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Comment: Re:Bad for developing brains (Score 1) 182

by mentil (#47906289) Attached to: Oculus Rift CEO Says Classrooms of the Future Will Be In VR Goggles

Nintendo took the legally safe option by recommending children under 7 not use the 3DS' 3d mode, although research wasn't conclusive that it could cause Lazy Eye. Palmer Luckey (CEO of Oculus) actually directly responded to a query about this. I seem to recall him saying that it could eventually be made safe for children. The 3DS uses an adjustable virtual inter-pupillary distance (IPD) which is most likely set different from your real IPD. In contrast, the Oculus Rift is calibrated to use your real IPD, and your eyes focus at infinity while using it. Given that, the Rift should be far less likely to cause Strabismus.

Comment: Re:VR is still pointless. (Score 1) 182

by mentil (#47906245) Attached to: Oculus Rift CEO Says Classrooms of the Future Will Be In VR Goggles

There's been little point in developing those technologies thus far, though. Until VR software exists where the programmers intend to adopt technologies which maximize the immersion of the player, and players are in a mindset where they want their immersion to be maximized, it won't happen. Haptics and motion tech are reasonably far along, sound is nearly there, taste is pretty much there, but smell is going to be trouble with current tech though. According to many people who have used the Rift, it subjectively 'feels' like you're in there, even if some senses contradict the world presented.

Comment: Quality not Quantity (Score 4, Informative) 81

by mentil (#47885481) Attached to: Net Neutrality Comments Surge Past 1.7M, an All-Time Record For the FCC

It was recently found that when the FCC (or some other US federal govt. agency) has a request for comments, they're only compelled to seriously consider the in-depth, intelligent comments. In practice, this means that form-letters done via the EFF website etc. are tossed out, while lawyer-produced walls of text that read like Congressional legal pronouncements get serious consideration. Almost always, the latter are produced by big businesses with lots of money to spend on lawyers to ensure the decision goes in the direction of greater profits for themselves.

The only way to undermine this is for organizations like the EFF, and individuals, to gather and present as much easily-digestible data as possible and edit and refine their message until it's intelligible and palatable to a politician. Mindless ranting is immediately dismissed as uninformed. Probably only a dozen or so of these 1.7 million messages will actually be read by a decision-maker.

Fax is the best medium to contact your agencies with, as it tends to be printed and read by a human, rather than a keyword-search-delete-all like can be done for email ("delete all emails containing superlatives"). Also, 1.7 million sounds alot bigger when pushcarts full of paper can be wheeled into their office, rather than the messages easily fitting on a disc or flash drive. I presume they don't tend to auto-OCR faxes.

Comment: Bioaccumulation Ahoy (Score 2, Interesting) 180

by mentil (#47693011) Attached to: Fighting Invasive Fish With Forks and Knives

One side-effect of this is that people who eat this fish will consume more mercury, PCBs and other harmful substances compared to if they ate the native (potentially restricted-catch) fish. This is due to the northern snakehead consuming poisons in the water plus toxins accumulated in the flesh of their prey. Humans who eat this fish (or any predatory fish) would thus consume more toxins than if they ate a fish (like much of its prey likely is) that only eats primary producers.

The obvious solution involves Needle Snakes.
Seriously though, how much can we interfere with nature to ensure some animals' survival, and continue to call it 'nature' with a straight face? Eventually, the figurative and literal cage bars make it indistinguishable from captivity. Isn't there a point where we should let evolution do its thing? I know that often leads to extinction, but if we're only keeping wild animals alive so we can eat their tasty flesh, then we may as well keep enough to eat captive.

Comment: Yeay More Personal Information to Hoover (Score 2) 196

by mentil (#47343319) Attached to: How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

Just what I want -- for my NSA-backdoored, malware-infested, free-apps-spying-on-me smart device to ALSO be able to exfiltrate my vital signs. You think GPS location and when you use your device tells alot about your life habits, wait until heartrate and blood pressure are available. Advertisers would LOVE this data: "look, our ad is exciting to this person". Worse, they could also detect heart conditions and uniquely identify the person wearing the earbuds. Think about that for a second. Instead of just assuming that this iPhone was registered by person X so it's probably being used by that person, it'd be able to know if someone's borrowing it (and using a cloud data lookup, by whom.) Wait until the NSA ("we kill people based on metadata") starts using vital sign 'fingerprints' and bombing them with no verification.

