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Comment Re:I call BFD here (Score 1) 600

Go Los Angeles and there are some freeway offramps marked 25 MPH

Are those actual, legally enforced speed limits (black lettering on white background) or advisory speed limits? It makes a difference in court. The former can get you a ticket if you exceed it; the latter is just a commonsense guideline ("If you have any brains at all, you'll slow down to 25 to take this exit/curve/whatever"). You can't get a ticket for going faster than the advisory speed limit, but your insurance company can use it against you if it can be proven that you were going too fast at the time of the accident.

Comment Re:News at 5... (Score 1) 451

I realize that the OP's suggestion ("programmed to avoid getting in accidents and nothing else") was ridiculously oversimplified, but... that's no less ridiculous than the "dilemmas" presented in the game.

Scenario 1: Crash directly into a concrete barrier or into a crowd of people and cats. Really, there are no other possible outcomes at all? Not rapid controlled deceleration, not swerving off the road, nothing else comes to mind?

Come back to me when you have *realistic* scenarios.

Comment Re: most people already prefer listening to accele (Score 1) 296

Yes, exactly.

Personally, I don't like the acceleration very much unless I can get captioning to work at the accelerated speeds (works great on my Roku; on DVDs not so much). Instead I just fast-forward through the predictable boring scenes -- skip 5 minutes of scenic driving here, 2 minutes of overhead establishing shot there, 10 minutes of chopsocky fight scene, upwards of 15 minutes of characters agonizing over some trivial emotional trainwreck that doesn't advance the plot... I can easily see a movie or TV episode in half the production time just by skipping past the filler scenes that I don't care about.

You know what would be a hugely profitable business? Providing TL;DR (or is that TL;DW) truncated versions of movies.

Comment Big problem in my Prius (Score 1) 365

I have a 2013 Prius, and that's been a constant problem.

On at least one occasion (that I know of), I was able to exit the vehicle and enter my house, taking my key with me, and even without the presence of the key the car remained in reverse. It was only the fact that it was parked on a slight upward (to the rear) incline with cinder blocks as a barrier (it's a rural neighborhood with no paved driveway or parking area, don't judge me) that prevented it from continuing to idle backwards into the outside stairwell in front of the house.

On at least one other occasion, I started to get out only to find the car continued moving backwards because it was not clearly signaling that it was still in reverse.

At the very least, they should prevent motion when the key is moved away from the vehicle.

Comment Re:Content (Score 5, Informative) 316

It would be suicidal of them to implement ads though.

Some of us are old enough to remember when the whole point of cable TV was that by paying a fixed fee every month, we were spared the annoyance of ads.

It'll come. Sooner or later, probably sooner, streaming content will be just as ad-choked and invasive as broadcast TV and cable/dish services.

Comment Re:An easier sollution (Score 1) 1144

Why don't you try education and common sense?

Yes, that should do the trick.

Enraged Killer: I was going to go into that club and kill everyone whose behavior I find distasteful, but thanks be to my teachers who made me realize that violence is the wrong way to solve my problems!

My friends on the left say that the only solution is to ban all guns. My friends on the right say the only solution is to ban all immigrants. They're all looking for a one-size-fits-all easy answer to a complex problem. The thing is, society is messy. Another reply in this thread said that there aren't just good guys and bad guys; people are good sometimes and bad sometimes. That's exactly it. Banning guns won't work because (a) that genie has left the bottle and (2) criminals can always get guns, especially now that they can print them; banning immigrants won't work because (a) doing so would punish the innocent as well as the guilty, thus taking away the freedom that makes this country what it is and (2) criminals can always sneak in no matter how high we build the wall; education and common sense won't work because rage and fanaticism are toxic to common sense (see above hypothetical situation); more guns won't work because then you have a crowd of frightened, angry vigilantes firing into a random mix of killers and innocent bystanders. One of my friends mentioned a statistic today that for every attack thwarted by armed self-defense, 34 additional deaths occur because of armed self-defense.

You can't stop or even measurably reduce terrible things happening, because human beings are chaotic and irrational. The best we can do is find a balance of laws that prevent honest people from doing terrible things while they're thinking rationally, without stifling freedom so much that we are a police state. Too much regulation and even honest people will rebel against authoritarianism; too little regulation and criminals can get away with murder. The hard part is finding that balance between the two extremes.

