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White House Approves Sonic Cannons For Atlantic Energy Exploration

eepok Energy Deposits? Weasel Word Alert! (252 comments)

What the hell are energy deposits? Have we renamed "fossil fuels" like oil and natural gas to simple "energy"? Because PR professionals don't get to do that!

yesterday
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"Intelligent" Avatars Poised To Manage Airline Check-In

eepok Intelligent? Damn marketers! (102 comments)

Can we please set some sort of standard for the vocabulary of artificial intelligence? Because I'm fairly certain that kiosk manufacturers "BCS" has not created a networked artificial intelligence just to help you decide if you want to upgrade to more leg room.

It's a set of video recordings set to play in response to input stimuli and complete actions in the background and nothing more. It's "smart".

I propose:
Intelligent -- Smart and Sentient.
Sentient -- For others to describe/debate.
Smart -- Capable of making complex decisions from multiple forms of input (sensory, data input, etc.). (A really good bot.)
Clever -- Capable of making decisions and acting on those decisions. (A bot.)
Terminal -- Capable of acting on commands. (An ATM.)

yesterday
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High School Students Not Waiting For Schools To Go Online

eepok Poor Implication of Causation in Association (80 comments)

"Students who chose to independently use online instructional websites are also more likely to exhibit behaviors and traits associated with academic success and lifelong learning."

While the above statement from the summary doesn't directly suggest causation, do to the intricacies of the English language, it implies that taking online classes contribute to academic success and lifelong learning. However, I would assert that, if you're going to imply causation, it may be accurate to suggest those who have been academically successful have already started on the road of lifelong learning and utilizing online classes is just one method of travel along said road.

yesterday
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Is the Software Renaissance Ending?

eepok App-Boom Dead, Admin. Applications Still Needed (170 comments)

Smartphone and tablet software were always destined to be a very small market. With the prevalence of social networking and simplified mass criticism of these truncated applications, it's extremely easy for a single superior application to completely a particular niche. Moreover, since the applications are so truncated and are not full-performance desktop applications, people do not feel as though they need to pay too much for an "app". Thus, subscription and micro-transaction models had to be introduced to keep the revenue rolling in. Even more people are unwilling to pay such fees, so the market for that revenue stream is smaller yet.

But that's beyond the point. There is still a MASSIVE market for in-house administrative applications within colleges, universities, municipal governments, and medium sized businesses. The key-term is "in-house". Most of these types of organizations either do not have the allocatable capital to pay for off-the-shelf software or have very specific needs that off-the-shelf software cannot meet. That's why so many of their employees rely upon storing everything in spreadsheets!

What a wise programmer could do is get a job in one of these organizations with the expectation that s/he would be able to interview departments regarding their computer and data usage needs. The wise programmer would then seek to organize, standardize, and automate as many processes as possible in as simple a UI as possible while keeping open the opportunity to add modules for additional functions in the future.

You won't get rich doing this, but you will definitely have a secure job developing, implementing, and maintaining such systems.

WARNING: This wise programmer must be a people person or else s/he will never find out what the users actually need.

5 days ago
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People Who Claim To Worry About Climate Change Don't Cut Energy Use

eepok Conflicting Stimuli of Social Demands and Enviro. (706 comments)

I see the same thing in my research in California. While many, many people are willing to profess the need to use less water (especially during this drought), use less electricity (with recent plant closures, summer peak demands), and use less gasoline, they have a very hard time reconciling these very distinct concerns with the demands of modern social expectations.

How do we over-use water and why?
-- Showering 1+ times per day - We do this for person comfort, to reduce the potential of being odorous around others, and because it's socially expected to shower daily regardless of actual need. The vast majority of people living California can get away with showering every other day, but choose not to.
-- Laundry - We try to buy water-conserving washing machines, but we still have to actually use the water. And the bigger you are and the lower your tolerance for wearing clothing for more than one day increases your water consumption for laundry.
-- Landscaping - The most onerous of water sins in California is the use of water-hungry plants to keep everything looking green. Our landscaping shouldn't be bright green during a drought. Many private citizens cannot simply stop watering their lawns for fear of receiving fines from their HOAs, City governments, or their landscaping actually dying and then needing to pay to replace them.

