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Comment: Overcollection (Score 2) 68

by Animats (#46791557) Attached to: How Nest and FitBit Might Spy On You For Cash

The trouble with these things is that they want to "phone home" too much. For energy conservation, Nest talks to a Nest, Inc. server and tells it too much. The info it needs (outside temp, power grid load status) is freely available from read-only web sites. (Given a ZIP code, the National Weather Service site will return info in XML.) But no, it has to talk to the "cloud" and give out personal information. That's totally unnecessary.

Comment: Re:do they have a progressive view? (Score 1) 280

by k8to (#46789313) Attached to: Detroit: America's Next Tech Boomtown

Communities and prevailing attitudes are pretty different.

And speaking as a gay person, I'm not very interested in the "gay communities". I'm interested in a place that I can live as an openly gay person without having to give a shit about it. Closest in the US to that is the Bay Area, definitely not Texas.

Comment: Teletype machines (Score 4, Interesting) 497

by Animats (#46789303) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

I have several Teletype machines from the 1926 to 1940 period. All are in good working order. They're completely repairable; it's possible to take one apart down to the individual parts and put it back together. But they're high-maintenance. There are several hundred oiling points on a Model 15 Teletype. There are things that have to be adjusted occasionally, and manuals and tools for doing that. Every few years, the entire machine has to be soaked in solvent to clean off excess oil, then relubricated and adjusted. This is the price of building a complex machine good for a century or more.

(The Model 33 of the minicomputer era is not one of the long-lived machines. This was by design. The Model 35 was the equivalent long-lived, high-maintenance product; the 33 required little mainenance but had a llimited life.)

Comment: Eliminating buffer overflows (Score 1) 208

by Animats (#46789181) Attached to: Bug Bounties Don't Help If Bugs Never Run Out

The problem is C. Programs in all the languages that understand array size, (Pascal, Modula, Ada, Go, Erlang, Eiffel, Haskell, and all the scripting languages) don't have buffer overflow problems.

It's not an overhead problem. That was solved decades ago; compilers can optimize out most subscript checks within inner loops.

I've proposed a way to retrofit array size info to C, but it's a big change to sell. There are many C programmers who think they're so good they don't need subscript checks. Experience demonstrates they are wrong.

Comment: IBM and SONY syndrome? (Score 3, Interesting) 73

by goombah99 (#46789149) Attached to: Samsung's Position On Tizen May Hurt Developer Recruitment

Long ago IBM split itself in to 7 internal subdivisions that could to a certain extent compete. At the time all of IBM's equipment ran on chips made by IBM for IBM products. The florida area sub-unit which didn't actually make any computers, put one together from intel chips. It was dubbed the PC. The OS was contracted out to some kids from Seattle.

Sony's products division is constantly at war with it's content division, leading to the constant hedging on content protection that defeats their products by using non-standard formats with DRM.

Perhaps Samsung, which is really a humungously diverse set of industries, just has different competing segments within itself. Each has a strategy that is aimed at competing with the other divisions strategy but has to be distinctly different due to the internal politics, just like IBM's PC did.

Its not s strategy to do everything, that's just the result.

Comment: missing the point? (Score 4, Insightful) 59

Traditionally, typeface designers have considered legibility and aesthetics in their work (in addition to typesetting limitations). Apparently those factors are optional now as well.

OK, these are interesting intellectual exercises. But don't try to sell them as examples of typeface design, because that's a creative discipline that goes beyond mathematical questions of "can it be done?"

Comment: Re:Heartbleed Hotel (Score 1) 145

by tepples (#46784413) Attached to: Vintage 1960s Era Film Shows IRS Defending Its Use of Computers
If I were making a Windows 8.1 video, it'd go like this:
  1. On the Start Screen, click Desktop.
  2. Open Internet Explorer.
  3. Go to ClassicShell.net.
  4. Download and install the Classic Shell application.
  5. Congratulations! You have upgraded to Windows 7.1. Now watch our Windows 7 video.

Yes, that's how important I think Classic Shell is: it goes on even before Firefox.

Comment: Re:Mercedes, BMW engineers are dimwits. (Score 1) 329

by Animats (#46783889) Attached to: Mercedes Pooh-Poohs Tesla, Says It Has "Limited Potential"

They saw diesel electric locomotives replace steam engines in just one decade in 1950s.

The reason was different. Diesels cost about 3x as much as steam locomotives pre-WWII. But by the 1950s, diesel engine manufacturing was a production line process and the price had come down.

The real advantage of diesel over steam was that steam locomotives are incredible maintenance-intensive. Here's daily maintenance. That's what had to be done every day, by a whole crew. That's just daily. Here's 120,000 mile maintenance, done about once a year for a road locomotive. This isn't an oil change; this is a full teardown, boiler replacement, and rebuild.

Electric cars don't have that big an edge over IC engines at this point.

Comment: Should we say hello? (Score 1) 215

by Animats (#46782353) Attached to: Kepler-186f: Most 'Earth-Like' Alien World Discovered

We could send radio signals that far, with the big dish at Arecibo. If they have intelligence, and radio, we can communicate with a 1000-year round trip time. Maybe we should transmit some of the proposed canned messages to other civilizations every month or so.

If there is other intelligent life out there, it looks like they're a very long way away. Too far to talk to round trip, even at light speed. None of the known extra-solar planets within a few light years look promising.

Comment: Re:Festo has been doing this for years. (Score 1) 36

by Animats (#46781831) Attached to: The Squishy Future of Robotics

Right. Traditional pneumatics is rather dumb - most of the time it's on/off, with air cylinders pushed up against hard limit stops. Positional control of pneumatic cylinders works fine, but it takes proportional valves, feedback sensors, and a fast control system. Until recently, industrial systems tended not to get that fancy.

I was interested in using pneumatics for running robots back in the 1990s, but the available proportional valves back then were big and expensive. One useful model of muscles is two opposed springs, and a double-ended pneumatic cylinder can do just that. You can change both position and stiffness, separately. You can simulate a spring, and recover energy. Someone did that at CWRU a decade ago, but the mechanics were clunky. Festo does that elegantly with their new kangaroo. Very nice mechanical engineering.

Shadow Robotics has a nice pneumatic robot hand. Shadow has been doing pneumatic flexible actuators for many years, but now they have good controllability.

When speculation has done its worst, two plus two still equals four. -- S. Johnson

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