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Comment: Re:Astronomy, and general poor night-time results. (Score 1) 540

by JanneM (#47531315) Attached to: Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

"They can fix astigmatism now?"

Yes. Here's the Wikipedia entry (though it feels written by a proponent):

Basically, they measure the retinal reflection from lights coming from a number of different angles to map the lens aberration (just a linear approximation, but with a grid of lights that's plenty close enough). Then they use that to map shorter, more focused laser pulses to reshape the cornea appropriately.

If I understand it right, you normally get rid of all primary and secondary astigmatism (such as coma), but you can still have a small bit of residual astigmatism afterwards. In practice it's night and day; once my eyes stabilized (it took two months) I don't have double vision or any of the other annoying effects of astigmatism any longer.

Comment: Re:Astronomy, and general poor night-time results. (Score 2) 540

by JanneM (#47526243) Attached to: Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

I'm 45 and I've had presbyopia for five years, bad enough that I always need separate glasses when reading or working in front of a screen, or even using my phone. I still went ahead with surgery last winter. And I'm very happy I did.

I had pronounced astigmatism in addition to nearsightedness. When you add presbyopia it becomes almost impossible to get a pair of lenses that will correct all of it anywhere but right in the center of vision. In practice I had to movemy head instead of my eyes when reading, playing games, programming... It was frustrating and gave me increasingly common headaches.

With LASIK (a fairly new type that maps the eye and removes the stigmatism) I now have 15/15 and only need glasses for presbyopia. I have one pair for close-up work, that now lets me see in my entire field of vision; and my old favourite pair has no correction at all except at the bottom, where mild close-up power lets me see my phone, read labels and stuff like that when I'm out and about.

It may not sound like much of a difference since I still often wear glasses. But it's night and day - headaches are gone, I really see much better now (I actually see towards the sides again!) and for many activitites such as snorkeling or photography I need no eye correction at all.

Comment: Re:Why is it cheaper in China? (Score 4, Insightful) 530

by JanneM (#47404693) Attached to: Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

But an assembly line manned by robots? Why should that be cheaper in China? Is capital that much cheaper?

Even if wages and other costs were equal, the location advantage is substantial. It's not that it's cheaper in China, but that it's cheaper in the huge manufacturing hubs. You have suppliers and manufacturers for just about every single component you need without long-distance shipping, and a deep pool of design and manufacturing expertise working in the area.

That's not to say you can't manufacture efficiently elsewhere (we have plenty of recent examples such as the Raspberry Pi), but that the advantages has as much to do with the concentration of resources as with the cost of labour and regulations. And of course, as this inudstry becomes ever more automated, it no longer matters much for jobs where it happens any longer.

Comment: Re:Always a balance (Score 1) 100

by JanneM (#47167829) Attached to: Google Announces 'End-To-End' Encryption Extension For Chrome

OpenPGP was right in all ways except one: you can't even explain what it does to your grandma, let alone get her to use it.

Never mind grandma, I can't use it. Decided I'd try it this spring. Spent an afternoon reading manuals, blog posts and howto's, until I realized this is complicated and brittle enough that I'm likely to mess things up and compromise any security as a result. Better to avoid it, and behave under the assumption that people are bulk scanning and analyzing everything i send or receive.

Comment: Re:Sounds like IT incompetence (Score 3, Insightful) 564

People make mistakes. Everybody makes them, everybody does it all the time, and they do it even when they should know better, when the consequences are high, and when they've received training specifically aimed at avoiding those particular mistakes.

Aviation, process and other industries know this by now, after many, many hard-earned lessons. They know you have to design your interfaces under the assumption that people will screw up, push the wrong button, or misread the situation. The general software industry, on the other hand, seems amazingly resilient against accepting this simple fact.

Comment: Re:This may be crass but... (Score 2) 283

It's easy to say we want to make the rural areas as attractive as the big cities. Notably, I've yet to see any credible ideas for actually achieving it.