How do we over-use electricity and why?
-- Air Conditioning - Despite living in California, people don't like to feel the heat in their homes. Most important, though, is office air conditioning. The office I'm in right now is at 68 degrees. I sweat on my way to work and put a jacket in my office. And on cooler days? The AC is still on because none of the buildings in my area have windows that open.
-- 24-hour Appliances - Perpetual connectivity has convinced many Americans to allow newer devices to be active while they're away. DVRs, newer TVs, etc. all eat up big kWh.

How do we over-use gasoline and why?
-- Long-distance commuting - Everyone in California expects to some day own a 2-story track home or a large-footprint ranch home. However, if you want the job to afford the home, you have to work in an area of high-property demand. You must then decide: small home and short commute or large home and long commute. Many select the latter and end up with 80 miles of commuting every day-- just chewing up that gasoline.
-- Designing communities around the automobile - Modern cities and housing communities are designed around the expectation that the vast majority of transportation trips (non-recreational) will be done by personal automobile. This enables designers to create ped/bike un-friendly housing communities, roads, and intersections that make it *feel* less safe to travel by anything but a car/truck. Thus, small trips like going to/from K-12 school or to pick up eggs and milk from the closest market imply a very distinct need to consume more gasoline.

Given all these engineered and socially enforced standards of resource consumption, I can't really be surprised when, as the article describes, people who are concerned about the environment don't reflect those concerns in their own personal habits.

If we want to see actual change, we have to either change those social/engineered constructs or bend them in such ways to make them more environmentally-sensitive.

about a week ago
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Unintended Consequences For Traffic Safety Feature

eepok It's not just engineering... (579 comments)

In this case, where motorists are looking to pedestrian signals to decide whether or not they can increase speed to beat a light, and rear-ending another in the process, the liability is obviously with the motorist. Pedestrian signals are in place exclusively for the management of sidewalk-to-sidewalk traffic. At no place in law, MUTCD, or HDM does it suggest otherwise. Thus, the motorist is at fault if s/he uses a pedestrian signal to measure how to drive an automobile on the road and, in doing so, causes harm to person or property.

Moreover, California Vehicle Code 21703 explicitly states: "The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway." That's the citation to resolve the rear-ending issue. Increase the fine, advertise it well, and watch these kinds of collisions go down.

But that's not even the underlying problem. The underlying problem is that there is an over-inflated value of life and convenience placed on the motor vehicle and driver in comparison to all others using the public right of way. This is why the pedestrian signal is being blamed for the issue, not the motorists themselves.

Drivers of motor vehicles notoriously go un-cited for killing bicyclists and pedestrians in the course of violating traffic law and, recently, some people are picking up on the pattern.

http://www.vice.com/read/you-c...
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11...
http://www.bicyclepaper.com/ar...
http://cironline.org/reports/b...

Moreover, the last 4 decades of city design have seen the expectation of free right turns and super-wide right turns-- both of which make traveling by automobile faster and more convenient, but also increase the amount of time it takes for a pedestrian to cross a road. With the increased crossing time requirements, it becomes more and more necessary to have countdown timers on pedestrian signals.

If you want an engineering solution to this problem, implement the 3 engineering change below:
(1) Tighten up corners to at intersections. This reduces the distance corner-to-corner, reduces the time needed to cross the street, and slows down automobiles so that they actually see the pedestrians crossing the street (http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/signalized/13027/images/e91.png).
(2) Add pedestrian bulb-outs wherever there is street parking to further reduce the time needed to cross the road. (http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/images/pages/N2674/Bulb%20Outs.jpg)
(3) Then, and only then, remove the count-down timer for pedestrian signals at that intersection.

Effects:
(1) The right-turning automobile is slowed, but red signal durations become shorter because it takes less time for pedestrians to cross the street.
(2) Pedestrians cross the street quicker.
(3) Pedestrians count-downs are removed due to lack of need thus removing the temptation from motorists to use them inappropriately.

about three weeks ago
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Uber Demonstrations Snarl Traffic In London, Madrid, Berlin

eepok Re:naive and fatuous (507 comments)

Bzzzt. Wrong. Thanks for playing, though! You were a delight.

