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Comment Re:Since they serialize currency... (Score 1) 162

Two words: credit cards.

While it's true that once in a blue moon someone will take your credit card manually (I am old enough to still remember when they were called "charge plates" and were used with carbon paper), almost always someone uses a machine with dialup or connected to the internet to validate a credit card transaction.

Nor is it necessary to validate every bit of cash you take in -- once in a while someone will take a magic pen to a $100 bill, but most of the time at least in Minnesota nobody bothers to validate cash, so it would probably be something that only banks and people who cared to have a box would have.

But it sounds a lot simpler in practice to at least *provide* a method for cryptographic verification, even if nobody uses the system, than it is to spend increasingly large amounts of money trying to just print paper in a way that nobody else can easily duplicate.

Comment Re:A new clause needed for "public service" (Score 1) 242

I think this is a great idea, but it sounds almost impossible to enforce.

It would be pretty simple for a lobbying entity to hire a former public official in a consulting role without having them actually do any lobbying and instead only provide information sharing with people who do lobby. Even easier to do when the lobbying entity is a law firm and the public official is a lawyer, since there's non-lobbying work that they can do.

And then there's the notion of just hiring them or placing them on a retainer so that they will go to work for you after their period is up. It's not hard to see some kind of desire to capture all the possible public officials who could work in a particular area.

Comment Re:Hmmm... (Score 1) 159

I just don't get caught.

I've broken 100 MPH in 3 cars and on my motorcycle. When the speed limit was 55, I did Duluth to Minneapolis on my motorcycle in in 2 hours flat. My math tells me that's at least 77 MPH average. That's nothing now that the speed limit is 70, but it was kind of an accomplishment when it was 55.

But all of that is largely behind me. I like to go fast where I can, but my interest in LEO contact is less than zero. I would rather set my distance-sensing cruise control at about 4 MPH over the limit and just cruise.

Comment Re:Hmmm... (Score 2) 159

IANAL and I've never even had a speeding ticket in 31 years of driving, but isn't there a reasonable expectation of general accuracy in a speedometers, and also a reasonable expectation of deviation from specific accuracy?

I don't think there is a specific requirement for me to check/verify my speedometer accuracy, there's a whole host of government regulations that require carmakers to produce vehicles to a specific standard. And as long as when I drive with the flow of traffic, I kind of have to believe my speedometer isn't grossly inaccurate.

In general practice, the police don't ticket people for going 56 MPH in a 55 MPH zone because there are a whole laundry list of reasons why you cannot maintain perfect speed accuracy -- the equipment isn't capable of that precision, the data displays are generally analog displays lacking that kind of precision, and environmental factors (wind, road resistance, etc) can cause speed variations, not to mention the power controls (throttle) aren't perfectly linear or setup for fine-grained control.

Now, you won't get away with doing in 80 in a 55 zone because there are all kinds of mediating factors that should make it obvious something is wrong with your car -- passing most traffic very quickly, etc.

I always try to check my speedometer calibration either via GPS (now) or via cruise control on flat terrain over a marked distance with a stopwatch. I had a motorcycle that showed a displayed speed 9-11 MPH slower than actual speed. I actually enquired about having it fixed and they told me it could not be manually adjusted, only totally replaced and even then they said it was not likely to be any more accurate.

Comment Are all busses unauthenticated? (Score 1) 159

I bought a used Volvo S80 about 4 years ago. I added the iPod connector for the stereo -- a factory option my car didn't come with.

The dealer had a real problem getting it to work -- the stereo would indicate the input was there, but when you switched to it it would work for about a minute and then stop working. The description they told me was that the car's data bus was rejecting the accessory because it wasn't authenticating.

Now, I don't know if this was an accurate assessment or not, but it took some kind of software patch specific to my car to make this work.

I'm also not sure if this is the car's CAN bus, either, or if its some private data bus within the car.

Comment The decline of the middle class (Score 3, Interesting) 507

This is slightly off topic, but I think it's not just the application of computing power to medical data, but the application of computing power to control and recover a lot of costs has generally been so successful that I think it's actually cutting the "slack" out of the economy and contributing to the decline of the middle class and growing economic inequality.

