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Could Tech Have Stopped ISIS From Using Our Own Heavy Weapons Against Us?

bitslinger_42 Re:No. (448 comments)

Sure, but if you want to disable them remotely, you have ton include a radio receiver. To disable the disable switch, I just have to damage/remove the receiver or its antenna so you can't get your signal to my weapon.

Conversely, if you DO make the disable switch both remote and password-based, all I have to do is set up radio transmitters that try every possible password. Will I get every one? Not likely. Will I be able to cause enough of them to fail that countries stop buying them? Probably.

about 4 months ago
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$75K Prosthetic Arm Is Bricked When Paired iPod Is Stolen

bitslinger_42 Bad UX, possibly good security (194 comments)

While it's easy for me to see this as a bad design, it's also not much of a stretch to believe that this was a conscious choice. After all, if it were trivially easy to pair a wireless device with the prosthetic, it would be trivially easy to take control of the guy's hand (think "Stop hitting yourself!").

Is this bad for the user experience, particularly given it's predicated on an easily lost, easily broken, and frequently stolen device? Certainly. Is the UX of the lost/stolen device better than the UX of a compromised device? Perhaps not.

about 4 months ago
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Why Scott Adams Wished Death On His Dad

bitslinger_42 Re:Should be legal, with caveat (961 comments)

I have a buddy who went through this with his mom. She had a DNR, as well as detailed instructions about what conditions she didn't want to be saved from, and shared them with her GP.

His response was "That's fine, but I don't agree with it, and feel that DNRs fundamentally are in conflict with my Hippocratic Oath. If you are brought to me, I will do everything I can to keep you alive. You can sue me later, if you live." She would have changed doctors, but the next nearest was more than 60 miles away.

1 year,25 days
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Google Preparing "Google Mine" For Organizing and Sharing Your Stuff On Google+

bitslinger_42 Close to a good idea, if it weren't from the Goog (129 comments)

I'd actually been thinking about a service somewhat like this for a while now, but apparently missed my opportunity to have my app bought out by Google. Pity.

The problem with Google's project is it appears (I haven't read TFA yet) to only go half-way: it allows me to list the stuff I've got, but doesn't allow me to share my stuff with my friends. I'm much less interested in putting up an inventory of everything I own to allow my friends to tell me how much it sucks than I am in putting certain things up that I want to share with certain people (i.e. my circular saw, my DVD collection, etc.) and then tracking the loans online. THAT is the power of the online social inventory system!

about a year and a half ago
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Developers Rolling Out Pebble Smartwatch Apps

bitslinger_42 Re:Dumbwatches (64 comments)

There are decent, reasonably priced (for certain values of reasonable) automatic watches out there, particularly by Hamilton and Tissot. They're not terribly expensive ($300-1000 range), and generally not too ostentatious. The down-side of the automatics, though, is that they're not as accurate or reliable as a quartz-based watch. You also trade off battery replacements for cleaning/servicing every few years, which runs $75+ per service last I knew.

The Citizen Eco line of watches is very nice. They're quartz-based, so they're accurate, and they have solar charging that's not really obvious on the face, so you don't have to worry about batteries as much, and have more features than a "cheap" automatic (i.e. the one I've got has a date and enough smarts to know whether the current month has 28, 29, 30, or 31 days). They're also less expensive than decent automatics, some of which are available in the sub-$100 range.

about a year and a half ago
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Keeping Your Data Private From the NSA (And Everyone Else)

bitslinger_42 Re:Can't have it all. (622 comments)

The problem with that amendment is the "against UNREASONABLE searches" bit. With the culture of fear created after 9/11, a significant portion of the population feels that this is reasonable if done in the name of fighting Teh Terrorists(tm), which has thus far made the surveillance at least appear constitutional.

about a year and a half ago
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Will the Supreme Court End Human Gene Patents?

bitslinger_42 Re:Monsanto? (228 comments)

Conversely, if they uphold human gene patents here AND grant Monsanto the win in their GMO case (looking into whether naturally-occurring offspring of parents with patented genese are unauthorized derivative works, and therefore violate the patent-holder's rights) would that mean that people could no longer reproduce legally in this country?

about a year and a half ago
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Not Even Investors Know What Google Glass Is For

bitslinger_42 What is Glass? It's the Newton of full-vision HUDs (496 comments)

Glass by itself probably won't go very far. Why? Because the video overlay is only one corner of the user's field of vision. With a full-field overlay, all sorts of real uses become available:

  • GPS driving directions laid out as glowing arrows on the street in front of my car
  • Combine facial recognition with my contacts list to help me look less socially inept when running into people I vaguely know

    Help me cook by showing ingredients and cooking instructions without having to look at a book, and by putting dynamic fill lines on measuring cups (i.e. all I have is a 1 cup measuring cup, but put a line on it to show how much milk to pour in for 1/2 cup)

    Real-time translation subtitles of conversations in foreign languages

    Real-time subtitles for the hearing impaired

    Combine with proximity/motion sensors for police or soldiers to give indications when someone's approaching from behind or off to the side

    Add bluetooth and sensors to vacuum cleaners, and then highlight patches on the floor that still need more vacuuming

    Virtual docent tours of museums (i.e. recognize the painting in the field of view, bring up information about the painting, the artist, recommend other works that people who like this painting also like, etc.)

