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Comment Re:Slashdot hates technology? (Score 1) 51

For all I know those doing the dumping have a point or maybe they don't but it doesn't matter because the assumption made is dumping must be bad or there can be nothing systemically wrong with the current market resulting in reflection of disproportionately negative opinions

Yeah, sure. I guess I just miss the time when the balance was a little more optimistic. If 2003 Slashdot was discussing VR, you'd have people talking about cool things they wanted to try, or speculating about how they could do even more if they just had this extra bit or whatever.

Comment Slashdot hates technology? (Score 2) 51

Right now, comments on this article are 100% Anonymous Cowards, who all agree this is dumb and won't go anwhere. And that's pretty much par for the course here - people dumping on random consumer tech, websites, every company in software, VR, robotics, AI, self-driving cars.

I think VR is going to be big. We bought an Oculus DK2 a while back, and people are blown away by it, despite it being flakey, being a generation behind in hardware, and there being essentially no professional content.

Maybe I'm wrong and VR won't go anywhere, but it's sad that Slashdot has become so blase about technology and the future. There's plenty of places VR could go and plenty of things you could do with it that are at least potentially exciting. But nobody is imagining any of that, they're thinking "meh, I'm happy playing normal FPS games on my normal monitor", "this didn't work before, so it won't work now", and "nobody wants to wear goggles on their head".

Comment Re:Nutritionism (Score 1) 425

Ballooning might have been too strong of a word. I wasn't getting huge, but I was slowly, consistently gaining weight over the years.

For a while I was having success with more vegetables and less meat than I'm doing now; specifically, I was eating a lot more East Indian style stuff with vegetables as well as tofu and cheese (lots of protein at night seems quite important for me to have success over time). But it was a lot of work to make it all balance out (and to prepare), and lots of it is stuff that doesn't fit well now because my kids won't eat it. The chicken works because I can double up on chicken, while they eat chicken plus rice/pasta (which I skip). (That's not to say we have chicken every night, but we eat lots of it).

Anyway, my point wasn't so much about what's working for me being the right answer, or that I couldn't ever find something that would work better for me. My point was more that a focus on simple answers will often preclude the solutions that work best for different people, solutions which might be much more complex. And, more specifically, I think simple plans focused on "healthy" (especially when defining healthy as "natural", "not processed", or traditional) and "not healthy" (especially when excluding things: no dairy, no meat, no gluten, whatever) buckets is often going to push people into dietary patterns that won't work for them, or that they won't be able to sustain at a healthy level when considering their lives as a whole.

Comment Re:Nutritionism (Score 2) 425

I prefer eating fruit and vegetables (and I love grains and nuts of all kinds) but to manage my weight I find I have to eat a bunch of meat (more meat than I want). My brothers have found the same thing - as we've all got into our late 30s, we've had to switch to eating more meat (I eat mostly slow-cooker chicken) to keep from ballooning up in weight. But I also have to have carbs in the morning or else I under-perform at work. Anywho, your vague "natural"/"grandma-recognizable" stuff is completely useless for me: as a younger man I had no problem gaining weight on whole wheat bread (my mom ground the flour herself!) and home-grown potatos.

So what is it then? Maybe I ate too much? Well, you could say that for anything. Later in life, my mom lost a bunch of weight on some quack "HCG" diet (which is obvious nonsense, and yet it worked because it restricted calories). If you only ate things that being with the letter P on Mondays, you'd probably lose weight, at least for a while.. but it's hard to think of that as an effective meal-plan; it's effectively just "eat less".

"Don't eat too much" is an easy catchall, but is often completely unhelpful in terms of helping people make decisions that will make healthy living easier. And, for me, avoiding meats is advice that would make healthy living much harder. I've found a balance of stuff that's working for me (when other stuff didn't), and I'm mostly happy with my health/diet situation, but I've never seen some overarching theory that really fits my experience of health and nutrition. I imagine what you've presented is working for you, but it's not some universal home run - and I think a good chunk of it is baseless bollocks (or is correct by coincidence).

The very idea that there's a simple formula for how to do this is a big part of what's screwing people over; people glom onto some theory, and when they find it isn't working they blame themselves or give up. In the 80s, it was super simple: just eat less fat and you'll be less fat. That kind of sounds intuitive (man, people are eating a lot of fat these days, and fat is so calorie-dense!), and cutting fat worked for some people. Yet for many people, trying to cut fat was just going to make their life harder.

