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Comment: Re:I don't think that means what you think it mean (Score 4, Interesting) 83

by NoNeeeed (#49024581) Attached to: The Uncanny Valley of Voice Recognition

I can kind of see what he means, although I think the comparison with the uncanny valley is a bit weak.

I've taken to using Google Now's voice commands to set timers while I'm cooking, so something like "Ok Google, set a timer for 20 minutes". I don't have to touch my phone and it works brilliantly even in the noisy environments of a kitchen.

I've gotten used to talking to it in a very naturalistic way, which is where the problems occasionally crop up, and when they do they can be quite jarring.

A good example was the last time I asked it to set a timer for "an hour and a half", which Now interpreted as 1:00:30s, i.e. an hour and a half *minute*.

The jarring effect is at this edge where we feel like the speech recognition system is understanding what we say, but really it's just trying to use lots of different rules and patterns that have been coded in. If you happen to just fall outside of one of those rules it fails completely, and it can seem very arbitrary.

Comment: Re:Might be a fit for EVs (Score 1) 103

by NoNeeeed (#48513955) Attached to: Practical Magnetic Levitating Transmission Gear System Loses Its Teeth

The other reason is that an ICE can't generate force when at rest (unlike an electric motor), so getting going from stationary is impossible without a clutch. That's why, if you drive a manual, the engine has to be revved and the clutch gradually engaged, bleeding power into the axels while allowing the engine to run without stalling. Engage the clutch too fast and the engine will simply stall.

I believe External CEs like steam engines can generate force when at rest, so they don't need gearing.

It's one of the reasons by diesel trains (and some very large vehicals) are diesel-electric. A rail engineer I used to work with told me the gearbox and clutch needed to gear down a diesel engine to the point it could start a train would be enormous, bigger than a train car. Diesel electric trains are basically diesel generators that power electric motors, which is why they are sometimes used for emergency power.

Comment: Re:On the shoulders of giants (Score 5, Interesting) 81

by NoNeeeed (#48267813) Attached to: The Most Highly Cited Scientific Papers of All Time

I second this. A lot of attention gets paid (understandably) to those researchers who discover some new particle, material, species etc, but science is utterly dependent on the brilliant people who are prepared to work in the background on less "sexy" topics.

X-Ray crystallography is a brilliant example, without all the work being done by brilliant experimentors like Elspeh Garmen who have worked so hard to make other people's discoveries and inventions possible.

As the biologist Steve Jones once put it, "Science is the last refuge of the mediocre". People focus on the geniuses but it's really a massive collaborative effort by a lot of actually pretty ordinary people who just like to investigate the unknown.

The BBC Radio 4 programme The Life Scientific had a great interview with Garmen who was very humble about a career that has had a massive impact on so many areas of research - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programme...

It's a really fantastic series if you want to get an idea of what real scientists actually do, and how they got to where they are in their careers.

Comment: Education funding and excessive medicallisation (Score 5, Interesting) 558

Part of the problem in the UK (so may not be the same in the US) is that there is additional funding and support for kids with diagnoses like ASDs so there is a big incentive for schools and parents to push for it. It's driving a whole approach of medicalising behaviour. Kids who in the past would have been simply regarded as a bit unusual and who a teacher would have had to just cope with are now being given medical diagnoses and possibly additional help.

As discussed in the article what would be interesting to see is more detail on the distribution of ASD diagnoses, in terms of where they sit on the spectrum. If there is an increase the diagnosis of severe autism (the kids who would reasonably have been diagnose as autistic 30 years ago) then that would suggest that there is some environmental factor at work. If, on the other hand it's mostly high functioning and borderline then it seems likely to be mostly down to diagnosis.

While I'm very much in favour of education being better able to deal with kids' differences, I'm not sure medicalising it is the way to go.

Comment: IMEI Number includes the model number (Score 5, Informative) 97

by NoNeeeed (#46515993) Attached to: Brazil Blocks Foreign Mobile Phones

This submission appears to be nonsense posted by someone who hasn't read the article they linked to.

This isn't about blocking phones sold outside of Brazil, but models of phones that are not certified for use in Brazil. So you can take your Nexus 5 or iPhone, but it's probable that some no-name cheapo phones may not work.

The IMEI number contains codes for the manufacturer and model, so you can white-list those models that have certification from the Brazilian FCC.

Comment: What about spam filtering? (Score 4, Insightful) 325

If the court decides that mail providers cannot, on principle, be allowed to scan the content of a mail message then I don't see why it wouldn't affect content based spam filtering.

This case could have interesting ramifications for all mail providers if the court decides this violates wire-tap laws.

Comment: Use small, localised lights, not one big one (Score 2) 445

by NoNeeeed (#44363369) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Setting Up Non-Obnoxious Outdoor Lighting?

Rather than one big light (no matter how well targeted), consider a bunch of smaller lights all the way along the path.

There are various ranges available, most are solar powered LED, some have motion sensors built in. Here are some examples I found on Amazon

Mini "lamp-post style"

Motion sensitive, solar powered. Bigger, and you wouldn't need so many

Illuminated road/pathway studs. They look like cats-eye road studs, and would illuminate the edge of the path.

There are others that might be more appropriate for your pathway.

Hope that helps.

Comment: What interesting things are people doing with it? (Score 1) 268

I'm quite interested to hear what, if any, new and interesting things people are doing with their 1 and 2gbps fibre connections, in Google neighbourhoods and in Japan.

