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Comment Common Sense and Democracy (Score 5, Interesting) 609

I completely agree with you. My read is that the polls caused complacency on the part of the stay crowd. I think now that the Torries are paying lip service to Brexit, but are slowboating the process until they can get another referendum or, as we see here, a vote in Parliament that allows the party in power to say, "Oh dear! Those lefties tied our hands. We cannot leave."

The referendum was not binding after all. It was a sop to the right that backfired. The Brexiters are a needed if despised constituency by the Conservative Establishment (as is our far right here in the US) but the Conservatives dare not alienate them. Let us remember that Parliament is 70% against an exit anyway.

Let me go on record by saying that Brexit will not happen. There will be smoke and more smoke signaling Brexit. Smoke, but no fire, just a smoke machine. The EU has made it clear it will not give the UK a soft landing. And why should it? An easy out for the UK would only embolden other restive members. The conservatives will lose every young person in the country forever if they let Brexit go through. And let us not forget Scotland.

But they won't let it happen. How can the UK leave the Common Market that has fed prosperity (on and off) since the end of WWII? Cannot and won't. Wait and see.

Comment Currently living in Ulaanbaatar (Score 1) 222

Was recently outside in minus 20 degree celsius weather with a pollution index over a thousand. In short an environment that puts the 'in' into inhospitable. Neoprene breathing masks are routinely worn here when the coal smoke reaches levels not seen since 1880 London. By all accounts UB can get twice as polluted as Beijing. Now I ask you... Why go to Mars when we are in the process of Martiaforming Earth? Soon we will have all the uninhabitability that Elon or anyone else could ever want right here at home.

Sarcasm aside. I can see mining asteroids. And I can also see robotic study of Mars and other gravity wells in the search for X-life and knowledge. But people Mars? Really? Why? Moreover, human life on Mars would quickly end it’s viability as a laboratory for X-life -- if indeed such is to be found there.

Fate has seen me visit some of the nearly uninhabitable places on EARTH Siberia, The Gobi Desert, The Arctic and The High Pamir. These places are here on Earth and it is tough to survive in them year round. Nearly impossible without constant imports from better climes. Mars is orders of magnitude more problematic than, say, Antarctica. At least there you can breath. And there is plenty to eat in the seas. It would take an army of advanced AI remotes and droids to construct a habitable environment on Mars for people. It is doable -- or will be. But to what end? To dodge a planet killing asteroid? Oh come on... If human life on earth went tits up chances are a Mars colony would go soon after. I sincerely doubt such a place would ever survive on its own -- not to mention thrive.

Don't get me wrong... The romance of the idea of a Mars colony is not lost on me. Wonderous! But as a scientific project human pollution would actually obviate one of the most interesting things about the place.

Comment Wondering about the psychophysics... (Score 1) 275

Firstly let me say that in my 16 years on this site your post is one of the most cogent that I have ever read. Thanks.

But I do want to highlight the fact that sound is an experience shaped not only by the signal but also by the receiver. In this case a person. I think there may be a significant difference in the perception of sound between a trained sound engineer and an average listener. The engineer (that would be you) is trained to treat fidelity as the Grail. Noise is detected by the trained ear as the defect it is and focused upon. And its presence spoils the experience. But most people can and do enjoy music at wide ranges of fidelity. (And given the right conditions so can a sound engineer I would hazard.) And often they do so under noisy conditions and through noisy devices and using lossy CODECS that leverage psychophysical limits for compression. Witness the average person sitting on a city bus with cheap earbuds digging their MP3 music.

To me this explains the vinyl resurgence over CD. And of course the whole vacuum tube thing. I propose that the nervous systems of untrained listeners may actually like a bit of noise because they are used to it and because the universe is filled with it. For 'warm' translate 'noisy' . Perfect fidelity is desirable in the studio as a starting point. And also by musicians, audiophiles and sound engineers. Was it Neal Young who had his MP3s pulled because he could not stand the sound of them? Personally I am fine with a well made higher bitrate MP3.

It would be interesting to know if there have been any focused tests. I have seen it argued that there will be a generation of people who will prefer MP3 sound over Redbook CD sound. (I happen to think vinyl is noisy in a better way than an MP3 which as we know actually has sound info stripped out of the original.) I will close by pointing out that the average visual system also is also made comfortable by noise. Witness the popularity of the filters on Instagram.

Comment Mirrors? We don't need no stinking mirrors. (Score 1) 655

A self driving car would only need a mirror if there was a manual option. And even then a mirror would be redundant as rear situational awareness for the human driver could easily be provided on interior monitors. I also think an autonomous-car future would see a lot of car sharing to public transport hubs. A-Cars won't need to park. They will circulate from ride to ride. At least in cities. And that is where most people will be living if trends continue. People in dense population centers don't own cars even when they can afford them. Check out car ownership stats for Manhatten . What can one say about a Johnny Cab? It will be cheap. And no tip. Of course in low density population areas people will own their own cars or co-own cars.

