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Comment: Re:What's so American (Score 1) 479

by bigpat (#47767233) Attached to: Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

While this is a legitimate concern it's not a problem with Net neutrality, but with advertising standards and defective performance.

I disagree. If we don't have Net Neutrality, then the current advertising is deceptive and fraudulent. If we do have Net Neutrality and a real best effort to address network congestion rather than use network congestion as a payola scheme then there would be no need for the Federal Trade Commission to step in and put a stop to fraudulent advertising.

Comment: Re:No Steering Wheel In Time (Score 1) 466

by bigpat (#47759773) Attached to: California DMV Told Google Cars Still Need Steering Wheels

Not a false dilemma, a false assumption. How do you demonstrate the proposition that a car without manual override controls (beyond just a big red stop button) is both individually and systemically safer than one without?

And what driver is going to wait and see if the car is capable of avoiding an accident if they are going to be the ones liable for that accident and told they must take control of the vehicle if they think the car is about to collide with something? Basically you are talking about taking a sophisticated collision avoidance system and short circuiting that by telling the driver they must take control of the vehicle if they think there is a problem. That could demonstrate that autonomous cars are less safe because people will be turning off the collision avoidance system at exactly the wrong times, but yet they will be reacting more slowly than people without autonomous cars because manual drivers are already actively driving.

What California is doing is starting from the assumption that not having a manual override is less safe, which I believe is a false assumption and actually undermines safety efforts. And it could also undermine efforts to roll out these cars.

I am all for the option of manual controls and would probably choose to have manual controls for a car that I owned, but I think that the more compelling case and safer option will be to remove the manual controls and I think the only way you prove that is by allowing the cars to demonstrate the capability.

Many of the most potentially beneficial things that could happen as a result of autonomous cars are those use cases where a driver isn't always at the wheel ready to take immediate control of the vehicle. Car sharing, taxi services, elimination of drunk driving, transportation for the disabled, highway driving at closer spacing which might make a human operator uncomfortable and prone to take control, congested city driving where vehicles could be routed and dispatched more efficiently or just told to "go park and come pick me up in twenty minutes" are all use cases where you don't want to require that someone is 'at the wheel' at all times.

With the real potential for saving lives and helping improve quality of life robot cars should be allowed to prove themselves with and without old school manual controls and all the legal requirements, increased costs and liability that retaining those controls imply.

Comment: Re:No Steering Wheel In Time (Score 1) 466

by bigpat (#47759135) Attached to: California DMV Told Google Cars Still Need Steering Wheels

No one gets away without it. You prove, by extended experience over a long period of time, that the new technology is superior to the old.

First you have to allow the new technology. Requiring a licensed driver be at the wheel ready to take control of the vehicle at all times is not allowing the new technology it is hobbling it and potentially undermining the most compelling use cases that will save and improve lives. Simply require that the manufacturer demonstrate the ability of the car to drive like any taxi driver would be required to demonstrate an ability to drive to receive a license.

Comment: Re:Not surprising (Score 1) 466

by bigpat (#47758503) Attached to: California DMV Told Google Cars Still Need Steering Wheels
I think California is playing it wrong and unsafe. I agree there needs to be a big red button on cars which brings the vehicle to a safe stop much like there is on passenger trains, but this move by California seems more like something pushed for by entrenched vested interests and not driven by safety considerations. Lives will be saved when we allow cars to go pick up people that can't drive, don't have licenses or don't want to drive themselves. The implication of this move is that a human driver is going to be responsible for the operation of the vehicle at all times. Rather it should be the manufacturer of the vehicle which is liable for any defects of the autonomous system when it is driving autonomously. And it should be an option moving forward, even a safety feature, to allow cars without manual driving options except for the big red button.

Comment: Re:What's so American (Score 1) 479

by bigpat (#47756681) Attached to: Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

Fight the local monopolies. That is the only truly important thing right now.

Too late. Net Neutrality is a response to the reality of local monopolies. It is a direct result of the fact that many places have local monopolies or non-competitive (probably colluding) duopolies. If we had healthy competitive markets with five or six providers available to each household, then it would not be necessary to have net neutrality because who would buy service from a provider which had poor connections to the people and services you wanted to communicate with? All we would need would be transparency and truth in advertising... which we don't have either since companies are secretive about the business decisions they are making in order to throttle some communications.

Comment: Re:What's so American (Score 1) 479

by bigpat (#47756627) Attached to: Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

Net neutrality isn't about preventing different tiers of service either. It's about preventing businesses from colluding to distort the market with bribes and kickbacks by slowing and blocking competing business.

To me the bare minimum short of Net Neutrality would be requirements, like those imposed on Tobacco advertising, that Verizon FiOS and Comcast really suck for sites they choose to black ball. Something like making them display their connection speeds to other networks and which content is on those other networks on every single advertisement. Then people could really know what they were getting. Because right now I pay for something like 25M/25M and sometimes I get that and sometimes I don't. It depends on the site. So what I really want to know as a customer is what are the differences between Verizon FiOS and Comcast in their actual delivery times, not just what they say they are selling me.

