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Comment Re:So they want an ecosystem like Steam/PC... (Score 1) 264

The purpose of the X-Box (originally "the Direct X box") was that it was a console outlet that would allow developers to build toward PC and console games at the same time. I think the fact that most people do not buy a sufficiently advanced computer when they can buy an X Box (or other console) is a pretty good indication of why Scorpio will probably not belong to the last console generation.

People also don't want to update computers at the rate game makers wish they'd upgrade HW capabilities. The fact that Windows XP lasted so long is another indication that most people are willing to stick with "sub-par but stable" for a long time.

As long as hardware is a factor, it will be cheaper to make special-use machines -- separate from the PCs that everyone is storing their digital lives on -- than to ask people to upgrade their PC. There are a lot of games with simple requirements that don't need much in the way of HW upgrades over time -- which is why I would expect, say, Nintendo to go console-less before playstation or X-Box do -- but as long as there's a gap, there's opportunity in a console market.

Comment For the hundredth time... (Score 1) 364

In roughly a century of driving, humans have learned one strategy: slam on the breaks. The choice is "break, or don't". When the driver is replaced by a bot, the choice is STILL "break, or don't".

I swear, this nonsense about algorithms implementing moral calculus is just a scam to get philosophy professors a few more speaking engagements.

Comment Re:Fuck that... (Score 4, Insightful) 244

endelsohn added that video is "the best way to tell stories in this world" and "helps us to digest much more information."

A few more reason's that that's a stupid claim:

I can read faster than my grandmother can speak. I can scan and skim faster than my friends can speak spread over 12 different videos.

I can read at work without anyone noticing and without putting on headphones. I can type a response without anyone else being aware of it. I can even read text in a meeting.

I can search for specific text.

To pause "text with pictures", I stop paying attention; to resume, I start paying attention. Video will never be able to strip down a UI to that level of control.

I can polish text in drafts. I can compose text in my underwear. Neither are true about recording a video.

Speaking to her "best way to tell stories": as an example of how that's ridiculous, think about the resources it takes to film a season of Game of Thrones versus how much it took George R. R. Martin to write the book. People can get through the former faster and with less effort, but only only for the modest price of $6 million per hour. (Don't worry, once you get 8 million followers, that's not so bad per follower....)

If her statement were true, it would basically mean that Facebook is dead, because YouTube already does video. It's a lot easier to staple social functionality onto a video site than it is to press video into a social site.

You think the way text messages have nearly done away with voice calls and voicemail between friends would be a clue that most people prefer text to listening. And that's what amateur video usually is: a talking head in a bedroom.

If everything is a video, things that have to be a video -- a dance, a recital -- don't stand out above the noise.

Comment Re:Indict? (Score 2) 742

That's basically part of the problem with all this. It's not to say that it wasn't a terrible idea that was horribly insecure, but none of it was per se illegal at the time.

First, it is highly illegal. (The "at the time qualifier" makes no sense... it's been illegal for a long, long time.)

Really the only thing that she could possibly be indicted/convicted on related to this is an attempt to cover up or destroy evidence - and even then, you'd pretty much have to get a smoking gun in this day and age, like catching her emailing her staffers with direct instructions to violate the law. Good luck finding anything like that.

Every paragraph of those documents would begin with a classification code. It's not like it's metadata that can be lost in a file transfer. She would have had to have someone print and re-type the documents to remove the codes. Unless that guy comes forward and falls on his sword, she has no defense. She willingly and deliberately circumvented the classification system, then put the documents on an insecure server. She has violated the law several times over, and it's probably killed several of our sources.

The DOJ has given the technician who set up the server immunity. They have on the order of 100 agents working the case. They have her. It's open and shut with testimony and evidence lined up. The could indict her at any time.

All it comes down to now is speculation about why they haven't. Is the President pressuring them to stay clear of his party's nominee (and presumptive nominee for months now - Sorry, Bernie)? Are they waiting to indict until after the election to avoid the appearance of bias? Are they waiting until after the election when Obama will no long be in office to pardon her? Are they waiting until after the election on the chance that she loses and she's left without anyone who will care enough to interfere? Are they holding onto the possibility of indictment to exchange politically for special treatment? Are they staying out because higher-ups recognize she will never actually serve time, so why bother to hurry?

There are a hundred scenarios that could play out, but All of them that based on her being innocent, unaware, or even just incompetent are in the rear view mirror.

