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Comment: iBot? (Score 1) 133

by Miamicanes (#49481479) Attached to: Chinese Ninebot Buys US Rival Segway

Hopefully, they'll be manufacturing iBots, too.

For those who don't know, the technology behind Segway was originally developed for use by the ultimate robotic wheelchair. The last iteration before manufacturing was shut down (iBot 4000) could climb stairs, effortlessly navigate curbs, raise the user to eye-level by going up on 2 wheels a-la-Segway, drop down to 4 wheels for extra stability/traction (like at the beach, in grass, etc). I believe it even had a feature that allowed it to automatically climb onto its rack on the back of the user's car after he moved himself into the front seat & return to the car door after parking at the destination.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I...

Comment: Re:Can it cure trichromacy? (Score 1) 137

by Miamicanes (#49467303) Attached to: UW Scientists, Biotech Firm May Have Cure For Colorblindness

I'm at a visual disadvantage to your average, everyday person with normal tetrachromatic vision

Actually, if you were a tetrachromatic woman, you'd have likely grown up thinking YOU had a weird color vision defect of some kind that caused you to "confuse" hues of orange with yellow and red. In reality, there would be a whole bunch of distinct hues that everyone else insisted were "orange", "yellow", or even red or green, but to you would be like trying to approximate green by mixing cyan & pink-orange light.

Let that sink in for a moment. In a world where literally everything -- including non-incandescent light bulbs -- assumes that red, green, and blue are holy, sacred, and the only hues that ultimately matter, a woman for whom yellow-orange is a pure primary color is going to be in a world of hurt where just about everything looks like muddy brown under artificial lighting or video/print.

Could gene therapy extend red a bit? Probably. But like a tetrachromatic woman, unless industry started making cameras & video displays that reproduced that "near-infrared" hue as a primary color, you'd be permanently destroying any sense of color aesthetics you've ever had and guaranteeing that nearly everything would look worse under most real-world non-daylight lighting conditions.

UV? Not happening without artificial corneas. Normal human corneas yellow with age & filter out UV light.

Comment: Re:Why stop there? (Score 1) 137

by Miamicanes (#49463861) Attached to: UW Scientists, Biotech Firm May Have Cure For Colorblindness

Not quite. It's not that one of them is "switched off", it's more like the distribution of the two variants isn't necessarily gaussian... she could have large clumps predominantly of one or the other. Likewise, the two most common pairs of red & green peaks are within 2nm of each other, so even well-distributed combinations of both would be unlikely to make much of a difference.

The one specific combo that seems to be discernible is a woman with two red variants... one that would cause her to be deuteranomalous if she were male & had only one (or if she lost the dice roll and ended up with two copies of it), but acts kind of like a hypothetical "orange" cone when she has a second red variant at the lower end.

From what I've read, even in THOSE women, it's less a matter of "seeing colors others can't see" than "color reproduced in print, photos, and on video displays never *quite* looks "right", and no adjustment can fix it". In fact, most women who have been identified as tetrachromats actually grew up believing they had mild color-blindness (because they'd get into arguments with people about whether something was red or orange & disagree, ultimately concluding that THEIR color vision was the deficient one)..

Comment: Re:Why stop there? (Score 1) 137

by Miamicanes (#49463775) Attached to: UW Scientists, Biotech Firm May Have Cure For Colorblindness

In theory, and under very specific conditions... yes. Under VERY dim light, rods can act kind of like hypothetical "blue-green" cones. If you found the right pigments (no combination of common "process-color" red/cyan/magenta/black pigments will work for this), you could theoretically mix two paint shades that looked absolutely identical to most people in bright light, but were distinctly different when viewed in dim light using only peripheral vision.

There are some men (I don't think women have ever been identified) who appear to be "protanomalous, without red dimming". It turns out, they're REALLY deuteranopes with only blue & red cones, but for some reason ALSO have rod cells that don't shut down in brighter light & act kind of like slightly-odd green cones.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu...

This is also why some argue that medical marijuana can treat color blindness. Some cannabinoids are believed to induce a state of higher tolerance for brighter light in rods... effectively inducing a state similar to the deuteranopes-who-appear-protanomalous.

Comment: Re: Easy grammar (Score 3, Insightful) 624

Irregular verbs exist for a reason... they're the verbs that get used the most, and the irregularities are how people either eliminate redundancy or add additional shades of meaning that most normal verbs can live without.

Ditto, for "silent letters" in English. They're how we disambiguate homonyms (ex: to/too/two).

If English had official "tones" like Mandarin, we could distinguish between meanings of "fuck" used as a verb in writing, to visually indicate things like sarcasm. Actually, in a way, English *does* have an informal "system" of indicating the equivalent of _tones_ -- quotation marks, underlines, italics, boldface, and wikitext markup.

