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Comments

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A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect At Fighting Wildfires

JoeMerchant Re:Hmmm .... (112 comments)

Wing exits on the new 737s may still be in and out... I fly enough Southwest sitting in the exit rows, I should know, but the place the people really crush to is the "pilot's doors" - my Aunt was a stewardess for 30 years, she was on a 747 that had tires blowout and they deployed the slides for evacuation - no fire, no belly landing, no biggie, just some flat tires and a decision to use the slides instead of waiting for stairs to arrive... most people kept their cool, but two things were memorable: 1) the passenger wearing a dress, but no underwear who didn't keep her dress down on the ride down - blisters all the way up, and, most people kept their cool, but one guy had to get to the exit faster, he grabbed my Aunt by the hair and removed handfuls of it... she didn't notice until later - lots of adrenaline flowing in both of them at the time.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Becoming a Complacent Software Developer?

JoeMerchant Re:Business (275 comments)

I looked at hiring Objective C programmers in 2006, unless you wanted to go hang at the Apple conventions in San Francisco and troll for new hires - it was pretty hopeless. Sure, we could hire programmers and pay them to learn Objective C, or we could just develop with C++ in Qt and let the trolls port it into Mac-ese for us.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Becoming a Complacent Software Developer?

JoeMerchant Re:Business (275 comments)

Replacement is often not an option... and if you can't displace/replace a bad manager, it's probably time to find a new place.

In my past, I have promoted past bad management, once, but that was unusual and required upper management that a) cared, and b) recognized the situation for what it was.

The more conventional solution is to shop around for another job, then jump when the jumping is good.

about two weeks ago
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The Minecraft Parent

JoeMerchant Re:Yeah, it's creatitive (173 comments)

Reading is overrated - it is an eyesight based function that degrades with age.

http://www.engineersjournal.ie...

There's an insensitive clod / get off my lawn meme in this somewhere, but I can't remember how to execute it.

about two weeks ago
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A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect At Fighting Wildfires

JoeMerchant Re:Hmmm .... (112 comments)

That's on older Boeing jets (the ones named after the noise their tires make when falling off and hitting the tarmac... )

Airbus, and I believe the new Boeings, have outward opening emergency doors - they're heavier, harder to make right, require much more maintenance (look for double, triple, and thicker skins around Airbus doors the next time you board one...) but, if you're ever seated in the exit row when it really hits the fan, you want an outward opening door.

about two weeks ago
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A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect At Fighting Wildfires

JoeMerchant Re:The DC-10 was killed by poor management. (112 comments)

Last DC-10 I flew on had a horrible vibration in the port side engine... not the plane's fault, I blame Delta, and thank my lucky stars that I made it from Miami to Atlanta without something serious happening on the left wing.

about two weeks ago
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A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect At Fighting Wildfires

JoeMerchant Re:Hmmm .... (112 comments)

Inward opening doors just make sense to engineers.

Outward opening doors are the only rational answer when 35 people are pushing toward an exit in a panic.

about two weeks ago
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A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect At Fighting Wildfires

JoeMerchant Re:Hmmm .... (112 comments)

Explosive Decompression [wikipedia.org] sucks in an airplane

No, it actually blows out an airplane - see: the Hawaii effect, metal fatigue. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A...

about two weeks ago
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Digia Spins Off Qt As Subsidiary

JoeMerchant Re:Linux-oriented? (33 comments)

Feed Qt.io, not the trolls.

about two weeks ago
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WSJ Reports Boeing To Beat SpaceX For Manned Taxi To ISS

JoeMerchant Re:well (200 comments)

How about the one that delivers "best" wins - date of delivery is just one aspect to evaluate.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

JoeMerchant Re:You guys are always entertaining! (392 comments)

The dogmatism that I have seen and heard on the job and here on Slashdot makes all of you come across as delusional and self aggrandizing.

LOL, you know, I won't dispute the point. Because I agree with it. It's been true for a very long time, and is widespread.

What I suggest is that being an asshole isn't due to a lack of critical thinking skills, it's a personality defect which can subsequently be overcome. ;-)

I would append that thought with the idea that some of the most, ahem, challenging colleagues I have encountered seem to have genuine neurological deficits in the social skills areas - they are barely aware of just how bad they are and have little to no clue how to do anything about it.

