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Comment: Re:Older Car Radios... (Score 1) 190 190

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) 190 190

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) 190 190

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) 307 307

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

Comment: Re:Hack piece (Score 3, Informative) 126 126

I'm more concerned about the vessel steel problems mentioned in the article. If faulty, the vessel head could be replaced (at great expense), and the reactor vessel itself can be replaced during the construction phase (at even greater expense). I would hate to see the project put at risk over the issue.

Unfortunately, the articles are either vague or alarmist, so it's hard to be sure how serious of a problem it is. Being familiar with the nuclear industry, the 'problem' might be something like this:

1) Carbon content for the steel has been analyzed and tested as satisfactory between 0.50% and 1.25%.
2) Inspection reveals the carbon content at these two spots is 1.26%, outside the analyzed range.
3) New analysis and coupon testing is necessary to determine if 1.26% is safe.

It could even be general engineering knowledge that the steel is sufficient up to 2.00%, but since the properly documented analysis and tests haven't been done to that level, it doesn't count.

(I am not a metallurgist and my numbers are entirely made up)

Comment: Re:The advantage of Electronic Health Records (Score 1) 130 130

Doctors don't like the move to electronic records because it threatens the medical cartel. They see only too well what the Internet has done for Fungibility Of Things.

.....because greed and racism are the only reasons someone would dare disagree with Obama and Democratic party decrees.

Comment: Re:did the tech exist in 2010-12? (Score 1) 122 122

HMD's have been around since LONG before there were 3D graphics on the PC at all. They'd been used (for example) on military flight simulator back when you'd need a million dollars of mainframe hardware to generate a 3D image. I very much doubt that any of this tech is actually new. Probably someone like Evans & Sutherland were the first to do it - and they had 3D graphics back in the late 1970's. I doubt that much of the general concept is still patentable - so this argument is probably over some kind of small feature.

Comment: An infinite number of possible answers (Score 1) 496 496

Consider this...suppose you are just over a mile from the SOUTH pole. You walk a mile south - and now you're maybe a hundred feet from the South pole. Then you turn west and start walking...around and around in a tiny 100 foot radius circle centered on the pole. When you've finally clocked up a mile - you turn and head North again...where do you end up?

Well, the answer depends on the exact circumference of the circle that you walked around. Generally, you'll end up someplace very different from your starting point...BUT if that circle is an EXACT sub-multiple of a mile - then you'll end up precisely where you started.

So...the North pole is clearly NOT a unique answer.

Furthermore - the north pole is only ONE answer. My approach reveals an infinite number of possible answers:

1) You could have started ANYWHERE that's at the exact right distance from the pole - so anywhere on that circle will do...an infinite number of starting points will work.

2) Note that ANY exact sub-multiple of a mile will do - so with mathematical precision, there are an infinite number of sub-multiples of a mile - and hence an infinite number of distances from the pole where you could have started.

Truly - the "North Pole" example exhibits very little lateral thinking... if that was your answer then you **FAILED** the Musk test...which (I'm pretty sure) is the whole point here.

The original version of the story is that a hunter walk a mile south, a mile west, shoots a bear, then walks a mile north to return to his starting point. What color was the bear?

Since there are no bears at the south pole - and only polar bears live anywhere near the north pole - then the north pole is the right place and the correct answer is "WHITE!"....but Musk isn't asking *that* question...he's trying to trick people into jumping to a false conclusion without stopping to think about it.

    -- Steve Baker

Comment: It is tough though. (Score 1) 353 353

I don't know about you - but there are two parts to my job...thinking and doing.

The doing part is easy enough to segregate...If I'm sitting at my desk at work "doing"...typing in code, debugging, documenting, etc - then clearly that belongs to my employer and I have no right to be "doing" anything that I'm going to have control over outside of work.

But thinking is near impossible to segregate. I may well be thinking about solutions to my employer's problems as I commute, or as I'm fritzing around with something else at home...and it's impossible not to have an idea for an outside-work project pop into your head while you're trying to come up with a solution to something that's work-related.

In my opinion, the inability to segregate work-thinking from home-thinking means that I shouldn't try. In my mind, I'm paid for the 'doing' part during office hours - and whatever 'thinking' is required in order to get the 'doing' done. 'Doing' that gets done on my own time is mine - as is whatever thinking went into making it happen. When I think of something that relates to my job - it belongs to them, even if I come up with it at 4am in a flash of dream-inspired wakefulness. And if I come up with something that would make a great off-time project while I'm waiting for my code to compile at work - then that's my idea and it's nobody's business when and where I came up with it.

The only requirement to make that work is a clean separation between the kinds of things I'm paid to do and the kinds of things I do for myself - but since "a change is as good as a rest", there is a natural tendency for me to do very different things in my off-time anyway. If you find that you have a fuzzy grey area in there - then you'd better lawyer-up and make sure everyone has a crystal clear idea of where the "doing" boundaries lie an that the "thinking" boundaries don't exist.

Comment: Unity3d isn't exactly free. (Score 1) 125 125

There are a significant number of 'missing features' in the free version of Unity3d...for example, render-to-texture. That's a pretty serious omission for any kind of serious software development - so the $1500 (or $75/month with a 2 year commitment) is necessary if you are really serious about game development. In a typical game company, $1,500 is roughly the salary of one programmer for a week. So over the life of any reasonable commercial game, the cost of buying a full license for each worker is essentially negligible.

What the free versions do is to enable indie studios to grow to the point where they can afford to pay for a game engine - and to get amateur game developers to grow interest, loyalty and expertise in a particular free engine that will hopefully translate into sales of the professional version when they become paid game developers in the future. But there are enough annoying road blocks that even an amateur developer may be tempted into buying (or renting!) the full version after running into a few of them.

It's a good model, and I hope it grows and continues.

    -- Steve

Comment: Re:Balls of steel (Score 0) 327 327

His message is that he wants the government to limit your ability to engage in free speech.

There's a constant and deliberate conflation of money and speech going on in this country. They are not equivalent to each other.

It's a lot easier to be heard when you have money. You know it, I know it. What Mayday pac and their friends want is to shut down voices that aren't sufficiently obedient to the left.
Incidentally, you stop hearing about the evils of money in politics for a while whenever Tom Steyer or Tim Cook opens his mouth, but as soon as another two-minute hate of the Koch brothers is invented, it's all over the headlines again.

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