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GPS Spoofing With $3000 Worth of Equipment and a Laptop

BetterSense Gyros (180 comments)

This is why ships still have gyros. GPS is too handy not to use, but I'm pretty sure most large oceangoing vessels also have navigation gyros. The question then is, what happens when GPS gets spoofed...does the system/crew assume the GPS is broken or the gyro broken?

about a year ago
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Don't Tie a Horse To a Tree and Other Open Data Lessons

BetterSense A step in the right direction (109 comments)

Laws should be tracked, with dependencies, by an apt-like system. Anyone should be able to query what is illegal, without a lawyer. Automated systems can flag unfairness, conflicting laws, and obsolescence.

Lawyers and judges' jobs would be reduced to addressing bugs.

The whole lot should be committed to a git repository (git-blame anyone?). New laws should take the form of pull requests.

about a year ago
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Electric Vehicles Might Not Benefit the Environment After All

BetterSense Efficient-market, inefficient-energy hypothesis (775 comments)

According to my "the cheapest thing is the best for the environment" theory, this was easily predictable.

Energy means fossil fuels. To a first approximation, other energy sources can be ignored. And in the modern economy, money ~ energy. When fuel (i.e. energy) prices go up, the effect ripples through the whole supply chain, touching absolutely everything that is manufactured and shipped. The costs associated with most products are dominated not by human labor costs but by energy costs. And since our modern agriculture essentially exchanges energy for food, even human labor comes down to energy costs.

Therefore, TO A FIRST APPROXIMATION, the cheaper of two alternatives is better for the environment.

Electric cars are more expensive than gasoline cars, and often would never exist except for subsidies. If they were really more economical, they would already be popular. Ergo, per The Theory, they are worse for the environment.

about a year ago
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Is Google Voice Doomed To Be 2nd-Class Messaging System?

BetterSense Very disappointed with Voice app for iPhone (172 comments)

I use Gvoice for my personal calls and messages on my work phone. This is a good system because I can keep my number when I change jobs, but still use my work phone which I have to carry anyway.

I'm honestly surprised how bad the user experience is when using the Voice app for iPhone 4. I seriously wonder if I got some kind of counterfeit app (if that would even be possible), the usability is THAT bad.

Gvoice text messages pop up on the lock screen instantly, but then when I go to view them, I have to open the Gvoice app (slow) then "refresh conversations" (very slow) in order to even read the full message again. There is no excuse for this since if the phone displayed the text on the lock screen, what could I possibly be waiting for? How long can it take to display a few kB of text that has already downloaded?

For texting, when in a "conversation view", new texts almost never update properly. The only way to update the conversation view is to scroll to the TOP of the conversation (even though the newest messages are at the _bottom_!) in order to trigger the "updating conversations..." function. Of course a single conversation can be many pages long. Which means the fastest way to refresh the conversation (which I shouldn't have to be doing, since the text already displayed on banner and the lock screen...) I still have to navigate back to inbox and refresh, and wait. WTF? This is such a usability bug that I can't believe anyone would ship it.

Text conversations are not threaded properly at all. I have to constantly delete old conversation branches.

For voice, there is NO proper call history. NO CALL HISTORY!!?? There is a "dialer" and a "quick dial" but no way to call someone back based on history. And you can't revert back to the iPhone's proper call history either, because the numbers that show up in the iPhone history are random numbers to google servers. I honestly never thought I would use a phone that did not have a usable call history.

about a year ago
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Do Developers Need Free Perks To Thrive?

BetterSense Re:rather have money (524 comments)

That's the good thing about "money"...it solves the coincidence-of-wants problem, which is why people prefer to be paid in money instead of perks. However, with the government standing in the middle between your and your employer, you will never get a larger paycheck equal to the perks. Giving you the perks is more tax-efficient than paying you enough to buy the perks yourself.

Spending $30/(month*employee) on candy bars can simply be written off as an expense. If the company wanted to pay the employees enough to buy their own candy bars, they would actually have to pay all their people $50/(mo*employee) or so that they have $30 left after income tax. And you won't get a group rate on candy.

