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Comment ubiquity and Git (Score 5, Insightful) 917

Is Linux successful? Debatable. It has success in limited uses,

These limited uses being "pretty much everything outside the desktop".

Servers, embed, high performance computing clusters, smartphones, robots, home appliances, etc.
And new uses still pop up on a regular basis.

Hardly a niche.

Though you probably are proud of explicitely using a non-Linux OS on your computer (Mac OS X ? Windows ?), fact is that you probably interact with a dozen of Linux powered device each day without noticing.

Linus accomplished a lot, but what groundbreaking thing has he done in the last 20 years?

Yeah, the guy has done nothing more that the Linux kernel in he's life. He's a one trick poney.
It's not like he would be ablto to do anything else like starting a distributed source control management (DSCM) that in practice almost replace any other SCM.
Oh, wait...

Without Linus to create Git, you probably wouldn't have had communities like GitHub emerge nowadays (or they would have tried to built on much less optimal technology. Github is born out of the specific feature that with git, forks/merges/rebases are cheap - a specific feature that Linus needed to build in order to be able to use git for the kernel work).

Comment Much more complicated (Score 1) 174

why would you need 120fps per eye when the human eye isn't really capable of seeing that much?

Actually it's much more complicated.
Depending on several factor, humans might notice 120fps.
(Mainly "dotted path" type of artefacts).

(The situation is different than audiophile's obsession with 192KHz which CAN'T be heard)

Comment Done with e-banking (Score 1) 317

The way the system should work is every user's card should have a number pad on it where they enter there pin. It should display the merchant's name, an amount of the transaction, and a transaction ID (ie the receipt). The card should then encrypt a message with GPG that is then transmitted to the card holders bank authorizing the bank to release the funds to the merchant.

...and that's how it works with lots of European banks' e-banking interface:
a completely offline device (either chip-card in a small calculator-like device, or card with keypad directly on them) are used to sign transaction (or simply the numbers they display. But you get to see the numbers).

European banks do it because:
- it's really the best possible security at this level of conveniance, thus less risk for their customer and thus less possible liabilities for the banks themselves.
- it's their own e-banking infrastructure, they get to do what pleases them (see point above for what pleases them).

That would be completely different with credit card payment:
- because the bank themselves don't get to decide. Instead they have to abide to whatever Visa and MasterCard imposes on them, and Visa and MasterCard are interested in a different point of balance on the security vs. conveniance scale (they need the credit card usage to be as easy as possible because they need as much transaction as possible to happen, which makes more money flow, which gives them more earnings from the percentages)

What some european banks have introduced is complete out-of-bound confirmation of transaction:
you get an SMS asking you to confirm the transaction that you do with the credit card. Even if the terminal is rigged/bugged, the SMS will show you that that the transaction amount isn't what its supposed to be.
Currently, that's not very convenient (slows down the procedure a lot), it's not very secure (all it takes is a rigged/bugged picocell spoofing the SMS), but at least it helps discover and intercept fraud much faster (wait, why am I receiving a confirmation SMS when I'm just sitting at work ?!?) and is a first baby step in the right direction (the user should rely on an external non-trusty device for displaying info about the transaction and asking PIN to sign the transaction).


Sadly, for the sake of convenience, some of these separate e-banking authentication are replaced... by smartphone apps.
Yup. Software running on *always online* devices that can be hacked.

All this because the user have already a phone in the pocket, and because the smartphone has a camera which is convenient for reading data from QR codes.


For the record: Bitcoin protocole also relies on the user signing a transaction that they see on their side.
Except that instead of getting checked by on single authority (that might have some sort of privacy policy), the check is distributed and each transaction is publicly broadcast for the whole network to store it in its distributed ledger (no true anonymity trades for no single point of failure).

Comment Towing & Electricity (Score 2) 323

What about when you have 6 people in it towing a boat/quads/whatever and fully loaded with luggage?

Now there's a funny thing with electrical vehicle and towing:

- electric motors are relatively simple and not the most expensive part in a vehicle (I mean when compared to a fossil fuel engine). There's nothing preventing you in putting more into anything. That's why recent Model S, and the Model X (and countless of small half-DIY things-on-wheel on youtube) are dual-drive.
Gives you twice the power, with not much extra cost.

- batteries are expensive, and a bit heavy, but once you already have the technology nothing forbids you to install more of it (beside the cost).

