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Comment: Re:do no evil (Score 1) 76

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49154693) Attached to: Google Taking Over New TLDs

Perhaps they should be asking for a ".google" gTLD, for that purpose, instead of trying to monopolize a generic identifier.

I was about to suggest the same, but with ".goog", to make it shorter. (Can't think of a less-than-three-letter symbol that points to them as strongly.)

(It's also their stock ticker symbol, so maybe it's not such a good idea - it could cause a land rush and litigation from all the other publicly traded companies.)

Comment: Re:Let it happen (Score 1) 211

by epine (#49152889) Attached to: We Stopped At Two Nuclear Bombs; We Can Stop At Two Degrees.

I imagine you'd start by laying down a set of climate benchmarks, agree on what is an acceptable variation under normal conditions, then should the averages begin to venture beyond those on the regular basis ...

I don't think you've read much Taleb. Your "benchmark" sounds like something freshly checked out from the LTCM Lemma Loans Library.

In a sufficiently complex system (Rule 110), means are not guaranteed to exist (Cauchy--Lorentz distribution).

Jay Rosen on

Still, we would be better off if we knew when we were dealing with a wicked problem, as opposed to the regular kind. If we could designate some problems as wicked we might realize that "normal" approaches to problem-solving don't work. We can't define the problem, evaluate possible solutions, pick the best one, hire the experts and implement. No matter how much we may want to follow a routine like that, it won't succeed. Institutions may require it, habit may favor it, the boss may order it, but wicked problems don't care.

And he's specifically thinking about this particular problem.

Know any problems like that? Sure you do. Probably the best example in our time is climate change.

It's an open question whether the earth's climate is still considered to be a wicked problem 500 years from now, or five million years from now. Even a future Extropian Eloi might find themselves stuck with having to participate in a climate lottery.

Comment: Re:Wrong conclusion (Score 2) 128

by epine (#49152069) Attached to: Adjusting To a Martian Day More Difficult Than Expected

I have a circadian rhythm disorder. Not long ago I free-ran at 25.5 hours for several years. Advancing by 1.5 hours per day, you're making adjustments to the world around you ever two or three days. Endlessly. I would have mortgaged a minor limb to change my rotational period from 17 days to 21 days. Just to be able to stay in a consistent phase with the day of the week would have been a major blessing.

I had previously tried melatonin with mixed success. At best, having exhaustively worked through many doses and times, it seemed to reduce my period to 24.25 hours, a little less than 2 hours per week. This is no bed of roses, either. And the melatonin was taking a three hour chunk of out every evening where I was yawning like a date-raped hedgehog waiting impatiently for a fresh coat of paint to dry in his homey bungalow, listless and unable to anything more complicated than cook dinner—usually a fairly simple dinner.

Recently I tried melatonin again in a sustained-release formulation (newly discovered at retail) and this magically worked much better. At a large dose, I'm able to stay on a 24-hour day permanently, over very close to it. The daily date rape continues to suck.

At lower doses—minus the daily date rape—I seem to stay near a 24-hour day, with unplanned excursions when it all comes unglued. This might well be addressed by further tweaking. I've ever so close now to having the best of both worlds.

The operative parameter with circadian rhythm disorder is that there's no such thing as "merely" a flesh wound for a haemophiliac. My clock drifts because there's something broken in the entrainment circuit. A haemophiliac bleeds because there's a gash or puncture or rash, but he continues to bleed because the blood chemistry required for blood clotting is MIA.

A normal person experiencing severe jet lag (say a trip to Japan or Australia) is in a horrible, unpleasant, barely functional place. In my metaphor, you feel weak because you're gushing blood. In this state, your clotting reflex (if you have a clotting reflex) is actually on overdrive. The stress is horrible, but the body is rapidly adapting and compensating. If you make it through the first day, you hope the second day will suck a little bit less, until after a few days, it hardly sucks at all, then you're body finishes making the adjustment, and everything becomes normal again.

