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The Individual Midnight Thread

foobar bazbot Re:Eastern time, I'm outta here (40 comments)

Oh, one quick thing before I leave:
Bookmark the Google cache link for slashdot's front page -- thus may one stay apprised of any beta developments without breaking the slashcott. ;)

Drat, now I'm 3 minutes late. Hope they don't check the logs...

about 2 months ago
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Online, You're Being Watched At All Times; Act Accordingly.

foobar bazbot Re:Lurker Here (299 comments)

I'm sick of seeing posts about the beta.

Well, then, it's your lucky day! Starting in 4 hours and change, a lot of us from the USA will be leaving /. and making no more anti-beta posts for a week! (The Europeans and UTC hardliners everywhere have already left.) Enjoy your week...

--------------------

Please post this to new articles if it hasn't been posted yet. (Copy-paste the html from here so links don't get mangled!)

On February 5, 2014, Slashdot announced through a javascript popup that they are starting to "move in to" the new Slashdot Beta design. Slashdot Beta is a trend-following attempt to give Slashdot a fresh look, an approach that has led to less space for text and an abandonment of the traditional Slashdot look. Much worse than that, Slashdot Beta fundamentally breaks the classic Slashdot discussion and moderation system.

If you haven't seen Slashdot Beta already, open this in a new tab. After seeing that, click here to return to classic Slashdot.

We should boycott stories and only discuss the abomination that is Slashdot Beta until Dice abandons the project.
We should boycott slashdot entirely during the week of Feb 10 to Feb 17 as part of the wider slashcott

Moderators - only spend mod points on comments that discuss Beta
Commentors - only discuss Beta
  http://slashdot.org/recent - Vote up the Fuck Beta stories

Keep this up for a few days and we may finally get the PHBs attention.

-----=====##### LINKS #####=====-----

Discussion of Beta: http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&id=56395415

Discussion of where to go if Beta goes live: http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&type=submission&id=3321441

Alternative Slashdot: http://altslashdot.org (thanks Okian Warrior (537106))

about 2 months ago
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Customer: Dell Denies Speaker Repair Under Warranty, Blames VLC

foobar bazbot Re:Of Course you can use VLC for this. (526 comments)

I do not know why there are not more safeguards

Probably because the safeguards would have to be part of the analog amplification circuit, and anything extra that you put there will potentially hamper sound quality.

Eh, no. Not unless you're specifically discussing the stereo case, rather than laptops.

In laptops, phones, and other integrated systems, speaker protection can be, and often is, handled before the DAC with DSP. It's quite easy to keep a rolling average of signal power, and attenuate the signal if that exceeds a given limit. It's not much harder to monitor power in specific frequency ranges, with limits for each band and for any combination. The reason there aren't more safeguards (or that those safeguards prove ineffective) is because, while applying these limits is pretty easy, characterizing the DAC/amplifier/speaker system to determine the proper limits is absolutely not easy.

More importantly, the obvious solution when you have hard-to-determine limits (perform the best estimate possible given the resources available, and down-rate it by a factor of 2 or so) costs sales because people in Best Buy will, all else being equal, pick the loud laptop over the quiet laptop, and they have no way of knowing the loud one will blow its speakers when fed a square-wave, but the quiet one will be fine. There's probably engineers at Dell right now reading this article and hating their job, their life, and especially their boss, because they wanted to make the correct conservative decision, and the boss demanded they crank it up so it'll sell better.

about 2 months ago
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Florida Arrests High-Dollar Bitcoin Exchangers For Money Laundering

foobar bazbot Florida arrests Dice for rolling out BETA! (149 comments)

Please post this to new articles if it hasn't been posted yet. (Copy-paste the html from here so links don't get mangled!)

On February 5, 2014, Slashdot announced through a javascript popup that they are starting to "move in to" the new Slashdot Beta design. Slashdot Beta is a trend-following attempt to give Slashdot a fresh look, an approach that has led to less space for text and an abandonment of the traditional Slashdot look. Much worse than that, Slashdot Beta fundamentally breaks the classic Slashdot discussion and moderation system.

If you haven't seen Slashdot Beta already, open this in a new tab. After seeing that, click here to return to classic Slashdot.

