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Comment Re:2-3 hours a day! (Score 4, Insightful) 387

Oh please. I'd be surprised if my salaried employees didn't "steal" 2 hours a day; BSing with co-workers, checking the news, running an errand on the way back from lunch. They more than make up for it with after-hour calls, weekend site visits, etc. The hourly guys is a slightly different story, but as long as their 15 minute scheduled breaks don't turn into half an hour or so, that's fine. It's not like I pay them enough to actually give a shit whether they "steal" 20 minutes here or there. Maybe if my company didn't hand out 2.5% raises every two years, all the while jacking up insurance premiums, we might all pull a little more weight.

Honestly, the the only "time thieves" I have a problem with are the smokers. (And that one guy who would go fishing down the road, and claim to be doing his safety audits; fuck that guy.)

Comment Re:Not really a Good Result (Score 1) 180

I think the burden of proof would be on the person claiming that high-energy particle physics does indeed apply to daily life. The null hypothesis would be to assume that any given scientific discovery doesn't have near-term, global, daily life applications. Several people can successfully live their life assuming a flat earth at the center of the universe. Most can get away with assuming a spherical earth with constant gravity and no quantum effects. One famous American didn't even have to know how tides work and still became very successful. Even general relativity didn't have ubiquitous impact on people's daily life until GPS became widespread. (whether that's near-term is up for debate)

Comment Re:Don't buy this (Score 1, Insightful) 440

"up to five times more energy efficient than most conventional dryers"

WTF does that mean? Does it mean that it uses 20% of the power a traditional dryer uses? Because it can't literally mean the efficiency is 5 times higher. A dryer is pretty damn efficient at turning electrical energy into thermal energy. Even if a dryer were only 40% efficient, the most this could hope for is 2.5 times the efficiency. I hate it when people use "times more;" it is almost never a helpful way to describe the mathematical construct they are trying to explain.

Comment Re:Speaking as a firefighter (Score 1) 344

It's the getting rear ended at a stop light that really pisses me off. I was hit once like that. This gal had already stopped behind me in the turn lane, got out her phone, and plowed into me. Really? I was lucky she stopped first, I guess, otherwise I might have ended up like the lady you're talking about. I heard one interview with a high school girl who said she "can't not" look at her phone. I got an idea. How about you leave it in your fucking trunk if you're that attention challenged.

Comment Re:They could have done better with the data (Score 1) 344

My old flip phone took no concentration at all to call my wife. Just flip and mash the big button twice. Now I have Bluetooth connection to my car, but I switched to a smartphone before that. I just gave up calling while driving, because I had to unlock the stupid phone (thanks work email), and then mash the right parts of the screen to call the right contact, or hope the voice recognition worked.

Comment Re:I find this thoroughly unsurprising (Score 1) 344

I wish consoles were still designed with driving in mind, but a lot of evidence points to the contrary. My old 2005 Honda had readily reachable knobs of different sizes and prominent buttons. My "new" 2009 has one tiny knob and a flat panel of buttons of roughly the same size. Sure there are voice commands, but that takes even more concentration than reaching for a button.

The ones I use the most are for climate control. The fan speed is two little buttons all the way over by the passenger side, and the mode button (not a dial aurgh) is right above them. The mode selection is a real PITA, because you used to just be able to reach over and crank a knob to the right orientation. Now you have to remember whether it's one button press or three, and even then you look down at the middle console to make sure it's correct.

And of course you mention flat screen interfaces. Possibly the worst idea to ever come across a car designers desk. Hopefully this will all be a moot point in 5 years because cars will drive themselves. Most commuters would love that.

Comment Begging the question (Score 1) 389

This whole article begs the question. It's basically this argument: In order for a program to be considered AI, it has to be too complicated to verify/debug/grok; therefore AI programmers cannot understand their programs. Pretty bad logic, if you ask me. Maybe an AI could be hired to write this guy's false alarm articles instead.

But that's just the start of the BS in this article. I've programmed neural nets before. It's absolutely possible to know why it made a "decision". You just look at the weights between the neurons and which inputs fired which neurons when. It's not impossible, just hard. Ironically, the article makes this very point, describing various debugging and back-calculating tools you can use. But that's after he claims "[T]here is no obvious way to design such a system so that it could always explain why it did what it did."

Nobody says this crap about all the other black boxes in our lives, but AI has a "Dark Secret." "'We can build these models,' Dudley says ruefully, 'but we don’t know how they work.'" This could just as easily been a quote about cell phones, car computers, hell even an air conditioner. No one person fully groks a sufficiently complicated system. That's just the nature of complexity. That doesn't mean you can't figure out how it works.

Comment Re:Slow day in tech, then? (Score 1) 575

EXACTLY!!!! An auction would have been the most sane way to do it. They could have done it in reverse. Just think, they could have started the bidding at $5k (or whatever the value of having their four people in the right place was), and then the people would work their way down from there. The lowest four bidders "win". The way they did it was stupid. The value of the four seats on the plane was clearly more than what they were offering. It was also "worth it" to risk bad PR in order to get those crew members where they were going. Now they will spend hundreds of thousands in PR, when they could have made 4 lucky "winners" very happy.

Comment New fare class (Score 2) 575

United is proud to offer their new Thunderdome fare class. They divide the cost of one ticket among as many people who dare book it, and then the prospective passengers fight to the death in a steel cage on the tarmac. On the positive side, if you do not get a seat on the plane, they will still allow your remains on the cargo hold as long as you submitted a notarized certificate to United's corporate office three days in advance.

Comment Re:yup (Score 1) 424

Did you know that SNAP could be funded almost 100% if the federal government got rid of the home mortgage interest deduction? So who's to say that the "chunk" (which is about $20 per month per person) of your paycheck isn't actually going into the pockets of rich schmucks like me who own a nice house? It amounts to the same thing. The funniest part of it is that my in-laws are my lenders, so the interest is just money that I'm going to get back when they kick the bucket. Thank you for supporting this ludicrous deduction! :)

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