For a person such as myself trying to maintain a 24-hour day without melatonin, the process goes the other direction. Light jet lag turns in moderate jet lag, and moderate jet lag soon becomes severe jet lag, and severe jet lag soon gives way to waking hypnagogic hallucinations. Every one of my attempts to force myself into adherence with the 24-hour clock on will-power alone developed along this path over two weeks. I was as cognitively impaired at this point as that time I got a bit too carried away in a bout of binge drinking, to an extent I never repeated again. And still the bleeding continued. By this point your will-power is so diminished, you need a jeweller's work bench and a steady hand to make even the smallest life decision. You know you're suffering like hell, but you've almost forgotten what crazy notion drove you to try maintaining a 24-hour waking day.

From French invasion of Russia:

The cold was so intense that bivouacking was no longer supportable. Bad luck to those who fell asleep by a campfire! ... One constantly found men who, overcome by the cold, had been forced to drop out and had fallen to the ground, too weak or too numb to stand. ... Once these poor wretches fell asleep they were dead. If they resisted the craving for sleep, another passer-by would help them along a little farther, thus prolonging their agony for a short while, but not saving them, for in this condition the drowsiness engendered by cold is irresistibly strong. Sleep comes inevitably, and to sleep is to die. I tried in vain to save a number of these unfortunates. The only words they uttered were to beg me, for the love of God, to go away and let them sleep. To hear them, one would have thought sleep was their salvation. Unhappily, it was a poor wretch's last wish. But at least he ceased to suffer, without pain or agony. Gratitude, and even a smile, was imprinted on his discoloured lips. What I have related about the effects of extreme cold, and of this kind of death by freezing, is based on what I saw happen to thousands of individuals. The road was covered with their corpses."

Yes, all my forcible 24-hour experiments ended at some point in the third week when I would blindly stagger into my bed with the hint of a smile upon my discoloured lips. The only difference is that after a sixteen-hour sleep of the dead, I actually woke up again feeling like a million bucks. When I used to bike tour, I would become so ravenous that a simple peanut butter sandwich would taste like nectar of the gods. This was like waking up after your best sleep ever, multiplied by nectar_of_gods / peanut_butter.

The cure for people who lack the cognitive equipment to distinguish bleeding from haemophilia is Insomniac by Gayle Greene (520 pages, 2008). Gayle is a professor of English with a Ph.D. from Columbia University. Somehow she's managed to stay employed at a high level despite her intractable sleep disability. I admire her grit. Think Mattie Ross bunkered down in a survival shelter for thirty years to outlast nuclear winter.

Some of the feedback on this book suggests that the author is a sharp-tongued and doth protest too much. Somehow I imagine that most of this criticism comes from the same people who regard the loss of yet another 1/2" of leg room in cattle class as being worth a half-hour bitch session with their seat mate. I have a feeling Mrs Greene's sustained snark—sleep loss affects the mood like PMS on steroids, that's the whole point of her book—quickly becomes hard to bear for people who enjoy complaining about minor things.

What does the Lubyanka, Hanoi Hilton, and Abu Ghraib all have in common? Sleep deprivation. Tough customers who are willing to endure the physical abuse, soon discover that extreme sleep deprivation dissolves your identity and spirit from the inside out (taken too far, it ultimately destroys your thermo-regulation, and then you die).

Case 0: Your body gets used to the 24.7 hour day, with no physical symptoms. Whatever zeitgebers are influencing your body clock are sufficiently strong to achieve normal entrainment to a abnormal entrainment period.

Case 1: The extra forty minutes gives you a mild case of jet-lag, but the jet-lag causes your body to adjust proportionately. Maybe a permanent state of mild jet-lag is just the cost of doing business on a 24.7 hour day.

Case 2: Your body fails to track the lengthened sleep period. You go in and out of jet lag on a week by week basis as your internal body clock syncopates with your sleep routine.

Case 3: Your body fails to track the lengthened sleep period, and the constant stress drives your sleep clock into some horrible non-state that never abates.

Case 3A: You somehow managed to cope with this by adopting a fragmented, irregular sleep routine (best attempted by those under the age of thirty, when energy reserves are high enough to ride the dips out).

