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Comment Wondering about the psychophysics... (Score 1) 275

Firstly let me say that in my 16 years on this site your post is one of the most cogent that I have ever read. Thanks.

But I do want to highlight the fact that sound is an experience shaped not only by the signal but also by the receiver. In this case a person. I think there may be a significant difference in the perception of sound between a trained sound engineer and an average listener. The engineer (that would be you) is trained to treat fidelity as the Grail. Noise is detected by the trained ear as the defect it is and focused upon. And its presence spoils the experience. But most people can and do enjoy music at wide ranges of fidelity. (And given the right conditions so can a sound engineer I would hazard.) And often they do so under noisy conditions and through noisy devices and using lossy CODECS that leverage psychophysical limits for compression. Witness the average person sitting on a city bus with cheap earbuds digging their MP3 music.

To me this explains the vinyl resurgence over CD. And of course the whole vacuum tube thing. I propose that the nervous systems of untrained listeners may actually like a bit of noise because they are used to it and because the universe is filled with it. For 'warm' translate 'noisy' . Perfect fidelity is desirable in the studio as a starting point. And also by musicians, audiophiles and sound engineers. Was it Neal Young who had his MP3s pulled because he could not stand the sound of them? Personally I am fine with a well made higher bitrate MP3.

It would be interesting to know if there have been any focused tests. I have seen it argued that there will be a generation of people who will prefer MP3 sound over Redbook CD sound. (I happen to think vinyl is noisy in a better way than an MP3 which as we know actually has sound info stripped out of the original.) I will close by pointing out that the average visual system also is also made comfortable by noise. Witness the popularity of the filters on Instagram.

Comment Mirrors? We don't need no stinking mirrors. (Score 1) 655

A self driving car would only need a mirror if there was a manual option. And even then a mirror would be redundant as rear situational awareness for the human driver could easily be provided on interior monitors. I also think an autonomous-car future would see a lot of car sharing to public transport hubs. A-Cars won't need to park. They will circulate from ride to ride. At least in cities. And that is where most people will be living if trends continue. People in dense population centers don't own cars even when they can afford them. Check out car ownership stats for Manhatten . What can one say about a Johnny Cab? It will be cheap. And no tip. Of course in low density population areas people will own their own cars or co-own cars.

Comment Amen to that (Score 1) 102

And let us not forget the texting morons, the gabbing imbeciles, the makeup artists, the doped up Cretans, the drunks, the wankers, the eaters, the video watchers. I cannot wait for autonomous cars. I like to drive, and pay attention, but it is getting crazy out there. Thirty thousand dead each year in the US. The cars are safer but the people are far more dangerous with all their distractions and bad habits.

Volvo has a good practical road map to autonomous cars. And critically the company is willing to accept liability for accidents in their autonomous cars. They will soon have real world testing in Gothenburg -- 2017 -- with ordinary drivers in the car. The Volvos will drive themselves under certain conditions -- usually when driving is the most boring -- and will cue the drivers to take the wheel when the situation warrants, or if the driver simply wants to drive. If the car cannot get the driver's attention when things have gotten too complex for it... it will pull over. I am not a shill for Volvo but have been following the autonomous car story across the board and the Swedes are kind of sticking this IMHO This is what I am talking about

Comment Amen to that: Car Analogy Alert (Score 2) 59

Why do OS designers (or, more accurately, the suits who manage them) feel moved to swap around the main controls for known tasks with each new release? It is so silly to have such a steep learning curve for new versions. Windows 8 was too stupidly different (not hard, but different) from its predecessors. And it was obvious to anyone with the common sense that God gave a parakeet that people would hate doing familiar tasks in novel ways. People want to do stuff they are used to doing, Don't they? But boy do people despair of gratuitous novelty.

If auto designers did what OS designers routinely do, then we would be steering with a stick one year and with our feet the next. Accelerating with our thumbs one year... (Oh, wait! We DO do that.) But it's okay... We can still use our foot pedals. Why not design something more stable, faster and more bullet proof? It is no accident that schools are gravitating to Chrome OS, which is essentially a browser, which everybody already knows how to use. Chromebooks are admittedly cheaper. And there is no doubt that functionality and choices are sort of basic and limited in Chrome. But ask the fast food industry how restricting choice and reducing ambiguity actually improves the user experience. I use Mint because I hated Unity. Again... Why ax the steering wheel in favor of a cyclic? Why, I ask... Why? Why? Why?

Comment Actually, Insurance probably stands to benefit. (Score 1) 211

Hard to say who might be behind this FUD in TFA (If anyone. Might just be the writer trying to slay a sacred cow to get noticed.). Environmental interests maybe or public transport companies, seeing an oportunity, could be pushing back on autonomous cars. However, Insurance companies (health - auto) will certainly face lower risk from an autonomous fleet. But individuals and the auto industry itself will still have to buy insurance -- by law. The underwriters will certainly lower rates, but my guess is that profits will increase because rates will never completely bake in the lower risk. The insurers would be fools to do so. Fewer claims equals higher profit.


