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Comment: Re:Additional risk to us: (Score 1) 522

by oren (#31224422) Attached to: What Happens In Vegas Happens In Afghanistan

"There's a reason we separate military and the police: one fights the enemy of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people."

Color me stupid, but isn't the army's job exactly "to serve and protect the people"? The moment that the army is used for anything else is exactly the moment you get into trouble.

The difference between the army and the police is that the police protects the people from themselves, while the army protects the people from "the others". That's why both are restricted, but in different ways; the police has to obey a mountain of laws about the people's rights, has limited fire power, but has power over all citizens; while the army is subject to much fewer laws, is given nukes, but in general has no authority over citizens.

Comment: As Tolstoy said (Score 1) 396

by oren (#31202114) Attached to: What Knowledge Gaps Do Self-Taught Programmers Generally Have?
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way". Same for self (or partially) taught developers. Each will have a different gap. It depends on the developer's interests, project history, etc. A self-taught game developer may have a solid grasp of 3D and analytic geometry, while a self-taught web developer may have a solid grasp of database theory. Presumably, a developer who went through academic training will know at least something about both (and many other issues) - depending which school he went too, but that's another discussion. So, bottom line is, "it depends".

Comment: Re:Head Tracking? (Score 1) 186

by oren (#30773718) Attached to: Checking In On Project Natal

Granted, head tracking will make things look very strange for anyone other than the tracked player, and some people would get headaches or otherwise dislike it. But I would expect that a fair number of Xbox players do play by themselves, and many people didn't get a headache watching Avatar. Making head tracking a configurable option would easily deal with both problems.

I get your point about field of vision, however. Maybe head tracking just doesn't work for console games where the user's head is far from the monitor. It would be really sad if that turned out to be the case... That said, Lee's video shows him using a console-like viewing distance. And why would Microsoft hire him for project Natal if his concept wouldn't work for consoles? So I'm not losing all hope of seeing it in project Natal yet.

I do wish that any of the so-called "journalists" would actually ask this question instead of mindlessly parrot Microsoft's press releases as news. Oh well. It won't kill me to wait another year to find the answer out, whatever it is.

Comment: Head Tracking? (Score 1) 186

by oren (#30771752) Attached to: Checking In On Project Natal
I can never figure out from all these articles whether or not Natal will have 3D based on head tracking. I am much less interested in full-body-control. Head tracking would apply to almost every 3D game, with little or no modification; full-body-control applies to a smaller subset of the games - and users, for that matter. Sure, they hired Johnny Lee but I haven't seen any explicit statement in that regard. Does anyone have any hard info on that?

Comment: Don't move! (Score 4, Funny) 119

by oren (#30697104) Attached to: Control Your Apps Without Your Finger

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

"For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive -- you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure, of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same program."

Comment: Loss of privacy (Score 1) 361

by oren (#30655048) Attached to: DVD-CSS's Encryption Not Enough? Here Comes DECE

The system you describe is similar to what is described in TFA (licenses stored in the cloud, play content anywhere). One issue with it is further erosion of privacy. Whoever owns the licenses service knows where you are, what you watch, how often you watch it, etc.

Then again, Amazon knows what books you have bought, and the Kindle could track what you read and when if they wanted to; your mobile phone knows where you are; Netflix knows what you watch and your DVR knows what you watch and when; Google knows what you are searching for; Facebook knows who you friends are...

Perhaps David Brin ("The transparent society") was right and privacy is doomed no matter what. People who grew up in a world where it existed will just fade away and the children of today will not understand what the fuss is about. I'm old enough to be deeply uncomfortable with this, though.

