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Comment: Re:Trivial observation (Score 1) 119

by swillden (#47556973) Attached to: A Fictional Compression Metric Moves Into the Real World

some bullshit "universal compresser"

Not a universal compressor, a standard compressor, such as gzip. The metric is ultimately just a comparison between the compressor being evaluated and the compressor chosen as the standard, and it is unitless.

That said, I agree with you that the scaling constant has no reason to be present. As for using the logs of times... I don't know. It's essentially a base change, expressing the time of the compressor being evaluated in the base of the standard compressor, which is then multiplied by the ratio of the compression ratios. Handling the time relationship as a base change may have some useful properties, but I can't see what they would be.

Comment: Re: What alternative could be built? (Score 1) 143

The internal "SD Card" is formatted with a Unix-style file system that provides access controls to keep apps from being able to access one anothers' data. External SD Cards are formatted with FAT32, because that's what the whole world expects. Unfortunately, FAT has no concept of ownership or permissions, so the path-based restriction is necessary to ensure that apps can't muck with each others' data.

Comment: Encrypt your devices (Score 1) 107

by swillden (#47553639) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Preparing an Android Tablet For Resale?

It's too late now, but if this device had been encrypted before it was broken, you'd have a lot less to worry about.

OTOH, it's worth pointing out that if the level of effort required to find the storage on the broken device so you can wipe or destroy it is too much to bother with, it will almost certainly be too much effort for anyone to go through the same effort in order to retrieve your data, on the off chance there might be something of value in there somewhere.

Comment: Don't get too happy (Score 1) 77

by cpt kangarooski (#47537873) Attached to: Compromise Struck On Cellphone Unlocking Bill

This bill actually does very little. The DMCA is written very broadly, and has been commonly interpreted as to prohibit cell phone unlocking. Because Congress, in the 90s, when they enacted the stupid thing, was aware that the DMCA could go too far, but didn't want to be cautious or have to keep reexamining the law itself, they gave authority to the Library of Congress to add exceptions to it in specific cases. The process for these exceptions is that every three years, anyone who wants an exception has to plead their case. If found worthy, they get an exception. But the exception only lasts until the next rule making session, three years hence. Then it has to be reargued from scratch or lost.

Two rule making sessions ago, the Library of Congress found that cellphone unlocking was worthy of an exception. But in the most recent rule making session, they did not find it worthy, and the exception was lost; it went back to its default state of being illegal.

This law could have amended the DMCA to permanently allow cellphone unlocking. Or it could've directed the Library of Congress to always find that cellphone unlocking is allowed. But it does neither of these.

Instead it only reinstates the rule from two sessions ago for the remainder of the current session. Next year it will have to be argued again, from scratch, to the Library of Congress, or lost, again. And even if argued, it can be rejected, again.

This is less than useless. It's only a temporary patch, it doesn't even have an iota of long term effect (the rules don't take precedent into account, and this doesn't change it), and we've wasted all this effort getting it instead of something worthwhile.

Comment: Re:Even better, reflect true cost of cell phones (Score 2) 77

by swillden (#47536091) Attached to: Compromise Struck On Cellphone Unlocking Bill

And are you seriously telling me if she gets an iphone 64 GB 5S it's the same price as if she gets the $20 special?

In many cases... yes. The most expensive phones have an up-front cost in addition to the two-year commitment, but if you get the most expensive phone you can without an up-front fee, then there is no price difference between that one and the cheapest phone.

Yes, this is ridiculous.

Comment: Re:Not news (Score 1) 312

Hallam said it best: there has never been a time when humanity has successfully and peacefully coexisted with nature.

That would be a nice quote, but it contains an implicit assumption which is seriously wrong: That there is any distinction between humanity and nature.

It's not surprising that we tend to see ourselves as distinct from the rest of nature, because we are dramatically different from all other forms of life around us, and not just because we're self-centered, or even because we're objectively hugely more successful than any other species. We're dramatically different because we're the only species we know of that is capable of creating explanatory knowledge, of conjecturing and criticizing ideas, individually and in collaboration, to understand how and why things work. Many species on Earth are capable of learning, but as far as we can tell it's all "behavioral" learning; understanding merely that specific behaviors cause specific results. Sometimes the results of that level of understanding can be quite sophisticated, as in the animals who can create and use tools in complex sequences to accomplish goals, but it's still on a completely different level from the ability that humans have to deduce deep explanations of the structure and nature of the universe, and how to manipulate it.

