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Comment: Re:Car Insurance Companies Too! (Score 1) 345

by Sarten-X (#47410079) Attached to: Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

My previous commute, no matter how much distance I had, I'd often have to panic brake... I'm glad I never used the OBD2 dongle... I'd probably be paying a lot more.

...because you were driving on a riskier route, without a safe stopping distance in front of you. That seems reasonable to me.

What I'm waiting for is to be charged more if I -don't- use an ODB-2 monitor...

Yes, as is every other Slashdotter, and our paranoid kind have been waiting for such things since Sputnik made us realize that surveillance didn't have to be up-close and personal. Each decade we pretend it's a new apocalypse, because this time it's different! Now it's the Internet of Things, and last year it was drones, and before that it was Big Data, GPS tracking, cell phones, and dental fillings.

Comment: Re:It's getting scary (Score 1) 150

by Sarten-X (#47407483) Attached to: Coddled, Surveilled, and Monetized: How Modern Houses Can Watch You

No, it's just the doctor and the hospital trying to practice modern medicine. If they don't have every minute detail recorded, or if they don't order every test that might help, the predatory jackasses in this country will not hesitate to sue them for malpractice, claiming that they should instinctively know what tests will be meaningful for every single patient that enters their offices.

Comment: Re:No it makes no sense at all (Score 1) 674

by Sarten-X (#47399429) Attached to: TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes

...most of these guys are backed by people will millions in the bank.

"Millions" isn't so much money that any cost becomes irrelevant. "Billions" is closer, but no amount of money will buy more time. Those 100 extra preparation hours could be the time when an informant reveals the plot to the CIA, or that could be the time another aspect of the plot to develop problems.

...there is no point at which you stop and say "awww screw this, it's not worth the hassle"

But there is a point at which you say "This plan is too risky, and has too many ways to fail. Let's try something else."

Comment: Re:Nothing unusual (Score 1) 39

by Sarten-X (#47399219) Attached to: Free Wi-Fi Supplier, Gowex, Files For Bankruptcy

So the whole being sat down like a child thing is basically to stop people who don't know what they're doing ending up with mountains of debt _by mistake_, it's not to stop people intentionally cooking the books.

I think this is exactly right. The lenders are not doing credit reviews for the purpose of stopping crime. They're checking for the purpose of minimizing their own risk. Sure, there's a risk that a loan applicant is going to do something criminal that results in the lender losing their money, but there is a much greater risk that an otherwise-honest individual is simply unable to manage their own finances.

Then, of course, there's the cost/benefit analysis of the investigation itself. If criminal fraud is rare, it may not be worth the cost to investigate every applicant deeply enough to find the crime.

I'm not ambitious enough to do the calculations myself, but I would expect to find that the most profitable course of action is to do a cursory examination of individual applicants, and just to consider intentional fraud to be a part of the cost of doing business.

Comment: Re:No it makes no sense at all (Score 1) 674

by Sarten-X (#47398729) Attached to: TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes

...other than XRay the damn thing, which is what the TSA does anyway do they not?

Yes, they do, and the agents know what an unmodified phone or laptop looks like. They're usually not just a small circuit with most of the case filled with some unidentified material.

Only the most idiotic of plots would be foiled by this.

Well, yes, but only the most idiotic of plots would be foiled by any single measure. All together, the detection measures simply raise the cost of planning a non-idiotic plot. Now, a successful terrorist must spend an extra $100 on parts and 100 hours on hardware modifications, while still spending the time and money to jump through every other hurdle in the way.

Sure, a sufficiently-competent entity can get through every security measure, but the point is to raise the difficulty high enough that the attack isn't worth the hassle. That sentiment applies to every aspect of security, not just airplanes.


Study: People Would Rather Be Shocked Than Be Alone With Their Thoughts 333

Posted by samzenpus
from the still-your-mind dept.
sciencehabit writes "How much do we hate being alone with our own thoughts? Enough to give ourselves an electric shock. In a new study, researchers recruited hundreds of people and made them sit in an empty room and just think for about 15 minutes. About half of the volunteers hated the experience. In a separate experiment, 67% of men and 25% of women chose to push a button and shock themselves rather than just sit there quietly and think. One of the study authors suggests that the results may be due to boredom and the trouble that we have controlling our thoughts. "I think [our] mind is built to engage in the world," he says. "So when we don't give it anything to focus on, it's kind of hard to know what to do."

Comment: Re:Wonderful car analogy! (Score 1) 253

by Sarten-X (#47378325) Attached to: Austrian Tor Exit Node Operator Found Guilty As an Accomplice

Well, that depends... did you leave your front door open with a big sign saying "Twisty passages inside! Great for losing pursuers!" posted next to it?

If so, then it's pretty easy to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were not just aware that your actions could assist criminals, but you actually made overt actions to help them.

Comment: Re:Perl (Score 5, Insightful) 532

A good language ... should do its very best to make sure you CAN'T code sloppily.

Exactly, just like a good spoken language should make sure you CAN'T use profanity.

...But then, what about when profanity is appropriate? What if you need an emphasis that is so fucking strong that simply changing the tone of voice doesn't suffice? What if your whole damned speech is in reference to something condemned by a deity, or referring to Mohammed the thief, who assumed the name of the prophet?

The point of any language is to express. For programming languages, the idea is to express instructions for two different processing styles simultaneously: the deterministic and predetermined understanding of the parser, and the non-deterministic and subjective understanding of colleagues. Similarly, spoken languages must account for the subjective understandings of every listener, some of which may have very different rules regarding obscenity.

There is much more to coding "cleanly" than mere syntax. Structure is equally important, and it must change as the system design demands. If the rules of a language are too strict, then the whole program starts to look the same, and it's more difficult for future interpreters to understand the intent of the program.

