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Comment The biggest problem with BART's not its technology (Score 1) 474

Lots of systems were initially designed with suboptimal/superseded technology, and over time, adjustments got made. In Spain, for example, they simply abandoned the old gauge and went with standard gauge when building new high speed lines so they could connect outside the country. The problem with BART is its governance structure: an independent government agency that competes with other transit agencies in the same geographical space, and has no particular incentive to serve the greatest need. An example is in san bruno, where the BART tracks go directly underneath the Caltrain station. San Bruno is the last BART stop between SF and the SF Airport, so it would be a perfect place for a connection between the two systems. But BART chose to build its San Bruno station over a mile away, to serve the Tanforan Mall, and to forego a connection with Caltrain there. I think the reason is BART realized if you could get off BART at San Bruno from SFO, you could take an express train to downtown SF, and BART would lose business (although it would be great for passengers, of course). So the result was the terrible triangle of BART's San Bruno, SFO, and Millbrae stations. Instead of giving both SFO and Millbrae bound train passengers the option to change at San Bruno, which would have served riders much better, they built it as an either/or, so that Caltrain-bound BART passengers had to take a Millbrae train. After a few months, they "realized" that the connector between Millbrae and SFO was not economically viable, so they started forcing transfers from Millbrae Caltrain and buses to take BART to San Bruno and then change trains to backtrack to SFO, for most of the day. Before the BART extension, going from Millbrae station to SFO used to be a free, quick, and reliable shuttle ride. They turned it into such a time-wasting mess that it is a disincentive to ride Caltrain. But of course that suits BART just fine, because they can't make money dedicating trains to shuttling passengers from Millbrae to SFO, but they can make money by being a monopoly provider of train access between SFO and SF. If the two systems were governed by a single agency, I think they would make rational decisions like connecting BART and Millbrae at San Bruno. It is BART's priorities, not just its tracks, that are misaligned with other systems.

Submission + - Harvard Prof. Says Cure for Aging is 5-6 Years Away ( 1

trbdavies writes: Reporting from the CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) gene-editing summit in d.c., the Washington Post quotes Harvard genetics professor George Church as expressing "confidence that in just five or six years he will be able to reverse the aging process in human beings." He says: “A scenario is, everyone takes gene therapy — not just curing rare diseases like cystic fibrosis, but diseases that everyone has, like aging,” CISPR is a powerful technology, but many at the summit have expressed caution about both the ethics and the feasibility of using it to cure disease. The story quotes Klaus Rajewsky, of the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine saying “We have become masters in the art of manipulating genes, but our understanding of their function and interaction is far more limited.”

Submission + - In SF: An App for Auctioning Off Your Public Parking Spot (

trbdavies writes: "Only in San Francisco" used to refer to issues like whether public nudity should be restricted to certain hours of the day. Now I hear it most often in connection with the interplay between the city and tech companies. SF Weekly reports on one such development: "Anyone who's visited San Francisco for 35 minutes knows that easy parking is a rare find. Enter Paolo Dobrowolny, an Italian tech bro who decided San Francisco was the perfect spot to test out his new experiment. Here's how it works: You find a parking spot, revel a little, let Monkey Parking know where you're located, and watch the bidding begin. Finally, give your spot to the wealthiest victim willing to pay the highest price for your spot. Drive away that much richer. "

Submission + - Brazil announces plans to move away from US-Centric Internet (

trbdavies writes: Associated Press reports: "President Dilma Rousseff ordered a series of measures aimed at greater Brazilian online independence and security following revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency intercepted her communications, hacked into the state-owned Petrobras oil company’s network and spied on Brazilians who entrusted their personal data to U.S. tech companies such as Facebook and Google. The leader is so angered by the espionage that on Tuesday she postponed next month’s scheduled trip to Washington, where she was to be honored with a state dinner." Among Brazil's plans are a domestic encrypted email service, laying its own fiber optic cable to Europe, requiring services like Facebook and Google to store data generated by Brazilians on servers located in Brazil, and pushing for "international rules on privacy and security in hardware and software during the U.N. General Assembly meeting later this month."

Submission + - Stanford-NYU Report: Drone Attacks Illegal, Counterproductive (

trbdavies writes: "In "Living Under Drones" (, investigators from Stanford and NYU Law Schools report on interviews with 130 people in Pakistan about U.S.-led drone attacks there, including 69 survivors and family members of victims. The report affirms Bureau of Investigative Journalism numbers that count "474 to 884 civilian deaths since 2004, including 176 children" while "only about 2% of drone casualties are top militant leaders" (,0,5793737.story). It also argues that the attacks violate international law and are counterproductive, stating: "Evidence suggests that US strikes have facilitated recruitment to violent non-state armed groups, and motivated further violent attacks One major study shows that 74% of Pakistanis now consider the US an enemy" ("

Submission + - PayPal cuts off Wikileaks (

lothos writes: PayPal has released a statement on their blog: “PayPal has permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity. We’ve notified the account holder of this action.”

