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Comment: Re:Another one? (Score 2) 55

by TuringTest (#48863241) Attached to: Jim Blasko Explains BitCoin Spinoff 'Unbreakable Coin' (Video 1 of 2)

There are over a hundred different altcoins by now. What makes this one so different that it's Slashdot-front-page worthy?

It has hit Slashdot front-page, therefore it has got exposure to some high profile geeks (or it would, if there were any high profile geeks left reading Slashdot).

Comment: Re:I switched from Excel (Score 1) 70

by TuringTest (#48837701) Attached to: Andy Wolber Explores Online Word Processors' ODF Support

I actually wonder why anyone pays for the Office Suite now

One word: styling. In a corporate environment that needs to 1) allow mostly untrained office workers to share, cut and remix content and 2) stage it with corporate branding of tolerable quality, MS Office is still the easiest software stack to set up.

There are other platforms for technical writing that are more flexible and provide better, more professional results, but they're a nightmare to mount from scratch, and require a good deal of training. MS Office only requires to follow an install wizard to have it up and running.

The huge investments MS makes on making it obvious to use for simple use cases ensure a gentle ramp up where users can start using it at their own pace and being productive in a short time. Learning its numerous and frustrating quirks to achieve more complex results can happen later, as knowledge disseminates within the organization, which then gets locked-in in this software platform.

Comment: Re:Cheaper option, Google Cardboard (Score 1) 74

by TuringTest (#48810307) Attached to: Ars: Samsung Gear VR Is Today's Best Virtual Reality

If your phone has Project Tango hardware and a good amoled screen with high resolution, and if the manufacturer implements a high refresh rate, you will have a lot of what the Occulus Rift has in terms of image quality

...and if the hardware has high latency, half of their users will report headaches and severe dizziness that last for days after using it.

Occulus limitations are there to provide an extremely low latency, which is needed to reduce the above effects. Full immersion in a VR environment has disorientation effects much more intense than those of 3D cinema. There are some users immune to them, but major publishers are not interested in this technology unless they can sell it to 99% of common people.

Cardboard is a cheap way to test what it's like to have a virtual environment with head position tracking, but it doesn't compare to the quality of an Oculus device. Heck, even Oculus is having problems with creating lasting nausea for many, and it's being created by an all-star team of world-class developers.

Comment: Re: No. Hell No. Bad Idea. (Score 2) 480

by TuringTest (#48794763) Attached to: How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting

For this to have any effect someone would need to force 100s (small-town election)

Which is easy to do when the small town is dominated by the local chieftain.

to millions (presidential election) ppl to vote the way they need.

Which is certainly doable by a well-coordinated syndicate of local chieftains with a shared interest in a pro-local-chieftain candidate.

With just a few percent of the victims testifying anyone trying to pull this off should find themselves in serious trouble.

This is why vote anonymity is essential. If a ruler is powerful enough to impose the votes on a whole community, no one would be silly enough to risk their neck by openly testifying against them. This may look hypothetical today, but if you open the possibility for coercion in elections, its only a matter of time that it gets abused on a wide scale.

Comment: Re:Insteon ISY-994 (Score 1) 189

by Nonesuch (#48779063) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Options For Cheap Home Automation?

The ISY (upgrade to the 994i if you haven't already) has a very nice and fully documented REST interface, included in the base license. There is an optional module enabling it to make calls out to remote network resources and also host web pages internally on the microSD storage card.

You don't need to use their proprietary programming interface. The same PLC or "PLM" (PowerLinc Modem) that the ISY uses can be accessed directly as a serial device if you want to work with Insteon devices at a low level from your own hardware, such as a Raspberry Pi.

Comment: Re:Insteon vs x10 (Score 1) 189

by Nonesuch (#48778953) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Options For Cheap Home Automation?

The worst part about Insteon devices is that they have x10 support which can't be disabled. It results in devices switching on and off randomly.

This may have been true when Insteon was first introduced in 2005, but has not been the case for at least the past 5 years. No new Insteon devices come with X10 addresses programmed in by default, and Insteon is almost entirely immune to accidentally responding to noise on the power line by switching on and off randomly.

Insteon support site now states "Please note that most new Insteon devices no longer support X10 communication.".

In general, Insteon is not a particularly secure protocol, and is vulnerable to sniffing and replay attacks. If you need devices with stronger security, consider more recent home automation protocols such as Z-Wave.

Comment: Re:A Simple Retort (Score 1) 556

You have that a little wrong. God *can* (in principle) be proven. If the sky breaks open, choirs of angels break forth, a 10km-long arm reaches down from the skies and an 8km golden-haired, bearded face looks down upon humanity and utters words of unshakable truth...then God is proven.

That ostentatious display of fireworks wouldn't prove that the entity responsible for them would be omniscient, all-powerful, omnipresent and all-benevolent, though.

These are characteristics that those in the know consider essential properties of what they call "God", and those wouldn't be proven by your hypothetical display of evidence; that would only show that someone has a tremendous FX budget.

By their very definition, those "omni" properties cannot be proven by empirical evidence, so by definition they are outside the reach of scientific enquiry, and belong to the realm of the purely philosophical. All theology and most classic philosophy depend on those universal, unlimited powers of God for their reasoning, so most of what you've heard about such entity would still remain unproven. That's why all this talk about "science can prove the existence of God" or "science can prove that God doesn't exist" is quite silly; they would anyway work only for some trivial values of God, not its core definition.

Comment: Re:Knuth is right. (Score 1) 149

In addition to Set Theory and Formal Logic, Computer Science relies heavily on Boolean Algebra, Graph Theory, and other areas of Discrete Mathematics. Computer Science is inherently cross-disciplinary, but at its core it is closer to Mathematics than it is to Engineering or Science.

You miss the parts that are very close to Linguistics and Information science: Ontologies, Information retrieval, Semiotics, and the all-important Human-Computer Interaction - how to build a computation environment that's efficient for humans to interact with. Maybe this is not a well-defined problem in a mathematical sense, but it's at the core of all programming activity beyond the level of micro-instructions.

This is not merely cross-disciplinary work; those are also essential parts of the science of computation, little related to mathematics yet highly relevant to all projects in the computing field, either in research or business - although many are unaware of their relevance.

Comment: Re: Good news, bad news (Score 1) 628

by TuringTest (#48643747) Attached to: What Happens To Society When Robots Replace Workers?

Who says there would be no constraints? Merely because there's no threat of hunger and cold, doesn't mean that creating art would have no challenges of its own. Many artists in history could create their craft because they were wealthy enough not to need other work.

Even if there is not a pressing need, artists can use self-imposed limits to explore the possibilities of their medium of choice.

Comment: Re:360K already double-sided (Score 1) 173

by angst_ridden_hipster (#48621027) Attached to: Backblaze's 6 TB Hard Drive Face-Off

No, I had a Teac DSDD drive on my TRS-80 Model I. I had to build a custom disk controller to support it though. This was in '80, so it predated the IBM PC by about a year and a half. Also, the PC used soft sectors, didn't it? The TRS-80 drive controllers were all hard sector.

I also had a Shugart 35-track SSDD drive, if I remember correctly.

It's obviously been a while, but I remember 35 track hard sector SSSD, 40 track hard sector SSSD, 40 track hard sector SSDD, and the brilliant Holy Grail of 40 track DSDD.

"Being against torture ought to be sort of a bipartisan thing." -- Karl Lehenbauer