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Comment Well, not ALWAYS the case (Score 2) 381

I will add one thing for the non-US audience. This summary suggests that in America all salaried employees get paid for 40 hours but can be required to work unlimited hours. This is NOT universal. There are many professional jobs that pay the full hourly rate to employees for required time beyond 40 hours, including travel time. My company has thousands of employees and pays fairly. My coworkers from other large engineer firms generally have similar experiences, though some have told me that the first 4 hours of OT always was free, with compensation beyond that.

If I was switching jobs I'm not sure I'd take one where workers regularly are expected to work (significantly) beyond 40 hours. Don't just accept it because you think that's the way it has to be in America.

Comment Overheard at the googleplex (Score 0) 190


Photographs. Shopping lists. Airplane boarding passes. Printable coupons. Signed documents that need to be mailed in. Hard copies of your tax return. Instructions for a fix-it job that you need to take outside. A million other mundane things.

They all or mostly CAN be done on your computer or phone, but many are better to have a paper copy. You know how freaking slow an airplane boarding process would be if everyone used their phone? Do you really get by without printing ever?

Comment Mobile is where progress is happening now (Score 2) 110

Agreed. Maybe they can be recycled or used "for fun" but trying to make them useful for people without smartphones is probably going to take far more time and effort than it's worth. You can get off-contract Android or Windows Phone devices for $50 that are FAR more powerful and have a vast array of current software available. Trying to reinvent the wheel with a PDA from 2005 instead of a smartphone from 2011 is more of a hobby tinkering project that something that anyone else will find useful.

*Also remember battery issues -- these devices will have old batteries that may not charge well and finding replacements may not be easy.

Comment Re:How about... (Score 2) 819

You can always lookup your flight on one of the seat rating sites ahead of time (try SeatGuru for example). You'll get a map of which seats to avoid, and data on the seat width and pitch for each airliner. You shouldn't have to "not know" what you're getting for your money if you just do 5 minutes of research.

Comment Re: cram lots of people in a confined space (Score 1, Insightful) 819

I never cease to be amazed at the number of my coworkers who either don't realize they can, or don't care to, choose their seats ahead of time. We'll get to the airport and they say "I hope they didn't give me a middle seat in the back again!". It only takes a few minutes to logon, add your confirmation number to your frequent flier account, and then pick whatever seat you want. There won't always be a ton of options for free, but don't just resign yourself to sitting in whatever is left at checkin!

Comment Re: Anthropometrics (Score 3, Interesting) 819

It's not even that expensive... there's usually plenty of Economy Plus available ranging from $50-$80 on a cross-country flight, down to $30 on a two hour flight (not exact, just my recollection). Life's too short to worry about $50 and get stuck with your knees jammed into an economy seat for 5 hours -- just pay it if you can. Honestly, if you can't afford the $50, then you probably don't fly long distances very regularly anyway.

Also, for business travelers who don't have elite status, you'd be surprised how many companies out there are willing to pay for extra legroom if you just ask.

Comment testing (Score 1) 359

The *only* use? I completely disagree as an engineer. I have all kinds of "big boy" computational tools at my disposal, but at least once I day I turn on my TI-89 and use it for something. It might just be multiplying a couple numbers, or a square root, or whatever, but it works faster than starting up MATLAB or R to do it or trying to use the terrible windows calculator.

I don't know that I would buy one if I didn't already have it from school years and years ago, but it still works and it's my first instinct when I'm working on something that requires a quick answer but doesn't require more than one or two calculations to get there.

Now that said, I don't ever use any of the graphing functionality. Just the basic math, trig, *maybe* solving for a variable in a simple system.

Comment Re:What about the FPGA? (Score 1) 136

FPGAs don't have any memory capacity? They absolutely do -- SRAM, Flash, whatever you're looking for. Some models can even self-modify their own configurations. Imagine a virus that can not only affect your OS, but actually re-wire the CPU in your computer. There are plenty of ways to compromise an FPGA both in terms of stealing the bit configuration or in terms of hiding malicious "code" inside the unused portion of the FPGA's fabric. The manufacturer could easily do this in cahoots with the NSA, or a highly-skilled operative could do it for any other reason.

Comment Re:RUDEST PASSENGER EVER (Score 1) 928

Southwest doesn't have first class. It's an all coach discount airline. But, they board "A-list" members first and then the rest of the passengers in the order in which they checked in. Everybody lines up in numerical order based on a code on their boarding passes. This guy should have known better if he was indeed an "A-list" frequent flier of Southwest. He should have known to check-in right at 24 hours and there would be no issue.

Science is what happens when preconception meets verification.