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Comment I like my smart lights (Score 1) 124

I like my smart lights ... but not for any of the things that make them "smart." The thing I like about them is the ability to have them changes from cool light in the morning to warm light in the evening. This is something you could feasibly do without "smart" bulbs but is easier to set up with them.

But just about everything else that's supposed to be "smart" is just annoying.

Have someone over who wants to turn on the lights? Haha, they can't, not without the app! Want to turn on a light in one room? Better get out your phone and get fiddling! (They've since released physical switches you can use to control things, but I've yet to get one.)

The "smart" features that are supposed to work don't work all that well. I have them programmed to turn off automatically when I leave and turn on the light by the front door when I return. Sometimes this happens. Sometimes it'll turn on the light by the front door many minutes after I've arrived. Sometimes it'll just never turn them off, but turn on the light. Sometimes it just works.

You can use it with voice commands! These manage to be even slower than just digging out your phone and using the app.

So would I recommend "smart lights" to anyone else? No, not really. I like the ability to change the lighting color and selectively dim lights. It's nifty. It's not a killer app.

Comment Re:Sucked out of an airplane? Not likely (Score 5, Informative) 286

That wasn't the myth they were testing. As other people have pointed out, people can and have been sucked out of airplanes. As I recall, the episode you're talking about even mentioned that fact.

What they were testing was that a bullet hole in a plane could lead to "explosive decompression" and cause a large hole to suck people out. Specifically the myth that a terrorist with a gun shoots a hole in a window and that causes a large hole that people get sucked out of. And they determined that such a scenario just wouldn't work: airplane glass won't fracture like that, and the hole the bullet creates wouldn't be large enough to cause enough suction to suck people out.

But they never tested anything like an exploding iPad or laptop. They were specifically testing shooting holes in a plane with a gun.

Comment Reminds me of where I work (Score 5, Funny) 90

Every other month it seems, we get an urgent notice from IT reminding us to either uninstall or update Flash.

Unfortunately, I have to have Flash installed on my work computers because the corporate-required "training" courses that they keep on making us take require Flash - such as the one on "information security" about how important it is to keep our software up to date.

So, basically, I have to have Flash installed so I can tick off a little checkbox that says I know not to install software like Flash.

Comment Re:I can't get that idiot Siri to place a call (Score 1) 137

It'll also does that if you ask for directions:

"Hey Siri, get directions to the nearest Starbucks."
Siri: "I found one that's two miles from here. Would you like to call, or get directions?"
Siri: "I'm sorry, I didn't get that."

I don't think I've ever seen Siri actually be useful for anything. In fact, this story is the first story I've ever read about someone using Siri for something useful. Most of the time she just misunderstands or does something stupid.

And as you've noticed, all that stuff Steve Jobs talked about how you can carry on a conversation is bullshit. Modern Siri is basically a command prompt, each line is a brand new command with absolutely no relation to any previous context, except for very specific commands. Things like asking her the weather in one place and then about that weather report - which Steve Jobs demoed, if you recall - do not and have never in fact worked.

Comment Re:Background on why videos deleted/Closed Caption (Score 2) 555

I doubt it. Ever try to caption a video? It's a slow, annoying process. The automated stuff generally doesn't work that well so you have to carefully go through and fix errors and it's a giant pain in the ass. You then have to watch the entire thing to make sure that the caption timing is correct and that you've made it clear who is speaking when. For extra credit, try and make sure captions don't cover important parts of the video.

The problem with crowd sourcing is that you'd have to give a reason for people to bother doing it. The people who even can do it by definition don't need it. It's slow, it's boring, and it's annoying.

There's a reason it's so expensive to do, and that the government is forcing people to do it. Without government coercion, no one would bother.

Comment Re:will probably take off with next gen hardware (Score 1) 151

I basically agree - VR as it currently stands is not going to take off. The current experience is nifty but it quickly becomes annoying. The cables get in the way. The controllers work but you're still holding on to little plastic bits.

The next gen is going to be higher resolution and wireless, and Microsoft is going to have standard APIs for them. I expect that's when they'll go mainstream.

Here's where I'm not sure I agree - I think what's going to go mainstream first is smartphone VR, for one simple reason: just about everyone owns a smartphone. It's inherently wireless. Assuming you stick to Android devices (as Apple isn't doing anything with VR and seems to be actively hostile to the concept), you've got a standard API.

Smartphone powered VR has the chance to be something that's basically a cheap add-on for a device you already own.

There are issues with this: smartphones aren't really powerful enough to create a great VR experience and the smartphone controllers are - well, also not great. There's still work to be done to make smartphone VR really "go mainstream."

But I think $100 "addon" VR headsets for a $1000 smartphone people are already buying to use elsewhere is much more likely to happen than a $400 VR headset that's only a VR headset.

Comment Re: yes they should (Score 1) 1081

Of course it did - his model assumes a correlation with various states, and that a polling error in one state will likely apply to another state. As the overall polling error became clear as states were called and the actual-versus-polls became known, the model adjusted for that. You're also seeing the effect of swing states being called - as states are called, they stop being "70%/30%" chances are start becoming "100%/0%" chances, and that flat-out eliminates certain possibilities.

Yes, it rapidly swung from 70% Clinton to 70% Trump - when the east coast votes were tallied and it was clear that Clinton was losing swing states. But only when actual, real data was coming it.

