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Comment Re:Great. (Score 1) 221

I haven't updated firefox in a long time. Sadly, it no longer even works in my corporate environment. As a long-time user though, I can hope that this is finally the act that causes share to plummet enough to make them realize that extensions are the ONLY good thing left about Firefox. If Mozilla wants to survive, it will have to cope.

Or it will die, and web will belong totally to Google.

Comment Sloppy thinking (Score 1) 91

Nobody's going to go through the trouble to delete something that doesn't matter

While I sympathize with Mr. Kick, and remain skeptical of the new administration, this statement is just stupid.

Things get deleted all the time, especially by people who later decide they would prefer the information were still up. Every time a website gets refreshed, they may preserve the data from before the refresh, but the data from two refreshes or more gets mangled. In any organization, there will be data rot.

Now, the fact that this is a government organization makes the problem even worse, because now there are legal reasons that compel then to take down reports or documents after some period of time. For example, if something goes to a hearing which finds in favor of the defendant.

If I could tattoo "Hanlon's Razor" onto the back of every blogger's hands, I would.

Comment Competing is augmenting (Score 1) 110

Elon Musk has long said that artificial intelligence will have to augment human abilities, rather than compete with them, in order to avoid a portentous future

But programming an AI to do things I don't want to do is augmenting my human abilites, and competing with the human who I normally pay to deal with it.

As an example: I can't possible cut my lawn more efficiently than a heavily-invested landscape crew: they charge much less than I could theoretically make in the same time, and paying them frees up multiple hours for me to do other things.

And as soon as a sufficiently talented lawn robot becomes cheaper, they'll be gone and it will also free up my time and liberate a few bucks to do other useful things.

Comment Re:What!? (Score 4, Interesting) 255

Besides Google's cultural issues, the fact remains that a whole car is difficult to build: heavily regulated, expensive components, very competitive established market. It is foolish for any company to enter making a new car when they could just sell their hot new tech into cars.

The feeling in the industry right now is that the car is the new cell phone: generally untapped and ready for rapid improvements and new service roll-outs. All the head units basically are Android devices now (to manage the tuner, the CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, the DVD player, GPS/maps, OTA updates, etc.).

Apple tried. Google tried. Samsung is about to try. And all of them learn sooner or later that these projects have 5-year ramps and 10 years of support, that the hardware is 10x costlier than they are used to, and that the OEMs and end-customers have zero tolerance for their "move fast, break shit" attitude. Completely difference business cultures. Honestly, the best way to make a buck is to partner with OEMs and sell a drop-in peripheral or service. Anything else will fail.

Comment Re:why? (Score 4, Informative) 113

There have been a lot of moving pieces to the Firefox project.
* First, the code base was meant to be universal, with options to support a range of OSes and hardware. This involves a lot of not-so-sexy problems like word size, address space, endian-ness, etc. that don't come up a lot anymore. It also has it's own home-made (pseudo)thread system, because some of those supported OSes did not have nativemultithread capabilities. Since this is at the base of all code, things higher up have a lot of clunky support code.
* To make this all work, everything is modular with defined interfaces. This takes more memory, but makes for a more stable yet versatile design.
* Firefox was meant to be a lightweight version of the Mozilla browser. (Time makes fools of us all.) The idea was that CSS and javascript could be used to build out your UI as if it were a webpage.
* Building on that, since this chrome layer was never hard-coded anyway, it makes it easy to re-write with extension code. In fact, the extensions can do damn near anything by interfacing with gecko modules directly (or by building their own).

Now the problems:
* The Gecko engine is basically functional, but was never designed to do a lot of the goofy crap modern Web API standards are pushing forward. (Web API is basically aiming to make your browser into a universal interface for your entire computer. That way "web apps" have access to all the resources they could possibly need... though, sadly, almost no thought seems to have been given to making it secure.)
* Gecko is also way too bulky to ever work on a mobile phone, which is how a lot of the web is being consumed now. They had to fork and rewrite code to get out a workable android version.
* The extensions that did more than change the display meant that you either couldn't change internal interfaces, or that doing so would break everything. The way the chrome code was written meant that changing it would often break theme add-ons. Most of the time this just leads to angry users and people who refuse to update. But it also leads to a lot of bugs filed and support requests that ultimately stem from badly-coded, out-of-date extensions screwing everything up. Mozilla mostly considers this a perception problem, since the browser seems to be more broken because of the extensions.
* Firefox had a lot of preferences. These could all be edited at runtime, and took up a lot of memory with the properties themselves, and with the branch logic needed to support some of them.
* Firefox has been very leaky on a per-tab memory basis.

So where have they been going:
* legacy OSes and architectures aren't supported. Not enough horsepower to actually make the modern web work on, say, BeOS.
* Mozilla threads are deprecated in favor of real multithreading done through OS API calls.
* They've gone to a Google Chrome-like model for extensions, where there's a general extension API. They're open to expanding it however is necessary to get extensions with large market share -- such as NoScript and Firebug -- to work, but at some point we can expect that there are things they just have no interest in adding in.
* They've been trimming preferences release after release. There's not even anything to turn off javascript now unless you have an extension. (The logic is that the modern web is basically un-digestable without javascript.)

