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Comment Open source version of siri / echo (Score 3, Informative) 162

The answer is MyCroft

I plan on buying one of these the very soonest I can once they are actually shipping the hardware. Echo is crippled by the many limitations Amazon coded in on purpose -- it's basically something that looks up text matches and does something if it finds one. No language parsing worth a damn. Even so, it's very useful, and within those limits, you can make stuff for it, Amazon's pretty open about it as long as you can set up a secure server (ugh) or use their cloud (double-ugh.) Siri, as per usual for Apple, is a much more closed system, and frankly, it's of no interest at all to me because of that.

Mycroft is completely open source. I have very high hopes for it because of that. I have reams of my own natural language processing code I should be able to plug right in the moment there is a speech-to-text engine I can use directly. Others do as well. Custom apps in the home space, that are actually somewhat smarter than...

[if string == "turn on light" then TurnOnLight]

I suggest everyone check MyCroft out. Perhaps you'll be as enthused as I. I can hope. ;)

Comment Not bloody likely (Score 4, Informative) 133

As FOLDOC explains, Intel tested this idea decades ago by putting one board in a 25 ton lead safe and another outside to see if there was a measurable difference in bit rot. There wasn't. " Further investigation demonstrated conclusively that the bit drops were due to alpha particle emissions from thorium (and to a much lesser degree uranium) in the encapsulation material." They ended up redesigning the memory to be more resistant to the effect.

Comment Re:Do away with them (Score 1) 83

But how would you even do that with dynamic languages, where the type can just change at runtime?

Obviously you can't, which is one of the arguments against programming in dynamically-typed (unityped) languages. This is why TypeScript exists: a statically-typed JavaScript derivative which compiles down to plain JS after proving that the types are satisfied (i.e. performing static code analysis), much as any other statically-typed languages compiles down to unityped machine code.

Furthermore, TypeScript is handling null just like Java.

No, it isn't. Both TypeScript and Java will complain about uninitialized variables, but Java will not produce an compile-time error if you set the variable to null (directly or indirectly) and then try to use it as a reference. TypeScript will, unless you explicitly check that the value is not null before using it. (Checking for null changes the type from nullable to non-null within the scope of the condition.)

declare function arbitrary(): string | null;
let x: string;
let y: string | null;
x = arbitrary(); // Error, type 'string | null' is not assignable to type 'string'.
y = arbitrary(); // Fine
x.length; // Fine, x is non-nullable.
y.length; // Error, object is possibly 'null'.
if (y != null) {
y.length; // Fine, y is non-null in this scope.
}

Comment Re:Do away with them (Score 1) 83

Not sure what you actually mean when you say that SQL NULL means unknown but not absent? Is there a meaningful distinction you are making here?

It makes a difference when you start applying operations.

For example, if you compare a NULL to any value (even another NULL), the result is also NULL, rather than TRUE or FALSE. This doesn't make sense for absent values - two absent values should compare equal (and, indeed, two nulls in JS do). On the other hand, it makes perfect sense if NULL means unknown - if my last name is unknown, and your lastname is unknown, comparing them for equality can only produce "unknown" as a result, since it's not known whether they're the same or different.

Same thing with arithmetic operations. 1 + NULL equals NULL in SQL, again, because NULL is really "unknown", and so when you add an unknown value to 1, the result is also unknown. If NULL were an absent value, the expression should either produce an error, or give 1.

The most telling part, though, is the SQL truth table for Boolean operators that includes NULLs. Specifically:

TRUE AND NULL = NULL
FALSE AND NULL = FALSE
TRUE OR NULL = TRUE
FALSE OR NULL = NULL

Again, this makes perfect sense if and only if NULL means unknown. AND is always false if one of the operands is guaranteed to be false, so FALSE AND NULL is always false, regardless of what the actual unknown value is. On the other hand, FALSE AND NULL is NULL, because the result could be either false or true depending on the unknown value. With OR, it's the reverse - TRUE OR NULL is TRUE, because OR is always true if one of the operands is definitely true, regardless of what the other operand is. FALSE OR NULL is NULL because the result depends on the unknown value.

Philosophically, the difference also exists. Absent value means "I know what the value is, and there isn't one". For example, for a guy from Iceland, you know his last name - he doesn't have one. Unknown value means "I don't know what the value is, and there could be one". For example, you don't know if I'm from Iceland or not, so I may or may not have a last name, and you don't know which one if I do. These are two distinct states, and ought to be reflected as such in the database.

Comment Re:Anti-Hillary is not Pro-Trump (Score 1) 841

Part of that whole "land of the free" thing has been that you could live as a cash-only squatter and mind your own business without having the government sticking their nose into yours. Maybe not the most convenient way to live, but an option.

And, as a matter of fact, you can rent an apartment without an ID - provided that you find someone who agrees to rent one out to you on those terms. You probably won't find such a thing in an urban area, but out in the country, it's not all that hard. Either way, again, there's a big difference between having the government demand your ID, and having another party to a deal you're trying to make do the same. You can walk away from the deal and try to find a different one.

Comment Re:Anti-Hillary is not Pro-Trump (Score 1) 841

Popular myth and Hollywood. And yes, the social contract HAS generally demanded that you produce papers. You want a job? Papers please. You want a loan? Papers please. You want government benefits? Papers please!

