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Comment Re:Even without anything playing they're useful (Score 1) 262

We have a similar rule, and made it official team wide: Headphones mean "do not disturb". If a person is wearing headphones and you need to communicate with them, send an email. There are very few exceptions, such as a person being late for a meeting where their presence is required.

There is a lot of walking around and talking and socializing and work-related discussion that goes on, we aren't a quiet group of developers. But once someone puts the headphones on it gives a clear signal that they are not to be disturbed. When there is a group of four people discussing some bug and a firth person sitting nearby puts them on, it is a polite way to tell the group "be a little quieter, I'm trying to work."

I will often have headphones on through the day with nothing playing on them, just so I can get my work done undisturbed.

Comment Re:Hiding in the Shadows of my Porch... (Score 5, Interesting) 273

There are all kinds of fun things you can do if you want to hang out on your porch.

One old couple in our neighborhood has a portable fire pit, every year they have marshmallows and chocolate and various types of crackers and cookies, and everybody can make s'mores. Some kids just grab a few marshmallows and a bit of chocolate, other people stand around and chat while warming their hands and treats.

Another home in our neighborhood often puts together a little spooky maze in their rather large garage, with cardboard cutouts and black lights and such. They have sometimes recruited a few teens to make it into a spook alley.

Something fun is a bit of basic chemistry. Fill a spray bottle with some methanol with Borox dissolved in it, squirt it over a lighter, you get a bright green flame. (Be careful since the methanol is poisonous if swallowed, but a small amount of vapor while outside is not really harmful. Don't let any of the liquid get on kids or candy, or anything that burns.) Making a bright green fireball is satisfying, and I've already got the ingredients to do this one again tomorrow night.

Comment Re:Klipsch Rugged earphones FTW (Score 2) 262

Your MP3's must suck, mine are all LAME encoded at 200+kbps and so are basically indistinguishable from the source material (certain tracks might distort cymbals a tiny bit but I'm not a drummer so I don't normally notice). The only cheap headphones I've heard that are worth a damn are the Koss KSC-75 which I use for hiking, at $20 MSRP they're cheap but certainly not $5 earbud cheap.

Submission + - Cisco To Open-Source H.264 Codec, Mozilla Plans Firefox Integration

An anonymous reader writes: Cisco and Mozilla today made a joint announcement that will see the popular H.264 video codec opened up to the broader Web. Cisco plans to open source its H.264 codec, while Mozilla is in turn promising to include it in future versions of Firefox. H.264 has been the industry standard for years, but it unfortunately requires royalty payments to MPEG LA under terms that prevent distributing it with open source products. By open-sourcing its H.264 codec under the BSD license, and providing it as a binary module that can be downloaded for free, Cisco is choosing not to pass on its MPEG LA licensing costs, effectively making H.264 free for use in WebRTC.

Submission + - New Fundamental Theory Reveals Information As The Bedrock of Reality (

KentuckyFC writes: One of the great problems of quantum mechanics is that physicists disagree over how to interpret it. That’s quite unlike other fundamental theories such as general relativity, which produces remarkable insights into the nature of spacetime that everyone agrees about. The problem is that quantum mechanics is derived using abstract ideas such as Hilbert spaces that have little or no meaning in the real world. Now theoretical physicists have found a completely new set of postulates based on the nature of information and used them for the first time to derive quantum mechanics. The basic postulate is the existence of a fundamental unit of information called a gbit or 'general bit'. Given a sufficient number of gbits, any aspect of the Universe can be encoded and any physical process simulated with a suitably programmed general purpose simulator. In other words, reality is substrate-independent--it’s always possible to reproduce one aspect of the universe perfectly using some other part. The theorists go on to show how a universe that obeys these postulates must be governed by quantum mechanics. So quantum theory and reality at the deepest level must be intimately connected to the nature of information. Something the theorists can agree on at last...maybe!

Submission + - The $15 Device That Protects Against School Shootings

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: In the tragic aftermath of the Newtown school massacre, as is the case every time there’s a school shooting, Americans debate what should be done to ensure the safety of innocent schoolchildren. Gun control advocates push to limit access to deadly weapons by imposing tougher firearm regulations, while the National Rifle Association suggests that armed security guards be stationed at every school in the country. Now the Smithsonian reports that a group of students at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington D.C. has come up with a device that prevents armed intruders from breaking into a classroom with DeadStop, a lightweight, cup-sized plastic cylinder that slips over the common large hydraulic hinge known as a “door closer“ in seconds. “So many kids and adults were killed (at Sandy Hook). So we got together and we wanted to know how we could stop intruders from entering our school,” says Deonté Antrom, a junior at Benjamin Banneker. The school, like many others across the nation, is equipped with doors that cannot be locked from the inside, in order to comply with building code regulations that allow for unobstructed campus-wide evacuations in case of a fire and other disasters. The DeadStop was designed as a workaround, preserving that need for a quick exit in an emergency while also enabling the class to secure itself inside the room when needed. “The device we have is detachable. It will just be in the teacher’s desk and when there is an announcement that there is a shooter in the building, they will be able to take it out and simply install it on the hinge,” says Anjreyev Harvey. Students at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School hope to patent and release a final product of DeadStop that will cost no more than $15 and a law firm from Denver has already offered the team pro bono services to patent the invention.

Comment Re:Why would they fund it in the first place? (Score 4, Informative) 329

Total US foreign aid is under 1% of the federal budget, if you remove the military aid that's largely corporate welfare it's quite literally a rounding error in the scope of the federal budget. You can buy a lot of power plants for the cost of one Afghanistan or Vietnam.

Comment Re:Technology is hard and dangerous (Score 5, Insightful) 610

Obviously it can fail, but it's a soft fail. The engine won't run, or more likely won't run well. Sudden acceleration or unstoppable engine though? Forget it. With the throttle plate closed there's no way you can get any more than the power produced at idle, no matter what the ECU does.

That is exactly the thing that makes this jury verdict so suspicious.

The driver was 76 years old at the time. This crash was subject to an NTSB investigation, and investigators found no evidence that it was a software fault or a hardware fault. The crash recorder says the driver pushed the accelerator and was not pushing the brakes, and then the car was hit.

And most interestingly from TFA is the last line. Ten of the 12 jury members said they wanted to punish Toyota.

If he was pushing on the brakes he could have probably overcome most of the force of a sudden accidental acceleration. If he had more time there were other options like shifting to neutral, but he was approaching an intersection.

When I look at it, an older driver and vehicle recording systems saying the accelerator was pressed and the brakes were not, investigators finding no evidence to support the claim of a software failure, and then the jury stating they want to punish Toyota, I don't see this as a good verdict.

Comment Re:What? (Score 1) 610

Chris Urmson presented some data at this keynote, but AFAIK nothing has been published yet. Basically they showed that they stop and start more smoothly and spend less time in near-accident situations then even their professional drivers. They've logged over 300k vehicle miles with zero Google caused accidents, meanwhile MARTA has a target accident rate of 2.85 accidents per 100k miles, and wasn't able to achieve that in most of the previous 12 months!

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