My sister-in-law is overweight and eats a bunch of nuts because it fits some Venn diagram of the 3 kinds of BS she's swallowed (and it would fit your plan too). But she's not losing weight. I think the nuts are making it harder. None of the people telling her things (and that's everyone; everyone is telling you something when you're an overweight female) are making things easier for her, and most of the sources she hears from in society pretty much actively shame her; they're saying "it's your fault for not eating more natural, for eating too much meat or gluten or dairy or whatever". Everyone has an idea, most of them backstopped by "well, if you're doing that stuff and still not losing weight, then you must be eating too much" and, again, the general notion "your lack of willpower is the core problem".

I don't think the answer IS simple. I think to help her, you'd need to sit down and look at all the things she eats and how much. You'd need to look at what she's doing, how she feels during the day, and what are the situations where she ends up really going off the rails and overeating. You'd need to try a few things, experiment through a few failures, and approach the problem from a few angles. "Her": the specifics of her body, her mind, and her life, would need to be part of the plan - such that if the plan fails, we don't say this external thing like "your willpower" failed, we say "we need a better plan".

Some people may just need a simple answer. For other people, I think "seeking the simple answer" is preventing them from building out the more complex answer they need.

Comment Language matters less than integration/content (Score 2) 214

If I was designing a setup to teach kids programming, it'd be an IDE centered around creating - for example - a 2d game. Have easy, integrated ways to edit art assets and associate them with scripts and inputs. Have easily accessible commands to make sounds, move stuff around, and navigate between "levels". Kids like doing this; when I was a Cub Scout leader, the boys really enjoyed drawing pictures and bringing them to life and figuring out what would happen - but there's no way they would have been able to chain things together (in Haxe, since at the time a Flash game was the most accessible target for the kids to be able to play the final game at home) without me helping.

There's lots of languages that would be suitable for this, and I don't think that's necessarily the important part. The problem with just picking up, say, Java and writing a game is that there's a lot of ducks you have to have lined up before you can get an interesting result. There's a lot of unintuitive steps. When I learned Commodore 64 basic as a kid, I pushed through those challenges because that was the only way I could play a new game. Most kids now won't have that problem of "there's nothing to do on the computer".

Comment Re:So much better (Score 1) 393

I mostly agree with your sentiment here - but ideally a new system would be able to address both needs (ie. it could pinpoint a shack amid a bunch of others, but could also identify an apartment in New York).

Regardless of that, I'm skeptical how well this system would work overall for many of the target populations for some of their applications (most importantly, delivery). How stable are these populations and their structures? How secure are they? I mean, in the developed world, if someone answers the door at your house, it's reasonably secure to hand them the package. Does that hold for many/all of the targets here, or would you get some kids go stand in Bob's place if it looked like someone was delivering a cellphone.

Does "door-to-door" service really make sense, or would these people be better served by a community mailbox and some sort of low-cost method for establishing identity at pickup? (I obviously think the latter makes more sense).

Comment Re:How'd that work for Blackberry? (Score 1) 121

I think RIM could have succeeded in becoming a successful Android phone vendor, but they tried it much too late. I mean, it was mostly too late by the time the Playbook came out - and when it didn't have support at launch (which many were expecting it to), that was kind of the end of their chance.

I don't think "going with Android" would have been a bad strategy for either RIM or MS, but neither of them did it at a time when it made sense; instead, in both cases, it comes off as a desperation play that's way too late.

That said, I think MS could still have a bit of an out if they REALLY committed to making something like Xamarin work well. If Xamarin was the easiest way to develop iOS and Android apps (which could, as a side effect, also work on desktop Windows and MS phones) MS could tag along and get some applications flowing. MS can actually build good dev tools when they focus on that. But I don't trust their leadership to make reasonable decisions at this point.

Comment I'm confident 80% of posters didn't watch video (Score 5, Insightful) 222

This isn't like "oh, I can eventually break this lock by smashing it", it's "this lock opens if you tap it in the right place". It takes seconds, and requires nothing in the way of fancy technique or specialized tools.

Yes, we all get it, any lock can be defeated - but this isn't the right story to use that stock comment on. This isn't someone smashing a small lock with a big hammer - this is someone demonstrating how defective a particular lock is, and it makes for an entertaining little video.

Comment Re:This is a breakthrough? (Score 2) 31

Yeah... I really don't understand a lot of robotics research. They seem to be forever chasing these awkward "proof-of-concept" implementations of concepts that are completely uninteresting. This is a perfect example: obviously you could make some robots that could do this, but it's really unclear what you'd learn by doing so, and the result is useless.

