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Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

smellsofbikes Re:Strabismus (535 comments)

You don't have to be wildly strabby or exotropic to get some (potential) benefits: if your eyes are struggling to maintain fusion, you may read more slowly and suffer more eyestrain than if you had vision therapy, without knowing that you're fighting your own eye muscles. Simple use is lousy training, it turns out, much like just walking lots doesn't help people with screwed-up knees.
It might not do anything for you, but a consult with an optometrist who knows a bit about vision therapy may be worthwhile.

3 days ago

Western US States Using Up Ground Water At an Alarming Rate

smellsofbikes Complicated background (369 comments)

When I took a geography class focussing on the western US, one of the things the teacher mentioned (which I haven't verified independently, but it was his job) was that the Colorado River water rights were allocated based on how much the Colorado River was running in roughly 1920, which happened to be an unusually high flow rate period, so ever since then there hasn't been enough water to satisfy everyone. (Water rights are allocated by time priority: first person who used it gets to take the entire amount that person is entitled to, then second person, and so forth.) So it's 100% spoken for, forever. The shortfall is made up for by pumping out groundwater, and when they allocated the colorado river water rights, they also decided that they were going to make a 100 year plan for water usage, meaning that after 100 years they would have used up pretty much all the available aquifers. Since then we've discovered some more aquifers, and are willing to drill deeper and run more expensive pumps, but that's only somewhat covering the shortage. We're pretty much collecting exactly what we planned 95 years ago. There are still semi-serious proposals to divert and pump chunks of the Columbia River over into the upper Colorado River basin... which is sort of funny, as much of the original water projects in the upper Colorado River basin were, and are, pumping water from it through the Continental Divide over to the eastern slope to fulfill Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, and Oklahoma water needs.

The same instructor also noted that depending on how you define your terms, the category of western state water rights was by quite a bit the most common lawsuit that ended up in the US Supreme Court, showing up every couple of years in one form or another.

4 days ago

Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

smellsofbikes Re:Strabismus (535 comments)

My eyes don't line up in the exact same place when I look at things. I had surgery when I was 15 to correct it, after 20 years, it's coming back a little (although to a much less significant degree). Fortunately, it's small enough that I can use lenses to correct it - I have to wear bifocals now - but that also means that Lasik will never work for me to improve my vision. I could have better than perfect vision in each eye and I'd still need corrective lenses. :|

Consider talking to a vision therapist about if this is something that can be corrected. They can do pretty amazing things to train and strengthen your eyes to track, fuse images, and reduce eyestrain while doing so. A lot of people aren't aware that they're straining constantly to keep images fused, and as a result dislike reading or using computers. Sometimes, some physical therapy for your eye muscles can fix it. My wife regularly gets kids whose eyes are pointing in entirely different directions and have never had 3d vision in their lives and after five months (five very expensive months, it should be mentioned) they have and retain 3d vision. It's life-changing for a lot of them.

4 days ago

Disappointed Woz Sells His "Worthless" Galaxy Gear Watch

smellsofbikes Re:My wife has one and loves it, for one reason. (242 comments)

She's a sometimes model whose non-modeling job also involves looking very professional. I'm not even allowed to look at the laundry for fear of destroying something by washing it wrong. She bought a ... shirt? blouse? I dunno, something you wear on the upper half of your body, the other day, and I was all "that's very pretty!" and she's all "it should be. It cost 800 euros." So, yeah, I don't go anywhere near her clothes. And clothes like that don't have pockets. It ruins the lines/aesthetic. Definitely not something Woz considers, nor would he have any reason to, but there are a whole bunch of people who do.
Even her painting-the-house pants have these microminiature pockets that you can fit, like, a credit card and a car key into. Whenever we go out I carry her wallet, because even that doesn't fit. Totally different clothing regime from my ten-pocket dungarees, where I could carry most of a toolkit for doing bicycle maintenance and still be able to sit down comfortably.

about three weeks ago

Disappointed Woz Sells His "Worthless" Galaxy Gear Watch

smellsofbikes My wife has one and loves it, for one reason. (242 comments)

There aren't any current cellphones that fit in the pockets of the sort of clothes she wears. Size zero/one fashion clothing often doesn't even have pockets, much less ones that'll fit the half-tablet-sized cellphones these days. She had an HP Veer, the size of a credit card, that she loved, until it died. So now she has the same smartwatch and has what she calls a GIANT cellphone in her purse or stuck in her desk at work, and takes calls using her watch.

