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Comment: Re:Christopher Alexander (Score 2) 81

by bmajik (#49116567) Attached to: Ancient and Modern People Followed Same Mathematical Rule To Build Cities

The last quarter or so of the patterns deal with interior space, but i think you might find it problematic to just apply them in isolation.

The patterns are meant to be applied in order, from largest effect with least detail, to smallest effect and highest detail.

So, for instance, if you take room that doesn't have "light on two sides"

http://www.patternlanguage.com...

there may not be much you can do, interior design wise, to save the room, without first trying some of the suggestions he has for how to deal with the lack of windows...

Comment: Christopher Alexander (Score 5, Interesting) 81

by bmajik (#49112901) Attached to: Ancient and Modern People Followed Same Mathematical Rule To Build Cities

One other AC posted this, but it will probably stay buried at zero.

If you're interested in why some spaces feel nice to you and others don't, there's a series of books you want to read, by "Christopher Alexander"

The first one is "The Timeless Way of Building". The next is "A Pattern Language"

This guy was writing about the human factors in architecture -- why certain spaces make all people feel good, and how that developed over human history, and how it's largely been lost in modern architecture.

His next book, "A Pattern Language", enumerates 253 patterns his team rediscovered that help resolve social problems in architectural spaces.

The problem he noticed is that people could understand if they felt good in a space or not, but it was difficult to predict ahead of time if a building would have this quality or not. And that's obviously a huge problem if you want to build things that people love, because buildings are expensive and stay around a long time. Just cloning old buildings that people like doesn't quite do it either - because people didn't really understand what made those spaces great.

This series of books is what the Gang of Four looked at, and one of them said "hey, this applies to building software also - when the problem looks like this, there's a pattern that can be implemented many different ways to address that problem".

Thus, the design patterns movement in software was born.

If you're at all interested in houses, cities, planning, design, etc, I really recommend the books.

However, read them before you buy/build your next house -- not right after you just moved. You'll start to find explanatinos about where you currently live that explain why you don't use or don't enjoy certain things, and you'll be frustrated and want to start changing things :)

Comment: Re:Is Slashdot owned by Tesla? (Score 1) 257

by bmajik (#49061337) Attached to: Tesla Factory Racing To Retool For New Models

You should consider the business model of slashdot. How does slashdot make money? I suspect page views are part of it.

If i were running slashdot, I'd be able to tell you, based on over a decade of historical data, which types of articles generate the highest ad revenues. I'd make sure those articles appeared as often as possible, and I'd look for feedback effects to make sure I wasn't over doing it.

If you want to know why slashdot has lots of articles in Elon Musk, Tesla, Gender in CS, and Microsoft, it's because those stories bring the clicks, commenters, and critically, page views.

(I'm assuming)

Comment: Re: Electric cars work great in an urban landscape (Score 1) 215

by bmajik (#49055405) Attached to: Japan Now Has More Car Charging Points Than Gas Stations

It was not so long ago that rural residents exceeded urban residents in the US. While the balance has flipped, it has not dramatically done so.

I live in a rural area and when I go into the office it is a 20 mile one-way trip (that takes only 20 minutes, door to door). If I run any errands while I am in town I need to plan for at least 50 miles of drive on a charge. Given that it gets bitterly cold here (-30F is not uncommon), I wouldn't feel comfortable running a battery pack that didn't have a significant buffer above that range. Also, given that the posted speed limit is 75, and the roads are often empty, my actual road speed can be much higher than the 55-60mph that range testing is conducting at. Also, wind speeds here are often 30mph or more, so the car may be moving through the air at a 100mph or more speed equivalent. Drag increases exponentially with air speed.

When driving in winter, rear defrost, seat heaters, and front defrost will all be running at maximum.

The bottom line is that I don't think I could reliably do my daily commute on something approximately rated for my actual expected round trip mileage. The Leaf is rated at 70 miles at 55mph with intermittent AC usage. That's not enough margin for me to feel comfortable.

I have driven a Tesla 85 and it is simply magnificent. I'd be willing to experiment with the Tesla 60kw and I think it would reliably meet my normal needs, but any lesser EV I have no interest in.

Comment: Re:Emergency probably has legal meaning (Score 1) 120

by bmajik (#49023431) Attached to: Arkansas Declares a High School CS Education State of Emergency

When a bill declares that the measure is an emergency measure, it means that the changes enacted by the bill go into effect sooner than the typical implementation timeframe for legislative changes.

E.g. if the normal delay is house->senate->governor->july 1st of next year, an emergency measure might be house->senate->governor->15 days

The specific timing varies from state to state.

