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Comment: Re:A Working Definiton? (Score 1) 318

by GJSchaller (#45491213) Attached to: On the subject of robots ...

I would further the "mobility" argument to be "outwardly" mobile or interactive. A washing machine or dryer has no parts on the exterior, all of the moving parts are inside of it - you close the door, and walk away, when you come back it's done. With other forms of robots (that are conventionally accepted as a "robot"), the device has some outward-facing mobility - it moves itself (Roomba), or it interacts with objects that are exterior to it (an arm on an assembly line, even if the arm is bolted to the floor). A car that you drive yourself is not a robot, where a self-driving car would be. A cell phone is not a robot as it does not move on its own (short of vibrating across your desktop when it's ringing...), no matter how much processing power it has.

+ - National Do Not Call Registry offline during government shutdown

Submitted by GJSchaller
GJSchaller (198865) writes "During the past few days, I've noticed an upswing in the number of robocalls coming into my cell phone. I'm used to this cycle — a caller sets up shop, robocalls its list, and eventually gets shut down and / or moves to a new location and phone number only to start over. But this time, the frequency of the calls was much higher — 5-6 times a day from the same robocaller, sometimes within 10 minutes of each other. And when I went to https://www.donotcall.gov/ to report the number, I was greeted with the following message:

Due to the Government shutdown, we are unable to offer this website service at this time. We will resume normal operations when the government is funded.

I am left to wonder if this is coincidence, or if the perps are taking advantage of the shutdown to make calls without being reported?"

Comment: Re:Walking + Martial Arts (Score 1) 635

by GJSchaller (#43175425) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Do You Stay Fit At Work?

I agree wholeheartedly. In addition to the social draw to go ("I don't want to miss a class, I have a belt test coming up, my partners need me," etc.), a good school will also engage you mentally as well. Discussion of the theory behind your art and moves (Which is better? Punching faster, or stronger muscles?), etc. appeals to the geek in me.

If you have a kid, enroll them too (if they are old enough), and make it a family activity.

Just be wary of the school. If it's a lousy environment - if you're not challenged, if the instructors are jerks, if you feel like you're being patronized for your money - move on. A good school challenges you (and occasionally you fail), to teach you how to overcome adversity, from inside or without. If you get a belt without trying for it, it wasn't earned, and you're being ripped off. (Chances are, you're not getting into better shape, either.)

Comment: Accessibility and Power Backup (Score 1) 422

by GJSchaller (#41514097) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Would You Include In a New Building?

Two essential things you'll want to consider, or at least ask about:

1) Power in the event your main electrical supply goes out. Do you have a UPS in the data center? Do you need a generator on-site to keep things running? How much is it powering - just IT, or the CNC machines, too?

2) Make sure every damn thing in the building is easy to access once the building is complete. Light bulbs, faucets, AV equipment, etc. We moved into a beautiful building in 2006, with all sorts of high-tech displays all over the site, embedded into the walls. The majority of them are next to impossible to access if you want to re-seat a cable, replace a power supply, change a bulb, etc. It's at the point now where most of them are off and dormant, because it will require a general contractor to access them and do minor maintenance.

Comment: Re:Seriously? (Score 1) 376

by GJSchaller (#40323993) Attached to: Verizon Wireless Goes Ahead With 'Bucket' Data Plans

AT&T has indicated they are following suit, while Sprint has not.

http://www.macrumors.com/2012/06/12/verizon-introduces-share-everything-service-plan-for-up-to-ten-devices/

The plan is a boon if you have more than one device, and becomes better the more devices you have on the single plan, even with the increased data rates.

As a current Verizon customer, the new plan works for me *specifically* because I have more than one device. While I would be paying more if I just had a smartphone on the new plan, the inclusion of a tablet for $10 extra, pulling from the same data pool, more than offsets the cost of a separate plan for the tablet ($30 / month). It's not a huge savings, but it's notable in that I can now have multiple devices, plus tethering at no additional cost, instead of a separate plan for each device and extra for tethering, which would add up to more in the end.

Comment: Re:Positive bias in engineering research (Score 1) 408

by GJSchaller (#39966039) Attached to: Positive Bias Could Erode Public Trust In Science

In engineering research, there is definitely a positive bias; in fact, negative results are rarely published at all. This is both because negative results have less sex appeal than positive results and because peer reviewers are trained to outright reject publications without positive results

This. "People" don't want to hear things perceived as "negative," "failures," or "I don't know," even when it's accurate. The common person thinks science has all of the answers, and that if a scientist doesn't know the answer, it's the fault of the scientist, not science as a whole. Obviously, if problem X can't be solved, it's because the scientist working on it is lazy / stupid / biased, and not that society as a whole doesn't have the answers yet.

I can link this to two common phenomenon in current society: 1) TV / Movie science, in which the fictional scientist does something risky and cool, and solves the problem of the week using "SCIENCE!". See also, the CSI effect in court rooms. 2) Corporate culture, where people don't want to hear "I don't know" for an answer. Most corporate people are conditioned to have an answer, ANY answer, rather than say "I don't know yet." (Pet peeve of mine - being asked to solve a problem I haven't been informed of yet, and / or then being asked why I don't know the answer when I don't know the parameters of the issue / question.)

Until the concept of "It's OK to admit you don't know everything, and learning stems from this" is common place, there will be positive bias in published results, and other facets of society, even when the results are faulty.

Comment: Ghost in the Shell reference (Score 1) 125

by GJSchaller (#36899938) Attached to: Car Window Touchscreens

From the original Ghost in the Shell movie, the cars in it had display screens instead of windows. Instead of expensive / delicate glass, they could have a hard steel shell over the window, and a display inside that showed what the outside view was, without the fragility of glass. (It took an enhanced strength cyborg multiple hits to get through the front "windshield".)

The potential of this is more than just structural - the display could show enhanced imagery, such as highlighting objects that might not be noticed due to low light, rain, etc. The display can go around support beams, which traditionally block the driver's view. There's more, I am sure - it doesn't even need to be touch capable, so much as a quality display mounted inside the car in place of a window.

Of course, if the camera system fails, that's another issue / point of failure...

Comment: Be glad they're reporting them. (Score 4, Interesting) 149

by GJSchaller (#36630380) Attached to: Despite Controversy, Federal Wiretaps On the Rise

1) The number of REQUESTED taps is on the rise. If they didn't give a shit, they wouldn't be requesting them, they'd just do it and not bother getting permission. At some level, the system is still working. (Most likely because without that request, anything they collect will be thrown out as inadmissible, and their target will walk.)

2) From TFA: "The state wiretap with the most intercepts was conducted in Queens County, New York, where a 62-day wiretap in a corruption investigation..." meaning they are targeting government officials or public servants. Privacy should NOT be expected for someone serving in those roles, if they are doing something wrong on the job. (Filming police, anyone?)

The knee-jerk reaction to "wiretapping" is "bad!" - but the knee-jerk reaction to a citizen recording a public figure is "Good!" The standard isn't that clear cut, especially when the conditions (i.e. - the person being recorded is a public figure) are the same on both sides.

Work expands to fill the time available. -- Cyril Northcote Parkinson, "The Economist", 1955

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