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Comment Re:Yes/No (Score 1) 201

Stadium matches have their own security procedures and personnel. The French police are already spread thin with the current level of alert, and from the looks of it on TV they've even brought in military personnel to help augment the patrols. They simply do not want to have to devote additional resources to provide security for a protest, even if it was already scheduled and organized.

Atypical security personnel armed and trained to deal with militants tend not to mix well with an angry mob of protesters.

Comment Re:I Process Retail Returns Daily (Score 1) 95

In brick and mortar, top electronics returns are phone chargers with the wrong plug (Lightning instead of micro-usb or vice versa)

So not only does Apple flaunt the EU directive to standardize on micro-USB for phone charges, it shifts the cost of their non-compliance onto retail stores (and thus the rest of us) which have to deal with the returns?

Comment Re: Will Apple be able to spec/source a good OLED? (Score 2) 206

Color cast is entirely an Android problem. If Google would get off its butt and implement color management in Android, you could simply profile the screen and correct the color in software. That is in fact what Apple does with its phones, tablets, and laptops to eliminate color casts - they color calibrate each screen and implement the correction in software. It's got nothing to do with OLED - as long as red, green, and blue are being generated in sufficient quantities, you can have a perfectly color calibrated display assuming the software lets you actually calibrate it. And OLED generates gobs of red, green, and blue - enough to cover AdobeRGB color space and beyond. Most LCDs are limited to sRGB or less (they only use blue LEDs, and a phosphor which converts some of that blue light into yellow, with the yellow substituting for red+green).

Uneven backlighting and dark splotches a LCD problem. You try coming up with an arrangement of lights around a rectangular perimeter which provides even brightness across the entire surface area. LCDs use an complex arrangement of diffusers and light channels to try to spread the light around evenly. It is not precise at all, and very fragile. I had left my laptop closed on a table, and someone signed a piece of paper on top of it. Apparently they pressed down very hard, because the pressure from the pen was concentrated enough to deform the diffusers slightly, and that laptop screen developed a dark splotch right where the person signed.

Pixel noise is due to most LCD panels being 6-bit and using time-dithering (rapidly flickering it between two 6-bit color values) to achieve 8-bit color depth.

Color gradients I've seen on OLED screens, but it's not because of the OLED layer itself. It's something to do with the layers they put on top. It's greatly exaggerated if you look at the screen through polarized glasses. In theory OLEDs should look identical through a polarizer as without. But something they're doing with the layers above it (maybe the capacitive touch layer?) leaves stresses in the material which are obvious through a polarizer.

Burn-in is the one problem OLED does have. But I used my Galaxy S for 5 years without any significant burn-in.

Comment Re:Or just make the diesels hybrids (Score 1) 179

Hybrid electrics complement gasoline (petrol) better than diesel. You basically have three modes of vehicle operation you want to optimize. Acceleration from a start, highway cruise (only requires about 20-25 HP for most cars), and acceleration at speed for passing on the highway.

Gasoline engines hit their torque peak at mid-RPM (torque is basically how much energy is generated per cylinder firing), and their power peak at high RPM (horsepower is how much energy is generated per second, so torque * RPM). Typically you can design an engine for optimal efficiency at a single RPM, and so the sweet spot for a gasoline engine is mid-to-high RPM. In an ideal case, the engine would only ever operate at this sweet spot RPM. This means gasoline engines are great for passing at highway speeds, but suck for accelerating from a start (low RPM) and highway cruise (low power). Hybrids complement them exceptionally well because an electric motor's gobs of torque at 0 RPM helps with acceleration from a start. And the electric can handle highway cruise, with the gas engine starting up only occasionally (and running at its peak torque or HP range) to recharge the battery.

Diesel engines have a higher compression ratio so hit their torque peak at low-RPMs (in addition to being more efficient than gasoline). This makes them good for acceleration from a start, great for highway cruise (why most freight trucks are diesel), but they suck at accelerating at highway passing. A hybrid electric motor doesn't complement diesel as well - the main benefits it adds are things a diesel already has. The primary benefit would be regenerative braking, which is only about 30% efficient anyway. The tech which best complements a diesel is a turbo, which increases power output at higher RPMs.

