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Comment: Google already said it was an accident.... (Score 5, Informative) 466

by aengblom (#32527904) Attached to: Google Introduces, Then Scraps, Bing-Style Background Images

Update June 10, 11:31AM: Last week, we launched the ability to set an image of users’ choosing as the background for the Google homepage. Today, we ran a special “doodle” that showcased this functionality by featuring a series of images as the background for our homepage. We had planned to run an explanation of the showcase alongside it—in the form of a link on our homepage. Due to a bug, the explanatory link did not appear for most users. As a result, many people thought we had permanently changed our homepage, so we decided to stop today’s series early. We appreciate your feedback and patience as we experiment and iterate.

Posted by Marissa Mayer, VP Search Products & User Experience

Science

Why the First Cowboy To Draw Always Gets Shot 398

Posted by timothy
from the more-guns-less-crime dept.
cremeglace writes "Have you ever noticed that the first cowboy to draw his gun in a Hollywood Western is invariably the one to get shot? Nobel-winning physicist Niels Bohr did, once arranging mock duels to test the validity of this cinematic curiosity. Researchers have now confirmed that people indeed move faster if they are reacting, rather than acting first."

Comment: For the record, (Score 5, Insightful) 177

by aengblom (#30917722) Attached to: Newsday Gets 35 Subscriptions To Pay Web Site

For the record, they sell access to the web site for $5 per week, while they sell the paper for $4.50 including access to the web site. Basically those 35 subscribers are paying 50 cents per day to not get the paper delivered. They also give free access to all people who subscribe to the local cable provider -- which is a lot of people for the local paper.

Plus it's Newsday.....

Comment: Re:Simple solution (Score 1) 619

by aengblom (#30172336) Attached to: Response To California's Large-Screen TV Regulation

If you want people to use less electricity charge more for it and use the tax to fund something good like public transit

The difficulty is people don't know how they're using that energy. Most consumers probably don't think of their energy bill when buying a TV (they're thinking picture quality and price.) Moreover, even if they are, it's pretty difficult for a normal consumer to figure how how much energy a television will use and exactly what the additional cost of that energy usage is over the life of the TV.

Oh, there's also one other trick. The cost of building new power plants has gotten pretty expensive in recent years. Lots of commodity costs (steel, energy... and now debt) went way up. Thus, if lots of new inefficient TVs come online and require a new power plant, that more expensive power plant will raise the base cost of electricity for everyone. Even people who are just trying to use it to run some basic necessities.

Comment: Re:WTF? (Score 5, Informative) 434

by aengblom (#28639161) Attached to: Recovery.gov To Get $18 Million Redesign

$18 million to redesign a website? WTF are they doing with it?

From TFA, they're going to spend $9.5 million over the next 6 months or so. Assuming $75k salaries for the web developers/DBAs/etc (generous), they'd be hiring 250 people to design a website.

And Americans wonder why they have such a big deficit.

I'm guessing this isn't just build the web site, it's to build and run it through January 2014 (See the GSA press release). Remember, they have to buy equipment and bandwidth too, although I'm betting the biggest issue is collecting, entering and sorting the massive amounts of data related to all the projects. Still sounds like a lot of money.

Comment: Re:Sounds friendly... (Score 2, Funny) 95

by aengblom (#28600023) Attached to: Google Will Star In New Dow Jones News Model

I find this extremely ironic because today a columnist from _Reuters_ broke the big news story about the Goldman Sachs arrest. And Reuters has a very informative web site. While NY and Chicago papers (who should have broken the story because it happened in their cities) were snoozing.

Controlling the aggregator won't making papers profitable. Delivering a service people _want to pay for_ (like Flickr, or WSJ, or the Economist) will make them profitable. And so far, local papers (even in bigger cities like Boston) are just not doing that.

.... Reuters has several thousand journalists. Why would they not break major stories?

Comment: Re:New York City (Score 1) 302

by aengblom (#27593065) Attached to: NYC Wants Ideas For "Taxi Technology 2.0"

...Because the market isn't always particularly good at giving customers what they want. I know this is heresy in some circles, but the truth is that a market for taxi's doesn't really give the consumer a whole lot of power. If you want a cab, you usually have to accept the cab that happens to be within a block or two... or wait a whole lot of time to call your favored cab company and have them drive over.

Both of these options suck.

As a result, cities developed regulatory agencies with the authority to set rates (do you want to negotiate the rate from point A to B every single time) and set a basic minimum requirement for what level of service should be provided.

The pure free marketer might say that the market would supply this if people wanted it, but it's just not true. The market will only supply it if the guy who makes his cab smell fresh and have a automated CC machine (or whatever people want) makes more money... and since a huge portion of the business in NYC is street pickups, people don't often get to choose the nicer cab. So, since he has a slightly higher cost of business, he goes out of business... or makes less money.

Comment: Re:Ugh. (Score 1) 309

by aengblom (#27459171) Attached to: Three Mile Island Memories

Honestly, I thought Cringely's decision to try and tie TMI to the current financial crisis was a bit of a stretch, but it applies perfectly here. TMI officials took a huge risk [coulda wiped out a bunch of the Northeast] and only avoided catastrophe because of luck (the reactor had a strong than normal containment vessel.)

Wall Street basically did the same the mortgage boom -- they just lost the bet. Now we're all paying.

Where both failed was properly planning for what happened when something really went wrong. Wall Street was prepared for the failure for X% of people to stop paying mortgages because the values of homes "always" went up. I.E. A foreclosure just meant selling a house that was more valuable than when it was bought. This worked great, until home values fell and the taxpayers now get to fill that hole.

At TMI operators were ready for one thing to go wrong and to fix it, but they weren't ready for when something really went wrong because their IT systems couldn't process the results of a real crisis.

I get it that most engineers seem to be pro nuke, but forgive the public if they're a bit skeptical. Guess what, doctors always seem ready to operate, your stock broker always wants you in the market and your lawyer is willing to sue at the drop of a hat. People tend to have confidence in their own competencies.

The job of the nuclear industry is to prove that their equipment will be safe -- even when operated poorly by greedy executives who might be willing to take the risk of huge amounts of wealth vs. a 1 in 10,000 year chance of a failure. That's a reasonable risk for the head of a nuke, but a terrible risk for a country with 100 reactors. (I.E. you will have a breach in the next 100 years.)

It's not that all such employees will have such an attitude, but that at somepoint, someone will.

 

Comment: Re:That estimate seems really high (Score 2, Insightful) 563

by aengblom (#26416787) Attached to: Obama Proposes Digital Health Records

There are millions of patient records, but they do not reside in millions of databases. Let's be generous and say there are thousands of databases.

Uh, they don't reside in millions of databases, they reside in millions of paper filing cabinets managed by "DBAs" with the skills to match.

You see but you do not observe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"

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