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Malaysian Flight Disappearance 'Deliberate'

Clueless Moron Already being done for fishing boats (436 comments)

Vessel Monitoring System.

They are required to have these tracking devices by NOAA in the USA. The boats have to pay huge fines if they stray outside their allowed zones and are not allowed to fish without out. If you've ever watched "Deadliest Catch", those boats all have one.

These devices regularly report the vessel's position via satellite and have internal batteries and no "off" switch. If you do remove power, the device immediately reports it as a power loss event and you have some explaining to do. If you block the GPS antenna it reports that too and again you have some explaining to do. All events are queued internally in flash so they will eventually be sent. If a vessel is not heard from for awhile NOAA all hell breaks loose since the assumption is that it has sunk, so it's in the vessel operator's interest to leave the damn thing alone.

These devices are quite small, use very little power, and the data throughput is tiny. It boggles my mind that airplanes don't have something equivalent.

about 5 months ago
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Animal Drug Investigation Reveals Pet Medication Often Doesn't Work

Clueless Moron Re:Animal Testing (279 comments)

Animal medicine should be approved only after it has undergone extensive human testing. It seems only fair...

about 7 months ago
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Book Review: Digital Outcasts

Clueless Moron Re:adaptive technology (65 comments)

The frustrating thing is when a simple oversight renders something completely unusable. If a developer had, just for one minute, put himself in someone else's shoes it would have been completely obvious.

I can just imagine. Could you share some examples?

I used to be involved with web dev software. We'd make the effort to have it warn the editor if they use colour contrast combinations that are effectively invisible to colour blind folks. With the ridiculous way web pages are these days, I doubt anybody bothers with even that anymore

about 9 months ago
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Book Review: Digital Outcasts

Clueless Moron Re:At least for web pages... (65 comments)

Damn that's hilarious. And I agree completely. Web site accessibility has utterly nosedived in the last few years.

The amount of layers of arbitrary and unnecessary popups and menus and crap has made the web worse and worse. It's become a challenge to put the mouse cursor anywhere and not have some unwanted menu or other idiocy pop into my face, obscuring what I really wanted to read. I used to use text browsers like lynx just to cut down on the noise, but these days hardly any sites work decently with lynx.

So what's a blind user dependent on text-to-speech to do? A few years back, that was workable. With today's craptacular web pages that use several megabytes of javascript, I guess they're out of luck.

about 9 months ago
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For Education, Why TI-83 > iPad

Clueless Moron Re:Both are crap (340 comments)

I don't know why people keep bringing up the HP48 when the HP50g has been HP's flagship calculator for many years now. It's ARM based and plenty fast.

about a year ago
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Behind the Story of the iPhone's Default Text Tone

Clueless Moron Not really a "tritone" (102 comments)

In music lingo, "tritone" just means an interval of six semitones, or an augmented fourth. It's the strange sound you get when playing a C and F# at the same time.

1 year,8 days
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Why You Shouldn't Trust Internet Comments

Clueless Moron Re:Perception vs actual rating (180 comments)

Agreed - In similar vein, I have seen one-star reviews of restaurants stating that 'the line/wait was too long", meaning they never even *tried* the place;

I am reminded of the Yogi Berra quote: "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

1 year,11 days
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Why You Shouldn't Trust Internet Comments

Clueless Moron Re:Perception vs actual rating (180 comments)

I once saw a review where the buyer gave it one star because the item he ordered wasn't really what he wanted.

Yes, he ordered an item, they delivered it promptly, but he decided he really should have ordered something else and so he gave it one star. You just can't win with some people.

1 year,11 days
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NSA Firing 90% of Its Sysadmins

Clueless Moron Re:Well that's just brilliant! (634 comments)

Does the BOFH have a security clearance?

I think we can safely assume that he has already provided himself with Top Secret clearance long ago...

1 year,11 days
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New for 2013: An In-Depth Analysis of Kubrick's 2001: a Space Odyssey

Clueless Moron Re:Good luck with that (164 comments)

If you read the book, the movie makes perfect sense.

Now, I absolutely love 2001: A Space Odyssey, but I will freely admit that its one major failing as a movie goes is that it cannot stand alone. It gives absolutely no context or explanation at all for the "beyond the infinite" section.

Kubrick must have known that, and to this day I don't know why he chose to make such a lavish film that won't make sense without the book. I suspect a big part of it is that since Bowman is entirely alone at the end, it would take either internal dialogue, narration, or some back-and-forth with his hosts, all of which would have come across as utterly goofy or corny, so he decided to go weapons-grade primadonna artsy-fartsy instead.

So you have to read a book to appreciate this movie. There are worse things in life...

1 year,24 days
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Poll Shows That 75% Prefer Printed Books To eBooks

Clueless Moron Sedra & Smith (312 comments)

I'm dating myself, but I still have my copy of Sedra & Smith's "Micro Electronic Circuits" from my days at the University of Toronto. It's 30 years later, but I still use it.

