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Comment It is the programmer's fault (Score 1) 47

The article summary isn't very good. If the software is programmed in a way that causes a car to behave in a way that's dangerous, it IS the software's fault.

No, it is the programmer's fault. Software is an amoral set of machine instructions written by a human. Saying it is the software's fault is like blaming a press for cutting off someone's hand. The actual fault is either user error or faulty machine design. The machine is just doing what it was told so blaming software is misplaced. The fact that the problem of autonomous driving has a lot of difficult and dangerous corner cases is irrelevant.

Software is just a set of instructions given by a human so if the instructions are wrong it is the fault of the person who gave the instructions to the machine. If the car behaves in a way that is dangerous then it is the fault of the person/company/entity that wrote the software controlling that behavior. The programmer is just as much at fault as a driver who made a mistake. The difference is that the programmer probably isn't sitting in the car at the time but just like the driver he/she was the one in charge of the driving of the car. It's really easy to forget that a human is instructing the machine - the difference is that the instructions are time shifted.

I think in time autonomous cars could prove to be safer than many/most human driven ones. There are a LOT of really bad drivers on the road and the tests to qualify for a license are pretty much a joke and there are almost no requirements to re-qualify which is kind of nuts. But the liability for bad or inadequate software should fall squarely on the party that wrote said software.

Comment Hypothetical with easy answer (Score 1) 156

In Holland, MI (birthplace of Slashdot) we're working toward fiber to the home. A handful of people have asked why not go wireless instead?

Because fiber will almost certainly be faster, probably more secure and likely more reliable and less prone to interference. That said, fiber to the home is not and will not be available to most of the country any time soon so it's a hypothetical question anyway. I'm not aware of any near term likely wireless technology that would outperform fiber. Furthermore once the fiber is laid it's relatively future proof for some time to come. Wireless not so much.

I know my reasons (speed, privacy, and we have an existing fiber loop) but are any wireless technologies good enough that cities should consider them?

The answer currently is no. That may change someday but not anytime soon. Wireless has its place but it's not the solution you are looking for here.

Comment Smartphones are barely phones (Score 2) 41

there are phones out now that are more powerful than my four year old LAPTOP. What the fuck do you need to make a fucking phone call??

Smartphones are not really primarily phones. They're small tablet computers that happen to be able to make calls. The phone feature is almost incidental since 90%+ of the time they are used for other purposes. I spend maybe 1-2 hours talking on my smartphone each month and probably 20+ hours doing other stuff with it like reading news, checking email, taking pictures, etc.

Comment House Prices (Score 1) 789

In coastal Connecticut, $100K a year isn't enough to buy a decent house if you're trying to raise a family at the same time.

Quite so. You can find a place to live but it's going to be a dump relatively speaking.

$200K might be enough to get a nice home around here, but $100K a year here is like making $40K a year in a rural area.

It's worse than that. Houses along the Gold Coast area cost something like 3-5X what they do out in the midwest where I live. A house that would cost me $100K in Michigan would cost me something like $400K+ anywhere along the so called Gold Coast. I know because I almost moved there at one point and went house shopping. The house I have now would have cost me well over a million anywhere remotely close to Greenwich CT.

Comment Taxes + inflation (Score 1) 789

Actually, a million cash would be about enough to fund a $60k a year income assuming you can get a good rate of return (6%...crazy these days).

Forgetting about taxes and inflation? To turn $1M into $60K/year of income you'd need a rate of return closer to 10-13% or so every year without fail. If you get less then your rate of return has to be higher the next year because you'll have dipped into your principal or you'll have to live on less for that year. Some years you will be almost certain to have a negative return.

Comment Comparing spreadsheets (Score 1) 61

As a power Excel user, you'd be a great person to create/reference an Excel/Google spreadsheet/Libreoffice Calc/others comparison table...

Such lists can be misleading. For example both LibreOffice and Excel have decent pivot table functionality but there are some quirks to each. Hard to explain the differences briefly in a table. Little things can sometimes make a big difference in which you might choose. For example I used LibreOffice Base to tie into an old database for some spreadsheets at my company. Access couldn't connect for some obscure technical reason.

Here is the Cliff Notes version:

Excel is probably the best overall but LibreOffice is good enough for most people unless everyone you work with is using Excel. The extra features and polish in Excel won't matter for 95% of the users out there. If you really use stuff like VBA heavily then it's probably ok to fork over the money for Excel. If you aren't tied to Excel by a userbase or specific feature need then go with LibreOffice. It's pretty easy to migrate to Excel if you have the need down the line in most cases. LibreOffice obviously is the easy choice if you use Linux. My company for example standardized on LibreOffice and it's been fine for our needs. There are other spreadsheets out there but unless one has a very specific feature need it would be hard to justify using them. For example Apple's Numbers spreadsheet is ok but it lacks some features and nobody really uses it so it's only really useful for personal projects.

