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Comment: People (Score 2) 215

by nick_davison (#47804667) Attached to: Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones

What other issues do Amazon, DHL, Google, and other need to solve?

People. Bored, often too intelligent for their own good, people.

How long before trolls figure out they can drive their cars close enough and in such a manner that self driving cars execute lane changes to avoid accidents and pull off the freeway? Or until someone realizes they can jam the car's sensors and the poor passenger, with no access to a steering wheel, can't convince the car to pull out of the open parking spot it's convinced it's barricaded in?

How long before an Amazon delivery drone comes in to a house that's observed to regularly get deliveries and gets a blanket tossed over it before being purloined by nerds who just got a sweet free drone to try hacking?

Wind gusts happen. You can factor in for a typical wind gust, a severe wind gust, a once in a century wind gust. You can factor in for different types of hardware failure, for power loss, etc. You can factor in for trees, for tall buildings, for cables... They're finite problem sets.

But bored people? They're infinite.

Comment: If iPods/iPhones Have Taught Me Anything... (Score 4, Insightful) 174

by nick_davison (#47095697) Attached to: Report: Apple To Unveil "Smart Home" System

So I'll have to rewire my house every couple of years when they change from one proprietary cable standard to another?

iPod: Firewire. Buy lots of firewire connectors.
Newer iPod/iPhone: Dock connector. Toss all of your firewire accessories and move to dock connectors.
Newer iPhones: Lightning connector. Toss all of your dock connector accessories, move to lightning.

Everyone else gets to stick with USB that doesn't carry a $10 premium per cable/device because Apple just invented another proprietary standard.

Comment: Don't Assume The Worst... (Score 1) 552

by nick_davison (#47081843) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Communication With Locked-in Syndrome Patient?

Absolutely do what you can to work with the moment. But... While the doctors may be giving you bleak prognoses, from experience, they're pretty much winging it when it comes to the brain.

My wife was in a massive car accident. Shattered arm, collapsed lung, multiple breaks to her jaw, cracked eye socket, brain injuries. They induced a coma to keep her alive long enough to get her to a major hospital, called family to her bedside with a prognosis of, "IF she survives the night, it's 50:50 if she'll live." At that point, her brain stem was busy trying to retreat out of the back of her neck.

It was two weeks before they could get any response out of her, another two before she was aware. At that point, they wanted to amputate her arm and told her parents she'd never walk more than a few paces at best, would never look after herself.

Consent was given for the amputation though her mother asked the surgeon to simply do whatever he'd do for his own daughter. He spent eleven hours wiring it together and told her mother he'd most likely be back in to amputate but he'd given it a shot.

Fast forward two years, the arm survived. The girl who'd never walk more than a few paces was out of her wheelchair and starting to try to build a life on her own. In a settlement hearing (she'd bought "unlimited" coverage car insurance for the wreck she was in but there was small print saying they could modify at any time and they swapped it to $100k max five days before the accident) they acknowledged she was lucky to be walking but even the insurance lawyers, whose job was to minimize her injuries, acknowledged she'd probably never be able to return to school. No longer being able to read was a big part of that. And a huge loss to a National Merit scholarship winner, English major and librarian.

About another two years later... I'd taught her how to read again. She'd been living on her own. She returned to school. Started off barely making Cs. GPA went up every semester. She got straight As in her final semester. She now has two degrees, is a certified personal trainer and works in physical therapy. If she doesn't tell people about her injuries, they've absolutely no idea. Not bad for someone who the doctors declared would probably die, would never walk again, never look after herself and never return to school.

To message to take from this is that Traumatic Brain Injuries are absolute bitches but the medical profession has educated guesses about outcomes at best. You read up on neuroplasticity and the like and you realize they're really only just beginning to get an idea of what's possible. There are even stories of key researchers whose family members had strokes, who ignored all of the expert advice and got them back moving again by doing everything "wrong."

So days, weeks, months in... Just because the doctors tell you to prepare for the worst, don't give up. The brain does amazing things, often things they're completely clueless about it being able to do.

Comment: When You Sollicit It? (Score 5, Insightful) 166

Tarantino's lawyers are arguing that it wasn't available online - until Gawker offered to pay anyone who leaked a copy.

It's not illegal to report a murder. It is illegal to say, "I'll pay $10,000 for the exclusive story for the person who kills my wife."

