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Comment: Re:What for? (Score 1) 79

by Nkwe (#48188175) Attached to: Barometers In iPhones Mean More Crowdsourcing In Weather Forecasts

I know my android device has a barometer, but I can't seem to figure out why. Sure it's kind of neat to be able to see the pressure graphed over time, but I don't think it's a big selling point on devices. Is it just a side effect of some other hardware that makes it easy to implement or something?

Accurate altitude detection? GPS altitude isn't that accurate (at least on cheap consumer level GPS receivers). I have a hand-held Garmin GPS targeted at hiking and it has a barometer built in for more accurate altitude. Perhaps phones are adding them for the same reason.

Comment: Re:Next steps (Score 1) 252

by Nkwe (#48109303) Attached to: Lego Ends Shell Partnership Under Greenpeace Pressure

  • * No little plastic cows, because global warming.
  • * No jet airplanes, because they pollute so much.
  • * Nothing related to Japan, because whaling.
  • * No circus sets because poor animals.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Good, but not for the reasons listed. I always thought Legos were better before all the "special" bricks and items. "Better" as in better for the imagination. Some of the sets these days are almost entirely custom pieces that are not useful for building things other than the picture on the box.

Get your special pieces off my lawn.

Comment: Re:SamKnows from the FCC (Score 2) 294

by Nkwe (#48105677) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: An Accurate Broadband Speed Test?

Thank you for mentioning that. I am a FIOS customer in the Washington, D.C. area. I regularly interact with remote machines at my employer in North Carolina. I have the Verizon FIOS 25/15 plan. During normal business hours, it works great. But starting in the late afternoon, usually around 5-6 pm every night, round trip times go to crap.

[...]

Have you experienced this kind of problem, and did it change after you installed your samknows box? Thanks...

I am in the Portland, Oregon area. When FIOS first came to the area it was put in by Verizon. Since then they have sold the assets to Frontier, who now runs my FIOS. My experience has been that I have always gotten full speed from my FIOS connection under both Verizon and Frontier and both before and after the SamKnows box was installed. I haven't seen a change in behavior. Note that I have had my FIOS service since 2007 and participated in SamKnows since 2010. The public NetFlix related complaints with Verizon FIOS are relatively recent, so I don't know if my continuing good performance is due to me now being on Frontier, the SamKnows box, or just good luck. I am also on a business FIOS connection (to get static IPs), so that may help as well. I have had excellent customer service with both Verizon and Frontier over the life of my FIOS connection.

Comment: Re:SamKnows from the FCC (Score 1) 294

by Nkwe (#48105067) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: An Accurate Broadband Speed Test?

https://www.samknows.com/

I'm doing this because I'd like to think it helps the FCC keep the ISPs honest.

It probably also helps to ensure that *your* connection gets priority...

I have one of the boxes as well and ensuring that my ISP is motivated to give me good service was part of the reason I put it in. I also think that it is a good idea to have a FCC based performance monitoring infrastructure out there. While I don't think the program is monitoring user's activity, I am a bit on the paranoid side, so I don't run all my traffic through the box (which is a supported configuration.)

As an aside, I am on FIOS and according to the FCC monitor box, I almost always get my advertised speed. My gut feeling with day to day operation of my connection is that the FCC box is giving me real numbers.

Comment: Re:Or how about... (Score 1) 95

by Nkwe (#48068733) Attached to: Only Two States Have Rules To Prevent Cheating On Computerized Tests

Just yesterday I was chatting with a student in a programming class. She was complaining that she got in trouble for using language features that were "not taught yet" in the class. And this is exactly why the United States is falling behind in science and technology compared to other countries, because people are punished for self-education and innovation within our "education system"

What if the point of the lesson was to solve the problem within a set of constraints? While I am not fond of our education system's apparent drive to the least common denominator, I don't think this example is a good one to support the argument of the United States "falling behind".

For argument's sake, let's say that the lesson was to sort some data and the class had not yet covered the language's (or standard library) sort function. If the student used the built-in sort function instead of implementing the sort algorithm by hand, the student would not be demonstrating that they had learned the algorithm or understood the fundamentals of sorting. In addition, if the real requirement was to implement a sort that would run in other environments that don't have built-in sort, "being creative" and using out of scope features, would be a fail.

An exceptional student would have done the lesson the proper way (as instructed and within the constraints given), and in addition provided an alternate solution using the extended or not yet taught language features. This would demonstrate understanding of the solution with both the constraints given and what would be possible if the constraints were not in place.

Comment: Re:Incentives to pay less (Score 1) 410

by Nkwe (#47987345) Attached to: To Fight $5.2B In Identity Theft, IRS May Need To Change the Way You File Taxes

If everyone pays a flat sales tax rate, the people who spend more will bear most of the economic burden.

