Interior of burnt Herculaneum scroll read for first time
Being Pestered By Drones? Buy a Drone-Hunting Drone
Intentionally jamming an RF signal, even if you think it's illegally over your own property (which is also debatable), is a federal crime.
Section 333 of Title 47
No person shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio
communications of any station licensed or authorized by or under this chapter or operated by
the United States Government.
Section 302 prevents selling such equipment.
There are about 5 bands that model aircraft use, and they are narrow bands. You'd have to not only jam several bands, but it would be a reckless "overjamming" in order to guarantee catching it. If you shut it down, you may also shut down all nearby wifi, CBs, and so on. It could land you a significant fine, possibly jail, and maybe even property damage for the drone along with an injunction.
Being Pestered By Drones? Buy a Drone-Hunting Drone
People die every year from falling bullets previously shot up in the air, and hundreds more are injured. That said, birdshot won't hurt you coming down. You might notice it, but probably doesn't even have as much force as a light hail.
Lots of references on falling bullets on the wiki article on it.
First OSX Bootkit Revealed
One of the big issues is recently "I'm going to scan your computer" stops at the border.
They can simply attached a thunderbolt drive and completely own your computer and there's not a thing you can do.
Hackers' Shutdown of 'The Interview' Confirms Coding Is a Superpower
There was a scene where Bridges was coding something and said "I feel a little like Santa Claus."
That's a superpower.
Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba
This was just a few days ago.
The Downside to Low Gas Prices
I want a good $5 plasma weapon.
The Largest Kuiper Belt Object Isn't Pluto Or Eris, But Triton
That won't work. While it might not be Kuiper belt, Triton is still a trans-neptunian object half the time.
Data Archiving Standards Need To Be Future-Proofed
As far as long term media, we have mdisc. Whether or not we'll have anything that can read the intact medium is another issue.
It's sad how we're still able to print from photographic plates shot a century ago, but I'm worrying about bit rot on my digital pics stored for 5 years.
MetaFilter Founder Says Vacation Firm Forged Court Docs To Scotch Review
Libelous statements are made every day, designed to harm. Harming someone by lying is blatantly illegal. Sure it happens on teen TV shows and IRL often enough, but consider a systematic system of making false bad reviews about a company. It will harm them financially, and the perp should be held liable, and the courts should have the power to stop them.
And once found out and served an injunction, if the court order is violated they will rightfully be jailed since they clearly can't be trusted to not break the law out in public. Sundance was obviously trying to claim libel for protected speech, and not getting very far.
But an order like this basically raises the consequences for lying, once you're shown to be a liar.
At this point, Sundance Vacations could be in a heap of legal trouble if the courts or Metafilter want to go after them. There's interference with Metafilter, forgery, possibly impersonating an official, and potentially other big problems they brought on themselves. I suspect Metafilter's harm is minimal and this exposure (also protected speech) should be punishment enough.
Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?
If you only have designers with degrees, nobody will be happy doing grunt work. User interfaces will suck. Artwork will suck. That isn't to say nobody can do art or user interfaces, but a self-taught person will have more drive to learn what "feels good" instead of the bare-bones proof of concept.
If you only have coders without any degreed theorists, code optimization will regress to converting bubble-sorts to shell-sorts. There's a reason theory is taught. Self-taught coders are unlikely to have ever computed the big O of an algorithm or done a recurrence relation or converted a complex math problem to a tractable computer program.
A mixture of both can be useful for actually making stuff.
Ask Slashdot: the State of Free Video Editing Tools?
I have the full version of Vegas, and for shorts I don't use more tracks than the cheap version allows. IIRC, that's the main limitation, so it's a great deal. The thing I like most about it is the speed of rendering.
You might want a compositing engine to go with it, though. That's something I miss, and sony vegas isn't good at it. Even a simple greenscreen is difficult with bugs and threshold issues.
Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed
Sorry, localizing the storage vs storage far away, like tfa is talking about, is far more efficient. There's certainly loss on storage and retrieval.
However, I've seen several local substation proposals for storing energy using banks of flywheels, and even more for rail.
Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed
If you and all your neighbors were producing a surplus, the substations would need to be backfeedable. Most aren't, and would either need to be upgraded, or local storage would be needed.
Inverters force energy into the grid by raising voltage. In the situation where everyone is producing and nobody consuming, the lines will become overvoltaged and the solar collectors would be shut down by the inverters. Near 0% efficiency in the primary solar hours isn't a good thing.
That's the degenerate case. It won't happen because we're smart enough to see the issues. This is exactly why we need storage and backfeedable substations. We could have 100% wind and solar adoption without issue if the storage and distribution issues are solved.
Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed
I've been posting about this, and the spin some politicians are pushing is reprehensible. Recently, Arizona allowed fees to charge rooftop-based solar energy producers for the privilege of selling or donating electrons to others for use. A few incredible or insane politicians are trying to spin it as if solar adopters are leeches despite the fact that they already pay for interconnect fees and all the excess energy they use.
The alternative, of course, is to go completely off the grid using your own batteries, which will end up costing the power companies (and the politicians in their pockets) even more.
But it's not all without a shred of truth. There are definitely some costs associated with high adoption rates of solar, and the breakdown is pretty easy to explain:
- Substations convert and distribute 220 to your neighborhood, from high tension wires from the power plants.
- Substations convert one direction only -- from the high-voltage to the line voltage.
- High usage is generally in the warm daytime, through early evening.
- Solar covers most of the high usage times. Some companies charge more for energy use during these times.
This works great for the power companies when a few people on one substation have some solar power generators, because they feed it back into the grid for use by those without solar. As a result, the power company can charge the full amount for the electrons used (often at higher prices), but they don't have to transfer it long distances which inevitably carries loss due to capacitance and resistance. And they get all of this without investing in the cost of increased production at the power plants.
This also works great for the solar generators, because they reduce their use during the most expensive times, and usually push themselves into a lower usage tier due to overall reduced usage. A household that uses 500kWh might only draw 100kWh net from the grid over a month, and the first 100 are usually very cheap. Some places pay for excess electrons put onto the grid, others do not.
But here's the limitation: if all your neighbors have solar, it will exceed consumption during times of bright sunlight. In other words, the substation will send out no energy (nobody needs it), and in fact cannot backfeed it to other substations. This can cause a real issue when there's a surplus. Line voltage may even go up from 110 to around 130. This is when they need energy storage. Batteries are one method, but flywheels can work well, too. They could spin up a flywheel to consume the excess energy, then release it later as-needed (e.g. a dark cloud). In fact, they can spin up a flywheel at nighttime, too, when they have excess production, to smooth out daytime use. It's not just for independent generating stations, but this infrastructure will smooth out their plants for normal use, too.
Some unscrupulous legislators are trying to saddle solar generators with the cost of those who choose not to use solar. They claim exactly the opposite, that the solar producers are driving up costs. Really, they're making a needed upgrade more obvious and in any case, there is literally no way they are "driving up costs" by reducing their own usage. That fails the basic 5th grader test.
Localizing the storage is far more efficient than sending it hundreds of miles, plus it future proofs the obvious issues of people inevitably moving away from coal and natural gas generators. These local storage solutions or backfeeding substations should be pushed by all, even those without solar generation.
Islamic State "Laptop of Doom" Hints At Plots Including Bubonic Plague
Plague is easily treated today. It's just a bacterium, and it doesn't even spread from person to person without blood exchange. That's like one of the dumbest things I've heard, only interesting because plague once killed many people.
I'd be far more worried about smallpox, an easily created virus that has few people immunized these days.
Uber Has a Playbook For Sabotaging Lyft, Says Report
That is almost certainly illegal. If nothing else, it'd be tortuous interference, clearly designed to harm. Using burner phones is contributory evidence to fraud by showing mal intent.
Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video
It makes a mockery of the idea of journalistic integrity. The beheading video is billed as an ISIS propaganda piece, so does anyone actually think that adding more propaganda would legitimize it? Methinks not.
