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Comment: Grid city (Score 2) 57

Building using a grid layout never changes. Back when I first played sim city on the Super Nintendo, the strategy to build megalopolis (population 500k+) was building on a grid. You build using 3x3 clusters of R, C or I but left the center of the 3x3 open. Instead you put special buildings and police/fire buildings in the center of the 3x3. To reduce pollution you built rail instead of roads. Fun game for its time and a friend and I came close to a megalopolis on stock maps without beating the scenarios, alien invasion and getting the water free map. I think we had 480-490k people.

Comment: Re:Difference between publisher and vanity press (Score 1) 74

by ShanghaiBill (#47786781) Attached to: Japanese Publishers Lash Out At Amazon's Policies

Including promotion?

Yes. An individual author can promote their book on social media. It is unlikely to become an instant bestseller, but if it is good, word will spread. This is especially true if the author is writing for a niche market that can be targeted in specific online forums.

Comment: Re:First sale (Score 5, Informative) 74

by ShanghaiBill (#47785723) Attached to: Japanese Publishers Lash Out At Amazon's Policies

Once you sell something to me, it's none of your business if I choose to re-sell it. In particular, the price I charge is none of you business.

First Sale Doctrine is American law, not Japanese. Book publishing in Japan is a cozy protected racket. Even magazines can cost the equivalent of $10-15 per issue. Amazon is going against deeply entrenched special interests. I wish them luck, but it will not be easy.

Comment: Re:OK Another one (Score 4, Informative) 78

by ShanghaiBill (#47785571) Attached to: Astronomers Find What May Be the Closest Exoplanet So Far

But, of course, we don't know that the density of the planet is comparable to earth.

It is probably less. Of all the planets and spherical moons is our solar system, no other has a density as high as Earth. Earth's density is 5.5 gm/cc. The moon is 3.3. Mars is 3.9. If this planet has a density similar to the moon, its surface gravity would be about the same as Earth's.

Comment: Re:Why is this treated differently (Score 1) 161

by MightyYar (#47785395) Attached to: Calif. Court Rules Businesses Must Reimburse Cell Phone Bills

Right, but you HAVE to take the new phone when you are up for it, or you leave money on the table. If you promptly re-sell the phone this might work out financially. (Or in the unlikely event that your phone wears out or breaks at exactly the same interval as your replacement schedule.) The payment plans are a much better deal (if the interest rate isn't too high), since the payment eventually stops. The subsidy in the old plans went on forever.

Comment: Re:Testing is not verification. (Score 4, Informative) 145

by ShanghaiBill (#47781895) Attached to: Software Error Caused Soyuz/Galileo Failure

it's just a matter of time until the unwashed hordes of C++ monkeys are unleashed unto critical systems.

No way. The corporate lawyers will never let that happen. Neither will the regulators. It is very hard to certify a SDC for public roads. Reams of test data are required. It is even more difficult to get a medical device approved by the FDA. Therac-25 happened almost 30 years ago, a lot of lessons were learned, and it hasn't happened again.

Bridges aren't designed and tested by "trial & error" ... Neither are buildings or pacemakers or computer chips.

I have never designed a bridge or pacemaker, but I have designed computer chips. I sit at a workstation, and I type Verilog code into Emacs. It is the same process as writing software, which is mostly trial and error. I write unit tests, do regression testing, etc. I watch it fail, I fix the bugs, and I iterate. Once I get all the bugs fixed, I load it into an FPGA, and watch it fail with some signal skew that I didn't think of. So I write more tests, and repeat. When it runs flawlessly on the FPGA, I ask a co-worker to test it some more, and review my code. Eventually we go to silicon, where a bug costs a million bucks. Usually everything is fine, but that isn't because it is "different" than doing software. It is basically the same process. It is more reliable because most ICs are far less complicated than even a typical iPhone app. They tend to have lots of the same cells repeat over and over. So an IC with a million gates isn't like a million lines of code. It is more like a few dozen 50 line subroutines, that are called a million times.

Comment: Re:"Programmers" shouldn't write critical software (Score 4, Insightful) 145

by ShanghaiBill (#47781515) Attached to: Software Error Caused Soyuz/Galileo Failure

I'm scared to death about the coming world of driver-less cars and robots performing surgery.

Your fears are not rational. Self driving cars and robotic surgeons are tested for thousands of hours, under live conditions. SDCs are not perfect, but they already have a far better safety record than the average human driver. I had LASIK eye surgery done by a robot. I trusted it far more than I would a human surgeon. Getting rocket software right is difficult precisely because there is no way to do a live test. It has to work perfectly on the very first attempt. Very few other applications have such a severe constraint.

How many people are going to be killed by C++ in the next decade?

A lot fewer than would have died without it.

Comment: Re:Could have fooled me (Score 3, Insightful) 200

by ShanghaiBill (#47780325) Attached to: Canada Tops List of Most Science-Literate Countries

I am canadian, and if we are the most scientiically literate. I really pity the rest of you.

I don't think this poll was really measuring anything. Asking people if they believe in the statement "We depend too much on science and not enough on faith" is not measuring their knowledge of science at all. Someone that has no scientific education could disagree, while a PhD in astrophysics may think otherwise. It is also implying a conflict between faith and knowledge. Through history, most scientists have also held religious beliefs. Isaac Newton was a devout Christian. Does that mean he was "scientifically illiterate"?

Comment: Re: A fool and their money (Score 5, Insightful) 248

my father called the local dowser in for his house in a remote part of SW Ireland.

The low areas of Ireland get more than 40 inches of rain a year, and the mountains get as much as 80 inches. I would be much more surprised if he found an area without ground water.

Comment: Re: Send in the drones! (Score 1) 782

by ShanghaiBill (#47779721) Attached to: Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

Russia has no right to be involved in the situation ... The rebels actions are UNCONSTITUTIONAL

I agree completely. If this is an academic debate about legality, you win. But there are satellite photos of columns of Russian tanks crossing the border, along with batteries of self propelled artillery. So the real debate is: What are we going to do about it? A copy of the Ukrainian Constitution is not going to stop the depleted uranium penetrator of a Russian 120mm FSAPDS. So far the West hasn't even had the stomach for meaningful sanctions, much less military action, and that is unlikely to change. Military confrontation is not a viable option. So we have a choice of negotiating a compromise, or just letting the Russians take what they want. A compromise would be better for everyone, even for the Russians if sanctions are on the table.

Comment: Re: Send in the drones! (Score 4, Insightful) 782

by ShanghaiBill (#47778331) Attached to: Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

The current Ukrainian government was elected in a nation wide vote (minus Crimea and potentially the rebelling areas).

Right. Which was about a third of the country, and precisely the people that would have voted the other way.

The reason it is wrong is because those people are part of a country. The WHOLE country decides if a part should be separated from them.

So America should get involved in a war over the principle that the sanctity of borders is more important than the self-determination of people? Plenty of arguments can be made about which side is right or wrong. But the bottom line is that there is a huge gray area. Even if the Ukrainian government prevails militarily, the eastern regions will be nearly ungovernable, and the situation will fester for years if not decades. A negotiated end to the war would be in everyone's best interest, and that will required concessions by both sides. The people in the west shouting "no appeasement" should keep in mind that many people in Russia are shouting the same thing about "appeasement" of the West. If we really insist on taking a hard no-compromise stance, we will probably lose. The Russians have both the troops on the ground and the support of their people. We have neither.

We will have solar energy as soon as the utility companies solve one technical problem -- how to run a sunbeam through a meter.