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Comment: Self driving does not have to mean self reliant (Score 1) 362

by theycallmeB (#49186199) Attached to: Would You Need a License To Drive a Self-Driving Car?
I think the key to making cars that are really 'self driving' will be to have the on-board systems backstopped by a call center rather than anyone sitting in the vehicle itself. Autonomous aircraft are really designed with a computer to handle the routine flying and then pass things off to a remote pilot for the interesting bits. An autonomous car could handle the freeway and major streets by itself quite well but might need to call up a licensed operator to negotiate a parking garage or a work zone.

Something I can see happening to lead to this will be commercial trucks that are self driving, and unmanned, on the freeway but that pull into special truck stops where a pool of local drivers are available to get the truck the last few miles to its destination.

Comment: Re:Total disservice to taxpayers (Score 1) 293

by theycallmeB (#48937071) Attached to: US Air Force Selects Boeing 747-8 To Replace Air Force One
On a per-seat mile basis, yes the A380 is cheaper than any 747, there wouldn't really have been any purpose the A380 if this weren't the case. But Air Force One only has a single seat that matters in determining where it goes, a 747 with a lower total per-hour operating cost would be the cheaper option. And the American made option. And much more importantly, even the slightly bloated 747-8 can operate out of airports that an A380 simply cannot.

Comment: Most people would screw up First Class Mail online (Score 1) 182

by theycallmeB (#48771213) Attached to: Four Facepalm Bugs In USPS Label-Printing Site
Particularly this guy. Most people would have no earthly idea as to which type of First Class Mail they should use for any given item: letter, flat or parcel. The allowed weights and sizes are different for all three and even the price increase per unit weight is different. Many people wouldn't have a scale on hand that is accurate to the tenth of an ounce and would get upset when their item was returned because they guessed to low. All in all, the USPS is quite right to have domestic first class offered through click-n-ship because it would only end in tears.

If you actually mail out enough stuff to know what you are about you can use PayPal. Or do what I do: use stamps. Really, I do, and it works great.

Comment: Re:Pallet ecosystem (Score 5, Informative) 250

by theycallmeB (#48649645) Attached to: The Magic of Pallets
Don't forget plastic stretch wrap: until they get wrapped up tight many pallet load are too dangerous to move more than a few feet and impossible to move over the bumps of a dock plate. Rope, tape, cargo nets and other options can kinda work but the modern pallet freight system would slog down without cheap, disposable (and recyclable) plastic wrap. (Aside: I have been witness to what happens when a Walmart store runs out of pallet wrap. It is... awkward.)

Comment: Re:The directive does not mention google. (Score 1) 237

by theycallmeB (#48477269) Attached to: Google Should Be Broken Up, Say European MPs
The company I work for has a list of "brands we do not advertise" as a result of the agreements we have to buy stuff from the makers of those brands. But when a print ad goes out listing a "Major Name Brand" laundry detergent next to a picture of a big orange jug, everyone still knows its Tide. The oblong yellow box of melting cheese is Velveeta. And a directive to separate search from all the things that help search make money is an attempt to screw Google.

Comment: Market size effects (Score 1) 376

by theycallmeB (#48445239) Attached to: Blame America For Everything You Hate About "Internet Culture"
I think that many Americans also think that buzzfeed is crap, some are probably outright hostile. Critics have derided it as fluffy and poorly written. But with over 300 million people in the US, you do not have to attract a large share of the population to still end up with a large enough number of people to make a go of things. Particularly if your cost to produce is low and the cost of distribution lower (real example: http://slashdot.org/). But unless you can really minimize your localization costs (like with machine translators rather than real people), then there will not be enough people in the long-tail of the bell curve in a smaller market like France, so you need broader appeal.

But hey, if buzzfeed can manage a higher level of market share in France by sucking less, perhaps they will try something similar on this side of the Atlantic.

Comment: Re:Banks Love It - They tax you (Score 3, Interesting) 753

by theycallmeB (#47446097) Attached to: Predicting a Future Free of Dollar Bills
People point this out a lot, and it is very true, and merchants love to whine about it, but they never point out the costs of handling cash.

You have to count it into the till, make change, balance the till, count and recount your deposit, and then haul it to the bank to deposit and pick up your change order, or pay an armored car service to do it for you. And hope nobody robs you in the meantime, or slips you a bogus $50.

For cards, big stores don't even need to print slips for their records, it is all in the system. For small stores you can just staple the slips together by type and drop them in a box in case someone gets a stick up their butt and decides to audit you.

Comment: Re:Seriously? (Score 1) 1146

by theycallmeB (#45699603) Attached to: US Light Bulb Phase-Out's Next Step Begins Next Month
The heating coils are there for situations where you want (or that the controller board thinks that you want) a lot of heat right now. Like when somebody manually ups the temperature setting about five degrees. With a heat pump, slow and steady (and a programmable thermostat) wins the race.

Comment: Re:It is a broken system (Score 1) 1145

by theycallmeB (#43819115) Attached to: White House: Use Metric If You Want, We Don't Care
'Avoirdupois' has nothing to do with mass, or at least nothing to do with mass in the customary system, much as the UK pint has nothing to do with anything expect British pubs.

You are thinking of that bastard unit the pound-mass, defined as the mass that produces one pound force at normal Earth gravity. The true mass unit for the US customary system is the slug which weighs in at 32.2 pounds at normal Earth gravity. Just as a kilogram weighs 9.81 Newtons in Earth gravity. No tweaking required.

And don't forget the metric system's own bastard unit: the kilogram-force. Which, I might add, is far more commonly used than pound-mass, unless all of the metric world's cheap bathroom scales are really sophisticated mass-balances in disguise. And whereas pound-mass is always specifically stated, kilogram-force seems only weakly attached to the force.

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