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What Will It Take To Make Automated Vehicles Legal In the US?

SethJohnson think of the insurance companies... (317 comments)

.....and ban this right away, it will not matter if the fatality rate is even lower than manually driven cars.

You ignore the gargantuan influence insurance companies wield over politicians.

Who do you think got these types of laws passed?

  • No smoking in bars
  • No sodas sold in big cups
  • Mandatory seat belts
  • Child safety seats

Those were the doing of an entity who could see that modifying these behaviors would reduce the payouts they make each year. This entity lives and breaths statistics and charges its customers based on anticipated payouts and profits off the difference. By modifying the behaviors while keeping the premiums at the same level, the insurance companies are able to expand their profits. Insurance companies use these profits to control politicians.

Self-driving cars are hugely attractive to insurance companies. If they can overall reduce payouts by some small number, they'll happily pay for the fewer claims made against their customers' self-driving cars. Should cases go to court, they'll have plenty of telemetric data to throw in front of a jury to bolster their defense.

3 days ago

Elon Musk Warns Against Unleashing Artificial Intelligence "Demon"

SethJohnson Just finished books "Daemon" and "Freedom" (582 comments)

Really excellent current-day technology thrillers. They expand on some very contemporary surveillance / privacy issues and also project many currently-available technologies into advanced what-if scenarios. It was hard not to think that the creator of the AI in these two books was not conceived as a reference to either Elon Musk or John Carmack. Definitely Carmack was an inspiration to the author at some level, but the weaponized self-driving cars hints at Musk.

If Musk is warning about this AI-gone-wild threat, these two New York Times bestsellers might have given him the fright...

3 days ago

Ballmer Says Amazon Isn't a "Real Business"

SethJohnson Re:Ballmer investment portfolio (275 comments)

The reason Marc Cuban is wealthy is because he had a dumb idea and was able to sell it to Yahoo before they realized they should only buy companies with paying customers rather than a pie-in-the-sky idea. Marc Cuban sold to Yahoo, and they didn't know how to get any subscribers and that asset eventually evaporated into nothing.

Then Marc Cuban started HDnet cable channel thinking he would corner the market on producing high-definition cable TV content. Then all the other cable channels began broadcasting in HD and the property floundered for a reason to exist until Ryan Seacrest bought and rebranded it as another entertainment variety channel-- AXS..

Take a read of Cuban's blog. It's fun to click around in the archives to read his thoughts on the direction of future technology trends. Like when he predicted just ten years ago people would go into video rental stores to have movies transferred to a physical hard drive instead of walking out with optical disk media.. Somehow he didn't see the rise of Netflix and Redbox, did he?

Cuban and Ballmer have a LOT in common. When a board of directors selects either of them to be the CEO of a multi-billion $ company, their opinion might be relevant. Right now, the industry and stock market has a lack of faith in the decision-making powers of these two.

5 days ago

Ask Slashdot: Good Hosting Service For a Parody Site?

SethJohnson weak link isn't the host (115 comments)

Any organization attacking your published site will send DMCA emails to the hosting / bandwidth provider, but will also attack the DNS registrar for copyright violation. That's going to be the more difficult one to choose because there are a finite number of registrars and they all want to cover-their-ass against ICAAN violations.

about two weeks ago

Google Fiber To Launch In Austin, Texas In December

SethJohnson Re:I live in the Northeast part of Austin... (88 comments)

Well-chosen slashdot nickname, Dimwit.

All the public infrastructure crap you're complaining about was part of bond packages that voters approved and paid for with tax money.

Google fiber ain't that. It's a subscription service being provided by a corporation. The fact that you're complaining of not having sewers hooked up indicates you live in a rural section which isn't the most lucrative region for Google to spend money where the people / mile-of-fiber ratio is thin.

about two weeks ago

FBI Director Continues His Campaign Against Encryption

SethJohnson Re:I don't trust it (284 comments)

An NSL can be sent to Apple telling it to give the FBI all information it has.


Pump the brakes, son. The words you have written here strongly indicate an irresponsible underestimation of the power wielded by National Security Letters. Go ask the ex-owner of Lavabit if he agrees with you that there are limitations on how National Security Letters may be applied to corporations.

about two weeks ago

Tiny Wireless Device Offers Tor Anonymity

SethJohnson Re:way more than 10x now.... (68 comments)

I just checked less than 24 hours later. It's up to $247,000. Something tells me there is strong consumer interest in this type of a product.

about two weeks ago

Tiny Wireless Device Offers Tor Anonymity

SethJohnson way more than 10x now.... (68 comments)

According to the kickstarter page, the campaign is over $170,000.

