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Comment: This isn't about theft, it's about anonymity. (Score 2) 299

Or rather lack thereof.

It's law enforcement that's pushing so hard for these kill switches.

Right now I can walk into a T-Mobile store, buy an iPhone with cash, pay the first month with cash, and get a burner smartphone with a data plan. No ID, no name, no address, no credit check.

If this law is implemented, the ability to buy a smartphone anonymously goes away. You'll have to show an ID. For this law. How else will they know whether you're the person who can request that that phone be bricked?

This isn't about theft, the police don't give a shit about theft. If you don't believe that, try reporting one. This is about removing the anonymity of burner phones.

Comment: Re:Actually... (Score 1) 123

by bware (#47696403) Attached to: No, a Huge Asteroid Is Not "Set To Wipe Out Life On Earth In 2880"

If a doctor recommended surgery, and the mortality rate was 1 in 4000, I'd make damn sure the benefits outweighed the risk. And I'd update my will.

That's right in the ballpark for general anesthesia by itself. When I signed the release form, it said 1 in 2000, but then they knocked me out (yay, propofol), so my memory might be faulty :)

Relative risks of common events is something people are just not good at estimating.

Comment: Re:The utility/need/desire exists (Score 1) 107

by bware (#47673477) Attached to: Where are the Flying Cars? (Video; Part One of Two)

But outside the big cities, which comprise less than 2% of the land area of the US, there are lots of use cases for a flying car.

Unfortunately for flying car manufacturers, big cities are where most of the population lives, and where most of the wealth is concentrated. If most people in the US can't use them, and the rest can't afford them, market forces work against a flying car being affordable.

Comment: Re:Crazy Parakeet Man (Score 1) 259

by bware (#47610733) Attached to: The Man Who Invented the 26th Dimension

When the "get random nonsense published" prank war hit physics, it's no surprise it was a string theory journal that fell for it.

Are you referring to Sokal? http://www.physics.nyu.edu/sokal/transgress_v2/transgress_v2_singlefile.html/

That wasn't published in a string theory journal.

While I'm not the biggest fan of ST, I'm not aware of any prank publications in a refereed physics journal, and neither are the first three pages of a search.

Comment: Re:Ethical is irrelevant. (Score 1) 402

by bware (#46652067) Attached to: NASA Can't Ethically Send Astronauts On One-Way Missions To Deep Space

Not detracting from what the colonists did, but they knew that they only needed to pack enough food and water for the voyage and the settlement time, plus the knowledge they could breath was an additional bonus.

And they also didn't require many billions of dollars of taxpayer funding to support their one-way trip - they paid their own way.

If someone wants to build a rocket to Mars in their backyard using their own funding, then go ahead, and any ethical considerations are your own, with the caveat that local and federal prosecutors might have different opinions than yours.

That said, another analogy is that we don't allow institutions to perform medical experiments on people that will cause harm to them, even if they volunteer with full knowledge of the consequences. We, as a society, consider this to be immoral.

While I know that society often puts people in positions where harm might very well occur (test pilots, astronauts, medical procedures), the usual assumption is that every effort will be made to prevent harm. I'm struggling to discern how this is different.

It may be - it's just with two minutes thought, I'm not able to articulate why it's ok to kill an astronaut on a one-way mission and it isn't to kill a person in a medical experiment that might well save lives. Because in the latter case, it's definitely something society has decided not to allow.

Comment: Re:Hack it to add American names like "John Smith" (Score 1) 286

by bware (#46605639) Attached to: One Person Successfully Removed From US No-Fly List

you can bet they have to notify the people who maintain the no-fly list.

I would not bet that - the FBI couldn't find me once when it was a simple matter of looking up my name in a phonebook, back when those were still a thing. As I said, incompetence and stupidity abound, as they do in any bureacratic organization.

I wouldn't be surprised to find out that legal name changes are (or are not) monitored by TLAs - either way. But I wouldn't bet the success of my plan to take over the world on the lack of it.

 

Comment: Re:Hack it to add American names like "John Smith" (Score 1) 286

by bware (#46605141) Attached to: One Person Successfully Removed From US No-Fly List

Since 2003, it is not so easy to change your name anymore. While in the US, for the most part, you can simply use any name you want, if you want a new passport, you'll have to go before a judge and it's going to cost you about a grand.

Having dealt with various TLAs, it's not difficult for me to believe that they don't have any monitoring system in place for this - incompetence, ignorance, and stupidity abound. On other hand, if I had evil intent in mind and didn't want to get caught, I don't think I'd want to risk triggering this. Far easier to use a mispelled version of your name...

Comment: Re:Resonant Detector (Score 2) 70

by bware (#46487427) Attached to: The Earth As a Gravitational Wave Detector

'95-ish? That's the first meeting I remember where there was a realistic attempt to propose something to NASA. I don't think there wasn't much research funding before that. Not that long a history.

Mostly the cost estimates have gone up, especially after the scrutiny brought by JWST overruns brought more honest costing. It was always going to be a flagship mission. We could debate whether eLISA is actually going to save that much money over the combined US/ESA LISA proposed in Astro2010, which we cast as the sweet spot of science per dollar.

And as far as eLISA and 2034, well, I ain't holding my breath for funding profiles that far in the future. Actuarially, it's unlikely that it'll fly in my lifetime (scientifically, and otherwise). So for me, not better than nothing.

Comment: Re:Resonant Detector (Score 2) 70

by bware (#46485969) Attached to: The Earth As a Gravitational Wave Detector

[...] note that it is at a frequency where there are not a lot of expected sources

There are sources in that range, thus LISA. Galactic black holes merging, inspirals of stellar mass objects by galactic black holes.

LISA was a high pick in the DOA Astro2010 Decadal, now sacrificed on the altar of HSF and JWST.

Comment: Re:Lego Mindstorms (Score 1) 876

by bware (#46194497) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code?

We do this as well, with Simulink/Matlab, and LabVIEW. Yeah, it would be great if we all knew VHDL, but then we'd be VHDL programmers, not scientists.

We get things working and tested with (very expensive - trading time for money) hardware in LabVIEW, come up with a Simulink model that matches the LabVIEW, then hand it off to a VHDL guy who generates the FPGA code from that. It would be nice if LabVIEW generated usable VHDL but it doesn't. But it's also nice to have a model to play with, and LabVIEW is better at hardware, Simulink better at modeling.

Even so, it's been a bit of a problem getting the final VHDL FPGA to exactly match the results of the tested hardware-in-the-loop LabVIEW and Simulink simulations. Fencepost errors, quantization mismatches, etc.

If we had just handed the requirements to a VHDL person, maybe we'd have something that worked [1], but that person would have been the only one who understood it or been able to experiment with it. This way, ten scientists have been able to use, change, model, and eyeball the algorithms, and see the results, without any of them having to learn VHDL.

[1] maybe not. We tried that experiment, and it almost worked, but the programmer who wrote it moved on to another project before it was debugged, and we were left with code that no one else wanted to start with.

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