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Comment Re:HAHAHAHA! (Score 1) 231 231

No, no conditions are helped by having speed.

I was driving an empty gasoline tanker home in a blizzard shit storm last winter. When I started breaking traction left and right, I over-compensated, and started driving too slowly. Yes, too slowly. I was riding along in a low, speed-limiting gear, which was great going down the hill into the bottom. Pulling up out of the bottom, however, my traction was going, going, gone, and I narrowly avoided folding up. I attempted to go forward, and could only make things worse. I was stuck in the middle of the road in a partial jackknife in a fucking gasoline tanker in a fucking blizzard.

To my amazement, a couple other drivers from my company went right past me in trucks essentially identical to my own. The difference is they got a run at it.

I should have known to do that after 20 years of driving big trucks, but I guess I haven't actually spent that much time driving in really extreme conditions like that. I normally turn around and go home while I'm still loaded, or I pull off and go to bed. In this case, nary a flake had fallen until I was halfway home, and I was driving a day cab. There is no bed. It really sucked spending the next eight hours sitting in that thing waiting on a tow truck too.

This reminisce is a good reminder of why I need to find a way to make money writing software. Other people do it.

Comment Proper disposal (Score 1) 189 189

Find a 100,000,000 pound counterweight, fit it to a trebuchet, and fling your cartridge into the sun my friend. Problem solved!

I wonder if a 100 million pound weight is actually heavy enough to get the cartridge to escape velocity and into the sun's inexorable gravitational pull. It probably isn't. Oh well.

Comment Re:Fluidics was very big some 25 years ago (Score 1) 67 67

When I went through that process nearly 30 years ago, I wanted to learn on Dad's car with the 5-speed. I felt since manuals were cheaper, the driving school would surely have manuals in their cars, and I wanted to know how to shift one.

If it hadn't been for that, I probably never would have learned to drive a straight. The driver's ed cars were automatics, my mother's car was an automatic, my first three used cars were all automatics. When I bought a 2012 Ford Focus, I was going to get the manual transmission, but I would have had to special order one, and the self-shifter supposedly delivered better fuel economy anyway. (It did work quite well.) When I traded the Focus for an F150 in 2014, it wasn't possible to buy an F150 with a manual transmission in any special order configuration. Take the automatic, or buy a different brand.

I've driven manuals in a few random, borrowed vehicles, but I've never owned one, in spite of quite liking to change gears, and always wanting a vehicle with a manual transmission. With all of this being the case, I just can't see the point in requiring American drivers to learn how to shift a manual transmission. Most of us will never encounter one, even if we're looking.

These days, big trucks don't have manuals anymore either. I'm good at shifting gears, because I've logged almost 2,000,000 miles behind the wheel of tractor-trailers. I once had the pleasure of driving 600 miles with no clutch. I haven't had a shift lever in four years though, and I haven't had a clutch pedal in three. Even class 8 trucks have automatics these days, unless you go way out of your way to specify otherwise.

Shifting gears is right up there with those handy dandy hand signals, and knowing how to crank your engine over without breaking your arm.

Comment Re:Robots don't need to be as fast as humans (Score 1) 108 108

I does make me wonder what we're all expected to do for a living in 20-30 years. We're seeing automation on every horizon, and just about every job I could think to get is endangered in the foreseeable future. How are people supposed to buy things when everyone is unemployed?

Comment Re:Lots of Advice (Score 1) 557 557

+1 on the quarter turn valves. My old house is well-designed in that every last little thing has a separate shut-off valve. The problem is, I don't think there's a single valve in the house that actually works, even after replacing the soft components in some of them. Whenever I need to work on the water, it's never pleasant.

Another thing I'll mention: Being tech minded, when my ancient water heater finally died, I replaced it with a whiz bang electronic energy saving model with a "lifetime" warranty. The water heater really did save me energy, but the electronics were sensitive. My first replacement motherboard for the water heater was free, and when it died again less than a year later, I discovered the catch in the "lifetime" warranty was that it only covered one free replacement per individual component. I had gotten my free motherboard, and would have to pay $150 for another. Considering their failure rate and replacement cost, I yanked that thing after just two years, and replaced it with a low tech analog version that costs more to operate, but works flawlessly.

