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Comment Greedy jerk! He should have let a museum have it (Score 1) 222

The first thing I thought after reading the article was, What a self-centered, money-hungry idiot! To amass an amazing collection like that and then sell it at auction is unconscionable. If he didn't want to donate it to a museum outright, he could at least put it on loan. I for one would pay good money for a chance to see even a portion of a collection like that. Now, once sold at auction, these priceless items will go into the hands of other private collectors, where they will not only remain outside of public view for the most part, they will now be scattered all over the world. That said, since this was the largest PRIVATE collection of early technology in the world, does anyone know of any good public collections, preferably in museums where they are visible to the public?

Comment The smart grid doesn't need public IPs (Score 4, Informative) 169

Most grid control systems are on private (192.168 style) networks not connected to the general Internet for obvious reasons, and "smart-grid" meter-reading systems that are currently implemented or planned use other methods of addressing (packet-radio protocols, etc.) So, the "smart grid" argument in the article is misguided at best.

Comment Re:Seat belts (Score 0, Troll) 832

The seat belt complaint is kind of an unfair jab, as Star Wars was released before the seat belt hysteria of the 1980s-present, where thanks to the seat-belt nazis getting their way and forcing laws mandating seat belt use in cars throughout the US, it has become politically correct and almost compulsory for TV shows, advertisements, and movies to show any character in a vehicle wearing a seat belt. Look at any other movie pre-80s (actually, most movies before the 90s) and you'll never see a seat belt being used.

Another reason why seat belts may be absent: According to several biographical accounts of George Lucas posted online, Lucas dabbled in racing as a teenager, and one of the race cars he built had a half-ass seat belt system installed. The car went out of control one day and plowed into a tree at 60mph. The belt system failed and he was thrown free, only sustaining minor injuries. Had the seat belt worked, he would have almost certainly died, and we wouldn't have the Star Wars universe today.

Comment Apple II port of Robotron (Score 1) 78

I remember how amazed I was when I got a hold of Robotron for the Apple. I had never seen so many objects move at one time on the Apple, and they even did a halfway-decent job with the sound on a machine that was only designed to play one simple sound at a time. And, the two-joystick control was faithfully reproduced on the keyboard. Another game that made great use of independent control was the original Castle Wolfenstein (and, if I recall correctly, it predated Robotron by a year or two.)

Comment Re:As long as we're targeting nukes... (Score 1) 806

The day they start bulldozing the hideous, ticky-tacky boxes 10 feet apart that are defiling mountains and alluvial fans all around southern California, I'd love to sit in the cab of the bulldozer and just mow down a row of those eyesores. That would SO make my day. Seems like everything comes full circle...

Comment Time to start a new experiment! (Score 1) 629

Ever since I learned to drive, something about traffic lights has been glaringly obvious: The yellow light simply isn't sufficient warning of a light change. It may be okay if you're a long ways off, but I'm sure all of us have, on numerous occasions, experienced a "sour spot" (play on words of "sweet spot") where you are almost at an intersection, get the yellow, and have to make a split-second decision to "gun it" and try to make the light, or slam on your brakes to stop at it. Human nature is to "gun it" -- it's even a part of pop culture, the Starman "red = stop, green = go, yellow = go very fast" -- hence the type of red-light running that these cameras are tuned to maximize revenue from.

What I propose to all municipalities in states that have made the cameras illegal, as well as manufacturers of traffic-signal equipment:

Create a standardizable device which will let motorists know at a glance how much time is left on the green. It could be a numeric countdown such as the one on many pedestrian signals, a border of blue LEDs around the signal heads that extinguishes light by light as the yellow draws near, or (like in parts of Canada) a green light that flashes during the early part of the cycle, then goes to solid green 5-10 seconds before the yellow. Whatever the mechanism, it should give at least 15 seconds' warning of a light change, and do so in a manner understandable to most drivers of standard aptitude.

(I feel that a numeric countdown would be the best, as virtually everyone is familiar with countdowns [New Year's Eve, microwave oven timers, etc.])

Next, install this extra signaling scheme on busy intersections that formerly would have rated the installation of red-light cameras. Then trend the red-light-running and accident rates at these intersections for a few months (before and after).

I'd almost bet money that the red-light-running rate would drop precipitously.

Another way to improve traffic flow and cut down on light running, of course, is to synchronize signals on a city-wide basis, simply decreasing the number of opportunities to run a red. The technology exists for smart traffic control systems. It's time to implement them!

The thing that disgusts me the most about red-light cameras is the amount of manpower and technological muscle wasted to create and install these systems that could have been used instead to implement solutions like I outlined above. Red-light cameras are simply a profitable, Band-Aid solution for a real problem that has plagued traffic signals since their introduction. We must get rid of the Band-Aid and use the right tools to fix the issue.

Comment Re:Duh... (Score 2, Insightful) 268

How does the meter do that? Does it control the circuit breakers connected to these appliances, or does it communicate directly to the CPU of the appliance to tell it to turn off? Here, we have small VHF receivers that the utility attaches to central air-conditioning units. They send a signal, a relay interrupts the control circuit to the compressor contactor.

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