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Comment: Devil's Bullets (Score 1) 216

by pavon (#49572657) Attached to: US Successfully Tests Self-Steering Bullets

Now, George was a good straight boy to begin with,
but there was bad blood in him someway
he got into the magic bullets and
that leads straight to Devil's work
just like marywanna leads to heroin
You think you can take them bullets and leave 'em, do you?
Just save a few for your bad days.
well...

Well, now we all have those bad days when we can't hit for shit.

The more of them magics you use,
the more bad days you have without them
So it comes down to finally
all your days being bad without the bullets
It's magics or nothing.
Time to stop chippying around and kidding yourself,
kid, you're hooked, heavy as lead

And that's where old George found himself.
Out there at the crossroads.
molding the Devil's bullets.
Now a man figures it's his bullets,
so it'll hit what he wants to hit.
But it don't always work out that way

You see, some bullets is special for a single aim.
A certain stag, or a certain person
And no matter where you aim, that's where the bullet will end up.
And in the moment of aiming, the gun turns into a dowser's wand,
and point where the bullet wants to go

I guess old George didn't rightly know what he was getting himself into,
the fit was on him and it carried him right to the crossroads.

- Tom Waits, The Black Rider

The Military

US Successfully Tests Self-Steering Bullets 216

Posted by Soulskill
from the bad-news-for-Neo dept.
mpicpp sends this report from The Independent: The United States Department of Defense has carried out what it says is its most successful test yet of a bullet that can steer itself towards moving targets. Experienced testers have used the technology to hit targets that were actively evading the shot, and even novices that were using the system for the first time were able to hit moving targets. The project, which is known as Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance weapon, or Exacto, is being made for the American government's military research agency, DARPA. It is thought to use small fins that shoot out of the bullet and re-direct its path, but the U.S. has not disclosed how it works. Technology in the bullet allows it to compensate for weather and wind, as well as the movement of people it is being fired at, and curve itself in the air as it heads towards its target.

Comment: Higher, at first ... (Score 3, Interesting) 142

by pavon (#49474825) Attached to: How do your actual ISP speeds compare to the advertised speed?

My CenturyLink DSL connection starts out slightly faster than the advertized rate, but if do any sort of sustained high bandwidth activity, it slowly gets worse and worse. So anytime I watch something on Netflix it starts out at the highest quality, and then every 5-10 minutes stops to rebuffer at a lower quality, until it hits 0.7 Mbps. This occurs regardless of whether I am watching during peak hours or not, and I've seen it with long FTP downloads as well so it is not specific to Netflix, or caused by congestion.

I haven't been able to track down whether it is caused by ISP throttling, or if my wireless router / DSL modem has issues with sustained use. I've tried doing speed tests before, during, and after the problem occurs and they always show that my connection has the full advertized speed.

Comment: Re:Credit Ratings (Score 1) 75

by pavon (#49441105) Attached to: FTC Creates Office Dedicated To "Algorithmic Transparency"

Yeah it is really crappy that a company can lie to the credit agencies about you, destroying your credit score and there is nothing you can do about it. I mean, you can file to have the information in your credit report corrected (because those are statements of facts which would constitute libel), but they aren't required to stop including that information in your credit score (because the score is a statement of opinion) and they usually don't.

Comment: Monitors != Lighting (Score 1) 328

by pavon (#49251727) Attached to: New Crop of LED Filament Bulbs Look Almost Exactly Like Incandescents

Yes, you can't tell the difference in the spectrum of the light when you are staring at the light, so when looking at objects whose color is purely emisive, like TVs and monitors then you can represent the entire gamut of color that the human eye can see by combining three primary colors.

But this breaks down when you are looking at objects that are reflecting that light, because the way those materials reflect light absolutely is wavelength specific. In that case if you have two lights that appear to be the exact same color when staring at them (or when shining them against a white wall), but have different spectra, then objects illuminated with those two lights can look very different because they absorb and reflect those spectra differently. A normal person won't be able to quantify why they look different, but they will know that something is "off" and may get an impression of the lighting in vague terms like mood or character.

So no, you can't fake a lighting spectrum with just 3 primaries, which is why producing good LED lighting has been much harder than producing good LED monitors.

Comment: Re:This is a bug not a feature (Score 4, Insightful) 328

by pavon (#49246417) Attached to: New Crop of LED Filament Bulbs Look Almost Exactly Like Incandescents

For the entire history of the human race nearly all the lighting we have encountered has been block-body radiation, and a black body spectrum will always look better and more natural to us than other light spectrum. So florescent and sodium vapor will finally die off as LEDs become less expensive, but variations in color temperature will never go away. Warm lights will always feel more cozy and intimate just like campfires and candles have always been. Cool light will always feel a bit dreary, like an overcast day. And Daylight spectrum will always feel bright and cheerful. Opinions on whether a living room should be bright and cheerful or warm and comforting may vary. But unless we somehow stop experiencing natural lighting whatsoever, and evolve into Morlocks, variants of black body light will retain their historical associations.

