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It's Easy To Hack Traffic Lights

pruss Re:So What? (117 comments)

It's a lot easier to get caught when breaking into the padlock than when driving by with an RF device.

5 hours ago
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Qualcomm Takes Down 100+ GitHub Repositories With DMCA Notice

pruss Losing rights to Linux kernel? (349 comments)

IANAL, but I wonder if a case couldn't be made that by limiting the distribution of parts of their Linux kernel source code, they've violated clause 6 of the GPL2 in every product of theirs that uses a Linux kernel with that code, and therefore every other Linux kernel developer is in a position to sue them for copyright violation, or at least file DMCA notices with anybody distributing their stuff. I am assuming they ship products using that kernel code.

about a month and a half ago
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$42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand

pruss Re:More money does not always buy better things. (288 comments)

As I recall from looking at the Consumer Reports reviews of countertop materials, laminate (e.g., Formica) and quartz provide what looked to me to be on balance the best functionality (at least for my mental weighting of the categories). Laminate looked better than granite to me. Quartz was a little better than laminate functionally, but laminate is quite a bit less expensive. I can't remember the specific ratings for the categories.

As for heat resistance, here is some anecdotal information. We lived in a house that was scheduled to be demolished right after we moved out, so for the last couple of months I did not take any precautions with the laminate countertops, since they'd all be smashed up soon. I would take a pot straight off the stove and put it right on the countertop (it felt wrong!). Visible results: none. I don't know the variety of laminate, I am afraid.

about 4 months ago
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Replicant OS Developers Find Backdoor In Samsung Galaxy Devices

pruss Re:Third-party ROMs (126 comments)

Aren't there legal problems with CM and other ROMs including these blobs, since they're presumably copyrighted? Or are they licensed by Samsung under the GPL along with the kernel? But in the latter case, shouldn't Samsung be including source?

about 5 months ago
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Copyright Ruling On Publishing Calculated Results: Common Sense Breaks Out

pruss Judgment shouldn't matter (54 comments)

I'm a bit concerned by the implicit suggestion that if a lot of individual judgment went into producing the averages, then perhaps they might be copyrightable. IANAL, but it's my understanding that ideas, facts, opinions and judgments are not copyrightable. Only their expressions are, and only when there is creativity in the expression of the idea, fact, opinion or judgment. Whether there was creativity in coming up with the idea, fact, opinion or judgment should be completely irrelevant. Thus, when the judgment is that some number is 3.95%, then an expression of that judgment as "3.95%" is not copyrightable, being quite uncreative, but expressing it as "just a shade under four tenths of a tenth, where a shade is a twentieth of a tenth of a tenth" might be creative enough to be copyrightable.

It may, though, be that the judge is just doing a two-prong attack here: neither is the expression creative nor are the ideas creative either.

about 6 months ago
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Adjusting GPAs: A Statistician's Effort To Tackle Grade Inflation

pruss Re:Use Class Rank (264 comments)

It's hard to do this in small upper level classes, though, unless one uses statistics from multiple years, which may be unfair due to changes in course content or in teaching methodology.

about 6 months ago
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Customer: Dell Denies Speaker Repair Under Warranty, Blames VLC

pruss Re:Devil's advocate (526 comments)

I am not a sound engineer, but here's my impression of the issue. The maximum volume in the hardware is presumably set against typically expected waveforms. For instance, normally, if you watch a movie, there is no sustained high level sound. When there is no sound at all, the speaker coils and amp can cool off; during speech the background music is quiet or nonexistent and the pauses between words and variations in loudness will allow for further cooling; and so on.

The waveform compression in the volume boost reduces the differences between quieter and louder sounds, and thereby decreases the opportunities for cooling. This is going to be particularly true in the case of sustained playback of music.

If one sets the maximum volume in the hardware or firmware so that the speakers can survive sustained compressed sound, then the result will be that the speakers will be terrible for hearing speech in movies and radio. Granted, this could be fixed with higher quality speakers and better heat sinks, but that would increase cost and the audio system may need to be physically larger, while people like their laptops small and thin.

