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Comment: Re:The best gift? (Score 1) 113

by Deep Esophagus (#48586461) Attached to: 2014 Geek Gift Guide

I thought this article might be somewhat useful, since I've never heard of Haselton and my daughter and I are both geeks, but... I have to admit that is a lot of text to wade through. I think much of the hostility is still overreaction, but... yeah, poorly written and (as others have noted) poorly researched.

And even if the article were reasonable and well formatted and provided useful information... who on the planet is waiting until the last minute to get their Christmas shopping done? I could have used this information two months ago, not now!

Comment: Re:"Ultimately, our users will decide" (Score 5, Insightful) 239

by Deep Esophagus (#48522921) Attached to: Google Hopes To One Day Replace Gmail With Inbox

Yeah, I'll also be switching to a new service if they force me into some app that looks more like twitter than conventional email. Consider this garbage (from the Wikipedia entry):

Google scans the email account for important and similar information. It then presents what it considers the most important parts of the email first and groups similar emails as "Bundles" that are named by type (e.g., "Travel" or "Updates"). It also converts physical addresses into Google Maps links and airline confirmation numbers into a flight status update.[2] Users can make custom Bundles as they would make Gmail filters, and can specify the time of day to show the Bundle.

I don't want bundles. I don't want them timed. I don't want Google to decide what is and isn't the "most important parts". I just want to see my email in the same format it was created.

Comment: Re: Yes (Score 2) 376

by Deep Esophagus (#48492529) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: IT Career Path After 35?

I don't do marathon coding sessions or any of the ridiculous self sacrificing stuff that some seem to think is the norm

This. That's how you stay in the business for more than a few years: do something well and keep doing it and getting better and learning new techniques rather than burn brightly and briefly. I started around age 25; now I'm 52 and in my second decade with the same company. Hotshots who can code circles around me come and go, but I'm dependable and I can maintain 20-year-old code as well as develop new code, and I won't disappear when it gets boring or a headhunter dangles something shiny in front of me.

Best of all, because I balanced work life and personal life, I still love what I do and had time to raise a family while I was doing it.

Comment: Environmental impact (Score 1) 116

I did a little googling (har) and didn't find much in the way of environmental impact studies. How will all this affect air traffic? Bird migrations? The atmosphere, when releasing helium (or whatever) during a descent? Who is going to clean up the mess when, not if, the balloons get caught up in a storm and go down in the middle of the Pacific, or get strewn across the Himalayas?

Comment: Re:From Experience (Score 3, Informative) 561

by Deep Esophagus (#48429911) Attached to: "Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer" Pulled From Amazon

If that's how you (and judging from your +5 Insightful rating, at least 5 others here) view the role of business analyst, my company must be using the term wrong. Where I work, BAs are an indispensable part of the design process; they don't get into that job until they know not only the product but the business needs of our users extremely well. A developer who changes a UI, report format, or so much as a calculation without first consulting with a BA doesn't last long. The BAs know every single one of the five bazillion federal regulations and industry standards so we developers don't have to worry our pretty little heads about it. We just write our code so it does all the number-crunchy things they tell us it needs to do.

Accounting is hard. Let's go shopping!

Comment: Re:Huh (Score 2) 249

by Deep Esophagus (#48084489) Attached to: Why Do Contextual Ads Fail?

I use flashblock and noscript to protect against aggressive ads that take over my browsing experience, but I accept that TANSTAAFL and my payment for free content is the presentation of ads within that free content -- just as it was with radio and TV (don't get me started how the main selling point for cable TV in the early days was that paying for it meant you were no longer going to suffer through all those ads).

So... no, I don't use ad blocker per se, and won't until I am paying for that content.

Comment: Re:they fundamentally don't get it. (Score 1) 249

by Deep Esophagus (#48084441) Attached to: Why Do Contextual Ads Fail?

But even if they use "smart" (yes, those are sarcastic quotes) keyword matching to anticipate something they think will interest you, they completely fail on the context comprehension because most spoken languages have common words with multiple meanings, not to mention metaphorical use of words.

For a particularly annoying example, when I first set up a Facebook account I filled in some of the interests in order to let folks find me who were searching for others with the same interests. I sing in a barbershop quartet, and frequently mentioned barbershop music in my posts. As a result, *every single day* at least one sidebar ad promoted accounting services to maximize income for my salon.

And when I mentioned that I was starting a diet to lose weight... I might as well have issued a personal invitation to every snake oil merchant on the planet. Yeah, pal, I got yer "one weird trick doctors don't want you to know" right here.

Comment: Re:NSA probably already has this technology (Score 4, Interesting) 120

by Deep Esophagus (#47897201) Attached to: The Challenges and Threats of Automated Lip Reading

I'd be very surprised if the false positive rate were as low as 1%. Lip reading is NOT an exact science. It depends on context, clear line-of-sight, and how well the speaker enunciates. You'd be amazed how many phonemes sound different to our ears but look identical on the lips.

But hey, I'll let these guys explain it much better. Bad Lip Reading

Hilarious stuff, but the point is relevant: Without *any editing at all* of the actors' lips, they are able to perfectly match ridiculous words to those mouth movements. Why would automated software pick the "real" words over the BLR version?