Size zero clothing is probably not on Woz's radar, but there are people who want tiny connectivity.

about a month ago

3D Printing: Have You Taken the Plunge Yet? Planning To?

smellsofbikes Re:Which CAD software? (251 comments)

This is currently what I'm struggling to find. The main thing I've established is FreeCAD just isn't ready yet - very buggy and I can not get it to work, but parametric modelling is an interesting concept.

What else are people using for dimensioning parts which need to fit together? (i.e. part design, rather then modelling I guess?)

I've been using freecad, personally. I just did a series of adapters that allow me to attach RC servos to LEGO bricks for some inverse kinematics robots. It worked reasonably well. I've had it crash and do unexpected things, but what I've found is that if I work in the part design toolbar, build sketches that are fully constrained, and then use extrude/pocket operations to build my final parts, it seems pretty robust. Then I can switch to mesh and turn those into exportable meshes individually, and get parts that interact the way I want to. Half the stuff I'm doing I 3d print and the other half I mill on my cnc mill, and when I'm processing stl's I find again that having started from fully constrained sketches means the stl's are more robust and less likely to crash the cam programs I use.

about 4 months ago

The Next Keurig Will Make Your Coffee With a Dash of "DRM"

smellsofbikes Re:Yeah right (769 comments)

My guess RFID. By one regular pod, cut RFID chip out of it, tape to the bottom of subsequent generic pods.

FWIW we tried that with our Stratasys 3d printer. It remembered the RFID number and remembered that the print cartridge was out of print material, so sticking the rfid tag to a new, third-party, 1/4 the price, filled to the brim container of print material did precisely nothing for us. I have no idea if the keurig will do the same. Oh, it was also a pain in the butt because they'd built it into the side of the cartridge, so when we cut it out it wouldn't simply stick on the new cartridge as it had a flat side and the resultant cartridge+rfid tag wouldn't fit in the printer, so we had to bodge something up by putting it on the front where the door closed and hoping it would be detected. It was, but see above.

about 5 months ago

California Fights Drought With Data and Psychology, Yielding 5% Usage Reduction

smellsofbikes Re:flow = pressure/resistance (362 comments)

Why not simply lower the water pressure by 10% to curb water usage?

I dunno about everywhere else, but where I live -- next door to the local water tower -- there isn't any sort of water pressure regulation mechanism. You pump water into the water tower, and it flows by gravity to all the houses that are lower than it. And, in the summer, when everyone down in the valley is running their sprinklers, my water pressure is low enough it's difficult to take a shower, so even if you did manage to regulate pressure it would have a disproportionately large effect on some of the people and very little on some others.

about 5 months ago

3-D Printed Pelvis Holding Up After 3 Years

smellsofbikes Re:Not plastic, titanium (82 comments)

This is purely anecdotal, but the two indie framemakers I know who have worked with 3d printed lugs have both said the lugs broke very quickly and they only used them for prototypes, didn't consider them safe to ride. One said he thought he could make a 3d printed lug (this was stainless steel, through shapeways, silver-soldered to Reynolds SS tubing) that would be durable but he guessed it would weigh about 4x as much as equivalent forged columbus lugs.

about 5 months ago

Edward Snowden and the Death of Nuance

smellsofbikes Re:False choice society (388 comments)

It's the same as how Congress's approval rate is extremely low, yet in the last election most seats didn't change hands. In both cases, people are saying "everyone else is the problem, not me!" -- they said "vote out your incumbents" but still voted for their incumbents claiming their incumbent isn't the problem.