It turns out that electrons don't change their behaviour after a few decades, and people who are good at explaining are still good at explaining in writing after a few decades. I also found a Quantum Mechanics book written by some guy around 1950 in German (which I can barely read but I managed) whose name I sadly can't remember but made my mind clear and pass QM with flying colours.

I really don't know what my kids are going to do with their pdf's. I really don't. I guess they'll manage, but I can grab the dead tree thing and it still works, despite some mold on the edges.

1 year,29 days
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How Old Is the Average Country?

Clueless Moron Re:Egypt in 1922? (375 comments)

Well, how about this: my wife is Korean, and when I suggested to her that Korea is 68 years old she burst into mad laughter.

I suggest you go to Koreatown and suggest with a straight face to people there that Korea is 68 years old. The Japanese thing is a tiny blip in their millenial history and almost forgotten.

If you want to have some counter with a reset button based on some random criterion, fine, go ahead. Just don't expect anybody else to take it seriously.

about a year ago
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Modeling How Programmers Read Code

Clueless Moron Re:Or to put it another way (115 comments)

x = [2, 8, 7, 9, -5, 0, 2] print [xn for xn in x if 2 < xn < 10]

y = [1, -3, 10, 0, 8, 9, 1] print [yn for yn in y if -2 < yn < 9]

print [xn for xn in x if xn in y]

Funny thing is, I find that easier to read and understand than the original. It's like "make a list of the elements in this range and print it", twice over, and finally "make a list of the stuff in x that's also in y and print it".

about a year ago
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How Old Is the Average Country?

Clueless Moron Re:Egypt in 1922? (375 comments)

Like everyone else, you missed my part "how about year 1000" (a year I picked at random).

Japanese being assholes there for a few decades half a century ago doesn't suddenly erase the previous thousands of years of Korea being Korea.

I'm not even Korean and it's obvious to me.

about a year ago
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WWVB Celebrates 50 Years of Broadcasting Time

Clueless Moron Re:I implemented a teensy WWCB transmitter once (97 comments)

Whether it was low pass filtering or just the card being at its limits I don't know, but the output was really quite weak. That's why I needed an audio amp. A 40W amp, no less. Since the audio amp wasn't designed for 60kHz either, the output still wasn't all that strong, but it was good enough for the watch to pick it up sitting next to the coil.

about a year ago
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WWVB Celebrates 50 Years of Broadcasting Time

Clueless Moron Re:I implemented a teensy WWCB transmitter once (97 comments)

This one could, and I don't claim to know why. But I saw it clearly on my oscilloscope: 60kHz.

Actually it wasn't exactly 60kHz, it was 59 point something because of quantization according to a frequency counter, but apparently it was close enough to keep the watch happy.

about a year ago
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How Old Is the Average Country?

Clueless Moron Re:Egypt in 1922? (375 comments)

Yeah, but if were to walk into Stockholm in 1250 and say hi to Birger Jarl and ask him what country you were in, what do you think he would have said? Not "Danmark" or "Kalmarunionen" or something like that, I can guarantee you.

A lot of the "independence" dates for European countries are really arbitrary, because they just gradually grew into place.

Equally idiotic is calling the Koreas "68 years old". So what the hell was there before 1945? Or how about year 1000?

about a year ago
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WWVB Celebrates 50 Years of Broadcasting Time

Clueless Moron I implemented a teensy WWCB transmitter once (97 comments)

Some 15 years ago, when they were at their original low power, my area was so fringe that my fancy new WWVB wristwatch just wouldn't pick it up.

The protocol is really quite straightforward and well documented at their site. The 60kHz signal sends binary by sending either full power or a bit less (I forget how many dB). I used a computer synced with NTP and a plain old soundcard generating 60kHz from a sound card into an audio amp, and I just did either full on or full off. The output ran into a big coil that I had wound to be roughly resonant around 60kHz.

Much to my amazement, it worked. So I just kept the watch near that coil overnight and it synced perfectly, until WWVB cranked up their power at which point I retired the mess.

about a year ago
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The Turbo Entabulator: A 3D-printed Mechanical Computer

Clueless Moron Re:Mechanical calculators (83 comments)

Slide rules give approximate answers. VERY approximate answers; their only advantage back in the day was that they were fast. These mechanical marvels give exact answers. Considering that when you divide it gives you a remainder that you can use to extend the answer to any arbitrary number of decimal places, they are in fact more accurate than a modern electronic calculator (apart from fancy ones like hp50g)

Anyway, why the negativity? Do you not appreciate well built complex machinery? My example was a Facit calculator, made in Sweden and extremely popular around the world. A similar marvel was the M209 cipher machine. Even includes a printer, yet it fits in your pocket. I'd love to have one.

about a year ago
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The Turbo Entabulator: A 3D-printed Mechanical Computer

Clueless Moron Re:Mechanical calculators (83 comments)

Very little force is needed, and I've never gotten caught on those tabs. Actually, the force depends on how many numbers have to change: rolling over something like 999999 to 1000000 makes a noticeable difference in resistance. Really I should open it up and lube it.

I'm told you can still find these in remote villages in India and Africa and the like. They don't need electricity and are very reliable.

about a year ago

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