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Comment: There are much better ways to resolve conflicts... (Score 4, Insightful) 74

by nroets (#40260787) Attached to: Sprint Moves To Eliminate 'Blood Minerals' From Cell Phones
Trying to track down where in Africa minerals are mined will require massive spending on auditors and lawyers. Bribery and corruption is rife. A much more effective approach is to support refugees, wherever they may end up. Furthermore, population growth and AIDS are larger problems than the African civil wars. Rwanda's population is already larger that what is was before the genocide there.

Comment: (Score 1) 141

by nroets (#37907612) Attached to: Google Maps To Charge For API Usage

OpenStreetMap has an acceptable use policy, as opposed to limits. The sysadmins implement limits on an ad hoc basis to ensure that the servers are not overload.

The number of services from is however quite limited. For example no routing.

If you are serious about reducing fuel consumption and other forms of waste, it really makes sense to pay for the best service, be it Google Maps, OSM, NT or TA. Computing the best route between two points 20 kilometers apart is a fraction of a cent, even with the worst possible algorithm. The savings can however be many dollars.

Comment: Good antenna: Yes, Getting it deployed: Maybe (Score 4, Informative) 38

by nroets (#37877602) Attached to: Quiet Cellular Antenna Tech To Boost S. African SKA Bid

Getting the antenna deployed is another matter. For example ICASA has serious corporate governance problems.

I live in South Africa and I regularly pick up high power WLANs in my neighbourhood. And I suspect many of them are used to carry CCTV signals or to bypass the expensive telecoms operators. The public is sympathetic to these cause. So compliance with government regulations will not be very high.

Comment: Online Judges are useful up to a point (Score 1) 329

by nroets (#37341482) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Programs To Learn From?

On sites like there are plenty of easy questions. It's a good way to learn the basics, like sorting, input and output, because the judge will test your program for all the possible newbie mistakes.

Unfortunately, there are very few judges that will force you to use certain libraries (STL, boost, etc) APIs or language features (e.g. inheritance).

Comment: Re:To unclear (Score 1) 556

by nroets (#35923014) Attached to: Apple: "We must Have Comprehensive Location Data"

I wonder if all those people who helped OpenStreetMap are aware that OpenStreetMap knows the exact location where they were when they collected the data.

On a few rare occasions I investigated a few OSM user names. For example Googling it and looking at where the first edits were made. Rarely is it possible to determine the residential or work address with any kind of accuracy. Even the nationality of some contributors cannot be determined accurately, considering global im/emigration. And I doubt the sys admins will bother to mine the extra data they have access to.

So OSM cannot go nearly as far as Google or Appel, even if they wanted to.

Personally I don't mind telling the world where I've been, but I'm not too keen to tell them where I'm going.

Comment: Re:Assen (Score 1) 314

by nroets (#34735728) Attached to: Has the Industrialized World Reached Peak Travel?
Isn't it a bit misleading to say that Assen has a density of 2000 per square mile ? That's measured over 32 square miles. But if you look at a map, you will see that most of the population lives in an area of 2.5 miles by 3.5 miles. And my guess is that that area is quite flat, making it ideal for cycling.

Comment: Re:I had no idea there was democracy in Zimbabwe (Score 1) 669

by nroets (#34706030) Attached to: Wikileaks and Democracy In Zimbabwe
No, there is at least some level of democracy. The MDC did gain many seats during the last election, as well as the position of prime minister. Furthermore, if Mugabe goes too far (for example by banning the MDC), he will loose support from South Africa. Part of the reason why democracy has not produced results in Zimbabwe is because the disillusioned section of the population has been voting with their feet, i.e. immigrating to South Africa.

Comment: Micromanagement of traffic will have a big impact (Score 1) 109

by nroets (#34672870) Attached to: IBM Projects Holographic Phones, Air-Driven Batteries

Firstly, the infrastructure to measure traffic flow patterns is being created as we speak. Every smartphone with a GPS can act as a sensor.

The political will is there, largely due to the desire to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Authorities should try to disincentive drivers to drive when peaks are predicted. It may take the form of toll charges being continually adjusted or it may take the form of free parking. But even without them, a mere warning from their smartphone will lead some drivers to reschedule or reroute.

Comment: Carl Sagan on interpreting images (Score 3, Funny) 53

by nroets (#33702132) Attached to: NASA Creates an Alien's Eye View of Solar System
"Strikingly, the images resemble one taken by Hubble of the star Fomalhaut." Be careful in drawing conclusions from the above statement. In 'Cosmos', Carl Sagan summarizes one of the flawed arguments he came across : "Looking at Venus, what do you see? Just clouds. Not a single thing. Conclusion? Dinosaurs"

He: Let's end it all, bequeathin' our brains to science. She: What?!? Science got enough trouble with their OWN brains. -- Walt Kelly