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Google Launches 'Google Trips' Personalized Travel Planner ( 38

Google has an app for just about everything. Their latest application, called Google Trips, aims to help you better plan your vacations and other travels. TechCrunch reports: Called Google Trips, the iOS and Android app pulls in a combination of data from Google Maps and crowdsourced contributions from other travels, in order to offer a personalized travel guide that helps you keep track of your day trips, reservations, points of interest, tourist attractions, restaurants and more. The home screen includes a search box with a prompt "where do you want to go?" for planning new trips, and other cards let you keep track of your current and upcoming vacations and plans. What's helpful is that each city you plan to visit during one of your trips can each have its own tab within the larger "Trip" section, and with a simple toggle switch, you can download all the information about that destination for offline access. Meanwhile, on each city's screen, a variety of colorful cards help you jump into various sections like "Saved places," "Day Plans," "Food and Drink," "Getting around," "Things to do," "Reservations," and more. Google says Trips can show you the most popular day plans and itineraries for the top 200 cities worldwide. This information is actually based on historic visit data from other travelers, which Google has then assembled into lists that include the most popular sights and attractions. In addition to sightseeing, the app can also track flight, hotel, car and restaurant reservations, which makes the app something of a competitor to Concur's TripIt, and, to some extend, the new territory Airbnb is carving out with its own forthcoming Airbnb Trips app, which will focus on travel services. However, what makes Google Trips compelling is that it leverages Google's ability to tap into the data you have stored in your Gmail, as it automatically gathers your reservations from your email and organizes them into trips on your behalf. Google Trips is live now on Android and iOS.

Comment Re:call an ambulance (Score 1) 153

In the USA, at least, tax-payer funded municipal services cover the overwhelming majority of the country, for both fire and ambulance service. However, most tax-payer funded ambulance services will still bill people for individual ambulance calls, even though they are tax payer funded. The reason is at least partly because the tax income simply does not cover the cost of running these services. As a paramedic, I can tell you that on any one call, we may go through a few hundred dollars of disposable equipment - most of that money is in medications, but also EKG and defibrillation supplies, IV supplies, airway management supplies, etc. The tax income simply does not cover that, so we bill separately.

You may disagree that this is an appropriate thing to do - but these services do take money to run. The money has to come from somewhere. So we can either raise taxes, or bill for actual services rendered, or both. Most of the country does both right now, seeing it as the best compromise.

On the fire side - $900/year isn't too outrageous, necessarily. If you had a taxpayer funded department, your taxes would increase somewhere in the neighborhood of $900/year. Again, the money has to come from somewhere. Municipalities basically have 3 options:

  1. 1. Hire full-time, career firefighters.
  2. 2. Rely on a volunteer fire department
  3. 3. Contract to a private service

Most of the country does either 1 or 2 (or a combination career-volunteer department). In both cases, they need to still buy all the fire trucks, equipment, training, insurance, etc. None of that is cheap, and there is absolutely on-going maintenance costs that are quite steep. The difference between 1 and 2 is that 2 saves you the cost of salary and benefits for employees. The downside is you're going to have much less reliable response times, experience levels of responders, etc. You get what you pay for.

Comment Re:Not to diminish the usefulness of the feature (Score 3, Informative) 153

Not to diminish the usefulness of the feature, but wouldn't it have made more sense to call an ambulance?

Yes, and no.

Actually, just yes. Speaking as a paramedic, a PE (or really anything which causes difficulty breathing lasting longer than a few seconds) is a completely legitimate reason to ask for an ambulance. That clot could move at any time, making it impossible to breath. And especially in the case described in this story, where the patient was suffering enough that he couldn't maintain full control of a vehicle without assistance - choosing to drive yourself is just silly. Just go ahead and give us a call, we don't mind. Or, at a minimum, get someone else to drive you.

But arriving in an ambulance will get you looked at sooner when you get there

Actually, no. Now, it sounds like you ended up in a shitty hospital that was poorly staffed or something - but in reality, the hospital staff triages and sees patients in order of severity, regardless of whether you arrived by ambulance or walked in. In fact, a lot of ne'er-do-wells seem to share your belief that an ambulance will get you seen faster, and thus call us for silly reasons that do not need an ambulance. And while we are more than happy to give you a ride to the hospital (non-emergent, without using the lights and sirens) - we'll drop you off in the waiting room, where you'll get triaged along with everyone else.

Comment Re:This is stupid (Score 1) 122

If the coder struggled but the result turned out great then the method will still flag the code to be likely to be bad. The method will also completely miss buggy code caused by the programmer not realizing that the problem is tricky and going for a way too simple solution.

I agree that these factors mean that the test cannot be reliably used to just identify potentially dangerous parts of code. But I think the results could reveal some interesting information about the programmer.

As you said - if we have data showing that a developer struggled with a particular area of code, but that area ends up being of high quality - then we can see that the developer likely has a great attention to detail, and is being thorough with his design and testing. That's good information to know about a developer.