(Of course if you live where you can get natural gas without paying $50,000 for the hook-up, gas is probably the better way to go for a water heater anyway.)

On the other side of the consumer purchase spectrum, the money I invested in good toilets really paid off with tangible water savings, and a track record of solid reliability.

Comment Re:F/OSS reality (Score 1) 167 167

The real problem with Linux on the desktop, in my experience, is the first time a new user goes looking for software somewhere other than the distro repository.

Back in my foolish days of trying to change the world, one family asked me to fix their incredibly ancient old Windows 95 machine that was infected up the gazoo with malware, and had failing components too. I ended up giving them a much newer Pentium III machine totally free, with a highly customized Linux install I tailored to their tastes and needs. I offered this with free around the clock tech support. About a week later, I got a call asking how the guy's wife could get her emails back. Apparently they got some incredibly tantalizing piece of malware they couldn't live without installing, and the malware wouldn't run on Linux, so they hosed everything, including their emails, in the process of installing Windows on the machine. So they could install the malware, and infect the computer, no less!

That is when I finally accepted Linux on the desktop was a pipe dream. Both of my children eventually moved to Windows too, after growing up with Linux from the time they first started using computers. They wanted to play video games, and even though Linux has Steam, Steam on Linux is a joke.

I barely care myself anymore, but every time I think I'll just go with the flow and join the rest of the world, it only takes a few minutes to change my mind. If you haven't yet experienced a Linux installation on a brand new Windows 8 machine, you're in for a treat there. It took two hours and repeated Windows boots to negotiate my way to the damn BIOS screen to get it to boot something else. Disposing of that hideous garbage was a joy, but I am a weird freak, and I am in the 0.0000001% or something. Long live Windows! Hallowed be thy name!


Comment Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 396 396

Watching from over here, I thought it was a cool experiment, but I didn't really expect it to work. In spite of its many problems, it has, on the whole, turned out better than I ever expected.

A loose confederation of independent states didn't work over here either. We ultimately settled the matter with a brutal civil war, and the federal government won. I suppose it was a good thing on the whole, though where I live, people are still bitter about it more than 100 years later.

Comment Re:I wonder how long... (Score 1) 50 50

I once stumbled onto a series of pictures some tragically self-loathing girl had posted of her self-mutilation. She started with garden variety cutting, then she started cutting horrifically deep, to the point where you could see muscles and tendons. She cut her own breasts off. She removed most of her genitals, and sewed what remained into some strange and featureless slit. Unsurprisingly, she eventually succeeded in killing herself. The photo album concluded with some message from somebody who knew her in real life, and a whole lot of "we love you" and "attagirl" type comments.

I don't know whether I am more disturbed by the existence of such a girl, or by the fact that I looked through all of that. The fact that I even know things like this exist is kind of the Pandora's box of my own dark psychology. I'm going to leave the fucker closed for once, and move on. Anyway, after seeing that girl, I wouldn't be remotely surprised if people performed their own amputations at home to get bionic super legs or whatever. Never underestimate the twistedness of a freak.

Comment Re:Meanwhile (Score 1) 71 71

I killed around a dozen deer in 2013. One of them did $25,000 worth of damage to my truck.

I was almost literally the only guy at work who didn't hunt, so in 2014 I decided to go deer hunting. I figured I may as well eat a few of the damn things before they got splattered in the process of damaging motor vehicles.

It was a pretty radical paradigm shift for me, I have to tell you. I used to tow the liberal treehugger party line about "caveman blood lust" and all that. I looked down my nose at all the disgusting redneck vermin in my midst. I have to say that having gone hunting really changed my outlook on caveman blood lust.

For one thing, it's a LOT more difficult to kill one of those damn things than you'd think. I invested on the order of $1,000 and around 100 hours, and I never fired a shot. My hunting partner, who was showing me the ins and outs of deer hunting woodcraft, did shoot a small buck, and he walked me through gutting it. That was interesting. Deer are made out of stuff that looks and feels just like meat from the grocery store, except it's very warm.

They come apart almost like someone designed them to be used for food. It's pretty easy to remove the guts, and what's left is a big shell of meat and bones that even has a membrane separating it from all the internal stuff. I guess that would be the peritoneum, but when you look at a peritoneum in that context, it's just a convenient barrier that separates all the pissing and shitting parts from the tasty muscle. Fascinating.

