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Comments

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Study Finds Link Between Artificial Sweeteners and Glucose Intolerance

Solandri Re:I know this is going to sound crazy... (251 comments)

The thing is, I don't think most people realize just how much sugar is in sweetened beverages. When you eat a slice of pie or a scoop of ice cream, your brain quantifies it as a discrete amount of sustenance and naturally limits your intake. But for some reason when you're drinking, people rationalize that "it's mostly water" and overconsume. I didn't realize it myself until I ordered a regular iced tea because the restaurant didn't carry sweetened, and tried to sweeten it myself to taste. After 4 packets of sugar went in and it still tasted bland, I realized that there's a heckuva lot more sugar in these sweetened drinks than I'd thought.

10 hours ago
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Snowden's Leaks Didn't Help Terrorists

Solandri Re:The sad part is... (159 comments)

Both sides are likely lying.

You don't acknowledge damage when you're in a state of combat. That's just giving away intelligence to the enemy for free. It's like when CBS reported the exact location of Iraq's first scud missile strike against Israel. Why would you freely give the enemy information verifying their attack worked and thus help them improve future attacks? That's just stupid.

The people claiming Snowden's disclosures have compromised intelligence gathering methods are either committing treason by confirming to the enemy that their obfuscation methods are working, or know that it hasn't and are lying through their teeth to misdirect the enemy, or don't know anything and are lying by pretending to know in order to score political points.

Likewise, the people claiming Snowden's disclosures haven't compromised intelligence are either committing treason by confirming to the enemy that their obfuscation methods have been unsuccessful and they need to try something else, or know that it has a has and are lying through their teeth to misdirect the enemy, or don't know anything and are lying by pretending to know in order to score political points.

I tend to believe anybody who really knows is also smart enough to know not to reveal that info (and not commit treason) and are keeping their mouth shut. And so anybody who's claiming "with certainty" one way or the other is likely lying.

10 hours ago
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Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

Solandri That doesn't mean this is a bad move (417 comments)

As much as the government wants these powers, and wants them in secret, this is really a policy decision which needs to be made by the citizens. They need to decide if off-the-shelf products should provide end-level encryption by default, or if the government should always have a back-door into all encrypted products. Not politicians, not the police, and certainly not secret government courts. Society at large needs to decide which is more important - personal privacy, or the government's ability to obtain evidence of laws being broken in communications mediums and storage devices.

This move by Apple puts the debate squarely in the public's eye, instead of hidden in esoteric cryptography forums and secret government courts.

10 hours ago
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Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

Solandri Re:So everything is protected by a 4 digit passcod (417 comments)

Standard data forensics procedure is to write-protect any storage device which contains evidence, copy it bit-for-bit, and do all the decrypting and data analysis from the copy. The 10-try limit may protect your data from a random thief who lifts your phone, but the only way it's going to protect you from the government or any other technically-capable hacker is if Apple baked the limit into the flash memory-reading hardware.

And there's always this.

10 hours ago
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How Flickr Is Courting the Next Generation of Photographers

Solandri Re:...the best photographers were older people... (96 comments)

As someone who learned photography "the old way" (film, darkroom, nasty chemicals), there is something to what both of you have to say. My rate of "keepers" in the film days was about 1 shot per roll (1 in 36). My rate of "keepers" in digital is about 1 in 100. So clearly I'm not being as careful to compose the shot perfectly. And I'm definitely taking multiple shots on many occasions with the hope that one will be good.

But my rate of "keepers" per trip has skyrocketed. With film I'd be happy if I managed just 2-3 keepers from a trip. With digital I expect 5+ and am disappointed if I don't get 10. This is because I shoot a lot more pictures with digital than I ever shot with film. The cost of the professional film I used + developing meant I was paying $0.50-$1 per shot. That put a serious damper on photography. I think the most film I ever shot on a trip was 12 rolls (432 pictures) over 4 weeks, or an average of 15 shots a day. With digital I'll take 2000-3000 shots on a similar trip, or 70-110 shots a day.

FWIW, the rate of keepers seems to be consistent (between 1 in 50 to 1 in 100) among both amateurs and professionals. i.e. The pro photographers aren't getting those great shots by snapping a few pictures. National Geographic did an article on how they make articles. The photographer shot over 5000 photos (on film!) to arrive at the 8 photos used in the article.

Which approach is better? Hard to tell. Though truth be told, equipment actually doesn't matter. National Geographic photographers have intentionally gone on trips equipped with nothing more than an iPhone and still take stunning photos using nothing more than the default camera app.

Equipment does matter. Photography isn't just a matter of seeing something cool and snapping a picture of it. Wide-angles can give you unusual perspectives. Better equipment gives you access to different capabilities. Telephotos allow you to compress perspective, as well as pick out distant subjects without having to run all over. A wider aperture lens can blur the backgrounds more in portraits. Flash exposure compensation can allow you to use a flash, but make the picture look like it was shot without a flash. Zooming during the exposure followed by a flash can create an impressionistic effect which emphasizes the subject. etc.

