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Comment: Snark Bait. (Score 1) 64

by westlake (#48184223) Attached to: 3-D Printed "Iron Man" Prosthetic Hands Now Available For Kids

Please do tell us about how the "official" prosthetic costing $40,000 are totally not a ripoff even though they can be replaced by $45 printed prostetics because each one is hand carved by highly skilled gnomes from their own bones and tied together with unicorn hair and anything else will kill the wearer in the first 5 minutes

I can't.

Because I don't have the money or resources to clinically evaluate a $45 prosthetic hand.

This I do know:

The poor have been milked for generations by frauds and fools marketing medical miracles at dime store prices. When the geek sees a buzz word like "3-D Printing" in a headline, his capacity for critical thinking goes south.

To test his computer models of neural control, Valero-Cuevas is using a very faithful physical system: cadaver hands. Hand surgeons help him connect the hands' tendons to strings driven by electric motors.

The activity of the motors is controlled by the neuron software, as if the motors were muscles themselves. This way the simulated neurons are confronted with the same problem the nervous system faces: controlling the hand as a marionette driven by complex muscles and tendons.

The goal is for the software and hardware to work in concert to control the cadaver hand the same way a healthy person can move his or her hand --- complete with stretch reflexes, muscle tone and compliance.

''We are studying the very fundamental mechanisms of how muscles have tone and how you modify that to get function, and how their disruptions lead to the pathological characteristics of hypertonia, spasticity and dystonia, which are very common in cerebral palsy, stroke and spinal cord injury,'' Valero Cuevas said. ''But we don't really know where they come from, and we're trying to understand that.''

The complexity in just one little finger

Each finger tendon is controlled by between six and 10 muscles, and in turn, each simulated muscle is controlled by a population of 256 independent neurons.

''The irony is not lost on us that we're combining one of the oldest scientific disciplines, hand anatomy, with some of the newest elements of ultra-fast parallel computing,'' Valero-Cuevas said. ''We're using this to answer central questions about evolution, health and disease, and how all these systems work.''

One application of this work is the design of better prosthetic hands, where there is still a major engineering challenge to make artificial hands that can be effective manipulators of objects. The most advanced current prosthetics are effective grippers, but the ultimate goal is truly dexterous manipulators.

''We see it as an impasse,'' Valero-Cuevas said. ''Over a century of trying to develop something that's better than the split hook prosthesis. We now have modern robotic hands and prosthetic hands that are amazing grippers, but they're not dexterous manipulators. They're great at holding things, but is it the Luke Skywalker hand that would be able to pick something up, reorient and operate it? Think of all the operations that are needed to use your smartphone with one hand.''

Perfecting a fully functioning prosthetic hand

Comment: Re:That will include badmouthing politicans (Score 1) 458

by westlake (#48183069) Attached to: In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail

Of course. It is just like in 1984: Language gets controlled to that people may not voice their thoughts anymore.

The geek doesn't think. He rants.

When he does think, he is perfectly capable of twisting words and ideas into whatever new and unimagined form suits him best.

The geek who claims to speak for Orwell should try reading him sometime.

Comment: The law comes to Deadwood. (Score 4, Insightful) 458

by westlake (#48182967) Attached to: In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail

I have a feeling that there are some people who would take a polite "You're wrong and I disagree with you for the following reasons . . ." as trolling.

This isn't about trolling.

This is about abusive, manipulative, disruptive and often threatening behavior that would not be tolerated off-line in the name of free speech --- because it is the enemy of free speech.

Free speech cannot survive in an atmosphere of fear.

Free speech cannot survive when speakers are shouted down, bullied and hounded off stage.

Free speech cannot survive the mob.

Comment: Re:Things once thought impossible... (Score 2) 342

by westlake (#48173825) Attached to: The Physics of Why Cold Fusion Isn't Real

All of these "Feats" of human ingenuity were once thought to be impossible by the physics standards of the day.

These "feats" you describe were engineering problems, not physics problems.