Comment: Layers of imitation. (Score 3, Insightful) 328

by pavon (#49246185) Attached to: New Crop of LED Filament Bulbs Look Almost Exactly Like Incandescents

These are really cool. But it did make me chuckle when the article talked about how current LED candelabra bulb in particular are quite ugly. The candelabra bulbs were made to (poorly) mimic the shape of candle flame, and now we are attempting to mimic that imitation because we have gotten used to the way it looks :)

Comment: Re:Necissary, not sufficient. (Score 1) 99

by pavon (#49181093) Attached to: Has the Supreme Court Made Patent Reform Legislation Unnecessary?

I think you're misguided. The criteria for patentability has never been bad, and has actually gotten worse since the recent change to "first to file".

Yes it has been, and your following paragraphs demonstrate clearly why this is so

The problem is it's impossible for anyone to know what can or cannot be patented without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring an entire team of lawyers to search through the back catalogue of patents and inventions and court precedents.
The patent office does not have enough staff to do proper research while a patent is being filed. If they did proper research, they would only be able to approve a handful of patents per year with the number of employees currently working at the PTO.

The problem with the current system is that the PTO has taken the approach of only rejecting patents if they can find documented evidence that someone has done the exact same thing before. If there is a single independent claim for which they can't find exact prior art in a timely manner, then they approve the patent, regardless of how similar it is to other prior art. They deliberately ignore the obviousness of the patent because they don't want to have to defend subjective decisions against appeal.

The recent Supreme Court rulings have forcefully asserted that this is not acceptable. The law clearly states that obviousness is one of the criteria for patentability and therefore the USPTO and courts must take that into consideration when deciding patentability. Furthermore, they have stated that if the improvement that an invention makes on prior art is not patentable by itself, then the invention is not patentable. This is a huge decision because it rules out a ton of "on a computer" and business model patents that combined things that weren't patentable on their own into something that was patentable in aggregate. This second issue is likely to have an even bigger impact as it can be applied more objectively than the first which increases the chances that the USPTO will embrace it. Furthermore, if anything these changes decrease the amount of research the PTO has to perform for an average application.

It simply isn't possible for a small company to defend themselves at all, their only viable option is to settle out of court which inevitably means nobody actually knows whether or not the patent is valid. After years of watching this issue closely I have never seen a small company defend themselves in court. Some have tried, but every single one gives up and settles out of court half way through the process.

Agreed which is why we need these reforms. They proposed two important changes. First is to strictly limit how much information the plaintiff can subpoena during discover. This prevents fishing expeditions and prevents discovery from turning into a war of attrition, which will make defending oneself against patent claims faster and less expensive. Secondly it allows defendant to challenge the validity of the patent before discovery has taken place, potentially avoiding the vast majority of the expense of defending oneself, if the patent is determined to be invalid by the new post-Alice standards.

Personally I don't see how any reform could possibly fix the problem. There are certainly ways to improve the situation but I don't think anything can truly fix it. I've never seen anybody suggest a viable solution.

I have no disillusions that these changes will magically make the patent system perfect. In fact I expect the USPTO and the lower courts to continue to be slow to adopt them, but they address the two biggest issues with the patent system today - the low standards for patents and the cost of defending against them - which is more than I can say about any other proposed changes to the patent system in the last 50 years.

Comment: Necissary, not sufficient. (Score 4, Interesting) 99

by pavon (#49177913) Attached to: Has the Supreme Court Made Patent Reform Legislation Unnecessary?

Granted, the biggest problem with the patent system has been that the criteria for patentability has been so loose, and the recent Supreme Court rulings will certainly do more to fix that root cause than the recent patent reform bills. Hopefully going forward these new rulings will improve the quality of patents approved and upheld in court, which is by far the single most important reform needed in the long run.

But in the meanwhile there are more than 20 years of bad patents that have been granted, and the costs of defending against a patent lawsuit is still far greater than the cost of settling. We need to make it less expensive to challenge existing patents if we don't want them to continue to be a burden for the next 20+ years. That is exactly what the reform bills were about. They were designed to be complementary to the Supreme Court rulings, addressing a different parts of the problem.

Comment: Re:Cash (Score 1) 230

by pavon (#49174623) Attached to: Will you be using a mobile payment system?

Yeah, but the cash registers don't record anything. That eliminates all the automated tracking of your purchases which is 99% percent of the problem. It is still possible to track what you buy though manual investigation, but that would be true even without the ATM info (security camera correlated with register records, etc).

Comment: Re:From an Audio Engineer (Score 1) 99

by pavon (#49074623) Attached to: New Map Shows USA's Quietest Places

$12 is cheap for something that lasts years (with occasional use) and prevents you from going deaf at rock concerts, while still allowing you to hear the music like it was supposed to sound, instead of sounding like you are underwater. These are not audiophile pseudoscience garbage, the frequency response of the earplugs is scientifically quantifiable, and the difference in sound quality is immediately obvious to anyone who tries them, not just idiots with "golden ears" who can hear differences that don't exist. Like the AC posted, these aren't the only brand, but AFAIK they all are pretty much in the same price range until you get into custom fit professional models, at which point you are paying for comfort more than quality.

If Machiavelli were a hacker, he'd have worked for the CSSG. -- Phil Lapsley

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