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Comment Bright screens work fine (Score 1) 135

I have an iPhone 5S and I find it perfectly readable, even outside, in broad daylight, on cloudless summer days. The difference with older models (I used an iPhone 4 before getting the 5S) is huge. The secret is that it simply has a backlight whose brightness can be jacked up to amazing levels, plus an ambient-light sensor that adjusts the backlight brightness automatically. The end result is that I never touch the brightness control.

Before anyone accuses me of posting an Apple advertisement, I'll say that I am sure that recent phones from other brands have probably also improved a lot in terms of daylight usability. They all buy their screens from the same small group of manufacturers, after all. But what I really mean to point out is: if you have an older smartphone that is difficult to use in broad daylight, shop around and try some of the newer models.

I doubt you'll have much luck finding phones with e-ink screens. My experience running a modified version of Android on a Nook convinced me that that just doesn't work well; e-ink updates really slowly, and needs to be "shaken up" periodically (where the screen goes all black and then all white, before repainting the UI), all of which looks like crap when you're trying to use standard smartphone apps that are constantly doing things that e-ink sucks at, like scrolling or animations.

Comment Re:Unicomp Keyboard (Score 1) 452

I use the UniComp SpaceSaver at home and at work. They're excellent keyboards, but for my taste the springs are just a tad stiffer than I'd like.
I have fond memories of my mom's first computer, which was an early-'80s no-name cheap PC clone. That machine had a buckling-spring keyboard, with medium-to-long travel, and very light action. I would pay a pretty penny for something like that.

Comment For it! (Score 1) 613

Honestly, every year, twice a year, the DST haters come out of the woodwork, because apparently adjusting your clocks twice a year is soooooo difficult. A couple of people seem to realize that having extra sunlight in the evening in summer is nice, but then *they* overshoot and suggest we should have DST year-round, apparently not realizing how much it sucks to be a working stiff and have to get up and go to work while it's still dark on winter mornings.

Take a breath, people. DST exists for a perfectly good and simple reason: to use daylight a bit more effectively than we would if we used a schedule that never changed with the seasons. Sure, if you live in or near the tropics, that's a non-issue, but for those of us in the rest of the world, DST is a good thing. And if you're one of those people who uses their smartphone as their alarm clock and pocket watch, you never have to worry about the adjustment; smartphones and computers make the adjustment automagically, *and* they even alert you that this happens. (Even back in the day, adjusting my clocks never took me more than five minutes; totally worth it for the improved quality of life that comes with more sunlight when it does the most good.)

Comment Re:Yes yes yes (Score 1) 405

What happens when we get to a point where we just don't need everyone to work in order to provide the goods and services people want? I'm thinking we may have already reached that point in some developed countries. Then what?

Then we do the same thing we did the last time this problem became acute. We reduced the working week from 48 hours to 40 early in the last century; I think reducing it further, to 32, is long overdue.

Comment Brilliant... (Score 1) 158

The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, voted 442-1 on Tuesday to return to standard time this autumn and stay there all year.

Great move! And I guess that means it will take another three years before it sinks in that DST does still make sense in summer, when instead of being woken up by daylight two or three hours before the workday begins, you can have that extra summer daylight at the end of the day, when you can actually enjoy it in peace.

Comment Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (Score 1) 286

Just guessing here, but since this is the U.S. we're talking about, I'm thinking liability. Whether the hydrant is below or above ground, when it gets used that means big, heavy hoses are attached. If there's a car in front of the hydrant, there is a possibility that it might get scratched or dented by those hoses, and then presumably the fire department would be liable for that damage. Solution: ban parking near hydrants; liability problem prevented.

Comment Re:So what is the downside? (Score 1) 199

Also, those with higher intelligence tend to reproduce less.

That may be true today, but it clearly wasn't always (or mankind would be getting steadily dumber, and there is ample evidence to the contrary), and this is most likely a temporary situation. Right now, only the better-educated classes grasp just how tight the situation with the world's water, food, and energy resources has become, and they adjust their reproductive behavior accordingly, while the more ignorant parts of our species continue to pass on their increasingly unwarranted optimism to their many children. All it takes is a really major resource-scarcity-related disaster or war, and people's attitudes will change, even at the bottom... And once birthrates return to being largely independent of intelligence or education, the smarter ones will resume having their natural advantage in everyday life.

Comment Re:Git? When Linux hit the scene, (Score 1, Interesting) 141

I think you're greatly overstating the importance of Linux there. Not to take away from the great work Linus did and continues to do, but he himself said: "If 386BSD had been available when I started on Linux, Linux would probably never had happened."


Comment Re:Excellent! (Score 3, Insightful) 665

It also means a country full of religious hotheads, who are going to view their own increasingly bleak existence as the result of a conspiracy of all those godless people in Europe and Asia. You sure you're enthusiastic about that kind of development in a country as heavily armed as the U.S.? I'd rather see them be smart, personally.

Comment Other alternatives to Google exist as well (Score 1) 118

I use Sygic for navigation. They have iOS and Android apps. The apps use maps that are loaded on the device, so they take up a good chunk of space, but on the other hand this means you don't need an Internet connection to navigate (if you've ever been hit with international data roaming charges, you'll really appreciate this), and the app doesn't phone home to Google every time I use it.

They use the same map provider as TomTom. Whether that's better than OpenStreetMap or not probably depends on where you are... I've personally never had issues with map accuracy from any providers, but my travels so far have been exclusively in densely populated parts of Europe and the U.S., which are probably well mapped in any case.

N.B. I don't mean to advertise Sygic specifically; I'm sure other stand-alone navigation apps exist that are just as good. My point is that if you don't want Google to always know where you are, and are leery of the accuracy of community-provided maps, there are good alternatives.

Comment Re:Code... (Score 2) 157

I studied math in college, and many numerical algorithms textbooks refer to software as "codes". It seems to be common practice in the computational mathematics world. I assume it goes back to the days before Fortran, before high-level languages in general, when source code literally consisted of a series of codes.

Comment Re:the taxi services have a right to be pissed (Score 4, Interesting) 184

Don't hold your breath waiting for prices to plummet when taxis are deregulated. This has already been tried in the Netherlands, and the result was that prices went up, not down, and service got worse, not better, capitalist dogma notwithstanding.
The problem is that taxi drivers need to make a certain amount of money to pay their cost of living, and if the number of cabs goes up while the number of passengers doesn't, they end up spending more time waiting for fares, and less time actually driving. And they can't just hop off to a second job while they are waiting. So, they have to *increase* their rates in order to make up for their reduced number of trips, so taking a cab becomes more expensive, and they will tend to refuse short trips, trying to hold out for the more profitable longer ones, so taxi availability gets worse.

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