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Comments

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YouTube Issuing "Report Cards" On Carriers' Streaming Speeds

otter42 Good idea, but terrible implementation (110 comments)

First, what gives with the goofy webpages that try to scroll like pages of a book? One of the wonderful things about a web page is for it to be long and easy to scroll through, instead of requiring me to scroll in order to get to the next text section. That makes it really awkward to go back and forth.

Second, where can I search for other people's results? I want to switch to RCN in Boston, how does this webpage help me know how they're doing?

about a month and a half ago
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Ugly Trends Threaten Aviation Industry

otter42 Re:Cost (473 comments)

I personally turned down the purchase of a Velocity XL at my local airport when the owner was required to do a security inspection, including taking off his shoes, in order to get to his own hanger. There was no way I was going to be hassled by a security search to access my own private property.

This is purely anecdotal, and it doesn't change the fact that you're right that most of this decrease in numbers has been in the cards for years, but it's false to claim that pilots aren't harmed by the insanity around the TSA and its ilk.

about 6 months ago
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New Animated PNG Creation Tools Intend To Bring APNG Into Mainstream Use

otter42 Trip to Japan (246 comments)

Please note their $5,000 prize is a two-months' stay in Japan: Land of soy sauce... and Mothra.

1 year,9 days
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Is Santorum's "Google Problem" a Google Problem?

otter42 No policing neologisms (775 comments)

It is not a search engine's responsibility to police our neologisms. Santorum is a word now used by the common public, and it requires no editorializing by third parties. As the original article points out:

The news is better for searches for Rick Santorum's full name, rather than just the word "santorum." In that case, his official site ranks tops.

So in other words, if I'm looking for a person, I write the person's name in and find the person. If I'm looking for a thing, I type said thing in and find it.

For example, would anybody be annoyed if a google search of the word "houston" showed Houston, TX as the first hit, instead of Whitney Houston?

Now as to why Santorum and santorum came to be connected is another matter. But that's something for a different conversation, which the columnist fails to grasp.

more than 2 years ago
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Making a Real Batcopter, With Parts From the Hardware Store

otter42 Re:Hadn't expected this on /. so quickly (50 comments)

The bat researchers (I'm a controls researcher, so I have to ask their advice about things like this) say that the bat should carry a load weighing no more than 5% of its weight. On a 10g bat, and these bats are among the bigger species, you can see that this leads to a very small package, indeed.

As for your second question, there were IR cameras recording from many different angles, all of them ground-based. The purpose of the experiment was not to record bat flight with a GoPro; that was just a nice feature that we added since we were already there. The experiment was about perturbing the bats by entering into their clutter and seeing how they respond. Do they flee? Do they ignore? Do they act the same way they do when a hawk attacks? What rules are they following when they fly in a swarm?

more than 3 years ago
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Making a Real Batcopter, With Parts From the Hardware Store

otter42 Re:Parts from the hardware store? (50 comments)

The carbon fiber parts where from hobby-lobby. Although we'll be getting them from HobbyKing in the future because it's something like $5/rod.

The only specialty part was the OpenPilot CopterControl module. That was indeed all of $100. Appropriately sized BLDCs can be bought for $7/ea., a radio is $50, the props are $1.50/ea., the battery was $20, the charger was not high output, and there are a few other components that you didn't list which I won't either in the interests of conciseness. Suffice to say that you can build a complete, functioning quadcopter with a CopterControl for all of $250, incl. the transmitter/receiver combo.

more than 3 years ago
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Making a Real Batcopter, With Parts From the Hardware Store

otter42 Hadn't expected this on /. so quickly (50 comments)

I realize that most of the comments here will probably be poking fun at the batcopter, and I can't wait to read what the /. audience is going to come up with. I guess I underestimated the coolness factor of flying towel racks. However, if you want to discuss the science behind it, I'll be more than happy.

It was a neat project, and we're only just starting, although that's probably the first and the last time that I'll go into the field. Apparently, we have some 30TB of data to wade through, so there's enough there for any dozen PhDs. The next task is to figure out what we actually recorded and to see what we can do with it.

