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Comment: Blame the tool... (Score 2) 422

by Diddlbiker (#47103881) Attached to: Why You Shouldn't Use Spreadsheets For Important Work
My father was a wise man, and a solid programmer. He liked Basic, because it was simple, and readable (in his environment the alternatives were mainly Assembler, Cobol, and RPG). Whenever people made fun of his love for Basic, and how it resulted in bad code, he always replied “there are no bad languages, just bad programmers.

The problem isn't the spreadsheet. The problem is people building ugly models in it. Do they seriously think that if those models were written in C, Java or Perl they would have been magnitudes better? I doubt it; you're just transplanting bad habits onto a different platform.

Of course, if he'd used trained professionals to build his models in whatever language of choice the models would be better. If he'd used trained professionals to build his spreadsheet models they would have been better as well.

Comment: Except in the US (Score 3, Interesting) 664

by Diddlbiker (#46913083) Attached to: Death Wish Meets GPS: iPhone Theft Victims Confronting Perps
In the rest of the world a stolen smartphone will get bricked, but carriers are working against that in the US. I guess because stolen phones mean people will have to buy replacements and they'll get the kickbacks from Apple and Samsung for that. As long as stolen phones keep working in the US, they'll continue to be stolen.

Comment: Re:Easy solution for catching this kind of thing (Score 2) 361

by Diddlbiker (#44266713) Attached to: Container Ship Breaks In Two, Sinks
No, you know what you paid for when you refueled. And with near certainty that you took less than that on board.

Working for a major shipping line, installing flow meters on the intake valves showed "systematic measure errors" that all of a sudden were surprisingly easy to fix by the vendor.

Keep in mind that refueling a deep ocean vessel is not the same as getting 10 gallons at your local BP station. This is stuff that has the consistency of peanut butter and needs to be heated to flow in the first place; measuring how much fuel you have or took on board is not as trivial as it seems.

Comment: Look at the grand picture (Score 2) 193

Technology, as much as we think when it's disruptive and ground breaking is rarely ever revolutionary. It's not like everyone started to use Windows instead of DOS, or that in one fell swoop the mobile market switched from dumb phones to smart phones overnight.

In that sense, Better Place seemed indeed to have focused on the wrong problem. Yes, electric charging stations are far and in between. Right now. But unlike gas pumps, practically every residential unit and business location can have one. So, for now, your Tesla has an effective drive radius of, what, 150 miles? That's good enough for most daily commutes. Maybe not if you're a salesman, but I think Tesla has envisioned this. They're not catering for the entire car market; after all, the car is not really a good deal for Joe Average who has to live on $50,000 and bring two kids to college on that either.
There is the uncertainty of electric cars becoming a success, but given the development of fuel prices and M&R that is much higher with gasoline engines (all those moving parts) it surely is attractive. So let's assume Tesla sells well. What will happen? The $100,000 price point will ensure that certain business will scramble to get charge stations. Four and five star hotels and restaurants for instance. Where will Mr. Executive stay overnight? Why, where he can charge his Tesla, of course!
Movie theaters, malls... any place where it's likely you're going to stay for a prolonged time will offer charging. Once the market of charging station installing businesses has risen, why not coffee and fast food? One thing that everyone seems to forget in the discussion—you don't need to charge the battery all the way up in most cases. You need to make it home—or at worst to the next charging station. That can bring down the charging time needed considerable. If as a business it will lure in five or ten customers every afternoon the decision to get a charging station might be an easy one.
Better Place is opposite: the process seems cumbersome, and as shown in the video more akin to going through a carwash than getting a tank full of gas. Here's why I don't go through the car wash on a daily basis: it takes too much time and I can't do another thing. On the other hand, getting a short charge-up for the batteries while getting breakfast, or stopping for a drink on the way home—perfectly acceptable to me.
For the gentleman who drives 800 miles per day: if you make ten stops, you only have to "charge 80 miles" on each stop on average. And if you only make three stops, I'm sure that those are not five minute ones. Once charging stations are everywhere, doing 800 miles visiting customers shouldn't be a problem anymore.

Comment: Retention rate isn't everything (Score 1) 400

by Diddlbiker (#43527279) Attached to: Dropcam CEO's Beef With Brogramming and Free Dinners
Without RTFA, not sure if retention rate is the be-all-end-all. I can easily get a retention rate of 100%--hire all the incompetent idiots nobody else wants. They'll never leave my company, because they'd be out of a job. Voila!

Not saying this guy is doing it wrong; just saying that retention rate alone isn't that much of a useful indicator.

Comment: Re:Note the legal disclaimer (Score 2) 476

by Diddlbiker (#43470655) Attached to: Excel Error Contributes To Problems With Austerity Study

The US is one of the bigger countries and is #1 in agri culture. The Netherlands is one of the smallest countries and is #2 in agri culture. Why? Every American black and white cow was created by a dutch boy sticking his arm up a cow. And jerking of a bull. The US exports low value agri cultural products, the Netherlands high value.

But it means the SAME industry, is COMPLETELY different. Baby cow production US style is cowboys and homo sexuality in the prairy. Dutch baby cow production is bestiality and high tech in the desolate north.

I think the high value of Dutch agricultural products has more to do with the gigantic high-yield flower industry than with jerking of cows. Go over the Dutch border and try to find Dutch cheese. Famous as it is, you will not find the entire dairy island stacked with Dutch cheese outside the Benelux. Visit any flower store in the world, and it's a different picture: you're likely to find a good amount of Dutch flowers. My ghetto neighborhood supermarket sells more packets with Dutch flower seeds than it sells Dutch cheese (most of that made in the US anyway; there's no "regional" protection like that in the EU)

Comment: Re:Excel error? (Score 2) 476

by Diddlbiker (#43470641) Attached to: Excel Error Contributes To Problems With Austerity Study
There are two factors in play here.

(1) Likely, they didn't use drag-and-drop to copy the cells, but double-clicking on the fill handle (the same widget used for drag&drop copying) which stops extending the range up to but not including the first neighboring empty cell, not at the end of the table. As such it's perfectly possible to not include the entire cell range while realizing that.
(2) Having said that, one would expect that whoever makes a model with that much impact double checks their model against n00b errors like that. A good model has some functionality built in for cross-checking data, making sure everything adds up, etc.

In the end, this is as much Excel's fault as blaming your calculator when you don't enter all the numbers. But when you release it to the press, "Excel" makes it sound better. Everyone knows that Excel is a Micro$oft product, and that they're evil and conspiring to take over the world.
"Oooh, it's Excel that made the mistake, not you. We'll forgive you for that. We know how evil and sinister they are"

Comment: Re:Similar to some existing systems (Score 1) 84

by Diddlbiker (#43435327) Attached to: DARPA Develops Non-GPS Navigation Chip

And why one would need to navigate in a tunnel? (Other then how deep one's in...).

Certainly more applications are possible as I'd expect it will have much higher sampling rates and precision than GPS and hence can be use in control applications more than in navigation.

Troops with colorful berets (green, red, black, etc) navigating through a sewer system, needing to know what manhole to get out.
Or navigating quickly through a large building. Urban combat is combat too
Or simply knowing *where* you are when you leave the tunnel without having to wait two minutes for acquisition. Well, you might know where you are, but the nav system of your car needs to know too.

It seems that more and more mathematicians are using a new, high level language named "research student".

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