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Comment Re:I could be missing something (Score 1) 96

Similar to the theory of light bulbs as darkness absorbers?

In a sense yes. Attractive forces like gravity and magnetism have always been a challenge to explain in terms of direct contact.

The motivation for the screening theories is that some people, or perhaps most people, have a deep-seated intuition that all of physics ought to be reducible to direct contact interaction.

You could say that one of the prime motivations of the early scientist was to prove that there were no non-direct contact forces at work in the universe, except for the force of God himself.

Comment Re:Lose the obsession with thinness (Score 1) 491

Yeah, with Marshmallow they've figured out that if the screen is off and the readings from the accelerometers (the 3 axes) are almost the same now as they were a couple of minutes ago, then it's probably fine to not burn a ton of battery doing networking and processing right now, even if an app says that it would like to do that.

Apps can still force their way through, but only once a minute at most.

I'm sure they'll switch to a more sophisticated quota system in some future OS upgrade.

Comment Re: The problem is the user (Score 1) 491

Maybe if you keep the power brick plugged in. Apple might have slacked off and decided to not optimise for low idle power when the brick is plugged in, since the user won't notice... That's where legislation might come in eventually.

It should be way less than 1W assuming everything is working normally and the laptop is not plugged in.

Comment Re:I could be missing something (Score 3, Interesting) 96

Another interesting aside is that many have tried to explain gravity by postulating that the universe is full of tiny particles that fly about randomly in all directions and that gravity works because bodies block the particles from hitting one another.This is sometimes called the screening theory of gravity.

If you make some reasonable assumptions you will find that two nearby bodies would block particles from hitting one another, creating forces that follow the inverse square law...

These theories also predict that planets will de-orbit and crash into their stars, and that moons will similarly crash into their plants. But hey, no theory is perfect.

Comment Re:I've watched as the iTunes UI deteriorated.. (Score 1) 460

Yeah, I'm a big proponent of combining text and graphics whenever there is room.

If you look at design by the big software companies, Microsoft has probably been the most consistent in combining text and iconography in the last couple of decades. I don't know, but I believe they probably have a lot of data that indicates that users perform better if you combine text and icons. Maybe Apple and Google will eventually come to the same conclusions based on their own data.

Comment Re:Not Sure (Score 2) 460

Apple was actually one of the last of the big companies to adopt the flat UI style. Microsoft was first.

I don't think it's fair to credit/blame Jonathan Ive or any other Apple employee with inventing it. The flat UI was probably invented by someone at Microsoft. MS itself claims that it was a community effort. See here for example: https://www.microsoft.com/en-u...

Comment Re:I've watched as the iTunes UI deteriorated.. (Score 0) 460

Okay, but iOS i still easier to use compared to Android, which is why I steer my parents and any other people who are likely to want computer support toward iOS devices whenever it makes sense.

My mom was more productive on her iPad after a week of using it than she was with her Galaxy S2 after 3 years. Of course, the big screen of the tablet really helps compared to the tiny screen of the phone, but it's not just that. I think that a big part of why iOS is often easier to use than Android is that the cleanness of the UI prevents accidental clicks and input, which often cause users to cry help, or give up.

A mandatory back button on the bottom half of iOS devices might be a good idea, but it could also be that Apple tried it and found that users kept touching it by mistake. Maybe that's why they recommend that apps have a back button in the most inconvenient place imaginable, in the top left corner of the screen.

Comment Re:SpaceX and Boeing (Score 4, Insightful) 69

Funny how Boeing and SpaceX are competing for it but there is no mention of Boeing in the title. I smell bias.

You mean Americans who have subsidised Boeing with orders of magnitude more money in tax breaks over the decades than they have SpaceX... Yeah, they might be biased.

The rest of us just are probably just exited that a company is seriously attempting radical reductions in cost per unit of weight to orbit.

I would love to see Boing or any other mega-corporation attempt similar reductions in launch cost, but I doubt that will happen unless they are challenged by an outside company, like SpaceX...

Which brings me back to cheerleading for SpaceX. It's almost impossible to discuss space business without sounding like a SpaceX cheerleader.

Comment 2050-2065+ (Score 2, Interesting) 285

SpaceX is the only player that is making rapid progress from a high level of capability, but their progress is not nearly as rapid as Elon Musk had planned, it's more like half as rapid (which is still very impressive). If you extrapolate this into the future you get a date in the 2050-2080 range for the first Mars landing, assuming they will find funding.

Based on that, I guess the first person to walk on Mars is not born yet, but that many of us will still be alive to watch the live stream. By then, progress in radio technology should easily make it possible to stream at least one video stream (say at least 1 Mbps) from the lander to a relay satellite to Earth, as the lander travels all the way down the atmosphere, especially considering that the lander will be large enough to hold a significant power source and a fairly big antenna.

By the way, I wonder how they would power the lander during the stay on the surface. IIRC it would last for about 30 days in a short visit scenario, so we're talking quite a bit of energy, probably a couple of MWh worth just to power the life support systems.

Comment Re:Speed to blame says Guardian (Score 1) 129

Every obstacle that you put between people and their goals have a filtering effect. If you catch X% of terrorists, then the number of attacks will drop by X%, to a first approximation at least. Keep in mind that most terrorists aren't geniuses and that terrorist have limited amounts of motivation and imagination.

It is true that the government and other security workers are incompetent, but that incompetence is not complete and utter, it is only partial, which means that it can be measured as a percentage. If you have a system that ought to catch X% of terrorists, but the operators only manage to use it correctly half of the time, the system will catch X/2 % of attempts.

Most people are not imaginative enough to think of novel ways of doing things, so it makes a lot of sense to come up with ways of preventing "the last attack" if there is a cheap and reasonably effective way of doing so. Most of the time there isn't a cheap and efficient way, like with Friday's attack in Paris. It is probably fundamentally impossible to detect rifles in urban areas using any kind of small and cheap technology.

Would-be terrorist might easily over-estimate the effectiveness of these measures and be unnecessarily and unproportionally deterred, since they like most people probably don't realise how ineffective these systems usually are. If Islamic terrorists had kept trying to check in bombs as luggage at airports and then not boarding the planes they would easily have slipped quite a few bombs past the system by now, but when measures where installed, the Islamists basically stopped trying and began to resort to highjacking planes at gunpoint instead. It was not until 2001 that they realised that you could kill more victims by doing suicide attacks. That took a good while for them to figure out.

The new measures that were installed after 9/11 are incredibly expensive in terms of manpower and equipment and not very hard to bypass, so I doubt that they make sense (you could probably lower the risk of terror more by using the money elsewhere), but I don't doubt that they do deter would-be terrorists to some extent.

Comment Re:Batteries "dramatically faster, more charge etc (Score 1) 75

Yeah they do. Especially the ones that improves the rate at which you can charge your battery.

It is better for the phone maker if you have a relatively low capacity battery with rapid charging than a high capacity battery with slow charging, since the former will be charged a lot more often and will get a lot hotter when it is charged and will therefore wear out a lot sooner, which will prompt you to buy a new phone.

Sony is the one company that is consistently doing the opposite of this, by making high-end Android phones that last for two days, but that does not seem to be a winning strategy for them.

Comment This seems really simple... (Score 1) 131

If the bias is known to be X percent on average, how about you subtract those X percent from the number to get an unbiased result? You might even come up with a way to estimate the bias in each particular case based on input from the sensors.

I thing apps like RunKeeper are already doing this sort of thing, because they seem pretty accurate to me, if perhaps a little too optimistic...

The thing is, you don't win users by under-estimating their achievements.

Mommy, what happens to your files when you die?