IANAL and I've no idea whether that analogy holds true for copyright but it's apparently the angle Tarantino's lawyers are pursuing - that it's not the linking so much as the linking to an act they solicited.

Comment: Re:All the better.. (Score 5, Informative) 204

by nick_davison (#43883931) Attached to: WY Teen Cut From Science Fair For Entering Too Many

“The South Dakota fair is close and gives our kids another opportunity to present their work,” Scribner said. “I think that was some of our motivation, and it did give our kids another chance to qualify.

The school absolutely used multiple fairs to get extra chances to qualify - they outright say so. And that's exactly why the rule's in place.

They put the rule in place to stop people failing at one using other fairs as a chance to succeed at another. He failed at one then used another to succeed. The school uses the second fair for exactly that purpose. And then they're shocked when they discover there was a rule to prevent the loophole they thought they'd discovered. That's not an unintended consequence. That's the intended consequence.

Comment: Re:World of Warcraft (Score 2) 400

by nick_davison (#43833517) Attached to: Xbox One: Cloud Will Quadruple the Power, Says Microsoft

Simcity was just a botched attempt to do what mmo do.

No. SimCity was a blatant attempt to impose DRM through the absolute lie that powerful calculations were carried out on the server.

Simple logic would tell you that it was a lie: To claim the servers offered more power than the desktop machines is to imply EA/Maxis stood up a server farm that was "more powerful" than gamers' home rigs. Even without the GPU, you've got to figure that'd be a couple of hundred dollars (let's say $200). Figure on gamers using the game at least 20% of the time during the launch month. That's $40 in server costs... For a $60 game. Yeah, sure they did that.

Same goes for Microsoft's current claim. The XboxOne comes with an 8 core processor and 500gb HDD. Three times the power of each, huh? Even cheap, non backed up storage alone, that's $60-80 in disk space. Which is illogical as 1.5TB would take forever at most people's net connection speeds. Add in another couple of hundred for the processors? For a console that'll launch at, what, $500? Consoles that are famous for running at a loss at launch and slim margins thereafter. And half the retail price goes to server AWESOMEZ?

In both cases, claims of amazing server power is an absolute lie to justify the real goal: Force users to connect to the server, attached to a single key you can track, piracy ceases to be such an issue.

And if there was any doubt about just how little processing power SimCity's servers provided, despite claims that hugely complex tasks could be offloaded, making a game like SC5 impossible without the cloud? The game keeps running, just fine, for a good twenty minutes after it loses its net connection. Cloud saves and a microscopic amount of processing to say, "this is the state of other cities in the region," is about it.

MMOs handle a huge amount of game state on the servers that has to be synchronized in real time. The difficulty of piracy is a nice side effect but a side effect nonetheless. SimCity 5 and the XBoxOne are both blatant attempts to make piracy as difficult as possible while waving the false flag of awesome server side processing.

Comment: Purple Mouse (Score 4, Funny) 230

by nick_davison (#42892127) Attached to: New Medal Designed To Honor Cyber Soldiers

Isn't the whole point of medals to reward someone for putting their life on the line to protect their country?

That, sir, is un-American thinking. Those brave young men and women put their carpal tunnels on the line for you every day and they haven't even been granted a Purple Mouse in recognition.

Comment: I Don't Think It's A New Thing... (Score 3, Insightful) 470

by nick_davison (#42805305) Attached to: Is the Era of Groundbreaking Science Over?

There's still plenty we don't know, but so much of it is highly specialized that many breakthroughs are understood by only a handful.

Spare a thought for poor Charles Darwin. He published Origin Of The Species in 1859 and, over a century and a half later, only 39% of Americans fully believe it.

At least Samuel Pierpoint Langley, Svante Arrhenius and Arvid Högbom have managed to convince 63% that global climate change is real and they've only been going since the 1890s.

Still, could be worse: Galileo was imprisoned for the remainder of his life and his writing banned in 1618. The establishment (Catholic Church) didn't lift that interdiction on heliocentrism until 1822. Darwin's got another half century before he reaches Galileo's 204 years.

Comment: Re:Buy plain bricks.... (Score 1) 425

by nick_davison (#42379741) Attached to: Has Lego Sold Out?

Go online:

You can buy tubs and boxes of generic bricks, pick a brick or themed groups such as all windows and doors or all wheels.

The Creator range is where you find your classic feel sets. Generic buildings and cars with multiple ideas per set.

City is still there if you want the early 80s style minifigs and fire stations vibe.