So you are creating an incentive for everyone to pay less and you think that will somehow help the economy? Curious bit of logic you have there.

Please read the context of the thread. I am not advocating a flat sales tax. I was disputing the GP post that suggested a flat sales tax shifts the overall economic burden to the poor. A flat sales tax would impact the poor more than the rich in terms of percentage of income spent on taxes, but those who spend more (the rich) would shoulder more of the overall economic burden.

Comment: Re:Solution (Score 1) 410

If everyone just pays a flat sales tax rate, the poor bear most of the economic burden.

No. If everyone pays a flat sales tax rate, the people who spend more will bear most of the economic burden. The poor would pay a smaller part of the overall economic burden (because the poor spend less money in the overall economy than the rich do.)

It is possible and likely that the burden on the poor would be more as the percentage of they money that they have that goes to taxes could be higher, but it is inaccurate to say that poor would pay more of the overall burden to the economy a.k.a. "the economic burden".

Please do not confuse "the economic burden" with "the burden on the poor". It is an important distinction. They are both important issues, but they are different issues, and should have different arguments and conversations behind them.

Comment: Re:Next steps (Score 1) 600

by Nkwe (#47903435) Attached to: High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint

If this or a similar technology ends up in guns (and assuming it can actually be made to work), we end up with a computer in the gun that knows who fired the gun. It is not a technical stretch to add time and location detection circuitry and end up with a record of the when, where, and who of each firing.

While I am generally opposed to such technology in guns, I can see one positive aspect: We could prove what we have known all along, Han shot first.

Comment: Next steps (Score 1) 600

by Nkwe (#47902707) Attached to: High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint
If this or a similar technology ends up in guns (and assuming it can actually be made to work), we end up with a computer in the gun that knows who fired the gun. It is not a technical stretch to add time and location detection circuitry and end up with a record of the when, where, and who of each firing.

This is either a strong positive or negative depending on which side of the "gun issue" you are on, but I haven't seen much discussion on what the tech could lead to (and its ramifications to each side of the debate). There are many interesting potential ramifications:
  • Privacy
  • Use of the log as evidence
  • Static Geo-Fencing (prevention of gun use in predefined locations)
  • Dynamic Geo-Fencing (on demand prevention of gun use in dynamically added locations)
  • Firmware updates
  • Taxes or fees per round fired

Comment: Re:This is no different. (Score 1) 206

by Nkwe (#47839903) Attached to: Should Cyborgs Have the Same Privacy Rights As Humans?

Are you suggesting that said *pacemaker* is storing location information without any method to nondestructively access it? If so, I call bullshit. If not, the cops need only use the same interface to extract the information without killing you.

I am not talking about the technical ability to extract data from the fictional future device, I am talking about the legality. My point is that if some future medically necessary device did for some reason store historical location information, that such data should be covered by the same laws that protect a person from self-incrimination. If I don't have tell tell the cops where I was last Thursday, a medically necessary device that I can't live without and which I can't control the data collected on, should also not be available to the cops to extract the data about where I was last Thursday.

Comment: Re:This is no different. (Score 1) 206

by Nkwe (#47839889) Attached to: Should Cyborgs Have the Same Privacy Rights As Humans?

Why does it matter if the device is physically inside you or necessary to live? Why is a futuristic pacemaker any different than a cell phone?

It is about choice. In my opinion, it is different because such a device would not be carried by choice nor would it have data that you voluntarily placed on it. A cell phone or other computer you carry by choice. Data you put on your cell phone (pictures, email, GPS tracks, etc.), you put on by choice. With a pacemaker (or other medically necessary device), you really don't have a choice to have with you (unless you choose to die). Operational data that such a medical device might gather, you don't have any practical control over.

While fingerprints or left behind DNA can indicate that you were somewhere, they don't on their own give a history of the places you have been. You can't take a fingerprint or DNA sample from a person and get a history of all the places they have been. With an embedded device that keeps location history, you could theoretically extract the history of the locations you have been (without having to go to those places to collect evidence).

Comment: Re:This is no different. (Score 1) 206

by Nkwe (#47839199) Attached to: Should Cyborgs Have the Same Privacy Rights As Humans?

... There is no new legal questions created by putting electronics inside people rather than simply keeping them detached.

Maybe, maybe not. Let's say that you have some sort of future pacemaker or other medical device implanted that you need to stay alive. For whatever reason this device as part of its normal function also happens to have historical location information in it. Perhaps the device optimizes or alters its operation depending on your altitude or location. This device would be a part of you and having it wouldn't really be a choice. Would forcefully extracting information from such a device be any different than compelling a person to testify against their will?

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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