We should boycott stories and only discuss the abomination that is Slashdot Beta until Dice abandons the project.
We should boycott slashdot entirely during the week of Feb 10 to Feb 17 as part of the wider slashcott

Moderators - only spend mod points on comments that discuss Beta
Commentors - only discuss Beta
  http://slashdot.org/recent - Vote up the Fuck Beta stories

Keep this up for a few days and we may finally get the PHBs attention.

-----=====##### LINKS #####=====-----

Discussion of Beta: http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&id=56395415

Discussion of where to go if Beta goes live: http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&type=submission&id=3321441

Alternative Slashdot: http://altslashdot.org (thanks Okian Warrior (537106))

about 2 months ago
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US Cord Cutters Getting Snubbed From NBC's Olympic Coverage Online

foobar bazbot Re:Slashdort beta: another reason we need COMMUNIS (578 comments)

Did you read what that new link says?

It says they'll keep classic around "until we're confident that the new site is ready", thus implying they do plan to remove classic. It states that they "have work to do in four big areas", and accurately lists what people have been complaining about (the accuracy and non-contradictoriness of the list makes Soulskill's assertions that much of the feedback is contradictory look questionable, to say the least), but carefully refrains from actually saying that any particular improvements will happen before they roll out the beta and execute classic.

In short, once you run it through a corporatespeak filter, it says they didn't expect this much backlash, they're going to postpone the rollout (but not necessarily change it in any other way), and they're trying to pacify us by repeating back what we've said. And if you read between the lines, you might get the impression they're not going to give us this much warning next time...

about 2 months ago
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US Cord Cutters Getting Snubbed From NBC's Olympic Coverage Online

foobar bazbot Cut the BETA! (578 comments)

Please post this to new articles if it hasn't been posted yet. (Copy-paste the html from here so links don't get mangled!)

On February 5, 2014, Slashdot announced through a javascript popup that they are starting to "move in to" the new Slashdot Beta design. Slashdot Beta is a trend-following attempt to give Slashdot a fresh look, an approach that has led to less space for text and an abandonment of the traditional Slashdot look. Much worse than that, Slashdot Beta fundamentally breaks the classic Slashdot discussion and moderation system.

If you haven't seen Slashdot Beta already, open this in a new tab. After seeing that, click here to return to classic Slashdot.

We should boycott stories and only discuss the abomination that is Slashdot Beta until Dice abandons the project.
We should boycott slashdot entirely during the week of Feb 10 to Feb 17 as part of the wider slashcott

Moderators - only spend mod points on comments that discuss Beta
Commentors - only discuss Beta
  http://slashdot.org/recent - Vote up the Fuck Beta stories

Keep this up for a few days and we may finally get the PHBs attention.

-----=====##### LINKS #####=====-----

Discussion of Beta: http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&id=56395415

Discussion of where to go if Beta goes live: http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&type=submission&id=3321441

Alternative Slashdot: http://altslashdot.org (thanks Okian Warrior (537106))

about 2 months ago
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Target's Data Breach Started With an HVAC Account

foobar bazbot Re:FUCK BETA (232 comments)

Your links are broken; see html source in my pastebin...

Please post this to new articles if it hasn't been posted yet. (Copy-paste the html from here so links don't get mangled!)

On February 5, 2014, Slashdot announced through a javascript popup that they are starting to "move in to" the new Slashdot Beta design. Slashdot Beta is a trend-following attempt to give Slashdot a fresh look, an approach that has led to less space for text and an abandonment of the traditional Slashdot look. Much worse than that, Slashdot Beta fundamentally breaks the classic Slashdot discussion and moderation system.

If you haven't seen Slashdot Beta already, open this in a new tab. After seeing that, click here to return to classic Slashdot.

We should boycott stories and only discuss the abomination that is Slashdot Beta until Dice abandons the project.
We should boycott slashdot entirely during the week of Feb 10 to Feb 17 as part of the wider slashcott

Moderators - only spend mod points on comments that discuss Beta
Commentors - only discuss Beta
  http://slashdot.org/recent - Vote up the Fuck Beta stories

Keep this up for a few days and we may finally get the PHBs attention.

