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Comment Re:Autonomy fails when the unexpected happens (Score 1) 397

In most cases, software isn't controlling large objects with damage potential. And when they are, they are in systems that are not interacting with other systems in a nonlinear fashion.

Factory machinery, for example, tends to be monolithic. When interacting with other machinery, it's expecting a limited, controlled input and output. If one machine malfunctions, it's highly unlikely that it will affect other, nearby machinery. Not because of some insight by the programmer, but because the machine has physical bounds of operation.

An autonomous vehicle does not have physical bounds of operations. It will be interacting both with other autonomous vehicles and with real people that behave in unplanned ways.

Comment Autonomy fails when the unexpected happens (Score 1) 397

A fully autonomous system can only react properly to those situations which the programmer has anticipated. When something unanticipated happens, chaos breaks loose.

Even with non-autonomous vehicles, chaotic situations can happen. But at least there's a better chance of a real person being able to respond properly to unanticipated situations and therefore minimize the damage.

How do autonomous vehicles fare when an oncoming drunk driver zones in on their headlights, veers into the lane and tracks the autonomous vehicle as it tries to avoid the collision?

How will the autonomous vehicle avoid the T-bone collision from the driver that fails to stop at the red light on the cross street? Does the autonomous vehicle have peripheral scanning that will detect a cross-traffic vehicle that doesn't appear to be stopping?

How about four fully autonomous vehicles that approach a 4-way stop from four directions at the same time? Who gets to go first? Will they communicate somehow?

Comment No need to remember or store passwords (Score 1) 258

Pretty much every site has an option to reset your password by sending a unique code to a previously registered email account or phone. There's really no need to remember or store a password; just reset it every time you want to log in.

Of course, that implies that you will still need to know the password to your email account, unless you use a disposable email address such as those offered by . (Hint: use a different disposable address for each site to maximize security.)

Comment Not 30 cents. Impossible. (Score 1) 179

So many of these articles that proclaim how inexpensive it is to produce things with 3-D printing technology completely misrepresent the true cost.

That 30 cents figure is probably just for the materials. It doesn't consider the development cost (which in this case may be donated, but in many cases must be amortized across every piece produced), the cost of production equipment (also to be amortized), employment of production labor, distribution costs, marketing, overhead, and any number of other real business expenses above and beyond materials costs.

Realistically, I would expect this to have a market price in the low 10s of USD, not "30 cents." That puts in the range of pretty much every stethoscope available. The typical third-world MD isn't going to have a 3-D printer at her disposal.

Comment "There oughta be a law!!!" (Score 2) 296

Liberties are of utmost importance, whether it be for digital data, sexual preference, religion, property, or any other activity that does not INJURE others.

When you demand the right to control how your neighbor uses his property, you give implicit permission for him to control how you use your property. And that expands into every other facet of life.

I don't like the flooding of historic neighborhoods with huge boxes any more than you do, nor would I want my neighbor to build an asphalt plant, but the loss of liberty is of even greater concern to me. If my neighbor did choose to build an asphalt plant, I would complain loudly, but I would also defend his right to do so. I do not have a "right" to not see, not hear, or not smell that which offends me provided it does not injure me. There is no right to not be threatened; no right to "feel safe." And I have no right to guaranteed property value at all. But I do have the right to move somewhere else, and I have the responsibility to accept whatever that costs me.

Comment Re:Wait a minute (Score 2) 248

Everyone is assuming that the spent fluid is being dumped overboard. Do we know that to be the case?

It's only necessary to expel the spent fluid externally if you want to reduce overall rocket mass while doing so. If that's not necessary, you can still use an open loop system but have a recovery tank to receive the spent fluid, thereby preventing environmental contamination. That's really the only reason to contain it; the cost of lost spent fluid is probably minimal.

Comment Offsite storage farms (Score 2) 284

Tape media's greatest benefit is its long storage life. Providing you have the equipment to do it, you could read a tape created 25 years ago.

Tape media's greatest liability is its long storage life. Will you be able to find equipment to read it 25 years from now? If not, you have what we call write-only media.

I think that tape is going to disappear as a viable storage medium, at least in the small business sector. The equipment and media is expensive, and most small businesses don't have the resources to employ someone trained in proper media management.

The replacement is going to be offsite storage farms, whether from a third-party cloud provider, or farms owned by the company that needs the backups. As the per-byte cost of disk storage continually and rapidly falls and wide-area network (Internet) bandwidth increases, offsite/online backups are becoming more and more feasible. Data deduplication and image management software technologies mean that a company can have daily backups completely automated and available as far back as they want. Restoring a file or two from these backups is quick and easy. My company already supports several small businesses using this backup technology; as existing tape drives fail they are seldom being replaced with more tape hardware.

The downside of offsite/online backups is that bare-metal recovery of a failed system from those backups is still extremely time-consuming. Eventually the bandwidth will become available to make it viable; until then tape still seems to be the best option for bare-metal recovery.

Comment Re:Thank you, Presidents Reagan and Clinton. (Score 1) 236

You have to listen/read carefully what Clinton said. The popular press reported it as "I did not have sex with that woman -- Monica Lewinsky." I believe what he really said was "I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky."

Notice the subtle difference. In the second analysis, he is not referring to Ms. Lewinsky, but in fact addressing her. Which opens the question: then what woman did he not have sex with? Hillary? (I couldn't blame him for not.) Then from whence Chelsea?

Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982