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Comment: Re:I just want the new Nexus. (Score 1) 222

There are three professions where being untruthful is the key to success: Lawyers, salespeople, and marketing. All three are hired to portray their client in the most favorable light possible, and the very best ones lie through their teeth. The worst of these three are the marketers because they have legions of psychologists and scientists trying to figure out the best way to lie to people.

Yes! You're both presenting a perfectly defensible argument against marketing and reinforcing my original point! Because geeks tend to abhor marketing, we dismiss its significance, and are perennially gobsmacked as to why an intrinsically emotional, manipulatable species is so susceptible to emotional manipulation.

So long as humanity is what it is, reason will only ever get you so far. You either need to blow the doors off with a staggeringly amazing thing, or come to terms with the fact that every single entity who might care about your thing has feelings, and bending those feelings in your favor can work wonders.

It's not all bad, though; emotional manipulation works under much the same constraints. Unless you're a Level 80 Snake Oil Salesman with a hat full of luck, you're going to have a very hard time making your thing last if it doesn't live up to the hype--and your reputation will suffer for it.

Comment: Re:I just want the new Nexus. (Score 5, Insightful) 222

The only real feature of note was Apple Pay, which might finally make NFC payments take off in the US. It's been a technology that should have hit it big a couple of years ago, but has never seen much consumer buy-in for some reason.

It's pretty straightforward, to my mind. With the exception of all but the most staggering technological advancements, widespread adoption of new technology typically requires:

  1. a sound implementation,
  2. a robust support infrastructure, and
  3. an effective marketing campaign.

Geeks, for a variety of reasons, tend to respect the first, grok the second, and abhor the third. I personally believe it's what drives our perpetual cycle of incredulity on this subject--because we so detest the last part of this equation, we refuse to see its importance in getting all those squishy, distracted, emotional bags of water to adopt cool new stuff.

NFC has never had the effective marketing campaign in the US, and only kinda had the support infrastructure. The iPhone has incredible inertia on the marketing front, and Apple have clearly done the legwork on building a good starting lineup of financial institutions and retailers for Apple Pay. It remains to be seen whether this'll be sufficient to make NFC catch on, but it's easily the closest we've come to covering all three of the bases above.

Comment: Re:Why do we do these things? (Score 4, Insightful) 109

by American AC in Paris (#47582493) Attached to: NASA Announces Mars 2020 Rover Payload

I am not saying there's no advantage to space exploration, but I simply wonder why we continue to do these things yet we have a very big [budget] deficit. Why?

Apart from knowledge of how space works, what has the ordinary American gained from the billions spent on the space program? Can anyone point me to any tangible or intangible goods resulting from space exploration?

Because each time we overcome a monumental challenge for the first time, we expand the frontier of human knowledge and endeavor.

As our frontier expands, that which was undone becomes possible; that which was possible, replicable; that which was replicable, automatable; that which was automatable, trivial; that which was trivial, obsolete.

Just over a century ago, tinkers managed to propel a glorified kite a few feet through the air. The tangible benefit of this flight of fancy is that today, we complain about the comfort of the seats in mass-produced aircraft that can send us around the globe for a historically infinitesimal cost in time and money.

Seventy years ago, the US government was one year into the construction of ENIAC, one of the first general-purpose digital computers ever created. Upon its completion two years later, it would occupy 680 square feet, require the power of roughly six modern households, process up to 500 operations per second, and spend roughly half its time being repaired. The tangible benefit of this monstrosity is that today you likely carry, on your person, roughly 25 million times more computing power than ENIAC. It is quite likely that use the bulk of this computing power primarily for your own personal entertainment.

45 years ago, after years of research and significant government funding, ARPANET was launched. Not many people expected it to be of any significant practical value; in fact, the first message ever sent over ARPANET only managed to deliver two characters before crashing the entire network for an hour. The tangible benefit of this boondoggle is that today, we have the Internet, the direct descendant of ARPANET.

Comment: Re:I'd rather not use (Score 1) 521

by American AC in Paris (#47075321) Attached to: Goodbye, Ctrl-S

a text editor that is so error prone that *needs* to autosave constantly("continuously"). Or software in general, for that matter.

You've got it backwards--it ain't an error-prone text editor, it's an error-prone human. Even conscientious, process-driven users make stupid mistakes and forget to save their work (especially when they're on a roll.) This protects us from ourselves, not the machines we're working on.

Now, you may be among that handful of people who never forgets to save--in which case, I congratulate you on being in one of the outlier cohorts that software engineers really shouldn't ever spend their time worrying about. :D

Comment: Timeline (Score 1) 49

Year 1: "You guys, this is even better than [current industry leader]'s tech! Amazing!"
Year 2: "Hardly anybody who has updated to version 5.4 still bleeds from their eyeballs. [current industry leader] hasn't updated their tech for months!"
Year 3: "Samsung is the undisputed leader in virtual reality headsets! They've shipped five times as many units as [current industry leader], and there's no stopping this tidal wave!"
Year 6: "Hey, you should really check out the high-end Samsung VR units. They're every bit as good as [current industry leader] nowadays."

Comment: Re:Driverless Cars Are Boring (Score 1) 255

by American AC in Paris (#47051437) Attached to: The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence

So they drive like I do. Safely. I have zero tickets. I've never even been pulled over.

Those "laws" and "signs" aren't arbitrary guidelines out to ruin your day. If everybody would actually follow them then accidents -

Hold on, another point here. The word accident is bullshit. Accidents imply that the situation was unavoidable. 99.999% of vehicle collisions are entirely preventable by simply following the rules. (Properly maintaining your vehicle is part of the law too)

Oh, I do--haven't had a moving violation in 7+ years, back when I was younger and stupider.