If you did want to do something to a diesel to help with the start-stop cycle of city driving, some sort of mechanical flywheel arrangement to provide regenerative braking would probably be a lot cheaper and weigh a lot less than batteries and electric motors. And yes I know most locomotives are diesel electric. That makes complete sense when you force a tiny engine to pull a huge load. If you compare hp to weight ratios, a locomotive is roughly equivalent to a car with a 5 hp engine. If you wanted to make a car with a 20 hp diesel engine (so it could generate enough power to overcome aerodynamic drag at highway speeds), then coupling it with an electric motor is much more preferable to having a transmission with 25 gears.

Comment Re:Scheduled programming is doomed. Maybe ads too. (Score 1) 232

The future of television is on-demand and not scheduled programming with the option to pay subscription fees to kill all advertising. This means no cable TV as we currently see it. All TV programming will be sent over IP networks. Over the air local TV stations will start offering TV streaming to smart TV's, and will retire their transmitters. The spectrum will be freed up for other uses.

Well, that last one won't happen until cellular Internet becomes ubiquitous (so broadband speeds are available everywhere). But I agree, Cable TV is on the way out. I just got a Roku this weekend. The thing that struck me most was how much clearer the image was. See, when you have Cable or Satellite TV, they have to transmit all the channels to you all the time regardless of whether or not you're watching it. That takes a huge amount of bandwidth, so they have to do a lot of compression on all the channels. With streamed content, only the channel you want is transmitted to you. There's still compression - Internet speeds aren't yet realistic for streaming Blu-ray quality (48 Mbps). But from what I've seen so far it's typically a lot less than with Cable or Satellite.

(Note: Get a Roku only if you just want this stuff to work with minimal fuss. It intersperses its own video ads, which gets annoying real fast if you're trying to watch a bunch of short clips. And get a 2015 model Roku 2, not a 3. I went from a 3 to a 2 and got to play with both of them. As far as I can tell, the base units are the same, the only difference is the remotes. The Roku 3 remote would even pair with the Roku 2 base. The Roku 3 remote has some useful features over the 2, but the fly in the ointment is the new voice search button. They put it right next to the OK/select button. If you're navigating and reach down to hit OK, and accidentally hit Search, you drop back to the Home screen and have to start your navigation all over again. That cost me more time than I saved by using voice search. Unfortunately the Roku 2 remote is IR-only, so you have to point it at the Roku. The Roku 3 remote is RF so doesn't need line of sight. I just ended up getting a Logitech Harmony hub + RF remote, since I needed to consolidate my control of the TV, Roku, A/V receiver, and cable box anyway.)

My take on Advertising: Advertising is a scourge which causes weak minded people to go into debt wasting money purchasing things they don't need. Think of it as the 20th/21st century Jedi Mind Trick.

Like most things in life, advertising has good and bad sides. Yes the slick feel-good ads are designed to unnecessarily part you from your money. But ads are also informational, telling you about new products and services that are available. This became apparent when I lived without a TV for a year. I was hanging out with my friends and we decided to go see a movie. They began discussing which movie they wanted to see, and I was completely lost because I had no idea what all these movie titles were. The movie ads they'd seen on TV had been enough to give them a sense of the theme and plot of the movie. They tried quickly summarizing each movie, but there were just too many and a verbal description is much harder to remember than a slick video. After a couple minutes of wasting time that way, I just told them to pick what they wanted and I'd watch it as well.

Point being that while excessive advertising is bad, no advertising is bad as well. There's a balance point where a certain amount of ads is enough to inform you, without becoming annoying or irrationally skewing your behavior.

Comment Re:iFixit is NOT unbiased (Score 3, Insightful) 240

The declarations of someone who is complaining that others are making it harder for him to make a buck need to be taken with a large grain of salt. iFixit for all their merits sells spare parts & repair kits. It is thus clearly in their own interest for everyone else to make it profitable for them to sell their products. iFixit would be very profitable if all phone manufacturers did everything they could to make it easier for them to sell their repair kits & repair/upgrade instead of replacing.

