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Comment Re:How to deposit? (Score 1) 459

I've never lived within 500 miles of my bank for the last 20 years. My paychecks are direct deposit, but my wife's aren't. This bank has the "easy deposit" method that Chase advertises, but they had it about three years before Chase. They also reimburse up to $20 in ATM fees per month. Since I almost never use cash, that's not too big of an issue. One run to ATM at the beginning of the month is usually enough. There's no easy way to deposit cash, so in cases where I have a small amount, I just use it as pocket money at the same rate I would have used my ATM withdrawal. If it's a large amount of cash, I go to a local credit union and get a cashier's check, which I can then deposit using my smartphone. Given the money I save in ATM fees, as well as all other banking fees, the cost of the occasional cashier's check is a good trade. Even if you're a waiter or something with a cash-heavy income stream, it's not terrible to get a cashier's check once a month, but that's an edge case where other options likely make more sense to you.

In short, there are banks out there who will cater to your needs if you just look for them. Based on your questions, it appears you're stuck in a rut with your banking relationship. Look around, there are a lot of alternatives out there.

Submission + - Apocalypse Not: Here's Why You Shouldn't Worry About End Times (

deapbluesea writes: Matt Ridley recounts the many predictions of catastrophe that have been made by prominent figures in the past.

The classic apocalypse has four horsemen, and our modern version follows that pattern, with the four riders being chemicals (DDT, CFCs, acid rain), diseases (bird flu, swine flu, SARS, AIDS, Ebola, mad cow disease), people (population, famine), and resources (oil, metals)

From over population, to pandemics, peak oil to climate change, Ridley provides examples of human innovation that have averted the disasters, real or imagined. He does not declare the doomsayers to be wrong, merely hyperbolic in their predictions.

we hear a lot from those who think disaster is inexorable if not inevitable, and a lot from those who think it is all a hoax. We hardly ever allow the moderate “lukewarmers”

Given the current discussions on rich vs poor, conservative vs liberal, religious versus non-religious, maybe a little moderation should be in order. After all, there are a lot of examples of "experts" who got it completely wrong in the past.

Comment Re:Yeah but do they have (Score 1) 12

I really like the little solar powered surfboard, though. I'd like one just a bit bigger with a cooler on board

Just went to a talk on those Wave Gliders by James Gosling (yes, that James Gosling). They're pretty cool little robots, but technically they don't surf. One of the questions asked by the audience was about scaling up the size of the robots. Mr. Gosling used the Nyquist Sampling Theorem to discuss why bigger would result in less power from the waves since the robot's locomotion is essentially based on spatially sampling wave height. Not to say there is an optimal size since sea state varies quite a bit, but the company has definitely thought about size and decided smaller is better. (cue horde of juvenile size jokes...)

Comment Re:Optimization (Score 1) 1086

If you are writing the lower level graphics libraries, math will be important

It's funny that the general advice I've seen has been that math is useful and good, but there are APIs for that, so you're OK. Let's put this into another famously divisive /. subject and see how it goes:

  • You don't need to know how to program, just use the tools that Apple gives you and you'll be fine.
  • You don't need to know statistics to understand climate science, just trust the data that random people hand you and be sure to flame anyone that doesn't.

At a minimum, it's important for no other reason than to be able to think independently, arrive at conclusions based on facts, and understand why you support or don't support something based on something other than "everyone else thinks so". Also, if you want to do fun stuff in computer science, you'll probably need to have some math. It's one thing to know how to use coordinate frame transformations from a library and another thing entirely to know what it means to use coordinate frame transformations. The former will be able to get the job done provided the spec is well written, the latter will be able to write something that is both elegant and correct for the desired purpose. The latter will also be able to point out all of the shortcomings of the spec before baking in all kinds of fun bugs.

Comment Re:Who cares? (Score 3, Informative) 263

Yeah, people like DeltaHawk who spent 20 years building a diesel aircraft engine in order to reduce fuel consumption and lead particulate without ever making a single sale sure are short sighted SOBs. Or perhaps you're thinking of those shortsighted morons in the Innovation 1000 study who spent $550B on R&D in 2010. Thank goodness we have /. to put a lid on hyperbole.