I guess temperature sensors in the speakers and the amp might help, and/or smart firmware that not only controls the maximum output but reduces output when high volume is sustained.

Another solution is honesty and user education: just explain to users that built-in speakers can be worn out with sustained compressed audio, and leave it to the users to decide how to balance audibility with risks to hardware.

(Like I said, I am not an engineer, but I do make a sound boost open source app for Android, which works by using the equalizer API to do presumably the same thing that VLC does. I put very obvious warnings about possibilities of damage to hearing and hardware in the app, but nonetheless the app was useful for movies and audio books. But using it for sustained loud music would be a bad idea. As of 4.2.1, Google patched the OS not to allow boost sound above default maxima. This protects speakers but is paternalistic and makes movies nearly unwatchable on some devices, I expect. Tradeoffs...)

about 6 months ago
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$499 3-D Printer Drew Plenty of Attention at CES (Video)

pruss Re:"So you buy the filaments from us...." (155 comments)

And both models can make sense to a buyer. I think I do about 98% of my printing on a b+w laser printer with low page costs. Occasionally I have something to print out something in color, typically for the kids. It makes sense to buy a color printer with low up-front costs for such rare use.

about 7 months ago
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Best skywatching equipment at my disposal:

pruss Re:Define "best" (201 comments)

Being in town doesn't significantly affect viewing of the moon and brighter planets, so telescopes aren't useless in town.

about 7 months ago
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Best skywatching equipment at my disposal:

pruss Re:Planetarium? (201 comments)

Maybe there is a hole in the roof?

about 7 months ago
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New Study Shows One-Third of Americans Don't Believe In Evolution

pruss "beginning of time"?! (1010 comments)

Why can't pollsters phrase questions correctly?! Surely no biblical literalists believe that humans existed "since the beginning of time", as a literal reading of Genesis presents them as created on day six.

about 8 months ago
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Sen. Chuck Schumer Seeks To Extend Ban On 'Undetectable' 3D-Printed Guns

pruss Re:Some sort of gun-revealing device (550 comments)

Much more effective as a threat than a club, though, if the other party doesn't know that the ammunition is missing.

about 9 months ago
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Zuckerberg To Teach 10 Million Kids 0-Based Counting

pruss Re:They don't. (295 comments)

It depends what you're doing. From time to time, I need to do operations on an array entry *and* its successor (or predecessor). Also, sometimes when you're deleting entries, you want to use a numerical index and iterate from the end to the beginning of a list or array.

about 9 months ago
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Nearly 1 In 4 Adults Surf the Web While Driving

pruss Re:I do this (365 comments)

One is missing out on information about traffic and pedestrians by doing this, though. Sometimes a pedestrian or cyclist or motorist is where they shouldn't be, and one might not notice them without having observed the intersection for a few seconds *before* the light changed.

about 9 months ago
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Windows 8.1 Rolls Out Today

pruss Re:Meh (398 comments)

If you use Classic Shell, then you get an upgrade: the inflexible closed source feature that was standard to Windows for 17 years is replaced with a much more customizable open source feature. It would be nice if it was bundled with Windows, though. :-)

(To me it's not a change, as I've been using Classic Shell on Win7, too.)

about 10 months ago
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Ars Test Drives the "Netflix For Books"

pruss Re: Technical selection? (108 comments)

The publishers wouldn't like it, but scholarly authors might well. Many of us care much more about being read than about making money off our books. I'd give all my books away for free if I could, but unfortunately professional reputation requires publishing with major possess and the presses won't allow it.

about a year ago
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Building a Full-Auto Gauss Gun

pruss Re:3% velocity (285 comments)

The muzzle velocity is 40 m/s according to the article, i.e., 131 ft/sec or 89 mi/h. I wouldn't want to be hit with that.

The 3% figure refers to the kinetic energy, and perhaps reflects a less massive projectile than the .22 shoots.

1 year,15 days
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Chrome's Insane Password Security Strategy

pruss Re:Seems silly.. (482 comments)

Changing passwords typically requires confirming the password, and the auto-fill typically doesn't work for that confirmation field in my experience.

1 year,15 days

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