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Comment: How to make drone-based delivery cheap (Score 3, Interesting) 48 48

In sub-urban and rural areas I think drone-based delivery can be cost-effective. I think the key is to use a hybrid model with a "drone carrier" truck which serves as a mobile base station so the drones are only making relatively short flights. Imagine a truck that pulls into a sub-urban neighborhood, stops in one central location and then launches a dozen drones to deliver packages to all of the homes within a half mile or so. Or perhaps the truck might not even have to stop, but just drive along launching drones which deliver along its path and then return to it, still in motion.

The advantage to the delivery service is that they could deliver to many nearby locations simultaneously, and trucks wouldn't have to be able to enter difficult locations (which currently constrains the design of package cars). This means the trucks could be larger, carrying more packages, and would deliver much faster, requiring fewer trucks and drivers. Given a self-driving truck, the "drivers" might end up being drone tenders/troubleshooters, rather than drivers. They could remotely designate appropriate drop-off locations when the drones can't find a good locations themselves, as well as handle any problems that arise with the equipment, and maybe still do package handling, to retrieve packages from storage in the truck and move them to where the drones can pick them up, at least until that can be adequately automated.

I think it makes a lot of sense. The technology isn't there yet, but I don't think it's far away.

Comment: Re:My Plans for Firefox (Score 1) 172 172

The nicest thing I can say about FF is that it opened the floodgates, before Firefox/Phoenix/Mozilla Suite you had crappy IE, broken NS, and adware Opera.

Today there is Comodo Dragon (what I use, better security features and no phone home to Google) Chromium, SWIron, and Opera which my oldest boy swears is the greatest thing ever (hates the new version, went back to using presto) and on the gecko side there is PaleMoon (the other browser I use, I prefer the UI over IceDragon and it seems snappier), SeaMonkey, IceDragon, if you need really low resource there is always Kmeleon which runs really well even on a P3 running Win98SE and if you want to avoid BOTH the Chromium and Gecko engines you can go with QTWeb which is just what it says on the tin, a cross platform browser that uses Webkit and the QT framework...quite nice actually and of course Safari if you are into Apple.

I was using FF before it was called Firefox, and the Suite before that and....yeah, its just not very nice now. The UI feels like a bad Chrome ripoff and it still has "senior moments" where the entire UI can just "hang" for several seconds, which when you have 8 fricking cores and 16GB of RAM? is just inexcusable. I don't know what went wrong with Moz, but for the past few years they seem to have gone out of their way to just ruin the browser, do they no longer care? Has the UI team been taken over by Google? All I know is If I wanted Chrome I'd use Chrome and the current FF feels like a really bad Chrome knockoff, its the "Hipad" that looks kinda sorta like the real thing but once you use it? Yeah its just a knock off.

Comment: Re:In short? (Score 3, Interesting) 281 281

You've been modded troll, but this is pretty much accurate.

It's also not a win/win, and here's why: 1) Most people are not most productive at home. In fact, most people are significantly less productive at home due to many more distractions around them. 2) Commuting (at least relatively short commutes) has been shown to be a good way of clearing your brain, and getting it into or out of work mode. It doesn't really hurt productivity unless you're doing it for hours. 3) Skype does not make communication with coworkers a snap. It imparts a major cognitive overhead. 4) Communication does not just come down to a few meetings a week that could (with more effort) be done via Skype. By working at home you remove any chance of corridor conversations, which typically, are by far the most productive communication in an office.

Basically, working at home is not in any way good for the company, and it's usually not good for the employee at all, so most companies won't let you do it.

All sort of true.

First, a bit of background on my context. I'm a software engineer for Google, and I work from home full-time. This is not a common situation in Google, which has an institutional belief in the value of co-located teams in open-plan offices as a way to facilitate communication. Google engineering methodologies are heavy on communication and light on process and documentation. They rely heavily on face to face communication, be it over cubicle walls, in hallways, at the cafes, etc.

On its face, this appears to just about the worst possible organization in which to work remotely. But I've been doing it for over a year now, and it's working just fine -- but only because my co-workers and I make it work. It's challenging, but it absolutely can be done.

