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Comment: Says more about the author than anything (Score 5, Insightful) 394

by EMG at MU (#49393495) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Living Without Social Media In 2015?
I really can't take this seriously. It seems like someone who works for Facebook wrote this.

Millions of people have perfectly normal social lives without facebook or with really minimal facebook use. I know a lot of people who log-in once a week. I know a lot of people who go long periods of time without ever using facebook.

I think the fact that the author thinks its almost impossible to live a normal life without it says more about him/her than it does about facebook.

Comment: Twitter Anti-Cyberbully CYA Technique #43 (Score 4, Insightful) 79

by EMG at MU (#49287195) Attached to: Twitter Adds Tool To Report Tweets To the Police
This is just Twitter covering their ass by providing a way for a user to furnish a "report" to the police that isn't some shitty picture they took on their phone.

But what can police do? Say you live in Bumfuck Nowhere, USA and you bring this report to your local Sheriff saying InternetUser1234 in SomewhereFarAway, USA is accosting me online. Then what? They get out the bloodhounds to "trace the IP"?

Most PDs don't have units or personnel equipped or trained to utilize these reports.

Why doesn't twitter just provide a button that a user can push when they feel relentlessly accosted by internet trolls. It would delete the user's account.

Comment: Problem of a tech illiterate population (Score 4, Insightful) 130

by EMG at MU (#49089547) Attached to: Gadgets That Spy On Us: Way More Than TVs
I feel that most technically literate people at least knew that this kind of "spying" was technically trivial and obviously monetizable. Any device with some kind of a network connection and a microphone / camera can easily record everything you do and say and send it anywhere it wants. This little company called Google figured out that by collecting more and more information about you they can make huge sums of money by mining and selling that data and now everyone wants in on that game.

I feel like most comments here will be along the lines of "yeah duh what did you think they were doing with that data", however on less tech focused sites the comments will have the tone of "OMG evil corporations spying on us how is this even legal, hold on let me ask Siri!"

But that is the problem. The general population has no idea how every time they use a thing like Siri or Kinect, or OnStar they are allowing the respective companies that created those services nearly unlimited access to their microphone or camera. Just like people really don't understand how Facebook monetizes their profile and activities.

I think until there is general knowledge of the fact that we have entered the era of generating revenue from users through mining and analyzing their activities, preferences, and other data, we can't even have a productive discussion about the limits of these new ways to collect information. Right now it is just fear mongering and attention grabbing headlines.

Lets get to the point where we can have a rational discourse about the benefits and potential risks of ever present microphones and cameras and develop both moral and legal guidelines to govern their use.

Comment: Diaspora appliance (Score 1) 88

by EMG at MU (#48460307) Attached to: Revisiting Open Source Social Networking Alternatives
I would like to see a few things happen:

The "average" person is not going to setup their own Diaspora server. If Diaspora came pre-installed and setup on a Roku like device that a user simply plugged in and connected to their home network then I think it would be more viable. It has to be really really easy to setup so that Grandma can use it.

Beyond that I would like to see someone develop an ad network that allowed individual users of Diaspora to monetize their own information. Say I really don't mind being part of an anonymized data-set. Then I should be able to opt-in to an advertising network and get a chunk of that ad revenue.It would be great if the user could even decide what companies advertise to them. 35 year old man? Home Depot is ok, but maybe you don't want to see advertisements for the newest Hunger Games movie.

I think that we need to fundamentally change the web so that Google and Facebook share their profits with us. They are after all making profits by selling your data. Now obviously they do lots of complicated analysis which is where a lot of the value added is but the raw resource is your data. You should be compensated for it.

Comment: Wrong Question (Score 1) 197

by EMG at MU (#48421573) Attached to: Is a Moral Compass a Hindrance Or a Help For Startups?
It is obviously a help for start-ups until the consumer gives a shit about what a company does ethically.

The question should be is a moral compass a help to society. Then the follow up is: What should we do given that we know a moral compass is a benefit to society but almost 0% of companies have one.

Comment: Degree is not carrer preperation (Score 1) 546

by EMG at MU (#47819695) Attached to: Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

While theory does have its place, the situation raises the question of whether colleges are teaching the right skills people need to join the workforce, and what its place is amid the rise of open source learning.

This part:

raises the question of whether colleges are teaching the right skills people need to join the workforce

begs the question of whether or not a university exists to train people to enter the workforce.

I do not believe this to be the case. I think that if you are resourceful, think critically, and learn quickly you are employable in many fields. You are ready to join the workforce. If you are all of those things we can basically train you on the job. Then why get an education at all? To build knowledge.

University educations exist to expose you to knowledge so that you can use that knowledge and your critical thinking ability to synthesize solutions.

Example: Understanding algorithms and data structures + critical thinking = knowing when to use a linked list vs an array.

You can tell a programmer: "use an array for faster random element access and use a list for faster element inserts at arbitrary locations". Great, he/she might remember, probably doesn't understand why thats the case but whatever. Now in some new standard library there is a Map. The guy who actually understands data structures is now gone and the programmer doesn't know what the fuck a map is nor how to use it. Thats not a good situation.

Now if that programmer had gotten a CS/CompE education he would have the tools to synthesize a solution based on the knowledge he as about data structures and his critical analysis of what is important in the problem's context.

The programmer could receive data structure / algorithm knowledge on the job but thats not what is going to make his company money. If he comes into that job with that knowledge then he can learn the domain specific knowledge of whatever his company is and then start solving problems.

I think it is really sad that people expect to be trained in a university. It is short sighted because that training will one day be obsolete and then your fucked, and it also allows the student to shift the blame when they can't find a job. The student can rationalize it as "my university didn't train me, now I cant find a job" instead of " I don't have the skills to be employable (resourcefulness, critical thinking ability, good learner), so despite the fact that I got a 4.0 and can regurgitate shit from a book I don't have the ability to synthesize solutions so I'm useless.

/rant, I'm just really sick of people bemoaning the university system when it is very clear that they just expected to be handed a great job despite lacking any kind of critical thinking or problem solving skills. In university you (largely) get rewarded for recitation, in a job you get rewarded for synthesis. If you cant turn your knowledge into solutions to problems you are just a walking book.

Comment: And Joe Schmoe wont care. (Score 5, Insightful) 364

by EMG at MU (#47419681) Attached to: The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere
Everybody with an IQ above that of a jellybean knows the main job of the congresscritters is to bring back the pork. The blue guys do it and the red guys do it.

The reason they can keep doing it and no one really gives a shit is because once you explain to Joe Schmoe that cutting program X or agency Y's budget means he or his cousin or his drinking buddy could lose their job, well Joe can rationalize keeping that program.

Americans all want pork cut everywhere except their home district. We are short sighted, have short memories, and aren't willing to endure short term discomfort in the pursuit of long term prosperity.

Anyone candidate that would be for cutting this kind of corporate welfare isn't viable on a national ticket. Eisenhower was right about this all by the way.

Comment: Web programmers aren't the only kind!!! (Score 1) 608

by EMG at MU (#47415377) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
He is speaking pretty specifically about web/app programmers and how there are a glut of convoluted and overlapping frameworks that seem to pop into existence overnight can discourage and confuse the average rube.

Just because thats where all the cool start up money is right now (see facebook, whatsApp, etc...) doesn't mean thats the only kind of programming. What about the people building this "internet of things", what about the people actually evolving the internet architecture, what about the people building the appliances to make sense of "big data"? None of those people should be "average". Joe Schmoe doesn't want to work on those things in his spare time.

Car analogy: out of all the makes and models of cars, this guy is talking about wanting Joe Schmoe to be able to build a backyard go kart. Fine, great, whatever. I suppose it would be cool if he could do that without goofy tools and processes.

There is nothing wrong with the "elites" building the BMWs though.

Comment: Will be the new credit score (Score 1) 353

by EMG at MU (#47408813) Attached to: Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies
With enough data these companies can compile a "Safety Score", kind of like how a few companies know everything about your financial life and give you a credit score.

Why wouldn't an apartment or condo community want to check your safety score? A lot of them do background checks and credit checks now, I can definitely imagine people wanting to live in communities where everyone has a safety score above some number. And I can imagine communities for the rejects. The more data companies compile on you the more they can begin to stratify their goods and services. If they do it right and it benefits more people than it hurts then it will work.

Comment: Plants grew fine without processors (Score 2) 66

by EMG at MU (#47352857) Attached to: The Internet of Things Comes To Your Garden
I'm an embedded developer and also have a hobby garden. So when things got cheap enough I got really excited about building a contraption to monitor moisture, ph, amount of sun and to adjust fertilizer and water levels accordingly. Then I realized that for hobby gardeners this really defeats the purpose. We garden for fun, and at least for me, I don't like bringing technology to things that don't need it.

On the other hand, those guys out in colorado growing pot will love this kind of thing.

Comment: Make the companies pay! (Score 2) 205

I use to have a retirement account with a certain financial services company. They stored my password in plain text. To recover your password they would physically mail it to you. This kind of stupidity should be illegal. It should be criminal and the company should have to pay fines for being asshats.

Companies don't fix underlying problems because management doesn't see any value in doing so. They also see no risk in having insecure products. Until there are real financial penalties for blatant incompetence regarding security nothing will improve.

Comment: Need to change the paradigm (Score 1) 90

by EMG at MU (#47262925) Attached to: Privacy Worries For 'Smart' Smoke Alarms
Smart devices are cool, the data they collect going to advertising companies and the NSA isn't.

It is obvious the paradigm should be changed. People love facebook, so why can't we make a distributed facebook where each member has a little roku type device sitting in their home on their network that stores all of their data? Each person that member connects with gets a key that is associated with contact so that you can form secure networks of friends and share data. Then as the owner of your data you can opt into sharing a limited set of that data with advertisers but only if they pay you to mine your data. That would be a positive paradigm shift.

I wouldn't mind having smart devices in my home, I just don't want them communicating to the public internet. They can communicate with a server in my home and I can control what the software on this server does. Smart devices don't have to all connect to the public internet, and we don't have to allow every smart device manufacturer to mine our data. Eventually there will be open source automation software for servers and open source software for the smart devices so we can control what they do (like tomato or ddwrt for home wifi routers).

Money can't buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you're being miserable. -- C.B. Luce

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