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Comment: Re:Was impressed until.. (Score 4, Informative) 144

by RobinH (#48405017) Attached to: What the US Can Learn From Canada's Internet Policy
At least in Canada I know what I'm buying then. I get X GB per month, and there is (at least in my area) 3 different ISPs (1 cable, one DSL, and one independent) that I can go to. I go to the one that gives me more bandwidth, higher caps at a lower price (duh). It's $48/month for 300 GB, and there's an unlimited package for about $60, but we just don't seem to ever break that cap. (We came close once but reduced it by lowering the bandwidth settings on my wife's Netflix profile :)

Comment: Re:It seems like squeegeeing is the wrong approach (Score 2) 203

by eldavojohn (#48386159) Attached to: Window Washing a Skyscraper Is Beyond a Robot's Reach

For a human, using a sponge and squeegee combo is probably the most effective way to clean a window. For a robot, I would imagine that the answer is something more like a pressure washer, with a hood which covers the work area and reclaims the wash water. The water would then be filtered and reused until the particulate count rose too high, at which point it would be flushed and replaced with fresh. A sheeting additive would be used to cause the water to run off without spotting.

This probably wouldn't replace human window washing entirely, but it seems like it has the potential to replace at least some of the washes.

I've often wondered if anyone has ever tried a project to make a building which washes itself, using a robot designed for the building, and a building designed for the robot. I can imagine many problems with such a project without even undertaking it, mostly related to critters taking up residence in the mechanisms and/or tracks, but if it operated continuously that might well eliminate some of those objections. A universal window washing robot has a more complicated task than such a device would.

Did you even read the article? You'll find it discusses how the old World Trade Center Towers had built in devices that were made specifically for the building that would automatically go up and down cleaning it. The only problem was they missed the corners and creases of each pane and the rich people at the top of the building didn't want the grimy borders to their new expensive view of NYC.

It sounds like you have a lot of ideas for building a nice big heavy expensive machine that moves up and down a building. Burst forth and implement your idea, I think you'll find that the the weight, the power and the water feed to these devices will push you towards what has already been implemented and did not do a satisfactory job. Humans had to follow up behind the built in robots to clean spots they had missed.

It's funny, I read articles on Slashdot about how AI is the one thing that threatens man. And we can't even implement AI and pattern recognition to replace a window washer -- oh the incongruity!

Comment: Your Thoughts and Use of Post Processing? (Score 3) 35

So I'm not too knowledgeable on photography but one thing I'm aware of is that professional photographers do a lot of post processing. To the point of Adobe Lightroom or higher being so mandatory with DSLRs that they sometimes package it with lenses (especially the ones that distort like a wide angle lens). Do you post process your photos? To what extent? How do you feel about people who use advanced techniques like even adding color to their photos? For example, I came across this photo which was odd to me because I've been to that place and it's beautiful but not like in that photo -- it doesn't need fake pink clouds to be beautiful. It would seem to me a shame to have a tree live 2,000 years and then a human uses a fish eye lens on its knotted trunk to make it seem more old and gnarled and then later adjusts the darkness of the sky to give it a Halloween feel, etc. And then since that's the most artistic shot of it, that's how we remember it.

Comment: Be the Change You Wish to See in the World (Score 5, Interesting) 438

by eldavojohn (#48352337) Attached to: The Students Who Feel They Have the Right To Cheat
When I was younger and I first came across this quote by Mahatma Gandhi:

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

I always thought it was bizarrely tautological. If you wish something to be different and you personally can make a choice for it under your control to be different, then you make the correct choice. For example, I don't throw a soda can out the window of my car while complaining about pollution on the highway. Other people obviously don't care but I control the drop in the bucket I'm responsible for and I make the ethical choice.

But as I got older, I actually found and still find people that think they should be forced to do it the right way even while complaining about the abuse. Case in point, a friend in the medical profession was actually complaining about tax dodges while setting up his own backdoor Roth IRA. When I asked him about abusing the very rules he was decrying, he simply shrugged and said he doesn't make the rules he just follows them. He acknowledged it's shady as hell but pretty much felt like his hands were tied.

It was deeply troubling ... I get a similar feeling about this article. I understand it is sometimes harder to play by ethical rules than legal rules when everyone around you is benefiting from misconduct but ... it seems this is yet another example of the caste system thriving in India. It's simply stupefying on the "My dad is Li Gang" level.


Scientists Discover a Virus That Changes the Brain To "Make Humans More Stupid" 275

Posted by samzenpus
from the dumb-bug dept.
concertina226 writes that researchers have found a virus that appears to reduce people’s thinking power and attention span. "Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Medical School and the University of Nebraska have discovered an algae virus that makes us more stupid by infecting our brains. The researchers were conducting a completely unrelated study into throat microbes when they realized that DNA in the throats of healthy people matched the DNA of a chlorovirus virus known as ATCV-1. ATCV-1 is a virus that infects the green algae found in freshwater lakes and ponds. It had previously been thought to be non-infectious to humans, but the scientists found that it actually affects cognitive functions in the brain by shortening attention span and causing a decrease in spatial awareness. For the first time ever, the researchers proved that microorganisms have the ability to trigger delicate physiological changes to the human body, without launching a full-blown attack on the human immune system."