A $51 pledge gets you one shipped to your house in the USA.

about two weeks ago

Tor Executive Director Hints At Firefox Integration

SethJohnson Allow me to lubricate... (117 comments)

From Wikipedia:

The Firefox project began as an experimental branch of the Mozilla project by Dave Hyatt, Joe Hewitt and Blake Ross. They believed the commercial requirements of Netscape's sponsorship and developer-driven feature creep compromised the utility of the Mozilla browser.[29] To combat what they saw as the Mozilla Suite's software bloat, they created a stand-alone browser, with which they intended to replace the Mozilla Suite

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Software Issue Tracking Transparency - Good Or Bad?

SethJohnson Sales knows best on this (159 comments)

In competitive sales situations, each company has performed competitive analysis on the strengths and weaknesses of their competition's product. When talking to a customer, the sales team is emphasizing the problems of the competitor's product and the strength of their own. The customer is beating up the salesman by asking questions about the weaknesses of their product that were fed to the customer by the competing salesperson.

"It took them six years to fix these three simple bugs."

"It wasn't until release 4.5 before they found a critical security vulnerability that has probably been exploited since release 1.0."

"They decided not to fix these important problems in the current release and customers are going to have to wait another year for this functionality to work properly."

Helping your competition perform competitive analysis is a really good way to help your company go out of business. The benefit of transparency will be hugely outweighed by the savagery that will be perpetrated against your sales team. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see the sales team quit if this transparency continues.

Because car analogies are so hated on Slashdot, here's one:

If a dealer handed you a piece of paper listing 100 things mechanically wrong with one car and then offered a second car that they said verbally had nothing wrong with it, would you really buy the car that is documented to be broken in 100 ways or would you trust the dealer's word on the other car?

about a month ago

Outlining Thin Linux

SethJohnson Re:What about BSD derivatives (221 comments)

It is a working system with everything you'd need to run a legitimate server.

I have wanted to run *BSD as our server OS for years, but the lack of native Oracle java support has held us back. Our app demands Oracle java and will not run on OpenJDK. Wish it would, because that's the only dang thing holding me off of *BSD these days.

I can fully expect some people will claim the lack of availability of native Oracle java support is a benefit of BSD. I would not argue against that sentiment, but my paycheck depends on other criteria.

about a month ago

U2 and Apple Collaborate On 'Non-Piratable, Interactive Format For Music'

SethJohnson Re:Expert. (358 comments)

I think you have Dr. Dre confused with Rick Rubin.

Dre does create the music you hear while a vocalist raps. He's known as a perfectionist in the industry and has refused to release material that was not up to his ideals even though contracts were signed, etc.

As for Bono and Apple working together to prevent piracy, I think U2's newest album is an example of the technology-- create an uninspired, unnecessary product that a major corporation gives away to consumers for free. Seems like the Fort Knox of piracy protection.

about a month and a half ago

SparkFun Works to Build the Edison Ecosystem (Video)

SethJohnson Edison missing a lot (75 comments)

Ok. I have mostly been working with Beaglebone and looked at this video to see what I might be missing with Edison. The shill in the video promotes Edison by saying it has all these things built in-- wifi and bluetooth.

From this video, it's clear the board is missing USB and any kind of normal power connector. Oh, and removable storage? And ethernet?

This device screams of a scheme to dump atom processors after the market disappeared for netbooks and intel was left with a few million chips on their hands. I'll stick with ARM and the larger ecosystem that has grown around the Beaglebone Black and Rpi, thank you.

about a month and a half ago

Microsoft Paid NFL $400 Million To Use Surface, But Announcers Call Them iPads

SethJohnson Microsoft didn't pay the messengers (405 comments)

Most commenters here and elsewhere assume these references to a competing product were accidental. I believe they were likely intentional. The $400m paid to the NFL did not include any money paid to the broadcast corporations. They're sitting there wondering why they should help the NFL promote something while at the same time having to pay the NFL similarly-sized piles of cash.