There are a handful of bills being introduced in my state right now that list "AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY" in their bill abstract, which is terrifying until you read the bill text and then understand what the little postscript at the bottom saying "This is an emergency measure" actually means. (I had to ask)

Comment: Re:Ask Japan... (Score 1) 309

by bmajik (#49021467) Attached to: The IPCC's Shifting Position On Nuclear Energy

I really like Hydro power, but

1) you can't simply put hydro power generation where you like it. Hydro power needs established geophysical features in order to work. And, as luck would have it, the things that make a location a good candidate for hydropower also make it a good candidate for farms, valuable waterfront properties, wildlife preserves, public parks, etc etc.

2) Believe it or not, it's not just nuclear power that environmental whacktavists have succeeded in choking out. There are dams that have been torn down to restore animal habitats, for instance. Building a small nuke plant is massively less environmentally disruptive than building large scale hydro.

The chief problem, in my view, with hydro is that you cannot put hydro plants out where people won't care. You have to put them where the water is, and often, people have reasons for wanting such natural water features left alone.

You can put a nuke plant anywhere you like - in a submarine, on a space craft, etc. You bring the fuel to it, you move the waste away from it. The nuke plant I think is fundamentally better adapted to the realities of power generation if for no other reason than fuel source portability. In this way, it beats hydro, and, to a large extent, solar.

Comment: Re:Document first (Score 5, Insightful) 233

by bmajik (#48992791) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tools To Clean Up a Large C/C++ Project?

This.

One of my first professional programming projects was to take a look at the custom C++ billing software our company had purchased from a contract programmer.

I had a long unix and programming background, and was back for a summer job after doing 1 semester of C++ in college.

My boss told me, since I was the only one who had C++ experience, to start documenting the system.

At the time, we were using IRIX, and so I was using the SGI compiler and tools suite, which were, I believe, licensed from EDG. The point is that there was a very nice call graph visualizer. This was helpful for understanding things at a superficial level.

However, what was even better was just running the program a bunch of times on test data and seeing what it did while under the debugger.

While my summer began with the task of documenting the system, as I learned things I'd report them to my boss.

By the end of the summer, I had re-written some fundamental parts of the system; I'd moved some of the processing outside, and I pre-processed and pre-sorted the data.

The overall execution time went from many hours to about 45 minutes to calculate monthly bills. THe key innovation was replacing the inner loop of the charge tabulation -- which was 2 or 3 levels of nested linked list traversal.

Instead, I used the standard unix sort tools to pre-sort the data files before being loaded into the system, and I changed the system to use a data structure that supported a binary search.

The majority of the code got left alone. By understanding the code under a debugger, and realizing that how it worked on production data was much different than how it performed on the test data it was originally delivered with, I was able to make a critical set of changes that had a huge impact.

In general, I spend as much time as I can not writing code, but instead, understanding how the existing system works. For a current project, I've spent the last two weeks playing with somebody else's code, and now I've expanded it so that it can also operate on my data sets, and I've probably changed fewer than 100 lines across about 5 different projects.

Comment: Re:Trolls: people who hide under bridges? (Score 1) 467

by bmajik (#48990507) Attached to: Twitter CEO: "We Suck" At Dealing With Trolls, Vows To Kick Them Out

Your complaint about anonymity stems from the fact that you suppose that if people weren't anonymous, it would be possible to track them down in the real world and subject them to consequences.

That is precisely what I don't want. Not because I want people to threaten others with real world violence, but precisely because that is what I don't want.

You want to know who people are so if you don't like what they say, you can send others to track them down and punish them.

Comment: Re:Be careful how you define Troll (Score 4, Interesting) 467

by bmajik (#48989123) Attached to: Twitter CEO: "We Suck" At Dealing With Trolls, Vows To Kick Them Out

I went to trolltalk.com just now and was disappointed.

I actually very much like the idea of the internet being a place, or, at least having places, where there is no authority, no oversight, and no rule makers. Where if you say something that upsets people, you are mercilessly attacked -- with speech.

I think of my very early days on IRC - and all of the new ideas I was exposed to.. all of the people who said extremely offensive things... and there was nobody to do anything about it (except perhaps encourage it)... I had to learn to adapt, and I had to learn that other people's words were just that - words -- and that there wasn't any fairy angel to come and save me from not having to hear things I didn't like.

Society needs places like that.

You are correct that what twitter does is twitter's choice. I don't use or care about twitter, because very few people have the talent to say anything at all, much less say it well in 100 characters.

It seems that people are endeavouring to make the internet like the "real world" - where speech codes exist, where stupid people flourish, and where idiots expect others to put up with their idiocy.

I was hoping that the real world would become a bit more like the internet - where there are no rulers, no more identity than one wishes to have, and people come and where they please as they please.

I prefer the online company of intelligent people who are purposefully offensive much more than I prefer idiots who are purposefully offended.