Comment Re:Just Solipsism and Faith-Based Nonsense (Score 1) 951

It's not really an "origin story" for the universe he describes, just the sort of technically-correct statement that physicists and philosophers joke about at cocktail parties, but which no one seriously entertains. No one except Elon Musk.

So the logic -- as articulated by smarter people at cocktail parties and repeated here by Musk -- is that if we assume it's possible to simulate some arbitrarily large section of space (say, with holography), then the universe is big enough and old enough that there's probably already been a civilization that could do it and thus probably _did_ do it. And if you perfectly simulate a space, that's the universe as far as the simulated people in it are concerned. Then, if it's truly a perfect simulation, those simulated people can use the same simulated physics to to run their own simulations. And so on. So if you believe in one reality where simulation is possible, you admit the possibility of arbitrarily-many parallel and nested simulations. Which means that of all the possible realities we can observe, the odds are very good that we're not in the root reality, but just a simulation.

That is, if you can perfectly simulate a universe.
And if arbitrarily many people actually do choose to simulate a universe.
And the nested universes are in no way limited by physics in the real world such as limited holographic resolution, computing time, material and power constraints, etc. which would make many-multiply nested universes unlikely -- that is, not at alll perfect, but consistent with all experience we have up until now.
And if someone chose to simulate us for some reason (since we're the only universe, simulated or not, which we can prove must exist).
And of course if it's true it's both impossible to prove and pointless to worry about it.

If any of those assumptions breaks down, then odds are suddenly much better that we're in the plain-old not-simulated universe.

Comment Re:Are there any "dumb" TV's left? (Score 1) 507

Depends on what you mean by "dumb". Most TVs have a lot of signal processing: upscaling, color correction, things like that. More TVs have internet connectivity or Apps, but it's not the rule yet. The truly "dumb TVs" are sold as "digital signage" now. In other words, they expect the only real use for them is as displays in offices.

Apparently, that's what you need to seek out if you want to actively avoid new processing features. For example, if you're the kind of player who speaks of street fighter moves in terms of frames, and you just can't tolerate the lag modern TVs add. Some TVs also have a "game mode" which effectively bypasses everything.

Comment Re:The view from Austin (Score 1) 335

Of course, since we live in TX, the state has no interest in regulating anything, by design. Nor will they ever. The legislature abhors paying for anything, their constituents abhor regulation, and good sense has never had a seat at the table.

Historically cities like Austin pass their own laws because no on else will. And it's not just paltry regulations regarding taxi companies either. The 2006 ban on coal-tar sealants produced a measurable improvement in river quality, and was a vanguard for similar bans across the country.

Of course, the state legislature -- mostly representing people who will never visit or care about large cities like Austin or Dallas, and in the pocket of developers very much interested in Austin and Dallas -- will continue to get a lot of pressure to pass new laws which undercut the city's ability to govern itself. As they did with the plastic bag ban, and with the heritage tree ordinance.

Comment Re:The view from Austin (Score 1) 335

It should also be noted that Ridesharing Works for Austin has also dumped more money into this election than any election in Austin's history.

And,as things usually work in Texas, TX State Representatives Chris Paddie, John Kuempel, and Lyle Larsonhas have searched their consciences, found that it directed them to a huge bag of money, and then filed a bill that would prohibit cities like Austin from passing such ordinances in the future.

Comment The view from Austin (Score 1) 335

Austinite here. The summary is a bit misleading (as have most statements from the "grassroots" Ridesharing Works for Austin group).

First, the vote was for a new proposition. The new proposition was "scrap existing ordinance and come up with something else that does NOT require 1) fingerprint based background checks, 2) clear marking on taxis, 3) taxis be required to drop passengers at a curb (as opposed to having everyone jump out in the middle of a 3+ lane street)." The existing ordinance was not new. Uber and Lyft simply saw a dint in their business model and a cost they didn't want to shoulder (or ask their non-employee, contractor drivers to shoulder). All taxi, limo, and pedicab drivers have operated under this system for years. THe only "new" component was a ruling that, yes, Uber is a taxi company. The vote was about whether ridesharing companies could convince Austinites to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Over the course of the campaign, everything they claimed turned out to be lies, misinformation or erroneous. RWfA claimed that drunk driving plummeted since they started business. The police were asked to take a lot at the statistics and found out they were mis-reported: drunk driving stayed the same. RWfA claimed that if the proposition failed, the city would take over background checks. That's not true, as it would allow the current system of asking the taxi company to request the check according to regulations continue. RWfA claimed that the background checks were not as thorough as their own (false). They also noted it was not a nation-wide check, only a statewide check. The City Council thought that was a good point and made it a nation-wide check going forward. RWfA claims that the City had agreed to pay for checks if the proposition failed, which was also false. (And if you've ever lived in the city, you find the idea of them agreeing to pay for anything utterly laughable.)