I disagree. iFixit would be out of business if all phones and laptops were easy to take apart to repair. I don't have to visit iFixit to repair most Windows laptops because their disassembly is (reasonably) straightforward. I do have to visit iFixit to repair most Macbooks because Apple tries to make it as difficult as possible. Most of the spare parts and repair kit tools iFixit sells are only necessary because of the proprietary and weird things Apple has done to make their products difficult to open up and take apart.

So iFixit is actually advocating something which would effectively put them out of business. A true sign of people who value the craft more than the money they earn from it.

Comment Re:Wait, they shipped the private key? (Score 1) 65

I've actually seen this before with OpenVPN setups. The standard setup procedure has you generate the keys and certificates on the server, but doesn't make clear which files are the private keys and which are public. One of the guides now carefully points out which files you're supposed to keep secret. But I've seen several OpenVPN setups where someone didn't know better and just installed the client, then copied all the config files (all the certificates and keys) from the server to the client.

Explaining it in the documentation isn't enough. The code which generates the keys should explicitly put the private and public keys in different directories whose names say whether they need to be kept on the server, put on the client, or copied to a USB flash drive and locked in a safe. Right now everything is just dumped into the current directory under the assumption that the person generating the keys knows which key is for what. You shouldn't assume everyone who will use the software will know how the software works.

Comment Re:I have an idea (Score 1) 591

The U.S. bases in Japan are there because the peace treaty ending WWII says Japan cannot have an external military, and instead the U.S. will provide for its national defense. Frankly I think it's time to revise those treaties and have Japan pay for its own defense (which would drive China nuts), but until that's done the U.S. bases in Japan have to stay.

The U.S. bases in Germany are there because both are NATO countries. The original objective of NATO was to repel a Soviet invasion, so having U.S. troops on the ground in place was necessary. This is probably due for revision as well, given the unlikelihood of a foreign invasion of Western Europe.

The U.S. bases in South Korea are there because there was no peace treaty ending that war, only a cease fire. Technically we're still at war with North Korea. Anyhow, the U.S. forces aren't there as an occupying force nor to provide stability. If you ask any of the troops there, they know exactly why they are there. They call themselves speed bumps. Their job in a North Korean attack is to die, so the U.S. has a reason to join the hostilities on South Korea's side. Their purpose is deterrence.

All three countries are more than stable enough to not need a U.S. military presence anymore, and have been stable enough for at least two decades (South Korea being the most recent to transition from a military to a civilian government). Unfortunately, we abandoned Iraq before it was self-sustainably stable.

Comment Re:I have an idea (Score 4, Interesting) 591

What's the line then? There are millions of conflicts around the world that we can 'get involved with'. Saudi Arabia likes to behead and crucify people, should we 'get involved' with them? What is the number of wars and death it takes to make everyone do exactly what we want them to do?

The conflict in Iraq is special because the U.S. precipitated it. I was against invading Iraq, but once we did it I was absolutely committed to staying there until it was stable. While Saddam Hussein was a monster, like most monsters his grip on power provided a good deal of stability. Removing him also removed that stability, so we had a moral duty to stay there until a comparable level of stability was restored. Unfortunately, a majority of the U.S. just wanted out quickly regardless of stability and the consequences, and elected a President who promised just that and delivered. What we're seeing now with ISIS is the consequence of shirking our responsibility to fix what we broke, and not withdrawing from Iraq until it could provide its own stability.

Did you know ISIS was born of intervention policies from the U.S. government? The reason why they are even around is because we are involved.

Did you know U.S. inteventionist policies were born from Muslim acts against the U.S.? You've probably heard the opening line of the Marine Corps anthem:

From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli...

The Montezuma part makes sense. The U.S. fought several wars with Mexico, so of course the Marines would be involved. But Tripoli? That's way over in Libya (that's Africa for those weak in geography). What the hell were U.S. Marines doing there?

