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Kiva Systems Co-Founder: Drone Delivery Could Be As Low As 20 Cents Per Package

vtcodger Re:Can't imagine anything going wrong (92 comments)

A system that can deliver Molotov Cocktails for less than the cost of a soft drink? What could possibly go wrong? This concept is almost as inherently safe and harmless as hooking every traffic light in the country to the internet.

And furthermore we're going to need it to deliver food and medicine when some bored teenager in Budapest switches every traffic light in Western Europe, Australia, and North America to a permanent red.

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

vtcodger Re:excessive scripts (143 comments)

> All the user can do is complain that bootup is slower...yeah, y'reckon?

At least one can evict most stuff from the system tray if one works hard enough at it. And it is handy to have a volume control and possibly a few other things there. What, can be done about whackjobs who believe, almost always incorrectly, that javascript is essential to their user's "website experience?"

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

vtcodger Re:But why? (143 comments)

It's because every web page wants to load a metric fuck-ton of third-party Javascript and Ajax code from 10 different sources - just to display their banner and navigation panels ...

Sounds right to me. All I know for sure is that today's web has managed the rather remarkable feat of mostly being slower in use than Compuserve was in the early 1990s with a 1200 baud modem. And that's AFTER blocking about 16000 nuisances in /etc/hosts. Our EEE PC's where I don't currently have a hosts file, have become pretty much unusable in Firefox. My esteemed spouse has come to blame Firefox for the situation and would probably advocate execution of the Firefox programmers.

Personally, I think the basic problem is that web site designers are often incompetent and almost universally nuts

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

vtcodger Re: Hide your cables (516 comments)

> Sounds more like a shill for the company that makes power poles.

The poles are almost invariably wood -- pine trunks. Only God can make a utility pole (currently anyway).

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

vtcodger Re:In Finland (516 comments)

In California for example much of the earthquake damage seems to be wooden houses although they have noticeably strengthened building codes Californians are still stuck with a whole lot of vulnerable older houses.

Backwards. Wooden structures do much better in earthquakes than more rigid structures -- which is why California's building codes allow wood, but ban unreinforced masonry (i.e. bricks) and lightly reinforced concrete. Wooden buildings aren't always as straight or safe after a major earthquake as they were before. But the vast majority of fatalities and serious injuries in quakes since 1933 have been from the collapse of concrete structures -- buildings and roads. see http://timelines.latimes.com/l...

Wiring? I live in a mostly rural area, and it's mostly a matter of cost I think. My neighborhood has underground utilities that are quite reliable. But most of the region has overhead wiring that is vulnerable to rain, ice, lightning and vehicles amputating the utility poles. Reason: If there are only a handful of customers per kilometer, the costs of burying the wiring are too high for the customer base to fund.

about three weeks ago
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Here's What Your Car Could Look Like In 2030

vtcodger Re:car (144 comments)

It looks like a black rectangle to me. Maybe their web page is just fucked up.

Didn't miss anything. I got as far as the first slide. Or maybe it's their site web page. Whatever it is, it is quite incomprehensible. I don't know what my car will look like in 15 years -- assuming I'm still alive and still have a car. But I'm virtually certain that these dudes will have no role whatsoever in it's design and implementation.

about three weeks ago
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In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

vtcodger Re:In a Self-Driving Future--- (454 comments)

Compared to a computer, a human is utterly incompetent to operate any heavy machinery. The reaction times and accuracy just aren't there, and never will be. That makes you comparatively dangerous, no matter how 'law abiding' you might be

I'm sure the air forces and airline companies will be pleased to know that they can fire their pilots and turn the whole operation over to machines.

about a month ago
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In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

vtcodger Re:In a Self-Driving Future--- (454 comments)

I'm quite willing to believe that self driving cars on an expressway that is not undergoing maintenance and in weather that isn't too appalling are significantly safer than human drivers. The worst human drivers are really atrocious. The barrier isn't high.

But I think it is likely to be a long, long time before current map based driving systems are able to navigate suburban or rural roads, deal with detours, pets, or kids, or livestock, or wildlife, or pedestrians with or without strollers, or utility crews, or guys trimming trees, or road crews digging deep holes, or folks signaling a left turn while turning right, or falling/drifting dust or snow (where the hell is the edge of this road and is there a ditch?)