Uber is not a carpool or vanpool service. They facilitate a distributed taxi service. Carpools and Vanpools are formed wherein the driver and occupants share similar destinations. With Uber and Lyft, drivers are without destination until the promise of reimbursement for wear and tear, fuel, their time, and the facilitator fees is sufficient provokes them to pick up a passenger. That's a taxi service.

The constant attempt to brand these services as "rideshare" or "carpooling" is 100% genuinely deceptive.

about a month ago
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The Ethics Cloud Over Ballmer's $2 Billion B-Ball Buy

eepok Re:Racism or Thought Police? (398 comments)

Actually, yes. That would be acceptable. But again, there would be consequences.

As a result of such a policy, you'll see the NBA boycotted by a major portion of its fans and at least some of its players, coaches, and staff. The NBA's revenue will then sufficiently flounder so that such a policy would have to be revoked, and apology issues, probably some people fired, and likely even a symbolic donation of some amount to an organization fighting against such policies.

about a month and a half ago
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Finding the Next Generation of Teachers With "Innovative Microsoft Ads"

eepok Need Security, Not Marketing (122 comments)

There are plenty of people who have just graduated high school who want to be teachers. There are plenty of people in college whose collegiate experiences inspire them to teach. The problem isn't finding teachers (or good teachers for that matter), but making sure they don't get lost in the complicated morass of certification, continuing education, and the bureaucracy of tenure. They also are, typically, willing to accept the likelihood of lower wages, but need to have proper support, small classes, and the guarantee of an good benefits and retirement plan.

Pay now or pay later. But you have to pay.

about 3 months ago
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Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action In College Admissions

eepok Affirm. Action was Good for a Time, But No Longer (410 comments)

Disclaimer: I am a Mexican-American who grew up way below the poverty line to middle school-educated mother and a frequent felon father who got his GED in prison. I went to college, worked for a good portion of my career in higher education outreach, and continue to work at a university.

Affirmative Action was necessary at a time, but it is no longer necessary. The problem that Affirmative Action tried to solve is that those with very hard upbringings are at a severe educational disadvantage throughout their K-12 lives and may not have ever had a sufficient opportunity to become competitively eligible for admission to a 4-year research university in the non-local context. Race was a factor in that the most immediately visible instances of under-servedness were in communities dominated by racial minorities. The concept seemed obvious: give racial minorities some sort of boost in admissions applications.

But race (and more specifically, racism) was only one factor. With greater racial integration, the deeper-rooted issues are now more widely recognized: parent's education, family income, the actual schools attended/programs accessed, and childhood stress (divorces, violence, gangs pressures, etc.). The vast majority of universities now give special consideration (a couple extra points in the entire application score) to those who have had particular hard upbringings.

This is a better and more equitable non-impermutable-characteristic-based method of improving the quality of life for communities (religious, cultural, geographical, etc.) than Affirmative Action.

about 3 months ago
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Groove Basin: Quest For the Ultimate Music Player

eepok Re:Now that's a good name! (87 comments)

It is only barely relevant, but I fully agree with this AC. FOSS programs, if they're ever going to garner sufficient usership needs to have easily pronounceable names because, like it or not, word of mouth is the most trusted form of marketing.

about 2 months ago
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Will the Nissan Leaf Take On the Tesla Model S At Half the Price?

eepok Re:It's not just raw range, refueling matters as w (398 comments)

You are correct that there are DC Fast Chargers in Oregon, but they have not been sustainably funded. At the moment, you can get a full charge $7.50 or unlimited charging for $20/month (http://evsolutions.avinc.com/services/subscriber_network/). That's a heavily subsidized system that mainly benefits those who have the disposable liquid capital to take advantage of a variety of incentives and buy a new car. Once they get that car, that car's fuel is highly subsidized?

Sounds like a plan that ignores the entire concept of income equity. Tax everyone, benefit the rich.

