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Comment: First press reports not very good. (Score 2) 405

by Animats (#47809751) Attached to: In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

The problem here is that the press reports are just rehashes of what the cops are putting out. Somebody should find this guy and interview him. He may be in hiding for reasons of his own.

His book is self-published on Amazon. It's been out since 2011, and you can read a sample there. This guy is not the next Steven King. A typical sentence: "As Zea approaches her partner she cannot restrain herself from hyperventilating as she peers at the black embossed letters on the translucent glass sign above the entrance to the central atrium".

Today, the Los Angeles Times quotes cops as saying "Everybody knew about the book in 2012", and that this is more about a four-page letter he recently sent to officials in Dorchester County, containing "complaints of alleged harassment and an alleged possible crime". There may be more clarity over the next few days, now that the story is getting attention.

Comment: Re:Same thing from ultra-orthodox Jews. (Score 1) 513

by Animats (#47804259) Attached to: Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

Leaving any orthodox religion is hard, after so many years of hard-line indoctrination.

In Israel, it's very hard to leave. There are extensive Government benefits for ultra-orthodox, including subsidized housing, pay for religious study, and unlimited draft deferments. This is on top of the heavy social pressure, the lack of marketable skills, and the language barrier (the ultra-orthodox in Israel speak Yiddish, not Hebrew.)

Comment: Re:Weight (Score 1) 208

by Animats (#47804185) Attached to: Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones

"Wind is a particular hazard, because drones weigh so little compared with regular planes."

Small drones don't have much inertia. They can be easily flipped by a small local wind gust. This is a big problem for drones that operate close to buildings, where there are eddies and turbulence as air hits the building. Pass the corner of a building and the wind situation may be completely different.

Very smart and aggressive stability control systems are able to overcome this. See this drone from PSI Tactical, which weighs about 0.5Kg and is supposed to be able to operate in winds up to 30MPH.

Comment: Yes, we know that. (Score 4, Informative) 218

by Animats (#47802079) Attached to: Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed

Battery storage for bulk power has been talked up for years. Mostly by the wind industry. With solar power, you get peak power and peak air conditioning load around the same time. Wind varies about 4:1 over 24 hours, even when averaged across big areas (California or the eastern seaboard). So the wind guys desperately need to store power generated at 4AM, when it's nearly worthless, so they can resell at 2PM. When the wind farm companies start installing batteries at their own expense, this will be a real technology.

With the US glut of natural gas, this isn't needed right now. Natural gas peaking plants aren't all that expensive to build, and make money even if they only run for maybe 6 hours a day. That covers most peak needs.

There are other ways to store energy. Some of the dams of the California Water Project have reversible turbines, which can run either as pumps or generators. They pump water uphill at night, when power is cheap, and let it down during the afternoon to generate power. Since the dams and pumps are needed for water handling anyway, this adds little cost.

Comment: Re:If the Grand Ayatollah's against it.... (Score 1) 513

by Phil Karn (#47801121) Attached to: Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"
The Christian fundies' fear of Sharia Law is one of the most ironically amusing things to come out of them in recent years. If they didn't spend so much time railing against our consitutitional separation of church and state, maybe, just maybe they might realize that it's exactly what protects them from such an (unlikely) threat.

Comment: Re:Nothing really new (Score 2) 185

by c (#47799509) Attached to: Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

Hundreds of millions of potential customers will have this technology on Apple's [single] platform. Keyword: "Single."

Seeing how NFC typically needs hardware support, it would be starting with this generation of devices, and unless Apple does something different from the usual "downgrade existing top tier models and drop the bottom" then only the top end and most expensive models for the next couple years will have it.

Unless they sell a lower-priced iWatch or some other dongle that "expands" the existing iPhone range to support NFC (which would actually be pretty smart of them, so I wouldn't be surprised) or unless the last couple generations of devices have sold with disabled NFC hardware buried inside, it's not unreasonable to say that there will be NFC versus non-NFC fragmentation for at least another year.

Comment: Why? Nobody uses NFC payments (Score 1) 185

by Animats (#47798687) Attached to: Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

A few years ago, those Google NFC payment terminals were all over Silicon Valley. Nobody used them. Newer credit card terminals show no sign of supporting them, although some apparently have the hardware inside for it.

Another problem is that if the technology just requires the phone's presence, not interaction on the phone, it's insecure. "Near field communication" is only supposed to be up to 20cm, but a 2013 paper at Black Hat demonstrated connectivity at 100cm, which is good enough for crime. If it does require interaction on the phone, the user has to activate the phone, navigate to some app, and deal with the app. This is slower than swiping a credit card.

It's easier to do than card-reader skimmers.

Comment: Re:HEY LOOK, I FOUND AN ASSHOLE ON THE INTERNET! (Score 1) 1238

Both are garbage, and neither are science.

That the humanities are not science is obvious. To say that the social sciences are not science is crazy, and to say that they both are "garbage" is the bad kind of weird. Admittedly, it does help explain why you think Thunderf00t is rational.

Science limits itself to dealing with only things that are falsifiable and testable. This is precisely why science is so successful and reliable, because it limits itself to things that it can succeed at. However, some things that are important for humans to understand do not currently satisfy one or both of these criteria. For that, other methodologies are required.

Art is important. History is important. Music is important. Literature is important. Morality is important. Languages are important. The law is important. These things cannot be analysed with the same tools that you would use to analyse an atom, or a cell, or a galaxy, but they must be analysed nonetheless.

Comment: Same thing from ultra-orthodox Jews. (Score 4, Informative) 513

by Animats (#47798195) Attached to: Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

Many ultra-orthodox rabbis who demand their followers not use uncensored smartphones or uncensored internet access. In 2012, a big anti-Internet rally for ultra-orthodox Jews was held in New York. "The siren song of the Internet entices us! It brings out the worst of us!" The event was streamed live and is summarized on YouTube.

There are ultra-orthodox ISPs with filtering. The filtering is very stringent, based on a rabbi-approved whitelist. "That's all you get, and nothing else."

There are kosher cell phones. "Kosher Phone has no camera, no Bluetooth capabilities, no memory card slot and cannot be connected to a computer."

That's in the US. In Israel, kosher cell phones are so locked down that only approved numbers can be called. Even rape crisis centers are blocked.

Comment: Re:customer-centric (Score 1) 406

by c (#47796967) Attached to: Microsoft Defies Court Order, Will Not Give Emails To US Government

Actually they data is in Europe the judge is trying to say since they have access to it from the US they need to turn it over. The data is under the control of a division incorporated in Europe.

If the parent company, located in the US, can just access the data any time they want and (presumably) do whatever the heck they want with it, then it's a bit of a stretch to say that the data is "under the control" of anyone else under anyone else's laws.

Basically, if a multinational corporation doesn't structure itself such that it actually respects borders and separate jurisdictions in its day-to-day operations, I see no reason why stuff like this shouldn't happen.

It'd be a whole other story if there were internal firewalls. You know, something like "well, according to Corporate Directive 1444.18.c, the only way we can transfer this account data to the US is either at the request of the user or under an EU court order; yeah, too bad, take it up with Legal".

Comment: Re:Somehow (Score 5, Interesting) 88

by DoofusOfDeath (#47794917) Attached to: RAYA: Real-time Audio Engine Simulation In Quake

Somehow this will cause someone to puke.

As someone who's worked on 30-year-old acoustic ray tracing software models, the fact that they're attempting to get a patent make me want to puke.

Fortunately, we can count on the vigilant patriots at the USPTO to view the patent with skepticism, and bring a combination of deep domain knowledge and Rottweiler-like tenacity to look for prior art.

"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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