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Comment Human directions are more intuitive (Score 1) 154

There's not much difference between my self-plotted route and the GPS route on when the roads are laid down in a grid. But a city nearby where I live has lots of curvy and bendy roads. When I plot a route on my own using a map, I tend to use intuitive directions - take a road until I'd pass the destination, turn, take the second road until I'd pass the destination, turn, take the third road until I'd pass the destination, etc. Basically, unravel the twisty roads into a quasi-grid, and plot a route along that grid. When I let the GPS plot the route, it comes up with seemingly-crazy directions where I change to a parallel road halfway to the destination for no reason than because it shaves 0.1 miles off the distance.

A similar thing happens with subway maps. At first subways tried using geographically accurate maps. But they soon found that subway riders had trouble learning the stops and when to get off. So they simplified the maps by straightening out a lot of the kinks and curves. The result is no longer geographically accurate, but is a lot easier for people to remember.

Comment Not this again (Score 2) 318

I remember my teacher mentioning the controversy over map projections when I was in elementary school in the 1970s.

The problem isn't the map projections. The problem is people's insistence on believing there is always one and only one best solution. There isn't. Different map projections are best for different applications. I see the same flawed reasoning all the time when people ask me for help buying a computer - "What's the best laptop?" There isn't a single best laptop. There's a best laptop for you, there's a best laptop for me, there's a best laptop for Fred in accounting. But they are all probably different laptops. You have to prioritize what's important for what you want to do, then pick the best solution based on those priorities.

The same thing happens with election systems. Turns out all methods of voting are flawed in some way.

Comment Inflammatory headline (Score 5, Insightful) 379

If you read the actual report (figure 2.3, Changes in happiness from 2005-2007 to 2014-2016), you see that pretty much every first world nation except Germany and South Korea, and Norway and Switzerland (barely - within the confidence interval) have gone down in happiness, not just the U.S. The U.S. isn't even the first world nation with the biggest drop (Italy is, with Spain close behind).

A more fitting headline would've been "Happiness is on the wane in developed nations. Which might actually help explain the rise of nationalism in recent elections.

Comment Re:I am curious if people think this is good or ba (Score 1) 164

Works both ways, though; a strong national government can screw things up everywhere. Consider somethig like low-flow toilets. In hilly, arid California, these are an excellent idea. In flat, wet areas east of the Mississippi, this means that sewage lines get clogged more easily. Regulations that make sense in some places can be lunacy in others, like the old British imperial rule that public buildings' roofs must support the weight of six feet of snow - even in Malaysia.

Comment Just disable the update service (Score 1) 320

Tap the Windows key, search for "services". Start the Services Desktop app. Scroll down to "Windows Update" and double-click it. Set it to disabled, and stop it if it's currently running. If you're paranoid, you can disable BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) as well.

I had to do this on a computer running security camera software (very inconvenient if it reboots in the middle of a night due to an update). But you can do this if you just want to be in control of when your computer updates (I had to do it on my gaming laptop as well because Win 10 keeps trying to install newer generic Intel video drivers which are incompatible with Nvidia switchable graphics). Just repeat the process and temporarily enable the update service when you're ready to update.

Comment That's not really relevant (Score 1) 164

If you don't definitively know what the right answer is, then the best thing to do is to try all possible answers. Some communities ban Airbnb, some communities allow it. Some states ban it, some allow it. Give it a decade or so, then look to see which solution seems to be working best. Everyone has an opinion about Airbnb, but without evidence to back it up it's just a WAG (wild-ass guess). The process we're going through now is the evidence-collecting phase of the market at work - to filter out what doesn't work and allow what works to rise to the top. Unforeseen problems which crop up are also addressed the same way. Some different states will try different legislation to try to address those problems, and some may simply leave it alone to see if the problem goes away on its own (market corrects it naturally). Though this could lead to this process taking longer than about a decade.

Implementing these things at the state or local level is fine so long as other states and communities try different things. What you need to be wary about is ideology-based legislation forcing something to be implemented on a national level without having first gone through this vetting process. e.g. Obamacare - it should've been implemented in a few states first to see how well it worked. Then either it worked and there would've been little debate about implementing it nationally because you would've had objective numeric data showing states which implemented it had lower overall health care costs than those which didn't. Or you'd have objective numeric data showing that it didn't reduce costs or actually made it higher, and it could be rejected nationally. But because it was implemented based on ideology and the assumption that what worked in other countries piggy-backing off medical advancements made (and paid for) in the U.S. would work in the U.S., we're stuck in an endless debate about its efficacy with no clear answer.

