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Comment Re:Just what we need (Score 2) 107

Uber's whole business plan is based on people using ther own capital (ie. car) to drive customers from point A to point B for a low fee of which Ubse gets a cut without having to spend anything on maintenance and repair, - without Uber having to spend capital on buying, or committing to fixed cost leasing of vehicles.

Unless everyone starts buying flying cars, they will have to majorly restructure their business. Same goes for them having fleets of self driving cars. They lose their greatest business advantage - the lack of need to tie capital up in depreciating assets.

Comment Re:one in every home? (Score 1) 228

If the process is 60% efficient, there is instantly 40% loss even before you load the product onto a truck - let alone drive it anywhere.
If used in a heat engine then it's likely to only be about 40% efficient in the energy use there so if used to power cars, there's a total energy efficiency of 24%, and that's if you filled up your car right at the point where the stuff is made without having to deliver the fuel anywhere in a truck - compared to storing the power in a battery where the powerpoint to wheel efficiency for say, a Tesla is about 70%https://matter2energy.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/wells-to-wheels-electric-car-efficiency/
Still a worthwhile technology pursuing though - especially if efficiency can be improved further - and congrats to the team for such a breakthrough.

Comment Re:So what? (Score 2) 370

It's just like what I say about calculus: it's important to understand the basic concepts of integration and differentiation but you are NEVER going to solve integral or differential equations in real life

Actually I have solved differential equations to replace code that was using numerial methods to calculate some stuff. Tee end result was code that ran a lot faster and gave a much more precise solution. It took a couple of pages of maths, and because I am not very good at maths it took me a while, but it was worth the effort.
I have also had to use the good old quadratic equation to solve equatiosn that were calculating acceleration or deceleration, and plugged in the resulting formulas to replace code that was using numerical routines to solve these as part of a robot path planner. In the original code the previous guy had at least left clear comments saying what the code was trying to achieve, and a note in the comments to say something along the lines of plugging in a better solution at some point in the future

This highlights both the advantage of good commenting practice, which made it easy for later programmers to see where improvements could be made, and the importance of being able to apply this kind of maths to problems instead of just going to the numerical toolbox.

Comment Re:Umm (Score 1) 203

A lot of villages got wiped out in WW1 - and I don't think the world would have known about every single one that got smashed.
As for the world being a better place - well I am definitely glad I was born into this century where the loss of 1000 soldiers is almost instantly in the news, considered a major catastrophe and would cause much soul searching by the population back home about whether the cost was worth it - compared to the hundreds of thousands that were pushed into the meat grinders of WW1, with the press keeping silent about the true scale of casualties.

Comment Re:Anything for work (Score 1) 239

I'll add extra intermediate variables, break up lines to make them as short as possible, and use extra verbose variable names along with explanatory comments of the logic of each object/function.

All great practice. These days I make sure I put enough doxygen style comments in the headers so that others (and myself in a few years time) can just browse through the doxygen generated documentation and be able to understand the purpose and function of the code.
For very maths oriented functions (say calculating the minimum time needed to decelerate something within velocity and acceleration limits) I might also include a few lines of comments that show the derivation of the formulas from the more commonly seen physics equations.

For something that is doing a lot of geometric manipulations using a lot of linear algebra operations, likewise there's usually a line or two of comments saying what it's trying to achieve - it gives me or others a chance to later look at what the code is supposed to be doing and evaluate if there's a better way to achieve the same goal.

Correct comments are just as important as code - and frankly, I type pretty fast so they really take next to no time to put in. I never did understand the obsession some people have in trying to cram as much logic into as few statements as possible - makes for less code to type, but the time it takes to type it is not the main reason programs take time to develop and debug.

Comment Re: What I want to know is (Score 1) 64

I still use LinkedIn in - but probably like every other product Microsoft has bought, it's going to either become more annoying or less functional.
I used to use hotmail - then Microsoft bought it. I ended up migrating to yahoo.
I have use skype on Linux for many years, but the product took a turn for the worse after Microsoft bought it - very very infrequent updates (for Linux) and now instead of being able to receive PDF's directly, I am being forced to go to the online version to download and view them.
I hope they don't screw linked in up too - makes me wonder about its viability as a professional networking tool.
I particularly feel sorry for any Microsoft employees that use it - now their employer will know every detail about if they are looking at other companies, recruiting agents, etc - even if they are only using it from home on their own computers.

