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Ask Slashdot: Should I Fight Against Online Voting In Our Municipality?

crow Municipal elections are *more* important (139 comments)

Municipal elections aren't less important than the Presidential election. On a per-vote basis, they're much more important. Your vote makes much more difference in a local election. The choice you make are much more likely to have a real impact on your community.

The problem with municipal elections is that it's much harder to learn who to vote for. You have to do real work to figure out who the candidates are and what they stand for.

Note: I'm an elected municipal official, so my opinion is a bit biased here.

9 hours ago

Fooling a Mercedes Into Autonomous Driving With a Soda Can

crow Re:Obvious (119 comments)

I'm more thinking rural freeways like you have in the West. As long as you check for construction first and don't get unlucky with a deer, you're probably fine unless the paint goes wrong (as may be the case in post-construction sites).

Actually, there already are automatic braking systems for things like deer, and I would guess that that would be included.

One big point here is that we're a lot closer to autonomous driving that most people think.

9 hours ago

Fooling a Mercedes Into Autonomous Driving With a Soda Can

crow Re:Obvious (119 comments)

So most of those won't be a problem when driving between cities. It's probably not great for daily commuters, but it's probably a lot safer than a sleepy driver on a rural highway.

10 hours ago

Fooling a Mercedes Into Autonomous Driving With a Soda Can

crow Obvious (119 comments)

They've had adaptive cruise control for a long time now that will slow you down so that you don't rear-end anyone in front of you. In theory, you can set it at your favorite speed, and then ignore the foot pedals until you reach your exit. I haven't used it, so I don't know if it handles stop-and-go traffic jams or things like that.

Now they have automatic lane centering. The car uses cameras to read the paint stripes and keep it centered in the lane. Because it's not a general system for autonomous driving (and the obvious liability if it crashes), it shuts off if you let go of the steering wheel.

Combine the two, and you have fully autonomous highway driving under regular conditions. You just have to fool the sensor, and sensors are easy to fool.

What's interesting is to learn what conditions it won't handle.

11 hours ago

A 24-Year-Old Scammed Apple 42 Times In 16 Different States

crow Who were they calling? (417 comments)

So they weren't calling the bank, but obviously they were calling someone. Did the store employee actually speak with someone, or did he manage to fake the call entirely? Presumably he had an accomplice who was pretending to be the bank. Did they track down and arrest that person? I didn't see it in the article.

3 days ago

Google Offers a Million Bucks For a Better Inverter

crow Re:Solar power? (260 comments)

Yup, you're completely right. I'm not sure what I was thinking. Probably too much air conditioning froze my brain.

about two weeks ago

Google Offers a Million Bucks For a Better Inverter

crow Solar power? (260 comments)

An inverter converts DC power to AC power. The most obvious use is for solar power. For rooftop solar arrays, you want efficiency, but you don't care much about density. In many cases, you have a small inverter under each panel, and size isn't an issue. But if you could get a few percent more AC out for a given DC in, that would matter.

On the other hand, if you want a solar-powered Chromebook, the inverter could be a deal-breaker on the weight. I'm guessing it's applications like that that have inspired this challenge. They want a Chromebook that you leave out in the sun to recharge. Or something similar.

Or maybe they have some other crazy idea I haven't thought of yet.

about two weeks ago

Geographic Segregation By Education

crow Moving is more natural (230 comments)

My observation is that people who don't go to college tend to get a job locally. People who do go to college often attend a college outside of the local area, and when they graduate, often apply for jobs nationwide.

The process of going to college makes moving to a new location much more natural.

It's no wonder that college grads will move to places where they can get good jobs, and that this would be places that already have a high concentration of people with college degrees.

about three weeks ago

The lightbulb I've most recently acquired ...

crow LED for $18 (196 comments)

I have a vacation rental property, and some of the bulbs are very hard to replace. I'm afraid that a tenant might try to do it and break the fixture. Also, they take R20 bulbs, and they tend to be expensive to begin with. So now I don't have to worry about the bulbs failing when I'm hundreds of miles away.