The difference in all the cases that you describe, is that you have to actively do something to get into that situation. And you always have an option to turn around and walk away if you don't feel like it. Not at all the same as walking down the street minding your own business, and having a cop or a ICE agent harass you for papers.

Not that we already don't have that - those bullshit roaming immigration checkpoints within 100 miles of the border (which is where millions of American citizens live). But at least you can tell them to fuck off these days, and because they know they don't have the authority to actually detain you without a reasonable suspicion, and looking Hispanic does not constitute reasonable suspicion, they'll back off if you're persistent enough.

And the supporting documentation required to get one does require establishing said identity - or did until some of these states changed the laws so that illegal immigrants could get a driver's license (and those driver's licenses are different from 'normal' driver's licenses.)

Illegal immigrants don't necessarily lack the ability to establish their identity - they will usually have the passport of their originating country, for example. And getting a driver's license does not require a US-issued ID (given that it is the one and only ID that they have for most people, that wouldn't exactly work). So for a non-citizen, when you come to get a license, what you usually need is 1) a valid ID, possibly foreign (they usually ask for 2 different kinds for foreign ones), and some proof of residency - like, say, a utility bill with your name and a local address.

The same way we've already been doing it: you want a job? Papers please. You want a loan? Papers please. You want government benefits? Papers please! The problem is right now we're not enforcing it hard enough - _punish_ companies/people using illegal labor and they'll stop doing it once it's no longer cost-effective.

All of this is already the case. I don't know if you've heard, by the way, but deportations are at an all-time high under Obama.

Comment Re: Wot? (Score 1) 77

ther material is cheap. THe labor is expensive. 20/hr or more for doing that work. In the same length of time that it takes to put the plywood down on the rafters, is about the same length of time for putting down the Tesla Roof. So, no tar paper or shingles, which is money and time. And we just had our roof re-done 3 weeks ago. I forget how many sections, but, iwe have a 2 story 3000 sq feet home, so above average roof. We had 8 guys work on it. Took 1.5 days. That is the second time that we have had this done due to hail. Next time, we will install a Tesla roof which will almost certainly be strong enough to deal with the golf ball size hail that we get.

Comment Re:Anti-Hillary is not Pro-Trump (Score 1) 841

It's amusing how "papers, please!" was one of the most chilling American stereotypes of the Soviet "evil empire", encapsulating everything that's wrong with it in a few words... and less than three decades later, so many Americans not only see why it's problematic, they actually think it's a solution to some of their problems.

Comment Re:Anti-Hillary is not Pro-Trump (Score 1) 841

If you're driving, the driver license (and only the driver license - not any other form of ID) is a prerequisite to demonstrate that you have the right to drive.

But you don't have to drive to get around. You can walk, bike, get a bus etc. And none of those require a driver license, or any other form of ID. If you get pulled over on a bike, the officer doesn't have any right to ask you for ID, and you have no obligation to show them one.

Comment Re:Anti-Hillary is not Pro-Trump (Score 1) 841

Historically, in this country, the social contract has not amounted to "papers, please!". That was supposed to be the kind of thing reserved for commies and fascists, not for the land of the free and the home of the brave. This is also the reason why many people don't actually have a birth certificate etc on hand - because they don't need it, and because the law doesn't require them to.

Also, driver's license does not actually signify either citizenship or legal status. The amount of supporting documentation that is required to issue one varies from state to state, and not all of them ask for an SSN. Of course, even if it did, not everyone has a driver's license - as the name makes evident, it's a document that is issued for a specific reason, and not all people even need it.

In any case, the main question was not about identification, but how exactly you imagine checking for it. So, again: are you proposing to stop random people on the street, going on about their business and not engaging in any criminal activity, and demand to see their papers? If yes, are you going to do this for everyone, or just for those who look Hispanic?

Comment Re:Anti-Hillary is not Pro-Trump (Score 1) 841

It's not a dodge at all. I'm merely pointing out that Trump's proposals require massive civil rights violations of all ethnic minorities who are collectively suspected of being illegals, in order to determine who of them is actually here illegally. There's no way to decouple these.

Comment Re:In other news... (Score 1) 206

I tried that with an HDHomeRun. I wanted to get some DVR software running on my computer, but couldn't get it to work right.

I did that years back with HDHomerun and MythTv.

I just now switched to OTA again..this time, I priced out the hardware needed and found that the Tivo Roamio OTA unit was only about $399...and it was cheaper to do that for a 4 tuner unit than to buy the HDHomerun units (2 of them) and the computer to run it on.

Look into the Tivo OTA unit...lifetime service for $399.

I got the Tivo minis to stream from main unit to tvs in bedrooms and office..each only about $125 or so.

It works great although setup is a bit clunky for the tivo minis takes a long time for registration on them to take online and have it pushed to main unit.

You have to reboot the main one after it gets the update (up to 24 hours later)....but once it all hooks up, works flawless and great tivo guides and ease of use.

Comment Re:Do away with them (Score 1) 83

A NPE means you have a bug in your code, and it's better for the app to crash than to corrupt your data, or silently just lose it.

Even better would be to detect the bug statically, at compile time, as a type error, so that your program doesn't crash at some arbitrary point later and lose all the user's data.

The point is not to eliminate the concept of nullable references, which are indeed useful for representing data which is not available. The point is to distinguish between such nullable references and references which cannot be null so that the compiler can check that all the nullable references have been properly handled and warn you about any and all potential null pointer issues in advance.

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