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Comment Re:GD+T matters (Score 1) 54

When you specify that a batteries maximum envelope is X, and the supplier provides a battery which has a maximum envelope greater than X then, yes, it's a supplier problem.

Except that this isn't what happened, according to the much-more-detailed Anandtech article. Samsung specified the maximum exterior dimensions of the pouch, but those dimensions weren't big enough to accommodate the battery material itself. The second battery was slightly thicker, but suffered the same failure because of the thickness of welds on the very same parts that caused the first battery failure.

When you look at these failures together, it seems reasonable to suggest that Samsung's specifications were pushing the limits of battery technology to the breaking point, and that these unreasonable specifications were the common root cause of both battery failures. In other words, yes, there are limits to how thin you can make a battery and still have it be safe.

Comment Of course... (Score 4, Interesting) 54

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:Yes, custom ROMs are still necessary (Score 1) 188

even Google itself washes their hands of any phone that is older than about 2 years.

Three years. Google devices get system upgrades for two years, and security updates for three years. That's still well short of five years, as you say. On the other hand, while Apple has a history of supporting devices for that long, they've made no commitment to any specific support timeline.

Comment Re:As someone with a masters in this -exact field- (Score 2) 221

you are a true master, you should be able to explain concepts in a way that even a child can understand. Richard Feynman was famous for this. So was Albert Einstein. Of course you can go too far, and simplify too much, so the children only think they understand.

Richard Feynman and Albert Einstein both did exactly this. You really can't understand quantum mechanics or general relativity without math. You can think you do, and both of them were great at providing simple explanations that gave the illusion of understanding... but it was only an illusion, which of course they knew perfectly well.

Comment Not good enough! (Score 3, Funny) 221

I want him to roll in the additions from Cilk++, Aspect-Oriented C++ and FeatureC++, the mobility and personalisation capabilities of Occam Pi, the networking extensions provided by rtnet and GridRPC, full encryption and error correction code facilities, everything in Boost, and a pointless subset of features from PL/1.

If you're going to do it all, might as well do it in style.

Seriously, though, Aspects would be nice.

Comment Free software assistant... already exists (Score 3, Informative) 91

Free software assistant... already exists

http://mycroft.ai

They've got an RPi image you can download, slap on a card, and be up and running with a USB mic and something to handle the audio out.

Seems to me like the FSF should pay more attention to what is already going on.

Comment Re:Short-term numbers versus long-term (Score 1) 162

My opinion has nothing to do with bad drivers. Everybody gets tired. Everybody gets distracted. Anyone who says otherwise is kidding him/herself.

Besides, more than 70% of all drivers eat while driving, and that's responsible (according to one study) for about 80% of all crashes. When I say humans suck as drivers, I mean that the overwhelming majority of human drivers (if not all) suck at driving at least some of the time. The only reason we don't have orders of magnitude more wrecks than we do is that split-second reaction time is only important on very rare occasions (perhaps five-seconds in a typical hour of driving), so being distracted usually doesn't result in an accident.

Comment Re:Short-term numbers versus long-term (Score 1) 162

I'm anti-antibiotic and modern medical intervention because I think knowing that they're available just makes people careless and sloppy when they travel in areas where those interventions aren't available. I would much rather a few more people die because we don't use antibiotics at all than for people to become reliant on them and just become careless and unfit.

First, antibiotics are available nearly anywhere in the world you might go. By contrast, these sorts of autopilot features are available on a tiny fraction of a percent of vehicles, and probably will be for some time to come.

Second, the technology is highly limited, basically useful only on the highway, which means that if people get used to having that extra support during highway driving, it could easily result in an increase in accidents in cities, where accidents are much more likely to cause pedestrian fatalities. So there's a good possibility that this could actually make traffic deaths worse on the whole over the long term.

Early studies strongly suggested that partial self-driving solutions did more harm than good, which is why I think we should wait to make self-driving technology available until it can truly take the place of the human driver, rather than introducing a solution that only works part of the time and can lead to false confidence the rest of the time. I could be wrong, and I'd like to be wrong, but my gut says we'd be better off waiting a few more years for a more complete solution, rather than deploying a partial solution more broadly.

Comment Re:Short-term numbers versus long-term (Score 1) 162

I'm not saying that the challenge of coming up with software that allows a car to autonomously drive itself better than a human isn't possible. I just challenge the assertion that a computer with multiple cameras is likely superior to a human.

I say that for several reasons:

  • Human vision is inherently focused on a single thing at a time. They teach you to move your eyes around and scan for things that might be problems, but the reality is that we're very limited in our ability to do so. Computers don't have that problem. They can see that kid on the side of the road who might fall out into traffic long before a human driver would happen to randomly glance in that direction, which means that on average, they can take corrective action much sooner even if their actual reaction time is much slower.
  • Computers can also look behind and beside them constantly. You might look in your side or rearview mirror when you're about to turn or change lanes or back up. However, the odds of seeing someone cutting into your side or flying up behind you in time to avoid a collision is remarkably small. A computer, however, would see those vehicles every time, and would often be able to prevent the resulting accidents.
  • Statistically, one in five collisions happens in parking lots, where human vision is hopelessly obstructed by other vehicles. Computers should be able to trivially avoid essentially all of those collisions. So right off the bat, even if computers were no better than human drivers while on the road, you'd expect a 20% drop in accidents just from having complete 360-degree vision while pulling out of parking spaces. And nearly half of all pedestrian accidents occur in parking lots, so the seemingly excessive caution that computer-controlled cars use should dramatically decrease pedestrian injuries and deaths as well.