Then there really is a problem with the sales guys overpromising. Are you aware that ABS braking systems worked abysmally for years -- OK on dry roads. not awful on wet roads. Useless or worse in sand, snow, gravel. Probably not, because no one went out to their way to inform the public

I'd like nothing better than to pay someone to install a box or three and a few actuators and sensors that will do my driving for me. But I don't expect it any time soon.

about a month ago
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The New-ish Technologies That Will Alter Your Career

vtcodger Re:I liked the original title better (66 comments)

Pretty much :

Internet of Things: The strange idea that my internet connected refrigerator is going to engage in long philosophical discussions with a laundromat in Tashkent and that I will somehow benefit from the discourse. (And that my fridge will not be defrosted by a sociopathic twelve year old in Capetown). Certainly some factory applications will work out. But life changing? My bet is not. (And if I have my way, my ap[pliances aren't going to have an internet connection anyway.)

Parallel Programming: I dunno about the rest of you folks, but I HATE debugging race conditions. There are some applications where parallel programming is a great idea. But mostly, as was pointed out decades ago by I forget who, any advantage gained from multiple CPUs is likely to be lost in expanded interprocess communication and waiting for locks to clear.

3D printing: Seems like it HAS to be good for something. But other than prototyping and maybe some appliance repair where shape is more important than material characteristics, it's hard to see what.

Web APIs: Yechhh. With the best of intentions we've created a monster by allowing everyone to do pretty much whatever they damn well please. Your basic tower of Babel. Yes, there will be careers based on trying to work with this stuff. But I think cleaning septic tanks might be more fun.

Embedded Systems: Fun as a hobby. Will probably be the basis of some really mind-boggling science fair projects. I expect a few folks will somehow create genuinely useful devices and may even profit thereby. But mostly I suspect we're going to end up with uncounted digital nutcrakers and similar pointless stuff.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Programming Education Resources For a Year Offline?

vtcodger Re:Donald Knuth (223 comments)

The art of Computer Programming would be my thought as well, but Knuth isn't for everyone. I'd suggest starting it as soon as possible so there's time to put together a Plan B if TAOCP doesn't appeal. The only other book I can think of that really deals in fundamentals is Hamming -- Numerical Methods for Scientists and Engineers. In any case having lived out of a single suitcase for months more than once in my life, I'd suggest taking something somewhat challenging to read on rainy evenings or dealing with public transportation. which is almost always "hurry up and wait". Things that might provoke thought like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance or Fooled by Randomness. The choice is very much a personal thing. In any case, I'd include at least a couple physical books. They are far more robust than even the best of todays electronics. And they don't need batteries.

about a month ago
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If Your Cloud Vendor Goes Out of Business, Are You Ready?

vtcodger Re:incremental backups (150 comments)

What's the problem? The NSA can always get your data back for you? Right?

about 2 months ago
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Only 100 Cybercrime Brains Worldwide, Says Europol Boss

vtcodger Re:There is always a top 100 (104 comments)

Lots of job advancement opportunities for Number 3 thru N guys at Al Queda. The trick looks to be is to find another gig before you advance to Number 2..

As for Mr Oerling, I think he is probably delusional and is vastly underestimating both the number of serious security flaws in modern software and the number of folks attempting to find and exploit the flaws, but maybe he knows something I don't.

about 2 months ago
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Liking Analog Meters Doesn't Make You a Luddite (Video)

vtcodger Re:Analog displays are better in some situations. (155 comments)

Almost everything electronic has been replaced with higher complexity, yet still higher reliability,

Half right. Stuff does tend to become more complex over time. But not necessarily more reliable or more usable. For example, some of our kitchen appliances are indeed more usable than those I grew up with in the 1950s. Some are cluttered with unnecessary, weird, or incomprehensible "features". There are a couple of companies whose products I won't even consider any more when making purchasing decisions because of the loathsome controls they have inflicted on the world in the past.

Reliability? Thanks largely to the Japanese -- who actually care about such things -- Automobiles actually have become more reliable over time. Kitchen appliances. Not so much. Electronics? Look no further than the shambles that the internet has become.

Complexity is not necessarily good. I suspect that if the newer is better school had their way, hammers would weight 20 kilos, have an incomprehensible control panel, 17 moving parts, three circuit boards and would require both power and internet connections. And you'd need to log into them

about 2 months ago
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Liking Analog Meters Doesn't Make You a Luddite (Video)

vtcodger Re:Analog displays are better in some situations. (155 comments)

So it seems to be less about the medium and more about the designed controls.

