Industry-Wide Smartphone "Kill Switch" Closer To Reality
I wonder how easy it will be for someone unauthorized to force a cellphone off the air. And how easy it will be to get someone authorized to do it through social engineering.
I just hope that however they implement it, they make sure that emergency calls can still be made.
Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?
When I was single and didn't make much money, I used to do my own taxes, on paper, and mail them.
Then I started making more, and started paying a guy recommended by my father to do them for fifty bucks.
Then I got married, and my wife decided that she would file them instead of spending the money, which had gotten to a hundred by then.
Then my wife salary rose, and we went over the cutoff point for using the website she had been using.
So now, I am again doing my taxes on paper, except that I am filing earlier, because my wife gets antsy about it.
Something's wrong with this. :-)
Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun To Calculate Pi
> Goddamn mathematician wasting precious ammunition to have a statistics wank-fest after MY goddamn zombie apocalypse?
Yes, especially because you do not need to waste the shells if you are after an approximation. Get a string, trace a circle. Stretch the string across the circle, through the center, marked when you were tracing it. Measure the diameter string, in shells. Line shells around the circle, bases touching each other. Divide the two numbers, multiply by two, and you will get decent accuracy.
Of course, you will get better accuracy, if you stick 200 or so sticks on the circle's circumference, wrap a string around them, and measure that in shells.
And you can improve on that, by expressing the error for going straight between sticks using Pi, and solving the resulting equation.
But if you are actually able to do math, you can just use one of the series that converge on Pi.
Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?
> People are not so that stupid that large numbers are going to stay where there is no food.
You do not seem to understand. Anything that qualifies as Apocalypse is going to disrupt things enough that there will be NO way to get enough food to large metropolitan areas. Hell, who would want to head into the death trap with food?
Nine millions New Yorkers. How far get they get before they cannot get any further? How are they going to share the food they get to? How is the second million going to survive going through where the first million went? They will descend like locusts on the New York state farmers, and it will be a bloodbath...
If you have a functioning farm that can, without an outside supply of fertilizer, feed your family and maybe twenty more people if everyone tightens heir belt, what will you do when a thousand people show up at your door? Feed them your seed reserve? (if you even have that, as opposed to buying your seed from a supplier come planting season)
If only twenty people show up, are you going to feed them on your property without expecting anything in return? Who is going to protect you from people who did not find a nice farmer? What are you going to do if someone amongst your tenants decides that they would rather lord it over everyone else?
Look at any evacuation that has been performed, even recently. Now subtract any aid coming from the outside (because everyone is experiencing the same disaster) No one to bring food, to direct traffic, to set up camp... to set up a bloody port-a-potti.
And then, at some point, someone realizes that there is no functioning law and order anywhere. Sure, hothead Jim will try to bully people alone. Big Bad Bob will get three friends together first, and pick on easier targets, recruiting everyone that's too much trouble to intimidate.
Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?
This is all true... But people with a grasp of the history of, well, history, will know that the people most useful to themselves while be the ones (1) with familiarity with whatever weaponry still functions and (2) with a glib tongue to unite likely minded people.
It won't be an apocalypse if we can feed everyone. When we cannot feed everyone, there will be violence. When there is violence, the people will be triaged into three groups:
- the tough and glib (lords)
- the useful professionals (craftsmen)
- the manual laborers, when needed (serfs)
Those who can't cut it as thugs, and do not know something useful will be lucky to be allowed to pick at the dirt and retain enough to feed themselves. In highly populated regions, about one in a hundred will be lucky to be needed as a serf.
This does not apply to regions where the population is sparse enough and the land productive enough so that food is not an issue. But without modern tech, there will not be enough food for the everyone... and big cities will be littered with the dead and dying within a week.
Twenty years ago, I would have tried for lord. Today, I think I may still qualify for 'craftsman'. Twenty years from now, I probably will be a good fit only for 'dead'. So can we not have an Apocalypse, please?
Cuba: US Using New Weapon Against Us -- Spam
As for South Florida ... you do realize 99% of the people you are referring to are dead now right? Most of the ones you're thinking of would be at least 80 years old, some well over 100. The Cuban exiles really don't matter any more either.
You're living in the 1960s and seem to have missed the evidence of the last 60 years.
Did you miss the part where I repeatedly said "or their descendents"? I am talking from personal experience with not just individuals, but families which have "Castro and Cuba" as a berserk button - my wife's grandmother (still alive) immigrated from Cuba. Two of her sons (not my father in law) still cannot be rational about anything to do with the subject.
By the way, why don't you see how many Miami HIGH profile politicians are descendants of Cuban immigrants... Hell, check the congressmen, while you are at it.
Cuba: US Using New Weapon Against Us -- Spam
The embargo is a serious problem. With it gone, Cuba would be able to develop one hell of a tourist industry, and replace its aging hotels and a lot of its infrastructure in months. I've been there (as a Bulgarian citizen, in the Cold War days) and as a vacation destination, it has amazing potential.
When I first came to the States, I had a very hard time understanding why the hell the US is still keeping the embargo going. Nowadays, I have a theory.
The US has a rather weird election system. Look it up if you want to know the specifics, but one of its effects is that all of a state's votes go one of the candidates, even if he wins the state with a very slim majority. Thus, the outcome of a presidential election may change if you flip just few thousands of votes in a few contested states.
One of these contested states is Florida, which is home to a a relatively small population of Cuban exiles and their descendants. Small, that is, compared to the total US population. Compared to the margins by which Florida is lost and won in the presidential elections, it's quite large.
Most of these exiles and their descendants are vehemently opposed to the communist regime in Cuba. I have been shocked at the passion of rather rational people for the subject. But when you consider what they went through, it is understandable. These people not only would vote against anyone suggesting to take down the embargo, but they also wield influence way out of proportion to their numbers. Many politicians, celebrities, and community leaders would work to hinder any politician who wants to normalize ties to Cuba.
Well, at least I believe so. The thing is, so do American politicians, and they will not dare stir trouble and lose Florida.
Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients
In case someone missed the point of the above: Sharia prescribes a death sentence for renouncing Islam. So does the Torah, for renouncing Judaism.
One of these is enforced more often than the other.
If Ridesharing Is Banned, What About Ride-Trading?
What the fuck are you smoking?
I worked with a guy whose wife left him with their three month old son, and disappeared for six years. Then she married, took the kid, and he had to pay child support. Then she got kicked out by her new husband and sent the eight year old kid on a bus from Texas to California, without calling Dan until the bus was about to arrive, so I had to cover for him.
So far so good. The kicker is that she successfully got custody AGAIN a few years later. And my friend tried to fight it in court in fucking Louisiana, and lost.
So you are completely full of shit to say that a father has any chance to get custody unless there is something truly wrong with the mother, and even then, it's a slim chance.
Apocalypse NAO: College Studies the Theological Ramifications of Robotics
> The word robot means slave in Czech
Not quite. It's derived from the word "robota", which means labor due to a feudal lord, and is colloquially used to describe unpleasant work you do unhappily.
A closer match than slave would be serf. The word 'rob' is slave in many Slavic languages, but not in Czech. Funnily enough, in every other Slavic language I know, robota/rabota mean just work, with no negative connotations.
Engineers Invent Acoustic Equivalent of One-Way Glass
You're wrong on so many levels.
First, you assume that 'one-way glass' means 'one-way mirror'. For all we know, they mean 'optical frequency circulators' which use ferrimagnetic crystals, and can definitely let visible spectrum light only way. Look it up.
Second, even for one-way mirrors, the term 'one-way' is appropriate enough. Few things in the real world are 100%. City streets, diodes, etc... we refer to them as one way, even when they really aren't 100% one way - the random car/particle gets through.
Third, we're Engineers. It's about getting results. We invent things that don't exist all the time. Although in this case, I doubt there are as many applications as the original article wishes they were. In a lot of the cases, you will get cheaper results with conventional soundproofing, and if you need the sound on one side, you can get it there with some good old microphones and speakers.
And even fourth. It's good to be looking for new stuff. You never know what's under the rock you turn over, just because it's there. You may be looking for a new way to turn lead into gold, and discover porcelain instead.