Any conlang that *really* gets used by **real** people as their "real" language will quickly mutate and become as irregular as English or Spanish.

Comment: Re: Invisible hand (Score 5, Insightful) 536

Actually, poor people can be extremely *profitable* customers, precisely because they have so few options available, they're often forced to obtain goods/services at *profoundly* higher total costs. Being poor is expensive. Someone with a SUV who makes $100k/year can buy Charmin Ultra by the pallet at Sam's Club for a fraction of what someone who lives in a poor neighborhood, doesn't own a car, and has to buy toilet paper by the single roll from 7-11 (because the nearest real grocery store is more than a mile away, and getting there by bus would probably take an hour each way when you factor in waiting times and infrequent service) ends up paying.

Ditto, for things like appliances. You & I can buy appliances somewhere like Costco & haul them home with help from a friend or two in somebody's pickup truck... and probably pay just a few hundred dollars for them. Someone living paycheck to paycheck, by contrast, might end up paying $2,400 for a $500 refrigerator because he can't afford $500 up front, but can (hopefully) scrape $25/week for 8 years (with substantial penalties & additional fees piled on top if his income falters at any point during those 8 years).

Even when you factor bad debt that never officially gets paid in full, the poor are staggeringly profitable because the seller has usually broken even on his hard wholesale costs by the third or fourth month, and everything past that point is pure gravy.

Comment: Re:I don't see how this delivery model can scale.. (Score 1) 110

In Miami, that would be somewhere near State Road 836 and the Palmetto Expressway... both of which are surrounded by some of the most dysfunctional arterial roads in the world (even if the new 826-836 interchange itself is pretty sweet).

Golden Glades? (ROTFLMAO, pounding the floor and gasping for breath).

Turnpike @ 836? Maybe if they bought the FHP office & got their private on/off ramps in the deal. Via 107th Avenue? HAHAHHAHA. That's a good one.

Dadeland? Anywhere near I-95? You can't be serious. Every square inch of this miserable county -- beach to everglades, Homestead to Aventura -- is gridlocked for most of the day.

Comment: Dade County gridlock (Score 1) 110

One-hour delivery in Miami will be a good trick, considering that it can take an hour -- at 2pm or 9pm, let alone 6pm -- just to get from one side of 836 or the Palmetto Expressway to the other.

Miami doesn't have a road network... it has a random collection of point-to-point access routes that fan out like binary trees for the final half-mile beyond some hopeless traffic chokepoint at both ends. Other cities have gridlock in old urban neighborhoods. Miami has hopeless gridlock in brand new neighborhoods whose concrete has barely finished curing.

A few years ago, Miami's Metrorail had record-setting ridership. Miami-Dade Transit Authority responded by cutting back service. Meanwhile, the half-cent sales tax that was sold to voters with promises of building hundreds of miles of new Metrorail track gets pissed away on lighted street signs and... well, nobody knows what else.

And it's totally fair to blame Dade County's incompetent government for it. Broward County to the north is far from perfect, but in most places, the gridlock basically evaporates the moment you cross the county line (and conversely, backs up southbound into Broward as if the county line were a long traffic light.

Comment: The best part... (Score 1) 292

by Miamicanes (#49216765) Attached to: Do Tech Companies Ask For Way Too Much From Job Candidates?

When company HR departments blindly insist that candidates need "5+ years" of experience in some technology that didn't even exist as a recreational github repo 5 years ago. Specific examples I can think of include Java in 1999, and .Net circa 2004. I mean, *seriously?!?* 5 years?!? I don't think James Gosling had 5+ years of experience with Java at that point (and if he did... most of Sun's own Java development team probably didn't). Oh... the punch line... the position was for "entry-level web developer". Ummm... r-i-g-h-t.

Comment: Re:Yes. What do you lose? But talk to lawyer first (Score 1, Informative) 734

by Miamicanes (#49193005) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

I'd recommend letting your kids decide if they want US citizenship when they grow up.

I think the fundamental problem being alluded to here is that there's a deadline for him to make them US citizens... and the deadline expires at the stroke of midnight on their 18th birthdays. So by definition, it's basically "now or never".

  If he leaves it up to them until they grow up, they'll be in the same legal position as someone who's never had ties to the US at all. He can get them basically free expedited US citizenship by filing some forms now. Frankly, I'd say it's a dirt cheap investment he'd be crazy to NOT do right now.

As others have pointed out, even though the US appears determined to compete in the English-speaking world's mad race to see who can become "Oceania" first, it still has a de-facto global empire that would have made just about any past world leader (besides maybe Queen Victoria and Genghis Khan) jealous, and there are concrete, tangible benefits to being a citizen of the world's dominant empire.

