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Comment Re:RAID is not backup (Score 1) 229

RAID is not a backup, unless it has a snapshot feature. 2 TB is a pittance. I've got 7 TB on a 4x4 TB ZFS raid-z volume (12 TB usable), and my setup is not really that big. It's set up with FreeNAS, which supports ZFS (redundancy like RAID, plus file integrity checks, plus snapshots). The snapshots allow you to roll back to previous version of files, thus covering the weakness of RAID which makes it not-a-backup.

If most of the 2 TB is photos, you've got two cheap cloud storage options as a second backup (in case your house burns down taking your NAS with it). Google Photos is free and allows unlimited storage of photos up to 2048x2048 resolution (and 1080p videos up to 15 min, might have been reduced to 5 min). Amazon Prime comes with unlimited cloud storage of photos of any resolution.

Comment Re:You have no rights when applying for entry to a (Score 2) 203

U.S. Constitutional rights are limited to everyone (citizens, foreigners, illegals) in certain U.S. territories. When you're trying to enter the U.S. and are held up at Customs and Immigration, you are not yet considered to be on U.S. soil, so you do not enjoy the protection of U.S. Constitutional rights. This is precisely why Bush put a POW prison camp in Guantanamo Bay. While Guantanamo is controlled by the U.S., it is Cuban territory. And thus prisoners there would not be protected by the U.S. Constitution. (At least until Boumediene v. Bush which decided since the U.S. maintained "de facto sovereignty" over the base, it could be considered U.S. territory.)

Whether U.S. citizens enjoy U.S. Constitutional protections when abroad is an unsettled matter too. The recent drone killings of U.S. citizens fighting for ISIS abroad were done under the presumption that the answer is "no". They are not entitled to due process guaranteed by the 5th and 14th Amendments. If you extend that reasoning (not saying this is correct, just saying if you extend that reasoning), then U.S. citizens trying to re-enter the U.S. do not enjoy Constitutional protection until after they have been admitted.

That's why DHS trying to extend this territorial exclusion to a 100 mile bubble around U.S. entry points (borders and international airports) was so ridiculous and troubling. They were basically trying to make it so anyone within 100 miles of the U.S. border or an international airport did not have Constitutional protection.

Comment Re:I don't normally swear online (Score 1) 351

Invented in the mid 1970s, any patent on it expired in the mid 90s at the latest

Which brings us right back to the FDA only having approved one such product. The patent (and its expiration) is mostly irrelevant. Given that an EpiPen is frequently used in a life-or-death situation, no other manufacturer wants to assume the product liability associated with such a device unless the can shield themselves with the "FDA-approved" label. And the FDA is glacially slow at approving these things; so slow that manufacturers probably figure it's not worth the investment to even bother trying. Thus leaving one company with a government-granted monopoly (just like cable Internet service, whee).

Comment Tit for tat (Score 3, Insightful) 80

It's not sour grapes, it's tit for tat. Treating the artist the same way they're treating you. The artist is telling Spotify that they're not that important to him, so they'll be giving Apple or Tidal an exclusive. Spotify is returning the favor and telling the artist he is not as important to them either, and not promoting him as highly.

Please note that tit for that is one of the best strategies in the Prisoner's Dilemma. Consistently treating others the way they treat you is one of the best ways to get others to treat you better (or as fair as possible given that perfect fairness is impossible).

If the artist relents and gives up the exclusive, but Spotify continues not promoting him, then it's sour grapes, or revenge.

Comment Re:Why haven't we done Voyager 3 and 4? (Score 2) 61

For an idea of how much that alignment helped, here's the crazy path Pioneer 11 took from Jupiter to Saturn without the benefit of alignment. Instead of flying from Jupiter's orbit to Saturn's orbit, it had to fly almost to the opposite side of the solar system to intercept Saturn. Nearly 5 years, compared to approx 2 years for Voyagers 1/2.

Original paper describing the travel benefits of the alignment.

