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Comment I have a better hope (Score 1) 148

Here is a better hope for the cab industry. Remove the cap on how many cars there are and introduce competitive pricing. Maybe there need to be some regulations when it comes to preventing the worst of the worst abuses but that is about it.

Then cabs will be competitive and uber will just be one of the many excellent options.

Comment SDCs should cut way back on useless policemen (Score 2) 235

SDCs should cut way back on useless policemen because most police spend 99.9% of their time either doing nothing or harassing drivers for money. Very few police spend very little of their times preventing or investigating crimes. With the revenue stream of bullshit tickets gone the police budgets for bullshit police should also dry up.

Thus the remaining police should be, in theory, actually busy doing actual policework. Thus like many worries about self driving cars, their ability or inability to stop them shouldn't really end up being much of an issue with just a tiny few strange edge cases.

Where it will get interesting is if you watch a typical episode of cops the police often have the same MO. A board cop looking to show off for the cameras will go to a poor neighbourhood. He will wait for a car with 4 or more black men in it drive by. Then he will follow behind for the 30-60 seconds it takes them to break one of a massive set of traffic violations, and then the cop will pull them over with his ready made excuse in hand. But then the police will "search them for weapons" demand ID and eventually search the car. Then somewhere somehow a felony or warrant will be discovered and the policeman can make some excuse that he took some more "dirtbags" off the streets. Except that warrant was probably for not paying fantastically expensive bullshit traffic tickets issued during previous similar stops. And if the driver doesn't have a licence it will be because the guy lost it for not paying said fines.

So am I concerned if those police all lose their jobs, NO; am I concerned that they might have trouble pulling people over, NO. The threshold for pulling a SDC over should be that they are certain that the specific car contains an active and ongoing serious crime such as a kidnapping. But if they start doing things like redirecting all the SDCs to a checkpoint so they can do warrant checks or with some BS excuse that there was a recent robbery then screw them and their fourth amendment violating inbred deliverance level thinking.

Comment I would laugh so hard... (Score 4, Funny) 105

I would laugh so hard if they develop a drug based on this and the only skills that people gain are the ability to recognize mice better and to be less scared of open spaces and cats. Oh and to find hidden escape ways.

But really I do look forward to what will happen someday if these cognitive enhancement drugs turn out to be safe and make people smarter. I am not talking a limitless sort of thing but what happens if a university course ends up be retuned to be just too difficult for most people unless they are taking these sorts of things? If that hasn't already happened with things like Modafinil.

Comment Very simple corruption test (Score 1) 231

Blocking uber is a clear and unambiguous test that the local government is corrupt and has been bought off by local business interests. Clearly Uber is in the public interest. Regardless of insurance or other values imposed by the local regulators Uber customers are choosing to drive with uber. They have made a clear and unambiguous rejection of the existing system and any "virtues" that regulation has blessed it with. Yet local governments then proceed to spit in the faces of these users and drivers with the clear goal of protecting the local taxi industry.

How exactly each local government official has been bribed is probably as different as there are governments but when democratic governments are acting in the interests of the very few and against the very many there has to be some form of incentive driving this undemocratic behaviour. Essentially corruption.

Comment The men in grey suits are upset (Score 2, Interesting) 206

This sort of mad rush for the finish line tends to upset the men in grey suits. But when you are in a gold rush you don't spend time making detailed maps, building beautiful camps for the miners, setting up a day care, and otherwise making everything perfect. You yell "Charge!" and run at the enemy with your sword waving above your head.

Even the business plan should simply read we don't really know and even then the plan will change. Love Uber or hate uber we must all admit that it is shaking things up. I recently took a normal taxi in my city from the airport for the "standard" $55 plus a tip. I took uber back to the airport for $32 and no tip. But also at the airport I asked the first driver what the charge was and he said, "Standard charge $75 same as everyone else." except that he was a "Limo" driver. So the first taxi driver in my new city lied to me and tried pulling a fast one. With Uber this sort of crap is massively curtailed.

So on this issue get back to me when uber has finished growing; if at that point they still don't have profits then it might not actually be an uber good business model.

Comment Re:I think that we can all agree on two facts... (Score 1) 213

I might actually think that a guy with commodore 64 certifications on his wall was cool. I would first figure out if he took them seriously. "We are a commodore shop here." would probably leave me stunned for a minute or two before I could run.

Comment I love these rate my doctor sites (Score 1) 245

These rate my doctor sites seem to generally be right on the money. Our first two dentists really sucked, and when I checked them out on these sites the consensus was that they sucked. Then when I read about some doctor losing their licence in my area I will check out their rating and with a single glaring exception they always have comments such as, "I have no idea where Dr. X got his licence to practice but a crackerjack box would be a good start.".

Then when I finally used these sites to find our present Dr. and Dentist the sites said they were great and they were causing me to add the chorus of glowing reviews.

Comment I think that we can all agree on two facts... (Score 3, Insightful) 213

The first fact is that this guy is technically correct. HR departments go all weak in the knees for certification. I wouldn't be surprised if there is some certification farm out there crapping out certifications in cmake.

But this completely misses the point as to the actual value a certification actually has when it comes to the reality of programming or maintaining/implementing systems. Most of us will agree that the value here is low to potentially negative. A wonderful personal example was that years ago my company asked me to become MSDN certified in something. In order to regurgitate the correct answers for the test I memorized all kinds of crap. But some of it was actually quite helpful. There were some bits about NT boot configs that suddenly made sense.