I mean, if they actually wanted this behavior for some purpose, and this was a reasonable way to approach that practical purpose? Sure, do it. Of course. If there was some question whether this was possible (which obviously there wasn't, at least not serious), then sure, prove it's possible. If there was some question we'd be answering (about biology, maybe?) or some challenge that would be interesting to overcome, then, uh, maybe. But it seems much more likely that such questions could be answered easier by a simulation.

As it stands, it seems like we've got a HUGE surplus of research on, to pick a random example, how to have robots all go somewhere without bumping into each other - most of it saddled with arbitrary restrictions that are also completely uninteresting. Can the swarming robots co-ordinate without any predetermined communication protocol? Yes, obviously, and we can prove that in simulation. But that's not good enough for some reason, have to actually build some crappy robots to mong into each other while we re-solve a bunch of boring practical problems with batteries and light sensors.

If you just want to have a challenge, or get some practice building robots that have to deal with the real world, why not build them to at least attempt something interesting or useful, or at least entertaining?

Comment Yeah, well, naturally. (Score 2, Funny) 91

I mean, this is like the core principle of homeopathy. You make permanent holes in the water, and the holes are just the right size for the class of toxins you're dealing with. Then if you want more holes, you dilute the water to make the holes split (obviously you want to be careful with this in practice).

I thought everyone knew this? How did you guys all think homeopathy worked? Magic?

Comment Re:Fingerprints are Hashable (Score 1) 242

Sure this is a problem, but not an unsolveable one.

As long as only a small percentage of measurements fall into ambiguous bands, you can solve this in practice by simply jittering any of the measurements that were very close. IE, if you have 9 measurements that are clearly in a band, and one that's right on the edge, you can just try both the nearby values for the tenth and see if either matches the hash. If you have too many measurements that are equivocal, then your system has failed as you couldn't (and wouldn't want to) be jittering everything... but overall, this is a design challenge, not an absolute showstopper or something.

Comment Re:Premise is not necessarily correct. (Score 1) 242

Wow, that was a stupid, bizarrely aggressive post. What's extra bonkers is that it seems like you agree with me.

No I'm not an expert on fingerprints (or security or cryptography in general), but that doesn't mean I can't clarify a pretty simple misunderstanding. In this case, my point was that building a hashing system suitable for fingerprint authentication may have challenges, but is not inherently impossible (as the original article implies).

Everything you said agrees with that determination (challenging practically, but no reason to think it's actually impossible). I didn't think this would be a controversial stance at all really, and I certainly didn't expect to induce hilarious rage-posts like yours here.

Comment Re:Premise is not necessarily correct. (Score 1) 242

I'm not suggesting hashing the image, I'm suggesting hashing a stable digital digest, the contents of which might be determinations like "are there significantly more of feature X than Y" that were repeatable. I thought that was clear?

Your next point is a reasonable possible problem with practicality - if your "stable digest" is too small then it obviously won't work. But there's no reason this digest couldn't be usably large with a scan of appropriate quality; to be clear, I'm taking issue with the idea that hashing a fingerprint is impossible in principle, I'm not saying it would practically work right now in realistic scenarios.

And I would say fingerprints are secrets to some extent. If someone were able to harvest a ton of identified fingerprint images from a database breach, I think that would be a significant negative. Being able to hash is a positive for an authentication system.

Comment Re:Premise is not necessarily correct. (Score 1) 242

I don't think you read my post?

My whole point is that you don't have to compare image to image. I'm saying that you could take a fingerprint image and digest it into a set of boolean qualities that are stable for various images of that fingerprint (ie. this one has significantly more dipsees than doodads, so that can be a bit in our stable digest). Then you hash that digest and store it. For a new authentication attempt, you do the similar digest and hash, and the two hashes have to match (like a normal password check).

Finally, to repeat from my previous, I grant that this might be difficult in practice, but it is not impossible (and thus this is not some intrinsic limit to using fingerprints for authentication).

Comment Premise is not necessarily correct. (Score 3, Interesting) 242

It's more awkward to hash a fingerprint than a password, sure, but it's certainly not impossible. An image of a fingerprint is mutable and "analog" feeling, but you could, instead, base your fingerprint comparison on a more "digital" digest of information from that fingerprint (eg. you boil image data down to bits that are repeatable in the face of repeated scans, like you check whether feature X is significantly more prevalent than feature Y in this print).

It'd be tricky, sure, and potentially impractical given current scan quality - but non-hashability is not some inherent limitation of fingerprints or biometrics in general.

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