The cloud versions (Google, MS, etc) are fine for simple projects and collaborations but if you have hard core number crunching to do or need pretty formatting or need to integrate with other office suite software then you'll usually go with Excel or LibreOffice. I expect the cloud versions will get better in time but they aren't there yet. Excel has better cloud integration than LibreOffice if that matters to you but neither integrates super well with Google's offerings.

Comment Microsoft (Score 2) 61

List five firms that have made a greater contribution than Microsoft to the specific task of getting a personal computer on every desk.

I can think of three you could make a solid argument for. IBM, Apple and Intel. Microsoft would certainly fall somewhere in the top 5 though. Exactly where is an exercise for the reader.

What was available in the '90s that was ruined by Microsoft?

Web standards and web browsers is probably the best example. Third party OEM operating system installation though restrictive licensing agreements. Security - macro viruses in particular. DRM facilitation.

What was available last decade that was ruined by Microsoft?

Nokia comes to mind... The Windows interface also.

Comment Excel "innovations" (Score 0) 61

As a former financial analyst I could probably name 100 innovations in Excel alone.

As a current accountant I can safely state that very Excel has barely improved in the last 10 years in meaningful ways. Sure there are some incremental improvements and it's gotten a bit more polished but nothing earth shaking. Probably the most useful thing added in recent years to my mind is conditional formatting which we saw back in 2007 if memory serves. Some added functions here, a few graphing improvements there, etc. Excel is a fine program but it hasn't been particularly innovative in quite a long time.

Comment Waste of money (Score -1, Troll) 61

Sure, but what people get with this physical game cartridge is a really great story to go with their game.

Their REALLY bad game. They buried these cartridges for a reason you know...

I honestly cannot fathom why anyone would want one of these. A terrible game that won't be played for an obsolete system that approximately nobody uses anymore. The only sane reason I could see to dig the things up is so that they could be properly recycled. A huge waste of money, brains and time.

Comment An economic problem a not technical one (Score 1) 466

If they can pull apart a rocketdyne motor from the apollo program and reverse engineer it I think they can manage an A-10.

It's not that they can't do it. It's that it's not economically sane to try in most cases. A lot depends on how much of the original documentation still exists and what sort of condition it is in. I've had to do that professionally myself on much smaller scale products and I can absolutely guarantee you that there will be considerable amounts of data missing. Worse, a lot of the tribal knowledge that went into making it and the problems they dealt with has been lost. Could it be re-engineered? Sure. But it would be needlessly expensive and they could probably develop a better product with a new(ish) plane if they went about it the right way.

  What would be economically sane to do is to pull the information still available about the A10 and do a clean sheet design while cribbing as much of what works as possible from the existing plane. There has been a lot of technological progress in the last 30 years. Simply copying an old but good design verbatim would be pretty short sighted. If the A10 continues to make tactical/strategic sense AND if we need more of them then a new design would be the best way to make it happen.

Comment There are no production lines to revamp (Score 2) 466

What we SHOULD HAVE done, is to revamp that A-10 production lines

What production lines? The A10 ceased production in 1984. There are no production lines to revamp. To get production started again you'd basically be starting over almost from scratch. Most/all the tooling is long gone. The assembly lines and supply chains are gone. The tribal knowledge from the team that built them is scattered to the winds and the original design engineers mostly retired or dead by now. There are drawings but I assure you that after 30 years there is a lot of missing information. Basically you cannot put it all back together again. It would be easier and cheaper to start over.

Comment Old is ok (Score 1) 466

That being said, the A-10 is actually getting old, and could use a capable replacement.

Old isn't necessarily a fatal problem in and of itself. The B52 is much older than the A10 and is still serving with distinction. It does cause some supply chain issues but nothing that cannot be solved. The biggest problem is really attrition in the number of airframes because they aren't building new ones obviously.

Comment Irrelevant (Score 1) 466

The gau-8 fires projectiles at a velocity of 3500 feet per second. A jet traveling at mach 1400 miles per hour is moving at 2053 feet per second. So even if the jet was flying away from the a-10, the projectiles are still closing at 1500 feet per second.

So what? Even if your figures are accurate it doesn't matter. First off that only matters if the jet is flying in a straight line and not turning even a tiny bit. Second, having the biggest gun in the fight is NOT the most important factor. Having a big gun is great but being able to put bullets on target and evade bullets is FAR more important in air to air combat. Third, bullets slow down after leaving the gun barrel. Several thousand meters out and that bullet will be traveling at substantially less velocity than it left the gun barrel. Fourth, this discussion of the A10 in air to air combat is stupid. It's not designed for it and will never be particularly good at it.

The confusion of a staff member is measured by the length of his memos. -- New York Times, Jan. 20, 1981

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