Put these two together and you find something very interesting : it's not completely impossible to add power to the tow.
- put an extra motor on the tow's wheel axis (dead simple, not that expensive)
- add a small battery (that's going to be expensive... unless the battery is modular and is your house's powerwall the rest of the time).
Now you're able to tow more without losing that much mileage.

The same would be an engineering nightmare with thermal drives, but electric drive brings it into the realm of possibilities.

In fact, that's exactly what European high speed trains are doing (random example: latest German ICE trains, Swiss ICN, etc.)
They don't have a locomotive/motor coaches.
Instead electric motors are incorporated into all the carriages. (adding extra electric motors is cheap).
The results is enormously powerful trains that can go very fast or climb steep.

Maybe, over the next decade, as prices for battery (and electric drive technology in general) get progressively lower, we'll be able to see mobile home that don't lower the mileage of the SUV they're attached too, because they have their own drive and electricity storage.
(At a very expensive price first, but the electric SUVs like Model X aren't really targeting the average person's budget anyway).

Comment Ski are long. Not for trunks. (Score 2) 323

I hate to break the bad news: but skis are rather *long* pieces of sport equipment.
You can't store skis in any trunk.

You either need a ski rack on the roof (as most other cars have options for, including the Model S telsa, and including all the cars I've ever driven).
Or you need a rack on the back of the car (as some people do with bikes, and as the few illustration I've seen of Model X tend to show).

But if you want to put skis *inside* any car, you need to lay flat some seats, at which point you lose the possibility of bringing more people together.
(You'll be only 3 persons: 1 driver and 2 passengers, and the rest of the space occupied by the skiing equipment.
Have been doing that personally for years).

Would be easier if all the passengers are only interested in bringing snowboard (shorter) and/or snowshoes/ice skates/snow blades/big foots/etc. (definitely shorter). But I'm a ski person.

Comment Fossil fuels (Score 1) 172

Reality: you can be fascinated by the technology, but realize that nuclear power is the most expensive technology ever invented by man.

Of course if plants burning fossil fuels (Coal, Gaz, etc.) don't need to be held accountable for the countless respiratory disease that they cause by pumping out tons of pollution in the atmosphere.
(and that's just the direct effect of putting shit into people's lung by polluting the air. I'm not even starting on the impact on global warming/climate change).

much less storing the waste for hundreds of years.

yup, let's panic about a couple of tons of radioactive waste.
it's so much better instead to rely on a method that constantly dumps countless tons of shit, diluted into the atmosphere (hey, no single waste storage place to be bickering about !) and eventually stored into the lungs of the general population.

Nuclear power == corporate pork and fluffing Tom Swift fanboys.

Coal/Gaz/etc. power == using general population's lungs as sewer system.

Yup. Nuclear energy isn't perfect. Indeed it does have its problems. I agree we could do better (hydroelectric, solar, wind, etc.).
But compared to what is currently used in lots of place, nuclear is *definitely less worse*.

You always need to thing about *what other technologie* one specific energy is competing.
What is the alternative.

As much as you would like the alternative to be wind farms, and solar panels, the reality is that the alternative against which nuclear power is competing is mainly burning fossil fuel and filling the atmosphere with its waste. On a scale that is order of magnitude more polluting and problematic than nuclear for a given amount of output energy.

Comment Car analogy (Score 1) 300

It should be obvious to most on here why a car analogy fails in regards to opportunities with programming and automation.

Also, you might notice that:

- regarding cars: currently only a few big motor companies are making money by *making* cars. Most of the other people that make money with cars, make that money by *using* car. You don't need a special custom car built for your business.
At most, you need your company/start-up/mom-and-pop-shop's logo on the car, and that's about it.
Thus from that point of view, indeed teaching all student how ignition works isn't the most critically important skill.

- regarding computers: that where the difference starts. Not only do big companies make money by *writing* code (Google, Facebook, etc.). Also all the small player that make money with computers need some kind of specific code.
Start-ups, small shops, etc. usually need at least some solutions custom developed for them. Might be as simple as a webshop setup for a small familial business, might be an ad hoc web platform for a new kind of service.
The company/start-up might not do it all on their own, but they at least need to have a vague idea about what could be done, and there's need for someone to actually write/develop the thing in the first place.

In short, against the car analogy: it seems there's a lot more money to be made by small entrepreneurs by harnessing their ability to develop an App or a web platform, than by harnessing their ability to understand how ignition works.

