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Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret

joe_frisch Re:Just give the option to turn it off... (790 comments)

Absolutely agree if we are talking about fake noise piped into the cabin to make the car sound louder.

My BMW M235 does this and it really pisses me off that I can't disable it without hacking. Makes me wish I had bought a (very similar) Audi S3 which does have and enable / disable for engine sounds in the in-cabin settings. In the M235 the noise seems connected to the "sport" steering and shifting program (though their documentation doesn't admit it of course).

Great plan BMW - you've succeeded in making one of your customers feel like an idiot, a great way to boost future sales. There is this new thing called and "internet" were people share information - you should read up on it. It means that you can't keep things like this secret .

"Safety" noises on electric cards are an entirely different issue.

3 days ago
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The Paradoxes That Threaten To Tear Modern Cosmology Apart

joe_frisch Re:Since when did unknown == paradox?? (228 comments)

Agreed. Also, if you someone is worried about conservation of energy you have to worry about the big-bang - where everything suddenly appears.

We don't yet have a good theory that includes quantum mechanics and gravity - and that seems to be central to all of these unknowns. Likely we will figure one out eventually.

Most of the issues with quantum gravity occur at scales that are not accessible in the laboratory. Every experiment we can do is predicted by existing theories, and we can't reach the conditions where we expect those theories to fail.

3 days ago
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Little-Known Programming Languages That Actually Pay

joe_frisch Re:"Programming" Excel (242 comments)

Nothing wrong with Excel. For some types of problems it is a very efficient tool. It takes quite a bit of skill to write a complex spreadsheet that can be used effectively by other people.

Excel and other spread sheets are good tools where the user is entering a variety of data in different fields, and the looking at the results. You could of course write the functionality in another language, but Excel provides the user interface for free.

about three weeks ago
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Little-Known Programming Languages That Actually Pay

joe_frisch Re:Skip MATLAB, Learn R (242 comments)

Different languages are good for different things.
At SLAC we use Matlab extensively for accelerator modeling and control, It has a lot of very nice features (with add-ins) for signal processing, feedback design, linera algegra and general numerical analysis (numerical integration etc.). It has some nice parallel processing tool boxes and can be very high performance for vector applications. I also has excellent graphical and debugging capabilities.

I've used Matlab and Python (Pylab, numpy) and find Matlab to be a much better tool for this type of signal processing problem, and worse at other jobs. I haven't used R, but I believe it is optimized for statistical analysis which is a different sort of problem.

The wide variety of tool boxes are a big help for many types of problems.

Like most specialized languages it is very good at doing what it is designed to do, not so good for other applications.

The cost of matlab is not significant compared to the cost of the person who is using it. (A FTE here costs the lab ~$250K/year, so a few thousand for a Matlab license is lost in the noise).

about three weeks ago
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Experiments Create Particles Out of a Vacuum Using Neutrinos

joe_frisch Re:New ways to generate... gravity? (86 comments)

This isn't really related to gravity. Neutrinos are (as far as we know) fundamental particles. They are creating pairs of quarks (as far as we know fundamental) bound together to for a pion.

Gravitons are a different fundamental particle and interact much more weekly than do neutrinos. In principal there is probably some cross section for neutrinos interacting to produce gravitons, but the probability is exceptionally tiny.

Gravitons are part of the quantum description of gravity, but they have not been directly detected as particles - the interaction is so weak that it is difficult to imagine an experiment that could do that .

about three weeks ago
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North Korean Internet Is Down

joe_frisch Re:Dangerous if its the US (360 comments)

Air gaps are harder than they sound.

Air traffic control now uses ADS-B data linked from aircraft. Anyone with a plane and a few thousand dollars for an ADSB-out unit (required on all aircraft in a few years) is sending data to the air traffic control computers. Is the data sufficiently checked for hacks from badly-formed packets etc? I'm sure its checked but people have managed to hack other systems that were thought to be secure.

Air traffic control may also need feeds from NOAA weather, which will need to get data from and provide data to many outside services.