There is simply no good from adding corporate enforced! bias, for funding or whatever. The objectionable parts are not the news, nor a beheading. The objectionable part is the context, which includes things like trolls or even auto-starting videos on facebook. I've dropped people for less, for sharing auto-starting gore videos.
Consumers should have a choice to watch or not, Editors should use discretion, Newscasters should add context and background for proper interpretation.
But for all that is holy and truthful, forcing propaganda into news just to be broadcast is the worst idea I've ever heard.
Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video
Agreed. It should have a PSA preceding it talking about the annoyances of tangentially related tech news on a tech news website.
If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?
A counterexample would be skill levels (3,1,3,3,7) with a median of 3 and mean above 3. In neither of those definitions are half below average, being 1 or 2, and 4.
Simple math would say at least half would be less than or equal to the median.
Of course, simple math rarely works here to quantify except at the extremes. People have different abilities in different areas, and gray matter is plastic. It changes, and even that rate of change matters.
iPhone landmine updated
I took up the fight to recover the $550 data bill I received while on travel for 10 days, while my iphone dutifully and silently received lots of email and spam and so on every 30 minutes.
Initially, ATT offerred a $150 courtesy credit, which I took but mentioned that I'd be calling them back. I did so when they threatened to cut off my service. My terms were actually forgiving. While on travel, it was possible to get wifi for $15/day, so if I had purchased it there it would've cost $150. That is what I offered to pay ATT for the data charges. An argument with the customer representative ensued, but I did not back down. My point was simple: I couldn't turn it off without losing functionality unrelated to the data service. Forcing me to turn the phone off completely means I lose the iPod features, and leaving it in airplane mode means I lose the wifi and bluetooth features.
The customer service rep filed a dispute on my behalf, but I had little confidence she would forward my complaint and reasons (since she had been arguing against them with me for 10 minutes). However, she told me what was in the report and it included what I had stated.
I'm happy to report that ATT reversed all the data charges from what I can tell. I may have been charged interest for late payment, but I'm not even certain of that until I see the full itemized bill. It appears they didn't take my offer of paying $150.
My recommendation if this happens to someone else is to remember that this is a financial issue... do not lose your cool. There's always someone higher you can take this to, even if that means a judge. Like an insurance adjuster, the customer service rep is not your friend and will do everything possible to screw you, but it's not personal. Don't take offense or be offensive, because in my case this person actually forwarded my complaint to a higher department. You don't want this person emotionally involved enough to want you to lose. Have your defense in mind, and always fall back on it if you are being dragged into a different argument... that may even involve simply repeating yourself every few minutes. If it's clear you are going nowhere, ask to escalate it up the chain and ask if you need to send a written request. Good luck.
iPhone Hidden Landmine, and other Pros and Cons
Several people have written tomes about the technological advancements and "revolution" the iPhone will bring to cellphones, both in software and hardware. Many have written tomes of the evils of it, and how they are in bed with AT&T, known to ignore your privacy. As an early adopter, I was expecting some shortcomings. What I came across, however, was a hidden landmine that will cost me hundreds of dollars paid to one of my least-favorite companies, ATT.
For those that don't know, the iphone will automatically search for wifi, and piggy-back onto those networks if allowed. If it doesn't find any, or if it can't connect for whatever reason, it falls back onto the slower cellular Edge network. This seems like a very good default and it works really well for most cases. Browsing on the iphone still amazes me on the clarity and fact that if I'm ever bored, I can just fire up a browser no matter where I am. It even downloads my email locally, and pulses when I receive a new message. You can be perpetually connected to your websites and email.
It is a geek's dream, and I'm living the dream.
Recently, however, this dream turned into a nightmare. I was on travel in the Caribbean. As soon as I powered up my iphone and took it off of the airplane mode, the iphone dutifully retrieved my email automatically incurring roaming data charges. This is, of course, despite having unlimited data in my contract with ATT. This was also happening unbeknownst to me, and there was nothing I could do about this even if I had known, except turn the radio completely off! Even if I purchased local wifi use or used a free hotspot, if it ever lost wifi connectivity it would fall back on the Edge network and incur roaming charges. Turning off the radio would prevent roaming, but would also disable use of local wifi and bluetooth. There is simply no way to tell a registered iphone to never roam without disabling the radio completely.