Dr. Kenneth Sebesta

more than 3 years ago
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Making a Real Batcopter, With Parts From the Hardware Store

otter42 Re:Na Na (50 comments)

Oh, balderdash. Better controls laws means better autonomous vehicles. It's your choice if you elect people who use those vehicles to drop bombs instead of move people.

more than 3 years ago
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Apple's Secret Weapon To Win the Tablet Wars

otter42 Re:Was Microsoft Riight? (716 comments)

Re point #1:

I'm a longtime and continuing user of Windows, Linux, and Mac, in that chronological order. 6 months ago, a friend gave me his old iPhone 3G. Now I've got a Nook Color running CM7 and an Atrix on order. After the experience with the Nook Color, I'm petrified of getting the Atrix. It's simply amazing how you can go forward in hardware, but backwards in usability. What does that have to do with point #1?

Simple. Apple has a focused, single-minded user experience. Everything they sell can use almost everything that is made. No Motoblur/HTC Sense/Android/Gingerbread/Honeycomb/FroYo/etc... How do you expect a salesperson to be able to tell you what a tablet is good for, when s/he doesn't even know what the tablet can do, because Android is... what?

To be honest, I don't regret my Nook Color, not for the price, but I could not articulate why someone else should buy one, not even at $250. Yet I could easily do that for an iPad at $600+. I don't own an iPad, and probably never will, but after having seen the software ecosystem, and the relative quality of the user experience (Android is too many, too many options. For simple stuff. Like deleting a program.), I can easily talk to someone and figure out what an iPad could do for them.

more than 3 years ago
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America's Cubicles Are Shrinking

otter42 Yeah, I can kind of understand that (484 comments)

Being one of these "younger" workers I think the article is referring to, I can definitely relate. I don't enjoy working in a solitary office, find that having a colleague in close proximity helps me out when I'm stuck, etc... I recently had a 10m^2 office, shared with one other researcher, and I definitely miss it. My wife has the ability to have a decent sized office with a window view, but she prefers to share a 50% bigger office with a second colleague. They get more done that way.

Of course, others would prefer anything but, and I respect that, too, but this isn't necessarily as Orwellian a quote as that.

more than 3 years ago
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Equipping a Small Hackerspace?

otter42 Heard in the hackerspace this morning (174 comments)

This is only related because it was said in my hackerspace, this morning:

Q: How many hackers does it take to... do anything?
A: Three. Two to watch and one to demonstrate.

P.S.: If you happen to be in Luxembourg, we're selling chocolate keyboards this weekend.

more than 3 years ago
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Hacked iRobot Uses XBox Kinect To See World

otter42 Good for the gander... (124 comments)

So, wait, let me get this straight. Reverse-engineering the drivers for use on non-Xboxes is "hacking" and "unintended" use of a Microsoft product, but Microsoft is only too happy to sell this product to advertisers? Because you don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that the advertisers will not be using an Xbox.

more than 3 years ago
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Stanford Robot Car Capable of Slide Parking

otter42 Re:Three Points (265 comments)

We've fielded quite a few safety critical systems that perform well. In fact, large commercial aircraft are landing autonomously these days, a feat well beyond high speed parallel parking with a puny little car. :-)

Err, no it's not. Landing large aircraft is easy, that's why we did it first.

Don't confuse easy with complex. An aircraft model might be complex, but it is understood, and thus the math makes it easy. Sliding an arbitrary car across arbitrary ground is NOT easy, as we don't understand the math behind it. Without a model, it's very hard to implement closed-loop controls. What's interesting here is that they mix an open-loop control that works in a particular situation with a closed-loop control that doesn't and get a system that is capable of correcting itself but works with arbitrary situations.

This would be the equivalent of landing the aircraft in some unmodeled phase of flight, such as in a spin. Now *that* would be impressive.

more than 4 years ago
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Stanford Robot Car Capable of Slide Parking

otter42 Re:Just a few points... (265 comments)

1) Yeah, that's just wrong, and missing the point. We can guide missiles into tiny spots because we have incredibly good models of their flight path. We can drive a car into a tiny spot in exactly the same way. What's interesting here is that they mix together a LQR controller with open-loop, in a way that does not require hand-tuning and gives excellent, repeatable results.

If we had a dynamic model of the car as it were sliding sideways, I'm sure we could use Lie brackets to discover all sorts of interesting accessible trajectories. But we don't. So this is pretty good control, and might quite possibly be a step toward the type of controller we have in our brain (able to use a combination of open-loop (I did this last time and it worked) and closed-loop (what I'm doing isn't working, I need to adjust) controls)

2) True, but even more likely: if your automatic-parking Mercedes scratches my car while parallel parking, who's responsible for the damage? You (as the driver) or Mercedes (who promised that this feature would work)?

3) As another poster stated, since you don't mean it, it must come naturally. I think many people find parallel parking a chore and would rather have a machine do it for them.

