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Comment: Re:I wish they'd focus more on things like MRSA (Score 1) 205

Part of the problem with the recent agency flubs is lack of focus on the part of the agency, something that is the responsibility of Congress.

For example the Secret Service was once a part of the Treasury Department, and had a relatively narrow set of missions. However with the creation of the monumental cluster fuck known as the DHS, the Secret Service was uprooted and badly placed under the DHS, then saddled with all sorts of diversions.

Similarly the CDC has been loaded up with all sorts of ridiculous crap like being made responsible for bicycle lane safety and policing of farmers markets. This is a world leading organization that must function at the highest level possible. Loading it up with cruft will destroy it.

Recently I've seen a lot of yammering about some of the people that are seen on TV including Freidman and Fauci, to the effect that they are incompetent and should be shown the door.

I'm sorry but this makes me want to throw up. Anthony Fauci is one of the greatest Americans of this age. His work on HIV/AIDS has saved millions of lives. He is one of the most cited scientists in the world. It is disgusting that he should be subjected to the hysterical politics of the moment.

Comment: Re:Easy to solve - calibrate them to overestimate (Score 1) 364

by Ash Vince (#48198939) Attached to: Speed Cameras In Chicago Earn $50M Less Than Expected

There are traffic lights on dual-carriageways in the UK, so a 70mph limit. Rarely on the motorways, although technically there are traffic lights used on some entry slip roads at rush hour, although you'd be lucky to be doing 70 on them then...

I have never seen a set of traffic lights on a 70mph dual carriage way. Usually they have a reduced speed limit to 40 or 50 in the run up to the lights. Actually a hell of a lot of dual carriageways have a limit much lower than 70 even though that is the standard national speed limit for them.

And very few motorways have traffic light on the main bit of road where you can do 70mph. On the exit slip road you should actually be stationary or nearly stationary when you get to where the lights are so you can give way to traffic already on the roundabout.

The reason you are not supposed to run red lights, ever, is because if you could not stop in the UK then you must have been exceeding the speed limit in the approach. The duration of the amber light is tuned with this in mind.

Comment: Re:Easy to solve - calibrate them to overestimate (Score 1) 364

by Ash Vince (#48198233) Attached to: Speed Cameras In Chicago Earn $50M Less Than Expected

You could also decrease speed limit to something unreasonable. For example, 15mph and issue tickets at 21mph.

You can also hide a max speed sign behind something, like a bush, and install it in otherwise higher speed zone.

You can also install speed trap on the down-slope road, where drivers would naturally speed up without any conscious input.

You can also offer "early payment" discounts on tickets, where if you pay and plead guilty your fine reduced to the point of not worth the time fighting it.

You can establish a ticket challenge procedure that would conflict with working hours, making it logistically difficult for people to challenge.

You can intentionally mail tickets to old addresses, then rake up late fees and interest.

Oh, all of these happened in one or another municipality at some point in time.

The truth is that very few speed limit signs are hidden in the manner you describe. Lets be honest, the vast majority of the time us drivers exceed the speed limit we do so knowing we are doing it, we just do not think we will get caught. We know what the speed limit is on most roads we drive down, we just sometimes push them as we are in a hurry. We are probably driving in a generally safe manner, we are just doing it too quickly.

The thing is though, speed limits do exist for a reason. They are there to force us to account for the unknown: children running into the road, morons pulling out of side streets and not looking, us getting a blowout due to something to small to see in the road. The chances of these things happening are all pretty minuscule but since we all drive everywhere so much these small odds multiple so it always happens to someone in the end and the fallout can be catastrophic and expensive for the city to clean up afterwards.

Speed limits are also actually a way of us being more flexible with other driving rules, like paying attention to where you are going. Sometimes people do some really stupid crap on the roads. Like trying to find a CD to put on and veering on to the wrong side of the road, answering the phone in our pocket that is awkward to get to, looking at maps, turning round and shouting at the kids in the back, this list could go on for ever. As it is we can do this with a certain degree of impunity as the worst that would happen is we wrote off our car and someone else's the vast majority of the time. If everyone could drive everywhere as fast as they liked the police would have to be far more ruthless at enforcing other aspects of the traffic laws, maybe even down to banning persistant offenders until they got the message.

Sometimes I actually think this might be a better idea, then I catch myself doing some of the stupid crap I describe :)

Comment: Re:Well (Score 1) 117

by the eric conspiracy (#48196273) Attached to: Overwhelmed By Recall For Deadly Airbags

Since when are glitchy and unresponsive web sites exclusive to governments?

It took Amazon about 8 years to figure out how to get through Christmas shopping season without blowing up.

Even earlier AT&T's phone system would routinely crash on Mother's Day.

Handling large scale distributed demand surges is a non-trivial problem.