Regardless of the temptation to view ourselves as separate from nature, though, we're not. That doesn't mean we won't benefit from applying our understanding of the rest of nature to maintain the elements of it that are beneficial to us. Obviously, we're better off if we don't make the world a worse for ourselves -- the flip side of that is that we are better off if we make the world a better place for us, so stasis is not the goal. That's really good because stasis (aka "sustainability") is impossible.

Comment: Re:That's great, but ... (Score 3, Interesting) 120

practical long distance EVs at a reasonable price and/or can recharge in less than half an hour

The price may or may not be reasonable, depending on your budget, though it definitely is for a non-trivial number of people, but the Tesla Model S fulfills the other requirements today.

My Nissan LEAF doesn't, though it's still a very practical car that easily manages all but a small fraction of my driving.

Comment: Re:What about Verizon FIOS? (Score 1) 144

by Martin Blank (#47528633) Attached to: Comcast Carrying 1Tbit/s of IPv6 Internet Traffic

Their status page promised roll-outs starting in late 2012, but it also has horrifically bad information, even for an ISP ("Verizon will use a IPv6/56 address format, which means this will support 56 LANs.") I've asked about it several times, but no one at any level seems to know what's going on. The routers have been IPv6-enabled since spring of 2013, which got a lot of people excited. There's a rumor that the hold-up has to do with newer set-top boxes and broken IPv6 stacks, but no one knows how believable that is. (I don't buy it. I just think Verizon is refusing to spend the money necessary to implement it.)

Comment: Re:Astronomy, and general poor night-time results. (Score 1) 539

by swillden (#47526497) Attached to: Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

shooting which requires both close-up vision (to see the signs) and long range vision (to see the target)

Unless your distance vision is *really* bad, to the point where you can't make out the target at all, distance vision doesn't have much impact on shooting. In a proper sight picture you should be focused on the front sight, and you also need the rear sight to be clear enough that you can verify precise alignment. The target will always be blurry, so having it a little blurrier because of nearsightedness isn't typically a problem.

I often tell the older shooters I teach to wear their reading glasses. Not only does the improved sight alignment help, but I think the inability to see the target clearly strongly discourages them from trying to focus on it, which helps even more.

Comment: Re:Astronomy, and general poor night-time results. (Score 5, Insightful) 539

by swillden (#47524941) Attached to: Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

One common technique for people who are close to or have age-induced presbyopia is to perform the surgery on only one eye, or, depending on the prescription, to apply it in different amounts. The idea is to get one eye which is good for near vision and one that is good for far vision. Sort of the same notion as bifocals, but applied directly to the eyes. Apparently the brain adjusts quickly and effectively to this and you end up feeling as though you have good vision at all ranges as long as both eyes are open.

I'm considering doing that. I'm 45 and my eyes have just begun to change. I'm still generally myopic, but so far the change just requires me to take my glasses off when doing close work. I'm going to give it a couple more years to be sure my eyes have more or less settled, then get surgery on one or both, in whatever degrees will give me the best overall visual acuity and flexibility.

If your eyes haven't actually changed yet, then it's something of a crapshoot. The idea is to adjust your vision based on guesses as to how they're going to change. That said, my optometrist says that they can make very good guesses. The only reason he's recommended that I wait is because I'm not far from the point where guessing won't be required, based on my history of general visual stability and current rate of change.

Comment: Re:Mostly done by 1985... (Score 2) 225

by swillden (#47523999) Attached to: Black Holes Not Black After All, Theorize Physicists
Interesting, but not surprising. It's unlikely that any new idea in cosmology (or anywhere else) is actually truly "new" by the time it garners sufficient support to warrant widespread serious consideration. The process by which knowledge is created -- conjecture and criticism -- almost precludes it. Ideas, even correct ideas, assuming this is and assuming that Greenstein actually had the same idea, not less-correct variant, nearly always come before the knowledge needed to identify them as correct, or at least as more correct than competing ideas. This is why simultaneous invention is so common, because the groundwork is thoroughly well-laid before the crucial bits fall into place that make it possible to put it on a firm foundation.

It's not so hard to lift yourself by your bootstraps once you're off the ground. -- Daniel B. Luten

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