And for those with a sense of the dramatic, they have their huge modular buildings line.

Stores don't sell them due to licensed sets selling faster. But Lego absolutely still makes "plain kits."

Comment: Lego or the retailers sold out? (Score 1) 425

by nick_davison (#42379725) Attached to: Has Lego Sold Out?

You can absolutely buy raw bricks and simple generic sets still. You just need to go to Lego's website, Legoland or somewhere like Amazon. If you go to Target or Walmart, they'll sell you the odd tub but everything else is branded because that's what sells better. Where shelf space isn't a premium, you can find the whole range. So is it Lego selling out or the retailers?

You can buy tubs and boxes of generic bricks, pick a brick or themed groups such as all windows and doors or all wheels.

The Creator range is where you find your classic feel sets. Generic buildings and cars with multiple ideas per set.

City is still there if you want the early 80s style minifigs and fire stations vibe.

And for those with a sense of the dramatic, they have their huge modular buildings line.

If you want "traditional lego," it's very much still available. You just can't buy it in stores because the stores choose to stock the faster selling branded sets. I'd argue that's not Lego selling out - as they still make their product for anyone who wants it - but rather the retailers doing so.

Comment: Resignation Genius (Score 5, Interesting) 214

by nick_davison (#41952857) Attached to: Director General of BBC Resigns Over "Poor Journalism"

Resigning is the RightThingToDo(TM), it's the ultimate apology

His payoff is equal to one year's pay of £450,000 (approaching $700,000).

Which he gets to claim for 54 days of work that he's also already been paid for. By quitting now, he's made just a hair under £10,000/day ($16,000/day), including weekends.

If he'd stayed for five years plus a final year's payoff, he'd have been paid a fifth of that rate.

I wish I could fail that hard.

Comment: They May Be Evil... But No One's Car Lot Evil! (Score 1) 217

by nick_davison (#41946019) Attached to: Blizzard Sued Over Authentication

"When I buy a car the dealer doesn't tell me that I have to buy a car alarm with it at extra cost."

You've not bought a car from a dealer lot recently, have you?

Expect to find LoJack (even in markets where the local police have bought zero units), alarms, windshield VIN etching, clear paint protectors, sealants, rust proofing, teflon upholstery protection and a wide variety of exciting floor mats pre installed and added on to the price of every actually available car, taking them way above and beyond the "Starting From..." low, low advertized MSRP on the banners around the lot. Listen to the radio commercials where whichever "mile of cars" with "over X thousand vehicles to choose from!" has "three at this price."

The difference between Blizzard and a car lot is, if Blizzard were a car lot, they'd be telling you, "We're sorry, the only copies we've got on hand today already have their accounts hooked to a validator and we can't remove it. We could order you a copy without a validator in 8-12 weeks or you can pay the premium to take a copy home today."

Comment: As Kim Dotcom Just Heard That (Score 4, Funny) 531

US Government: "You don't own anything stored in the cloud."

Kim Dotcom: "Sweet. The US government has declared cloud stored data is not 'owned.' If you don't own it, if it's not yours, how could you possibly be liable for it? Everyone please subscribe to my new service!"

Comment: If the dock connector's the problem, don't use it. (Score 1) 158

by nick_davison (#41273975) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Hackable Portable Music Player For Helicopters?

"Our first choice would be to give each pilot an iPod, but Apple is notoriously anti-hacking and anti-open source, plus you have to pay them ridiculous licensing fees to get access to their USB interface."

If your first choice would otherwise be an iPod but you can't hack their USB... don't. You don't need to.

Every time I ride my motorcycle, I control my iPhone playlists just fine without anything USB driven. The bike headset uses bluetooth and gives me play, pause, skipping in both directions, volume, controls.

I'm guessing what's already on your flight controls is no more than that. So find someone else who's already done the work and piggyback off it. All you need to do is wire your controls to the controls on the pre-existing device and you're done.

The iPod/iPhone connects in via aux so it's not hard wired. The controls themselves, you were always going to have to reconnect and get FAA approval anyway. If you want to save even more money and go with a pre bluetooth spec iPod, bluetooth receivers that mount in to their dock connectors are $50. Should be solveable in an afternoon and you get your first choice of player.

Note: It's pretty much taken as a confirmed rumor that Apple's changing dock connectors with the new iPhone. That said, bluetooth means you're only replacing the charging cable anyway.

Porsche: there simply is no substitute. -- Risky Business