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Comments

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Amazon Seeks US Exemption To Test Delivery Drones

RobinH Re:Government control of our lives... (152 comments)

That, right there, is the key to our disagreement. You want everybody, who wish to fly a drone, to prove, they've "taken precautions".

I don't think this is as black and white as you seem to indicate. Nobody's stopping me from building a drone in my garage and even flying it out in a field, as long as I follow some reasonable restrictions that were setup based on experience with model airplanes. The restrictions are on commercial use, and the FAA is basically saying: these things are dangerous when you fly them over a population, and we need rules in place with proper safety procedures before it's allowed. That seems pretty reasonable to me. Yes, I wish they would hurry up. However, what are the chances that these drones are designed such that in the event of a failure, the likelihood of hurting someone on the ground is mitigated? Does every system have 1 or 2 backup systems? Doubtful. Has anyone done an analysis of how dangerous the impact will be? What's the likelihood of surviving a direct hit? What's the likelihood of it happening? Is there a safe reference design? Are there regulated auditors who can certify these designs against a published specification to certify them for flying over a population? Certainly when I build an industrial machine there are published standards regarding machine safety that I have to adhere to, and I must have the design stamped by a P.Eng. before the machine can be used in a production environment.

I'm all for this technology, but I know human nature when it comes to people willing to put other people in harm's way to make money. The FAA is right to ban these, for the moment. Amazon should be working with the FAA and other stakeholders to draft a proper set of rules to allow flying these things over a residential neighborhood. This is hardly unreasonable. The "anything goes" mentality is just BS.

yesterday
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Amazon Seeks US Exemption To Test Delivery Drones

RobinH Re:Government control of our lives... (152 comments)

I thought the idea was that you had that right, but only up to the point where it infringes on someone else's right to the same. So, for instance, you being an idiot and driving your car over a pedestrian infringes on their right to the pursuit of happiness. You see, when it comes to behaviors that put others at significant risk, why only punish the ones who were unlucky enough to have the negative outcome actually happen, when the act of performing the risky behavior was what you had control over, and what you should be prevented from doing in the first place? Similarly, Amazon flying drones over residential neighborhoods sounds pretty risky to me, even though I do appreciate the coolness of being able to have something delivered in 30 minutes. Therefore I'm not sure this ban is such a bad thing until we can prove suitable precautions are being taken.

2 days ago
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Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

RobinH Re:It's working so well in Venezuela (526 comments)

Wouldn't it be cheaper if all the people buying hamburgers just paid those people to sit on their ass?

4 days ago
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Study: People Would Rather Be Shocked Than Be Alone With Their Thoughts

RobinH Re:How fitting (333 comments)

I'm not really sure about that. It could be that men and women felt a different amount of dislike for the shock. It was my understanding that men and women have different pain thresholds (men's is higher, even though women like to use the whole childbirth thing against us, which... is fine by me).

about a week ago
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Study: People Would Rather Be Shocked Than Be Alone With Their Thoughts

RobinH Re:Sad, sad times... (333 comments)

I think it would be interesting to see what % of people actually didn't mind it at all, and did it correlate with any other personality traits or, um, professions...

I also don't think it would bother me at all, but I know it would really bother my wife. I know she can't be "alone with her thoughts" or they quickly turn negative. I've never really understood that. I'm constantly wanting to turn off the radio if we're in the car together so I can think, and she insists that we keep it on. The thing is, she's not depressed or anything. It's some kind of normal response that I completely don't understand.

The other thing that comes to mind is that in prison the really bad punishment is solitary confinement. It always seemed to me that if I had to go to prison and be stuck in a building with hundreds of possibly violent convicts, then please sign me up for solitary! I think they do have writing instruments and books, etc. too. Weird.

about a week ago
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Unintended Consequences For Traffic Safety Feature

RobinH Re:Don't blame the timers (578 comments)

Fixing stupid is what we've been doing in manufacturing plants for, oh, the last hundred years or so. We implements tons of systems that prevent or reduce human error. It works. It's not perfect, but quality improves when you put these systems in place. So you can fix stupid.

about two weeks ago
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Google, Detroit Split On Autonomous Cars

RobinH Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (236 comments)

For that matter, although we've talked about it enough for the last two or three years to make it seem less insane, there's a good argument that even attempting to solve a problem as hard as a fully automated car requires tremendous arrogance. Except that they actually seem to be succeeding, which I guess changes it from arrogance to confidence.

I don't think there's any evidence that Google has actually "succeeded" in coming up with a car that's marketable to the general population. It's easy to say you're succeeding when you've solved 90% of the problems, but if the 10% remaining include nearly insurmountable obstacles without some more technological breakthroughs, then I don't think we can call it success. It won't be success until regular people are "driving" them.

about two weeks ago
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Norway Scraps Online Voting

RobinH Re:What logic! (139 comments)

Electronic voting (i.e. voting machines) has its own set of serious issues, but this is about Online voting (i.e. from a home/office computer) which adds way more problems than just electronic voting, not the least of which is vote-selling. How might an employer treat two employees differently if one of them could prove that he/she voted the way the boss liked? What about a spouse? Why not just sell it to the highest bidder?

about two weeks ago
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Norway Scraps Online Voting

RobinH Re:Concerns about online voting (139 comments)

Well I think the point is to protect the other voters from the ones who would sell their vote (and the people who would buy them).

about two weeks ago
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Norway Scraps Online Voting

RobinH Re:Concerns about online voting (139 comments)

Just to be clear (even though you may be trolling), we're talking about online voting here, not electronic voting. I do believe that electronic voting (i.e. with voting machines in a private booth) might be able to work, but it still has to generate a paper ballot which you then insert into a cardboard box on the way out. The only difference to a paper and pencil ballot is that it should provide a way of tabulating them really fast, but there still has to be a way to do a manual recount (and there should be manual recounts at a random sampling of polling stations every time).

about two weeks ago
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Norway Scraps Online Voting

RobinH Concerns about online voting (139 comments)

I'm surprised there isn't more concern about the serious and fundamental problems with online voting.

That blog post makes two points, one about vote selling and one about security. I don't see how any online voting system could ever stop you from being able to sell your vote, and that was one of the major reasons for a secret ballot. That pretty much makes online-voting a non-starter right there.

about two weeks ago
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Ikea Sends IkeaHackers Blog a C&D Order

RobinH Re:Confusion? Really? (207 comments)

Really, though? Can't they just contact them and grant them a limited use right or something? Or can't they contact them and say, "please change your site to include this prominent text, or contact us to discuss"? Why is it that these legal types have to be such dicks?

about a month ago
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Parents Mobilize Against States' Student Data Mining

RobinH Re:Good (139 comments)

The idea of having an "open" society is that you know what I'm doing, I know what you're doing, and I know what the president or prime minister is doing and what Mark Zuckerberg is doing, etc. The way things are going is *not* towards this kind of open society. Just because Facebook knows a ton of stuff and sells it to the government doesn't mean we have an open society. Secret surveillance is not open.

about a month ago
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How Open Government Data Saved New Yorkers Thousands On Parking Tickets

RobinH Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (286 comments)

I don't know about in the UK, but over here in North America, whenever you encounter bad design, the knee-jerk reaction isn't to fix the design, it's to put the onus on *everybody* to change their behavior to adapt to it. This is reinforced by a general public that loves to point out when other people do things wrong because it makes everyone else feel good about themselves. "Of course you got a ticket! What kind of idiot parks in front of a fire hydrant?" Seriously, a guy cut the end of his thumb off here at work, and rather than looking into the root cause to see if we could reduce the risk of it happening again, everyone literally made fun of him to his face for being stupid. So it's a cultural thing.

about a month ago
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Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds

RobinH Re:rediculous parents to blame (1198 comments)

It's hard to believe that some parenting activity like never letting your child experience a negative emotion is actually causing a increase in violent crime, especially since, from everything I've heard, overall violent crime is down significantly. Also, if there are lots and lots of kids getting this type of parenting, we certainly aren't seeing a cause-effect relationship here, because otherwise there would be millions of murderous little bastards running around, and we just don't see that. Seems much more likely that there are (and have always been) some people with mental illnesses, and some of them are liable to do nasty things that most of us would never do. Your argument is nothing more than the get-off-my-lawn variety (and I'm an old guy who likes to push my kids to experience failure once in a while).

about a month and a half ago
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Wikipedia Medical Articles Found To Have High Error Rate

RobinH Compared to? (200 comments)

The only useful comparison would be against a print-edition encyclopedia. What percentage of medical articles in a typical encyclopedia contain errors? The other thing is, just because it contains "an error" doesn't mean it isn't useful. We get through most days with a fairly flawed view of reality (most of us anyway).

about a month and a half ago
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UN to Debate Use of Fully Autonomous Weapons, New Report Released

RobinH Re:3 laws deleted (180 comments)

Stop with the "3 laws" nonsense. Asimov's "laws" were never intended as actual laws, they were a plot device, and they're certainly not something you "delete" because they were never there in the first place. We already have regulations about machine safety (I work with them every day). The laws govern the control of hazardous energy in a system, with various guarding and interlocks being required to protect humans from injury when they interact with the system, and design constraints determined by how likely certain safety critical component failure is, and redundancy, etc.

Nobody building a killer robot is going to be worrying about any laws, pretend or otherwise. They're worried about how many units they can sell.

about 2 months ago
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Oklahoma Botched an Execution With Untested Lethal Injection Drugs

RobinH Re:crimes (1198 comments)

The withholding of the drugs didn't "cause" the execution. If I was going to shoot you, and someone took away my gun, so I stabbed you instead, does that mean the person who took away my gun caused you to be stabbed?

about 2 months ago
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Consumers Not Impressed With 3D Printing

RobinH It's not for consumers right now (302 comments)

Anyone who has used a 3D printer (I have a RepRap style one) knows that the killer app is rapid prototyping. Lots of people already use 3D printers to print out prototypes of parts to test them out or focus group them before sending them to production. You pretty much *have* to be a designer to be able to make use of a 3D printer right now, and I'm sorry but 3D CAD software has come a long way but it's too expensive and complicated for a home user. You'd need to come up with a Tony Stark-like CAD system for under $100 before it'll be ready for home use. Meanwhile, those of us who know our way around a CAD program are quite happy with our 3D printers, thank you very much.

about 3 months ago
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The Design Flaw That Almost Wiped Out an NYC Skyscraper

RobinH Re:That has happened quite often here in the US. (183 comments)

It's reminiscent of the Hyatt Regency walkway collapse in which 114 people died and 216 were injured. From wikipedia: Havens Steel Company, the contractor responsible for manufacturing the rods, objected to the original plan of Jack D. Gillum and Associates, since it required the whole of the rod below the fourth floor to be screw threaded in order to screw on the nuts to hold the fourth floor walkway in place... This design change would prove fatal.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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The New Battle Over Community Q&A Sites

RobinH RobinH writes  |  more than 4 years ago

RobinH writes "Just as Fog Creek Software is about to launch their new "Community Knowledge Exchange" Q&A software product called StackExchange, an open source clone of the service called Shapado has popped up, and the kicker is that Shapado is free. That's a lot cheaper than the $129/month that the StackExchange service will cost, and to top it off, Shapado is going to offer a database import format that's compatible with the StackExchange export format. Fog Creek's developers posted an optimistic rebuttal."
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Slashdot - You have a major flaw in your submissio

RobinH RobinH writes  |  more than 4 years ago

RobinH writes "On your submission page it says Submitted by and it has my user name. If you don't know to look, you don't realize that instead of linking to your user page on slashdot (like every other instance of your user name on slashdot), it links to your email address! And right beside the box where it asks you to enter your email address on the profile page, there's a little question mark box that says it's "never given out to anybody". That should be the default! You shouldn't default to posting someone's email address on a really public website. I now have an email address that I'd successfully kept spam free for 9 years, and I have a ton of spam coming in. Please fix your submission page so you don't trick other submitters into publishing their email address."
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StackOverflow For Any Topic

RobinH RobinH writes  |  more than 4 years ago

RobinH writes "The successful question and answer website for programmers, StackOverflow, is now over a year old, and the top user, Jon Skeet has just passed 100,000 reputation points. Now it looks like one of the creators of StackOverflow, Joel Spolsky, and his company Fog Creek, are developing a software as a service form of the StackOverflow engine called StackExchange to support any topic you want. The software is currently in private beta, but the first of the beta sites have surfaced. Topics include Business Travel, the Home, Parenthood, the Environment, Finance, and iPhone Game Development."
Link to Original Source
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How do you take memos on the go?

RobinH RobinH writes  |  more than 5 years ago

RobinH (124750) writes "I'm frequently driving home when I remember something important that I need to do when I get back to my computer. I know if I don't record it I'm likely to forget. Writing is dangerous while driving. My cell phone has a voice recorder, but I have to find it in the menu, and I have to remember to check it later, which defeats the purpose. What I want is a device that I can pull out with one hand, hold down a button, say a memo, then put it back. Then with no other action on my part, the recording shows up in my email inbox the next time I check my email. This shouldn't be hard. Is there such a device?"

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