I think these carefully-executed comments were an intentional message to Microsoft that their promotional budget is better spent with them on commercials rather than trying to embed them in the content without paying the broadcasters.

about a month and a half ago

Unpopular Programming Languages That Are Still Lucrative

SethJohnson Re:Lucrative isn't all it's cracked up to be (387 comments)

Fully agreed. Additionally, if it's lucrative, that means the organization perceives it as a cost-center. At some point, management will finally tire of the burden of this inflated paycheck and under-performing technology and will dump it out along with you.

I find that the more reliably lucrative jobs are the ones that provide efficiency and cost-savings to organizations.

about 2 months ago

Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

SethJohnson Re:There is no public benefit (300 comments)

If this is your takeaway from that footage and you are proposing that watching this footage can have a valuable effect for viewers, it does not surprise me that you can't find a job using your journalism BA.

In your entire discussion of this topic, you ignore the relationship his suicide has to the larger community. You are caught up in the graphic sensationalism of the State Senator suddenly pulling out a gun and shooting himself. You treat the end of his life as if the meaning is journalists should pay attention at press conferences.

Yes, in j-school, they taught you to get the Five W's for your story. The first four are the least important... . The fifth is last for a reason- the 'WHY' is where you have the opportunity to fill your prose with meaningful content that can improve the human condition. If you focus on that dimension of your journalism, it will enable you to stand out of the crowd and get that job.

Nobody needs to see the beheading of a western journalist at the hands of lunatics. YouTube is right to remove the stage out from under these violent criminals.

about 2 months ago

33 Months In Prison For Recording a Movie In a Theater

SethJohnson Re:The real crime here (465 comments)

Now is a 33 month prison sentence fair for gross stupidity? /shrug I've heard of worse . . .

I don't think people are recognizing that 33 months is a light sentence. The jury definitely shaved off a few months beneath what they would have handed down if he had been found guilty of pirating Fast 5. That movie was exponentially better than #6.

about 2 months ago

Alleged Massive Account and Password Seizure By Russian Group

SethJohnson Re:Stored in cleartext? (126 comments)

Keyloggers are certainly a popular way for collecting passwords on a malware-infected computer. Undoubtedly, some portion of this claimed collection would have been built off keylogging.

The extortionists describing this password trove are claiming it was built by using compromised client computers to launch SQL injection attacks against servers where the computer's owner had an account. Such a strategy would allow the attackers access to injection vulnerabilities that are inaccessible to an unauthenticated visitor. Additionally, and perhaps more concerning should be that this type of attack would succeed against corporate intranets via employee computers connected via VPN.

Using keyloggers alone might yield a few million passwords (depending on the size of the botnet), but to achieve a collection of a billion, the compromised machines would have to gather passwords not belonging to their owners.

about 3 months ago

Interviews: Ask James Cameron About The Deepsea Challenge 3D Movie

SethJohnson underwater living (45 comments)

Mr. Cameron-

I really enjoyed your visual special effects work on the landmark film, Escape from New York. I've been out of touch with your career since then, but noticed you were able to parlay your success working for John Carpenter into supporting an underwater diving hobby.

I'm wondering if you see any chance of technology improving soon that would enable humans to live underwater for extended periods. These underwater hotels are so darn expensive. I'd like to have a house in about 20' of sea water. When's that going to happen?

about 3 months ago

Getting Back To Coding

SethJohnson I'm bitching about SQL Server Management Studio (240 comments)

Compared with tools we had 10 years ago or more, UIs have indeed improved significantly.

No criticism of the OP here, but this got me thinking about one of my mortal enemies. The UI within SQL Server Management Studio. For the last decade of upgrades, I've really wondered how that development team leaves the office everyday thinking they are doing a good day's work. There are so many blatantly apparent rough edges to the UI for SSMS, I can't believe they think it's as good as they can make it.

In order to avoid tldr, I'll just give a single example. Look at the tabbing for each database connection window. The tabs are labelled "servername.database" but are limited to a small number of characters regardless of how many tabs are open. Here's an example where there are only two open tabs:

The first reason the labelling is fundamentally broken is that the database name is chopped off in an unnecessary abbreviation. The tab could stretch out to display the whole thing! It's not scrunched in with a bunch of other tabs. There's plenty of room there.

The second reason this is broken is that the database name is the thing you actually need to see more than the server name. In the majority of use case scenarios, the user is connected to multiple databases on the same server. When switching tabs, you need to be able to locate the one for the database you're looking for within your current connections. Sure, there's that pulldown menu on the left, but that's a much further mouse drag than the tabs are from your focal point.

