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Comment: From a non-driver perspective (Score 4, Insightful) 218

by dada21 (#47589001) Attached to: The Great Taxi Upheaval

I stopped driving 2 years ago, voluntarily. My SUV cost me around $800 a month in replacement costs. Another $200 in maintenance. I was burning through $12,000 a year in gas. I spent an average of 1000 hours a year in the car, for work, for groceries, for fun. 999 of those hours were spent focused on the road. I hate talking on the phone while driving.

Consider my annual total: about $25,000 + 1000 hours of my time. For the "privilege" to sit in Chicago traffic.

I'm a consultant. I now use UberX every day. I also use public transportation when I'm not in a rush or when someone isn't paying me to swing by.

I spent about $5000 a year on UberX. $100 a week. While I am being driven around, I can respond to emails, make phone calls. I bill for that time. When a customer wants me to visit them, I pass the UberX fee on to them plus 50%. No one scoffs at it. Some customers will realize the cost of me visiting them is more expensive than just consulting over the phone.

I figure I'm $20,000 ahead in vehicle costs, plus I've literally gained another 600-700 hours of phone and email consulting time a year. Call it $40,000 ahead.

I don't take cabs, because they don't like to come to where my HQ is (ghetto neighborhood). UberX comes 24/7, within minutes.

My little sister had an emergency surgery a few months ago. I immediately hired an UberX driver, who took me from the office, to the hospital. He waited. We then took my sister to her apartment to get her cats and clothes, then he took us to the pharmacy. After, he drove us to our dad's house to drop her off, in the suburbs of Chicago. Then he drove me back to work. 3 hours, $90. I can't get a cab to wait even 10 minutes while I drop off a package at UPS. Forget about them taking credit cards.

UberX charges my Paypal account and they're off. If they're busy, they charge a surcharge. I can pick it or take public transportation.

I know why the Chicago Taxi authorities want Uber gone. But a guy like me is their best customer. Next year I'll budget $10,000 a year for UberX, and it will make my life so much more enjoyable and profitable.

Driving yourself around is dead. It's inefficient. Ridesharing is "libertarian" because it is truly freeing.

+ - New Mars crater spotted in before-and-after pictures

Submitted by The Bad Astronomer
The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted a new crater on the surface of Mars, and, using before-and-after pictures, the impact date has been nailed down to less than a day — it happened on or about March 27, 2012. The crater is 50 meters or so in size, and surrounded by smaller craters that may have been caused by smaller impacts due to the incoming meteoroid breaking up. Several landslides were spotted in the area as well, possibly due to the shock wave of the impact."

+ - Astronomers determine the length of day of an exoplanet

Submitted by The Bad Astronomer
The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "Astronomers have just announced that the exoplanet Beta Pic b — a 10-Jupiter-mass world 60 light years away -— rotates in about 8 hours. Using a high-resolution spectrometer and exploiting the Doppler shift of light seen as the planet spins, they measured its rotation velocity as 28,000 mph. Making reasonable assumptions about the planet's size, that gives the length of its day. This is the first time such a measurement has been achieved for an exoplanet."

+ - Astronomer discovers nearby brown dwarf literally as cold as ice

Submitted by The Bad Astronomer
The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "Using data from the orbiting WISE and Spitzer infrared space telescopes, an astronomer has discovered a brown dwarf that is just 7.2 light years away, making it the seventh closest known interstellar object to the Sun. Not only that, it's cold ; its temperature is likely 240-260 Kelvin, well below the freezing point of water. It's literally as cold as ice."

+ - Earth-sized planet discovered in its star's habitable zone

Submitted by The Bad Astronomer
The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "Astronomers have announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a very nearly Earth-sized planet in its star's habitable zone. The planet is the fifth in a system of five orbiting a red dwarf star 500 light years away, and is located in the region where liquid water could exist on its surface. It's not know if this planet is Earth-like — that is, with water and air and the potential for life — but it's the closest we've yet seen where one could be like our own planet."

+ - Object seen in skydiver's helmetcam unlikely to be a meteorite 3

Submitted by The Bad Astronomer
The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "The viral video showing what looked like a meteorite falling past a skydiver made quite a splash, with many people assuming it was true. However, further analysis shows that it's also perfectly consistent with being a small (1-3 cm) rock that fell out of the parachute itself, which is a far more likely explanation."

Comment: Re:Ummm, probably not (Score 1) 142

by The Bad Astronomer (#46664743) Attached to: Skydiver's Helmet Cam Captures a Falling Meteor
That analysis was done here: http://norskmeteornettverk.no/... (it's not in English, but google translate does a decent job). He makes a distance estimate based on speed, which itself is based on the assumption it's a falling rock at terminal velocity. But the distance, speed, and time it takes to cross the FOV are related, and if you make a stab at speed you can get distance and vice versa.

Comment: Re:Ummm, probably not (Score 1) 142

by The Bad Astronomer (#46663953) Attached to: Skydiver's Helmet Cam Captures a Falling Meteor
Yes, the apparent speed is the biggest argument against it being something packed in the 'chute, I'd think. If the skydiver were still decelerating hard after the parachute opened, the rock could appear to move rapidly, but even then it appears to come from farther away than the parachute. I'm still looking into this, and will have my own thoughts posted tomorrow on my blog.

Comment: Re:brighter? (Score 1) 376

by The_Wilschon (#46230315) Attached to: Laser Headlights Promise More Intense, Controllable Beams

Did you know that common kitchen knives can also be used by Billy Joe Bob to blind someone, or worse kill them? Just wait until you manage to tick Billy Joe Bob off. This cannot end well.

Clearly, kitchen knives should not be made, either.

Look, if people are going to attack, maim, or murder someone, they've got plenty of options already. Adding one to the potential arsenal, especially one that would take significant technical know-how to be able to turn into an actual weapon, isn't really going to change things.

Comment: Re:Common sense? In MY judiciary? (Score 5, Insightful) 457

by The_Wilschon (#46165929) Attached to: Judge Says You Can Warn Others About Speed Traps
Seems as though the police should actually want people to know about the speed traps. I mean, the ultimate goal for the police is to have everyone follow the law. If people know about an upcoming speed trap, then they'll slow down to the speed limit. If they don't know about the speed trap, then they'll continue to endanger those around them by driving too fast. </delightfully naive> Of course, we all know that what the police really want is ticket revenue. The more law breakers there are, the more revenue they get, and hence they will try to stop people from warning others to obey the law. This system is rather broken.

+ - New supernova seen in nearby galaxy M82

Submitted by The Bad Astronomer
The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "A new and potentially bright supernova was just discovered in the nearby galaxy M82. This is a Type Ia supernova, the catastrophic explosion of a white dwarf. It appears to be on the rise, and may have been caught as much as two weeks before peak brightness. It's currently already brighter than magnitude 12, and may get to mag 8, easy to see in small telescopes. The galaxy is less than 12 million light years away, so this may become one of the best-studied supernovae in recent times. Type Ia supernovae are used to measure dark energy, so seeing one nearby is a huge boon to astronomy."

Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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