    Combine with bluetooth connection to a car to read ODB-II trouble codes and present apprentice mechanics with step-by-step instructions on how to diagnose and fix the problem (i.e. arrows on edge of vision to indicate where to look if part isn't being looked at, highlight part if it is, list steps to replace part, etc.)

    Provide surgeons with live metrics on the patient without them having to look away from their work

    End the "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy" phenomenon by dynamically displaying the correct lyrics to the song currently playing, whether on the connected media player or through any other audio source

    Automatic price comparison when looking at a UPC code of something in the store

    Automatically look up in a dictionary the word I'm looking at in a book

    Allow me to non-destructively highlight dead-tree books and share my highlights/notes with friends

    Automatically, dynamically remove Google Glasses from my view of any of my friends who are also wearing them

    Spell- and grammer-check anything I write, regardless of media

    Help me learn to read/write other languages by displaying translations next to foreign text or by displaying words to practice writing on the paper (particularly useful for character-based languages, like Chinese)

    Combine with multiple microphones to locate and highlight the source of that annoying noise that just woke me up

  • Guide me to my phone

As with the Newton, this won't take off until the tech gets better (i.e. full FoV overlay, adjustable focal point to put the overlay in the same field of focus as the current eye position, better cost, etc.), but once it does, things will get VERY interesting!

about a year and a half ago
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Samoa Air Rolling Out "Pay As You Weigh" Fares

bitslinger_42 Re:More person, more cost. Fine. (587 comments)

I actually like most of this idea, with two small caveats: 1) general anesthesia is risky; a small percentage of surgical patients die every year simply from the anesthesia, and 2) pretty sure I'd want my burrito to lock from the inside, so the flight crew doesn't steal my wallet or include sedated passengers in their in-flight orgy.

about a year and a half ago
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Google Reportedly Making a Smartwatch, Too

bitslinger_42 Re:Why should they make a watch? (196 comments)

I see Glass and GWatch (Glastic?) as being complimentary products. Glass is the HUD, Glastic the touch input interface. That way, I can play Angry Birds Star Wars during meetings without having my screen displaying the game or flailing my arms around like an idiot :-)

about a year ago
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Citizenville: Newsom Argues Against Bureaucracy, Swipes At IT Departments

bitslinger_42 Trying to keep an open mind (173 comments)

I know it's tough to remain objective in situations like this. I've been in some form of IT support or another for the better part of 20 years now, so this emotionally feels like an attack on me and my way of life. I'm trying to remain objective and consider his proposal, but damned if it doesn't sound silly. Servers don't run themselves, even when (especially when) they're in the cloud, and SOMEONE has to be around to help users when their laptop stops working. It's simply not realistic to expect secretaries, accountants, etc. to maintain deep technical understanding of their computers in addition to the deep understanding necessary for their respective fields. Don't get me started on expecting grandmothers to self-support!

I'm sure IT support will change as a result of cloudification, but I also suspect that there won't be much of a net cost or headcount change, just a shift in how support is provided and where the resources reside. Companies using the cloud will have fewer server admins, but will most likely need more systems architects to manage the proliferation of interfaces and to ensure that whatever is built provides sufficient performance, cost, and stability for their customer base. Where these highly-experienced individuals with deep knowledge of the business will come from without the entry-level server admin jobs I have no idea, but I guess that's why I'm not a manager with a corner office.

about 2 years ago
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Perl Turns 25

bitslinger_42 Re:Why perl? (263 comments)

Having written in perl for the past 20 years, I started out trying to find something that perl can do that ruby can't (ruby is the only comparable language I have in my toolbelt). After a few minutes, I decided that, for the work that I do, the single feature that perl has that ruby doesn't is that I'm very familiar with how to write perl.

I've liked some of the things that I was able to do with Ruby on Rails, and could see how having a MVC framework in perl would be useful, but quite frankly, most of the coding I do these days is emergency, one-off parsing jobs that need to be written yesterday. Under those circumstances, I reach for the tool that I know best, I'm sure I could probably become equally familiar with ruby, but since I've already got one tool that does the job, why?