Utilities may have internet connectivity to allow employees to quickly fix problems from home.

Even with air gaps, systems often need new firmware or software, so you need to control all of the computers where that development is done, or need a way to be sure the software doesn't have hidden time bombs.

I'm not saying that its impossible, but it can be quite difficult to completely secure a system from sophisticated hacks.

about a month ago
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North Korean Internet Is Down

joe_frisch Dangerous if its the US (360 comments)

We don't have widely accepted rules of war for cyber-warfare. It has the potential to escalate into acts that cause civilian deaths, and large scale property damage. Does a cyber attack on nuclear strategic forces result in a nuclear counter-attack - the way a conventional attack might?

IF the US is behind this, the initial response may seem reasonable, but it could lead to escalating counter attacks and real badness.

This is very spooky uncharted territory.

about a month ago
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Judge: It's OK For Cops To Create Fake Instagram Accounts

joe_frisch Re:Sounds fine by me (209 comments)

I think the police should have exactly as much or little right to create a fake account on a site as any other person does.

Impersonating someone real should be illegal if it isn't already .

about a month ago
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Anonymous Claims They Will Release "The Interview" Themselves

joe_frisch Marketing? (239 comments)

Sony makes a, by all reports, terrible movie. Suddenly the hack gives it a tremendous amount of press coverage and controversy. When they finally relent and release it, will the overall ticket sales be up or down?

Nah, Sony is much too honest and honorable of a company to consider such a thing......

about a month ago
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US Navy Authorizes Use of Laser In Combat

joe_frisch Re:This might alienate anti-ISI* Muslims. (225 comments)

The only demo I saw of one of these was against a small boat.

Missiles might be a valid target, but they could be designed to be very laser resistant - picture a reentry shield......

I don't really see much use for these anyway - "won't work in rain and fog" is a pretty big problem.

about a month and a half ago
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US Navy Authorizes Use of Laser In Combat

joe_frisch Re: This might alienate anti-ISI* Muslims. (225 comments)

A modestly shiny piece of metal will do quite a good job of reflecting. You won't get a coherent beam but a diffuse spot that will still blind at a long distance. think of the sun reflecting off of a modestly well polished metal surface. Something you could easily get with a buffing wheel.

Or for more humor value - a disco ball......

about a month and a half ago
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US Navy Authorizes Use of Laser In Combat

joe_frisch Re:This might alienate anti-ISI* Muslims. (225 comments)

I'm worried about a reflector on the target ship. If I were planning a terrorist attack on a US navy ship, after reading this, I'd mount an optical retro-reflectors. (though of course that makes you more radar-visible... The retroreflectors are a big hazard to crew on the firing ship. They don't need to be very good if you are just trying to blind, not do physical damage.

The blinding problem is more an issue if the ship is in harbor somewhere. There is also the risk of a clever terrorist on a boat reflecting the beam toward a nearby (few kilometers) set of civilians - say a crowded beach.......

Reasonable precautions can avoid these scenarios, but the precautions need to be taken very seriously. I don't want to hear that we accidentally blinded hundreds of innocent families on a beach somewhere.....

(I just hope that the US realizes the risk before the terrorists recognize the opportunity). Otherwise I wouldn't even post ideas like this on a public board.

about a month and a half ago
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US Navy Authorizes Use of Laser In Combat

joe_frisch Re:This might alienate anti-ISI* Muslims. (225 comments)

This could get sticky. The most effective property of the lasers may be that they blind, even though that isn't their stated function. Similarly to using white phosphorus against humans, the legality is debated.

Everyone on a ship with the laser will need eye protection all the time. Crude metal corner cubes will be pretty effective and since the goal of the weapon is rapid response, the crew will need to always be ready, or they risk blinding their own people. It will have a really tough time burning through a 1/4" thick aluminum corner cube.