Comment: Not just cameras (Score 5, Interesting) 321

Cameras are a problem, but it's not just cameras anymore. Nest thermostats, for instance, have occupancy sensors and they connect to the internet to work. So your thermostat tells a server on the internet if anyone's home (potentially). Smart meters have similar problems. We recently bought a temperature sensor (AVTECH brand) for our small server closet, and it automatically connected to as soon as I got it on the network, and started uploading sensor data. There was nowhere in the device's built-in web interface to enable or even disable this "feature". Nothing in the documentation. I looked online and found a forum where it explained that you had to telnet to the device, and at the main menu you had to select a hidden menu item, and then type a command to turn off this feature. It's that kind of absurdity that makes the whole "internet of things" just a house of cards waiting to collapse.

Comment: Self Censorship in Your Industry (Score 1) 58

by eldavojohn (#48310787) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Warren Ellis a Question
I've never really enjoyed main stream comics but the imprints that dodge the archaic Comics Code have pulled me in with various titles -- some of yours even. According to your wikipedia page you left Hellblazer after DC refused to print a controversial comic of yours in such an imprint:

He left that series when DC announced, following the Columbine High School massacre, that it would not publish "Shoot", a Hellblazer story about school shootings, although the story had been written and illustrated prior to the Columbine massacre.

Is this common in comic books/graphic novels? Have you experienced this elsewhere in your career? Do you feel that DC and other big publishers are too afraid of another Fredric Wertham to toe the line?

Social Networks

New GCHQ Chief Says Social Media Aids Terrorists 228

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-tweet-pictures-of-your-breakfast-otherwise-the-terrorists-win dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from Sky News: The new head of GCHQ has accused social media websites of helping terror groups and called for closer ties with intelligence agencies. "'However much they [tech companies] may dislike it, they have become the command and control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us." ... Mr. Hannigan said that smartphone and other mobile technologies increased the opportunities for terrorist activity to be concealed in the wake of the exposing of secret cables and documents collected by US and UK authorities by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Mr. Hannigan said that smartphone and other mobile technologies increased the opportunities for terrorist activity to be concealed in the wake of the exposing of secret cables and documents collected by US and UK authorities by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Comment: China's Complete Supply Chain (Score 5, Interesting) 62

Recently this year the WTO ruled against China's practices in the rare earth market but some pundits have stated that this ruling doesn't matter because China controls the whole supply chain of rare earths. Would you care to comment on the efficacy of the WTO's ruling? Can you explain what part of the supply chain the US is missing? For example, we're missing mines but if we had mines we're missing refineries but if we had them we're missing ... etc. What throughput of each mineral in our domestic supply chain would we need to put the US government at ease?

Comment: The True Cost of Various Environmental Laws? (Score 5, Interesting) 62

The minerals themselves aren't necessarily rare in an absolute sense, but they're expensive to extract.) The most economically viable deposits are found in China, and rising prices for them as exports to the U.S., the EU, and Japan have raised political hackles. (At the same time, those rising prices have spurred exploration and reexamination of known deposits off the coast of Japan, in the midwestern U.S., and elsewhere.

My understanding revolves around only the crudest idea about modern mining methods and the resulting tailings & water usage they often employ. I assume that in China, they get around these costs by just damaging the environment (like dumping tailings where ever instead of having dedicated settling and filtering ponds). Could you give us some back of the envelope calculations (they could be percentages or additional yearly operating costs) of what these environmental regulations mean for mining operations in the United States versus China? There's an awful lot of talk on Slashdot and other news sites about how cost prohibitive the EPA makes business in America but I've never seen an expert in the industry actually talk hard numbers. Any ballpark estimates would be greatly appreciated. In your experience, are any of these laws and regulations less or more effective than others?

Comment: Re:Crock o' beans (Score 1) 739

by RobinH (#48279915) Attached to: Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare
I'm a Canadian who, for a time, worked in the US and had a US health insurance plan (early 2000's), before the ACA. I paid for that health care plan because it had a drug plan and the Ontario health coverage does not. A few times it was convenient to go see a doctor in the US because it was close to the office, and I clearly remember wondering what all those people were doing behind the desk of the doctor's office. In Canada you might see 1 or 2 people in the administrative side of the office, but in a US doctor's office, there seemed to be an army of clerks. I looked into it and it seems like it was all to do with handling all the paperwork due to everyone having a different insurance company. In Ontario there's only one health insurance... the government one, and they just pay for exactly what the doctor bills, there's no "is this covered, is this not", etc. The administrative overhead is much, much lower. The ACA can't possibly have fixed this problem, so you're still paying a lot more overhead for your health care in the US than we are in Canada. Remember, the only "service" an insurance company provides is dividing the costs of a group of people evenly over that entire group. A publicly run insurance scheme doesn't need to pay for advertising, salespeople, lawyers or lawsuits. It's very inexpensive to run, and a lot less hassle for the people who use it.

"Morality is one thing. Ratings are everything." - A Network 23 executive on "Max Headroom"