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It's Easy To Hack Traffic Lights

ortholattice Re:people charge of traffic lights are engineers b (144 comments)

I once knew a traffic-light engineer who was an EE with a BS. I mentioned that I thought it was annoying not to have sensors on lights in rarely-used cross streets, since it wastes a lot of gas to have the main throughway traffic constantly stopping for no reason, not to mention wasting people's time. He said that if you put in a sensor, people will get used to the light always being green, and in the rare case it turns red they will tend not to stop and will cause more accidents. He was very strongly opposed to such sensors - arguing supposedly from experience as a professional and an expert - and our argument started to become, well, heated, so I just let it go. I really doubt what he said is supported by statistics, but his attitude was an example of the thinking of the people designing the lights.

(This was a couple of decades ago. Maybe the thinking has changed since I do see more sensors these days, but still not nearly enough. Often they seem poorly designed, such as unnecessarily waiting a full cycle before changing even if there is no cross traffic.)

about a month ago
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Old School Sci-fi Short Starring Keir Dullea Utilizes Classic Effects

ortholattice Re:Hulu sucks. (91 comments)

I am in the USA and tried to watch it. The commercial played beautifully. Then after the commercial, just a black screen. I waited 5 minutes and gave up. Anyone else have this experience?

about a month and a half ago
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Verizon Throttles Data To "Provide Incentive To Limit Usage"

ortholattice Re:Well there is an issue with cellphones (316 comments)

Spectrum is something you only have a license to a small amount of. As such, the total bandwidth you can put out has a hard limit on it. Everyone on a tower shares that bandwidth and there's just nothing you can do to increase it. You can't "lay more fiber" or "use another laser" or anything like that which you can do on wired connections. On a given segment, there is just only so much bandwidth nature and regulations will let you have.

The solution is to add more cells (towers). That's the whole idea behind cell phones. How do you think the humongous bandwidth used by say downtown Manhattan cell phones is achieved?

about a month and a half ago
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Researchers Test Developer Biometrics To Predict Buggy Code

ortholattice Re:64.99%, 84.38%, Really? (89 comments)

While I agree the extra precision is misleading, the real problem is that they don't provide confidence intervals. Even a rounded 80% could be misleading if it could fall between 60% and 90% due to sparse data.

On the other hand, if in their report details they said "84.38% with a 99% confidence interval of 72.27% to 94.49%", then the extra precision is no longer necessarily misleading (it is just the calculational result of the model used) and, although it is a little pedantic and redundant, I would have no fundamental problem with it. It might even be argued that it is infinitesimally more precise, allowing the calculations to be confirmed by an independent researcher. However, for presentation in summary form, it would be much better to say "between 72% and 94% with 99% confidence".

about 2 months ago
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A Skeptical View of Israel's Iron Dome Rocket Defense System

ortholattice Re:Subject bait (379 comments)

Why the hell are you still living there?

It's my home.

People are constantly losing their "home" for as minor a reason as losing their job and having to transfer to another city. Call me a coward, but I'd move if my city was under long-term, constant attack.

But regardless of your personal motivation, why would you want to traumatize your children by having them grow up in the midst of such fear and violence?

about 2 months ago
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A Peek Inside D-Wave's Quantum Computing Hardware

ortholattice Re:WoW! (55 comments)

Um, last time I looked, most microcontroller chips could make calculations in "mere millionths of a second".

Yes, but they can't do 2^512 (2 to the 512th power) calculations simultaneously in mere millionths of a second.

Of course, this would be for an ideal quantum computer with 512 qubits. There's still some confusion about what the D-Wave "is".

about 2 months ago
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Unicode 7.0 Released, Supporting 23 New Scripts

ortholattice Proprietary fonts (108 comments)

Over the years, I've tried to use Unicode for math symbols on various web pages and tend to revert back to GIFs or LaTeX-generating tools due to problems with symbols missing from the font used by this or that browser/OS combination, or even incorrect symbols in some cases.

IMO the biggest problem with Unicode is the lack of a public domain reference font. Instead, it is a mishmash of proprietary fonts each of which only partly implements the spec. Even the Unicode spec itself uses proprietary fonts from various sources and thus cannot be freely reproduced (it says so right in the spec), a terrible idea for a supposed "standard".

