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Comment: Re:Thirty-three months? (Score 2) 403

by SydShamino (#47730025) Attached to: 33 Months In Prison For Recording a Movie In a Theater

If you're going to divide sentence by number of crimes, then shouldn't you divide his 33 months by [number of physical sales x scaling factor for profiting + number of downloaded copies]? If the 700k downloads number isn't totally made up by the studio (I'm making no judgement here) and ignoring the physical sales entirely, then he was actually sentenced to less than 2 minutes per infringement. That makes murder about 69 thousand times worse than contributing to copyright infringement.

Comment: Re:The real crime here (Score 3) 403

by SydShamino (#47729935) Attached to: 33 Months In Prison For Recording a Movie In a Theater

What if the offender's employer refuses? What if the offender's employer doesn't have a bank account? What if the offender's employer's customers refuse? What if it's turtles all the way down?

Physical confinement is a good deterrent for white collar crime - far better than it is as a deterrent to violent crime, in my opinion, because the type of people who use violence tend to have minds better able to shut off emotions and critical thought as needed, whether than need is for 10 minutes while shooting and robbing someone or 15 years behind bars.

Comment: Re:Less likely government (Score 1) 170

by SydShamino (#47729651) Attached to: Why Chinese Hackers Would Want US Hospital Patient Data

>> I don't think that the name "Identity theft" puts the blame on the victim, though, any more than "car theft" puts the blame on the owner of the stolen car.

I think there is a distinction, though, because in the case of "car theft", you rarely have to prove that it was not you using the car. Imagine if every time a car was stolen, the owner never noticed until it was used in a robbery (or driven through a red light camera), and you were assumed guilty until you proved it was not you driving. That would make it a comparable car analogy.

In the case of the red light camera, you probably are assumed guilty, but fortunately most car thieves don't want to run red lights, so the frequency of occurrence is rare, whereas most people using a borrowed ID intend to use it in a way that will hurt its credit.

Comment: Re:Really? (Score 1) 395

by SydShamino (#47729533) Attached to: Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

I am an engineer. I appreciate the folks from other countries I work with, who are smart and capable engineers.

Now, I have no idea why my employer chooses to recruit at certain international engineering schools, nor do I know why they choose to sponsor some people for work VISAs. I interview who I'm told and make no distinction in my recommendations based on their national origin (because I'm a professional, not just because it could be illegal). Those I recommend for hire based on their technical skills, and end up working in my department with me, are very good engineers. I do want to work with smart people, and the foreign nationals I work with are very good at their jobs.

It's possible to generalize people as "citizens" and "foreigners", but when you are talking about actual people, individuals, I'm as ambivalent on national origin as I am on gender or sexual orientation or anything else irrelevant to someone's skill as an engineer. I suppose whether that means I'm "supportive" or not is based on your point of view.

Comment: Very well put; see also cancer-preventing foods (Score 2) 174

by Paul Fernhout (#47724559) Attached to: New Research Suggests Cancer May Be an Intrinsic Property of Cells

Neat post. Conceptually, single-celled organisms can't get "cancer" because, in a way, they are cancer. However, they no doubt can suffer mutations or other genetic changes (like from viruses) that make them survive and reproduce more or less well, all things considered for their current environment. Cancer has to do with a cell deciding not to play nicely with the rest in a body, and to strike out on its own, so to speak. Cancer in general is a bit like a crazy individual or small group in a society trying to take over the whole thing (current US plutocrats?); generally it works out badly for everyone as core services start to fail and the cancer cells are no longer supported by the rest of the body. Cancer is like spammers, who for a quick buck in the short term, are busy destroying email and the rest of the internet that could otherwise bring everyone abundance. Cancer is about "selfishness" where the individual ignores its part to play in the whole and where the whole supports the individual. But since evolution involves variation and selection, the underlying mechanism of cancer via mutation or viral infection also in a sense underlies evolution. So yes, it will always be with us.

I've heard most people in the USA age 40+ years old have cancerous cells in small amounts, but the immune system is continually killing them off to keep them from spreading.