I recently drove some European friends to San Francisco. Unfortunately we arrived right around dusk, and they weren't able to get a decent shot of themselves with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. I simply borrowed one of their DSLRs, mounted it on a tripod, put it in aperture priority mode, turned the flash on with FEC dialed to about -1.0, and told them to stand perfectly still for a few seconds. When you do that, the DSLR automatically adjusts the exposure time for the background, but exposes the foreground by modulating the flash. The result was a perfect image of the bridge and city lights in the background, with my friends perfectly exposed in the foreground.

That was GP's point - that better equipment gives you access to more options and different things you can do to take different and better pictures. While it's certainly possible to take good photos with a smartphone, the number of different types of good photos you can take is considerably less than with a DSLR and good lenses. OP misinterpreted GP's post as a film vs digital thing.

yesterday
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A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect At Fighting Wildfires

Solandri Re:Hmmm .... (108 comments)

Yeah, the DC-10's fatal accident rate isn't appreciably different from other planes of its era. It's a safe aircraft. It only picked up the reputation of being unsafe because of a grouping of accidents (two of which were MD's fault because of the cargo door problem), which sealed public opinion against it. Kinda like Malaysia Airlines' reputation has taken a permanent hit after the enormous publicity surrounding the loss of two of its airliners within 4 months of each other.

A300 = 0.61 fatal accidents per million flights
727 = 0.5
737-100/200 = 0.61
747-100/200/300 = 1.02
DC-9 = 0.56
DC-10 = 0.65
L-1011 = 0.48

(Note that when you get into incidents which occur this infrequently, the margin of error starts to become huge relative to the actual incident rate. So you can calculate the rate to as many decimal places as you want, but it's pretty meaningless. The above are statistically indistinguishable - (bad) luck played a larger role than the airworthiness of any aircraft type.)

yesterday
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A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect At Fighting Wildfires

Solandri Re:The DC-10 was killed by poor management. (108 comments)

Good plane, killed by the same stupid management that killed US Auto industry too. At least in the case of US auto they were actively aided and abetted by the unions. But McDonnel-Douglas was just self inflicted wounds. The third player Lockheed (L-1011 tristar) survived on military cargo plane contracts.

I had a brief internship at Lockheed where I worked under one of the managers who worked on the L-1011 project. According to him, both the DC-10 and L-1011 were good planes (though of course the L-1011 was better). The problem was that when both companies had decided to build the planes, they'd done their market analysis based on the assumption that their plane was the only one servicing the widebody-but-smaller-than-747 market. i.e. $x profit per plane * number of planes sold > design costs.

When both planes rolled out almost simultaneously, they split the market in half. Both manufacturer ended up selling about half as many planes as expected, and neither made much if any money. That's why Lockheed abandoned the commercial aircraft industry after a long and storied history - a decision by upper management that military contracts which were guaranteed to pay were safer than a commercial venture which went south not because of anything under their control, but because a competitor rolled out an almost-identical plane at the same time.

yesterday
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ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

Solandri Re:they will defeat themselves (923 comments)

That said, what would really make it tough for them is a lack of opposition. Their tactics tend to be very self defeating when the larger powers don't overreact and get drawn into conflict with them.

Normally that'd be the case. Their policies cripple their own society while competing societies flourish, until they eventually consign themselves to irrelevance.

However, they're simply executing anyone who opposes them. For their tactic to be self-defeating, there has to be a competing society in the first place. People in the West tend to assume that the only way to "win" (in the democratic sense) is to convince people of the merits of your philosophy and get them to support you until you have a political majority. However, there's another way - simply exterminate those who oppose you, which is what ISIS is doing. Both strategies result in you having the support of the majority of the (remaining) population.

Not opposing them now is going to mean the overwhelming majority of survivors in the region will subscribe to their philosophy. Even if you defeat them later and install a democracy, they're just going to vote for something close to ISIS again because everyone who would've voted differently is dead.. This is one of those cases where failing to stop them quickly is going to result in decades if not a century or more of problems down the road.

yesterday
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Apple Edits iPhone 6's Protruding Camera Out of Official Photos

Solandri Re:Well.... (419 comments)

Now, iPhone / Apple fans aren't going to care that Apple marketers took this liberty with the images - they are going to buy it regardless.

Only those who want to find fault with Apple, for whatever reason, give a rat's ass that Apple might engage as something so underhanded as to photoshop out the "bulge" to clarify their marketing point.

What IS more interesting is how much attention Android fans are giving to something which they claim no interest in owning.

