experience with identifying individuals of a given race... which is generally greater and learned earlier and more thoroughly with one's own race. It would be likely hat the ability to discern things about people one does not know is similarly affected.

Daniel 18

Re: Is spreading

I wonder if using more cosmetics more often is a factor?

UK.gov expected to quit controversial harvesting of schoolchildren's nationality data

Daniel 18

"@ Jemma: ...possibly a clapped out Lee Enfield or Marconi Henry

I think you meant Martini Henry. (It's difficult to think what else you could mean.)"

And then there's the delightful Martini Enfield...

White House: Is it OK to hijack, shoot down, or snoop on drones? Er ... asking for a friend

Daniel 18

Re: Why now?

"so why is it suddenly a problem?"

A combination of internet / media hype, habitual hysteria (since 2001), inability to accurately assess real risks, and politically motivated security theater.

There's security – then there's barbed wire-laced pains in the arse

Daniel 18

Re: Pick any 2...

"I thought the rule of thumb was:


Ease of Use"

Unfortunately, sometimes, in these cases, it is pick 1 of 2.

Daniel 18

Re: Let staff understand the reasons behind the security & a process ....

"A classic are organisations that use proxies yet their internal DNS will resolve internet addresses too. The only devices that should be allowed out & able to resolve internet addresses should be the proxies and in some cases some stuff (not all) in the DMZ. If your resolving google.com from the cli at your desk, something MAYBE* wrong."

This description is incomplete and ambiguous. The asterisk hints that you may already know this and have decided that a complete explanation to an arbitrary IT audience may be harder, longer, and more trouble than it is worth.

That said, apparent desktop behaviour says very little about the actual infrastructure architecture hiding behind it, particularly to someone who is not an infrastructure nerd.

Are meta, self-referential or recursive science-fiction films doomed?

Daniel 18

Re: Films - meh

Star Wars may have started looking like science fiction, but it clearly descended into unconstrained fantasy as it went from film to film.

In contrast 'Alien' started with a few reasonable SF premises, and remained rigorously consistent and logical.

That may be why Star Wars makes more money while Alien is much better as science fiction.

Daniel 18

Language in SF

Snow Crash was brilliant, and I loved the expressive language.

Though his style was different, Zelazny was another author who could make the language sing.

Daniel 18

Re: "meta"

Personally, I thought the best part of Prometheus was the mapping drones... that made perfect sense rather than old tropes of trudging through mysterious tunnels getting lost.

The rest was unremarkable.

Daniel 18

BtGH was tolerable, if you wanted the literary equivalent of not so great cotton candy.

Mostly it was forgettable.

If you want good satirical SF, check out Frezza's "Maclendon's Syndrome".

For excellent military SF a bit off the beaten track, try his "A Small Colonial War".

Daniel 18

Pretty much the only thing the movie 'Starship Troopers' had in common with the book is some names - the title, a few characters, and the 'bad guys'.

The movie was illogical junk.

The book was rather interesting, and made a good case for a society based on responsibility and duty - rather like the Roman republic. In that sense, Starship Troopers (the book) is a rewrite of history in future terms.

If you really want to see a good commentary, somewhat sarcastic and satirical, of the movie, find the review by James MacDonald.

Amazon warns you have 30 days before Music Storage files bloodbath

Daniel 18

"Therefore I fail to understand your comment regarding having a local copy but not the means to read it, it makes no sense."

I guess you don't know the actual history of data preservation in practice.

Most forms of storage are not archival quality. Almost all of them degrade over time, spontaneously. In theory the data can be copied, but that tends not to happen, and media failure or device failure cannot be predicted easily.

CDs may be readable, or may have failed in storage. Some people can find drives to read small (5.25 inch) floppies, but working 8 inch floppy drives are becoming rare. In some cases the programs required to correctly render the data back in human readable form are lost, unreadable themselves, or no longer supported by available architectures and operating systems.

Many tape formats are degrading, and the machines to read them may be broken... without any spare parts or trained technicians to restore them. I believe much of NASA's data is lost or being lost to this kind of problem.

Current estimates are that several percent of our scientific data is lost every year.

Unlike large organizations, most people do not have multiple backups constantly being propagated to new storage media, data formats, and machine architectures. It will be even worse after the person who took the images, or collected or generated the data, dies.

Papyrus lasted thousands of years, parchment many centuries, old papers centuries as well.

Most modern papers can't be counted on to last two centuries, and most data storage won't last more than a few decades at best, and can fail within a single decade.

I once had a chat with the archivists from the provincial archives, they flat out said that there was only one data storage medium (a very specific example of one sub-technology, not any roughly similar products) that had any archival value, and even then it couldn't be counted on for long term preservation like you get with parchment or papyrus or acid free paper. (or stone, or baked clay tablets).

