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Comment: Re:Thai Tasting (Score 2) 68

by Rei (#48026993) Attached to: Robotic Taster Will Judge 'Real Thai Food'

While I personally see a device like this (sorry... ROBOT!) of rather limited use for testing prepared dishes, I can see great utility for it for testing ingredients. You could have a standardized, unambiguous way to rate the quality or at least properties of a given product, be it meat, fruit, vegetables, etc. I bet cultivar breeding programs in particular could really benefit from this - "Well, I was hoping that this new mango would be a huge innovation, but actually it's almost identical to a Keitt. Though to be fair its mouthfeel is somewhat like a Carrie, and it does have a small amount of a new novel aromatic compound..." Just a single mass produced sensor package that measures a wide range of different properties at once in a repeatable, universal manner. If such a thing could become widespread, I'd bet half of the "cultivars" out there would pretty much disappear, having been shown to be essentially identical to others.

Comment: Re:What about legitimate uses? (Score 2) 166

by fyngyrz (#48023753) Attached to: CEO of Spyware Maker Arrested For Enabling Stalkers

in newbamamerica, you have no rights or freedoms.

If you think even for a *second* that this would not have happened during the prior administrations, or that the majority of damage to your freedoms had not already been done prior to Obama's terms, you really should see someone about that brain tumor, because it's made you into a flaming idiot.

Comment: Obvious answer (Score 4, Insightful) 166

by fyngyrz (#48023699) Attached to: CEO of Spyware Maker Arrested For Enabling Stalkers

That'd be the American public you're asking about.

When congress decided to shove the PATRIOT act up everyone's colon, lubricated only by a healthy dose of TSA, all the American public did was enquire how far they should bend over. They're still bent over. The majority likes it that way. Because fear. Unreasonable, agit-prop and ignorance based fear.

Comment: Re:I dunno about LEDs, but CFLs don't last (Score 1) 585

by Rei (#48016707) Attached to: The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy

The EPA guidelines are in line with the level of risk: very, very little. If you want to cut your mercury exposure, don't stop using CFLs, stop eating seafood.

As for the Bridges case, you should read the Maine EPA's account. CFLs were new back then, and they had decided to use her case to learn more about what sort of advice they should give for dealing with broken bulbs. So they sent someone with a meter because they wanted to learn more, not because that's standard practice. The carpet was already intended for removal as part of a rennovation. They took readings all over the room. The only place with "high" levels was right where the bulb broke - not in the ambient air, not anywhere else on the carpet, not on the toys, not even under the carpet where it broke. I say "high" because even the levels right where it broke weren't actually high, just over Maine's long-term exposure guidelines (which is obviously not applicable to a temporary event). Moving the meter even six to eight inches away rom the breakage point dropped the levels way down. She was told that the bulb breakage was "of negligible health concern". However "the homeowner expressed particular nervousness about exposures to mercury even in low numbers", so they told her what she could do if it bothered her, one of which was calling a cleanup contractor. And of course any private cleanup contractor will charge you an utter fortune. The Maine EPA came back two days later after the story hit the news, before anything had been done in the house. The area where the bulb broke had dropped down below Maine's limit.

The case was ridiculously blown out of proportion.

Comment: Re:Unreliable sources (Score 1) 114

by fyngyrz (#48015971) Attached to: Yahoo Shuttering Its Web Directory

Google's page rank algorithm goes a long way to mitigate that by tracking how many links refer to a given site

No. Popularity is a horrible indicator of usefulness, and/or accuracy and/or value. A well curated directory, on the other hand, can be all wheat, no chaff. Unfortunately, no well-curated directory exists.

Comment: Re:It seems to me... (Score 2) 420

by fyngyrz (#48015849) Attached to: The Physics of Space Battles

Yes and no. Yes, right now, as far as we know. Hints otherwise, however, do exist. Further, apparently, space -- being nothing -- can expand and contract much faster than the speed of light (see most cosmological theories), and since the distance from here to there in astronomical terms is essentially created by space... it may be that the speed of light is constant, but the space it travels though, isn't.