Now, you have to factor a few other things in the mix:
- IT jobs are the first that companies try to outsource. (with variable success. but that won't prevent that the company will first thing to hire someone in new dehli before thinking of hiring junior who happens to have learned coding in school and has some experience making apps)
- technician able to fix cars are required where the cars are physically present. Mechs able to fix cars aren't going to be easily outsourced.

So in a way Jeff Artwood was right but for a reason he didn't think about: kids need to have an idea about coding as much as they do need to have an idea about a car's internals: both might get handy.
- There's still tons of money to be made by small entrepreneur designing App, webservices, etc.
- There's job security in being able to fix cars.

Comment Saddly: not counted websites. (Score 1) 142

A world where Facebook is the only website accessible would be a nightmare.

Say hello to data plans where some social networks aren't counted toward the limited monthly data usage. (e.g.: WhatsApp isn't counted on data usage for several european phone providers).
It probably makes sense from an engineering point of view (i suspect that Facebook (=WA owners) have put WhatsApp servers locally at the service providers and thus communicate directly between the service provider and whatsapp, without get counted on the service provider interconnection to the local backbone. the same logic that pushes netflix to install local caches at ISP data centers. maybe I'm wrong, but that seems realistic) (also WhatsApp is a ridiculously small amount of data anyway, so it's not like there's much risk taken by the service provider) but in the long term, it's easy to see the dangers to where it might be going.

You can bet that Facebook might attempt the same in developing nations (put Facebook servers at the phone company's data centers, to minimize their outband cost). Then you can bet that their main information accessible would be the few websites that are not counted in the data plan.
Why try to use Wikipedia when you need to subscribe to a dataplan that's equivalent a whole day's worth of food with your bying power, when you could get Facebook for free ?

Comment The opposite (Score 2) 114

I mean, it's Bitcoin, he didn't even have to launder it!

Actually, it's quite the opposite:
- there's no central authority on bitcoin transaction. and because there isn't, that missing central authority can't keep secrecy on transaction.

Instead, at the centre of bictoin protocol is the block chain.
- A sort of cryptographically secured big ledger of all transaction.
- Any new transaction is broadcast to the whole network.
- Every single node of the network gets a copy from the transaction in it local copy of the ledger ( <- the whole point of the "distributed" nature of bitcoin protocole)
- Every single node can scan the blockchain and verify that the ledger is okay, and that the transaction is legit and matchs the ledger ( <- bitcoin protocol has no central authority, everyone is part of the authority by consensus).

The main result (what bitcoin protocole was designed for): no central authority. Any 2 random people can exchange things (mostly BTCs, but could also be data or whatever) securly with the blockchain, without needing to trust a specific 3rd party. And no risk of abuse from such a 3rd party (unlike credit card companies. The main trigger which made alt-currencies popular when mastercard and visa decided to block donation to wikileaks. There's no such company able to do the same blockade with bitcoin protocol).

The side result is that THERE CAN'T BE any anonymity with bitcoin. By design (other wise you couldn't have the whole network able to check if transaction are legit).
At best, you have pseudononymity (you don't actually put your real ID information. you sign everything with public/private key pair that are generated on the flight at every transaction. The public keys become your pseudonyme in the blockchain).
So your identity isn't directly written in the block chain. But its not impossible to track the flow of money jumping from one key-pair to the next. And eventually end up with a probable identity.

Given the amount at stake, chance are high that some will put the necessary ressource at tracking down where the money has flown.

Putting the money through "tumblers", or exchanging the BTCs against harder to track values would be a necessary step in case of a big enough heist.

Comment Distributed model (Score 2) 114

Given this and other similar high profile cases, it seems that the U.S. government may now control a not-insignificant minority of all bitcoins currently in circulation. It's difficult to see how that can be good for a system like bitcoin whose express purpose is to provide an alternative to traditional currencies.

As usual, some explanation: The core innovation of alt-currencies, is the bitcoin protocol itself. It works in distributed manner and guarantees thus that there is *no central authority*.
There's no "Bitcoin, inc." company that you can goto and force to shut down or attempt to manipulate with court orders.