For some, electroshock therapy seems like a good first line treatment option, but, back in the real world, laughing at them is usually the most productive way through the situations they create.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

JoeMerchant Re:Um (392 comments)

And, for balance and perspective, most startups also have principals who are not engineers, who hold more shares than engineers, draw bigger salaries than the engineers, and work shorter hours than the engineers - though they do tend to travel more.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

JoeMerchant Re:Um (392 comments)

Well, somebody has to answer the main phone line, sign for packages, and clean the breakroom....

about two weeks ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

JoeMerchant Re:How would we know? (819 comments)

Replying from an airport as I wait for colleagues to arrive from another city....

I haven't flown for "pleasure" more than once in the last 15 years. The last pleasure trip before that was Miami to Alaska, and there aren't a lot of good options to get to Ketchikan....

Reflecting this morning, airports have actually gotten nicer in the last 20 years, security theater is more amusing than painful, when the lines aren't stupid long.

However, the sardine packing of the trip itself borders on intolerable... I used to be 6'2" - shrinking past 6'1" these days, but unfortunately getting wider in the seat as that happens, and most of the height compresses from the spine, so my legroom problems aren't improving.

I, personally, would take up air travel for fun again if the 3+3 configurations were switched to 3+2 and a decent legroom pitch were maintained, but none of that seems likely to happen, and it's a shame. If they needed to charge extra for these seats, fine, I'd probably do a 30% premium without blinking, just for the extra space - I don't need a hot towel and a microwaved meal, thanks.

I've got 4 Southwest "free drink" coupons in my wallet right now, but just don't feel like using them on flights that leave at 6am... and the afternoon and evening flights are delayed so often that I'm glad not to be on them, though I will compliment Southwest's mostly "hubless" routing system that provides direct flights between smaller airports, even if it's only once a day, it's nice to have the option.

Now, off to convince my bosses that telecommuting is really more efficient than travel.... seems pretty obvious from this chair.

about three weeks ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

JoeMerchant Re:Anthropometrics (819 comments)

Somewhere back in the 1990s, Miami popped up as a "high crime" city - above the New York metro area, which was pretty laughable to the large number of essentially dual-residents, people who lived both places off and on through the year. The explanation was in the reporting, NYC cops weren't filing nearly as much paperwork as Miami's "professional law enforcement" were. A decision was made, Miami adopted a more NYC like crime reporting structure, and et-voila' the very next year Miami's crime stats were way down the list.

I lived in the city of Miami during those years, after the switch we had a car stolen from the street infront of the house, had to present ourselves at the police substation (5 miles away, in a bad neighborhood) to report the stolen car. What part of "they just stole our car" didn't they hear? Anyway, got there and had to wait in line 20 minutes before getting the opportunity to report the theft.

But, the associated improvement in crime stats was beneficial for tourism...

 

about three weeks ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

JoeMerchant Re:How would we know? (819 comments)

There used to be "Business Class" which was more or less the physical space of First, but without the Champagne and Lobster.

For some reason, the three tier aircraft seem to have phased out in favor of two levels of service. In the late 1990s, I flew MIA-SFO several times, and those 767s were still equipped with 3 tier seating, but sold with 2 tier pricing, so if you booked your seats early, you could get business class seats (with economy service) for economy prices - that was quite a good deal, and a major bummer when you missed out booking your seats in time to get the good ones.

about three weeks ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

JoeMerchant Re:Anthropometrics (819 comments)

Cities (especially big ones like NYC and Miami) have a tendency to under-report crime. Accurately keeping crime statistics only makes them look bad, why would they willingly do that?

about three weeks ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

JoeMerchant Re:Anthropometrics (819 comments)

How often have you flown on an "unscheduled substitute equipment" flight?

I'm usually happy to have any aircraft to take me to my destination, if the option is spending an unexpected extra night away from home.

about three weeks ago
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Eye Problems From Space Affect At Least 21 NASA Astronauts

JoeMerchant Re:Cure your shortsightedness (109 comments)

Cephalic hypertension is a pretty high price to pay... I'll try Lasik first.

about a month ago

Submissions

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CryptoCat - an encrypted web-based chat

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "Twenty-one-year-old college student Nadim Kobeissi is from Canada, Lebanon and the internet.

Cryptocat is an encrypted web-based chat. It’s the first chat client in the browser to allow anyone to use end-to-end encryption to communicate without the problems of SSL, the standard way browsers do crypto, or mucking about with downloading and installing other software. For Kobeissi, that means non-technical people anywhere in the world can talk without fear of online snooping from corporations, criminals or governments.

“The fact that you don’t have to install anything, the fact that it works instantly, this increases security,” he explained, sitting down with Wired at HOPE 9 to talk about Cryptocat, activism and getting through American airports."

Link to Original Source
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Amazon Android App Store - Mandatory One Click Ordering

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "So, it has finally arrived... since 2003ish I have been on the lookout for a decent, affordable (sub $100) web browsing device — and it came in the shape of 7" capacitive multitouch Android tablets from cheap off-brand manufacturers. But, this isn't a hardware review. This is a cautionary tale about the importance of choice in app-store compatibility. At least one of these devices is built with a strong preference for the Amazon App Store, yes, some apps can be side-loaded, but Google Play is specifically thwarted by the built-in Android image, making Amazon the "obvious" choice.

So, what's so bad about the Amazon App Store? Well, I personally don't mind that it runs continuously in the background as a kind of license server, though some people complain that it's hard on battery life (while others disagree)... my real beef with the Amazon App Store is its always active one-click: no password, app ordering, always available. The only way I have found to deactivate one-click app ordering is to uninstall the store, which deactivates ALL the apps that use it for license checking, which includes about 18 of the 20 apps I have tested.

You can say that Amazon's customer service is excellent and that they will refund any accidental purchases, you can say that they notify you of every app purchase immediately in e-mail; free and paid app purchase notifications look identical in every way until you click on each individual transaction to open it, and it is the same in Amazon's account review. This feels like a return to the old Record/DVD Club days where you get a bunch of cool stuff you want, very conveniently, for a reasonably good deal, but then have to fight to turn the thing off and eventually get charged for something you don't want, especially if you ever hand your tablet over to an elementary school aged child to play with unsupervised for any length of time.

After getting sucked in on the Free Apps, I finally purchased a couple of paid apps and was fairly shocked that, unlike the iPad, I didn't have to put in any kind of password. It's much less the 2x0.99 that bothers me than all the time and effort spent setting up two tablets, just to find out later that if I don't want to leave my credit card fully exposed for app purchases, I'll lose use of all the apps I have installed from their store. So, suck the customer in and after they have invested maybe 20 hours into your ecosystem, finally give them a clue that there's no way to turn off purchases, the parental controls options only apply to in-app purchases, not to app purchases themselves — and if your kids are smart enough to get into the master app listing, they can always launch the app store.

Response from Amazon Customer Service:

It was a pleasure to speak with you today! I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you spending some of it with Amazon Appstore support. Thanks for suggesting we add parental control for App purchases to the Amazon Appstore for Android. Customer feedback like yours really helps us continue to improve our products and provide better service to our customers. I've passed your suggestion to the Appstore team for consideration as we make future improvements. Thanks for taking time to offer us your thoughts. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Kind words, I really doubt the absence of password entry was any kind of oversight or accident."
Link to Original Source

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Apps for Apes

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "Orangutans across the world may soon join the ranks of millions of humans as proud owners of new iPads. As strange as that may sound, a conservation group is testing out its "Apps for Apes" program, allowing orangutans to communicate with each other remotely via the iPad's video chat technology.

There has got to be an observation in there somewhere about the change this will bring in the average Apple user's intelligence levels..."

Link to Original Source
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Will Apple's iPad trademark prevail in China?

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "Chinese officials face a choice in Apple's dispute with a local company over the iPad trademark — side with a struggling entity that a court says owns the name or with a global brand that has created thousands of jobs in China. Experts say that means Beijing's political priorities rather than the courts will settle the dispute if it escalates.

What are the odds that, of 1.3 billion Chinese, one of them has a stronger legal claim to the name "iPad" than Apple?"

Link to Original Source
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Hacking Yogurt to make Prozac with Open Source DNA

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "While most people think biotechnology is complex, expensive and exclusively practiced in fancy lab settings, designer Tuur van Balen argues it is actually quite accessible. He demonstrates his vision on DIY biotechnology by creating an ‘anti-depressant yoghurt,’ using open source DNA on stage in a 7.5 minute video. Smakelijk!"
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Is it wrong to want opt-in?

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "I have had a Yahoo account since before the turn of the Century, and one of my biggest complaints about it was being required to download the Yahoo Messenger desktop software just to access the account management setting to block "Friend Requests" from every random spammer on the planet.

My Google account, by comparison, was relatively quiet and Friend-Spam-Free, until just recently — although the "quality" of Google friend spam is higher than Yahoo (most of the random people asking to "Friend" me actually have some kind of common interest listed in their profiles), it's still random Friend request spam from people who don't even know people I know. Now, I suppose I'm going to have to "pay" for some peace and quiet in my Google account by taking the time to decipher their settings process to turn these people off.

I know that both these services are provided free of monetary charge, and that I am "free" to walk away at any time, but I do feel like the victim of a submarine attack after they provide a good service for 10+ years and then, without even a "would you like to opt-in" dialog, start flooding me with daily friend requests from essentially random people.

Is there a similar "homepage" service out there that respects its user's privacy and doesn't demand their time and effort to adjust it to do so?"

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Learn Coding Online

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "Online services like CodeCademy and Treehouse are making a business of teaching programming online. Despite the fact colleges are churning out more programmers, many fast-growing Silicon Valley companies say they still can't find enough of them.

Do you think that the online schools will add anything to traditional self-teaching of programming skills?"

Link to Original Source
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Ask Slashdot: What will you do with 128Gb/s RAM ba

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "Whiel manufacturers have been murmuring about 3D memory chips for years. Intel unveiled a Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) at IDF, which promises seven times the energy efficiency of today's DDR3, and now IBM and Micron have shown their hand too. The pair just struck up a partnership to produce cubes using layers of DRAM connected by vertical conduits known as through-silicon vias (TSVs). These pillars allow a 90 percent reduction in a memory chip's physical footprint, a 70 percent cut in its appetite for energy, and a radical increase in bandwidth: HMC prototypes have already scored 128Gb/s. It certainly sounds like a game-changer."
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Floating home for tech start-ups

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "Max Marty, founder of Blueseed, believes that US immigration laws are stifling entrepreneurs from other countries, so he plans to buy a ship and anchor it in international waters off the coast of California. He hopes that up to a thousand developers could live and work just 20 kilometres offshore, commuting via regular ferries to the mainland for meetings with clients and investors.

Ship residents will pay around $1200 per month for basic accommodation, which Marty says compares favourably with typical rents in San Francisco."

Link to Original Source
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Programming in Cell OS

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "An international team of synthetic biologists, led by professor of computer science Natalio Krasnogor at the University of Nottingham, hopes to change hopes to revolutionize synthetic biology with what they call Cell OS, a "bottom-up approach to cellular computing, in which computational chemical processes are encapsulated within liposomes." The team refers to this as "liposome logic" or "vesicle computing," which sounds analogous to the logic based off of the field-effect transistor, and it may be a part of the nascent "CellOS". The bold project is aptly named AUdACiOuS."
Link to Original Source
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Remote-Controlled Borg Beetle

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 5 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "A giant Borg beetle with implanted electrodes and a radio receiver on its back can be wirelessly controlled, according to research presented this week. Overlords at the University of California hivemind developed a tiny rig that receives control signals from the collective. Electrical signals delivered via the electrodes command the insect to take off, turn left or right, or hover in midflight. The research, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), could one day be used for assimilation on a planetary scale.

Obligatory: Resistance is Futile ."

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Robotic radical hysterectomy has advantages

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 5 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "Robotic-assisted surgery has become an appealing tool for gynecologic oncology surgeons. However, to date, there is little data to confirm the benefits of this technology. Patients who underwent RRH had less blood loss and shorter hospital stays. "This robotic-assisted approach deserves further exploration to evaluate the full potential and application of RRH."

I for one...."

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