Also, we may discover something else. I'm perfectly ok with not being certain; I think assigning absolute certainty to things is a losing game, frankly. In the interim, I enjoy a good story. What I think is a good story is, of course, colored by my opinions, just as everyone's is.

Comment: Re: It seems to me... (Score 1) 420

by fyngyrz (#48015811) Attached to: The Physics of Space Battles

The objection is that they would have been picked up while moving under also-moving cover.

Subtractive imaging shows both objects that are gone, and objects that are new. You just use the absolute value of the result.

Essentially, for a thresholded image, it's:

abs(1-0) = 1 // object has moved away between images
abs(0-1) = 1 // object has arrived between images
abs(1-1) = 0 // nothing has changed
abs(0-0) = 0 // nothing has changed

Image polarity, greyscale, color, bilevel and so on make it a little more complex, but only a little.

In English, if you absolute subtract two aligned images of the same region, everything that is the same goes to zero. Anything else shows up as a brighter spot. The bottom line is, you can't hide something moving unless a satellite imaging system can't see it at all. Not the case with large rocks, I'm afraid.

Comment: It seems to me... (Score 5, Interesting) 420

by fyngyrz (#48014809) Attached to: The Physics of Space Battles

If you're going to swallow the idea of FTL drives, tractor beams and shields -- among other things -- then it's not really that much of a stretch to swallow the idea of inertial control, too. Which would make such battles not resemble a game of asteroids at all.

As for sound, presuming your vehicle maintains atmospheric integrity, you'd hear anything that causes the the craft's atmosphere to be jolted into motion. Debris hitting your vehicle, the stress caused by a sealed compartment being ruptured, people screaming when they get fried, crushed or otherwise insulted as a consequence of direct or indirect battle damage or loss of, for instance, inertial damping, equipment failures and power supplies having problems. You would also hear something if a force field of any kind was imposed upon your vehicle in such a way as to deliver any kind of uncompensated-for energy in mechanically coupled framework(s) producing direct or indirect vibrations in the audio range. And furthermore , presuming a ship has sensors to detect things like the energy outputs of other vehicles as they maneuver, seems to me that converting that to audio as a handy sound cue/warning would be hardly any trick at all. Just as one example.

Likewise, perhaps *we* can't focus a laser today, but that's not an inherent limitation of lasers even by today's known physics, that's a limitation of our technology, so that objection is kind of dead on the doorstep, so to speak. Not that a visible future beam weapon is necessarily carrying its punch in the form of light anyway. Could be just a side effect, or an aiming aid. This is the future, we're talking an imaginary scenario resulting from science and technology we don't presently have and so may speculate upon (using current knowledge... pretty boring... we can barely get off the planet's surface, much less engage in space battles... that's why most SF has at least a few pure fantasy elements in it.)

And along the lines of what we accept and what we don't, if you are blase' about the idea of a magic camera floating around your space battle and instantly changing perspective from A to B to C, perhaps it's just a little bit silly to complain about, for instance, a whoosh, or what "lasers" can do. That's entirely outside of what might be realistic in terms of what the movies subjects are up to.

So yeah, it's ok to think, but don't let someone else do your thinking for you. If there are space battles as depicted in most SF(fantasy) movies, the rules as we know them right now have long since been trashed, so there doesn't really seem to be any reason to worry about it.

All of the above is why I can really enjoy Star Wars, Firefly, Trek, etc, btw. Even though I'm fairly well grounded in how we think things work at present.

I have more trouble with obvious errors that don't take into account technologies we already have. For instance, in Red Mars, some of the characters "hide" from satellite surveillance by moving over long distances in a large hollow rock (or perhaps a thing that looks like I rock, I forget), something we would spot in an instant *today* by the simple expedient of image subtraction; Take two shots under the same or similar conditions but separated by time, align them, and subtract them. Everything that's in the same place turns to black; anything that has moved will be bright. This is *trivial* surveillance technology, and has been in use since *at least* the 1970's. And the kicker is this would work even better on Mars than it does here -- thinner atmosphere. Caused me a few snickers, that one did.

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