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Comments

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Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

dentin Alarm clock (652 comments)

I still use to this day the General Electric model F1-8147-5 alarm clock my dad gave me when I was a kid. It posts from somewhere around 1970.

yesterday
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It's Time To Plug the Loopholes In Pipeline Regulation

dentin Re:Money money money (163 comments)

"Home" does not count as fungible.

Yes, it is. What you meant to say was, "I find it unlikely that anyone would offer me what I consider my home and experiences to be worth."

You can't just pay me off for my sunny spot on the back deck where the light hits just so, filtered between my favorite trees. You can't just pay me off for the trails I've made in the woods behind my house, or all the time I've spent learning those woods and enjoying them. You can't just pay me off for the squirrels I've trained to take peanuts right from my hand while sitting in that aforementioned favorite sunny spot. You can't just pay me off for needing to move away from my neighbor who I consider a close friend, or pay off his kids who love coming over to play with the cat.

I might not be able to, but there exist people who can.

Please be more clear with your wording in the future. Blatant trolling like the above does no-one any good.

about two weeks ago
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Algorithm Challenge: Burning Man Vehicle Exodus

dentin Re:Still made their manpower problem worse. (273 comments)

Sorry, I should have clarified, as it's somewhat 'inside knowledge'. I meant that the queue was almost perfect in that once you're in it, it's pretty close to FIFO. The reason it's not perfect is because there's sections that are split into subqueues in the middle - there's two subqueues which merge to a single, then split into half a dozen independent lanes that remerge near the highway. (Changing lanes happens, but is discouraged.) The remerge process is also imperfect.

General FYI regarding your second paragraph: the wait time is never 'almost zero'. Even with no traffic whatsoever, exodus will rarely if ever be less than half an hour to get to the highway. Typical times with no traffic are 45 minutes.

Otherwise, regarding your second paragraph: putting 3% of the main queue into a priority queue does mean that the priority queue is 3% shorter; however, the wait time for the main queue doesn't depend on that 3% ratio - it depends on the ratio of priority exits to non-priority exits. If 3% of cars enter the priority queue, then it is true that a minimum of 3% of the cars leaving through the exit choke point will be priority cars - however, that's a minimum value, and it's very easy to end up in states where the it can be much larger. Consider a worst case scenario: if the exodus point can only handle 3% of the total load, you end up with all exodus cars being priority cars, and the wait time in the regular queue will increase linearly until the priority queue is empty. There are clearly situations where the wait time for the main queue is increased, and your explanation does not recognize this - it merely states that the increased wait time will be offset by a reduction in queue length, which is clearly false in this scenario.

Also keep in mind that the exit queues are almost never in steady state, which your analysis largely depends on. They are either 1) empty (parts of nighttime), 2) backing up (7 am through 9 pm some days), or 3) clearing (afternoon and night.) At a minimum, revision of your idea should probably include non-steady-state performance, not just idealized steady state operation. A large yet fixed number of cars must leave through a small, fixed rate gate, and those cars enter the queue at various times with very little understanding of the queue length or expected time in queue.

If you really want to push this idea, I would recommend creating a set of simulations which show that your idea or some derivative of it does actually work the way you claim it should. These problems are hard, and simulations are considered a minimum standard for good reason.

about two weeks ago
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Algorithm Challenge: Burning Man Vehicle Exodus

dentin Re:Still made their manpower problem worse. (273 comments)

(because the non-prioritized line will always grow to the point where the convenience of getting out just barely outweighs the convenience of waiting in line -- but no further)

... and this is why I don't feel that you're competent to be suggesting improvements, without having gone through at least one proper exodus.

The fact of the matter is that the above assumption is largely false - people leave when they have their stuff packed, and once they get in line, they don't get out of line - because there's literally nowhere else to go. You leave when you're ready, usually on the day you planned to leave with the people around you, and you don't have any idea how long it's going to take, you just get in line. If you have to be to work on monday, you have to leave sunday. If one person in your camp of ten has a deadline, then you have to leave at a given time - and that's all there is to it.

That's not to say that there's no feedback at all for the long lines, but usually that feedback is either premediated (people who leave at 5 am based on the previous day's exodus), or forced (traffic gridlock during peak times). There's virtually none for 'this line is too long, I'm going to wait', in large part because nobody actually knows how long the wait will be, and everyone expects it to be long. Your solution -will- result in globally longer queue times, not because your solution is theoretically imperfect, but because it relies on perfect behaviour of the people in the queue.

about two weeks ago
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Algorithm Challenge: Burning Man Vehicle Exodus

dentin Re:Won't Work (273 comments)

Actually my biggest complaint with airline boarding and exit are idiots that hold up the entire line by taking 30 seconds to pack or retrieve their luggage while there are waiters blocked behind them. I make it a policy to stow and retrieve luggage as quickly as possible, while standing out of the aisle if possible, so others can go past. I also make it a policy of not politely waiting for people in rows before me unless they're physically in the way or clearly have all their stuff in hand.

Remember: when you wait for the oblivious mom or obnoxious businessman to take 15 seconds to retrieve their stuff, you've just delayed five people with their stuff in hand from leaving the plane.

about two weeks ago
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Algorithm Challenge: Burning Man Vehicle Exodus

dentin Re:Still made their manpower problem worse. (273 comments)

Only the cars in the priority line would have reduced wait times. Because the bottleneck is actually the highway, that reduction comes at the expense of raising the wait times for everyone not in the priority line - unless the lure of the priority queue is so strong that there's enough people waiting for the priority queue to clear the highway bottleneck.

The only thing that will reduce the wait time in a fair way is to stagger departures more, so that there's lower peak load. Micromananging the current exodus process, a process which is already a nearly perfect queue, will only serve to make things worse on average, in addition to requiring more manpower to manage.

Frankly, even though you've been to Burning Man, I don't feel you're competent to be suggesting improvements to the exodus traffic problem. You've been there once, and you came in and left on a fast-track bus which was able to bypass the entire process you're trying to critique. Had you been through it a few times and seen how traffic exodus works for people who are actually in the thick of it, I doubt you'd have bothered trying to micromanage the queues.

about two weeks ago
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Job Automation and the Minimum Wage Debate

dentin Re:Communism is the only way forward (870 comments)

I largely agree, however we must keep in mind that we really don't have any better alternatives at the moment. We're still too young as a species.

One thing we do know is that some systems are harder to subvert than others. IMHO, that's what we should be researching, that's what we should be implementing: systems which, while not perfect, are the ones that are hardest to subvert, the ones that work the best when the inputs are dysfunctional, greedy, short sighted people.

about three weeks ago
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Job Automation and the Minimum Wage Debate

dentin Re:Communism is the only way forward (870 comments)

People's greed and lust for power is as much a part of us as our sex drive, and trying to 'keep it out' of anything is a waste of time. We should focus instead on structures which are resistant to it and which can function even in the presence of greed and lust for power - which is incidentally why checks and balances works, and why capitalism has been more successful than other things.

about three weeks ago
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Startup Employees As an Organized Labor Group

dentin Re:all of IT needs an union (107 comments)

I don't object to signing a contract with an entity that represents workers. I object to signing a contract that limits my ability to hire who I want when I want, and to fire who I want when I want. This is no different than objecting to a contract with a parts supplier that mandates that I can't buy parts from a different supplier, or objecting to a contract that requires I only use a given suppliers parts in my products. I know such contracts exist, and I know that some companies sign them willingly. My companies will not, and if necessary I am willing to pay more and/or put in extra effort to avoid such contracts.

At least with parts suppliers, you have reasonable confidence that the parts are the same, or similar enough to work. Employees however, are very much not the same: an employee is more like a custom designed factory than a part, and every single employee is going to be unique and different. Those differences matter, and they matter a lot - employees are not just skill and technical knowledge, they are also personality, temperament, life goals, and sometimes, family. Treating them as replacable cogs, as unions invariably do, does everyone a disservice.

about a month ago
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Startup Employees As an Organized Labor Group

dentin Re:all of IT needs an union (107 comments)

I already negotiate these kinds of things with people, without a union involved. To me, it's just the other side of the table, and I very much remember having to negotiate my long hair and keeping intellectual property intact when I was interviewing.

It's not about getting the maximum possible dollar in the short term. It's about both parties getting what they want out of it, in a way that's sustainable and lasts for the long term. IMHO the biggest problems in business aren't technology, they're people and long term planning.

about a month ago
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Startup Employees As an Organized Labor Group

dentin Re:all of IT needs an union (107 comments)

I never said that workers didn't deserve rights. In fact, as someone who has worked part time, full time, and as a contractor, I know very well what rights employees have, and why they have them. Employee rights have nothing to do with why I will never tolerate a union presence.

Hiring is between me any my employees. I treat them well, and they do good work. If an employee and I have a problem that's not resolvable, we part ways. I don't need and won't have a third party coming in to tell me or my employees what they should be doing, who I can and can't fire, who I can and can't promote, and who can and can't quit.

Boycott if you want. If I can't have the freedom to work with who I want when I want, I'll either take my business overseas or hire independent contractors. Either way, I'll still provide the same service and people will still buy it, but I'll be paying taxes to a government that doesn't allow organized labor extortion.

about a month ago
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Startup Employees As an Organized Labor Group

dentin Re:all of IT needs an union (107 comments)

I will close my company before I allow a union within the ranks.

about a month ago
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Measles Outbreak In NYC

dentin Re:Obvious Answer (747 comments)

I think it is as black and white as I'm making it; we don't allow people to crap on city sidewalks because it's a public health hazard, no matter how strongly they believe that god told them to crap on the sidewalk. You crap on the sidewalk, you get arrested. Plain and simple. Vaccination is really no different.

No matter what a person believes, we don't allow them to kill or maim other people, and it doesn't matter if the tool is a claw hammer or an easily vaccinated disease.

about a month ago
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Measles Outbreak In NYC

dentin Re:Obvious Answer (747 comments)

Religion is no excuse to not be vaccinated. There should be no religious exception.

about a month ago
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Pro-Vaccination Efforts May Be Scaring Wary Parents From Shots

dentin Re:Why not do the same for people who eat junk foo (482 comments)

Don't be stupid. Taking a topic like this to a sufficiently far away extreme always results in idiocy and serves only to muddy the waters. You're smarter than that, and so am I.

about a month and a half ago
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Pro-Vaccination Efforts May Be Scaring Wary Parents From Shots

dentin Re:How I would fix it (482 comments)

Go one better than this: define lack of vaccinations as child abuse that can get your kids taken away (unless there are strong medical exceptions.)

about a month and a half ago
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Pro-Vaccination Efforts May Be Scaring Wary Parents From Shots

dentin Re:Solution - Face-saving way out (482 comments)

We have the authority to put people in jail and to commit people to mental institutions. That's good enough. You refuse a vaccine for personal reasons? Fine. You go to the novax prison in north texas with all the other anti-vaxxers, where the vaccination rate is very low, segregated from the rest of the sane population. You can leave when you get your shots.

about a month and a half ago
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Pro-Vaccination Efforts May Be Scaring Wary Parents From Shots

dentin Re:Solution - Face-saving way out (482 comments)

I fully agree, and have been saying this for years. You want to immigrate to the US? Show full vaccinations and paperwork. You want to live in the US? Show full vaccinations and paperwork. You want to prevent your kids from getting vaccines? Leave the US.

IMHO the only reason to not be vaccinated is a medical exception saying that the vaccine in question would be directly physically harmful to the individual.

about a month and a half ago
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Report: Space Elevators Are Feasible

dentin Re:Laughable what? (374 comments)

Actually, materials with high enough strength to weight ratios have been commercially available for years, and the cable gets wider at the top, not at the bottom. The big problems haven't been strength to weight ratio, they've been resistance to radiation damage, resistance to wear and tear, and figuring out how to get something to climb the cable.

about 2 months ago
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Star Trek Economics

dentin Re:Based on what? (888 comments)

You want to win the argument and be right more than you want to learn. Terminating conversation.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Games: Balancing a Gold Economy

dentin dentin writes  |  more than 4 years ago

dentin writes "This article on gold economy balancing in MMOs talks about the various systems in place that serve to balance the economy of the MUD Alter Aeon. The systems are scalable to much larger environments, and hopefully will be useful to other game developers. [Disclaimer: I wrote the article in question.]

From the article: "All too often, articles talking about gold balance or economies do little more than state that 'most MMOs have problems with their economy'. Instead, I'll describe a successful example of a gold economy, and give some details on what it took to get there.""

Link to Original Source

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