Comment Re:So they want an ecosystem like Steam/PC... (Score 1) 264

The purpose of the X-Box (originally "the Direct X box") was that it was a console outlet that would allow developers to build toward PC and console games at the same time. I think the fact that most people do not buy a sufficiently advanced computer when they can buy an X Box (or other console) is a pretty good indication of why Scorpio will probably not belong to the last console generation.

People also don't want to update computers at the rate game makers wish they'd upgrade HW capabilities. The fact that Windows XP lasted so long is another indication that most people are willing to stick with "sub-par but stable" for a long time.

As long as hardware is a factor, it will be cheaper to make special-use machines -- separate from the PCs that everyone is storing their digital lives on -- than to ask people to upgrade their PC. There are a lot of games with simple requirements that don't need much in the way of HW upgrades over time -- which is why I would expect, say, Nintendo to go console-less before playstation or X-Box do -- but as long as there's a gap, there's opportunity in a console market.

Comment For the hundredth time... (Score 1) 364

In roughly a century of driving, humans have learned one strategy: slam on the breaks. The choice is "break, or don't". When the driver is replaced by a bot, the choice is STILL "break, or don't".

I swear, this nonsense about algorithms implementing moral calculus is just a scam to get philosophy professors a few more speaking engagements.

Comment Re:Fuck that... (Score 4, Insightful) 244

endelsohn added that video is "the best way to tell stories in this world" and "helps us to digest much more information."

A few more reason's that that's a stupid claim:

I can read faster than my grandmother can speak. I can scan and skim faster than my friends can speak spread over 12 different videos.

I can read at work without anyone noticing and without putting on headphones. I can type a response without anyone else being aware of it. I can even read text in a meeting.

I can search for specific text.

To pause "text with pictures", I stop paying attention; to resume, I start paying attention. Video will never be able to strip down a UI to that level of control.

I can polish text in drafts. I can compose text in my underwear. Neither are true about recording a video.

Speaking to her "best way to tell stories": as an example of how that's ridiculous, think about the resources it takes to film a season of Game of Thrones versus how much it took George R. R. Martin to write the book. People can get through the former faster and with less effort, but only only for the modest price of $6 million per hour. (Don't worry, once you get 8 million followers, that's not so bad per follower....)

If her statement were true, it would basically mean that Facebook is dead, because YouTube already does video. It's a lot easier to staple social functionality onto a video site than it is to press video into a social site.

You think the way text messages have nearly done away with voice calls and voicemail between friends would be a clue that most people prefer text to listening. And that's what amateur video usually is: a talking head in a bedroom.

If everything is a video, things that have to be a video -- a dance, a recital -- don't stand out above the noise.

Comment Re:Indict? (Score 2) 742

That's basically part of the problem with all this. It's not to say that it wasn't a terrible idea that was horribly insecure, but none of it was per se illegal at the time.

First, it is highly illegal. (The "at the time qualifier" makes no sense... it's been illegal for a long, long time.)

Really the only thing that she could possibly be indicted/convicted on related to this is an attempt to cover up or destroy evidence - and even then, you'd pretty much have to get a smoking gun in this day and age, like catching her emailing her staffers with direct instructions to violate the law. Good luck finding anything like that.

Every paragraph of those documents would begin with a classification code. It's not like it's metadata that can be lost in a file transfer. She would have had to have someone print and re-type the documents to remove the codes. Unless that guy comes forward and falls on his sword, she has no defense. She willingly and deliberately circumvented the classification system, then put the documents on an insecure server. She has violated the law several times over, and it's probably killed several of our sources.

The DOJ has given the technician who set up the server immunity. They have on the order of 100 agents working the case. They have her. It's open and shut with testimony and evidence lined up. The could indict her at any time.

All it comes down to now is speculation about why they haven't. Is the President pressuring them to stay clear of his party's nominee (and presumptive nominee for months now - Sorry, Bernie)? Are they waiting to indict until after the election to avoid the appearance of bias? Are they waiting until after the election when Obama will no long be in office to pardon her? Are they waiting until after the election on the chance that she loses and she's left without anyone who will care enough to interfere? Are they holding onto the possibility of indictment to exchange politically for special treatment? Are they staying out because higher-ups recognize she will never actually serve time, so why bother to hurry?

There are a hundred scenarios that could play out, but All of them that based on her being innocent, unaware, or even just incompetent are in the rear view mirror.

Comment Re:Just Solipsism and Faith-Based Nonsense (Score 1) 951

It's not really an "origin story" for the universe he describes, just the sort of technically-correct statement that physicists and philosophers joke about at cocktail parties, but which no one seriously entertains. No one except Elon Musk.

So the logic -- as articulated by smarter people at cocktail parties and repeated here by Musk -- is that if we assume it's possible to simulate some arbitrarily large section of space (say, with holography), then the universe is big enough and old enough that there's probably already been a civilization that could do it and thus probably _did_ do it. And if you perfectly simulate a space, that's the universe as far as the simulated people in it are concerned. Then, if it's truly a perfect simulation, those simulated people can use the same simulated physics to to run their own simulations. And so on. So if you believe in one reality where simulation is possible, you admit the possibility of arbitrarily-many parallel and nested simulations. Which means that of all the possible realities we can observe, the odds are very good that we're not in the root reality, but just a simulation.

