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Comment: They don't care about the cards (Score 1) 341

by Sycraft-fu (#47409003) Attached to: Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

They track you using your credit card. The cards are because people want them these days. Albertsons finally knuckled under and started offering them. Not because they needed them for tracking, like I said they already did that, but because customers whined they weren't getting a "good deal". So they raised their prices, and introduced a card.

Comment: Also (Score 1) 110

by Sycraft-fu (#47408593) Attached to: YouTube Issuing "Report Cards" On Carriers' Streaming Speeds

It doesn't take in to account the net speeds that people have. So you might well have a provider who has no problem doing HD video from Youtube all day every day, on lines that can handle it. However they sell slower lines and some customers have that, so that skews things.

Like say a phone company offers ADSL and IDSL for customers who are way out in the boonies, but VDSL for people in the city. Well those slow connections will bring down their stats, even if their network is quite fast and makes them look bad, despite them actually being the only option for some people.

A somewhat similar deal with cable companies can be people using old hardware. DOCSIS 2 cable modems only use one channel per segment, and those can get saturated these days. Well cable providers tend to be DOCSIS 3 to deal with that... but not everyone has a new modem. The cable company can recommend they get one, but if it is your equipment they can't make you (I guess other than cutting you off but they don't wanna do that).

Comment: Re:Charge what it costs to certify (Score 1) 123

by TheRaven64 (#47398031) Attached to: FDA: We Can't Scale To Regulate Mobile Health Apps
This is exactly how they do it now for software in medical devices. Except that that 'private firms' are the manufacturers. It's ludicrous for them to claim that a certification process that basically amounts to asking the manufacturers to promise that they've tested it really well 'won't scale'.

Comment: No shit (Score 5, Insightful) 202

Slashdot needs to knock it off with these "Child genius is going to totally upstage all those stupid companies and make something amazing!" stories they run some time. The thing is, they are essentially never true and we as geeks should know better.

Smart kids often have the problem of thinking they know everything. They have the brains to be well above their peers at pretty much everything, and so have a confidence in their knowledge and intelligence, but lack the experience to understand the limitations of both in the larger world. Hence they'll think that they have found an "obvious" solution to a problem in the world that nobody else has managed to think of. I'm sure most of us felt like that at one time or another as children.

However, it turns out that smart kids become smart adults, and those smart adults get job making the thing we use, solving the problems we have, and so on. So, usually if there's something that hasn't been solved, the reason is that there is NOT a simple solution. There isn't something that a kid will just say "Oh look, here's a better way to do it." Rather it is a complex problem and thus the solutions are complex.

So Slashdot needs to quit with stories on shit like this unless there' something to back it up. A printer actually gets released based on this kids design? Ok that's a story. Some kid says he can do way better than anyone else? That's not a story. That is, to quote the Reapers, "A confidence borne of ignorance." It's not news.

Comment: continuing... (Score 1) 682

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47393867) Attached to: When Beliefs and Facts Collide

(Stupid touchpad...)

  - If this deviation is the result of burning fossil fuels, they are expected to run out in about 800 years - after which the temperature might crash toward the "Ice age already in progress" as the excess carbon is removed from the atomsphere by various processes, or simply be overwhelmed by the orbital mechanical function if it remains.

Does this scenario count as supporting or opposing anthropogenic global warming?

Comment: And that, in turn, is political. (Score 1) 682

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47393843) Attached to: When Beliefs and Facts Collide

The percentages come from looking at all studies, papers, research, etc. and determining the number one one side or the /i?

When the administrators of research funding withhold future grants from scientists who publish papers questioning some aspect of the current global warming scenario, while giving additional funding to scientists who publish papers supporting it (or claiming some global-warming tie-in to whatever phenomenon they're examining), the count becomes skewed. This is political action, not science.

This happened in the '70s with research into medical effects of the popular "recreational" drugs - before such research was effectively banned. Among the resuts were a plethora of papers where the conclusions obviously didn't match the data presented and a two-decade delay in the discovery of medical effects and development of treatments. Only NOW are we finding evidence that PTSD might be aborted by adequate opate dosages in the weeks immediately following the injury, or that compounds in marijuana may be a specific treatment for it - as they are for some forms of epilepsy and may be for some cancers, late stage parkinsons, and so on.