All things being equal, perks are a better value. Hope you like going to the gym that your employer uses for its gym membership program, hope you enjoy the coffee they buy, the healthcare plan that they offer, and the groceries at the company store (not quite, but we are getting there).

about a year and a half ago
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Working Handgun Printed On a Sub-$2,000 3D Printer

BetterSense Re: It's not a gun (521 comments)

Perhaps more illustratively, you can buy 5-10 such guns for the price of a 3D printer, have a gun that works (better than a printed gun) and does not need assembled.

about a year and a half ago
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Linux is an Obvious Choice for Automating the Beer-Brewing Process (Video)

BetterSense Re:I brewed beer for a couple of years (112 comments)

I have a fairly universal AVR firmware that I use for electric brewing. It's not fully automatic, just a way to do simple temperature and boil control. My brew setup is very KISS and this is the sweet spot for me.

https://github.com/Fasrad/brewtroller/tree/fancy

GPL of course

about a year and a half ago
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World Press Photo Winner Accused of Photoshopping

BetterSense Re:The author has the RAW file. Case closed (182 comments)

After re-reading your post, I think that you may have been saying (when you emphasized that a PRINT is an object) that the physical photograph is objective/physical, but the image conveyed by the photograph is not an object. And if so, I agree with you completely; this is a point I have never wavered from. This is what causes people to think that photographs and information images are similar things--they both are typically used to convey visual information--but they are not similar, anymore than any other physical thing can be similar to information. In order for them to be similar things, they would first have to both be THINGS in the first place. Books and eBooks, for example, are not similar things, in fact, they both aren't even things.

about a year and a half ago
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World Press Photo Winner Accused of Photoshopping

BetterSense Re:The author has the RAW file. Case closed (182 comments)

If you think that only prints (Nth-generation photographs; N>1) are "photographs" then you are using a different definition of the word than I am. I am using the term "photograph(1)" to mean "an object onto which light has caused a physical change, forming a visible image". This means that photographic negatives, photographic prints, photograms, blueprints (the old kind) and color slides are all examples of "photographs(1)". An undeveloped negative or print is not yet a photograph, because the image is not yet visible until it's developed--you could call it a potential photograph, but if you admit that then everything is a potential photograph.

I agree that a print (assuming it's a photographic print i.e. made with light) is a photograph. I also agree that making a photograph is a process, but I don't see what point you are trying to make there, other than to state the obvious. We already agreed that the image formed by a photograph is subject to all kinds of interpretation by both the creator and the viewer, and that both photographs and "information images" are similar in that regard. It still seems like are trying to refute the argument that photographic images are somehow more veracious that informational ones, which is a point I never tried to make in the first place.

about a year and a half ago
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World Press Photo Winner Accused of Photoshopping

BetterSense Re:The author has the RAW file. Case closed (182 comments)

You are refuting a point I did not make. Please re-read the rest of the sentence you quoted: " The extent to which [they] can be said to represent reality is totally open (see Jerry Uelsmann) and I'm not talking about that kind of interpretation in the "viewing space" ".

So I specifically addressed the point you think you are refuting and agreed with you on that point--the point being that neither the images experienced when viewing photographs(1) or digital images(2) has any relation to reality apart from its presentation by the artist and reception and interpretation by the viewer. There is nothing about an image viewed by silver gelatin that makes it more veracious or reality-representing. I never said that and never will.

My central point is only that photographs(1) are objects, thus it is possible to apply the concept of an "original" to photograph(1)s, which can exist in objective reality as objects, however reality-representing their images may or may not be, and however useful or useless that "property of realness" may be (and I agree that it is of quite limited usefulness) in ascertaining the extent to which said photograph(1)'s image may be a representation of reality. That is all. Many people (yourself apparently included) do not observe this distinction, and I think this is a category error which leads to things like "unmanipulated photo(2) contests" which I think are comical in their not-even-wrongness.

about a year and a half ago
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World Press Photo Winner Accused of Photoshopping

BetterSense Re:The author has the RAW file. Case closed (182 comments)

That's exactly what I always do to digitize my darkroom prints...I use a Nikon D70 on a copy stand, which is much much easier for me than using a flatbed scanner. When I post images of my prints online, the images say "Nikon D70" in the EXIF data, even for an image of a cyanotype. That's just how I digitize my prints for posting on the web. So I can show you plenty of "raw files" "proving" that my images were "unmanipulated"...and I guess you are supposed to believe me that I found an alternate universe that is bluish monochrome.