Note - it isn't clear from the article whether the laser operates at a wavelength that is likely to cause blindness. Various hints suggest it is Nd (or maybe Yb) based which would be ~1um and is in a wavelength range that can easily cause blindness (it is focused by the eye). The powers required for blinding are dramatically lower then the power required to do physical damage, so its range as a blinding weapon (intentional or not) will be much longer than its range for physical damage. The risk of blinding bystanders from scatter may be significant.

If it is ~1um micron wavelength the beam will be invisible and targets may not be aware of how they were damaged or blinded.

about a month and a half ago
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CIA Lied Over Brutal Interrogations

joe_frisch Re:Effectiveness doesn't matter (772 comments)

Are you so sure?
How many lives were lost in WWII to protect freedom? Would we allow an authoritarian government that didn't support human rights to take over the US because fighting would mean we would lose millions of lives?

about a month and a half ago
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CIA Lied Over Brutal Interrogations

joe_frisch Re:It's allowed... (772 comments)

Generally fighting fire with water or other fire retardants is the preferred method.

It is in the very nature of evil that it "gets results". The entire point of morality is that there are things you will not do even if they are in your interest.

As an American citizen, I do not in any way approve of the use of torture. I am willing to accept the higher risk of death by terrorism, assuming the risk even is higher, in return for the country behaving in a moral fashion. I am willing to trade my safety for doing what is right. No torture, no indefinite detention, no extra-judicial killings.

  If I knew a legal way to stop the US from using torture, I would.

We have become the things we always claimed that we opposed in the world.

about a month and a half ago
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Berkeley Lab Builds World Record Tabletop-Size Particle Accelerator

joe_frisch Re:What about efficiency? (90 comments)

Superconducting linacs can be quite efficient - 10s of %. Electric costs are not a major driver for most accelerators so typically they are not that good in order to save construction costs. You could probably design >50% wall plug -> beam efficiency accelerator if you wanted to.

Laser accelerators are not that good at converting laser energy to beam energy. I don't know the numbers, but above ~10% would surprise me. Then the high drive lasers are very inefficient (these are not diode laesrs!). Both those can be improved, but I would be surprised if the final efficiency were as high as for a conventional superconducting linac.

For low power beam applications that may not be a significant disadvantage and the short length is of course a big advantage. (though the drive laser is big).

about a month and a half ago
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Orion Capsule Safely Recovered, Complete With 12-Year-Old Computer Guts

joe_frisch Engineering == use the correct technology (197 comments)

If older computers can do the job and are known to be reliable in this environment, then using them is the correct choice. We sent people to the moon, and Voyager to multiple outer planets with much older computer technology.

If newer computers would provide improved performance IN THIS APPLICATION then they are worth considering.

about a month and a half ago
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Trains May Soon Come Equipped With Debris-Zapping Lasers

joe_frisch Re:Even if their wet? (194 comments)

We need to test all the competing technologies for this to pick the best:

1) high power lasers.
2). Flame throwers
3). High power plasma discharges.
4). rocket-propelled Anti-leaf attack drones
5). Jets of ClF3
6) Anti-proton beams.
7). Brushes
8) US only: a guy walking ahead of the train with a broom.

then we can see which is the most cost effective and safe - and get some cool youtube videos as well.

about 1 month ago
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The Sony Pictures Hack Was Even Worse Than Everyone Thought

joe_frisch Re:Sauce for the goose; sauce for the gander (528 comments)

I wonder if Sony knows that they are still losing business over this - probably no way for them to find out. I know they've lost >$10K in sales from me since then (I had all Sony stuff at home until then, now nothing).

about 1 month ago
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The Sony Pictures Hack Was Even Worse Than Everyone Thought

joe_frisch Re:Sauce for the goose; sauce for the gander (528 comments)

I feel sorry for their employees who's information was compromised, but I can't say the same about the company. They are still on my "do not buy" list, and I buy a lot of the sort of things that they sell. Still waiting for an apology for the rootkit.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Ask Slashdot: Computers for the elderly

joe_frisch joe_frisch writes  |  more than 3 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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