Funny you should ask. Way back in 1800 when the U.S. was a freshly minted nation, it ran into a problem. Prior to the revolution, the U.S. was a British colony, and thus fell under British protection. When the U.S. gained independence, it lost that protection. The Muslim Barbary States decided to take advantage of the situation and began capturing U.S. merchant ships and holding the crews for ransom. Their thinking was that since these people weren't Muslim, it was ok to kidnap them and extort a ransom.

The fledgling U.S. had its own domestic problems and didn't want to meddle with things going on in other countries. But it didn't have a navy which could deal with the situation, and attempts to negotiate a treaty with France to protect U.S. vessels fell through. So for the first few years, the U.S. just paid the ransom. Of course paying criminals just encourages them, and it became open season on U.S. flagged vessels. Eventually the payments became exorbitant, and the U.S. recommissioned a navy. President Thomas Jefferson (y'know, the guy who wrote famous things like, "We hold these truths to be self evident - that all men are created equal") launched a military operation to Africa to end the kidnappings and free the hostages.

That is how the U.S. Marines ended up in Tripoli. That is how U.S. meddling with foreign nations began. Because a bunch of Muslims decided to take advantage of a fledgling non-Muslim nation by kidnapping its citizens and demanding ransom for their freedom. So if you want to play the blame game, the first incident, the precipitating act which began over two centuries of animosity, was actually committed by Muslims against the U.S.

Comment Lose the obsession with thinness (Score 5, Interesting) 505

I'd rather have a thicker laptop which could work off battery from when I wake up to when I go to sleep (~16 hours - both work and evening relaxation use), and charge overnight. A thicker phone which only needs to be charged every 2-3 days, instead of every night. A thicker tablet that can last a week or two on a charge instead of a few days.

My phone (Nexus 5) was so thin compared to my previous (Galaxy S with a slide-out keyboard) that I dropped it more times in my first week owning it than I had dropped the old phone in 3 years. I ended up getting a case for it, not to protect it but to make it thicker so I wouldn't drop it so much. I don't need nor want it to be any thinner. Do something useful with that extra space - like pack in a bigger battery. (I'm happy to report though that with the Marshmallow update, the phone easily lasts 36-48 hours on a charge. Many days it still has over 70% charge left by the time I go to sleep. Maybe we'll manage to get back to the days when you only had to charge your phone every 3-4 days.)

Comment Re:Worse than clickbait ! (Score 2) 391

I don't know what's scarier, ISIS itself, or the fact that international intelligence agencies are so clearly inept that they're actually incapable of stopping any sort of terror attacks. If they actually DID manage to stop terror attacks, they would be trumpeting their victories loudly and on the front page of every newspaper and every news website this side of the GMT line. The fact that they haven't is pretty much proof positive that in fact they haven't managed to do a damn thing.

Actually, no. The very nature of their job is that if they're successful, absolutely nothing happens. Consequently, the only evidence they have that an attack was thwarted are some written plans, drawings scrawled on a napkin, or chemicals that could be used to make a bomb. They can't even be sure that they really did stop a terror attack, or if they just caught some raving lunatic with delusions of executing a terror attack. And they can't crow about it until many years later, because doing so could tip off related terrorist cells that they're close to being captured.

In 1995, Philippine police stumbled upon a terrorist plot to assassinate the pope, bomb airliners, and fly one into CIA headquarters. The plot was discovered when the terrorists accidentally set fire to their apartment while preparing bombs. It hit the world news briefly, with most of the news services describing it as a plot to blow up airliners and fly them into buildings. My friends and I discussed it briefly. We concluded it was the Philippine police/intelligence exaggerating to try to make it look like they stopped something huge from happening. (1) If it was a real terrorist plot, why were they bragging to the international press about having thwarted it? Shouldn't they be keeping quiet while they used the intelligence they'd gathered to catch co-conspirators before they even realized their plot had been foiled? (2) While we knew there were wackos out there who had no qualms about bombing an airliner and killing everyone aboard it, the part about flying them into buildings was just too far-fetched. We had a psychologically barrier preventing us from conceiving of someone going beyond merely killing those people, to actually using them as part of a weapon to kill more people. Nobody could be so callous and disrespectful of human life, right? (3) It would require the perpetrator(s) to die aboard the plane as well. The whole point of using a bomb was that you didn't have to be aboard the plane when it went off. So that seemed unlikely as well.

