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Comment: Not mundane (Score 1, Insightful) 184

by dutchwhizzman (#46738217) Attached to: The Case For a Safer Smartphone

Driving is not a mundane task. As long as people treat it like that, they will be donating organs and keeping the car body repair industry blooming. Even if we're not using a phone, having a conversation is so distracting that the intense task of keeping a lump of metal hurling along at speeds our brain never was meant to comprehend is severely compromised and chances of an error potentially resulting in a crash are increased close to the same amount as when we're on the phone. Holding the device isn't going to matter much, we're just as screwed if we're concentrating on a passenger or trying to comprehend the squeaking of a hands free kit.

Perceived danger is key here. We tend to think there is no danger in doing this, because none of our senses alert us of anything (possibly) going wrong. Make the seat belts pop loose, let a spike appear from the steering wheel and make the car rumble if drivers appear distracted. That will make them aware they are crossing a line that quickly leads to a situation they can in no way react to in time, if they notice it at all before they have an accident. Their sense of danger will be triggered and they will avoid getting to that point in the future, or or ignore it and become another statistic.

Comment: Now replace "deaf culture" in your text (Score 3, Insightful) 509

by dutchwhizzman (#46711833) Attached to: How Cochlear Implants Are Being Blamed For Killing Deaf Culture

Put any sectarian culture in place of "deaf culture" and it would apply just as much. The anger isn't aimed at deaf people (a common misconception amongst deaf people) but against the separatist deaf culture that this group tends to practice against the rest of the population. Being part of society is a verb, it's called "participating" and it requires you to actively engage with others. If deaf people want to be accepted, they have to participate and not choose their own culture at the expense of being isolated. Any time this sort of choice is made, it is a clear sign of dangerous sectarian behavior and it is almost always damaging to those inside the culture.

I understand that there is certain humor that will get lost in translation and the way deaf people use other senses to compensate for their lack of hearing and it would be nice of those could be preserved. If the price for that preservation would be to withhold a minor from medical care that could enable them to be part of a hearing society, I think the parents should lose custody and the child should get proper medical care. "Special" does not always mean better, you wouldn't operate on a hearing child to make it deaf, just so it would better be able to communicate with it's deaf parents, would you? The decision to operate or not should never be about the parents culture, but about giving your child the best chances it will have in a world were the vast majority of people is able to hear one way or the other.

Comment: not anymore (Score 2) 71

by dutchwhizzman (#46711777) Attached to: The Amoeba That Eats Human Intestines, Cell By Cell
Malaria and dengue are on the rise again. Humans have created so many opportunities in their own landfills and housing (a single old car tire is enough) that these mosquitoes dont go away if you drain a swamp. We are also rather good at helping these animals spread, since every continent not Antarctica now has both species carrying the disease roaming in the wild because we let them ride along with our goods. As far as killing them goes, they have proven to be able to mutate such that common `environmentally friendly pesticides no longer work and we have to resort to really nasty stuff to sufficiently kill an outbreak. So, statistically, you dont treat malaria or dengue but you try to avoid it, contain the spread and fight the symptoms if you happen to get ill from it.

Comment: Even better, tax it (Score 1) 342

by dutchwhizzman (#46685437) Attached to: Australia May 'Pause' Trades To Tackle High-Frequency Trading

Put a tax on fast trading, but don't outlaw it. If you want to trade within a second, you pay a 50% profit tax. Trade within a day, 40%, trade within a week, 30%. If you lose at all, not matter how long you're holding on to stock, you don't get to subtract that from your profits. If something happens, you're free to trade, but you have to pay taxes regardless if you make a profit on the deal. If you want to cut your losses, you're tax free since you're losing on the deal. See it as a gambling tax, since either you have insider knowledge, you are manipulating the market, or you were gambling if you can consistently make money on HFT. Because providing legally accepted proof of any of these is hard, just tax it as gambling. Any proof that it's not gambling will automatically be proof of one of the others, which are illegal.