I also swapped out the ancient dimmer, but I'm not sure if that was necessary.

I'm very happy with the new bulbs. They're a bit whiter than the old ones, but they dim very nicely.

about a month ago

Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production

crow Re:Higher capacity for smaller roofs (262 comments)

That depends on where you live. In Massachusetts, the incentives are such that you can install a system where you pay nothing up front. You can get a loan and pay for it with the savings. Or solar companies will set up a lease and power purchase agreement where they install the system for free, and you are guaranteed to be cashflow positive for the life of the system. (Those lease agreements often eat up two-thirds of the would-be savings over twenty years, so watch out for them.)

about a month and a half ago

Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production

crow Higher capacity for smaller roofs (262 comments)

For many people, the limit on the size of their solar array is the size of their roof. If you want to offset your full usage, you may need higher-capacity panels than the standard 250W base panels. There are a number of higher-efficiency panels available, but the cost per Watt is higher. They probably don't cost much more to manufacture, so the more efficient panels have a higher profit margin.

Also, you have to keep improving your technology or you're out of the business when the cheap panels get to be as efficient than what you're producing.

about a month and a half ago

Kingston and PNY Caught Bait-and-Switching Cheaper Components After Good Reviews

crow Reviewers need to report this (289 comments)

So the solution is that the professional reviewers at places like C|Net or ArsTechnica need to have a policy of redoing their testing on older models when newer models are released. If they find that the older model no longer performs as they originally reviewed it, then they need to loudly warn that the manufacturer is known for reducing the quality of the product without announcing a change.

about a month and a half ago

NVIDIA Is Better For Closed-Source Linux GPU Drivers, AMD Wins For Open-Source

crow Media Playback (not Gaming) (185 comments)

These reviews are nice, but they always focus on gaming. There's very little information for media playback.

How well do each of these drivers do with accelerated playback of MPEG2, MPEG4, and other formats? If given a 1080i source, can they produce a real 1080i stream to the display, or will the alternating fields get reversed? (I have an older CRT HDTV that is 1080i native. With newer displays, it's good to have the option of letting the display handle deinterlacing.)

If I want to build a low-power media player, what are my options for video hardware and drivers?

about a month and a half ago

Intel Wants To Computerize Your Car

crow Tesla (191 comments)

What, a car story with no reference to Tesla?

Tesla has a pretty good system. If they were interested in marketing it for other cars, they could probably have another solid business. Of course, they probably want to keep it for themselves to keep their cars more exclusive.

about 2 months ago

Solar Roadways Project Beats $1M Goal, Should Enter Production

crow Re:Do simple tests first (311 comments)

Or worse--they could sell advertising on the road to help fund it.

about 2 months ago

Solar Roadways Project Beats $1M Goal, Should Enter Production

crow Covered roadways? (311 comments)

One economic test would be to compare the price of installing the solar roadway with the cost of building a cover over the roadway with solar panels on it.

about 2 months ago

Solar Roadways Project Beats $1M Goal, Should Enter Production

crow Do simple tests first (311 comments)

The should do the simple tests first.

They claim that the glass cover panels can hold up to traffic and provide sufficient traction. Why not mount just the glass covers over a stretch of road and see how it behaves? Until they get the covers right, the rest is irrelevant.

Once they have the ability to make a glass roadway, then they can deal with the question of what to put under it. How about just LEDs for traffic marking? Will they work in the day time? Will they put out too much light pollution?

Once they have the traffic markings working, they can get the heating elements needed for installing where it might snow. I'm under the impression that they have to melt the snow because the panels won't stand up to snow plows. Maybe it will make more sense to run pipes with heated antifreeze solution instead of direct electric heat. Maybe it will make more sense to redesign the glass covers to stand up to snow plows.

Once those are solved, putting in solar panels is a no-brainer that helps the economics of the project work.

