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Comment: Re:Not going to work... (Score 5, Insightful) 408

by AlecC (#46704441) Attached to: Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients

Presumably chemicals in our drugs are often extracted from nature. why wouldn't the same chemicals in their natural form have the same potential to work?

True - but nothing to do with homeopathy. You are describing herbal medicine which certainly certainly works sometimes - though there are dangers from unknown potencies and interactions with other medicines. Homeopathic medicines are based on something that causes the symptoms they are intended to cure - but diluted so far that not a single atom of the original substance remains. It is sort of an analogy with inoculation - by giving someone a killed or weakened version of a dangerous virus, you protect against the full-blown version of the virus. But we know what is happening in this case - we are pre-loading the immune system. The mechanisms by which we prepare wakened virus are well understood. Homeopathy has a theory that, by means unknown, dilution beyond non-existence somehow infuses the water with a potency to counteract symptoms similar to those caused by the diluted substance. Unfortunately,there is no theoretical or (importantly) experimental backing for this.

Comment: Re:Homeopathy doesn't work that way (Score 2) 408

by AlecC (#46704365) Attached to: Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients

But most people who buy and use homeopathic medicines, as opposed to homeopathic practitioners, believe it does. They feel unwell, look for a medicine to make the unwellness go away, and pick a homeopathic remedy off the drugstore shelf. People are buying homeopathic treatments as if they fitted into the standard medical treatment model.

Comment: Contact lens is hype (Score 1) 99

by AlecC (#46621521) Attached to: Contact Lenses With Infrared Vision?

I think they contact lens reference is just hype. The system needs to be powered, and what is essentially an electronic signal, caused by changing conductivity between two layers of graphene, converted to an image the eye can see. I cannot see that being done inside a contact lens: it will always require some kind of a viewer, such as binoculars or a sight. However, it could be much less bulky, and draw much less power, than current IR systems - which would probably make it much cheaper. So I could see it making night vision binoculars for a few hundred dollars weighing a tenth as much as current models, and possibly more capable. Likewise other classes of IR receptor. These are reasonable possibilities. But contact lenses are sheer headline grabbing.

Comment: Re:The Founding Fathers are crying.. (Score 1) 284

by AlecC (#46603885) Attached to: U.S. Court: Chinese Search Engine's Censorship Is 'Free Speech'

That is the poster's words, distorting (IMO) the courts ruling. The court said that Baidu's actions are allowed by Free Speech. It is a matter of interpretation whether that is censorship or editorial choice. The censorship is not in offering a biased search engine in Baidu, but in blocking alternatives such as Google. And that censorship occurs only in China.

Comment: Re: 14th Amendment (Score 5, Insightful) 284

by AlecC (#46603777) Attached to: U.S. Court: Chinese Search Engine's Censorship Is 'Free Speech'

Why? The free market applies. If you don't like the goods one merchant supplies, find another. It is not as if search engines are state licensed or limited. It seems to me that by your logic, you can sue any publisher who decides not to publish your crappy book on the ground of inhibiting your free speech.

Comment: Explain the Acronym. please (Score 1) 491

by AlecC (#46346013) Attached to: Do We Really Have a Shortage of STEM Workers?

What does STEM stand for? My first cache his is "Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope", which doesn't fit. I guess the first two are Science and Technology. But it would help if people didn't introduce unexplained acronyms. (Maybe it is a common US one - but this is, I hope, an international forum).

Comment: Re:Jodrell Bank (Score 4, Informative) 150

by AlecC (#45974947) Attached to: How To Make 96,000lbs of WWII Machinery Into High-Tech Research Platform

Not engine parts - the main bearings that carry the dish are gun turret bearings from battleships. Since they are so central to the structure, I doubt they have been replaced.

I like their pigeon prevention mechanisms as well - two nests of peregrine falcons, one in each support.

Comment: "The Robot Did It" is no excuse. (Score 1) 153

by AlecC (#45753517) Attached to: How Asimov's Three Laws Ran Out of Steam

We just need to be clearer where we allocate blame. If I launch a robot, and the robot kills someone, the responsibility for that killing is mine. If I did so carelessly or recklessly, because the robot was badly programmed, then I am guilty of manslaughter or murder as the courts may decide. Bad programming is no more an excuse than bad aim. A robot that I launch is as much my responsibility as a bullet that I launch, or a stone axehead that I wield.

So the three laws, present or absent, are a problem for the launcher of the robot weapon. We don't need complex international laws about AI, we just need a wholehearted implementation of "You broke it, you pay for it".

Which is just as well, because by and large attempts to ban "immoral" weapons have failed. The only fairly successful instance is chemical warfare, which has succeeded because chemical weapons are actually rotten weapons, far too likely to misfire or backfire. Whatever rules are made, automated weapon systems will come in. In fact, they have: what is the significant difference between a mine which explodes when it detects a man, tank or ship, and a gun which fires when it detects a man, tank or ship?

Comment: Re:Small Connectors (Score 1) 408

by AlecC (#45597591) Attached to: Death to the Trapezoid... Next USB Connector Will Be Reversible

In part, Ethernet uses 4 balanced pairs to get 10 Gbit/s, so only 2.5 Gbit/s per pair; USB3 gets 4 Gbit/s over one balanced pair so is achieving more data per pair. Then again, USB2 has lower cost targets because it is intended to be on many low-cost devices (keyboards, cheap memory sticks etc) leading to many endpoints whereas generally there are only two Ethernet endpoints per computer (on on the computer, on on the switch it is connected to) so a higher per endpoint cost is supportable. Ethernet is single minded: do one job well. USB is trying to be all things to all men: a cheap low cost interface for mice and keyboards, while also supporting high performance disks. If you want an interface the only does high speed transfers to an expensive device at the other end, you could probably do much better.

Comment: Separate markets (Score 2) 453

by AlecC (#45595021) Attached to: The Desktop Is Dead, Long Live the Desktop!

The desktop/laptop PC market has always been two separate markets. One it the office, workplace, market. The other is the internet access market.

The standard PC was made for the office market. Both the office productivity market using the standard wordprocessor/spreadsheet/presentation apps, and all the various kinds of design and simulation software used by umpteen varieties of designer.

The standard PC was also sold for the internet access market - mainly web browsing and email, because initially it was the only device that could do it. But it wasn't actually optimised for these uses - is just did them because it was a good general purpose device. You could say that it was mis-sold for these uses: it was over complex for the simple uses people needed. When smartphones and tablets came along, they were actually designed to do the job these users wanted. Naturally they captures the market.

The PC market peaked at about 180 million devices. I reckon that was about 30 million work devices ("Sit forward" devices, as I think of them) and 150 million net access devices ("sit back" devices), The 30 million sit-forward market is still there, and growing at a reasonable rate. The 150 million "sit back" market is evaporating fast as people who want that switch to purpose-built devices.

Who is buying your product? Look at how they are sitting. If they are sitting forward, stay with the PC: you are selling to a steady segment of the market. If they are sitting back (or trying to), jump ship, because that is what your customers are doing.

Never trust an operating system.