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Comment: No, it's not anonymous. It's full tracking. (Score 4, Informative) 191

by Animats (#47769815) Attached to: DoT Proposes Mandating Vehicle-To-Vehicle Communications

Here's a more technical discussion from NHTSA. At page 74-75, the data elements of the Basic Safety Message I and II are listed. The BSM Part I message doesn't contain the vehicle ID, but it does contain latitude and longitude. The BSM Part II message has the vehicle's VIN. So this is explicitly not anonymous.

Back in the 1980s, when Caltrans was working on something similar, they used a random ID which was generated each time the ignition was switched on. That's all that's needed for safety purposes. This system has a totally unnecessary tracking feature.

Most of this stuff only works if all vehicles are equipped. It also relies heavily on very accurate GPS positions. However, there's no new sensing - no vehicle radar or LIDAR. The head of Google's autonomous car program is on record as being against V2V systems, because they don't provide reliable data for automatic driving and have the wrong sensors.

If something is going to be required, it should be "smart cruise" anti-collision radar. That's already on many high-end cars and has a good track record. It's really good at eliminating rear-end collisions, and starts braking earlier in other situations such as a car coming out of a cross street. Mercedes did a study once that showed that about half of all collisions are eliminated if braking starts 500ms earlier.

V2V communications should be an extension of vehicle radar. It's possible to send data from one radar to another. Identify-Friend-Foe systems do that, as does TCAS for aircraft. The useful data would be something like "Vehicle N to vehicle M. I see you at range 120m, closing rate 5m/sec, bearing 110 relative. No collision predicted". A reply would be "Vehicle M to vehicle N. I see you at range 120m, closing rate 5m/sec, bearing 205 relative. No collision predicted". That sort of info doesn't involve tracking; it's just what's needed to know what the other cars are doing. It's also independent of GPS. Useful additional info would be "This vehicle is a bus/delivery truck, is stopped, and will probably be moving in 5 seconds.", telling you that the big vehicle ahead is about to move and you don't need to change lanes to go around it.

Comment: Address space randomization does not help. (Score 5, Interesting) 95

by Animats (#47763103) Attached to: Project Zero Exploits 'Unexploitable' Glibc Bug

64-bit systems should remain safe if they are using address space randomization.

Nah. It just takes more crashes before the exploit achieves penetration.

(Address space randomization is a terrible idea. It's a desperation measure and an excuse for not fixing problems. In exchange for making penetration slightly harder, you give up repeatable crash bug behavior.)

Comment: What's MediaGoblin? Do we care? (Score 4, Informative) 68

by Animats (#47760275) Attached to: MediaGoblin 0.7.0 "Time Traveler's Delight" Released

The Slashdot article doesn't tell me what MediaGoblin does, or what it's for. Nether does the MediaGoblin site. The documentation, in typical Gnu syle, starts out with "how to participate" and continues with installation instructions.

It's sort of like Wordpress, but with different features and support for streaming media. There's a list of sites that use it. Of the public sites listed, all but one are demos of MediaGoblin. The first site on the list that isn't a a demo and works is this set of baby pictures. There's one site that lets you upload stuff. It's a collection of uploaded pictures with no organization.

This seems to be a publishing system for people with nothing to say.

Comment: Microsoft did something like this once before (Score 4, Interesting) 117

by Animats (#47754445) Attached to: Predictive Modeling To Increase Responsivity of Streamed Games

Back in the 1990s, Microsoft developed something similar. Their idea was to render frames in layers, with the more distant or less active layers rendered less often. if the viewpoint changed, the background layers were scrolled, rotated, or transformed to match, rather than being re-rendered immediately. It never caught on, because graphics hardware became fast enough to re-render everything on for each frame.

This new thing is similar. Mispredicted frames are viewpoint-warped as a temporary measure so the user sees something. The image is wrong, but close enough to look OK until a new rendered frame is sent. It looks OK for Doom, on which it was tested, because Doom is mostly about the shooter and the opponents moving; there's not much general activity in the background. GTA IV/V would probably look much worse than normal.

The whole concept represents a desperate attempt to make something "cloud-based" that shouldn't be.