If I can't rely on these companies to do their best not to screw me over depending on with whom I want to communicate, then I want to know exactly how they are screwing me over and not delivering on their promised speeds.

Comment: Re:Travel trailers have dual use. (Score 1) 190

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47753497) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake?

This is interesting stuff. Where do you recommend buying thi s equipment?

Since we buy new we have shopped reputable dealers. Since what we wanted was small and self-contained we were able to find a dealer with something suitable already on the lot that he was having trouble unloading, so we got it at a good price.

The trick is to research the manufacturers on the net, first, to find out which have a track record of producing good products.

It's been a while since we last bought one, so our research is out of date and you'll have to do your own. There is some turnover in the industry, so a company that is good for decades may cheapen their product, merge, or go out of business.

Our current one is by Sunnybrook, which has since merged into another company. (Pity: They did great trailers with solid aluminum framing, great layouts, and high quality throughout. Only problem was the imported tires - which we replaced with Goodyears after a few thousand miles.)

Before that we had a Prowler from Fleetwood, which has since gone out of business. (They had had a great rep, but our instance, and others from their last few years, had issues with water leakage.)

Comment: Re:Properganda Warfare (Score 1) 299

by bigpat (#47748759) Attached to: Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

On the Western Values issue. I don't think the problem is that we are imposing our values on others. I think the problem is that we aren't even adequately promoting those values here at home. We end up calling for Democracy and Freedom in the rest of the world and then sending arms to whichever dictator and despot is the most willing to brutally suppress any groups that might threaten our foreign policy. Even when those groups are moderate groups simply looking for a more equitable system of government in their own country. And our foreign policy is based not on the spread of freedom and democracy around the world, but based on securing foreign trade and foreign resources for very short term and short sighted economic purposes. If we truly believe that more representative systems of government and more freedom and liberty should be the goal for a more prosperous, equitable and free world, then we should act accordingly. I believe the ideas of liberty and democracy are ideas worth spreading and supporting.

Comment: Re:Travel trailers have dual use. (Score 1) 190

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47745369) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake?

Considering you're talking about multiple properties already, I dont think your cost scale exactly matches everyone elses.

Even (especially!) in Silicon Valley you don't accumulate multiple properties by being spendthrift.

How much did you spend on your hobby equipment? Or your last couple vacations?

Even in pricey California you can buy a good NEW travel trailer in the 20' range, loaded, for about $15k. That will sleep four if they're friendly, two quite comfortably. If you're willing to go small you can get into the $7k range. Special order skipping the microwave, oven, and air conditioner can drop it further. Buy used for far less, if you know what to look for, are willing to accept the extra maintenance risks or put in a bit of sweat equity fixing it up, and you can get to silly price levels. (I wouldn't, though, due to allergies.)

The trick is "travel trailer", not "RV" or even "Fifth Wheel", and going small. (You can easily drop the price of a medium-sized house for one of the class-A land yacts.) Pickup campers, on the other hand, tend to live on the pickup truck because it's such a pain to remove it, so the rig might as well be an RV.

In addition to the price difference, the trailer/tow vehicle combo beats the heck out of RV in the long run: The house and the runing gear wear out at different rates - with an RV when one dies they both do. Unhooking the tow vehicle gives you a vehicle at your camp. Keeping it small also gives you the ability to camp in a lot more places than something large (like some federal and state parks of the more wilderness sort, which have twisty roads and small campsites tucked into out of the way places.)

The trailer/RV/whtever approach may not make sense JUST for earthquake preparedness. But if you find camping or cross-country travel enjoyable (and are getting a bit too fragile to do it with tents), using the money you'd otherwise have spent JUST stocking earthquake supplies can make the camping budget far more managable. It also lets you get two benefits for ONE chunk of your time getting things set up.

(I also find it's lots of fun to set it up with techie toys. B-) )

Comment: Travel trailers have dual use. (Score 4, Informative) 190

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47743519) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake?

We have a self-contained travel trailer that doubles as natural disaster supplies. Stocked with canned and boxed food for weeks, 14 gallons of propane (always more than 7, since you swap tanks when one of 'em empties and top 'em off after a trip) can keep the fridge going for months, and we have a couple spare tanks.

40 gallons of fresh water are good for three days of camping WITH showers. In a natural disaster you can skip the showers and stretch it for a month or so. A couple hundred amp-hours of batteries (i.e. two of 'em) can keep things going for a while and can be charged from solar panels (or the vehicle engine) as well. (And we're just starting to convert the lighting to LEDs, for about a 8-16x improvement in power consumption vs. incandescents.)

