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Comment: Re:So, what was the nature of this agreement? (Score 2) 76 76

I have been following a bunch of the links but can't actually find what consideration Verizon got in the contract. But I did see that the contract is called a "franchise agreement" so I'm assuming that the city offered to use its power to prevent anyone else from competing with Verizon in exchange for Verizon agreeing to, among other things, provide service to the entire city. And now the city is shocked, shocked that a company that is too lazy to want to compete is also too lazy to actually provide the service. Frog, meet scorpion...

Maybe next time the city will not offer any franchises and instead point out to Google what a great place NYC is to lay fiber. If Verizon still doesn't do a good job then they won't get the customers, Google will.

Comment: Re:Paywall (Score 1) 145 145

Good point - you are exactly the kind of person that I am thinking about. Rather than merely restricting my comment to "technical training" I really meant "institutional backing" in a broad sense which would include training, support, and generally advocating for programming technologies other than Excel.

I can't really blame IT for their stance, though, because if anything did ever go wrong it would be their problem and they would catch the blame. So the push has to come from management, who recognize that telling analysts that they can't use, say, R, is just making them do whatever they are trying to do in an operationally risky, non-auditable excel spreadsheet.

Comment: Re:Paywall (Score 1) 145 145

I forgot who said it, but there is a quote that goes something like "In every sufficiently large Excel spreadsheet, there is a half-assed implementation of a Lisp interpreter." So I agree that the problem isn't semi-skilled people doing programming (loosely defined), but rather, people semi-skilled in the wrong tool.

Many of those large spreadsheets would be much better off as a database and a little bit of scripting language like Python. But most of these business analysts have only ever had exposure to Excel and VBA, and they would have been much better served with some technical training in the right tool for the job.

Comment: Re:Try it for yourself! (Score 1) 815 815

Now replace "confederate" with just about any other potentially offensive term (nazi, communist, rhodesia) and you get plenty of results.

Not in Germany or France you won't. It's almost like a symbol does not have an independently objective meaning but rather can only be understood within the context of a particular culture. There is little reason to believe that Americans, when exposed to nazi propaganda, will suddenly start goose stepping, nor will Germans who see the battle flag of the Confederacy decide to wage war against the United States. But there is a reasonable concern that Germans who show interest in nazi memorabilia are doing so because they believe in German racial superiority, and likewise a concern that Americans who want to fly the stars and bars are doing so because they want to hearken back to the day when African Americans were in chains. Google does not have to help them satisfy those wishes.

Comment: Re:Effect of nukes on NEOs (Score 3, Interesting) 272 272

RTFA They specifically look at a standoff explosion versus a surface or subsurface explosion and prefer the standoff explosion precisely because they are aware of the possibility of blowing something up with a nuclear weapon. Amazingly enough, the professional rocket scientists at NASA actually considered the consequences of the alternative tactics before making their recommendation

Comment: Re:One word summary. (Score 1) 1032 1032

So is a Master of Philosophy now only available to the wealthy?

Historically that is exactly what a master's degree in philosophy was for - rich scions whose parents wanted to park them someplace for 5-10 years until they got out of their embarrassing late teens and early twenties and could take part in the family dynasty. The idea that the middle class should go to degree-granting institution is a very recent phenomenon.

I have nothing against getting a good liberal arts education - but I think you should do it the way I do - for $15/month. If somebody wants an education it doesn't cost hardly anything. If you want a *diploma* it will cost you.

Comment: Re:Pointless study (Score 1) 216 216

I think you could be in group #1 and think that it is marginally acceptable to subsidize a $40,000 vehicle that is being sold as a practical alternative mode of transportation while not finding it at all acceptable to subsidize an $80,000 luxury car. Of course, that is the opposite of what the author is getting at.

Comment: Re:Google Fiber (Score 5, Insightful) 229 229

I don't know about your specific state or municipality, but with so many of them cutting exclusivity deals with the local cable company I don't think there are many that could be trusted. As soon as Comcast promises to give a couple new computers to some local school you can be sure they will find some reason why the municipal fiber will have to be shut down. You might be able to install muni fiber by ballot but you can't run it that way.

Comment: Re:Future proofing (Score 4, Interesting) 557 557

All piping / conduits will not only be visible, but shown off as part of the style

This is genius (assuming people get to like the style). It is such a pain to try to work on anything around the house when you have to guess where the conduits go, or fiddle with a plumbing trap through a one foot opening that can't even fit a slip wrench. Walls covered with pulverized rocks made a lot of sense when they were just there for privacy but now that the lifeblood of a house is running through them architects should figure out how to make the whole system more accessible.

So to OP, even if you don't go this far, make sure that things can be worked on! Pipes leak and room configurations change and if you designed the house without flexibility for infrastructure then one day when you (or a professional) have to deal with an issue it will suck.

As a side note, IANAL but whenever you sell you may need to disclose the fact that you are storing evil spirits in the floorboards.

Comment: Re:Great marketing (Score 1) 392 392

The pedestrian detection feature has nothing to do with the self parking feature. It is just another feature that you can buy, on a car that happens to have a self-parking feature. And the car in the video isn't in the process of self-parking, it is under the control of a human driving forward.

Car analogy: Back in the old days, you could get anti-lock brakes as an option, and/or airbags as an option. They are both safety features, but don't have anything to do with one another. This video is analogous to if somebody got the airbag option, but not the anti-lock brakes, then lost control in a skid and crashed. The headline would read "Car with airbags loses control because owner didn't pay extra for anti-lock braking system," to make us all afraid of air bags, and would be just as stupid.

Comment: Re:Article is stupid (Score 2) 236 236

This. You can't simply run these sorts of numbers on an ELE because the risk isn't the risk that *I* might die, but rather, that my entire species might die. It's a totally different thing that asteroid hunters are worried about. And the chances of all of humanity being wiped out in one is actually much higher than the probability that all of humanity gets wiped out in a giant plane crash, or series of plane crashes.

It's like complaining that people who are worried about getting hit by a truck shouldn't be concerned because there are a lot of other things that might make them late for dinner (and are a lot more likely to happen). But being late for dinner isn't why one should be concerned about getting hit by a truck.

Work smarter, not harder, and be careful of your speling.