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Comment Re:10% more transmittance for glass? (Score 3, Informative) 37

That is one of those Wikipedia articles which is a bit vague about what it means. It's doesn't make sense to intend to say that glass transmits 90% of incident light regardless of the thickness. The Wikipedia entry references a single optical "element", so I'd take "the transmissivity of one element (two surfaces) is about 90%," to mean that 10% is the lower limit of light loss for a single lens of arbitrary thinness.

Now if a very thin silica glass lens transmits 90% of the light falling on it, then clearly it'd be very difficult to conceive of a material that transmits 10% more light than that. However you can achieve whatever level of attenuation you wish by making your piece of glass sufficiently (possibly absurdly) thick. The three inch thick glass panes used in giant ocean tanks are noticeably more opaque than air. Clearly it's physically possible for a material to transmit 10% more light than the same thickness of glass -- for a sufficient thickness. Particularly if the index of refraction of that material is closer to air.

Of course that's where we get to the point that the summary is badly written too. Silica glass *is* very transparent; insufficient transparency isn't a problem in window applications, if there's a problem it's that the material is too transparent. That's why we have dark tinting and anti-IR coating. So it's not clear why we would care that the material can transmit 10% more light. Clearly the story got garbled somewhere along the way.

Comment Re:Get a feature phone, dumbass. (Score 1) 277

You know what's going to happen if you rely on a pager, don't you? Nobody will know how to contact you on that.

Which, indeed, is a feature -- not a bug. Anyone you want to reach you you give them the secret formula: call my pager's phone #, and when you hear the beep enter your phone number followed by #. Or if you need to send text, send an email to If you can't handle that I don't want to hear from you.

Oh, and a feature phone is fine solution if it's OK that you can't be reached when you're in a tunnel or some other places the VHF phone band can't reach but typical pager frequencies can.

Comment Re:First Name Basis? Rude. (Score 1) 577

Grammer ignorami. Proper nouns should NEVER be preceded by articles.

Oh, the definite article is very commonly used before proper nouns, most often place names or geographical features (e.g. "The Mississippi (River)").

Sometimes "the" is used purely customarily (particularly in names translated from other languages like "The Ukraine" or "The Maghreb" ), but its primary function is to distinguish between nouns referring to specific things a speaker is expected to be aware of, and generic things that are just being introduced into the discourse: "a ball [which I haven't mentioned up until now] broke Mr. Smith's window; Mr. Smith kept the ball [which I just mentioned]."

In particular proper nouns which sound like they might be generic will sometimes customarily get a "the" tacked on to indicate the audience is expected to picture the well-known thing rather than some unknown one ("The United States", "The Great Lakes", "The Big Easy"). "The Donald" is a definite article usage of this type, with an bit of ironic deprecation mixed in.

By the way the plural of "ignoramus" is "ignoramuses", not "ignorami". That is because "ignoramus" was never a noun in Latin; rather it is a conjugation of the verb ignorare (to be unacquainted with, to ignore). "Ignoramus" entered English as a legal term to mean "we take no notice of" (e.g. a witness whose testimony is irrelevant because he has no firsthand knowledge).

Comment Re:News that Matters????? (Score 1) 29

I suspect that Instagram simply realizes that 'different accounts' is a security/visibility-control model that people find easier and more familiar than various sorts of filters/tags/groups/'friends only'/etc. It's not as though they will have much difficulty correlating a user's accounts(even if the app doesn't explicitly send them 'all usernames on this device', seeing logins to certain accounts from a specific device is a pretty big clue); but switching accounts is easier than futzing with security settings when trying to maintain distinct audiences.

Comment Re:You CAN'T have ads without tracking. (Score 1) 356

It could very easily happen, by enforcing blocking rules that restrict or eliminate third party content.

That won't work. Even if you don't communicate directly with the third party, you don't have any way to prevent the content provider (who is also the ad provider from your point of view) from passing the information along.

We seem to have latched onto this "third party content" as The Problem, where it's really just a hack du jour for easily spotting a problem. But the only reason a content provider is putting <script src="somewhere else"> into their pages is because it still gets them paid by the "somewhere else." If you hit their own server instead of the third party, they can still forward any requests behind the scenes to anyone, and you won't even know it's happening, but all the same information will be there.

If you eliminate "third party content" you're just going to turn second parties into proxies. And they'll really do it, too. Why wouldn't they?

Comment You CAN'T have ads without tracking. (Score 2) 356

That's never going to happen, so people who think that a compromise might some day be reached, need to let go of that.

Some of the things on the list are extremely easy because the browser itself is ultimately in control. If you don't want animation, for example, then your browser can elect to not animate things. Same for playing sound, executing Javascript, 10kb limit, etc. You're going to get your wish on all of that stuff, assuming you haven't already gotten it already.

But tracking isn't going to go away. Your computer is initiating a conversation with someone else's computer, and there's only one thing you can do to prevent someone else's computer from remembering that it happened: have there be nothing to remember, because nothing happened. i.e. don't request the ad.

If you get the ad, then you get tracking, period. There is no possible compromise between the two sides on this, and everyone who thinks they can have ads but no tracking, is kidding themselves.

Either the ad industry is going to persuade us that tracking isn't all that bad, or the users are going to persuade the media that ads aren't all that necessary. No middle ground exists on this.

Comment A few considerations: (Score 1) 409

In Apple's defense, it does seem reasonably plausible that the biometric sensor widget built into the 'home' button(and quite possibly the cable connecting the home button to the logic board) is a 'trusted' element of the system, in the 'the integrity of the system depends on this part performing as expected and not being malicious' sense of 'trusted'. So, I can see why it would be impossible or prohibitively difficult to keep the biometric authentication feature secure while also allowing random people to swap random hardware in to that part of the system.

However, what is a lot less clear is why(especially when many iDevices, including current-model ones, simply lack this feature entirely) 'security' demands that the entire phone be bricked, rather than just the biometric features flushing any private storage associated with them and leaving the phone usable as though it were a model without that feature. This might involve wiping all locally stored data, if the device encryption keys are tangled up with the biometric authentication feature's private storage; but it should still be able to function as though you had just restored it to defaults.

This also raises the question of whether, with the correct incentives, it is possible to induce authorized repair services to introduce malicious components when doing these repairs, and whether doing so would allow you to extract highly sensitive information. Since Apple-blessed repairs can apparently fix home buttons without destroying the handset, and since Apple's line is that tampering threatens the integrity of the authentication system, this seems like a natural place to try to get your malicious part introduced: much more likely that an authorized repair outfit exists in your jurisdiction than that Apple Inc. does; many more low-level techs you could potentially lean on; and home button repairs are a pretty common service request...

Comment Re:$40K still a lot for most folks (Score 1) 37

The difference is what can be done about it.

If the market decides that it's not important for people to have this, then the only way to change that is for the people who need it to somehow become rich. If the regulators decide people shouldn't have this, then the voters can change that. And if you factor in the increased independence and productivity of the recipients, it might not cost that much.

Of course the way we do it now is we force employers to make accommodations. That's better than nothing, but statistically the public is still paying; the burden is just randomly concentrated on a few unlucky employers.

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