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Comment Re:Not a developer, but... (Score 2) 299

Actually, when you don't know the scope in advance, you need to FLIP the estimate into a maximum allowed effort. Ask the customer how much they are willing to spend on the problem for now, and then do all that you can for that amount and cycle back. When you report how much you did, you'll also know much better how much is left to do. Then you can make another ask.

Works every time.

Comment Not all signees are climate "scientists", exactly (Score 5, Interesting) 737

Edward Maibach, for example, is the Director of Climate Change Communication, and holds a BA in social psychology from University of California at San Diego, an MPH in health promotion from San Diego State University, and a PhD in communication research from Stanford University. He teaches how to talk about climate, but he doesn't study it.

Comment Pattern, repetition, variation, and regulation (Score 3, Interesting) 28

I was struck by the similarities in the shades of colors in the Color Brewer to the use of patterns, repeats, and variations in music. When you hear the same musical pattern repeated over and over, it sets up an expectation in the mind for that pattern to continue. In the Color Blender, choosing a range of mono-chromatic values for a single hue does exactly the same thing. Once we see the pattern of a single color changing value in regular perceptual steps (more on that in a moment), it sets up an expectation that this will continue. By mapping this expectation to a data series, it's easy to understand how that might highlight and enhance one's understanding of how the data is changing, too.

I have always hated the traditional color cubes for exactly the same reason as the professor: the units of control in the interface are wholly out of step with the units of perception. Move a little, and it is supposed to change just a little, but that is not what happens in a color cube!

Music has a similar problem, in that sound is not equally perceived across the range of possible combinations of vibrations. Early musicians invented "scales" of sounds, which are really just a sequence of sweet spots in these combinations that align with our own, internal "data" series -- the series of emotions and thought. When we hear a "sad" song, it literally makes us feel sad, the sound of sadness coincides so closely with the feeling. All of the sadness-inducing notes are collected together into a single, named collection called a "minor" key, something like a library from a programming perspective.

However, even with all the libraries of sound available, it was recognized very early on that the ranges are not mathematically perfect. Sound is composed by the summation of multiple vibrations, some of which cancel each other other, and others that emphasize each other. You have to "temper" the scales, that is, slightly tune them away from mathematical perfection, as you go up or down in pitch, in order for them to be equally perceived.

Comment Re:High Accuracy Point Cloud Data is scary.. (Score 1) 52

All I want is a feedback system to warn me when I'm driving too close to the car ahead of me, or being followed too closely by the car behind. You need a minimum of 2 seconds lead time to avoid running into the car ahead of you, at whatever speed. 1 second is for you to react and start applying the brakes, and 1 second is for the brakes to stop the car. For rain or fog, add 1 second. For snow, +2. For ice, +4.

Comment It is depraved, that's true (Score 3, Interesting) 197

GOT celebrates all the ugly things people can do to each other. I watched it for a little less than a season, until I understood that the point was to just be as horrible as possible.

I don't need to seek out ugliness in my life, the real world is full enough of it as it is.

Comment This is STATISTICS, not SCIENCE (Score 1) 132

This study does not explain anything, because correlation != causation. The correlation could be entirely unrelated to fracking, for all we know, because they chose to spend their money on statistics, not on the scientific method. Imagine what it would have been like if they attempted to prove that fracking causes health problems by repeatable experimentation. Now, that would be interesting.

Comment What does the 'X' in 'UX' mean? (Score 1) 288

So, the letter "X" is supposed to stand for user "experience". But honestly, who would choose that letter to represent that word, or even that concept?

The problem begins at the very root. As long as people think the goal is to design some thing, and not to serve some one, then we will continue to disrespect the user by doing stupid things like throwing away a perfectly good interface and forcing everyone to change all at once.

I wish to dear heaven that everyone in my business would always provide a minimalist interface to everything as an option. It wouldn't be expensive, because you'd never have to change it.

Comment Meanwhile, the US debt keeps piling up, up, up (Score 3, Insightful) 1307

Borrowing, who cares? Federal government spending is on auto-pilot to increase dramatically over the coming decades. When the feds run out of borrowing capacity, they will have no where else to turn but to raid people's investments. We are just as bad as the Greeks. We don't want to pay for our government, either.


Comment Re:Shocker... (Score 1) 278

This. Furthermore, the questions are primarily policy related, so they are especially meaningless. I may agree with you on climate change factually, but utterly disagree with you on what policies we should adopt regarding them. Of course "AAAS Members" don't agree with Joe and Jane Six-Pack, they don't work where they work, they don't live where they live, and so on and so on.

Sheesh. I wish Pew had done a better job here.

Comment Re:Subsidize the supply side (Score 1) 940

How in the hell is housing buying subsidized?

There are at least five major ways that "housing buying" is subsidized by government policy right now.

1. Home Mortgage Interest Deduction. This is a big one. A big fat sop to the "middle class" that knocks every home owner down a couple brackets of the income tax schedule. This one is so significant it drives "over" borrowing. The subsidy is paid in the form of interest on government debt accumulated by forgoing huge amounts of income tax revenue.

2. GSE backed loans. First time buyers and some subsequent purchases use GSE backed financing. That keeps down payments very low and interest rates low because the government backed GSEs are really carrying the risk. The subsidy gets paid in the form of bailouts when lenders fold.

3. Capital gains exemption; most sales of primary residences are exempt from capital gains taxes on money earned selling a home; that makes residential property very liquid. Without this people would move far less often due to the pain of capital gains taxes, and would therefore contribute less net demand. The subsidy is paid in the form of interest on government debt accumulated by forgoing this tax revenue.

4. Cheap money. The Fed, on behalf the the government, has been keeping our fake bubble economy propped up in part with near-zero interest rates since the debt bubble popped last decade. That's why anyone with a pulse can get a 30-year fixed at just over 4%. The subsidy is paid in the form of inflation.

5. Section 8 subsidizes $17 billion worth of purchases (not just rent) per year. Since all housing stock, rental or otherwise, is really part of the supply then one should also count Section 8 rental subsidy as well (another $20 billion per year.)

There are many, many lesser subsides as well (veterans programs, state subsidies, etc.), and I may have overlooked some other big ones.

Our real-estate bubble is public policy. You show me some part of the system where prices are spiraling up and I'll show you tax breaks and subsidies funding the buyers; health care and education are only the two other most obvious examples.

Your good nature will bring you unbounded happiness.