I'd love to see a plain, unadorned public-domain reference font that incorporates all defined characters - indeed, it would seem to me to be the responsibility of the Unicode Standard committee to provide such a font. Then others can use it as a basis for their own fancy proprietary font variations, and I would have a reliable font I could revert to when necessary.

about 3 months ago
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Scientists Find Method To Reliably Teleport Data

ortholattice Re:This research should receive enormous funding. (202 comments)

What you can do is use quantum teleportation to "transmit" (in a manner of speaking) a real (or complex) number, i.e. a quantum superposition, which in theory could contain infinite information, by using only a couple of classical bits. This real number can't be observed directly - you can only tell whether it's less than or greater than a specified number by appropriately designing your observation - but until you observe it, it can be further processed in its full precision as a superposition at the receiver end using quantum operations. What you can do with this internal (uncollapsed) infinite information is up to you, e.g. as part of a quantum factoring or search algorithm, until you finally collapse it and read out some yes/no answer. All in theory of course; in practice you have noise and other sources of error.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Professional Journaling/Notes Software?

ortholattice Re:paper...pencil (170 comments)

I do this. Also, once every year or two, I scan all the pages and make a nice pdf file of each volume. I put bookmarks on pages that I think I may want to look up quickly (often these correspond to physical bookmarks such as little sticky notes) and also bookmark start of month or start of new project. My bookshelf, with 5 linear feet of notes over the years, fits on a thumb drive. In practice, I typically look up things in the pdfs rather than the physical notes. I intend to dispose of the physical notes someday, at least the very old ones (ego has prevented me from doing so thus far), but even if my house burns down my notes are safely stored away on a remote backup.

about 5 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

ortholattice Re:Get creative (390 comments)

Corned beef AND cabbage?...

Beano works for me. However, for it to really work well, I've found you need 2-3 pills per serving of food, typically 6-9 pills per meal, which (even for the generic version) can cost more than the meal itself!

about 5 months ago
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Plant Breeders Release 'Open Source Seeds'

ortholattice Re:The wrong license (136 comments)

You are confusing copyright with patents. TFA is about "patent-free" seeds, not GPL copyrighted seeds (if there even is such a thing).

about 5 months ago
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New 360-Degree Video Capture Method Unveiled

ortholattice Re:Video too slow (58 comments)

So how come I have no problem with streaming video, youtube, etc. which typically use about 20% of the CPU? What makes this so special?

about 7 months ago
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New 360-Degree Video Capture Method Unveiled

ortholattice Video too slow (58 comments)

On my 2GHz laptop, the CPU is pinned to 100%, and all I see are frozen frames that skip through the video every few seconds. The dragging response is so sluggish as to be meaningless since any visual feedback is delayed many seconds. I guess this technology isn't ready for prime time unless you have a bleeding edge gamer GPU or something.

about 7 months ago
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Would Linus Torvalds Please Collect His Bitcoin Tips?

ortholattice Re:Copyright infringement. (231 comments)

I don't see what this has to do with "copyright infringement". Anyway, from what I could tell, Tip4Commit takes a 5% cut.

about 8 months ago
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An OS You'll Love? AI Experts Weigh In On Her

ortholattice Re:OS upgrade time... (175 comments)

Yes, but for those of us who know how to root it, your old one will keep up the house and intelligently manage half of your assets.

about 8 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Can I Improve My Memory For Study?

ortholattice Re:Nootropics (384 comments)

Be careful with priracetam. There is anecdotal evidence that although it may make people with low IQ/memory problems smarter, it might also make people with high IQ dumber. Personally, I tried it for a while and it seemed to make no difference. (Does that mean I have an unremarkable IQ? :-) )

about 8 months ago
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Smart Cars: Too Distracting?

ortholattice Re:Buttons vs Touch screens (180 comments)

Buttons vs Touch screens? I must be really ancient, because I still hate the replacement of Knobs with Buttons. There is nothing more user-friendly than a rotating volume control knob you can reach for in the dark without taking your eyes off the road, vs. finding a little button and hoping it's not set to the wrong mode.

Oh and while I'm at it, what's the deal with the "fade-in" response volume control knobs where when you turn up the volume, it only increases a half-second later? Give me the old-fashioned potentiometers that respond instantly.

And get off my lawn.

about 9 months ago
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Have 100GB Free? Host Your Own Copy of Wikipedia, With Images

ortholattice Re:2013-11-04 (151 comments)

I agree that ISO 8601 is much better, but people will still put the year last in informal usage no matter how much you try to convince them otherwise. Among the countries that I've visited (not an exhaustive list obviously), only the US (usually) uses "/" as the separator. The others usually use "." or "-". And only the US has the month first. So an informal convention that usually works for me when there is ambiguity is to interpret "/" as meaning month first, anything else day first.

about 10 months ago
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Man In Tesla Model S Fire Explains What Happened

ortholattice Stupid idiot messages (526 comments)

A pet peeve with cars is the stupid engine light that gives no clue what the problem is. I have no idea if it's some lower-priority thing like a polution sensor slightly out of spec or something where I need to stop immediately to avoid engine damage. (I know you can buy the code readers, but I don't carry one around in my car typically.)

So the Tesla, with all its sophistication, says 'Car needs service. Car may not restart.' WTF? They might as well replace it with an engine light to save money.

I do agree that 'Please pull over safely. Car is shutting down.' is a little better, but not much.

about 10 months ago

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