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Comment: IoT -- more gadgets, less intelligence? (Score 2) 191

by swb (#49762803) Attached to: Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things

Some devices like Nest seem to add more intelligence to things we already use, but some devices just seem to add gadgets without actually making things more intelligent.

Where are my outlets with an integrated, network accessible power meter? Or the smart electrical panel that can have circuit priorities and acceptable power source types assigned to it so that when I run off a Tesla PowerWall I get maximum utility from the power? Or even the main power meter that lets me see my electrical utilization in real time?

So much of the IoT just seems to be about adding new gadgets whose utility seems limited while ignoring the rest of the house which is dumb.

Comment: Re:"Bad company corrupts good character" (Score 1) 156

by swb (#49754867) Attached to: 'Prisonized' Neighborhoods Make Recidivism More Likely

This makes complete sense.

I also wonder if gang affiliation in prison has a lot to do with it. I don't claim to be an expert, but from what I've read it's difficult to survive in a lot of prisons without some kind of gang affiliation. Even if you're not a full-on blood-in member, a lot of time people end up owing favors to whatever gang they were involved in and they're expected to pay those back and most prison gangs easily can reach out beyond the walls and coerce poeple back into criminal behavior.

Comment: Re:Exotic (Score 1) 226

by swb (#49752321) Attached to: Asteroid Risk Greatly Overestimated By Almost Everyone

Most "lethal injections" imply a drug with some sedative/hypnotic properties that renders you unconscious, not much different than being administered anesthesia where you just "fall asleep" quickly.

Beheading? A very effective beheading (guillotine) sounds like there's at least a chance of some very terrifying moments of consciousness of your head separated from your body.

Worst is one of the Islamic terrorist beheadings where they just kind of saw your head off with a knife, which sounds like a mixture of extreme pain and extreme agony for several minutes.

Comment: Re:Contingency plans for the contingency planners (Score 1) 214

by swb (#49743825) Attached to: Secret Files Reveal UK Police Feared That Trekkies Could Turn On Society

Given the potential universe of wacky cults, from Scientology to the Heaven's Gate to Aum Shinrikyo to Jim Jones' People's Temple, it might make sense to think about the risks associated with cults.

Especially if you factor in that Heavens Gate attracted a lot of people with IT smarts and Aum Shinrikyo tried to sarin gas the subway. Even if they don't become mass phenomenons there's some risk that bizarre millennial thought coupled with above average intelligence could lead to some bad outcomes.

Comment: Re:I expect that gasoline is probably even better. (Score 1) 116

by swb (#49742489) Attached to: Hydrogen-Powered Drone Can Fly For 4 Hours at a Time

Why not one of those hobby turbines used as a generator?

This one: ...has a gearbox for driving the driveshaft of a boat, but maybe it could be adapted to run a generator. The specs show 8kw of power output and I think this is the smallest one they sell. Some of the others have power output in excess of 10kw.

Comment: Contingency plans for the contingency planners (Score 1) 214

by swb (#49742411) Attached to: Secret Files Reveal UK Police Feared That Trekkies Could Turn On Society

Given the vast weirdness of the government bureaucracy and its penchant for contingency plans for all kinds of events, I wonder if contingency plans for some branch of the government trying to take over based on paranoid contingency plans has ever happened.

Comment: Byproduct of a patent-and-monopoly mindset? (Score 4, Interesting) 100

by swb (#49735153) Attached to: US Levels Espionage Charges Against 6 Chinese Nationals

I wonder if this is a byproduct of the general corporate tendency to look at "innovation" as a way to get a patent which is then used to enforce a monopoly and collect rents. Collecting rents is a disincentive towards more innovation, product improvements and other business efficiencies. Why compete when you can just charge rents?

If there wasn't a patent-and-monopoly mindset, perhaps there would be greater effort put into innovation as a means to more rapidly improve products (as well as a focus on other business efficiencies). If somebody "stole" your IP in this model, it would matter less because your pace of innovation may render the stolen IP retrograde by the time it was turned into useful products, and your sales would be driven by the strength of your products not because you had a legalized monopoly.

Comment: Re:We need a VESA standard for accessory brackets (Score 1) 243

by swb (#49732173) Attached to: Why Apple Ditched Its Plan To Build a Television

That kind of thing has always been an option, but the glue from Velcro tape is a mess.

I'd rather see slots of a standard dimension molded into the TV enclosure. STB makers could either mold in matching rails or supply a bracket that would mate with them. Third parties could make accessory rails that would adapt the little keyhole openings so that legacy devices could use the molded in slots.

Comment: We need a VESA standard for accessory brackets (Score 2) 243

by swb (#49730299) Attached to: Why Apple Ditched Its Plan To Build a Television

Most TVs are so big these days that there's a ton of real estate on the back of them for hanging accessories, but other than the VESA mounting bracket standard(s) there isn't a standard for mounting STBs.

Some of the larger STBs (like DVRs with spinning rust) maybe wouldn't be practical rear mounted due to weight, but the smaller boxes like Apple TV or Roku would.

