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Comment: Re:FAQ (Score 1) 131

by squiggleslash (#49750009) Attached to: Pre-Orders Start For Neo900 Open Source Phone

From what people are writing here, there are multiple definitions of "perfectly well". Someone in an above thread complains that capacitive screens require only the lightest touch, ensuring that they make mistakes when trying to use their fingernail to accurately press a specific pixel.

That, to me, says that the N900 and Neo900 do not have "touch" sensitive displays, they require pressure. I'm finding it improbable (and I'm willing to be proven wrong, but I'm increasingly sceptical as this videophilesque discussion continues) that the usual range of gestures we've come to know and, yes, love, are going to work nearly as well on that type of screen.

If I'm wrong and a light tap will always work, and a swipe will never be broken up into multiple gestures or ignored altogether, and so on, then I'd be delighted, albeit surprised the technology isn't being used anywhere else.

Comment: Re:FAQ (Score 1) 131

by squiggleslash (#49748049) Attached to: Pre-Orders Start For Neo900 Open Source Phone

I'm going to be honest, the more I read this discussion, the move I'm thrown back to old "debates" between advocates of rear projection and plasma TVs, and LCDs, all bemoaning the rise of the latter against such superior technologies as a TV that can only be viewed from one angle (and then not all at the same time), or a TV that requires all 4:3 content be shown in stretch-o-vision to avoid temporary burn-in issues. "But LCDs have a tiny bit of light visible when they're supposed to be black!" screams the videophiles, apparently oblivious to the fact that normal people rarely watch TV in rooms with no ambient light.

The resistive screen they're describing is clearly inferior to capacitive when applied to real world applications. Nobody in their right mind uses their cellphone to "paint" pictures. But everyone uses it to dial numbers, browse websites, and other activities that require a finger, or two, rather than a stylus.

But, hey, for the 0.01% of users who do actually use their cellphones more as an easel than a phone, I guess it might be useful.

Comment: Re:Taxes? (Score 1) 219

I think that is the content industry view, however rotten it might be. The idea is that if you damaged or lost a book (or some other physical item that's hard to copy), you wouldn't expect to have any choice but to buy a new copy, so why should you have a choice other than paying for replacement with music or videos?

Comment: Re:FAQ (Score 3, Informative) 131

by squiggleslash (#49744075) Attached to: Pre-Orders Start For Neo900 Open Source Phone

It has a resistive touchscreen. What's more they're saying they're going for resistive because it's "more accurate" than capacitive and capacitive would be a "step back."

I had a Nokia N800 so am familiar with the history of this platform, but it always felt like a prototype to me, and it seems like the Neo900 is still a prototype of something that would have been released ten years ago. What a shame.

Comment: Re:Tolls? (Score 4, Insightful) 825

by squiggleslash (#49737189) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

Maybe he doesn't acknowledge it because it's not true? Public transportation is used by people inside cities, which are sometimes expensive, sometimes not, depending on whether the local government has managed to beat back the State DoT or not and allow redevelopment.

Public transportation outside of cities is generally unusable due to Suburbanist planning policies.

Comment: Re:Compelling? (Score 1) 243

by squiggleslash (#49730351) Attached to: Why Apple Ditched Its Plan To Build a Television

While visual quality is definitely good these days, everything else about modern TVs suck. They're complicated to set up, have awful menus, and the whole TV+Boxes+Receiver combo generally makes control awkward, with multiple steps needed to turn on the TV or switch a source unless you're either willing to sacrifice, say, audio quality, or something similar.

This is actually one market I'd really welcome Apple dipping its toe into. I doubt I'd buy what they have to sell, but I'm pretty sure the rest of the industry would learn from it and we'd see improvement.

Comment: Re:Fark those clowns (Score 1) 317

by squiggleslash (#49727765) Attached to: Battle To Regulate Ridesharing Moves Through States

Licensed, legitimate, crab companies also use the high barrier of entry in many places to keep out competitors in order to artificially inflate prices.

Virtually every location I've ever been to that heavily regulates taxis regulates fares too. So no, the taxi company doesn't get to "inflate fares" by taking advantage of a lack of competition.

Comment: Re:Mixed reaction (Score 1) 317

by squiggleslash (#49727709) Attached to: Battle To Regulate Ridesharing Moves Through States

This here town ain't big enough to support two companies

What about New York City? Have you seen any pictures of Manhattan made in the last 60 years? Are you familiar with streets clogged with taxis?

The medallion system exists for a reason. If it were just a way to keep fares high, New Yorkers - not known for their willingness to take shit lying down - would have had the concept thrown out by now.

