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Comment Re:Yes, custom ROMs are still necessary (Score 1) 158

even Google itself washes their hands of any phone that is older than about 2 years.

Three years. Google devices get system upgrades for two years, and security updates for three years. That's still well short of five years, as you say. On the other hand, while Apple has a history of supporting devices for that long, they've made no commitment to any specific support timeline.

Comment Re:As someone with a masters in this -exact field- (Score 2) 196

you are a true master, you should be able to explain concepts in a way that even a child can understand. Richard Feynman was famous for this. So was Albert Einstein. Of course you can go too far, and simplify too much, so the children only think they understand.

Richard Feynman and Albert Einstein both did exactly this. You really can't understand quantum mechanics or general relativity without math. You can think you do, and both of them were great at providing simple explanations that gave the illusion of understanding... but it was only an illusion, which of course they knew perfectly well.

Comment Re:Short-term numbers versus long-term (Score 2) 154

I'm not up on state of the art on computer image/object recognition but the experience I have from about 10 years ago leads me to believe that...

Others have already responded to your other points, I just want to point out that experience from 10 years ago tells you basically nothing about the state of the art today. Deep learning methods have enabled dramatic progress on exactly the class of pattern matching problems that includes computer vision.

Personally, I still think that LIDAR is inherently superior to video cameras for this task, but Tesla's numbers are impressive, and prove that while their system may not be all that it should be, it's already better than a typical human driver -- at least than the typical Tesla buyer (note that I have no reason to believe that Tesla buyers would be worse than average drivers, but the possibility shouldn't be ignored).

Comment Re:Whitespace takes the most space (Score 1) 186

But what is the value of an algorithm that you can't actually execute?

In the practical world, language efficiency actually matters and is a reasonable thing to discuss.

Sure, that's true. But it has no bearing on the question of whether a language can accurately be called Turing Complete -- and Turing Completeness also matters, because it defines the class of algorithms that can be implemented in the language. What's the value of an algorithm that you can't implement because the language lacks the necessary expressive power? Except in very limited circumstances, Turing Completeness is a prerequisite. Without it, there's no point in discussing efficiency.

Comment Re:You need to do a bit of research. (Score 1) 142

Star Trek Continues also violates those same guidelines (high-quality props/sets/uniforms instead of toy-store quality items, professional acting/directing/scriptwriting

Have you seen Star Trek Continues? Cheesy plots, lousy acting, terrible effects and you can't tell me their props, uniforms and sets don't look like toys.

It's like a low-budget 1960s vision of space travel.

Comment Re:Whitespace takes the most space (Score 1) 186

To be considered Turing-complete, a language must be able to simulate a Turing machine - and that's actually impossible, since it can never meet the "infinite tape" requirement.

Languages are not machines. Languages have no memory limitations, and therefore have no trouble simulating a Turing machine.

The fact that we run code written in those languages on finite machines does not change the Turing-complete nature of the languages.

Comment Not equivalent (Score 1) 139

Squirrels are an event that you can plan for - it happens all the time and it's a calculated cost. They're not intelligent actors trying to sabotage your system, they're just varmints doing what they do. Someone probing and making a list of the vulnerabilities of your system so they can perform a massive across-the-board outage of your infrastructure is a completely different thing. When a squirrel takes out a transformer it only affects a local area and for a short duration of time. Since it happens all the time the utilities are used to it and are good at locating and repairing the damage. Someone messing with the infrastructure internally is going to be pretty much unprecedented and could be difficult to figure out and fix.

Comment Re:Now lets see. (Score 5, Interesting) 1501

You might be interested in reading "American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America", by Colin Woodard. The author argues that there are 11 distinct cultures in North America, which don't align neatly with state (or even national) boundaries, and that US politics is primarily a competition between two shifting coalitions of these 11 cultures, coalitions anchored in the Yankee culture (Democrats) and the Deep South culture (Republicans). One value that both of those cultures hold in common is authoritarianism, though of very different forms.

