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Comment: Take 'em to small claims court. (Score 1) 263

Take them to small claims court.

Ask for the difference between the billing tier your meter says you should be in and the one they charged you for. Dump your data in a reasonably clear format and show and explain it to the judge. Be prepared to swear that it is correct.

If they overcharge you next month, do it again.

Keep it up until they fix the meter so the agreement is close enough for you to be happy with it (or until the judge gets tired of it and issues an order - either to you or them - to make the cases stop.) It's not barratry - no matter how vexing to the utility - if the suits are legitimate, with real grounds asking for restitution for real damages, nor if the the suits are repeated because there are new instances of the tort.

First time through, ask for all the months for which you have data that shows overcharging. (If you can demonstrate a rule for the systematic overcharging, ask for the overcharges back to the instalation of the system, but be prepared for the judge to reject that.) Up to the small claims price and time limits, of course.

Be polite to the judge. Assume he's smart enough to understand this if you explain it clearly. (Judges don't get to be judges without being smart and good at figuring these things out.)

Comment: That almost happened a while back. (Score 1) 98

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47772063) Attached to: Underground Experiment Confirms Fusion Powers the Sun

The other interesting result would be if the expected neutrino type was not detected by this experiment, invalidating the hypothesis. This would raise further questions such as: is there some other mechanism powering the Sun? Is there something deficient in our understanding of neutrinos that prevented us from detecting them despite them being there?

That almost happened, in the early days of neutrino dectection - before things like old mines full of purified water and 3-D arrays of photodetectors running for months at a time, and you could count the number of detected neutrinos on two hands (in bi-quinary so you could go a bit higher than ten). This was when the detectors could only detect the type of neutrino directly generated by fusion reactions, and before the discovery of neutrino oscillation, when it wasn't yet clear whether neutrinos had no, or very very little, rest mass.

Early numbers, and their error bounds, made it clear that there weren't enough neutrinos being detected. (This was known for years as the "missing neutrino problem".) But the earliest ones WERE about right for a situation where all the stars EXCEPT the sun were running by fusion and the sun was out.

That may sound odd. But there was a very cute explanation that made it plausible:

The gradual gravitatonal collapse of the sun, as heat is radiated away, could power it for millenia. It's nowhere near enough to power it long enough to explain the fossil record, but it IS enough to have kept it running for historic time. Meanwhile, if a fusion reaction were to start up near the center of such a ball of collapsing gas, it would also take many years for the heat to make it to the surface. Neutrinos (which go through the sun like marbles through a light mist) are about the only signature of what's going on in there NOW.

But suppose, instead of fusing continuously, stars were reciprocating engines. They might run without fusion for centuries, or millenia, until they were compressed enough to "light up" at the center. Then the fusion heat and reaction products might make the reaction ramp up. They'd burn for a little while (which would heat them up and expand them mabye a few inches), until the decreased density and/or reduction in fuel and/or accumulation of reaction products "put the fire out" again. Repeat for the life of the star.

In this scenario, if our sun happened to be between "putts (and the very nearest stars didn't happen to have an unusual distribution of where they were in their cycles), you'd see the same neutrio flux from the rest of the sky as if all the rest of the stars were running continuous fusion. That's because it's the average of stars that are "on" and "off", and comes out to the same amount of total fusion and neutrinos.

Of course later data, both larger samples and detectors that could "see" the other neutrino types, put the kibosh on that model. A big part of it was the discovery of neutrino oscillations, allowing a stream of neutrinos that started out as one type in the sun to arrive as a mix of the three types. (This means that neutrinos have a non-zero rest mass, fly slightly slower than light, and thus experience time and are ABLE to change from one type to another.)

A pitty, thugh. By the time this was discovered I had done an outline for a five-volume fiction cycle, working through at least four genres, based on the sun going "putt" from time to time. B-b

Comment: Re:And there is the matter of (Score 1) 98

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47771985) Attached to: Underground Experiment Confirms Fusion Powers the Sun

But, again, neutrino oscillation can't nullify these results, because oscillation only makes neutrinos harder to detect (by changing their "flavor"). It doesn't create neutrino signals where none originally existed (at least not in this sense).