Besides, Tesla's autopilot feature is designed exclusively for highway driving. (AFAIK, it still ignores stop signs and traffic lights entirely.) Highway driving is, on the whole, some of the safest driving possible, with nearly every accident caused by some combination of fatigue, distraction (particularly involving food/drinks), and/or drunkenness on the part of one of the drivers involved. To beat a human driver under those conditions, all Tesla's autopilot really has to do is keep the car in the current lane, reliably detect cars that have stopped in front of it without nodding off after half an hour or chugging one for the road, and avoid other people who have fallen asleep or are drunk. Of those, only the last one is particularly challenging, which is almost certainly why the crash numbers are only down by 40% instead of 80% or more. :-)

Comment Re:Short-term numbers versus long-term (Score 2) 162

I'm not up on state of the art on computer image/object recognition but the experience I have from about 10 years ago leads me to believe that...

Others have already responded to your other points, I just want to point out that experience from 10 years ago tells you basically nothing about the state of the art today. Deep learning methods have enabled dramatic progress on exactly the class of pattern matching problems that includes computer vision.

Personally, I still think that LIDAR is inherently superior to video cameras for this task, but Tesla's numbers are impressive, and prove that while their system may not be all that it should be, it's already better than a typical human driver -- at least than the typical Tesla buyer (note that I have no reason to believe that Tesla buyers would be worse than average drivers, but the possibility shouldn't be ignored).

Comment Re:Whitespace takes the most space (Score 1) 186

But what is the value of an algorithm that you can't actually execute?

In the practical world, language efficiency actually matters and is a reasonable thing to discuss.

Sure, that's true. But it has no bearing on the question of whether a language can accurately be called Turing Complete -- and Turing Completeness also matters, because it defines the class of algorithms that can be implemented in the language. What's the value of an algorithm that you can't implement because the language lacks the necessary expressive power? Except in very limited circumstances, Turing Completeness is a prerequisite. Without it, there's no point in discussing efficiency.

Comment Competitors don't get it (Score 5, Insightful) 113

Oh so I can pay 2x and get something 2x faster. Wow. And I could pay 2x of $60 and get a whole chromebook or used laptop that was 8x faster. Or a I could buy a cheap android phone and have my rockchip with a touch screen and battery for that $60.

they just don't understand the price point logic of $35.

Likewise going the other way you can buy a cheaper and more powerful board like a Pine or an Orange PI, save yourself $10 in parts and then pay about $300 in time and effort (assuming your time is worth $50/hour) to get a linux distro and and all the needed packages that actually works on it. the orange PI's are junk because a usabale software set only gets ported a year or more after the board has been on the market. I bought one once, and had to download several different distro's for it till I got one with drivers that would support the Key board, Blue tooth, and screen I was using. And even then it was only using just 1 of it's 4 processors and no graphics acceleration from the Mali chip. that took hours to wade through. then when I tried to install other code the libraries didn't compile. Fast forward 3 years, and it works fine now but the rasperry PI 3 eclipsed it.

The whole point of the RPI is a bomb proof little circuit that has loads of well testd software so it's not the project, it's the thing you put into the project.

Comment Re:Short-term numbers versus long-term (Score 1) 162

I think that two numbers would be deceptive because almost no-one is capable of acknowledging their inattention.

They don't have to. With as much data collection as the Tesla systems do, assuming they collect the same data with autopilot disabled, too, it should be possible to do a post-mortem (so to speak) on a random sampling of accidents and determine whether a reasonable person should have noticed the stopped car in front of them (for example) or not and whether the driver failed to react in a timely fashion or not.

I think that two numbers would be deceptive because almost no-one is capable of acknowledging their inattention. If you found at that that 50% of accidents are caused by inattention, but the autopilot is a 20% *worse* driver than someone paying attention, you *know* that everyone would flee from AutoPilot it on the assumption they won't be part of the 50% failing to pay attention.

On the contrary. If the autopilot is 20% worse than a driver who is paying attention, then having those concrete statistics would provide the motivation to change the behavior of the autopilot feature to be more sensible, such as looking for signs that the driver isn't paying attention, and then automatically engaging when the driver's hands leave the wheel, when the driver's eyes leave the road, when the driver's grip on the wheel relaxes too much, etc., rather than making things worse by engaging when the driver would have done a better job. And as the statistics become more complete, you'd probably decide to add other weighting factors, such as time of day, whether they're driving away from home at night (e.g. to work the night shift) or towards it, etc.

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