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Comment Re:What should happen but won't (Score 1) 718

Fortunately, the evidence is all pointing to you being wrong. That's why ownership is lawful. The reason is not exclusionary and the right is ours.

I think Johnny Cash said it very well: "Don't take your guns to town, son. Leave your guns at home." There are lots of responsible uses for guns and lots of responsible gun owners. There are a few fucking morons out there, and the penalties for irresponsible gun use and ownership are nearly non-existent. No one needs to take his gun to the bar: once someone has that hammer, an awful lot of problems start to look like nails.

Comment Re:Future of R, now that programmers use it? (Score 2) 161

I actually program exclusively in R and fine it OK once you learn the quirks. Where it excels is in sort of "jotting" down thoughts about programs. e.g. you can define a S3 class and then make one that only has a few of the properties, or claim your object is a class it is not. This would drive any Java programer bananas but it's super nice for going fast and loose.

Similarly, the fact that it can recover your call in addition to the arguments you passed makes several functions work much better when you haven't specified all of the optional arguments. Once you have specified them then it's back to irrelevant.

Comment Re:Seriously?? (Score 5, Insightful) 151

I do, why am I wrong?
Typical usage : I log onto distant machine, start working in command line (vim, python, matlab -nodesktop), then at some point I will need to display a couple of graphs or images. That's a relatively small graphical payload for which I *do not* want to use VNC. With ssh -X I get the windows to be displayed locally just as if I was doing the work on my light-weight terminal.

Comment Re: Emergency Brake? (Score 1) 564

Oh. I want to add:

I know these things not because I think I'm a better driver than everyone else (studies show: everyone else also thinks they are a better driver). I learned them because my Dad taught them to me eons ago in a fairly narrow wintry parking lot with the family's new, not-at-all paid for vehicle.

Properly driving on ice/snow/(special simulating oil in warm climates?) should be required training, because it teaches basic vehicle dynamics in a way that can never be normally experienced in a real car on city streets, except in emergencies.

And emergencies are no time to learn, but instead are a time to react instinctively.

"OK, adolf. Visualize some marks for yourself way over there, and remember where they are. Now get going smoothly as fast as you can (getting moving at all was lesson 1), and then immediately turn the wheel and tap the brake. Yeah, you're sideways. Remember those marks you set for yourself earlier? Hit them. And then recover, and neatly park right where you started so you can do it again. Try not to hit the curb."

[Try, fail.]

"But dad, I can't."

[Dad demonstrates the maneuver very sideways, but handily.]

"You cheated, Dad."

Dad: "It's not cheating if it works."

Not everyone has that Dad. Everyone should, but that's impossible. These things need taught somewhere, by someone, though: We wouldn't have any more Toyota debacles if emergency driving were taught alongside casual driving, though we might have a lot more hooning around corners in relative safety...

(Yeah, the topic is the parking / "emergency" brake. My dad taught me about that, too. I'm a grown-ass man (UID checks out), now, but perhaps it should go without saying that my Dad was driving the S-15 and I was working the parking brake in the Safari to stop both vehicles. I already knew how to do this, calmly and successfully, from lessons decades ago, though I've only rarely had to put it into practice.

Learning vehicle dynamics sets the wheels in motion, though, for doing proper emergency braking -- which should also be taught, for those who are slow learners.

And every. fucking. time. when I had my temps and something went wrong, he was like "adolf, #21054, think about what went wrong back there and how you could've done it better." At first, I had no clue, and had to ask for the answer -- which was provided. Eventually, it became second nature to ask myself what I did wrong automatically, analyze it, and answer myself. And eventually the moves became instinctive and automatic. Two weeks after I got my license, teenager-me was thus trusted to go traverse the US solo to hook up with his out-of-state girlfriend, because he (Dad) -knew- I had this stuff down.)

(I still can't parallel park for fuck, though. Dad never taught me that, and the licensed driver's ed instructor was too micromanaging for me to learn anything. It's only been a couple of decades...)

Comment Re: Emergency Brake? (Score 1) 564

Yeah, speeds were moderate -- maybe 45 at tops. (Which might be worse than 55 with a single vehicle, with inverse-square law applied, but I don't feel like mathing right now)

And of course I was gentle on it. In an emergency, including when the master cylinder fails in a two-vehicle towing exercise, one should always be gentle with everything. And it was hard work actuating that parking brake pedal, and my knee (which isn't in the best of shape to begin with) was very sore and weak for days. But I was stopping over and over again, not just once: My knee would've noticed that I stopped once but I'd have been able to walk normally if I only had to stop both heavy vehicles once. These repeated stops properly hurt my body, but I still got it done.

And that's the truth. On with the wild conjecture:

If a single vehicle's engine were in runaway mode (which is ridiculously unlikely with a gas-fired thing with a Bowden cable instead of a linkage, unlike any diesel or (some) FBW Toyotas), the last thing I'd do is use a parking / "emergency" brake -- the first thing I'd try to do is disable the engine, and failing that try to disengage the transmission, and failing that I'd use the hydraulic service brakes -- gently but astutely, and only once. Wherever the car stops is wherever the car stops.

This will never happen with a real manual transmission that includes a manual clutch, because you can always disengage a manual transmission both the clutch and the shift linkage fail simultaneously.

But to complete this absurd scenario, once stopped, I'll simply hold my foot on the power-assisted brake and take my time figuring out how to kill the engine (on a ridiculously-overpowered car, this might mean that one or both drive wheels are spinning at around torque converter lockup RPM, but the car will still be largely stationary if being somewhat angry and terrifying. And a stubborn and stuck electronic dual-clutch automatic has probably stalled the engine long ago in these failure modes simply by being engaged with the wheels nearly or completely stopped).

