* Posts by Daniel 18

115 posts • joined 1 Apr 2011

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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."

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

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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

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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.

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* 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.

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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.

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'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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Daniel 18

"

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

Precisely.

Darker subject

= fewer photons sensed per unit time

= less differentiation in signal levels from subject

plus

= lower signal / noise ratio

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

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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.

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Daniel 18

Re: Is spreading

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

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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...

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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.

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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:

Security

Ease of Use"

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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.

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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,

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

Agreed.

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?

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Daniel 18

Re: You surrender your sovereignty with self-driving cars

"You surrender your sovereignty with self-driving cars "

This is a matter of implementation, not an intrinsic characteristic.

I agree that there is a LOT of work to do on AV design to make them not only autonomous in terms of self-driving, but independent of outside control, and largely anonymous to remote or retrospective tracking.

I think that can be done, and have some ideas about how that could work, but it has to become a priority in the design and implementation of AV vehicles and systems.

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Daniel 18

Re: "Clever car?" and aircraft autopilot

"programmers of self-driving automobiles face a challenge probably two orders of magnitude greater than programmers of aviation or nautical autopilot devices."

Agreed, completely. That's probably why we've had decent autopilots for 30 years or more, and are still refining and testing various AV technologies.

Also, besides complexity and proximity, the sensor situation is much more difficult in traffic.

On the other hand, our digital electronics is many orders of magnitude more capable, and we seem to be sorting out the algorithms, both directly, and as a result of progress in various other fields.

There will be some failures in software, even after we figure out how to do AV. We still get the occasional airplane falling out of the sky due to an implementation bug or unanticipated edge case that causes the software to choke... but overall software makes airplanes safer, and cars safer.

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Daniel 18

Re: Clear cut...

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Pushing a bicycle laden with plastic shopping bags, a woman abruptly walked from a center median into a lane of traffic and was struck by a self-driving Uber operating in autonomous mode."

and

"From viewing the videos, “it’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven) based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway,” Moir said. The police have not released the videos." (Moir is the local chief of police)

This is about what I expected.

Unlike humans, machines do not typically go off task and forget to pay attention. They'll never be perfect, but nothing is. The practical question becomes 'on the average are they at least as safe as human drivers'?

It sounds like the vehicle was operating in a lane where the probability of pedestrians or bicyclists was lower than, for example, curb lanes... a good choice for limiting the chance of the sudden incursion of a pedestrian into the lane. Of course, probabilities are not certainties.

Autonomous vehicles have been doing road testing for years, and it seems like they have a reasonable grasp on the basics, at least for easy conditions (no snow, fog, ice, cold, massive crowds, parades, demonstrations, etc).

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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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Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, off you go: Snout of UK space forcibly removed from EU satellite trough

Daniel 18

Re: "Hopefully not a sign of things to come for the UK space industry"

"Galileo will be quite important in the future smarter things, if we get them working, and it makes GPS no-longer a single-point of failure. Good luck."

Most current GPS systems lock to GPS and GLONASS, and would likely keep functioning, with slower lock times, and likely with reduced accuracy, if either failed.

Looking forward to adding Galileo to the mix! That should reduce location error by more than 66%... my GPS will finally be sure which lane I am in.

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Daniel 18

Re: From the department of bleeding obvious

THE CAKE IS A LIE

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Windows 10 to force you to use Edge, even if it isn't default browser

Daniel 18

Re: Perfect timing

"Having heard nothing specifically awful about W10s mail app, I almost thought I might give it a shot. I guess I'll give Apple a one, next time. I absolutely hate them, but they can't be even worse than Windows 10. Nothing could."

Why not Thunderbird, which runs on Windows, MacOS, and Linux? It's been reliable for me for the last ten or more years, on both Windows and Linux, and has an extension for secure email.

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Daniel 18

Re: "no problem giving Apple a pass" - One major difference

"MS also have contracts with just about every other HW manufacturer making it difficult for them to supply non-Window's systems, so it is very difficult to buy a non Apple PC without being forced to buy Windows."

... and this is the thing that needs fixing ...

