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Programming Windows Azure by Sriram Krishnan

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Chapter 10. Tables

It is difficult to describe to someone what traffic in a major city in India is like. It is something that you must see for yourself. A typical road in India has a crosswalk, traffic signals, and all the other paraphernalia you expect from any self-respecting road. There are traffic laws and traffic cops, too, not so dissimilar from what you find in the United States. What is different is that the laws in India are more like “guidelines.”

In India, crossing the road can be quite an adventure. You walk to the edge of the road, wait for a gap in the traffic, and dart across, like some human version of Frogger. You rarely find enough of a lull to get you all the way across, so you weave your way across traffic furiously signaling for folks to slow down. The key point here is that the onus is on the pedestrian to not get killed.

In the United States, pedestrians are encouraged to use the electronic button to activate a “walk” signal at a crosswalk, which, in the eyes of someone from India, magically switches on to protect walkers from oncoming traffic. What a great little system, prioritizing traffic signals on demand from pedestrians. Wouldn’t it be great if India could do the same thing? This was demonstrably better than the chaos back home, right?

Actually, this system would never work in India. India has close to a billion people packed into a land mass several times smaller than the United States. It just isn’t practical to build a system that changes traffic signals ...

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