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Comment Re:So in other words it's used and is useful (Score 1) 248

It stored the maximum altitude as compared to the base we set. We weren't concerned with anything else. After recording the altitude we reset it for the next launch. The only measurement we got that seemed really bogus was when the nose cone came off and it fell out of payload section several hundred feet on to solid ice, - a frozen lake.

It wasn't heavy and the little LiPo battery pack probably provided some air resistance to slow it down so it wasn't damaged much. Nothing a little hot glue couldn't fix.

Comment Re:So in other words it's used and is useful (Score 1) 248

I've run marathons and most recently triathlons. Sure, you may prefer not to use a phone and that is totally up to you. But a lot of people run and bike with phones. I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the value of what a smartphone can provide vs something like a low-end Garmin.

As far as comfort goes, people will bike with a phone in a jersey pocket or mounted to the stem/handlebars. Most folks I see running with a phone use an arm strap. Personally I wouldn't want to run 26 miles with one on my arm but for short training runs I find it incredibly useful, - more so than a simple GPS. When it comes to elevation changes, well, they are a big deal on a bike.

Comment Re:So in other words it's used and is useful (Score 1) 248

Not to monitor your body, - to monitor what you do. Mileage, elevation change, pace, pace this mile compared to last mile, pace compared to your personal best on that segment, pace compare to others who have done the same route. If you're a runner, cyclist, etc, these apps are a great training aid but those that rely solely on GPS to track elevation changes don't do it very accurately.

Comment Re:Barometer? (Score 1) 248

Sure, if you're climbing a set of stairs that leads you through the front door of an over-pressurized building it might lead to some inaccuracies. But the phone could correlate the pressure readings with GPS to determine that one or the other is giving a bogus reading. It's certainly better than relying on GPS alone, which is what a lot of current fitness apps do.

A few years ago I put together a tiny altimeter using a temperature/pressure sensor following a plan on "Instructables". You had to set the base altitude for it to work and there were some other calibration that could be done. It could easily measure changes while I was climbing stairs. I'm tempted to turn on the bathroom fan right next to the stairs to see how much of an effect it has. I bet almost none.

Comment Re:And this was needed because? (Score 1) 248

Fitness Apps, - cycling, running, etc.

There are tons of them for mobile phones. They do things like tell you have far you've ridden, what you're average speed is/was, if your pace was faster or slower than the last mile or the last time you did it, or how it compared to the best time anybody has recorded on that route. AND they record elevation changes because those make a big difference. The problem is that GPS does it badly.

Since pressure is used in things like altimeters, it's not hard to see why it might be better than GPS at measuring elevation changes. In fact they could combine and compare information between the barometer and GPS to give more accurate results than one or the other.

Comment Re:So in other words it's used and is useful (Score 1) 248

I have no idea what the barometer inside the iPhone is for and it may well have more than one purpose. However I can say that lots of fitness apps use GPS to record elevation changes and they are notoriously bad. I've also used a combination temperature / pressure sensor to measure altitude in model rockets. You have to set the base altitude. It wasn't foolproof but much more reliable than GPS is. I'm sure you could use both to get more accurate results than one or the other.

Pressure changes due to movement of weather systems tend to happen slowly and I would think for the purpose of measuring elevation changes wouldn't be much of a factor unless you're in the middle of a tornado or hurricane.

Airplanes, skydivers, and hikers have all used altimeters that relied on pressure changes.

Comment Re:Sucks to be her I guess (Score 3, Insightful) 412

One of our neighbors' daughters graduated from high school this year. She and her sister used to hang out with my two kids when they were much younger. They'd stage and record these "shows" using a camcorder. It was tame and goofy stuff. So before her graduation party I posted a couple of them on youtube and shared the link with my neighbor. I marked it as private.

I reassured the mom that it wasn't public. She didn't care, - but the kids sure did. They were mortified at the thought that their friends might find it. Teenagers are VERY image conscious. Even though they'll post the dumbest stuff on youtube, snapchat, and instagram, - things that they'll find much more embarrassing a decade from now, they want to control their image. I get that.

There is no doubt in my mind that childhood pictures could be a source of ridicule for a teen. At the same time, I doubt their friends' or enemies' opinions about them are influenced one way or the other by naked baby pictures. As a teen it's hard to see that though and I think the parents need a little more empathy in this case. It's idiotic that something like this requires intervention by a court to resolve but I blame the parents both for being stupid about it and for raising a kid that would file a lawsuit over it.

Comment Re:Another way to look at this is.. (Score 1) 400

The industrial revolution created a boatload of jobs that required very little skill. And with the rise in unionization, eventually these jobs actually paid pretty well leading to the creation of a substantial middle class and a large population of consumers who could afford the stuff that was being produced. A high school level education was more than enough to qualify somebody for these jobs.

So much of that is no longer true. The number of people in union jobs in the US is shrinking all the time. The new jobs that are being created as a result of new technology either require specialized skills or don't pay squat. A college education is now seen as a must and to get it means taking on substantial debt for a lot of people.

On a radio program over labor day weekend I heard serious talk that the concept of retirement will disappear for most of the work force. It will no longer be possible to save enough. People will be expected to make multiple career changes over their lifetime. For somebody who's young that may not seem like a big deal, but to somebody in their 40's or 50's, raising their own kids, dealing with ageism and the prospect of going back to school, while taking on more debt to prepare for another career is extremely discouraging.