Regarding your points:

1) Productivity at home. This depends heavily on the individual. I'm motivated and I like what I do, so even with the distractions at home I'm highly productive. If anything, my challenge is to avoid working too much. That's not the same for everyone, so YMMV.

2) Commuting. Commuting sucks. Even if it's a short commute. Some people do seem to like it, though, as a way of separating home and work life. My home and work lives blend, with more of a dynamic balance between them rather than sharp separation. Personally, I prefer that, but I know not everyone does.

3) Video conferencing is not a panacea, but it can really help. I have a Chromebox on my home office desk and another in my team's "bullpen" area, which are both set to an always-on video conference, so I have a virtual presence in the team area. It's not quite the same as being there, but I can hear and participate in random conversations that happen amongst the rest of my team, at least when they're at their desks. And of course, I attend all of my meetings the same way. It's kind of funny for my co-workers who see my face on the VC unit in the bullpen as they get up to walk to the meeting room, then see me "already arrived" when they get there. Because of course for me "traveling" from the bullpen to the meeting room is instantaneous.

4) Communication is challenging. In my case it helps that Google runs on e-mail, and much communication happens that way. I do find myself out of the loop occasionally, but my colleagues are generally pretty good about letting me know stuff, and sometimes even deliberately deciding to move a conversation to e-mail in order to make sure I'm involved. The inclusive culture is a big help, even at the same time as the co-located culture creates challenges.

The bottom line, to me, is that there are pros and cons, and those pros and cons are different for different employees and different companies. In my personal case, I think I'm probably 95% as effective working from home as I would be in the office, and that only by putting in a little extra time. For me, that's great, though. I'm perfectly happy to spend the time I would have wasted on commuting on work, and I love the flexibility that it gives me to balance my home and work lives.

What do I do with that flexibility? Well, I have no problem dropping what I'm doing (assuming I don't have any meetings scheduled) to go to my kids' school events or other activities. When I worked in the office I did the same, but there was a higher barrier, because I had to add an hour of extra commuting time (30 mins each way) to home and back. I also use the flexibility for recreation and exercise. My home is 12 miles from a ski resort, so I buy a season pass and during the winter I ski 4-5 days per week; most every weekday I start work early (6 AM), work until just before the lift opens then cruise up and ski for an hour or two, then head back to work. During the summer I've been taking my boat to the lake a couple of mornings per week to water ski with my kids (my house is 18 miles from one reservoir and 24 miles from another). I often go for a bike ride or a hike during lunch -- though I actually also did that when I worked in the office.

So I think it's great for me, and the company seems happy with my work. Win/win, even if I work a little more and produce a little less.

Comment: Re:Just in time (Score 1) 176 176

Sigh...Home gets 5 years, Pro gets 10. It has been this way since Vista and since its written into the contracts they sign with corps and governments? Isn't gonna change.

The ONLY change between 10 and Vista/7/8 is they are getting rid of SPs for a combo of rolling fixes and updated .ISOs, THAT IS ALL. And even THAT ends up being because of contractual obligations since their support agreements (many of which go on well past 2020 for the big corps) says "For 5 years after release or two years after the release of the latest service pack whichever comes latest" (or there abouts, they have changed the EOL page to a "warm and fuzzy" Win 8 style which is full of warm feeling mess) so by getting rid of the SPs they don't have to worry about the SPs throwing a snooze alarm on the EOL dates.

So its really not that hard, Home gets 5, Pro gets 10, and if they follow every single release since Vista (which there is no reason to think they won't) for 6 months to a year before and during a new release you'll be able to get it cheap if you want to upgrade your old hardware.