But the flaw was that I was already very good at working with NT servers. If I were in some stripmall comp collage studying this as my first exposure to computer stuff then it would have meant nothing and yet with some good studying I would have been "certified" to administer NT servers.

But where this really breaks down is when you get a shop that is completely filled with people from a certain company's certifications. I have met companies that say "We are a MSDN shop." Full stop. They won't even consider any other technology.

But my happy moment was years ago when our head of IT who had "over $20,000 worth of Novell certifications there on that wall" was installing a Novell server on his brand new shiny Dell powerhouse. But it wouldn't install. So he gets Dell tech support on the phone and ends up with their top tier who said, "We don't support that old Novell stuff anymore. If it runs on any of our machines it is luck not design. But I know for a fact that it won't run on that machine you have there." Now with this IT guy the whole development staff had long been trying to get Novell out of the building but the IT head swore by it and had a thousand defences as to why it was the best. But the day Dell said No was the day we were able to leverage that into finally getting Novell out of the building.

I have similar stories with other certifications.

So while I don't doubt that they can often increase the individual's salary and I don't doubt that the process of an existing capable user would potentially be enhanced by certification. I do suggest that the damage that is done by certifications being turned into religious scrolls could be enormous to companies that suddenly are "locked in" to a certain technology and not only stop considering alternatives but actively consider alternatives to be heresy.

Comment Re:Here's the problem... (Score 1) 391

If I couldn't build this in a week then I would give up on robotics. Keep in mind this wasn't a quest for perfection it was a "good enough bark removal".

Seeing that only one kind of tree went into the mill the only possible edge case would be wet wood or some kind of drastic lighting change. Thus I would be happy with a few day's video(with the user selected button) where I would have the guys there select the worst case scenario logs and I might spray them with water some of the time.

While I developed it I would leave the video/button pushing data continue to be gathered from the mill's best users so that I could compare my system's decisions with the user decisions on an even larger data set. Those cases where there was a dispute I would have the mill experts all weigh in on who was right and if my system was "good enough" or better than the user I would happily leave it running while also gathering data for a larger data set and providing an auditable trail.

If I were really aiming for a damn good system I would create a simple setup where the mill's best operators would all make decisions on the same logs unaware of the others' choices. This would allow me to statistically define what the error rate among experts was and give me an "acceptable disagreement rate"

So unless installing the relays into the switches in the operator room was somehow problematic this should entirely be a week's operation. Even there I could just install a servo that physically pushed the buttons.

Comment Re:Here's the problem... (Score 4, Interesting) 391

I met a guy (he was around 17) who was working for a pulp mill. His job was working on a machine that debarked the trees. They would run through the machine and then appear in front of him. He had two cords ending in a button which he held in his hands. One button would send the insufficiently debarked tree around for another cycle of debarking, and the other button indicated that it was good enough and could continue.

He indicated that this job was mind numbing to the extreme but that it paid very very well for someone not yet finished highschool. If he worked there long enough his hourly pay would be actually pretty good for the rural area he was in. He told me that many people who worked at the mill never bothered to finish high school and few went to University because even with a degree it would be hard to beat a job at the mill.

I am pretty sure that I could build a bark detecting optical system in under a week to replace him if the mill were still open. But it isn't through a combination of far lower demand for paper product because of the electronic age, combined with far higher efficiencies at the existing mills.

But all one has to do is go to the early seasons of the show "How it's made" and see that even fairly automated assembly lines usually had people doing things such as quality control, packaging, and the occasional odd procedure in the middle. Now, if you watch the recent seasons, about the only thing people do is to load crap into the machines at the beginning, and forklift large boxes of the final product in the end.

One of the final job killers are the pick and place machines.

Comment Ask former bulk food packagers (Score 3, Insightful) 391

If you were to poll people who once worked in bulk goods packaging you might find that they are working even more hours at their minimum wage jobs because they lost their jobs on the assembly line that barely kept their families fed. Since 2002 something like 85% of jobs in the bulk packaging world have gone. This, with a huge increase in bulk packaging output.

Comment Or if public transport was good would I leave... (Score 1) 654

In my city, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, the transit system is terrible, as in you had might as well walk from many points as it will be more reliable.

Reliable is the operative word. For many people transit is not financially an option because they have to be at work on time at a certain time. Our transit system is woeful when it comes to that. Thus even if you have a minimum wage job it is a financially good idea to buy a hunk of crap car as it has a far better chance of getting you to work every day on time.

Also the vast majority of our bus system is designed to get city staff to their HQ from the suburbs where, demographically, city staff typically live. But if you work in one of the industrial parks then you are S. out of luck. And complete suffering upon those who live near one industrial park and work in another. They literally might be 2-3 hours using a transit system that would be a 30 minute drive.

So for me they could even pay me a small fee every time I used the transit system and it still wouldn't be of value.

Comment Re: How much you got? (Score 1) 184

I really really really really hate Oracle. I have used and hate MongoDB way worse. They have created this tool that on the surface gives the developer unlimited freedom; as long as they do things the MongoDB way. I hope that all the MongoDB people realize just how crappy and destructive a product they have created and entirely quit the technology world and go back to be being snobby baristas at some third rate coffee shop.

"Floggings will continue until morale improves." -- anonymous flyer being distributed at Exxon USA