Another possibility is that the developer moved quickly through the area of code without stressing. But the code quality ends up being crap. This tells us that the developer is likely sloppy, lazy or just not very good. This may help identify an opportunity to coach a newer developer - or just to identify developers who we can't trust.

Now, I'd agree that in terms of yielding actionable data - this isn't as valuable or useful as if we were able to simply get a reliable indication of code quality. But its still something interesting to consider.


Google Self-Driving Car Might Have Caused First Crash In Autonomous Mode ( 410

An anonymous reader writes: While driving in autonomous mode, a Google self-driving car was involved in an accident with a public bus in California on Valentine's Day, according to an accident report filed with the California DMV.The accident report, signed by Chris Urmson, says the Google self-driving car was trying to get around some sandbags on a street when its left front struck the bus' right side. The car was going 2 mph, while the bus was going 15 mph.Google said its car's safety driver thought the bus would yield. No injuries were reported. If it's determined the Google self-driving car was at fault, it would be the first time one of its cars caused an accident while in autonomous mode.

Comment Re:Who still uses pagers? (Score 2) 307

Paramedic here. We still use VHF pagers. They are simple, but reliable and rock solid. They work pretty much everywhere, and a charge will last for days. We have a complementary iPhone/Android app that will receive info when we get dispatched, but that requires an internet connection, and a series of interfaced software products to all work correctly. The pagers are maintained as a fail safe - all they require is a radio and a means of generating the tones required to signal the pager to open the squelch. In a disaster scenario, the necessary equipment can be run reliably off batteries and generators. That's just not the case with smartphone apps right now.

Comment Re:Can't take the heat? (Score 1) 688

On the occasions when Linus has responded to criticism that he's an... asshole? It basically seems like he says, "1) This is my sandbox and I can do what I want. 2) This communication style solves more problems than it causes." Linus may be correct on both these points. Linus is certainly an important enough person on an important enough project to probably be able to get away with some stuff that others might not. And its often pointed out that the people on the receiving end of these kinds of rants "had it coming" for one reason or another. That may be true as well. On the other side of the coin, though - I see participating in an open source project as a kind of volunteer work. What you stand to get out of it are mainly intangible rewards. And, if you reach a point where the stress and BS you have to put up with as a volunteer outweighs the intangible rewards, then by all means, step away and do something else with your time. In my own life, I was formerly a volunteer for a certain project (not software-related). Some parallels could be drawn between our head honcho, and Linus. Our guy had years of experience. To be fair and objective, the guy was smart, a hard worker, and his heart was in the right place. A lot of stuff got done, that wouldn't have otherwise gotten done if not for him. The guy, however, was simply an asshole. Just rude, arrogant, insensitive. I worked with/for/near/around this guy for a few years, because I believed in what we were doing, and was trying to find some admirable or redeeming qualities about this person. But, after a few years, it just got to the point where I grew tired of trying to deal with this guy, on top of my actual responsibilities, which were difficult and time consuming in and of themselves. So I walked away from this organization, which was a painful and frustrating decision because there were certainly things about it that I did enjoy and get a lot out of. But, it just wasn't worth being treated poorly by an asshole. Now its entirely possible that I should have grown a thicker skin, or that the asshole was smarter/better/righter than me and I somehow "deserved what I got" or whatever. But, fuck it, eventually I realized, 99% of my interactions with my fellow human beings were more pleasant than dealing with this guy. So, I walked away, and sunk my efforts into something similarly rewarding but without a bunch of intolerable BS. So if that's all that's going on here... then godspeed.

Comment Re:Hyde Park, Chicago (Score 2) 330

I was going to mention something along these lines - this concept really isn't that unusual. I worked in the public safety sector (EMS, though, not law enforcement) in the Cleveland, Ohio area for a few years. I was amazed at the number of distinct law enforcement agencies that had overlapping jurisdictions. In addition to the individual municipal departments, county sheriff, and state agencies, here's a set of a few I remember, just in the Cleveland area:
  • University Circle Police - a private department funded by the businesses they serve. University Circle is a neighborhood housing many significant educational, medical, cultural and historical facilities, which is bordered on all sides by very high-crime neighborhoods
  • The Transit Police, which I believe may be the largest department in Ohio - polices the public transit buses, trains and terminals
  • CMHA Police - serves the public housing projects in the county
  • CMSD Police - serves Cleveland's public school district
  • Cleveland's three largest hospitals, Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and MetroHealth, each have their own police forces (though apparently not web sites)
  • Metro Parks Rangers - basically park rangers with police authority
  • Most of the colleges and universities in the area (even the small schools and technical colleges) have their own campus police forces

That's obviously in addition to all the private security services that lack full law enforcement authority. And I'm probably leaving a few out in my list above - it's been a few years since I've lived there or payed real close attention. But the point is, it's by no means unusual for a private organization to form it's own full-fledged police force.

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