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Comment Homes shouldn't be retrofitted for smart (Score 3, Insightful) 248

Some years back, I worked in home automation. During that time, I realized that the key is not retrofitting a home (that's an invitation for trouble or gimmickry) but to build a home with smart features in mind in the first place (ex: vent airflow and temperature sensors, actuators to adjust vents, etc.) Unfortunately, house builders were not really serious about the effort at the time and resorted to gimmickry anyway, when they could (calling a movie theater room with a single light and a touch panel controller 'home automation.')

What landed me the job was my "resume" - which was a side project where I automated a window shade controller and controlled it remotely through a linux machine. I cannibalized a worm gear out of an old VCR, connected it to a rotary window shade thing. Believe I used a segment of duct tape as a rudimentary U-joint. The motor was controlled by the parallel port and an H bridge, and a cron task would open the window shades in the morning and close them in the evening.

That was my first lesson in home automation: longevity. Home automation products, being new, aren't really tested for durability. My prototype certainly wasn't. At some point the contact switches I used for measuring rotation failed, and I came home to my venerable Linux machine twisting the window shades for hours.

Comment The DSM IV connection (Score 1) 542

Before you condemn American people for being unstable, you may want to step back and examine the relationship between medicare, medicaid, and substance abuse clinics in the states.

Short story is that some substance abuse clinics have started to diagnose abusers with mental disorders in proportions never seen before. Why? Possibly because state and federal funds will unquestionably reimburse for treating users - but the DSM IV diagnoses cost astronomically more than weaning drugs. This trend alone is responsible for pharmaceutical ramp-up, as drug prescriptions went up more than 100-fold in some places.

The Baltimore Sun investigated this trend and wrote up a series of articles.

Comment Consider mobile- iPhone/Android games with Corona (Score 1) 172

Mobile computing is on the rise, and gaming is a strong component of it. There is a toolkit that will let you program in LUA (fairly common in game engines these days) and it will generate programs for both iPhone / iPad and Android at the same time. Programming is simple and the new game engine employs physics and other gizmos.

See game release:


Comment Here's why this is a "yes" (Score 1) 402

Having access to and mutilating the environment are two completely different things. Treating developers as hostiles by server admins doesn't create the friendliest work environment.

There is a big difference between a bug and the reason why the bug occurred - having access to a production environment is paramount to understanding the underlying issue.

In most newspaper sites the headline / lede / seo field / first graf may is usually programmatically brought in as the META description for SEO purposes (unless specifically overridden). It's a fairly common assumption that this field would be pure text and overlooked in that it doesn't need sanitization. Of course, it's also a fairly common consequence that some silly editor eventually breaks the site by putting HTML code in fields they weren't meant to house. You'd be surprised how many (even big) media sites fail to sanitize these fields.

Onto my point: having HTML (or faulty HTML for that matter) inside a HEAD description field seems like a bug. Sure, you can replicate the error by copying the environment and fix it by stripping anything unexpected out. However - that may not be the root of the problem. Thus, developers end up putting bandaids on a system and treating symptoms rather than curing the problem.

When copying this environment to reproduce the issue, one might simply grab the part that's affected, ignoring the user - CMS preferences which would actually end up telling you what the problem was. What a developer SHOULD do instead is poke around the environment, notice that this was a common occurrence with particular users, talk to the editors in question and shadow them for awhile to understand why this sort of thing keeps repeating.

In many cases, I've seen editors take advantage of programming or security holes to produce far richer and personalized web content than the original design or system permitted. By treating this problem out of the production environment context, the editorial side is completely cut out of the feedback and has no say in the matter and their creative outlet disappears with no dialogue. This in turn breeds hostility and distrust between technology and content.

I can assure you that in reality there is minimal dialog between developers, designers, project managers - and - editors. In my past experience access to the production environment was the only means of lateral communication between abstract technology and persons who use it. In my cases, I've been able to provide editors with features they hesitated to request to circumvent problems while still tightening various holes. This, in turn, improved everyone's day.

Look at it from a philosophical view- you don't want developers to be "writin' them codes" in vacuum of non-editorial space. They need to be a bit more intimately involved with the entire publishing cycle from start to end and not be ticket-solving space cadets when it comes to solving problems.

Comment How big before you can't call it creative? (Score 1) 2

When I went, I went along with "old blood." As late (or early) as 2003, the "elites" had disdain for all the "new blood" trash that was amassing. The "elites" had reminisced about the old days when only handfuls would gather and do crazy things like shoot fully automatic machine guns in the desert. Somehow they couldn't put it through their heads that large numbers of people have no sense of either collective or individual responsibility and thus have to be policed.

To me, there is no "radical self expression, self-reliance, creativity and freedom" in this event any longer; however, there are a few *individuals* who have those traits, but all others are audience. The CYA agreement just reaffirms their identity as a corporation.

Comment Re:Ummm (Score 1) 76

This wouldn't be a question of data entry. In most cases, the data is already there. All you need is a way to connect it. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau has a list of neighborhoods and their polygonal borders.

Now, the CS students in your reference would simply apply a PIP (point-in-polygon) algorithm to see which neighborhood a particular lat, lon coordinate belongs to.

And since that's computationally intensive, the CS "students" would have to know a bit about optimization - including quad trees, and so forth. Bla.

Comment This is a modern take on RAD (Score 1) 244

While vi and a Web Browser is good enough for some, I'd take just the Web Browser. Rapid development needs to break out of the constant theoretical-writing-uploading/saving-previewing cycle and that's why I put together my "eval2" project for PHP.

This video tells it better:

While the example is ultra-simplistic, I use this every day for altering regex or otherwise previewing REAL data as I protoype code. Anyhow, the typical horse and buggy mentality backlash against this approach has been "well, I can just do php -a".

For the interested, see

"Necessity is the mother of invention" is a silly proverb. "Necessity is the mother of futile dodges" is much nearer the truth. -- Alfred North Whitehead