What makes this complicated is that I think that's a reflection of America. My congressman _is_ a really good representative for me: he's a smart gay liberal who has started several successful tech companies. I vote for him because he's doing stuff I like. My aunt's congressman is a good representative for her: a pro-life, pro-gun conservative creationist pastor. She votes for him because he's doing stuff she likes.
We'd like to think that there's a logical disconnect between "congress is crazy" and "my congress person is awesome" but that's not necessarily true: we, as a country, have an extremely wide spectrum of opinion. Jim Hightower used to say there's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos. If congress is a dead armadillo, midway between what I want them to be and my aunt wants them to be, my aunt and I can both be contemptuous of congress while liking our personal representatives, and both of us can be logically consistent in doing so.

about 6 months ago

20% of Neanderthal Genome Survives In Humans

smellsofbikes Re:Not found in "humans" in general (202 comments)

Lactose intolerance is complex. The Tuareg of Saharan Africa have lower lactose intolerance rates than Finnish people, for instance. It mostly has to do with whether a group has spent a long time as nomadic herders or not, and adult persistence of lactase activity appears to be caused by several different mutations, that arose spontaneously. has a nice list of adult lactase activity in different ethnic groups.

about 5 months ago

Device Mines Precious Phosphorus From Sewage

smellsofbikes Re:Fancy technology (96 comments)

There was a fairly interesting Radiolab podcast about a program that shipped New York City's biosolids to Colorado for use as fertilizer:
It includes a significant discussion of waste treatment, pathogens, and the economics of shipping what some municipalities call hazardous waste cross-country.

about 6 months ago

Electrical Engineering Lost 35,000 Jobs Last Year In the US

smellsofbikes Re:I find this strange (397 comments)

Pure speculation, but it could very well be a knock-on effect from off-shoring manufacturing. You want at least some of your engineers to be close to the manufacturing line to debug when things go wrong. The designers might stay in the US, but manufacturing, test, packaging, etc., will shift towards the factories. And then, some years later, you'll want the designers to be near the mfg/tst/pkg guys to allow easier communication.

It's exactly this. You want your chip designers to be working right next to the mask layout people because layout needs designers to correctly optimize the layout. You want your test people to be able to walk through the whole test program design with the designers, who will be involved throughout the test hardware and program design, because test engineers know how testers work, and designers know how the chip works, and matching those is tricky. And you don't really want to be shipping tested wafers overseas for packaging and then waiting for them to come back to test packaged parts, and the product engineers need tester access and parts access to characterize the parts and produce the datasheet info, so at that point you have the whole silicon design team, from conception to finished parts, in one place. It can be done remotely but with a significant time adder or lots of evening/midnight phone meetings. It's easier to separate applications and project engineering from the design/manufacture group, but there's still some value in having them colocated. At that point, all that's left is middle management... and that's even easier to outsource.

about 6 months ago

Irish Politician Calls For Crackdown On Open Source Internet Browsers

smellsofbikes Re:Shut up drinky (335 comments)

There was a fag from Khartoum
Who took a lesbian up to his room
They spent the whole night
arguing who had the right
to do what and with what to whom.

(The most grammatically correct limerick I know...)

about 6 months ago

Amazon Reveals "Prime Air", Their Plans For 30-minute Deliveries By Drone

smellsofbikes Re:In all seriousness.. (397 comments)

If private organizations can't use drones to help with natural disasters, such as those in Colorado, how do you suppose this will get approved to fly near local airports and various cities and towns won't outlaw the flying of drones?

Of course, there's always the question: How do you deliver to high-rise apartments and other high-density dwellings?

During the Colorado flood, the area around it was under temporary flight restrictions, as determined by the FAA, and no unauthorized aircraft were allowed to fly in it.
While TFR's are getting vastly more common as every penny-ante promoter wants to make every event seem so big it needs special FAA protection to allow it to run, the reality is that 99% of the time, 99% of the airspace is available for private and commercial air operations.

about 8 months ago

NSA Planned To Discredit Radicals Based On Web-Browsing Habits

smellsofbikes Re:Porn browsing? (415 comments)

If anything, I'd mistrust the people who make a big deal about never looking at internet porn. Just look at the frequent revelations involving vocal evangelists.