The existing system of EV charging is based on providing low-cost/no-cost fuel to the few early-adopters with high incomes. It does not scale well at all and the entire concept will fail quicker than it started if we ever have mass buy-in to plug-in EVs.

about 2 months ago
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Will the Nissan Leaf Take On the Tesla Model S At Half the Price?

eepok It's not just raw range, refueling matters as well (398 comments)

I work in Sustainable Transportation (more on modes, less on fuel types) and every time I talk to an EV owner, they all admit to having a fully separate gasoline-powered vehicle for long distance trips OR they integrate some form of car rental. Why? Because charging takes too long and they can't drive from Orange County to San Francisco in any EV on the market.

When EVs hit zero charge, they're done for 4 hours. That's not acceptable for most travelers.

"But Level III chargers are coming!" -- No they're not. They're a pipe dream to sell EVs, but will not ever materialize but for the Tesla owners nearby. They're expensive (to build and thus to use), taxing on the grid, and no one's willing to actually invest in them for financially sustainable public use.

EV adoption due to range and charge anxiety will continue to be a problem until either battery swapping is perfected or until another fuel source is adopted.

about 2 months ago
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The Best Parking Apps You've Never Heard Of and Why You Haven't

eepok Re:tl;dr (163 comments)

Because rageful pseudo-alpha nerds found a target and are ganging up.

about 3 months ago
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The Best Parking Apps You've Never Heard Of and Why You Haven't

eepok Re:What is going on?? (163 comments)

No, it's a news aggregator that will sometimes source content from its readership ("Ask Slashdot"). So this submission isn't done under the flag of "Ask Slashdot"-- he deserves ridicule for this? All I see here are pseudo-alpha nerds taking some joy in hating on a "lesser nerd" because he had the audacity to do something outside of the norm.

There is too much rage here for what used to simply be "TL;DR".

You guys are taking Slashdot posts way too seriously.

about 3 months ago
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The Best Parking Apps You've Never Heard Of and Why You Haven't

eepok Re:What is going on?? (163 comments)

How in the world is this insightful? What's with all the rage against the author?

The guy has a question. He has an idea. He describes it all clearly enough. And he somehow deserves ridicule?

This is News for Nerds. Not "News for Me and Only Me".

about 3 months ago
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Algorithm Challenge: Burning Man Vehicle Exodus

eepok I'm a Transportation Professional and I say... (273 comments)

The only way to make a difference is with sectional priority exit. Google an image of the playa and you'll see that their parking arrangement intertwined with exhibits, housing, etc. However, since we can't expect everyone in a section to be packed up at once and we want to give all sections a chance at leaving every "exit day", we need a rotating priority schedule.

Solution: Sectional Priority Exit on a rotating schedule. Assuming there are twelve wedges to the radial playa organization (there doesn't actually have to be 12), each section will get 1 hour at a time to send Burners away. At 6am, the 6 o'clock section's exit will be given priority. If the stream of cars thins out before 7am, the 7 o'clock section is allowed to begin its exit. At 7am, the 6 o'clock section exit is halted and the 7o'clock section continues until 8am, etc.

This allows for a predictable control of flow off the playa and gives a predictable exit to those who want to leave the soonest without requiring that those who want to stay another day to exit.

about 4 months ago
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Department of Transportation Makes Rear View Cameras Mandatory

eepok 13 Deaths, 1,125 Injuries (518 comments)

Of the 34,000+ people that died on the road in automobile-involved collisions (2012), this is a very small population to target. We can do a lot better than that.

Here's a list of technologies that would better to mandate in the name road safety:

** Automatic braking systems (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_braking)
** Hardware Speed Limiters
** GPS-controlled in-dash speed limit display (shows the speed limit for your road/area in the dash)
** Veering Alerts (use of radar to sense when one is veering out of lane/off the road and sets off an alarm)
** Mandatorily installed, but optionally activated automobile black boxes. If your insurance provider wants to offer an incentive for proof of your safe driving, activate the black box, and provide monthly, quarterly, or yearly updates.

Here's a list of policy changes that would change driver behavior and thus decrease the yearly death/injury toll:

** Revised road funding policy that combines gas tax, vehicle weight, and vehicle miles traveled to better fund the roads.
** Vulnerable Road Users Law that would put the assumption of fault (along with extra penalties) on the automobile driver when a pedestrian, bicyclist, horse rider is injured or killed by an automobile on the road.

about 4 months ago
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If Ridesharing Is Banned, What About Ride-Trading?

eepok This is Not Rideshare - Stop Calling it That (353 comments)

Intro: I am a transportation professional. "Rideshare" is my industry.

"Rideshare" and "Ridesharing" is a federal-, state-, and industry-specific term that describes the use of carpooling, vanpooling, transit (bus, rail), and even biking and walking as a form of transportation. Other industry terms used depending on era and region include alternative transportation, commuter choice, and sustainable transportation. "Rideshare" is a subsection of the Transportation Demand Management. Yes, it's weird to call biking "Rideshare", but that's what happens when old terms are continually used for additional purposes.

These distributed taxi systems are *not* "Rideshare" unless the driver was already going to a destination and picked up someone with a similar or en route origin and destination (which is almost never the case). Their use of the term "Rideshare" is deceitful. They are not a form of "sustainable transportation". They're just as bad driving one's own vehicle except that one needn't own a vehicle or worry about parking.

Lyft calls itself a ridesharing app and the co-founder, John Zimmer, should know better. He actually co-founded an actual rideshare-matching website/utility called Zimride which is used by TDM professionals all over the country. As someone in the industry, he knew the value of painting Lyft as "rideshare" (dodging taxi fees, getting funding, etc.) but he also knew the conflicts.

So please -- Pretty please. Stop calling these taxi systems ridesharing. Or else we'll have to start calling Best Buy and Apple store employees "programmers" and "network administrators".

about 4 months ago
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Adjusting GPAs: A Statistician's Effort To Tackle Grade Inflation

eepok Competitive Access to Higher Education (264 comments)

From the experience of someone who has worked in both K-12 and higher education, the problem is innate to the competitive access to higher education and the roots are way deeper than 4-year research universities.

Elementary Schools (grades K-6)
Elementary schools have not been well known for their grade inflation. They are held to stronger minimum student competency standards that allow them to get away with giving a kid an "N" (needs improvement, aka: Fail).

Middle School (grades 7-8)
Grade inflation starts in middle schools where educators understand that proper placement into advanced high school courses poise students for better quality education (regardless of work completed).

High School (grades 9-12)
High School grade inflation most often occurs in advanced classes, to facilitate increased chances of being accepted into a well-respected 4-year university. This problem is exacerbated by helicopter parents and administrators/teachers that don't want to deal with them.

Community College
Grade inflation here is rare unless you're one of the very few students who are actually making the effort to transfer to a 4-year university. These students get "known" personally by instructors and under-staffed counseling centers and relationships are built, exceptions begin to be made/justified, etc.. I've helped to navigate student through CC specifically by connecting them to the right people to make sure they make the transfer in 2-3 years.

Undergraduate (4-year University)
Grade inflation here exists in part because faculty and lectures want students to "have every opportunity possible" to go to grad school (much like what happens in high school), but also because lecturers (without security of employment) that get bad reviews (grade rage) are less likely to be invited back to teach again. This problem is exacerbated by helicopter parents and administrators/teachers that don't want to deal with them.

And all of this exists because we make access to quality education a competition! There would not be grade inflation in middle school if every regular high school teacher was as effective and driven as those who teach high school advanced placement courses. There wouldn't be grade inflation if public universities put less weight into GPA and more into impromptu writing (submitted writing is too biased) and proctored exams. (Instead, GPA should only be for the valedictorian prize and as a progress report on the effort made towards one's education as exhibited by assignment submissions.)

Thus, there wouldn't be grade inflation if we made access to higher education an expected right given that minimum qualifications are made.

"But college education is so expensive! We can't educate everyone to the same caliber with what we have!"

I call BS. At a luxury- and notoriety-based research university, undergraduate education is expensive. At non-research universities, education is relatively cheap. Solution: Make the very specific and public differentiation between "College" and the "Research University". Want a good education with the potential to access research-based careers? Consider attending a Research University. Want a good education so that you'll be a better person, member of society, and have a head start in a chosen industry? Consider going to College.

In California, it's the difference between attending one of the California State University campuses and attending one of the University of California campuses. We need more Cal States and we need to utilize GPA less.

about 5 months ago

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