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Comment: Ewww...train your cats... (Score 3, Insightful) 188

by bradley13 (#48658899) Attached to: An Automated Cat Litter Box With DRM

On a related note, he notes that the cat litter sticks to his cats paws, and he really dislikes finding cat litter particles on his kitchen counters, tables, chopping boards, etc.

Ewww... Why don't people train their cats properly. It's not hard. My cats do not enter the kitchen, and all tables are also off limits. Teach them the rules when they are kittens. Afterwards, maybe once every year or two, you'll need to remind them that the rules haven't changed.

How to train? You just let them understand that there is a really odd law of nature: going in the kitchen or hopping on a table causes them to get wet. Squirt gun, pans of water set back from the table edge, whatever. Don't yell or anything - you don't want them to associate the water with you, but with the location they tried to go. Easy, and well worth it...

Comment: Commerce clause abuse (Score 5, Informative) 482

by bradley13 (#48632711) Attached to: Colorado Sued By Neighboring States Over Legal Pot

The stupid thing is: it may well work. The federal government regularly twists the Commerce Clause beyond all recognition. The most egregious case, the one that really set the ball rolling, was the one where the federal government claimed the right to regulate farmers feeding their own grain to their own livestock. Why? Because that meant that they bought less grain from elsewhere, some of which might, potentially come from out of state. Hence, the Commerce Clause allowed the regulation.

Given that sort of precedent, the federal government can justify essentially any regulation that it wants. Certainly including telling Colorado that it's state-wide laws are invalid, because they happen to indirectly affect neighboring states.

Comment: Not /. - that's TFA and science journalism (Score 1) 82

by bradley13 (#48616071) Attached to: Spacecraft Spots Probable Waves On Titan's Seas

That idiotic quote comes straight from TFA. It amply demonstrates the quality of what passes for "science journalism". In this case, not only the author, but also the editors of ScienceMag give the impression that they think methane is some weird form of water.

Actually, the author not only thinks that methane is water, he simultaneously thinks that it is oil, because he also writes that one of the methane seas "could contain 55 times Earth's oil reserves". Alternatively, he may be mixing information from unrelated theories: previously, the absence of waves was taken to indicate that the seas were viscous, containing heavier hydrocarbons. Reality could be somewhere between the two extremes.

Regardless, TFA is poor journalism, bringing more confusion than enlightenment to the average reader...

Comment: Move away from /. (Score -1, Troll) 190

by bradley13 (#48602805) Attached to: Why Didn't Sidecar's Flex Pricing Work?

I still visit /. occasionally. The last two times, it was to find a Bennett Haselton article. Just to add fuel to the fire: have you read Bennett's Wikipedia page? I do believe he wrote it his very own self.

I think I'm going to stick to Soylent in the future...bye bye again, /., it wasn't nice coming back...

Comment: Currently impossible to stop (Score 2) 160

by bradley13 (#48599781) Attached to: How Identifiable Are You On the Web?

As others have noted, the EFF Panopticlick is the better service.

I just spent far too much time playing around with this, on an extended lunch break. I note the following things:

- You had better disable explicit tracking services (Ghostery), or it all doesn't matter anyway.

- Fonts are a big factor. Fonts are identified through Flash. There is a configuration file "mms.cfg" that can disable this. The location of this file depends on your operating system and on your browser - it took me a good half-hour to find it for my particular configuration.

- However, even after disabling fonts, and even using a "user-agent switcher" to look like a Windows/Chrome combination (instead of Linux/Chrome), I was still uniquely identifiable. The biggest factor were my language preferences, the list of plugins, and the precise browser version. Refusing to report system fonts was also pretty important :-/

In short, there's not much way around it - if you include other information available, like your IP address, you will be uniquely identifiable, and trackable across websites.

What is missing from this picture: Browsers provide an "incognito" mode. This mode needs to be extended to provide only absolutely essential information to the server. The server needs to know roughly what level of standards support you have (e.g., "Mozilla/5.0"), and what language to send content in (one language, not a list with weights). Everything else could be omitted, and virtually all websites would work perfectly.

Go a step farther and disable JavaScript in incognito mode, to prevent explicit sniffing. That will disable more websites, but if those sites start losing traffic, they'll offer versions that don't require JS.

Comment: Win hearts and minds (Score 4, Interesting) 295

by bradley13 (#48595585) Attached to: French Cabbies Say They'll Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber

Oh, yes, causing massive traffic snarls is a sure way to with the hearts and minds of the public. Reminds me of the German train drivers who keep striking, not for more money or better working conditions, but because their union bosses are at risk of losing their negotiating power to a larger union. Makes everybody in German just love the train drivers.

Paris taxis charge to just come and pick you up. Get in the car, and find that the meter has already been running from wherever the driver let off his last fare. Given a new competitor, the taxi drivers could always compete by offering better service, or lower rates, or more reliability, or... Nah.