I discovered this only after I received a $550 bill for roaming data charges. Not once did I make an actual phone call, although I did intentionally send a couple photos I took. Most of this data transfer was from things like the phone automatically downloading my email (which I subsequently read), a little bit of web browsing, and even checking the local weather report. After a somewhat shocked call to ATT, they offered to forgive $150 of it which I accepted, but I did so without agreeing that I wouldn't pursue this further. I'm hoping this article will help prevent others from having such a surprise and financial burden.
[added 13-sep] My case of ignorance coupled with Apple's failure to program an anti-roaming feature is not unique. Rules lawyers argue that the defaults for email had been changed, or that "the phone wasn't off". But what use is a phone that has to be disabled in order to prevent racking up roaming charges? I would have still gotten roaming charges had I used the local wifi. That's because the wifi antenna is not particularly sensitive, and it's extremely unlikely it wouldn't fall back on Edge at some point. And heaven forbid my local wifi drops while I'm not actively using the phone, or once again, it'll do exactly what it's programmed to do: fall back on the Edge network and continue downloading. Works great in the US, but is a horrible default outside the local network boundaries.
Although I'm very disappointed and quite annoyed at the roaming fees, here is a quick rundown on the pros and cons of the iphone from my perspective. More importantly, it is weighted with the perceived importance. Some big "problems" that iphone detractors proclaim really are not very significant in practice, and there are several problems I've encountered that I never see stated.
I purchased my iphone knowing it would be hacked/opened at some point in the short future. It is intuitive and made for the masses, but also a perfect device for hackers - a hand-held Unix device with a radio and camera. Potentially completely programmable. Multiple inputs, bright and colorful display, a glass screen, and damn sexy, too.
The reasons I bought an iphone are largely self-explanatory:
- Multiple touchscreen inputs (probably the first COTS handheld device with this).
- Excellent hardware and looks (no moving parts, bright glass screen, responsive, built tough, and damn sexy).
- Geek factor - runs Unix (which was destined to be hacked).
- Full web browser. (Except for flash, which I don't use anyway. Or Java, but again, I'm a luddite in some ways.)
- 2 Megapixel camera has about double the pixels of older phonecams.
- Video playback with sound.
- Wifi and data.
- iPod functionality.
In addition, here are some great features I discovered after owning the iphone:
- Icebreaker. It's like carrying around a cute puppy - people love it.
- UI: scrolling voicemail allows you to listen out of order. Surprisingly useful.
- UI: scrolling through ipod songs and videos makes it really easy to find the song you want.
- UI: google maps is great fun, and quite useful.
- Hardware is even better than I thought it would be. The screen is nothing short of amazing, and the touchscreen works great.
Here are the problems, with my comments on the significance:
- Sometimes hangs/crashes, needs a full restart. This bit me a few times, especially at first. The system crashed continually, I received no voice messages or SMS messages, and it was very frustrating. A simple reboot (holding down the power key for 6 sec) solved all the problems. Although a BIG issue, I solved it by accident. And this is happening to a lot of people.
- Sweaty fingers don't work so well. Anyone with sweaty hands knows how difficult most laptop touchpads can be -- this is not quite as bad, but noticable. Also, the smudges on the screen are not an issue like many people thought it would be. My glass screen is still pristine, and just takes a simple wipe on the pant leg to clean.
- No "thumb" on the webpage. Scrolling to the bottom of a large webpage is simply stupid. Am I missing something?
- Where's the tilde? Finding some of the special characters on the typewriter took some work. (Hint: you have to hit shift after going to the symbols page.)
- No addons to Safari. This concerns me, but I suspect this will be solved soon enough. I can't wait for someone to port firefox, though.
- No Flash in Safari. This really doesn't bother me. Flash has very little user-control, except through addons to prevent it from running, and I definitely don't want it installed if I can't disable it somehow. In the rare cases I allow it on my normal browser, I would miss it on the phone. But for the most part, I see flash as an annoyance, used by advertisers and idiots to ram content down your throat. For the most part, flash makes my browsing less enjoyable, not more, so I don't miss this at all. Besides, it'll be ported soon enough, I'm certain.