In general, I've come to the conclusion the louder someone screeches about the morality of other people, the higher the likelihood they'll get caught in a scandal.

Which has more or less confirmed for me that people are lying douchebags, who mostly want to point the finger at everyone else.

The more rigid and extreme the position, the more they're full of shit.

While I entirely agree with your position, something to consider is that there is a logically consistent stance embedded in there. If you believe that everyone is a sinner and should try to reduce the amount that they sin, then it's consistent to sin while being vocally opposed to sinning: the person may regret the behavior and pray for forgiveness and all those other weird things people to do try to make themselves feel better about natural impulses that their churches have told them are bad. I think that situation is practically universal among evangelical religious types of most religions. They're all trying to force themselves and everyone else to hold high standards of living, and while failures to do so are inevitable they're still bad.

about 8 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What's On Your Hardware Lab Bench?

smellsofbikes I use the scope as a logic analyzer (215 comments)

Sure it doesn't do what a good logic analyzer does, but it's fast. Current project: trying to get an Ohaus digital scale's RS232 output talking via an FTDI serial-to-usb to my computer. Scope-to-computer works great. Computer-to-scope doesn't work at all. Hook up probes to the TX and RX lines and I can immediately see that something's going from minicom to the Ohaus, and the voltage is roughly what I'd expect. On RS232 that's a serious question, and one that most of the usb logic analyzers I've worked with don't address: is the voltage high enough to trigger something that may be expecting 12 volts?
And I'd like to see what it's actually sending. Hit the trigger button and type something in, and there it is on the screen. Save it, type in something else, overlay them. Hey, the FTDI is stripping off the terminal linefeed! That's good to know, given that the Ohaus absolutely requires CR,LF.
That took me about thirty seconds with a scope. It'd take me longer to start up the USB logic analyzer program and get it set up.

about 8 months ago

NYC's 250,000 Street Lights To Be Replaced With LEDs By 2017

smellsofbikes Re:incandescent != sodium (372 comments)

Another advantage, if purchasers care to implement it, is that you can have somewhat intelligent LED lights that dim down to 30% when there's no traffic around, so it's still light, but much lower power, then run back up when traffic is a block away. It doesn't add much to the system cost to add motion detection and communication with nearby lights, particularly since some industrial/commercial LED lights are adding selftest health/failure reporting already.

about 9 months ago

Boulder's Tech Workers Cope With Historic Flood

smellsofbikes yay for pre-emptive flood prep (85 comments)

I work in south Longmont. Where I cross the Boulder Creek, it's usually 3 meters wide and so shallow the rocks on the bottom emerge from the surface of the water. When I was hauling out yesterday after our workplace got an evacuation notice, the creek was a kilometer wide, backed up against the bridge, which is probably 15 meters wide by two meters deep.
Longmont spent eighteen months reworking the Lefthand Creek drainage, deepening it and tearing out all the trees beside it, through the middle of the city. At the time, local citizens were outraged at the expense, writing nasty letters to the newspaper and showing up at city council meetings yelling about what a waste of money it was and how debit spending was the devil. Lefthand filled right up to the top and moved like a freight train, but didn't overtop through much of the town. The place where they stopped the rework, and the creek returns to its shallow, cottonwood-tree-filled drainage, is where it spread out and started flooding basements, according to pictures my friends who live there are sending me. I'm hoping this experience will motivate the city of Boulder to do the same for Boulder Creek. One of my friends lived in a house across from Naropa University, right beside Boulder Creek, that had a big metal sign on the front warning the inhabitants that they lived in a flood zone. That should never happen. That should be parkland, not places where kids live. (She moved, thankfully, because that house had close to two meters of water in the main floor, from pictures I've seen, and I'd hate for her and her two toddlers to still be living there.)

about 10 months ago

Just Thinking About Science Triggers Moral Behavior

smellsofbikes Re:Scientist discover that... (347 comments)

In other news, 90% of all people say they are above average drivers.