Personally, I don't care about it. The only issue I have with it is that in the past, Apple fans have criticized my Android phone for having a protruding camera lens. Now when the iPhone has the same, suddenly it doesn't matter to them?

See, that's the difference. You think it's about the device. It's not. It's about consistency, honesty, and hypocrisy. Same reason people were upset Apple photoshopped images of the Galaxy Tab to make it more like an iPad in the German court documents.

2 days ago
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Court Rules the "Google" Trademark Isn't Generic

Solandri Re:Lucky them (156 comments)

The closest analogy I can think of is Xerox. For a time during the 1980s, people would tell you "xerox it" instead of photocopy it. In both Xerox's and Google's cases, the company's name was being used as a generic verb for something their product did, but not as a generic description for a similar product by another company. And in both cases, the companies retained their trademark.

3 days ago
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Indian Mars Mission Has Completed 95% of Its Journey Without a Hitch

Solandri Re:But (115 comments)

While there's been much ballyhoo made about the error which caused the demise of Mars Climate Orbiter, at its root it wasn't an english-metric foulup. The real cause was that somebody didn't write down the units on a number, and somebody else assumed what the units were without verifying. If the original number had been written in kilonewton-seconds and been entered as newton-seconds, the end result would have been just as disastrous even though everything was in metric.

The first thing that was driven into me over and over my freshman year as an engineering student was to always write down the units. If you did all the math right on a homework problem and forgot to write down the units, it was marked wrong. Because it is wrong. Without units, the number is a dimensionless number (which have their own uses), and not the expected answer.

4 days ago
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Sapphire Glass Didn't Pass iPhone Drop Test According to Reports

Solandri Reminds me of cars until the 1950s (203 comments)

Back in the 1920s-1940s as cars became more popular, more people started dying in car crashes. In response, the auto manufacturers did the obvious thing and started making the cars stronger and stronger. And people kept dying.

It wasn't until the 1950s when the first controlled crash tests were done, that they discovered that the stronger car bodies were the worst possible thing you could do. They did nothing to reduce the kinetic energy of the occupants before impact. The car would hit, the strong body would stop moving almost instantly, and the occupants would keep flying forward at full speed until they hit the front of the car. This is what led to the crumple zones we have today - where the car body deliberately flexes and deforms to absorb crash energy, lessening the impact forces on the occupants.

I think phones are going to go the same way. Rather than build the bodies and faces stronger and stronger to try to make them survive drops, they're going to be replaced with flexible screens once those come down in price and become commonplace. Bend and flex to absorb the impact energy, not try to stiffly resist it until something shatters. Scratches can be handled by a disposable plastic protector (I go through about one a year, so it's not at all inconvenient).

4 days ago
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Sapphire Glass Didn't Pass iPhone Drop Test According to Reports

Solandri Re:Why not gorilla like everyone else? (203 comments)

Sure, Apple is all about marketing, and they loved to give that "2nd hardest material after diamond" pitch when introducing their watch

Actually it's not. Moissanite (silicon carbide) is harder. 9.5 on the Mohs scale, vs 9 for sapphire/corundum, 10 for diamond. Its structure is the same as diamond, except it alternates between silicon and carbon atoms, the silicon-carbon bond being nearly as strong as a carbon-carbon bond. I first ran across it (as an opaque conglomerate of smaller crystals) as guides for fishing rods - the hardness prevents braided lines from gouging a groove in the guide. There are a bunch of other materials harder than corundum, but I believe moissanite is the only transparent one.

Remember what your momma taught you - never trust a salesman.

4 days ago
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US Scientists Predict Long Battle Against Ebola

Solandri Re:Good episode of Frontline (119 comments)

I know Hollywood has brainwashed everyone into thinking it's illegal to distribute any kind of video or music online. But Frontline and PBS are publicly funded It's ok to watch it online.

4 days ago
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California Declares Carpooling Via Ride-Share Services Illegal

Solandri Re:Common Carrier (288 comments)

Frequency comes in the fact that the driver makes one trip while Uber drivers make several. The more the driver is on the road the bigger chance of an accident.

There's no difference in frequency. If the Uber driver were not there, the person needing a ride would just get it some other way (i.e. from a cab). They'd still be on the road the same amount of time, and thus there's still the same bigger chance of an accident.

The way you're analyzing frequency, the only thing that's changed is that the accident risk which would've been concentrated upon a single Uber vehicle is now distributed among multiple cabs. The cumulative total risk is the same for both cases. In fact, if the cabs are roaming the streets looking for people waving them down the traditional way, they represent a higher accident risk than a service where you key in a request in your phone and the nearest available stationary car is notified to go pick you up. If you think about it, that's really all Uber and Lyft are - a way to increase the radius at which a cab driver can "see" people waving them down, so they don't have to constantly drive around empty while distractedly looking for people waving them down on the side of the street. The stuff about cab medallions and regulation are just operational minutiae that don't really add or detract from the increased productivity offered by this aspect of the service.

