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Comment: Re:Seeing that they can use secret courts... (Score 1) 153

If the Twitter US employees have zero access to the twitter Ireland data that would just be odd. A great setup but odd. Also there will certainly be US employee in Ireland; employees that plan on returning to the US someday.

Some NSA good slides up to you in your favourite Dublin pub and hands you this warrant with all kinds of legal threats on it. What do you do? Threats like 20 years in solitary confinement. Yes they are way on the wrong side of morality but the reality is that the US court system more often than not is bowing down to this sort of authoritarian behaviour. So even if you win in the end the costs will be extraordinary.

Comment: Way better at what they are good at. (Score 4, Insightful) 284

This has long been one of my predictions with robots; that when they are actually good at something they will be awesome. So many of our manufactured goods are becoming fantastically reliable because of the reduced reliance on humans. When you buy stuff it just rarely comes broken anymore. Also if you look at the failure graphs on many goods the graph is becoming less and less a bell curve and just a giant spike at the point where some critical part will just wear out due to physics rather than sloppy manufacturing.

But where I see them really kicking ass and taking names is in agriculture where you could have a robot sweep down a field of fruit and only harvest that fruit that is perfectly ripe, then to come back hours later and harvest the now ripe fruit, and so on for the entire harvest. The same with earlier phases of growing, such as diligently picking the weeds every day, or watering and fertilizing only those plants that exactly need it. Can you imagine some working walking along taking soil samples by each plant and then making the correct adjustments. Or picking the bugs off each plant and crushing them?

Then there will be things like road construction, landscaping, building construction, road maintenance, etc. With these I can see a situation where not only are the robots cheaper at doing these things but they do them with such perfection that people would take any suggestion to use people as just foolish. For instance right now my city is filled with potholes and cracks in the road that will pretty much certainly become potholes. I would love a robot that went around filling these in to perfection. 50-100 of these robots could probably keep the streets in my city basically perfect. The same with sidewalk/park/road cleaning robots as the streets in my city are filthy. The occasional large sweeping machine is just not enough. Again 50-100 machines could make my city Truman show perfect.

Comment: Wouldn't this be causing crappy cell service? (Score 1) 81

It seems to me that with a warrant that Stingray is 100% unnecessary, thus this device entirely exists so that there are no inconvenient records being kept by the cell companies. Also, and probably more importantly, this is no doubt causing crappy cell service. Cell towers are very carefully engineered and to have a stingray system somehow playing man in the middle games of any sort would be causing poor reception.

So quite simply I hope that the various cell manufacturers are presently working on technology that won't allow a cellphone to connect with anything but the known towers. Plus I hope that the FCC is going to shut these down. If the police are allowed to use these without a warrant than why can't I use a stingray to gather interesting marketing data about my customers? Didn't google end up in a pile of trouble for mopping up wifi data with their streetview cars?

Comment: Re:Again batteries are the key (Score 1) 533

by EmperorOfCanada (#49506981) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power
By scattering I am thinking physically, as in how you would draw people who can't go personal solar if you were colouring these people on the grid then as opposed to how you would colour people still on the grid now. Now the grid would be pretty much a solid colour of those who are on the grid. But post off grid it would be the city center and some patches in industrial areas outside the city core. That is a whole lot of grid (not much smaller than today's) to be supported by far fewer customers.

I will make a prediction. Before 10 years some North American utility will attempt to create a law that all occupied houses must maintain a minimum connection to the grid. This minimum would of course come with a fairly steep minimum charge. They will really fear even a small group of upper middle class people just snipping the wires because the cost to actually produce the electricity to a house is fairly negligible compared to the overall cost of the entire grid. Thus the loss of even 5% of the customers could result in the utility approaching zero profits. The worst part is that these customer would typically be reliable bill payers, and above average consumers. This will scare the shit out of the utilities.

Comment: Re:Again batteries are the key (Score 1) 533

by EmperorOfCanada (#49506921) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power
Absolutely. I am looking more at the graph of battery and solar performance combined with appliance efficiency. It won't be that many years before a typical bungalow could be roofed entirely with a fairly high efficiency pile of electrics and there will at least be a small surplus. The graph will then continue to favour off grid living.

But there will be a grey area where people will have to spend more on an off grid system than it is worth but will do it for a variety of reasons ranging from green thinking to screwing the utility companies.

