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Submission + - Ham radio operators need your help!->

An anonymous reader writes: It is not often that you hear ham radio operators asking for help as they are the ones often providing it. However, ham radio is in danger of not being very operable in the future as most new housing have covenants or otherwise know as CC&Rs. The CC&R's are what give home owner associations the right to ban outside antennas, effectively cutting off ham radio operators at the knees. Without a good antenna system, ham radio operators can't transmit or receive effectively. This effects everyone because during times of disasters such as 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina, ham radio is often the only working communication system.

Ham radio operators need your support in passing legislation currently in front of congress known as the Amateur Radio Parity Act. You can learn more about the Amateur Radio Parity Act at http://www.killingradio.com/

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Comment Re:Sim Sickness (Score 1) 164

In my experience it's not just a head tracking issue. Just the feeling of seeing your avatar walking around in the virtual world, while your real body is stationary, was enough to cause nausea in a lot of people.

Games where your avatar remains seated in a cockpit, like a fighter sim, were no problem. You can crane your neck to look around the cockpit from different positions and angles without any nausea (provided the head tracking works well enough), because both your avatar and your real body are seated and not moving. The lack of G forces from the motion of the craft were apparently not a problem.

On the other hand, I'm not convinced that even a perfect head tracking VR helmet will ever work for FPS-type games where your avatar is walking around while your real body sits still.

Comment Easier than with human drivers (Score 1) 937

Figuring out liability for human drivers is insanely complicated. You just don't notice it because drivers are generally removed from the issue; there is a whole industry (car insurance) whose existence depends on profiting from driver liability and thus deals with all of the complications for you. They even figure out things like risks of being hit by an uninsured driver and factor that into the cost. The only cases they don't handle are when 2 uninsured motorists get into an accident, and then the courts can get involved.

Insurance companies will figure out the risks of various types of autonomous car failures and to what extent their liability costs can be recouped from the manufacturers (due to negligence), from the passengers, from the other parties involved, etc. Then they will set their insurance rates for autonomous cars so that they can cover liabilities and still make a profit. If they underestimate their liabilities then they raise their rates or go out of business. The autonomous cars could even require proof of insurance to be installed or downloaded in order to operate, making them very difficult or impossible to operate without proof of coverage. That will pretty much eliminate the problem of uninsured drivers.

The only thing that would hold back autonomous cars is if the risks are estimated to be too high, making the insurance rates so expensive that it outweighs the convenience. Given how unsafe most human drivers are, I think the autonomous car manufacturers would have to do a really terrible job for that to become an issue.

Comment Re:There isn't any... (Score 5, Insightful) 81

There's no perfect solution, but something that works for 60% might already be better than nothing.

I work in the closed captioning industry, and I'd say anything less than 95% accuracy is actually WORSE than nothing. Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) has no concept of context or situational awareness. The mistakes they make tend to be not in the simple common words and phrases, but concentrated in the nouns, especially proper nouns: names of people, places, companies, products, etc. Even at 80% accuracy, which is quite good for the current best speaker independent ASR systems, you're looking at 2 words out of every 10 being substituted with the wrong word, completely changing the meaning of the phrases. Imagine the chaos if (major news network)'s closed captioning reported some celebrity or politician as saying "I'm not a fan of Jews." when they actually said "I'm not a fan of juice." (Which would be 83% accurate!) Wars have been started for one misheard word out of a thousand; imagine how bad 200 out of 1000 would be.

Here's an article about a HUMAN transcription error that caused a pretty major ruckus. Now imagine this kind of problem being an order of magnitude worse:
http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20693447,00.html

People who lost hearing later in life tend to do better with high error rate ASR because they know what words sound like and can figure out easy substitutions, e.g. Juice vs. Jews, Election vs. Erection, etc., but people who were born deaf or lost hearing before language acquisition cannot easily make these substitutions in their head because they don't "hear" the word sounds when they read them.

Comment Good riddance (Score 4, Informative) 292

I had terrible experiences with their drives and tech support. In one instance, to solve a Windows blue screen problem, their support told us to update the firmware on the drive, which bricked it. They then refused to return/repair the drive because "firmware updates void your warranty." In another case, we needed a quick replacement on a failed drive so we requested advance replacement. They immediately charged our card MSRP (double the actual retail price), but then it took them over 30 days to actually ship the replacement.

Comment Re:Does anyone understand the "zombies" craze? (Score 4, Interesting) 220

Zombies are the ideal fantasy opponent for a doomsday scenario. They have most of the strengths of humans, thus (supposedly) requiring heavy firepower and good tactics to defend against them, but being sub-human (lacking a soul, whatever) and extremely dangerous, there is little to no aversion to the use of violence against them.

Put it another way, if a prepper told anyone that they were loading up on weapons to be able to attack fellow humans during a crisis, they would be labeled psycho and probably have their weapons taken away.

But... if they're gearing up to fight "zombies", they can stockpile all the weapons they want and only appear to be a little paranoid.

Comment Re:This is the best way of gun control (Score 1) 656

Car registration/licensing/insurance are only required if you want to drive on other people's property, like public roads (property of the People). It's perfectly legal to drive on your own private property without doing any of those things.

So to fully extend your analogy, public or private firearm ranges may require shooters to be licensed & insured if they want to shoot on their property... (but I think most of them would stick with the safety courses they currently use.)

Furthermore, unlike the right to bear arms, driving is a privilege, not a right guaranteed by the constitution. Would you be ok with mandatory registration, licensing, and proof of insurance before you can exercise your first, third, fourth, or fifth amendment rights?

Comment Hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but... (Score 4, Interesting) 190

"'Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?' The answer to that question is no."

So what does "not engaged in combat" mean, and who gets to decide? Would you be surprised if a future executive order defines political opponents or whistle blowers as "engaged in combat"?

Comment Paved with good intentions, but... (Score 4, Interesting) 151

While this law sounds reasonable on the surface and seems well enough intentioned, looking at the past history of government regulations, I can't help but assume that even if this were to pass, the law will be twisted and manipulated to the point that it actually hurts the end users or stifles competition. Perhaps the requirements for compliance with the law will be so onerous that small ISPs cannot compete, leaving only the big players and a high barrier to entry, or it will prevent new innovative business models and force us to stick with the status quo even if a better alternative is found.

For example, the regulations for bidding for government contracts were intended to level the playing field, reduce corruption, and lower costs. But as the regulations became more and more complicated (trying to plug the loopholes), only the biggest contractors with government bidding officers and on-staff lawyers can actually get through all the red tape. The result is that small players cannot compete and costs go up. The regulations ended up doing exactly the opposite of what was intended.

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