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Comment Pet Hate: What makes this a "Robot"? (Score 1) 36 36

Dunno about you - but isn't a "robot" a "a machine that has an onboard computer and moves autonomously"? This doesn't look like it has any onboard compute or battery - so it's more like a remote-controlled vehicle or something,

This has annoyed me about a bunch of other so-called "robots" too - the RoboWars competition is mostly just a bunch of radio-controlled vehicles.

The whole idea of autonomous control, sensors and self-containment seems important in the definition of the term.

I'm sure this machine could eventually become a component of an actual robot - but it's not one yet.

    -- Steve

Comment Re:Well, sure, but... (Score 1) 292 292

You get just under 3kbytes on a QRCode - so there would still be sharp limits on what could be stored there - but certainly it could contain a tiny URL *and* a bunch of other data. Also, there is an issue with very small items in that a max-resolution QRcode would be too small to print cheaply. a QR code that only has to contain a URL could be smaller than the current bar code (because it's 2D).

Comment Re:Well, sure, but... (Score 1) 292 292

What it would take is for government to step in and require it. That's how come we have food labeling at all. They could specify the rules for what has to be recorded and how - just like they do now.

All I'm proposing is that the argument that there isn't enough room on the label for any more information is kinda silly. You only need a pointer to the information to be printed onto the label - not the information itself.

Comment Re:Well, sure, but... (Score 5, Insightful) 292 292

There is plenty of room on the label for a tinyurl.

If you were to accept that you needed a smartphone in order to read food labels (a big "IF") - then the entire label could be replaced by a QRCode which links to a page with *ALL* of the information. The actual label could then be simplified to a really simple "UNHEALTHY/HEALTH" number going from 1..10 as proposed previously to simplify things for the 95% of people who aren't going to read anything more detailed than that anyway.

For people like you - I'd imagine that using a phone to get vitally important data that would never fit on a label is less of an imposition. Furthermore, it would be easy to have software provided for you that would allow you to scan the product and get a personalized "OK TO EAT"/"DO NOT EAT!" indicator as set by your doctor.

Come to think of it - you wouldn't even need any extra printing at all...pretty much all labelled food already has a bar-code on it - it would be simple enough to prepend a standard URL onto that number to turn it into something that a special app could use to pull all of the necessary information. Legislation to make product vendors add this information would then be simple enough.

Comment Same straw man as the president. (Score 1) 79 79

Where in the various treaties negotiated in the recent past has a "blind trust" as you term it, been an essential part? Seriously, you'd cast out all forms of diplomacy as being too trusting, and instead prefer war? Have you ever been in a war? Have you ever seen civilians killed because they had the misfortune of living nearby a perceived threat? If you had, then I believe that you would (eventually) prefer a flawed diplomacy to what promoters of war would profess to be the perfect solution.

There are other options besides this crap deal and war. But neither Obama nor you want to talk about them, because they'd make the president look like the fool* he is.

*and that's the most generous term applicable.

Comment Re:I welcome any attempt to try (Score 1) 165 165

... just don't assume the people already trying are stupid. This is a legitimately difficult issue.

A big thing that this coding concept doesn't quite grasp is that the "hackers" are sitting there f'ing with your code AS you write it.

And you can't just fork the code if you have a disagreement with them.

The trick is to think ahead 10 moves and put something in the system that will seem meaningless initially but which at a later juncture will trigger and deal a savage blow to hackers.

Clever buried tricks in the law are irrelevant when the rule of law itself is being tossed aside, as we see with the current administration. Don't try to be clever. Try to be principled, and then defend those principles.

Comment Re:Older Car Radios... (Score 1) 210 210

Well...it *might* be that your radio used an IF (intermediate frequency) to decode the AM or FM encoding...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

This signal is sufficiently high in frequency that it actually 'leaks' outside the radio - and, I suppose, might be picked up by a radio in a nearby car. But the IF's frequency isn't close to where you're tuning...so I'm not sure this completely explains the story.

