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Comment: Re: There's more to EU transport than cheapness (Score 2) 341

by jeti (#47676241) Attached to: Berlin Bans Car Service Uber

No. Standard insurance does not cover commercial drivers. They'd have to get a different kind of insurance. AFAIK if someone with standard insurance caused an accident, the insurance would pay the victims and then demand its money back from the insured person.

Uber would certainly need to verify that its drivers are covered appropriately.

Comment: Re: There's more to EU transport than cheapness (Score 1) 341

by jeti (#47676217) Attached to: Berlin Bans Car Service Uber

1, 2, 3. Insurance, inspections and drivers licenses are strictly controlled in Germany and violations are rare. Furthermore, I'd expect Uber to demand copies of the relevant documents.
1. Uber seems to provide additional insurance to its customers.
2. I think the standards for roadworthy cars are high enough in Germany. If someone wants even higher standards, he can simply not choose to use Uber.
3. With current navigational systems, local geographic knowledge is not very important anymore.
6. The app provides users with knowledge of the drivers behavior towards his customers. That's good enough for me. Giving former criminals an option to earn a living legally seems like a good thing.

I assume that customers of Uber are aware of the compromises they're taking. The rating system in addition to the legal requirements for normal drivers should ensure a high enough safety and quality of service. People who are not content with that can make use of other, more tightly controlled services.

Comment: Re: There's more to EU transport than cheapness (Score 1) 341

by jeti (#47675881) Attached to: Berlin Bans Car Service Uber

1. In Germany, insurance that covers passengers is mandatory for anyone driving a car.
2. All cars have pass inspection every two years.
3. The tests to get a drivers license are quite stringent and you have to take driving lessons at a licensed school.
4. A drivers license will be revoked quickly if you rack up penalty points.
5. The Uber app should be able to warn users if the driver takes a longer route than necessary.
6. AFAIK, the Uber app provides ratings for drivers and customers and both drivers and customers can be rejected beforehand by the other party.

Comment: Re:Yes. Defenitely. (Score 1) 190

by jeti (#47586129) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Fight Against Online Voting In Our Municipality?

The German supreme court ruled that any election mechanism must provide accountability in a form that is verifiable without special knowledge. The voting machines in use did not provide this feature. Other implementations combine electronic voting with a paper trail and would be acceptable. In fact we've been using paper ballots in combination with a barcode scanner to count complex elections. We can't verify the software (which is a glorified Excel sheet that allows for manual corrections anyway), but we can look over each others shoulders and we do still have a paper trail that can be verified.

Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 1) 212

It sounds like this transformer had its center tap grounded and was the path to ground on one side of a ground loop as the geomagnetic field moved under pressure from a CME, inducing a common-mode current in the long-distance power line. A gas pipeline in an area of poor ground conductivity in Russia was also destroyed, it is said, resulting in 500 deaths.

One can protect against this phenomenon by use of common-mode breakers and perhaps even overheat breakers. The system will not stay up but nor will it be destroyed. This is a high-current rather than high-voltage phenomenon and thus the various methods used to dissipate lightning currents might not be effective.

+ - Letter to Congress: Ending U.S. Dependency on Russia for Access to Space 1

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "I've sent a letter to my district's senators and member of congress this evening, regarding how we should achieve a swifter end to U.S. dependency on the Russians for access to space. Please read my letter, below. If you like it, please join me and send something similar to your own representatives. Find them here and here. — Bruce

Dear Congressperson Lee,

The U.S. is dependent on the Russians for present and future access to space. Only Soyuz can bring astronauts to and from the Space Station. The space vehicles being built by United Launch Alliance are designed around a Russian engine. NASA's own design for a crewed rocket is in its infancy and will not be useful for a decade, if it ever flies.

Mr. Putin has become much too bold because of other nations dependence. The recent loss of Malaysia Air MH17 and all aboard is one consequence.

Ending our dependency on Russia for access to space, sooner than we previously planned, has become critical. SpaceX has announced the crewed version of their Dragon spaceship. They have had multiple successful flights and returns to Earth of the un-crewed Dragon and their Falcon 9 rocket, which are without unfortunate foreign dependencies. SpaceX is pursuing development using private funds. The U.S. should now support and accelerate that development.

SpaceX has, after only a decade of development, demonstrated many advances over existing and planned paths to space. Recently they have twice successfully brought the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket back to the ocean surface at a speed that would allow safe landing on ground. They have demonstrated many times the safe takeoff, flight to significant altitude, ground landing and re-flight of two similar test rockets. In October they plan the touchdown of their rocket's first stage on a barge at sea, and its recovery and re-use after a full flight to space. Should their plan for a reusable first-stage, second, and crew vehicle be achieved, it could result in a reduction in the cost of access to space to perhaps 1/100 of the current "astronomical" price. This would open a new frontier to economical access in a way not witnessed by our nation since the transcontinental railroad. The U.S. should now support this effort and reap its tremendous economic rewards.

This plan is not without risk, and like all space research there will be failures, delays, and eventually lost life. However, the many successes of SpaceX argue for our increased support now, and the potential of tremendous benefit to our nation and the world.

Please write back to me.

Many Thanks

Bruce Perens"

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