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Comment: Re: .txt (Score 1) 200

by vtcodger (#49696609) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Is the Best Open Document Format?

Yes text handling for non-ascii characters can be surprisingly maddening to work with. (Wasn't UTF-8 supposed to fix that?). Problem is that wrapping txt in some more elaborate format like HTML often doesn't make the problem go away. With apologies to Jamie Zawinski It just means that now you have two problems.

Comment: Re:.txt (Score 1) 200

by vtcodger (#49693751) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Is the Best Open Document Format?

Pretty much my thought. Use the simplest format that will do the job. It it's just prose, use txt. Does anyone seriously believe that One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch is somehow enhanced by saving it as .doc or .pdf or .htm or god knows what else? If the text needs some bold and italics, use .txt with markdown. If it needs lots of markup, then something more elaborate -- preferably something with standards and a DTD or equivalent indicating what standard applies. If there are flat tables, use csv. Spreadsheets? Best use their native format (.ods, .xls, etc) I should think. Images and music? Not my area of expertise. I use jpeg and mp3 respectively for myself, but I wouldn't be at all surprised that there are better choices

Comment: To what purpose? (Score 1) 167

It the risk of coming across as being really dense, what are people gong to make in this here space or shop or whatever? If they are just going to modify some ill designed plastic stuff, then a couple of Dremels, a selection of bits, eye protection, and a vice may be all they need. If, OTOH, they are going to build a CubeSat They possibly need some sophisticated metal working stuff and some basic electronic test equipment..

I'd start off by surveying the potential users if you can find any and see what they want to do that they can't do, and aren't doing, in their dorm rooms right now. You might also survey the teaching staff and see if any of them will actually send users to the "space" to do stuff somehow connected with the college's perceived educational mission.

Comment: Re:I wish there was an easy way to understand it (Score 1) 129

by vtcodger (#49567323) Attached to: Holographic Principle Could Apply To Our Universe

All in all, two thousands years ago, in Greece, people were arguing if the world rests on the backs of three elephants or three whales, and assumed that the world is flat.

Actually, I think the Greeks pretty much agreed that the Earth is a sphere with a radius of about 6000 km (Erosthenes-roughly 240BC) What they were arguing about is whether it or the sun is the center of the universe (Aristarchus of Samos-about the same time)

(Don't you just love it when some bozo comes along and knitpicks your rhetoric?)

Comment: Re:Maybe so but... (Score 1) 171

by vtcodger (#49541131) Attached to: USGS: Oil and Gas Operations Could Trigger Large Earthquakes

Actually, the chances of winning a lawsuit are probably pretty good although a cynic might suspect that the lawyers will be the big winners. One thing though. If there are sufficient stresses built up for a magnitude 7 earthquake, doesn't that suggest that there will eventually be a 7.1 or 7.2 or greater quake when nature decides in her own inimitable way to relieve the accumulated stresses without human help?

Think about it.

In the meantime one wonders what drillers are going to do with zillions of gallons of contaminated water. I'm confident they'll figure out something -- probably something that will appall environmentalists even further.

Comment: Re:Start with an erroneous *world view* ... (Score 1) 181

by vtcodger (#49463045) Attached to: Autonomous Cars and the Centralization of Driving

but take into consideration that the army has autonomous vehicles right now that drive offroad constantly.

Well, no. They don't seem to. They're talking about autonomous vehicles And there is at least one far enough along for photo shoots. But it's often a long way from capability demonstration to proven capability. Not to mention that there may be some significant differences between the appropriate method for an autonomous APC to deal with a couple of cows in the road and the same situation in a Fiat Panda.

Comment: Re:Why is the cloud not a solution (Score 1) 446

> If you just encrypt the data before sending it to the cloud, nobody in their sane mind would waste resources decrypting it (specially for such low hanging fruits).

Same's true of an encrypted sd card or USB stick under the liner in the trunk of your car. And the data transfer rate to put it there is a lot higher than a typical internet connection.

