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Comment Re:Somebody had to sell Hitler the ovens (Score 1) 58

I guess it's too much to expect any company, even the "do no evil" one, to stand up for principle when there's so much money at stake.

Especially when it's doing absolutely no good. It made sense for Google to stand up to China when it appeared that there was a good chance they could win. But China won. The absence of Google's services did not cause the Chinese people to demand it, and the Great Firewall was successful at blocking and degrading Google's services enough that people largely don't bother. VPN services exist, but the Firewall makes them unreliable and short-lived solutions, so the Chinese just don't use Google much. And those who are doing all of the work to get around the Firewall are those who will do that work to get to uncensored search services anyway.

So, money aside (not that Google is ignoring the money), there's really nothing to be achieved by staying out of China, and at least some possibility of achieving something by being in China.

Comment Is this a huge surprise? (Score 1) 168

Pre-'smartphone' the US market was dominated by whatever cheap crap the carriers could get stamped out for them at lowest possible cost, typically with their specially en-worsened firmware flashed onto it. They wanted something that could be sold as 'free with contract' at lowest possible cost, and there just wasn't much incentive to attempt to use handsets as a differentiatior because all the carriers had access to basically the same OEMs, and consumer expectations were low.

Once smartphones hit, with Apple's AT&T exclusive showing the value of a proper 'flagship' device, and the prospect of getting a customer onto a data plan being very, very, compelling; the enthusiasm of carriers for dumbphones dropped substantially; but they still had exactly the same 'we need an endurable handset as cheap as possible for customers who don't otherwise care' incentive. Since they really want you to walk out with a data plan, they've shifted focus to the low-end Androids and iPhone 5c(if the customer insists), rather than the developing-world-special $20 phones; but they still want to pay as little as possible for those basic shelf-stuffer phones.

Plus, as with computers, the usability of the cheap seats has gotten surprisingly adequate. Still not as good as the ones that cost 2-6 times as much; but it is certainly no longer the case than anything under $200 refutes a loving god if you try to use it.

Comment Re:Cop video storage is a moral hazard for Taser (Score 1) 98

As long as they're careful to never lose video that may become the subject of media attention, I suppose it's possible. That seems like a game that's guaranteed to end badly, though, because it's not possible to know what will and will not become big news. Some things are obviously big (e.g. deaths) but lesser issues may not blow up until some subsequent sequence of events.

It seems like a really risky business strategy for Taser... and if any journalist ever caught wind of the "soft points", or any whistleblower decided to out them, it'd generate a firestorm.

What you describe is very feasible in heavily manual processes, but automated systems operate in the way they're designed, without variation, and deliberate holes leave traces. With manual processes, the worst case is that the agency has to find a scapegoat, some low-level employee who was responsible for doing something and didn't. With automated systems, it's much harder to argue that the problem wasn't deliberate. It's easy enough the first time "It's a bug!", but it doesn't take long before people want to know why the bug hasn't been fixed.

Comment Re:Calculations (Score 3, Informative) 93

They're talking about the theoretical strength of SWNTs, which is upwards of 120GPa. But the highest ever measured SWNT strength, last I read, was around 60Ga - and that's the properties of individual tubes (ropes don't even approach it).

Whenever you're reading something and it mentions needing a "carbon nanotube tether", toss whatever you're reading in the "sci-fi" category. Not even the hard sci-fi category. And all for what - a ~6 year Pluto transit time? Lame.

Don't they have anything better to research?

Heck, even I can think of a more plausible approach than that - one that doesn't require unobtanium at least. Forget the "diamond anchor", land a microsat on it (approaching comet, not a retreating one). Yeah, that takes a lot of delta-V, but if it's just a microsatellite, then that's not a lot of mass. Then, forget about the "carbon nanotube tether"; use a space fountain between the large craft and the lander. Space fountains (such as paired coilguns, for example) are plausible with today's technology, requiring no unobtainium.

But the whole concept of delta-V from a comet is just not a worthwhile avenue to pursue either way. Way too much difficulty and mechanisms for failure for way too little reward.

Comment Re:It's idiots like this... (Score 2, Insightful) 168

I hate the idea of an R/C license... but if it keeps the selfish idiots grounded then it's probably the way to go. Unfortunately.

Is this like how we keep drugs off the streets, guns out of the hands of criminals, and unlicensed drivers off the road?

How many times...

Comment Re:Bullshit (Score 1) 119

Really? https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/...

Note the complete lack of any discussion of artificial lighting. Heat is important for winter greenhouses in England, but with regard to light the only discussion is about shading during the summer. Moreover, I have a colleague who lives in a small town just north of Sheffield who gardens year-round in an un-lit greenhouse. He says the shorter days in the winter result in slower growth, and some plants like it more than others so he changes the mix of what he's growing seasonally. But he grows herbs and vegetables year-round.

If you go far enough north, lighting does become an issue for winter growing. For example, in Alaska: http://www.uaf.edu/files/ces/p.... But that's pretty extreme. In Fairbanks the shortest day of the year is barely three hours long. London days don't get much less than 8 hours.

I'm not saying that LEDs couldn't help in northerly climes, but the article seems to say that using LEDs in a cave is more efficient somehow than using the sun. Which is ridiculous.

Comment Re:Marketplace Justice (Score 1) 108

The default gain may be poor, but it might be adjustable; it wouldn't surprise me at all if developers who were lax enough to not bother encrypting the feed also provided a low-level control interface over the same channel. It would be really convenient for debugging.

Even that doesn't really matter that much... do you really want a microphone in your house broadcasting what it hears? Exactly how much it hears may depend on where you are, what doors are open or closed, etc., but are you really sure it's never hearing anything you don't want broadcast?

And, more importantly, how many people who buy a baby monitor even think about the issue? Product designers should not build a product that requires their user to do that sort of security analysis. Especially since it's quite easy to make it a non-issue.

Comment Re:Cop video storage is a moral hazard for Taser (Score 1) 98

The other side of this argument is that while individual police agencies don't have to retrieve video very often (except perhaps for very large ones, like NYPD), Taser will be getting requests on a daily basis. If they fail to "find" a substantial portion of those videos, it's going to become obvious -- and public -- very quickly. And the story will be that they're failing to do the primary job for which the taxpayers are paying them tens or hundreds of millions of dollars annually. That in turn will generate tremendous pressure on police departments to dump them. If agencies do their own storage they have a certain degree of plausible deniability around their own technical failures. Taser won't have that, and agencies won't have plausible deniability around their decision to use Taser once it's been headline news that Taser routinely fails.

From Taser's perspective, I think that narrative is a pretty compelling argument for being very careful not to ever "lose" video. Some headlines could destroy their business very quickly. They could survive one or two rounds of such headlines, but once it's clear that they've had plenty of time to fix their operations and still fail, they'd be dead.

Comment Re:Toilet paper and timber? (Score 2, Informative) 257

With paper, the tree is crushed. Why would you need a large straight tree for that? Economics re-enforces this. You're not going to pay extra for a large tree just to crush it

What? Have you even been to an active paper company forest?

This reminds me of the Mike Rowe's TED talk about how a lot of people talk about things they think they know.

Yeah.

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