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Comment Re:We should ban it... (Score 1) 961 someone doesn't accidentally buy a $335,000 600hp sports car without realizing IT MIGHT BE DANGEROUS.

In other news: the government has banned running with scissors.

Yes and No. Mostly no.

The chief difference being, the guy running with scissors is not typically a mortal danger to others.

It can be on the road I suppose, but vehicles with race car like handling characteristics should requires special licensing. We do it for big rigs and motorcycles after all.

Comment Gimmick now, more later I hope (Score 1) 219

From TFA:

“This phone signifies something that is much more important,” said Warren Lau, an analyst at Kim Eng Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong. “In the next 18 months or so, we could see Samsung launching foldable display devices. That is going to be a game changer.”

That could see a 5.5-inch smartphone unfold to an 11-inch display and be part of a brand new market, said Lau.

You could argue whether the manufacture of such a thing really helps them learn valuable lessons or helps strengthen their brand for a move into this space. And it all could easily be an empty prognostication and this gimmick my be a dead end or maybe, maybe even a foray into forearm computing.

But I really hope the prediction in the article holds about folding displays holds true. I've avoided the phablet because it's not good enough to stand in for a tablet yet. A doubling or more of screen real estate would change that in a hurry.

Comment As a cyclist (Score 1) 662

Something that drives without lapses of attention or road rage, and within posted speed limits would be awfully nice.

That plus turning self driving into auto-taxi service, which is the inevitable next step, frees up all sorts of wonderful urban space consumed by godawful street parking. Suddenly, room for bike lanes, broader sidewalks full of whatever... an urban landscape built more to people than machines.

Comment Voted with my feet (Score 1) 555

I lived in a comparatively liberal enclave (Raleigh) in NC. It seemed like pretty good town except for it's near absence of a downtown and totally car centric character. But there were signs of regression.

The change over to more balkanized schools was the worst.

But earlier, the fact that the rechristening and the (tiny) reawakening of downtown was spurred by taking a pedestrian mall and turning it back into a ^&*(ing road (albeit a pretty one with wide sidewalks).

Seeing this kind of stupidity at the state level, sigh. At least I'm out.

Comment Just some guy pontificating (Score 1) 352

I don't doubt at all that the route has been driven first by a human or that a human in there to take over in theory. My guess, however, based on other (admittedly totally web based and mostly anecdotal) sources is that this has much more to do with liability than system performance... by reports the "driver" doesn't seem to be doing anything during these test runs. For a company with the resources to get drivers to go literally everywhere for street view, even if there is a requirement to have the route scouted beforehand, so what?

I'm guessing there are still interesting problems in the small fraction of a percent frequency of real world situations that the system could respond to better. But the reason for that guess is that most problems break down that way, and we're not reading about tens or hundreds of millions of miles of test runs just yet, only hundreds of thousands. Just saying "No system can yet match a human driver’s ability to respond to the unexpected, " doesn't make it true. In fact, I'd wager it's already mostly false.

I'll be interested to read first reports of truly heavy real world testing and Google's lobbying efforts on the heals of those tests. Even without that, we're up to three states (Nevada, California and Florida) that have allowed them to some degree. I'll be checking on the "Legislation" section here: from time to time. From my standpoint (and I say this as the most vulnerable type of road user, a cyclist) the sooner the future starts, the better.

Comment Re:Smartphone? (Score 1) 619

We're pushing the limit on what's pocket-able, especially considering cases.
More room for growth requires more efficiency.
So when are we getting a pocket-able fold open tablet (that also happens to make calls). Bonus if it automatically operates in an intelligent voice mode.
The manufacturing tolerances on these are so precise, I think they could do a very, very decent job of this already.
Do they think people are that averse to a tiny line bisecting? Or maybe are they and I'm just crazy thinking it wouldn't bother me?
Seems like a small price to pay for the convenience of doing it all on a single device.

