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Comment: Queue theory in an profit driven world (Score 1) 327

by fermion (#48188293) Attached to: An Algorithm to End the Lines for Ice at Burning Man
As mentioned before, this problem has largely been solved. The constraints are not just waiting time, and waiting time is often the least of anyone problems. The elevator waiting time problem can, for example, be solved more efficiently with mirrors than by building more elevators. Waiting for a telephone operator is solved more efficiently with estimating time for wait and music than adding operators. So the question becomes is the line a problem to be solved, or only an issue for the stressed out suits who visit.

First, it is arguable that at a a place like burning man which is allegedly a social event, the act of waiting in line is not in fact part of the stated purpose. I mean, where else do you get an opportunity to meet random like minded people. It is why waiting in line at whole foods is not big deal. It is really party time. Only overly introverted judgmental people get all stressed over it. If one is laid back and enjoying the groove, who cares?

Likewise it is reasonable to ask whether profits would increase with more ice. The writeup postulates that there is a fixed costs to bringing in ice and that profit increases linearly for more ice sold. If this were true, then there would be more than three distribution points. So what is probably going on here is that paying people to drive and sell the ice would cost more than the profits to sell the ice if more trucks were brought in. Probably three trucks of ice is probably what is sold, and through most of the day the wait time is not an hour. Wait time would probably be reduced more by people choosing a different time to buy ice. It would probably be beneficial to track wait times during the day and see if it would be possible to even out the flow of people. If more ice is needed than is supplied, then add another truck and increase if necessary.

Finally we have the cute idea of the volunteer. In the case of price gouging the last thing one want is an untrusted person dealing with the product. You might as well ask the drug dealers to have volunteers distribute the H. The marginal cost of a bag of ice is minimal, but the bags must be sold to cover the costs. If the situation is as dire as the poster suggests, there would be a large incentive for the volunteer to steal ice. Maybe each volunteer works an hour, and then thinks they are entitled to a couple free bags of ice. At minimum wage, the firm is not making any bargains off the situation.

I know how these festivals go, and roughing it is hard, but that is why we were given granola, and way clavier is not suitable for every occasion.

Comment: Re:Too many discrite components (Score 1) 156

And each solder joint is a failure waiting to happen in the vibration rich atmosphere of a car.

I am not sure what the fascination over high component count. Does that mean all we have to do is make the next music player out of a million discrete 74xx IC and we will get a write up saying how good our product is?

This to me is beyond a small product run. It is a prototype designed over a weekend.

Comment: Re:Straw Man (Score 1) 622

by fermion (#48133067) Attached to: The Correct Response To Photo Hack Victim-Blamers
I am not blaming anyone for having something stolen. If you leave you laptop locked to a table in Starbucks, and come back from the bathroom 10 minutes later, it is not you fault that the laptop is stolen. You can report the theft to the cops, and it will be investigated. What you do not have the right to do is throw a temper tantrum and hold everyone in the coffee shop hostage until the laptop is returned and then sue the workers for allowing the laptop to be stolen. Yes, this exaggerates what is going on here, but really we all take risks and have to understand that those risks have consequences and we cannot protect everyone from the consequences of all risks.

I do not see that posting nude pictures of yourself on the cloud has equal expectation of security of walking alone at night or getting drunk at a party. If some people think that pointing out that the cloud is insecure is bashing the victim, then I suppose running educational campaigns where we tell people not to accept drinks from stangers at bars where the drink might by have date rape drugs in it is attacking the victim. It is not. All these cases must be prosecuted, but prevention and education is also important.

And this is where what some of what is going on here makes sense. Some people think they have a right to do whatever they want, even if it is illegal, as long as they don't get caught. We should talk about thing that are wrong to do, not because of a punishment, but because of right and wrong.

Comment: false positives (Score 0) 261

by fermion (#48132139) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Can't Google Block Spam In Gmail?
An aggressive spam filter, like what might be in place in a corporate server, is going to prevent a lot of legitimate email. The mail at my work is so aggressive that I do no have anything sent to it. The Apple Mail.app client, is also aggressive. So aggressive that I just have it mark spam because it will mark perfectly innocent mail as spam. Google has the additional problem is that it is advertiser funded. It cannot just mark all advertisement as spam, which is what most of us want, and still remain in business.

Comment: Re:The brightest people don't go into CS anymore, (Score 1) 144

I would be pretty to think that kids think that way. If that were the case, we would see more people taking classes like that. One of the purposes of the AP Exam is to get kids exposure in high school, possible credit for college, so they can go on and do what they really want to do. So someone taking an AP Literature exam is looking to get credit for the class and either take a more advanced core credit or maybe complete all the English core. Computer Science, as opposed to secretarial skills, are going to become increasingly important to any field. Anyone who wants to be a lawyer, a field that is going to be largely gone, at least at the high pay, in 30 years, would be well advised to take such a course, and really all hard science courses, if they want to pass the entrance exam. Speaking of that, there are efforts in the way to get kids at least into a two year college, but most are likeley to need remedial course, so they spend their first year paying for non-credit non-scholarship qualified classes. it is a problem. AP CS reteaches a lot of the math and application that were not learned in other classes.

