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Comment Re:Some basic flaws here (Score 1) 298

They are also completely ignoring why airports are called "hubs" in the first place. People travel to the airport from all different directions, it's almost always a fairly long commute by car, bus, or train. Fifty people aren't standing around in the middle of a city all waiting to take the same flight to the same destination.

Semi-OT, but in Hong Kong they have a marvelous service where you can check in for your flight right in downtown HK, check your luggage, and then get on a train for the 40 minute trip to the airport. Since you are checked in before getting on the train, the clock has already started on the "arrive at the airport two hours before your flight" time, meaning that from a travel time perspective, you get to act like the airport is right in downtown.

I would much rather see that sort of service extended to more cities (I assume it exists elsewhere, just nowhere I have been), rather than a chimerical attempt to redesign all air travel infrastructure.

Comment Re:Waste (Score 1) 104

W-2s are the easy part, and if you take the standard deduction they are probably enough for the IRS to do your taxes for you. But, there are lots of other things that come into play:
- State income taxes are deductible.
- Capital gains are taxed at different rates depending on how long the asset was held, and only on the gain in value, with losses offsetting gains
- Mortgage interest is deductible.
- Property taxes are deductible

Plus a whole host of more complicated situations. If you have only wage income and take the standard deduction, it is simple. But that is also where 1040EZ comes in to play, which is already a single page form.

Comment Re:Just amazing (Score 4, Informative) 198

Yup. These are things that, by their use, need to be fail safe rather than fail secure. And, yes, they really need to be air-gapped from the internet. But that would be inconvenient to the administrators and developers, so they prefer instead to make it inconvenient to the practitioners.

Air gapped systems have their own problems. Embedded and dedicated systems already have a completely dismal record when it comes to getting updated, and disconnecting them from the internet only makes that problem worse. And not just security updates, but functional bugs that actually put patients at (greater) risk. And more and more complex systems have phone home capabilities for remote monitoring and proactive support, capabilities that stop working when you air gap the systems.

Comment Re:Hands off and let them do their job. (Score 1) 112

Honestly, let them do their job. if you want to be a good mid manager above the other managers. you let them do their job and you act as a "what do you need" guy that simply get them what they need and keep the fuck out of the way 99% of the time.

Totally agree. The role as you defined it is pure staff management. So the sort of thing you do:
* make sure that your developers have what they need in terms of equipment, tools, software, etc.
* ensure that they have the necessary training and opportunity to get training when required (or slack time for self study)
* don't let the PMs bully them into false estimates, or put them in death march mode
* work with the PMs to find out if some of your team members aren't getting it done, and take action
* make sure the team members are reasonably happy with their assignments, and when they are not, intervene before you lose people.
* listen to your team members when they tell you that their project teams are dysfunctional, and work with the PMs to try and fix it, or at worst get your people out of a toxic environment.

This is not a simple job. Most engineering managers come from a project mentality, where you focus on completing the project, and devote your energies to troubleshooting that. But here you are divorced from the project side, so you have to focus on more of the people management aspects of the job.

Comment Re:Apples-Oranges (Score 1) 760

Whether you agree with drug testing for welfare or not, there is a bid difference between testing for handouts, and testing for tax penalty avoidance. A complete lack of comprehension of said difference is the most disappointing thing about such a proposal.

From the point of view of the federal budgets, both of these are classified as "tax expenditures". If you say that the basic federal income tax is a progressive structure of 0% up to some minimum level, 15% marginal rate up to some higher threshold, etc., then any deviation from that formula to the benefit of a particular group that has the net effect of lowering revenue is a "tax expenditure".

It is only natural that people receiving an absolute benefit (i.e. a negative tax rate or cash award) are perceived differently than people receiving an incremental benefit (i.e. a lower rate for some of their income), but from the view of the IRS they are both programs that cost money.

While this proposal is clearly intended as a publicity stunt, the Congressperson correctly notes that the value of the capital gains rate reduction is greater in magnitude than total spending on anti-poverty programs, and for the most part benefits people who are not in poverty.

Comment Re:speak for yourself Jeff... (Score 1) 306

A fair point, but realize that even within China, Africa and India there is huge variation in population density, and some of that is purely due to individuals expressing a preference for where they want to live. They may wish they lived in the Greek Isles, but having a choice between a rural village with no electricity and no running water, or a shanty in Mumbai, they may still choose Mumbai.

Comment Re:About that gravity well... (Score 1) 306

Don't expect to see, say, metals refining or glassmaking in orbit until we can access the asteroid belt's raw materials; we're far more likely to see industries with a high value-to-mass ratio, like semiconductor fabrication (which the article does mention), that can take best advantage of really hard vacuum, near-total lack of particulate contamination, and the ability to create extremely vibration-free environments. For my money, semiconductor fabrication is probably the killer app for space-based industrialization.

I would have thought that vibration-free environments would be very hard to achieve in space, because you can't anchor things really solidly. Won't vibrations in one part of the structure just propagate everywhere and take much longer to damp down than they would on earth?