That said, I got nailed by a car that decided to try to make a right turn through my car last November. I was in the right lane, going the speed limit, didn't have anyone in front of me, and even saw the other driver overtaking on my left--but there was no way on this green-and-blue earth I could have reacted any faster than I did. A robot -probably- could have, and may well have saved the annoyance of having to go to a body shop to have the other guy's insurance fix it.

From my own perspective, I'm hard-pressed to see how I could have avoided this collision. And frankly, it doesn't really matter that the other driver could have--that doesn't do me a whole lot of good. I don't get to pick and choose who drives next to me.

Comment: Driverless Cars Are Boring (Score 5, Insightful) 255

by American AC in Paris (#47049555) Attached to: The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence

There was an article a short while ago written by a journalist who rode in a driverless car for a stretch. There was one adjective that really stood out, an adjective that most people don't take into consideration when talking about driverless cars.

That one word: boring.

Driverless cars drive in the most boring, conservative, milquetoast fashion imaginable. They're going to be far less prone to accidents from the outset simply because they don't take the kind of chances that many of us wouldn't even begin call "risky". They drive the speed limit. They follow at an appropriate distance. They don't pull quick lane changes to get ahead of slowpokes. They don't swing around blind corners faster than they can stop upon detecting an unexpected hazard. They don't nudge through crosswalks. They don't cut off cyclists in the bike lane. They don't get impatient. They don't get frustrated. They don't get angry. They don't get sleepy. They don't get distracted. They just drive, in a deliberate, controlled, and entirely boring fashion.

The problem with so, so many of the "what if?" accident scenarios is that the people posing said scenarios presume that the car would be putting itself in the same kinds of unnecessarily hazardous driving positions that human drivers put themselves in every single day, as a matter of routine, and without a moment's hesitation.

Very, very few people drive "boring" safe. Every driverless car will. Every trip. All the time.

Comment: Re:How do you pull over a driverless car? (Score 1) 626

by American AC in Paris (#47049365) Attached to: Driverless Cars Could Cripple Law Enforcement Budgets

Would it pull over if it sees the blinking lights / siren behind it?

Probably, yes--after all, a strobing emergency light is fairly easy to detect, and as automated cars grow in number, you'd likely see more elegant mechanisms for alerting driverless vehicles of the presence of emergency vehicles. I'd imagine that manufacturers would keep some form of the "big red button" emergency stop button we've seen in a number of prototypes, as well.

Could you spoof it with a bunch of blinking xmas lights on the side of the road?

Unless you have some pretty heavy-duty strobing Christmas lights, probably not. That said, there'll probably any number of ways you could spoof the behavior of an official vehicle. In doing so, though, I'd imagine that you'd fall afoul of the same impersonation laws that exist and work quite effectively today.

Comment: Re:Creative Suite Six will be Adobe's XP (Score 1) 74

by American AC in Paris (#47019369) Attached to: Adobe Creative Cloud Is Back
Don't overlook Flash--the development tool, not the plugin environment. Flash CC now does a decent job of exporting timeline animations to HTML5 without the overhead of converting to video. It's quirky, and there's still a lot more they can do there, but I suspect Flash-the-authoring-environment will continue to be the 800-pound gorilla in the web animation department for some time to come.

Comment: Re:Frequent hurricanes? (Score 1, Interesting) 627

Actually, the Dust Bowl was mostly caused by human actions, but please don't let _facts_ cause you to pull your head out of the sand.

Oh, sure, next thing you'll be trying to tell us that we're going to have a massive, multi-year drought because some East-coast scientists say that farmers are planting their crops wrong. You:

1. Clearly know nothing about farming,
2. are obviously a shill for the Roosevelt administration, and
3. want us to throw out generations of farming wisdom and spend huge amounts of money on a problem that doesn't even exist.

Only an idiot could look at the past decade of incredible crop yields and scream that everything's going wrong. Get off the telegraph, moron.

Josiah H. Blough (Dust-Bowl-skeptic)

Comment: Makes sense (Score 3, Insightful) 254

When the back door was made of cloth and paper, there wasn't much sense in trying to fool the user guarding the front gate. Now that we've locked that down with a steel door and a proper deadbolt, it's a lot easier to try to sneak past the guard--and it's a lot harder to upgrade a guard than it is to upgrade a door.

I think we're entering a period where forensics and an effective legal apparatus are going to become the primary means of defense.

Comment: Re:Still waiting to see 3 things (Score 5, Interesting) 174

by American AC in Paris (#46863071) Attached to: Google Using Self-Driving Car Data To Make Cars Smarter

When the computer is good enough that you haven't had to do any driving in the past 3 months, how much are you really going to be paying attention when something goes wrong?

I'd suggest that once this is consumer-ready, the vast majority of "something goes wrong" scenarios where the car doesn't know what to do would fall into one of two categories:

  • "I don't know what to do, therefore I will come to a complete stop (and pull over to the side of the road, assuming I can identify a safe path);" or
  • "If I can't react adequately to this situation, there's very little chance that you, meatsack, would have done even half as well as I can manage right now."

These things'll never, ever be perfect. They will almost undoubtedly reach a point where they're at least an order of magnitude safer than humans, though. That'll be more than good enough for most people.

Wasn't there something about a PASCAL programmer knowing the value of everything and the Wirth of nothing?

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