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Comment: Re:Delivery drones (Score 1) 82

by rwa2 (#49367237) Attached to: How long until our skies are filled with drones?

Ugh, people keep wanting to talk about how drones are soooo much more inefficient than hauling tons of truck up and down hills. Yes, trucks and trains have their place for long haul efficiencies. At some point that breaks down once you start hauling more truck cargo to the final delivery point.

Also, if we had drone delivery systems, we wouldn't need such large refrigerators. But what little refrigerators I did have I wouldn't deliver by air. Unless I lived on top of an inaccessible mountain. Like some sort of rich moron.

Just use the best tool for the job. If the best tool for the job is always a F150 pickup, you might be a redneck.

Comment: Re:Delivery drones (Score 2) 82

by rwa2 (#49366283) Attached to: How long until our skies are filled with drones?

Heh, it's funny, I think the exact same things about using a sea of trucks to drive around delivering everything... "imagine the sound, the inevitable crashes, the energy consumption". Every one pound package comes with several tons of vehicle and fuel to deliver it, stringing along a dozen other packages along for the ride.

Sure, trucks and trains make sense for long haul stuff, especially when the route would traverse weather systems. But we could certainly squeeze out a lot of inefficiencies by sending out the last mile via drone network.

Energy usage is actually pretty good... the drones are light relative to their cargo, so less overhead.
Batteries and electric motors have improved tremendously over the past few decades, more than double the energy can be converted into useful work nowadays with brushless motors.
Solar energy keeps getting cheaper and cheaper, down from astronomical a few decades ago (as in, they only made sense for satellites) to "competitive with natural gas" now (and they're practically giving away natural gas for free as a byproduct of fracking.

Comment: Re:Delivery drones (Score 1) 82

by rwa2 (#49366221) Attached to: How long until our skies are filled with drones?

We'll never get away from the fact that driving tons of trucks around to deliver a few pounds of goods is extremely energy intensive and has some nasty failure modes. What happens when a truck overturns on the expressway and wipes out a few minivans full of kids? We make new trucks and new kids, apparently.

hex drones have enough redundancy to cope with common failures. It will be interesting to see if robotic flying drones or robotic driving drones will come first. I would predict flying drones, since, other than "flying is hard", it's actually less complicated than trying to program driving drones to navigate road hazards. Especially, as you mention, since driving drones will probably need human supervision anyway, so it won't really be cheaper or faster than just making the delivery guy do the lifting.

Comment: Delivery drones (Score 4, Interesting) 82

by rwa2 (#49354725) Attached to: How long until our skies are filled with drones?

"Truck Driver" is the most common job in the US now (well, only because the BLS separates "Teacher" into primary and secondary.

Go out and look at a city sometime. There are thousands of cars and trucks driving around, literally filling and overcrowding the streets. Now, what would they all be doing?

Yeah, drones aren't going to replace all of that, but they've got to be a cheaper way to deliver *most* of that eventually.

Take junk mail, for example. I can see the USPS trucks becoming semi-autonomous "drone carriers" that drive crates of mail around to each neighborhood, and then idle there while a small fleet of drones deliver your junk mail to your little mailbox "drop zones".

It will be cool getting your lunch and beer delivered by drone the first few times. And then it will become commonplace.

Way far out, drones will have the capacity and rating to carry commuters. And then it will literally hit the fan, so to speak.

+ - New bill would repeal Patriot Act

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Two Congressmen have introduced legislation to repeal the Patriot Act as well as end all unconstitutional domestic spying by government agencies.

The article notes that there is bi-partisan support for “doing something” about the out-of-control surveillance of federal agencies like the National Security Agency. I agree. Expect something like this to get passed. Whether Obama will veto it is another question. Despite what he says (which no one should every believe), he likes the idea of prying into the lives of private citizens."

Comment: Re:Quantum Computing Required? (Score 1) 291

by rwa2 (#49332705) Attached to: Steve Wozniak Now Afraid of AI Too, Just Like Elon Musk

Cool! I'd like to believe that there's way more complexity stashed away in the brain than is readily apparent, perhaps in those microtubule structures.

