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Comment Re:Took longer than expected (Score 1) 181

It said something like "Don't worry, your files are exactly where you left them."

I started to worry a lot when I saw this. Either MS was being fantastically condescending, or someone had hacked into my network and was encrypting my filesystem. It was taking a long time, so I was leaning toward the latter possibility. I expected the next message to be a ransom notice and I was reminding myself of how to restore from backups, how long it would take, and what I might lose. I finally thought to google the message on my phone. Phew, it was just MS being condescending. But honestly why would they even say this?! It's a cruel joke I think, and it worked brilliantly.

Comment Re:Simple problem with a simple solution (Score 1) 131

I didn't know about GPS devices using Kalman filters. But I noticed this issue when using MyTracks to measure my hikes a couple years ago. I wished the project was open-source so I could go in and add some sort of algorithm to correct the issue. I think the problem isn't the lower-level GPS reports but the way the tracking apps are designed.

One could use piecewise linear regression to fit a series of line segments through the GPS data, only adding in kinks when doing so results in a significantly better fit. One could additionally throw in a fudge factor to correct for a predictably inflated distance measurement.

Comment Re:We're not the MSM (Score 1) 97

I just take this kind of comment from Trump as the usual "I'm not politically correct so get used to it" bluster. If we take his statement literally, I guess it would translate into an executive order that everyone must say "Merry Christmas" at a certain time on Dec 25, probably while kneeling and facing Bethlehem. :-) Hopefully that's crazy... I think it's just Trump being the expert demagogue he is.

There is something to be said about excessive political correctness and hypersensitivity, but a U.S. President is not in a good position to take on cultural issues like that.

Comment Re:Yep (Score 1) 229

I liked a lot of his answers too. Though I may not agree with everything, McAfee argues his positions with much better reasoning and somewhat less rhetoric than any other political candidates I've heard from recently. My favorite answer is "I would still rather drive a nail through my foot. ..." If he's honest about this, then he satisfies what I think is the most important qualification of any politician: they don't want the job.

But if I agree with him on these issues, wouldn't he make a better congressman than president? What are the actual demands of a president? His last answer addresses this more directly, but aside from the pardons the rest may be impractical. From what I can tell our presidents are primarily diplomats, not policy leaders. Still I like him more than the Democrat and Republican candidates. This isn't saying much.

Comment Re:Malpractice.. (Score 1) 229

In the usnews article, they break down the costs of medical malpractice into the actual lawsuits (18%) and "defensive costs" (82%). So if "Looser pays legal fees" provides some reformation but still leaves the medical practitioners open to huge settlements against them, those defensive costs will not go away.

Comment Re:1980 is clear if you understand history (Score 1) 229

Yours is a fine theory but it needs some testing. There are a whole lot of factors that changed our culture in (roughly) 1980. The personal computer even. Many of those could be argued to be related to mass murders. But regardless of the arguments, the vast majority of these theories will be wrong. McAfee is putting forward a theory with a prediction: if anti-depressants are a cause (there need not be only one cause), one would expect the murderers to be using them. Is appears likely this is the case. This theory is still not completely believable, but it has something going for it and warrants further testing.

This kind of social science reminds me of Freakonomics, correlating Roe v. Wade with decreased violent crime. Even this study can be (and has been) criticized, but it's interesting to read about the ways their theory is tested.

Comment Re:Would No Lethal Force Work? (Score 1) 712

It's hard to know, but I'm guessing that the possibility of being shot and killed by a police officer does very little to deter crime. Sometimes the perp thinks about a crime ahead of time and effectively weighs gains against risks, and in that case they are thinking of being caught and possibly sentenced, not about the arrest itself. Other times the crime is spontaneous or out of complete desperation and again the perp is not thinking about the danger of arrest or anything else for that matter.

Only when confronted by an officer does fear of that officer come into play. And in those cases it's really hard to say whether extreme fear of the officer does more good than harm. If one feels like one's life is in danger, it's all about fight or flight.

In general I think we focus too much on deterrence when it comes to our justice system. Consider these goals of the justice system: reformation, protection, deterrence, and revenge. Non-lethal tech is focused on the first two, and lethal tech is focused on the last three. In general we do a really bad job at reformation, so it makes sense to focus more effort there.

