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Ford Ditches Microsoft Partnership On Sync, Goes With QNX

steveg Re:I used to work on SYNC (232 comments)

Yow. Is that why the 3.6.2 upgrade eliminated Daylight Savings Time? Couldn't find the code that supported it?

My car changes time zones when I cross to a new one. But during the summer you set it to the GPS time and then *manually* shift by an hour. Because the option for DST was removed.

about a week ago
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Ford Ditches Microsoft Partnership On Sync, Goes With QNX

steveg Re:sync unintuitive (232 comments)

I have a 2013 Fusion.

I keep seeing complaints about how unintuitive and hard to use My Ford Touch is. That hasn't been my experience at all (OK, let's ignore the nav system. I'll give you confusing and unintuitive *there*.) Most of the system, by and large, is pretty easy to use.

Now flaky? That's another issue. It crashes, freezes up, reboots, and is generally unreliable. The older version of MFT would re-index my music each time I started the car, and start playing the same song that it had decided should be the first in the list. Great song, but less great the 40th or 50th time in a row.

Once I upgraded to a newer version and learned all its tricks and what is likely to cause it to screw up, it's much more reliable, but I would never actually call it reliable. But unintuitive has never been my complaint.

about a week ago
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Why Open Source Matters For Sensitive Email

steveg Re:Open Source not a silver bullet (73 comments)

Ken Thompson modified the original C compiler to put a back door into the Unix login program, as well as to modify any compiler that was compiled with that compiler to include the backdoor function. So for generations of code, and backdoor was inserted, with no evidence of its existence in any code you could examine.

http://cm.bell-labs.com/who/ke...

about a week ago
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Swedish Police Raid the Pirate Bay Again

steveg Re:Free Enterprise (184 comments)

But it's not. When the price rises above what the market will bear, you get a vigorous black market. That's exactly what we've got. If the assertion that cutting the prices by a factor of 4 will increase sales by more than 4x were true, that would be evidence that current prices are *more* than the market will bear.

*Is* it true? Maybe. Someone would have to do the experiment, and I'm not holding my breath on that.

I'd guess that the drop in income the music industry has seen in the last decade or so is evidence that they *are* charging more than the market will bear. No, the industry's problems are due to file sharing you say (*they* say)? I suggest that file sharing is one of the *reasons* that the market is willing to bear so much less, but so is the perception that if you're not getting something physical you shouldn't pay as much. That perception may not even being accurate (physical distribution is a smaller percentage of the total cost than we might think) but it's still "intuitively obvious" to most people that a download should be cheaper than a physical object.

"But people just want something for free! Making it cheaper won't help!" For some people that's probably true. But most people want it *easier*. If it's easier to buy it, and it doesn't cost too much, then most people will take the easier path and just buy it. Black markets won't go away. There will always be free riders. But I suspect a lot of people in the black market aren't that hardcore about it, and would be paying customers if it were less expensive.

about two weeks ago
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Hawking Warns Strong AI Could Threaten Humanity

steveg Re:7 years ago (574 comments)

Moore's law is really not tied to CPU architecture. All it really says is that they can get more components on a substrate. Neural nets normally use CPUs and are implemented in software. Even a hardware neural net implementation is going to make use of components contructed on a substrate, either transistors or memristors, or something similar.

And positronic brains? Um, you're aware that those fall in the MacGuffin category, right?

No matter what, AI development is likely going to need a boost from exponential growth, and that means, if not Moore's Law, one of its close cousins. For better or worse, it's likely to get that boost.

about two weeks ago
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Hawking Warns Strong AI Could Threaten Humanity

steveg Re:7 years ago (574 comments)

Is it? Don't forget Moore's Law. Or some variation of it. It may be that we're coming close to the end of how much we can cram onto a silicon chip, but Intel and others are exploring 3D fabrication, and there are probably other approaches as well (carbon nanotubes, etc.)

Kurzweil might be overly optimistic on a lot of things, but his notion of the Law of Accelerating Returns is pretty compelling, and it's not based on our prowess with silicon. Moore's Law is just a specific instantiation of a more general principle. Even people who *do* understand the implications of exponential growth can be surprised by it.

And the question is how much of our job performance is based on being "fully human"? Does it really require "strong-AI" to do most jobs? "Weak-AI" is often defined as task-specific AI, and really most jobs are task specific. It isn't going to take strong-AI to take most jobs -- weak-AI should be sufficient. It may require that weak-AI to be improved, but again, Moore's Law.

By all accounts self-driving vehicles are not sufficiently advanced to allow them to safely drive anywhere that hasn't been carefully mapped for them. But Cadillac will be offering autonomous freeway cruise control in two years -- essentially self driving, limited to freeways. That's a long way from a fully self driving car, but if you had predicted such a thing ten years ago I'd have told you that it would be (many) decades away.

Ten years ago I'd have been confident that a driving job would be safe for a long time. Only humans could do that.

about two weeks ago
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Hawking Warns Strong AI Could Threaten Humanity

steveg Re:until you threaten it (574 comments)

Why would it be less destructive? *Its* needs are not served by a functioning biome (unless it needs *us*, of course.) What it needs are energy and computational resources. Once it figures out how to come up with those on its own (without us) the biome becomes irrelevant.

And carbon is likley going to be a very important resource for computational capacity. Why waste it on unimportant biological phenomena?

about two weeks ago
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What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

steveg Re:I bet Slashdot knows better than any engineer.. (523 comments)

Not the same thing. He's not second-guessing the scientists who designed it, he's second-guessing the Slashdot self-appointed experts.

about a month ago
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What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

steveg Re:With a RTG, it couldn't have got to the comet. (523 comments)

My understanding is that they don't build these to order. There is one size, or possibly a couple, and you deisgn your mission with that in mind. And the mass of the RTG unit alone would have been far more than the completed lander as built.

about a month ago
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Video Raises Doubts About Attkisson's Claims of Malicious Hacking

steveg Re:Aww cmon (105 comments)

Sounds kinda like Heinlein, only not quite?

about a month and a half ago
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Debate Over Systemd Exposes the Two Factions Tugging At Modern-day Linux

steveg Re: How about we hackers? (863 comments)

I'm not going to comment on whether Linus intended Linux to be Unix.

