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Comment: Re:No memory parity! (Score 1) 610

by silverhalide (#45273929) Attached to: Toyota's Killer Firmware

There are many standardization initiatives in progress. Adoption of standards in the embedded space takes years as code evolves MUCH more slowly than in the web world, and for good reason.

One of the major ones is AUTOSAR:
http://www.autosar.org/

Since embedded programming is open to liability, it already has coding standards that are orders of magnitude higher than any web developer would ever reach. So yes, this particular case there was a failure, but on the whole, you don't have lowest-bidder outsourced programmers doing your powertrain code development.

Comment: It's not the soda, it's the caffeine. (Score 1) 287

by silverhalide (#44594877) Attached to: Soda Makes Five-Year-Olds Break Your Stuff, Science Finds

Nearly all sodas contain caffeine. Caffeine, like most psychoactive drugs, has effects proportional to body weight.

A can of coke has about 40 mg of caffeine. For standard 180 lb adult, that gives you a nice little wake-me-up. But put that much drug in a 40lb kid, and you'll see the effects similar to a healthy adult slamming back 2 cans of Red Bull.

Couple that with the lack of self-control of kids, and it's no wonder they're bouncing off the walls.

Let a 40-lb kid have 4 cokes in a day? When's the last time you put back a 8-pack of Red Bull? Of course they're going to raise hell.

Comment: Re:Same folks that legislated IN the black boxes! (Score 1) 167

"Black box" is a misnomer. All of the powertrain and safety ECUs in the car (there's over a dozen in modern vehicles, not including the several dozen other miscellaneous ECUs) have had the functionality built into their software as part of OBD-II compliance since 96. Airbag ECU, Traction control, Anti-lock brakes, Transmission, Engine, power steering, etc. All of them record data upon a sensor fault (e.g. Impact in a collision).

Fun fact: nearly half of the software in some ECUs is dedicated to OBD-II compliance.

Comment: Re:Mindstorms and Arduino (Score 1) 166

by silverhalide (#43899871) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Begin Simple Robotics As a Hobby?

Only if your time is worth nothing. Mindstorms takes out all of the headaches and lets you focus on the fun parts of robotics. If you go the arduino route, be prepared to spend hours figuring out how to get things up and running, soldering, messing up things, breaking them, and scrounging for mechanical parts.

Comment: Stick with your day job (Score 2) 453

by silverhalide (#42436929) Attached to: A Wish List For Tablets In 2013

While some "neat to have" features, you cobbled together your feature list without considering the tradeoffs they bring. All of these features have been considered by product managers and cut for good reason.

Since you haven't owned an iPad, I'm guessing you're more price sensitive. Most of your features will add cost, size, reduce battery life, and will give you little daily benefit.

- Full-sized USB ports - tablet is too thick, heavy and added cost. Also, to support devices like USB sticks, you have to add USB Host support to the device, which requires adding a 5V power supply output to the device, most expensive/power hungry USB host silicon/IP, and a large USB host driver stack that requires lots of software maintenance.
- Full-sized HDMI connector - added cost and thickness.
- Stereo Mics - nobody cares, added cost, and they don't work well in a thin form factor - generally for field recording you want cardioid-type mics which are larger, but more directional.
- Hardware radio toggles - nobody cares, added cost, confusion (which switch does what by feel?!) and the functionality is already deployable through corporate policies on some ecosystems.
- Offline maps - There are plenty of offline GPS apps available for existing ecosystems - TomTom, NavFree, and Garmin come to mind without even searching. This feature is best left to companies who know what they are doing in this space. If it's standard, you have to have more storage standard on your device which raises cost. Whatever you deploy won't be nearly as good as Google Maps anyway and will be useless in a few years once the data goes stale and you are too lazy to do the update process.
- Pixel Qi or whatever screen tech du jour - These will come naturally once they are better, cheaper, more manufacturable, and lower power than the existing crop of LCD displays. The current crop of screens, at least on the high end devices like iPad are readable enough in full sunlight so it's not a big pain point.
- Alternative OS support - Who cares? Tablets are not computers. Apple was the first company to understand this and this is why the iPad was so devastatingly successful. They are devices that perform functions. Use a computer if you need something that's flexible and programmable. Adding alternative OS support adds MILLIONS in software support costs, and you're not going to sell that many more tablets as a result.

Comment: Re:It's the software, stupid. (Score 1) 193

by silverhalide (#41827531) Attached to: A Look At Competitors to the Surface and iPad

The original iPad, when it was released in 2010, didn't have earth-shattering specs compared to the field at the time. They were good, maybe better in some areas. But iOS was like nothing the tablet market had ever seen before. It was good, fast, easy-to-learn, and reliable software that actually worked with fingers, and lo and behold, it turned out that's what the tablet market was missing.

Sure, Apple's marketing machine helped, but one could argue Microsoft or HP has (had?) just as much marketing budget as Apple and they failed to push tablets into the mainstream for years.

So call them "fanbois" all you want, but face reality - they make up the majority of the market. They are busy people who do not have time to put up with shitty software. Sure, there are aging nerds out there that refuse to let go of the hardware spec chase. If you think about it, they care about it because back in the day, that's what made the big difference in software performance. I know because I used to be that way. Nowadays, hardware is a commodity, cycles and RAM and plentiful, and the only differentiator is which ecosystem can actually deliver good software that takes advantage of the hardware.

It looks like Android is making good strides in this area, and hopefully the competition will continue to force all the tablet manufacturers to deliver better software for everyone across all platforms.

Comment: It's the software, stupid. (Score 5, Insightful) 193

by silverhalide (#41755067) Attached to: A Look At Competitors to the Surface and iPad

Nobody cares about tablet specs outside of screen size, battery life, and price. It's all about the software. Is it fast, responsive, and usable?

Is it easy to develop for? Will it be around for a while to justify developers investing in it? Does the company have a history of keeping platforms around?

Comment: Re:Sure, what's one more tax? (Score 1) 601

by silverhalide (#41139975) Attached to: Would You Pay an Internet Broadband Tax?

Illustrating a point. Consumption tax = sales tax in local jurisdictions. Now that I look, it's on there twice. Oh well. But, you're often sales-taxed at the state, county, and city levels, so we're going to let it stand. Obviously it's pulled from an overarching list of common taxes. Feel free to nitpick, but my point stands, we are taxed to death and don't realize it through these nickle and dime taxes that granularly affect everything and often have enormous administrative costs for both private parties and the government for questionable returns. Do you want YET ANOTHER agency exercising power over a piece of your life? I sure as hell don't.

Universal access is great. Let's do it. The Connect America Fund is proposed to be $115 million. The Department of Defense fund for 2012 is 700 BILLION. Slice off .0016% of the military's budget to pay for it. Hell, let the military manage it, so they can at least do something worthwhile for us here at home.

Comment: Sure, what's one more tax? (Score 3, Informative) 601

by silverhalide (#41137131) Attached to: Would You Pay an Internet Broadband Tax?

I mean, because obviously we have no sources of funding from our other taxes, so might as well start a new one, right?

Because it's just damn impossible to find funding in the rest of the budget stemming from:

Accounts Receivable Tax, Accumulated Earnings Tax, Alternative Minimum Tax, Aviation Fuel Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Cement and Gypsum Producers License Tax, Cigarette Tax, Coal Severance Tax, Coal Gross Proceeds Tax, Consumer Counsel Tax, Consumption Tax, Corporate Income Tax, Corporation License Tax, Electrical Energy Producers Tax, Estate Tax, Inheritance, Federal Income Tax, Federal Unemployment Tax, Fishing License Tax, Food Service License Tax, Fuel Permit License Tax, Gasoline Tax (8 to 35 cents per gallon), Generation-skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Gross Production Tax, Hospital Facility Utilization Fee Tax, Hunting License Fee Tax, Inventory Tax, IRS Penalties Tax, Land Value Tax, Liquor License Tax, Liquor Tax, Local Tax, Lodging Facility Use Tax, Luxury Tax, Marriage License Tax, Medicare Tax,Metal Mines Gross Proceeds Tax, Metal Mines License Tax, Miscellaneous Mineral Mines License Tax, Miscellaneous Mines Net Proceeds Tax, Nursing Facility Bed Tax, Oil and Natural Gas Production Tax, Payroll Tax, Professional PrivilegeTax, Property Tax, Proxy Tax, Public Contractor's Gross Receipts Tax, Public Service Commission Tax, Public Utility Tax, Real Estate Tax, Real Estate Transfer Tax, Rental Vehicle Sales Tax,Resort Tax, Resource Indemnity and Groundwater Assessment Tax, Retail Telecommunications Excise Tax, Sales Tax, School Tax, Self-Employment Tax, Septic Permit Tax, Severance Tax, Social Security Tax, State Income Tax, State Unemployment Tax, Statewide Emergency Telephone 911 System Fee Tax, Surtax Tax, Tariffs, Telephone Federal Excise Tax, Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax, Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax, TDD Telecommunications Service Fee Tax, Tobacco Products Tax (Other than Cigarettes), Toll Road Fee Tax, Toll Bridge Fee Tax, Toll Tunnel Fee Tax, Tonnage Tax, Traffic Fines, Trailer Registration Fee Tax, Use Tax, Vehicle Registration and License Tax, Vehicle Sales Tax, Watercraft Registration Tax, Well Permit Tax, Wholesale Energy Transaction Tax, Workers Compensation Tax.

We are taxed to death.

Comment: Re:Motivation (Score 1) 575

by silverhalide (#40765085) Attached to: Khan Academy: the Teachers Strike Back

I should have been more explicit - I was generalizing about older folks (18+) and elective education where you (not mommy and daddy) are footing the bill.

K-12 education is an interesting problem. Yeah, kids in urban schools are not motivated. But they're still learning SOMETHING. Imagine if they were running around all day long instead of being forced to be in a classroom. I can guarantee you they won't be sitting on the computer watching Khan Academy lessons.

The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow

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