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Comment: Re:Hints (Score 1) 63

by mcgrew (#48642319) Attached to: Boeing and BlackBerry Making a Self-Destructing Phone

They've been working on it for over 12 years; I wrote the following for my web site in 2002. It will be in an upcoming book. Apologies for the mangled unicode, but slashdot's preview is worthless, since "preview" shows the unicode but the submission displays garbage. Here is the article:

McCoy: He's dead, Jim
        Several years ago, before PCs were not nearly as com-mon in the home as they are now, a friend of mine asked of my computer, âoebut aren't you afraid it will explode?â
        He was a Star Trek fan, and in the old 1950s and 1960s science fiction and spy shows, computers all had a nasty habit of blowing up. All one had to do to these TV or movie computers to make them explode was shoot them, with either a ray gun or a police revolver. Some TV and movie computers would blow up if you âoepressed the wrong buttonâ; one episode of the 1960s TV show The Prisoner (âoeI am not a number! I am a free man!â) had a computer that could answer any question. The bad guys, who had imprisoned the hero, a spy who had resigned his post, wanted to know why he resigned. Of course, before the bad guys could ask the computer âoeWhy did number six resign his post?â the intrepid number six offered that he had a question the computer could not answer.
        He typed in to the Remington electric typewriter and fed the paper into the computer, which, of course, promptly started smoking, sparking, and ultimately blew up. The question was simply âoewhy?â
        Similarly, in an episode of Star Trek, Spock makes a computer explode by asking it to figure the value of pi to the last decimal place. Of course, any time a Star Trek computer was fired on, whether by a Klingon or Federation phaser, and no matter what civilization designed and built the computer, it would explode in a grand display of fireworks.
        I had to explain to my friend that this was all nonsense, that early computers from the early 1950s used thousands of vacuum tubes, requiring high voltages, which could throw showers of sparks and bright purple flashes with the characteristic âoepop!â if there was a short circuit in its 120-240 volt circuitry but would not actually explode, and that modern computers ran on three to twelve volts and wouldn't even get a spark from a short.
        I had to explain to my friend that the only explosions were in my games; that the computer itself here in the analog world was safe.
        Along with the matter transporter and faster than light travel, the exploding computer was one of those things relegated to science fiction.
        Until now.
        New Scientist reports that they have found a way to make silicon explode on demand, either by shock, as with that .38 caliber police special or by electrical signal.
        âoeThis machine is stolen and will self-destruct in ten seconds.â
        New Scientist says âoeFor instance, the American spy plane impounded by China last year could have used it to destroy its secret electronics systems.â
        They add âoeIn a stolen mobile phone, the network would send a trigger signal to the part of the chip containing the gadolinium nitrate âdetonatorâ(TM), triggering the explosion... and detonate it at will.â
        So not only is Star Trek's computer to blow up, its communicators will too! I can see in five years when these bozos have the anti theft circuits in phones. Drop your phone now and it might break. Drop it in five years and it might take your leg off!
        Of course, the new viruses in ten years will not just reformat your hard drive; the kids will be writing viruses to make people's computers explode in their homes!
        Doncha just love science... Personally, I'm hoping someone with a little common sense will have a talk with these educated morons and explain that just maybe, exploding computers ain't such a good idea after all. Just maybe the US Government might be more concerned with bringing its spy plane crew home alive than exploding its electronics; they could have blown the plane up with conventional explosives, or even driven the thing into the ground, but they didn't.
        When my cell phone explodes the manufacturer better hope it takes my head off, because if it doesn't I'm suing the shit out of the morons!
        Beam me up, Scotty.
1/18/2002

Comment: Re:Good news, bad news (Score 4, Interesting) 430

by mcgrew (#48642285) Attached to: What Happens To Society When Robots Replace Workers?

Maybe folks will make art for art's sake, program for the love of code, etc. I love the freedom of being able to write and publish anything I want without making compromises with money issues. Like Rush (the band) sang in Spirit of Radio,

It's really just a question of your honesty, yeah
Your honesty.
One likes to believe in the freedom of music,
But glittering prizes and endless compromises
Shatter the illusion of integrity.

User Journal

Journal: Three Irons Burning: Progress Report 2

Journal by mcgrew

When I was in college, I often took workshops in the summer. Two weeks of eight hour days equaled a normal class for a quarter. It would allow me a couple months vacation.

One was a blacksmithing workshop, where I learned to fashion stuff out of steel, learned a little metallurgy, and learned where a lot of the "old sayings" came from: blacksmithing. One is "too many irons in the fire", which is where this journal's title comes from. I'm working on three books right now.

Comment: Re:Copenhagen interpretation != less complicated (Score 1) 190

by epine (#48641759) Attached to: Quantum Physics Just Got Less Complicated

Determinism = fail

With entanglement, we have an FTL coupling that can't be used to convey classical information.

Why can't we have a similarly knackered stripe of determinism, one which can't be used to shatter the illusion of free will? This would be a kind of determinism where even if you sort of know it's there, it makes no damn difference to your interpretation of local space.

Think big, grasshopper, think big.