The same happens when the editors of a journal and their selection of reviewers systematically approve and publish only research supporting the current paradigms, to the point that scientists with contrary resuts must find, or create, other journals or distribution channels (which can then be smeared as non-authoritaive, creations of the fossil fuel industry, right-wing politicans, or conspiracy nuts - and their articles LEFT OUT OF THE COUNT). Again, this is politics, not science.

Then there's the question of the methodology of the count itself. What is counted as "support for" versus "opposition to"? What does it count as a scientific paper? Were well-established research methods used? Was it reviewed? By whom? Was it done by scientists with no established position on the issue, by scientists supporting one side, by pollsters, by an advocacy group, by politicians? (Hell, was it done at all? Truth is the first casualty of politics, and fake polls are one of the commonest murder weapons.)

For an instance: How would you interpret the study behind the Scientific American article that seems to indicate:
  - Planetary temperatures have tightly tracked a function of three orbital-mechanics effects on the earth's orbit and axial orientation - up to the time of human domestication of fire.
  - That occurred as the function was just starting to inflect downward into the next ice age.
  - The deviation amounted to holding the temperature stable as the function slowly curved downward. (Perhaps a feedback effect - more fires needed for comfort in colder winters?)
  - This essentially flat temperature held up to the industrial revolution, when the temperature began to curve upward, overcoming the gradually steepening decline of the function.
  - If this deviation is the result of burning fossil fuels, they are expected to run out in about 800 years - after which the temperature might crash toward the "Ice age already in progress" as the excess carbon is removed from the atomsphere by various processes, or simply be overwhelmed by the orbita

Comment: Re: Marty! (Score 2) 550

Apparently the early script drafts had a more plausible explanation: that the spare brain capacity of humans in a dream-like state was used as processing power to run the AIs. One of the editors thought this was too complicated for a movie-going audience to understand and so replaced it with a magic perpetual motion machine.

Comment: Re:AI is always "right around the corner". (Score 3, Interesting) 550

Translation is like predicting the weather. If you want to do an okay job of predicting the weather, predict either the same as this day last year or the same as yesterday. That will get you something like 60-70% success. Modelling local pressure systems will get you another 5-10% fairly easily. Getting from 80% correct to 90% is insanely hard.

For machine translation, building a database of 3-grams or 4-grams and just doing simple pattern matching (which is what Google Translate does) gets you 70% accuracy quite easily (between romance languages, anyway. It really sucks for Japanese or Russian, for example). Extending the n-gram size; however, quickly hits diminishing returns. Your increases in accuracy depend on a corpus and when you get to the size of n-gram where you're really accurate, you're effectively needing a human to have already translated each sentence.

Machine-aided translation can give huge increases in productivity. Completely computerised translation has already got most of the low-hanging fruit and will have a very difficult job of getting to the level of a moderately competent bilingual human.

Comment: Re:Just think of what you can do with this! (Score 3, Insightful) 122

by TheRaven64 (#47392079) Attached to: New Single Board Computer Lets You Swap Out the CPU and Memory
The power consumption of the RPi (especially if you're not using the GPU) is tiny in comparison to anything with motors in it. I'd rather trade a slight reduction in battery life for being able to use a rich programming environment than save a few mW and be forced into a constrained microcontroller development environment. It might be different if I were planning on mass producing a few thousand and needed to save costs, but for a hobby project or even a prototype I'd happily overprovision on CPU power.

Comment: already illegal for that. (Score 1) 200

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47391013) Attached to: The View From Inside A Fireworks Show

In twenty-four hours this will go from "illegal" to "high demand professional camera service" for promotions, events, etc.

Sorry, that's already illegal (according to the FAA).

Just a few weeks ago the FAA issued an interpretation of existing rules that declared illegal any commercial use of video from a drone.

Comment: The water follows the cracks... (Score 1) 154

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47390291) Attached to: Oklahoma's Earthquakes Linked To Fracking

I dont get it. The average depth of oil/gas wells here in Oklahoma is approx 5,000 ft. The typical depth of earthquakes here in Oklahoma is approx 16,000 ft. I'm not seeing a connection between the two.

First: You're looking at the wrong wells. What's the depth of the injection wells?

Second: The depth of the well doesn't particularly matter, as long as it connects the water to a fault system. The water spreads out through the fault, turning it into a hydraulic jack the size of a small eastern state or so. The faults aren't purely horizontal and the pressure (except for an added component at greater depth from the weight of the water above it) is the same everywhere.

So of course the earthquakes take place at the usual depths where the "last straw" rock finally gives way.

It is surely a great calamity for a human being to have no obsessions. - Robert Bly