-----=====##### LINKS #####=====-----

Discussion of Beta: http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&id=56395415

Discussion of where to go if Beta goes live: http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&type=submission&id=3321441

Alternative Slashdot: http://altslashdot.org (thanks Okian Warrior (537106))

about 2 months ago
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Military Electronics That Shatter Into Dust On Command

foobar bazbot Re:Kill Beta! (221 comments)

Heh, I just got done fixing the links and putting it in pastebin with a self-referential link to make copying the source easier. Also added the separator between action items and discussion links, and linkified Okian Warrior:

Please post this to new articles if it hasn't been posted yet. (Copy-paste the html from here so links don't get mangled!)

On February 5, 2014, Slashdot announced through a javascript popup that they are starting to "move in to" the new Slashdot Beta design. Slashdot Beta is a trend-following attempt to give Slashdot a fresh look, an approach that has led to less space for text and an abandonment of the traditional Slashdot look. Much worse than that, Slashdot Beta fundamentally breaks the classic Slashdot discussion and moderation system.

If you haven't seen Slashdot Beta already, open this in a new tab. After seeing that, click here to return to classic Slashdot.

We should boycott stories and only discuss the abomination that is Slashdot Beta until Dice abandons the project.
We should boycott slashdot entirely during the week of Feb 10 to Feb 17 as part of the wider slashcott

Moderators - only spend mod points on comments that discuss Beta
Commentors - only discuss Beta
  http://slashdot.org/recent - Vote up the Fuck Beta stories

Keep this up for a few days and we may finally get the PHBs attention.

-----=====##### LINKS #####=====-----

Discussion of Beta: http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&id=56395415

Discussion of where to go if Beta goes live: http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&type=submission&id=3321441

Alternative Slashdot: http://altslashdot.org (thanks Okian Warrior (537106))

about 2 months ago
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Why Games Should Be In the Public Domain

foobar bazbot Re:Compromise: actively sell the game or it goes P (360 comments)

But this smacks of unfair for one reason - Nintendo is still around. And they're still selling SMB. You can get it on Virtual Console on Wii, Wii U and 3DS.

But why it that unfair? Why should Nintendo receive a monopoly on making copied of SMB for more than 25 years?

Remember the whole point of modern copyright is that a temporary monopoly (14 years, originally) on creative works (books, originally) would provide incentive to have more books written and published. The alternative was one where every book immediately entered the public domain, and nothing (save the collusion to prevent flooding the market and destroying their own profit) prevented every publisher from printing every book, and copyright was chosen because it was believed that it would enrich the public domain in total by more than the books that, at any one time, were locked up by copyright.

Of course we've extended copyright to other classes of works (whether because the music, movie, software etc. industries got big enough to hire lobbyists, or because we also thought society would benefit from more works of each class just as it did from more books -- or probably a mix of the two), and we've stretched the term of copyright as well*. But the only way in which 20 years is obviously "unfair" is that, at the time Nintendo created SMB, they were promised a longer term by then-current copyright law. Would a 20-year term for new works, starting today, be unfair? No -- if Nintendo thinks they can't make their money back with a reasonable ROI in 20 years, they can just not make a game under a 20-year copyright law. If this were the case in enough instances (not with Nintendo specifically, but the software industry as a whole), the change to copyright law could be ineffective, as our meager incentive isn't enough to yield the same creative output we hoped for, but it's not really unfair.

Now if we try to determine effectiveness rather than fairness, it should become obvious that our current copyright law, with one term for all covered works, isn't -- cannot be -- very effective. Works of different types require different typical levels of investment (e.g. millions of dollars and tens of thousands of man-hours for movies, while some novels are churned out in less than a thousand man-hours), offer different value to society (not that it's clear how to measure it, but at least for entertainment works, could be argued as proportional to the length of a movie, hours to read a book, or hours to play through a game, multiplied by the level of enjoyment in those hours?), and exhibit different typical turnover periods, and all those parameters have to be incorporated in an optimization to maximize the public-domain return on society's temporary monopoly investment. It's insanely improbable that these factors happen to balance each other out so that one term suits all forms of creative work.

