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Brain Implants Get Brainier

Anubis IV Re:Entering? Cyborgs? (49 comments)

While some pacemakers are programmable, they are not "smart stimulators that monitor the body for signs of trouble and fire when necessary".

On the contrary, that's exactly what they are. From Wikipedia's pacemaker page:

Modern pacemakers usually have multiple functions. The most basic form monitors the heart's native electrical rhythm. When the pacemaker does not detect a heartbeat within a normal beat-to-beat time period, it will stimulate the ventricle of the heart with a short low voltage pulse.

The earliest ones simply stimulated the heart at regular intervals, but this newer variety that monitors the heart for signs of trouble (e.g. irregular heartbeat) and fires when necessary has been around for decades.

yesterday
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Google Plans Major Play In Wireless Partnering With Sprint and T-Mobile

Anubis IV Re:why the fuck (101 comments)

I was speaking purely numerically. Assuming that a customer from AT&T is just as likely to jump ship for Google as a customer from Sprint is, AT&T would lose significantly more customers simply because they're significantly larger. For any losses it takes, Sprint would gain far more by providing Google's coverage for the customers AT&T loses.

about a week ago
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Google Plans Major Play In Wireless Partnering With Sprint and T-Mobile

Anubis IV Re:why the fuck (101 comments)

It's Sprint and T-Mobile working with them: the distant third and fourth place competitors in a four-horse market. Any disruption in the market will hit the bigger two competitors—AT&T and Verizon—significantly harder, and with this deal, the bottom two have positioned themselves to gain from AT&T and Verizon's loss, even if that gain isn't as significant as it would be if they outright won those customers directly. Even the simple act of getting those customers away from AT&T and Verizon is a big win, since it means AT&T and Verizon would have lost the incumbent's advantage when those customers' contracts are up and they're looking around at their options.

about a week ago
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Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

Anubis IV Re:What special about beliefs if they're religious (894 comments)

The elephant in the room is that Islam is fundamentally and irreconcilably offensive to Christians because they say Jesus was not the son of God. There is nothing more blasphemous than denying this fundamental tenant of Christianity.

Quite right. Though "tenet", not "tenant".

If we follow this logic Christian's would be perfectly justified in beating up any Muslim that they happened to come across.

Here's where you and I disagree. I assume you're basing that logic off of the Pope's comment about punching someone else, and if so, it's clear that you've missed some important context...such as the beginning of the sentence, which started with "One cannot react violently". If you follow the links and read the sentence in context, you'll see that he was providing a contrast between morality—"one cannot react violently"—and reality—"he can expect a punch".

Rather than being a justification for violent responses, he was merely making a statement of fact: provoke someone else and you can expect a violent response. That's something most of us would agree with, since morality plays no part in that statement.

I'm not a fan of the papacy, and I'm certainly not a fan of the current pope, but it seems to me that a lot of people are reading things into what he said here that simply weren't there. Even so, his suggestion that there should be limits on free speech, presumably so as to avoid that sort of provocation, is a rather chilling notion and one with which I vehemently disagree.

about two weeks ago
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Unbundling Cable TV: Be Careful What You Wish For

Anubis IV Re:Right Place (448 comments)

You wouldn't.

But for folks who no longer have a landline and no longer have cable, it's a wash for them in terms of cost since they wouldn't be getting the bundle discount that you're getting. Plus, this streaming service is available for pretty much every common type of device out there (e.g. mobile, desktop, laptop, set-top, etc.), whereas cable TV is largely still relegated to the direct connection between your cable box and TV. Were I someone who had cut the cable but was missing my ability to watch sports, this seems like an ideal package, since I wouldn't care about the fact that it had fewer channels, and I'd absolutely love the added convenience of being able to watch it in more places.

As for me, I won't be subscribing, since I'm not a sports lover, and it really doesn't matter which other channels it does or doesn't have, since I don't miss any of them either.

about three weeks ago
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Unbundling Cable TV: Be Careful What You Wish For

Anubis IV Re:Right Place (448 comments)

Most or all of the decent AMC shows are already on Netflix. I don't know IFC or BBCA, but I believe much of TNT's content is available online too.

Which is to say, at this point, pretty much everything currently on cable TV, save sports, is already available a la carte from one place or another. Sports has always been the biggest holdout, so ESPN being available via Dish is a big deal for the people who care about that stuff. That's not me, certainly, since I was happy to ditch cable years ago (technically, I was forced to ditch it by a cheap landlord, but after a month I loved not having it).