And this is my problem. There is nothing in AP CS that I would need for my time in engineering programming computers to solve problems. I think that the class is somewhat irrelevant to someone who want to pursue CS because most hopefully already have the basic skills taught in the class by the time they are a senior.

One real issue is people who can teach is class. It was only 35 years ago that I was sat down on a computer and taught to write basic programming. It will take time for the pipeline to fill with qualified teachers. One hopeful sign is that we have a lot more introductory engineering classes than when I was high school, made possible because we have been cranking out engineers in this country since the end of WWII. So in another 20 years, we might have CS teachers.

Comment: The rules are the problem (Score 2) 97

by fermion (#48122023) Attached to: More Details On The 3rd-Party Apps That Led to Snapchat Leaks
Collecting personal information on users is the status quo. All backends, be it google, apple, ms, collect information on users. It is how they make money and 'improve the product'. So instead of being in a position where everyone can agree that private information is private, we live in a world where we have to really work to understand what information is private, and what isn't. We see this with law enforcement and text messages. Most would say they are private, but law enforcement says they are public information. It is a small jump from text messages to photo sent to another person. If information collection were not the norm for everyone, then perhaps we could be upset that private information is being collected. But the web site provides a service, and of course it is going to take it's cut, in the forms of saving photos, for providing that service.

This is the way the web works. Service in exchange for private information. If it were 2000 it might be surprising. But it is not. And most everyone who is using snapchat has grown up in a world where such is standard mode of operation.

Comment: Re:Inaccurate headline (Score 1) 238

by fermion (#48115597) Attached to: Where Intel Processors Fail At Math (Again)
The headline is accurate. For instance, if you have a student calculate a value and they give you 10 decimal places, and only four decimal places are correct, then that student has failed at math. The most fundamental error one can make when reporting values in math is reporting more accuracy than is justified by the computational method. The Intel manual says the all digits reported, except for the last, is accurate. Since this is not the case, Intel has failed at math. Even with the change in the manual, if the chip continues to report inaccurate digits, Intel is still failing at math. The only difference now is that Intel admits that it is failing, which is one step forward. To use you analogy, the NFL is not guaranteeing that the actual ten yards have been met. All they are saying is the displacement is sufficient to justify the nominal requirements for a first down. The do not , for instance, say that a play needs 3 yards, 1 foot, 6 inches, and 13 mils to reach a first down. But Intel does pretend it know the down to that level of accuracy.

Comment: Re:Read speed limit signs (Score 1) 283

by fermion (#48112933) Attached to: Tesla Announces Dual Motors, 'Autopilot' For the Model S
If a car is self driving, then having some knowledge of the speed limit is good. If not, having the car limit travel based on speed limit is a very bad idea. For instance, those signs that read and display speed of oncoming cars in real time have some uses, but also have significant negative effects. They tend to encourage drivers to travel at maximum speed, which creates a jumble of cars and can at times encourage unsafe speeds. There used to be a lot of more of these around, but now I notice they are gone except in a few places. On the freeway, of course, one has to travel at prevalent speeds, and it is often necessary to get out of situations where there are dangerous vehicles.I can see myself getting kill because I not allowed to breifly accelerate to high speeds to get away from a oil truck.

Comment: cheap labor (Score 2) 236

by fermion (#48102025) Attached to: Outsourced Tech Jobs Are Increasingly Being Automated
When I was growing up, my relatives had a washer and dryer, but when they broke they went back to having the in house staff wash clothes on the outdoor basin and hang out to dry. It was simply cheaper to do that. Other relatives simply had the people next door wash by hand because it was way cheaper than using a machine. Now labor is more expensive, and machines are cheaper, so most people have machines do the washing. Mostly it is because machines are cheap and a new generation thinks that using machines is cooler than paying someone.

It reminds me of this poster. If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon.

Comment: scale up an ant farm (Score 1) 315

by fermion (#48094827) Attached to: Fusion Reactor Concept Could Be Cheaper Than Coal
One imagine that in one took an ant colony, scaled it up to many colonies, and harnassed it's power output, it might be able to get a gigawatt more cheaply than a coal fired plant.

I see three problems here. First, this is a press release, so it has all the validity of any press release, in other words nothing. Second, nothing has been built, at least nothing approaching a gigawatt, and no way to know if the design will really scale to a gigawatt. Third, they are comparing the real cost of building a coal fired plant to the imaginary cost of building this device. That said, given that an advance coal fired plant is more in the range of 3 billion, the real cost of both might be comparable, and cheaper than the $40 billion for a conventional nuclear plant.

But really, the costs and all that is really besides the point. No fusion reactor has been able to produce significantly more power than it has consumed.

Comment: MS losing money? (Score 5, Interesting) 93

by fermion (#48062865) Attached to: Samsung Paid Microsoft $1 Billion Last Year In Android Royalties
I have often suspected that part of the reason that MS continues to make a phone is so it won't be accused of being a patent troll. If it is making phones, then it is not just trying to monetized a portfolio by attacking others who are doing the real work. I suspect the Surface is the same issue, and the the two might actually be breaking even given royalties.

I also think that this has nothing to do with MS or the royalties to MS. I think it has to do with Apple. Samsung, for some reason, gave MS a sweetheart deal on the thinnest of evidence. Samsung did not go to court, wait for google, but just paid MS a reletively large amount of cash for every handset sold. This tells me that there was so backroom negotiations going on, possible lawfully questionable negotiations. This, probably, is negatively effecting the Apple situation because if they were so eager to give MS money, why are they fighting Apple on claims that are at least as good? Which means that whatever possible underhanded deal Samsung made with MS is no longer paying off.

Comment: Re:In Business for the Wrong Reasons (Score 1) 185

by fermion (#48062801) Attached to: Downtown Project Suicides Shock High Tech Community
This seems like good advice, but it does not necessarily lead to the idea of a suicides because a business failed. Suicide, especially at a young age, I think is either a mental issue or lack of experience with failure. It is not failed bussiness tactics, or losing respect among your peer group, or being made fun of on twitter, because, really, what does a person care about what some strangers think(unless you are a 13 year old adolescent). When we look at some suicides, these kids have had their life propped up, been protected from failure, ridicule, and hard work,. When they are then subject to a public failure, it is simply too much for them. I am in no way saying it is their fault or anyone's fault. I am simply saying even if you do everything right, even if you have all the support in the world, bad luck or a single bad decisions can still make the enterprise fall. A lack of experience of how to deal with such failures can lead to a person taking the quick way out.

Comment: So? (Score 3, Interesting) 175

by fermion (#48013925) Attached to: When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone
A good hammer, a good manual drill, a good screwdriver, will last a lifetime. Many people, however, invest in pneumatic hammers, electric drills, and bit sets even though they know it will break. There is myth of how we own records, but I am old enough to own LPs and CDs, and let me tell you that the lifetime was limited, and they were difficult for mobile devices. Transferring them to tape was a significant loss of quality.

Comparing a phone to a plunger is silly, and makes me question the cognitive abilities of the person making the analogy.

Everything is a trade off. My car is so complex I can't begin to figure out how to fix it, but I do have a diagnostic tool on my iPad that I could not possible afford 10 years ago. My watch, and iPod Mini, is obsolete but it still tells me the time. As long as that is all I want it do it is fine. I used my 3GS over the summer as a roaming phone. Slip a sim card in it and I was good to go. As long as I wanted it as a phone, I was good to go.

Yes, you can't take stuff apart. OTOH I was one of the few people I knew that actually soldered computers to repair them, rather than just plug and play with a new board. Yes, some phones are not upgradable to current software, but many consumers seen to happy to make that choice to have a cheaper phone or a phone with other features. I can even see the current situation where you pay per page for ink is an option that many people would prefer.

Certainly there is a loss when we do not have a choice, but I think in many cases we still have a choice, it is just that we do not want to pay the real or opportunity costs for that choice.

Comment: Re:The "old boys' club" (Score 1) 335

by fermion (#48011579) Attached to: State of Iowa Tells Tesla To Cancel Its Scheduled Test Drives
Tesla is part of the old boys club and they are playing it perfectly. First they create an exclusive product to sell to a privalidged few. Then they say they are going to create a product for anyone, any day now, and start crying how the states are oppressing them and keeping them for helping the impoverished masses. Then they play the old game of hustling states and end up with a deal that will result in the siphoning of 1.3 billion dollars of taxpayer money directly into Tesla's pocket, even if they never reach the targets of employment or sales. The only part of the old boys club they don't respect is that it fraud is a two way street. you can't take, you also have to give. Dealerships were one way for the car companies to spread the wealth back to the friendly politicians in the states. Tesla is saying it is all theirs, and they are not going to share.

Again, nothing against Tesla or electric cars, just saying they are not a knight in shining armor that is going to save us from the politicians and climate change. They are just another company trying to maximize profit and take whatever welfare they can get.

Comment: mostly the grid (Score 1) 517

by fermion (#48008471) Attached to: Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit
To be sure, like most legacy industry, there is likely no ability to innovate. Think of american cars in the 70's. Energy generation is still powered by coal, coal plants are still being built, and we are still fighting over emissions. I don't know if a report saying that the industry needs to innovate will do any good. Making coal fired plants too expensive to build by requiring them to be clean might have an effect, and force the industry to innovate.

In any case, the incumbents are clearly show massive inefficiencies. In locations where electricity is sold competitively, prices can vary by 25% or more. This indicates that there is quite a bit of wiggle room in pricing. However, what we are really talking about here is volume. Without volume the incumbents firms that sell power, not produce it, are going to get squeezed out. Producers will shut down plants, and that may have long term effects in energy security.

What is really an issue is the grid. There is at some point going to have to be a charge for hooking up to the grid. Already people on low cost plans that do not use enough electricity pay an extra fee for administrative and grid costs. This is where legislation will come in. Are we going to require a house that is self sufficient to be connected to the grid? Are we going to allow houses in more expensive locations, be it rural or more prone to damage, to be charged more to be connected to the grid?

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