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Become Informed In Judicial Elections?

bitslinger_42 Judges should be apolitical (153 comments)

If you're in a state where the vote isn't "choose between Person X and Person Y to be a judge", chances are the vote is to retain an existing judge for another term. My philosophy has been that, unless I become aware of gross misconduct (i.e. bribery, criminal prosecution, failure to recuse self when obviously interested in the case, etc.), I vote to retain

The rationale is that the judiciary is supposed to be apolitical. If they have to go through campaigning, the way other candidates do, they become subject to campaign contributions and all the evils those entail. Leave them where they are unless they've done something obviously wrong.

more than 2 years ago
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Inside Social Media's Fake Fan Industry

bitslinger_42 Re:Pot, kettle... (63 comments)

I do, so I only saw perhaps 3 of the on-page blocks the first time through, which pissed me off enough that I closed the page. I then decided to vent on /., so I opened the page in IE, which showed the ads in all their full, unadulterated glory, thus allowing the full count.

more than 2 years ago
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Inside Social Media's Fake Fan Industry

bitslinger_42 Pot, kettle... (63 comments)

I'm bemused that the story about people padding their fan list is broken up into four separate screen pages, with only 5 paragraphs on the first page (I didn't bother to go any further), but the story itself was prefaced with an ad, had 8 full-fledged ad blocks on the main page, plus many more blocks with links to other stories and the various "Like me on X" buttons.

more than 2 years ago
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Parent Questions Mandatory High School Chemistry

bitslinger_42 The world needs ditch diggers, too (866 comments)

As much as I agree that everyone should have the opportunity at an education, I'm not convinced that everyone needs THE SAME education. So, I guess I agree, at least superficially, with the original article. I'm a bit surprised with chemistry being the demon here, as I would have expected advanced math classes as being more problematic and less applicable to the daily life of the masses than chemistry, but that's probably just my bias showing.

Now, having said that, I don't see any way to accommodate the educational needs of every child in the current system, for several reasons:

  • Not enough teachers (or dollars for teachers) for personalized public education
  • Expecting kids who haven't had basic education to be able to frame rational, coherent thought processes around what they REALLY want to do for the rest of their lives, let alone what they want to do that will provide enough money for them to live on, is most likely not realistic.
  • In theory, parents could be used as proxies to compensate for the previous point, but given their backgrounds and educations, it's likely that the parents' decisions will all be horribly biased, and are thus no less likely to lead to a life of terminal boredom than kids choosing on their own or the Board of Education choosing for them.

Unfortunately, designing an educational system that suits the needs of everyone, all the time, is really, really hard. I've thought for a while now that having a tree-based curriculum (i.e. everyone starts out with the same basics in elementary school, then branches in middle school, maybe along academic/vocational tech lines, etc.) but even that is most likely prejudicial in such a way that jumping class boundaries would get increasingly hard.

Then again, think of how hard it would be to even have this discussion if we hadn't all had to take classes in reading, writing, logic, etc.

more than 2 years ago
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When Big Brother Watches IT

bitslinger_42 Re:Who manages it? (234 comments)

I don't know about your company, but I doubt if my HR department has ANYONE capable of installing anything, let alone secret sniffing software that's hiding on a server they don't own/control/have access to.

more than 2 years ago
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Supreme Court Takes Up Scholars' Rights

bitslinger_42 Re:I'm going to go out on a limb... (190 comments)

The reason that SCOTUS decisions can often be predicted is because law largely functions like computer code. Given these inputs, run through this set of logic gates, and it's likely that you'll get this output.

The thing that adds ambiguity is the same thing that intorduces problems in WIndows XP: support for legacy code. The US civil/criminal code is a HUGE beast, probably constituting as many "lines of code" as are in XP, but not all of the lines make sense in the modern environment. In some cases, these bits of legacy code lead to legal decisiosn that, while logical given the inputs and code, are both unpopular and harmful.

Citizens United is a good example of this. While I'm pissed off at the result (i.e. essentially unregulated campaign contributions by corporations), it follows quite logically given the initial conditions of a) corporate personhood, and b) the necessity of assigning Constitutional rights to any person.

Personally, I'm pissed off about the whole corporate personhood thing, but since the SCOTUS has to start with that as existing precident, the syllogisim basically works out to be "people have a right to free speech, corporations are people, therefore corporations have a right to free speech". Unpopular, and harmful in the long-term, but completely predictable without any personal opinions on the part of the justices.

more than 3 years ago
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The 'Three Ton' Hard Drive Destroyer

bitslinger_42 Re:Gross overengineering (206 comments)

Fire, of various forms, might do the trick for individuals, but when trying to do something officially for a company, employee and facilities safety can be seen as an issue. An enclosed compartment that won't let you put your hand in until after the dangerous operation is done is preferable to random employees starting fires in their waste baskets :-)

more than 3 years ago

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