*The term extensions are obviously not entirely, if at all, about incentivizing new works, since any extension for that purpose would only apply to newly created works, rather than to older works that were already created with a shorter term. Since many if not all copyright term extensions from the last century have retroactively lengthened terms on extant works, which is just as unfair to society as retroactively shortening the term on SMB would be to Nintendo, we can be sure it's at least partly about plain old rent-seeking.

about 2 months ago
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Why Games Should Be In the Public Domain

foobar bazbot Re:Yeah, right ... (360 comments)

It's worth noting the last copyright extension was in 1998, when few people had the means to easily, quickly, and losslessly duplicate books, music albums, and movies. Yes, one could copy a book, page-by-page, with a photocopier, one could copy a cassette tape or burn a CD-R in minutes, and one could even copy videos with a VCR.

But of those, only the CD-R was a lossless copy (ebooks hadn't entered the public consciousness yet, and DVD-R was brand-new), and all of them took minutes per copy.

(If, at this point, anyone feels compelled to point out that they had a DVD-R drive in 1998, or one of the early MP3 players (perhaps a Diamond Rio, or a MPman?) or that they were already collecting, reading, and sharing ebooks (both Project Gutenberg and pirated) in text formats, by all means do so. But understand that that any of those things, in 1998, marked you as belonging to a very small, tech-literate minority (if exactly the minority I expect to see on /.), and I'm talking about the majority of people.)

Since 1998, we've reached the point where almost everyone has devices capable of playing music, playing video, and reading ebooks from digital storage (whence they can be copied off to a friend's thumbdrive in seconds rather than minutes), they know how to use those capabilities, and they have, if not experience with, at least knowledge of various file-sharing networks that allow unlimited sharing for next to no effort. Along with the popularization of copying has come the popularization of copyright infringement lawsuits -- while I'm unaware of any strings of suits against individuals for copying videos with a VCR, there've been a number of such for users of various file-sharing networks. While, as a percentage, vanishingly few pirates are every actually sued, it's widespread enough to enter public awareness in a way the few cases in the VCR era never really did. As a result, copyright law was seen, in those days, as really being about a factory churning out knockoff VHSes or DVDs, not about the average guy taping a TV show or copying a rental movie now and again.

So in the past, I think the average voter didn't see themselves as having a stake in copyright law, and if they did, they were more likely to consider themselves have a stake on the industry side (maybe, one of these days, when they get around to it, they'll write the next Great American Novel!) than on the pro-copying side. There was dishearteningly little public opposition to the Mickey Mouse act of '98, but there was little public support, too. Today, I think there's a chance many voters will see themselves as having a stake, and firmly on the copying side.

So I hold out hope -- faint hope, to be sure -- that next time it comes up, copyright extension will be very unpopular with voters, perhaps enough to defeat it. Not to say that's likely, or even a real win if it does happen -- after all, unless/until we block (constitutionally or judicially) the whole idea of retroactive copyright extension, all we "win" is a couple of years' worth of works escaping to the public domain while they're gearing up for a bigger lobbying push, this time with more congressmen who aren't seeking re-election and so have nothing to fear from voters.

look for Disney to push for another copyright extension either right after midterm elections this year, or after the 2016 elections.

If I were them, I'd wait for 2016. Any increased uptake of streaming video and music services only helps them, because those services make copying difficult-to-impossible for the average guy. Given a couple years at current trends, the majority will be nearly back to where they were in 1998, and won't feel they have a stake in copyright law. The minority who do have an objection, of course, will be larger than before, but still too small to matter.

about 2 months ago
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Finnish Hacker Isolates Helicopter GPS Coordinates From YouTube Video Sounds

foobar bazbot Re:...and? (163 comments)

I didn't RTFA, but TFS says she used sox, which I wouldn't classify as "SDR software" (though as a rather versatile DSP package, of course it can be used as such), and which is installed by default in a lot of Linux distros.

about 3 months ago
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Confessions Of an Ex-TSA Agent: Secrets Of the I.O. Room

foobar bazbot Re:and the TSA exists because... (393 comments)

You probably could have voted for Gary Johnson last presidential election. (If you were in Michigan, he was a write-in candidate, not on the ballot. If you were in Oklahoma, you couldn't vote for him at all. In the other 48 states, he was on the ballot.)

He has said:

Instead of trying to fix or adjust or moderate TSA airport screening procedures to make them less abusive or slightly more tolerable, I say it is time to turn airport screening and security over to those who should be doing it in the first place: the airlines.