Sure it can: By "oscillating" other flavors of neutrino into the type they're looking for, when they weren't there in the first place (or not in sufficient number).

They'll need to look at the ratio of the various types and back-calculate to eliminate other possible signals, or combinations of them, to see if there is a way for other (possibly unexpected) reactions to produce a signal that looks like the ones expected and/or observed.

Comment: No, it's not anonymous. It's full tracking. (Score 4, Informative) 216

by Animats (#47769815) Attached to: DoT Proposes Mandating Vehicle-To-Vehicle Communications

Here's a more technical discussion from NHTSA. At page 74-75, the data elements of the Basic Safety Message I and II are listed. The BSM Part I message doesn't contain the vehicle ID, but it does contain latitude and longitude. The BSM Part II message has the vehicle's VIN. So this is explicitly not anonymous.

Back in the 1980s, when Caltrans was working on something similar, they used a random ID which was generated each time the ignition was switched on. That's all that's needed for safety purposes. This system has a totally unnecessary tracking feature.

Most of this stuff only works if all vehicles are equipped. It also relies heavily on very accurate GPS positions. However, there's no new sensing - no vehicle radar or LIDAR. The head of Google's autonomous car program is on record as being against V2V systems, because they don't provide reliable data for automatic driving and have the wrong sensors.

If something is going to be required, it should be "smart cruise" anti-collision radar. That's already on many high-end cars and has a good track record. It's really good at eliminating rear-end collisions, and starts braking earlier in other situations such as a car coming out of a cross street. Mercedes did a study once that showed that about half of all collisions are eliminated if braking starts 500ms earlier.

V2V communications should be an extension of vehicle radar. It's possible to send data from one radar to another. Identify-Friend-Foe systems do that, as does TCAS for aircraft. The useful data would be something like "Vehicle N to vehicle M. I see you at range 120m, closing rate 5m/sec, bearing 110 relative. No collision predicted". A reply would be "Vehicle M to vehicle N. I see you at range 120m, closing rate 5m/sec, bearing 205 relative. No collision predicted". That sort of info doesn't involve tracking; it's just what's needed to know what the other cars are doing. It's also independent of GPS. Useful additional info would be "This vehicle is a bus/delivery truck, is stopped, and will probably be moving in 5 seconds.", telling you that the big vehicle ahead is about to move and you don't need to change lanes to go around it.

Comment: "What's coming out of our high schools." (Score 1) 456

by emil (#47767637) Attached to: Limiting the Teaching of the Scientific Process In Ohio

Recent comments by Alan Greenspan paint a dire picture of primary education in the United States:

"We cannot manage our very complex, highly sophisticated capital structure with what's coming out of our high schools."

"If we're not going to educate our kids, bring in other people who want to become Americans."

Under such dire circumstances and an existential threat, now is not the time for bias.

Comment: Re:Illegal (Score 1) 180

by Trailer Trash (#47763941) Attached to: Uber Has a Playbook For Sabotaging Lyft, Says Report

Yeah. I really don't get the nutjobs around here who run around bitching about how Taxis need less and less regulation. It's like they have no idea what it was like before the regulations were put in place. It's not like some politicians got together and conspired over the course of several decades to regulate an industry for the sole purpose of being dicks. Those regulations were instituted because taxi drivers and taxi companies were doing incredibly unethical things that were causing damage to both people and to the economy.

What I really don't get is the nutjobs (looking at you) who don't understand where Taxi regulation has ended up. It's easy to say how bad it used to be but now we have the end game of any regulatory regime where entrenched players totally control the "regulation" in order to tilt the playing field in their favor and erect barriers to entry that are all but impossible for a newcomer to overcome.

It's shameless. In NYC you have to buy a "medallion" in order to have a taxi. Hey, sounds easy, right? I mean, just go to the city and buy one, right?