Big cities are amazing. Because of network effects and the efficiencies of small distances and dense accumulation of resources, competing directly is extremely difficult. It's like deciding you want to make a new, fledging social network as attractive to users as the current big ones. The only thing you could feasibly do in both cases is to push it as a niche for special interests.

Comment: Re:Very cool - but where do you get the chip for $ (Score 1) 138

by JanneM (#46963781) Attached to: A 32-bit Development System For $2

"I don't know anyone who just has a serial converter just lying around unless they're an engineer"

This is not a first project for anybody. Chances are high that you've already played with Arduino a fair bit, and built your own on breadboard as well. In which case you most likely have a USB-serial cable or board already, in order to program them.

Comment: Re:A good sign (Score 0) 177

by JanneM (#46945159) Attached to: Programming Language Diversity On the Rise

"Which platforms were Java and Obj-C specific to again?"

The wording was unclear on my part; you pretty much need to use Java to develop for Android, and Objective-C to develop for IOS. Those platforms use those languages specifically, not that they are used only on those platforms. You can use a few other languages to develop Android or IOS apps if you insist, but with more pain, less support, and you'll normally still have to write minor parts in these languages to make it a complete application.

Comment: Re:A good sign (Score 1) 177

by JanneM (#46944175) Attached to: Programming Language Diversity On the Rise

"I'd error on having 3 languages in the shop and that's about all that you'd need for most things."

That sounds on the low side to me. One low-level, hardware-linked language (C or C++); one dynamic language (Python, Ruby); a functional language (Scala, Scheme, Haskell); one for numerics (R, Matlab/Octave); one embedded language (Scheme, Lua); client-side web (javascript); database access (SQL); and of course the platform-specific major languages you can't get around: Java, C# and Objective-C. I'm sure you can add other categories to the list as well.

Comment: Re:Activist investors (Score 1) 208

by JanneM (#46944055) Attached to: Stanford Getting Rid of $18 Billion Endowment of Coal Stock

The endowment is there to serve the university. And the university is plenty sensitive to its public perception; that affects both enrollment as well as donations. It's not a stretch to say that a fairly large proportion of both current and former students and faculty view global warming as a threat and coal as a bad choice for producing power.

Making these people happy is vital for the universitys bottom line - not to mention that "the university" consists of people that themselves share many of these values. So yes, they are acting in the best interest of those the endowments are there to serve.

Comment: Publiation costs (Score 1) 72

by JanneM (#46934447) Attached to: The Exploitative Economics of Academic Publishing

It's worth noting that while many open access journals charge for publication, so do many closed access journals. I can't find the link now, but a comparison a few years ago found that the average cost was actually higher across closed journals than open access ones. And of course, they "double-dip" by also charging libraries and readers high fees for carrying the journals.

Comment: Re:No way I could trust a self-driving car (Score 1) 98

by JanneM (#46905953) Attached to: Volvo Testing Autonomous Cars On Public Roads

Have you ever seen a stupid driver try to merge onto a freeway with their turn signal on and their foot on the brake? Or see three cars bumper-to-bumper trying to merge onto a busy freeway as a pack?

The beautiful thing is, self-driving cars will see this, due to their extensive sensor coverage. And they will have recordings available of the whole incident for later examination. It will be completely clear who was following all the regulations and exercizing judgement (the self-driving car) and who was driving irresponsibly or dangerously (the human driver).

Once self-driving cars hit the road in any numbers, it will become really, really expensive to try to be a jerk in traffic. No speeding. No lane cutting. No tailgating. No weaving. No nothing - just follow the traffic flow and the law to the letter and spirit or you will get reported. And of course your insurance rate will like go up, simply by being a human driver.

At which point there's of course little point in driving yourself any longer; you drive in exactly the same way as the self-driving cars, and you get there at the exact same time. But you have to sit there and drive, while the people around you are busy reading the morning news or throwing irate fowl at pigs.

To understand a program you must become both the machine and the program.