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Comment Re:Heh, if only it worked (Score 1) 225

Sounds like your bank has really messed up the deployment.
We've got chip & pin here in Canada and my card works flawlessly both in Canada and in the USA. My card has a the raised lettering, magnetic stripe, a chip, and contact-less payment. I've actually used all 4 recently:
1. Raised lettering - at a Mennonite farm (long story, normally would have brought cash)
2. Magnetic stripe - in the USA last year
3. Chip & Pin - everyday, larger transactions and places that don't have tap
4. Tap & Pay - everyday smaller transactions, including at a drug store in Florida.

New stuff is great - the key to a smooth roll out is great backwards compatibility though.

Comment Re:Lots of cheap carbon stuff (Score 3, Interesting) 652

>And would it not be much more fair to look at per-capita numbers? i.e. stop harping on China/India, start worrying about Europe / NA

That's a good question. At first glance, per-captita consumption seems like the thing to focus on. Honestly, it's probably a good place to star; however, as that gap closes things get more subtle.

Consider 4 people, entitled to equal carbon emissions. They form 2 couples and the first decides to have 2 kids, while the second decides to have 6. Are the resulting families entitled to equal emissions, or is each person still entitled to equal emissions?
- It's unfair that children born into a large family should have less then those born into a small family
- It's also unfair that the actions of a couple choosing to have a large family should slice the environmental pie more thinly, reducing the share of those who chose to have a small family. Furthermore, the first option leads to the question of what's a fair baseline and basic human rights, while the second leads to a tragedy of the commons or lowest-common-denominator scenario.

Comment Of course 3K is better than 4K ....? (Score 1) 304

Of course 3440 x1440 is better than 4K, having only 56% of the pixels of a true 4K display (4096x2160) LG can make a lot more money on it. A true 4K screen cropped to 21:9 is still going to give you more pixels to work with. BTW: 4K cinema is 4096x2160, but when then want to show 21:9 they use the appropriate lens to change the aspect ratio without throwing out pixels.

Comment Re:doesn't work (Score 4, Interesting) 597

"Proper software engineering" doesn't work.

As a Software Engineer in the formal sense (Engineering is regulated profession here in Canada) I can assure you that "proper software engineering" works great - and it's often Agile. Software Engineering is just like any other type of engineering, you have to pick the right tool for the job. That said, a lot of under-qualified people go around claiming to be Software Engineers and think that generating piles of paperwork will make their crap code (and crappier designs) smell better. They are just as bad as these people

Comment Re:Sound Methods? (Score 3, Insightful) 324

Even from an evolutionary perspective, yes. Aren't rats kind pretty low on the totem pole?

Depends what totem pole. The totem pole of "most like humans", then they are a little ways down, but still FAR above the 1/2 way point if you include non-mammals.

In terms of "most evolved" rats are exactly where humans are. If there was any argument to be made, you could say they are MORE evolved, since they have a shorter life span and more children - more chance for natural selection to work it's magic.

Evolution works towards optimizing a species for survival; not for "becoming human" or "becoming smart" or anything else that puts people on top. I don't mean to be "anti-human", but evolution doesn't care about those things.

Comment Re:The quarter wave problem (Score 4, Informative) 412

I'm not very familar with this sort of thing at all, but I thought the problem with DC in powerlines was you'd need absolutely massive lines to properly transmit power any sort of real distance.

Actually, HVDC can carry about 40% more power over the same lines, compared to AC. The main drawback is that you need to convert to/from AC on either end. See:

(I know, not that authoritative, but it cites lots of sources I can't be bothered to copy).

Comment Re:Recycling Circuits (Score 1) 67

Allready you shouldn't just be throwing away your electronic devices when they stop working.

Have you ever tried to recycle your electrics?

I know I'm supposed to do something with them, but honestly, they expect me to drive to one location in the city, during business hours, and pay just to get rid of an old cell phone? Even for a computer, I'd feel guilty, but it'll go in the dumpster. I did take batteries back to one of the local stores that is part of a group that claims they take batteries back to recycle:
Me: Can you take these batteries for recycling, like your website says
Help Desk Guy: Ummmmm... (looks around).. I suppose I could throw them out for you..

When I can recycle my electrics as easily as I can recycle my tin cans, I will. Until then the land-fills are going to keep getting more toxic crap.

Comment Re:Mod up (Score 2, Insightful) 279

I know plenty of people who don't get very much activity, eat things loaded in sugar and fat, yet are incredibly skinny and healthy looking. I know other people who exercise a ton, eat extremely healthy food choices, yet are very, very large. There are some reasons for obesity that go way beyond just what you eat....

Fair enough - but you seem to be making a classic mistake. It's not so much what you eat, but how much of it, that determines your weight. Now, as someone who has to work to control his weight - yes, I envy my fiance, who can eat whatever he wants. But the difference isn't that he can magically eat way more than I can - it's that his appetite is more easily sated. Sure there are also metabolism differences, but in reality a very obese person is almost certain to be burning more calories than a thin person at a similar level of physical activity, because all that fat takes energy just to keep alive, and more still to move around.