Comment Re:It' called COTS (Score 1) 275

I liked the terms quoted: "reputable source" and "certified." These are great BS words that many people actually believe guarantees higher quality. This product must be good because we have a contract with its supplier. Windows XP is certified and thus much more reliable than, say, Windows 7, CentOS 7, or Arch Linux. Perception dominates.

Of course the OS and hardware make very little difference compared to the application software they are using, whatever that may be.

Comment Re:LG G4 (Score 2) 208

I also agree although mine is an older G3. If your Android device doesn't have an easily-accessible battery and SD card slot and cannot be modded, it might as well be an iPhone. My previous phone was an SGS3 too, but it had serious overheating issues. For me the main things I look for are: replaceable battery, SD card slot, thermal management, battery life, and good antenna sensitivity (wifi and cellular). I also found the SGS3 annoying in that I had to hold it in specific ways to not press buttons like volume, power, back, or menu. This meant I could not hand my phone to someone else without buttons getting pressed at random.

For me the main drawbacks of the LG G3 are bootloader protections and the lack of equivalent camera functionality in Cyanogenmod-based builds. LG worked hard to lock the phone down, and this has slowed the modding community quite a bit.

Comment Re:Why isn't Scott Walker on that list? (Score 1) 686

Your political spectrum may be complex and thoughtful, but you'll want to vote for the democrat or republican that you find the least horrible. If they are both unfit in nearly-equal measure, then either vote independent or don't vote at all (doesn't make a difference which). Voting does not, of course, substitute for voicing your opinion. The latter is the more important, to the extent that you can see all sides of an issue.

Comment Re:I want my division by zero errors to be errors (Score 4, Interesting) 1067

I agree here. One easy example is computing an average: add up the numbers and divide by N. What if you have no numbers to average and N == 0? That doesn't mean the average is zero, it means you don't have an average. You always have to check for /0 errors, not because you want to keep the program from crashing but because you need to handle all the special cases. It's usually (not always) better to crash to alert you to an un-handled condition than to pretend nothing is wrong.

Should all null pointer exceptions or segfaults be handled quietly in some arbitrary way, in order to make software more "robust?"

Comment Re:Meh (Score 1) 830

Nah, the power output tells you if it can support the water heater's current draw while running, but not how much water you can heat. He needed to know the total energy stored in the batteries and the size of the water heater to estimate how many gallons of hot water could be heated and used for the weekend. They were big batteries, and it was enough for some 20 gallons of water or so.

Comment Re:Meh (Score 1) 830

There's a grey area here. Celsius is much more nearly metric than Fahrenheit. Most of the time in the engineering world when you're using temperature in calculations it's temperature differences that are important, and for that Celsius is just fine while Fahrenheit is a pain in ... well you first convert to Celsius. Doing thermal calculations entirely in the US customary system is trickier and generally not even taught. A friend was recently going to a vacation home and asked me for help working out the problem of how many gallons of water could be heated by a battery-powered generator operating a water heater. Do you start by converting gallons and Fahrenheit into kg and Celcius, or do you work the other direction and convert Volt-Amperes into Btu/h? That's a rhetorical question.

If you're working in a more academic field than you'll use whatever temperature units are convenient for your purposes. You can't say "... Rankine is better than ..." without being very specific about the area of study.

Similar arguments apply to other kinds of units when thinking about the US "going metric." There isn't only one way to do it, and it doesn't have to be an all-in or all-at-once thing. Considering all of the machine shops and the like, a realistic transition will take decades before we get mostly there. It starts with little things like posting speed limits in Kph (as well as Mph) and selling milk in liters (gallons also labeled). For most units like distance and mass/weight, metric is no more or less "natural" than the US customary system. You do have a merited argument with Fahrenheit vs Celsius, but it's a weak one and lots of folks have become accustomed to C.

If we were ever to make this transition, it might help a tiny bit to de-mystify science. Even just to internalize concepts like force (weight) versus mass. You can't convert pounds to kilograms without assuming some value of g. Pounds convert directly to Newtons, and kilograms convert to slugs.

But on the other hand, if we ever started making metric screw sizes, as one example, then a lot more globalization may start to kick in which is not necessarily a good thing. Maybe it would be, but it's hard to predict accurately. We historically lose manufacturing jobs. Is it advantageous for us to be out of sync with the rest of civilization?

Let's organize this thing and take all the fun out of it.