Comment: Re:Will we get up-to-date images? (Score 1) 176 176

You don't have to wait for MSFT, just use WSUS Offline. I've used it for many years, in fact I still have the WSUS Offline .ISOs for Win2K and WinXP and it works like a charm, lets you use DVDs or USB sticks, will even include .NET and Office if you like. Oh and you're welcome ;-)

Comment: Re:giant machines are US culture, and world cultur (Score 1) 107 107

Sometimes reporting, or history, distorts the focus or some aspect of an event. For instance most of us were led to believe that Sputnik was an effort of a cold-war space-race instead of being part of an international geophysical year. (analysis of how the U.S. and others perceived it and what response followed is another matter)

Hehe, bad choice of examples. Yes, Sputnik was launched during an IGY year of "cooperation"... but that doesn't mean it wasn't a cold war space race from the beginning. The USSR announced their intention to launch an artificial satellite nine days after the US announced the same intention. Then the USSR went forward with designing the satellite, only to discover that their original planned machine was going to take too long. Afraid that the US might beat them to it, they stepped back and focused on a simpler design so they could get it into space faster, and beat the US. As soon as their launch vehicle was good to go, they launched, pushing back some planned military test launches to do it.

Comment: Re:Living Wage is mandated for, and desired by idi (Score 1) 82 82

The last Uber driver I had, was also a comedian/writer (Los Angeles). He didn't need a living wage, he wanted a part time job with a ton of flexibility to supplement income.

Makes perfect sense to me. There are lots of people whose lifestyles don't permit a regular job, but could use a flexible income supplement.

The next time someone says "that doesn't make a living wage" the correct response is to punch them in the mouth.

That's a rather violent, not to mention criminal, response. I think not.

Comment: Re:Passwords are not the only way to authenticate (Score 1) 77 77

First, my comment was not a "defense" of anything.

Second, you seem to have missed the sentence "It's not quite as good if the smartphone is also providing the fingerprint scanner and camera, because in the event of an attempted fraudulent transaction that means the attacker is in control of those components."

Also, you seem to have missed the last paragraph. In fairness, I suppose I wasn't quite clear enough. When I said that the security is in the same ballpark as a four-digit PIN, I was comparing to a system using phone-mounted sensors. With sensors provided by the retailer, in a staffed checkout lane, it's unambiguously stronger.

Comment: Re:Presumably you've never been shot at (Score 1) 399 399

You seem to acknowledge that the good guy with a gun, most likely, cannot kill or fully disable the shooter in this situation.

zerofoo said nothing of the sort. He said that killing or fully disabling the shooter isn't necessary, not that it's not possible, or even unlikely.

The history of mass shooting violence in the US bears out both zerofoo's point that killing or disabling the shooter often isn't necessary, since mass shooters tend to suicide as soon as they meet armed resistance, and even those who don't are clearly going to have to shift their focus from mass murder to self-defense or be an easy target. There are plenty of cases in which shooters have been killed, disabled or otherwise stopped by citizens, though they tend to get less press for the simple reason that fewer people die.

So now you have to calculate, how many people could potentially be saved in that scenario, versus how many people would be killed if handguns are more widespread. If 5% of the populace is armed now, what happens to the death by gun rates when its 10%, 20%, 75%, 100%?

Interestingly, the US has conducted this experiment over the last 40 years or so, as the number of concealed carry permit holders went from basically zero to up to 15% in some areas of the country. What happened? Not much. Violence declined, and there is some weak statistical evidence that it declined faster in areas where more people began carrying guns on a daily basis. There is no evidence that violence increased.

Will the number of random shootings go down by allowing anyone, including the mentally ill, to have easier access to guns without waiting periods?

I suspect it won't change at all. What would reduce the number of shootings is removing all of the guns, but that is impossible.

P.S. Several school shootings (like Columbine) have taken place at schools with an armed police presence.

This is something of an unrelated point, but I think it's worth noting that police did not respond quickly at Columbine High School, and that the experience dramatically changed police doctrine for responding to active shooters, across the nation. After-action analyses showed that as soon as the shooters faced aggressive armed response, they killed themselves, but that happened many minutes, and several deaths, later than it could have. At the time standard procedure was to cordon the area, isolate the shooters and wait for enough backup to arrive -- preferably SWAT -- that the police could enter in overwhelming force. But Columbine changed that, and most police departments now train their officers that if they have good reason to believe it's a lone shooter then the very first officers on the scene should enter immediately.

