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Comment: Re:Exinction (Score 1) 115

This seems like circular logic. First one has to define what a "Neanderthal" is before answering that question.

Yep. A lot of taxonomy is like that.

In the process of classifying things they're trying to find or define sharp boundaries on a subject matter that is actually a continuum.

I recall, in my first encounters with the subject, trying to get a coherent definition of the distinctions between species, genus, family etc.. The instructor was utterly uanble to provide one. (Of course this WAS at the junior-high level.)

DNA technology is also substantially revamping the whole field. Previously they had to infer what genes various organisms had by observing their expressions in morphology - which makes it hard to track genes that are there but "turned off". Now that they can actually sequence the DNA (or the expressed protiens when the sample is too old for DNA and RNA to survive) a lot of the classifications are getting rearranged.

Was Neanderthal a species, or something more akin to a colorform? What constitutes extinction when a branch that once interbred with another dies out, but leaves behind a substantial amount of its DNA? Did the two branches actually "speciate", i.e. separate to the point where the COULDN'T interbreed, or at least couldn't produce viable crossbreed offspring that could produce offspring of their own in turn? Or was it just that they mostly DIDN'T interbreed? Were they like the races of the current human species (clusters of different traits but one big gene pool), like horses and donkeys (where crossbreeds are easy but mostly infertile), or like fully-speciated organisms that might try but just can't produce offspring? Did they go extinct, or did most of their traits just gradually (or suddenly, as in a near-extinction event where all the copies of a gene were in the places where everybody died off) get lost from the geneome of the one big human family?

Seems to me it's mostly a matter of definition and partly a subject for more research.

Don't ask me for an authoritative definition. I'm just another observer, not a taxonimist. B-)

Comment: Distributed is hard because of the asshole problem (Score 3, Insightful) 125

by Animats (#48214995) Attached to: We Need Distributed Social Networks More Than Ello

Diaspora failed partly because it presents itself in such a confusing way. See Join Diaspora.: " Registrations are closed But don't worry! There are lots of other pods you can register at. You can also choose to set up your own pod if you'd like. There's no "Join" button, but two "Donate" buttons. Take a look at a few "pods". You can't see anything without signing up, and many sound like they're run by wierdos.

The latter is the real problem. A system where anyone can join anonymously and can have as many identities as they want will be overrun by spammers and jerks. Facebook has some pushback in that area, which helps. Facebook also started by getting people from big-name schools, so they didn't start with a loser-heavy population.

A social network needs some cost to creating an identity. The cost can be money, or reputation, or even a proof of work, like Bitcoin. Otherwise, the network is overrun with fake accounts. A distributed social network needs good anti-forgery mechanisms, to prevent one node from spoofing another. That's hard without central control.

Comment: Why not just use cameras? (Score 1) 136

by Animats (#48214609) Attached to: Austin Airport Tracks Cell Phones To Measure Security Line Wait

There are probably security cameras watching the line already. Use them to count the people. Software for this is available from several suppliers.

Cameras at intersections already do this, as part of traffic signal control. The best systems report things like "3 cars waiting at signal, then a big gap, then more approaching cars". The controller can then let three cars through, then turn the light for that intersection face red and let the other direction go.

Comment: Re:The good news (Score 1) 632

by plover (#48213045) Attached to: FTDI Reportedly Bricking Devices Using Competitors' Chips.

Look at how counterfeiting laws work for money. If you pay with a $100 bill in a smokey bar at night and get a $20 counterfeit bill in change, and don't realize it until the next day, you're out the $20. If you try to spend it, you're actually committing a felony - it doesn't matter if you printed the phony bill yourself, or if you just accepted it as change and are passing it forward. It also doesn't matter if you realize it's counterfeit or not, although the Secret Service agents may agree to give you a pass the first time you try to spend phony money if you claim you didn't realize it was counterfeit, and cooperate completely.

However, currency counterfeiting laws are very specific to money. Let's look at product counterfeiting, which works similarly but probably without the felony charges.

If FTDI discovered a container of devices with counterfeit chips was en route, they could tell Customs, who would order the contents of the container to be destroyed once they arrived on the dock. This would be a problem for the shipping company, who accepted the devices for shipment and never delivered them, so they would have to pay out an insurance claim. The insurer then has to deal with the liability by going back to the shipper and saying "hey, your devices were destroyed by Customs, I had to pay out for failing to deliver the goods." I expect the shipping companies deal with this all the time, though, and have a contract clause that absolves them of insurance liability in this case. In this case, the supplier is out the money. Their recourse would be to go back to the manufacturer and ask for their money back. Maybe the manufacturer will honor the request, maybe they won't.