People say this won't work unless it's introduced globally, but I think that's not going to be the case. Sure, HF traders will hate it, but the companies that are actually putting up their shares will be happy to oblige and still register their stock at exchanges that will have this sort of taxes implemented. People that are actually interested in investing in a company will not mind either, since they have faith in the company and won't have to deal with market whims and price manipulations as much. Finally, the really good traders will find a way to still make money out of this, but they will have to actually look at the economy and what companies are doing, instead of whatever else they are doing now.

Comment: Fukushima is an example of human failure (Score 2) 152

As we know now, even without the tsunami Fukushima would be a large nuclear disaster, since at least one reactor is cracked and leaking contaminated radioactive water into the ground water table. Also, that "freak tsunami" actually is statistically happening every thousand years or so, so the chance that it would happen in the life time of a facility, say 50 years, is about 5% or to put that in perspective: "so likely that you'd have to be an idiot not to design for it". So much for a perfect design, but that's not what I wanted to comment about.

Fukushima is an example of how big humans tend to mess up "perfect" designs, plans and safety regulations. The amount of failures, attempts at cover ups, corruption and other human behaviour that has lead to the giant mess Fukushima is currently is evidence that humans are incapable of safely operating even the most safe design of nuclear reactor. Almost all nuclear accidents we've had in the past 100 years were caused by human action, not by design flaws. Until we've designed a better human that doesn't have these flaws, we will have risks operating nuclear facilities.
Whether that is a reason not to go nuclear is a matter of debate, but don't assume that designing safer facilities will help a lot in preventing accidents from happening. Sooner or later some idiot will do something stupid, most likely a group of idiots will do multiple stupid things and we'll have another incident to deal with. Right now we have a fire in a storage facility that couldn't have happened if multiple safety regulations weren't violated, but it happened anyway. The more safe you build something, the more careless people are going to be. Who would have thought that they would simply shut off fire alarms and automatic extinguishing equipment? Who would have thought they would run old unmaintained trucks that could spontaneously burst into flames inside a confined space like a salt mine filled with highly dangerous plutonium? People do that sort of incredibly stupid things because they are humans. Even fully automating the place isn't going to work, since the automated stuff still needs maintenance and sooner or later, humans will be involved and mess it up.

Comment: Won't work with false ownership claims (Score 1) 306

As asked correctly by the parent poster, how would that work in false ownership claims? I'd say they'd have to pay for the production of said item to the party that they wronged by their claim, since putting the production in public domain would only hurt the actual owner. Make false claims hurt so much that people will think twice before submitting one.

Comment: focus time, night vision and depth vision (Score 1) 496

by dutchwhizzman (#46646601) Attached to: Will Cameras Replace Sideview Mirrors On Cars In 2018?

Using a screen less than 3 feet away from your eyes to "glance" on will make your eyes change focus to "close range". Especially people over 35 will need significant time to readjust their focus on that screen and then back on the road in front of them. Traditional mirrors let you focus on more or less the same distance behind you as they are focused in front of you. This will in practice cost you about half a second of time more to look at the screen compared to a mirror, older people even more. Time you could spend hitting the brakes because something in front of you happened while you were looking at the rear view mirror. This is one of the reasons why looking at your phone while driving is much more dangerous than looking at something outside the car. Yes, manufacturers could put a lens in front of the screen so your eyes wouldn't have to adjust focus, but unfortunately that won't work since the distance to the object is also determined by the amount you have to cross your eyes to get a single image, so it will take more time to watch the screen still and you will get tired because of the unnatural combination of eye cross and distance.

A screen plus camera with "retina" resolution and enough contrast and brightness to not blind you at night and still give you enough brightness on a sunny summer day will cost thousands of dollars now in OEM contracts of millions of units at best. The best military airplane stuff you can buy right now in camera equipment might be good enough (they are classified, so it's hard to make a guess). The best available Professional HD TV cameras just don't have the night vision and require neutral density filters to dim them, so at least commercially, the technology just isn't available for purchase yet. Chances that cameras get the dynamic range and at a price where it's useful to replace a mirror on a car in 4 years are extremely small. Screens are better in that regard, with OLED technology we get the resolution and won't blind ourselves at night, but sunny day brightness is still way behind.

