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Comment: Let's assume... (Score 1) 282

by mitchplanck (#38136446) Attached to: Toyota To Let People Ride In Self-Driving Prius
I think the self-driving cars will become ubiquitous eventually. The bugs in the systems will be ironed out, there will be a few major failures which make big news and scare people but these things will be much safer than people-driven cars. My thinking then goes to 'what/how will that affect car design, road design, traffic patterns, etc.'

Car design:
Cars will become less powerful as they are vastly overpowered for most needs now, and they will become fancy living rooms on wheels. The seats may all face each other, entertainment systems will become a major focus of design, built in beds, etc. You get in a car, tell it were to drop you off, it then self parks somewhere and you use your cell phone to tell it where to pick you up.
Trucks will become driverless vans, the same as all delivery type vehicles although some may still have passenger space for workers to help load and unload cargo. Pizza delivery vehicles won't even be cars, but little heated boxes on wheels.

Road design:
No traffic signs, guard rails, lines on the roads, probably many other changes would be possible as well.
In areas with pedestrian traffic the walker has to push a crosswalk button, which would then broadcast a signal to nearby cars to stop or be aware of the pedestrian in the street and the walker could cross with very little delay. Run into the street and get hit - it's probably your fault.
Cyclists would carry little transmitters which would let nearby cars know it's location and velocity, allowing the cars to give the appropriate allowance to them. This is if they are sharing road space.

Insurance:
Rates would drop by a huge amount and after a time of vetting they might even go away or become a small part of the purchase price of the car.

This is just a start, the changes to society would be huge, the number of deaths would probably be in the 10s or 100s per year in the US if all vehicles are automatic instead of the 10s of thousands. I know several people who have been killed or seriously injured by vehicle accidents and would be very exited if/when this technology comes to bear.

Comment: Re:end of the truck driver (Score 1) 282

by mitchplanck (#38136180) Attached to: Toyota To Let People Ride In Self-Driving Prius
Why would a driverless truck need the capability to be driven and thus stolen? Why have a cab? Just and engine in an aerodynamic faring with appropriate controls. The problem I would then see would the control channel being hacked (you wirelessly tell the 'truck' to go to a location, this system could be hacked). if the truck needs to be manually maneuvered then you use a model airplane style remote control device.

Comment: Re:Borders Played a Pivotal Role in My Career (Score 1) 443

by mitchplanck (#36814602) Attached to: Borders Books, Dead At 40
I live in Ann Arbor, I used to work for Borders, both in the retail store and then at corporate doing store support. This was back in the mid-90s, when life was good there, but they still paid crap. The Borders brothers had recently sold the company and the Waldenbooks aquisition was in progress, a whole bunch of the Walden employees moved to AA and we had two help desks for a while because the systems were so different.

When I started in the store, I helped open #63, Fairlawn, OH. That store has been closed for a while now. We opened every box and stocked all the shelves, which were all empty. It was a huge store for a mid-90s book store. People came in droves, everyone was trained to work in the coffee shop which was run by regular staff. If we didn't have a book the customer was looking for, which often they didn't even know who wrote it or the title, we had to help them figure it out, we could order it. This was all new. The music section was huge, the staff in there knew a ton about music and if they didn't have it, they could order it. This was probably the widest selection of music around. My section was the computer book section, I stocked the shelves there and learned the field was so much more than I knew about before. We had a Netware network, so I learned about that and took a CNA class at the CompUSA (remember those?) next door. I learned what IP addresses where and how they worked!

I then applied for and got a job in Ann Arbor on the store help desk. The building we started in was some offices in the front of a big warehouse, which was the main warehouse for the stores. The company continued to grow, constantly adding stores. I helped open the Bangor, MA store, beautiful city, nice store, I set up the computer systems there. With more growth we moved to a much bigger office which had once been a medical manufacturing building with a bunch of clean rooms. We didn't need the space to start and those stayed there for a while, along with a huge space next to the help desk area where we would take RC cars and stuff and play around. Borders liked to promote internally, which was nice, but that doesn't always work when you need experts, not low costs.One of our "DB admins" was from the help desk just like me and she didn't know much about being a real DB admin. She wound up deleting a ton of records out of a store's catalog, that had to get rebuilt and shipped out. I worked there when I heard about Amazon, thinking why would anyone want to buy books online (this was about '97 or '98). I left not much after that getting a 30% raise for doing the same work at Domino's corporate. I now make 4x from what I started at Border's corporate with another company and I don't see that stopping.