When I see any modern "photo contests" that require images to be "unmanipulated", I just shake my head. Not because I don't think that manipulation is good or bad, but because I don't think the idea of "manipulation" or "unmanipulation" is even a coherent concept in the context of what I call "information images", colloquially called "photographs(2)", which by their nature are manipulated and interpreted, and the authenticity of such information images has no meaning apart from the manipulative choices of the artist/programmer(s). A digital image can be considered no more or less authentic than a painting. They must always be considered interpretations because that's what they are, by their very nature; they have no nature apart from such interpretive manipulation; they must be interpreted to even be experienced. The common man only clings to the idea of an "unmanipulated image" because he thinks digital images are some different type of photograph(1), when in reality an "information image" (photograph(2)) is actually a fundamentally different (no matter how superficially similar) thing to a physical photograph(1). This is an example of the kind of "counterproductive metaphor or analogy" that Dijkstra talks about in one of his EWDs about radical innovations. The shift from photography to digital imaging is actually what EWD considers a "radical innovation" not some kind of evolution, and failure to understand this, evidenced by the fact that the common man thinks that digital images and photograph(1)s are similar things, is a tragic, limiting and counterproductive semiotic "false friend" that is only the more inevitable because the two things are so superficially similar.

Photographs(1) can be manipulated, and the extent to which their image can be said to represent reality is totally open (see Jerry Uelsmann) and I'm not talking about that kind of interpretation in the "viewing space". I'm just saying that in the objective space, the ideas of an "authentic" or "original" photograph(1) at least is a concept that can be understood, that COULD make sense, however useful or useless it may be. With digital photographs(2), the concept does not philosophically exist (in my opinion) and only exists as some kind of mass illusion, where people declare an photograph(2) "unauthentic" because "I know it when I see it" (except they demonstrably do not).

about a year and a half ago
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California Lawmaker Wants 3-D Printers To Be Regulated

BetterSense Re:Gun control however... (856 comments)

Mark Twain: "If you don't read the newspapers, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspapers, you are misinformed."

Gun crime has plunged, but Americans think it's up, says study

http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-gun-crimes-pew-report-20130507,0,3022693.story

Are laws passed on actual data? No, they are passed based on popular support. Obtaining and maintaining popular opinion is what the media do.

about a year and a half ago
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New Device Sniffs Out Black Powder Explosives

BetterSense Re: One small problem... (133 comments)

You make my point for me. You DO NOT have to "qualified and liscenced" to have black powder. You DO NOT have to tell anyone (cops included) 'where you got it' anymore than you have to tell them where you bought your sneakers. What's the point in detecting something that is perfectly legal?

It's sulphur, salpeter and charcoal.

about a year and a half ago
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New Device Sniffs Out Black Powder Explosives

BetterSense One small problem... (133 comments)

Black powder is perfectly legal.

Why should black powder residue constitute probable cause of anything, if possession and use of black powder is actually legal?

In theory, I could go shooting my historical weapons that use black powder, which is also perfectly legal, or go to a war-between-the-states reenactment, and then walk through downtown Boston. Nevermind, that would be outside the ordinary, prescripted "safe area" of human activity that "most normal people" do, and therefore suspicious and therefore probable cause. Got it.

about a year and a half ago
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Is Google Glass Too Nerdy For the Mainstream?

BetterSense Re:possibly, but smartphones caught on (533 comments)

I'm old enough to remember the pre-cellphone days...and I actually remember thinking "nobody is going to carry a phone with them all the time; who needs to talk on the phone that much that they would carry a phone everywhere they go, that would be so self-important that people will be embarrassed, I mean who's going to just whip out their phone wherever they are and start talking to someone, what a dork".