Note that I didn't mention the parking brake in the above three paragraphs: It's ridiculously unlikely that the engine runs away (even on a diesel with a catastrophic turbo failure) and cannot be stopped, AND the transmission cannot be disengaged, AND the service brakes fail.

It could happen though, I guess, in this world of a million monkeys and a million typewriters. And if it does happen, you can bet your ass I'm using everything I have, including dragging my foot Fred Flintstone style. The parking / "emergency" brake might not be able to completely overcome the power of the engine, but it will at least dump some forward speed as heat and lengthen my short life by maybe enough few precious seconds that I can develop a safe crash plan.

I'm using it.

Did I miss anything?

Comment Re:You're doing it wrong... (Score 1) 137

Alright, first I want to thank you for participating. I meant to do this before, but forgot. So often an Ask Slashdot happens, and the asker never interacts at all.

I can tell from your description that what you experienced was a surge from line to neutral.

Here's what's supposed to happen in any "surge protector" in this scenario:

The surge exceeds the breakover voltage of the MOV that is across line and neutral (which it must have, as it was the MOVs turning conductive that generated the heat that melted the housing). This does two things: It attempts to shunt the voltage, and also draws lots of current.

The circuit breaker (ever notice that the power switch on a surge-protected strip usually says On/Reset?) on the power strip is then supposed (via heating, electromagnetics, or both) to detect this excess ("lots") of current, and disconnect one leg of the mains. Once the breaker trips, things are supposed to be fine until reset, and then function normally (though MOVs do age as they get used like this and you should replace/repair the suppressor before absolutely trusting it again).

At least some of these things didn't happen. And sometimes, the MOVs get blown to bits by transient voltage, in which case they can't do anything further to help.

So. As much as I want to, and in fact did, say that a proper mdoern PSU should be reasonably unaffected by a line-to-neutral transient surge, apparently that wasn't the case here: Either its internal protection failed to be effective, or was effective briefly before being overwhelmed by the duration.

It might have sacrificed itself by blowing its own internal fuse: A post-mortem tear down is always a good idea with stuff like this, even if it involves taking it to the alley behind the hotel and paying neighborhood kids to pummel it with cement blocks until it opens. You'll see what's broken/fried/sacrificial, and learn to make better choices next time, and maybe come back and tell us all about it.

That all said: I tender the following three possible off-the-shelf solutions:

1. A Ditek surge suppressor. These are MOV and circuit-breaker based like most, but they advertise having lower breakover voltages than most others and are therefore more sensitive.

2. A Transtector surge suppressor. These are avalanche diode based unlike most, and are advertised to shunt surges earlier, faster and with more current capability than any MOV-based suppressor. They also use circuit breakers instead of fuses.

3. Someone here mentioned, I think, a Belkin design that includes a fuse, which is doubtless also MOV-based. Having a fuse seems low-tech, but fuses are generally -much- faster than circuit breakers and you can tailor the size of the fuse to your expected load, whereas a circuit breaker will always be sized for the maximum ampacity of the entire power strip. You'd want to install the smallest fuse you can get away with (buy a kill-a-watt or other thing that can measure current, too, to be sure). And you'll know if it's too small because it will blow inconveniently and often.

The idea with #3 is that the MOVs shunt the voltage, the fuse blows very quickly (much faster than a breaker), and there is no drama. Fuses are also much simpler and more reliable than $0.50 circuit breakers. Carrying a few extra (or a dozen!) fuses of different values shouldn't be a big deal as they are small and light and often come with appropriate packaging, and if they're AGC fuses (which they probably are) then you can find replacements literally anywhere on the globe.

IIRC, it comes with a 3A fuse. This seems totally appropriate for multinational use of a modern laptop with its 100-200W PSU, along with a small thing or two like a clock and a real cell phone charger.

(I really like #3, having thought this through for a couple of days)

Note, though, that in all cases (and for all countries!) you'll want to buy a 240V suppressor. I stand by and maintain that a global PSU will work with anything even resembling a sine wave at 240 nominal (including occasional BRIEF! surges well beyond that) for eons without episode, and that it was the duration of this particular surge that caused things to go ape-shit, so there is no harm, and zero increased risk to using a 240V suppressor in a 100 or 120V country.

Good luck.

Comment Re: Emergency Brake? (Score 1) 564

Recently towed a loaded, disabled GMC Safari across town and about 15 rural miles with a chain, behind a loaded GMC S15.

Part way through the trip, the brake master cylinder on the Safari turned into a leaky mess and failed to be effective.

For the remainder of the trip, I was stopping both the Safari and the S15 using only the Safari's mechanical parking brake.

Drama: Zero. Smoking brake linings: Zero. Locked wheels: Zero.

I'm sure you're about to patiently explain to me that this is, was, and will always be impossible to accomplish. I'll wait.

Comment Re: Emergency Brake? (Score 1) 564

1. Yep, no lever or pedal. Just a switch on a console, with an orange LED and a soft click somewhere in the guts of the vehicle to indicate that I'd done something. I didn't try to activate it in motion, despite it being a rental car.

2. Never use a parking/e-brake brake like that; in an emergency, FFS, never do anything as hard as you can. But yeah, you can GENTLY slow and stop with one if you're not a dolt with it.

3. The hydraulic brakes felt fine. I'm sure it was split into at a front/rear system, just as cars have been for eons. I didn't detect anything strange about them, or the electrically-assisted power steering (which, contrary to popular belief, works just like traditional power-steering, just with a electric motor-driven pump instead of a belt-driven pump).

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