Comment Re:The usual way (Score 1) 515

Yup. I was able to teach my kids how to open and use QuickBASIC when they were little in the 90s. Now I'm not sure what approach I would use to teach a child actual coding (vs. moving stupid blocks around on a screen that PR flaks call "coding").

To answer the OP question (and agree with the GP of this reply), it was absolutely all self-taught, as were the additional languages I've picked up over the last 40 years.

Started with the TRS-80 in Radio Shack. I checked out "Basic BASIC" from the library and took it over to the mall every day after school, typing in all the exercises.

When they threw me out of Radio Shack, I moved over to Foley's where they had the shiny new Commodore PET on display. After I finished Basic BASIC, I moved on to Dave Ahl's BASIC Computer Games. I got to know the evening shift salesgeek pretty well and he let me spend all my time hogging the display computer. He would sometimes show me some cool hack and challenge me to figure out how he did it, such as POKEing directly into video memory for fast animation. I eventually bought my first computer* from that guy.

All of which is to say: Suck it, Radio Shack.

*The PET. Although Foley's also had an Altair on display, it was more expensive and all the blinkenlights frightened and confused me.

Comment Re:State religion (Score 1) 527

And by deciding what is and what isn't religion, we are a step closer to a state religion.

This. I'm a fairly conservative evangelical Christian, and I agree with the judge that the guy in question is obviously just yanking the legislative chain for lulz, but... we can't establish a precedent for thoughtcrime. What the judge is trying to do is rule on what he believes the guy is thinking, and that is just not something you can demonstrate with hard evidence. As unlikely as it is, there is some minuscule chance that this guy totally missed the "ha ha this is satire" boat, read all the pastafarianism material as straight scripture, and truly believes in his heart what he says about the FSM. How can we objectively prove otherwise?

I mean, I'm not unaware that some of the things I believe involving an undead Jewish carpenter and an indefinable omniscient sentient being are pretty implausible from the outside. So I'm at a Martin Niemöller moment: "First they came for the pastafarians, but I didn't speak up because they obviously didn't truly believe such outlandish silliness..." When will the next judge decide that my beliefs don't represent a true religion?

So, yeah. I can't defend my own First Amendment rights unless I'm willing to defend those of someone who is most likely just cynically gaming the system.

Comment Re:Agreed, be completely unlike black boxes (Score 1) 546

Two different, and almost completely opposite, uses of the same expression. The FAA calls a "black box" a device that records your every movement, but in the techno geek world we use the phrase to describe impenetrable technology -- stuff goes in and stuff comes out, but we have no idea what happens in between. Tiny elves? Alien magic? Who knows? It sounds like Mr. Obama is using the latter concept -- he doesn't believe our phones should be so impenetrable and mysterious.

Comment Re:Caffiene, Nicotine, Preservatives, and Sugar. . (Score 1) 352

One of the computing magazines I subscribed to in the early 90s (Byte? PC Mag?) ran a "review" of different caffeine products as though they were programming tools, rating them for flavor, price per ounce, and effectiveness at keeping one alert.

I mostly remember this because I was surprised they rated Mountain Dew better than Jolt Cola.

Comment Re:Scary (Score 1) 89

The key to NOT being such a short hop away from everyone on the planet is to not let them into your life in the first place. Yes, some people -- perhaps even most of them -- will just blindly accept friend requests unconditionally, giving them thousands of "friends" who are just names on a list.

The only reason I touch Facebook at all, and then only with all of what flimsy privacy protection they offer enabled, is to easily keep contact with actual friends from that bizarre world called Real Life. With a handful of exceptions (because I telecommute and don't visit the home office often enough to meet all my colleagues face-to-face) all my friends on Facebook are people I have met in person and had more than a fleeting acquaintance with. I happily befriended Praneeth and Sasideep even though I have never met them in person being as how they are on the other side of the planet, but I work with them every day. On the other hand I'll probably never add Bob from accounting because my only contact with him in 25 years has been a question about a travel expense.

I don't accept requests from friends or relatives of my friends either, until I have met them in person. I'm sure my friend Paul's brother Ron is a great guy, but we have nothing to do with each other, no reason to speak to each other, no interest in each other's careers or families or hip surgery or lottery winnings.

Some of my friends feel the same way; others (mostly the younger ones, children of my peer group) go with the "friends with the world" approach. So I like to think I'm keeping my degrees of separation to an acceptably high number, and I intend to keep it that way as long as it is within my power.

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Real programmers don't write in BASIC. Actually, no programmers write in BASIC after reaching puberty.

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