One-Armed UBR-1 Points the Way To Cheaper Robots
Try to keep up with the program:
1. Your links didn't lead to even one cheaper armed robot.
2. Your linked robots all have fixed bases, while the one in the article can move around. I am not spending my money on even one armed robot if I cannot use it offensively.
Police Pull Over More Drivers For DNA Tests
Bad compared to what? To the ideal Officer of the Law? The one that hangs out with the ideal Communist Citizen and the ideal Hereditary Autocrat?
Or bad compared to a gang member, a warlord's soldier, or even security consultant?
I have never lived in a neighborhood where law enforcement dares not thread, or a country where warlords are the only authority. They do exist on this planet, though. On the other hand, I've lived in post-Communist Bulgaria, and saw what happened when the police becomes, for one reason or another, unwilling or unable to enforce the law.
One month, you could spend the night in the park, with your girlfriend, on a blanket.
The next, thugs were dismantling public property and infrastructure (from park benches to power transformers) and crooks were running gambling operations everywhere, beating up everyone who dared explaining their tricks to their marks.
One month later, no house, store, or vehicle was safe unless you were willing to defend it yourself. A lot of people learned that being in right does not make you invulnerable.
A few months later, those who had been successful at defending theirs, started defending other people... for a price. So your property was safe, if it bore a sticker saying "This X is insured by Y until Z." Well it was safe until Y was on the top of the heap, and of course, only until Z. And Y's members were raping, beating up and extorting as much as they conscience allowed them. Some had pretty enabling consciences.
I do not know what had happened since. I left. I know that I will take the worst policeman I've ever encountered in the US, before I trust the best 'security consultant' I've heard of.
We need law enforcement. What we have is less than perfect. We should strive to make it better. It is still in a whole different category than not having law enforcement. And anyway, 'Not having law enforcement' is unsustainable. There's enough people who would pray on others that it becomes inefficient for society's member to defend themselves individually. Soon enough, someone steps up to provide the service, and chances are it's not the one you wish would.
And yeah, it is true that those some of those people end up in law enforcement. At least, many of them have incentives to at least pretend to play by the rules.
Red Light Camera Use Declined In 2013 For the First Time
The problem is that no one has interest in doing it right. As far as I am concerned, the camera-at-traffic-light was solved in the 90s, when I was at MIT. I worked on the project for a while, and I remember the problems that we faced (and solved). Even better, time has made every single one of them trivial, through better cameras, faster and cooler processing, and cheap reliable communication.
So, here is how to make traffic cameras that work and save lives:
1. Once yellow is displayed, monitor the speed of the first vehicle in each lane that should be stopping.
2. Do not turn on the green (for any other lane) until every yellow (and later red) facing vehicle has initiated a deceleration that can bring to rest before the intersection.
3. Start flashing the red early if you detect a car that appears to be going too fast to stop before entering the intersection, but too slow to to enter it before the red is scheduled to appear.
4. Issue tickets to everyone entering the interception on red. As you don't delay the appearance of the red, this won't reduce the number of tickets.
5. Send warnings to people who have delayed the green, but have still come to a stop, reminding them that emergency stops are wearing down their shocks, tires, and brakes.
6. Send warnings to people who have crossed at flashing red, or speeding tickets if they did so by breaking the speed limit.
Note that none of this makes the green come earlier, or the red come later. You can still use an underlying, tested, proven reliable system to ensure that the new-fanged system does not give green to the wrong people at the same time.
This is going to save lives, and it was successfully testing in Boston last millennium. OK, so after a few weeks, the hardware went kaput, but that left the standard traffic light in place and there was no harm done. We lost interest. With today's tech, I could rebuild the system for one tenth of the price, and it would probably last a long longer.
Is the Porsche Carrera GT Too Dangerous?
My ass has been saved by the stability control as well.
Once I was passing, in the outside lane of a highway junction, a car that lost control and spun into my lane, while slowing down a lot. I had to break, or I would have hit her. In my Supra, I think I would have joined the other car on the embankment. I was in my Volvo, though, and it let me steer while the ABS was firing, and while the car was drifting and slowing down.
Sure, it was partially my fault because I should not have been taking the curve at the limit of what the car could do. But the fact is, it is hard is at all possible to drive in such a manner that you remain safe even if the cars around do their worst.
