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Comment: Re:Start menu usage dropped in lieu of what? (Score 1) 257

by sjbe (#48028331) Attached to: Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time

I've been using a desktop for more than 15 years.

Newbie. ;-)

It is not a good habit to pin apps to the task bar.

Why not? I'll agree that it's a bad habit to pin a lot of apps or infrequently used apps but I pin the 6 or so I use the most to the task bar. Saves me at least one mouse click every time I use them.

Using a keyboard instead of a mouse on the desktop is like using the mouth instead of the penis for sex. Some like you seem to like it that way but do not speak for the rest of us.

Funniest analogy I've heard in a long time. Well played.

+ - California Gov Brown Vetoes Bill Requiring Warrants for Drone Surveillance->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Brown, a Democrat facing re-election in November, sided with law enforcement and said the legislation simply granted Californians privacy rights that went too far beyond existing guarantees. Sunday's veto comes as the small drones are becoming increasingly popular with business, hobbyists, and law enforcement.

"This bill prohibits law enforcement from using a drone without obtaining a search warrant, except in limited circumstances," the governor said in his veto message(PDF). "There are undoubtedly circumstances where a warrant is appropriate. The bill's exceptions, however, appear to be too narrow and could impose requirements beyond what is required by either the 4th Amendment or the privacy provisions in the California Constitution."

At least 10 other states require the police to get a court warrant to surveil with a drone. Those states include Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin.

California's drone bill is not draconian. It includes exceptions for emergency situations, search-and-rescue efforts, traffic first responders, and inspection of wildfires. It allows other public agencies to use drones for other purposes—just not law enforcement."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Wrong question (Score 1) 257

by sjbe (#48021309) Attached to: Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?

And what exactly could a human geologist do that a rover (built with current technology), coupled with a competent geology team on Earth couldn't?

So you don't actually want to think about it? The answers are the same as here on Earth. Sometimes a robot is necessary but we don't use them when we don't have to because working through them is incredibly awkward. There is no geologist that wants to work remotely when he can work onsite. Plus there is a LOT more to do than simply geology on Mars.

1) Speed - a human can work faster on site than humans working through remotely operated devices. When latency averages 13 minutes each way humans on site are a LOT faster. A human on site could accomplish vastly more in a shorter amount of time.
2) I defy you to find me an end effector for any robot that is as useful as a human hand attached to a real live human.
3) Notice and investigate things the robot wasn't designed to address.
4) Repair equipment that breaks
5) Utilize local resources in ways robots cannot
6) Do things other than geology
7) Design and implement tools on site

So a $100bn Mars mission is going to deliver $10,000bn in R&D payback that couldn't have been done without sending humans to Mars?

I said that the R&D payback would be much larger for a manned mission than for a robotic mission (or even a large number of robotic missions) which is true. I didn't specify any dollar amounts - The 100X number is just made up to get the point across though it seems to have whooshed by you. A LOT more technology would have to be developed for a manned mission and as a result there would be a much larger R&D payback. For a manned mission we would need all the robotics research PLUS life support, radiation shielding, food supply, medical technology, remote manufacturing, mining and much more. It's a far bigger, more complicated mission with a lot more R&D requirements. Bigger R&D will result in bigger economic payback.

Comment: Science != Math (Score 1) 445

by sjbe (#48019503) Attached to: Scientists Seen As Competent But Not Trusted By Americans

There is such a thing as a proven theory

You cited examples of mathematical theory, not scientific theory. While they overlap they are not the same thing. Mathematical proofs can and do exist independent of any real world phenomena as they are pure logical constructs.

All scientific theories are falsifiable. This does not mean they are wrong but rather that there is always the possibility (however remote) that a new piece of data will disprove the theory. If it cannot (theoretically) be proven wrong then it is not science. Theories that cannot be tested through observations of real world phenomena are not science.

Comment: Functional jewelry (Score 1) 171

by sjbe (#48014319) Attached to: When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone

It's also far from dumb. It's intricate, complex and beautiful.