The townhouse also has canned food for months and a case or two of bottled drinking water (as does the ranch house, which also has a well if we ever get a generator, windmill, or solar panels & inverter that can run it when grid power is out.) It also provides redundancy if the trailer is damaged, just as the trailer provides redundancy if the house collapses or burns.

Travel trailers are not very expensive. Set them up for a weekend's camping, park them far enough from the house that expected disaster cases don't zap 'em both, and they'll give you your "three days until help arrives" in style, or a month's survivalist roughing-it. They also have the advantage that, if they don't get damaged in the initial event or you have warning, you can hook 'em up and move to a safer or more convenient location. All "for free" if you like occasional camping, or cross-country ground travel without having to rent allergenic hotel rooms. B-)

Comment: WELL said. (Score 1) 132

What "we" are worried about is the rich cultural and political elite losing their seaside mansions ...

Well said, sir. (I already commented in the article so couldn't mod that up. I had to settle for "friend"ing you. B-) )

Also: In the spirit of "Never letting a crisis go to waste", it's also an opportunity for the 1% to incrase their power over the 99%, and find ways to rip them off. (Carbon taxes. Government mandated carbon credit exchange schemes, with markets provided, and billions in transaction fees raked in, by "entrepenuers" like Al Gore and Barak Obama.)

Comment: Bigger quakes are longer. (Score 3, Interesting) 132

"Why do Californians think they can "feel" the strength of a quake? It's complete nonsense because you cannot feel its distance."

It's not nonsense at all. Bigger quakes last longer. The duration of the shaking is a good measure of the actual strength, and can be read directly off the seismographs, while more accurate estimates take a while to compute from these and other measurements.

That's why you see initial estimates as "duration magnitude", later revised to "moment magnitude" which more accurately measures the energy from measurements of the distortion of the underground structures due to the stress changes. You'll notice that it's SO good that the adjustment is usually only a couple tenths of a scale point - less than a 2:1 difference in energy.

The rip starts at some point along the fault and propagates along it in fits and starts, much slower than the compression and shear waves from the individual releases, as the motion from the relaxing stresses in the section that let go increases stresses in the next section. This keeps up until the effect reaches a point where the stress isn't enough (at the time) to make it let go. (You get aftershocks when the more gradual readjustments add "straw to the camel's back" and get it going again - or start one on another nearby section or another nearby fault.)

The strength of the wave decays with distance. But the duration increases as the wave takes multiple paths, scattering off underground structure. So a distant earthquake doesn't "feel" shorter than a nearby one. Longer-but-weaker. Also, the P wave propagates much faster than the S wave, is weaker, and doesn't "stretch out in time" much at all. Time separation is greater with distance. They feel very different. (Mnemonic: First the P wave makes you pee, then the S wave ...) So with enough experience one could ballpark both the strength and the distance from the feel of the quake.

For instance: Loma Prieta, a 7.1 moment magnitude (6.9 early duration magnitude estimates), propagated along aobut 22 miles of fault. It lasted 8 seconds, though as you got farther away the shaking got up to 45 seconds before it became too weak to be noticed. I was standing in front of Palo Alto City Hall when it got there, and my perception was first (P wave) "a truck is going over this overpass - wait', I'm not ON an overpass", then (S wave) "being in an airplane experiencing 15 seconds of mild turbulence." (Most ground-bound constructions {except for mobile and modular homes, which are built to be shipped on highways}, weren't built to withstand "15 seconds of mild turbulence". B-b ) I was listening to a San Francisco radio station: Seconds after the shaking started, the announcers got in two sentences (first about feeling an earthquake (P wave), then that it felt big (start of S wave)) before the transmitter failed (a bit into the S wave) - and the shaking was far from over.

The scale is logarithmic base 10, so a 1 point difference in scale is a 10x difference in energy, and thus time. This makes it EASY to guess the magnitude (if your sense of time doesn't distort to much from the excitement). A 6.1 would be 1/10th the energy of Loma P., so also about 1/10th the time, and Nappa to Oakland is comparable to Loma Prieta to Palo Alto, so call it a second and a half of the strong shaking.

On the other hand, for the first quake I felt after moving to CA I was nearly on top of a small one. (I think it was a high 2.x or a low 3.x.) Very sharp single shock - like a car hitting a concrete building while you're inside - followed by "echoes" as the wave moves on rapidly and EVERY building makes the sound of being hit (followed by a chorus of car alarms - shock sensors were common then). Sensation: Being in an elevator when it hit a misaligned section of the guide track. Three-stage perceptual distortion, as I realized that I was standing on the ground and my brain momentarily remapped my motion as a memory of the surroundings moving, as if they were painted on canvas scenery that was being shaken, then I realized it was an earthquake and it all remapped back - though the memory of the remappings was still there. (Next I wondered how much this phenomenon contrubuted to magical thinking among the cults California is noted for harboring.)

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