Army Laser Passes Drone-Killing Test
> If you paint them reflective, they don't get destroyed by the laser.
Polished metal mirrors reflect about 90%. if you use some really expensive metals, you can push it to 95%. Milar, dielectric coatings, etc. can go up to 99.99%, but only in specific wavelength.
Sounds great? Well, no. That's the reflection you get in vacuum, when the mirror is pristine. Now fire it from a mortar, have it heated by the air rushing past, and then apply even 1% of the output of the laser we're talking about. Your nice upper layer is gone, and your reflection drops like a rock... followed by the rest of your round, once the payload overheats and blows up.
Very expensive reflective coating may buy you a fraction of a second, maybe even a whole one... but mortars are (1) cheap (2) slow to get to the target. So you just made each round a lot more expensive, and you still may not have bought enough time for it to get to the target.
Satanists Propose Monument At Oklahoma State Capitol Next To Ten Commandments
Did you bother to learn ANYTHING about the cult that wants to donate the monument in question? Check their 'Nine commandments'... They are a mix of agnosticism, Enlightenment, and common sense. As a matter of fact, what they preach is so uncontroversial that I doubt anyone could object to it except from a religious point of view.
Just because they call themselves Satanists does not mean that they promote evil, anymore than other cultists calling themselves Christians mean that they endorse mainstream Christian values (Westboro Baptists, anyone?)
One thing is for sure. The way you judge what's "evil, damage, and chaos", "the blatant promotion of perversion", "conflicts with the constitutions", without even bothering to investigate is why we do NOT want the government to distinguish between religions. Where's the guarantee that that whoever ends up on the 'Religion' committee's going to do any better than you just did?
U.S. Measles Cases Triple In 2013
A quell surprise! Those that don't share your beliefs don't distinguish YOUR beliefs from other beliefs they consider incorrect.
That was exactly my point. Seriously, your whole post doesn't contain a single line with which I disagree. But the tone makes me think I'm supposed to. In case you wonder, I do dislike people who imply causation between intelligence and religious belief, or lack thereof.
By the way, surprise is feminine in French, and so it's 'quelle surprise'. Not that that the typo reflects of the contents of your post, I just thought you may want to know.
U.S. Measles Cases Triple In 2013
As a matter of fact, I met some fishermen in Greece who pray and even leave offerings at a Poseidon shrine. I am not quite sure how much they actually believe, nor do I know how much my neighbors, who go to Church on Sunday, believe in Jesus's divinity.
But I do know that either one billion of Christians are right and one billion of Muslims are wrong about Jesus's divinity, or vice versa. So, even if I were, for some reason, to accept one holy book before all others, I would still know that significantly more than two thirds of religious people are dead wrong, either because they reject the Savior, or the Prophet, or whomever.
And lets not forget that many Christian denominations' doctrines say that most Christians are dead wrong, or at least wrong enough not to have a shot at Heaven. The same applies across many divides inside other religions. I have not done the footwork myself, but I have read solid arguments that no matter who is right, more than 90% of religious people are wrong.
Now, I do not claim to know the Truth. I believe in small truths, like, for example, that it is impossible to disprove the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing entity. And I know better than to waste time on debating matters that cannot be disproved. But those are facts:facts:
1. More than ninety percent of all people on Earth are wrong in their religious beliefs.
2. The best predictor for people's religious beliefs is what they have been exposed to in their formative years.
3. Most holy texts assign heavy consequences to not having the right religious beliefs, and living according to them.
In light of the above, I have, personally, decided that I cannot respect, let alone worship a deity that's OK with the situation. So, at the end of the day, I make no difference between people who believe in Poseidon, and people who believe in the deity in the Bible/Torah/Qur'an. At at the end of my life, I may be in for a surprise. But I think I'm about as likely to be collected by the Chosers of the Slain as by a devil with a pitchfork.
The Brains of Men and Women Are 'Wired Differently'
What the fuck indeed! My wife used to work with Professor Gur... in UPenn. This must be a very unpopular study, to result in him getting kicked of of the University of Pennsylvania, all the way to the much less known (does it even exist?) University of Philadelphia...