Comment: Re:Gawd, I love that man (Score 1) 92

by mcgrew (#48634665) Attached to: Dick "Smitty" Cheney

Your experience was much different than mine. I was in college when Carter was President, and he stopped food stamp benefits for poor college kids. I often went hungry. I'd voted for him, voted against his reelection.

Under Reagan I worked for Disney. Reagan slashed the capital gains tax, which unleashed an orgy of hostile corporate takeovers, one of which was unleashed on my employer, who took a big financial hit from its defense and cut everyone's hours. I had trouble paying my bills for a while. There were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of these hostile takeovers and takeover attempts. Of course, a recession followed this but none of the pundits connected the dots and they treated Reagan like a demigod.

We moved back to Illinois when Leila was born, and it took well over a year to find a job. Thanks for the recession, Ronnie.

I got a job finally, in 1987, but half the people I knew were looking for work until the nineties. That was Reagan's fault, but Bush did nothing to alleviate the situation.

There was something about Clinton I just didn't like; he came across as a sleaze and I think I voted Libertarian that election, I don't really remember, but it wasn't a vote for Clinton.

I was wrong about him; he put 100,000 new cops on the street, and my crime-ridden neighborhood got a neighborhood cop and crime plummeted. He signed PWORA which ended generational welfare. I voted for his reelection.

As to Bush II, can you name a single positive thing he accomplished? I can't.

As to Obama, my opinion of his mediocre President went up a little when he started opening Cuba; it's long overdue. We've had relations with China and Russia for years, it should have happened when the Berlin Wall came down and the USSR split up.

Comment: Re:Ethics? (Score 1) 539

by Theaetetus (#48634015) Attached to: FBI Confirms Open Investigation Into Gamergate

I notice that all your links are to poorly made YouTube videos. Taking the first one, the links you claim back you up are actually just links to more YouTube videos, a document on Google Docs that is unverifiable, a seemingly unrelated WaPo editorial about a spat between journalists and bloggers, and a Gamasutra article that they clearly state was written by community member and not their own staff and which seems to be mostly irrelevant.

Aside: what the hell is up with that? Linking to a 15 minute YouTube video that, by definition, takes 15 minutes to sit through, rather than a five page article that can be skimmed in two? And the videos don't even use the medium to show graphics or charts - they're generally just some talking head in front of their computer's webcam. Are the pundits of this new generation illiterate, and can't simply write down what they want to say? Or are they assuming that their audience is illiterate?

Comment: Re:Ethics? (Score 1) 539

by Theaetetus (#48633983) Attached to: FBI Confirms Open Investigation Into Gamergate

When the news came out? THIRTEEN gaming sites issued THE EXACT SAME STORY about how they didn't need gamers and that gamers were "dead".

Actually, one issued the story and then others responded to it, many of them jumping on the same bandwagon. It's like seeing something in the NYTimes, then subsequently the WaPo saying, "The NYTimes reported X. We believe X'."
I mean, hell, if you're going to call that a conspiracy, then you just issued a similar story, so mark it up to 14.

Comment: Re: Best of 2009? May be, but we live in 2014. Rig (Score 3, Insightful) 127

by Dixie_Flatline (#48633845) Attached to: Review: The BlackBerry Classic Is One of the Best Phones of 2009

I haven't found this to be true. I've tried swiftkey and swype for weeks at a time, and I've found that they're generally slower than me tapping words out. The problem is that the worst case--that the system gets the word wrong and you need to replace the whole thing because none of the suggestions are correct--comes up surprisingly often for me. I also find the flow of tapping to be a lot more comfortable. I never stop tapping until I'm finished, while with the swiping methods, I have to pause in between words before I start swiping again.

Mileage varies, but I'm considerably faster with the built-in Apple keyboard unless I'm walking and typing with one hand. In that case, the swiping method has an obvious payoff because I can be less accurate with my movements.

Comment: Re:Sounds good. (Score 1) 539

by Theaetetus (#48633513) Attached to: FBI Confirms Open Investigation Into Gamergate

According to Wikipedia*, #notyourshield was largely a sockpuppet sham.

Being personally acquainted with at least one of the #NotYourShield folks, they definitely aren't all sockpuppets.

Those are not inconsistent statements. You believe that the number of sockpuppets was less than 100%. GP says that according to wiki, it's greater than 50%. If it turns out anywhere within that range, it's still bad.

Comment: Re:cowardice (Score 1) 539

by Theaetetus (#48633453) Attached to: FBI Confirms Open Investigation Into Gamergate

Brianna Wu was caught subsequently did admit to using at least one sockpuppet (twitter handle was BROLOLZ). Other ones, the evidence doesn't definitively prove anything, but are highly suspicious. Hopefully the FBI is taking it seriously.

Gosh, you're right, these sure are harassing tweets:

Drake Harper @BROLOLZ Oct 20
Deeply concerned about how Dragon's Crown perpetuates rape culture, bro.

Drake Harper @BROLOLZ Oct 20
Contemplating my white male privilege while playing Tekken Tag Tournament 2.

I'm sure the FBI will be cracking down on Wu any day now.

It's not so hard to lift yourself by your bootstraps once you're off the ground. -- Daniel B. Luten

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