Comment The difference isn't that big (Score 3, Insightful) 139

It's important to understand that while we benchmark storage in MB/s, those units are actually the inverse of how we perceive their speed - wait time. Wait time would be sec/GB. To see what the consequences of this are, imagine loading up a game involves reading 1 GB of data, and for simplicity imagine you can read that 1 GB at max speed.

33 MB/s = 30 sec - old IDE HDD
66 MB/s = 15 sec - newer IDE HDD
125 MB/s = 8 sec - SATA HDD
250 MB/s = 4 sec - SATA2 SSD
500 MB/s = 2 sec - SATA3 SSD
1000 MB/s = 1 sec - early PCIe SSDs
2000 MB/s = 0.5 sec - newer PCIe SSDs

Notice how every time MB/s doubles, wait time is only cut in half. This means perceive speed increases are the inverse of MB/s, and thus not linear in terms of MB/s. The difference between SATA and SATA3 (125 MB/s and 500 MB/s) is "only" 375 MB/s. While the difference between SATA3 and newer PCIe drives is a whopping 1500 MB/s. But that doesn't mean that upgrading from SATA3 to a newer PCIe SSD will feel 4x faster than upgrading from a HDD to a SATA3 SSD felt.

The reduction in wait time going from the SATA HDD to a SATA3 SSD was 8 sec vs 2 sec - a 6 sec reduction. But the reduction in wait time going from SATA3 to newer PCIe is only 2 sec vs 0.5 sec - a 1.5 sec reduction. So upgrading from a SATA3 SSD to a newer PCIe SSD will only give you 1/4 the perceived speed increase you got when you upgraded from a HDD to a SSD. Not 4x. Compared to a SATA HDD, a SATA3 SSD gives you 80% the wait time reduction of the newest PCIe SSDs (6 sec vs 7.5 sec).

In other words, for the typical amounts of data we need to read off of storage, SATA3 SSDs have already given us most of the speed benefit we can expect by making our storage media faster. (The same problem plagues cars and using MPG to measure fuel efficiency. MPG is actually the inverse of fuel efficiency. It's the metric you want to use if you have a fixed amount of fuel and need to know how far you can travel, like if you're in a boat. The vast majority of people's driving is the other way around - they need to travel a fixed distance, and want to do it using as little fuel as possible - which is GPM. So the biggest fuel savings actually comes from making fuel hogs like tractor trailers, buses, and SUVs more efficient, not from econoboxes like the Prius. Despite how big 50 MPG sounds, going from 25 MPG to 50 MPG actually only represents half the fuel saved of going from 12.5 MPG to 25 MPG.. The rest of the world measures fuel efficiency in liters per 100 km for this reason - equivalent to GPM.)

Comment Don't dismiss WORM media yet (Score 2) 376

Optical media is WORM - write once, read many. This makes it secure against tampering after it's been written, so something like a ransomware virus can't destroy your backup even if it's still online. You also can't do something stupid like find that a file you need has become corrupted, plug in your backup drive, and accidentally copy the corrupt file over your backup instead of the other way around (I've done that).

I've been saying for 20+ years that our random access storage media like HDDs and flash memory needs a physical write-protect switch. It would solve so many problems. A significant percentage of the computer support customers I get are to recover media which has become unreadable because they plugged it into a device to watch a movie or copy a few files, and when they unplugged it (without first unmounting) the device screwed up the partition table or FAT making it unreadable. "All my kids' baby photos are on there and my wife will kill me if I can't get them back."

And if OSes were designed to run off read-only media (write temp files and log files elsewhere), they'd essentially be invulnerable to rooting. A buffer overflow vulnerability might allow an attacker to execute an arbitrary command, but they wouldn't be able to leverage it to modify the system so they have root access after a reboot. Data breaches wouldn't be impossible, but they'd be much, much harder.

But aside from write-protect switches on SD cards and WORM media, everyone seems to overlook the usefulness of being able to store data as read-only.

Optical media is also dirt cheap. SSDs/Flash memory is around 30 cents/GB. HDDs around 10 cents/GB. BD-Rs are around 2 cents/GB and if they follow the same pattern as CD-Rs and DVD-Rs, will eventually settle at around 0.8 cents/GB.

Comment A picture is worth a thousand words (Score 1) 84

There's something to be said about the improved efficiency of just posting a picture or a video, instead of writing a couple paragraphs trying to explain what happened. All communication mediums have their advantages. And their disadvantages. Trying to proclaim one as invariably inferior to your preferred medium does nothing but reveal your personal bias. There are always situations where each medium is better than the others.

Privacy concerns and general Facebook scumminess aside, a consolidated text/photo/video feed like Facebook/Instagram is the natural evolution of the web. At first everyone makes their own web page. But then it becomes burdensome to constantly check the web pages of all your friends to see if they've posted anything new. So you off-load that task onto a computer, which checks for any updates, and presents you with a consolidated list of updated pages. I would've preferred it to have happened in your browser which could automatically poll certain bookmarked sites every x hours, and put any of those pages updated since your last visit into a special folder (would be really handy for the list of web comics I follow). That way this functionality would cover the entire web instead of being limited to certain sites. But the masses seem to have picked Facebook/Instagram for this purpose.

Comment Re:Don't blame Pokemon GO (Score 1, Insightful) 175

TFA does not make clear whether the women were crossing legally or jaywalking.

Our laws promoting safety have a lot of redundancy built into them. This redundancy allows multiple failures before producing a catastrophic result. Limiting street crossings to crosswalks concentrates pedestrians in locations where additional safety features can be installed (red lights, painted stripes on the road). It also frees up drivers to keep their eyes on the road when away from intersections, instead of having to constantly watch the sides of the road for pedestrians who might suddenly jump into their path. Accidents more frequently happen because of infractions by each party involved which strip away each layer of redundant safety.

While it's probable the driver bears most of the blame, I wouldn't be so quick to jump to conclusions. I have to think even an irresponsible Pokemon player would, as a matter of self-preservation, at least take his eyes off the game long enough to slow when approaching intersections. This may well be a case of two women trying to save some time by crossing in the middle of the street (yes it happens even in Japan), and being struck by a driver who assumed no pedestrian would do such a thing so decided to play the game between intersections. He might even have been unable to avoid hitting the women even if he had been watching the road. Jumping to conclusions makes you no better than the assholes who beat up the driver in the above video.

Comment Re:Defective by Design (Score 2) 222

Also, what is this facetime equivalent you speak of, assuming you're not just talking about Skype?

Google Hangouts has let you make video calls for almost as long as Facetime. It's actually functionally superior to Facetime - it allows multiple people in the hangout (basically a conference call with just text, sound, or video, or any combo, also supposed to have a whiteboard feature though I never used it) across multiple platforms (phones, tablets, PCs; Android, iOS, Windows, OS X, Linux). Or at least it used to be. For some reason, Google is in the process of shuttering Hangouts and will be moving the video call feature to Google Duo, which is only available on Android phones and (as the name implies) only connects two devices - no more conference video calls.

Google's problem is they have a lot of great stuff that nobody knows about. They had a voice assistant before Siri, they just never thought of giving it a spiffy name and didn't market it so nobody knew it was on their phone. I only learned about it via the xda-developers forums. They moved Google Voice over to Hangouts a few years back essentially making every Android phone a VoIP phone, but they never said anything about it so nobody who wasn't using Google Voice before knew about it. Hangouts has been great because it combines multiple platforms - I can respond to short text messages on my phone, but more involved messages I can type up on my laptop since Hangouts shows up in my Gmail sidebar (which incidentally is also how you make video calls from PC). But they never even tried to publicize that capability, and are now in the process of dismantling it (Hangouts no longer combines SMS and hangouts conversations, and MMS has already disappeared from the PC, I expect SMS will go next).

Comment Re:Mobile Web (Score 5, Interesting) 79

The irony is that the way Tim Berners-Lee designed the web, the web server was to send you a minimally-structured set of information to display, and it would be up to the client to format it in the best way for the local display. This meant things like font sizes, page flow, in-line photos, etc. should adhere to settings on the browser.

The designers and page layout artists were horrified at this, and did everything in their power to subvert this model and return control of how the site would appear back with themselves. That's why flash websites were so popular in the early 2000s - it gave them complete control of how the site would appear, giving the user none. Gradually they've figured out ways to take away control from the user using regular html, which is why you now have websites where you can't zoom, can't resize fonts, everything is locked to three columns (menu, text, ads) which you can't move, resize, or rearrange, etc.

The way Tim Berners-Lee envisioned the web, there would be no need for a desktop site or a mobile site. You just create one site, and it's up to the visitor's browser to format it in a way which makes it most usable on the display device. The need for different desktop and mobile sites only arises if you design your site so that it will only operate at a certain resolution or screen size.

Comment Re:Just what I wanted.. (Score 2) 123

5 Mbps is what Netflix uses for its highest-quality 1080p streams. For a movie file analogy, 5 Mbps is equivalent to 2.25 GB for a 1 hour movie. The compression is there if you really look for it, but most people won't notice it. (Current video compression algorithms have a hard time with sharp high-contrast changes since those are relatively rare in natural video images, but are common in computer-generated images. So that's an area of video compression which could be improved in future algorithms.)

The input lag is there, but its detrimental impact is mostly the result of how the joysticks on the PS4 (and Xbox) controller works. The sticks only have a position resolution of -127 to +127. This isn't precise enough to aim on a 1920x1080 screen. So the kludge is to have the sticks control velocity instead of position (aim point). You tilt the joystick, and it changes the speed at which the aim point moves. This hack for controlling aim position is devastated by input lag. You let go of the stick when the aim point is just right, and the aim point keeps moving for 100ms.

The Steam controller fixes this. It uses a trackpad for the right (aiming) joystick. It has much higher resolution and works analogously to a trackball. You're no longer controlling the velocity at which the aim point moves, you're controlling its position directly like with a mouse. After enough practice, you learn how much to flick it to move the aim point exactly where you want. Just like you learn exactly how much you need to move the mouse to move the aim point to a certain location. Input lag becomes irrelevant except during the learning process.

Comment Android is FOSS (Score 1) 188

If Google designed Android so that they could push out forced updates to the OS, carriers and manufacturers who wanted it Their Own Way would simply take the FOSS version of Android and compile it Their Own Way, like Amazon does. That's the trade-off here. You can make it closed source giving you complete control over the OS and updates (what Apple and Microsoft do) and force carriers and manufacturers to bend to your will. Or you can make it FOSS, but attempts to wield control over updates risks carriers and manufacturers jumping ship and forking their own version. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Google Sheets, Docs, Photos, Plus, etc. are not FOSS. So the carriers and manufacturers (and users) don't have a choice - take it as-is or leave it.

This is the dangerous thing about all these anti-trust lawsuits against Android. Google already makes Android available as FOSS, so anyone can roll their own version of Android without paying Google a dime. If you hate Google but want Android, you can just grab the source and compile your own version. No other company making an OS with significant market share does this. I don't know how much more anti-trust you can get. Google only requires you to install their apps if you want access to the Play store. There are other Android stores out there (Amazon's probably being the biggest, Microsoft for all their complaining about Android is notable in not having one). The EU is playing with fire. If they succeed in their lawsuit, Google may just say "Screw it. We're giving the damn thing away as FOSS and they're still unhappy with it. If they're going to treat us as if we were charging money for it, we'll just make it closed-source and start charging money for it."

From an anti-trust perspective, about the only complaint I have with Android is that Google puts all non-Play stores into a catch-all "unknown sources" category. You can either allow them all, or block them all. They need to change it so you can authorize select stores, while still blocking all others (and side-loading). If there's any monopoly behavior, it's in the store, not the OS. Hell, even Apple could take the Android source code and produce their own version if they wanted.

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