Then 6 years later, 9/11 happened.

Anyhow, this is a big part of the problem with intelligence (and safety engineering for that matter). If you succeed, nothing happens and nobody hears about what you did. If you fail, you get blamed and it gets replayed on the news over and over. In light of a success being when nothing happens, how do you determine how effective your anti-terrorist ops are? What is an appropriate, measured response to the threat? Those in the intelligence and security community like to interpret nothing happening as an indicator of the great job they're doing, and why their (illegal) monitoring needs to be allowed to continue. Those opposed like to interpret nothing happening as an indicator that nothing would've happened if all those intelligence and security measures hadn't existed. Because the primary evidence is the lack of evidence, it can be interpreted to support both viewpoints.

Comment Re: And people on slashdot give a shit, why? (Score 4, Interesting) 164

I hardly consider Zuckerberg a positive role model. But he's been a heckuva lot better than other people who've been in his position (Rockefeller, Morgan, Gates, etc).
  • - Once he had his billions, he had the opportunity to select any gold-digging trophy wife. Instead, he married his pre-fortune girlfriend.
  • - He wasn't arrogant, and understood when he was in over his head, and hired outside experts to advise him or do the job for him.
  • - Facebook has more or less actually been competing with challengers, not playing shenanigans with standards or formats to create an unlevel playing field. That hasn't been true for their instant messaging, but their core service has pretty succeeded because it provided what people wanted and reached critical mass first, not because they crippled up and coming competitors.
  • - He's been changing himself to follow the market (learning Chinese), not trying to change the market to follow his desires (biggest gripe I had with Jobs).
  • - Those billions of people he screwed over agreed to allow him to sell their personal information to the highest bidder. If you dislike that FB does this, then you need to convince those people to stop agreeing to stuff like this. If you don't do that, even if Zuckerberg and FB vanished overnight, it would just mean a different company and different CEO would rise up to provide a social media service which did the exact same thing. This is not like Standard Oil or Windows, where you had to use their products if you wanted to survive in the modern world, so you were forced to pay their price. FB's market penetration is only a bit over 50% in the U.S., nothing like the 90+% those monopolies held/hold.
  • - More than likely, you also probably look down on all those people who willingly give up their personal information as plebs.

Comment Re:Must be nice to be at a wealthy company (Score 1) 164

that *every* company, small and large, can somehow afford to "hand out".

It's a competition thing. If nobody is required to do it, then one company that cuts paid maternity/paternity leave gains a competitive advantage and can price its products lower. Other companies then have to follow suit to remain economically competitive. Eventually nobody has paid maternity/paternity leave anymore. The ones which refused to give it up were eliminated from the marketplace due to being unable to compete.

If you require all companies to provide it, then yes the companies can afford to "hand it out". But the cost is built into the system and you pay for it in other ways (higher prices, fewer job opportunities which means higher unemployment, slower technological advancement). I happen to think it's a worthwhile tradeoff in this case - family should come first, work second; not the other way around. But don't fool yourself into thinking it comes without cost just because everyone is required to provide it.

Comment Re:What the fuck is with the snark (Score 1) 118

More to the point, the budget (and economy) is mostly in the hands of Congress. The President only suggests a budget, Congress hashes out the details (they can completely ignore his suggestion if they want). The President can then approve the entire thing or veto it. He has no power to influence a single particular budget item, it's all or nothing.

The Executive branch's powers focus mostly on law enforcement (illegal immigration, NSA monitoring, etc) and foreign relations (including responses to terrorism). So yeah, those "mundane" issues are in fact the ones which are relevant when talking about the Presidency, not budget stuff like space policy. Attempting to make a big deal of space policy is just trying to vet the candidate as someone who will cave into the demands of Senators and Congressmen from states which stand to gain from a bigger NASA budget.

Intel CPUs are not defective, they just act that way. -- Henry Spencer