If nothing else, the fact that they COULD -- with minimal paperwork -- live and work in the US as a matter of birthright might someday come in handy for them if they're looking for a job during an economic downturn (especially if they're still early in their careers and don't have a lot of experience). The fact is, sometimes logistics triumph over other factors in a company's hiring decisions.

Comment: Re:Let's stay focused, people (Score 1) 135

by Miamicanes (#49156423) Attached to: Adjusting To a Martian Day More Difficult Than Expected

The problem with relying on that approach is that it completely breaks the ability of Martians to use the same internet as Earthlings. There's no getting around the latency problem, but the availability of nearly infinite (over the span of a single 24-hour window of time, from the perspective of any individual user) bandwidth can go a LONG way towards smoothing over the difference by allowing a degree of adhoc websurfing where the user triggers a load operation, then the proxy proceeds to recursively fetch not only that specific page, but every page and bit of content linked to it for several levels. Kind of like getting deliveries on a remote island where it takes weeks for goods to arrive... but when the ship DOES arrive, it's a Chinese-sized mega-freighter that costs almost the same per trip whether it's full or empty.

More importantly, there's a potentially-lucrative market for such local caching services right here on Earth: cruise ships. When a ship's in port, it can have fiber-speed connectivity. When it's at sea, satellite data bandwidth is limited, but hard drive space is cheap. Instead of sending only videos explicitly requested by passengers on a specific ship TO that ship, you could just bundle up all of Youtube's daily updates requested by anyone on any ship that's a customer, and broadcast them once (plus enough extra data for forward error correction) to every ship watching that particular satellite (so that if a passenger goes to watch a video the next day, it'll already be cached locally).

The same approach would work for providing internet access on Antarctica. Run fiber to an island near the Antarctic Peninsula, then build microwave relay towers to handle inland backhaul. Strictly speaking, latency would be low (since it would be microwave to fiber), but bandwidth during the winter would still be scarce because we're talking about a thousand-mile microwave-relay route from the South Pole to the nearest viable fiber drop... and snow does terrible things to link quality above 2GHz (think: weather radar frequencies. The signals hit snowflakes and ricochet & experience doppler shift) during the time of the year when good internet access is needed by residents the most urgently.

Comment: Re:Let's stay focused, people (Score 2) 135

by Miamicanes (#49152321) Attached to: Adjusting To a Martian Day More Difficult Than Expected

> It's not the length of a day that will impact Mars-dwellers the most, it will be their internet speed.

No, it'll be their latency. I believe the scenario informally tossed around by IETF for "extraterrestrial internet" envisions three categories of latency... a relatively small amount of net bandwidth sent directly between Mars and Earth that enjoys the lowest possible latency, and two roughly equal amounts of bulk bandwidth with much longer latencies. handled by satellites at the L3, L4, and L5 Earth-Sun and Mars-Sun Lagrange points. For semi-adhoc websurfing, your request would get sent along the fast (bandwidth-limited) link, and the response would travel along one or both of the lagrange paths. Someone like Akamai would come up with an open web standard that allowed sites to export themselves in their entirety (and remain synchronized in an rsync-like manner) so they'd run in a local VM on Mars.

Let's use StackOverflow as an example. To kick the whole thing off, SO would take a snapshot of itself (kind of like it already does for archive.org) and begin uploading it to the server on Mars along the high-latency longer lagrangian bulk-data path. Once the server on Mars had a complete copy, it would become their local mirror. Normal bulk updates would occur frequently and periodically along the longest lagrangian path. Posted questions by someone on Mars (and the text of replies to them) might get expedited and sent along the shorter direct route.

Porn sites and Youtube would do the same thing. If a Martian wanted to visit some smaller site, he'd have to tag them for fetching and wait a few hours for them to become available. They'd probably follow a "Martians Pay" pricing model that split the bandwidth costs among everyone on Mars who accessed specific sites on a regular basis. Popular sites with lots of users (like Reddit and StackOverflow) would be cheap despite having lots of data because the cost would be divided among lots of Martian users. More offbeat sites might force individual users to be somewhat selective and conservative about their bulk-fetches (or at least about keeping them updated in perpetuity if they're only interested in viewing them as a one-shot activity), and might rebate back part of the initial acquisition cost if/when future users go to view the same site (ie, you, the first user, might pay $5 to bulk-grab all the blogger.com postings of {some-user}, but get $2 of it rebated back when/if some future person pays $3, and you'd both get another buck (and further diminishing rebates) as more people paid diminishing prices to gain access to it.

By the same token, cable networks like HBO and SkyTV would bundle their new video content daily and bulk-upload it to their local affiliate on Mars (who'd make it initially available at some official scheduled time, and thereafter by streaming).