For me, the biggest mental hurdle was crossing from "I want to watch X" to "is something I'm interested in watching available?". Once you do that, Netflix and the other streaming services suddenly get much more compelling, since you've essentially commoditized entertainment, meaning that you're under no compulsion to pay for expensive packages to get X. And I do still occasionally care about a particular show or movie, but it's getting rarer and rarer these days. Even with the licensing ups and downs, Netflix still has plenty for me, and most of the stuff they lose they get back later anyway, so it never really impacts me anyway.

about three weeks ago
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Lawmaker's Facebook Rant Threatens Media For "Unauthorized" Use of His Name

Anubis IV Re: Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter (136 comments)

The newspaper in question beat you to the punch. They published an editorial over the whole ordeal, appropriately titled, "Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter". The first letter of each paragraph in the editorial can even be put together to spell out his name.

about three weeks ago
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Gunmen Kill 12, Wound 7 At French Magazine HQ

Anubis IV Re:Centralk African Christian take bloody revenge (1350 comments)

Honestly curious: would you point me towards some of these examples? I've seen a few folks say that it's still going on, and where there's smoke there's typically fire, but I have yet to be shown any concrete examples.

about three weeks ago
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Archive.org Adds Close To 2,400 DOS Games

Anubis IV Re:Many games are "stream" only, no download (198 comments)

Except that the exceptions in copyright code that allow public libraries to make copies of works specifically prohibit them from allowing digital copies to leave their premises and place strict limits on the number of copies that can be made, neither of which seem to be being honored here, given that hundreds or thousands of people are likely accessing these files from all around the world simultaneously, each of whom is getting their own copy to play around with.

about three weeks ago
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Archive.org Adds Close To 2,400 DOS Games

Anubis IV Re:17 USC 108 (198 comments)

IANAL, but doesn't subsection (b)(2) of Section 108 carve out an exception for digital copies, specifically prohibiting digital copies made in accordance with Section 108 from being distributed to the public? I could be misreading it, but if I'm not, it would appear that there's an exception to the exception that puts us right back where we started.

about three weeks ago
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The Fire Phone Debacle and What It Means For Amazon's Future

Anubis IV Re:They're allowed to have a dud (155 comments)

Apple's released duds and no one gives them any crap.

"No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame." The first-gen iPod that statement was written about was a bit of a dud. It wasn't until they added Windows compatibility a year or two later that it finally took off. G4 Cube? Utter and complete dud. Beautiful aesthetic, horribly overpriced, designed for a niche that simply didn't exist (i.e. professionals who were willing to trade expandability for good looks). Still talked about today as one of Apple's stupidest ideas. Even Apple's non-duds are given crap. The iPad was dismissed as "just a big iPhone" by huge swaths of the press and online commentary at the time. The iPhone was given crap by various people (and continues to be given crap) because it lacks a physical keyboard, Flash, expandable memory, and a host of other features.

All of which is to say, Apple gets plenty of crap too, so Amazon should take this in stride, since it's nothing out of the ordinary. Good companies mess up. It's how they learn from mistakes and do better. Just because the Fire Phone is a dud doesn't mean that Amazon is suddenly doomed, that Bezos is out of touch, or that whatever they try next will also fail. It just means that the Fire Phone is a dud. That's an anecdote, and as we're so fond of saying around here, "an anecdote does not a trend make."

Even so, they need to learn from this mistake, otherwise they may very well make a trend out of it.

about three weeks ago
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FBI Says Search Warrants Not Needed To Use "Stingrays" In Public Places

Anubis IV Re:The devil is in the details... (303 comments)

I used to live in south Florida (Boca Raton, about an hour north of Miami). The entire place is a tourist destination. Half of the population are the "snowbird" residents, who are basically just tourists from the north that stay there for the winter months. With the logic presented by the FBI, it sounds to me like they could get everything from Orlando down to the Florida Keys declared to be a tourist zone that is exempt from expectations of privacy.

about three weeks ago
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Out With the Red-Light Cameras, In With the Speeding Cameras

Anubis IV Re:Oh noes! (335 comments)

Traffic laws don't exist for their own sake. Their primary purpose, above all else, is to keep drivers safe.

Look, we'd like to believe that, but we know that some of them are bullshit and they're only used to make money.

By and large, I have to sadly agree. Even so, at least in the state where I live, we have prima facie speed limits, which more or less means that it's not illegal to drive over the speed limit if one can demonstrate that doing so was reasonable. A handful of other states also have prima facie limits or else have them for drivers who were caught with speeds that weren't excessively beyond the posted limit. So that's at least a small acknowledgement on the part of the legal system that these laws aren't just there for the sake of frustrating us.

