top Could Tech Have Stopped ISIS From Using Our Own Heavy Weapons Against Us?
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.
top $75K Prosthetic Arm Is Bricked When Paired iPod Is Stolen
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.
top Why Scott Adams Wished Death On His Dad
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.
top At Current Rates, Tesla Could Soon Suck Up Worldwide Supply of Li-Ion Cells
Well, that and the fact that there are thermal problems with large Li Ion batteries (think Boeing Dreamliner battery fires). Elon Musk actually discussed this in an interview on the 787 fires a while back (
top Google Preparing "Google Mine" For Organizing and Sharing Your Stuff On Google+
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
top Developers Rolling Out Pebble Smartwatch Apps
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
top Keeping Your Data Private From the NSA (And Everyone Else)
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
top Will the Supreme Court End Human Gene Patents?
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?
top Not Even Investors Know What Google Glass Is For
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!
top Samoa Air Rolling Out "Pay As You Weigh" Fares
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.
top Google Reportedly Making a Smartwatch, Too
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
top Citizenville: Newsom Argues Against Bureaucracy, Swipes At IT Departments
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.
top Perl Turns 25
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?
top Ask Slashdot: How To Become Informed In Judicial Elections?
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.
top Inside Social Media's Fake Fan Industry
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.
top Inside Social Media's Fake Fan Industry
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.
top Parent Questions Mandatory High School Chemistry
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.
top When Big Brother Watches IT
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.
top Supreme Court Takes Up Scholars' Rights
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.
top The 'Three Ton' Hard Drive Destroyer
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