Humans have 3D vision and even use that in looking in their side mirrors in their cars. With current 3D technology in screens, we can't really do that without wearing special glasses and even then, it's only working if we don't move our head or eyes. The nature of driving a car is that you move your head and eyes a lot, so unless they come up with a new technology, it won't be a proper replacement for our current biological 3D capabilities.

Comment: It's not just about the latest technology (Score 1) 160

by dutchwhizzman (#46631803) Attached to: Apple Patent Could Herald Interchangeable iPhone Camera Lenses

It is true that sensors in top of the line phones get the latest technology. However, they also get low budget versions of that technology and they *are* tiny compared to full frame and medium format cameras.

One of the reasons people still use those bigger sensors is that the quality of the lens system used is less critical to prevent distortion if your sensor is bigger. If you use a 4*3 meter sensor (your wall) you can get amazing pictures with just a tiny hole in the curtains, you can do away with a lens completely. This scales up and down, so the more area, the better the image quality given the same quality of lens.
Also you can get a much better control over depth of field with larger sensors. If you have a larger aperture you get a more shallow depth of field, giving you the option to blur the back and foreground. Aperture sizes larger than your sensor aren't effective any more, so tiny sensors can only go so far when it comes to shallow DOF.
Lastly the "compression" of your subject (how big their nose is if you get closer to their face to fill the frame) gives more natural looks if you use bigger sensors. The same sort of physics apply here. Bigger sensors equal bigger focal lengths of the lenses to get the entire sensor exposed properly with the same composition. That means that you get less of a fish eye effect and people in general look more pleasing when photographed with a bigger sensor style camera.

Apart from all these reasons, I despise smart phone cameras because they aren't instant ready and I haven't found one phone+app that will let me control things like focus points, ISO sensitivity, white balance and such. Maybe they are out there, but they must be in telephones that cost way more than a much better dedicated camera so I have never looked at them. Horrible ergonomics make even the best sensor and lens totally useless for anything but casual snap shots. Given the same price, I'd rather have a decent camera with an older generation sensor and lens than the latest smart phone with a horrible user interface and the typical 300+ ms lag between grabbing the device and being able to take a picture.

Comment: Maximal advantage 13 - 15 in practice much lower (Score 1) 518

by dutchwhizzman (#46629401) Attached to: Department of Transportation Makes Rear View Cameras Mandatory

Given the enormous amount of people dying from car related accidents, 13 - 15 is a statistically insignificant number of deaths and injuries prevented already. The actual number that it will achieve is probably lower, since people already have plenty of options to check what and who is behind their vehicle before backing up. Having a rear view camera and a screen isn't going to help a lot here, since people will mostly ignore that just as much as their rear view mirrors and their surroundings as they are approaching the car before getting in.

Yearly health and driving capability tests will each give a much better result than mandating a rear view camera. Trying to get that sort of regulation passed in Washington however is not going to happen, since it will interfere with the "freedom" of people and it might get half of the senate's licenses revoked.

Comment: Small market, won't matter (Score 2, Insightful) 518

by dutchwhizzman (#46629349) Attached to: Department of Transportation Makes Rear View Cameras Mandatory
Given the amount of options we have already of not having to drive ourselves to get anywhere, people will not be using the self driving feature for most of the time. That gives the self driving feature on cars a very small market since the price of a vehicle with self driving capability will be much higher than the equivalent vehicle that doesn't have the option. The safety advance we will see in practice from self driving cars will be rather insignificant the first few years the technology is available at least and unless mandated to be switched on permanently, it will take many years before a significant number of drivers will have it on their cars and using it.

Comment: Re:Cool but expensive (Score 1) 92

While the price point is obviously not as good as the Dell, the Dell only works with windows 8.1 and has almost zero IO capabilities. Yes, the hardware is still more expensive than it should be, but at least it's useful and getting closer to raspberry pi territory than the first generation.

Comment: Don't attribute to malice (Score 1) 357

by dutchwhizzman (#46618985) Attached to: An Engineer's Eureka Moment With a GM Flaw

Don't attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity. Just because a design was improved does not mean that anyone involved in the redesign would be aware that a safety risk was present. Maybe other people in other parts of the chain were aware, but it could very well be that they have never been aware that an improved part was being made. The part number wasn't changed, so how would they have been made aware?

It takes more than a (too) easy to operate switch for people to crash into things. They would have to actively turn the key while driving, or the massive amount of keys on their key chain would have to dangle in such a way that the ignition switches off. Both are quite commonly known things you shouldn't do. Maybe we could save lives if we put yet another warning in the owners manual that nobody ever reads?

Once the ignition switches off, you would still be able to steer the car, albeit without power steering if you happen to be one of those people that doesn't drive stick shift. You would be able to restart the car while driving, if you have a stick shift just turn the key back and it'd drive on. If you have an automatic, you may have to fiddle with the gear selector and turn the ignition switch to the starting position. This is at least as much a problem of automatic gear boxes as it is of an ignition switch, but I don't see a hundred million cars recalled because they have an auto gear box that turns the car into an uncontrollable hurdling lump of steel if you turn off the ignition while driving. As long as the key stays in the barrel, the steering won't lock up, it just may be harder to turn the wheel and the brakes might need more force to depress the pedal and stop the car if the engine wasn't running. This is known for over fifty years and it never has been a problem. Now all of a sudden people need to get sued because it may in certain circumstances be "too easy" for a driver to make this mistake?

Comment: brute force attack takes a minute or so (Score 1) 93

by dutchwhizzman (#46613685) Attached to: Security Evaluation of the Tesla Model S

If you have a botnet, you can have tens of thousands of computers do a log on attempt almost simultaneously. It'd take just a few days at full speed (tesla would notice) and a few weeks at moderate speed to get a significant amount of Tesla car accounts cracked. Once you have that, you can use the account details to find the exact location of those cars. At those numbers, the chance of finding one near you is actually high enough for thieves to be able to drive to one near by so they can unlock it and get it in their trailer. Once they have the car in their possession, they would probably find a way to hack it and give it a new identity or at least make it drivable.

The big limiting factor for this happening is the fact that Tesla is in control of the entire food chain for Tesla parts, maintenance and they have tracking data for every car at every moment in time. Cars that aren't in their system or that are reported stolen will simply not get serviced and their VIN and such will be in a database that will make it extremely hard for people to get those cars insured or get license plates.

The only market for stolen Tesla cars I can think of would be scrap metal and resale of the very expensive battery packs for other use, or countries where they don't really care about maintenance with stolen parts on stolen cars. You'd have to steal a bunch of cars, sell a few and take the rest apart as a parts donor for the stolen cars in order to make that business model work.

This limits the usefulness of hacking into Tesla cars at this moment, but once Teslas are found on every street corner and the thieves/hackers have found ways to fool the computers in the Tesla to believe stolen parts are genuine, you'll see a market for stolen cars and parts emerge and people will swap car identities and parts identities to make the vehicles and parts stolen legit again.

Tesla is learning the hard way themselves and obviously haven't had security people help design their "smart" network and web part. I think it's time they start working on designing version 2.0 for their whole system and do a design with security built in, starting from scratch. With the current user base and their total control of the sales and repair of the cars, they can get away with the current flaws in the system, but that will not last very long.

Comment: At an affordable price (Score 4, Informative) 449

by dutchwhizzman (#46613627) Attached to: WSJ: Prepare To Hang Up the Phone — Forever

The price of a land line as far as I know is capped so even remote locations will be able to afford one. Not only that, but I believe that almost every location should be able to get a land line at this price and telcos are mandated to provide that service.

If telcos want to go wireless, they are essentially talking about getting the "last mile" out of the equation. How they get (voice) data from and to the neighborhoods isn't mandated. This has already led to phone systems being out on the fritz when they are most needed, because phone companies decided to cheapskate on things like electrical power availability, line of sight and such. The telephone system has helped keep communications going for disaster areas throughout the last 100 years or so with varying amounts of success. Lets at least get them to do it properly if they are ever allowed to replace it so people can be certain it's affordable and it will work even in disaster circumstances when the reliability is required most.

It's later than you think, the joint Russian-American space mission has already begun.