99% of all people have above the average number of eyes and fingers.
Not all distributions are gaussian.

about a year ago



vandal-catching hardware suggestions needed

smellsofbikes smellsofbikes writes  |  more than 2 years ago

smellsofbikes (890263) writes "I have a friend who has a vandal problem: someone is routinely and repeatedly damaging her car. Over the last year, someone has scratched the paint and windows, dented every body panel, deflated and slashed tires, bent and stolen window wipers. She parks in a garage that is locked, so only other apartment residents have access. The garage is well-lighted, but has only one electrical outlet, near her car, and no easy way to attach stuff to walls. She thinks she knows who is doing it, and her apartment manager agrees and is willing to back her up, but without some evidence, nobody can do much. It only happens once every couple of weeks, so hiring a kid to sleep in the car is probably not viable. The garage is too far from her apartment to set up a wireless video camera. I'm looking for suggestions to help her out, that could include building hardware for this project. Thoughts?"

20-state PIN pad tampering exploit

smellsofbikes smellsofbikes writes  |  more than 3 years ago

smellsofbikes (890263) writes "Michaels' Stores, a country-wide chain of craft stores, announced today that PIN pads had been tampered with across at least a 20 state region, saying that the pads had either had their software surreptitiously altered or outright replaced with machines that looked identical but saved PINs for later retrieval and usage. Many customers claim to have been affected, with multiple-of-$100 withdrawals from their bank accounts. The logistics involved in a multi-state hardware hack of this size seem overwhelming."
Link to Original Source

Cyber-warfare: fact or fantasy?

smellsofbikes smellsofbikes writes  |  more than 2 years ago

smellsofbikes (890263) writes "This week's New Yorker magazine has an investigative essay by Seymour Hersh about the USA and its part in cyber-warfare that makes for interesting reading. Hersh talks about the financial incentives behind many of the people currently pushing for increased US spending on supposed solutions to network vulnerabilities and the fine and largely ignored distinction between espionage and warfare. Two quotes that particularly stood out: one interviewee said "Current Chinese officials have told me that [they're] not going to attack Wall streat, because [they] basically own it", and Whitfield Diffie, on encryption, "I'm not convinced that lack of encryption is the primary problem [of vulnerability to network attack]. The problem with the Internet is that it's meant for communication among non-friends." The article also has some interesting details on the Chinese disassembly and reverse-engineering of a Lockheed P-3 Orion filled with espionage and eavesdropping hardware that was forced to land in China after a midair collision."

HP acquisitions sign of poor R&D?

smellsofbikes smellsofbikes writes  |  more than 3 years ago

smellsofbikes (890263) writes "The Wall Street Journal is running an aggressive interview with IBM Chief Executive Samuel J. Palmisano, in which he says that HP has no choice but to pay $1.5 billion for ArcSight and $2.4 billion for 3Par because "Hurd cut out all the research and development."
“I’m never worried about a competitor that doesn’t invest in R&D,” Palmisano said. “They’ve had to buy. They have no choice.”
The WSJ is running this as a section lead article, where anyone who glances at the paper will see it. However, other analysts characterize Hurd's behavior in cutting R&D down to 2.5% of total revenue and shunning acquisitions as "fiscal restraint"."

Glaxo open-sources malaria drug search data

smellsofbikes smellsofbikes writes  |  more than 4 years ago

smellsofbikes (890263) writes "Glaxo Smith Klein, the world's second-largest pharmaceutical company, is putting thousands of possible malaria-treating drugs into the public domain in a move that the Wall Street Journal calls a "linux approach" to pharmaceutical screening. Andrew Witty, who is described as the boss of GSK, says the company thinks it is "imperative to earn the trust of society, not just by meeting expectations but by exceeding them". Of course, synthesis or discovery of new chemicals is cheap compared to efficacy and qualification studies, but this is a refreshing change from not handing out *any* information until after everything is patented."

