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Comment: Re:Mod parent up (Score 1) 411

by JoeMerchant (#49514915) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

This is /. we extrapolate...

I'd love to build an electric car - and the design I find most exciting is direct drive with one motor per rear wheel. You could do all kinds of cool handling tricks and optimizations with that, and also put yourself in a world of hurt if you got it wrong.

I'd be fine with "Warranty voided, liability limited" if you mod your factory ECU - but making it illegal under the DMCA is just silly, silly like letting a camel stick its nose inside your tent.

Comment: Re:Oh Look, a Car Analogy for Last Week's Story! (Score 1) 411

by JoeMerchant (#49514827) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

You think you own your phone today? Sure, you pay for it, but try to move it between the major carriers and tell me that your phone isn't IP locked to Verizon, or Sprint, or AT&T. Yes, some multi-band phones can move between some carriers, but largely, it's still a lock-in game - that device that you pay for is all but useless the day your carrier says it is.

Comment: Re:You no longer own a car (Score 3, Interesting) 411

by JoeMerchant (#49514783) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

Depends heavily on the state, county, etc.

I was pretty livid living in Harris County (Houston, TX), driving past the petro-refineries pumping out visible tons of pollution per day to take my 3rd round smog test because my 1600cc car that I drive 4000 miles a year was measuring 230ppm hydrocarbons instead of the legal 220 - meanwhile our 5900cc pickup truck had a legal limit of 330ppm....

Comment: Re:You no longer own a car (Score 1) 411

by JoeMerchant (#49514731) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

The price of a car (and everything else, for that matter) has never been been determined by value, or utility, it is determined by what the market will bear.

What they are hoping here is that the market will continue to pay current prices for cars while losing the right to modify or repair them. I'm sure the people who lease a new one every 2 years won't mind a bit; mechanics, tuners, and gearheads are another story.

Since this is a democracy, we have to hope that people standing on principles of freedom / property rights / etc. weigh in big on this issue, because tuners, gearheads and mechanics are nowhere near 50% of the population.

Comment: Re:"Drama of mental illness" (Score 2) 353

And, the only thing that is tracked is "reported suicide attempts" - how many suicidal ideation episodes went unreported before the availability of "anonymous help in your pocket?"

Suicide counselors have been wishing for decades that people would come forward earlier so they can get help - is this the manifestation of them finally getting that wish fulfilled?

Comment: Re:That is until the FAA shuts them down (Score 3, Insightful) 21

by JoeMerchant (#49256437) Attached to: Google's Solar-Drone Internet Tests About To Take Off

I don't see the FAA shutting Google down on this one. Google will get the appropriate licenses, jump through the appropriate hoops, and generally just do a bunch of stuff that most people or companies aren't capable of doing so that the FAA will say "OK Google, go ahead."

This is assuming that Google's plans are for something like a very small number of solar powered drones that are operating at an altitude that doesn't conflict with established traffic patterns, can be marked on navigational maps, include some kind of beacon to warn other aircraft of their operation, etc. Like radio towers, except I imagine a solar powered drone would try to fly above the clouds.

It's a win-win, Google gets to research and maybe 5 years in the future deploy some operations in remote areas. FAA gets to point at Google as an example of how they are letting people "do drones" in non-military US airspace, and still keeps a stranglehold on "unregulated" drone operations.

Because, really, it is starting to look like the FAA has heavily invested their personal assets in overseas drone manufacturers and they want to keep US businesses, especially the small startups, out of competition with them.

Comment: Sounds like sandbagging to me (Score 1) 498

by JoeMerchant (#49223843) Attached to: Mental Health Experts Seek To Block the Paths To Suicide

Article title makes me think of a flood analogy: "World seeks to address rising sea levels with dikes, walls and dams."

Since the psychologists are powerless to do anything about the underlying causes of suicidal behavior, now they attempt to make it harder to do? Good luck with that.

Comment: Re:Funny Quote from Article (Score 2) 247

by JoeMerchant (#49195955) Attached to: How Activists Tried To Destroy GPS With Axes

So, in a battle between automatic rifles and flint-locks, which side has the advantage? You might need over 10 flint lock equipped soldiers to take down each soldier on the other side who is carrying an AK-47.

Now, give one side sextants and binoculars and the other GPS and aerial imagery of the battlefield. If the flint locks get the GPS, they've got a fighting chance of 1:1 parity... if it goes the way it did in Desert Storm, the winning side has lower casualty rates in-theater during battle than they do back home during training.

Comment: Re:Ok then... (Score 2) 247

by JoeMerchant (#49195913) Attached to: How Activists Tried To Destroy GPS With Axes

As we increase our population, we increasingly rely on machines and technology to support that population.

As we develop machines and technology, we are reducing the machines dependence upon us.

Surveillance, lack of privacy, the end of secrets, these things all place advantage in the hands of whoever "knows all" and reduces the risks traditionally associated with wars, or any kind of intervention by force. And, the machines have first access to all this information.

Clearly, if these trends continue, it will be a very bad day, for people, when the machines first ask "Why?"

Which is why we have all these movies, books, etc. about it - not that the literature is rapidly changing the course of society away from Skynet's J-Day, but at least they are getting some kind of awareness of the possibilities into the (human) collective consciousness.


Are you really paranoid if everyone really is out to get you?

Comment: Re:Ok then... (Score 2) 247

by JoeMerchant (#49195819) Attached to: How Activists Tried To Destroy GPS With Axes

Nanny state or not, I would argue that multmillionaires and especially state governors should expect to be more publicly scrutinized than the average God fearing, church going, blue collar family. As a governor, you are a public figure, you have thrust yourself into the spotlight and successfully won the trust of the people. And the rich naturally draw attention because, by definition, they control more of what everybody wants than the average person does.

Some of the nanny state is the powerful elite turning the tables on the average citizenry - even in the 1800s, a millionaire and/or a governor would expect multiple sets of eyes to follow them and their every action. Their bank transactions were recognized and scrutinized by the common people handling the paperwork, and only threat of unemployment (or worse) kept some level of discretion for things like mistresses' apartments being paid for by the wealthy and powerful.

Not that it is right, neither the common person, nor the rich and powerful should be subject to Orwellian scrutiny... but the rich, powerful and famous have been dealing with it forever.

Comment: Re:Ok then... (Score 1) 247

by JoeMerchant (#49195759) Attached to: How Activists Tried To Destroy GPS With Axes

When Hollywood has invested tens of millions of dollars not only developing a story, but promoting it into the collective consciousness, it is not crazy to leverage that as a shorthand to express your point.

Unfortunately, many crazy people do use this shortcut, so it makes it tricky to use without also appearing crazy yourself - whether you are, or are not.

To spot the expert, pick the one who predicts the job will take the longest and cost the most.