Forgot your password?

Comment: The death of trains (Score 4, Interesting) 195

by mcrbids (#47472769) Attached to: The Improbable Story of the 184 MPH Jet Train

In Europe, they discovered that train wrecks were really, really bad. So they set about building a system of trains that didn't wreck, with numerous controls and systems to prevent collisions, resulting in an excellent safety record and low cost.

In the United States, they discovered that train wrecks were really, really bad. So they set about building a system of trains that survived wrecks with minimal injuries, with heavy crash cages and crumple zones in order to gracefully survive collisions, resulting in an excellent safety record and ridiculous costs.

Making a US train go as fast as an EU train is very difficult to do feasibly, since it weighs at least 4x as much per passenger.

Comment: Re:user error (Score 1) 708

by mcrbids (#47459179) Attached to: People Who Claim To Worry About Climate Change Don't Cut Energy Use

For the most part, I agree with you. I'm also a bit of a cheap bastard. I ride my bike to work largely for health reasons but also because it's cheaper. I switched to CFLs over a decade ago when I saw the cost savings. I aggressively turn up the AC to "just barely comfortable" to save money. I ditched the home phone for Magic Jack, and I ditched cable TV for Hulu/Netflix. By watching the gas consumption calculator on my car, and reading up about "hypermiling" I get about 10-20% better fuel economy simply by changing my driving patterns - after some practice, I can do it without doing anything people driving with me would notice without paying close attention. I routinely time shift my schedule either early or late so I avoid traffic altogether.

If I owned my house, I would have erected a solar back porch roof long ago to both keep sun off the house and power the A/C.

And by the way, modern cars are so low emission that some of them actually clean up the air around them. The 2011 Ford F150 Raptor is one of them. If I were an environmentalist, (and I need to stress that I am NOT) I would push for more of these cars to be on the road than lobbying for higher gas prices (which serves to ruin the economy, and has almost no actual benefit on reducing emissions.)

But, I LOL at statements like this! This statement is only true if you ignore the 800 pound gorilla in the room: CO2.

Comment: Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (Score 1) 243

by mcrbids (#47458987) Attached to: German NSA Committee May Turn To Typewriters To Stop Leaks

Pffft. Please. They have glass windows on their walls, right? An infrared laser microphone reflecting off the window would be more than sufficient. The trick would be to connect several electric typewriters together with a randomizer so that there are many typewriters banging away in random in the same room.

Comment: As a pilot and aviation enthusiast... (Score 1) 88

I really rue the day that "r/c model aircraft" because a "drone". Suddenly, a toy is worth regulating, and it's become rather ridiculous.

Now we're talking about having to tether a model aircraft with a line, so that now we have entanglement issues?

Can somebody please add some reason?

Comment: I simply haven't seen it (Score 1) 401

by mcrbids (#47397617) Attached to: No Shortage In Tech Workers, Advocacy Groups Say

I'm a partner in a small software company. We employ 8 developers, 26 total staff. Our wages are midline, our benefits excellent, and our work environment is superb. I haven't seen *any* benefit from the H1B's.

And we've tried!

We really need people who can code. We have problems to solve, we need programmers to code answers to the problems. We really don't care about education credentials - if you can code, write reasonable answers to solve real problems, we're interested in you. We took a look at the H1B visa thing, and we were consistently disappointed. Gorgeous, impressive resumes for people with Masters or (gasp) even PHDs in computer science who couldn't write a SQL statement, recursive algorithm, or even factor a number. "Write me a function that replaces the word "apples" with "oranges" in a given input string was met with blank stares.

I don't know what they do, but I'm not interested in finding out. But if you want to live in NorCal and want a decent job at a small, securely growing software company... PM me!

Comment: But ugly as hell (Score 5, Insightful) 119

by mcrbids (#47351267) Attached to: Boston Trying Out Solar-Powered "Smart Benches" In Parks

So, you have this boxy thing mounted in the middle of the park bench. The promo photo has two attractive people awkwardly trying to look chic sitting next to something about he size of an old-school VCR bolted to the middle of the bench. Of course, you'd naturally stick your 32 oz triple malt latte on it, and any 9 year old with angry daddy issues will beat it with the nearest rock. Meanwhile, it provides no shade at all.

Great idea, utter failure in implementation. Instead:

1) Put the solar panel (even if small) on a pole OUT OF THE WAY so it lets you sit on the !@# seat, and provides at least a modicum of shade. Better yet, made the overhead cover the length of the bench so the shade is usable and you get some protection from light rain.

2) Put the USB charge port under the seat. This provides automatic protection from accidental strikes and also doesn't provide an automatic target for 9 year olds with angry daddy issues.

As it sits now, it's practically a show case example of some bad engineering product a la Dilbert.

Comment: Larry's probably right! (Score 1) 186

by mcrbids (#47337397) Attached to: Larry Page: Healthcare Data Mining Could Save 100,000 Lives a Year

One thing I know about the Googlites is that when they make a public statement like this, it's usually pretty conservative. Self-driving cars seemed like a pipe dream, but they're just about here, and it's for real.

In fact, Google has been working for years to use their information for predicting disease breakouts in a more general sense. If he says 100,000 lives, they've probably already done the math to support that statement.

Comment: Re:Jerk off material for the Greenies (Score 1) 96

by mcrbids (#47307683) Attached to: World's First Large-Scale Waste-to-Biofuels Facility Opens In Canada

It is true that landfills are often usable afterwards for parks and even houses!

It is also true that landfill locations have to be carefully surveyed for issues such as water runoff and geological stability in order to ensure that land fills don't pollute groundwater or leak toxic chemicals, etc. Nobody wants to live next to a landfill for the 10-40 years that they are open. They aren't pretty. They smell bad, and attract vermin. As we learn more about the real effects of land fills, we often find that even years after being closed, they are causing ongoing environmental damage that is very expensive. Many toxic "super fund" environmental disasters are previous dump sites.

And, if it's actually profitable recycle instead of dumping, are you really arguing that we should dump anyway?

Comment: Site gap, not air gap (Score 1) 387

by mcrbids (#47264175) Attached to: Code Spaces Hosting Shutting Down After Attacker Deletes All Data


1) Backups that don't get done automatically often don't get done regularly, so they should be automatically performed via scripts.

2) Offline isn't as important as offsite. Buildings catch fire, get flooded, disappear into sink holes, get hit by falling jet airplanes.

3) Security matters. Paranoia should be the order of the day.

Comment: 16" wheels are surprisingly useful (Score 1) 85

by mcrbids (#47252077) Attached to: Shawn Raymond's Tandem Bike is Shorter Than Yours (Video)

I'm a fan of foldable bikes. Think: Dahon and/or Bike Friday. They solve one of the biggest problems with bikes in conjunction with an automotive culture: getting "stuck" with a bike that you rode to work but won't be driving home with.

So, I've spent a lot of time on a 16" wheel on a Dahon Stowaway with performance tires, and a finely tuned internal 3-speed hub that made it into a surprisingly fast speed demon. I loved it - it was fast, casual, and convenient. Sadly, it was stolen.

The small, 16" wheels are surprisingly effective on commuter bike! No, you don't go off road on 16" wheels - but ask yourself: do you really do that much anyway?

The bogosity meter just pegged.