While incremental increases in speed are nice, big jumps like this make whole new uses possible. For example before ADSL and cable we could do most of the things we do today just slower, but usable quality video wasn't really feasible, certainly not on-demand. I have a 120mbps (10mbps up) connection which is great for video on demand, and synching large files with Dropbox etc, but mostly it just lets me do the same old things, but quicker.

Are there any interesting new ways of using the internet that are coming out of these super high-speed areas with their 1 and 2gbps fiber connections. I'm especially interested in the effect having a symmetric connection of that speed, I can see it making video conferencing much, much nicer.

Comment: People just need to be sensible (Score 1) 307

by NoNeeeed (#43191001) Attached to: Should We Be Afraid of Google Glass?

There seems to be a lot of hyperbole going around about Glass, almost makes me wonder if it's Google stirring things up to get more press.

Glass is going to have really interesting effects on how we treat public spaces, but I don't think it's going to destroy privacy for ever in the way some seem to fear.

People are already getting used to the idea that people have cameras ready in their pockets, and are more aware that what they do might not just be seen by others, but may be recorded. I don't think it's going to utterly change behaviour in truly public spaces for most people. Although I fully expect there to be lawsuits, punch-ups and altercations over one off events where people get freaked out because some Glass-wearer is staring at a woman for too long, or watching kids play in a park.

I also expect a lot more "semi-public" places like restaurants, pubs and bar to implement more formal "no-filming" and "no Glasses" policies. These are places that people go to relax and expect a certain level of privacy, and which are private property. Most places I know would probably ask you (politely) to stop/leave if you were constantly filming other patrons with your mobile phone. The same will happen with Glass. No great change here.

Basically it just comes down to people behaving with civility and respect to one another. New norms of society will be worked out and we'll adapt, just as we have with every other technological advance.

Some people will behave like jackasses to each other, just as they already do, while the rest of us get on with being polite and considerate of others.

Comment: A SIM only plan? (Score 3, Informative) 246

by NoNeeeed (#42708117) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Pay-as-You-Go Plan For Text and Voice Only?

Here in the UK (and Europe in general) cheap SIM-only plans are numerous, offered by both the major operators and the large number of "virtual" operators (known as MVNOs) who piggy-back on the actual network operators.

No need to buy a cheap phone and remove the SIM, they just pop the SIM in the post, or you can buy them at any mobile phone shop.

There's normally no (or very little) upfront cost. They are available as both pay-as-you-go and contract. Some will offer data, others will be just for voice and text.

Do you not have such things in the US?

Comment: The problem is food safety, traceability and BSE (Score 5, Insightful) 709

by NoNeeeed (#42642395) Attached to: How Much Beef Is In Your Burger?

Various people have commented that this isn't about the fact it was horse, that it's all about deception or poor food quality.

Actually it's about food safety, traceability, and the long shadow of BSE.

After the BSE scandal, the UK and EU introduced some of the strictest standards and processes for the tracking and tracing of meat in the world. These recent cases have demonstrated that these processes do not appear to be working.

The scandal here is not that supermarkets were selling burgers with horsemeat in, it was that they *didn't know* they were selling horsemeat. In theory they should be able to trace every gram of meat in their burgers.

Somehow meat of unknown origin was getting into the food chain.

If we can't prevent horsemeat getting in then we can't prevent infected beef from getting in.

That's the real scandal, that the world's toughest food traceability system appears not to work properly.

Comment: Mining and refining in space (Score 5, Interesting) 200

by NoNeeeed (#42381785) Attached to: NASA Plans To "Lasso" Asteroid and Turn It Into Space Station

People keep touting the idea of mining metals from asteroids and using it to build spacecraft outside of the earth's gravity well, but do we actually know how to do that?

The mining side of things seems relatively straight-forward (not easy, but you wouldn't need anything radically new), but smelting and refining significant amounts of ore in low gravity could be rather difficult. As far as I understand, a traditional iron smelting plant uses gravity to help with the purification, allowing the slag to float to the surface, before tapping the good quality iron from the bottom of the blast furnace.

It seems like purifying and working ore in space would require entirely new ways of working with the raw materials. Perhaps using some kind of high temperature centrifuge to spin and separate the material.

I'm not saying it's not possible, but it doesn't seem quite as easy as some of the more excitable science-fictiony plans for space exploration treat it. Many of these plans feature major problems to solve that get glossed over as minor technicalities.

Comment: A lower price would make people assume it was crap (Score 5, Insightful) 417

by NoNeeeed (#41686757) Attached to: Is Microsoft's Price Model For the Surface Justifiable?

This is why techies tend to be crap at marketing (that's a complement to techies by the way, I'm a techie).

The purpose of the Surface isn't just to make a profit on each unit (which at this price it probably is), it's to help position Windows 8/RT/Metro or whatever it's called.

The market for cheap tablets is thoroughly occupied by Android. Most people I know, even techies, think of Android tablets as "like an iPad, but cheaper, and therefore not as good". The perception (right or wrong) is that if you want the best you buy an iPad, if you want cheap and cheerful you by an Android tablet. There is no competition at the premium end, it's iPad or nothing. The perception is that the only reason you'd buy Android is because you don't have the money for an iPad.

Pricing the Surface at the same point as the iPad sends out a message to consumers that says "we think the Surface is as good as the iPad". Microsoft clearly want to position Windows 8/RT on tablets as a premium product, it doesn't want to compete with Android, it wants to compete with Apple and iOS.

That won't stop other manufacturers from making cheaper tablets, but Microsoft are setting the bar high. If someone else (e.g. Acer) make a cheap WinRT tablet it will be seen as an affordable version of a premium product, not a "cheap" product.

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