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Comment Yes, the tech already exists... (Score 1) 93

The answer is yes. The technology to detect the difference has been around for over a decade, but it's not in any iris scanner for security that I'm aware of.

My Mom and Dad (yes, both of them, this one was actually Mom's idea), hold a patent on a method for using a laser and optical system to measure a bunch of things about the eyeball, including intraocular pressure. It's sensitive enough to not only measure the internal eyeball pressure, but you can very easily see the pulse, and with a bit of clever math, it's even possible to use it to generate a non-contact blood pressure measurement.

So, in short, It's certainly possible to tell the difference between a live eyeball and a dead one in ways that are pretty difficult, and certainly cumbersome, to fake, if you care enough to do so. Combining this with some other methods could easily result in a very accurate system that would also be very hard to spoof...

Comment Re:Surface Pro time (Score 1) 326

I'm no MS fanboi, for sure, but Overzeetop has it right here - the docking station is one of the best features of the Surface Pro line. Combined with the pen which allows a whole new kind of computer interaction, it truly changes the way you work with computers.

Macs are fine computers, but there is no Mac that can even approach the kind of power and utility you can get with the Surface Pro 3 or 4 or Surface Book. The SP4 is more powerful and far more useful than the MacBook Air, and the the SB is likewise superior to the MacBook Pros. I bought an SP3 when it came out, and it absolutely changed the kinds of things I could do (and more importantly, wanted to do) with a computer.

If you haven't tried living with one (especially with docking stations at home and work), then you really just don't get it. There is no laptop I'd trade for. I want all my computers to work this way - the SP4 is as far beyond a regular laptop as the first thin and powerful laptops were beyond clunky old desktops.

Don't underestimate the power of moving the context of all your work to wherever you are, and getting a way better experience when you're docked. It's really amazing. While Win10 still has some pretty ugly seams showing where they lashed the UWP apps onto the desktop OS, it does produce an experience you just can't get anywhere else.

I'm really looking forward to the updates coming in a couple of weeks, which should also enable Ubuntu on Windows for everyone with Developer access enabled, not just those on the Fast Ring of the Preview program.

Comment Re:Sadly (Score 1) 326

Actually, if you have a Surface Pro, Win 10 is heading in a great direction, if not quite done yet. Once you've lived with (and used) great multitouch and pen apps (and there are far too few of them, now), it will forever change the way you work with computers.

Heck, Sketchbook Pro alone on the SP4 is enough reason for me to doggedly put up with all the other pains of WIndows (and they are legion, but Win 10 really is getting better, and may have grabbed the crown of "getting better faster than any other OS" from Linux...)

Comment Re:Computer setup? (Score 1) 326

Oh, and I'll switch from Linux VMs to Ubuntu on Windows when Win10 Redstone comes out in a couple of weeks. Really seems like it might be the best of both worlds.

It's way more than bash on Windows - it runs almost any command line program that doesn't need Dbus now, and there are even (currently hackish) workarounds for that and X already.

Comment Re:Computer setup? (Score 1) 326

OK, we know you weren't there or you'd have written 110 baud - and no, both ways meant full duplex, which was big medicine back then.

I do have a 300 baud acoustically coupled modem and an ADM 3a out in the garage that I can't bear to part with, even though the 3a's CRT is suffering from quite a bit of internal bubble rot. Man I loved that keyboard, but *waiting* for a screen of text to render (even at the fast speeds) got pretty old, and the fonts were seriously butt-ugly, since lower case was an afterthought/upgrade. I last used it setting up high performance storage gear 15 years ago: (~6 GB of spinning disk in my study, back then, that meant extension cords running to circuits all over the downstairs and no way the A/C could keep up in the summer...)

I'll take the Surface Pro 4 for $1200, Alec. It's literally beyond the dreams of science fiction when that modem/terminal setup was new...

Comment Re:Pissing contest (Score 2) 326

I was another holdout from registration, more as opposition to creeping accountism than privacy - Heck, I used to sign most of my /. posts with my email address. Probably wouldn't have beaten Blade's number, though...(Yeah, them wuz the olden days, when spam was rare, and the net was a mostly friendly place just off of AUPs. I've got one email address that I've had since 1991, and it still gets spam in languages I don't read...)

