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Comment The problem is what you consider useful (Score 2) 116

When I can say from my couch "Alexa, make me a steak, medium rare, and bring me a beer, IPA" and a robot hands me a beer in 1 minute and a plate with a hot steak 18 minutes later, I'll give a shit and I think other consumers will, too.

Reasonable enough. Other than the stock capabilities (weather, time, shopping list, timers, alarms, "what's playing at the movies?", "what's the phone number for Tire-Rama?", oodles of music sent to the theater system), the only third-party capabilities we use regularly are:

o Adjust the lighting via TP-Link smart plugs
o Adjust the heating / cooling via Sensi smart thermostat
o Check Fitbit stats / progress

Is it worth $49 or so out the door, plus hardware cost for associated devices to be able to do all this without having to otherwise go and do it? Well, it is to us.

For instance, sitting in the theater, it's either get up, make a 20 foot walk to the light switch, flip the switch, a 20 foot walk back in the dark, and sit down again, or just say "Echo, Turn off the lights." Likewise, when the show is over, it's just "Echo, Turn on the lights."

But when it'll cook a meal, see it delivered to the table, even see that the dishes are washed... yeah, that's going to be a fine day. At consumer prices, I'd hazard a guess that's still five or six years off.

Comment Re:OpenVPN port tcp/443 (Score 2) 38

To be fair, OpenVPN isn't really designed to obfuscate the nature of the traffic any more than IPSec does. Both are about creating secure tunnels, with OpenVPN being very easy to configure and maintain as opposed to the pain that is IPSec. I use OpenVPN a lot, both for our road warriors, and to create the secure tunnels between our locations. In that role it really is an incredibly nice piece of software. But if I were looking at making something whose intent was to disguise that I was encrypting traffic at all, it's not the tool to use. Now as I understand it OpenVPN is pretty modular, so I would imagine if someone were to come up with some other encryption mechanism meant more to get around deep pack inspection, that would probably work, but as I said, such methods will inevitably make for a slower tunnel, and as OpenVPN is more of an infrastructure VPN, I'm not sure it's quite the right tool for that job.

Comment Re:Let's talk about Trump now! (Score 1) 195

And passed the senate with 99 yes votes, 54 Republicans and 45 democrats. One republican did not vote. The House put it to a voice vote, and it passed overwhelmingly. This was obviously something that our entire government thought was a STELLAR idea. Interesting that anyone would think that blaming any one party for this law is a correct or honest approximation of what really happened.

This is just another example of how our "parties" act as a single organism when presented with the chance to circumvent or eliminate rights guaranteed to the US people. This is what they do. They love to talk about the wedge issues, and recirculate those endlessly to incite division in the voting populace. But when it comes to fucking us, the American people, they show their true colors and vote as a unit.

If any of you partisan fools are brave enough to study the voting record you might learn something interesting. Your party, whichever one you choose, routinely does things you might find objectionable. If you weren't so absorbed in spewing vitriol at the people you have been programmed to blame and hate, and if you were not so desperately looking for that super-addictive high you get when you just know for sure you are right and someone else is wrong, and if you could stop emoting long enough to engage in rational thought and observe facts for what they are, you might be able to see exactly what you are fomenting with your idiotic partisan ranting and raving. Namely, you are giving your own party the impetus it needs to make political policy in direct contravention to your best interests.

Quit being a sucker. Neither party has your interests at heart. The sooner you realize this, the sooner we can get the kind of government we need.

Comment Re:OpenVPN port tcp/443 (Score 1) 38

My understanding is that some deep packet inspection methods can determine if potentially encrypted data is being passed through a filter. Obviously it's going to be error prone, but what does that matter when the general plan is to sufficiently inconvenience people so they don't even try. I doubt the PRC cares that maybe the odd innocent bystander's data gets hit as a false positive.

As a counter to that, I have read of encryption schemes that will bypass this kind of filtering, but it's going to be a lot slower as a lot more junk data has to be thrown in to fool detection. Good for low-bandwidth needs like passing text-based emails and the like, but not much good for anything high bandwidth like voice communications.