No matter which entity at a given point of time holds 10% of all BTCs in circulation. That doesn't change much.
At worst, said entity could decide to attempt to manipulate exchange and either withhold the bitcoins or attempt to dump them all at once. That may make a small dent on the exchange rate... but need to compete with all the crazy shit that the other 90% BTCs in use. ...on the other hand if a single entity manage to get hold on 51% percent of all the hashing/mining power, that's another situation:
- that entity will more or less be able to re-write the ledger and force transactions, reject them, etc. Than entity will become the famed "Bitcoin Inc." that controls the bitcoins transaction.
That hasn't happened yet.
(But could. Depending on where hashing/mining hardware, mining farms, and grouped mining go in the long term).

Comment Germany (Score 1) 247

No. My German Aunt {...} Stops in the middle of a left turn

And because the thing happened in Germany, the driver behind managed to brake and stop in time, because they kept enough distance.
In the US she would have been rear-ended.
(in most European jurisdiction YOU ARE REQUIRED to be able to brake and stop. Rear ending a vehicle, no matter the reason, is considered as a ground for not getting insurrance money back).

What the European car maker are working on, is giving a tool to help the *driver behind*. e.g.: A swedish Volvo would have been able to brake and stop on its own.

Comment Time for reaction (Score 1) 247

On the other hand:
- planes have a few minutes as you suggest, because most of the time the problem isn't "plane is about to explode violently in 2 sec".

Now look at car. The situation requiring a human intervention the most quickly is avoiding an impact. Cars, currently on the road, are already good at avoiding collision. (e.g.: Volvo brand was mentioned in TFA. They have forward looking cameras and lasers. They are good at spoting obstacles and slowing down and stopping before them).
Even with current tech, a car would suddenly require attention to avoid a sudden violent crash. It's already able to slow down safely to a halt. Driver's attention would be required to deal with the unforeseen situation, not to deal with the braking.

Comment Hence TFA subject (Score 1) 165

Hence the whole idea of trying to put as much IA in drone as possible so they could themself identify no fly zones when their clueless user cannot, and refuse to go there if instructed (which is a complex problem and require massive advances IA).

That would be similar to how most Wifi dongle out-of-the-box will only operate on authorised frequencies (and would require some firmware reflashing to operate on other frequencies outside the authorised one, if the hardware is ever capable of so).
(Luckily for Wifi that's much easier to achieve - so we already have moe or less safe devices everywhere).

Comment Built-in safety. (Score 1) 165

Ham radio operators are a good example.

Yet, any customer can buy cheap radio equipement (e.g.: Wifi dongle) that are designed to be used by untrained end-users and are designed to only operate within safe limits (and only limits on wavelenghts they are allowed to.

People with license can buy separate, more expensive hardware specifically designed to allow access to other frequencies. (Or at least a hacker need to reflash firmware, e.g.: to allow using EU-only Wifi frequencies inside the US).

But there's no such thing as a safety aware drone - unlike the cheap Wifi equipement.

It's not a complex expensive equipment that are only sold in small quantities to specifically licensed people.
They are mass produced (relatively) cheap, that anybody can afford, easily buy and easily operate.

(That would be as if every single radio device was a pure software-defined-radio, where you need to manually type de frequency by hand - any frequency accepted - and radom users would go on involontary rampage frying nearby sensitive equipment because they didn't knew that they shouldn't type some numbers).

TFA is about building such safeties inside drones. Having drone with the ability to evaluate which zones are "no fly" and refuse to go ther when instructed (which is a bit more complicated than locking a radio within certain frequency range).

Rather than comparing to the radio, you should compare to the street:
- driving cars requires some licensing (Driver license
- walking around, biking, roller skating doesn't (They either are mass produced cheap stuff that would be hard to control, or don't require any equipement)

(also notice how cars are getting IA built into them to automatically avoid collisions)

I see no reason why we shouldn't require a license to operate a drone in any public airspace in a similar manner. Require sellers of drones to demand proof of an operator's license before they can sell their product. Then nobody can argue that they did not know AND we have a means to ensure appropriate training and use.

Comment FairPhone 2 (Score 2) 111

I'm hoping tablet and laptop versions soon follow so I can mix and match more modules over time. and I'll get multiples of them, too. it just makes sense to be able to repair them year after year, instead of buying another bloatware crap machine.

You should definitely check out the FairPhone 2.

Ease of repair has been one of the main argument for FairPhone 1 & 2.
For the second model, they are currently going to a a modular design to make it even more easy to fix, and to give the possibility to swap module in the future for added features.

A right is not what someone gives you; it's what no one can take from you. -- Ramsey Clark