Comment: Do they even math? (Score 3, Interesting) 481

by bmajik (#48986063) Attached to: DOT Warns of Dystopian Future For Transportation

Obviously, I haven't read a 300 page PDF before posting.

But self driving cars don't fundamentally change the traffic problem. And what is needed _today_ in dense urban areas is a fundamental change.

One of the easiest ways to think about this is the impact that cars _necessarily_ have on density. Christopher Alexander explained this simply by thinking about how many square meters of surface different transportation systems take up per person.

Walking is relatively efficient - a person walking only needs perhaps 1 square meter to walk as fast as they like; if they are careful and are going slower, multiple walkers need even less space.

Now consider the personal car. Standing completely still, an automobile needs several meters of ground space. If it is moving in a stream of other vehicles, there must be buffers in front and behind it. It is not unreasonble to think of the ground footprint needed for a moving car as 3 meters of width and 4 meters of length, plus multiples of 4 meters ahead and behind, as speed increases.

So a car - even standing still - takes an order of magnitude more surface space than a human who is walking.

This is the fundamental problem with the individual vehicle. For each person you add, you need 10x that many meters of available surface area to the sub-segments of your road network that that person's automobile will be using.

I very much love the automobile and the driving experience. I do my own vehicle maintenance and i have a dedicated trackday car for when I can get away for a weekend of lapping. I live on a farmstead and there are 6 road legal vehicles parked on my property.

However, cars completely destroy urban density, and it doesn't matter how clean you make them, how self-driving you make them, and, how much safety buffer space you strip away. They simply use space too inefficiently for there to be any meaningful density.

Dense urban areas should have pervasive rail coverage, and that rail coverage should largely be in ugly spaces - like underground, or along the perimeter of industrial districts. On average, someone should be able to get to a subway station after a couple blocks of walking.

In urban areas, the roads as we have them today should largely be repurposed for use by busses for trunk routes that are somehow not well served by rail, and for point to point trips in cabs/ubers/lyfts. Private, single vehicle use of the roadways should be exceptionally expensive, and thus, a rarity undertaken only when financially justifiable by the end user. Electric mini-trucks (as seen in Asia) should be responsible for delivery of larger-than-human cargoes, both personal and business related.

At some point, intermodal containers that are human-scale make sense for moving goods within cities, e.g. imagine a standardized container that was about 1 meter cube; this could be loaded into a special cargo car on most current subway lines, and loading/unloading the containers from that car could be done rapidly and automatically... a half meter intermodal cube could be reasonably carried by a person, through door ways, up stairs, etc, and 8 of them could stack next to or on top of the 1 meter cube...

Many new yorkers already live without cars and take deliveries; bringing efficiencies of scale and uniformity to the delivery system would be a good idea. Democratizing it so that, for instance, at the airport you put your luggage into intermodal cubes (or, depending on where you travelled from, your luggage actually IS intermodal cubes...) and ship them off to your neighborhood, and this is largely done automatically, means that you are not carrying heavy things across a 45 minute subway ride, and you do not feel the need to take a cab ride, and yet you and your things still get to the destination at the same time..

Once cabs and cars are not gridlocking every inch of pavement, some roads should get turned into pedestrian areas; outdoor marketplaces, greenspaces, etc.

For anyone that hasn't had the pleasure of doing so, I really recommend spending some tourist time in the city of Munich. They have an exceptional rail system. You may not have any idea how nice urban life can be.

Comment: What's in a name? (Score 0) 271

by bmajik (#48984791) Attached to: Female-Run Companies Often do Better Than Male-Run Ones (Video)

If you didn't, for a moment, know the appropriate way to pronounce the last name "Tsukinov", you might assume that the "T" is silent and that the u uses the short vowel sound instead of the long vowel sound.

In that case, it would be pronounced something like "sucking off", which is very amusing, in a juvenile way.

And, if Slashdot wasn't overrun with people looking to get offended, and you were as juvenile as I am, you'd giggle about it and move on.

But because Slashdot _is_ overrun by SJWs and other people who love to get offended, I look forward to a lecture about how this joke oppresses women; this joke is responsible for $calamity, and that I'd never make this joke about a man, blah blah blah.

To which I say: Lighten up. You are the cancer that is killing society.

Comment: Re:When everyone is guilty... (Score 4, Interesting) 431

by bmajik (#48926695) Attached to: Justice Department: Default Encryption Has Created a 'Zone of Lawlessness'

#insert observations/law/drferris.h

(preprocessed for your convenience)

"Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it... There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted â" and you create a nation of law-breakers â" and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with.â

Disclaimer: "These opinions are my own, though for a small fee they be yours too." -- Dave Haynie

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