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Comment Re:Self Correcting Problem (Score 1) 278

The denser parts of San Francisco tend to have pretty low speed limits, such that cars can immediately come to a stop if they need to. For example Market St around Powell is 10 mph.

If you've ever been around that area, it should be obvious that there are vastly more people on foot than in cars. It just doesn't make any sense to slow down the majority (who are on foot) and have them wait for the minority (in their cars) to go past.

Comment Re:Change the channel, Marge (Score 2) 197

I'm not sure what you're referring to here. Can you give any examples of how recent versions of OS X suffer from mobilization?

Expose didn't get taken away, it just got renamed to "Mission Control" and got merged with Spaces (which was a good idea) in OS X Lion. They also made it work with multitouch trackpad gestures (i.e. you can activate it by swiping up with 3 fingers). That was probably iPhone-inspired, but it was done in a way that was very suitable for a desktop/laptop environment.

The only thing I can think of that got a bit of a negative reaction was the flat design that was introduced in Yosemite. But this has nothing to do with mobilization, it's just a coincidence that both the mobile and desktop OSes moved towards a flat design at the same time.

Comment Re:Smartwatches are gimmicks (for now anyway) (Score 2) 52

I used to think so too, but then I got one as a gift and started wearing it. There were a few things that I then found out were nice:

- Android Wear devices can unlock your Android phone for you, so you don't have to enter your password/pin/pattern every time. This by itself is so compelling that I'd wear a smart bracelet with just this feature if it was available.

- You can use your watch to ring your phone, if you lose it under the couch or something.

- It's actually very convenient to be able to glance at messages/emails when they arrive without having to pull out a phone. You can archive them then and there if it's not important (very useful if you're trying to do Inbox Zero) or respond using voice recognition if it's something short (very useful when driving).

It's not a life-altering step forward like the original iPhone was, but not every new device needs to change the world and disrupt everything. As long as it provides value to some niche, then it's a good thing to have on the market.

Comment Re:Ubuntu was great on the desktop (Score 1) 167

I think most people here will agree that Canonical has lost the plot with regards to usability, but Ubuntu's release cadence is something that it still has going for it. As a developer, one thing I hated about developing for RHEL is that it ships with ancient versions of libraries. You either have to bring in your own newer versions (and all transitive dependencies) or make do with missing features and incompatibilities.

Ubuntu LTS ships often enough to stay fresh, but not too often to be a maintenance burden. RHEL's model might appeal to highly change-averse sysadmins who value stability above all else, but Ubuntu is stable (enough) for cloud uses and makes better tradeoffs for developers IMO.

Comment Re:Surge Pricing - Why The Hate? (Score 1) 250

That's nice of you do that, but it's not quite the same situation that Uber is in. They don't own the cars that their drivers drive, and they can't just tell their drivers to drive into Martin Place during the a hostage situation. I mean, they could try, but I doubt many drivers would follow those instructions. The next best thing that they can do is provide an incentive for their drivers to take risks and respond to emergencies, and surge pricing can help pay for this. Whether they're being dicks or not depends on how much of a cut they take:

- If they ate the cost themselves, it'd be a really nice thing to do, similar to what you did with your helicopters
- If they simply charge more but maintain the same profit, then what they're doing is neither generous nor opportunistic, it's just neutral
- If they profit more from the misfortune of others, then they're dicks

If I had to guess, I'd say that they're probably making more profits during emergencies, except when there's a public backlash (like there was in Sydney). This is just based on the fact that they do seem like a dick-ish company.

But there's nothing wrong in principle with surge pricing, even during emergencies. It serves a useful purpose: it encourages more drivers to get out and get people out of a dangerous place.

Comment Re:False dichotomy (Score 1) 442

What does basic economics say about that?

Nothing. Economics is a science, and economists are only concerned with things that are measurable and observable. What you're talking about is your own personal, subjective response to some major events. This has nothing to do with economics, and isn't even really a good proxy for what other people felt at the time.

For what it's worth, maybe you didn't care about 9/11 but I remember that I did, and so did everyone around me. Challenger wasn't a small thing, but it wasn't even close to 9/11. In the immediate aftermath, messages of condolences and support for the United States came from all around the globe, including from people like Fidel Castro, Vladamir Putin, and the North Koreans.

If we do go to Mars, I hope we don't do it for stupid, nationalistic dick-waving reasons. Space exploration has economic benefits, it's just that they're long-term ones. We should go and explore space because it's in our long-term interests to do so. We shouldn't forget about short-term things like infrastructure either, but they're not mutually exclusive.