Comment: Re:No absolute speed governor? (Score 1) 393

You're still moving the goalposts. You said subsidies. Now you're saying cash infusions. Until the airlines pay for their own security and own ATC and own airport maintenance/upkeep/property tax losses/etc, they're subsidized.

Trains are pretty much the only form of transportation that for some reason are held to a level of profitability no other form of transportation is held to. Fares are supposed, according to the anti-train mob, to cover rolling stock, fuel, and direct staffing like airlines or buses, but 100% of infrastructure, as opposed to 30-60% for road vehicles, and close to 0% for airlines, and ticket payers are supposed to pay property taxes on rights of way (not paid by road users) and cover all kinds of other ancillary costs too. Every dollar not covered is considered a subsidy by opponents of passenger rail, yet not a single one whines about the same issues when it comes to other forms of transportation.

The results, ironically, are that while rail consistently comes close to covering all of that (and thus having the lowest practical subsidy of all), politicians who claim to be in favor of fiscal responsibility keep undermining it and moving people to the worst, most heavily subsidized, forms of transportation instead.

Madness.

Comment: Re:I think the key message in the article (Score 1) 607

by squiggleslash (#49725225) Attached to: The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

You can only "move to the center" if you're a third party. If the Democrats move to what was the center (as they keep doing and have kept doing over the last three or four decades), the center moves as a result and they're no longer at it. Worse, their attempt to look less extreme helps their opposition, which now also looks like it's closer to the center.

The Republicans understand this somewhat better, and have drifted to the right, knowing that this, too, moves the center, but moves it rightwards, leaving both parties looking slightly more extreme rather than just the party that's made the move.

Comment: Re:I wonder why... (Score 5, Informative) 289

by squiggleslash (#49719567) Attached to: North Carolina Still Wants To Block Municipal Broadband

You write as if there's some great principle involved that anyone's claiming to upkeep (and being taken seriously when they do) that involves the best place to exert power.

Truth is that all these positions are based upon where someone believes they can politically win power. If the country as a whole, and hence the Feds lean X, then expect supporters of the opposing position Y to support slightly more local locations of power.

Pro-Slavers were very, very, happy to be opposed to "States rights" back when they were proposing (and passing) Fugitive Slaves laws that imposed huge immoral burdens on the Free States. As soon as it looked like the anti-slaves might win power at a Federal level, suddenly they back-pedalled.

Comment: Re:No absolute speed governor? (Score 3, Informative) 393

There are a bunch of things going on here so bear with me.

1. The speed immediately before the curve is 80mph. The curve itself is rated for 80mph but the official speed limit is 50. Why the difference? Because rail companies take passenger comfort seriously and 80mph through that curve would require passengers wear seatbelts and might possibly cause slight travel sickness. As an aside trains generally start at Philly by accelerating with an open (full) throttle. When they reach 80mph, it's usually at the point in the journey where the train now needs to slow to 50mph to pass the curve. Supposedly the brakes weren't activated and throttle closed, possibly because the driver was distracted by having a rock thrown at him, but... WE DON'T KNOW THIS and the headline of this story is premature.

2.Both ATC and PTC do as you describe. They include mechanisms to monitor the speed of trains and slow them if they're speeding. PTC even includes a GPS element. ATC is older, creakier, but...

3. ATC was not installed on the section immediately North of Philly because, reportedly, Amtrak engineers at the time didn't believe any trains would actually reach 80mph before hitting that curve. This was probably true at the time.

4. In the last year, Amtrak has introduced new locomotives, including the one used for Amtrak 188. These locomotives are considerably more powerful than the "Meatballs" they replaced.

So, that's currently the thinking. The most likely scenario right now appears to be that the engineer was distracted by rocks being thrown at the train at the critical moment where he was supposed to close the throttle and engage the brakes. Because it was a newer, more powerful, locomotive than the safety systems there were originally designed for, the train was able to accelerate to 105mph during that distracted period. Because there were no ATC or PTC systems active in that area, the train wasn't stopped automatically.

That's the _most likely_ scenario. There are many other possibilities, including a software problem on the locomotive (which, depending on the nature of the bug) could have rendered PTC or ATC ineffectual given they rely upon the loco to, you know, respond to its commands. The latter is unlikely, but it hasn't been ruled out yet.

We should do what commonsense requires, the accident may or may not have been caused by a lack of ATC, but we do know now that there exists the possibility of speed related accidents in that area and need it to be addressed. In the mean time, we should wait for the NTSB to do its job.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake

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