Monday, August 25, 2008

No need for speed

An interesting article that points to statistics (and we know how statistics lie) that show that red light cameras do not work. Comments at Bruce's blog (and I have great respect for Bruce) brings up a bunch of people complaining of "hidden taxes" because they can't stay within the stated traffic limits or follow the law at intersections.

Sorry folks. You can complain till the cows come home. Traffic accidents is one of the biggest killers in the USA. Bigger than HIV or breast cancer. Yet you drive on any highway in Illinois and see people speeding in construction zones even though it is well marked that speed cameras may be in use. This is nothing more than complete disregard not only for the construction zone workers but also other people driving in the construction zone. An accident in the construction zone is a big problem because there is often uneven pavement, narrow lanes denoted with cement pillars which means trying to avoid an accident being caused by someone else much more difficult. So even if there isn't any construction going on while you're driving in the construction zone there are reasons you need to keep your speed in check.

People don't stop at stop signs so accidents happen. Speeding gets children run over in the streets. I've seen both problems within one block of my home in the last 12 months alone.

I for one will be glad to see automated traffic enforcement rolled out en masse. I won't have problems because I drive as we're supposed to, within the law. For those that lose their house because they choose to gamble and lose money then so be it.

Schneier on Security: Red Light Cameras Don't Work
Red Light Cameras Don't Work

Friday, August 22, 2008

More news on the American Eagle fiasco at ORD

Pilots on numerous boards say that airplane doors do not lock because they are supposed to be openable in an emergency. That makes more sense. So even if the aircraft door was closed the inspector could have opened the door. Logic is missing here.

Likewise, I'm not sure what difference it makes if the jet bridge is connected to an aircraft or not. At ORD one requires both a swipe card AND a PIN they have to punch in at the door to gain access to the jet bridge. If anyone who is authorized to be on the jet bridge is there then what difference does it make door open or not? Now if someone unauthorized gained access to the jet bridge then that is a different problem and still does not matter whether or not the jet bridge is connected to the plane or not. Because, as the TSA has proven, they could enter the plane using the TAT probes as unauthorized hand grips which they then broke thus rendering the aircraft dangerous to the flying public.

Notice that this articles makes no mention of the fact that the TSA inspector rendered the aircraft unflyable when he damaged the TAT probes.

American Eagle lags on safety, TSA says --

"In at least one photo I saw, the jet bridge was connected to the aircraft and the aircraft door was left open," Montenegro said. "The inspector simply walked inside."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

TSA damages 14 American Eagle airplanes?

This one really takes the cake. Affected 40 regional commuter flights. Boy, am I glad I wasn't flying this week!

ABC News: TSA Snafu Grounds Nine Planes at O'Hare Field
TSA agents, "are now doing things to our aircraft that may put our lives, and the lives of our passengers at risk."

Monday, August 18, 2008

NYU professor of economics and the upcoming US recession

While overall this guy might have a point it is hard to tell. His blog reads too much like Cold Reading (see this site) where people remember the "hits" or successful predictions and don't remember the ones that missed. He also uses a number of confusion points (i.e. acronyms that have no meaning) so without extensive analysis the layperson can't confirm his statements or not.

I'm an NYU alumni so this isn't like I don't like the guy. I just think it is more FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) until he can write in such a way that it makes sense to all of us and not just a bunch of academics. Or we can wait for his predictions to come true but I'm not convinced. Europe and the UK have long endured considerably higher petrol prices and their economies have adjusted accordingly. While the credit crisis is a crisis how real are all the numbers?

RGE - New York Times Article on Nouriel Roubini as “Dr. Doom”
The article is a very friendly and sympathetic portrait of my views. I would take issue only with the characterization of myself as being a “perma-bear” or “perpetual pessimist”. For one thing I ended up a realist rather than a pessimist about the current economic and financial crisis; things are turning out even worse than I initially predicted.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

iPhone & WEP = no DHCP?

Once again I'm home and frustrated that the iPhone isn't connecting to my WiFi network which uses a WEP password. While several have suggested running with security turned off (sorry, ain't happening) or switching to WPA (too many devices would need reconfiguration) neither option was my preferred route.

I decided to search the Apple forums and sure enough it seems the ONLY way to get this working is setting up a static address. So I did that. I think I only have 3 computers/devices using static addresses and plenty of room in the address space for the iPhone.

Now to find Hamachi and VNC for the iPhone! ;-)

Apple - Support - Discussions - Iphone 3g home wireless with password ...
set IP Address to "static".

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hilton Garden Inn, Albany - Medical Center.

I just had what had to be the best bowl of oatmeal outside of my home. The consistency wasn't mush or paste, the oats were whole and chunky. Though the chef here sweetened the oatmeal that was fine by me as I sweeten my oatmeal. No cinnamon but then again when you're getting real oats, and they haven't been overcooked...

So if you ever get the chance to come to Albany book this hotel and enjoy the oatmeal. Caveat... on Monday it was sweet grits which I didn't care much for. But the oatmeal is to die for (if you travel for a living).

Monday, August 11, 2008

Who is broken? iPhone or ATT 3G network?

Unlike a lot of people discussing their problems I have the luxury of personally carrying 3 separate ATT devices; (a) Nokia S75 for work (b) iPhone 3G and (c) Optimax 3G PCMCIA card. Here have been my experiences:

USA: I travel alot so my coverage has literally been coast to coast SFO to LGA and many places in between.

Spotty 3G coverage. Often the Optimax 3G PCMCIA card has varying signal strength from 3-bar 3G to "No Signal." This is sitting still in one place working on my laptop. Very frustrating. At least at my hotel tonight I have solid 4-bar 3G service and have not seen it sway at all. But at the office I'm working at the signal tops out at 3-bars 3G and then goes to "No Signal." Can't get a lot of work done like that. Most 3G service in the US seems to have 2-bars or less so I'm surprised at the good signal here in Albany. I had similar good signal in Chicago a couple of weeks ago.

I have seen the same problems with the varying signal strength on my Nokia & iPhone. I think the problem has to be ATT 3G service but as a Amateur Radio guy I can't understand the violent swings in signal strength unless it is some kind of an equipment problem at the tower (i.e. bad ground on the antenna, faulty transponders, etc).

The Nokia often lets me hear people on calls but they can't always hear me. I have to shut the phone off and turn it on again and then call them back. Then they can hear me. I think this has happened once with the iPhone since I got it last month. I know I have had problems calling other people with the frequent "call back" button displayed after the call was not established.

Europe/Middle East
The 3G signal is dead strong everywhere. I've have been utterly amazed at how strong the 3G signal was. Hardly any dead spots anywhere and didn't see the Nokia exhibiting any issues it had in the US.

Certainly seems like a network issue to me. I guess it is hard to deploy 3G nationwide reliably.

Apple - Support - Discussions - Dropped Calls on the iPhone 3G ...
When I bought the iPhone 3G, I knew that 3G coverage would not be perfect, and I can accept that. The coverage will only get better with time.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Alex's favorite iPhone applications for August

Koi Pond. Run, don't walk, and download this $0.99 application. A koi pond in your iPhone along with lilly pads. While it won't replace the real thing I look forward to the next version. Touch the water and see the fish react.

Stanza is another good one. You can also download books to the iPhone ala Kindle. Granted you can't get the latest books but it is time I've read some of the older ones.

Facebook. Granted it isn't everything I want it to be but it beats SMS'ing my status. Quick and responsive.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Sad story

It is sad that Greyhound actually predicted "bus rage"

Greyhound scraps ad campaign after Canada bus beheading -
The ad's tag line was "There's a reason you've never heard of 'bus rage.'"