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Ask Slashdot: What's the Most Hackable Car?

DriveDog sense of the word (194 comments)

I think of hacking as almost anything to alter almost anything about the car, but it sounds like you're thinking mostly interfacing with the electronics to get there. I can't answer who's best, but I know for sure that some manufacturers make accessing and interpreting CAN bus information a lot easier than others. Search for CAN bus interface info for various makes in which you're interested and see how much is out there and how difficult it looks. When I find time (yeah right) I want to grab events from pushing steering wheel buttons and use it to control my own devices. So I'm not really looking to put messages on the CAN bus, just read from it. In general, models that have cult followings (not just "ricers") will have a lot more info out there that their owners have accumulated and shared. MINIs are not among the easiest cars to interface with (as with other BMWs), but there's a lot of info out there because of the interest among owners. On the other hand, something like a Camry, popular as they are, is unlikely to have been explored as much because they're appliances that people buy to reliably get them where they want to go and not for providing fun or making a statement.

4 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Data Warehouse Server System?

DriveDog Re:Skip Oracle. (147 comments)

SAS may be the best answer to "query huge amounts of data in sometimes rather odd ways". Using SQL Server for storage is fine, but not using anything else in front of it (SSAS is useless) is bringing a knife to a gun fight. Trying to do everything in a relational way means tying a hand and a foot behind your back. The real world doesn't neatly fit the model, hard as you might try to make it, so performance suffers greatly and doing unusual ad hoc things takes longer to figure out. Get SAS to send pure relational operations to the DBMS to do but perform other operations within. SAS's own SQL engine gives the user much more convenience since it supports SAS's functions and macro language, far richer than plain DBMS's, but I haven't found it to be particularly quick. In interoperability, SQL Server continues to improve, but SAS still works better with many more other applications. It has always been a best choice for moving data around. Organizations often choke on the licensing model, since most do "capital investments" every few years instead of paying a "licensing fee" every year (hefty, but does include some of the best support going). All this was about plain SAS. SAS/BI is really the product SAS will try to sell you to do what you describe; I haven't used it so can't rate it.

As far as those comments about writing code with SAS being "terrible", well, it can be inconsistent, but mostly those people have just never grasped the somewhat unique models it uses of handling observations. I find T-SQL to be seriously lacking for many tasks. If going all-MS, get VS and use a regular procedural language along with SQL Server.

about two weeks ago
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New GCHQ Chief Says Social Media Aids Terrorists

DriveDog Re:J'accuse! (228 comments)

I think you'd have to go back at least to Gutenberg. Gave the power to individuals to create many copies in hours rather than single copies in years.

about three weeks ago
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Scientists Seen As Competent But Not Trusted By Americans

DriveDog perception of what truth is (460 comments)

When "scientists" discuss harsh facts that may have disastrous consequences, people think they're exaggerating, trying to be persuasive, and not being impartial.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

DriveDog Yes! (234 comments)

Probably. I went back around age 45 to get a physics B.A. at a local state university with a small department so I could teach high school science (had 2 prior undergrad degrees in Econ and CS). I wasn't planning to do any astronomy or astrophysics, but I needed a few more hours, and the school had a 32" observatory, a Harvard-trained astrophysicist, and several interesting classes. The teaching gig afterwards didn't work out, but I'm so glad I studied astrophysics. Independent amateur researchers absolutely do contribute, but not very often in theoretical astrophysics. There's a LOT of original astronomy that can and is done by amateurs on smallish budgets. Learn a little nuclear physics and understand what's going on inside stars. Every week there's some new cool discovery in the news (a Thorne-Zytkow star found recently) and being able to comprehend what it's about is great. Many stars don't fit into neat categories, and those are the most interesting. You can use your programming skills in quite a few ways, if you're so inclined. Around here there's a community college with a small observatory run by students and a couple of committed teachers that hosts astronomy conferences and speakers. For some, it's a great opportunity to learn and contribute to the community. I have no idea how common such programs are. If you really want to spend time observing on your own, the DIY community is stronger than ever. Just as with other types of hacking, you could contribute by designing affordable, innovative DIY equipment made of common items. Like to travel? It's a good excuse to go looking for dark clear skies, and many places with dark skies are stunning in other ways. Heck, I'm thinking of taking a scope on a 21' boat to a dark isolated island. I won't discover anything but bugbites, but what a nice outing. Don't let the naysayers bother you, except for this: there probably aren't too many careers available. Keep your day job (literally). Oh, one more thing—don't restrict yourself to light. Radiotelescopy offers a lot of opportunities for amateurs as well, alone or in cooperation with others.

about 2 months ago
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Tim Cook Says Apple Can't Read Users' Emails, That iCloud Wasn't Hacked

DriveDog What's not said... (191 comments)

What did Cook not say? Did he bluntly say "we cannot read your mail"? Or did he just say "we don't have a key"? A general statement like "There is no way for us to read your mail or provide your mail to anyone else" would have more meaning. Reporters could ignore such statements, or at least every time they print one, point out how it could be misleading.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

DriveDog Re:I wouldn't use it, but... (471 comments)

I'd recommend starting by avoiding LCDs. Use something like color E-Ink—a low-power but high-contract display—and use it artfully.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

DriveDog Re:Suunto Ambit 3 (471 comments)

Suunto makes capable machines and I don't doubt this one works well. However, not all of us find the "big round" utilitarian look to our liking. Likewise, I respect Luminox, but I don't wear one for the same reason.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

DriveDog Re:Smart Watch Apps I would (and do) use (471 comments)

At some point in the future we'll either talk about how dorky people looked fumbling with their slab phones all the time (I always have) or just think of them like pocket watches—a machine put in use before it was miniaturized. I suspect that in the old days glancing at your wristwatch during meetings was tolerated a lot better than pulling out your pocket watch.

