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Comment: Re:It would force the industry to move forward (Score 1) 366

by Eil (#43988049) Attached to: FAA Wants All Aircraft Flying On Unleaded Fuel By 2018

in the same way that ham radio people are vastly behind the revolution in wireless communications.

You're on crack, sir!

Hams have always been at the leading edge of long-distance wireless communications technology. In early times, hams were largely the ones responsible for clever antenna design (which was something of a black art in those times) and improving the effectiveness of various types of radio circuits. They are constantly pushing the boundaries of doing more with less. A good ham can communicate with someone halfway around the world with a simple circuit and 9-volt battery, for instance. Nowadays, the bleeding edge is software-defined radio. You'd better believe hams are using, developing, experimenting, and field-testing right now, as we speak.

Imagine: 300baud modems-- that's what many hams are left with, wirelessly.

Hams have to work within the limits defined by both nature and the FCC. When there is only so much bandwidth available to legally use, and you need to send a message a great distance, 300 baud may be all you get. And in a lot of cases, it's all you need.

Aside from the physical limitations, hams are unlikely to get access to the kind of spectrum that cell phone providers enjoy for short-range high-speed digital communications simply because they don't have quite the same purchasing power as a mobile megacorp.

Aircraft technology changes much more slowly than automobile technology not because the members of one industry are more incompetent than the rest, but rather because the markets are vastly different. Anything that leaves the ground as part of the aircraft has to be FAA certified pretty much all the way around. It's safer for everyone involved to stick with proven designs, even when newer ones might make things easier on the pilot or more efficient for the plane. The stakes are just a wee bit higher in a plane than in a car of the engine stops. Aircraft have lifespans of many decades, whereas most people discard their cars when they're between 5 and 10 years old.

Comment: Re:Rape trigger? (Score 1) 562

by Eil (#43027429) Attached to: Controversy Over Violet Blue's Harm Reduction Talk

This is basically what I came here to say... the talk Violet Blue had (somewhat?) planned to give is only barely related to security in general, and had nothing at all to do with computer security. Even if it's a good talk (and it very well may be), it still doesn't have a place at a computer security conference. Why the organizers even allowed it in the first place is beyond me. Apparently she's spoken on similar topics at other security conferences... I have to assume the organizers there only added her to their tracks to add some color and intrigue to the schedule. Get people talking, or curious, and sell more tickets.

I went to a talk called "Hacking Sex" at HOPE in 2008... it was only mildly interesting and ended up having nothing to do with hacking. It really just boiled down to, "golly gee, some people have weird fetishes but try not to hold it against them. And plz use condoms, k?" I don't think it really added anything to the conference at all.

Comment: Re:Gyro-stabilized motorcycle (Score 1) 140

by Eil (#43027039) Attached to: 1967 Gyro-X Car To Be Restored

I hadn't seen the Lit Motors design yet, but I must say, I am impressed. It would be a never-ending thrill to come up to a stoplight on a 2-wheeled vehicle and watch people's faces when you don't fall over. I do wonder, however, what happens when you're going down the road and get a little light on your dashboard that says the gyros have malfunctioned. You're pretty much going to topple over at your next stop. (Or more likely sooner, since anyone driving this thing is not going to well-practiced at balancing it.)

And, I have to say, showing an animation of an accident within the first 15 seconds of your promotional video is not the best marketing strategy.

There's a company in Europe (don't recall the name) who are also developing an "enclosed motorcycle" type of vehicle, but they don't use gyros... below a certain speed or at too great an agle, there are two large "training wheels" which flip down and right the bike. To me, that seems like a better way to engineer it... It'll be more fuel-efficient to boot since you're not having to constantly power two heavy gyros and their servos.

Comment: Re:Australia and software are not unique (Score 4, Insightful) 159

by Eil (#42872147) Attached to: Adobe Bows To Pressure and Cuts Australian Prices

As an American, I'm proud of the fact that most prices here are negotiable. Sure, it means a little more work to buy the thing you want at a reasonable price. And honestly, it intimidates a lot of people who were raised to be non-confrontational. Whatever, they can pay the full asking price if that's what they want.

You're right, it is cultural. There's a downside to having a low cost of living, however. You still hear just about everyone in the U.S. complain about the price of just about everything. Even while the poorest of our poor still have a higher quality of life than most of the rest of the world. Even if you're homeless and don't have a dime to your name, most cities have shelters where you can sleep and eat for free. (And even these cost too much to run because we effectively have _no_ public mental health treatment system, which is a damn shame. But that's a topic for another day.)

Because luxury goods are so cheap (big houses, big cars, big computers, loads of cheap entertainment), most of the middle class spends money like they're millionaires. As a result they live paycheck to paycheck and don't save enough for retirement. And then they get outraged that social security is paying out less and less because hey, how are they going to afford to retire now that companies don't do pensions anymore? I'm looking out over the parking lot of the corporate building next door and about 10% of the cars are gas-guzzling sports cars while 40% of the cars are SUVs and pickup trucks. I'm betting almost none carpool. These people are burning up huge chunks of their paycheck before they even get it.

Over the past few years, I've been listening to political news on the radio and it floors me how many otherwise normal, sane people seem to think that it's the government's job to provide them with stable employment and retirement. I'm all for social welfare progams that help the poor, but for christ sake, the middle class needs to wake the fuck up and start spending less while saving more. Instead of asking the government to knock on their door and give them even more money to waste.