So, if you're ever looking for an example of a developer interface that doesn't get a proper update, look no further than SQL Server Management Studio. It's hardly changed in over a decade of releases.

about 3 months ago



Number 6 Finally Escapes from the Village

SethJohnson SethJohnson writes  |  more than 5 years ago

SethJohnson writes "Actor Patrick McGoohan became bored playing the lead spy in a successful 1960s television show called "Danger Man" and quit to create a much more interesting spy series with a dystopian, counter-culture bend. The Prisoner aired only 17 episodes from 1967-1968, but became a cult hit in the 40 years since. For those who miss watching Number 6 vex Number 2 and vice versa, the show is currently being remade for AMC, with James Caviezel in McGoohan's role as Number 6 and Sir Ian McKellen as Number 2. To promote the 2009 release of the remake, AMC is hosting every episode of the original series for free online viewing.

Patrick McGoohan died Tuesday in Los Angeles at the age of 80. Be Seeing You."

Link to Original Source

Half-petaflop supercomputer deployed in Austin

SethJohnson SethJohnson writes  |  more than 6 years ago

SethJohnson writes "Thanks to a $59 million National Science Foundation grant, there's likely to be a new king of the High Performance Computing Top 500 list. The contender is Ranger, a 15,744 Quad-Core AMD Opteron behemoth built by Sun and hosted at the University of Texas. It's peak 504 teraflops processing power will be shared among over 500 researchers working across the even larger TeraGrid system. Although its expected lifespan is just four years, Ranger will provide 500 million processor hours to projects attempting to address societal grand challenges such as global climate change, water resource management, new energy sources, natural disasters, new materials and manufacturing processes, tissue and organ engineering, patient-specific medical therapies, and drug design."
Link to Original Source

DIY Aerial Photography Helps Sell High-rise Condos

SethJohnson SethJohnson writes  |  more than 6 years ago

SethJohnson writes "An article in the Austin-American Statesman describes how Gary Lockhart has pushed DIY aerial photography into the professional big leagues. With 16 years of testing and over $125,000 in prototypes, he's chosen tethered blimps over wind-dependent kites to give him a stable vantage point up to 1,000 feet high. But it's his nearness to the ground that gives his aerial photography business a competitive edge over traditional helicopter and plane-based platforms. Lockhart's specialized 130 panoramic camera captures 3.2 gigabyte images from intimate perspectives where motorized aircraft can't fly.

The recent credit collapse puts developers under increasing pressure to pre-sell their condos before they can build these high rises. That's where Lockhart's blimp photography comes in- his photos give prospective buyers a sample of the view specific to the height and angle of each unit in a building before it's even built. Ground-floor sales rooms have panoramic murals mounted in window frames so it looks like you're on the 24th floor of a building that hasn't begun construction."

Link to Original Source

Lord British fundraising for video game museum

SethJohnson SethJohnson writes  |  more than 7 years ago

SethJohnson writes "In order to raise funds to develop the University of Texas' upcoming Video Game Archive at the Center for American History, Richard Garriott is throwing a party at his Austin estate. Festivities will include Segway scooter polo, classic arcade games, a replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and the chance to win a zero-gravity flight 32,000 feet above Earth. Garriott is best known as the creator of the Ultima series of computer RPGs and is working to support the video game archive so that early works in the field will be preserved for future reflection. Tickets for the fundraiser start at $75 per person and escalate to $5,000."
Link to Original Source



The Flaming Lips Sold-Out to Big Tobacco

SethJohnson SethJohnson writes  |  more than 7 years ago This past week the Flaming Lips played at La Zona Rosa. The tour they're on is sponsored by Camel. The shows are free. The fans are subjected to intense Camel marketing / recruitment by the cancer merchant. Ugly companies like Camel will pay anything for coolness. Apparently the Flaming Lips decided it was time to sell theirs. Oh, and Dinosaur Jr. must have caught Camel's attention with their Green Mind album cover, because they're on the tobacco gravy train as well.


SethJohnson SethJohnson writes  |  more than 9 years ago Last night Adam and I worked at the Skate Plaza. We poured some new transitions and added a concrete ledge next to the flatrail. Will post pictures later. Seth

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