If FTDI discovered a shipment of devices with counterfeit chips already went to MicroCenter, they would call the Secret Service, who would contact MicroCenter and MicroCenter would have to pull them off the shelves and destroy them, leaving MicroCenter without the money. Their only recourse would be to contact their supplier and say "hey, you sold us counterfeit goods, we want our money back." Maybe they'd get their money back, maybe they wouldn't. It's a risk.

So FTDI has now found a way to destroy a consumer device. As above, the consumer is similarly out of luck. Their recourse is to go back to MicroCenter and say "hey, this adapter, it's broke." Maybe they'll get their money back, maybe they won't. It's a risk. MicroCenter might eat the losses, or they might go back to their supplier, who might go back to the manufacturer.

In every case when the counterfeits are discovered they are destroyed, leaving somebody without the device and without the money.

I think FTDI may have a pretty solid legal ground for behaving like this, even though it's always a crappy experience to the person who got stuck with the phony. The main difference is that FTDI is doing this without asking the Secret Service to investigate the counterfeits first.

Comment: Re:Tesla wasn't the target, it was China (Score 2) 235

by drinkypoo (#48211761) Attached to: Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales

I have done enough super high mileage trips that it would require a second car permanently on stand by. That means double insurance, tax, storage and depreciation.

it means none of those things but storage cost. The insurance for the second vehicle is reduced, and often the insurance on your primary vehicle is reduced when you add another vehicle to your policy, even if you don't decrease the primary vehicle's mileage. And you get an older vehicle for the second car, and it costs you less to buy, less in depreciation, etc.

It still might not work out, but it doesn't cost twice as much.

Comment: Re:dumbass governors (Score 1) 235

by drinkypoo (#48211715) Attached to: Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales

As a matter of fact, those states allowing fracking have reaped huge tax benefits and for the most part has helped out ordinary citizens of those states too.

in the short term, sure. But injecting refinery wastes into the ground was illegal before fracking for a reason, and that reason is that it's toxic waste.

Comment: Re:The Force is weak in this one (Score 1) 235

by drinkypoo (#48211705) Attached to: Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales

Nonsense. Many people are not worth minimum wage. They are not worth anything at all as workers.

If you cannot find workers who are worth something as workers who will work for the wage that you're paying, then you're not paying enough. You don't need to pay less, you need to pay more.

Comment: Re:How hard is it to recognize a stoplight? (Score 1) 259

by drinkypoo (#48211661) Attached to: Will the Google Car Turn Out To Be the Apple Newton of Automobiles?

You need to compare the SDC to a fully aware human being, not a fully distracted one.

Why? A fully aware human being can also be aware while the car is driving. But most people drive in a state of at least partial distraction. You're setting the bar awfully high.

Comment: Re:Another stupid viewpoint from slate that is (Score 1) 259

by drinkypoo (#48211643) Attached to: Will the Google Car Turn Out To Be the Apple Newton of Automobiles?

If self-driving cars really start to hit the roads, cities would definitely mandate that all traffic lights show up in maps,

So what? they already mandate that the maps be correct, but roads are often shown going through (or not going through) when they don't (or do.)

Comment: No, because we already have one (Score 1) 275

by drinkypoo (#48211625) Attached to: Will Fiber-To-the-Home Create a New Digital Divide?

I live in the sticks. I have a shitty ISP that shits on my interactive sessions in favor of long-running connections like Netflix, and then tells me they don't do any shaping. But obviously they do shaping, because we have bandwidth limits. And it looks like shit. The traffic chart looks like a row of fenceposts because they flood me with packets, then send none, then flood me with more of them in order to limit my rate. This of course means that I can't do any meaningful queueing on my end, because the rate is totally inconstant.

But atop that, they offer me only an "up to 6Mbps" connection. That's not even enough to watch HD video reliably. A page full of images takes ages to load, especially since most people are still just spewing the images onto the page and they all load at once. And if that weren't enough, the connection goes down regularly, I often have to power cycle the CPE...

FTTH is not going to create a new digital divide. We already have one, and the only content lurking in the wings waiting to eat up all the bandwidth is 4k video. Most of us don't have a 4k set, so it's irrelevant.

Comment: Every troll dies, children. Not every troll truly (Score 1) 423

by drinkypoo (#48211595) Attached to: The Inevitable Death of the Internet Troll

Every troll dies, children. Not every troll truly lives.

This article is a troll. Trolling will remain alive and well unless we ban it. But if we eliminate anonymous speech (as wags like David Brin suggest) then we will harm free speech. The only way to solve this problem utterly is to change the way we feel about women, and if that could happen overnight, it probably would have done so already.

We don't know one millionth of one percent about anything.