Yankeedom is built around and values a communitarian form of authoritarianism, derived largely from its Puritanical heritage. Even though the religious aspects of Yankee Puritanism have gone away, they've been replaced by a secular form of the same thing, which is the notion that while it's critical that the people as a whole have "independence", meaning they can form their own assemblies and regulate themselves, the individual should willingly subjugate his or her own will to that of the community. In Puritan days, this was severe; almost any form of disagreement with the community's religious and social values resulted in severe punishment. Individual freedom was not valued, and tolerance for alternative views was extremely low. Also, Yankeedom reveres education, and therefore the fruits of education, including progressiveness.

The Deep South is built around and values a hierarchical form of very strict authoritarianism, derived from that region's slaveholding culture, which enabled it to establish an essentially feudal model of lordly manors occupied by elegant idlers, supported by masses of lower classes. The southern planters placed tremendous value on "liberty" but it was the old Greek and Roman notion of liberty, which is available only to those at the top. The south took the "lower classes" notion a bit further than feudal lords with their serfs, but the southern class-based society wasn't just "planters" and "slaves", there was also a large underclass of what we might now call white trash, which was also expected to be subservient. What's perhaps odd about the old Deep Southern notions of hierarchy is that they were so deeply embedded in the society that although the underclasses chafed a bit, they also grew to expect a strong hierarchy and to respect their aristocratic leaders.

So, the two core cultures around which our political battles revolve are both authoritarians. Their allied cultures are less authoritarian, but it's the core cultures that hold the whip hand. In particular the left coast is very big on individual freedom and self-realization, but also has its roots in Yankeedom, including the trust in education and progress, which makes is a natural ally of the Yankee culture even though they disagree on individual freedom. Similarly, the far west culture is very libertarian but allies with the deep south because of its opposition to Yankeedom, rather than because it likes the southern authoritarianism.

Anyway, that's a flavor of what's in the book. You probably won't agree with all of it (I don't), but a lot of it makes a great deal of sense and I found that it really illuminates my understanding of the major political dynamics in the US, and has helped me understand why there is this strong streak of authoritarianism in a country that purportedly values freedom and independence.

Comment "Quiet title action" (Score 4, Interesting) 55

The previous story about Zuckerberg's lawsuit caused me to do a little research. I have never thought much of the man, but there's really nothing wrong with the court action he's taken in Hawaii. What he's doing is a an "action to quiet title". Basically, he has already purchased the plots of land in question, from the majority owners. The problem is that the title to this land is unclear, because there are also many minority owners, most of whom really have no idea they own anything.

An action to quiet title is a court proceeding used to deal with such fuzzy ownership situations, to clarify them so that clear and unambiguous ownership can be established. It involves a process to find and identify owners so they can be negotiated with, or in the event they can't be found to legally remove their ownership to clear up the title. That last bit is unfortunate, but there's really no other way in cases where the ownership in question goes back many generations and has never been documented. The alternative is to leave the legal ownership of the property in limbo. I guess Zuck could do that, but if I were in his shoes I wouldn't want that... and I know because I am more or less in his shoes.

My wife inherited some property from her father. We have a "quit claim" deed that legally transfers the property to us, and my father-in-law had a quit claim deed from the previous owner, and so on back several steps. In our case, all of this was documented and recorded with the county (which is *not* the case with Zuckerberg's land -- so we have a much better position). Our problem is twofold: First, quit claim deeds are not warranty deeds, which means that while they're legal, they are only evidence of ownership, not a guarantee of ownership. Second, the legal description of the property boundaries was changed a few decades ago, and it's not completely clear if the new description actually matches the old one.

In our case, odds are very good that a title company can simply research the past sequence of titles, verify that everything is good, and issue us a warranty deed which guarantees our ownership. BUT there is a possibility that the research may find that there is additional cloudiness in the ownership, in which case we'll have to file an action to quiet title to flush out any other claims to the land and, if they can't be found within a certain time period (a year, I think?), to get a court ruling that we unambiguously hold title to the land.

This is a pretty common thing, and it's really not at all abusive.

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