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Comments

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Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

joe_frisch Re:Why do you want pieces of plastic (290 comments)

EXACTLY.
I would much prefer streaming if the same content were available but it isn't. In particular many recent releases are only available in physical disks. If netflix wants to go to an all streaming model it needs to talk to its suppliers, not its customers .

9 hours ago
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A Look At NASA's Orion Project

joe_frisch Re:That's not an Orion... (108 comments)

Mod parent +1 awesome.

I'm particularly amused that people seriously considered nuclear bomb pulse propulsion for EARTH TAKEOFF. And to think modern wimps complain about airport noise.....

2 days ago
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Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

joe_frisch Re:US, the moon. China, mars. (203 comments)

US may be more like Byzantium, a slow centuries-long decline. Reliving its past glories "safe" behind its invulnerable walls.

Civilizations rise and fall. Its not clear who's next. China is making rapid progress, but it isn't clear if they will regain their millennia long place as world leaders, or crash and burn on the next economic downturn. I hope they make it though - I'd rather it were us, but I want someone in space.

2 days ago
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Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

joe_frisch Re:The biggest problem with the space shuttle (203 comments)

While I agree with this, I think there is also the issue that the shuttle was not a very good general purpose launch vehicle - or more correctly general purpose launch vehicles do not seem like a good engineering solution.

For missions where you need to send men and equipment into orbit and bring them down again the Shuttle is fine. If you just want to put cargo into orbit, the extra weight and complexity is not worth it. If you just want to put men in orbit and return them, then a smaller vehicle works.

The design of launch vehicles is so marginal that it is not worth providing for a lot of mission flexibility. The early shuttle concepts recognized this and had non-returning heavy-lift variants.

2 days ago
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"Intelligent" Avatars Poised To Manage Airline Check-In

joe_frisch First - why do we need checkin (102 comments)

I check in online. When I get to the airport, why can't I just swipe my passport drop my bags on the conveyor and go on my way. Sometimes that works, but at least half the time while someone types the Oxford English Dictionary into a keyboard. I'm not changing flights. I'm doing exactly what my reservation, and online checkin said I was doing.

I don't want a human touch, I just want to get on my airplane.

On the occasions where I am doing something unusual, or where something goes wrong, an AI avatar is NOT going to be able to solve my problem.

2 days ago
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The debate over climate change is..

joe_frisch Re:n/t (278 comments)

There is lots of good, extremely complex science being done. What you see in the media though is almost entirely idiots yelling about politics.

5 days ago
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Airbus Patents Windowless Cockpit That Would Increase Pilots' Field of View

joe_frisch Re:And when the video feed dies... (468 comments)

Assuming CATIIIc zero visibility operations will be approved, a lack of windows should be fine for normal taxi and flight. The pilots are already relying on operating entirely by instruments.

That said, there could be emergencies where real outside visibility would be nice - water ditching, etc. Those may be rare enough though that it isn't a significant extra risk.

Will sure may flying airliners even less interesting than it is now.

about two weeks ago
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Match.com, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses

joe_frisch Re:IF.. (561 comments)

I think part of the problem is that what we think of as "intelligence" is a vector quantity and can't be well described by a scalar like IQ. You can define some metric on the vector intelligence, but that metric will be arbitrary. You can think of "intelligence" as a combination of memory, quick-thinking, spatial visualization, abstract mathematical ability, social abilities, etc etc. What combination of those are important will be different depending on what activity you are doing.

The particular problem here is that most people want intelligent companions in order to have interesting conversations. I don't think the standard IQ measurement is a good indicator of how interesting someone is to talk to.

I think most people just naturally find others with compatible ways of thinking. So using IQ to find companions who are also looking for high IQs may be pre-selecting for people who are not very good at socializing. Its not that high IQ makes you bad at socializing, but rather that if you are good at socializing, you won't need to use IQ to pre-select.

about a month ago
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Court Releases DOJ Memo Justifying Drone Strike On US Citizen

joe_frisch Re:Military use of force (371 comments)

The lack of a formal declaration of war is one problem. The other is the idea of a "global" war on terrorism. In a conventional war, someone operating within an enemy country can be considered an enemy and is reasonable target for an attack. The geographic limits on targets put a limit on the ability of the US to simply execute citizens. An American citizen in an enemy country is a legitimate target of attack in the same way that (with some restrictions) anything else in that country is a valid target. However, military attacks when there is not a state of war with a country are normally not considered legal.

With this "global" war on terrorists, we are essentially saying that we can declare anyone anywhere to be an enemy, and then kill them. By this logic could China use a drone to kill an Chinese citizen in the US if they believe he holds a high position in Falun Gong? Could this argument be used to execute rather than arrest a US citizen IN the US if his capture was believed to be too dangerous?

It seems to be a dangerous blurring of the line between law enforcement and war.

about a month ago
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Court Releases DOJ Memo Justifying Drone Strike On US Citizen

joe_frisch Re:Military justification (371 comments)

But all of this information comes from the same government that executed him. Its very likely he was involved, but did his involvement rise to the level of a capital crime? Is there even a death sentence for conspiracy to commit murder?

about a month ago
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Court Releases DOJ Memo Justifying Drone Strike On US Citizen

joe_frisch Re:Military justification (371 comments)

"al-Aulaqi declared himself an enemy combatant and a member of a group which we are at war with"

Did he? How do you know?

about a month ago
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Court Releases DOJ Memo Justifying Drone Strike On US Citizen

joe_frisch Re:How does this not violate the 5th and/or 14th.. (371 comments)

That IS a major turning point. There is a huge difference between occasionally killing people in secret and declaring that the government has the right to kill citizens without a trial. Secret killings need to be limited in number or they can't be kept secret. Once execution without trials is in the open, what limits the numbers?

about a month ago
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Court Releases DOJ Memo Justifying Drone Strike On US Citizen

joe_frisch Re:Yeah sure (371 comments)

If you are in a state of war with a country, within some limits it is expected that you can kill people in that country. Where things get complicated is when you are in an ill defined state of hostility against a non-state organization like Al Qaeda. What are the rules on declaring someone to be part of that organization and there for a military target? While this question applies to any possible targets, it is especially troublesome when the target is an american citizen. The government cannot execute an american citizen without a trial. Can it declare an american citizen to be a member of a foreign military and then execute them? This would seem to completely bypass the constitutional right to a fair trial.