Good nutrition helps with that, like Dr. Joel Fuhrman talks about
"Though most people would prefer to take a pill and continue their eating habits, this will not provide the desired protection. Unrefined plant foods, with their plentiful anti-cancer compounds, must be eaten in abundance to flood the body's tissues with protective substances. Vegetables and fruits protect against all types of cancers if consumed in large enough quantities. Hundreds of scientific studies document this. The most prevalent cancers in our societies are plant-food-deficiency diseases. The benefits of lifestyle changes are proportional to the changes made. As we add more vegetable servings, we increase our phytochemical intake and leave less room in our diets for harmful foods, enhancing cancer protection even further. Let's review some of these research findings and then review what a powerful, anti-cancer diet will look like. ... A typical anti-cancer diet should contain at least 4 fresh fruits daily, at least one large raw green salad, as well as a two other cooked (steamed) vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots and peas, squash or other colorful vegetables. A huge pot of soup laden with vegetables, herbs and beans can be made once a week and conveniently taken for lunch. Raw nuts and seeds are another important, but often overlooked, group of foods with documented health benefits contributing to longevity. ..."

One thing Fuhrman misses in his discussion is that these compounds are not "Anti-cancer" as much as the human body has adapted via evolution to use these compounds to prevent or fight cancer.

He is right that cancer is best prevented rather than treated. As I've heard, it said, you can either get your chemotherapy every day from fruits and vegetables, or you can end up getting it all at once in the oncologist's office (not that most current chemotherapy is probably worth it anyway).

Fasting may also sometimes help prevent cancer as well as can a ketogenic (fat burning) diet that deprives cancer cells of sugar.

But your point stands that this is all combinatorial (statistical, entropical?) about when something gets out of hand. Even when we have Elysium-like medical beds that get rid of cancer instantly, some computer virus or malicious person may make them work incorrectly. Or, as in the movie, selfish elites can keep the healing beds to themselves.

Comment: Re:Nobody else seems to want it (Score 1) 690

by hairyfeet (#47720119) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: 'I Still Want the Desktop'

It doesn't matter as a core of the OS is being decided by POLITICS, oh and FYI but that PC World article? Its bullshit, its changed a grand total of TWICE in 20 years, from VXD to WDM, from WDM to DF, and you can still use WDM even on Windows 8. I have used XP drivers in Windows 7, that is 14 years of driver support, show me a video of you using a 7 year old driver without playing the make and break game and we'll talk.

If the core of your OS is decided not on its merits but by politics? Then your OS is doomed to become a punchline. BTW the zealots have been making the same excuses for so long that you can break down more than 90% of posts on any Linux article into just the same TMRepo memes, why? Because like Dems and Reps all that matters now is the politics, NOT the OS.

Comment: Re:Nobody else seems to want it (Score 0) 690

by hairyfeet (#47718219) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: 'I Still Want the Desktop'
Look up "Linux driver ABI" and you'll find doesn't exist. it doesn't exist NOT because its a bad idea (hint: every other OS has one) but because of POLITICS, because some of the hardcore zealots scream "ZOMFG they might not give us teh precious codez ZOMFG"...except most of the major corps ALREADY DON'T GIVE YOU THE CODE so it makes not a shitting lick of fricking difference!

So instead of having an easy to use interface so a driver can be written once and last for years (hell I have used 32bit Win2K drivers on 32bit Win 7 without issue) they will keep a throwback to the 1970s because of GNU-politics. Its sad but as long as politics takes a higher place than good OS design it'll keep on sucking. Again its not a FOSS issue, BSD has one and their drivers work for years, its a Linux issue. BTW watch me be attacked for daring to bring this up, its considered religious heresy to even speak of it.

Comment: Maybe Dr. Smith left the cap off the bottle again? (Score 1) 293

by Paul Fernhout (#47717031) Attached to: Scientists Baffled By Unknown Source of Ozone-Depleting Chemical
"Don and John come out of the ship asking about carbon tetrachloride. Smith says he uses it to remove stains--he's used it and left the top off. John asks him if he has any thoughts besides his immediate needs---without the carbon tetrachloride they will lose their food supply. They use it as food preservation (NOTE: how is a mystery---it is highly toxic). They will have to eat only non-perishable items and now face a food shortage (what about the hydroponic garden?). ..." :-)

Will Robinson saved the day on that episode, but he had to come all the way to Earth via an alien matter transporter to do it.

Kidding aside, you make a great point!

Comment: Making Silent Running drones for gardening (Score 1) 133

by Paul Fernhout (#47716885) Attached to: FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine

A post from me to comp.robotics.misc in 1999 about Silent Running drones which spawned a thread with 32 messages:
Anyone remember the drones (Huey, Dewey, and Louie) from the sci-fi movie Silent Running?

Some links: ...