Comment: Re:Seriously? (Score 1) 533

by Deep Esophagus (#47857421) Attached to: AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

I would be absolutely thrilled if I could expect 4Mbps consistently. I'm on a rural ISP, about 15 miles outside Cheyenne Wyoming where our only choices are DSL over ancient POTS, overpriced and unreliable satellite service, or the one we use -- a local operation that uses cell towers to transmit over the wireless band. None of those services will offer more than 5Mbps down, and I have never seen any of them (having tried all three) actually meet more than 4.5Mbps, and then only very briefly and very rarely. Don't even get me started about the significant drop between 18:00-22:00 when everybody gets home from work and starts streaming... whatever it is ranchers stream when they get home from work.

On any given day, our service might fluctuate between 0.12Mbps to 3.5, with an average across the day of maybe 1.5. At our peak of ~4, I can do high-bandwidth MMORPGs, stream to my roku, watch some videos on Youtube, and download large files from my office 1100 miles away in Dallas without any of those tasks showing any noticeable delays. You folks in the city with your highfalutin' double-digit bandwidth on cable may say otherwise, but for us out in the boondocks 4Mbps would be a significant upgrade from our current services.

So... yeah, I would call 4Mbps not only "broadband", but "good enough for the average consumer" no matter how much I'd like to stick it to Big Internet and hold them to a higher standard. As my wife frequently tells me when I point out how seriously depleted our pizza and ice cream supply is, "there is a difference between 'need' and 'want'".

Comment: Re:Defeats the purpose (Score 2) 232

by Deep Esophagus (#47697597) Attached to: Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It

Sorry, but no. You are trying to pawn your responsibilities off on someone else and since you are the one making the request/initiating contact, it is your responsibility. Also, by the time that person returns, some or all of the email that was sent may not even be relevant any more and they should not have to waste time sorting through all of the spam you sent their way.

Stop trying to make others do your job for you.

You're making a tremendous amount of assumptions there. How do you know the email I sent was trying to get the other person to do my job for me? How do you know that person doesn't want to be in the loop on events that took place while he or she was gone?

As numerous others have pointed out, sometimes it's just a courtesy to the recipient so that person will not be totally in the dark about problems or progress that occurred during the time off. If any individual would rather not have that, I have no problem with that individual making a personal decision to bulk delete all incoming email. My beef here is having it enforced as corporate policy. I know for myself, I would rather come back to a hundred messages saying "This can wait until you are back from vacation, but when you get a chance please look at Widget X and see if you can figure out why it's broken" or "We had a meeting while you were gone and unanimously voted to put you in charge of Widget Production" or whatever, than come back to an empty inbox and not the slightest clue what the status is of my projects.

What I find works well is to either do a search and bulk delete when I get back, or previously set up an automatic filter, to find and delete all emails that have either a TO or CC of some ridiculously large group not directly affecting me. For example, I'm on the development team of a particular feature set; mail that is TO:"all QA" or CC:"all QA" never EVER relates to my project, my team, or my responsibilities. Deleting those immediately trims my inbox to less than 10% of the original unread message count.

Total time wasted this morning after a 10-day vacation: 5 minutes. The remaining 10+ messages let me quickly get back up to speed on the progress of my team's projects and issues that customers are waiting for me to resolve (they were informed that I was on vacation, so they knew it would be some time this week before I can get to them).

Comment: Re:Paving to the road to hell (Score 1) 135

by Deep Esophagus (#47678833) Attached to: The Man Responsible For Pop-Up Ads On Building a Better Web

Advertising and the subscriber's or reader's looking at it has been a way to pay for "free" newspapers for well over a hundred years.

My kingdom for mod points.

I don't install AdBlock Plus, for exactly that reason. I accept the implied contract that I am getting "free" content in exchange for being willing to at least be aware that there are ads trying to get my attention.

Now having said that, pop-up ads and their ilk get blocked by NoScript and FlashBlock. I accept ads in the margins of online content, just as I accept ads in the margins of printed content; I accept (somewhat less cheerfully) inline ads that interrupt content just as I accept full-page ads and blow-in cards in the middle of magazine articles. I even accept 30-second ads before streaming content (although any longer than 15 seconds, I'll hit the "skip ad" button quickly). But anything that directly impedes my viewing experience; anything that wrests control of my computer from me... I will put a stop to that REAL fast.

So... it's all about balance between the content provider's need to buy groceries and our need to maintain control over our own computing environment. Block the intrusive ads, but allow the passive ones through -- or give up on having free content.

Comment: Re:Schools need to improve first (Score 2) 421

by Deep Esophagus (#47639651) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

Year round in a high security school where firearms are confiscated and teachers try to stay alive rather than teach: NO Year round don't you dare take your child out of school or we'll throw you in prison: NO Year round schooling where creativity and rational logical thought is taught: YES

And that pretty much sums up why we homeschooled our two, who ended up with full scholarships to the state U for their efforts. Did we make them sit at a desk 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year? Of course not. We took vacations whenever the heck we wanted, we let them stop whenever they had demonstrated understanding of the day's lesson (average time: 2 hours a day doing schoolwork), and we shut down just about the entire month of December to accomodate visiting relatives, Christmas parties and other activities, and playing in the snow.

Of course, the subtitle of the TFS ("from the home-schooling-never-stops dept.") is exactly right. For (good) homeschoolers, EVERYTHING is a learning opportunity. For the little 'uns, sounding out words in the grocery store or learning to identify different animals. For the older students, anything from existentialism to comparitive religion to politics on any level to physics to algebra to constitutional law to history to classic literature to an assortment of foreign languages, theater, music history... you never know what may come up in the course of a day while we go about our lives.

I have never seen anything fill up a vacuum so fast and still suck. -- Rob Pike, on X.