I think no sane person would argue that a good mechanical watch isn't beautiful as well as an amazing piece of engineering. (I cannot say the same for crappy digital watches however) That doesn't change the fact though that they are a single purpose device that generally speaking is seldom necessary these days. I don't really need to carry around an extra gadget whose sole purpose is to tell me the time 99.99999% of the time. There are occasions when that is useful/necessary but they are rare these days.

If you enjoy wearing a watch there is no problem with that. Just recognize that you are wearing a piece of functional jewelry rather than making a practical choice. I think a watch of any sort is a much better choice than wearing polished rocks embedded in rare metals.

Comment: Why we use fancy tools (Score 2) 171

by sjbe (#48014295) Attached to: When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone

A good hammer, a good manual drill, a good screwdriver, will last a lifetime.

And will sit in a drawer for any but the most basic or simple of tasks. I have each of those tools and use them but 9 times out of 10 I find myself reaching for the cordless hammer-drill or the pneumatic nail gun because I value my time and don't believe in pointless effort. Plus a good part of the reason those hand tools last is because you are somewhat limited in the amount of work you can do with them. I can generate FAR more torque with my hammer-drill than with any manual screwdriver or hand drill. Pretty useful when trying to punch a hole in concrete or loosen a stuck bolt.

Many people, however, invest in pneumatic hammers, electric drills, and bit sets even though they know it will break.

Because they are FAR more productive with those tools. Maybe you've never done any construction. I have. Try framing a house sometime with a traditional hammer and traditional saw and miter box and then do it with a nail gun and circular miter saw. Then get back to me on how much I should value that old school hammer. Sure you can get the job done with the old tools and people did it for a long time. And it will take you 20X longer and require far more effort.

Comment: When would I need it? (Score 1) 171

by sjbe (#48014233) Attached to: When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone

It runs a tiny bit fast (several seconds a month), but until it completely dies, I see no reason to replace it for telling time at a glance (something that can't be done with a smartphone).

Which is exactly why those devices remain useful. And there are times when that is valuable. I sometimes carry a (dumb) watch when I'm hiking or doing some competitive distance running. Also useful if you are flying a plane or navigating a boat.

Here's the thing though. How often to you *really* need to know the time at a glance and do not have several clocks within eye shot these days? I spend most of my day working near a computer that has the time right on the menu bars. My car has a clock. I have various clocks in most of the rooms of my home. Most places at my office have at least one clock visible. When would I truly need to know the time so quickly that I cannot take a few seconds to pull my phone out of my pocket. Why would I wear a relatively uncomfortable piece of jewelry with no other purpose just so I can know to the second what time it is throughout the day? Does that really make sense?

Comment: Doesn't scale well (Score 1) 171

by sjbe (#48014207) Attached to: When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone

Needs not be slow - you just need enough land and fast-growing trees.

That gets a tad difficult when you are trying to grow enough trees for 7 billion people.

Furthermore wood burning stoves are rather dirty from an environmental standpoint. Most traditional wood burning stoves are quite inefficient and release a lot of particulate matter.

Comment: Why delay? (Score 1) 257

by sjbe (#48014137) Attached to: Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?

Why the hurry? It's not like Mars is going anywhere.

Why the delay? You have something better to do? What could possibly be a better use of your time than the greatest exploration mankind has ever undertaken?

Plus, the robots have a lot of autonomy. They move around obstacles pretty much by themselves, with only occasional help.

I think you are grossly underestimating the amount of hand holding going on from mission control here on Earth.

Comment: Wrong question (Score 1) 257

by sjbe (#48014131) Attached to: Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?

I hear that said a lot, but is it really true?

Probably yes.

Could a human crew carry more scientific equipment than Curiosity did?

Wrong question. You have to get the equipment there either way. The question is what can you do with the equipment once you get it there. Presently the state of the art in robotics is such that we are pretty limited in what we can do with equipment once we get it there. Generally speaking people can usually do a lot more in a short amount of time than even the most state of the art automation unless it is highly repetitive. It's exactly the same problem we have in automating factories here on earth. Automation can be extremely useful but for most tasks we still have no better or more flexible tool than a competent human being.

