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California Bill Proposes Mandatory Kill-Switch On Phones and Tablets

jet_silver Doesn't have to be a kill switch (341 comments)

Wow, a lot of these posts imply that 'a technological solution that can render the essential features of the device inoperable when the device is not in possession of the rightful owner' must be a kill switch.

A decent technological solution might be to sense some unique component of the rightful owner's smell and not work if that isn't present.

about 9 months ago
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Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

jet_silver Audiences wait to be entertained. That's not /. (2219 comments)

Look: we're not "the audience", expecting to be amused or enlightened. We're slashdot. The point, which you seem to be missing, is slashdot is its contributors, who come here to interact.

Every time I see the beta design I grope for the alternate link that gets me back to the perhaps-weird but familiar interface I like. That's what I expect. If you want to change it, fine, it's your site, but the contributors will go somewhere they prefer and it won't be here.

about 9 months ago
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Japanese Probe Finds Miswiring of Boeing 787 Battery

jet_silver Re:Japanese spin (201 comments)

It may be you're right but the requirements might have led Yuasa to believe the battery management would be taken on by other system elements. Requirements writing is not all that easy, especially when you're trying to anticipate problems in equipment no one has had to rely on to such an extent before.

Damn fine work by the Japanese MoT nonetheless, aggregating clues from all over the place.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: What's the Most Depressing Sci-fi You've Ever Read?

jet_silver Re:inane subject here (1365 comments)

Came here to say this. Leaving satisfied.

more than 2 years ago
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China Begins Stockpiling Rare Earths, Draws WTO Attention

jet_silver Low cost, high risk (227 comments)

Dealing with suppliers or manufacturers of anything in China presents the possibility of low costs but adds risk. The reward/risk calculus is seriously out of whack these days: for example, a tremendous amount of world HDD capacity is located in Thailand, where floods can stop everyone's production. China's industral advancement is going to be short-lived unless they start treating contracts as binding instead of a general idea.

A responsible supply chain manager would second-source everything they bought in China except for plastic toys, shower curtains and flip-flops - and I'm not so sure about the toys because high lead or selenium (or both) levels have been found in Chinese toys.

more than 2 years ago
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Insects As Weapons

jet_silver Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (160 comments)

Eucalyptus trees were implicated in the spread of the Oakland Hills firestorm. They are flammable weeds. There isn't anything except the rapid growth rate and the smell to recommend them for anything at all in the USA, though in Australia it is my understanding that various pests constrain their growth and they're useful wood (for furniture) there.

If every single eucalyptus tree in California died it would bother me not a bit except for the brief time during which they were falling down.

more than 2 years ago
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Is Hypertext Literature Dead?

jet_silver Re:Because it is difficult (208 comments)

Yup. Samuel Delany tries a little of this here and there and it not only looks strange, it's also difficult to read. Hyperlinking is throwing off some ideas like multiple finishes to a novel. If it's going to flower as a new art form, it has to start with an idea that is really new and not just an obvious mechanism. It's probably even odds that someone has actually come up with genuinely new fiction that is enhanced a lot by its hyperlinking, and it's sitting on a drive someplace with the creator wondering what it is for.

more than 2 years ago
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New Study Confirms Safety of GM Crops

jet_silver Selling your credibility (571 comments)

These days, you only have to whore yourself out once to be fixed for life. Reaching the desired conclusion for money has corrupted so many fields that there is a serious credibility problem with anyone getting funded by entities that have oxen and fear their being gored. It has gotten so bad with the unholy alliance between politics and drug companies that many people have begun giving up paying attention to it altogether.

The way these studies are conducted might be unimpeachable and the conclusions with these particular tests (wherein the changes are said to be "insignificant" (on what basis?)) might be statistically supportable. However, this is one conclusion and not a Fact. Similar studies show that coffee|Brussels sprouts|dietary fiber|control of sodium intake is good | bad for you (related summary here), and reaching opposite conclusions shows either that experiments are not being repeated, or that the effects are not clear.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Get Non-Developers To Send Meaningful Bug Reports?

jet_silver Make the users fill in a form... (360 comments)

and find out what you think might be wrong, instead of what is wrong.