Comment: Re:Feedback. (Score 2) 141

by Eil (#42765705) Attached to: Cooking Up the Connected Kitchen

Why waste $5k on immersion heaters and vacuum packers for sous vide setups when a simple thermometer input and a few lines of code could achieve the same thing on a conventional kitchen oven?

Because you will never get the kind of temperature stability required by sous vide in a conventional oven, no matter how automated it is. The good news is: With a little skill you can _make_ your own sous vide setup fairly cheaply. There are examples all over the web.

But yes, I do agree your general sentiment.

Comment: Re:When things lasted (Score 1) 115

by Eil (#42230905) Attached to: USB NeXT Keyboard With an Arduino Micro

I wish things were built like that today, rather than this planned obsolesence bullsh*t.

You can get a good quality keyboard that will last you many years, but you have to pay good money for it. As in, at least $100.

Computer manufacturers bundle cheap keyboards with their computers because computers themselves are cheap too. Makes no business sense to ship a good keyboard with a computer that's going to be obsolete in three years. (And I'm sure the manufacturers know well that users will eventually crave that new-keyboard smell.)

Back when they made good keyboards, a middle-of-the-road system cost between $4000-$6000 in today's dollars. It made sense to ship something that reeked of durability when your entire business model hinged not on mass marketing, but computer rag reviews and word-of-mouth.

Comment: Re:NEWS: Higher pay no longer important. (Score 1) 761

by Eil (#41887149) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For Developers To Start Their Own Union?

If you get married, and if you have kids, suddenly you'll find that switching jobs actually has a lot of headache. Those health benefits you're not talking about are incredibly important.

I am married, and I do have kids, and recently switched to a new job in a different city. (And had to eat over $30k in property value deficit for the privilege.) No, it wasn't easy but now after it's done and settled, it was 100% worth it.

Those health benefits you're not talking about are incredibly important.

I'm not sure how health benefits enter into this... I have had decent health care coverage without ever being in a union. If I wasn't happy with my compensation, I'd go work somewhere else. Doing something else, if necessary. (And to be honest, if I didn't have a family, I'd probably eschew most of the health care benefits altogether and invest the difference since I'm fairly young and fairly healthy.)

Should I look for a new job? Perhaps. Thing is, I like what I do and I like (mostly) who I work with. The program and product I work on does not exist anywhere else.

It's totally your own personal choice to stay or seek out greener pastures. What I'm against is the formation of unions because the individuals in them want better pay, or job stability, or any number of other things that they think would make their lives less stressful while the employer gets nothing in return except the constant threat of a strike.

Unions are very important to this country.

Correction: Unions are very important to the history of this country. They made sense at the peak of the industrial era when work safety laws were few and employee rights were nonexistant. That's not true anymore.

However, and this is important, IT workers are in a position where they should not form a union. Our job is far too easily replaced by foreign firms.

Yes, IT should be the last trade in the world to need a union. However, by "foreign firms" I assume you mean outsourcing to places like India and China. Well, sure. A lot of jobs can and should be outsourced to places were work is cheaper. And yes, a lot of companies have been burned by thinking they would get the same quality of service for a fraction of the price, no matter were the labor was geographically located. If you're in a job that *can* be outsourced that easily, I'm going to argue that either management made a terrifically bad mistake *or* you're working in a job that's the IT equivalent of an assembly line drone and weren't quite as valuable as you had lead yourself to believe.

Comment: Re:Not Going to Happen (Score 1) 761

by Eil (#41885781) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For Developers To Start Their Own Union?

More developers have families, so they want to be judged on efficiency rather than hours at the office.

No doubt that developers want to be judged on efficiency, but being in a union won't guarantee that. Trade unions are, by design, the opposite of efficiency. Ask any electrician, automotive, or airline employee for a crazy union story and I guarantee they'll have one. Things like only a licensed electrician can plug in a lamp, but the janitors can plug in their vacuums where and whenever they want. Or if something needs to be moved from one room to another with a dolly, gotta hire a union mover to do that, and they might not be available today. I wouldn't even blame you if you thought I was exaggerating.

Many don't want the inefficiencies caused by frequent job moves, in which much of the costs are shifted to the employee

Huh? I've gone out of my way to make sure I have frequent job moves. If you stay in one place for too long, you get lazy and complacent. You fall behind the state of the art and your raises begin to stagnate or hit the HR-approved ceiling for your job title. And buddy, unless you're management material, the ladder only has so many rungs.

My salary has roughly quadrupled since I began 9 years ago. That wouldn't have been possible unless I worked very hard to bulk up my skill set, accumulate experience, and make a career-advancing move every few years. I now have as close to my dream job as I ever thought I'd get and as such, I have no intention of leaving unless something in this company changes. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't always easy. For example, thanks to the housing bust I had to eat about $30k in property value loss just to move but the better paycheck (and job satisfaction) was easily worth it.

job stability

In other words, protection from being fired for doing shoddy work. Or from being laid off because the company needs to choose between cutting costs and going out of business.

I'm sure unions had their place at the height of the industrial age before there were any decent worker protection laws and things like OSHA. But these days unions are only useful to those who want mandated hours, a median wage, protection from getting fired, and all the other benefits of a truly mediocre existence.

The only difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman is that the car salesman knows he's lying.

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