4) Yup, tough toodles, kid. Your freedom to kill others is only a freedom to the point at which we cannot find a better solution. If you were complaining about not being able to go somewhere you want, I would be behind you 100%. However, you seem to be complaining that you consider it a freedom to drive how *you* want to. Considering the atrocious results (both accident rates and people making moronic decision to buy tank sized SUVs because "they're safer"), this "freedom" is pretty poorly exercised.

more than 4 years ago
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Stanford Robot Car Capable of Slide Parking

otter42 Re:Stanford hasn't heard of gymkhana, apparently. (265 comments)

How this post got modded up is beyond me. It demonstrates the most amazing lack of knowledge on the subject. What is impressive here is that we have a computer doing something a human does. That's always impressive when it's done the first time, and you get mad street cred when it's reproduceable. There are many, many things humans do that we do not understand how to model and thus cannot yet control. Heck, we don't even know how to tell a robot to walk through a crowded room of people (do I ask my boss to pull back from the table, or brush up against my mother-in-law?), so parroting that someone can do it better is hardly impressive. "Someone" cannot be manufactured, micronized, improved on, or reproduced countless millions of times.

Oh, and in case you didn't notice, the last author of this paper is Sebastian Thrun, head of the Stanford project that won the DARPA Grand Challenge and took second place in the DARPA Urban Challenge. I suggest you read the paper in order to understand what's being proposed here, and then we can talk shop.

IAACE. (I Am A Controls Engineer)

more than 4 years ago
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An Interview With F# Creator Don Syme

otter42 Re:Looks interesting as replacement for Python (267 comments)

Oh, I completely understand why you like it. The function itself doesn't even bother me. What bothers me is the name. If I say "you've got a range of options to choose from when programming, from C++ to Python," 100% of people would understand both C++ and Python to feature in the list. When we talk about functional programming, I understand programming that can be read outloud. This might be incorrect, but it's the way I imagine it should be.

So, really, it's not a programming problem at all, it's just a terrible syntax problem. There's a myriad of bad and confusing function names that can be imagined, and more than a few seem to have wound up in Python.

P.S. I'll have to look into the advantages range gives you. What you describe makes it seem like a nice function, in spite of the name.

more than 4 years ago
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An Interview With F# Creator Don Syme

otter42 Re:Python is waaaayyy better (267 comments)

You say you don't like 'len' as a name for a length function, that you would prefer using the name 'length'. Well, python is so superior, that you can fix that problem really fast in your code:

length = len

That *is* a neat feature.

My only beef is that it can't help to solve the mess that is everyone else's Python code. Once I'm programming in Python, all these things will seem very natural. (It can't be worse than C!) But for people who are new to Python, and just want to modify a tiny section of code in someone's script because it almost, but not quite, does what they want it to, all the myriad Python bizarreness jumps up and bites them.

more than 4 years ago
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An Interview With F# Creator Don Syme

otter42 Re:Looks interesting as replacement for Python (267 comments)

Oh, please. What hogwash. You're making an assumption that not liking enforced whitespace means not having consistent style and respecting whitespace norms for all published programs. Anyone who does serious programming is capable of instantly figuring out whitespacing, even when it's inconsistent. If it's code that's been incorrectly formatted, it's dreadfully easy to fix it. Matlab, for instance, will automatically apply correct indents to an entire file, so I imagine that that's a feature available on many other editors.

What's hard to figure out on your own is uncommented code. Should Python mandate comments, then? (Maybe just!)

more than 4 years ago
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An Interview With F# Creator Don Syme

otter42 Re:Looks interesting as replacement for Python (267 comments)

You do realize there's no dynamic typing in F#, right? It's very rigidly typed, in fact, more so than C/C#/Java - it won't let you use an int where a float is expected! (it's the price you have to pay for type inference - it doesn't play well with ambiguity)

I do. They're not quite the same beast, but since I've programed a lot in C the question of dynamic typing or not is not so important.

On the whole, it looks like what you're looking for is actually called Ruby.

Really? I had always thought of Ruby as a web language. Thanks for the tip, I'll look into it.

more than 4 years ago
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An Interview With F# Creator Don Syme

otter42 Looks interesting as replacement for Python (267 comments)

I'm going to say something anathema to the /. crowd, but I'm looking into it with interest for replacing Python. I first teethed on FORTRAN, moved to Matlab 10 years lates, and have been using C extensively for the past 2 years. I'm starting into Python as a quick and dirty replacement for Matlab, and am quickly falling into a love-hate relationship with it.