Slashdot was cool because *something* had to replace the NCSA What's New page!

On the other hand, a pair of 4K monitors plus the SP4's native display doesn't seem so impressive now...

Comment Re:So far, I don't (Score 1) 331

Yep, but for every one of you, there's someone like the (smart, maybe too smart for his own good) intern who wrote the first large Perl program I had written (an enterprise program designed to collect and report machine hardware and software configurations for all Unix machines in the Fortune 10 corp we worked for.)

The problem was that his approach was the polar opposite of yours - there were few comments, and he prided himself on "cleverly" using idomatic Perl - the kind of crap that looks like modem line noise "but it saves 20 lines of code!" No matter, becasue several weeks later, even he couldn't understand what his code did. It was a really good system, but absolutely unmaintainable as written, and impossible to really bring along in to the future.

I've only used Perl for one other project since then, and ESR and I chatted about this at O'Reilly's Open Source conference here in Austin years ago - he had recently switched to Python largely because he found he also couldn't read his own Perl code just a few months after writing it. I think unless you're disciplined enough to 1) really not use Perl the way it encourages you to, and 2) REALLY document your code, since Perl code itself is NOT AT ALL self documenting, then Perl is a losing bet.

What you can do with Perl is amazing, but it's awful for anything you need to fix, maintain, or grow, since both its syntax and it's insistence on many ways to do things means it's probably the closest thing to a write-only language ever to gain any real traction.

Comment Re:Science is still vague and unsettled (Score 1) 609

This is the response that's really the most telling for those who aren't as ignorant of history as our current leading BHA (youngsters can google BHA and Apple to understand...):

Critics also say that a totally rational form of government has been tried before during the French Revolution, and “The Terror” was the result. There are many roads to rational choices, as noted in a National Review article, and politics pretending to be science has gained popularity. Many decisions made on rational thought don’t necessarily work when dealing with people on earth.

From http://moneyinc.com/rationalia... - this isn't where I ran across the perfectly appropriate reference to the Terror on this topic, but it seems to be the original source...

Comment Re:Science is still vague and unsettled (Score 1) 609

Competitiveness is not a magic solution. When a pharmaceutical company brings a drug to market, it's patented and over time other companies can sell generic versions and conduct their own research with it and variants of it. But when a pharmaceutical company researches a drug and the drug is deemed to ineffective or unsafe to bring to market, it's buried - and there's a good chance a dozen other pharmaceutical companies will have researched and then dropped the same drug.

But that's almost entirely because incredibly stupid and increasingly far-reaching government interference has increasingly deformed the pharma industry for nearly a century. The FDA's draconian rules, regulations, penalties, bureaucracy, and accompanying exponential costs have killed far more people than all their efforts have ever saved. We would be better off without an FDA at all, than the monstrosity we have now - the exorbitant cost of FDA compliance is WHY pharma can't bring cheap effective treatments to market - they have to recover the $1-3 billion cost of endless trials and regulatory approval - in the meantime, patients die. It's time to let people try any reasonable (or maybe even unreasonable) therapy, and end this silliness that all tests and studies must be double-blind by pretending that there is only a single active substance involved in the action of drugs. (And we still have NO idea what drug interactions are or do - tests must be designed to avoid that, despite the fact that most people on "maintenance drugs" (the kiss of death) take at least SIX prescription drugs...)

Or look at planned obsolescence. Do cars need their styling tweaked every four years, and the cupholder layout rearranged? How about smart phones, wonderful pieces of engineering that consumers are expected to discard in two years because it's better for the vendor - not the consumer - if they do.

When we had real competition and properly functioning markets (and that's the core of capitalism), things actually lasted much longer. (Cars are an exception in that the manufacturing technologies have made them longer lasting, if not always more durable.

I recently went in for a part for our washing machine, and the first thing the counter guy asked was, "How old is it?" "Twenty-eight years", I replied. "Oh, well you definitely want to fix it then - the new ones are all crap...")

Appliances actually used to be durable goods in TWO important senses: 1) they were actually designed to last for decades, and 2) you could get parts for them for that long. The parts supply house said that Chinese and Korean appliances are discontinuing parts in as little as four or five years. That's a bigger problem than poor initial design, although with only a few exceptions, "Made in China" is a sure mark of poor quality.