In the end, once all the technical issues are solved, it's a matter of economics. What is the cost of a road made with the panels over 50 years as opposed to a traditional asphalt or concrete road when all the maintenance is factored in for each road type?

Considering all the above, I'm convinced that it makes much more sense to put solar on rooftops.

about 2 months ago

Imparting Malware Resistance With a Randomizing Compiler

crow Re:Explain Like I'm Five (125 comments)

It's simple. You use signed source code instead of signed binaries.

Then you use a compiler and linker that does some simple things like randomly ordering variables and functions in the executable and on the stack. That makes it impossible for an attacker to know where some key variable is and exploit it though an overflow (whether on the stack or elsewhere). The attacker is far more likely to crash your program than to exploit a bug, which is much easier to recover from.

Also, as pointed out elsewhere, while this may make debugging more complicated in some cases, it also makes it more likely that bugs where the compiler's choices matter will be found earlier in development, so you may not encounter them in the first place.

And in the case of a corporate IT department, you use the randomizing compiler to build the binary that you push out to your clients. It may be the same throughout your company, but it will be different from anything anyone outside would have access to, which is probably good enough.

about 2 months ago

Imparting Malware Resistance With a Randomizing Compiler

crow Re:Gentoo (125 comments)

Gentoo isn't about speed. It's about control and configurability.

All those packages with optional Gnome support? Turned on in every other distribution, but turned off for me.

Want to add patches to a package? Just put the patch file under /etc/portage/patches// and it gets included. I currently have 9 patches applied. I can upgrade the packages, and keep my patches as long as they continue to merge cleanly.

about 2 months ago



Two Lost Doctor Who Episodes Found

crow crow writes  |  more than 2 years ago

crow (16139) writes "Two episodes of Doctor Who from the 1960s, thought to have been destroyed in the 1970s, have been found. Both were in the hands of a private collector who didn't know what he had. Like most episodes of the time, these were half-hour shows, part of a four-part story, and portions of both stories are still missing."
Link to Original Source



Drinking age, status crimes

crow crow writes  |  more than 12 years ago A friend asked, The drinking ago: pro or con?

I'm of mixed opinion. I'm uneasy about the idea of status crimes. From a pragmatic perspective, I believe (though I haven't researched the statistics) that raising the age from 19 (as it was in many states) to 21 did, indeed, succeed in reducing drunk driving fatalities.

I think the problem is that our culture is not one in which we are taught to drink responsibly. Hence, when first given access to alcohol, the consumption is anything but responsible. By prohibiting such access until people are of an age where they are supposedly more responsible to begin with, such irresponsibility is minimized.

Not the best approach, but I don't see our culture changing teach more responsible behaviour anytime soon. On the contrary, I think we are still moving towards blaming others for our problems.

Of course, as one who doesn't drink, I may not have the best perspective on the topic.

Now on the related topic of the smoking age, I'm all in favor of the movement in California to raise the age to 21. Here my reasoning is very different: I don't think anyone should smoke, and setting a higher age should reduce the number of people who start smoking. This would be a move consistent with the trend to reduce smoking as a part of our culture. (California, like most western states, is large enough that the problem of people crossing the border to buy cigarettes is only an issue in a small portion of the state.)


Gas Tax at 40%

crow crow writes  |  more than 12 years ago

Today's thoughts on taxation:

The state tax on gas is $.21/gallon in Massachusetts. The federal tax is $.184/gallon. That's $.394/gallon, putting the pre-tax price at the pump under a dollar a gallon at the cheaper stations.

That's currently about a 40% tax.

Are any other forms of energy taxed at anything close to 40%?

Now granted, the government spends a lot of money keeping the transportation system going, but is 40% appropriate? How much does Massachusetts spend on transportation (excluding the Big Dig), compared with how much it brings in from the gas tax? What about the federal government?

Are gas taxes subsidising other government programs, or are other taxes subsidizing transportation? There are good arguements to be made for which way (if either) it should be, but I just don't have the information.

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