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Comment Re:Not to be confused with an athletic competition (Score 1) 60

I was under the impression that the Olympics is already a competition of which country can spend the most on training facilities for its athletes:

http://www.bbc.com/news/busine...
http://www.yellowfinbi.com/YFC...

Since it's always going to be about who can spend the most either way, I don't see why an engineering competition is any less interesting than an athletic competition.

Motorsports (Formula One, Le Mans) are already like this, and I find it interesting because you get to see engineers push the boundaries of technology. It would be fantastic if we could push the boundaries of prosthetic technologies for disabled people.

Comment Re: Never again (Score 2) 190

In the Android world, manufacturers release low spec phones to serve the budget end of the market. Apple does the same thing by using newly manufactured iPhones from an old design. Saying that these old iPhone models shouldn't get updates is exactly the same as saying that low spec Android phones shouldn't get updates, which is crazy.

It doesn't matter when the phone was designed - if a phone was purchased recently, customers should be able to expect updates for a reasonable period. It's completely unreasonable to stop providing updates during the warranty period!

It should be illegal for manufacturers to stop providing security updates during the 2-year contract period, if it isn't already.

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 - http://www.airnow.gov/

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.

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