Case 3B: You don't manage to cope with it, and become permanently trapped in hazy zombie gulag house of mirrors (stress-induced haemophilia).

Next we have the orthogonal matter of whether your sleep routine tracks your living environment, of whether your sleep routines syncopates with your living environment.

Case 0: Sleep and environment track together. You might or might not suffer from the length of the circadian day imposed upon you, but at least if you are suffering you can make stable plans to work around your suffering.

Case 1: Your sleep might track the rotation of Mars, but the living environment on Mars marches to its own drummer (like the submarines some have mentioned). Every you wake up with a different orientation to the environment around you. If you're bleary, weary, and far from your best from the moment you awake (and for much of the day) this is an extremely challenging environment to live within.

Case 1A: The daily drift is smallish, maybe an hour a week or a little more. You'll have enough stability in your routine that the changing phase can be managed incrementally.

Case 1B: The daily drift is large, 20 to 40 minutes a day. You'll be able to adapt incrementally, but you'll be aware of having to manage this all the time.

Case 1C: The drift is huge, 40-70 minutes a day. You'll think consciously about the phase-of-the-day first thing on waking, last thing on retiring, and at every meal time in between. It will be Monday morning, and you'll think back to Monday morning from the previous week like a time when you lived in an entirely different country. You'll probably buy a Pebble watch and program it to constantly display your internal body clock as well as the local time the coordinates your living environment.

Case 1D: The drift is stupendous, 70 minutes or more a day. Not only will you buy a Pebble watch and program it yourself with a custom calendar for a "market of one person" (Gershenfeld). You'll create strange names for each and every phase relationship, so you can keep track of your incessant daily adjustments cycle over cycle. You'll be overheard muttering to yourself "it's the third day of the spider, Brumaire the seventh" and people will think you just teleported onto planet earth from the Second Revolutionary Epoch of the Ferengi Reformation. If you're the conscientious type, you'll experiment with prescription amphetamines. This will help to some degree, while drawing you into whole new vistas of personal weirdness, which you'll welcome with open arms because you're so damn fed up with the incessant, all-too-familiar weirdness. (If you're not the conscientious type, your medicine cabinet will soon resemble the pagan love-child of Glenn Gould and L. Ron Hubbard).

Nothing in life is quite as important as you think it is while you're thinking about it.
                                                                — Daniel Kahneman

There's an interesting corollary to this wonderful gem of wisdom. Nothing adds up as fast as a circadian drift of five minutes per day when you stop thinking about it.

When you really live with a condition like this, if it's mild, there's this tendency to start thinking about life issues, like the recent fight with your bunk mate, and forget about your small problem.

Just five minutes a day sustained for five weeks—e.g. a thrilling library book you've already renewed once because you never even got around to cracking the cover by the time the original due date rolled around—turns lunch into breakfast.

People get this all wrong because they think in terms of homeostatic jet lag (i.e. jet lag minus the haemophilia term). And they get this wrong because they forget that time soon slips by in months, seasons, and years. Finally, people get this wrong because they don't think clearly about whether the period stress lies within the zone of biological accommodation, or lies outside the zone of biological accommodation (and when it lies outside the zone, whether the stress is ignored or induces the entire system into chaos).

The SCN is actually a complicated little thing. Here's a recent paper (2014) which provides a good starting point for anyone interested in the literature.

The clock shop: Coupled circadian oscillators Here's a paragraph extremely interesting to me, personally, as I have not before encountered the GABA pathway:

Decreasing GABAergic tone by genetically deleting the Na(V)1.1 sodium channel leads to impaired communication between the ventral and dorsal SCN and, intriguingly, a longer circadian period. Furthermore, pharmacological blockade of GABAA receptors or reducing GABA release with Na(V)1.1 deletion decreases the ability of the SCN to adjust to shifts in the light cycle, presumably by impairing communication between ventral and dorsal SCN. Thus, GABA appears to play an important role in long-range, rapid synaptic communication in the SCN to facilitate entrainment to environmental cycles.

