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Comment: Re:Great job, guys (Score 3, Insightful) 76

by uncqual (#48611201) Attached to: Uber Limits 'God View' To Improve Rider Privacy

charged excessive fees to people trying to leave the scene of a hostake crisis after public transit was shut down

Okay, the government decides to shut down the government subsidized/run public transit (i.e., reneges on their implied commitment to their customers) and you blame a company that tries to provide at least some people a substitute service? How do you suppose Uber might increase supply of drivers to meet demand? Hmm..., maybe they could offer drivers more money to show up and offer rides? How might they fund that effort? Hmm..., how about by charging the consumer more?

This is a case, fairly rare actually, where supply can actually be increased to some degree almost instantaneously - but there has to be a motivation to the supplier to do so. If an Uber driver is at home gardening because they decided that the pay for rides wasn't high enough to motivate her to offer rides instead of garden at that moment, the most efficient means to get her to change her mind and thereby increase demand is to offer her more money. This is no different than how employers staff their positions -- if they have a need that they can't fill, they increase the pay until a qualified person is motivated to take the position.

From what little I know, Uber does seem like a pretty crappy company but I don't see how them utilizing well understood market forces to match supply and demand is a bad thing.

Comment: Re:Have Both (Score 1) 566

by uncqual (#48574487) Attached to: The Case For Flipping Your Monitor From Landscape to Portrait

Agreed - but if one considers cost vs. benefit, two monitors may have a bigger payback.

Private offices are expensive (but well worth it IMHO), but it's hard to convince management of that today. Most of current management were raised w/o private offices while in the trenches and don't realize the stark contrast. Those of us who routinely worked in private offices decades ago see that contrast clearly.

It's difficult to "try" private offices to see if they work better for a particular small/mid sized organization. However, it's not hard to "try" second monitors (or perhaps enormous 4K monitors now) to see how they increase productivity for a few and then deploy incrementally if they pan out.

Comment: Re: sorry, all my laptop batteries are dead (Score 1) 143

by uncqual (#48541541) Attached to: Using Discarded Laptop Batteries To Power Lights

Spoken by someone who probably never had a house cat snap at their forearm and have one of their fangs neatly catch the middle of a tendon as it sunk in. True, not as bad as a lion or tiger, but weeks of pain and discomfort nonetheless. And, it was our cat who did this -- a rescue cat who was very affectionate but had, shall I say, some "quirks" that if your attention wandered could result in suboptimal results.

Comment: Re:So instead (Score 1) 110

by uncqual (#48498357) Attached to: Armies of Helper Robots Keep Amazon's Warehouses Running Smoothly

Not quite. One has to add the cost of capital, depreciation of assets, insurance and other operating expenses to the product price also. For example, these robots are not "free" and themselves require raw materials to build so their initial and operating costs must be amortized over all the stuff they pick. Similarly, the warehouses don't just spring spontaneously from the ground when Bezos says "let there be a warehouse".

Comment: Re:Nope... Nailed It (Score 2) 186

by uncqual (#48435351) Attached to: It's Not Developers Slowing Things Down, It's the Process

One problem with discussions like this is that there is a lack of consistency in titles and job role naming across companies.

For example, in some companies first level managers of developers are not very technical (fortunately, I've never worked at a company where this was the norm) and can only manage work units and people but not solve technical problems themselves or provide detailed technical guidance. They can be good people managers, good at working the politics, good at making sure that the project dependencies (both inward and outward) are being tracked, and good at protecting the group from abuse. However, they need to rely on project leaders/lead programmers for the technical stuff. In other companies (fortunately, the most of the ones I've worked at as a developer or a manager), managers are de facto project leads and/or psuedo-architects and are able to (and do) look at code, review specs, make technical decisions when necessary.

Similar story for "project managers". At some companies they just push lines around on PERT charts and note and track that there's an issue that needs to be resolved by next Thursday about if the asdfasdf is to provide some data to the lklkjfsdf or if the lklkjfsdf should independently fetch it. At other companies, "project managers" would actually know what asdfasdf and lklkjfsdf were and be able to understand, at some level, that lklkjfsdf couldn't possibly independently fetch the data because security policies don't allow it no matter how loudly the owner of asdfasdf insists otherwise (and, knows who/how to bring in to shut the owner of asdfasdf up).

Comment: Havard Law School needs to teach vocabulary. (Score 1) 203

by uncqual (#48431607) Attached to: Harvard Students Move Fossil Fuel Stock Fight To Court

It's November and 1L students have been in class for a while.

HLS should teach vocabulary on the first day of class to 1Ls - particularly the meaning of the words "frivolous" and "standing". Sad that these students managed to get an undergraduate degree without understanding the meaning of those words and their applicability to lawsuits.

OTH, maybe they will learn a lot from this experience as the judge laughs uncontrollably and the entire courtroom joins in. Oh, and sanctions them. Hopefully they get a judge who went to Yale Law School - double humiliation.

Comment: Re:Yawn ... (Score 4, Insightful) 167

by uncqual (#48420095) Attached to: Microsoft Azure Outage Across the Globe

However, in a widespread outage like this, I'll bet the big cloud providers have a better record of rapid recovery than their customers had in-house. By necessity, MS, Amazon et al have very competent engineers who know the product well available to pull off what they are doing (including sleeping) and jump into any really serious problem. There simply are not enough such engineers to go around all the mid-sized IT organizations in the world nor interesting enough work to keep these engineers interested and sharp at most of these IT organizations (to say nothing of the cost of keeping such engineers around).

For a car analogy... When your high end car has a nagging problem that your local mechanic can't figure out, the dealer often can figure it out quickly, possibly with the help of a factory specialist who deals with (say) ECUs on only this make all day, every day. Rarely can an independent mechanic specialize enough to come close to the factory specialists in diagnosis. Now, if your car just has a dead battery, your local mechanic may give you faster, better, and cheaper service than the dealer.

Comment: Re: Why? (Score 1) 327

by uncqual (#48397685) Attached to: Apple Disables Trim Support On 3rd Party SSDs In OS X

If someone was happy to pay her $20 for it, what's the problem? Willing seller, willing buyer, free market. AC didn't say she held a gun to the buyer's head and forced him to buy it. She also didn't say that she misrepresented the machine's age or capabilities. Maybe the buyer just wanted something to sit in his workshop to look something up occasionally or do some quick calculations and this machine met his needs 100% and, at $20, he wouldn't care if he dropped it and it broke into two.

Comment: Re:LOL (Score 2) 76

by uncqual (#48376251) Attached to: US Weather System and Satellite Network Hacked

Really? In a world where responsible US web sites need to implement some sort of "we haven't gotten a national security letter in the last x seconds" sentinel in order to maintain their customers' trust and their own moral integrity?

Yes, the NSA is a necessary agency. Your local police are also a necessary agency - but surely you don't think your local police agency should be able to shoot and kill anyone that they think might be suspicious "because they are a necessary agency".


Comment: Re:LOL (Score 2) 76

by uncqual (#48376239) Attached to: US Weather System and Satellite Network Hacked

My kingdom for mod points (I had them a few hours ago :()

Commerce relies on the web feeds directly or indirectly (it may just be a contractor deciding if they will do Job A today [inside] or Job B today [Outside painting]). It would be nice if the government shutdown the data feed with message/press release "We have been compromised by hackers and are striving to harden our systems. Meanwhile, we have shutdown the feed. Please track our every four hour posts (or more frequently) at for updates on progress).

On the other hand, try getting off the "no fly list" if you're a consultant with an unfortunate name (perhaps including Mohammad) who NEEDs to fly.

The US government needs to get their priorities straight and focus on important stuff and be more transparent. Hint -- some dude smoking weed or selling it to their buddy probably isn't as important as securing critical government networks.

Comment: Re:Real-time market approach (Score 1) 488

by uncqual (#48373705) Attached to: Denmark Faces a Tricky Transition To 100 Percent Renewable Energy

You, obviously, don't understand time of use metering. In a regulated utility (which most are in the United States at least), TOU metering would result in higher prices for usage at times that the spot price is high (due to higher demand) than when it's low. Utilities typically buy contracts and/or have their own generating capacity for much of their anticipated usage and can predict those costs fairly well so TOU pricing would be fairly predictable (the more predictable, the higher that predictable price will be typically be -- these contracts can be modeled, in part, as options). On the margins though where demand spikes (such as due to unseasonably cloudy weather that, increasingly, will result in low solar yields and spikes in demand from customers relative to their anticipated demand), they often need to go to the spot market.

For some time variants of TOU metering has been commonly available to businesses in areas I've worked -- and there's no question that businesses alter their usage in response. Residential users are not, generally, as accustomed to this yet but will be in the future just as they are now familiar with higher rates for toll lanes based on near instantaneous congestion levels. The days of "contracted fixed rates" being the only (or the most rational) choice for consumers are numbered and utilizing less predictable sources of power (wind and solar in particular) will accelerate this transition.

This is all from the United States viewpoint of course where there may be a stronger tendency to use markets to solve problems than in some other countries.

I can sell that at the spot market or power down my plant.

Your choice if you pay the price I will charge you for it.

That is correct -- but you (and all the other suppliers acting independently in their best interests) are making similar decisions -- which then impacts the spot price as you (and all the other producers acting in independently in their best interests) offer more power on the spot market for the next hour. The utilities nearly always have to buy the power if it's available at a rational price due to regulators. These markets can break down of course as they did in the winter of 2000/2001 in California - it's worth at least skimming this report [PDF] for some analysis of this disaster.

Comment: Re:Real-time market approach (Score 1) 488

by uncqual (#48370261) Attached to: Denmark Faces a Tricky Transition To 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Nope. IoT (or similar) to the rescue - mostly automated.

First, your Tesla is set to charge to x% by time y and monitors energy prices and projections to decide when to turn the charger on/off (or, even decrease charge by backfeeding into the grid to take advantage of high energy prices - you might even be able to work from home often enough to decide to skip the commute to work and drain the Tesla to 10% by the next morning).

Second, your thermostat is hooked to it - and responds quickly to price increases - you notice and respond w/sweaters or reducing clothing (depending on which guests you may have visiting at the moment -- this does, however, have some potentially interesting side benefits in select cases).

Third, your lighting is hooked to it and begins to dim lights.

Fourth, your dishwasher, dryer, and washer is/can be set up to run on a "complete by" schedule and monitor energy prices and projections to decide when to start a preloaded cycle.

Fifth, a crawl appears at the bottom of your TV when prices get really high.

Sixth, I'm sure there is a sixth.

Comment: Re:Real-time market approach (Score 1) 488

by uncqual (#48369911) Attached to: Denmark Faces a Tricky Transition To 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Yes, I think they will. When depends on each person's perceived value and cost of failing to do so. Given an indicator that was hard to miss, I think the majority of middle class people in America would reduce their home electrical use substantially when power hit, say, $3/kwh - although, I suspect enough businesses and others would have cut demand long before the cost rose to $3/kwh in most cases.

Over time, most people who use electric heat or A/C would have their thermostats programed to automatically drop/increase the "on" temp significantly for modest transient increases in electricity prices.

Comment: Re:Real-time market approach (Score 2) 488

by uncqual (#48366555) Attached to: Denmark Faces a Tricky Transition To 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Because the excess of supply or excess of demand are by the minute or hour, not by the week, month, or year.

It's somewhat like buying a last minute airline ticket. If people were unwilling to pay more for a last minute ticket, all tickets would cost more (fine) but it would be impossible (because the airlines would price tickets to insure every seat was sold - or oversold - many hours before wheels up to minimize the risk of a single empty seat) to get a ticket on a commercial airliner to get to mom's bedside 1500 miles away before she expires.

By increasing prices when demand approaches the absolute maximum supply, consumers will reduce demand quickly (good, since supply can't be increased quickly). When power gets expensive enough, they will shut off rooms, wear more sweaters, turn lights off, instead of cooking a fancy dinner they will nuke something in the microwave and use disposable utensils (or, just wait to wash them until the next day), they will sit around in a single room and talk instead of playing on their computer or watching TV in individual rooms. Demand is extremely elastic, supply is inelastic at the top end. In extreme cases, they will shutdown their entire house (using winter shutdown procedures as needed) and gather in friends and neighbor's houses (perhaps, splitting the cost of the very expensive power during those times).

"Pascal is Pascal is Pascal is dog meat." -- M. Devine and P. Larson, Computer Science 340