Wrong.

They sold a very limited number of them and then quit. The secondary market has pushed the price of the medallion into the high 6 figures last I looked, possibly over a million dollars now. Note that's just to run one single cab. The medallions are owned by rich people who use them as an investment and rent them to taxi drivers on a monthly basis.

Now, you tell me: how does that "help" me, the taxi industry, or anybody else besides the people who own the medallions?

In Nashville they had new regulations a few years ago backed by Gaylord (owners of Opryland) to "regulate" the limousine/sedan industry here. Again, utterly shameless. Gaylord was specifically exempted *by name* from the "regulations". The whole point was to drive a company called "Metro Livery" out of service, and hurt others. The regulations force companies to have cars that are no more than 5 years old and prices could be no lower than $50/ride among other things. Yes, they specifically put a minimum price in the ordinance. I had used Metro Livery to get rides to the airport so I knew who they were targeting. Their cars were a few years older but I could get personal sedan service for less than the cost of a taxi.

The entire point was to put a lower cost competitor out of business. Again, how does that help anybody except the big players? Hint: It doesn't.

I agree that this industry needs to be lightly regulated - having a meter requirement for taxis is an example of useful regulation. What we have now is not the regulation that is needed and has nothing to do with helping consumers.

Comment: Address space randomization does not help. (Score 5, Interesting) 97

by Animats (#47763103) Attached to: Project Zero Exploits 'Unexploitable' Glibc Bug

64-bit systems should remain safe if they are using address space randomization.

Nah. It just takes more crashes before the exploit achieves penetration.

(Address space randomization is a terrible idea. It's a desperation measure and an excuse for not fixing problems. In exchange for making penetration slightly harder, you give up repeatable crash bug behavior.)

Comment: What's MediaGoblin? Do we care? (Score 4, Informative) 68

by Animats (#47760275) Attached to: MediaGoblin 0.7.0 "Time Traveler's Delight" Released

The Slashdot article doesn't tell me what MediaGoblin does, or what it's for. Nether does the MediaGoblin site. The documentation, in typical Gnu syle, starts out with "how to participate" and continues with installation instructions.

It's sort of like Wordpress, but with different features and support for streaming media. There's a list of sites that use it. Of the public sites listed, all but one are demos of MediaGoblin. The first site on the list that isn't a a demo and works is this set of baby pictures. There's one site that lets you upload stuff. It's a collection of uploaded pictures with no organization.

This seems to be a publishing system for people with nothing to say.

Comment: Re:Urgh (Score 2) 493

Have you Americans *still* not gotten over this whole Marxist/Communist/Socialist = EVIL thing yet? Your government really did a good job with the propaganda during the Cold War it seems.

Holy shit, dude. It's not the propaganda from the Cold War, it's the tens of millions of dead bodies that Communism produced last century. In my book, that is EVIL, yes. That doesn't mean there aren't other evils in the world or that the US has always been the bastion of freedom that we should be or any of that.

I cannot fathom how someone could be arguing in 2014 that Communism isn't evil.

Comment: Microsoft did something like this once before (Score 4, Interesting) 119

by Animats (#47754445) Attached to: Predictive Modeling To Increase Responsivity of Streamed Games

Back in the 1990s, Microsoft developed something similar. Their idea was to render frames in layers, with the more distant or less active layers rendered less often. if the viewpoint changed, the background layers were scrolled, rotated, or transformed to match, rather than being re-rendered immediately. It never caught on, because graphics hardware became fast enough to re-render everything on for each frame.

This new thing is similar. Mispredicted frames are viewpoint-warped as a temporary measure so the user sees something. The image is wrong, but close enough to look OK until a new rendered frame is sent. It looks OK for Doom, on which it was tested, because Doom is mostly about the shooter and the opponents moving; there's not much general activity in the background. GTA IV/V would probably look much worse than normal.

The whole concept represents a desperate attempt to make something "cloud-based" that shouldn't be.

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