driving quiz! and character encodings
Mood: aggravated
Posted on 2006-06-17 18:58:00
Tags: java
Words: 544

So, first things first. I was driving on Anderson east of Mopac and was waiting to turn left into the shopping center that houses the Alamo Drafthouse. The left turn light was solid green (i.e. a yield thing) and there were cars coming. Then there was a letup and a bunch of cars in front of me turned left. Except for the car in front of me - there was plenty of space to turn but he didn't. I was in no particular hurry, and there were cars waiting to turn left behind me.

So I did honk, but I waited for a while. The reason was fairly simple - the guy should have gone, and there were cars behind me. I was more honking on their behalf than honking for myself.

As it turns out, I waited too long to decide and by the time I had honked it would have been a little close, so the guy didn't go and then the light turned red. The next time it turned green, there was no fair opportunity for the guy to go. Finally, the next time we both got to go (although he hesitated a bit).

Thanks for playing!

On another note, I'm working on the Java iTunes to m3u project I mentioned before. It basically works, except for the fact that iTunes stores the file paths in UTF-8 format, while I need them to be in Latin-1 format for them to be read from the filesystem. I've run into this before in Python and solved it, but it always always takes me at least an hour and makes me very frustrated. I've read Joel on Software's The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!) which was terribly helpful in knowing what I need to do, but man, it gets frustrating. Hopefully I'll solve it in a bit here and I'll never have to write this code in Java again...
Postlude: I did finally get it to work. The key moment was when I realized I had to set the environment variable LC_ALL to en_US - then it works. If you leave it the default (blank for me), there is literally no way to access files and directory with characters above 127. This makes me cry, seriously. Don't ask me to sing UNIX's praises right about now...

djedi and destroyerj and I went to watch the US-Italy game at the Drafthouse today. It was fun! Unfortunately we were late enough that we couldn't sit together, but the upside was that it was crowded and a good crowd to watch the game with (although there were a few Italy fans here and there...luckily no problems there). I even explained to the guys next to me what offsides was :-) Wish the US had won, but a 1-1 tie is nothing to be ashamed of and they looked sooo much better than their first game, I have high hopes for their Ghana game. They have to beat Ghana to advance, and if Italy beats the Czechs, then they'll advance for sure - otherwise it comes down to tiebreakers (the first one is goals scored - goals scored against) which the US is doing poorly in right now. So we'll see Thursday morning!


Comment from djedi:

Actually, it's rather funny but this exactly car driving issue was in the paper today. They discussed that you aren't supposed to you your car horn to express impatience, only to help avoid dangerous situations. That said, i think someone taking a really long to turn left could turn into a dangerous situation.

Comment from wildrice13:

I was kinda undecided on this one, as it really irks me (as do most "stupid people driving" things) when someone is too timid to turn left when they have space at a yield, yet at the same time I'm very non-confrontational and rarely use my horn. I tend to just seethe in silence--silence as perceived from outside my car, anyway!

Comment from abstractseaweed:

In Houston there's a particular intersection where turning left requires careful attention because the oncoming traffic is coming up from a hill (hard to see from a low vehicle). I have once been honked at while waiting to turn left there; I was waiting because I could see oncoming traffic but apparently the person behind me could not. Had I responded to their impatience, it could have ended very badly.

In general I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt - I am not where they are, I cannot see what they see, and I do not know how their car handles, so if they consider it best to wait then they probably have good reason.

(Now if the light turns protected green and they just sit there, that's a different story - I'll honk to wake them up.)

Comment from onefishclappin:

Honking to tell someone that you disagree with their judgment call (In this case, "Is it safe to turn now?") is rude and can peeve people off (How many times has someone honked at you because they can't see why you aren't going yet?)

Honking when someone is inattentive, though it isn't what you are supposed to do (see djedi's comment), is ok, if it's clear that they are distracted - not going when a light turns green. This being said, I can't tell you how many times I've heard/seen someone honk when someone is just a 1/2 second slow off the line, and that's not right.

Personal pet peeve: The 3rd (or more) person in line honks, when most of the people in front of them can't do anything. They can't see what's going on and need to trust the other drivers to take care of it.

I'm a pretty infrequent honker, except when someone tries to merge into my lane which, with driving a small black car, happens at a disturbing frequency.

Comment from gregstoll:

This is true...but this clearly wasn't a judgment call (at least 6 seconds elapsed before I honked, all of which I would have gone in). The other problem is that this particular light at this time of day had no protected left, so we could be stuck there for a while...

If the person couldn't see because there was a car going the other way turning left, then he/she needed to pull up and angle the car a little bit. It irritates me that people don't seem to do this...

Comment from onefishclappin:

Actually, drivers ed will tell you not to do this because if someone hits you from behind, you will be sent straight into the oncoming traffic instead of (relatively) harmlessly into the intersection.
It sounds like you had a very tenative/inattentive driver in front of you who screwed things up for others. I'm of the belief that tenative drivers are dangerous just like reckless ones, but in a different way. Man, I wish we had strong regulations on who can drive, and *good* alternatives for those who can't or choose not to. (I feel that 1/2 the reason we end up with bad drivers out there is because they hate doing it and would avoid it, but realize that they couldn't function if they didn't.)
/rant :)

Comment from abstractseaweed:

While it's true that one should not angle their car until actually making the turn, at most intersections it is appropriate to at least pull forward into the intersection while waiting. If the light changes while you're in the intersection then you can complete the turn, so at least one person gets to turn left each light cycle. In this case it sounds like the driver stayed back and waited for 2 or 3 whole light cycles before going.

Comment from onefishclappin:


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