The "Boy Mechanic" of 1880 could build a rubber-band powered model plane. Samuel Pierpont Langley built elegant steam powered miniatures, no less appealing and no more practical.

Power was never a problem in aviation. The problem was the need for dynamic control of an aircraft moving in three dimensions. The Wrights taught themselves to fly by building and refining man-sized gliders. In parallel with their work on lift and propulsion.

Comment: Re:Hollywood is mentally bankrupt (Score 1) 186

by westlake (#48165099) Attached to: Warner Brothers Announces 10 New DC Comics Movies

Frozen - original (and ok, by now its probably clear I have kids)

I don't think you have to apologize for liking Wreak-It Ralph or Frozen. WIR's comic demolition of the state-of-the-art first-person shooter was alone worth the price of entry.

To Ralph, playing straight man: "One more, one more. Why did the hero flush the toilet..."

Comment: Re:Has it been working so far? (Score 1, Insightful) 387

by westlake (#48164869) Attached to: Torvalds: I Made Community-Building Mistakes With Linux

At the end of the day, he created and manages the largest open source project ever. More than 20 years on, it is still going strong.

But Linus won't be around forever ---

and immature and abusive behavior that persists well beyond the adolescence of a man or a project, a system or a method, toubles me. I do not want to see such behavior institutionalized in FOSS and carried on into the next generation.

Comment: Re:I don't get it... (Score 1) 186

by westlake (#48164617) Attached to: Warner Brothers Announces 10 New DC Comics Movies

I read sci-fi(Niven, Asimov, Bradbury, etc) and fantasy(Tolkien, Lovecraft, Howard, etc). I don't get this thing with comics.

Hitchcock began storyboarding his films around 1935.

The adventure comic strip, which was coming into its own about the same time, became increasingly cinematic in its story-telling.

The film and the comic are both essentially visual media. There isn't much time or space for dialog and none for long-winded exposition. That doesn't make dialog unimportant in a film or comic --- it just means that every word has to count.

The comics weren't always about superheroes --- and the superhero comic wasn't always a soap opera. Disney hit all the right notes with "Guardians of the Galaxy," it should be interesting to see what it makes of "Big Hero Six."

Comment: Re:Local Backups (Score 1) 150

by ljw1004 (#48149311) Attached to: If Your Cloud Vendor Goes Out of Business, Are You Ready?

Your equation makes cloud backup seem much more appealing... $200 more expensive but likely to save me DAYS of work. I currently have three hard drives sitting in my electronics cupboard with offline backups (all slightly out of sync) waiting for me to recover and reconcile them. What a pain.

I'm using 1tb storage for $10/month from Microsoft that includes copies of Office for five devices, which I'm happy with. (and I work at MS so if my cloud provider fails then I'll have lots more worries as well :) )

Comment: Some things can't be papered over. (Score 2) 264

by westlake (#48143773) Attached to: Confidence Shaken In Open Source Security Idealism

With both the recent openssl and bash bugs, in addition to fixing the bug, careful investigation was done by the respective communities and additional problems were/are being addressed.

Excuse me for saying that I find all these platitudes less than reassuring.

The name itself is an acronym, a pun, and a description. As an acronym, it stands for Bourne-again shell, referring to its objective as a free replacement for the Bourne shell. As a pun, it expressed that objective in a phrase that sounds similar to born again, a term for spiritual rebirth. The name is also descriptive of what it did, bashing together the features of sh, csh, and ksh.

Stallman and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) considered a free shell that could run existing sh scripts so strategic to a completely free system built from BSD and GNU code that this was one of the few projects they funded themselves, with Fox undertaking the work as an employee of FSF. Fox released Bash as a beta, version .99, on June 7, 1989 and remained the primary maintainer until sometime between mid-1992 and mid-1994, when he was laid off from FSF.

A security hole in Bash dubbed Shellshock, dating from version 1.03, was discovered in early September 2014.

Bash (Unix Shell)

Analysis of the source code history of Bash shows the vulnerabilities had existed since version 1.03 of Bash released in September 1989.