This move comes right on the heels of Amazon cutting off hosting for and terminating DNS services for


Biometric Face Recognition At Your Local Mall 120

dippityfisch writes "The Sydney Morning Herald reports that face recognition is being considered at Westfield's Sydney mall to catch offenders. The identification system matches images captured by surveillance cameras to an existing database of faces. Police said they could not comment on the center's intentions, but would welcome any move to improve security and technology in the area."

Submission + - Facebook's New Privacy Changes: The Good, The Bad. (

Alt-F2 writes: Every Facebook user should be aware of the analysis made by EFF about the Facebook's New Privacy Changes;
"EFF took a close look at the changes to figure out which ones are for the better — and which ones are for the worse.

Our conclusion? These new "privacy" changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before. Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data.

Not to say that many of the changes aren't good for privacy. But other changes are bad, while a few are just plain ugly."

Submission + - How can we bring back wifi sharing? (

trbdavies writes: Last Saturday evening, standing on the corner of 24th and Church in san fran, my Nokia N810 found about 20 wifi signals, all but one of them locked down. And the unlocked one wouldn't validate. Earlier in this decade, there would have been fewer routers on that corner, but there would have been a few open ones. Others have complained about the disappearance of free wifi at cafes and the like. pushes back against this trend, but a campaign to bring back free wifi needs more than a website. How about t-shirts, stickers, and window signs?

Submission + - IBM's newest mainframe is all Linux (

dcblogs writes: IBM has released a new mainframe server that doesn't include its z/OS operating system. This Enterprise Linux Server line supports supports Red Hat or Suse. The system is packaged with mainframe management and virtualization tools. Its minimum processor configuration are two specialty mainframe processors designed for Linux. IBM wants to go after large multicore x86 Linux servers and believes the $212,000 entry price can do it.

Submission + - Buy Local, Act Evil

theodp writes: Slate reports that buying local vegetables and organic products may turn you into a heartless jerk. University of Toronto researchers found that virtuous shopping can actually lead to immoral behavior. In their study, subjects who made simulated eco-friendly purchases ended up less likely to exhibit altruism in a laboratory game and more likely to cheat and steal. The findings add to a growing body of research into a phenomenon known among social psychologists as "moral credentials" or "moral licensing." When people have the chance to demonstrate their goodness, even in the most token of ways, they then feel free to relax their ethical standards in other areas. For example, researchers at Northwestern reported that subjects who wrote self-flattering stories later pledged to give less money to charity than others. And in another recent study, participants who recalled their own righteous deeds were less inclined to donate blood, volunteer, or engage in other "prosocial" acts. They were also more likely to cheat on a math assignment. Elsewhere on Slate, Al Gore rebuffed criticism of his green technology investments as he discussed how he hopes his new book will help people find solutions to the problem of global warming (sorry, couldn't resist!).

Submission + - License for textbooks - GNU or CC? 2

An anonymous reader writes: I'm a college professor who is putting together an open-source textbook. I'm trying to decide between using the GNU Free Documentation License or the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. I don't really understand the difference
between these, though it seems with the Free Documentation License I need to include a copy of the license in my text.

Which do you advise using?

Comment Re:Too costly (Score 1) 322

I just got a nearly new version of the predecessor of the N900 - the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet - for $140 on EBay. Prices should be coming down even more. It's not a phone, but runs Maemo, gives you root (with a simple download), and has bluetooth, Skype over wifi, and a USB port, so there are multiple ways to turn it into a phone through a data plan (with USB cellular modems and routers, for example). And it's a GPS device to boot. There really is some wonderful technology out there if you know where to look and don't buy hyped up but locked down "smart" phones.

Submission + - Cnet: "iPhone is worst phone in the world" (

An anonymous reader writes: Cnet has claimed Apple's iPhone is the worst phone in the world, for several reasons. From the article: "The iPhone may be the greatest handheld surfing device ever to rock the mobile Web, and a fabulous media player to boot. It may be the highest-rated mobile phone on CNET UK, but as an actual call-making phone, it's rubbish, and we aim to prove it." And so follows 1,500 words aiming to explain why.

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