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Comment Re:SMS is not a reliable alternative (Score 2) 271

I am part of a couple of groups that use SMS (sent from an email list server) for notifications.
Sometimes it works great, sometimes they are delayed 30min, 1hr, ...
Its amazing the phone companies can charge so much and offer so little.

Another issue with SMS "paging" is that phones are often not set up for that. By default, they're usually set up to be more discreet. They will often play a notification ONCE when the SMS comes in, and if you miss it, don't wake up, etc., you're screwed, especially if you're the only point of contact. A real pager will usually be much more persistent, which is important for heavy sleepers like me.

Comment Re:So what should we do? (Score 2) 564

Corvette owner dying in the car because he didn't know about the mechanical release levers on the floor, the targa latches on the roof or the hatch release in the rear...

To be fair the most recent case I heard about involved an elderly man and his dog. The man was found with the owner's manual in his lap, trying to find out how to open the door without a functioning electrical system. The mention of the latch location is buried somewhere on page 67 or some shit. It should be in the first few pages.

That's even worse than my Boxster, where they've locked the battery under a trunk lid that requires battery power to open...

Comment Re:So what should we do? (Score 1) 564

This reminds me of the worst interface design I've seen in a long time. This Holmes heater:

Brilliant idea. One single button. You have to push it repeatedly to go through every temperature setting with low fan, then press it repeatedly to go through all the temperatures again in high fan speed. Absolutely the stupidest design I've ever seen. I would like to see them design a computer keyboard. Those brilliant minds would give us a keyboard with one button you press repeatedly a hundred times to enter a single character.

Ah, so that's who Bethesda has been hiring to design the Fallout PC interfaces! It all makes sense now...

Comment Re:another obstacle for HSR in USA? (Score 1) 218

USA struggles just to get started in high speed rail systems of what rest of industrialized countries has for years.

Expensive HSR just doesn't make sense in the US. Look at a map of Japan, for example - its geography forces the major cities to be more or less lined up, such that rail built between any two major cities will be usable by a lot of traffic not necessarily going to or from those cities. The major cities in the US are all over the place, often with huge distances in between. You'd limit the potential passengers to only the people going between that handful of cities (which is made even worse, since with more major cities, there are more possible destinations to not have HSR yet).

Comment Re:Grace? (Score 1) 582

There is also an unwritten "grace" that is given in many areas, where you don't ticket someone until they go 10 mph above the speed limit. To get a ticket for going 34 mph in a 25 mph zone usually means you angered a cop, you were doing it in bad weather or at some other time when it was unsafe, or you wandered into a local town's legal extortion racket--excuse me, speed trap.

It is constitutionally questionable because of vagueness and due process, but it's still how driving works in a good part of the United States.

I've done quite a few ride-alongs with my local PD, and almost universally, for the officers not dedicated to traffic enforcement, they couldn't care less about run-of-the-mill speeding. They would home in on people doing so supidly/unsafely instead, or going way over the limit. (Me: "that one was 15 over" Him: "nah, just wait, we'll get one doing 20-25 over")

Comment Re:legalism is a crap philosophy. (Score 1) 582

That's all fine and good until you throw snow and ice into the mix, then all those objects become wrapped around cars and cause accidents from the excessive braking/swerving required to navigate them during inclement weather. I've lost count of how many signs and poles I've seen bent over clear to the ground after storms, or cars losing control in S-curves from the "scenic/safer" road design.

Also, if I have to navigate an obstacle course to get through a pedestrian crossing, I'm probably going to be looking at the obstacles, instead of the approaching cyclist or pedestrian.

Comment Re:An experiment (Score 1) 832

Then, if Twitter shuts you down, you would have a pretty open and shut case as to preferential and selective treatment.

Which isn't actually such a bad thing in this particular case (although substitute "different" for "preferential"). If some random Joe is spewing hate, Twitter can probably rightly say that it's unproductive and unwanted. On the other hand, if someone running for high public office is spewing the same thing, perhaps it's better that everyone is informed of their opinions.

Comment Re:Electric trucks make a lot of sense (Score 1) 223

Electric trucks make a lot of sense... if you can get the price down.

Trucks benefit from having lots of torque for pulling, towing and hauling. If you went with a hub motor design, each wheel independently powered and each on a motorized jack, you could create a phenomenal off-road vehicle, able to adapt to all sorts of terrain.

The challenge is that trucks also need decent range even when pulling a heavy load. My pickup has a 600+-mile range, not because I need to drive that far but so when I'm pulling something that cuts my fuel efficiency in half I still have a 300-mile range.

The nice thing about an electric truck is that extra battery capacity would be easy to build into a trailer that needed it when being towed. Bonus: You're not hauling around that weight when you don't need it.

Comment Re:How is that legal without a warrant? (Score 1) 442

The officer then pulls the driver over and offers them a devil's bargain: get arrested, or pay the original fine with an extra 25% processing fee tacked on,

The driver should just tell the Officer "That information is incorrect, the debt is in dispute. Do you have a warrant for this?"

Those fees/fines, if left unpaid, are almost always accompanied by a warrant. In the past, if you were pulled over for some reason, a warrant for this sort of thing meant you were going to jail (wasted time, money, maybe even lose your job if you miss work), and your car impounded (more $$$).

At least now you have the option to pay up without the ride.

The only real news is the extortionately high "processing fee".

Comment Re:Liability... (Score 1) 293

Self driving cars also still need insurance; just not as much. And a large portion of the insurance burden will fall to manufacturers instead of just on drivers. Insurance companies will not be able to make the same kind of profit overall on large multinational car companies that they can on the public.

I would think most of the large car manufacturers would self-insure. Think about it - this isn't insuring against something massive that only happens very rarely. It will be a constant stream of claims. Thus, if they know there's going to be an average of $X in yearly payouts, it makes more sense for them to pay it themselves, rather than pay an insurance company $X + profit.

Comment Re:Lots of money (Score 1) 117

We so need a corporate death penalty. This isn't quite the case for it to be used but, it should certainly exist. Also, if the corporation is sentenced to death, all of the C-level executives should have an automatic prison sentence that can be enhanced for their crimes.

In theory, I support the idea, but the problem is that in practice, you could end up putting 100,000 people out of a job. They would have absolutely no influence on how the company is run, and may not be in a position to rock the boat anyway, since they have to feed their families, too.

Perhaps it could work something like this: Throw the execs in jail, then confiscate all stock, and re-allocate it evenly among the remaining employees. As the sole remaining shareholders, it would be up to them to find good leadership and put things right if they want to keep their jobs. That could also be a hell of an incentive to blow the whistle.

Comment Re:Probably not terror at all. (Score 2) 60

I'd be willing to bet that all of those fiber cuts were caused by would-be copper thieves who didn't know how to tell the difference between the two. Copper wire theft is happening fairly frequently in the Bay Area, thanks in no small part to growing poverty rates.

Our company has circuits all over the place, and by far, the most common notes from the carriers regarding cable cuts is "cable damaged by construction activity nearby. dispatching splice team." IOW, some dumbass with a backhoe.

Comment Re:Great Parents!! (Score 1) 307

" In this case, one twin decided to smoke marijuana, while the other did not."

That means that there is a clear bias. The teen who is smart enough to figure out that they have been sold a load of hyperbole and smoke a bowl is clearly smarter than the one who, proudly no doubt, abstains from consumption.

Or, the teen who is smart enough to realize that dabbling in an illegal drug has consequences that can totally fsck up their life, regardless of the drug's toxicity level or health effects, chose to abstain, while the one not smart enough to figure that out didn't.

Comment Re:Let's see... (Score 2) 186

How many workers does it take to do this?

As many as it takes to discourage requests from the citizens.

Well, what if that 190 hours is actually ~800 specific 15-minute segments? Suddenly it's less than $50 each. Still seems a bit high, but I can imagine requests like "the footage of X event," where they have to go figure out whose camera, exactly what time, etc. for each segment.

Just "all the footage for this day from these 8 officers"... yeah $36k is crazy.

Comment Re:What else is searched for (Score 1) 284

Once the government has the ability to scan files belonging to hundreds of millions of users for a specific document, it might be easy to broaden that. Searches for similar documents. Searches for a standard set of illegal materials - say known child porn images. Searches for copyrighted materials like movies and audio.

Specifically searching for a specific document with a known like to terrorism doesn't bother me, but the extensions do. I absolutely do not want to give the government the right to search for anything illegal - and I don't see a clear way to enforce the distinction.

The innocent have nothing to fear, but there are few absolutely innocent people

Use of public/private key crypto could make it possible for the authorities to do this kind of search without being able to see the contents of files, or look for "similar" stuff.

If the files stored are encrypted with your public key, only you can see the actual contents; however, the authorities can take a specific file, encrypt it to your public key, and THEN see if any of the files in your account match. They can't go on a fishing expedition to see if something "suspicious" is there.

Unfortunately, a single bit difference in the file would render this technique useless...

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