Comment: Re:Never (Score 1) 181

by vtcodger (#49457213) Attached to: Autonomous Cars and the Centralization of Driving

> And early results will show reductions in vehicle fatalities ...

And accidents in general. It's extremely unlikely that autonomous vehicles will travel over the speed limit (when the actually know what it is) follow too closely except in some unusual and hard to detect road/weather conditions, or fail to notice vehicles that have managed to find their way into "blind spots". There will still be accidents when front wheel bearings seize, etc. And initially, software and hardware bugs are going to kill and/or maim a few people.

The fact that courts will probably assign liability to the creator of bad code, is probably going to come as an unexpected surprise to a software industry that is used to blaming all their problems on user ineptitude.

No, I do not know what will happen to US police forces when traffic tickets cease to be a reliable source of revenue.
I imagine they will think of something.

Comment: Re:Never (Score 1) 181

by vtcodger (#49457173) Attached to: Autonomous Cars and the Centralization of Driving

> Nice try, but we're already seeing it in consumer^Wautomotive-grade cars.

Might want to discuss OBD-II diagnostics with your mechanic. Be prepared to hear a LOT of profanity -- especially wrt On Board Vapor Recovery system "errors".

That said, the mechanical stuff generally is pretty reliable with a few notorious exceptions like GM's ignition switch problems. The software? It's not that complex I think. And it still sort of sucks much of the time.

Comment: Re:Never (Score 1) 181

by vtcodger (#49456451) Attached to: Autonomous Cars and the Centralization of Driving

The irony here, of course, is that you're the one assuming the programmers making these systems are egomaniacs who don't take any exceptional cases into account and never test for them.

You seem to assume that's not an accurate description of many programmers and even more of their managers. And in any cases, the bugs that one needs to worry about with physical devices like cars probably largely fall into the "Well shi.... Who could have guessed the damn thing might do that? catagory."

Comment: Re:Start with an erroneous *world view* ... (Score 1) 181

by vtcodger (#49456431) Attached to: Autonomous Cars and the Centralization of Driving

No reason that autonomous vehicles can't handle most unpaved roads eventually -- after decades of development and a lot of "incidents" -- some amusing, some tragic. And a LOT of lawsuits incidentally. Unpaved rural roads that are well maintained are fairly common in rural areas of the Eastern US. They really aren't much different from urban and suburban surface streets except for more washboarding, more washouts, more livestock in the road, no curbs, and perhaps fewer potholes. Poorly maintained unpaved roads are possibly going to lead to an issue of the car telling the occupants, "You want to continue down this purported 'road' feel free, but you're driving it, not me."

That said, I think fans of autonomous vehicles vastly underestimate the difficulty of navigating anything other than expressways or the variety of unusual and hazardous situations that need to be dealt with maybe once a year or once a decade even on expressways. 99.99% reliable and capable is great. But if the other .01% puts one in the hospital or morgue many folks are going to be a tough sell. Keep in the back of your mind that the automotive industry has yet to master even the comparatively simple problem of designing intelligent braking systems that work worth a damn on ice and snow even after decades of trying.

Comment: Re:Nobody Wins (Score 1) 155

by vtcodger (#49381575) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Who's Going To Win the Malware Arms Race?

> It is going to get to the point where the only viable solution is a trusted sandbox. It will be something along the lines of a TPM chip to make sure that the OS image / boot loader has not been compromised, combined with a white listed set of applications and trusted content sources.

Maybe .. But seriously, it's not clear that this point that a trusted sandbox is actually achievable even in concept, much less in practice. Nor is it clear that anyone other than some classes of users who are forced by law or employer dictate to use a trusted system actually would do so. No or very restricted email, social networking, etc.

I think that the fact that banks and merchants appear to be unable to secure their transaction flows despite having strong financial incentives to do so ought to give one pause about the securability of anything -- or, at least, anything networked.

"If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed." -- Albert Einstein