That is, if you can perfectly simulate a universe.
And if arbitrarily many people actually do choose to simulate a universe.
And the nested universes are in no way limited by physics in the real world such as limited holographic resolution, computing time, material and power constraints, etc. which would make many-multiply nested universes unlikely -- that is, not at alll perfect, but consistent with all experience we have up until now.
And if someone chose to simulate us for some reason (since we're the only universe, simulated or not, which we can prove must exist).
And of course if it's true it's both impossible to prove and pointless to worry about it.

If any of those assumptions breaks down, then odds are suddenly much better that we're in the plain-old not-simulated universe.

Comment Re:Are there any "dumb" TV's left? (Score 1) 507

Depends on what you mean by "dumb". Most TVs have a lot of signal processing: upscaling, color correction, things like that. More TVs have internet connectivity or Apps, but it's not the rule yet. The truly "dumb TVs" are sold as "digital signage" now. In other words, they expect the only real use for them is as displays in offices.

Apparently, that's what you need to seek out if you want to actively avoid new processing features. For example, if you're the kind of player who speaks of street fighter moves in terms of frames, and you just can't tolerate the lag modern TVs add. Some TVs also have a "game mode" which effectively bypasses everything.

Comment Re:The view from Austin (Score 1) 335

Of course, since we live in TX, the state has no interest in regulating anything, by design. Nor will they ever. The legislature abhors paying for anything, their constituents abhor regulation, and good sense has never had a seat at the table.

Historically cities like Austin pass their own laws because no on else will. And it's not just paltry regulations regarding taxi companies either. The 2006 ban on coal-tar sealants produced a measurable improvement in river quality, and was a vanguard for similar bans across the country.

Of course, the state legislature -- mostly representing people who will never visit or care about large cities like Austin or Dallas, and in the pocket of developers very much interested in Austin and Dallas -- will continue to get a lot of pressure to pass new laws which undercut the city's ability to govern itself. As they did with the plastic bag ban, and with the heritage tree ordinance.

Comment Re:The view from Austin (Score 1) 335

It should also be noted that Ridesharing Works for Austin has also dumped more money into this election than any election in Austin's history.

And,as things usually work in Texas, TX State Representatives Chris Paddie, John Kuempel, and Lyle Larsonhas have searched their consciences, found that it directed them to a huge bag of money, and then filed a bill that would prohibit cities like Austin from passing such ordinances in the future.

Comment The view from Austin (Score 1) 335

Austinite here. The summary is a bit misleading (as have most statements from the "grassroots" Ridesharing Works for Austin group).

First, the vote was for a new proposition. The new proposition was "scrap existing ordinance and come up with something else that does NOT require 1) fingerprint based background checks, 2) clear marking on taxis, 3) taxis be required to drop passengers at a curb (as opposed to having everyone jump out in the middle of a 3+ lane street)." The existing ordinance was not new. Uber and Lyft simply saw a dint in their business model and a cost they didn't want to shoulder (or ask their non-employee, contractor drivers to shoulder). All taxi, limo, and pedicab drivers have operated under this system for years. THe only "new" component was a ruling that, yes, Uber is a taxi company. The vote was about whether ridesharing companies could convince Austinites to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Over the course of the campaign, everything they claimed turned out to be lies, misinformation or erroneous. RWfA claimed that drunk driving plummeted since they started business. The police were asked to take a lot at the statistics and found out they were mis-reported: drunk driving stayed the same. RWfA claimed that if the proposition failed, the city would take over background checks. That's not true, as it would allow the current system of asking the taxi company to request the check according to regulations continue. RWfA claimed that the background checks were not as thorough as their own (false). They also noted it was not a nation-wide check, only a statewide check. The City Council thought that was a good point and made it a nation-wide check going forward. RWfA claims that the City had agreed to pay for checks if the proposition failed, which was also false. (And if you've ever lived in the city, you find the idea of them agreeing to pay for anything utterly laughable.)

What it comes down to was whether Austin wanted to let their laws be written by the City Council, or by the Travis Kalanick the CEO of a company that leverages under-employed people (who are "not really employees, or even contractors" according to Kalanick in courts in California) for the purpose of stealing business from employed and licensed people (at least until their heavy investment in self-driving car technology makes poor people unnecessary).

While some of the hip twenty somethings who've helped to double the population in Austin over the past decade may object, most of us are glad to tell Uber and Lyft, "don't let the door hit your ass on the way out."

Comment A world where you hit a robot to get it to work... (Score 1) 125

... My GE microwave is still like that. It was kind of funny because when I hit it and it actually worked, my thought process wasn't "well, good."

No, my thought process was, "that worked? How? What in a modern, solid state, uC based system would even respond to a hit? As an engineer, the fact that this worked offends me!" After some thought I realized the safety contacts on the door weren't always making a good connection.

It's still easier to pretend I'm the Fonz whenever I want a hot pocket than it is to schedule maintenance.

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