Exactly. If designers want to do internals with digital bits, that's their decision. If they even have a decision. But the output should be adjusted or adjustable to user needs. Which is hard, because frankly we techies suck at interface design and .experts on interface design seem to be, if anything, worse than non-experts at producing usable devices. For situations like trying to adjust for maximum or minimal level, digital readouts can be pretty much unusable and it's hard to beat the classic analog design that Wikipedia tells me has been around for two centuries.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Remote Support For Disconnected, Computer-Illiterate Relatives

vtcodger Re:Dial up can still access gmail (334 comments)

However, I should probably add that using a web oriented computer like Chromebook in a place with only dialup might encounter a few problems.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Remote Support For Disconnected, Computer-Illiterate Relatives

vtcodger Re:Dial up can still access gmail (334 comments)

All I know about Chromebooks is what I just read at Wikipedia. But they seem to have USB ports. There certainly are USB fax modems out there and they are cheap. I just set one up on a netbook so we can ditch the ancient fax machine pushed back in a corner of the bedroom. I don't know for sure that the Trendnet USB modem we bought works with Linux/ChromeOS, but it certainly runs well enough with Windows XP to get a login prompt from a local Netzero node.

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

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

My proposal is that airlines add a new seating class to be known as Midget Class (colloquially "Sardine Class"). MC will be available only to passengers under 160cm (5ft 3 in for Americans) and 50kg(110lb). It will be priced the same as Economy and Economy will be redesignated as DeLuxe and priced at 1.4 times MC. MC seats will be smaller and stacked vertically and horizontally using a sophisticated packing algorithm. The legroom in Deluxe will be reduced by 2.5cm (one inch) from the current Economy.

BTW, between the steadily shrinking seats, nutty security theater, inability to maintain published schedules and third world chaos of airport operations, I quit flying a decade ago. I realize that not everyone has that option. But I would ask those that do, why they pay money to be subjected to modern airtravel? Buses, trains (even US trains), cars, and ships are far less aggravation. I'm far from sure that Hitchhiking isn't about as comfortable and reliable.

about 3 months ago
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The Frustrations of Supporting Users In Remote Offices

vtcodger Re:Show Users some love! (129 comments)

Maybe you're both correct to some extent. Rebooting certainly doesn't solve all problems. But the software architecture used in Windows/Unix does have the unfortunate characteristic that it sometimes manages to transition into states that no one anticipated and that do undesirable things. Rebooting restores a more desirable state. At least for a while.

There is also a problem that few modern PCs use memory capable of detecting memory errors Thus it's possible for values defining system state to change spontaneously without being detected. That's an interesting case of shifting costs from visible hardware costs to less visible support costs -- largely Microsoft's (bad) idea BTW. Long story there. Anyway rebooting will help if important bits somewhere in memory have reset themselves.

There is some credible evidence that flaky PC memory is more common than most people assume. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R...

OTOH, if the problem is a logic error in code, or bad documentation, or an atrocious user interface, or the user -- rebooting can't fix it.

about 4 months ago
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Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

vtcodger Re:My opinion on the matter. (826 comments)

Translation: "Why should I learn from the mistakes made in the past? I'll just make them all over again.

I doubt you'll manage to repeat ALL of the mistakes of the past. You'd have to be pretty clever to do that. But with sufficient effort and diligence, you can probably manage to repeat most of them. And maybe even come up with one or two truly innovative cock-ups that we old timers overlooked.

about 4 months ago
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Google Wants To Test Driverless Cars In a Simulation

vtcodger Re:so what is the problem? (173 comments)

Personally, I'm not fond of replacing real world testing completely with simulations.

Exactly. A broad battery of simulations makes sense for regression testing to prove that the 2027 model year software handles all the situations that the 2026 did. But real world testing is required to verify that the system doesn't do nutty things when confronted with unusual conditions -- dust clouds, ice coated wall to wall potholes, a trackless rural road or rarely used off ramp covered with four inches of snow with whiteout conditions (where is the edge of this damn road?)..

Keep in mind that we treat human misjudgments in extreme conditions as unavoidable accidents. But unless I misjudge Homo lawyerensis (a species that regretably perhaps does not appear to be endangered), every significant accident involving a self-driving vehicle is probably going to be the manufacturer's fault.

about 4 months ago

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