The love comes from all the cool things that Python can do, for free. Dynamic typing, .append() functionality, etc. It's just awesome.

The hate comes from the sheer lunacy that is Python syntax. Forced whitespacing doesn't suit my debugging style (why not just have the compiler recognize either whitespace or accolades?); functions names like len() are just, frankly, idiotic (length() is much more readable to beginners, and takes only a few extra milliseconds to type for experienced users); and the way of working with indices is just weird (2:5 means the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th elements, but not the fifth; range(2 5) gives you 2 3 4, but not 5.).

Python reminds me of many of these incredibly powerful scientific projects that never got used by a non-scientist until it was far too late to make changes. range() is a good example of this, as while it perfectly emulates "for i=2; i < 5; i++", it is NOT what you expect to get when you say, outloud, "I want a range of numbers from 2 to 5". Having contributed to Scilab, I should know as I'm equally guilty of this kind of thing.

If F# can fill this void, by giving functional programming with functional syntax, I'll probably stop my Python experiments and move directly to F#.

Although to be honest, I'd love to find a python front end that uses non-insane syntax and then simply precompiles it into python syntax at run-time. Then you don't have the MS, Windows, and .Net ickiness.

P.S. I'm not looking to start a flame war about force whitespacing. There are really good reasons to like it. All my programs have consistent whitespacing, except when I debug (I like to put debug programming all the way against the margin, that way there's no possibility of ever forgetting it in the code)). However, you can't have it both ways on readability vis-à-vis function names and indices.

more than 4 years ago

Submissions

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New Kinect Acheivement: Ring of Death

otter42 otter42 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

otter42 (190544) writes "It seems that the XBox 360's Kinect will manage to scratch 100% of games. Okay, hyperbole aside, it really does seem that playing a kinect game becomes a question of when the disc will be fatally scratched, rather than if. The problem is that, in order to save $0.25/ea., Microsoft decided to forgo rubber bumpers that protect the spinning disc from vibration. As the Kinect virtually ensures there will be lots of humans jumping, bumping, hopping, and grinding, it's difficult to imagine when vibrations won't be present."
Link to Original Source
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"My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement"

otter42 otter42 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

otter42 (190544) writes "It's a bit of a moral dilema to post this to slashdot, giving the bastard what he wants, but even if DecorMyEyes is right and it's true that all bad publicity is good publicity in Google land, the story still needs to come out. The NYTimes has an 8-page exposé on how an online business is thriving because of giant amounts of negative reviews. It seems that if you directly google the company you have no problem discerning the true nature; but if you instead only google the brand names it sells, the company is at the top of the rankings. Turns out that all the negative advertisement he generates from reputable sites gives him countless links that inflate his pagerank."
Link to Original Source
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X-37B found at last

otter42 otter42 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

otter42 (190544) writes "It seems that X-37B couldn't stay hidden forever. Launched a few weeks ago, The Flying Twinkie disappeared shortly after separation. Now it has been found in an orbit that takes it as far as 40 degrees north. No additional information about the spacecraft's capabilities or purpose, except for a US Air Force statement that the satellite has no space-weapons purpose. The X-37B is intended to fly for 9 months at a time, opening the door to possible space longevity experiments in addition to its spying tasks."
Link to Original Source
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Ricardo Montalban, a.k.a. Khan, passes away.

otter42 otter42 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

otter42 writes "Once again, real life mirrors fantasy as Kirk outlives Khan. Ricardo Montalbàn just passed away at 88. He joins an ever-growing list of Star Trek persona that have left Earth for the stars. They say it was due to "complications related to old age", but trekkies know the truth. Khaaaaaaaaaaaan!"
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Toilets. In. Spaaaaaace!

otter42 otter42 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

otter42 (190544) writes "The New York Times reports that the ISS's toilet has gone kaput. It seems that the system for separating solid and liquid waste has developed a fault. "Solids" go where they're supposed to, but "liquids" don't. The astronauts have bypassed the '"the troublesome hardware" for urine collection with a "special receptacle".' Something tells me they're glad the failure wasn't the other way around. Cue Communist Russia jokes in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1..."
Link to Original Source

Journals

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Friends and Foes

otter42 otter42 writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Hmm... I've got "friends". I don't really understand why. I'd be curious to know what made them choose me as a "friend".

Oh, yeah, and I've got a foe, too. That one I really don't understand, as I never post anything anyway.

Feel free to give me your reasons, I'm curious.

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