I'm pretty sure part of my problem is that normal light-cycle entrainment has almost no effect on me. I've even used the Philips goLITE BLU (what sleep-deprived marketing drooloid styled that handle?) Light exposure when I'm sleeping does, however, substantially reduce my sleep quality; and white light exposure late in my circadian day does increase my latency to sleep onset. Phase effects? Forget about it.

In electrical engineering terms, coupled oscillators can exhibit degenerate coupling modes (usually where one flips over, and the coupling phase changes by 180 degrees). This was recognized from the mathematical model, then a light/dark stimulation program was devised to see if it could be triggered in an animal model (hamster is what I recall), and it was actually observed. (I haven't looked at that paper for years, so I'm rusty on the details.)

As I presently understand it, the SCN is actually just a reference clock. Nearly every tissue in the body contain local "clocks" that govern gene expression patterns. Most of these local clocks are coupled to the global reference clock, so the entire system stays on Moscow Standard Time. This prevents the liver from going into a metabolic housekeeping cycle right before the main daily feed.

The brain, in particular, does an immense amount of housekeeping. When all this housekeeping is coordinated (aka consolidated) we call this "sleep". Mess up the sleep program badly enough, and different subsystems in the brain begin to schedule housekeeping pretty much at random—including while you're wide awake. The sleep expert James Maas has some online talks where he discusses microsleeps and the neurological function of sleep spindles (recently discovered, and extremely interesting).

Also recommended is The Family That Couldn't Sleep: A Medical Mystery by D. T. Max. This book is not quite what it pretends to be.

First, members of this family sleep just fine until they reach a certain age. In this respect the condition resembles Huntington's disease. Then because of what is now believed to be a prion disorder, their ability to regulate consolidated sleep goes MIA. The afflicted quickly descend into a personal hell, and die without fail inside of two years. The meat of this book, however, concerns the scandalous history of breeding in and in and its probable contribution to "mad cow"-ish diseases in modern livestock. (Like the fat slav Mengele threw into an ice-water swimming pool who survived for forty-two minutes[*], prions laugh at bleach or steam for a long time.)

[*] Research shows that forty-two percent of all statistics are made up on the spur of the moment.

WARNING: The above book is not suitable for deregulationists (NSFD). There is, however, a fat chapter devoted to an alleged, convicted, and largely self-confessed pervert who pursued his deviance on an epic canvass.

Finally, the commonly-accepted 25-hour circadian day is complete hogwash. As I recall it, the original experiment erred in not sufficiently reducing ambient light. Sensitivity to low light levels was not properly understood. All recent research places the endogenous rhythm at just a hair over 24 hours.

Bah, I just typed so much I can't be bothered even to skim it for obvious errors.

Comment: Re:GNUradio? (Score 1) 131

Test equipment is allowed to transmit and receive on those frequencies. If it looks like a radio, it can't. I have a number of cellular testers hanging around here that can act like base stations, mostly because I buy them used as spectrum analyzers and never use the (obsolete) cellular facilities. Government has different rules regarding what it can and can't do in the name of law enforcement, although FCC has been very reluctant to allow them to use cellular jammers.

If you can afford it, something from Ettus would better suit your application.

Comment: Re:"Proprietary So I Get Paid", from Bruce Perens? (Score 1) 131

Hi AC,

Matt Ettus has a story about a Chinese cloner of the USRP. The guy tells Chinese customers that it is illegal for them to buy from Ettus, they must buy from the cloner instead. Then, when they have problems and require serivce, he tells them to get it from Ettus. Who of course made nothing from their device sales and can not afford to service them.

This is not following the rules of Open anything. It's counterfeiting.

So, sometimes it is necessary to change the license a little so that you will not be a chump. I discussed the fact that the hardware is fully disclosed but not Open Hardware licensed with RMS, the software is 100% Free Software, and there is a regulatory chip you can't write. We can go for Respects Your Freedom certification that way..

I've paid my dues as far as "Open" is concerned, and Chris has too. This is all we can give you this time.

