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Comment Better than a timeout (Score 4, Interesting) 172

I think the idea is that if you are at your desk but idle (say, for example, you're on a long phone call with your chair tipped back and your feet on the desk), the computer won't lock down after X minutes of inactivity passes. But if you step away, it locks within seconds. You probably want to have some delay before locking, just in case you bend down to tie your shoe or something else where you are out of the view of the camera for a moment.

The problem with the typical timeout we've used for years is that it can leave the desktop vulnerable between the time you leave the computer and the timeout expires. Most places set the timeout to several minutes to avoid employee irritation of having to unlock their computers several times a day, just because they were doing something else even though the computer was never out of their sight. A timeout is, at best, a compromise between security and convenience.

This new method has the potential to improve BOTH security and convenience.

Comment Re:My old phone had a replaceable battery (Score 4, Interesting) 210

People complained about the bulk and weight of having a removable cover and another layer of hard plastic around the battery. Reporters making comparison charts and designers decided that thin and light were more important than a replaceable battery. OEM upper managers approved when they realized people could be convinced to replace the whole phone instead of replacing just a battery.

The only people who complained were reviewers on tech sites. Everyone else added weight and bulk by wrapping "protective" shells around their phones.

Comment Seems like it would be easy to study (Score 1) 257

Just have the study participants floss only half (the same half) of their mouth every day. Monitor their oral health for several years. If flossing makes a significant difference in dental decay, it should become obvious by the differing rate of decay of flossed and unflossed teeth.

It seems to me that this would be a reasonable approach to a study. Aside from flossing, the oral health of each subject should be the same on both sides of the mouth. That means you wouldn't have to account as much for variations in oral hygeine among subjects.

Disclaimer: I have never knowingly conducted or participated in medical research.

Comment Not that unusual (Score 3, Informative) 165

There are many industrial processes and machines running ancient hardware. Also common in the medical field.

A local radio station I service (IT) finally replaced an audio editing computer last year. This computer was running Windows 95. Why? A 'bespoke' audio editing card, which required an EISA bus. So why not some other software solution? Because this software did EXACTLY what they wanted to do, was very easy to use, and very easy to train new users on. We maintained an inventory of spare parts -- including a spare motherboard -- to keep the system running.

So why did they replace it? The audio editing card (which was a dedicated computer on a daughter card) began to fail, and that's the part they didn't have a spare for. The replacement product they are using is Adobe Audition.

I know of many other industrial and medical machines that are running old versions of windows on old hardware because they have proprietary software or hardware that is not cost-effective to upgrade (and is working perfectly fine). Some of the software and hardware would be tens of thousands (in some cases hundreds of thousands) of dollars to upgrade -- just to run a more modern OS. If a return on investment cannot be identified, the hardware will not be upgraded.

Comment Punishing the POTENTIAL to do wrong (Score 1) 545

It seems that most laws and regulations enacted in the past half century in the United States serve not to punish actual harm done, or the intent to do harm, but to punish the potential to do harm.

Stop it. Already. Unless you can show intent to harm or resultant harm don't punish people for excersising their liberties just because there is potential for harm.

It's like awarding the Nobel Peace Prize on the potential to go good. Or rewarding innovative designs before they are implemented.

Comment Potential for more than just cracking (Score 1) 50

I see potential here: strap an accelerometer array (smartphone) to each wrist, and enable typing without a keyboard. Write your next novel tapping away at a blank desk... or even just wiggling your fingers in the air. Sure would be easier than tapping away at a tiny smartphone screen, and you wouldn't have to lug around a BT keyboard.

As for entering PINs, I always have at least three fingers over the keypad at all times, to obfuscate which key is being pressed/tapped. Not foolproof, but maybe makes it just difficult enough for the nefarious person to move on to the next potential victim.

Comment Re:Autonomy fails when the unexpected happens (Score 1) 397

In most cases, software isn't controlling large objects with damage potential. And when they are, they are in systems that are not interacting with other systems in a nonlinear fashion.

Factory machinery, for example, tends to be monolithic. When interacting with other machinery, it's expecting a limited, controlled input and output. If one machine malfunctions, it's highly unlikely that it will affect other, nearby machinery. Not because of some insight by the programmer, but because the machine has physical bounds of operation.

An autonomous vehicle does not have physical bounds of operations. It will be interacting both with other autonomous vehicles and with real people that behave in unplanned ways.

Comment Autonomy fails when the unexpected happens (Score 1) 397

A fully autonomous system can only react properly to those situations which the programmer has anticipated. When something unanticipated happens, chaos breaks loose.

Even with non-autonomous vehicles, chaotic situations can happen. But at least there's a better chance of a real person being able to respond properly to unanticipated situations and therefore minimize the damage.

How do autonomous vehicles fare when an oncoming drunk driver zones in on their headlights, veers into the lane and tracks the autonomous vehicle as it tries to avoid the collision?

How will the autonomous vehicle avoid the T-bone collision from the driver that fails to stop at the red light on the cross street? Does the autonomous vehicle have peripheral scanning that will detect a cross-traffic vehicle that doesn't appear to be stopping?

How about four fully autonomous vehicles that approach a 4-way stop from four directions at the same time? Who gets to go first? Will they communicate somehow?

Comment No need to remember or store passwords (Score 1) 258

Pretty much every site has an option to reset your password by sending a unique code to a previously registered email account or phone. There's really no need to remember or store a password; just reset it every time you want to log in.

Of course, that implies that you will still need to know the password to your email account, unless you use a disposable email address such as those offered by . (Hint: use a different disposable address for each site to maximize security.)

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