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Submission + - Robot cars scare you? How about tractors? (producer.com) 1

Tsu Dho Nimh writes: A first-timer's DIY robotics project was no Roomba hack. He adapted RC plane control software to make it run a tractor and grain cart. Cost about $1500, savings first year about $5,000. He's already thinking of ways to expand it into other tasks that can be done with minimal human supervision, like seeding and tilling.

Comment Re:Regulation; is there no harm it cannot bring? (Score 2) 66

How do they manage to get by with less material than is generally required, and have they been able to show (through data reproduction) that their techniques get the same results with less?

So far as I know, they haven't let any independent labs near their technology. To me, an ex-med tech, that is extremely suspicious. If the technology is sound, they should be bragging about it, taking it to trade fairs and letting large hospitals test it out.

Comment Re: Ownership and Appreciation (Score 2) 142

"the problem with renting special equipment is you also have to have the trained personnel to operate it. mostly you are better off contracting the service of having the earth moved instead of renting the equipment to do it yourself"

This business is NOT about renting bulldozers to homeowners digging a basement. It's about renting bulldozers to a contractor who already knows how to operate them and has all the licensing (or has an employee who does), but doesn't have enough jobs that need dozers to justify buying one that will sit unused most of the time. By doing it as a peer-to-peer agreement rather than one company owning all the equipment and taking all the risk, everyone can make money.

BTW, one of the money-makers my HVAC installer mentioned was that they own a crane and have a licensed operator ... anyone who needs crane service can hire his crane and operator if he's not using it for his own jobs. He's be happy to have a third party deal with the bookings.

Comment It's not going to scale up to wildfire size (Score 1) 80

Oil well fires are stationary points of flame a few tens of meters wide - lots of pressure behind them, but not much territory, and a single point of combustion where the fuel is coming out of the pipe. You can surround them.

Wildfires have flame fronts that are hundreds to thousands of meters wide, irregularly shaped, with a wall of flames and fuel sources that may be 5 to 30 meters high (or higher), and can be moving 60kph or more.

Look at this picture: http://media2.abc15.com//photo...

Tell me where you will put the bomb to blow that fire out.

Comment Code != Literature = Why Writers Need Outline Mode (Score 2) 285

Perhaps for programmers the need is not evident, but for anyone who writes long documents, it's indispensable. It's indispensable enough that I am still using Microsoft Word for anything that has any sort of header/subheader structure. OO and LO are OK for short letters and memos, but if it has more than 2 headings it gets clunky because of the lack of outline mode.

The core difference between writing text and writing code, which apparently the programmers working on OO and LO fail to grasp, is that writers are producing text which will be read by humans, not executed by machines.You can't just comment out the cruft and do a GOTO jump over that module you decided you don't want, then tell them to go back 17 pages to pick up the information in paragraph 3. Writing needs structure and flow to lead the reader through the material in a way that make the content comprehensible. It needs primary and subordinate ideas. Order and levels of importance are important. In Microsoft Word, collapsing the document into Outline mode and seeing the heading and subheading structure makes the flow of the document visible, and more important, the means to change that flow is on the same screen. There is no interruption in the work flow.

http://www.gigamonkeys.com/code-reading/ seems to understand it, going the other direction: most real code isn't actually in a form that can be simply read .... in order to grok it I have to essentially rewrite it. I'll start by renaming a few things so they make more sense to me and then I'll move things around to suit my ideas about how to organize code. Pretty soon I'll have gotten deep into the abstractions (or lack thereof) of the code and will start making bigger changes to the structure of the code. Once I've completely rewritten the thing I usually understand it pretty well and can even go back to the original and understand it too.

Which leads me to "Issue 3959", wherein writers asked for this on 2002-04-10 20:39:19 UTC ... it's ranked as "Trivial" now. It has nothing to prevent implementation except the inability of the code maintainers to accept that writers really do know what they need in their tools.

Here's the overview of Bug 3959 ... https://issues.apache.org/ooo/...

OVERSHOOT wrote upstream: Ah, yes. Issue number 3959. Originally filed April 10, 2002. More than twelve years ago. In that time it has remained in the top-voted issue list year-in and year-out. Others come and go, but 3959 keeps on pissing off users. At last look, there are about ten duplicates requests on file.

Every few years some developer wanders by and tells the people following it that nobody needs outline view, or that there are tools available to do it, or whatever. Often, they close the issue. In effect, "I don't use outline mode so obviously it's not important." The mailing list heats up for a while, the developer either mumbles something about maybe the team should look into it and vanishes or else just vanishes, but the issue is either reopened or left open. I've seen at least four of those cycles so far. We're probably due for another one.

At this point, I suspect that 3959 will outlive (Open|Libre|Star)Office for the classic open-source software reason: if it doesn't scratch a developer's itch, it ain't happening. And apparently, developers don't outline, edit, or otherwise structure their writing or much care about the people who do.

As the wisdom of XKCD proves - http://www.xkcd.com/619/

Comment So this is why I can't get Outline View? (Score 1) 240

This may explain why the incredibly ancient feature request for an "Outline View" in OpenOffice has gone over a decade (Reported: 2002-04-10) with no resolution.


The mental mapping of code for programmers and the mental mapping of text to those of us who write literature and non-fiction is totally different. They can't visualize how an outline and headings and the cues fonts give readers differs from all the "mind maps", "document navigators", and other inadequate replacements they keep suggesting will fill the need.

Comment Re:BD, DT, and wrote TFMs it'snot rocket surgery (Score 1) 211

At the base of Pike's Peak, 6th Thursday in November. Drive the vehicle of your choice. Hogs will be provided.

First person to haul an aggregate weight of 1250K in hogs to the top wins. There is no limit on the number of trips, but all hogs must arrive at the toip for the vet inspection in good health.

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