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Comment: Re:You no longer own a car (Score 1) 649

by cwsumner (#49521017) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

Well, somebody needs to play Devil's Advocate here, so I will. What if onboard vehicle computers truthfully are (or soon will become) so complicated - and so integral to the functioning of the vehicle - that an untrained hobbyist screwing with it could cause injury or death? ...

As if that were not already true for the cars before they used computers!

There is no more reason to have such a law now, that there was before.

Besides, read the report on the Toyota car computer system that was locking the throttle. I myself could do better than that!
(Of course, I'm an engineer... )

Comment: Re:thank God they didn't have computers.... (Score 1) 629

by cwsumner (#49478537) Attached to: Florida Teen Charged With Felony Hacking For Changing Desktop Wallpaper

The idea of protecting everyone all of the time is often the "wedge" that is used to start the totalitarian states.

Can you name one where this was true? In Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and China, political control and ideological purity were the motivation and the wedge.

There was also the idea that the police control was acceptable because they would protect everyone, and that was "why" they needed extrodinary powers. No government comes into control without some reason to placate the people, unless it is a foreign invasion. And some times even then. After all, the people outnumber the government "want-to-be's".

Comment: Re:Booby traps? (Score 1) 91

by cwsumner (#49473481) Attached to: Killer Robots In Plato's Cave

If I booby trap my house to kill intruders, is that autonomous?

The Engineer's answer is yes, most certainly!
It is a "horrible example" of everything that is dangerous about autonomous weapons, to the extent of having no target recognition at all.

That opens the question: Do the existing laws banning mines, in at least some areas, also ban robot weapons?
I would think so...

Comment: Re:thank God they didn't have computers.... (Score 1) 629

There are places where the Police are tasked with protecting everyone, they are technically called "Police States".

Police state is a term denoting government that exercises power arbitrarily through the police. There has never been such a state, which tasked its police with "protecting everyone."

That is the popular meaning, but keep in mind that wikipedia is neither complete nor always accurate. (After all, it is on the Internet!) 8-)

The idea of protecting everyone all of the time is often the "wedge" that is used to start the totalitarian states. It is an excuse, of course. At least for some of those proposing it. But countries would not be "suckered into" such things if they did not think they were gaining something benificial.

I was going by the "technical" meaning of the term.

Comment: Regular Harddrive (Score 1) 445

The short and easy answer is a regular harddrive. The magnetic patterns will usually survive, even if the electronics do not. There are recovery services that can get the data back, who you don't have to pay unless there is a fire.

But of course the best answer is "off site", like they said. Just putting a flash drive in your car might be enough, although not as secure from theft.

A lot depends on what you concern is. Like which is more important, recovering the data or securing it from theft? What locations can you have reliable access to? How often do you need to refresh it?

Also, how long does it have to last? If that is a long time, many types of media will be obsolete and not readable on new computers. In that case you might have to also store a computer with it, or at least the necessary drive.

Comment: Re:Climate change is not the point -- indeed (Score 1) 281

by cwsumner (#49463947) Attached to: The Myth of Going Off the Power Grid

Here in Ontario we have a government obsessed with deploying wind turbines despite the fairly obvious fact that the intermittent winds here almost totally mismatch the power demand curve. ...

Laws like that are because Engineers are far too smart to run for political office. Same for all countries, I think.

Comment: Re:This is about another kind of power (Score 1) 281

by cwsumner (#49463895) Attached to: The Myth of Going Off the Power Grid

Governments would hate for everyone to be self sufficient as it takes away their ability to control our lives. Their ultimate wet dream is the iWatch that will zap you if you don't behave appropriately. Expect any tech that allows cutting the power line completely to your house to be scuttled for as long as possible.

That's actually at least somewhat true. Some people are convinced that they could successfully control the world. (They are wrong and it can be proved mathemetically, of course.)

But it is not that governments are that way. It is that any large concentration of power attracts people like that. Including governments, but also other large organizations, even some charities.

Comment: Re:powering house with PV (Score 1) 281

by cwsumner (#49463839) Attached to: The Myth of Going Off the Power Grid

None the less our electric bill is down at least 80% from pre-PV days.

Does that include the cost of the system?

Probably not.

The cost of installation should be calculated here as though the money was borrowed from a bank and paid off each month. Then add that payment to the other monthly payments to get a comparison value per month.

This would automatically include the "alternative cost", of not being able to use the money for something else. At least as an "average" value on the money market. (Of course the value to you would be different, depending on your situation.)

Comment: Re:Going off the grid completeletly is stupid (Score 1) 281

by cwsumner (#49463703) Attached to: The Myth of Going Off the Power Grid

Normal watt-hour meters will run backwards, and always have. But the power company can not afford to do that very much, so they will put in a dual meter if it happens a lot on your line.

That means that if your meter runs backwards when you generate, they probably have just not noticed yet!

Comment: Re:Energy storage in the grid is 100% efficient! (Score 1) 281

by cwsumner (#49463387) Attached to: The Myth of Going Off the Power Grid

Those calculations do not factor-in utility companies that will screw you over if you're attempting to do home-solar or other local power generation. ...

That's true. Some of the power companies are paying way too little for the power you put back.

But don't expect the power company to buy your power at the exact same rate that they sell it. Even if they had no profit, they still need to make enough to maintain the grid it's self. And if you are using the grid instead of a battery, then you are "consuming" a benefit.

Comment: Re:thank God they didn't have computers.... (Score 1) 629

See Good Samaritan law

What's funny about these is that many of them coexist with legal precedent establishing that the police have no duty to protect citizens. So in New York for example, cops have no requirement to interfere, but ordinary citizens can be guilty of a crime if they do not.

I have never heard of a requirement that bystanders interfere. But it is quite true that the Police do not have any requirement to protect individual citizens. (Contrary to popular opinion!)

For one thing, in the US it is assumed that citizens can protect themselves, at least long enough for the Police to get there. For another, it is impractical because the Police would be sued after every crime and would have no time to protect anyone.

The actual job of the Police is to arrest criminals -after- the crime. Most Police try to protect people as best they can, but they can't be everywhere.

There are places where the Police are tasked with protecting everyone, they are technically called "Police States". And it is generally agreed around the world that no one really wants to live in a Police State.

Comment: Re:Perfect security (Score 1) 460

by cwsumner (#49430151) Attached to: Planes Without Pilots

It is easy to quantify. And the quantification is "4/5ths of commercial airplane accidents are caused by humans doing the wrong thing".

Or at least, the humans get blamed by the people that built the equipment.

If you don't trust someone who is physically on the airplane, what makes you think that you can trust someone two years ago in a different city, writing software! 8-P

There's no sense in being precise when you don't even know what you're talking about. -- John von Neumann

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