But after seeing some of the presentations from Mark Tilden (the engineer behind some of the RoboSapiens toys and a few other DIY BEAM robotics kits) on how sophisticated behaviors can emerge from some of the dirt-simple neural networks cobbled together from a handful of transistors, sensors, and motors in a feedback loop, it's pretty clear that there's a lot about neural networks that we just don't understand.

His simplest BEAM bots would just have maybe 9 transistors hooked up to a light sensor and one or two step motors. Depending on whether you hooked up the light sensor for positive feedback or negative feedback, the thing would eventually start twitching itself towards or away from a light source. They were trying to characterize the system behavior somehow by watching the electrical signals at various points in the network, but it still kinda defied reason. The various voltages would flop around randomly at first, but eventually all of them would start oscillating regularly in a pattern that would vibrate the bot in a particular direction using its two rudimentary "appendages". They kinda attributed it to "chaos systems theory" for emergent behavior of asynchronous neural networks, since chaos was like the handwavy buzzword of the 90s that would solve all of our large intractable problems. And of course one of the fundamental characteristics of these neural networks is that they're pretty hard to program "by hand" , you pretty much can only train them and let them adapt themselves, and there's not really all that much you can discern about how they actually work by watching parts of them or prodding them with electrodes (or tweaking their weighting values) from the sidelines.

So given that and the fact that brain networks appear to always be reconfiguring themselves to become more compact and efficient with each night's sleep, I think a lot of that can account for a lot of the "complexity gap" based on neuron counts in the brain vs. estimates of how difficult it would be to program a computer to perform common tasks like vision processing, memory recall, and speech. I think a lot of behavior is encoded in various complex rhythms of neuron groups firing in chaotic feedback loops, which would also give us our sense of time, and perhaps help explain why we can't maintain consciousness indefinitely.

I'm sure quantum physics plays some part in optimizing parts of the process because biochemistry, but I doubt it does anything critical, like hiding tons of information in other "dimensions" through quantum superposition or somesuch... though it ought to be a neat way to compress data, like holographic storage. I don't see a lot of crystal-like structures in the brain, though. That said, there's gotta be something at that scale, since even single-celled organisms have some ability to react to stimuli by waving their flagella and stuff appropriately.

Anyway, enough handwaving for today :P

Comment: Re:Quantum Computing Required? (Score 3, Informative) 291

by rwa2 (#49328047) Attached to: Steve Wozniak Now Afraid of AI Too, Just Like Elon Musk

I don't understand the train of thought that leads to the notion that quantum computing is a prerequisite for strong AI, unless there has been some research that has shown that the human brain is a quantum computer.

There is some investigation that suggests that quantum consciousness is possible based on interactions between microtubule structures inside of neurons. But there isn't really anything to suggest that much more happens inside of the brain that can't be explained by the classical interactions between axons and dendrites of a typical neural network that can be modeled satisfactorily by a simulation.

But I agree, quantum physics, like atomic radiation in the 50s and electromagnetism at the turn of the century, is the overhyped and poorly-understood cure-all of modern day science. If someone says something relies on quantum physics, it probably means they don't know what they're talking about and just hand-waving. Unless they're talking about quantum entanglement, in which case it might be useful for a tiny set of specially-constructed quantum cryptography problems. And just stop dreaming if they mention anything about quantum teleportation, in which they're surprised that they can't exactly keep fuzzy particles in buckets without some of the fuzziness "escaping"

But anyway, yes, computers replaced secretaries in the 50s. They're going to replace truck drivers over the next few decades.

Computers are not going to replace teachers anytime soon, though... the entire job of the teacher is to tell when the students aren't getting it via conventional scripted means.

+ - A software project full of 'male anatomy' jokes is going crazy right now->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "There's no question that the tech world is an overwhelmingly male place. There's legit concern that tech is run-amok with "brogrammers" that make women programmers feel unwelcome. On the other hand, people just want to laugh.

It's at that intersection that programmer Randy Hunt, aka "letsgetrandy" posted a "project" earlier this week to software hosting site GitHub called "DICSS."The project, which is actual free and open source software, is surrounded by geeky jokes about the male anatomy. And it's gone nuts, so to speak, becoming the most trending project on Github, and the subject of a lot of chatter on Twitter. And, Hunt tells us, the folks at Github are scratching their heads wondering what they should do about it.

