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Comment: Re:Interesting how many people believe... (Score 4, Informative) 33

by jeffb (2.718) (#48907107) Attached to: "Once In a Lifetime" Asteroid Sighting Monday Night

Did your job have you spending a lot of time staring up at the sky?

If so, were you using an image intensifier, or something else that lets you see things too dim for the naked eye?

I agree that it's silly for CNN to encourage non-enthusiasts to go out and look for this. It won't be hard for any amateur with clear skies and a small telescope, but for anybody else, (a) they're likely to miss it, and (b) they're likely to be underwhelmed if they do see it.

But "believe in this crap"? Do you think asteroids are some sort of Illuminati lie designed to keep us in line?

Comment: Re:Not a fan (Score 4, Insightful) 297

by jeffb (2.718) (#48892605) Attached to: Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

Yes, yes, I'm sure you can imagine any number of situations where your lightning reflexes, superb judgement, and superhuman driving skill will produce a better outcome than some dumb automated system.

But even if you are much more skilled than the average driver -- and it does seem like 80-90% of drivers are quite convinced that they're "better than average" -- you're still likely to do dumb things behind the wheel more frequently than you do brilliant things behind the wheel. If you have a human brain, you're kind of stuck with that. There are a million things that can distract you, impair you, or confuse you, and any one of them will knock you down from that pinnacle of performance.

There will certainly be times when an automated system produces a worse outcome than a skilled human driver. But those times will be overwhelmingly outnumbered by the times when it's the other way around. It's really, really hard to reason objectively about risks like this, especially when there's a perceived loss of control involved. But if you don't let objective reasoning drive policy, you're going to end up with more dead and injured people.

When I was a kid, the debate was over seat-belt laws. There were an amazing number of people who absolutely refused to wear them. "I remember this person who was trapped in a burning (or sinking) car because they couldn't get out of the seat belt!" "I'm too good a driver to get into an accident where I'd need a seat belt to save me!" "If I'm wearing a seat belt, I can't be thrown to safety, so I'll be trapped in the collision!" Yes, I'm quite sure that some people have died because of seat belts. But that number is absolutely dwarfed by the number of people saved by them. It's cold consolation to the handful of seat-belt victims, I know, but you're still an utter fool if you let those few tragedies convince you not to use the belt.

Please don't let fear of a few extremely unlikely scenarios block a robust solution for an entire class of common problems.

Comment: ClickToFlash for me, thanks. (Score 2) 47

by jeffb (2.718) (#48877583) Attached to: Adobe Patches One Flash Zero Day, Another Still Unfixed

There's some Flash content I still want to view. But I want to look at content, not fight to focus my attention away from screaming, flashing, pulsing, squirming ads on every side. If you want me to run your program, make it worth my while. Especially when the platform on which you want me to run it might let it infect my machine.

Static ads are still fine. I don't much care if you track me and focus them. I'll even click through them occasionally. But I won't let you run down my battery and my brain with animations. I don't care if your marketing macaques say they get more clicks. I've made my choice. I'll never see them.

Comment: Re:Nothing new here (Score 1) 101

Ting, haha. Founded by TuCows. Remember them? Yeah the shareware website. Might as well get Boost Mobile! A drug dealer burner phone or Clearwire, wait no they went bankrupt right? Or just about any defunct wireless re-seller. Sprint has been pimping out their network and wimax for years now to fly by night companies. Ting most definitely included. Here's a great idea, start a company, pay $20 to Sprint and charge your customers $40, pocket the difference and name your company Ting, or Boost or whoever gives a crap as long as you dont need a contract and can buy phones on the street corner.


Ting: $6/month/device. All minutes/messages/data are shared buckets, although you can set caps for each device individually. They still have charge by thresholds, not per-minute/message/meg, unless your usage is really huge, but the only way you'll spend more money with them is if you're a data pig.

We've got five phones with them. Two are pretty much backup/emergency units, and sometimes have no usage at all in a month. One is for a child, and has cellular data turned off. The highest monthly bill we've ever had, for FIVE PHONES, is less than US$75 -- and that's with taxes. Usually, it's closer to $60. If you think the biggies will sell us a plan anywhere near that, well, I'm all ears.

I'm expecting Google will come in at comparable price points, maybe lower, and crush everyone with their marketing muscle. I kind of hope I'm wrong; I like it that we're getting some actual diversity in available offers, and I'd rather not replace that with yet another monolith.

Comment: Re:Why two different network types? (Score 3, Insightful) 101

If they want to let people bring their existing phones, supporting both networks greatly increases their audience. It can also make a big difference in coverage if you can roam across to one of the big networks.

This seems like particularly alarming news for Ting, which currently runs over Sprint's network, and is apparently getting ready to add T-Mobile.

Comment: Re:Not much aperture (Score 1) 19

by jeffb (2.718) (#48820725) Attached to: Exoplanet Hunting NGTS Telescope Array Achieves First Light

I'd guess the real step forward is workflow. The array can view twelve targets at once, with no dependencies (except they all have to be visible from the site). It can presumably shift from target to target pretty quickly, so I guess they'd sample many objects per telescope per night -- after all, transits happen with a timescale on the order of hours (possibly minutes in extreme cases), not seconds.

The big deal, though, seems like the relatively high-resolution brightness measurements (one part per thousand is pretty darn good), and long-term logging and correlation.

I hope someone more informed than me will chime in...

Comment: Re:Dizziness (Score 1) 74

by jeffb (2.718) (#48811217) Attached to: Ars: Samsung Gear VR Is Today's Best Virtual Reality

Yeah, I'd love to try this -- I'd be happy to spring for a Note 4 and the mount. But I'm one of the poor unfortunates who's highly susceptible to VR sickness. Not full-blown cookie-tossing, but twenty minutes in a CAVE or other immersive environment is enough to leave me feeling crappy for the rest of the day.

I'm hoping super-low latency, high frame rates and short persistence will produce something I can use without getting sick, but I don't think it's right around the corner. A shame, too; I've been wanting VR for decades.

The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. -- Franklin P. Jones