However RMS wanted to replace Unix exactly with an alternative written by the community.

If I may quote Stallman:
"I was developing an operating system that was *like* the Unix operating system, but was *not* the Unix operating system. This was a *different* system, we would have to write it ourselves, from scratch, because Unix was proprietary, we were forbidden to share Unix, we couldn't use Unix, it was useless for our community."

He was specifically objecting to the licensing of Unix, and he wanted to reproduce Unix without the licensing restrictions that made it impossible to use for "our community." He was not trying to come up with a different design, just a different licensing model.

So from a licensing perspective, Gnu is Not Unix. That's a licensing statement, not a structural one.

about 1 month ago
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Ubuntu 14.10 Released With Ambitious Name, But Small Changes

steveg Re:"not so much as a default wallpaper" (110 comments)

Microsoft, Canonical and Gnome all got together and took the same bad drugs.

about 2 months ago
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Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales

steveg Re:Tesla wasn't the target, it was China (256 comments)

Well, prices have come down, and will probably come down more. Once I get the new AC paid off (*that* brought my electric bills down) I'll have free money to consider solar.

But given that the hardware price is coming down, I don't see much upside for "Power Purchase Agreements."

But I don't lease cars either. :)

about 2 months ago
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Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales

steveg Re:Tesla wasn't the target, it was China (256 comments)

Electric is a slight cost savings in fuel if you live in California and pay Tier 3 or Tier 4 prices (which you do if you live in the Central Valley.) If I could afford to put solar panels on my roof that might very well change the equation, and prices for that are coming down, so I'm going to revisit that issue at some point.

My commute is far under what you cite as the average -- I drive about 6 miles each way. For most of my daily use (assuming I can bring the cost of electricity down) an electric would be fine.

Once every month or two I make a 200-300 mile day trip (round trip.) Once or twice a year I make a 2 to 3000 mile round trip. Flying could be an option, but not a very good one. It would still involve a decently long drive -- the local municipal airport would mean an expensive shuttle flight each direction. Overall, that's quite a bit more expensive and only a little shorter time-wise. Plus it would mean renting a car at the destination.

But I'm suspicious of what your notion of the "average American" does. I've never lived in a place where putting in a grocery order for delivery was an option. I've never lived in a place where most of the people I knew didn't make occasional trips out of town. I've never lived in a place where "I rarely drive" was an option.

Perhaps you live in a very big city or a *very* small town, but is that really the "average?"

about 2 months ago
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Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales

steveg Re:Here you go: (256 comments)

I don't know much about cold winter days, but the efficiency of my hybrid drops significantly on hot summer days.

about 2 months ago
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Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales

steveg Re:Tesla wasn't the target, it was China (256 comments)

I'm certainly no fan of the Republican Party, but the PATRIOT Act and all its progeny were bipartisan.

And the surveillance state got out of hand under the Republicans, but it didn't get any better under the Democrats, so I'm not seeing any partisan moral high ground here.

about 2 months ago
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Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales

steveg Re:Tesla wasn't the target, it was China (256 comments)

A 40 mile range, daily would do me.

But it wouldn't cover the days when I need 7 or 800 miles.

A Tesla with 300 mile range and charging stations properly placed for cross-country trips would be great. I'd jump on that in a minute, if it were $30k.

20 - 30 minute breaks for charging and meals would be fine by me.

about 2 months ago
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Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales

steveg Re:Tesla wasn't the target, it was China (256 comments)

If you're not carrying a logbook, then there are no legal limits on how far you can drive, at least not anywhere I've ever been. As far as that goes, if you *are* carrying a logbook, the limitation is on hours, not miles, but you're right that 800 miles would bust that limit.

I'm pretty sure this is true even if you are driving as an employee. As a wireline engineer there were no legal limits on how far or long I could drive, because I drove a passenger car. My truck crew were DOT drivers and they *did* have legal limits.

It's been 25 years, so it's possible details have changed, but I doubt the basic rules have changed that much.

about 2 months ago
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Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales

steveg Re:Tesla wasn't the target, it was China (256 comments)

That's really not very realistic. A couple of thousand mile trips a year would overshadow the cost savings an electric would bring. If you add in the half dozen or so trips in the 300 mile range that *might* be in the range of an electric but would be dicey, then it's really not very practical.

It also assumes that each trip has lots of lead time to arrange a rental. This would mostly be true for the very long trips, but rarely true for the short ones.

I'm always amazed by people who say "Sure, get an electric car, you can rent if you need to go further." In what world does that make economic sense?

about 2 months ago
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Four Dutch Uberpop Taxi Drivers Arrested, Fined

steveg Re:I'm sorry (282 comments)

When you say "free," I'm assuming you mean legal.

There are a couple of (rural, sparsely populated) counties where prostitution is legal. If there are a hundred legal prostitutes in all the brothels in Nevada at any one time, I'd be very surprised.

Now, Las Vegas, that's a different issue. But prostitution in Las Vegas, is definitely not legal. There may be thousands of them, but that doesn't make them legal.

about 2 months ago

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Slashdot scrambled for logged on users

steveg steveg writes  |  more than 7 years ago

steveg (55825) writes "The Slashdot main page went wonky for users who had logged in. Some other pages were fine, but the main page looked like this. If you logged out, everything was fine."

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