What it comes down to was whether Austin wanted to let their laws be written by the City Council, or by the Travis Kalanick the CEO of a company that leverages under-employed people (who are "not really employees, or even contractors" according to Kalanick in courts in California) for the purpose of stealing business from employed and licensed people (at least until their heavy investment in self-driving car technology makes poor people unnecessary).

While some of the hip twenty somethings who've helped to double the population in Austin over the past decade may object, most of us are glad to tell Uber and Lyft, "don't let the door hit your ass on the way out."

Comment A world where you hit a robot to get it to work... (Score 1) 125

... My GE microwave is still like that. It was kind of funny because when I hit it and it actually worked, my thought process wasn't "well, good."

No, my thought process was, "that worked? How? What in a modern, solid state, uC based system would even respond to a hit? As an engineer, the fact that this worked offends me!" After some thought I realized the safety contacts on the door weren't always making a good connection.

It's still easier to pretend I'm the Fonz whenever I want a hot pocket than it is to schedule maintenance.

Comment Re:CGI was dumbed-down intentionally (Score 1) 125

And for once, Lucas was right. The state of the art will eventually look old. Primitive always looks like someone didn't want to spend a lot of money on this widget. It sort of grounds it and gives it weight, making it feel more like a believable tool than a computer. That, and people of the time could recognize "monochromatic screen, mono-space print, wireframe graphics... yep, that's a computer alright" and understand at a glance what they're looking at.

Comment Re:So forgetting a password (Score 1) 796

May keep you in jail. Forever.

Yes and no. The issue here is that a judge issued a lawful order, and for failing to abide by that order, he is held in contempt of court. This is bad for him because at this point you fall through the cracks of the system all the way down to basic common law where judges wield ridiculous amounts of power. He's not being held for suspicion or on charges of a crime by the state; he's being held because he fell afoul of the medieval powers of an angry judge. He's essentially directly in the fist of an avatar of the notion of common law. Not a great place to be.

Now, as to whether that is fair or not, there are two schools of thought for something like this:
* One is that an encrypted hard drive is essentially no different than a locked shed. If the cops have a warrant to search your shed, and it's locked, they can make you unlock it. You can argue that you lost the key, but that is a generally unsatisfying answer when the key in this particular is something you memorized.
* The other line of thought is that a password is a form of speech, and that releasing the password to a system containing illegal files is equivalent to a statement of guilt. In other words, they contend that being compelled to release it s not so much like being forced to give up a key as it is like being forced to testify against yourself: the former is legal, the latter is illegal.

I don't believe that there has yet been anything definitive on this, but IANAL, so take this with a grain of salt.

Comment The utilities are going to hate this... (Score 1) 300

...and not for any kind of reasons of profitability. There are severe infrastructure hurdles to overcome with any kind of off-site power generation, and SF has just declared that they are going to do all in their power to exacerbate them.

First, let's forget about how utilities generally have to pay you for what you generate that winds its way back to their network, although production at this scale can certainly become significant to a utilities bottom line (which means increasing prices per kWh for the rest of their power that you consume).

Instead, let's focus on the fact that above all else, the power grid wants to be in a stable state. Change produces waste. Every time demand surges, they've got to spin up some generator that consumes a natural resource and churns out a multiple of 60 Hz that can be efficiently transformed to the precise frequency expected. This usually means consuming more natural gas (faster to get up and running from a dead stop) and easing in cheaper (slower) coal plants if demand stays high. And if demand plummets again, you just produce more than you need. There's no practical way to store even a significant amount of power. Maybe other markets can siphon it off and buy it, and maybe they can't. God forbid that you should need to repeatedly disconnect and connect a generator, charging the lines each time. Into this less-than-ideal system, we're talking in the long run about injecting an entire city's worth of solar production and uncertainty into the mix. There is no guarantee energy will be produced or managed more efficiently.

There is also the issue that our system was set up to distribute power from a few generators to many nodes. Many nodes trying to send power back up the pipe to the plants won't necessarily be efficient.

If SF is very lucky, most new construction will opt for the water heater option, so all this new power stays at the site of generation. Dumping it into the grid would just cause more headache.

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