Like taking a test in school, getting the right answer is not the point. It's learning the process you use to arrive at the answer which is important. If you make a wild guess and happen to get the right answer, you still haven't learned anything.

Comment Curious why New Zealanders buy so much Apple stuff (Score 4, Interesting) 447

New Zealand has a population of 4.471 million. $4.2 billion / 4.471 million = $939 per capita spent on Apple products.

China has a population of 1.357 billion. Apple's annual revenue in China was $48.5 billion, or $36 per capita.

Europe has a population of 743 million. Apple's Europe revenue was $49.95 billion. Or $67 per capita.

Japan has a population of 127 million. Apple's Japan revenue was $16.92 billion. or $133 per capita.

The U.S. has a population of 319 million. Apple's revenue in the Americas was $86.62 billion. Even if you attribute 100% of that to the U.S., that only works out to $272 per capita.

So either New Zealanders absolutely love buying Apple products by nearly an order of magnitude more than the rest of the developed world, or the $4.2 billion figure is somehow exaggerated.

Comment Re:About time! (Score 2) 265

Actually the problem is that people aren't able to compare airlines based on space. You can sort by price, departure time, number of stops, airline, connection time, total time, arrival time, but I've not seen a flight booking site offer filters based on amenities or comfort metrics of any kind.

In the absence of that information, people are going to be making decisions without consideration of those things and so the airlines will race to reduce their costs.

This market failure is not caused by a lack of regulation of seat size, but by a lack of important information. There is apparently a desparate need for a new flight booking service to provide that information.

Comment Re:Yes, "line rental" is for POTS (Score 1) 82

US-vs-EU divide here, then. In the US, you basically have Panasonic on the high end (it's a Matsushita brand, so might have a different name there), and VTech (based in Hong Kong) on the low end. Never heard of Gigaset until now. Go to Amazon US, look at cordless phones, and you'll see how completely those two dominate. I think the last time I bought a cordless home phone set that wasn't Panasonic was over twenty years ago.

Comment Re:About time! (Score 4, Insightful) 265

The problem isn't space. The problem is people unwilling to pay extra for extra space. The small percentage of the population which falls outside size norms want to pass laws requiring that they be given enough space at the same price as everyone else. As a result, just like the ADA individuals who got UC Berkeley's online course videos pulled off the web, larger people are going to get lower priced seats for regular-sized and smaller people eliminated.

Most airlines now have an economy+ section, with bigger seat pitch and sometimes wider seats. It only costs about 10%-20% more than a regular seat, so you're not stuck paying business class fares. I'm sorry you'll have to pay a bit more than me to fly, but what gives you the right to deny a smaller person lower prices for a smaller seat?

Legislation requiring slightly larger seats and slightly higher prices (economy+) be available on all flights is fine. Legislation outlawing "smaller" seats which fit the vast majority of passengers is stupid.

Comment Makes sense (Score 4, Interesting) 167

Einstein's theory of relativity tells us that time and space are the same thing (your perception of the two skews with your relative velocity, which causes all of relativity's time dilation effects). So I would expect there to be a time-corollary of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Just as extremely precise measurements of position lead to poor measurements of momentum, extremely precise measurements of time should result in poor measurements of... something else.

Comment NASA already tried that (Score 4, Interesting) 178

Following the loss of Mars Observer ($813 million), NASA adopted a new low-cost philosophy of "Faster, Better, Cheaper" Mars missions. Mars Pathfinder was the first FBC mission and was a resounding success. Mars Climate Orbiter was then sent to Mars with a launch rocket cost of just $91.7 million, for a total mission cost of $327.6 million. This was the mission that was lost due to a English vs. metric mixup. The problem would've been caught on the ground in preliminary testing, but that testing had been eliminated as a cost-saving measure. A month later, Mars Polar Lander was lost due to (we think) the descent software misidentifying vibrations from the deployment of the landing legs as contact with the ground, cutting off the descent engine about 40 meters above the ground.

NASA subsequently abandoned the low-cost philosophy. Better to lose an expensive mission due to bad luck, than to lose a bunch of cheap missions due to dumb mistakes that would've been caught if we'd paid for some simple but thorough testing.

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