California's revision of the First Sale Doctrine

smellsofbikes smellsofbikes writes  |  more than 5 years ago

smellsofbikes (890263) writes "Today's Wall Street Journal had an article about California's restriction of the First Sale doctrine as regards fine artwork. The state requires that any piece of artwork resold for more than $1000 have 5% of the purchase price returned to the artist. There's a full-time State employee whose job it is to track down artists to present them with their money. On the one hand, I like the idea that the artist who created something is getting the money directly, in contrast to most musicians and their pimp-like labels. On the other, the basic idea behind this seems fundamentally horrible. Imagine the chaos if this were extended to used music? or electronics? or the electrician who wired your house getting paid a percentage of the house value every time it sold? I was surprised to read that this law has existed since 1977 and wonder if it's unique to California and fine art."

Glider Subs: silent, autonomous underwater robots

smellsofbikes smellsofbikes writes  |  more than 5 years ago

smellsofbikes (890263) writes "Multiple companies are developing glider submarines, designed for multiple-week or -month autonomous voyages. The subs have very few moving components, relying on deriving thrust from airfoils as they change their buoyancy. As a result, they're extremely quiet and efficient, albeit very slow. I have this great vision of the future of sub warfare, where almost perfectly silent robot subs hunt each other, firing supersonic supercavitating torpedoes."

Economic gridlock: the invisible cost of IP law

smellsofbikes smellsofbikes writes  |  more than 5 years ago

smellsofbikes (890263) writes "This week's New Yorker magazine has a financial article, "The Permission Problem", discussing the hidden cost of patent, trademark and copyright laws. It's a subject anyone here already knows well, but he brings up two interesting points.
1. He uses the term "tragedy of the anticommons". Instead of depletion of a shared resource, this describes under-use of hoarded resources: areas that can't be explored because they're encumbered by patent/copyright issues. As he points out, the result of this is an invisible loss: drugs not made, software not written. The loss is impossible to quantify and difficult to see. I like the term 'tragedy of the anticommons' because it encapsulates a long-winded explanation into a pithy, memorable phrase that will stick with people unfamiliar with the topic.
2. He also cites a study by Ben Depoorter and Sven Vanneste that discusses why anticommons effects are seen, beyond mere competition. Individual right holders value their contribution to the overall project as a significant fraction of the project value, so if there are more than three or four right holders, their perceived value can far exceed the total value of the project, making it uneconomical."

smellsofbikes smellsofbikes writes  |  more than 7 years ago

smellsofbikes (890263) writes "The FAA is attempting to develop a legal process that will allow them to release data about vintage aircraft designs that have obviously been abandoned. But existing laws restrict the FAA's ability to release this data because it is deemed to be intellectual property even though the owner of record has long since ceased to exist. This is fundamentally the same problem with copyright that people looking for books out of print have to deal with, but in the case of vintage aircraft, the owners are legally required to maintain them to manufacturer specifications that the owners cannot legally obtain: an expensive and potentially lethal dilemma. An obscure situation for this solution to be applied, but if the FAA, notoriously slow and conservative, is willing to do this, maybe the idea will catch on in other places."

smellsofbikes smellsofbikes writes  |  more than 7 years ago

smellsofbikes (890263) writes "New Scientist is reporting a motor designed by aeronautical engineer Roger Shawyer, that fires microwave radiation into closed, conic tubes, yielding thrust with no emissions whatsoever, not even radiation, relying on unequal force distribution within the conic section. He reports current incarnations produce thrust similar to solar wind but proposed supercooled varieties would yield orders of magnitude more. Spacecraft wouldn't have to carry any propellant, just solar cells. Can this possibly work?"



blah blah blah

smellsofbikes smellsofbikes writes  |  more than 8 years ago If you're actually interested in reading what I have to say, go look at:

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