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Comment: Re:Just as long as it's not XK-class. (Score 2) 145

by bored_engineer (#47877977) Attached to: X-Class Solar Flare Coming Friday

Bad news for me, though. I live at 65 degrees north latitude, and had a power outage for most of a week last winter in November. (That's fall for those of you who have more than two seasons.) There were so many trees in lines and transformers blown that they had to bring parts from outside, and crews from Anchorage. While the temperatures weren't yet brutal, (actually, they never really got there last winter) 0F in November is quite enough to freeze pipes.

Thankfully, I have a wood stove, a slightly abnormal interest in portable lights, and more portable cooking stoves than any one family can possible need. There's one cell tower close to my home, and I charged a large battery and my devices at work each day, so I didn't even lose internet access. I lost running water, but easily melted enough snow for water for drinking, washing and toilet-flushing. I also used snow to keep everything in the refrigerator cold, and moved everything in the freezer outside into a cooler. I was much happier than the neighbors 1/2 mile each way.

Unfortunately, we're facing an unseasonably warm September. I'm not sure what I'll do if power's out for several days right now. I can buy water and dry ice from town, but will the internet pipes freeze up? ;-)

Comment: Re:TI calculators are not outdated, just overprice (Score 1) 359

by bored_engineer (#47829593) Attached to: How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms
In response to another comment, I took a look at the 50g, and at the Prime and very nearly bought the 50g right then. I noticed, though, that I can get a used 48gx for $200-$250. It's a hefty price difference, but there's zero learning curve. Maybe I'll think about it for another year or so. . .

Comment: Re:RPN FTW (Score 1) 359

by bored_engineer (#47828149) Attached to: How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms

Take a look on Amazon for the HP50G for $87. It reviews well, and the top reviewer appreciates the feel of the keys. I bought an HP35S for the PE exam a few years ago, and keep it for a backup in case my 48GX dies, but I don't really like it. Unless it's directly on a desk surface*, it frequently misses the "enter" and the "+" keys. You can imagine, I'm sure, that missing any key can be a real pain in the ass. Also, the stack on the HP35S is frequently too small for my needs; doing simple statistical work on it sucks; it has very little unit conversion; and, memory available for programs is just too damn small.

I've been waiting, but you may have helped me make up my mind to buy the 50G, instead of trying to find a used 48GX

I also noticed that HP is making one that they call the "prime." It sells for $115, and I have no idea about the keys. The top reviewer on Amazon loves the thing to death, but mentions that "RPN Mode" needs more work. If "RPN Mode" needs more work, I'm not sure that it'll be all that useful for me.

*I tend to put my calculator on my engineering pad, or perhaps on a reference book while I'm doing calculations.

Comment: Re:TI calculators are not outdated, just overprice (Score 1) 359

by bored_engineer (#47827549) Attached to: How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms
It hasn't been open-book since, at least, 2000. When I took it, I was given a small booklet with useful equations and a pencil. The only materials I was allowed to bring were my calculator and my coffee. (Maybe I had an eraser, too. When I took the PE exam, they wouldn't even let me have my own eraser.)

Comment: Re:TI calculators are not outdated, just overprice (Score 1) 359

by bored_engineer (#47827523) Attached to: How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms
They disallowed calculators like the HP-48 beginning in 2000, the year I walked into the exam with an HP-48. Thankfully, the proctor allowed the calculators because NCEES had done a poor job of informing examinees. I doubt that there were more than a handful of students who had anything besides a graphing calculator, with the HP-48 being the clear majority. I'll be in bad shape when that calculator finally dies.

Comment: Re:people charge of traffic lights are engineers b (Score 2) 144

by bored_engineer (#47731233) Attached to: It's Easy To Hack Traffic Lights
Unfortunately, those sensors sometimes fail. With no "call," then one direction may never get a green light. (Of course, if this happens, then the tech will call an engineer to get a timing plan, then go out and reprogram the faulty controller, if it's not networked.) Freezing conditions, et c. can ruin in-ground loop sensors, and optical sensors can become befuddled by fog, snow and sun. Radar-based sensors are becoming more common, and because they're mounted on an arm or on a pole, they can be replaced more easily than the inductive loops.

Comment: Re:Don't emergency vehicles use this? (Score 2) 144

by bored_engineer (#47731021) Attached to: It's Easy To Hack Traffic Lights

It's called signal preemption. Opticom is IR-based, and in fairly common use. There are several other systems available for signal preemption, including:

  • --GPS-equipped vehicles communicate with a control center, which does the preemption,
  • --audio-based, which react (hopefully) to a siren,
  • --rf-based.

There may be others, but these are the ones I'm familiar with.

Comment: Re:This is ridiculous. (Score 1) 146

by bored_engineer (#47715455) Attached to: Researchers Find Security Flaws In Backscatter X-ray Scanners

Article four, clause 1 includes the text:

the right of a citizen of one State to pass through, or to reside in any other State, for purposes of trade, agriculture, professional pursuits, or otherwise;

This is the basis for the conclusion that we have a specifically protected right to travel.

Comment: nuisance fee (Score 4, Interesting) 376

by bored_engineer (#47699489) Attached to: Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up

The trouble is, that this is just a nuisance fee. I can pay $20 out-of-pocket to make a bogus "piracy claim" go away. I'm sure, though, that they'll include contractual language asserting my guilt, even though I've never downloaded from The Pirate Bay or its ilk. Once they've confirmed that I'm willing to pay, how many times will they come back? The article mentioned settling accounts exceeding $300 for multiple "infringements."

Also, how are they going to convince my ISP, with whom I have both an ongoing relationship and competitive alternatives, to do this?

Comment: Re:Seems strange. (Score 2) 151

by bored_engineer (#47324941) Attached to: Neanderthals Ate Their Veggies

. . .except maybe inuit, since there isn't much to 'gather' on the ice. . .

They didn't really live on the ice. It was just a temporary place to use while hunting. While the Inupiat and Yupik (as well as other Inuit people) obtained (and many still do) most of their calories from hunting, they still gathered and preserved tubers, lichen, seaweed and berries. I don't think any Inuit cultivated crops, but some did practice animal husbandry.

Comment: Re:Is God falsifiable? (Score 1) 649

by bored_engineer (#47269057) Attached to: Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools

Interestingly, my father-in-law, an orthodox sephardic rabbi, insists that there is no contradiction. (I love this guy. I've never met anybody, except my wife, more capable of mental flexibility while maintaining his dogma.) He asserts (very briefly) that the timeline before the seventh "day" is God's, while the timeline thereafter is ours. He also asserts that our understanding of the universe is incomplete, and we *need* science to improve our understanding, and that accepting scientific knowledge about our world and universe will lead to a better understanding of God. (Or, our scientific tools are another of His ways to help us understand the Universe more completely.)

Please note that this is a two-sentence distillation of 20 years' intermittent discussion between him and me; much is lost in my delivery.

"Life, loathe it or ignore it, you can't like it." -- Marvin the paranoid android