They have always captivated me, and were an early influence in getting me interested in robotics and AI.

I particularly liked the scene where all three worked together to perform a medical operation.

I've long wanted to build some robots like these for gardening and maintenance. It seems to me that multifuncional drones such as those (with changeable end effectors) would be very valuable in agriculture, by reducing the need for pesticides and fertilizers through picking off pests, pulling weeds, and spot applying fertilizer, and by not compacting the soil like tractors.

Has anyone given any though to what it would take to make such drones today?
How much would it cost to build such a system (part cost, design time cost, assembly time cost)?
How long would it take?
How much could it lift?
How long would the battery (fuel cell?) life be?
How well could they be made to walk or climb stairs with today's technology?

Anyone out there started such a project to clone these drones?

Any advice on where to find more information on their design, or maybe the originals made for the movies?

Would that design concept (one armed, collaborative walking robots, three feet high) now be considered obsolete (i.e. compared to the post model in Hans Moravec's latest book "Robot")?

Could a business case be made today for a company to build such robots? Or instead, would anyone be interested in collaborating on an open source design for robots that looked like those?

Comment: Re:Nobody else seems to want it (Score 1, Troll) 690

by hairyfeet (#47715259) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: 'I Still Want the Desktop'

Actually Google is taking a page from MSFT and is going EEE on Android and if the rumors are true Win 9 will either be free or insanely cheap so...good luck with that.

BTW what Torvalds SHOULD have said was "I want the desktop....but not enough to give up my shitty 1970s throwback driver model" because you look at the forums and a good 90% of what the problems in linux get boiled down to is that shitstorm of a driver model, it'd be like MSFT trying to build Windows 9 on top of the old DOS .INI drivers because when you have such a fundamental thing old and shitty it makes all the new stuff on top just new and shitty. BTW this is NOT a FOSS thing, its a LINUX thing, as nobody in the FOSS world besides Linux uses his shitty driver model, not BSD, not Android, NOBODY.

Comment: Square foot gardening is the rebuttal (Score 1) 133

by Paul Fernhout (#47711745) Attached to: FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine

Other styles of farming whether square foot gardening or indoor hydroponics can be much more productive per acre than big field farming with tractors, but they are *labor* and *knowledge* intensive. Robotics (or other automation) make greater yields per square foot much more achievable more cheaply. That also makes vertical farming in cities more feasible.

See especially:
"A 2010 study published in the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems showed that biointensive methods resulted in significantly increased production and a reduction of energy use when compared with conventional agriculture (Moore, S.R., 2010, Energy efficiency in smallâscale biointensive organic onion production in Pennsylvania, USA, Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 25:3, pp. 181â188). This study states that "Current mechanized agriculture has an energy efficiency ratio of 0.9 ... energy efficiency for biointensive production of onions in our study was over 50 times higher than this value (51.5), and 83% of the total energy required is renewable energy."

The fact that many people have inefficient backyard gardens does not mean that people could not have very productive gardens if they knew more and had more time for them. Biosphere II was a good example of intensive food production in a small space.

See also books on "Survival Gardening".

The best one I've seen (by that name, by John Freeman) is not mentioned there though:

Don't know about this new one by someone else:

Granted, that is mostly about organic vegetables and beans. Grains may be a somewhat different issue, but they are already heavily automated in many ways. But as Dr. Fuhrman suggests, eating more fruits and vegetables is healthier than eating more grains (especially refined grains).

You should not discount that gardening in the sunshine can be good health-promoting exercise. It saves money indirectly by displacing other less healthy recreational activities like shopping for the next unneeded consumer item.

BTW, we can grind up rock to get good fertilizer for relatively cheap, especially if powered by excess renewable energy:

By this estimate by economist Julian Simon, there is plenty of opportunities for growing lots more food if we want to:

General purpose agricultural robotics makes intensive gardening so much more feasible to do on a small local scale... Still, highly-automated indoor agriculture powered by cheap energy is probably more the future of food production because it is so much more predictable.

Comment: Also our FOSS Garden Simulator started around 1990 (Score 1) 133

by Paul Fernhout (#47711563) Attached to: FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine

Though only finished and released around 1997: http://www.gardenwithinsight.c...

(Unrelated work and also two years of grad school to learn more about ecological modelling plus excessive ambition caused delays in getting it done...)

