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Comment Re:and solved last century already (Score 1) 157

My car (a 1989 Subaru XT6) has flush door handles as well, but it is accomplished simply by having a spring-loaded plate swing out and take up the space under the door handle. When opening the door, this is simply pushed out of the way with the fingertips and the rest of the door handle operates like any other. It looks baffling, but it's not hard to use once you have done it or seen it done. The other controls in the car are similar, it seems like almost every accessory is moved to a strange place. Heat and A/C? The switch is on the center of the dash, but the mixing lever and fan speed controls are are on the center console next to the parking brake. The window controls are oddly placed, though they are on the door. They are neither at a relaxed-arm distance nor a fully-extended distance, but right in between, forcing the user to hunt for them. The intent may have been to make them hard to hit accidentally, but it hampers usability (again, until you get used to it). The one that threw me when I first got the car is the release for the fuel door. Next to the seat, there is just one lever. Pulling it pops the trunk, but pushing down on it pops the fuel door. The headlight controls are also very wacky, which can be quite amusing when parking valets are involved.

I have to figure some of these stem from the fact that this car was ahead of the curve on a lot of these things, before de facto standards had really emerged. However, despite all the weirdness, the door handle solution is one that would work perfectly well today on the Model S.

Comment Re:Simple solution (Score 1) 100

do you enjoy taking money out of random asian country atm's?

then, no. you're not going to get a longer pin on your card even if your bank allowed it.

How onerous is it to use a 5-digit PIN instead of a 4-digit one, especially if you use the same digit twice in a row? Is it really that much harder to enter 11234 than it is to enter 1234? Doing so multiplies the search space for attackers though, completely disproportional to the extra effort for you.

Comment Re:Simple solution (Score 1) 100

A simpler solution: press more numbers after you press "enter" on the keypad.

Or before. Punch in a wrong code, hit clear, then enter the right one. Or both.

Or you could just use a longer PIN like I do. Even if they know what keys I pressed, they don't know what order -- and that's a significant problem when the code could be 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 digits long. Default PINs are minimum length, but chances are you can choose a longer one.

Comment Reading, notes, and an editor (Score 1) 95

I employ three tactics to maintain continuity in my writing:
  When I feel uninspired, I read what I've already written. That way it stays in my mind.
  I keep fairly detailed notes with one or two lines per chapter. That way at least I know where to look for a reference.
  I have an editor that catches the continuity errors that slip through the cracks. I perform the same service for his writing, though I wouldn't call it a symmetric relationship considering I've written about ten times the volume he has.

I also have a delay between writing and publishing. Although I am releasing in a serial fashion, I deliberately keep releases about 12,000 words behind my current writing point. I have only had two cases where I have had to retcon already released material, and that has been very minor (such as changing a reference of climbing three flights of stairs, to four, because the ground level on one end of the building is higher than the other and I mentally miscalculated which entrance they would be using).

Comment Right hand. (Score 1) 240

First, I use the Dvorak layout, but this has no effect on the numbers. (It does affect the two keys between 0 and backspace though.) What really has a substantial impact is that I use a keyboard with no stagger. 6 is directly above F (you'd probably have a Y there unless you have a QWERTZ kezboard), which in turn is directly above D (you'd have H there). It's a right hand key, with no ambiguity whatsoever.

You might imagine it is difficult to get used to a matrix keyboard, that you'd have years of stagger-training to unlearn. This is not so, at least if it's set up properly. Practically everyone centers the keyboard, which means the alpha area where you do your actual typing is offset to the left. In this situation, a stagger is helpful. When you push the hands away from you to reach up the keyboard, you naturally drift a bit to the left because of this. Use a keyboard where the alphas are right in front of you (like a Happy Hacking Keyboard, or a TypeMatrix) and reaching directly back will seem as natural as reaching up and slightly left does now. It took me about an hour and a half to make the adjustment, and a minute or two each time I started working for the first few days. I also made one other substantial alteration to the standard Dvorak layout, moving the [ and ] keys into the modifier row to shorten the top row. This puts += back in its usual QWERTY position, but more importantly brings Backspace 3/4" closer. You can look at it here. I also split the spacebar (though both are still Space, no reassigning one to Backspace or anything like that), and rotated the two halves to run up and down the keyboard rather than across it. This allows the hands to rotate inward without forcing a long stretch with the thumb. You'll also see I juggled the modifiers -- eliminating Right Windows entirely, then swapping Control to be next to Alt. Let the rarely accessed Windows and AppsKey keys be the hard ones to reach. Control is just a tuck of the thumb (either thumb) away, assuming I even need it since I have a set of 29 dedicated Ctrl+something keys. They're also arranged in QWERTY order, dodging one of the annoyances of Dvorak, namely that it was invented before the Control key, and long before the current Ctrl-ZXCV "standard". Killing the stagger also reduces the other Dvorak nuisance, the long and awkward reach to L. Being able to rotate the hands inward increases the row-reach of the little finger as well.