(In Britain, there is a television licence you're supposed to pay to operate a TV receiver - and at one time the government used "Television Detector Vans" that drove around to houses that didn't have a TV license and picked up the IF frequencies that televisions inadvertently send out...allegedly, they could tell which room the TV was in - AND which channel you were watching - so the IF frequency must be different for different radio channels.)

I dunno - this is one of those stories that sounds kinda OK in theory - but I really doubt it would work in practice.

Comment Re:brute force the unlock code on car stereo (Score 2) 210 210

I heard you could fix that issue by putting the stereo into the freezer for a while. Allegedly this takes the memory chip down below it's minimum operating temperature and erases it so the stereo boots up with factory defaults. Never tried it myself, but it's a trick that car stereo thieves are known to use.

Comment Paperclip saves fairground ride. (Score 5, Funny) 210 210

I was working on one of those gigantic 'motion theatre' fairground rides:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

This was back in the era of 286 PC's - running DOS. The software was suffering timing issues and we really needed a hardware timer interrupt - but DOS already stole all but one of them - and we simply didn't have enough.

I needed a *roughly* 1kHz interrupt to monitor some ride function or other (I forget exactly what) - so I came up with the idea of putting a bent paperclip between the RxD and TxD lines of the RS232 port and using the serial port interrupt. I'd send a character out through the serial port - and at 9600 baud, with one stop bit and one start bit the character took ~1/960'th of a second to arrive back in the serial port chip...at which point it triggered an interrupt - and I could send another byte out to make it happen again.

We used paperclips on a couple of machines as an emergency hack - but later versions used a 'dongle' plug that went into the RS232 port with a wire soldered across those two pins)...this plug was named the HPE..."Hardware Paperclip Emulator".

Comment It's their business model. (Score 3, Informative) 311 311

When you expect to get most of your revenue from selling apps in the iStore - it's essential that people are unable to get apps for free via fancy web pages.

Hence, iPhone doesn't support WebGL for doing fancy 3D graphics on a web page - if it did, people would write cool games in HTML/JavaScript/WebGL and monetize them directly without having Apple take 30% of the revenue and "approve" their product.

Is this because Apple can't support WebGL? Hell no! The browser actually DOES contain code for WebGL, but it's disabled...UNLESS your web site signs up to display Apple-provided advertising banners...in which case, WebGL works great!

Safari uses the exact same core rending software ("WebKit") as Chrome - so it can trivially support everything that Chrome supports - it's really just a matter of Apple deciding to deliberately cripple the browser to prevent people from providing apps for free.

Comment Re:Screw capitalism (Score 1) 371 371

It's single stream that's bad, not 'capitalism.'
My town has a drop-off only transfer station, no pickup. Residents sort their profitable recyclables* into several large bins. The revenue from these high-quality, high-profit recyclables usually pays for the tipping fees on the trash (which includes non-profitable 'recyclables'). Town tax revenue is still required to pay for the facility upkeep and the people.

Of course, what works in a small bedroom community might not work as well in a dense metro area.

*glass (actually costs money to get rid of, but less than garbage), tin & steel cans, Aluminum cans, #2 colored plastic, #2 undyed plastic, #1 mixed plastic, newspaper, mixed paper, corrugated cardboard.)

Comment Because it should never happen. (Score 1) 1067 1067

Whenever you divide by zero, the problem ISN'T the division - it's the previous code that either assumes that dividing by this number will produce a valid result, or is doing something wrong in turn.

Checking - and somehow kludging - a divide by zero does nobody any good. You have to ask WHY you're dividing by zero and what it should mean.

I *want* divide by zero errors because they inform me that I'm doing something wrong elsewhere.

(And even if you wanted to kludge it - returning a very large number would be a better choice than zero...but don't do that).

Bottom line - if you're doing lots of div0 tests then you're doing something wrong in many other places!

    -- Steve

The wages of sin are unreported.

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