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Comment Re:XKCD time comic (Score 1) 99

Slightly over 3000 frames, quite a bit shy of the GIF artist's vision (if you'll allow that term), but orders of magnitude more interesting for being a movie to start with, and for being set during the flooding of the Mediterranean Basin, arguably another couple of orders of magnitude more creative.

Heck, Mandelbrot zooms are more interesting than a counter.

Comment Can't we do better? (Score 3, Insightful) 99

The Long Now is a far better project than a GIF with slowly increasing numbers. Heck, Arthur Ganson's "Machine with Concrete" is better, and covers the same idea.

If they had made the GIF a 1000 year movie of non-trivial content, then it might be far more interesting. But then, "The Clock" movie which covers 24 hours is brilliant and would be hard to surpass for density of ideas.

48M frames would be about 550 hours of footage at 24 frames per second. That's multiple lifetimes worth of output for a prolific movie maker. So it's unlikely that you could really produce that many frames -- even ones that aren't that different one from the next, as you would have in a normal movie.

How about something more tractable and interesting? How about "Swan Lake" at 1/100th speed (inspired by David Michalek's "Slow Dancing")? How about a basketball game at 1/100th speed? How about time-lapse of something even slower, like a simulation of geological weathering? And those are just off the top of my head. A sequence of numbers? To celebrate GIF? Can't we do better?

Comment Re:Article is a load of rubbish. (Score 1) 146

I certainly concur that the linked article is nothing more than FUD.

But I also suspect that the code in question is also not as nefarious as everyone makes it out to be. As you point out, there are many good reasons to be able to detect when a test is happening. As a good engineer, were I to write such code, I'd want to add a failsafe to ensure that the emissions devices didn't somehow get turned off. The test states that all must be turned on, so they damned well better get turned on.

if (EngineMode.Test) {
  for (i = 0; i LessThan Engine.EmissionsDevice.NumberInstalled; i++) {
    Engine.EmissionsDevice.Enumerated(i).Mode = Enabled;
  Engine.Throttle.Sensitivity = LowSensitivity;
  Engine.Performance = PrioritizeEfficiency;
  Brakes.TractionControl.Mode = Disabled; ... etc ... // OK, we're ready for the test!

Code like that alone cannot be considered evidence of a defeat device. Evidence of sound engineering, yes. For intent to defeat, there needs to be more.

Comment Re:TFA, TFS (Score 1) 320

The risk of them going out of business is very real.

I say this someone who has owned original Bugs, Rabbits (including a GTI!), and, after a long absence from VW-ownership currently own a 2009 Jetta that is not affected by the emission issues: it would be a far greater loss to society as a whole for VW to pay such a large fine that it goes out of business than for a compromise to be reached that allows it to continue to produce absolutely great gasoline-powered cars, and continue to contribute in a very positive way to Germany's economic engine.

Yes, VW likely did bad things. Were the cars in question really all that dirty compared to, say the VW diesel engines of two decades ago? Given how completely awesome the modern VWs are in every other respect, I have a hard time imagining that they are really all that dirty. If I owned an affected diesel, I certainly wouldn't expect compensation. VW makes fantastic cars. Punishing the company so deeply that we lose VW, and Audi, and Porsche to boot? To what end? Who is going to benefit, other than lawyers?

Strict enforcement of the US and EU laws in this case may not be in the best interests of (almost) anyone at all.

Comment 1% of a huge number is still pretty large (Score 4, Insightful) 127

The closing sentence in the summary suggests that the BlackBerry 10 is a losing proposition because it represents less than 1% of the market.

The mobile phone market is so enormously vast that 1% of it would still be quite large, thankyouverymuch. Nearly everyone in the US has a phone. Let's use round numbers: say we have 300,000,000 phones in the US. 1% of that would be 3,000,000 phones. Each phone has an expected replacement cycle of 3 years, so the sales should be about 1,000,000 units per year.

Please show me a single manufacturer that would not be jumping out of their pants to move a million units a year. Heck, there probably aren't that many manufacturers that COULD deliver at that level.

Comment No. (Score 4, Interesting) 196

The beer-free tools for PCB creation have become incredibly good recently, with the exception of autorouting which is still not so great at the inexpensive end of the market.

Small-quantity PCB services are ridiculously inexpensive at often only a few dollars per board, delivered.

Component pitch has shrunk to the point that making fine lines for most chips is really hard with hobbyist etching tools. Forget vias.

So when are DIY PCBs useful? Maybe with single-sided surface mount boards that have medium-pitch components when board quality isn't so important, and you need it in hours, not days-to-weeks.

When does that happen? Never, for me. Really, never.

Add in the storage and surface areas required for the chemicals and processing, the setup/cleanup time, the toxicity of the chemicals, and there's a very good reason I have not ever, not once, even considered making my own PCB.

When I need to prototype circuits, point-to-point works really well, and using SMT adapters that are also ridiculously inexpensive. And even then, the battles you have to wage with noise coupled with the really inexpensive costs of professionally-made boards make it almost not worth constructing point-to-point (and in my experience, breadboards universally suck).

So should you make your own PCBs? If the making of the PCB isn't an end until itself for the pleasure of constructing the board, then the answer is, "no." If you like playing with resist layers, electroetch, and stuff like that, then sure. I mean, you could wind your own resistors, too, if you really wanted to. And there's a fellow who makes his own tubes, too (he's amazing, and I admire the skill). But buy your PCBs, don't make them.

Comment Re:Depth (Score 2) 53

It goes to show how vastly different water is from air. I mean, yes, obviously there are differences, but we take them largely for granted except for those like the parent who intentionally explore them. 90 meters vertical difference is less than the height of many buildings (its, very roughly, 30 floors). In air, we barely think about that sort of altitude change.

But in water, where every 10 m or so is an additional atmosphere of pressure, going down the same distance is a Big Frelling Deal. We may exist in a nice fat slab of the earth's atmosphere, but we are only surface dwellers on the water.

One of the world's most famous vessels is Jacques Cousteau's Calypso. At 42 m long, she isn't a very big ship. If you put two Calypsos end-to-end vertically, that wouldn't quite reach the newly-discovered submarine.

Comment Re:Slower, Same range, within 5 years?!? (Score 1) 213

Oh, and will someone explain what BMW is doing with the i3? When I think BMW, I think sport sedan. That thing has the specs of a Nissan Leaf and the looks of a Scion Cube. I'd expected something Tesla-ish.

On the European side of the Pond, BMW manufactures and sells a lot of things that don't fit into the sport sedan slot. Like covered scooters, hatchbacks, SUVs, and station wagons. Not all of them are available Stateside. Ultra-small cars for the urban market, like the i3, are all the rage in Europe where the small streets and tight parking make a classic VW Beetle look like a large car.

Comment Re:Stuck in traffic (Score 1) 247

That would be awesome. Especially when nearly all cars have some rudimentary autonomous capability as well as the ability to communicate with each other. Then, when the light turns green, the entire fleet can move forward as one, rather than starting up with a traveling wave and wasting gobs of time. Intelligent intersections and cars will make urban travel far more efficient than the horrorshow one finds in some cities.

LA freeways are a good use-case for autonomous driving: generally slow-varying traffic patterns, with all cars moving at mostly the same speed. Since it only took me 5 seconds to realize that, I have to imagine the people actually working on the problem are attacking that sort of low-hanging fruit.

Comment Re:The transience of "broadcast signals" (Score 2) 275

The counter-argument to all of the broadcast hoo-ha is that when you're standing a gazillion miles away from Earth, you're going to be receiving ALL of the broadcast signals on a given frequency. Do you really think that's going to be indistinguishable from noise even if you know what frequency to look at?

We aren't going to find ET by looking at inadvertent EM spill. We are going to find civilizations that want to be found and are sending a bright, intentional signal that has characteristics that make it pop out from the background. It might be at high probability targets, like Earth. Earth would have been judged to be a high probability target by its size, distance from Sol, atmospheric composition, and accompanying gas giants (to clear most of the potential impact material away quickly during solar system formation).

Such a signal may have already been found.

Comment Re:Flawed premise... (Score 4, Interesting) 210

To assume that all chemical interaction stops merely because you've put a liquid in a glass container is perhaps somewhat naive. Whiskey, wine, and essentially everything else, continues to age in the bottle, albeit at different rates. Given the profound changes that are evident in a matter of days-to-months when wood is included in the ageing process, it is easy to dismiss the changes that happen when it is not included, but that is a mistake.

I make a sour cherry infusion from brandy. It matures significantly in sealed glass, changing color from bright cherry to deep maroon, and peaking in flavor at 5-8 years. The biggest change in color comes after the first year, but the taste continues to develop, significantly, over many years. After about 15 years, the flavor starts to lose it's depth, and it becomes less interesting.

I have no doubt that a difference could be detected between a whiskey aged in vial that in microgravity would lack convective currents versus the equivalent on Earth if vibration were adequately controlled such that convection would be the major mixing force on Earth versus diffusion in space. I do not, however, think anyone could predict what the differences would be. An interesting follow-on experiment would be to age whiskey in a centrifuge at 2g, 5g, 10g, and beyond. In an ultra-centrifuge, convection also essentially ceases as a mixing mechanism, but now diffusion would in addition be limited.

Comment Re:animated gif which shows the plagiarism (Score 1) 211

Among the differences that the excellent animation makes clear:

1. Lower case I (i) is made inexplicably ugly. Perhaps it helps legibility at lower rendering sizes, I'm not sure.

2. Parentheses have been moved such that the left paren is moved a little more left, and the right paren a little more right: this gives function calls an arguably more natural look if you like space around the arguments. In particular open/close next to each other are less awkwardly placed with the new spacing.

3. Underscore (_) has been made discontinuous, such that repeated underscores are no longer a single line. You might like this, you might not. The underscore character was originally intended to become a continuous line and used to underline letters (and by originally, I mean with typewriters and lead type).

4. Lower case R (r) has been moved left. This makes words like "try" more evenly spaced, but screws up "stderr". You can't have everything in a monospaced font.

5. Square brackets ([ and ]) have been moved left and right, like parentheses, for the same effect.

A lot of people seem to be slamming it, but perhaps it isn't all that bad.

Comment Re:She deserves to be in prison (Score 3, Informative) 303

I don't know the relevant law (or really much of any law) in detail, and hope that someone here who does can express an informed, educated opinion.

Stuff that is TS/SCI (Top Secret / Sensitive Compartmented Information) is what commonfolk call state secrets. It's stuff that is so important to national security that we call people who share it with non-cleared foreign folks spies and charge them with treason, and the punishment is up to and including death. It is a Big Frelling Deal. That's the heavy hammer that's being threatened and used against Assange, Snowden and Manning for doing the same thing, albeit on a larger and wider scale. Just storing it on a non-secure system within the government is considered Bad Form and subject to disciplinary action or worse. Printing it out and taking it home is Particularly Bad Form. Doesn't forwarding it over private email systems amount to all of that and much more?

Why aren't we calling for Hillary's political head, if not sending her to jail?

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (9) Dammit, little-endian systems *are* more consistent!