Comment Re:Hater's Gonna Hate... (Score 1) 162

At least he is spending his money, which means it gets cycled through the economy employing other people. It would be much worse if he just hoarded it in some hidden offshore account like so many apparently do to avoid paying tax.

When you have big piles of money sitting in offshore accounts, not only has the tax been dodged (oh sorry I mean legally minimised), it is also a drain on the economy because the money has been effectively taken out of circulation instead of being either reinvested in a business which employs people or spend on goods and services which also employs people.

Comment Re: Panic in the (facebook) city (Score 2) 189

Facebook is great if you're a marketer. They are a data/ad company, not a social network.

No its not - I have a web based business that has thousands of likes for our products on the facebook page but even during the period when we were getting the most likes, they never translated into actual sales or noticeably extra visits to our website.

In my case, I saw a very low conversion rate between between likes and resulting extra traffic - let alone actual sales.

Comment Re:Star Trek (Score 1) 515

My first exposure to hexadicimal was hacking my Ultima ][ save file on an Apple //e to max my character's stats.
I learned soon after that it's fun for about 30 minutes and after than you have basically ruined the game, so never did it again. That game also made me interested in programming, which is what made me end up learning applesoft basic and 6502 assembler, though at the age of 13 I never did get good enough at it to make much of a game. My physics knowledge was lacking and some of the things I learned while programming in basic also caused me an embarrassing moment in maths class when we started learning algebra - I thought you could assume all variables in a maths equation are defined as 0 unless stated otherwise, 'cause that's how it worked in basic...

Comment Re:If we had flying cars... (Score 1) 951

The problem with the argument is that although life might seem like a wonderful adventure from Mr Musks point of view, a game or simulation that would be interesting to play, and experience, there are plenty of others who experience a much less fun 'game' experience - and wouldn't sign up for it in the first place.

If this is a simulation, and we assume that the rate of growth in computing power within the simulation is a reasonable model of growth in computing power outside the simulation that has allowed such a simulation to exist (as Mr Musk has done) , then we must also apply that same rate of progress to other things in the simulation - such as the rise in animal rights, consumer protection laws, and increasingly, the protection of non-human animals through organizations such as PETA.
Litigation has also similarly grown over the last 100 years or so.

If we are all really unknowing or unwilling users of a simulation, then the consumer protection laws should have also grown in a similar way to how technology has - and would be strong enough to severely punish any organization that subjected its users to the crappy life experience that many have in this simulation.
On the other hand, if we are all virtual constructs with no corresponding outside user controlling us, then the external equivalent of PETA for AI would surely also have grown in power too, and outlaw all the horrible things that happen to people in this virtual world.

Ergo, if we are all in a simulation, then the organization responsible must be about to go bust because it's got to have a galactic size lawsuit brewing over all the injustices that occur within it, and would thus wipe out any such simulation like this - therefore we must be living in the real world.


Comment Re:Meh... (Score 1) 130

It's bad that companies like Microsoft are able to avoid paying tax by keeping all their earnings off shore.
What's even worse though, is that the money is just sitting in hidden bank accounts instead of being reinvested in the economy - all that money is basically just sitting in a black hole, not employing anyone, not being used to develop new technologies, and basically just a massive drain on the economy.
Even if they just spent it all on blow and hookers, the money would at least have a chance of being recirculated and reinvested eventually, employing a lot of people - some of who might also actually pay tax.
No one should be able to sit on a massive pile of money like that, without reinvesting it in something that produces goods and services - neither companies nor individuals - because it has such a slowing effect on the economy.

Comment Re:Paranoia strikes deep (Score 5, Insightful) 512

What if the guy was actually writing Arabic - why should this be any indication of him being a terrorist?
How is that any different from him writing in Chinese, German, Japanese, or even just bad handwriting that is not immediately legible by his neighbouring passenger?

That's the real story here. Merely writing anything should never be considered a terrorist threat unless it is actually making a threat in a language that can be understood by the reader - if you can't understand it then it's clearly not a threat. (Stories about Bob should not count either)

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