And MECC's "Lunar Greenhouse" from 1989 ran on the Apple II:

This emulator did not work for me, but seemingly Lunar Greenhouse is online:

But there are other text-based games like Hamurabi which goes all the way back to 1968 where you "plant" crops and harvest them. I played a variation of tha first around 1980 or so.

It can be played online:

I've long wanted to build a general purpose gardening (and maintenance) robot like the ones in "Silent Running". For some reason, there has been economic resistance to supporting general purpose agricultural robots. Cheap illegal labor in that sense harmed my career in robotics in the 1980s when I really, really wanted to make such things. :-(

That's one reason I've just done software, which is cheaper to do on your own than robotics. Or it was, now that robotics is getting so much cheaper for various reasons due to cheap powerful embedded computers and cheaper sensors and actuators and 3D printing and web-based design and manufacturing like via 100K garages and such.

There were a couple times I spoke with academic roboticists about making general purpose agricultural robotics in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Both were interested in industry-fundable specific purpose robots, like for seeding transfer in greenhouses (Rutgers) or for autonomous wheat harvesting with big machines (CMU). Those were no doubt fairly practical ideas, and I may have been well served in a robotics career to have pursued such practical ideas in cooperation with those professors, but they were not the general purpose system I really wanted to work on like the Silent Running-type drones. Still, they might have been stepping stones to better systems -- but it is easy to be too ambitious and impatient when you are young.

Nowadays though, there seems to be a resurgence of interest in agricultural robotics, and I wonder if crackdowns on illegal agricultural labor may even be connected to it?
"Crackdown on illegal immigrants left crops rotting in Georgia fields, ag chief tells US lawmakers

Also, this is a problematical statement from the point of view of a robotics engineer: "A robust agricultural guest worker program, properly designed, will not displace American workers," Black said in remarks prepared for the hearing. "As my testimony shows, in Georgia, even with current high unemployment rates, it is difficult for farmers to fill their labor needs."

That guest worker program displaces robotics engineers... Otherwise there would be a much greater demand for general purpose agricultural robots.

Instead, I worked on virtual gardening software for growing virtual plants. My wife and I also made a simpler version of the garden simulator just for breeding virtual plants (mostly her work):

That said, there is little that is better for mental health for many people than real gardening with real plants and real sunshine and real dirt... So, robots could help us, but it is still healthy to get your hands dirty in the soil and sunshine and not leave it all to the robots...
"Silent Running Final Scene - Joan Baez (Rejoice in the Sun) "

Silent Running is a movie that inspired so much of my own work... Even a lot of the motivation behind the garden simulator is related to the movie, because if we are going to live in space, we should know how to grow food there. One design idea for that garden simulator software was to have a "growbot" to do repetitive tasks, but we went for a more hands-on approach for that version.

BTW, MIT has (or had) stuff in robots and gardening, starting from around 2008:
"Our long-term goal is to develop an autonomous green house consisting of autonomous robots where pots and plants are enhanced with computation, sensing, and communication."

Anyway, I'd still love to build the Silent Running drones, as impractical as they may be. Those three drones captured the spirit of the better hopes for robotics working in friendly partnership with humans (including medical care), compared to so many unpleasant realities or fears about robotics (like cruise missiles and predator drones, and the Terminator movie franchise).

The Red Dwarf scutters reminded me of those Silent Running drones. They seem easier to build (as they use wheels). I put together a web page on an "Open Scutter" project in 2010, but nothing more has happened with it:

But so many other distractions. I'm embarrassed to say my MakerBot Thing-o-matic kit (purchased from before MakerBot turned to the dark side of non-FOSS) is still not put together... Of course, I've also often found it a lot less fun (and sometimes even harder) to put together someone else's design than to just DIY from scratch. But mostly I wanted to put that together with my kid and the logistics have not worked out well for that yet.

Comment: Re:The obvious /. question... (Score 3, Interesting) 215

by hairyfeet (#47706331) Attached to: New HP Laptop Would Mean Windows at Chromebook Prices
Its an AMD APU and AMD has opened their specs so I don't see why not. The bigger question is will the $100 model coming later this year with the quad core Atom be able to run Linux...does anybody know if the new Atom is running a PowerVR GPU?

In any case it just goes to show what many of us system builders and VARs knew all along, that they market for netbooks never went away, the OEMs simply priced them too high to be competitive. The sweet spot for a netbook should be between $99-$299 depending on size and features and yet when the last Asus EEEs rolled off the line the price was $449 a pop, while a 17 inch lappy was $299.

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun