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Comment Re:Solar panels (Score 1) 238

Is it that significant of an improvement over the previous blackest thing? I would have expected that solar thermal panels would be limited primarily by the difficulty of generating usable power from the heat differential. I know that there already existed previous really-really-black coatings, though I actually would have thought that compared to the other problems, ordinary black paint would suffice. Is this enough of an improvement to make a difference in that vein?

Comment Re:Same old song and dance .... (Score 2) 214

I wonder how much the illegality of it figures into the convenience. The study implies that copying, as currently practiced, has only a limited impact. But that takes place in a world where copying is illegal: people are repeatedly told that it's a bad thing (ad nauseam; I really don't need to be reminded every time I play my legally purchased movie) and the news is full of horror stories of people being harassed by prosecutors when they do get caught.

So I don't know what policy conclusions we could draw from this study. If we made sharing legal, how much would that impact people? Would they continue to want to go to the theater, which has a much larger screen and great sound, but which also costs a fair bit (and even more for any snacks you want, which are actually the theater's primary profit center) and which isn't as convenient in either time or space as having it at home?

I'm not sure how we could guess, aside from actually doing an experiment in which sharing was made legal, and even that is difficult to control (since the entire marketing process would need to change to accommodate it, and it's hard to predict which movies would have been blockbusters at the box office.)

Comment Re:Wow. (Score 1) 204

The hammock is probably unnecessary, and in backpacking, you really need to be prepared to do without.

But I wonder if combining the tent and the pack could work, such that the tent poles form the backpack frame and the tent the body. It would be tricky to get the form factor right on both (and if you're humping it for hours, form factor is crucial) but the tent already has an interior and a waterproof exterior. It could shave a kilo or so off your load, and that would be huge.

Folding it every morning would probably suck, but if it could get down to five minutes it might be worth it.

Comment Can I have an indigo pixel? (Score 3, Interesting) 129

One possibility would be improving the color range, even if the resolution isn't improved. Rather than cramming in three phosophors per pixel, perhaps we could have four, or more. There's a considerable chunk of color space not well represented by RGB color.

I don't know how much of a difference it would make to TV viewers or gamers, but I know that artists would be grateful for a better color range. The conversion from RGB to CMYK is always a bit of a crapshoot; things that look great on your screen don't look as good when they come back from the printers, and there's a whole range of stuff it doesn't occur to you to try because you can't see it.

I could even imagine that it might be handy for medical imaging and other applications where you want to cram as much information onto the screen as possible: more pixels may not improve things but more colors might. Though more pixels could achieve that as well: it would be nice to be able to zoom in by bringing your face closer to the screen without simply seeing bigger pixels. Head motion is kinaesthetically appealing: you can move in and out without losing your sense of overall place.

Sharp already makes a four-pixel TV, with an added yellow (which is especially helpful in skin tones). I think it would be neat to be able to produce true indigo, violent, and cyan. If this lets you add more phosphors without costing resolution, it might not be a killer app, but it could be a desirable thing.

Comment Re:Wow. (Score 1) 204

I am intrigued by your ideas, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

I think that the combo tent/backpack/hammock would be a challenge, since each has different materials for different purposes. But the weight savings (or comfort from not doing without) could be substantial (at least, in an activity where people are said to snap handles off toothbrushes to save weight), and now that you mention it I'm surprised that somebody hasn't tried before. If I actually see the product on shelves some day I'll raise a glass to ya.

Comment Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (Score 2) 199

It's time for Congress to do a lot of things. But when was the last time Congress did anything at all? Has there been even a single non-trivial piece of legislation in the entire 113th? Was there any in the 112th?

The bar to legislation is fairly high and there's always a large set of voters prepared to punish their legislators for allowing anything through that would be seen as a victory for the other side or even as a compromise with them, regardless of the issue. Those Congressmen have been trained in a Pavlovian fashion to loudly denounce anything anybody tries to do.

So don't expect Congress to fix this, or anything else.

Comment Re:Technically, it's not a "draft notice" (Score 1) 205

Interesting.

Given MAD, it's hard to imagine another WWII-type scenario (though it would be a bad day if China invaded Taiwan). But I could foresee something like Afghanistan spreading to the entire Middle East, where they couldn't nuke us (at least, not more than a couple of times, not like Cold War-style "nuclear winter" barrages), and we'd be strongly pressured not to nuke them. But the theater would be so wide that we'd need vast, vast number of ground troops.

Comment Re:Technically, it's not a "draft notice" (Score 1) 205

The closest we get to that is the airport, where rights have been considerably and visibly curtailed (as opposed to the comparatively invisible loss of rights due to government intrusion in electronic communications). People seem to have accepted that more or less gracefully: they bitch, but it's not seen as a massive imposition on most people's daily lives.

I don't know if we'd ever get to the point of rationing food. Even if we declared a full-scale war, technology means we grow a lot of surplus food in this country. Prices might rise, but I don't think we'd ever see "grow victory gardens" posters as we did in the last unlimited war.

Oil, however, would skyrocket, and technology might be severely curtailed. It would be interesting to see how people reacted to that. It's hard to say whether that would be a bigger factor than outrage at a draft of manpower. In Korea and Vietnam, a lot of the public seemed to take the draft with equanimity since it came without the kind of rationing we saw during World War II.

Comment Re:Technically, it's not a "draft notice" (Score 1) 205

I recall some talk during the lead-up to the Afghan war about the potential for a draft. It wasn't clear at the time just how big that particular conflict would get. It wasn't impossible to imagine it turning into World War-sized scenario against a lot of Islamic countries. The resulting conflicts were small compared to that, but we had to scale up the military substantially and if they'd grown any bigger we'd have had to have a draft.

Now that women are allowed access to combat positions, it's going to be very hard to exempt them from a draft should one be necessary. I can't conceive of the legislature passing any such bill right now (I can't imagine this Congress passing any non-trivial bill, and I don't see that changing), but a wise legislature would want to do that ahead of need rather than after the fact. If women are going to be drafted, you'd need to start registering them now.

I sincerely hope that it's never necessary. And if a war of that scope does happen again, we'll probably be a lot less selective with our weapons of war. (Afghanistan and Iraq were fought house-to-house, because as bizarre as it sounds that was a way of reducing civilian casualties, at least compared to just flattening entire cities as was done in World War II.) So we may well not have a draft even in a bigger conflict. But I think that, while it's politically impossible, a really good pragmatic case could be made for starting to require Selective Service registration for everybody right now.

Comment Re:Most humans couldn't pass that test (Score 1) 285

To me, this seems to cut to the heart of it. AI is commonly conceived of as trying to mimic human intelligence, while there are cognitive tasks that cats and even mice can do that prove too hard for computers. A cat can recognize a mouse with essentially 100% accuracy, from any angle, in an eyeblink. No computer would come close, and the program that came closest wouldn't be a general-purpose object matcher.

Vertebrate brains are pretty remarkable. Human brains are an amazing extra step on top of that. We don't know exactly what that is in part because we don't really understand the simpler vertebrate brains. IMHO, we won't have a good mimic for sapience until we've gotten it to first do sentience. We don't have to rigorously follow the evolutionary order, but it seems to me that conversation-based tests are rewarding the wrong features, and even if they get better by that definition they're not getting us any closer to the actual goals of understanding (and reproducing) intelligence.

Comment Uh... I don't get it (Score 1) 28

I did read the fine article, but I'm afraid I just don't get what's going on here. Are the players contributing something in some kind of crowd-sourced "Yes, that blob is a star, and its center is here" kind of way? Or are they using players' computers as a distributed processing system?

It's nifty either way, but I don't the New Yorker's audience has the same kinds of questions about the technology that I do. Can anybody in this audience (more like me) help me out?

Comment Re:Superman logo is a Trademark (Score 1) 249

Congratulations, that's one of the stupidest things I've ever read on /. I don't even know where to begin, except to say that it sounds like your thinking seems to be, "Let me pick a position which I know will be unpopular, which must mean it is more correct than the popular position, and then go through some inane line of reasoning to support said position."

"They are the only people who would have actually earned it."

Everyone here is dumber for having read that.

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