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Comment: Built right? Just continue to neglect them. (Score 1) 801

by DougWebb (#31672026) Attached to: How To Build Roads To Control How Fast You Drive

By neglecting the roads they become full of potholes, making them more dangerous and forcing drivers to slow down. I guess we could also remove all crosswalks and stoplights in order to encourage pedestrians to cross the roads in random places and at random times. The plentiful potholes will make crossing the road even more difficult; pedestrians will need to zigzag to get across so they'll spend more time in the road. What else could be done? Maybe remove safety netting that prevents rocks from falling into the roadway, and weakening the root systems of roadside trees so they're likely to fall over into the road. Plenty to watch out for there.

Finally, if we really want to spend some money on this "safety improvement": landmines.

Comment: Re:Simple reason (Score 3, Informative) 490

by DougWebb (#31284468) Attached to: The Sad History and (Possibly) Bright Future of TiVo

As for the Cable-provided set top boxes, yuck. None have the flexibility of what the Tivo can do, including the ability to transfer some shows to your PC. Not much access to anything outside what the Cable provider decides you should have, which is usually the on demand stuff and..uhm..that's it.

I've got one more, which was the final straw for me before I switched to TiVo: the Comcast-provided box had such poor quality Comcast-provided software that it crashed all of the time, wiping out both my existing recordings and all of my schedules. A DVR is really not worth very much if it can only be reliably used to pause live TV.

Comment: Re:No Tivo for me (Score 1) 490

by DougWebb (#31284396) Attached to: The Sad History and (Possibly) Bright Future of TiVo

I loved my MythTV box too, but switched to TiVo when Comcast started moving digital channels around so often that the listings were always coming out wrong, and when it became clear that the analog channels were going away. At least TiVo with cablecards can follow the changes. Comcast still made it very difficult to get the cards; when I called for an installation they said I had to go to my local office to pick it up, and when I went to my local office they looked at me like I had two heads and said they've never dealt with cablecards. Once I finally got a technician to come and install the cards everything was cool, and I've been very happy with my TiVo ever since.

I went for the top of the line model, with the 'lifetime' subscription. I figured that the lifetime subscription is cheaper than the other options after four years, and the box (which the subscription is attached to) should last me that long before it's completely obsolete.

Comment: Re:And puts a two week horizon on your creativity (Score 1) 483

by DougWebb (#31079110) Attached to: How Do You Accurately Estimate Programming Time?

I'm not sure that's true, but my company has only just committed to doing Scrum properly this year so I haven't had the experience yet. But what I'm expecting for larger tasks is to have non-code deliverables, like having some specific portion of a new infrastructure analyzed and designed. Then that portion will be built in a future sprint, while other parts are being designed.

I also expect that my manager will define some deliverables vaguely at the beginning of a sprint, then at the end of the sprint he'll redefine them to be whatever got done and bump the vague deliverable to the next sprint. This is how we'll make continuous progress on open-ended R&D type work, refactoring existing code, doing unpredictable-but-urgent maintenance, etc.

Comment: Re:Loan guarantees? (Score 1) 373

by DougWebb (#30972572) Attached to: Obama Budget To Triple Nuclear Power Loan Guarantees

Please explain to me how the government agreeing to take on most or all of the risk financing a business is not a subsidy. It might not be a subsidy for the power industry but it sure is for the financial industry. Its socializing loss and risk, while leaving profits private. Its exactly the kinda thing that is currently gutting our treasury.

I'm pretty sure that most of the risk involved in building a nuclear power plant is the risk that the government (local/state/fed) will shut down the project for some arbitrary reason, like "too many campaign donors complaining about it". So the government is agreeing to deal with the financial consequences of the risk it's creating in the first place, which seems fair. Eliminating the risk would be better, though.

Comment: Re:Oh come on... (Score 1) 836

by DougWebb (#30111728) Attached to: Are You a Blue-Collar Or White-Collar Developer?
  • Plumber: Mechanical Engineer specializing in plumbing systems
  • Electricians: Electrical Engineer
  • Carpenters: Structural Engineer
  • Welders: Mechanical Engineer specializing in metal structures

The engineers wouldn't be doing the same work; they'd be doing more advanced work in the same general field. For example, a good plumber can design and install all of the plumbing for a single family home, while an engineer could design the plumbing for a large skyscraper and direct the huge team doing the installation.

This distinction exists in the software industry too, but it's much less formal and less recognized, especially by non-technical management. I think that's due to the relative youth of the industry.

Comment: Re:"Peaceful Use" (Score 1) 1032

by DougWebb (#29571133) Attached to: Iran's Nuclear Ambitions

That's only because Saddam re-routed the resources to his favored buds. Plenty of resources went into the country, it's just that they were not being distributed evenly. Saddam used the sanctions as an excuse to rid groups he didn't like.

Since the sanctions were supposed to be hurting Saddam, and not the Iraqi people, and we knew what Saddam was doing with the resources, I'd say that the sanctions were a complete failure. It took two wars and an invasion to remove Saddam from power, and in the process we've destroyed a relatively open society, killed who knows how many innocent people, and created enough anti-US sentiment to last for generations.

Comment: Re:Nothing will happen (Score 1) 360

by DougWebb (#29346923) Attached to: Lawsuit Claims WGA is Spyware

This is a civil lawsuit. Individuals who lose civil lawsuits are not incarcerated. They are ordered to pay compensation just as corporations are.

The problem with this was mentioned by the OP: corporations that are ordered to pay 'compensation' often just give out vouchers for their products, rather than cash. Those vouchers are valued at the full suggested retail price of the products, even if the products never are sold for that price, and the actual cost to the corporation is a small fraction of that price. Individuals who lose civil lawsuits do not have this option, and neither should corporations.

Comment: Re:Microsoft may just fix this themselves (Score 1) 394

by DougWebb (#28674389) Attached to: Outlook Inertia the Main Factor Holding Business From Google Apps

Outlook 2007 was the first place I saw the new Ribbon interface, and though it looked odd at first, I got used to it quickly. I think for Outlook it works really well. I'm still having trouble getting used to the Ribbon in Word and Excel though; while a few things are easier, I still find myself hunting for commands. I think those applications simply have complex command sets, and the Ribbon can't put everything in an easy-yo-find place any more than menus can. Effectively, all they've done is re-arrange the menus.

Comment: Re:They're called digital cameras (Score 2, Informative) 443

by DougWebb (#28099657) Attached to: Polaroid Lovers Try To Revive Its Instant Film

A piece of instant film could be handed directly over to a friend or relative without further hassle. Digital cameras still require you to take the time to get to a computer and do something with the picture via the memory card or the camera itself. Instant sharing isn't as simple or direct as snapping the picture and handing it to someone, like with a Polaroid.

If you use the camera in your cellphone, you can email the picture to your friend, and they can receive it on their cellphone moments later. That's pretty instant, and not only have you shared the picture, you've made an exact duplicate of it so you can both have it. Can't do that with a Polaroid.

What we need are either better quality cameras built into cellphones, or broadband cellphone chips built into digital cameras. The latter is a more viable option; good cameras are too bulky to be reasonable cellphones, while the cellphone electronics can be easily fit into a decent camera.

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