I also thought that nobody would ever use bluetooth headsets, for the same reason.

In 10-15 years, people will probably read these old /. posts and they will sound just as out-of-touch as my prediction that nobody would need to carry a phone with them.

about a year and a half ago
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Some Windows XP Users Can't Afford To Upgrade

BetterSense Re:Nothing new (953 comments)

Most of this stuff should be done with PLCs and/or microcontrollers. The reason they use PCs is just because "let's use a PC for everything". It was easier for THEM to use a PC and hire cheap fresh-out-of-college hackers than to engineer a competent, embedded system to a higher standard. And it worked, because we (industry) bought it.

I used to work for Papa Johns, back before I was into computers at all. They call their homegrown system the "Profit System" and based on what I remember and now know, it uses a Unix box in the office of every store. All the terminals out by the phones are honest-to-God dumb terminals running off serial connections. The user interfaces are TUI, blazingly responsive, and extremely fast to use once you memorize the zillions of shortcut combos...no keyboard of food icons...but all they need is cheap hardware, normal keyboards, and they can run a whole store (internet orders, inventory, everything) off of a slow modem with no problem.

about a year and a half ago
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Some Windows XP Users Can't Afford To Upgrade

BetterSense Re:Nothing new (953 comments)

When I say "lifetime" I meant "lifetime without being touched" (no defrags, no driver updates, no service packs; nothing). In my facility, incrementing a software revision, even if it changes nothing except for some trivial thing like enabling a faster serial port, can take 6 months to a year of testing before it will be approved to run production. "Conservative" is not even the correct word, because NOT upgrading is obviously a risk as well; "change averse" might be the correct term.

about a year and a half ago
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Some Windows XP Users Can't Afford To Upgrade

BetterSense Nothing new (953 comments)

I work in a very large semiconductor fab that is full of dozens, probably hundreds, of DOS, Windows 2000, Windows 98, Windows ME, and Windows XP machines. They will never be upgraded or patched.

Is this stupid? Yes. Is there anything I can do about it? No.

I just got done negotiating the purchase of a 2-million-dollar piece of equipment that comes with Windows. We actually have a purchasing requirement that all software be provided with patches as necessary, including OS upgrades, and that all source code be held in escrow in case the company goes under. However, when we negotiate the purchase specs, those lines get crossed out, because the vendor refuses to comply and we have no leverage, so we buckle.

Personally I think that anyone who uses something like Windows (a desktop OS with known, SHORT service lifetime, suitable for desktop computing in non-critical applications) in an industrial tool with 10+ year lifetime, should be fired immediately, and this should have been the case from the very beginning, but I was not around back then, and it became acceptable. Nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft, even when it's an idiotic thing to do.

about a year and a half ago
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Why Self-Driving Cars Are Still a Long Way Down the Road

BetterSense Re:Computers can't bluff (352 comments)

Your driving philosophy is commendable, but the other people on the road don't know that you are a reasonable driver, so they treat you as an average human driver i.e. they are somewhat scared of you. They are not sure entirely what you will do next. They decide it's probably best to take turns at stop lights and leave reasonable distances and just honk their horn if you do something they didn't want.

On the other hand look how people interact with traffic lights. They know the yellow light lasts exactly 3 seconds so they take advantage of it completely. The traffic light can't bluff them. It's a machine. They only worry about the people stopped at the traffic light and what they might do, and they are reasonably sure nobody is going to enter the intersection until their light is green. There are layers and layers of subconscious understanding with merging, passing, pulling out into traffic, etc all based on the other driver being an average human.

Unless computer-driven cars are camouflaged, once people know they are computer-driven they will utterly take advantage of them in traffic. The car will have to be programmed to yield to asshole drivers and for a big change, the asshole drivers will KNOW that. If they are conservatively programmed to avoid collisions then I wouldn't be surprised to see them completely forced off the road and sitting on the berm in heavy traffic, and nobody giving them the nice, huge, safe space they need to merge back in.

about a year and a half ago

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