Comment: "Computing's Narrow Focus"? (Score 2) 327

by Animats (#47743141) Attached to: ACM Blames the PC For Driving Women Away From Computer Science

"Computing's Narrow Focus"? Get a degree in petroleum geology or structural engineering if you want a narrow focus. Or pick the wrong field in biology. I know a woman who got a PhD in an area of microbiology that turned out to be a dead end. She ended up managing a coffee shop.

Comment: Khan Academy isn't smart. (Score 0) 243

by Animats (#47737305) Attached to: It's Dumb To Tell Kids They're Smart

Khan Academy isn't smart. I watched one of their "courses" on moments of inertia. It's a colored etch-a-sketch of someone writing, with voiceovers. There were major factual errors and wrong signs. It's low-budget content with no proofreading or editing. Subjecting kids to that is just wrong.

If we're going to have have massive online courses, the quality needs to come up to at least History Channel level.

Comment: Not putting up with jerks (Score 5, Interesting) 257

by Animats (#47732661) Attached to: When Customer Dissatisfaction Is a Tech Business Model

You don't have to put up with jerks.

  • Internet provider - Sonic.net DSL. No packet filtering, good support, no nonsense.
  • Phone - Caterpillar B15 ruggeized Android phone.. Bought from Caterpillar dealer, not carrier. Declined Google account at first power up. Google services disabled. No updates from Google.
  • Cellular carrier - T-Mobile. Has no control over phone. No carrier apps.
  • Email - IMAP server. SpamAssassin spam blocking.
  • Main desktop machine - Ubuntu 12.4 LTS.
  • No Google account. No Twitter account. No pay TV. Ad blocking on all browsers.
  • Main news source - Reuters. (More news about Ukraine and ISIS, less about Bieber and Apple.)
  • Main food store - Trader Joe's. No "club card" required. Good prices.

For almost every crap business, there's a competitor that isn't crap. Find them.

Comment: No big deal (Score 2) 190

by Animats (#47726537) Attached to: How Does Tesla Build a Supercharger Charging Site?

This is a straightforward industrial electrical installation. There's a pad-mounted distribution transformer and meter provided by the power company, a weatherproof load center provided by the customer's electrical contractor, and the Tesla supercharger control unit and outlet stations. No big deal to install. There's a comparable installation at every large standalone store.

That's a small charging station. Here's the build-out of a bigger one. Black and Veach, which does infrastructure construction for the energy and communications industry (substations, cell sites, etc.) is doing the job. They see it as a lot like building out cell towers. (If you watch that video, you may wonder why the transformers and switchgear are on raised platforms. Probably because there's a flood risk at that location.)

Installing a gas station's underground tanks, which today are dual tanks with leak detection, is a much bigger job. There's a big excavation, lots of plumbing and wiring, and several different trades involved.

Comment: Re:There is no "FarmBot" (Score 1) 133

by Animats (#47714057) Attached to: FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine

If you watch the video at the bottom of the article, you'll see photos of several prototype FarmBots that do, in fact, exist.

Those are just tabletop gardening robots. That was done 20 years ago.

There's lots of real robotic agricultural machinery, much of it mobile. Building a gantry over a tabletop doesn't scale.

Comment: Re:The power of the future... (Score 1) 305

by Animats (#47708177) Attached to: If Fusion Is the Answer, We Need To Do It Quickly

Fusion power is roughly 20 years away from being viable...and has been for the last 40 years LOL.

Longer than that. Fusion power has been hyped since the 1950s. From the article:

Nuclear fusion could come into play as soon as 2050

Heard that one before.

Fusion power has some real problems. After half a century of trying, nobody has a long-running sustained fusion reactor, even an experimental one. The whole "inertial fusion" thing turned out to be a cover for bomb research. There's a lot of skepticism about whether ITER will do anything useful. It's not clear that a fusion reactor will be cost-effective even with a near-zero fuel cost. (Fission reactors already have that problem.) It's really frustrating.

Fusion reactors are a pain to engineer. They have a big vacuum chamber with high-energy particles reacting inside, and huge cryogenic magnets outside. This is far more complicated than a fission reactor, and is why the cost of ITER keeps going up.

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