The Pebble is definitely more attractive than most others, certainly more than what the Apple looks like so far. Surely the fans will buy Apples, but I'm guessing Apple won't dominate the market or even lead the way this time. Until we have some kind of I/O that displays stuff in our eyes or brain without Glass and reads thoughts, seems like the wristwatch is the least intrusive, most convenient device.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

DriveDog Just the moon (471 comments)

I want features that have already appeared in watches: time display, stopwatch, alarm, tides for anywhere not dependent on downloading, barometer/altitude, compass, glow-in-the-dark, survivability from shock/EM fields/water/heat/cold, good styling (very few smart watches are much less than ugly), programmable remote control, good battery life, and durability, all in one. Add to that rudimentary navigation (only signals from GPS satellites necessary, and maybe not even that), Bluetooth, an accelerometer, and a great programming environment for those not wanting the hassle of a ridiculous tool chain.

A fatter version should have something like FindMeSpot functionality—SMS to satellites.

Oh yeah, and a friendly price.

about 2 months ago
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To Really Cut Emissions, We Need Electric Buses, Not Just Electric Cars

DriveDog Not pure electric, arghhh (491 comments)

City and school buses are the perfect target for hybrid ICE/Electric propulsion (along with FedEx and UPS delivery trucks). They accelerate and decelerate a huge mass every block or so. Recapture as much of the energy as you can while slowing to speed up again. The power of the ICE needn't be anywhere close to what it is currently. Maybe not even electric—some mechanical means of storing energy for short periods would be helpful, and probably a lot cheaper. Just DO SOMETHING to avoid throwing away all that energy put into accelerating every block.

Since there's already a lot of experience using CNG for buses, use that and avoid much of the complicated emissions-control equipment. Buses are so big that putting a reformer on board and fueling them with methane but powering them with fuel cells might be feasible.

about 2 months ago
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To Really Cut Emissions, We Need Electric Buses, Not Just Electric Cars

DriveDog Re:And low-emission transport trucks, too (491 comments)

There are low-tech means of capturing windpower at sea that certainly aren't as efficient as fabric sails but are cheap, reliable, low-maintenance, and work independently of direction of wind vs heading. To supplement other means of propulsion they can make a lot of sense. I agree that hoisting sails on cargo ships probably won't catch on.

about 2 months ago
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Space Station's 'Cubesat Cannon' Has Gone Rogue

DriveDog Re:Don't point that thing at me! (143 comments)

Maybe, but people tend to pull coupons out of the automatic dispensers just to see another offered. I suspect some being happened by and was doing the same. As long as more keep popping out, they'll keep doing it.

about 3 months ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

DriveDog Re:Anthropometrics (819 comments)

Competition in Europe isn't just between airlines. Serious passenger rail service in the US would do a world of good.

about 3 months ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

DriveDog Re:Anthropometrics (819 comments)

Better yet, install them in a fixed reclining position to begin with. When might I want to sit up straight? If I'm eating a meal, and I can't remember the last time I had that on a plane (obviously I don't fly transcontinentally).

about 3 months ago
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Researchers Harness E. Coli To Produce Propane

DriveDog Re:Guts (82 comments)

Propane is heavier than di-nitrogen, hence they'll be ground-hugging and slower to dissipate.

about 3 months ago
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Researchers Harness E. Coli To Produce Propane

DriveDog Re:Environmentally-friendly? Hello?! (82 comments)

Which is what I'd hope to get out of this, something that can be done on a medium-sized or smaller farm. Or under my house, but for the explosion hazard. Decentralized bacon byproduct!

about 3 months ago
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Researchers Harness E. Coli To Produce Propane

DriveDog Re:hubris (82 comments)

Yes. And if the frackers were required to incorporate the external costs, it would be more expensive still.

I take it you mean LPG liquefaction and liquid storage is cheaper/easier than LNG. CNG is certainly common and useful, just not very compact, even at 3,000 psi. LNG is arguably safer, however, as it's lighter than air, whereas a major LPG leak can leave a lot of gas at ground level. And LNG is cold enough to quench hot bullets if they penetrate the tank. LPG isn't particularly cold until you evaporate some of it.

about 3 months ago
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Aaron's Law Is Doomed and the CFAA Is Still Broken

DriveDog Called the Rep... (134 comments)

Call your Rep if they're on the Judiciary Committee. Google the committee to find out who's on it. My Rep's staffer was unfamiliar with the bill. At least bring it to their attention. I've usually sent email. It hasn't gotten the attention that a voice phone call has. Be polite and firm and be ready to explain what the bill is.

about 4 months ago
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Amazon's eBook Math

DriveDog Nobody has it right (306 comments)

After reading a number of comments, I see that many of them fall into either the "Amazon is evil" or "Publishers are evil" camps. Guess what? Just like politics, it comes down to choosing the lesser evil. Neither one works to serve consumers.

about 4 months ago

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