Ironically, the biggest single limiting factor to bandwidth wouldn't be between Earth and Mars, but between the surface of the Earth and a satellite orbiting the earth in geostationary orbit.Between the L3 and L4 satellites, you can use 30GHz of spectrum if you've got the hardware & power budget to do it. Then double it by sending half the data along the path in the other direction. The problem is the "last mile" between orbit and the surface, where it's likely that something more exotic will be required (say, multiple satellites using tightly-focused lasers to ferry the bulk data between earth and orbit, then bulk-uploading their chunks directly to the lagrangian satellites.

In short, the future of interplanetary internet can be summed up as multipath, multilink, and Akamai-like CDNs hosting VMs for earth websites on Mars. The biggest hard challenges aren't the technical ones... it'll be dealing with Hollywood lawyers and the copyright mafia losing sleep at night that their precious content is being cached on Mars with insufficient DRM or that someone, somewhere on Mars, is listening to a song that was improperly licensed.

The resources to maintain this kind of large-scale local cache would be substantial... but probably agreed to without hesitation on the grounds that they'd be likely to make the single biggest difference to morale on Mars than anything not directly related to life-or-death.

Comment: Re: Just y'know... reconnect them spinal nerves (Score 4, Informative) 210

by Miamicanes (#49146987) Attached to: Surgeon: First Human Head Transplant May Be Just Two Years Away

Not exactly. Some organ systems have controls that are a bit more local. That's why a quadriplegic can still digest food and have a beating heart, but needs a ventilator unless he had enough nerve connectivity remaining post-injury to breathe on his own. It's also why someone who's paralyzed can still have sex & enjoy it (even though he can't feel the orgasm).

Comment: Re:Peanuts (Score 1) 411

by Miamicanes (#49036103) Attached to: Your Java Code Is Mostly Fluff, New Research Finds

Most of Java's problems lie with the fact that the designers of its original API made some unbelievably bad decisions early in its development. Like:

* specifying arguments as int or String values, instead of enums... so every method you called that explicitly needed UTF8 had to be surrounded with try/catch (just in case you couldn't remember whether Java wanted you to call it "UTF-8", "UTF_8", or "UTF8" & threw an UnsupportedEncodingException). This particular thorn in my side was FINALLY fixed as of JDK 7.

Before anyone points out that enum is a semi-recent addition to Java, I'd like to remind everyone that even in 1996, you could declare a class with a private constructor, then use it to declare public static final constants of itself that were defined by their own declarations (which, I believe, is what 'enum' actually does behind the scenes, anyway)

* Pre-JDK8, Java's handling of nearly everything related to the concept of a Date/Time (parsing, printing, calculating, the works) was completely fucked. -- http://www.oracle.com/technetw...

* Swing (Enough said. It speaks for itself... and does it almost as loudly and proudly as AWT.)

Even MORE tragic, though, is the way Android's API architects perpetuated the EXACT SAME anti-patterns (string/int constants as args) with the Android API... including brand new framework classes that didn't exist until Android did & had NO REASON to be that way.

Comment: Re:Here's a great idea... (Score 1) 481

by Miamicanes (#48988935) Attached to: DOT Warns of Dystopian Future For Transportation

Let's not forget that Orlando's toll roads are violently expensive compared to the tolls just about everywhere in the US besides New York City.

Orlando also did some really STUPID things, like build 3/4 of the beltway before deciding on the final route for the northwestern quadrant. Take a look at the northern end of 429 & notice (via Google Earth) that 451 used to be its tail end. The idiots allowed developers to build a solid wall of neighborhoods in what was supposed to be its northward path, and they ended up having to back up 3 miles and find a new route north (and demolish & re-route a half mile of 429 to try and make it less obvious to future generations just how badly they fucked up).

Of course, Miami has done some things of epic stupidity, too.. like allowing developers to build homes in what everybody knew was supposed to be the westward route of SR836, leaving the Turnpike-836 interchange with a bizarre layout that makes absolutely no sense in its current configuration (2 mile loop from northbound turnpike to eastbound 836 that doesn't allow exits to NW 107th Avenue (and even 20 years ago, involved a truly bizarre & surreal rigged-up semi-permanent detour through the FHP office's parking lot and a 2-lane road overgrown by trees on both sides that eventually led to 107th Avenue). Or the unfathomably stupid decisions that allowed the eastern terminus of both Gratigny Parkway and the Sawgrass Expressway to dump onto local roads 2 miles west of I-95 (guaranteeing that someday, FDOT will end up spending about a billion dollars apiece to finish them off properly and redoing their interchanges with I-95.

"If anything can go wrong, it will." -- Edsel Murphy

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