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Comment: Re:Uh oh...Batman becomes real? (Score 1) 40 40

Turning smartphones into sonar devices to monitor movements. I'm torn between "this is really cool!" and "these people are so full of shit and just trying to publish something to get tenure!"

I wonder how they solve the problems of directional discrimination without multiple microphones? How can they tell what direction a response comes from, with only one mic?

They don't, and they don't need to. Think of the ultrasound motion sensors in car / room alarms: if you emit chirps inside a closed volume they'll bounce off everything solid, and the pattern received at any point depends on everything inside, so you'll know if something moves. If you can keep track of the changes, you know if it's moving rhythmically and at what rate. Using multiple frequencies makes it more sensitive to changes, roughly speaking.

And how do they intend to make this work on multiple phones, for that matter...with their vast differences in both microphone and speaker setups? I'm really skeptical of this.

They also talk about using ultrasonic frequencies...which I also doubt most phones can actually produce.

Again, no need. Put on some earplugs, or stick your head in a box, and you'll still recognize the beat of your favourite song in drastically altered acoustical conditions. The app is not measuring the transfer function to compare against some carefully calibrated curve, but the changes that tell it that something's moving, and with some smart processing it can tell apart your respiratory movements from the cat wandering in. A second person in the room might throw it off, though.

They also talk about using ultrasonic frequencies...which I also doubt most phones can actually produce.

This is the part that got me wondering. A cursory Google search gave me plots like this and this for the speaker and this one for the mic (yeah, condenser microphones have a pretty good range). So for this particular bit my answer is "feasible, and effectively inaudible if you're over 30".

Comment: Re:The statement (Score 1) 351 351

You may love it, but for others it is absolutely horrendous! The problem arises when you have an intranet, and wish to go to internal websites.

Um, I'm behind a proxy and apparently for single-word queries it launches a search ahead of time. Meanwhile:

  • * if the word resolves to a hostname, Firefox asks me "Did you mean to go to 'foo'? [Yes, take me to 'foo'] / [No, thanks].
    • - if I say Yes it sets = true and the prompt is suppressed the next time I enter this word.
    • - if I say No the prompt closes and I'm left at the search it already did. Nothing is changed.
  • * if it doesn't resolve, no prompt is shown (though the proxy might still process it since it will try to resolve the name on its own).

  It should wait for my answer before attempting a search. Queries with a whitespace before the/any "/" first result in a search because that can't possibly be a valid URL.

Time to check Bugzilla.

Comment: Re:The statement (Score 1) 351 351

The malformed URL would've resulted in an error otherwise, with more or less the same result. That's why I leave out the scheme bit and just give them host/path, or mail them the URL. Non-technical users don't care for URLs (or anything with a precise structure), and figuring out how people fail is part of the art of user support (:

Comment: Re:The statement (Score 1) 351 351

Pocket has been a popular Firefox add-on for a long time and...

Let's see if they were right about that. Most popular extensions

Adblock plus: 20 million users
Video downloadhelper: 5 million users
Firebug: 2 million users
Pocket: 257k users

It is pretty popular. That puts it on Page 4 of the list.

To be fair, they didn't say how popular. Maybe they just mean that it has been accepted as opposed to brought out-of-the-blue (it's just above YouTube Unblocker and the Reddit Enhancement Suite), but I get your point - it sounds a bit like marketspeak.

Comment: Re:The statement (Score 2) 351 351

Remind me, what did we lose along with the status bar? AFAIK everything either pops up as needed or was moved to the menu/toolbars.

I don't think interface changes or "bloat" are what slows down Firefox's adoption. I've used it since 1.x and I'm actually eager to see the search bar merged with the address bar, since I already do all my searches with engine keywords ("az" for Amazon, "/" for Google, "w" for Wikipedia though it's my default engine, etc...).

Comment: The statement (Score 4, Informative) 351 351

Quoth Mozilla from TFA:

Pocket has been a popular Firefox add-on for a long time and we’ve seen that users love to save interesting Web content to easily revisit it later, so it was an easy choice to offer Pocket as a service in Firefox and we’ve gotten lots of positive feedback about the integration from users.

All the code related to this integration within Firefox is open source and Pocket has licensed all the Firefox integration code under the MPLv2 license. On top of that, Pocket asked Mozilla for input on how to improve their policy, based on early comments from Mozillians. After that discussion, Pocket updated their privacy policy in early May to explain more precisely how they handle data. You can read Pocket’s privacy policy here.

Directly integrating Pocket into the browser was a choice we made to provide this feature to our users in the best way possible. To disable Pocket, you can remove it from your toolbar or menu. If Pocket is removed from the toolbar or menu, then the feature is effectively disabled, though you can still find it again by accessing it in the Customize Panel. You can find detailed instructions here.

The "removal instructions" are just to drag the button out of sight, but the bug report asking for actual removal, quoth Manish Goregaokar [:manishearth]:

Pocket is just a bunch of API calls. Firefox UI code is lazy loaded. Put those two together, and yes, Pocket code is effectively "disabled". It will cause no extra baggage until viewed.

Comment: Re:How to read f*ucked up code (Score 1) 336 336

Degrees of damage. Hell, it's the oldest joke in the programmer's book:

C: You shoot yourself in the foot.

C++: You accidently create a dozen instances of yourself and shoot them all in the foot. Providing emergency medical assistance is impossible since you can't tell which are bitwise copies and which are just pointing at others and saying "That's me, over there."

Comment: Re:Answer (Score 1) 336 336

1. Would you complain if this was an "Ask Slashdot", or taken from a respected programmer's blog? Does the name behind the thing matter that much?
2. Slashdot is now owned by Dice. The Golden Rule says the one with the gold makes the rules. You're free to seek greener pastures or linger on.


A 2-Year-Old Has Become the Youngest Person Ever To Be Cryonically Frozen 313 313

merbs writes: After losing a long battle with brain cancer, 2-year-old Matheryn Naovaratpong became the first minor ever to be cryogenically frozen. This article is the story of how a Thai girl was frozen in Bangkok and shipped to Arizona to have her brain preserved in liquid nitrogen, while medical science works on a cure. "Typically we’d move the head from the trunk of the body. We didn't know what their reaction would be from the family, the mortuary, from border officials; this has to go through a number of shipping venues, customs, the TSA and so on. To see a frozen head in a box might have raised a number of red flags. In the U.S. that’s not a big deal, but there, they may not be accustomed."

Much of the excitement we get out of our work is that we don't really know what we are doing. -- E. Dijkstra