On one hand, that's not exactly the same as calling for complete abolition of the TSA, merely removing them from "airport screening and security" -- it leaves unstated what other TSA missions (new or extant) he might support. On the other hand, it's a lot more like abolishing the TSA than either the R or D candidates proposed... (I haven't followed his campaign closely; maybe he made a less ambiguous statement at some point.)

It's not clear to me that the president has the power to abolish the TSA without congressional involvement, but AFAICS there's nothing stopping him from downsizing it to one guy who sits in an office and eats Skittles all day and updates the terror threat level to the color he just ate.

So in some sense, I believe GP is correct that we tolerate it. If enough Americans were angry enough about the TSA that they were willing to put up with any of Gary Johnson's positions they don't like, and let go of the differences between the Republican and Democrat candidates that make them fight for the less-bad instead of a vote "wasted" on a third party candidate, they could all have voted for Gary Johnson, and the TSA might well be effectively neutralized by now. (Or yes, maybe Gary Johnson would have turned out to be corrupted by power, just like every other candidate who makes good-sounding promises in his campaign, and reneges on them as soon as he's in office.)

But of course there's a long way between "acceptable" and "so unacceptable I'll put it ahead of all other issues combined", so his equivalence of "Americans tolerate [the TSA]" with "we have said ... the TSA is acceptable" is pretty bogus.

about 3 months ago
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The Human Body May Not Be Cut Out For Space

foobar bazbot Re:Space or Lack of Gravity? (267 comments)

(Thus, the total force on the tether would be 100 tons.)

Forces in cables don't work like that. If the cable has negligible mass (for this application, that's not a bad approximation), the tension at every point is equal, so the tension is 50 tons everywhere. If the weight's not negligible, the tension is highest in the center, because the mass of the cable adds more tension, but this could be greater than, less than, or equal to 100 tons depending on the cable (in fact for reasonable cables it will be much closer to 50 tons than 100 tons).

To get acceptable speed/radius, I used Theodore Hall's SpinCalc, and set the rotation rate to 3 RPM. This yields a radius of 100m. (Most sources suggest 3RPM is ok, one source suggests 2 RPM, which would not about double the material requirements.)

So for actual numbers for actual materials (sorry, I can't be arsed to get numbers for carbon nanotube, because we can't make serious cables of that at present), we need a steel cable* that can support 50 tons. Actually, we want more like 50 steel cables that can support over (let's say 10% over) 1 ton each, so we can make a cross-linked structure, to reduce vulnerability to meteoroid strikes. (I'd think something like a hyperboloid tower would work nicely, where you have 25 lines slanting to the left and 25 to the right, and they're fastened everywhere a left and a right line cross.)
Casting about the internet for a suitable cable, we find this, with 2240 pound working load and weight of 0.18 pounds/ft. We need 50x200m = 10km = 33000 ft., so 6000 pounds. Adding in something for the fasteners to make the cross-linked structure, maybe 4 tons.
Given 4 tons of cable etc., it should be obvious the extra tension due to the cable structure's own weight is less than 2 tons (2 instead of 4 because half of it is on each side of center) -- after all, the centripetal acceleration is a maximum of 1g at the outside, but drops off to zero at the center. In fact, since acceleration varies linearly with radius, the average acceleration over the cable is 0.5g, and tension varies from 50 tons at each end to 51 tons at the center.
(Of course one would need to analyze the actual layout of the cable structure proposed, to ensure that cutting any one segment would in fact redistribute tension among the intact cable segments such that none exceeds the working limit -- the 10% (now diminished by the 2% increase in cable tension) margin was just a guess. If we need more strength, use more strands and/or heavier cable.)

*Why a steel cable? Of course NASA can do much better, with a cable of Kevlar or some such fiber, and save valuable mass. But boring old steel cable is what I'm most confident estimating with, so it's what I ran the actual numbers with as well.

about 3 months ago
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The Human Body May Not Be Cut Out For Space

foobar bazbot Re:Of course humans aren't adapted for space. (267 comments)

Off-earth colonies, whether lunar or Martian, would help the evolution of humans better suited for the stress of space.

You've been reading Nobots, haven't you?