Shellshock (software bug)

A 25 year old bug with the potential to do enormous damage.

In the UNIX shell in almost universal use by *NIX professionals, and a spate-no-expense project conceived and funded by the FSF.

Comment: Re:Yes, it really is so different. (Score 5, Insightful) 264

by ljw1004 (#48143671) Attached to: Confidence Shaken In Open Source Security Idealism

Yes, it really is so different.

With both the recent openssl and bash bugs, in addition to fixing the bug, careful investigation was done by the respective communities and additional problems were/are being addressed. I submit that this would likely not have been the case with closed source software.

Why do you submit that?

I work on the VB/C# compiler teams. These compilers used to be closed-source for ten years, and were made open-source earlier this year. Whenever we have a bug, we ALWAYS do careful investigation to look for all the related issues we can find. That's been no different between our closed- and open-source eras. We do it because "high quality software" is the number one driver of satisfaction, and if we make higher quality software then we get more sales. I think it works: you almost never hear people being bitten by VB/C# compiler bugs. We pay people full time to do careful investigations of stuff that (I reckon) most people would find too boring to do without a salary. None of this is affected by closed- vs open-source.

What I've enjoyed is "open-source language design". The language design decisions are still made by stewards of the language as before. But by opening up the process of language-design, we see a lot more viewpoints and ideas from everyone. Better to fix bugs at the design-stage rather than wait until after the thing's been implemented.

I'm willing to believe your submission is true -- but not without evidence, since your claim contradicts my own experience.

Comment: The American Language (Score 2, Informative) 323

by westlake (#48142703) Attached to: How English Beat German As the Language of Science

The US changed the language after breaking off from Britain changing 's' to 'z' in many spellings for example

Noah Webster published his speller in 1783. His grammar in 1784, and his dictionary in 1826.

His most important improvement, he claimed, was to rescue "our native tongue" from "the clamour of pedantry" that surrounded English grammar and pronunciation. He complained that the English language had been corrupted by the British aristocracy, which set its own standard for proper spelling and pronunciation. Webster rejected the notion that the study of Greek and Latin must precede the study of English grammar. The appropriate standard for the American language, argued Webster, was "the same republican principles as American civil and ecclesiastical constitutions". This meant that the people-at-large must control the language; popular sovereignty in government must be accompanied by popular usage in language.

Noah Webster

This is an essentially modern approach to language and usage.

You see it in H.L. Mencken, you see it in The American Heritage Dictionary.

One of the most provocative essays in Shakespeare in America: An Anthology from the Revolution to Now: (Library of America #251) offers a much needed reminder that Shakespeare first attracted readers and audiences in the states because the language was familiar and accessible.

Very close to what you would have heard on the street.

''American audiences will hear an accent and style surprisingly like their own in its informality and strong r-colored vowels,'' Meier said. ''The original pronunciation performance strongly contrasts with the notions of precise and polished delivery created by John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier and their colleagues from the 20th century British theater.''

Meier said audiences will hear word play and rhymes that ''haven't worked for several hundred years (love/prove, eyes/qualities, etc.) magically restored, as Bottom, Puck and company wind the language clock back to 1595.''

''The audience will hear rough and surprisingly vernacular diction, they will hear echoes of Irish, New England and Cockney that survive to this day as 'dialect fossils.' And they will be delighted by how very understandable the language is, despite the intervening centuries.''

First US performance of Shakespeare in the original pronunciation

Comment: Re:Sounds like a good idea (Score 1) 97

by westlake (#48134583) Attached to: Smart Battery Tells You When It's About To Explode

Alerting the user to change the damaged battery makes sense. Now we need to convince the manufacturers to design devices which would make this possible.

--- and then persuade users to buy them.

Despite any penalty in style, weight, bulk, battery life, waterproofing and so on.

Will the customer need to buy an unfamiliar industrial screwdriver or some other special tool? You will meet resistance if the battery is any harder to replace than the AAA cells that power his LED flashlight.

Mirrors should reflect a little before throwing back images. -- Jean Cocteau