There is an art to writing clean code, just as there's an art to writing eloquent language. Strict rules don't always improve that art.

Comment: Re:Step 1 (Score 2) 196

by Sarten-X (#47345859) Attached to: How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

Cute, but no. One of my first stage jobs was with a great stage manager, who did several decades of concerts dating back to the Big Band era. He was nearly deaf from it, so before the first show of the season he called all of the techs together, handed out pairs of high-quality earplugs, and warned us that if he ever found us not wearing them without a good reason, we'd be fired.

At every show since then, I've either worn earplugs or an in-ear monitor whenever the main amps were on. It's also worth noting that the stage crew isn't usually in front of the speakers, so all together I'm usually listening to less than 70 decibels, even at the loudest gigs.

Protective equipment is not just there to make the lawyers happy. It's there so that a decade later I don't have to hire someone else to tune a system.

He probably ... is constantly going "Hunh?" to his wife.

Well, yes, but that's just because I'm inattentive, not deaf.

Comment: Re:Step 1 (Score 1) 196

by Sarten-X (#47345795) Attached to: How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

Ears are the worst in terms of durability, complexity, and as is the focus of my post, manufacturing consistency. Those criteria are all interconnected, also indicating that there is no good way to solve their problems well.

There is no other component for which so many things can go wrong. The ears serve as the intermediary between the analog vibrations and the sensation of hearing, comprised of millions of self-assembling cells whose function depends on trillions of chemical interactions executing perfectly. In reality, such perfection is rare. Most defects don't matter, but the sheer number of imperfections means that everyone's sense of hearing is different in some way.

Stretching the boundaries of definition a bit, even if the ears themselves are good enough, their connection to the consciousness may by different from one person to another. I, for instance, don't find the throb of bass to be pleasant, so my personal sound systems are tuned to my tastes, tapering off the low end. Others prefer that heavy bass, so their preferences for the rest of their sound system will be different from my own.

With such wide variation, attempting to declare that certain brands of equipment sound "good" or "bad" is a very subjective declaration, practically useless for anyone else. No matter how technically perfect the rest of your system is, you'll perceive a "bad" sound if it doesn't suit your ears' and brain's construction.

Comment: Re: Step 1 (Score 1) 196

by Sarten-X (#47345721) Attached to: How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

Accurate reproduction (typically meaning "none") at frequencies one or more octaves above the primary frequency, usually phase-shifted slightly.

I'd rather not get into the audiophile's favorite game of "my metric is better than yours", but AC is technically correct - there are qualities beside frequency response. Frequency distortion is one of those. The idea is that you play a particular frequency through the driver, and record the resulting vibration. Ideally, they match. Put in a perfect sinusoid, and you get a perfect sinusoid back.

In the real world, no driver is perfect. The cone may wobble a bit because the paper fibers aren't perfectly symmetrical, or the coil wires may be wound unevenly, or myriad other causes such that perfect waves going in become jagged before coming out. The result is effectively overlaying harmonic or phase-shifted noise on top of any given component frequency.

High-end audiophile manufacturers like to boast about their reproduction, but it really doesn't matter much. For most such distortion, your ears can't tell the difference, because your eardrum is less sensitive than the driver. Outside of the lab, you're also not going to have the perfect waveform going in, so the harmonic components will be physically interrupted by other frequencies. Supposedly, soldiers are ordered to break step when crossing certain bridges so as to avoid resonance damaging the structure. The idea is the same: When listening to a typical audio source, there won't be enough of a clear single frequency to create noticeable distortion, except in rare extremely-bad cases.

Comment: Re:Step 1 (Score 5, Informative) 196

by Sarten-X (#47343389) Attached to: How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

In my spare time, I've been an audio technician for the past 5 years. Before that, I was a DJ as a hobby, and I've been on stage crew occasionally for the last decade. My current professional job involves system engineering on a multi-million-dollar sound system.

At home, my headphones are a $30 Sennheiser over-ear pair, and I carry $15 earbuds that I can only describe offhand as "black".

It is my professional opinion that all of the audiophile bullshit is bullshit. On a low-end sound system using the cheapest components you can buy, the worst component is your ears. That's where all of your problems start, and you're trying to pay lots of money to compensate throughout the rest of the system.

If you want a pair of headphones that sound great to you, forget about brand names and fancy features. Sit down with a pair of cheap headphones, and listen to the tones in music/tv/whatever that you find most pleasing. Some folks like to hear the deep rumble of heavy bass, while others (like myself) prefer the crisp clarity of vocals that the high end provides. Still others like the nostalgia of 60's disco and AM radio, so they'll have both high- and low-end, but cut out midtones entirely. Know your ears and your tastes, and that will tell you what frequency response you'll be happiest with.

Next, think about features. This should not be a difficult decision, as it mostly just relates to lifestyle. If you ride a bus or train to work and listen to audiobooks, noise canceling is probably a decent choice. Otherwise, it's probably not worth the price. A good fit is more important for keeping unwanted noise out, so if you're in the market for earbuds, look for ones with adjustable rubber. On my traveling pair, I actually have different rubber cones for my ears, because my ears are different sizes. My wife doesn't like in-ear styles, so she carries a pair of folding on-ear headphones in her purse. That was a criterion when we bought them.

Finally, go to Google, and research candidates. Brand doesn't matter nearly as much as having the right headphones for your ears. Buy a cheap pair with the right criteria and try it out. As a general rule, all headphones are made with thin wire and fragile construction that falls apart at the slightest trauma. That's the nature of the beast. Expensive brands just tack on bigger profit margins.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard