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The Documents From Google's First DMV Test In Nevada

Brianwa Re:Who would have thought (194 comments)

I do it all the time, certain parts of America have roundabouts that are impossible to navigate without stopping to back up multiple times in a vehicle that's slightly above average length. If you have to go left it's safer and easier (and, oddly enough, often legal) to just go left.

We also have roundabouts with stop signs at some of the entrances, "roundabouts" that are legally regular intersections where oncoming traffic does NOT yield, and roundabouts shaped such that people going one direction can cruise through at very high speeds and others can't see far enough to know if they should yield or not until it's too late.

about a week ago

Anomaly Triggers Self-Destruct For SpaceX Falcon 9 Test Flight

Brianwa Re:So it works then? (113 comments)

There is a (somewhat disturbing) video of such a failure in China in the 90's. Apparently the "official" death toll was 6 but rumors range as high as 900 fatalities.

about three weeks ago

Did the Ignition Key Just Die?

Brianwa Re:Help! Help! (865 comments)

I don't think ABS will work in most cars when the engine is turned off. In my car, if you turn the engine off and then move the switch back to "on" without starting it, the ABS light comes on to indicate that the system is disabled.

Also, power braking is a moot point if you're stuck at WOT, since the engine isn't really making a useful amount of vacuum in that situation.

about 4 months ago

If Ridesharing Is Banned, What About Ride-Trading?

Brianwa Re:are you kidding? (353 comments)

We're talking about the city that can afford to close off streets for bus parking for a college football game but will happily maintain their regular weekend schedule "one bus every two hours" on New Year's Eve.

about 6 months ago

If Ridesharing Is Banned, What About Ride-Trading?

Brianwa Re:Free market (353 comments)

The constraints on taxis in Seattle are garbage. New taxis must be hybrids. Older ones are an impressively ancient fleet of ex-police crown vics converted to run on propane. They're a fucking minority on the street, they could all be 60's muscle cars tuned so rich they can barely turn over and there wouldn't be a measurable difference in air quality in the city. The number of taxi licenses is barely enough to sorta kinda cover an average Saturday night. If there's a big event of any kind (and there's plenty of those), you'll be left waiting in the cold without a ride. If there's a hint of snow on the ground, you'll be left waiting in the cold without a ride. Most of the taxi services operate outside of the rules anyway -- for example, the big "for hire" service that pretends like you have to call in for a ride ahead of time so they're not technically a taxi service but will always pick you up on the street anyway. On the rare occasion they post a picture of the licensed driver, it only sometimes matches the driver you get. They all refuse to take the cheapest route unless you direct them at every turn (and the "for hire" service will quote you a price double their own farebook unless you negotiate in advance).

I regularly have a better taxi experience even as a white guy in 3rd world countries. If the city tried even a tiny bit to use regulation on taxis to help the city, I would stand behind them 100%. As it is, I don't consider the taxi laws in Seattle reasonable or valid until they're put to a legitimate vote by the people.

about 6 months ago

Tesla Model S Gets Titanium Underbody Shield, Aluminum Deflector Plates

Brianwa Re:sky should be the limit... (314 comments)

Interesting. The rules change way faster than I bother to keep up with so I wouldn't be surprised.

about 6 months ago

Tesla Model S Gets Titanium Underbody Shield, Aluminum Deflector Plates

Brianwa Re:sky should be the limit... (314 comments)

Yes, "toughness" is a technical term that refers to how much a material can yield before it breaks. In that sense, carbon fiber is not considered to be tough at all.

Crash structures that use CF normally depend on it's tendency to shatter violently at failure. If you watch any recent F1 crash that damages the monocoque, you'll see an explosion of debris -- this is by design. Done right, you can use up some of the crash energy as kinetic energy in the debris. Unfortunately, this is extremely difficult to design and test. It's also more or less a one-time use thing, I would worry that day to day bumps and scratches that happen on road vehicles might reduce the effectiveness of the structure.

The undercarriages of F1 cars are a little different, they generally have an aerodynamic undertray protected by a layer of kevlar (or similar material). This is good at reducing damage from occasional contact with the road surface and minor debris, but it depends on the undertray's ability to flex at impact and has to be replaced fairly often.

about 6 months ago

Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration

Brianwa Re:Go Amish? (664 comments)

There is generally a one-way valve that maintains brake booster vacuum when the throttle is open, but it's something that can fail and you won't notice it until you need it. It's worse when it happens in a turbo'd car, the turbo spools up and you find yourself with a rock solid brake pedal that stays that way for a few seconds even if you turn the engine off

about 7 months ago

Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration

Brianwa Re:Go Amish? (664 comments)

Cars did have this a long time ago. School buses had it up through the 90's at least, and firetrucks will probably always have a kill switch due to the potential of taking in combustible stuff through the intake.