- No flash on the camera, either. Despite having more pixels than most older phones, the camera is not really that high of quality, especially compared to some cellphones coming out today. It'll take great pictures in good indirect light. But if you put a bright spot anywhere, or take pictures in subdued lighting, your colors and pictures will be poor. Impressive in good conditions with good colors and clarity, but lack of any programmability of light sensitivity or zoom means you get mediocre pictures in all but perfect conditions. Also, the capture is a little slow (perhaps 1/2 second, which is enough to lose the perfect shot). Lastly, the shutter button is on the screen so it's more difficult to hold the phone in awkward positions to take photos (e.g. of yourself or over your head).
- No video recording. For some people, this killed the iphone for them. This is not the case for me -- I don't really mind not having video. All current phone video is such poor quality that I question the ability as simply a useless bell and whistle. Use a real camera to make real videos.
- Poor speakerphone. Rarely mentioned is the low volume of the speakerphone. Or for that matter, the low volume of the ringer, too. The tiny speaker just cannot belt out the sound. And this is annoying if you're trying to use the speakerphone while driving. Get a bluetooth headset which will work really well.
- 2G, not 3G radio. Apple could have used a more modern radio and a faster data network, but did not. They use the Edge network, which is a bit pokey, and the fact you can do full browsing makes it feel even slower ... it downloads the pictures so webpages take much longer to load. But that's the price for the quality of the browser. I can live with this, but it is annoying.
- No GPS. What was apple thinking? Integrate maps into it, but not tell you where you are? And how the heck can you save the current location as a bookmark in the maps, to look up later? IMHO, the intuitive interface loses a bit in the mapping software.
- No 3rd party apps. Not an issue... they're coming whether Apple likes it or not! Already you can get screenshots of web pages, voice recording, arbitrary ringtones, etc. You can even ssh into your iphone, and *gasp* run apache on it. No, really.
- Lack of "buttons" makes it difficult to type. Minor issue, and noticable when using the camera. Most of the time when you'd be fumbling around (like driving) you can use the "favorites" to make calls and not the keypad. The typewriter is easy to make typos, but the software works surprisingly well to correct errors and typos. Seriously, it's good. After playing with it a weekend, you'll be typing like a pro. Well, not a pro, but you can do 20-30 wpm which is plenty good enough for a handheld.
- No voice dialing. I'd bet someone will be able to make an app to do this in the future. It's a big oversight by apple, but only a moderate problem.
- Mono-only bluetooth. Not an issue for me, but could be for others who use bluetooth headphones to listen to music.
- Incompatible with many ipod addons. This is a big issue which I think will affect many people. Not only do the ipod functions not send sound through the docking port (so most ipod speakers and car kits will not work), but the earphone jack is recessed which makes most minijack plugs incompatible.
- Cannot set your own background image. This is false, but I see a lot of people claiming it. You can set a background image easily. You simply tell itunes to sync photos to a folder on your computer, and drop your background image into this folder. Then you can view it on the phone and set it as your background.
- No Instant Messaging. I suspect this will be coming soon, through a 3rd party app. Someone will port gaim or write one. But then your battery life will probably go to hell.
- Poor support for sending photos. No MMS support at all, and you cannot crop photos sent via email. A big oversight for a phone that is supposed to integrate such features.
- Battery replacement requires mailing the phone in. To me, this is only a minor issue. The reason why it's minor is that I reap huge benefits from it. Because apple did not have to invest in packaging the battery and terminals, they could make the battery significantly larger. And I'm happy to lose my phone for a week, in order to have an extra hour or two the rest of the two-year expected battery life. It is a good tradeoff, although granted, could be an annoying one to some people.
There seems to be a lot of "cons" compared to the "pros". So, would I buy an iPhone knowing what I do now? The answer is still a solid "Yes".
I've been on slashdot for quite a while, and my goal is to have a comment moderated by at least five different categories, including Troll, Funny, and Interesting.