Comment Re:Google as last choice (Score 2) 148

What I would love is federated social networking somewhat like e-mail works on various servers transparently)

Even the federated model of e-mail has declined over time, with the vast majority of people using an e-mail address from a handful of large providers like GMail. Universities and companies are under pressure to have all the e-mail under their domain names actually served through GMail instead of running their own infrastructure. If you want to run your own server, there are a lot more hoops to jump through these days before you can federate, otherwise things you sent out just end up in spam folders. (These hoops are generally reasonable anti-spam ones, but they are nonetheless very different than a decade or two ago.) And now certain websites that monetize the hell out of their userbase are refusing registrations if the e-mail address you enter is from a domain that doesn't nudge its users into adopting a format like firstname.lastname@gmail.com.

Comment Re:As someone with a masters in this -exact field- (Score 1) 250

If you are a true master, you should be able to explain concepts in a way that even a child can understand

This is, in a word, horse pucky. It's the same reasoning my niece uses to justify her anti-vaxxer beliefs: the quacks and charlatans she listens to are more credible than epidemiologists and immunologists because they're easier to understand. This is the real-life equivalent of the joke about searching for the $20 bill under the street light because where you actually lost it is inconveniently dark.

If it were true that a child could understand anything, there wouldn't be a need for education. You'd just find a "true expert" to explain, say, fluid dynamics to a random bunch of people off the street and then set those randos to work designing aircraft. Or cryptographic systems.

There's an unfortunate cultural trend to devalue anything that requires mental effort and dedication to understand as elitist bullshit. This is a dangerous development, especially when combined with our national vanity: ever since the Moon landing we see technological and scientific leadership as a birthright. It's not. It's something we have to earn, and continue earning every day by dint of hard labor.

The humbling truth is that real understanding in many things requires trekking a long and arduous road. It's a near certainty that you don't actually understand General Relativity; crude analogies about balls and rubber sheets notwithstanding. General Relativity is like a mountain that looks easy to tackle from a great distance, but the fact is it takes years of toil before you can even grasp how arduous the foothills of Mount Einstein are.

Comment Of course... (Score 4, Interesting) 73

Of course, if they hadn't been so greedy and stupid as to design a non-user-replaceable battery into the phone, they would have been able to simply send out a relatively low-cost component to the afflicted users, instead of incurring a 5.3 billion dollar loss and severely inconveniencing every one of their note 7 customers (at the very least.)

It was their insistence on screwing the customer with planned obsolescence that bit them. They deserved to be bitten.

As does any company that designs in a non-replaceable, limited-lifetime component — much less one that is non-replaceable, limited-lifetime, and potentially dangerous.

Comment Re: Not so innocent after all (Score 1) 156

Pretty much my experience of having to go to church as a kid. There were a few fanatical true believers, and everyone else did it because of some variant of Pascal's Wager. I finally dropped out of the whole thing when I was sixteen, not for any noble reason but mainly because I wanted to smoke and have sex, but even at that age at least part of the reason for my rejection was that my family's church had absolutely absurd beliefs, in particular their view on evolution. I had secretly accepted evolution since I was nine years old and had read a book in the school library on the evolution of humans from Australopithecus onward, but nine year olds don't have the personal authority to tell their parents and their religious authorities that they're all full of shit, whereas a sixteen year old has the right combination of hormones and hubris to brazenly tell everyone "Your beliefs are beyond absurd, and border on the criminally idiotic."

It might have gone a bit differently if I were raised in a more mainstream church like Catholicism, Lutheranism or Anglicanism, where they do try to keep the idiocy to a minimum, but in the more wingnut Protestant churches, the maniacal stupidity just drove me away. At the end of it I became I guess what one would describe as a "weak atheist" bordering on agnostic. I know the existence of Yahweh can never be disproven, but I see absolutely no reason at all that such a being need be invoked, and whenever I see Yahweh invoked by Christians, Muslims and Jews, it's often to justify something noxious, or to prop up the weak-minded who need constant reminders that prostrating themselves to the deacon now means eternal salvation.

Comment Re:Tables are turning (Score 1) 466

What hysteria? The arctic was 30 degrees above seasonal norms this winter. The fact is that CO2 has the properties it has, and that means you increase PPM of CO2 you trap more energy in the lower atmosphere. The universe doesn't care about your desire to declare anyone who says anything that makes you feel uncomfortable a "hysteric". AGW is an inevitable consequence of physical laws, and not the state of Wyoming or Donald Trump can do even the tiniest thing to alter those physical laws. Don't want to totally fuck up the Earth's climate by 2100, then stop burning fossil fuels.

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