I used to shop at Borders all the time but started migrating to Amazon and B&N. It seemed like the store atmosphere declined over time, the staff knew less and less, decisions were being made for money only reasons, all signs that it wasn't really well run. I work for a company now which has hired a number of people from Borders during their recent decline but I am worried about some friends I have which still work there. This is just another piece of crappy news for this part of Michigan which has seen so much in the past few years and was just slowly starting to turn around.

Google

+ - Google People Finder Aids Japan Quake Victims->

Submitted by
JustABlitheringIdiot
JustABlitheringIdiot writes "Google has launched a version of its Person Finder service for people caught up in the Japanese earthquake.

The website acts as a directory and message board so people can look for lost loved ones or post a note saying they are safe.

It is designed to be embedded on websites and social network pages to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Several thousand records were submitted in the first few hours of the service being up."

Link to Original Source
Microsoft

+ - If you’d bought 100 shares of MSFT 25 years ->

Submitted by
netbuzz
netbuzz writes "Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of Microsoft’s initial public stock offering. While the undertaking was a spectacular success for the company from a financial standpoint and made him fabulously wealthy, then-30-year-old Bill Gates would just as soon have continued to go about his business in private, he told a reporter at the time. If on that day you had bought 100 shares at the offer price of $21 apiece and held on to them for the ensuing quarter of a century, you’d have 28,800 shares today, thanks to nine stock splits."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Beat me to it. (Score 1) 467

by mitchplanck (#34904306) Attached to: Advice On Teaching Linux To CS Freshmen?
This is exactly why I get frustrated to see a CS degree as a requirement when applying for a Network Admin/Engineer job. They're not the same thing. Although I see more frequently that it's optional as you can substitute experience for it, which makes sense. Only recently have universities and colleges started offering Networking type degrees/programs.

Comment: A Word about the New South edition... (Score 1) 1073

by mitchplanck (#34779198) Attached to: The Continued Censorship of Huckleberry Finn
A Word About the New South Edition...

A new edition of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, forthcoming from NewSouth Books in mid-February, does more than unite the companion boy books in one volume, as the author had intended. It does more even than restore a passage from the Huckleberry Finn manuscript that first appeared in Twain’s Life on the Mississippi and was subsequently cut from the work upon publication.

In a bold move compassionately advocated by Twain scholar Dr. Alan Gribben and embraced by NewSouth, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn also replaces two hurtful epithets that appear hundreds of times in the texts with less offensive words, this intended to counter the “preemptive censorship” that Dr. Gribben observes has caused these important works of literature to fall off curriculum lists nationwide.

In presenting his rationale for publication, eloquently developed in the book’s introduction, Dr. Gribben discusses the context of the racial slurs Twain used in these books. He also remarks on the irony of the fact that use of such language has caused Twain’s books to join the ranks of outdated literary classics Twain once humorously defined as works “which people praise and don’t read.”

At NewSouth, we saw the value in an edition that would help the works find new readers. If the publication sparks good debate about how language impacts learning or about the nature of censorship or the way in which racial slurs exercise their baneful influence, then our mission in publishing this new edition of Twain’s works will be more emphatically fulfilled.

Learn more about Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and read an excerpt from the introduction at www.newsouthbooks.com/twain. See also a feature story on the volume by Marc Shultz at Publishers Weekly.

Earth

Nuclear Energy Now More Expensive Than Solar 635

Posted by samzenpus
from the sunlight-is-free dept.
js_sebastian writes "According to an article on the New York Times, a historical cross-over has occurred because of the declining costs of solar vs. the increasing costs of nuclear energy: solar, hardly the cheapest of renewable technologies, is now cheaper than nuclear, at around 16 cents per kilowatt hour. Furthermore, the NY Times reports that financial markets will not finance the construction of nuclear power plants unless the risk of default (which is historically as high as 50 percent for the nuclear industry) is externalized to someone else through federal loan guarantees or ratepayer funding. The bottom line seems to be that nuclear is simply not competitive, and the push from the US government to subsidize it seems to be forcing the wrong choice on the market."
Biotech

+ - Scientists create synthetic cells->

Submitted by LuckyDuckie
LuckyDuckie (732296) writes "CNN international edition has a story about new man-made lifeforms. A quote from the article reads, "Craig Venter, the U.S. genomics pioneer, announced on Thursday that scientists at his laboratories in Maryland and California had succeeded in their 15-year project to make the world's first "synthetic cells" — bacteria called Mycoplasma mycoides." This beats out stem cells for abuse and exploitation potential. I can't wait for the politicians to get wind of this, but then again who cares about the rights of a single celled organism?"
Link to Original Source

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