Keep in mind that even the most basic manned mission is gonna cost so much money you could send 50 curiosity rovers there.

And the R&D payback will probably be 100X as large on a manned mission. People focus too much on the mission cost without considering the full economic picture. Remember that you have to develop a LOT more technology for a manned mission and much of this technology is applicable elsewhere.

Comment: Forgetting about latency? (Score 1) 257

by sjbe (#48014027) Attached to: Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?

Robot operators have a lag time of a millisecond. They just need to get a little smarter, but we're working hard on that.

Not on mars they don't. Not when being operated from earth. Average latency to send a bit of data to mars is around 13 minutes in each direction. Sometimes longer depending on where the earth is in its orbit in relation to mars. The speed of light is fast but mars is really really far away.

Comment: It's not either/or (Score 1) 257

by sjbe (#48013985) Attached to: Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?

The Earth is thoroughly mapped, explored, photographed, populated, and exploited. There are no frontiers or mystery here any more.

Complete and utter nonsense. We are discovering things about the Earth daily. We've barely explored the 3/4 of the earth that is under water. We know a lot but there is a lot left to learn right here on Earth and for the foreseeable future Earth is exactly where we are going to learn because we have limited options regarding space travel right now. Our technology is simply not advanced enough to send people much farther than the moon a present and even that is a stretch.

There's an enormous unexplored solar system out there vastly bigger and more interesting than Earth.

And we should explore that too. Doesn't make your previous statement any less false.

I honestly don't understand the mentality of people who aren't curious about it and don't want to go explore it.

I understand it but like you I don't agree with it. We should be exploring space with as much enthusiasm as we can generate as a species. It will take courage and vision and an appetite for risk but the long term payback is almost certainly there. (and I'm not just talking about money either)

Comment: Rational reasons to explore space (Score 2) 257

by sjbe (#48013943) Attached to: Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?

Because space is mostly empty, and extremely hostile. There's no rational reason for anybody to go there.

There are plenty of rational reasons to go there. Not all of them are economically rational. None of them are without some amount of danger. But the notion that there is no rational reason to go into space is easily and demonstrably false. Off the top of my head:

1) Scientific discovery, particularly as it relates to the human body in hostile environments
2) Technology development
3) Preserving the species (the Earth will cease to be habitable at some point)
4) Curiosity (simple curiosity is rational if risky)
5) Economic development (space R&D has a multi-fold economic payback)
6) Because the experience of standing on another planet is as different as standing on a mountain versus looking at a post card

Comment: We've barely gotten off the beach (Score 1) 257

by sjbe (#48013911) Attached to: Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?

For an oceanographer, saying "I have no idea what's there" is a sign that you haven't done your research

Untrue. The oceanographer is simply being candid. Sure they are not completely ignorant but they also know enough to know their is a lot more to be discovered. They are simply stating the obvious fact that there is a lot of territory to be explored and we haven't explored very much of it in any great detail. They are saying they are like Christopher Columbus who has learned some fascinating things about this new continent while standing on the beach but there is a lot more to be learned. If they claimed they understood it perfectly that would be false because they've barely gotten off the beach (literally).

Comment: Why aren't we investing more? (Score 1) 257

by sjbe (#48013885) Attached to: Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?

What is the difference between sending humans, with all their implications, vs. instruments and engines to get them there?

The differences are vast. It's the same difference as standing on a mountain versus looking at a post card. Sometimes machines are necessary but more often they are a poor proxy.

Why is the human part so important to science?

There is some exploration that has to be done in person. There are some questions that cannot be answered without sending people to answer them. Questions like "are we stuck on this planet"?

And at what cost, to everyone who must pay real money for the expedition, (...never minding the folks who volunteered their 'free time'/lives to go up first)?

The cost of space exploration has paid itself back economically multi-fold. The spinoff technologies alone are worth billions to trillions of dollars. Even the most conservative estimates of economic benefit of NASA and other space exploration research has a 3X-8X return on investment. The question isn't why should we be investing in space travel. The question is why aren't we investing more?

Nobody said computers were going to be polite.