Where I'm going with this is: sure, life isn't fair. It's more difficult to control eating for some than for others - but at the end of the day what you eat is a conscious choice. Helping teach, encourage, and in some cases force (depending on age, we "force" young kids to do everything) people to eat in a way that will lead to a healthier life can be justified.

Comment Re:fuel tax (Score 1) 532

the more your drive the more you should pay. Now this presents a problem with more fuel efficient vehicles.

Depends a bit on your perspective. To some extent less fuel-efficient vehicles tend to put more wear on the road (eg a pickup-truck vs a sub-compact). If you're thinking "Hybrid Prius" then consider that many places go out of their way to subsidize/mandate fuel economy. Between those two factors, a higher gas-tax kills 2 birds with one stone:
1. Tax for wear on highways that automatically factors in vehicle size
2. Subsidy for fuel-efficient vehicles (and penalty for gas-guzzlers)

Comment Re:HERE'S AN IDEA (Score 1) 586

Try checking out the HP laptop keyboards on Canadian laptops. Dear god the layout on those things is terrible.

You do realize that "Canadian"keyboard layout refers to the special bi-lingual layout (mostly for use in Quebec) ? This isn't some recent HP invention, as it's been around for more than a decade (I quite clearly remember it being supported by Windows 95, because I accidentally selected it). The "normal" keyboard layout that you're probably used to if you are an English-speaking Canadian is the US keyboard layout.

Comment Re:The 1 in 200 bit is garbage (Score 1) 156

48 heads and 52 tails!

Seems pretty reasonable. The question is, now, how likely is it that I flipped exactly 48 heads and 52 tails?

If you know something about a binomial random variable (which is what we just sampled from), you know that this is (100 choose 48)*.5^(100) = .0735!

Wow...and that was with only 100 random coin flips. A 1 in 20 chance that, by their metrics, this was a fair set of coin flips (see where the logical incongruity happens?)

You've used quite the wrong metric, asking "what are the odds of this EXACT outcome in a fair contest". The right question is "what are the odds of at least this this much deviation from the expected outcome in a fair contest". In the case of your coin toss your questions would be "how likely is it that in 100 flips, I will get 52 OR MORE of either heads or tails" (note that if you were asking only about tails, you'd just get 1/2 the number, but considering the odds of 50 or more tails is only 50/50% it's a bit misleading that way).

To get this you would sum all probabilities in the range, eg
(100 choose 0)*.5^(100) + (100 choose 1)*.5^(100) + .... + (100 choose 47)*.5^(100) + (100 choose 48)*.5^(100) + (100 choose 52)*.5^(100) + (100 choose 53)*.5^(100)+... + (100 choose 100)*.5^(100)
which is about 76.4%.

That is, about 3/4 tosses of 100 coins will differ from 50-50 by at least two flips, this is very similar to the probabilities for these events in the recent US election, held up in the article as an example of 'normal' results.

Now if you'd gotten something like 38-62 you'd have results about as unlikely as this election (2%).

If you're familiar with stats at all, in general it's when the odds fall below 5% that you have an interesting result, 2% is quite interesting (though it depends on how often the event happens - 2% in an election that happens once/4 years or so is going to happen by chance with a mean period of 200 years).

Comment Re:Teachers wrong here (Score 1) 333

Personally I think universities should abolish practices like course buyouts and TAs doing the actual teaching, and strictly require faculty to spend X amount of hours in front of a classroom every year.

I went to a university (Waterloo) that more-or-less does this. It has it's up side - you sometimes get taught by research profs who are amazing at why they do, on the cutting edge, and have amazing enthusiasm to impart. On the other hand, you also get research profs who begrudge every minute of actually teaching - student complaints fall on def ears (even more than normal) because "he's a research prof" (who may pull in millions worth of grants). I think that for the senior courses, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks; but the entry-level material is best taught by a good teacher who is competent in the subject.

Comment Re:Perspective? (Score 1) 306

Engineering is in deep real world, with human nature and business requirements intervening all the time. Science (like religion) is in some sort of ideal world, vacuum, where all is simple and described by a formula.

Definitely on side here. I agree with all of your points but think you missed just two

In engineering you think not only about getting something to work, but (usually) how to keep it working. That same pragmatism that says "it needs to work" also says "the developers will make mistakes" - which means you need to study how to avoid mistakes, how to catch mistakes, and how to deal with mistakes. There's definitely a science component, but again the human component is also critical.

The other major component is that a Software Engineer, like any other Engineer, needs enough fundamental understanding of all other branches of Engineering to work with his counterparts. A Computer Scientist may not need to know anything about Physics, Chemistry, Electronics, Politics, or the environment, but a Software Engineer needs a little of each, so that he can work with his counterparts in those fields. Note that I'm not saying those things aren't good to have in a Comp. Sci. they just aren't really part of the 'baseline'.

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