Comment Re:Not as strange as it sounds (Score 1) 976

Fun tidbit: If you were to take your calories from asparagus (which has a big carbon footprint), riding a bike actually has a bigger carbon footprint than a city bus. Yea, I know we don't eat only asparagus, but the point is still valid: you can just look at the surface and ignore the externalities of your actions.

That math only makes sense to pursue if you assume linear increase in food intake to compensate for expended calories.
That's a terrifically bad assumption. Almost everyone who adopts transportation cycling looses weight before their body finds a new equilibrium.

In my personal experience, the amount of weight I've lost and the number of miles have seemed to almost exactly cancel.

Comment Maybe a DSL could help here (Score 1) 169

Most date bugs I've seen (and coded earlier in my career) related to "close enough" approximations of the right logic, that turned out not to be close enough for one reason or another. Some of this related to insufficient information... one clock assumes what the other is doing but can't get info from that clock.

But a larger fraction was just that doing things with stupid hacks way was vastly quicker because with a different APIs every time, and always verbose and clumsy, it's not tempting to do a deep dive every time and really learn what the hell is going on in there.

We've seen with another ~practically~ fundamental datatype, strings, that dsls make this much less of a PITA. So why 40 years later do we not have something similar for timestamps and intervals at least for the damn gregorian calendar? (would take a lot more thought to generalize over others, maybe worth the effort, maybe not). I ask this seriously because I'm kind of tempted to tilt at this windmill, do a spec and first implementation for Java, at minimum, maybe also JavaScript and an sql dialect or two.

Comment Bicycles! (Score 1) 338

The biggest pollution problems are in big cities in poorer countries.

They have the same problems there we did early in our car eras... that streets aren't wide or good, safety is nonexistent etc. Compared to our early car eras they have far less time to act. And they mostly don't have the public transit infrastructure as a guard against congestion.

The answer is actually very simple. To improve infrastructure for what is, other than walking, already the dominant mode of transport, bicycling. Costs a heck of a lot less than car infrastructure, cheaper to maintain, works better in high density areas anyway since they take so much less room and are so much less dangerous to pedestrians.

And if they want some evidence of the viability of the approach in a modern city, and look for ways to make it work well, they should go to Amsterdam. And it's not an isolated thing, bicycling is enjoying a mini-resurgence all over the world. Hard to say how far it will go, but it should be another clear sign that rushing headlong toward cars has MAJOR downsides.

Comment Don't ignore the medical system! (Score 1) 660

The executives and investors are good villains in the story because some are in fact, just that, and there's a broken phenomenon culturally based on a buddy system at the board level so that even those who don't act on craven impulses to cash in more still come in with a ridiculous compensation package and aren't exactly clambering for lower salaries (would you?).

But another HUGE part of the problem in medium or even high skill white collar areas with flat or declining compensation is one of medical costs. Because employer premiums in employer group medical insurance plans is tax deductible, you don't see that part of your compensation on a regular paycheck, but it's usually quite large, and has always grown faster than inflation.

We're up at 18.2% of gdp folks. Not all of that is in your group plan, some of it is medicare spiraling out of control, but no matter how you slice it, it's way more than any other first world country spends for better results. This entire sector of the economy is overpriced give or take 2X and it's making the rest of us a lot poorer.

Comment Re:0xB16B00B5 (Score 1) 897

That's why we only hire non-religious people, people who aren't afraid of bad language, rough attitudes, bad smells, and that usually translates to people that isn't afraid of hard work either.

Spoken as an orthodox Jew I'll happily take you on a tour of bad language (Yiddish is really good for expressing put-downs), rough attitudes (for instance, toward ignorant putzes like yourself of course :) ), bad smells (consider for a moment a bunch of bearded men in long coats and top hats after a walk in summer who couldn't do a hot water shower that morning or the night before crammed together talking incessantly while eating creamed pickled herring and drinking cheap whiskey), and hard work (having the Sabbath, a REAL escape lets you do this).