5 days ago
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California Declares Carpooling Via Ride-Share Services Illegal

Solandri Re:Can we please cann these companies what they ar (288 comments)

The fact that people aren't in the position to audit their books and look to see that they're in compliance with reasonable safety standards.

That's really California's fault though. When I took my car in for a bi-annual smog check in Massachusetts, they also tested a whole slew of things including my wipers and headlight aim. When I take my car in for a bi-annual smog check in California, all they do is check the emissions.

You cannot cite compliance with safety standards as a reason to ban a certain type of activity, while you are simultaneously ignoring enforcing those same standards in the general case. Well, actually you can, but that would be hypocritical. Which I guess is pretty normal when it comes to California law. There are numerous other nonsensical inconsistencies I've noticed over the years.

5 days ago
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Drone-Based Businesses: Growing In Canada, Grounded In the US

Solandri Screwdriver analogy (94 comments)

Screwdrivers can be used for many constructive commercial purposes. They can also be used to break into a house. Do you ban the sale and use of screwdrivers out of fear of house break-ins? Ideally the answer should be based on the net difference in productivity gains from constructive uses minus losses from break-ins. Unfortunately that's not what I'm seeing. Drones are being banned out of paranoia with no consideration for the positive ways they can contribute to the economy and our lives.

We've even got the default state wrong. Absent a clear Constitutional rationale for banning drones, they are (or at least should be) legal to use and operate. "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

(Disclaimer: A friend needed overhead pictures of his rural commercial property at higher-than Google Maps resolution, and asked me to take the pictures. We had to rent a helicopter at $750/hr. Due to the cost, we had to rush and the pictures though usable weren't as ideal as we'd have liked. For the approx $1200 we paid, we could've bought our own drone and tried this as many times as we liked until the pictures were perfect. So the beneficial uses of drones are pretty damn obvious to me.)

5 days ago
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Liquid Sponges Extract Hydrogen From Water

Solandri Re:Is the expense of electrolysis the main inhibit (113 comments)

Remember, you can't bypass thermodynamics. Water is the end-product of burning hydrogen. So any energy released when you convert hydrogen to water, is also energy you must put back to convert water back into hydrogen. You can't get something for nothing. Otherwise you create a perpetual motion machine where you burn hydrogen for energy, convert the water back into hydrogen, then burn the hydrogen again for more energy, repeat.

Electrolysis is just a way of putting that energy back into water to convert it into hydrogen. It's about 33% efficient, though I read that they've been able to get the efficiency up to 67% in the lab. In that respect, hydrogen generated by electrolysis is just a battery. You're storing the energy from the electricity by converting water to hydrogen. Then releasing that energy when you convert the hydrogen back into water.

about a week ago
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Liquid Sponges Extract Hydrogen From Water

Solandri Re:Is the expense of electrolysis the main inhibit (113 comments)

am interpreting your first question as "Is the expense of electrolysis the main inhibitor of a hydrogen-fuel economy?" I believe the answer is "sorta, but not really." The cheapest way to get hydrogen is from natural gas. The problem is that the whole reason to move to a hydrogen economy is to become carbon-neutral. If you use natural gas mines, you defeated the purpose.

Not really. Natural gas is methane - CH4. It's about 35-85x more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. If you're converting methane to hydrogen, then converting that to CO2, you're not reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, but you're still helping reduce the greenhouse effect.

All this is of course contingent on what would have happened to the methane if you weren't using it as fuel. Methane is primarily a byproduct of oil drilling. Until recently energy prices were low enough that it wasn't cost-effective to capture it, so oil companies just burned it as it came up the wells (those fires you see on top of long poles at oil fields). So since it was going to be converted to CO2 anyway, converting it to hydrogen to be used in fuel cells is actually carbon neutral. If oil production drops enough that we need to drill for methane specifically to keep up production, then it starts being carbon positive.

about a week ago
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German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

Solandri Re:define (290 comments)

Sure they are customers. They are paying with their personal data, which Google hords and then sells to third parties.

Well Google is paying for your patronage with their email service, where you hoard emails you use to contact third parties for added value and profit. Therefore Google is the customer and you are the vendor.

See what happens when you redefine "payment" to include things other than cash?

about a week ago

Submissions

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Students figure out how to unlock school-issued iPads

Solandri Solandri writes  |  about a year ago

Solandri (704621) writes "The Los Angeles Times reports that the LA Unified School District's plans to assign an iPad to every student in the district are on hold after students figured out how to unlock the iPads. Once unlocked, the iPads can be used for decidedly non-academic activities such as surfing the web and accessing social media sites. According to students, unlocking the devices is simple — just delete your personal profile info."

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