In a standard state-war it is fairly simple: If they are in an enemy country it is OK to kill them in the same way that it was OK to kill anyone else in that country. An american arrested for treason in the US on the other hand would get a trial. In a conventional state war you don't bomb countries that are not enemy states.

The level of activity to be considered a target for execution is also a tricky question. It is clearly OK to return fire if fired upon. When his actions are less direct it becomes more difficult.

At the root of all this is that the concept of "war" has changed and laws have not kept up with 21st century wars.

about a month ago
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NASA Funds Projects For Asteroid-Capture Plan

joe_frisch Re:One small step... (65 comments)

The technology development would be really valuable if you believe in a future for human presence in space (which I do, but which I admit is an almost religious belief). The actual asteroid capture on the other hand seems like a difficult but not particularly interesting stunt. 10M isn't really an asteroid, its a rock. Rocks that size hit the earth regularly.

Personally I'd rather see the solar-electric propulsion developed for large probes, especially an Europa lander / rover, and maybe a Titan lander or boat. The manned launch capability is fine if we are working toward a Mars mission (which I hope we are).

Manned space isn't about science and never was. Neither are the pyramids, the Olympics, National parks, fireworks displays, Christmas, Karaoke, or a huge variety of other things we spend tons of money doing. These things, like manned space flight, are more of a goal, rather than a means.

about a month ago
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Judge: $324M Settlement In Silicon Valley Tech Worker Case Not Enough

joe_frisch Re:It can never be fair (150 comments)

Shouldn't this be a case of criminal collusion? At the very least it seems punitive damages are appropriate, and those could far exceed the nominal damage done.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: PC-Based Oscilloscopes On a Microbudget?

joe_frisch Look for national lab salvage / surpluss (172 comments)

A number of labs like SLAC have a salvage department that collects old, but sometimes still functional equipment. If you are associated with an educational institution you might be able to get some of this stuff for free. It will be old but probably fine for some types or student experiments .

about a month ago
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NSF Researcher Suspended For Mining Bitcoin

joe_frisch Re:whoops (220 comments)

The difference between talking about something and doing it is the difference between amusing talk and a crime. We've also talked about putting bitcoin miners in all the high power FPGAs we use for real time feedback. The thing is that we DIDN'T.

As far as the penalty - this is like any other theft of materials. There must be applicable laws.

about a month and a half ago
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Did Russia Trick Snowden Into Going To Moscow?

joe_frisch Re:Sorta plausible (346 comments)

I think he was able to leave China because they didn't want him. They presumably had already extracted whatever information they could (if there was any). At that point he was just a liability. They didn't want to "cooperate" with the US, but at the same time didn't see any advantage in creating an incident. They had not reason not to let him go.

Russia presumably did want him in the hopes (true or not) that he had useful intelligence information with him. They probably decided that he made a useful political playing chip as well.

The US bungled this really badly. By to aggressively trying to retrieve Snowdon they made it clear that his allegations were largely true and attracted a huge amount of media attention. Something along the lines of "A low level NSA employee has defected to Russia. We can't comment on whether or not he had any sensitive information. He had been showing signs or stress recently. We are negotiating with the Russians for his return", followed by the traditional "no comment" on any of the issues Snowdon raised would probably have worked a lot better.

Of course even better would to not have had the NSA act in a way that if caught would do substantial damage to US interests .

about a month and a half ago
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Driver Study: People Want Fewer Embedded Apps, Just Essentials That Work Easily

joe_frisch Re:Touch controls: NO! (148 comments)

Its not just cars - the F35 fighter plane has touch screen controls!

If you think manipulating a touch screen on a bumpy road is bad, imagine trying to do it while making 6-G turns in a fighter. In turbulence I sometimes have trouble hanging onto physical knobs on my 50 year old Beechcraft.

At SLAC we have installed real physical knobs to control the accelerator and they work. Operators can look at displays and have the tactile feedback of moving a control. It speeds up machine tuning.

Touch screens are a way to save money, but in most cases do not improve the user interface.

(Damn kids,, don't know how to design a UI like they did in my day....and the music they listen to.....grumble).

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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Ask Slashdot: Computers for the elderly

joe_frisch joe_frisch writes  |  more than 2 years ago

joe_frisch (1366229) writes "There is a growing group of elderly computer users who have learned to be productive with a particular interface, say windows XP and office 2003, and who do not have the interest or energy to learn something new like Windows 7 or the office "ribbon". They continue to use aging and unreliable computers because they do not know how to order new computers with the older interface. Many of these users are relatively wealthy so this is potentially a valuable market.

While it it possible to cobble something together, with time it becomes increasingly difficult, especially for the often minimally computer-literate people in this market. In addition, as older software is no longer supported it will be increasingly susceptible to viruses. What would be ideal is a old style interface to updated programs and operating systems.

What are the options — and remember the target market is NOT people who read slashdot, suggesting that they use Debian is not going to work."

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