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Comment Paying by credit card... (Score 2) 140

I don't know what it's like in NYC, but I know that in Boston one of the big advantages of Uber/Lyft is the ability to pay by credit card AT ALL. Whenever one attemps to pay by credit card in Boston the driver will claim this his machine is "broken", and only if you don't have any cash and there's no other option will it magically "repair" itself.

Comment Optimized simulation? (Score 1) 418

When the simulation theory began making the rounds, I realized that this could explain part of the uncertainty principle where a particle does not achieve a definite state until it is observed. How would a particle know that it's being observed, after all? If we're living in a simulation, though, the uncertainty principle becomes a rendering optimization: why compute the final state of a particle that nobody is observing or interacting with? In other words, the particle doesn't know if it's being observed, but the simulation does.

Submission + - Brian Stevens Resigns as Red Hat CTO to pursue New Opportunity (

darthcamaro writes: Since November of 2001, Brian Stevens has been the CTO of Red Hat but as of August 28 that's no longer the case. Under Stevens' tenure, Red Hat transformed its business, adding Red Hat Enterprise Linux, acquiring JBoss, Qumranet, Gluster and Ceph as well as joining (and now leading) the OpenStack Foundation. So why did he leave? No official word, but apparently it is to purse a new opportunity that Stevens just could not pass up.

Comment S--L--O--W (Score 1) 71

I abandoned Orkut well before the Brazilian invasion due to hideously slow performance. Back then it was because I thought that Google had simply badly under-provisioned a "20%" project. Then I remembered another early social network, Friendster, that also collapsed due to hideously slow performance. Basically, the first social networks failed to take into account the issue of scaling to massive numbers of users... and you *need* massive numbers of users to make the site interesting and to accommodate everyone's six-degrees-of-friends. Facebook figured that out with its fuzzy updates and randomized newsfeeds that hide the fact that an individual's view of the database is almost never consistent.

Comment Re:Self-defeating protests (Score 3, Interesting) 507

Actually, my office is right across the street from Uber's Boston HQ. A couple weeks ago I suddenly heard a mad chorus of car horns. Looked out the window and it turns out the Boston cabbies were staging a brief rolling protest by driving by and honking, handing out leaflets, etc. There was police and a news truck.

I don't know what the situation is in Europe, but in many cities in the US the taxi industry is a victim of its own protectionism. Boston, for instance, has issued a fixed number of taxi medallions. If I wanted to start a cab company, I couldn't simply go down to city hall and get a license; they've all been issued. I'd have to persuade an existing player to part with theirs... which they won't do unless I shell out some SERIOUS cash. As in, mid-to-high six figures. The price of the car itself is down in the noise by comparison.

The secondary market in medallions has turned them into major assets. Thus the city can't simply issue more medallions; that would dilute the value of the ones already out there.

In the end, a policy that Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time has produced a result where there's a fixed supply and growing demand. Until now policymakers just threw up their hands and ignored the issue because there didn't seem to be a good way out of this mess. The introduction of Uber and Lyft suddenly means the issue can't be ignored anymore.

Comment When the shoe is on the other foot... (Score 5, Informative) 242

Getty Images makes no bones about asking a lot of money for their images and making sure they get paid. I own a business that among other things produces fine art prints. Some time back a customer asked about a print of a particular Old Master painting that wasn't listed in any publisher's catalog. Tracking down a high-resolution image that I could print myself led me to Getty Images. The minimum royalty for this kind of use was in the $300 range. The rep came right out and said that their royalty structure would not be economical for one-off print like I was seeking.

This, BTW, is for an image that is theoretically in the public domain.

Comment Not just black-vs-white (Score 5, Interesting) 164

This reminds me of when they were developing the original pilot for the original "Star Trek" series. They wanted to know how the green-skinned Orion slave-girl would look when filmed. They covered her in green makeup and shot some test footage. It came back from the lab with normal pink European flesh tones. So they tried darker makeup. Still pink. They tried the darkest, densest makeup they could find. Still pink. It turned out that the lab was oh-so-helpfully "correcting" the color for them. I think this speaks volumes as to the article's premise...

Comment Patchy indeed... (Score 1) 202

FiOS deployment is very patchy in the Boston area. I live in a suburb of Boston and I own a retail shop there. My home and shop are about four blocks apart. I had FiOS in both locations since 2008.

Recently I moved my shop to a new location a block and a half away. It is actually between my home and my previous location. No FiOS service, though; I had to settle for DSL.

Comment Prior Art (Score 2) 278

What's funny is that this sort of "alignment" has been taking place for *years* in dead-tree textbooks.

An example: Back in the 80s I was taking a class in differential equations and was having some trouble. So I went down to the library to see if different textbooks might have different approaches that could help me out. I pulled down four textbooks (different authors) and sat down to read. Turns out EVERY SINGLE ONE of them presented exactly the same concepts in exactly the same order with pretty much the same descriptions. Didn't help me one bit, but it shows how a math professor can make a few extra bucks for very little effort... #include

Comment Stupid test! (Score 1) 845

This article sounds like an arrogant person with a serious case of sour grapes: "Yeah I bombed that test, but look at me! I'm seriously successful and I don't need to use any of the stuff that's on that test anyway! Stupid test!"

I remember when I was a schoolkid other kids would whine things like "Why do I need to learn fractions? I'm never going to use them!"


Submission + - It's Official: No More HP Touchpads (

shameless writes: When HP cancelled the TouchPad, they dropped the price to $99 to clear out remaining inventory, and boy did they! A tablet that previously only sold in the low thousands suddenly sold out overnight. Disappointed buyers were told by HP that they were working on an additional production run, and they would be informed by e-mail when this would happen. Well, today I received my email. Apparently they either canceled the production run or never even got started, because HP is now officially "out of stock" of the TouchPad. All mention of tablets has also been quietly removed from HP's homepage.

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