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Comment: Re:As a metro rider ... (Score 1) 176

by wvmarle (#47962281) Attached to: Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains

They know what they're driving: a train.

Contrary to say driving a truck or a car, the length of the vehicle doesn't change it's behaviour. So it's really easy for a driver to hop on a 8-coach train and drive it like a 6-coach train without feeling there's more behind him - maybe his train is normally a 6-coach vehicle, but as the normal train is in maintenance, they used an 8-coach one this time. With a truck you feel whether you're laden or not, whether you have that second trailer attached or not.

Once I've seen a train arriving in the station, with two engines, the second of which producing massive amounts of smoke. The train conductor went upfront to warn the driver of this, the driver, operating the train manually, hadn't noticed anything - the conductor noticed the smell of the burning brakes. What happened: the brakes of the second (inactive) engine were locked, and for the past 12 km or so the train had been pulling not only the 6 or 8 coaches, but also an engine with the brakes full on. The smoking hot brakes were released, and with a few minutes delay the train continued its journey.

The solution of having them pull up to the far end, is of course a failsafe option, while also being clear to passengers on where to expect the train to stop. Having the length of their train written somewhere in the cab as reminder may also be a good idea.

Comment: Re:London underground has automatic trains (Score 1) 176

by wvmarle (#47962255) Attached to: Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains

the drivers are needed to make sure that the train is safe to leave and no passengers are stuck in the doors and so on.

Depending on the size of your trains, these things are best done by a bunch of cameras keeping an eye on the full length of the train, obstruction detectors in the doors themselves, and platform staff. The cameras can be watched from a central location (could be central to the city, the line or to the station) with one person watching the complete train and keeping an eye on the crowds on the platform, while the obstruction detectors can give off an alarm to the automatic train control system and/or the station staff.

Not sure about your area, but I'm used to trains of 8-12 coaches in length, four sets of doors on each side per coach. A driver all the way in the front of the train is in a pretty poor position to see it all (no space for enough monitors) or to offer help (it's several minutes walk to the 12th coach along a crowded platform, and the trains are normally running at 2-minute intervals meaning many trains would be delayed just by the driver having to walk up and down his train - not to mention the increasing crowds - those trains run that frequent for a reason - making such a movement pretty much impossible, and that's no joke).

Comment: Re:It's inflation (Score 1) 190

by wvmarle (#47952293) Attached to: Why a Chinese Company Is the Biggest IPO Ever In the US

If you take into account inflation, Gone With The Wind (1939) is the largest grossing movie.

As that's so long time ago, you may even have to take into account the population at large. Selling 1,000 tickets to a population 10,000 in size is much more impressive than slling the same number of tickets in a population 1,000,000 in size. Plus of course the lack of competition by television or more recent developments such as The Pirate Bay.

Comment: Re:Why is Alibaba selling IPO in USA? (Score 1) 190

by wvmarle (#47951973) Attached to: Why a Chinese Company Is the Biggest IPO Ever In the US

China has a closed capital account, putting all kinds of limitations on businesses. All those yuan they get from listing in China is hard to exchange to other currencies, which they want for future expansion. The USD they collect now, they can however quite easily channel back into China as "foreign investment".

Also note that in fact Alibaba first looked at the Hong Kong stock market for listing. Again outside of China, but a lot closer to home. They were rejected by the Hong Kong board, as they could not fulfil certain requirements on financial openness and stability (details I don't know - I'm not a financial guy - however I got this part of the news as I live in Hong Kong and follow the local news). Alibaba even tried to have the Hong Kong stock exchange change the rules just for them, and when that didn't work they went to New York, where the stock exchange is apparently more lax in their rules for companies to list, or they were more willing to make an exeption for this big fish.

There are quite some local investment analysts that believe the financial basis of Alibaba is not sound, especially their payments services platform (something similar to PayPal), and that there is a risk of the company coming crashing down, again based on the unclear financial situation of the company.

Comment: Re:About 1/2 of 1 percent of their budget (Score 4, Insightful) 249

by wvmarle (#47895457) Attached to: City of Turin To Switch From Windows To Linux and Save 6M Euros

It is more than E85 a year, as this is only the upfront cost, excluding renewal of licenses.

The amount is small on a per-employee basis, however that E6 mln that the city saves can now be used for other purposes. If there's no benefit of using Windows over Ubuntu, this E6 mln (or more, over time) becomes a waste of money. Explain that to your voters, why you'd throw millions of Euros to some foreign company for some unnecessarily expensive product!

And why all or nothing? Because it makes the work of the IT staff a lot easier. Standardise computers, give them all the same hardware and software, and the bulk of the office can do exactly what they have to do. Maybe put in some non-standard (higher end, different OS, whatever) machines in the mix for the people that really need this - this are probably also the people that need the least support, so not much of an issue there.

Comment: Re:It's apparently not ready yet - FUD (Score 1) 471

by wvmarle (#47876127) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

Well, Apple make me Uncertain about the actual existence of the product, Doubtful on when it's really going to be released (now they'll have to; they can't delay much or they'll really use their reputation), and anyway I Fear it has not much use anyway - not just because my phone happens to be not an iPhone.

So that'd be UDF. Not FUD. But that's just a minor detail.

Comment: Re:What I think would be most useful (Score 1) 471

by wvmarle (#47876037) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

I didn't say the glance at the notification is not the interruption, however it does show that you are prepared (and, in a way, planning) to interrupt the meeting.

Besides, how often does it really happen to you that your wife takes the kid to hospital? Just be realistic here. Hasn't happened to me in eight years of having a kid. If it's really that important a message they can call someone at the company, and you can concentrate on the meeting instead of looking for messages all the time.

Comment: It's apparently not ready yet (Score 1) 471

by wvmarle (#47872693) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

With Apple announcements I'm used to them giving a date the gadget will be in the shops. Not just a year, but a month, and often a day even. And that date is usually in the quite near future.

A launch date of "early 2015" makes me wonder whether it's even ready for production, or that quite some development is still to be done before it can be released. No specific date, and it's like half a year out. That's almost a full generation when it comes to mobile phones!

First see, then believe. When it's released it's time to discuss the feature set of this device, the actual feature set that is. For now, it's vapourware. It seems Apple really lost its mojo since the demise of the late Steve Jobs...

Comment: Re:What I think would be most useful (Score 1) 471

by wvmarle (#47872563) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

I don't see (3) and (4) working well on a screen that's not even as big as my wrist (and I have pretty big wrists).

In case of (3), if there's a message so important that it's worth interrupting a meeting for (why else would you check notifications?), just have your secretary check on it and warn you in person when such a message comes in.

Comment: Re:This is what the US has become (Score 2) 137

by wvmarle (#47844061) Attached to: Deadmau5 Accuses Disney of Pirating His Music

You're mixing up things.

The original Mickey Mouse movies are indeed old enough to be in the public domain, based on the principles of copyright.

This doesn't necessarily mean the character Mickey Mouse, or its likeness, should be in the public domain as well.

Even less so for trademarks, which do not have a set expiry date: a trademark is yours from the moment you start using it, until you stop using it. It doesn't necessarily have to be registered - though that does make defending it easier. Also, unlike copyright, a trademark must be defended at all times or you may risk losing it. Allowing a company to use your trademark for some time and then going after it (like patent trolls like to do with patented stuff) makes you risk losing your trademark rights altogether.

Comment: Re:This does not bother me (Score 1) 237

by wvmarle (#47814775) Attached to: Mysterious, Phony Cell Towers Found Throughout US

If so, why would those towers be only at their bases? If using regular mobile phone frequencies (or frequencies close to those), they won't be able to create a complete network out of them, simply because the reach of those towers is limited to some 50 km, or the nearest mountain or tall building. Get off the base, and lose your communication - doesn't sound like a very useful system in case of emergency or war.

If you aren't rich you should always look useful. -- Louis-Ferdinand Celine