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Comment: Things to solve (Score 1) 546

by Alioth (#47447095) Attached to: Predicting a Future Free of Dollar Bills

There are still some things to solve for the cashless society.

1. Electronic transactions are still far too expensive. Every shop I go into to get (say) my lunch have a minimum amount you have to spend before you can use your debit card (or you have to pay a surcharge). My lunch always falls below this value so I must use cash. Things like vending machines too. Until it's cheap enough to use something like a debit card to buy an item costing 60p, then you'll still need cash.
2. Security. Debit/credit cards are too insecure, and the burden of making them secure is on the merchant in the form of PCI-DSS. It means if you're a small business taking debit/credit might not be an option. The burger van in the car park for instance, it's still impractical for him to take electronic transactions due to the equipment requirements and PCI-DSS.
3. Very hard to settle private debts. For instance if I hire a builder for a small job, he now has to give me all his bank details if I'm to do an electronic transfer. It's about 100 times easier to give him cash.

Comment: Re: Entrusting our lives to complex software (Score 1) 464

The parent wasn't quite right, in reality software flies your airplane 100% of your journey right now.

Modern Boeing and Airbus designs are pure fly by wire. 100% of the time you fly it though software. The engines are FADEC (full authority digital engine controls).

Comment: Re:Power? We dont need no stink'n power! (Score 1) 464

Autoland has been a thing since the early 70s. The first aircraft to have it, the Hawker Siddeley Trident 3 (an aircraft similar to the Boeing 727 in layout - three engines at the back of the aircraft and T-tailed) was flying autolandings in pretty much zero visibility decades ago.

Comment: Re:Power? We dont need no stink'n power! (Score 1) 464

Since all modern large airliners are fly by wire, you're screwed anyway.

Airliners have multiple redundant power buses. Each engine has a generator, and there is also an APU (auxilliary power unit) which has a generator. If all three fail (for example, because the plane ran out of fuel, it's happened, or flies through a flock of Canada geese and loses all engines and for some reason the APU won't start) there is a ram air turbine that sticks out into the airflow and powers a generator. There is also a mandated amount of reserve battery power. Talking of losing all engine power, the Airbus A320 that went in the Hudson has purely electronic controls, and remained controllable after a double engine failure.

Comment: Re: Failsafe? (Score 1) 464

That's not how it works at all.

Airliners pretty much since the jet age have had at least some measure of "envelope protection". In the 60s this was pretty simple - just a stick pusher to prevent stalls since stalls in many airliners can easily become unrecoverable. Airbus's envelope protection is much more sophisticated than just a stick pusher.

However when there's a systems failure the Airbus systems will automatically drop to a different control law that effectively works like basic stick and rudder flying.

Boeing uses fly by wire now too by the way.

Comment: no rest no peace (Score 1) 65

These 3D whizmos, like for example LEAP motion (incredibly cool), all work great.... for about 20 minutes. Then you put them in the drawer because they require too much muscle coordination and energy to operate. in contrast when you REST your finger on a scroll wheel or REST your hand on a mouse it is not merely not moving, it is at rest in 3 dimensions. it only takes a small effort to move it, but you are not having to run a whole lot of muscles in coordination to keep the hand or finger in a constant position. it's hard to poise your hand in empty space. In the old days, good typists could do this with hands poised over the KB and fingers hovering above the keys. Most people now days use palm rests or put pressure on the keys. those old time secretarial pool typists had to sit up straight and brace their feet on the floor to pull that off. Girdles probably helped!

the first successful mouse replacement will have that feature. Perhaps something with haptic feedback to support your finger a little till you really want to move it.

personally I suspect the some sort of eye motion or maybe a joystick like thing will be the first 3D controller that people can use for long periods.

Comment: Python is better overall but R is more like SAS (Score 4, Insightful) 143

R has more single function high level commands devoted to stats, these are done right internally and are self consistent with other functions for further processing. But its not as general a programming language as python. if you want something different than the canned functions in R then you will need to write them yourself at which point you might as well be using python. however if you like SAS then chances are R will seem more like what you are hoping for.

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