Comment: Re:About CVS Only! Not SVN! (Score 1) 233

by orzetto (#48193895) Attached to: Help ESR Stamp Out CVS and SVN In Our Lifetime

[...] because those files are binary and very large

No VCS is meant to do this, neither Git, SVN and certainly not CVS. Those files don't belong in a VCS because you cannot make a diff between them. Small binary files (e.g. icons in a website) are a small nuisance, but there is no point in storing large binary blobs in a VCS regularly. What you need is a backup system, not a version-control system.

(2) permanently delete those files that I know I will no longer need

SVN allows to do this with svndumpfilter (and I was unaware CVS had any way to do this). And no it should not be made any easier, no one should be allowed to monkey around with the repository history with any less than admin rights. If you find yourself regularly removing files from a VCS, it means you have been adding too many useless files. Again, you want backup for this, not VCS.

Comment: Re:Shash-job-vertisement (Score 1) 201

by Theovon (#48179873) Attached to: The One App You Need On Your Resume If You Want a Job At Google

Admittedly, the R code was probably horrible, but I inherited some of it, so I can't take all the blame. On the other hand, I'm really good at squeezing good performance out of C++.

This reminds me of the big hullabaloo Paul Graham made about how superior Lisp is because he was able to make more quickly adapt web back-ends for some website he'd done. I think attribution of this success to the language is misplaced -- his implenentation was more adaptable simply because he was a superior programmer, and Lisp probably only helped a little bit.

Comment: Re:Responsibility yes, automatic liability no (Score 1) 322

Waaaaah! I want to shit up the world and I don't want to be held accountable!

Ah, now it becomes clear. I'm sorry your parents are not properly looking after you and letting you loose on the internet without adult supervision. When you grow up hopefully you'll become mature enough to realize that your parents can't be responsible for you for your entire life and that at some point you have to grow up and take responsibility for yourself.

Indeed even by the time you reach ten you'll probably be able figure out the massive logical hole in your argument that parents should be responsible for their kids for life which is simply that even your parents had parents. Hence, if we accept your argument the first humans to evolve would be responsible for the entire human race and everyone else can just sit back and relax and never have to worry about taking responsibility for anything ever again.

Given your logical reasoning skills I'd also suggest that you stop trying to tell people what they really believe or think, unless it is something like "wow, this person is nuts": you'll probably come across as telepathic if you tell them they are thinking that.

Comment: Re:Shash-job-vertisement (Score 5, Interesting) 201

by Theovon (#48175609) Attached to: The One App You Need On Your Resume If You Want a Job At Google

R syntax is a lot better. In Matlab, the dimensions of a 3D array are Y,X,Z. That's just one of the many papercuts that makes Matlab difficult and unintuitive to use. R makes a hell of a lot more sense to me.

That being said, R is also very slow. For one project, I used R and ended up having to use a supercomputer (I only needed a few hundred Opertons out of the 4096 available) to get all the work done in time. For a followup project, I rewrote it in C++ and reran all the same stuff in the same period on a Core 2 Duo. R is really that slow.

But then, R is an interpreted language, so that's not a surprise. And I was able to rewrite my code in C++ because we didn't need any special libraries; if we had, I wouldn't have had the expertise to reimplement it. R is really convenient to use for many things, and it's also faster than Matlab for everything I've tried in both. Matlab is a dog, and the Mac version crashes at the drop of a hat too. I can't believe people pay money for that crap, except that it's pushed on universities, so people get used to it.

Comment: MatLab is not really a good programming language (Score 5, Interesting) 201

by orzetto (#48175477) Attached to: The One App You Need On Your Resume If You Want a Job At Google

MatLab is an old, crufty, feature-creeped script engine that I try to hold myself away from as much as I can. As a researcher and academic (got up to post-doc), Matlab is indeed ubiquitous in academia, but it's mostly due to entrenched positions. I see fewer and fewer people using Matlab these days, and that's a good thing.

Matlab is by all means not a fourth-generation programming language: it is procedural just like Fortran, which it supplanted in academia, but it does not have type-checking as C, it does not have OO support as C++, it does not do away with semicolons as end-of-line markers like Python; true, it has some advance features like OO and some functional programming, but (almost) nobody uses them, and most Matlab code is a horrible cruft made by self-not-so-well-taught academics. There is nothing in Matlab you cannot do better in Python with scipy, numpy, matplotlib and pandas. Or with declarative PLs like Modelica.

Matlab is also known for outrageous prices, leveraging on the fact their customer base are universities with big pockets and small administrative brains, and large corporations: they split their code base in many small chunks, and for each you need to pay more and more: as the saying goes, In Matlab you cannot do shit unless you buy a licence for the Toilet Paper toolbox.

Long story short: Matlab is the Perl of academia.

"When it comes to humility, I'm the greatest." -- Bullwinkle Moose