The actual difference between the final polls and the actual results was something like 2%, which is well within the margin of error. It turns out that the polls this year were actually more accurate than they were during the 2012 election.

His model was fairly accurate throughout the year - it showed a highly volatile and uncertain race that was slightly in Hillary's favor. It's starting to sound like the failing in the polls has more to do with the assumptions of who was going to vote - turnout this year was far lower than in 2016, probably because a lot of voters couldn't stand either choice.

Comment Re:Couldn't Clinton Still Win? (Score 1) 1081

You mean in the most technical of senses? You're correct. The election won't be officially decided until the Electoral College votes on December 19th. At that point, the result of that vote will determine who becomes the President.

Can they decide that they want to vote for someone other than whoever their state votes on? It depends. Most states have laws against it... BUT the penalties for them range from being unenforceable to a minor fine. If for some reason Hillary Clinton wins the Electoral College vote in December 19th, then yes, she would be the President Elect.

Is that going to happen? Not a chance. Some electors have refused to vote for the candidate their state voted for ... but they're refusing to vote for Hillary Clinton. So that could happen, and Hillary's final vote tally could officially be less than the states she won.

But if it somehow did, then yes, it is conceptually possible for the Electoral College to elect someone who didn't win.

Comment Re: yes they should (Score 2) 1081

Nate Silver's model explicitly gave Hillary a 10.5% chance to win the popular vote while losing the Electoral College - exactly what happened. 10.5% might not sound like a lot, but it's better odds than rolling a 10 on a 10-sided die. (Barely, but ... better.)

If you read the final post before the elections, Nate Silver explicitly pointed to a scenario where the polls were biased a few points in favor of Hillary and pointed out that would lead to the scenario that happened. His model "got it right" with the data it had and correctly laid out chances based on that.

People are bad at understanding chances. The polls legitimately gave Hillary Clinton a 72%-ish chance of winning. But that leaves Trump with a 28% chance - and if you've ever flipped a coin and had it come up heads twice in a row - congrats, you hit a 25% chance. Which was less probable than the polls gave for Trump to win.

I've pointed out multiple times this election that the DNC was way too self-assured for their own good, and I was proven right. That's not a problem with the polls (though they proved to be systematically biased against Trump), that's a problem with the DNC. But fuck the DNC. They earned a Trump Presidency and they can enjoy all eight glorious years of it.

Comment Re:This will be a very interesting experiment (Score 1) 320

The country needs to be able to dump low-skilled people directly out of high school into a job that will pay enough to sustain them and their families over a lifetime. Don't concentrate so hard on educating everyone -- some people can't handle it and don't want to be...look at how many students are just barely graduating college and not actually absorbing anything.

While you're absolutely right that there needs to be low-skill jobs that pay a good wage - manufacturing just isn't going to be it. We already have robots to make a lot of things. As long as the cost of building things with robots is less than the cost of building them with manual labor - and thanks to the relatively high labor costs in the US, they will be - those jobs are never coming back.

Ever watch the show "How It's Made?" The answer is (almost) always robots. I remember one where they showed how modern swords are made. The first step involved a CNC machine to cut out the shape of the sword from a steel blank. The human involvement was basically limited to wrapping the handle with leather and dumping the product in a box. And that's prop swords, the definition of a niche market.

Manufacturing might come back to the US, but thanks to improvements in productivity (due to automation) the raw number of jobs is simply never going to be the same. Ever.

We need to come up with some new solutions, but I'll be honest: I have no clue what they'd be.

Comment Re:Of course (Score 1) 733

Actually what Comey said - and he was very careful about the words he used - was that they didn't have a strong enough case to bring to trial.

If you read between the lines, it's fairly clear that their real reasoning is that no one wants to test the current law on this case. They're afraid that if they did opt to prosecute Hillary, she would create case law that weakens the laws protecting classified information. Any trial on this would almost certainly go to appeals and take years, and who knows what the final outcome would be.

He very specifically said "extremely careless" and not "grossly negligent" to avoid the exact wording of the statues that were broken and specifically said "no reasonable prosecutor" would try the case, not that there was no case.

I suspect that the higher-ups simply don't think that the risk of Hillary winning the case and weakening their ability to safe-guard American secrets is worth bringing down Hillary. I suspect Comey figured that there's no way the DNC would be stupid enough to nominate her with the announcement he made, and that if they were, there's no way the nation would be stupid enough to elect her. Joke was on him for the first one, it remains to be seen what will happen on the second one.

Comment Re:One rumour is the death of Magsafe. (Score 1) 142

The MagSafe pops out all the time. I just set my MacBook down on the table, and that was enough to cause it to pop out. It's ridiculous and useless.

Meanwhile, the number of times I've tripped over the cable and dragged the MacBook down anyway are too many to count.

It's a useless feature. It offers no protection and all it does it lead to MacBooks with dead batteries. Bring on USB-C. At least then you'll be able to get third party chargers made out of something that doesn't disintegrate the instant the warranty is up.

Comment Re:One rumour is the death of Magsafe. (Score 1) 142

My experience with MagSafe is that it's terrible for when you want it to remain plugged in, routinely falling out as you use it.

It also is terrible at what it's designed for, and is easily able to hook onto the power port just long enough to drag the MacBook to the floor before disconnecting if you trip over the cable.

So, yeah, go riddance to the "doesn't stay plugged in" power adapter. It fails at everything it's supposed to do.

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