Honestly I'm fine with using a key, it's good UI design to have an e-stop system that the user can operate without doing anything special or unusual. The only real danger is how easy it is to accidentally engage the steering column lock at the same time (or overly aggressive anti-theft systems that kick in and leave you dead in the water with no exterior lights...)

However I really don't like the new keyless systems, if I hit something and there are flames pouring out of the engine compartment and I can't get out, I'd much rather physically cut power to the fuel pump (and disable HV on a hybrid) than hold down a button I've never used before for a few seconds to send a request to a likely damaged controller to pretty please start the shutdown sequence.

about 7 months ago

How loud is your primary computer?

Brianwa Re:multiple choice (371 comments)

Honestly I prefer a little bit of white noise from fan turbulence over quiet electrical noise, without something to drown out the PWM noise I'll occasionally wake up in the middle of the night thinking I have a failing capacitor.

Perhaps that's a sign that I've spent too much of my life messing with electronics.

about 8 months ago

WRT trans fats, the FDA should ...

Brianwa Re:Death zone (376 comments)

A tall cappuccino is two shots of espresso plus maybe a quarter cup of skim milk that's been frothed into a foam. I think the espresso is the habit forming part...

about 10 months ago

Atlanta Man Shatters Coast-to-Coast Driving Record, Averaging 98MPH

Brianwa Re:yeah, thanks (666 comments)

Supposedly when my grandad got a 3-day weekend, he would "visit" Texas -- starting in Seattle, passing through California for the heck of it, and making it home in time for work. He had a massive Cadillac that got 13mpg at any speed, so he'd set cruise control for 110 and drive until he had to pull over and take a nap.

I don't know how much of the story is true, but I guess roads were way more open back in the 70's, gas was cheaper, and we have pictures of the Cadillac...

about a year ago

Silk Road Shut Down, Founder Arrested, $3.6 Million Worth of Bitcoin Seized

Brianwa Re:Tor compromised (620 comments)

Yesterday I installed the latest version of Skype on my laptop. It turned on my webcam, took my picture, and tried to set it as the profile image for my Skype account.

Of course, it's crazy to expect to be pseudonymous on skype but that was still a little unsettling.

about a year ago

USB "Condom" Allows You To Practice Safe Charging

Brianwa Re:*yawn* these have around for years? (208 comments)

There are also a number of devices that will not show the "charging" icon but actually will charge when plugged into a charger it doesn't recognize. Normally at a reduced rate though.

1 year,2 days

Barnes & Noble Won't Give Up On the Nook

Brianwa Re:What is it about the Nook? (132 comments)

Yeah, the Nook lineup seems to a be a lot more open than the Kindle. You can also root most (all?) Nooks if you want to. I have a simple touch and really enjoy it.

1 year,25 days

My SSID Is...

Brianwa Re:linksys (458 comments)

You can tell pretty easily from the MAC address, which is broadcasted in the clear even on an encrypted network. You *can* change that on most routers, but most people have no reason to.

about a year ago

My SSID Is...

Brianwa linksys (458 comments)

Mine was "linksys" for a long time -- not actually the default on my router but it was an open network and I figured most people's computers would already be configured to automatically connect to it.

Now I live in a denser city, everyone secures their networks here and if you don't you'll be hammered with torrent traffic all day.

about a year ago

Google Floats Balloons For Free Wi-Fi

Brianwa Re:Tech specs (115 comments)

No, your laptop by itself couldn't, but the protocol is certainly capable of handling the distance if you tweak the timeout settings and have a powerful radio and a good antenna setup.

They probably wouldn't actually use wifi though, some of the cellphone-based standards are more suitable for this type of system.

To use this you would probably need an antenna and modem set up on your house, much like satellite Internet. It would still be a challenge though, I've streamed data off a balloon before and we were tracking it manually with a high gain antenna and used extremely slow data rates. They're going to be limited to solar power too, which limits their radio output power a lot.

about a year ago

Judge Orders Child Porn Suspect To Decrypt His Hard Drives

Brianwa Re:What kind of encryption did the FBI break? (802 comments)

Most encrypted .zip files do not encrypt the file names. I wouldn't be surprised if at one point it was the most commonly used encryption scheme. So yeah, that problem is definitely out there.

about a year ago


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