The whole caveman blood lust thing is hard to describe. All your senses are heightened, and you feel like a predator. I see why guys who are much less repressed than I am live and breathe this stuff. My scrotum is too empty to really get into the whole chest pounding animal lust thing, and I'm probably not going to become an avid hunter. I'm going to go out again next year, and try my luck though. I'd like to eat one of these things one good time, just for the hell of it. If I didn't eat it, somebody would eventually hit it with a car anyway.

Comment It really is something to think about (Score 1) 182 182

Mom had a blog and a collection of around 80,000 digital photographs. After she died, I didn't have any good options for keeping any of it up. I mean yeah, she was my mother, but $120 a year in perpetuity to preserve her life's work? Not to mention various tech support providers were entirely unhelpful when I contacted them about transferring all her data to accounts I controlled.

I tried ripping a mirror of all that stuff to a local archive, but it proved to be a major challenge to grab full sized copies of all the images, and every single interconnected thing, without sucking in half the damn internet. My script blew out a 500 GB hard disk, and got my bandwidth throttled for a month, and still missed most of what I was trying to capture.

I had her original hard disk with the raw image files, and decided to settle for that. I had no record of which ones she hand picked, and no rhyme or reason to tens of thousands of files with random date-based names. I wanted to do a coffee table book or something--anything, really--but I never figured out what to do with any of that, and never got around to doing anything with it at all.

When the rent came due on the online stuff, I threw up my hands and pulled the plug on everything. I set the hard drive aside to do something with one of these days, but I lost track of which identical old drive was which, and accidentally formatted that one.

My mother was a very depressed, unhappy woman who drank herself to an early death. In the end, one of the things she lamented about most loudly was the fact that her life's work was nothing more than pixels. In a tragic turn of irony, she was exactly right about that. It fell on me to preserve her legacy, and I totally fucked it all up, and it's all gone. Poof. Literally the only thing I have to remind me that my mother used to exist is a print-out of one of her last emails, where she was telling some guy she knew what an asshole I am.

I guess she was right about that too. I fucked it all up, and what can I do about it now? Nothing.

Comment Particulate filters work (Score 2) 395 395

I drive two trucks that were both brand new in 2013. One of them is a Freightliner Cascadia, the other a Ford F150 with the 5.0 "coyote" engine.

The Freightliner has almost 400,000 miles on the clock now, while the Ford has a mere 25,000. The inside of the stack on the Freightliner is still as silver and shiny as the day it was new. The inside of the tailpipes on the Ford have been black since about day two of operation.

With all the advances in gasoline engines, and all the technology in this 5.0 I'm driving, I was really surprised by how comparatively dirty it is. Considering the days when my trailers used to have a black streak running their whole length, I never expected a diesel to be radically cleaner than a gasoline engine. The key to the whole thing is the diesel particulate filter, and it obviously works very well.

Comment Re:tax unhealthy choices (Score 1) 285 285

Not posting anonymously, because who cares if people know I'm fat. I'm fat, in a nutshell, because you can't make any money exercising, and working for free is bullshit.

Yeah, I should work for the health benefits, my "payment" for tying up a bunch of my limited spare time doing boring sweaty things, because extending my life to the age when I shit in my pants and can't remember my name is totally worth all those reps in the gym.


Comment Re:The biggest problem: the "long view" (Score 1) 385 385

I think it's illegal to be reasonable on Slashdont, but after thinking about it, I agree with you. I know intelligent guys who have a totally different perspective. I don't know Arnold Schwarzenegger personally, but I've read "Total Recall," and he seems quite intelligent while also being the sort of "in the moment" person I was talking about. There was even an interesting passage where he talked about how he liked to make decisions without having too much information, because knowing too many details was crippling.

Now I'm starting to wonder if it could be an introvert/extrovert thing. I can't think of any intelligent introverts who aren't the same flavor of maudlin, introspective basket cases that I am. I can't think of any extroverts who aren't "in the moment" types, whether they're intelligent or not.


The gent who wakes up and finds himself a success hasn't been asleep.