Personally I find I can't live with a bunch of overlay modes. I need a full navigation cluster, and use the numeric keypad just enough to get frustrated once or twice a day if it's not there. My answer for that was to put the keypad on the left, which both centers the alphas in front of me and brings the mouse in closer. It would be nice to have a gutter between the numpad and the alphas, but that's not happening until I build my own keyboard.

Comment Mixing multiple types of glass (Score 3, Interesting) 43

Mixing multiple types of glass within a single piece is crucial to making apochromatic lenses. If a fourth wavelength has to hit the same focal plane accurately, it gets much trickier, but can still be done under some conditions. The primary problem is getting glass with the right refractive index in the right place. The better this can be controlled, the more consistent the results will be. It's also more important as the maximum aperture increases, both because of larger lens elements and shorter depth of field.

I'm looking forward to this finding its way into camera lenses, which I would imagine is one of the primary design goals. it could bring what are currently $2500 f/2.8 "L" lenses within reach of the people who opt for f/4 and f/5.6 due to cost. (Unfortunately, there's nothing to be done about size and weight. If you want to gather light, you need lots of glass.)

Comment Re:Interesting. (Score 1) 47

I avoid using shady sources (torrent or otherwise) for executables, but I'm nowhere near as choosy when it comes to media files. I'm willing to run the risk that the file is actually Madonna yelling "what the fuck do you think you're doing?". (I didn't have a problem with it when she did that, it's just trolling.) I don't think I'm particularly unusual in this respect, either.

Comment Let's send another one. (Score 4, Insightful) 18

We should send backup.

First, orbiter missions are necessarily safer than lander missions and have longer lifespans. They also get less detail but what they lack in depth, they gain in breadth. Granted, a second orbiter won't add that much in breadth right now, but there are several considerations arguing for sending one anyhow.

1. It is a communications relay to Earth. This is probably sufficient justification by itself. Things happen to spacecraft, even when they're in Earth orbit, and it takes at least 18 months to send a replacement to Mars (and usually quite a bit more). We don't want to be blacked out or in intermittent contact with our surface craft for 18 months. The value of the missions on the planet justifies having redundancy above the planet.

2. Stereo imaging. When something happens on the surface, we can get two angles on it at the same time, or at nearly the same time.

3. Mission expansion. Right now, MRO has to point back at us at least part of the time to transmit at high speed. This can pull it out of position for doing science. The amount of time spent blind would be greatly reduced if there were two eyes in the sky rather than one, and it might be practical to do more orbit-changing burns, even knowing they shorten the useful life of the MRO, because its replacement is already in place. Despite the "shit happens" factor, most spacecraft don't just up and die. They run out of propellant to maintain themselves, and then have to be disposed of so as not to become navigational hazards.

4. New technology. Sensors have only gotten better, and I'm sure there were compromises made in selecting the hardware for MRO that are biting mission controllers in the ass. Those could be fixed.

I'm sure there are other reasons, but these seem quite sufficient to me.

Comment Re:Bandwidth? (Score 2) 64

A 20 MHz channel is just as useful at 400 MHz as it is at 2.45 GHz or 5 GHz, or more so because it has better penetrating capability. The obvious problem (which I assume is what you were getting at) is that there aren't as many 20 MHz slices to go around between, say, 400 and 460 MHz as there are between 4 and 4.6 GHz. Antennas also get smaller with increasing frequency (decreasing wavelength). When is the last time you actually saw the antenna on your phone, unless you dismantled it to find it? In the UHF band, you're going to have manageable but still visible antennas, like you did back in the old analog cell days.

I suspect the paucity of channels, combined with the higher degree of interference because the signal carries better, will prove crippling for low-UHF WiFi. It might still be quite useful in fixed installations with directional antennas, such as connecting houses to a central tower.

Comment Re:China ... (Score 1) 163

holy god, talk about going off on a tangent. Tell me your thoughts on the NSA and FBI please

They're trying to close the gap with CIA, but they are not yet full up to speed on having big guys (nobody cares who they are until they put on the mask) crash their operation with no survivors.

Comment Re:Justifiable under ISLAM (Score 1) 147

If Bangladesh were your country of origin, and you had chosen to dedicate your life to improving the lot of people who live there (some of whom are near and dear to you personally), you might well feel it is worth the risk of coming to a gruesome end by staying in the country. To abandon it is to save yourself but abandon everyone left behind.

You may not agree with their choices, but to call them "idiots" for not seeing the world as you do is horribly short-sighted. To them, the benefit (changing a few hearts and minds) may well have been worth putting themselves in harm's way -- not to mention that they can actually see any results they might be having, personally. They know what they're risking, but one does not run an insurgency against an oppressive force from a posh office in another country... at least not if one actually cares about the work.

Comment Re:Justifiable under ISLAM (Score 2) 147

It's unfortunate that many people won't listen to "outsiders", necessitating a physical presence for these bloggers if their word is to carry any weight whatsoever. Their credibility is predicated on being there. Telling them to just "be somewhere else" is tantamount to saying "just shut up, you can't win".

If bankers can count, how come they have eight windows and only four tellers?