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Comment: Re:How hard is it to recognize a stoplight? (Score 1) 247

by Ichijo (#48208893) Attached to: Will the Google Car Turn Out To Be the Apple Newton of Automobiles?

I'm interested in whether the car can set an appropriate speed when it comes upon a sign saying "Speed Limit 35 When Children Are Present" or "...When School In Session", and whether the car can read and obey hand signals, and whether the car knows right turns are prohibited at a particular intersection during rush hour.

Comment: Re:Is this legal? (Score 1) 618

by Ichijo (#48206323) Attached to: FTDI Reportedly Bricking Devices Using Competitors' Chips.

This doesn't hurt the people who created the fake, or even the people who purchased the fake and used them in their manufacturing. It only hurts end users who have done nothing except purchase a product in retail channels.

Bad reviews from dissatisfied customers (because their device suddenly released its magic smoke and stopped working for no apparent reason) won't hurt the creator or manufacturer?

Comment: Re:WTF, the antarctic gets FO before me? (Score 2) 70

by Ichijo (#48201253) Attached to: Fiber Optics In Antarctica Will Monitor Ice Sheet Melting

political will cannot command nature

That's obviously false, as evidenced by the fact that the sun rises earlier when daylight saving time is in effect. If that isn't political will commanding nature, then what is? (In fact, they had to end the trial early in Arizona way back in WWII when they discovered the extra hour of sunlight was scorching the grass.)

Comment: Re:Pitney Bowes (Score 2) 125

by Ichijo (#48199463) Attached to: The Future of Stamps

What does this provide that a postage meter doesn't?

The ability to keep your mailing address when you move, similar to the way third party webmail services let you keep your e-mail address when you change ISPs, or the way VoIP services let you keep your phone number when you move, or the way DNS lets you keep your URLs the same when you change web hosts.


When Martin Cooper invented the cellphone at Motorola in 1971, his idea began with the simple insight that telephones were attached to places. They were rooted at a home or desk, for exampleâ"and it was simply by coincidence or mutual agreement that the right person was at that location when the call was placed. The cellphone was meant to make telephones about reaching people, not places.

Comment: Re:But the speed camera folks are laughing .... (Score 1) 391

by Ichijo (#48197305) Attached to: Speed Cameras In Chicago Earn $50M Less Than Expected

When turnpike operations are sold to such private companies, they have clauses preventing the improvement of alternative roads owned by the state or city that would divert traffic away from the turnpike.

Yes, it's very difficult to compete with someone who has such deep pockets as a government. This is one reason why infrastructure should be financed by its users in proportion to the benefit each person receives from it, instead of paying for infrastructure through unrelated taxes such as the sales tax.

Comment: Supply & demand (Score 1) 330

by Ichijo (#48187603) Attached to: An Algorithm to End the Lines for Ice at Burning Man

The existence of a queue means that people are willing to pay more for the product. So why not let them? Raise the price as the queue gets longer, and lower the price as the queue gets shorter. This stabilizes and even lets you control the length of the queue.

They should do the same at ballparks on game day. Instead of charging a fixed rate for parking, charge to go through the gate according to the number of cars waiting to get in or out. If you get there really early, you could get in practically for free, and if you tailgate after the game, you can get out practically for free. With shorter queues and a greater ability to save money, everybody wins!


Robot SmackDowns Wants To Bring Robot Death Matches To an Arena Near You 82

Posted by timothy
from the only-if-I-get-to-drive dept.
Business Insider profiles Andrew Stroup, Gui Cavalcanti and Matt Oehrlein, who are trying to get off the ground a robot competition league, called Robot SmackDowns. The idea, as you might guess from the name, is to showcase violence and drama to draw on the crowd-appeal of wrestling, NASCAR, and monster truck rallies: this is definitely not Dean Kamen's FIRST — it's giant mechanical beasts shooting at and otherwise trying to destroy each other. And it's not quite right to call them robots in the usual sense; they're more like mecha: "In a MegaBots battle, a two-member team sits inside the bot's upper torso, where the controls systems are housed. Although the co-founders assure me that the pilot and gunner are well protected inside, the situation presents a heightened suspense. Each 15,000-pound robot is equipped with six-inch cannons inside its arms that fire paint-filled missiles and cannon balls at 120 miles per hour. Good aim can cause enough damage to jam its opponent's weapons system or shoot off a limb." They'll be launching a Kickstarter campaign soon; according to the article, "Assuming it raises enough money to build a fleet, [the company's] plan is to take the bots on the road. They will tour the country, face off in epic battles against other MegaBots, and build a fan base. Stroup says (without giving specifics) networks have reached out and will closely watch how MegaBot, Inc.'s upcoming Kickstarter campaign performs. The possibilities for distribution seem endless, though the team is tight-lipped about the exact direction it's headed."

Comment: Re:Prison population (Score 4, Interesting) 407

by Ichijo (#48171747) Attached to: As Prison Population Sinks, Jails Are a Steal

Felonies are also ridiculously easy to get. In the '80s, if two people were caught racing in their cars, it would be a $111 fine. Now, here in Texas, that is a felony.

Rather than a prison sentence followed by automatic eligibility to be re-licensed to be a hazard on the streets again, I think a far more appropriate punishment would be to permanently revoke the person's license until he or she can prove, through a battery of physical and psychological tests, that he or she is no longer a hazard on the road. (This is what they do in Germany.)

But in the USA, for some reason it seems to be considered more humane to make someone a felon and lock them away than to ban them from driving.

Great for private prison profit margins... all paid for on the US taxpayers nickel.

This is why the goals of prisons need to be aligned better with the goals of society. Instead of putting someone away for x years, if private prisons bid against each other on a fixed price to rehabilitate each prisoner, coupled with penalties each time a released prisoner re-offends, private prisons would do their best to rehabilitate each prisoner as quickly, completely, and inexpensively as possible. Isn't this what we all really want?

Comment: Re:Let me get this right (Score 1) 836

by Ichijo (#48165031) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

no housing allowed in the industrial zone

That's a silly law. It should be the other way around: no industry allowed in the residential zone.

Would you like to explain how those zones "keep the poor and minorities out of middle-class and wealthy neighborhoods"?

When you force every house to have parking (which people too poor to own cars don't need), you drive up the cost of housing and drive out the poor from the neighborhood.

You also drive out the poor with limits on dwelling units per acre, minimum liveable square footage, and prohibitions against granny flats, dorms, and boarding houses.

"Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberrys!" -- Monty Python and the Holy Grail