Comment Amen to that (Score 1) 102

And let us not forget the texting morons, the gabbing imbeciles, the makeup artists, the doped up Cretans, the drunks, the wankers, the eaters, the video watchers. I cannot wait for autonomous cars. I like to drive, and pay attention, but it is getting crazy out there. Thirty thousand dead each year in the US. The cars are safer but the people are far more dangerous with all their distractions and bad habits.

Volvo has a good practical road map to autonomous cars. And critically the company is willing to accept liability for accidents in their autonomous cars. They will soon have real world testing in Gothenburg -- 2017 -- with ordinary drivers in the car. The Volvos will drive themselves under certain conditions -- usually when driving is the most boring -- and will cue the drivers to take the wheel when the situation warrants, or if the driver simply wants to drive. If the car cannot get the driver's attention when things have gotten too complex for it... it will pull over. I am not a shill for Volvo but have been following the autonomous car story across the board and the Swedes are kind of sticking this IMHO This is what I am talking about

Comment Amen to that: Car Analogy Alert (Score 2) 59

Why do OS designers (or, more accurately, the suits who manage them) feel moved to swap around the main controls for known tasks with each new release? It is so silly to have such a steep learning curve for new versions. Windows 8 was too stupidly different (not hard, but different) from its predecessors. And it was obvious to anyone with the common sense that God gave a parakeet that people would hate doing familiar tasks in novel ways. People want to do stuff they are used to doing, Don't they? But boy do people despair of gratuitous novelty.

If auto designers did what OS designers routinely do, then we would be steering with a stick one year and with our feet the next. Accelerating with our thumbs one year... (Oh, wait! We DO do that.) But it's okay... We can still use our foot pedals. Why not design something more stable, faster and more bullet proof? It is no accident that schools are gravitating to Chrome OS, which is essentially a browser, which everybody already knows how to use. Chromebooks are admittedly cheaper. And there is no doubt that functionality and choices are sort of basic and limited in Chrome. But ask the fast food industry how restricting choice and reducing ambiguity actually improves the user experience. I use Mint because I hated Unity. Again... Why ax the steering wheel in favor of a cyclic? Why, I ask... Why? Why? Why?

Comment Actually, Insurance probably stands to benefit. (Score 1) 211

Hard to say who might be behind this FUD in TFA (If anyone. Might just be the writer trying to slay a sacred cow to get noticed.). Environmental interests maybe or public transport companies, seeing an oportunity, could be pushing back on autonomous cars. However, Insurance companies (health - auto) will certainly face lower risk from an autonomous fleet. But individuals and the auto industry itself will still have to buy insurance -- by law. The underwriters will certainly lower rates, but my guess is that profits will increase because rates will never completely bake in the lower risk. The insurers would be fools to do so. Fewer claims equals higher profit.


The auto industry itself could very well lose as you point out. Service and repair is a huge money maker for them. They could be behind the FUD. But then why tout public transport? They have lobbied against it for years. Bit of a mystery as to who gains from this particular narrative.

Comment Sooner than you think... (Score 1) 211

Volvo has really advanced the game. The play is a kind of super cruise control. The car will drive itself safely when driving is boring. If the situation gets too complicated it turns control back to the driver, who can take control when he or she wants anyway. If the car can't wake the driver up the car will slow and stop when it is safe to do so. Volvo's CEO stated publicly that the company accepts liability in cases where the autopilot is in control when an accident takes place. He says any car company that wants to play in this space should be prepared to do the same. The system is to be tested in Sweden in 2017 with 100 regular drivers. It is just about ready for prime time


TFA appears to be some kind of FUD. No one has any doubt that Autonomous Vehicles will do better than people. With thirty thousand dead every year in the US it is arguable that trained chimps could do better than people.

Comment I concur: Basic static ads okay by me (Score 1) 263

I started blocking ads and killing scripts a long time ago -- when they became animated and risky . I don't mind Google's text ads particularly. But stuff moving and jumping in the corner of my eye ruins my concentration and interferes with my enjoyment of whatever content I am reading.

The orienting response makes it impossible to ignore such movement. (Marketing psychologists know this.) As long as it keeps still -- like a good old-fashioned magazine ad --I will live with it. And, if of interest, perhaps click through. I also insist on a simple link. No risky dog and pony shows thank you. When advertisers learn some manners I will turn off my ad censors. This might take some time.

Comment Destruction is in response to detection attempts (Score 3, Informative) 107

This malware is very hard to detect under normal conditions. But it is outfitted with counter measures. When it detects activities that are consistent with malware detection, study and or/and removal it responds in many destructive ways. It makes it difficult for a white hat to suss it. But, no, it does not give itself away by cutting up rough. It only starts the visible signs of infection when it deems the jig is up anyway.

There is a very good (and somewhat scary) article from The Register. on Rombertik.

This is as nasty a piece of work as you will ever not wish to see anywhere near your equipment.

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"I've finally learned what `upward compatible' means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes." -- Dennie van Tassel