They're shaving the savings off the top and putting it in their own pockets, but the economic byproducts of the savings (cheaper goods) doesn't offset the economic loss of the savings not being spent on goods and labor, like additional inventory or additional workers.

Say a business sells a widget for $10. Their cost to make the widget is $4 and because of imperfect data/processing, sales forecasts, shipping, etc are all less accurate. They have to carry inventories to meet customer needs. Inventories require workers, facilities (which need construction...), they have to buy more raw materials. So $2 is added in overhead to the $4 and the profit on the widget is only $4.

With improved data/processing, they gain efficiencies. They carry as close to zero inventory as possible. They buy less raw materials. Need fewer workers. Smaller facilities (...less construction, fewer carptenters, less building materials, less ....) and so on. But the nominal cost of the widget doesn't go down, but the margin increases to $5 per widget because they save $1 in costs.

Since the price of the widget doesn't go down and at best rises slower, the consumer is only marginally benefitting, especially since the depressed employment resulting from greater operating efficiency results in lower wages, further mitigating any price declines or slowing price increases.

The $1 that was previously "lost" on administrative costs is now executive salaries, bonuses and benefits where it produces less economic impact than had it been spent on productive economic activity.

Comment Will they really stop? Is there accountability? (Score 3, Insightful) 322

Is the data they're collecting actually useful, or is it kind of tinfoil-hat paranoid useful where they get confirmation bias patterns out of it and believe it's useful?

And if so, what makes us think they will actually stop collecting it, especially if what they have is useful to other people (FBI, CIA, military..)? The whole operation is uber top secret and after Snowden I would imagine that they are redoubling their leak containment and secrecy. Sure, they've been able to ask/strongarm some of it and they might be impeded from doing that anymore but much of the principal job is spying -- surreptitiously obtaining and decoding information meant to be secret -- won't they just figure out how to get it through other means anyway?

Who or what can actually audit what the NSA does and what data they collect anyway? It sounds like a level of intelligence clearance and top-secretness that nobody but an insider can get and it always seems that once even an "agent for change *cough*Obama*cough* gets insight into this stuff they suddenly start being advocates for intelligence, not for change,

Comment It's expensive, but 10 times cheaper than it was.. (Score 1) 569

...13 years ago.

13 years I had one choice, DSL, and it was $79/month for 768k/256k asymmetric on the ISP side and then another $20 a month on the telco side. 1 static IP.

Now I pay $72 per month and get 15/5 Mbit and get 5 static IPs. It was $69/month for the last 3 years but crept up $2/month in the last month (no explanation on the bill, just a bigger number).

It sounds like in absolute dollar terms I'm paying about the same price, but I'm getting more than 10 times the download speed and static IPs aren't getting easier to obtain, plus the numbers above aren't corrected for inflation.

I'm really surprised Comcast hasn't jacked the price up horribly -- the ONLY competition they have is CenturyLink who have done pretty much nothing to boost speeds/lay fiber/etc and the municipal wifi network which I think is likely to be not much better if not worse than LTE. Hell, half the time I stay in a hotel I end up ditching the low-rent wifi they offer for the personal hotspot off my LTE smartphone.

Plus, Comcast MUST be facing constant pressure on their network. I hear people in densely populated hipster neighborhoods gripe about slow throughput but I can never tell what that might be.

Comment Re:Misleading (Score 1) 1160

It's misleading the way the story reads, but I have read of shortages of propofol and other drugs due to limited manufacturing facilities -- demand outstrips supply, a fuckup in manufacturing requiring the output to be slowed or stopped, etc.

I also have read that there were a whole bunch of drugs from the late 1960s or 1970s that never went through a "modern" FDA approval process. They were all out of patent and widely made as cheap generics. The FDA decided these needed re-approval (despite decades of widespread generally safe use) and forced them off the market, granting whoever would do the approval for them monopoly status.

The drugs then became impossible to find and when they returned to market, the supply was constrained and suddenly they were priced like new, brand-name drugs to boot.

I'm not sure of popofol was one of these re-eval drugs or not.

Comment Re:Aggressive and not smart cyclists (Score 1) 947

No, in this case, the side streets are probably in as good or better shape than the main street and of no different topology than the main "through" street.

If a cyclist can't maintain the posted road speed and get passed safely by cars, they shouldn't be on the road as they are a creating a road hazard to themselves and others.

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