But yeah, uneven enforcement is a major problem. I'm all for letting people off the hook with a warning or letting people off the hook when it simply makes sense, neither of which machines left to themselves understand, but when someone is being unsafe, it doesn't make sense. Thankfully, the laws about the passing lane being used for passing are actually enforced on the stretch of road near here where it's in effect, and it's helped to significantly improve the flow of traffic along that stretch of road, since previously the disproportionately large number of college students in this area would demonstrate their inexperience on the road by not using it how it is supposed to be used.

I'll routinely see good cops like those going 10-20 mph over the posted speed limit, along with the rest of traffic

If there are good cops, why don't they do something about all the bad cops?

A fair question, but let's turn it around to get some perspective: if you are a good person, why don't you do something about all the bad people? Even if you were doing everything in your power (which you may be, for all I know), what measure do we use to determine your goodness? How hard you tried? How successful you were? I think the only answer is that good people aren't always in a position where they can do something about the bad people, and even if they are, we don't have an inside view to be able to tell whether the persistence of the problems is due to them doing their job poorly or because of other problems that are beyond their control.

about a month ago
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United and Orbitz Sue 22-Year-Old Programmer For Compiling Public Info

Anubis IV Re:Luggage? (349 comments)

Meanwhile, what you've described as a "gate-check" is what I'd describe as simply "checking your bag", and can only be done at the departing terminal, rather than at the gate.

Umm, if you can't do it at the gate, then it is not a gate check. A gate check is quite literal, as in checking your bag, at the gate, almost always because it won't fit on the plane.

I quite agree, and I'm not sure what I said that would have led you to believe otherwise. I was responding to the previous poster talking about checking a bag and needing to pick it up for the baggage carousel at his final destination, since I've never seen them do that at the gate, hence why I was pointing out that I wouldn't have referred to it as a gate check.

about a month ago
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United and Orbitz Sue 22-Year-Old Programmer For Compiling Public Info

Anubis IV Re:Luggage? (349 comments)

The exception is regional-jet and turboprop flights where you "leave your bag in the jetway." In these situations your bag is returned to the jetway.

That right there is exactly what everyone I know calls a "gate check", except that it isn't only regional and turboprop flights like the ones you're describing that offer it. For instance, both the United non-stop from Houston to D.C. I flew last month (Airbus A320) and the return flight from Norfolk to Houston (Embraer ERJ145) did it, even though there was a vast difference in the size of the planes. Meanwhile, what you've described as a "gate-check" is what I'd describe as simply "checking your bag", and can only be done at the departing terminal, rather than at the gate.

Maybe this is some sort of regional dialect issue, akin to "rubber" being used in two very different ways, depending on if you're talking to an American or a Brit? Seems like there are a lot of people arguing for both sides of these definitions.

about a month ago
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Apple Pay For the UK

Anubis IV Re:Negotiation tactic nonsense; real reason buried (75 comments)

I didn't miss the story. I read it, in fact. It only mentioned Apple in passing as one of the members of the trade group in question, but because Apple makes for news, their name was plastered in the headline and summary on Slashdot. Meanwhile, the AC who responded to you pointed out that Apple took alternative practical steps to protect their user's privacy years ago, given that DNT was never an effective method to begin with.

Anyway, I too would likely trust UK banks over Apple...when they're willing to speak publicly, on-the-record, in clear language, as Apple did when it made its claims regarding how Apple Pay operates. But when negotiations are ongoing, any sort of off-the-record statements from unnamed sources claiming to represent one of the sides involved should always be assumed to be an attempt on their part to gain the upper hand. Given that that's what we're dealing with here—an unnamed source representing one of the sides, making unsupported claims while negotiations are ongoing—we shouldn't read anything into it, beyond that Apple is probably playing hardball and the banks feel a need to push back.

As for whether or not Apple is tracking users, they absolutely are. No doubt. They even admit as much in their terms of use/service for various things, such as iAd. But as the AC pointed out, Google and other companies are in a whole other league when it comes to tracking users (including illegal practices that resulted in fines from the FCC, such as the incident the AC referenced). Apple definitely tracks users, but in much more clearly defined ways (e.g. they publish white papers over exactly what data they collect, how they collect it, why they collect it, how they protect it, how they organize it, and for how long they keep it) that are much more limited in scope than their competitors.