While it lacks the advantage of the author plugging it in his /. sig, I think Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy might be a bit more widely-read, and it presents substantial evolution on short timescales (single-digit generations), which I think your book doesn't. (Based on your comments above, and on the first chapter taking place millions of years hence -- I haven't read beyond that, though I plan to read the whole thing once the epub is available.)

about 3 months ago
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How loud is your primary computer?

foobar bazbot ARM laptop, passive cooling (371 comments)

These days the computer I spend most time touching is my TF700T. Though sold as a "tablet" with dockable keyboard, I keep it docked all the time (more useful + more battery) and use it as what I wish my Eee netbook had been -- a lightweight, low-power machine with just enough juice for the common stuff, and let a server(s) handle all the routine heavy-lifting that would be annoying and/or would kill battery life on the laptop (e.g. torrents). (The Eee fell down for two reasons -- mainly battery life, but also the 1024x600 screen proved more annoying than I'd expected. 1920x1200 on a 10" display is much nicer.)

I still use a desktop when I want more screen space, for apps only available for x86 (most notably Bricscad), and for some games, but the laptop sees a lot more use, and is completely silent.

about 3 months ago
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With No Guidance From Google, Makers Creating Own Glass Accessories

foobar bazbot Re:Rule 34 (50 comments)

My question is what does Google, in the current form, expect the glasses to be used for. In the current incarnation, it is the equivalent of wearing mirrors on the top of your shoes.

While I get the connection to Rule 34, I'm pretty sure Google Glass in its current form doesn't help you catch glimpses up strangers' skirts.

about 3 months ago
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Powering Phones, PCs Using Sugar

foobar bazbot Re:anp hours (199 comments)

/.ers are supposed to be technically knowledgeable, at least within our own areas of expertise. (Though we're always loudest and most confident when speaking outside our areas of expertise.)

However, /.ers don't RTFA. No, not even the abstract.

Hell, you're lucky if we read the summary.

YMBNH.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Life After N900?

foobar bazbot Re:I had a N900 too... (303 comments)

Easy enough. Get any recent phone that's supported by Cyanogenmod. Install Cyanogenmod. Then install Debian (or similar). This can be accomplished as a dual boot or as a chroot inside Android.

Or as neither.
I like Sven-Ola's debian kit which takes advantage of the (mostly) disjoint directory structure of Android and Debian (or rather LSB) to run Debian and Android in the same root. The benefit over chroot is that you can plug in a USB drive, SD card, etc. and instantly have access in /Removable/Foo for both Android and Debian apps, as well as the ability to use Debian programs (e.g. text editor) in the Android hierarchy. You can get the same functionality with enough bind mounts, but debian-kit makes it a lot simpler IMO.

I'd also recommend zshaolin for those looking for a friendly *n*x environment without installing a whole distribution, or if they don't have and can't/won't get root access.

about 3 months ago
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New Russian Fighter Not Up To Western Standards

foobar bazbot Re:drone future? (354 comments)

I did say "Unless/until we invent some SF tech like ... onboard AIs capable of autonomous combat". I do agree that that's likely to happen, someday, but I think handling the job of a fighter pilot (with a low enough failure rate to be politically viable) is more "SF technology" than "a few incremental advances" -- but of course I'll be happy if I'm proven wrong in a few years.

The difference between a car and a fighter jet is not merely one of degrees of freedom and speed, but a more fundamental one: a car works best if it kills nobody, and worst if it kills everybody. A fighter jet is a failure whether it kills everybody or nobody -- it must kill the enemy and not kill friends to be useful.

Fallback behavior for situations the AI doesn't understand is pretty easy for cars, and relatively harmless even if somebody figures out how to reliably trigger it, since it'll be designed to be the safest course of action, but an equivalent for a fighter jet is a serious liability one way or the other, since it's either a danger (trying to keep working in the face of spurious or contradictory input risks misidentifying friendlies as enemies) or a liability (enemies win if it renders your drone temporarily harmless).

Of course the same double bind applies to human pilots, as any number of friendly-fire incidents demonstrate, but as with self-driving cars, the (computer-augmented) human solution is already entrenched, and superseding it with a humanless solution will not require merely matching the rate of errors that is excused/accepted among humans, but dramatically reducing it.

about 3 months ago

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