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Daniel 18

Re: "no problem giving Apple a pass" - One major difference

"Personally, I find Edge doesn't massacre my memory and loads pages fast, both things that matter more to me than OS politics."

The new (58) Firefox is faster still and configures well for security and privacy with a load of good extensions (Privacy Badger, Ghostery, NoScript, uBlock origins, etc).

It is also phenomenal for memory management for those of us who do breadth + depth research on the Internet - a dozen windows with hundreds of open tabs, with no slowdown and memory footprint less than 1 GB. (disclaimer - underlying OS is Linux for me, but if you can get 600 tabs open under Linux, I suspect you may well get half that, at least, under Windows - the Linux Firefox improved quite markedly when they went to the new engine and architecture).

The new Firefox is also multi-core aware, and will use them while avoiding treading on other processes.

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Daniel 18

Re: Fucking idiots

" it's still not the no-brain install that Windows is for the vast majority of users"

It's not the 'no brain install' - Ubuntu, Mint, and others are dead easy... (pick language, username, password, and time zone. Default all else.)

It's "already installed because Microsoft bribed us / forced us to deliver only machines with Windows pre-installed".

Most users choose the monopoly that will control their computer and in Apple's case, their data, because it requires zero effort.

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It's Pi day: Care to stuff a brand new Raspberry one in your wallet?

Daniel 18

The next upgrade?

I would think that the most generally useful upgrade in a subsequent Pi would be more RAM.

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Daniel 18

Re: ""am" is before the meridian. "pm" is after the meridian"."

"The meridian is, by definition, only an exact instant in time, when the sun is directly overhead."

The tight relationship of the meridian to local time was broken as soon as standard time, with time zones, was adopted.

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Daniel 18

Re: Dates

"Recall they WERE once, as IIRC the names came from the Roman calendar. Blame Julius Caesar for not getting the names straight when he was trying to correct for the tropical year."

I think it was really more about getting his own month. Then Augustus had to keep up with the Caesar...

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Daniel 18

Re: Dates

"Midnight: since 00:00 is ambiguous (is it later today, early tomorrow, or was it first thing?) railway practice avoids it and uses 23:59 or 00:001 instead, as required. For all practical puposes the intervening two minutes do not exist"

Given rounding conventions, it's only an intervening minute - the semi-open interval starting at 2359.5 and less than 0000.5.

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Daniel 18

Re: Dates

"Not to mention feet, inches, etc... so called imperial measurements."

Imperial measures in most of the world, but different non-metric 'US' measures in the country that is the biggest obstacle to sensible universal measurement.

US versions of fluid ounces, cups, pints, quarts, and gallons are all different from Imperial measures.

Then again, there are at least a dozen different definitions of 'ton', several of which are not even measures of weight or mass. At least with a tonne (aka metric ton, aka 1000 kg) you know what you are measuring and how big it is. Even worse, in some cases imperial convention uses different tons for different materials, but you don't know whether everyone between you and the original measurement knows that... or whether one or more of them have helpfully converted. Similar issues arise with ounces, and pounds. At least the pounds are probably units of weight or mass. Relatively few people know that a hundredweight comes in two different sizes, only one of which is 100 pounds.

Miles is another one, of course. Ignoring older versions of the measure, there is no easy way to know if the person giving you a city to city distance is using statute miles or nautical miles, unless they explicitly tell you which it is. Ditto aircraft speed.

The US is stuck half way through conversion, with the consumer facing side still in the dark ages. Case in point - you can go into any US hardware store and buy 'quarter inch' glass, but that hasn't actually been made for decades. The factories produce 6mm glass, which is sold as quarter inch glass. Just finish the job, already!

As a bonus, they occasionally lose a spacecraft, or someone's airliner runs out of fuel (Gimli glider) because the archaic measurements are still allowed to mess up the world by inciting confusion. I'm just glad Air Canada tends to have quite competent pilots, or they would have lost a planeload of people somewhere near Gimli.

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Daniel 18

You might want to check the state of drivers for USB to VGA adapters. As of about four years ago it seemed to be mixed, but I didn't do much research.

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