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Comment Now we need "Alexa, ask Google..." (Score 1) 63

After a year of so living with Alexa I find her to be exceptionally useful for many things, not including deep searches. For everyday things (and being Amazon, for selling things) she does a marvelous job but the AI behind Alexa is pretty much an Eliza-class AI. Google has and is in the position to continue developing better deep-thinking AI's, as does IBM.

I think Google and Amazon need to bury the hatchet, and add "Alexa, Ask Google..." to Alexa's skill set. There comes a time when a user wants a better search result than one gets with Alexa's default Bong search. A skill that would permit Alexa to consult with a better AI would be a very useful addition. In that same vein, it might be nice for Amazon to buy some IBM hardware and add "Alexa, Ask Watson..." to the universe of skills.

We're better together.

Comment Not -Exactly- Renewable (Score 2) 160

Tapping geothermal energy is a great idea, but it's not precisely renewable.

The process, whether using natural (in place) water or by water injection, is removing paleolithic heat from a piece of solidified rock. That rock only has so much heat in it and the process of tapping that heat cools it. There are already geothermal fields in Northern California (The Geysers) that are producing reduced power output due to local cooling.

The upside with deep geothermal is that there is a whole lot of crust to drill into and depleted wells can be deepened. With better grid technology more remote geothermal sources can be tapped including shallow magma.

There is a lot of energy available but technically speaking it is neither infinite nor renewable any more than anthracite coal fields were renewable. At the turn of the 20th century mining companies were looking forward to mining these vast fields of coal forever.

Comment Yes,but it's not about Computer Programming (Score 1) 381

These are books about algorithms. I've read them all, and worked the problems.

At the risk of exposing myself as an elitist snob, I wonder about the people who don't think one has to understand the basis of an algorithm, and what makes for an algorithm as opposed to a heuristic.

Decades of research went into understanding how computing machinery accomplished the things that they did. A certain Bill Gates came along and decided none of that highbrow stuff applied to the new paradigm of PC's. That's one of the reasons that we had fifteen years of the worst memory manager on Earth, in Windows. In point of fact Knuth talked in detail about this memory management as a counterexample of how it should not be done. But it was simple amd worked on PC's and hey, memory is cheap.

Knuth's books are about the Fundamentals. They're not practical guides and they never were practical guides. They are insight into how a certain variety of stochastic machine operates and the kind of things one must think about to design proper algorithms that work all the time, as opposed to work most of the time. They are the Zen of computer programming, a philosophy of thought and a discipline for creating algorithms. This is not how to write code.

It certainly isn't for people who confuse how to speak a language with how to converse.

Comment "This is the one you want to protect" (Score 3, Interesting) 151

And that is -the- reason to build an O'Neill colony.

In order to build it and make it work, it is necessary to understand an ecology, deeply and comprehensively. Mistakes will be made and what better place to make a mistake than a totally artificial habitat? The first of the experiments (actual experiments, not "I read the journals" studies) was BioSphere, and that didn't work out so well.

So what was the motivation to fix BioSphere? Not much, really. Easier to walk away muttering "That was bad, dude."

With a colony, the colonials are most mighty motivated to fix the darn thing. If technology needs to be developed, it will be developed. If new principles need to be learned, they will be learned.

And for all of you "This is a nutty idea" I have a few short words. New World. Panama Canal. Washing Hands.

Nutty ideas have a way to become decidedly un-nutty.

Comment Wow. Mix and Match -Anything- (Score 2) 170

So you can run Unity in Windows.

"Now it looks like you can even load Ubuntu's Unity desktop environment, making windows 10 look like Ubuntu."

First off, isn't that kind of like buying a Ferrari rag top and driving it around with reins and a buggy whip?

Second off, why on Earth would anyone want to inflict Unity on Windows. I don't much care for Windows, but have a heart!

Comment Jeremy Clarkson lampooned the vehicle (Score 1) 596

That episode may have annoyed Elon Musk, but it annoyed me too.

The essence of Jeremy's complaint was that the Roadster didn't get close to the advertised range and then made disparaging comments about running out of charge on the way to the Pub.

Except that he was driving the thing on a track at the time, and trying for "best time" laps. Does anyone think that comes close to "normal motorway driving?"

Jeremy, I -hope- you don't drive like that on the way to the pub.

Apologies for a bit off topic.

Comment It's not Big Brother (Score 4, Insightful) 314

Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein are neither the oppressive arm of Government nor are they idiots.

They are, however, profoundly ignorant of how things work in the real (non-Beltway) world. They are of the same ilk that cannot understand that email kept on a small private server (small target) with a staff that gives a damn is quite likely a lot more secure than on a "secured government server."

They must be thinking, "the company will provide a back door and keep it secret." What a great concept. Unfortunately that idea belongs to a world where it took a whole government and a bevy of codebreakers to crack a simple substitution code - the Enigma codes. Today, a single hacker can put together thousands of cpu core resources to attack any system. If there exists a back door, if there is any way into an encrypted system, some 14 year old in Romania or Great Britian (or China!) will find it. Consider the fact that the FBI hired such to go after in iPad, and the thing was compromised in short order.

And lest we think that this is a good thing, so that governments can go after terrorists, let me pose a question on a personal level: "How big is your bank account? Would you mind if you woke up some morning and found it empty?"

There are thousands of terror targets and probably tens of thousands of would-be terrorists. There are quite literally billions of targets in the private sector. It won't make the even news for very long if Mr. Smith gets cleaned out, but to Mr. Smith it may seem pretty terrible.

And there is a worse side: Let's say that the government requires back doors everywhere. Does that mean that terrorists are going to give up and throw up their hands figuratively? Hell, no. Any competent programmer can come up with an encryption scheme not known to the government, perhaps with vulnerabiilities which are also unknown to the government. The good guys (Us!) have opened our bank accounts to the script kiddies, and the bad guys will go right on using strong encryption. The government will be right back where they are now, having to hire a hacker to break that encryption.

We will have given up the keys to our doors without putting a small dent in terrorism.

Not a good choice, imo.

Comment Only Outlaws will Have Encryption (Score 5, Informative) 156

You would have thought that our government would have learned when they attempted to ban PGP, decades ago.

For those of you who don't remember, the software got classified as a munition, people who sold it could be arrested as arms trafficers. Downloads instantly moved from US servers to those in Finland (and elsewhere) and the end result was a big spectacular nothing.

Calmer heads prevailed, in the long run.

The technology is out there, the knowledge of how to do encryption is impossible to stuff back into the bottle.

Comment Re:details, details (Score 1) 91

I agree, Using the terms "exploded on landing" is PressSpeak, "If it Bleeds, It Leads".

Having said that, the landing legs sort of have to work.

What do you suppose the time frame is for "successful landing" ? If they stick then landing, and a typhoon dumps the booster in the drink, do you suppose the reporters will say "Booster Sank in Ocean while Trying to Land" ?

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Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten