Author Topic: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread  (Read 843092 times)

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exitzero

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #5865 on: October 10, 2012, 03:06:27 PM »
Snooks wrote:

"However it's an urban myth that flashing headlights/sirens trigger traffic lights to change."

For headlights, it doesn't work.  For strobe lights, it does, as long as the signal has a strobe sensor, and most emergency vehicles (the kinds that would have a siren in the first place) will have strobes to trigger them.

o_gal wrote:

"It was in the NOVA episode "Trapped in an Elevator" that originally aired a couple of years ago. In it, an engineer from one of the elevator companies stated that by design, the close button doesn't work, they just put it in there to make people feel like they are doing something."

I just went out and did some testing with our elevator.  Without pushing the button, the door took eight seconds to close after opening every single time.  When I pushed the button at five seconds, the door reacted by closing immediately every time.  I can't answer for your particular engineer, but I suspect he's either shining on the viewers or he's alone in his understanding.

Virg

I read somewhere that the close door button will work in older elevators, but in anything built since the 90's, it's there to give people something to push.

TootsNYC

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #5866 on: October 10, 2012, 03:39:15 PM »
I don't believe that one--I work in a newish building, and ours work.

I would believe that they have been programmed to not *always* react immediately.


Nibsey

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #5867 on: October 10, 2012, 03:49:17 PM »
New stupid question:  Why is Samhain pronounced SOW-win?  Or, more precisely, why is SOW-win spelled samhain?  It starts with "s" and ends with "n", but the letters in the center have little or no association with their usual sounds.

I believe it's Celtic (or even outright Irish?) and the "mh" produces a different sound than one would expect.  Like the "bh" combonation makes a "V" sound.  (the name "Siobhan" is pronounced "Shi-vahn")
Yes, it's Gaelic (Celtic refers to a lot of things, not just language.)  One of our Irish members may chime in here, but looking at it from an American's point of view, in Irish Gaelic, 'h' after a letter means "backspace and delete."  That is, you eliminate both the preceding letter and the 'h.' 

Except when it doesn't.  Siobhan is the poster child for this.  I believe it also has something to do with the vowels and whether they are 'broad' or 'slender.'  Don't ask me to explain what THOSE are!  :D I have no idea.

The classic name to illustrate this is "Mathghamhan."  The Anglicized version is "Mahon."

It's more like the h is silent and changes the pronunciation of the preceding letter. So, for example,  j, q, v, w, x, y and z aren't in the Irish alphabet so if you wanted to make a 'j' sound , you'd use dh, A 'w' is bh etc depending if it's broad or slender which is more about accent. Like the phrase, you have a broad accent. (even though I don't know if other countries use this phrase).  :)
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GreenHall

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #5868 on: October 10, 2012, 03:52:26 PM »
re: Elevator 'Door Close' buttons, in my recent experience (building built in the last 15+/- yrs) the close door button did NOT work if you hit it immediately upon entering the elevator.  It did work if you waited a bit; and generally after the 'Door Open' button was used.   
As previously mentioned I had the hardest time using the Door Open button, as I always got flustered making sure  I did not use the Door Close button, and the hesitation time was sometimes enough that the door closed.

With crosswalks, for the longest time I thoroughly believed those buttons only existed to make you think you were doing something while the light cycle continued on its normal course.  I don't know if they are better maintained now, actually programmed now, or if it's because I work on a college campus now, (or if i just developed some modicum of patience finally) but there are some that now work.  I've waited through light cycles when I got to the corner and did NOT push the button because others were already there...that'll learn me.

On the stupid question front...have I finally at an embarrassingly advanced age figured out how crosswalk signals work?  If I am walking directly across the street, I push the button that parallels my walk.  If I am turning, I need to hit the perpendicular button? 
(Not that this helps when the button post is skewed in such a way that even that overdue understanding is no help.  A lot of times, I just hit both buttons to be sure...

jpcher

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #5869 on: October 10, 2012, 06:48:49 PM »
On the stupid question front...have I finally at an embarrassingly advanced age figured out how crosswalk signals work?  If I am walking directly across the street, I push the button that parallels my walk.  If I am turning, I need to hit the perpendicular button?
(Not that this helps when the button post is skewed in such a way that even that overdue understanding is no help.  A lot of times, I just hit both buttons to be sure...

Green -- This would be my understanding, even if the buttons are a bit skewed, hit the one that's closest to the direction you are walking.

Bold -- In which case, I'm betting that you're negating pushing any button at all. :-\

Ceallach

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #5870 on: October 10, 2012, 07:00:18 PM »
^ Somebody told me that the door close button in the elevator doesn't actually do anything; it just makes the pusher feel like they're doing something.  I don't ride in many elevators so I haven't had a chance to see if that's true.

I can't seem to find a reference, however I believe that is a myth and that in fact a non-functioning close button would render the elevator non-compliant with safety standards.

I've certainly pressed the button myself in some elevators and it does seem to shut faster than without it.   One thing I don't use though is the "open" button.... for some reason whenever I see somebody coming and want to hold the elevator for them I panic and hit the wrong button (close instead of open) so instead of looking like a nice person holding the elevator I look like a mean person trying to close the doors before they get in!  :-[   So I usually wave my arm in between the doors to get them to stay open instead.    (Assuming they are still mostly open - I don't generally bother trying to hold the elevator if the doors are mostly closed, that's just inefficient for everybody).

With the crossing lights thing, I just push the button repeatedly because I hate hate hate not doing anything and those new-ish metal buttons make a great noise when you push them. :) I tend to try not to do it when other people are at the lights though, because I'm embarrassed by just how childish I can be and try to hide it when I think someone's looking.  :-[

Also, please don't wave your arm in the elevator. I got caught once. Mercifully the other people forced the door open before the elevator could move but it's made me really really cautious ever since.

If the door is wide open and I wave my arm through quickly there's not really any risk of it getting caught.  The doors are still open and are a long way from my arm.

I see people holding the door by standing in it / putting their arm across all the time.  I imagine it would only be an issue if you tried to stick your arm through at the last second?
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Ceallach

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #5871 on: October 10, 2012, 07:05:28 PM »
^ Somebody told me that the door close button in the elevator doesn't actually do anything; it just makes the pusher feel like they're doing something.  I don't ride in many elevators so I haven't had a chance to see if that's true.

I can't seem to find a reference, however I believe that is a myth and that in fact a non-functioning close button would render the elevator non-compliant with safety standards.

I've certainly pressed the button myself in some elevators and it does seem to shut faster than without it.   One thing I don't use though is the "open" button.... for some reason whenever I see somebody coming and want to hold the elevator for them I panic and hit the wrong button (close instead of open) so instead of looking like a nice person holding the elevator I look like a mean person trying to close the doors before they get in!  :-[   So I usually wave my arm in between the doors to get them to stay open instead.    (Assuming they are still mostly open - I don't generally bother trying to hold the elevator if the doors are mostly closed, that's just inefficient for everybody).

With the crossing lights thing, I just push the button repeatedly because I hate hate hate not doing anything and those new-ish metal buttons make a great noise when you push them. :) I tend to try not to do it when other people are at the lights though, because I'm embarrassed by just how childish I can be and try to hide it when I think someone's looking.  :-[

Also, please don't wave your arm in the elevator. I got caught once. Mercifully the other people forced the door open before the elevator could move but it's made me really really cautious ever since.

I don't know if it works everywhere, but in my area, if you press the walk button 5 times quickly to cross at an intersection that has a longer cycle in favour of one (main) direction, it will shorter the duration of the green light to let you cross sooner.  If you push the button once, it will be a longer wait.  If you don't push the button, the walk signal may not appear at all, especially during rush hour.

Older crossings in the UK go red instantly if you press them three times in quick succession, unfortunately it doesn't work for newer ones.

They do? How did I not know that?

I'm not sure if any still exist, there was on near me that used to do it and long long ago (maybe forty years ago) all the ones on Oxford Street and Regent Street used to do it.  Supposedly it was to allow police to cross busy roads quickly.  However it's an urban myth that flashing headlights/sirens trigger traffic lights to change.

I will be testing them out. If you read about a crazy woman pushing the buttons enthusiastically around the Home Counties that may be me.

Interesting!  I had no idea that in some places pressing the button multiple times *will* get you across faster.  It seems like a strange system from a planning perspective (is it designed with the thought "Oh if somebody's in a REAL hurry we should let them across faster!"?  ;D )  but definitely interesting to know.

I am 100% certain it's not the case here - I temped for awhile at an engineering firm who are responsible for setting up traffic light changes (amongst other things).   It was a very eye-opening experience for me.  If there are some lights with secret special button press codes such as "press 3 times for a quick change" they're keeping it very well hidden!    So I suspect with most people here it's just habit or killing time as PPs have suggested. 
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Ceallach

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #5872 on: October 10, 2012, 07:09:53 PM »
On the stupid question front...have I finally at an embarrassingly advanced age figured out how crosswalk signals work?  If I am walking directly across the street, I push the button that parallels my walk.  If I am turning, I need to hit the perpendicular button?
(Not that this helps when the button post is skewed in such a way that even that overdue understanding is no help.  A lot of times, I just hit both buttons to be sure...

Green -- This would be my understanding, even if the buttons are a bit skewed, hit the one that's closest to the direction you are walking.

Bold -- In which case, I'm betting that you're negating pushing any button at all. :-\

Around here the buttons have an arrow pointing in the direction they relate to.   You press the button with the arrow pointing in the direction that you wish to cross.     Occasionally at an intersection on a funny angle it can be tricky to tell which button is for which direction - I've seen people accidentally press the wrong one (the first one they see) not realising it's for the other way and that they need to go over and press a different button.

The good news is that often it doesn't matter - at major intersections the lights are frequently set to go on a timer (in synch with the traffic lights) regardless.   But at others it's crucial.   The major intersection near my house the little green man will only go off if you press the button, otherwise more left-turning traffic gets to go through instead.   DH and I know the change so well that he will run ahead to hit the button on approach if we can see we're about to miss the window.  Otherwise we might arrive at the right time to cross but get no cross signal and have to wait the whole transition again.
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Onyx_TKD

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #5873 on: October 10, 2012, 07:29:52 PM »
On the stupid question front...have I finally at an embarrassingly advanced age figured out how crosswalk signals work?  If I am walking directly across the street, I push the button that parallels my walk.  If I am turning, I need to hit the perpendicular button?
(Not that this helps when the button post is skewed in such a way that even that overdue understanding is no help.  A lot of times, I just hit both buttons to be sure...

Green -- This would be my understanding, even if the buttons are a bit skewed, hit the one that's closest to the direction you are walking.

Bold -- In which case, I'm betting that you're negating pushing any button at all. :-\

If I am reading GreenHall's post correctly, he/she is hitting the walk buttons for both directions. This would just tell the signal that there are people waiting to cross the intersection in both directions. I don't see any reason it would cancel the request for a walk signal. I have frequently hit both buttons at an intersection when I needed to get diagonally across, because it made no difference to me which direction I crossed first, as long as I got walk signals with both lights. It has always seemed to work in the manner I describe (these are intersections where no walk signal is displayed unless someone has pressed the button).

Ceallach

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #5874 on: October 10, 2012, 07:39:33 PM »
On the stupid question front...have I finally at an embarrassingly advanced age figured out how crosswalk signals work?  If I am walking directly across the street, I push the button that parallels my walk.  If I am turning, I need to hit the perpendicular button?
(Not that this helps when the button post is skewed in such a way that even that overdue understanding is no help.  A lot of times, I just hit both buttons to be sure...

Green -- This would be my understanding, even if the buttons are a bit skewed, hit the one that's closest to the direction you are walking.

Bold -- In which case, I'm betting that you're negating pushing any button at all. :-\

If I am reading GreenHall's post correctly, he/she is hitting the walk buttons for both directions. This would just tell the signal that there are people waiting to cross the intersection in both directions. I don't see any reason it would cancel the request for a walk signal. I have frequently hit both buttons at an intersection when I needed to get diagonally across, because it made no difference to me which direction I crossed first, as long as I got walk signals with both lights. It has always seemed to work in the manner I describe (these are intersections where no walk signal is displayed unless someone has pressed the button).

Oh I understand now! 

Yes I do the same thing.   If it's an intersection where I don't know the light sequencing, and I'm happy going either way (to get diagonally across) I'll press both buttons.     It definitely doesn't cancel anything out, it just means that  both crosswalks are triggered to go off at the appropriate time, so whichever happens to come up first in the sequencing I'll use.   (From the perspective of the machinery itself, it thinks there are people wanting to cross *both* ways - it doesn't know that it's 1 person who has pressed both!  Neither take higher priority, it's just which one is scheduled to come up first if required.  If I don't know which one is scheduled to come up next I'll just tell it I need both).
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jpcher

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #5875 on: October 10, 2012, 08:37:36 PM »
On the stupid question front...have I finally at an embarrassingly advanced age figured out how crosswalk signals work?  If I am walking directly across the street, I push the button that parallels my walk.  If I am turning, I need to hit the perpendicular button?
(Not that this helps when the button post is skewed in such a way that even that overdue understanding is no help.  A lot of times, I just hit both buttons to be sure...

Green -- This would be my understanding, even if the buttons are a bit skewed, hit the one that's closest to the direction you are walking.

Bold -- In which case, I'm betting that you're negating pushing any button at all. :-\

If I am reading GreenHall's post correctly, he/she is hitting the walk buttons for both directions. This would just tell the signal that there are people waiting to cross the intersection in both directions. I don't see any reason it would cancel the request for a walk signal. I have frequently hit both buttons at an intersection when I needed to get diagonally across, because it made no difference to me which direction I crossed first, as long as I got walk signals with both lights. It has always seemed to work in the manner I describe (these are intersections where no walk signal is displayed unless someone has pressed the button).

Oh I understand now! 

Yes I do the same thing.   If it's an intersection where I don't know the light sequencing, and I'm happy going either way (to get diagonally across) I'll press both buttons.     It definitely doesn't cancel anything out, it just means that  both crosswalks are triggered to go off at the appropriate time, so whichever happens to come up first in the sequencing I'll use.   (From the perspective of the machinery itself, it thinks there are people wanting to cross *both* ways - it doesn't know that it's 1 person who has pressed both!  Neither take higher priority, it's just which one is scheduled to come up first if required.  If I don't know which one is scheduled to come up next I'll just tell it I need both).

Okay, I get this.

If it doesn't matter to you which way you cross first, hitting both buttons would make sense. You would cross with whichever light turns first.

However, if you're intent is to go only the one direction, why would (generic) you press the other button? By pressing the other cross-walk button, don't you think that you just might have to wait for that signal to go through before your intended direction signal comes up?


Onyx_TKD

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #5876 on: October 10, 2012, 08:48:37 PM »
On the stupid question front...have I finally at an embarrassingly advanced age figured out how crosswalk signals work?  If I am walking directly across the street, I push the button that parallels my walk.  If I am turning, I need to hit the perpendicular button?
(Not that this helps when the button post is skewed in such a way that even that overdue understanding is no help.  A lot of times, I just hit both buttons to be sure...

Green -- This would be my understanding, even if the buttons are a bit skewed, hit the one that's closest to the direction you are walking.

Bold -- In which case, I'm betting that you're negating pushing any button at all. :-\

If I am reading GreenHall's post correctly, he/she is hitting the walk buttons for both directions. This would just tell the signal that there are people waiting to cross the intersection in both directions. I don't see any reason it would cancel the request for a walk signal. I have frequently hit both buttons at an intersection when I needed to get diagonally across, because it made no difference to me which direction I crossed first, as long as I got walk signals with both lights. It has always seemed to work in the manner I describe (these are intersections where no walk signal is displayed unless someone has pressed the button).

Oh I understand now! 

Yes I do the same thing.   If it's an intersection where I don't know the light sequencing, and I'm happy going either way (to get diagonally across) I'll press both buttons.     It definitely doesn't cancel anything out, it just means that  both crosswalks are triggered to go off at the appropriate time, so whichever happens to come up first in the sequencing I'll use.   (From the perspective of the machinery itself, it thinks there are people wanting to cross *both* ways - it doesn't know that it's 1 person who has pressed both!  Neither take higher priority, it's just which one is scheduled to come up first if required.  If I don't know which one is scheduled to come up next I'll just tell it I need both).

Okay, I get this.

If it doesn't matter to you which way you cross first, hitting both buttons would make sense. You would cross with whichever light turns first.

However, if you're intent is to go only the one direction, why would (generic) you press the other button? By pressing the other cross-walk button, don't you think that you just might have to wait for that signal to go through before your intended direction signal comes up?

In some intersections, you will only get a walk signal if the button for that direction is pressed, and in some of these, you also have to hit the button before the traffic light changes (i.e., if there's already a green light in your desired direction but no walk signal, hitting the button won't trigger the walk signal until the next green light in that direction--don't ask me why, it's incredibly annoying). If the buttons aren't properly lined up, it may not be clear which button corresponds to each direction. To press only one button, you would have to guess which is the right one. Guess wrong, and you won't know until the light turns green and there's no walk signal, in which case you have to wait through the entire light cycle. Press both, and you might add a little time waiting for the signal going the other direction, but you know you'll get your walk signal within that light cycle.

kareng57

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #5877 on: October 10, 2012, 11:18:01 PM »
^ Somebody told me that the door close button in the elevator doesn't actually do anything; it just makes the pusher feel like they're doing something.  I don't ride in many elevators so I haven't had a chance to see if that's true.

I can't seem to find a reference, however I believe that is a myth and that in fact a non-functioning close button would render the elevator non-compliant with safety standards.

I've certainly pressed the button myself in some elevators and it does seem to shut faster than without it.   One thing I don't use though is the "open" button.... for some reason whenever I see somebody coming and want to hold the elevator for them I panic and hit the wrong button (close instead of open) so instead of looking like a nice person holding the elevator I look like a mean person trying to close the doors before they get in!  :-[   So I usually wave my arm in between the doors to get them to stay open instead.    (Assuming they are still mostly open - I don't generally bother trying to hold the elevator if the doors are mostly closed, that's just inefficient for everybody).

With the crossing lights thing, I just push the button repeatedly because I hate hate hate not doing anything and those new-ish metal buttons make a great noise when you push them. :) I tend to try not to do it when other people are at the lights though, because I'm embarrassed by just how childish I can be and try to hide it when I think someone's looking.  :-[

Also, please don't wave your arm in the elevator. I got caught once. Mercifully the other people forced the door open before the elevator could move but it's made me really really cautious ever since.


My problem is that the new pedestrian-signals in my neighbourhood don't make noise at all, and are so flat that you can't really be sure that it "registered" when you first press them.  So the tendency is to do it two or three times, just to make sure.  Of course I know that it won't make the "walk" signal appear any faster.

Hillia

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #5878 on: October 11, 2012, 09:34:28 AM »
Here's one for the historians.

I'm reading a lot of English history, particularly around the Tudor period.  There are lots of quotes from letters, personal accounts, etc.  How many of these source documents actually survive to be quoted by historians, and how many are quotes of quotes of quotes going back hundreds of years?  It seems unlikely that all these papers have survived and are still legible after so long, but quoting quotes seems like the longest game of Telephone ever, with tons of chances for inaccuracies to creep in.

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RingTailedLemur

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #5879 on: October 11, 2012, 10:15:05 AM »
Here's one for the historians.

I'm reading a lot of English history, particularly around the Tudor period.  There are lots of quotes from letters, personal accounts, etc.  How many of these source documents actually survive to be quoted by historians, and how many are quotes of quotes of quotes going back hundreds of years?  It seems unlikely that all these papers have survived and are still legible after so long, but quoting quotes seems like the longest game of Telephone ever, with tons of chances for inaccuracies to creep in.

Not really, it's only been 500 years.  There are even Roman paper-and-ink documents around that are still legible.