Comment Re:speak for yourself Jeff... (Score 1) 306

And yet there are large tracts of the planet which are not uninhabitable and yet have very low population densities. There is plenty of land, plenty of potentially arable land, plenty of fresh water. Yet it isn't used because the distribution of humans on planet Earth is extremely uneven and concentrated into pockets. So, looking at these densely populated locations with their food supply and fresh water problems you can get the mistaken impression that we are overpopulating the planet.

"First, assume a spherical cow".

I think the current distribution of people on the planet has lots to do with where people want to live. Admittedly there is lots of historical accident and inertia in there (only in the last 100 years has it been feasible for any significant population to live at a significant distance from food sources for instance). But to assume that Northern Canada or Central Australia are going to be as desirable as San Diego of the Mediterranean seems like a big stretch.

Comment Re:It's not only Russia (Score 1) 244

Anyone who seriously entertains the notion that the US/UK or for that matter any country hosting governments interested in information control is not employing paid trolls, shills, misinfo and disinfo agents in an attempt to control the narrative and beliefs of their populace (or at least muddy the waters beyond comprehension) is to this writer's mind either lost in cognitive dissonance, or worse, willfully ignorant.

I have no doubt that at least the US does this to some extent, but I doubt that it exists on a level equal to the Russian trolls, or we would be hearing more about it. Unless you believe in some vast shadowy conspiracy that has a stranglehold over all media and prevents news of this from coming to light, in which case you should really just go out and get more tinfoil.

One reason that I think it is unlikely that the US employs a huge number of people for this is just the question of getting people qualified in a language other than English. To have even a few hundred Russian speaking pro english trolls who are orchestrated and controlled by the government would be a significant recruiting effort, particularly if they need to keep their work secret.

Comment Re:wait, wut? (Score 1) 134

Someone having a general idea does not constitute prior art. By that measure almost nothing would be patentable. (I'm not saying that would necessarily be a bad thing.)

Doesn't that fall afoul of the "non-obvious" restriction? If something has already been "postulated" in popular culture, e.g. Dick Tracy's Watch, The Jetson's, well EVERYTHING (seriously!), etc, then how is a physical embodiment of that well-known idea then "non-obvious"?

So by that logic warp drive is not patentable because having seen it fictionalized in a movie the actual working implementation is now obvious?

How about you work on warp drive, and I will take light sabers. First one with a working inventions gets to build sharks with frickin laser beams.

Comment Re:the right way... (Score 1) 530

The "right way" is to eliminate all the subsidies, then only have taxes based on the known effect on the environment, based on current scientific understanding.
Note that all known energy sources come with some cost to the environment. Gasoline, Diesel, Coal, Solar (from panel manufacturing), Wind (manufacturing), Nuclear, Electric/Battery (Battery rare materials, energy source (Coal, Nuclear, Solar ?). Though I am not sure we would get the answer we think we want.

One additional problem is that people can reasonably disagree about costs. IIRC, the Maldives have a median elevation of only a few centimeters above sea level. What they consider an absolutely intolerable sea level elevation might be something that is completely insignificant to a different nation, let alone a landlocked country like Switzerland.

Comment Re:Don't use windows for this (Score 1) 266

Use some dedicated hardware with a custom software system with only components designed for the purpose of the machine and nothing else. Harden and sanity check the hell out of the I/O and connect THAT to your idiot box.

On the one hand, that makes perfect sense, and removes a whole bunch of failure modes.

On the other hand, that makes it a more expensive device to build and maintain, increasing the cost of health care all around, and ultimately squeezing out other components of health care.

Medical devices deal with risk minimization, and that often involves deciding which risks are acceptable. If the device can be sold for $5,000 based on a Windows PC, and $15,000 based on a proprietary hardware stack, and because of that a hospital buys 1 expensive machine instead of 3 cheap ones, patient outcomes as a whole will probably be worse.

And dedicated hardware has its own issues - it is rarely updated when vulnerabilities are discovered, and often lingers one for years after the manufacturer is gone or has moved on. At least putting an off the shelf PC in the system makes it possible to update some of the components.

Submission + - There Will Be A Huge New 'Panama Papers' Data Dump (businessinsider.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists said in an email that on May 9 it would "publish what will likely be the largest-ever release of information about secret offshore companies and the people behind them," based on data from the Panama Papers investigation. "The searchable database will include information about more than 200,000 companies, trusts, foundations, and funds incorporated in 21 tax havens, from Hong Kong to Nevada in the United States."

Submission + - Detecting USB Power Adapters That Don't Meet Certification (hackaday.com)

szczys writes: The USB to mains adapter is an important part of electronics. It's the last line of defense between the device and line voltage. But it also defends the user against shock and guards against accidental fire. Bob recently took on the challenge of finding safe and reliable USB power adapters to ship with a product his company has developed.

USB power supplies are super cheap and omnipresent. They are the Tribble of my household. But they're not all created equal, and some of them may even be dangerous. I had to source USB power supplies for a product, and it wasn't easy. But the upside is that I got to tear them all apart and check out their designs.

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