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Uber Pushing For Patent On Surge Pricing

Chirs read more carefully (187 comments)

*That particular" machine would charge less because they wanted to promote that beverage.

However, Coke was also looking at machines that would charge more when it was hot out. See http://www.nytimes.com/1999/10... for one example.

4 days ago
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Top Five Theaters Won't Show "The Interview" Sony Cancels Release

Chirs There is a difference. (586 comments)

A "real and present threat" on a specific mall is a very different thing from a random threat.

There are 5300 movie theaters in the USA. If half of them show the movie, that's 2650 showings. If the terrorists attack *ten* showings (likely an overestimate), that's still less than half a percent chance of being impacted.

I'd take those odds.

The alternative is that random groups start making threats against everything they don't like while carrying through on just enough of them to keep people scared, and the population lives in fear.

about two weeks ago
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Economists Say Newest AI Technology Destroys More Jobs Than It Creates

Chirs I question your numbers. (679 comments)

Taking your "2 weeks" literally, currently according to Google you could fly American leaving Dec 31 and returning Jan 7 for $250.

If you drive, its 1140 miles each way. At roughly 60 cents/mile operating costs, that's $1370 in fuel and wear-and-tear on a typical vehicle, plus about 36hrs of driving time.

about two weeks ago
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Economists Say Newest AI Technology Destroys More Jobs Than It Creates

Chirs no-fault isn't the problem (679 comments)

Around here we have mostly no-fault for the purposes of insurance payout (so you don't have to sue to get reimbursed) , but if you're considered to be at fault then your insurance costs go up. So stupid drivers do end up paying a penalty for their behaviour. And if you have too many incidents you can get your license pulled.

about two weeks ago
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Economists Say Newest AI Technology Destroys More Jobs Than It Creates

Chirs it's amazing how cheaply you can live (679 comments)

If we really wanted to, I bet you and I could live on a quarter of our incomes.

The reason why people come from other countries to work in places like England/Canada/USA for not-great wages are that they *don't plan on staying here forever*. So they can come, work for ten years while saving every penny they can, then go back home and retire.

I lived in Africa for a few years. The average annual income where I lived was $200 USD. Take a typical first-world retirement savings and you could live reasonably well in a third-world country. But you'd have to be prepared to give up a lot of what you're used to.

about two weeks ago
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Researchers Accidentally Discover How To Turn Off Skin Aging Gene

Chirs not quite (175 comments)

We gain and lose traits when they affect our ability to reproduce... and at no other time.

This isn't quite accurate. We can gain/lose traits randomly and if they don't impede our ability to reproduce they could get passed on. Also, some traits are genetically linked to more desirable traits, so they get dragged along by the other traits even if they're not necessarily desirable in and of themselves.

about two weeks ago
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The GPLv2 Goes To Court

Chirs might not be as good as you think (173 comments)

I take it you've never seen people arguing about what exactly the C standard means about how "volatile" should behave, or whether the defined memory model is sufficient to reason formally about visibility of variables given specific types of assembly operations, or what optimizations a compiler can legally make (as opposed to what optimizations it would actually make *sense* for it to make).

Even a reasonably-well-defined language like C can still end up in the weeds once you start looking at edge cases...

about two weeks ago
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Canada Waives Own Rules, Helps Microsoft Avoid US Visa Problems

Chirs Rather not have a union, thanks (122 comments)

Maybe a professional organization, like the Engineers have here in Canada.

I had friends working for a union building pipelines. It was all about seniority, not skill. My mom worked as part of a union, and they didn't represent her interests. My friend worked for a union and they made here go on strike due to issues that some other people in a totally different job had on the other side of the country.

Meanwhile I've worked for three different companies over the past decade and a half, I've gotten along with every manager I've ever had, I've been reasonably happy with my work, I've gotten more money than I ever expected. I don't see how being part of a union would have helped.

I respect that unions can do good things, but they have issues as well.

about two weeks ago
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Seagate Bulks Up With New 8 Terabyte 'Archive' Hard Drive

Chirs Not the only difference. (219 comments)

Drives intended to go in RAID arrays have different firmware and handle errors differently.

They may also get different testing. I worked for a telecom equipment vendor and there were specific drives that had been tested for behaviour under high/low temperatures, high/low humidity, vibration, etc.

If you're a big enough company then drive manufacturers will actually work with you to resolve drive firmware issues and/or answer questions about specific behaviours on their enterprise drives.

Lastly, at least in the SSD space at least some of the "Enterprise" drives have much better handling of power outages, with sufficient capacitors to handle writing out data.

It's not always worth buying "enterprise", but sometimes it makes sense.

about two weeks ago
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Why Elon Musk's Batteries Frighten Electric Companies

Chirs you're missing the technical issues (461 comments)

Just randomly connecting to the grid and backfeeding power causes real problems (i.e. your generator electronics get fried, you can electrocute the guy trying to fix a power outage, etc.). You need special equipment to make sure there are no phase mismatches, it needs to detach itself from the grid if the grid-side drops in a power outage, and you need a new meter.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Electronics-Induced Inattentiveness?

Chirs electronics can be a cause (312 comments)

Smartphone apps are intentionally designed to grab your attention. The human brain actually triggers the reward center each time you get a new text, or email, or social media message. The more you do those things the more your brain is trained to react instantly to a new event, thus breaking your concentration on whatever you were doing.

If you want to really focus on something, it's probably best to disable your notifications so that only emergency events get through. (Or even turn the thing off completely if you can.)

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Electronics-Induced Inattentiveness?

Chirs Concentration is like a muscle... (312 comments)

If you don't actually concentrate on doing things for extended periods of time, you're going to lose your ability to do it.

So when you have some spare time instead of flipping through slashdot or reddit why not try actually doing something for an extended period of time? Read a book, do a hobby, go for a walk, take a bike ride for fun, go to a coffee shop and casually read a big newspaper, do the crossword puzzle. I read a lot of novels and do some woodworking on the side. A quiet evening in the shop with hand tools and the radio in the background is a great way to decompress.

about three weeks ago
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UK Announces 'Google Tax'

Chirs There is no single "fair" value. (602 comments)

How much is "fair" depends on the culture the company and government are operating in.

You could have a libertarian society with minimal government involvement and minimal taxation, but where every individual has to pay for everything they do. (Roads, fire protection, ambulance, medical, police, education, utilities, garbage collection, etc.)

On the other hand, you could have a more socialist society with high taxation and high government involvement, but where most of the services are paid for by the government.

Both are viable solutions, with different tradeoffs.

about three weeks ago
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UK Announces 'Google Tax'

Chirs Why not abolish corporate taxes entirely? (602 comments)

The basic idea is that a corporation is nothing but a bunch of people owning it, so instead of taxing the corporation you shift the tax to the individual owners (owners, shareholders, etc.) instead. Since corporations wouldn't be paying taxes, you could then get rid of all of the tax breaks/writeoffs for corporations, which would significantly simplify corporate accounting and reduce the incentive for large corporations to shift money around to avoid tax.

about three weeks ago
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Practical Magnetic Levitating Transmission Gear System Loses Its Teeth

Chirs Still need transmission in cars (103 comments)

Just like IC motors, electric motors do not provide constant power/torque across their whole speed range. There's a reason why cordless drills often have two or three speed transmissions.

A typical universal motor generates max torque just before it stalls, and relatively little torque at high speed. This is great for fast acceleration from a standstill, not so much for trying to hit maximum speed with just a single-speed gearbox.

about three weeks ago
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UK Announces 'Google Tax'

Chirs Get rid of corporate taxes totally (602 comments)

I know it sounds crazy at first blush, but I think it would make sense to totally get rid of corporate taxes. (Replaced by other forms of taxation.)

The basic idea is that a corporation is nothing but a bunch of people owning it, so instead of taxing the corporation you tax the individual owners (owners, shareholders, etc.) instead. Since corporations wouldn't be paying taxes, you could then get rid of all of the tax breaks/writeoffs for corporations, which would significantly simplify corporate accounting and reduce the incentive for large corporations to shift money around to avoid tax.

Some references:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/...
http://www.theatlantic.com/bus...
http://www.vox.com/2014/8/8/59...

about three weeks ago
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James Watson's Nobel Prize Goes On Auction This Week

Chirs there are lots of cultural reasons (355 comments)

I lived in what is now the "Democratic Republic of the Congo" for three years, so I have at least personal anecdotal knowledge.

1) Relatively recent colonial history means that there was no native bureaucracy able to run the countries when the colonial powers left.
2) Dictators took over, and most dictators don't really want to make the country better, instead they just want power and money.
3) History of tribal politics means that when someone takes power they give rewards to their tribe at the cost of the other tribes.
4) Lack of national-level control means that it's difficult to exploit the natural resources.
5) Lack of government responsibility means that when countries do exploit the national resources very little of the money ends up in the hands of the workers (or the country).
6) Lack of government funding for educational facilities means that there is a continuing shortage of qualified local skilled labour. (It was quite common for teachers to charge students a fee to write finals, since the teachers got very little salary.)

about three weeks ago
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Black Friday '14: E-commerce Pages Far Slower Than They Were in 2013

Chirs problem isn't with the dev machines (143 comments)

Those developers may very will need those fancy machines.

But whoever is doing usability testing should be testing on fast machines, slow machines, new machines, old machines, mobile devices, etc. If they're not, then they aren't doing the job properly.

about a month ago
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Eizo Debuts Monitor With 1:1 Aspect Ratio

Chirs Linux kernel is mostly 80-column (330 comments)

It is arguably easier to read code that can fit in 80 columns. That way I don't have to scan side-to-side as much, and I can fit multiple editor windows side-by-side simultaneously.

about a month ago

Submissions

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skydiver to attemp record jump from 131,000 feet

Chirs Chirs writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Chirs (87576) writes "Former 64-yr old french paratrooper Michel Fournier is attempting to break multiple world records by jumping out of a helium balloon at 40 kilometers (131,000 feet) altitude. They anticipate that he will break the sound barrier on the way down, taking 15 minutes to fall and reaching speed of over 1500km/hr.

The big concern at the moment is the wind. Anything over 10km/hr will cause problems getting the massive balloon inflated. The previous attempt failed when the baloon was destroyed by wind while still on the ground.

Some links: CNN Canadian Press Canada.com"

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