Comment: Re:Why custom punched end panels ? (Score 1) 131

The case selection was so that we'd have at least one case that would work. We did not take much time on it. We'd be happy to have other people designing and selling cases.

The version after this one requires cases that look like real radios. That is going to be a bigger problem. We don't yet have a mold-design partner, etc.

Comment: Re:GNUradio? (Score 2) 131

We implement it as a chip that intercepts the serial bus to the VFO chip, and disallows certain frequencies. On FCC-certified equipment we might have to make that chip and the VFO chip physically difficult to get at by potting them or something. This first unit is test-equipment and does not have the limitation.

Comment: Re:How about international versions? (Score 1) 131

Anyone who is good at electronics can get around regulatory lockouts. We're not allowed to make it easy. But nor are we technically able to make it impossible.

U.S. regulation only allows Part 95 certified radios to be used on GMRS, and Part 95 requires that the radio be pretty well locked down. But all of those Asian imports are certified for Part 90 and there are lots of users putting them on both Amateur and GMRS. If FCC wanted to push the issue with any particular licensee, they could.

Comment: Re:awesome! (Score 1) 131

The D-STAR issue is not really ICOM's fault. JARL designed D-STAR (not ICOM) and put the AMBE codec in it because nobody believed that you could have a good open codec at the time. We now have Codec2 (a project I evangelized and recruited the developer) which is fully open. And we do have a software AMBE decoder in Open Source, although the patents won't let us use it. That is why I am working on the patent issue (as noted in the last slide of the presentation).

I know about the counterfeit FTDI chips, and Matt Ettus told me what has happened with the Chinese clone of USRP. We know what to do.

Comment: Re:Many are leaving ham radio too (Score 1) 131

And it's because of No-Code. We looked at the licensing statistics and thought we'd preside over the end of Amateur Radio in our own lifetimes. That's the main reason I worked on no-code. There was really strong opposition among the old contingent, and ARRL fought to preserve the code for as long as they could. Someone even asked me to let Amateur Radio die with dignity rather than sully it with no-code hams. Gee, I am glad that fight is over.

Comment: Re: Many are leaving ham radio too (Score 1) 131

Though a nice compromise might be to allow such things in certain bands only.

That is why there are different radio services. Hams really only have a few corners here and there of the radio spectrum. There really is a service for everyone, although you should be aware that the entire HF spectrum would fit in a few WiFi channels, and all of the Amateur HF spectrum would fit in one. So, we don't really have the bandwidth at all. And people who want the bandwidth on UHF already have WiFi and the various sorts of RF links, etc.

Comment: Re:Many are leaving ham radio too (Score 1) 131

The internet really sucks and we don't want another one on ham radio. Nor could we possibly have the bandwidth to support one. The entire HF spectrum fits in just a few WiFi channels.

To satisfy the demands of the "it should be anything goes" crowd, we have CB radio. And there are all of the common carriers, etc.

So, I can't sympathize, and even if I did, there are not the technical resources there.


Comment: Cryptographic keys (Score 1) 131

I am afraid that's not the way it works. Public-key encryption doesn't really give you the capability to decode the communication of two other parties unless you get the secret (rather than public) key, which they have no reason to give you. There is also a session key that is randomly generated and lives only for the duration of the connection, and there is the potential for VPNs or tunneling that further obscure the actual communication. It's actually very difficult for a monitoring station to even get 100% of the packets reliably, although the two stations in the communication do get them. So you may not be able to reconstruct all of the bits in the stream, and this will break decryption too.

All of this adds up to so many technical hurdles that in practice you have to be NSA to decode the communication, hams who are attempting to self-regulate will not have the appropriate resources.

Comment: Re:Bruce, finally something worth while (Score 1) 131

TDMA is time-division multiple access. It just means dividing the channel into time-slots, where each is some number of milliseconds. So, say we had two slots, each 20 ms long. We could receive for 20 ms, and then re-transmit what we received in the next 20 ms. No duplexers, no front-end overload, just one frequency. Works really well with digital modems and voice codecs.

You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred. -- Superchicken