Comment: This is How the War on Drugs Ends (Score 1) 194

by mentil (#46108187) Attached to: How the Web Makes a Real-Life <em>Breaking Bad</em> Possible

With designer drugs, scientists can't agree on what exactly a 'drug analogue' means, so an analogue law would be unenforceable. All drugs invented after, say, 1950 without FDA approval could be banned; but then trade of the drug wouldn't be prosecutable until it were proven that it's artificial and invented; if it were naturally occurring (say, from Psilocybin mushrooms) then it can only be discovered and not invented. The drug scheduling works as a blacklist, but could be reworked to only allow whitelisted drugs.

A law targeting artificially-created drugs or GMO-created drugs would be unenforceable. Many pharmaceuticals are mass-produced nowadays with genetically-engineered organisms (fungi, often) that secrete the target chemical. There's no way to always distinguish a GMO from a crypto-organism, or in other words, an artificially-created drug factory from a naturally-occurring drug factory. Therefore, there'd be no way to prove that a drug was made artificially rather than naturally. So White-listing could still stop trade, but that'd only work until...

Homebrew. As genetic modification tech gets cheaper and easier to use, there will be cheap DIY kits to make your own designer drugs and the organisms to produce them. Later, easily-obtainable underground apps will help you design drugs with certain target effects, based on (but sufficiently modified from) existing recreational drug molecules. Once the international effort to use supercomputers to model the human body's physiology gains open access, people can submit potential molecules to the system and see their effects (and side-effects). No 30-year studies with methodology errors mixed with decades of FUD and hand-wringing, just the truth in black and white for everyone to see. New molecules that aren't simply modified versions of existing chemicals can be brute-forced that have certain effects, avoiding any existing analogue laws. This will enable an explosion in the effectiveness and safety of designer drugs, as there's an uncomfortable (to some) overlap with the effects of medicinal pharmaceuticals, leading to the end of support for drug restrictions.

Comment: Vulnerable to Social Engineering (Score 4, Interesting) 111

by mentil (#45744281) Attached to: BitTorrent Unveils Secure Chat To Counter 'NSA Dragnet Surveillance'

If the public/private key pair is created at account creation, then people accustomed to everything being in the cloud will frequently forget to backup their private key (which isn't stored on any central server). A common occurrence will be "Hey Alice, it's Bob. I lost my private key so this is my new account now." Potentially, Bob is in jail and a fed is masquerading as him.

Also from my experience with DHT, it doesn't work unless you already know an IP running the protocol -- who you usually find through, yes, a centralized server. If that server were TOR-based it might work, but then that raises the question of what functionality is added by this protocol that a messaging program running thru TOR doesn't offer. Having Mixmaster-style message queueing in addition to onion routing would offer improved resistance to topology attacks as well. I'm referring to TOR's hidden services protocol, by the way, rather than the standard web proxy where an unencrypted message would be sent to a messaging server after several encrypted hops.

Comment: The Sword of Damocles (Score 2) 926

by mentil (#45382373) Attached to: Where Does America's Fear Come From?

The fear comes from propaganda penned by the elite. The elite that control America's politics and economy are constantly afraid of the Sword of Damocles -- an angry mob of Americans calling for their blood for their failure to do something or other. Fifty years ago it was a fear of a communist revolt, where the people take away their power if not their life. Now it's a fear of some crisis happening and being seen as not having done enough to prevent it. As a result, politicians want to be seen as "doing something", even if what they're doing is ineffective or counterproductive. If there's supposedly a "drug crisis", politicians will pass laws to be seen as "tough on drugs". It works the same for terrorism or any other societal ill, real or perceived. Opportunistic politicians, as opposed to being afraid, turn this around and sponsor a bill, make a story and pretend as if there's a real problem, in order to gain popularity or power; this is the malice on the flipside of the former problem's ignorance.

Despite most Americans being more interested in money than politics, big business and finance tend to get less public scrutiny than government. These sectors are equally afraid of the people though: witness how quickly they used government resources and propaganda to cause the Occupy movement to lose steam.

He's dead, Jim.