Let's not lump them in with Big Data just yet.

about a month ago
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United and Orbitz Sue 22-Year-Old Programmer For Compiling Public Info

Anubis IV Re:Cheaper (349 comments)

You're correct that they're not all incompetent, so which is it: are they screwing travelers and lobbying government, or are they incompetent buffoons who don't know how to run their businesses?

I'd suggest it's a little of both. Take Southwest, for instance. It's the largest airline in the US in terms of passengers carried and it's doing perfectly well. Has been for years, even before it was the largest. Meanwhile, its competitors are, as an earlier poster put it, "teetering on the edge of bankruptcy". Despite the example it set, most of the other airlines have simply been doing a poor job of running their businesses and have failed to adopt better practices that have been put into place by their better-faring competitors. A prime example: not screwing the traveler was a key differentiator Southwest used to establish itself.

So yeah, a little of A and a little of B.

about a month ago
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Out With the Red-Light Cameras, In With the Speeding Cameras

Anubis IV Re:It depends... (335 comments)

Regarding the drivers being the judge of what's considered safe, some states (including mine) have prima facie speed limits, which basically means that drivers can defend themselves in court for driving in excess of the posted speed limit by demonstrating that doing so was reasonable (i.e. that they weren't unsafe). More or less, what's considered illegal is the act of driving at unreasonable speeds, rather than the act of driving above the speed limit.

Related to that, I've actually heard some third- and fourth-hand accounts of people being pulled over for driving at the speed limit when it was unsafe for them to be doing so (e.g. because the rest of traffic was going much faster), though I've never heard those accounts first-hand, so definitely take it with a massive grain of salt.

Really, I'm just a proponent of driving at whatever speed is appropriate for the conditions on the road, be it a lower speed due to poor conditions or a higher speed due to surrounding traffic. In the absence of conditions that can be cited, I abide by the notion that speed limits provide the best guide for safe speeds to follow.

about a month ago
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Out With the Red-Light Cameras, In With the Speeding Cameras

Anubis IV Re:Oh noes! (335 comments)

Traffic laws don't exist for their own sake. Their primary purpose, above all else, is to keep drivers safe. Likewise, the entire purpose of fining someone is to encourage safe driving behavior (the only ticket I've ever received even said so right on it). Most importantly, no one should have to choose between being safe and being fined for breaking the law, nor should there be automated systems put in place that exacerbate the problem by fining drivers for safe driving habits.

Take, for instance, Interstate 10 through Houston. It's well-marked, Its lanes are wide, its lines of sight are clear, its curves are gradual, and its traffic (usually) moves at a brisk pace since the road was designed to run at around 70 mph, yet its speed limit is 10 mph beneath that for reasons unrelated to safety (i.e. city ordinances related to smog). As you might imagine, the speed limits along I-10 are routinely ignored by the vast majority of drivers, since the roads were designed for higher speeds, yet some drivers take it on themselves to impede the flow of traffic by going 10-20 mph below everyone around them, simply because that's what the speed limit sign says. The inevitable result is a less safe road for everyone as the other drivers are forced to react to the obstruction in their path.

In fact, I-10's speed limits are so out of whack with what makes sense that Wikipedia even details the changes to its speed limits over the years on the other side of Texas as a paradigmatic example of the arbitrariness of speed limits.

Besides the validity of the limits themselves, there's also the question of whether or not policing them with stationary sentinels creates a safer road. One unsafe driving habit that's common in many areas is slamming on brakes at the top of a hill because drivers have been trained to assume that there's an overzealous cop with a radar gun on the other side, waiting to chase down anyone foolish enough to go even a fraction above the speed limit. If speed traps are causing that response, are they serving the public good? Hell no! In fact, just a few weeks ago I saw an accident and was in a near-collision myself because of exactly that driving habit.

At least with cops, many of them understand the distinction between "legal" and "safe" and know that these laws are intended to serve public safety, so they'll ignore someone safely driving with traffic at a speed that's technically breaking the law. I'll routinely see good cops like those going 10-20 mph over the posted speed limit, along with the rest of traffic. A speeding camera, however? At best, it'll determine the average speed of traffic and will pick out the outliers. But who are we kidding? In practice, these will be configured to get people who go X over the speed limit, where X is some value between 0 and whatever is far enough above the limit that the politicians don't have to deal with a public outcry. They're little more than automated versions of the worst kind of cop.

They aren't keeping drivers safe. They're just keeping us in line.

about a month ago

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