Some people love DICSS (and, we have to admit, some of the jokes did make us snicker) ... and some people are, understandably, offended.
The offended people point out that this is exactly the sort of thing that makes tech unwelcoming to women, and not just because of the original project, but because of some of the comments (posted as "commits") that might take the joke too far. (And, we have to admit, the tech world really doesn't need another thing that encourages sexism. A lot of male programmers are just as sick of that as women are.)

Whats Slashdot's opinion? Harmless fun? Sexism run rampant?"

Link to Original Source

Comment: change the password (Score 1) 1

Also, use Lastpass or KeePass to maintain different passwords on every site you visit. Then you don't even have to think about it.

None of the sites you use are guaranteed to store your password securely. And some (more likely many) don't even bother to encrypt or hash them, as you've found.

You can try to name them and shame them. Or just make sure you're reasonably better protected than all of their other sheep.

That is all.

Comment: Re:Not GoDaddy. (Score 2) 295

by rwa2 (#49282739) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Advice For Domain Name Registration?

Eh, we've been using GoDaddy to sign our top level public wildcard SSL certs for a couple of years now. They had competitive prices for those things (~$200/yr for 2 years, which we couldn't beat anywhere else while shopping last year), and the process was fairly automated and relatively painless.

We still learned how to sign wildcard certs as our own certificate authority for lots of internal backend subdomains, though.

Comment: (Score 1) 295

by rwa2 (#49282675) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Advice For Domain Name Registration?

I've been using since 1999, and upgraded to the paid service about 10 years ago. $30/year gets you, like, 30 custom subdomains, and some other features that I don't use much but seem useful.

Yeah, you have a bit less flexibility with the domains you can choose, but they have a great selection that you can get creative with. And the flexibility of being able to turn on a dime and switch hosts and IPs immediately is great... you don't have to wait hours or even days for DNS changes to propagate. Lots of clients for windows, linux, and even random wifi routers make it easy to update records to point to where ever in the world you boot up, ao you can serve stuff from home or anywhere in public clouds or even from your smartphone.

Certainly worth fussing around with in addition or even instead of a "real" DNS registrar. I think they still have a free tier, and are always useful for doing quick demos for hack days and such.

+ - Most Powerful Geomagnetic Storm of Solar Cycle 24 is Happening->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "The most powerful solar storm of the current solar cycle is currently reverberating around the globe. Initially triggered by the impact of a coronal mass ejection (CME) hitting our planet’s magnetosphere, a relatively mild geomagnetic storm erupted at around 04:30 UT (12:30 a.m. EDT), but it has since ramped-up to an impressive G4-class geomagnetic storm, priming high latitudes for some bright auroral displays."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:It's about time (Score 1) 86

by rwa2 (#49279453) Attached to: Nintendo Finally Working On Games for Smartphones

Eh, I foresee Nintendo staying with their "exclusive" titles on their consoles/handhelds, and just getting into smartphones for silly tie-ins. "Install the COMPANION APP to click on the mini-game to give you VALUABLE ITEMS! Receive CONSTANT NOTIFICATIONS to your phone when your PokeDragon is LONELY and wants to be lot out to PEE". That kind of thing.

Some observations on my kids:
* I never subjected them to any consoles at home (OK, well, a PS2 for GT4, but they never took interest in anything beyond a little Burnout).
* They have plentiful mobile phones and tablet at home. They play some free games on them, but mostly use them for YouTube.
* I built them a nice multiseat Minecraft rig, and have access to my Windows gaming machine with a half-decent Steam library.

They still went off and got their grandparents to buy them various DSi / 3DS handhelds. I don't really see them playing on them much, and when the do they always have the 3D dial turned to "flat". And I don't really notice them... until they break a power cable or the entire handheld, and then suddenly it's at the top of their wishlist again for a few months until they can gravel for and save up enough birthday money to buy a new one.

Marketing, how does it work?

"You're a creature of the night, Michael. Wait'll Mom hears about this." -- from the movie "The Lost Boys"