Comment Re:You have to know how to secure a Windows 10 PC (Score 1) 982

I'd argue OSX is worse than Win10 from a privacy perspective (barring the heinous trick upgrades). It isn't the perfect privacy we'd like, but MS is more upfront about their policies and actions, and although they could make it easier, at least they do give you a choice. They are, sadly, best in class among modern commercial OSes.

This is a problem with all commercial OS environments, and Win10 is arguably way better than iOS and ChromeOS/Android in this respect as well, although they could all stand to be much better...

Comment Re:You have to know how to secure a Windows 10 PC (Score 1) 982

Win 10 really is way better in a lot of ways, but it's also very much a work in progress: there are still horrible Frankenstein-like seams between the old desktop OS (basically, Win7-ish) and the newer "Metro/Modern/UWP" programs. (The fact that "Settings" and "Control Panel" both even exist at all (and overlap only awkwardly) makes the point....)

Generally, I'd recommend *trying* the upgrade to Win10, but it doesn't always go smoothly - my wife's computer lost the ability to single-finger scroll from the touchpad, and if you run a bunch of older apps (Corel apps are particularly prone), you may find they don't fully work as expected. If you have a touch-enabled PC, Win10 is better in nearly all respects except that Modern IE was a far better touch browser than Edge, but that will presumably get somewhat better with the Redstone release this summer. Generally, 10 is a bit faster and less of a resource hog (!)

Remember that if you decide NOT to upgrade before the clock runs out this summer, you'll have to pay to upgrade later.

Personally, I've upgraded all of my PCs except two to Win10, and I'm generally happy with the results - one is an old Win 7 laptop that I'm freezing to remain compatible and fully working with its existing software complement, the other is a "home theater" PC I may yet upgrade from 8.1.

Also, for the predictable "just run Linux" crowd, keep in mind that if you have a 64-bit PC, you'll be able to run the new Ubuntu on Windows and avoid VMs or that steaming pile of crap called Cygwin. This is a high-quality joint effort between MS and Canonical, and although it's not finished yet, it's already quite handy and usable if you can deal with Linux from the command line. It's going to be *really* nice having a full Linux/Posix environment with the ability to run nearly anything you can apt-get. This will make Windows a *much* nicer dev platform, as it avoids having to dope out all the Win-specific stuff, or use Chocolatey/NuGet or the like to get a (hopefully not too outdated) Win version of dev tools, languages, libraries, etc... It's now possible to have a first-class dev environment on Windows without climbing the learning curve of Visual Studio.

Comment Re:Definitely not "standard tax breaks" (Score 1) 530

While there are a number of tax treatments specific to the oil and gas industry (they are not subsidies, or really, even tax "breaks"), they exist almost exclusively to address things like reservoir depletion and exploration and drilling costs that are unique to that industry and not at all relevant to general manufacturing. These are important to all of us, since reliable, predictable, affordable energy drives and makes possible all aspects of modern technological society.

Like conventional capital depreciation, these tax treatments "smooth out the lumps" for both companies in the industry as well as the government taxing authorities, making cash flows far more predictable over time.

As I mention above, if anything, electric cars are avoiding paying for the roads they drive on...

Comment Re:Great (Score 1) 530

Plus, electric cars already get a free ride tax-wise simply because they aren't paying the gasoline taxes that pay for the very roads they drive on.

If anything we need to close the electric car loophole and make electric car owners pay an additional electric car license charge of, say, $325/yr (15Kmiles at 23 MPG w/ ~$0.50/gal gas tax.)

Even this falls far short of capturing their real cost - Since a single Tesla high-speed home charger pulls as much as 3-4 homes, every Tesla that gets sold winds up costing neighboring ratepayers $10-30,000 for a new, upgraded transformer to handle the increased load.

Figure further that Tesla owners are also likely to have solar and pay less to the power company in the first place due to insane net-metering policies, and the power company will NEVER recoup the grid improvements. The rest of us just get to eat that cost to subsidize the Tesla owners' choking cloud of smug, which is certainly worse than any smog my supercharged gas-burners could belch...

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