Engage the users. It's your problem, not theirs.

more than 2 years ago
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Watch Out Linux, GNU Hurd Coming

jet_silver Re:This can't be!! (463 comments)

Harlan Ellison is going to release "The Last Dangerous Visions" right about that time. What a coincidence.

more than 3 years ago
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Camera Lets You Shift Focus After Shooting

jet_silver Re:Lots of red flags, little tech (155 comments)

Look at page 4 of this: http://www.lytro.com/science_inside. You can read the founder's Ph.D. dissertation and I guarantee you'll get your geek on if you can follow it. It's a really excellent piece of work, and at the same time it is written in such a pleasant style that it keeps you curious and interested.

more than 3 years ago
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China Begins To Extend High Speed Rail Across Asia

jet_silver Rail is great. For moving tanks. (387 comments)

It's war infrastructure pure and simple. It's analogous to the Duomo in Siena. Those big, wide boulevards? Meant for crushing civil insurrection with cavalry. China has roads strong enough to accept tanks already, to Nepal and Laos, but rail moves things so much faster.

more than 3 years ago
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NSA Trial Evidence 'Riddled With Boxes and Arrows'

jet_silver Re:Rights? (108 comments)

In the second link there is a line: This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the jury will see that the unclassified lan- guage has been changed and left to wonder why they cannot see information the government’s expert deems unclassified. The jurors will be completely and hopelessly confused.1. So, if the jurors are completely and hopelessly confused, is the real problem that they won't know it? In the face of hopelessly confusing evidence, it seems as though the responsibility of the jury is to acquit. IANAL, but if I were the defense would it not be entirely reasonable to say just that in the wind-up of arguments?

more than 3 years ago
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How Today's Tech Alienates the Elderly

jet_silver Re:Admit it... (453 comments)

Exactly. English words are consistent for English-speaking people. Icons have no such standard, and having to memorize the functions represented by icons when they are application-specific (take a look at Solidworks 2011 if you want to see some examples) is an unnecessary hurdle.

more than 3 years ago
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America's Tech Decline: a Reading Guide

jet_silver TFA is way off the mark (611 comments)

TFA lists as concerns the wrong ones. 1) STEM "education", which is really training. You don't train people to innovate, you train people to push buttons or flip burgers. Education begins with independent, critical thinking and that is less and less fostered by the educational system. 2) Why would a smart student do STEM when the money is in pie-dividing, not pie creation? Besides, B-school is about parties and sex, not cracking books all night and all weekend. 3) The progress toward a knowledge-based economy -should- be slowest for the early adopters, then people can copy it and learn from those mistakes. 4) The benchmark of "green energy" is wrong, it is now viable only because governments mandate it. From TFA: "Clean energy is an industry the government has cited as important to future growth." And the government will piss in your pocket and tell you it's raining. Government initiatives are playgrounds for rent-seekers, perpetual-motion nuts, and con men.

America's tech decline is fostered by a government in thrall to companies that ship profits to Jersey, Bermuda and Monaco; jobs to China and Vietnam; and toxic waste to Africa. Simplification of the tax code, taxing companies and individuals on parity (after all, companies are people) and letting the bastards walk if they don't like it, and a serious crackdown on malfeasance under color of authority are what the government should be doing.

more than 3 years ago
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Tesla Sues BBC's Top Gear For Libel

jet_silver A pox on both their houses (547 comments)

Clarkson is an ass and Tesla is a tax farm. Scroom, both.