And also, accomplishing exceptional things does not give a country free pass to mess with other countries and bully them.

Comment Re:"We have a profound opportunity to distort." (Score 1) 73

We already city-level air quality indicies that let us do comparisons between cities -

Anyway, it's not a hard problem to solve. Street View cars already revisit the same streets they've been to before, so eventually they'd collect enough data to be able to average out those sources of variability.

This looks more like it would be useful for comparing neighborhoods within a city. How much worse is the air in the industrial districts compared to the residential ones? What is the difference in air quality in each of San Francisco's microclimates?

But traffic is a large source of solution, so that would bias their data. It would be cool if they strapped these sensors onto the Street View backpacks that they use to map hiking trails, and get data on the air quality along walking paths in parks and other areas that can't be driven to.

Comment Re:If you sedate everyone and put them in a coffin (Score 1) 394

I'm not so keen on being sedated, but I'd pay extra to be stacked horizontally!

A few years ago Lufthansa had a concept where they would have triple-decker bunk beds in their planes. Read more about it here:

Long haul business class (which is currently the cheapest way to get a lie-flat bed) costs about 3x as much as economy class. But having 3 levels would probably bring this price back down to only slightly above economy class prices, and would be much better than flying DVT class. I'd also happily give up meal services and carry-on baggage (I'd just check everythign in) to be able to lie down and sleep properly.

Not sure what happened though. Maybe it's against some safety regulation, or maybe they thought it'd cannibalize their current business class offering.

Comment Re:Taxi licenses are crazy expensive (Score 1) 334

On the surface these regulations sound useful, but I've still had a lot of bad experiences in taxis. Not every time I get into a cab, but it's happened a not-insignificant number of times. I've had multiple taxi drivers pretend that the meter is broken, and then try to charge me a ridiculously overpriced fare (which I refused to pay). I've been verbally abused because a driver didn't feel I was travelling far enough to be worth his while. Many drivers smell bad, and have dirty cabs. Female friends have been sexually propositioned, and drunk friends have been taken advantage of.

Since I've started using Uber and Lyft, I've never had any reason to complain. Never mind the lower price; the quality of the service is simply better. Drivers are friendly, and since the payment goes through the app, it's hard to get cheated.

Say what you want about the importance of safety and accountability, and the regulations needed to ensure this. But in my experience, the regulations around taxis don't work as well as whatever Uber/Lyft are doing. I'm guessing that the ratings systems in Uber/Lyft quickly flush out asshole drivers, whereas in the taxi industry you have to go to the effort to file an official complaint. In some cities you need to show up in court to argue your case, which is especially hard when you're using a taxi in a city that you're just visiting, as was the case for me in Sydney.

If the existing regulations don't work, then they're not worth defending. Good luck to Uber.

Comment Re:I'm spending 60% of my monthly income on rent (Score 1) 940

A city of 4 storey buildings sprawls more than a city of 40 storey buildings. So maybe the roads would need to be widened but they would also be shortened, and this would allow people to find other methods of transport that are more efficient than hauling a 1.5 tonne steel cage with you everywhere you go. The costs get socialized either way, but the higher density layout is less socialized.

Comment Dependencies (Score 5, Insightful) 119

Why do you think a numeric priority system gives "freedom" to the end user? To me, having to manually mess around with numbers is an annoyance, and it means that the init system is getting in the way.

Having numbers means that some dependency info gets lost. If you have an S10 and S20 script, is there any dependency between them, or were they just arbitrarily numbered? It's impossible to tell unless you go and read through the script and figure out for yourself. This makes it hard to debug when things go wrong. You also just end up with a bunch of scripts that all start with S99 or K99.

The NetBSD init system (which was introduced way back in 2001, and I think ended up being adopted by the other BSDs) has a simple way of solving this. There's a tool called rcorder that parses REQUIRE and PROVIDE lines in each startup script (it's tsort, essentially) and determines the order to run each script. If you wanted to debug something, you could run this yourself and check the output. "Runlevels" were implemented with dummy scripts (i.e. scripts that just had dependency information in them, and didn't perform any actions).

Other than that, it's as simple as the traditional sysvinit, but without meaningless numbers everywhere. You can read more about it here:

It's 2015, we should be naming things not numbering them.

Comment Re:Advantages of living in a small town (Score 2) 38

Great! Since you seem to think my logic is unsound, you will demonstrate its failings for us by naming a single successful, low-crime majority-black area that has no local warlords and no "thug gangsta" culture destroying its own people. That would make me shut up, fast.

5 seconds of Googling came up with this:

The disks are getting full; purge a file today.