Comment A Better Idea (Score 2) 561

We could take a page from the military on this one. If you use a government-backed student loan to get your degree in a STEM subject, you are required to spend a minimum number of years "paying back" as a teacher. You would be salaried at the same rate as any other teacher of the same experience. The difference is that you took a Government loan to get your degree, so you should pay back the nice taxpayers by teaching that subject for X years.

Assuming the loan is for $80k to begin with, we can give those out "gratis" up front with the understanding that the payback is in teaching time. That would cost the same as what is proposed, but anyone who takes the loan would be under contract to teach for X years. In the end, you're addressing the availability of STEM degrees, availability of student loans, and STEM teacher supply all in one program for probably the cost of just the proposed program. It's just as voluntary, and has the added bonus of (possibly) increasing the number of students going into STEM fields. Throw in merit-based granting and you've got people competing to get a "free" education in STEM, so you know the teachers on the back end should be decent too.

Of course, the carrot has to have a stick. Something like, if you take the loan and switch degrees out of a STEM field, then you're on the hook for repaying the full cost of the loan. If you can't do the full x years of payback teaching, then you have to repay the loan on a pro-rata basis, etc. This is how military scholarships work, why not do it with STEM as well?

Comment Re:When Egypt or Libya does it, it's bad, of cours (Score 5, Insightful) 513

take away all the power and budget we can from the federal government, and it won't matter nearly so much.

If I only had mod points.

The problem isn't with which party is in charge, it's with how much whoever is in charge can do. I'm not calling for anarchy, but an awful lot of our problems stem from too much centralized control, not too little.

For those of you cheering the health care act's penalty, just think what you would say if the other side had exercised such power. For all of these executive orders, what if it were the other side? Just a hypothetical for you: now that Obama has successfully issued an executive order to DHS to not process certain illegal aliens, and that executive order has been defended by a large number of partisans, will those same partisans defend a Romney executive order that directs the IRS to simply not collect any penalties levied by the ACA? How about a Republican "tax" on abortion procedures? Would you be ok with that since you recognize the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the individual mandate as a tax under the taxing power of Congress? Would those pundits who cheered the decision still feel the same when its precedent is used on a subject contrary to their ideology? What about an individual mandate to purchase a gun or pay a penalty if you don't? After all, crime costs us just as much as those free riders at the emergency room. If you're worried about guns being used irresponsibly, we'll just create a mandate for all employers to provide safe gun ownership training and one hour a month at the shooting range. Feeling better about those ACA precedents yet?

Regardless of sides, the last 8 years have seen an unprecedented consolidation of power that can and will be abused by either side. The only fix is to get involved in your local politics and start getting people into office who will vote to cut back federal (and state) powers. The more demand there is for that kind of politician, the more of that kind of politician we will see. If you disagree with the Tea Party (who is for smaller government, but maybe not the parts you would like to see shrink), then get out and start your own movement (no, Occupy doesn't count - it's a failure as a political movement). No matter what, the future of America rests in its ability to walk back these power grabs and reestablish a constrained government with narrowly defined powers.

Comment Re:Stats disagree (Score 3, Informative) 388

Taking four data points and not controlling for any other contributing factor you can say lots of things, but nothing meaningful.

Sorry, I don't think I'm understanding you. The assertion is: "voter participation of those between 18 and 34 (what I would consider to be the net generation) has increased, in many cases markedly". The numbers then show that the voter participation among those age groups has increased. What "controlling for any other contributing factor" is needed to reach the conclusion that the thesis is correct based on the data?

If you're referring to the next paragraph, he clearly starts with "One could argue". Not even remotely the same as claiming statistical correlation of any kind, just another thesis presented based on the (successful) validation of the original thesis.