Hmmm... I have some stuff on punch cards, and on paper tape. It is probably getting harder to find readers for those now, as well. And I know I have data that expects a long discontinued (35 years?) processor and OS to read.

If you are thinking of the era of writable CDs as significantly long ago, you are completely missing the time scale for data preservation. For historical and archival purposes, 'centuries' is a short time,

Watchdog growls at Tesla for spilling death crash details: 'Autopilot on, hands off wheel'

Daniel 18

Re: Wonder why it swerved

Looking for lanes on snowy roads can be fun.

Even more fun is driving on a flat expanse of white between two distant fences, knowing that somewhere under the snow is a road.

Uber's disturbing fatal self-driving car crash, a new common sense challenge for AI, and Facebook's evil algorithms

Daniel 18

Re: You've missed the scariest parts

"Autonomous vehicles aren't yet (as far as I know) trying to cope with a rain and poorv visibility during the London rush hour. "

There are reasons autonomous cars are tested in warm, dry, almost weather-free places like California, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas.

Control and navigation is one of them.

The collapse of battery vehicle range when it becomes cooler is another. By the time you hit -5 or -10, range typically drops to half the manufacturer's claim or less. At that point, most of those vehicles would be either incapable of inter-city trips, or ridiculously dangerous for such trips in the winter time. A failure at the wrong time of night in the wrong location is potentially fatal. Hypothermia kills.

Daniel 18

Re: You've missed the scariest parts

"What about all those handicapped people unable to drive themselves"

A different type of vehicle would solve that problem, e.g. a car that drives at a low speed and interprets everything conservatively.


So you want to discriminate against anyone who cannot, for whatever reason, drive themselves by foisting ineffective and inadequate transportation on them?

Totally unacceptable, and probably a violation of existing human rights legislation.

Uber self-driving car death riddle: Was LIDAR blind spot to blame?

Daniel 18

"The lidar in question should easily have seen a person walking a bicycle in the middle of the road. There was some failure that wasn't caused by the lidar manufacturer's "not enough lidars" excuse. "

You are assuming that the approaching human in question was in the 'cone of surveillance' for the lidar. With the reduction in sensors, that zone may have been relegated to another type of sensor, leaving the lidar for long range detection in the vehicle's planned path.

In that case the human would be invisible to the lidar until stepping in front of the car. Take a few fractions of a second to analyze and recognize, and you've run out of time.

Uber breaks self-driving car record: First robo-ride to kill a pedestrian

Daniel 18

Re: YAAC offered, "UK official stopping distance at 30mph is 23m"

"Speed humps are installed to protect children walking to school from being run over by cars containing those being driven to school."

Even worse:

1. Speed bumps distract drivers from looking for hazards diverting them to watching for and dealing with bump after bump - taking attention and vision from other areas to a narrow focus while increasing task loading. As others have noted here and in many many accident reports (aircraft, diving, and maritime ones are often very complete and informative) task loading can be a major contributor to operator error.

2. The less you mitigate the effect of the bumps, the more incremental stress and damage on steering, braking, tires, and suspension components, gradually reducing the reliability and emergency capabilities of the vehicle. In most cases this won't cause an accident, but most trips don't result in one either. By the time you talk accident you are already way down in the tail of the probability distribution, and you don't need any more issues that will make things worse, or change a not-accident into an accident.

Daniel 18

Re: "Clever car?" and aircraft autopilot: and "makes cars safer"

"I like automation. It rocks the industrial world I work in. But -- eh, well, you already know the but. Maturity. The algorithms must mature. In my rather humble opinion (IMRHO) auto-driving auto-mobiles have not matured yet."


One of the catch-22s here is that at some point further improvement will require realistic real world driving.

... and that is not going to occur at the same time for all the projects, so forming general or arbitrary rules (politicians at work?) will be a bit less than ideal.

Not sure I have the answer for that one, unless we can base it on statistical accident experience, but unless you have a good way of weighting for circumstances, that can be a bit fraught, as well.

A whole new bunch of issues will arise when we try to run these vehicles at -10, in snowstorms, or icing conditions, or with gusty winter winds bringing occasional flying snow.

I keep reminding myself that there is a short term risk with new tech, for major long term gains that persist almost forever, past a certain point. How do you balance those things as well - the 'safety opportunity cost' of waiting for 'right now' improvements?

Fatal driverless crash: Radar-maker says Uber disabled safety systems

Daniel 18

Re: "Self driving cars can only only react"

"I timed the video and from when the pedestrian appears to when the video stops seems to be closer to 0.75 seconds rather than 2.

Not sure I would have noticed, reacted and braked to a 'safe' speed in that time."

You could not.

It is generally accepted that it takes about 1 second to initiate braking once an obstacle becomes visible.


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