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Comment: Make watches thinner (Score 1) 427

by snsh (#47319933) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch?

Watches are still way too thick. You still can't find a digital watch (except for some ridiculous e-ink devices) less than 5mm thick.

While they're at it, why do dial watches still have crowns? You should be able to hold them up to a computer screen to set the time and date like those old databank watches. All they need is a sensor or solar cell and a tiny bit of logic.

Comment: Alito voted against the cops? (Score 5, Interesting) 249

by snsh (#47316955) Attached to: Supreme Court Rules Cell Phones Can't Be Searched Without a Warrant

During his confirmation hearings, Ted Kennedy noted that Sam Alito "never saw a police search he didn't like."

Alito wrote up his own opinion on this decision, not-quite agreeing with the rest of the bench, but still voting against this particular search. I guess there's a first for everything.

Comment: Re:Little known MIT fact (Score 1) 264

by snsh (#46898919) Attached to: An MIT Dean's Defense of the Humanities

They require you to take 8 subjects, of which several are distributed among predefined categories. I believe they discontinued the most ridiculous requirement of having a specific HUM-D/HASS-D subset of 20 or so subjects which were frequently oversubscribed because everyone in the school had to take ~three subjects from that subset. Those HASS-D subjects often covered obscure topics like "fairy tales".

Years and years ago, MIT's humanities department had a simple mission to "teach these nerds something about civilization" but since then it's grown and tries to compete with Harvard. They give out minors and majors. From what I've seen, half the the students who major/minor in HASS do it on top of a STEM degree, since it's not that hard to complete the extra subjects if you work efficiently. The other half of HASS majors are mostly dropouts from STEM courses.

Comment: My biggest gripe (Score 0) 338

by snsh (#46874031) Attached to: How the USPS Killed Digital Mail

USPS is still about 15 years behind in adopting the Internet. Today in 2014 you still cannot go online and print out a stamped (or unstamped) first class envelope or address label. You still have to fill out silly ink forms to send mail certified, registered, or proof of mailing. USPS has self service kiosks in a few post offices, but not any supermarkets. It's far easier to get a zipcode from a search engine than USPS.com.

USPS needs to just buy Stamps.com for a billion dollars or whatever they're worth, and make it a free service available to the public.

Comment: dollars vs. lives vs. dollars (Score 1) 518

by snsh (#46661139) Attached to: Department of Transportation Makes Rear View Cameras Mandatory

If you want to treat this as an engineering tradeoff, then you have to not only measure deaths but property damage.

Myself I've never reversed into a human being, but I have reversed the car into 1) dozens of other bumpers in tight parallel-parking spots, 2) a fence 3) several curbs 4) the side of a car, 5) a stone wall, and just two months ago 6) a trailer hitch. All those dings and dents cost money, and are much easier to assess than the actuarial dollar-value of 15 deaths.

The real scandal in this news, though, is that the NHTSA has delayed crafting this simple rule for so long. The law was passed in 2008 with a deadline of early 2011. The Obama administration delayed the rulemaking for so long presumably because most auto makers make money selling cameras as optional equipment. The NHTSA gave the excuse that they needed time to do a 'required cost-benefit analysis' of the 15/deaths per year against the $150 cost of the camera. What the heck takes so long? Congress already passed the law requiring the cameras. All NHTSA had to do is take out a piece of letterhead, write down "10 million cars/year * $150/car / 15 lives/year equals $100 million/life", sign it, and file it away.

Comment: The problem with eBay to sell electronics (Score 1) 79

by snsh (#46608219) Attached to: Used IT Equipment Can Be Worth a Fortune (Video)

eBay could be the perfect place to sell used electronics. The problem is the way they handle auction / buy-it-now listings.

Suppose you have a used Dell-brand server. You know that almost nobody is going to spend more than $800 on it, because for that money you could buy a new model. On the other hand, you figure someone out there might spend $500 on it because they're nearby and need it ASAP. And, you're willing to let people bid on it for a week and get it rid of it at the end of the week.

You can't accomodate all three parameters at once. If you set a reserve price, then once auctioning hits that reserve, then the buy-it-now is killed. On the other hand, if final bids are less than reserve, then the auction is effectively cancelled, and you're stuck holding the item.

Until eBay changes this, it will remain a non-ideal place to sell old IT equipment.

"The Amiga is the only personal computer where you can run a multitasking operating system and get realtime performance, out of the box." -- Peter da Silva

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