Comment Internal my ISP (Score 1) 329

I'm running smokeping on my home computer in order to show Comcast that their service actually does drop out at regular daily intervals and that it is not internal. The interesting trend that I see is in pinging the DNS servers. A ping to the comcast DNS server, presumably internal to their network, has a rtt of ~50ms. A ping to a Google server, presumably external to their network has a rtt of ~20ms. This has been consistent for about four months now. So how can they claim internal is easier?

Comment Re:Driver-less cars would eliminate car ownership (Score 1) 648

I think your premise is right, but for the wrong reasons. Driver-less cars likely will eliminate car ownership, however, it will be in the form of a public commodity. Instead of hopping in my car to drive to the nearest mega-shopping extravaganza, followed by a restaurant, then a movie, I would just hop in the nearest available car, have it drive me to the first destination, then repeat for each subsequent destination. There's no need for the car to park, it can simply join a queue nearby, or head off to the next waiting passenger. You could keep a large portion of the fleet on the road with no reason to ever park anyway. The roads become your vehicle storage area and parking lots go away.

Driverless car = no need to park and wait for me = why not give a ride to someone else originating from my destination = on-demand carriage = very few personal cars.

Driverless is safer = politicians mandate use = no driving for you anyway = why own a car if I can't drive it? = no ownership

There's always the desire to be able to hop in a car and go with no pre-planning, no waiting, no calling for a car to come and waiting until the next available one can arrive, but we're already seeing strong social pressure to forgo some of those conveniences for the sake of reducing emissions and fuel usage. Given the rather large profit motive of being able to effectively charge per mile, the ease of scheduling cars to congregate in areas of high demand at proper times (a lot of cool statistical data modeling that Google is pretty good at doing), and the necessary communications infrastructure to make it all work, it seems the commercial application will be to provide fleet vehicles equivalent to taxi cabs. Taken to a logical conclusion, laws will eventually be passed that prohibit human drivers (since it's the human that adds most of the uncertainty to the equation), and it will become easier and cheaper to simply summon a driverless cab to go anywhere you want to go.

Cross country road trips can also work on the same principle. The logistics become interesting, but not insurmountable. Considering the cars can always drive themselves back to their origin if they aren't needed in the destination city, and you have a simple one-way rental method that simply includes the cost of the return trip as well.

Of course, this entire scheme will have to be nationalized at some point and fully regulated. That would allow cars to be shuttled from city to city and state to state as demand requires. What politician wouldn't love to be able to control how the entire country transports itself? I could see them outlawing "dumb" cars simply so they can hand out goodies in the form of more cars for cities that will vote for them. Imagine the politics then.

I leave it to the reader to decide if this is utopian or dystopian.

Comment Re:Inspection != Maintenance (Score 1) 239

I stand corrected. Here's more discussion to include some FAR references since the parent relies on his own authority.

The FAA regulates maintenance through FAR part 43. Far 43.1 states that the rules of that part do (b) "...not apply to any aircraft for which an experimental airworthiness certificate has been issued, unless a different kind of airworthiness certificate had been previously issued".

In effect what this means is that any person may perform maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, overhauling or alternations to an experimental aircraft, unless that aircraft had previously held another type of airworthiness certificate, i.e. standard, utility, acrobatic, transport, etc. If it is an amateur built aircraft, then anyone can do the maintenance.

However, all experimental operating limitations contain additional limiting factors. You will nearly always find a statement worded something like "This aircraft cannot be flown unless it has received, within the preceding 12 calendar months, a condition inspection conducted in accordance with the scope and detail of Appendix D of part 43, and the inspection is recorded in the aircraft records." Further, the limitations usually also say "Only the builder, when certificated as the repairman, mechanics holding an A & P rating, and appropriately rated repair stations may conduct the condition inspection required by the operating limitations". If the aircraft is turbine powered, or surplus military, there may be additional limitations which mandate a licensed mechanic perform the work.

The net effect, and to answer your question, is: 1. The operating limitations will tell you who can do the work. 2. If amateur-built, you probably can do the work, except for the annual "condition inspection". and 3. That condition inspection will probably have to be done by an A & P, since there are no "appropriately rated repair stations" for non-certified experimental aircraft that I know of.

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