Immediate entry, without overwhelming force or special weapons, seems like it significantly increases the risk to the officers, but in practice it doesn't, much. And, of course, waiting tends to give shooters time and space to rack up massive body counts.

Comment: Re:Been standing for years... (Score 1) 325 325

It takes a couple weeks to get used to standing. Stick with it.

Or just change positions several times per day. I stand until I'm tired of it then sit for 30 minutes, repeat. I set a timer for the sitting periods, otherwise I find that when I'm focused on something I forget to stand up again. I've thought about hacking and arduino into the controls on my desk and automating that, so that after 30 minutes my desk automatically returns to the standing position, but haven't gotten around to it.

I have a motorized desk from VersaTables. Nice desk and the company was great to work with. Not cheap, though, not at all.

Comment: Re:That is easy. (Score 1) 458 458

Well from what I read they had it up and running in alpha stage and that they basically rewrote a HUGE chunk of NTFS and combined it with MS-SQL. The problem? Forbes.

Ballmer kept promising that Longhorn would be just "whipped out" like they did with 95-98-98SE-ME but the actual engineers was trying to make real progress by coming up with a truly "next gen" OS. Ballmer saw it would take 5 years to get it out, got ridiculed in Forbes for being behind, and had them shitcan ALL the work they had done and just slap a new skin (And a bunch of crappy DRM, because Ballmer was ALL about DRM) onto Win2K3 and voila! Vista.

Of course we all know what a disaster THAT was, 3 months of fighting Vista was enough to convince me to stick with XP X64 (which was 2K3 X64 minus DRM and bullshit) until Win 7 X64 came out, but you'd think that somebody would have used such a great idea, but nope, instead we get more iCandy on OSX and Linux? More text editors and bad ripoffs of the Win/OSX GUI, in other words SSDD. Its a damned shame though as with today's multicores a FS that did like WinFS would not only be doable, I doubt the average user would even feel the 5-10% CPU on the initial run.

Comment: That is easy. (Score 2) 458 458

Win 7 GUI (with Win2K Pro GUI as classic mode) with WinFS** from Longhorn Alpha and WIMBoot from Win 8.

**-What is sad is that the WinFS demo was in 2003 and here we are in 2015 and we have YET to see anybody give us what they showed in that demo! Where is the file system that can just scan vids and pics and assign metadata like "girl in blue dress" or "white truck" and let me find any file by using human expressions without requiring the user to fill in the blanks?

Comment: Re:HOME ownership is key (Score 1) 662 662

You have to be able to float that much money to wait for the rebate, correct?

Not if you lease. If you lease, it's the lessor that gets the rebate, so when they calculate the financing they just take it off the top. The federal credit, anyway. This is one of several reasons why more EVs are leased than purchased.

Comment: Re:The reason is more simple (Score 3, Interesting) 662 662

He also says he had to install a 240V socket it in his garage because apparently though you can charge it on 120V in a pinch, apparently it can cause damage to the batteries. That's according to Nissan.

This is incorrect. Charging on 120V doesn't do any damage to the batteries, in fact it's probably a little bit better for them. The problem with level 1 charging is that it's slow. Assuming the LEAF's battery is empty it takes about 21 hours to charge it to full on the 120V adapter included with the car.

I actually charged my car regularly on 120V and it wasn't as bad as you might think -- as long as I only needed to make one trip into town per day (from my house to the city is about a 40-mile round trip). The car was almost always fully-charged by morning, but if I went somewhere in the morning and came back home, there was no possibility of making a second trip in the afternoon or evening. Not without stopping off at the level 3 charger in town, anyway. Which I did from time to time -- it's free, and recharges the car from empty in about an hour, but it means having to kill an hour, and there isn't much of interest within walking distance of the charger.

So, I installed a 220V "level 2" charger. With it, the car recharges from empty in a little under four hours. In practice, that means that when I pull into the garage and plug in, it's generally full again in a couple of hours. Most of the time the flexibility that provides doesn't matter, but sometimes it's very handy. The level 2 charger cost me about $400. Was it worth it? Maybe, maybe not.

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig