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Comment Lunch, the Least Important Meal; except when first (Score 1) 300

I very rarely eat breakfast. In fact, I rarely have an appetite until I've been up for at least an hour or two.

When people say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I generally reply that Lunch is the least important meal of the day - except when it's first. And for me, Lunch is almost always first ;-)

Comment Yes; It just takes more work (Score 1) 183

It's not as shiny and takes more work than using the big name solutions (ie: Nest/Google), but the options are out there.

The RadioThermostat works over your choice of WiFi, Z-Wave, or Zigbee (pick up to 2 protocols). The cloud service is easy to setup and includes a convenient app, but the API is fully documented and compatible with a number of open source home automation servers. You can easily disable the cloud service if desired, or reconfigure it to point to a server of your choosing (local or remote).

I'd say it'll be another year or two for the various open source home automation servers to mature to the point that they'll be as convenient to setup as the commercial systems. For now, unfortunately, it's still very much a developers-only world of roll your own solutions, unless you happen to be using the same devices that are supported by a single software package.

I currently have a Z-Wave lights, RadioThermostat, a discontinued system providing leak and motion detectors over a custom serial protocol, TI SensorTags, RF blinds and LED lighting that I plan on controlling via my home server. The hardest part I'm finding is actually controlling the RF devices, while I've given up on the ebay LED light strip controllers and am working on custom Arduino-based controllers there.

Eventually I want to add a Smart lock to my front door to give me keyless entry, but I've yet to find a smart lock that I feel is both secure and not dependent on a third-party server literally holding your (master encryption) keys hostage so you can't freely create your own digital keys at will (looking at you, Kevo).

Comment Re:Where the Money is going (Score 1) 49

Agreed. In fact, back in the days of DSL ruling broadband internet services, we had exactly those same regulations here in the USA. My mother is still using the same independent DSL provider she has for ages, which leases/shares equipment and lines with the local telco.

The problem is that when the cable companies laid their wires later on, most municipalities granted them exclusive access to those lines in exchange for paying the full expenses. That, plus differences in the way Cable COAX vs Telephone wiring works, makes competition on the same line here infeasible.

OTOH, it would probably be a lot easier for the same regulations that applied to the copper lines be extended to the newer Fiber optic lines, also generally operated by the phone companies, but we'd need elected representatives independent of corporations before that will ever happen ;-X

Comment Re:2014 experience with USA public transit (Score 1) 110

Let's be fair. Our public transit system is more like a second world country ;-) With the exception of certain historic lines (ie: San Francisco's trolley's), the rolling stock doesn't date to the 50s, but can be as old as the 70s or 80s, though most cities with trains that old are in the process of actively refreshing their stock.

I've visited Europe several times now, but have yet to visit Asia. The older parts of the public transit systems in Europe are generally comparable to the US, though I'll admit they do a better job of keeping them clean. I think that's in part due to European cities actually hiring janitors for their subway systems, and actively keeping the homeless out. European systems are generally newer, more expensive, and better connected for travel between cities. Conversely, European cities are generally less friendly (and more costly) for automobiles.

Keep in mind also, that subway systems in the US are around 100 years old, whereas most systems in Europe are significantly newer, or have been almost completely rebuilt in the last half-century. Public transit systems in the US are also focused just on moving tourists and commuters within big cities; smaller cities, suburbs, and transport between cities is generally done via car in the US. This isn't necessarily better, but it is a significant difference in culture. And the only thing that changes more slowly than culture is government-funded infrastructure.

Comment Re:In related news... (Score 1) 110

I grew up in NYC, and have been living near DC for almost 10 years now.

It's not so much that the DC system is in a greater state of disrepair (NYC's subway system is breaking down all the time), but rather that the DC system is much more fragile. In NYC, there are both local and express tracks, and in lower Manhattan multiple lines within a few blocks of each other, such that when a section of track needs repair, it is much easier to re-route. Growing up, the only time the entire system ever shut down was for a strike. In recent years though, weather-related concerns have caused multiple system-wide shutdowns as water levels rise and the system becomes more fragile with age.

The DC system is also relatively new, and was built as part of a unified plan, meaning that if there's a design or manufacturing defect somewhere, it's more likely to affect everything. NYC (and likely Chicago) subways have been built up over the past century (originally by independent, competing companies) and contain different generations of equipment making it less likely that any given issue will be systemic to the entire metro system.

In the case of the big Red Line crash a few years ago, that clearly showed a poor design of the DC Metro system. Instead of having a fail-safe backup system from the beginning (ie: there are physical emergency break triggers at red lights in the NYC subway system), they were entirely dependent on a system of computer sensors with a human operator serving as an insufficient pseudo-backup.

Comment Re:Continuum - Finally (Score 1) 88

That was the LapDock which ran a (crippled) Desktop Linux distro when you put the phone in the dock. The dock itself supposedly was useful for turning Raspbery Pi's into fully functional laptops when they went on clearance, but unfortunately I broke my HDMI connector on the dock and only got to try that for a few minutes . . .

Comment Use the KISS Principle (Score 1) 128

I used to have a similar setup at my old place (though without a dock for the laptop, and adding a TV as an occasional tertiary display). While I agree that some sort of smart KVM would be ideal, this is a case where it's best to keep it simple. There's no need to spend $$$ when all you need to do is be smart about what you connect, and press a few extra buttons to switch displays.

My approach was something as follows:
- 4 Port KVM Switch (USB-capable, $20 from newegg)
- 2x Monitors, 1x TV, 2x Desktops, 1x Laptop
- All computers connected via USB to KVM for switching keyboard/mouse. If I were to do it today, I might bypass the KVM and setup QuickSynergy on all machines instead, or in addition.
- Right monitor connected to KVM to switch (VGA) between Desktop 1 secondary display and laptop external output
- Desktop primary output connected via DVI, one to left monitor, one to right monitor
- Desktop 2 secondary display via VGA to left monitor and Tertiary DisplayPort to TV

Both desktops always output to both displays, but each used a different monitor as its primary. I could use the monitors source buttons to quickly switch either monitor between inputs, with the KVM on the second monitor enabling a 3-way switch between the 2 desktops and laptop.

At one point though I actually got annoyed with the KVM, and just used the laptop on its own, and kept 2 sets of keyboard/mice on the table (one for each desktop).

The one feature I wish I had today, was eye-tracking/mind-reading software that automatically switched my keyboard/mouse to the computer+display I'm looking at.

Comment Re:What happened to Common Sense? (Score 1) 363

I don't disagree, but in the case of NYC all right-turns on red are illegal. The problem is that drivers have a green light to go straight OR turn while pedestrians have a Walk signal to go in that same direction.

The problem could be solved ($$$) by adding turn signals to every major street (ie: banning turns on straight-green). The other solution would be to add a pedestrian-only phase where all cars are stopped and pedestrians can cross in all directions - but outside of a few major intersections, that solution would only make traffic worse.

Comment Re:Yes, but can it launch Waze (Score 1) 235

"What is the population of capital of the country in which Space Needle is located?"

Hound correctly surmises that he's asking for the population of Washington, DC...

The Space Needle is in Seattle.

Yes, and Seattle is in Washington State which is part of a country called the United States, for which the capital is Washington, DC.

It's a poorly worded question, but apparently one this app can parse more readily than some humans ;-)

Comment NASA Has the Source (Score 1) 53

Technically, V'Ger was just a wrapper around NASA's Voyager Spacecraft. While not particularly useful for galactic domination, on any other day of the year it would actually be interesting if NASA Open-Sourced the original Voyager Spacecraft Flight Software. As the first spacecraft to leave our solar system, the source code would be an interesting set of historical documents worth preserving (and perhaps for illustrating to new students what code optimization really looks like).

Comment Re:Simple methodology (Score 1) 347

And then there's Scotty's Miracle-Worker philosophy:

Kirk: How much refit time before we can take her out again?
Scotty: Eight weeks, sir. But ye don't have eight weeks, so I'll do it for ye in two.
Kirk: Mr. Scott. Have you always multiplied your repair estimates by a factor of four?
Scotty: Certainly, sir. How else can I keep my reputation as a miracle worker?
Kirk: [over the intercom] Your reputation is secure, Scotty.

Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge: Look, Mr. Scott, I'd love to explain everything to you, but the Captain wants this spectrographic analysis done by 1300 hours.
[La Forge goes back to work; Scotty follows slowly]
Scotty: Do you mind a little advice? Starfleet captains are like children. They want everything right now and they want it their way. But the secret is to give them only what they need, not what they want.
Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge: Yeah, well, I told the Captain I'd have this analysis done in an hour.
Scotty: How long will it really take?
Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge: An hour!
Scotty: Oh, you didn't tell him how long it would *really* take, did ya?
Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge: Well, of course I did.
Scotty: Oh, laddie. You've got a lot to learn if you want people to think of you as a miracle worker.

Comment Re:Industrial Revolution (Score 1) 154

The effects of the early years of the Industrial revolution (smog/pollution from early coal plants and unrestricted garbage furnaces) likely had a significantly larger and longer lasting impact on Earth than the first Nuclear detonation did.

If anything, I'd think that the discovery of the light bulb / harnessing of electricity would be a better point to define the start of a new epoch. That corresponds nicely with the time the industrial revolution started having lasting impacts on the environment, and doubly sets (and lights) the stage for the rapid pace of technological evolution to follow.

The only argument I can see for setting it to the first atomic bomb test is that perhaps those radiation markers are more obvious in the geologic record than rise in CO2 gases and pollutants are, but then again a difference of a century is largely irrelevant on the geologic time scale.

Comment Re:"First Ever Conjoined Satellite Launch" ? (Score 2) 67

Um ... so then what was STEREO? (launched in 2006)

There are pictures of them stacked together

It was even launched from a Boeing Delta II, so they can't claim it was their first conjoined launch. (which caused major launch delays ... due to the Boeing strike, then the batteries in the second stage being de-certified ... then once the strike was over, the Air Force kept cutting in line for launch pads)

Disclaimer : I work for the Solar Data Analysis Center. which operates the STEREO Science Center.

The same is true for the Van Allen Probes (formerly RBSP):

Perhaps this is just the first time that Boeing has stacked two satellites?

Comment Will logs be 'accidentally lost' after accidents? (Score 1) 151

There have been 3 times that I've been close to being involved in a major accident with another automobile, and in all 3 cases it was due to 'Police Driving.' Cop cutting across 2 lanes of oncoming 65+mph highway traffic to reach the shoulder, cop deciding not to wait at a light and swerving into the oncoming traffic lane without turning on his siren while I'm making a legal right turn into said lane...

If this system can somehow make cops accountable for their own bad driving (particularly in the event of an accident), it might actually make the roads safer. That is, providing that they upload data live and/or do not put in a hidden feature to irretrievably delete the last 10 minutes of data...

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