Comment: Two anecdotes (Score 5, Insightful) 929

by oren (#30459234) Attached to: Israeli Border Police Shoot US Student's Laptop

First - My work place was on the 3rd floor overlooking a main post office. I remember a case where someone left his groceries when he picked up his mail from his mailbox. About 20m later, we saw the guy sprinting back a few blocks down the street. However, the bomb disposal people were at ground level... and their robot shot his bag before he could get close enough for them to see him. Veggies everywhere. So no, this isn't picking up on someone in particular. Leave a bag unattended in a sensitive public place, and this may happen to you - regardless of who and what you are.

Second - I am sure this girl had a most unpleasant time. She is overlooking the fact that she wasn't a suspect as such. If you were a terrorist trying to smuggle a bomb into a high security area, a good way would be to plant it on some young, sympathetic, naive, idealistic western girl who is "obviously" not a terrorist - a profile this girl fit to a T. To rule this out you need to ask a lot of invasive, personal, seemingly irrelevant questions. If this sounds far fetched to you, read about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nezar_Hindawi who planted a bomb in his pregnant Irish fiance's bag. I am certain she went through a most unpleasant time as well. I am also certain she appreciated keeping her and her baby's lives. I am also certain all the other passengers on her flight appreciated continuing living, too. And the crew. And all their families. And friends.

The bottom line is that security in Israel is different from the USA. Instead of inflicting ineffective, mindless, low-level nuisance on everyone, it focuses on people who may (knowingly or unknowingly) pose a risk and gives them a thoroughly unpleasant, but effective, screening. This method works. And for most people, Israeli security is a much more pleasant experience than going through USA security. Of course, for the few who end up getting the 3rd degree, it is much worse.

Comment: Proproetary systems are holding GPS back (Score 1) 177

by oren (#29375169) Attached to: TomTom Announces an Open Source GPS Technology

Why can't I push a button on my cell phone and send my location to the phone of whoever is on the other side of the line? Have locations as part of the contact information in my address books? Push a button on my phone to save the current location in a contact? Use bluetooth to send a location (or even just an address) from my phone to my car or hand-held GPS so I can navigate to it? Have one GPS software to run on my Netbook that will work in the USA, Europe, Israel, Russia and China? Even when not online?

Maintaining maps is costly, for sure. But it is a cost that the government already spent using your tax money. If you think about it, it is insane to have multiple companies map the same roads and cities from scratch. At some level all the companies start with the same (tax paid) database and just tweak and update it. It may take a decade or two but eventually "free" (tax paid) maps will finally force GPS companies to focus on something other than charging money for basic maps, such as actual useful every-day functionality (and possibly specialized map layers).

Comment: Karatand! (Score 4, Interesting) 285

by oren (#29260205) Attached to: The Orange Goo That Could Save Your Laptop

Get a (thick?) glove fill with the stuff. Possibly have the external layer contain some inserts... You can now break sticks and stones - and bones - with impunity. The original concept and the name "Karatand" appear in "Stand on Zanzibar" by John Brunner. It seems you can use 3do as an approximation: http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?Bnum=1745

Comment: Change the terminology (Score 2, Interesting) 365

by oren (#28783839) Attached to: Visualizing False Positives In Broad Screening

Instead of talking about false positives and negatives and dependent distributions (which fly right over the head of the average joe), boil it down to the "amplification power" of the test. A random person "presumed innocent until proven guilty" has a chance of 1/3000 to be a terrorist. If you apply your 90% test, people failing it will be terrorists ~1/333 of the time. So the test as an "amplification power" of ~9x. Now everything becomes intuitive. You are looking for a 1-in-3000 needle in a haystack with an amplification power of ~9x, you now need to look for a ~1-in-333 needle in a haystack. The term "90% accuracy" doesn't appear anywhere to confuse things, and it is something everyone can easily grasp. And yes, I know, this ignores the terrorists false negatives; for that you say the test has a "miss rate" of 1/9 so about 1 in nine terrorists will slip through. These three numbers - (1) how rare what you are looking for is, (2) what's the "amplification power" of the test, and (3) what is the "miss rate", give you enough info to intuitively convey all you need to get a good feel for how effective the test really is.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.

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