It's a broken system and people are already hurting. Why do you think people like Donald Trump generate so much support? It is because vast swaths of our society that enjoyed relative financial security in the past, no longer do. Why do you think people are suspicious of immigration and trade deals? Because there aren't enough well paying jobs.

Comment Re:Not all developers are the same (Score 1) 241

Like I said, at this point in my career I'm more excited by interesting projects than by working with particular tools, or fighting platform wars for that matter. Hosting a web application on Windows would rarely be my choice all things being equal. But all things are almost never equal. If one can't acknowledge that given a organization's current infrastructure, budget, expertise, time constraints, etc that sometimes Windows is at least a reasonable choice, if not the better one for that situation, then it's not an issue of competence. It's an issue of narrow-mindedness.

Further, there is often good reason to push functionality to the client. For example, the web apps I often work on need to be able to deal with intermittent connectivity and sometimes high latency. For a web application that does almost nothing but display information, server side functionality might be adequate, but that's not the world we're in anymore.

Comment Re:Not all developers are the same (Score 1) 241

Anyone that knows what they are doing and are creating a complex web application will be writing a lot of javascript and maybe some java or C# on the server side.

The competent will choose a language, not just based on personal preference or their skill level, but on what makes sense to use for the task at hand. At this point in my career, it's the project that gets me excited and not working with any particular language. I can be equally happy coding in C, Go, Java, Python, or even javascript. I'm not much of a Windows guy but I ended up thoroughly enjoying myself writing a powershell script about a year ago.

Comment Re:Huh... (Score 2) 157

And if they're in front of, say, a PC or Android tablet instead of their phone? If you want to ensure they get the message, you have to send it over IMessage *and* whatever other platform they use (most likely Skype or AIM). Or, you could skip iMessage and just send it on the other platform, which they'll likely have installed on their PC, tablet, and phone, so they'll get it wherever they are without you having to send it twice. That's precisely the scenario I talked about in my initial post, and it's precisely why my die-hard Apple friends have abandoned iMessage (and Messages on their Macs and iPads) as unreliable.

That's the real problem though isn't it? If I'm going to send a message to somebody, I have no idea what device they're in front of, or if they're near any device at all. I'll use the messages app either on my phone or on my Mac and that message will get to them on their phone (at least) whether it's an iPhone or not. I'm not going to send two messages because SMS is the least (or may be better said "most") common denominator. I'm certainly not going to use Skype unless I know for a fact that they do. Other friends or associates might prefer hangouts. Some of them may have Skype installed on all their devices while others may not. Frankly, I don't want to keep track of that.

Your friends may use something instead of the messages app on their iPhone for long group chats when they know what everyone else is using, but I doubt they've abandoned it for all texting.

Right now there is no universal protocol for messaging, but most people have a phone which is capable of sending and receiving SMS/MMS messages. That is your safest bet, or you could, you know... call them.

And to be clear, one doesn't explicitly choose to use iMessage or not. The built in messaging apps will use iMessage to communicate with other apple devices when they can, but will use something else when they can't. Instead of creating an iMessage for Android, Apple could simply allow the messages app on the iPhone to use an AIM, Yahoo, or Google account like the Messages app on the Mac does. But again, none of of those are universal.

Comment Re:Huh... (Score 2) 157

How is GOOGLE Hangouts not vendor locked? Besides I'd change "Hangouts works everywhere" to "Hangouts works every now and then". We've had a weekly meeting with remote developers for months now and have gone back to just using a speakerphone because of all the issues we had with hangouts.

Comment Re:Huh... (Score 1) 157

Are you thinking of FaceTime? That's the closest Apple equivalent to Skype, not iMessage.

Anyway this can get a little confusing. iPads, iPhones, and Macs all have a "Messages" app that can use iMessage as a protocol to communicate with other Apple devices. Messages on OS X can also use Yahoo, AOL, or Google messaging accounts. Messages on an iPhone can use SMS to send messages in addition to iMessage.

So you could always text somebody on an Android phone from an iPhone using the messages app. If somebody with an iPhone wasn't able to text you on your android phone it could be because that in their contacts they had an email address or something associated with an iCloud account you had and Messages was using that to send the message rather than your phone number.

In the past, someone trying to send an IM to your android phone using messages on OS X wouldn't work. But then a couple of years ago, Apple added a new feature called "SMS relay" to the iPhone that lets it forward messages from OS X over SMS to people on non Apple devices. The catch is that the iPhone has to be on the same wifi network as the mac for that to work.

Comment Re:Errr (Score 2) 412

When you're spending billions of the public's money on a highly visible program, failure puts continued funding in jeopardy. Failure in this case would be loss of life. I think the public can tolerate failure if it follows initial success and there is reason to believe that further attempts would also be successful.

Getting congress to agree to spend any significant money on an actual Mars program is a long shot anyway. If it weren't for fear of the Soviets gaining supremacy in space, there probably wouldn't have been funding for the Apollo program either. If you somehow manage to get funding for a Mars program and that first mission fails, kiss the program goodbye.

Musk can be more cavalier because it's his company's money he's spending.

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