The auto industry itself could very well lose as you point out. Service and repair is a huge money maker for them. They could be behind the FUD. But then why tout public transport? They have lobbied against it for years. Bit of a mystery as to who gains from this particular narrative.

Comment Sooner than you think... (Score 1) 211

Volvo has really advanced the game. The play is a kind of super cruise control. The car will drive itself safely when driving is boring. If the situation gets too complicated it turns control back to the driver, who can take control when he or she wants anyway. If the car can't wake the driver up the car will slow and stop when it is safe to do so. Volvo's CEO stated publicly that the company accepts liability in cases where the autopilot is in control when an accident takes place. He says any car company that wants to play in this space should be prepared to do the same. The system is to be tested in Sweden in 2017 with 100 regular drivers. It is just about ready for prime time


TFA appears to be some kind of FUD. No one has any doubt that Autonomous Vehicles will do better than people. With thirty thousand dead every year in the US it is arguable that trained chimps could do better than people.

Comment I concur: Basic static ads okay by me (Score 1) 263

I started blocking ads and killing scripts a long time ago -- when they became animated and risky . I don't mind Google's text ads particularly. But stuff moving and jumping in the corner of my eye ruins my concentration and interferes with my enjoyment of whatever content I am reading.

The orienting response makes it impossible to ignore such movement. (Marketing psychologists know this.) As long as it keeps still -- like a good old-fashioned magazine ad --I will live with it. And, if of interest, perhaps click through. I also insist on a simple link. No risky dog and pony shows thank you. When advertisers learn some manners I will turn off my ad censors. This might take some time.

Comment Destruction is in response to detection attempts (Score 3, Informative) 107

This malware is very hard to detect under normal conditions. But it is outfitted with counter measures. When it detects activities that are consistent with malware detection, study and or/and removal it responds in many destructive ways. It makes it difficult for a white hat to suss it. But, no, it does not give itself away by cutting up rough. It only starts the visible signs of infection when it deems the jig is up anyway.

There is a very good (and somewhat scary) article from The Register. on Rombertik.

This is as nasty a piece of work as you will ever not wish to see anywhere near your equipment.

Comment I like my four T-Mobile lines (Score 1) 136

I have to say that T-Mobile seemed the fairest provider to me because I travel overseas. Their European roaming coverage is better in a way than their US coverage. (Also I had a Galaxy I liked with a European version of Android Kit Kat and they were very cool to let me BMOD) Four lines at $100 (all in the family) Each gets 1 GB high speed, which is enough for me since my pattern puts me onto wifi a lot and I don't use the 3G that much just moving around. And there is free music streaming. (That data does not count against the 1GB) And world wide free texts (over 100 counties) Free roaming web speed data (Not 3G) in over 100 counties (This is nice. Data roaming in Europe has been notorious (it is better now). The free data in Europe has been fast enough to stream tunes and check emails and read my news feeds. As I said I travel internationally and T-Mobile is a great fit. Long Distance calls from overseas to the US are charged at 10 cents a minute with no roaming fees. Not awesome, but not like the bad old days of Euro roaming. When they gave me the run down on their roaming plan I could hardly believe it. Basically a world phone for four people for 25 bucks a month. Had to be a catch thought I. As it turns out...There is a juicy profit center for them. Long distance out of the US to overseas. I made the mistake of simply replying to a call from Kiev from DC. Ouch! I won't do that again. Ouch, ouch, ouch! Oh and I like their data rollover deal. Unused data does not evaporate at months end it rolls and accumulates. I really am a happy customer and not a shill. But this T-Mobil experience was simply good enough to pass on. Also I get a kick out of their foul-mouthed in-your-face CEO. Can't say why.

Comment Agreed. Guaranteed Security would be key. (Score 1) 415

Currently, I do shell out for an annual security subscription -- three seats. (I just tired of all the nagging and hoop jumping needed to perpetuate free AV accounts.) In my experience MS Security Essentials etc. is just not enough.

Here is the thing: If Microsoft offered top-flight security baked into the OS for a reasonable annual fee I might spring and drop the after-market application. Perhaps a two-tier sub or no sub : Windows option A would include bare-bones security and updates, basically the status quo (no sub). Option B would include a deluxe annual security package with good native utilities and maybe a little free support (with sub). You would have a choice between A or B when you activated your OS, with the subscription offered at a steep discount. Later you could still buy into the security, but at a higher price.

I mean many of us pay for some security anyway, Why not pay the OS developer? Especially if the security suite caused fewer problems since it was native. My current AV vendor currently gives me a free seat for my Android phone. Maybe the MS sub could throw in some phone security as well if you had a Windows phone. If MS could do this -- and do this right -- then they might get on the subscription gravy train. But again Microsoft's competition is doing much of this gratis. This makes the growing success of the Chrome OS internet appliances pretty understandable. MS has a pretty tough row to hoe.

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