IR transmission for remotes might be an issue, but so many of these boxes can be controlled via wifi that it wouldn't be an issue.

It would also be useful for NUC type PCs where in many use cases IR isn't even a factor.

Comment: Re:Republicans could... (Score 1) 607

by swb (#49730153) Attached to: The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

Since I didn't use the phrase "war on women" in my post, I've got an inclination you know what I'm talking about.

Republicans have a huge problem with human sexuality. They don't appear to like it much, whether it's teaching sex ed or making contraception easy to get. They don't like the HPV vaccine given to teen age girls (because obviously it turns them into insatiable sex maniacs).

With abortion, they've been opposed to even exceptions in the case of rape, including Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's quote: âoeIt seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, itâ(TM)s really rare. If itâ(TM)s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.â

I think that quote kind of neatly describes the fairly ridiculous attitude toward's women's sexual health.

Look, I get it. If somebody is a religious person and they don't want to have an abortion, that's great, don't have one. You don't want to use contraception for the same reasons -- be my guest, don't use it. But where do you get off trying to restrict access to everyone?

Comment: Re:Space Drone (Score 1) 109

by swb (#49726777) Attached to: Robotic Space Plane Launches In Mystery Mission This Week

I would recast it as a plane that launches projectiles but becomes a bomb at the end of its mission.

I think the advantage it would have would be in local (company or battalion level) control and targeting. Combat situations are loose and fluid and there's more than a little complexity involved in having ground troops ID a target, relay this to forward air controllers, relay it to a pilot and have the right target get hit and still be the right target.

In some circumstances you can do this with IR designation but it can be complicated by weather, line of sight and other issues that make this difficult.

Having the troops on the front line both identifying the target and controlling the actual delivery of ordinance to the target could make it much more effective in terms of timing and accuracy versus other methods. They could do this now with existing drones, but existing drones are expensive and there aren't enough of them.

And maybe rather than a more complex drone with its own projectile launching capacity, maybe it's a hybrid between a drone and a guided missile. A missile that has the ability to loiter for a period of time over a target.

Comment: Re:Republicans could... (Score 1) 607

by swb (#49726643) Attached to: The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

It seems to be fairly well reported that "conservative party activists" have an influence beyond their numbers in Republican policies which forces a lot of Republican candidates to take more extreme positions on social issues, especially early in the campaign where activists hold a lot of sway in primaries, straw polls, etc.

The Republican party seems to be trying to do something about this -- in a typically Republican-minded fashion -- by altering the nomination rules to minimize the influence that grass-roots activists can have in the primary process.

Mostly this gets described as a strategy designed to limit an "embarrassing" and combative primary process that pits Republicans against Republicans, expending resources that should be directed towards defeating Democrats in the general election.

But I also think that despite the chiding of Republicans as stupid by the left this strategy is also embraced by shrewder Republicans who see a handful of cranky old white people forcing support for their divisive social issues and costing the Republicans votes and ruining their image with younger and more centrist voters.

It remains to be seen if this change will just be exploited for enforcing the power of present party leadership or if it will be used for a more strategic long-term purpose of modernizing the Republican party's positions.

At the end of the day, I don't think the die-hard socially conservatives should be that big of a concern to Republicans. They are something of a PR nightmare for the party image and I would suspect that as many of them would still vote Republican, just like left wing progressives vote for less-than-progressive Democrats.

The die hards don't have enough numbers to mount a compelling challenge on their core ideals and I think that they would be unwilling to see an election become a mass public renunciation of their ideals and deflate the perceived power of their influence.

Comment: Re:Republicans could... (Score 2) 607

by swb (#49726369) Attached to: The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

It's a big leap from NOT trying to outlaw abortion, making contraceptives hard to get and outlaw homosexuals to free birth control and cash entitlements to gays.

I'm surprised there's not more corporate business support for easier access contraception, too, even if the medicine itself costs money. Hormonal birth control for women is dirt cheap. Unplanned pregnancy costs a ton of money in entitlement benefits, school problems and crime in low income women which translates into higher taxes, especially hard-to-escape property taxes that fund schools.

White collar women who get pregnant early in their career path cost corporations money by reducing their labor force participation in addition to throwing out the money spent in their on the job training and experience if they quit or don't come back to their jobs for years. Plus due to pay differentials, they tend to be cheaper in terms of wages up front.

It's far more economical to make birth control cheap and easy to obtain and retain their services until they hit their 30s. These women will be less likely to abandon more established careers and their deeper experience and skill sets will make them more likely to return to work, more quickly, and easier to reintegrate back into the work force if they do take time off.

Plus with more established careers they are more likely to have elevated incomes to pay for child care services which is the primary obstacle to returning to the workforce. For younger women at lower payscales, going back to work and paying for childcare is often a net loss and many of them make the choice to stay out of the labor market until their children hit school age. This makes it harder for them to get back into the labor market due to out of date skills.

If you're pro-money, being against gays is just bad business. Despite discrimination, gays tend to be better educated and have higher incomes. Business should be falling over themselves in support of gays, even if they want to gripe about fags at the country club.

The degree of technical confidence is inversely proportional to the level of management.