However, the dignified party in this particular action is Tesla. Clarkson, being an ass and a blowhard, cannot possibly be dignified.

more than 3 years ago
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China Now Halting Shipments of Rare Earth Minerals To US

jet_silver Rare Chinese foot-shot (738 comments)

This is how you rile up your trade enemies. Make no mistake, China is getting aggressive. Too fast, guys, because there are good big rare earth mines in the USA. These will re-open and China will lose leverage. What is more, now the game is out in the open. I have been waiting for such a moment, and I assure you it will be much more painful for the Chinese in a few years than it will be for US corporations in a few months.

about 4 years ago
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5-Axis Robot Carves Metal Like Butter

jet_silver It depends on what's valued in a culture (277 comments)

"Leadership" might not translate fast enough to cash in the US to look as though it's worth having. The US metric up to the last year or so, which I hope is beginning to fade, is "can we make our money back on this in a short time?" and the closure of labs like Bell and Xerox PARC reflect this bottom-line thinking. Germans and Japanese alike see nothing "better" in the challenges of design than in those of manufacturing so they have good engineers doing both, and they think longer-term. It's less difficult to sell the leadership argument to their management. The French don't even appear in the contest and that's because all their bright people - who are legion - are theoreticians, they see something not quite nice, or grubby, or something in manufacturing and manufacturing engineers are seen as lower life-forms. If the French could get over that they might place.

The Chinese won't lead, ever, with stolen IP and that's how they do business. They have advanced recipes but when they break, there is no theoretical backing for it. They'll manufacture things a couple lamellae behind the cutting edge until they get over that. Once the ROW catch on you will see the Chinese doing truly wacky things because they will be stealing poisoned IP.

more than 4 years ago
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High-Tech Research Moving From US To China

jet_silver Re:Chinese Engineer != Western Engineer (426 comments)

It ain't the engineering. It's the Chinese penchance for screwing you out of a buck rather than earning it honestly that is going to bite them in the ass. The Chinese can build a good car. One of them. Then they will twiddle and pare and chisel and fuck their suppliers and build backyard factories favored by local politicians instead of qualified ones, and they will engage in foot shots until no one trusts anything that comes out of that country, and they will learn that honest value as delivered is worth more than the initial swag.

Take the Bluesky (PRC brand) toaster oven my GF bought. It came apart in three -months'- usage. We bought a deLonghi toaster oven the next time. Haier washing machines? Look at their ratings. Jinma tractors? Ditto. On and on.... The products are not badly designed, they are badly built out of materials that wouldn't pass a first article inspection, and will be until Chinese business doesn't depend on bribery at every conceivable level to function.

Until that day arrives, buy no Chinese product you have to trust.

more than 4 years ago
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High-Tech Research Moving From US To China

jet_silver Re:Let a 50 year old Engineer tell you something (426 comments)

Another 50ish ME here.

I worked for Applied Materials when it was busy outsourcing production of 5000 and Centura systems to Japan, in the early 1990s. At that time Silicon Valley was getting full of Japanese companies doing exactly what we're talking about here: buying, cross-licensing, or otherwise co-opting technology. There was - and still is - an AMAT R&D center in Narita where the biggest, nastiest kludge prototypes were being built by local staff. And they learned, and they got better at it....

and the market moved. AMAT is now seeking growth in solar films, not in what was their core business: wafer fab.

AMAT is probably smart enough to keep the cutting-edge tech nuggets the hell out of China. The parent is right about production raising the ante. The parent is wrong in implying that this ipso facto ruins the home business - it only ruins businesses that have gotten complacent. UK car industry? Failed to be paranoid. Ditto UK bicycle industry, American audio industry, American car industry. The American aircraft industry is next and I assure you Boeing are not missing the implications. 757 production -will- be moved to China in ten years or fewer. How will the market move in aircraft?

After all, the UK, France and Germany are still in business. So is the US.

In my current business, labor is a pretty small fraction of the cost of goods sold. As it matures, it will get more cost sensitive and the gains to be had in reducing labor cost will mean this business will move to China.

The question is whether the fuse is built faster than it burns.

Don't discount, above all, the idea that the Chinese are managing their own fuse. If 1.3 billion people demand more than what can be supplied, there you have the necessary conditions for a revolution: they're not started by starving people, they're started by people who see progress but aren't sufficiently sharing in it.

more than 4 years ago

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