Comment: Dark matter and the sniff test (Score 3, Insightful) 85

by bradley13 (#48588323) Attached to: Deflating Claims That ESA Craft Has Spotted Dark Matter

I'm just a lowly engineer, but for me "dark matter" has never passed the sniff test. It's a kludge factor thrown in to make equations balance. And a kludge factor so huge that "dark matter" is supposed to outweigh all of the observable matter in the entire universe. The only reason this doesn't sound ridiculous is because we've been hearing it for so long.

If you need a kludge factor that big, it is far more likely that the equations are wrong.

There are other possible explanations. For example, if the speed of light were a function of space and time, then the situation changes completely. All observations of the distant/ancient universe are suddenly thrown into question; the interactions within that distant/ancient universe were also different from what we see locally, today. This particular theory (variability of C) is one that crops up periodically, most recently in 2013. It is difficult to prove, but really, it's no more unlikely than the existence of huge amounts of dark matter that stubbornly refuse to interact with the known universe.

Comment: Personal consequences (Score 4, Interesting) 515

by bradley13 (#48581319) Attached to: Once Again, Baltimore Police Arrest a Person For Recording Them

Move to a malpractice system, like doctors have. Make individual officers personally liable for their own behavior. They carry professional liability insurance, and can be sued if they do something egregiously stupid. Screw up enough, and no insurance company will cover them. Changing jurisdictions won't help, because the insurance companies will be sure to trade information.

Comment: One more step towards a police state (Score 1) 379

And the US takes one more step down the slippery slope. At the bottom lies a police state.

Aside from a few nerds and right-wing blogs, no one noticed. Interestingly, this information is nowhere to be found on mainstream media sites. Why is that, I wonder? Maybe all those conspiracy theorists have a point.

On Swiss TV last night they showed an interview with some of the USAF people flying drones. Surreal: sit down at your joystick, , drop a hellfire missile on a vehicle, go home to the kids. The fact that some debatable-but-large portion of the drone targets are misidentified? The Captain playing the video game really, really didn't want to discuss that. He just shoots what he's told to shoot.

Sad to see - the once great bastion of freedom now tortures prisoners, kills civilians by remote control, and now freely spies on its own citizen's communications. It may be time for y'all to abandon the sinking ship.

Comment: The return of Cthulhu might be really bad... (Score 2, Insightful) 329

by bradley13 (#48564639) Attached to: Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

For those interested, this appears to be the paper. The paper itself is paywalled; you can look at the supplementary material, which includes the diagrams. Oddly, the paper does not seem to be online at the university, even though other papers by the various authors are. Why do I know this? Because I wanted to see the temperature data that they used, so I went hunting.

The paper implies that the temperature data is very noisy, but that they were able to extract a signal anyway. The raw data should be provided in the supplementary material, so that people could attempt to replicate/verify this essential finding. Of course, the raw data are no where to be found. So we have no way to check.

Personally, I'm tired of "science" like this. If you're going to make a claim, put your damn data out there where anyone can see it. Raw data, a clear description of how you processed it, program code if you wrote a program. Otherwise, you're no better than the astrologist pontificating about the influence of Venus on your dog's love life.

Comment: Ah, auto dealer politics (Score 1) 137

by bradley13 (#48545659) Attached to: Tesla Wants Texas Auto Sales Regulations Loosened

I had a friend years ago whose family owned a dealership in Texas. More cutthroat politics are hard to imagine: among the dealerships, the car manufacturers and the government (local and state), some of it pretty clearly out-and-out corruption. Just as an example, they built a new showroom, but the building kept failing some inspection or other. The inspector would write up faults, they would fix them, he would write up new faults...eventually he lost patience and let it be known that the real problem was that he hadn't yet found a blank envelope filled with cash.

This is yet another industry deserving of some serious deregulation. There's no better way to put corrupt bureaucrats out of business.

Comment: With lots of dark meat? (Score 1) 189

by bradley13 (#48484417) Attached to: I prefer my turkey ...

Modern turkeys, like modern chickens, have been bred to have a huge amount of tasteless, white breast meat. This is in the mistaken belief that fats in meat are somehow bad for you. This has gone unquestions since by childhood (to many decades ago); only in the last few years have researchers started actually testing the common knowledge, and they are discovering that it is largely nonsense.

Last time I bought chicken, I specifically bought whole legs, no breast meat. Roast with the skin on, eat skin and meat together, yum! Last time my wife made chicken soup, she also skipped the breast meat, because it's basically tasteless. Her soup actually tasted of chicken, instead of some anonymous vegetable broth.

So - if I were to eat a turkey, it would be the dark-meat pieces...

Comment: Barbarians inside the gates (Score 1) 1128

by bradley13 (#48455473) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

Obviously, none of us have access to all of the information available to the grand jury. I am also quite sure that they were aware of the gravity of the decision they made. It is a reasonable assumption that they made their decision very carefully.

But - here's the big news - even if the grand jury screwed up, we see the existence of a barbaric sub-culture that thinks the right response rioting and looting. The barbarians are inside the gates.

You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred. -- Superchicken