Perhaps undermined the last point reading AND posting to slashdot, but no more than the parent...

Comment As a newly semi-urban dweller, cool (Score 2) 195

We have two cars, parking for one, and variable (relatively low) needs.

I actually looked into this, but our cars are too high mileage (they limit to 120K and we racked up miles quickly prior to our move) to rent out through their service.

But when one dies, this will probably be better vetted in practice and if it's still going this provides two more options for me depending on frequency of need.

1: More convenient and cheaper rental
2: A way to partially offset the cost of the newer car.

Either way, I like.

Comment Re:Go to a company that respects devs or go consul (Score 1) 708


Oh. And for the record, don't buy a fucking house. Second worst decision I ever made, IMHO. The idea that it's the smart long term financial solution for everyone is total bullshit:

Wow, that's a terrible link. I mean, it's true that a home is not an investment by itself. But (except when the market was at it's most stupid) people don't buy homes to sit unoccupied... they buying them to live in them. So, rent savings is not a footnote, it's the primary freaking motivation. And by the way, their example is transparently stupid because it factors in inflation on money you haven't even put into the house (since in their example you used a 20% downpayment) as necessary to "break even". The math changes rather significantly without that obvious 55,000$ mistake.

It's not for everyone, but if you're in a city with good fundamentals for employability prospects and a reasonable purchase price to rent ratio, I think it's poor to steer someone away from buying right now. Just buy something modest (like what you would rent) and it will be cheaper than rent fairly quickly... if it isn't from the start. And it's important to do so while employed full time with a regular salary so you can qualify for conforming loans and take advantage of the frankly ridiculously cheap mortgages right now.

Comment This is even more pointless than I thought (Score 1) 201

Fines have to be of the right order of magnitude or they do precisely nothing to change behavior.

I mean, take a gander at these financials!

18.548 BILLION dollars gross profit in 2011, and that's not even their best year. So, do the math, and based on 2011 this is the amount of money that comcast makes in.... oh I see, less than 23 minutes.

Comment Re:Unstructured Data (Score 1) 96

Relatively free form key value pairs except some other stuff that matters for your domain works just fine in a relational db, you just have to query for it when you need it. If you already have a db and an ORM, which would be the common case in any enterprise environment, you'll get your getters and setters for free once you specify class/member->table/column and you can have an attribute table in the without breaking step. How this would be hard to set up or use compared to a key/value store is a mystery to me.

I've worked on a couple apps that were admin configurable via extended properties and did exactly this against a relational db at runtime. It works fine. Actually, better than fine. Let's say in the future you want to use them in aggregates or use them to filter rows on large datasets. Keeping everything in a relational db, dealing with that need after the fact is easy, and efficient if you choose to make it so. Split your stores and not so much.

YMMV always, but I think your vendor just sucks if your keys and indexes aren't encrypted along with the data. Anyways, if you want to encrypt/decrypt in the application you can, the nosql folks who haven't gotten around to supporting that (or COMPRESSION in some cases, really) like that argument.

But hey, let's say you want really, really unstructured data without any mapping into your model? Fine, use a lob, and pardon me while wretch. Point is the tool doesn't actually have any simple functional shortcomings compared to a key/value or simple document store, it's just that it gives you the option to impose a little more discipline, and from painful experience most people have chosen that option.

I'm not saying these things don't have a place, but it's more limited than acknowledged, and purported advantage of being schema-less is pretty stupid. The only related argument I've heard that has any sense to it is about uptime, but ultimately that fails for me, too. First 99% of schema changes are simple additive ones that have no impact on uptime. Second even the 1% can be handled pretty well in most cases restricting writes on a limited basis. Lastly, if this update outage is really putting you in knots you can keep modification dates (or just add them for this use case) do the 99.99% of the data transfer ahead of time then the write outage window can be TINY because the final set of data to transfer is so small.

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