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Comment: Smart Watches I've Owned (Score 1) 216

by billstewart (#47441053) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Do You Want a Smart Watch?

I haven't owned any of the current generation of cellphone-accessory smartwatches. The ones I have owned:

-- Casio GPS watch - It was a gift from my wife, back before GPSs had taken over the world. It was big and clunky, got me all kinds of geek cred at work, didn't work very well as a GPS but the fact that it worked at all was amazing.
-- TI EZ430-Chronos watch - programmable, using their MSP430 microprocessor set, had a reasonably flexible display. It didn't have a lot of sensors, and I didn't end up hacking it very much, but it was a lot of fun. It had a low-power radio link that let it connect to a heartbeat monitor band, so you could use it for things like watching your heart rate while jogging.
-- Watches with various other functions built in, like moon phase, tides tables for surfing, that kind of thing. One of them had a screen saver for entirely no good reason, just because it could.

In practice, I find that almost all of the time I'm either in front of a computer screen with a clock display in the corner, or in an environment with clocks around, or carrying a cellphone with a clock display on the main screen, or in an environment that's not very friendly to watches, or in a social environment where I don't really care what time the clock says it is, so I've stopped wearing watches most of the time.

When smart-watches get smart enough to be the phone instead of being a peripheral display for the phone, maybe. But is a smart-watch phone that needs a Bluetooth headset and needs reading glasses to use more convenient than a cellphone with big text that can use a wired headset? For me, it's really not.

Comment: Racist science (Score 1) 86

by DNS-and-BIND (#47440993) Attached to: Chimpanzee Intelligence Largely Determined By Genetics
This article is precisely why we need to NOT worship science as the end-all, be-all of solutions to our problems. Science will happily lead us down the primrose path of racism. Something for the science-worshippers among us to contemplate. Again and again we see Slashdot users angrily condemning competing belief systems and saying science is the one true way of thinking. It's not, and this is precisely why.

Comment: Re:Airspace (Score 1) 158

by danheskett (#47440893) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

The problem is that you presume that you should have more access to the air space than anyone else. You shouldn't. For a long time the cost made access to air space prohibitive except for a small class of wealthy individuals or large companies. That's over.

It's time to make it fair. You have no greater claim to airspace than anyone else. Your desire to tool around in an aircraft for hobby in no way supersede my desire to do the same with an UAV.

Comment: Re:The FAA needs to follow the law. (Score 1) 158

by danheskett (#47440879) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

The administration takes laws (like their own favorite, the ACA), and completely ignores hard-wired dates and other requirements as it suits them for political leverage with the portion of the voters to whom they pander. Happily, that particular instance is about to be challenged in a civil suit coming out of congress - that's very good news.

This is not exactly true, but the spirit is right.

Any administration has two prerogatives that they exercise:

1. Upholding and enforcing the laws, "faithfully". This is the ultimate judgement question. Imagine that Congress passes law intended to allow any person to breathe free, and that the penalty for violating that law is death. But Congress makes a mistake and passes language that says "one person may breathe free". Is the President required to go around, arresting and trying people for all breathing free, when only person is supposed to breathe free? No, he is not. That is the essence of "faithfully".

2. The FAA, like DHS and many other agencies, have prevailed upon Congress to grant their administrators massive deference to the implementation of rules and application of law. This is a worrying trend that has gone back many decades, but has really picked up in the last 20 years. In the past, Congress would work on bills in committee and in markup and in conference, to implement many of the smaller and fine details in the law.

Laws like the ACA are said to be very long, but really, they aren't that long. Most of it is technical wording to amendment the text of other laws or titles. In terms of detail, there isn't as much as you might think. And it's full of certifications, "as the director sees fit", and other various elastic clauses.

This administration especially has focus on passing laws that have very little meat to them excluding a set of broad goals and somewhat corresponding powers. Almost all of the commonly cited abridgements of the ACA fall into one of three categories:

a. A portion of the law that was left to the descretion of the Director.

b. Unenforceable - i.e. whatever the law says, it must be real and practiacable, or it is not enforceable by a Court. If the law says you must grow wings and fly away by August 1st, 2014 and you fail to do so, you can't be held to penalty by a Court. The same is true of the ACA. If they say all employers must provide accetable health insurance by a certain date, and a list of acceptable health insurance is not developed, then the penalty is not enforceable in Court. It's a matter of due process.

c. A portion of the law that creates no grieved party that has standing. This one is most interesting to me personally. Imagine a law passed that says that if certain conditions are met by two other parties, I am a poopy pants. Who can I see for my poopy pant status? The answer is: probably no one. There is no harm, so there is no basis for a successful suit.

In the end, your spirit is right though. The question is: what is the recourse when the Administration does not follow the law. The Courts can intervene, but in a practical sense, the Court has limited enforcement options.

The answer is: Congress can cut off the money. Unfortunately, the only House that can appropriate money is also hopelessly broken and run without really any interest in governing. For example, with this FAA thing, in the past, say when the House was run by Speaker Tip O'Neil and the White House was controlled by Republicans, Congress knew how to keep the White House on a tight rope. That House often attached funding directly to enforcement and deadlines. They would insert language into must pass bills, like funding appropriations, for things that they wanted done by the Administration. These were small-ish things. It would be perfectly in tradition to design funding for the FAA to ensure that the FAA met the legally required deadlines, by inserting language into funding appropriations that, say, reduced FAA funding for executive salaries and benefits by 1% for each day past the deadline that the rulemaking dragged on.

Unfortunately the current GOP really has no taste for governing. This type of thing requires a staff that is very competent, who have some weight in the Administrative branches, and who know the in's and out of policy. Whatever their strong points, the current GOP House really has no skills for actually making policy. Picking huge political battles that nearly break the government, only to cave at the last minute, is probably the most this GOP can accomplish. It is a complete and total myth that they can't do anything with just one House of one branch of government. The reality is that, properly managed, the GOP controlled House could force the Administration to do almost anything. Their problem is that they gave away the power of the purse for the length of their entire term. A huge,huge, huge mistake since that is their only power.

In fact, the best thing they could have done is only appropriate money month by month, and make the directors of each agency come and justify their funding requests every month for the entire two year terms. (But of course, that means less time for all the other important stuff they do.. like... err, well, I'm sure it's out there).

Comment: Re:Tea-Bagger Click Bait (Score 1) 158

by danheskett (#47440791) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

You may have a point about low-wage labor, but it's lost on the fact before 1940, the Federal government didn't even know about foreigners inside the borders of the United States. Up until then, aliens who could physically get to the US didn't even have to register, and did not have to do or not do anything special.

Comment: Re:Not a rule (Score 1) 158

by danheskett (#47440779) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

Rather, the FAA is drawing a different line here.

It's quite a bit worse because they aren't drawing a line. Is there any rule making that has completed that supports their commercial vs. non-commercial claims. And it's not clear that the FAA is enforcing any existing promulgated rule or regulation.

Their actions against commercial drone operators just appear to be arbitrary.

Comment: Re:Subject bait (Score 2) 206

by istartedi (#47438705) Attached to: A Skeptical View of Israel's Iron Dome Rocket Defense System

I can't help but picture a sign on the door at the exit of an airport in Israel. It reads "Thank-you for not stirring up ancient inter-tribal conflict".

I think you're post will be as effective as such a hypothetical sign; but thanks for trying. X --+ (Don Quixote's lance and a windmill).

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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