But as those first few go off the system I suspect they will be fairly rich people who are then permanently off the grid. They will pave the way for better systems, bigger markets, larger volumes, and thus more people down the economic scale to also go off grid. This is a one way street unless the utilities suddenly figure out a way to deliver at a much lower cost (fusion, cheap high temperature super-conductors, etc)

So right now going off grid in an urban environment would be costly, a huge pain in the ass, and full of compromises. 10 years from now, probably something that people could take or leave. 20 years people will look at people still on the grid as a bit foolish; sort of like how people now with netflix look at people still with cable. The cable people still make up the majority but we consider them a bit stupid.

Comment: Still the dead carp eyes. (Score 1) 150

If they had even just put goggles on the characters then it might fool people who watch the whole thing. The characters' skin was a bit dead carp as well but the eyes were completely devoid of life like every game so far. Some day some genius will crack how to do eyes in a real time rendering but so far, no joy.

But on that note, I may very well have to buy a PS just to get this game.

Comment: Again batteries are the key (Score 2) 533

by EmperorOfCanada (#49505027) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power
If really good batteries were available a great option would be to use them as a buffer between the grid and the solar. This way a person would dump their solar into the batteries and generally use the batteries for day to day use. Then if and when the solar couldn't keep up with the demands the grid could be tapped to charge the batteries.

But as both solar and the batteries get better this would then become a natural migration to where people would go completely off grid and have some sort of crappy generator (that is cheap but possibly not efficient) to top them off on the occasion that they don't have enough.

Great batteries could even keep the utility relevant for a while by giving them a more reliable source that they could tap when they wanted to from people's homes.

So right now the utilities are having growing pains as this small but growing source of energy is introduced it is that moment that people actually start going off grid that they have a serious problem. As then they will have to risk raising rates that could drive people off the grid which... then the power company will be left with a scattering of customers who simply can't generate their own power using the space they have. This could be apartments, unlucky houses, hotels, and energy intensive industries. That would be a large grid to maintain for far fewer customers.

Personally I have found my local power company to act like total scumbags. While this will provide an extra sense of satisfaction when I go off grid it also will harm any "greater good" arguments they might try to make in the future to get subsidies to maintain the grid. Quite simply people won't buy the arguments and assume that they are trying to keep their obscene bonuses and monopoly returns that the shareholders demand.

Comment: Too busy to rip the radio out of my car (Score 2) 293

by EmperorOfCanada (#49502329) Attached to: Norway Will Switch Off FM Radio In 2017
It is only the fact that have been too busy to rip the radio out of my car. I have a screen/computer to put into it that will then play lectures, audio books, podcasts, etc. Also I have it ready to replace my dashcam with a series of cameras that not only can record but also upload via a dataplan if needed.

At no point in my buying did I even look for an FM or even AM option to add on. And certainly I never looked for a satellite radio technology (those things just piss me off in rentals).

To me even satellite radio is so 20th century. DAB is also just a bandaid to try to keep the radio station media companies relevant.

But the reality is that this isn't a technology issue. For the last portion of the 20th century a variety of media conglomerates bought up all the radio stations and turned them into MBA masturbatory dreams. All profit with no content. About the last time I listened to radio was just before a DJ that I know told me that his new format was to go into work, record all his blurps between songs in one long scripted 1.5 hour session including interviews, and then go home. The songs and his blurps were all run automatically by the computer.

The few things that come off NPR, BBC, or the CBC that I care about "Art of persuasion, quirks, this american life, etc" I download. But even the CBC is just on a march further and further to the PC left and I can't stomach having one great feature cut short so they can give massive amounts of time to someone with some extreme view on some stupid social issue and listen to them grind their axe endlessly.

So the best of radio on today is worse than silence. But my own playlist is awesome and the technology is sitting in a drawer so that I don't have to use my stupid FM transmitter to get crap off my iPhone.

So like my car not coming with an ashtray, I want my next car to not come with a radio, DAB or not.

Comment: Yellow pages, huffington post... both gone! (Score 1) 271

by EmperorOfCanada (#49501637) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Features Would You Like In a Search Engine?
First I want a toggle that I can never ever ever ever ever see that domain in my search results. So ask.com answers.com experts-exchange.com huffpo and especially Quora you fucking turd pile of shot Quora; I never want to see Quora again in my life.

When I want a little pizza joint or some place that hasn't hired an "SEO" guy all I get are page after page of directories derived from some government database or some crap like that. Their actual page is bottom ranked. I don't want review sites. I don't want anything that was assembled by a machine.

So a simple rule of thumb is de-list any page that offers to "upgrade" someone's listing. Full stop. Also I want a toggle that will remove listings that have any version of "upgrade to our pro service" Literally they could cure cancer but offer to cure it 1 minute faster for 99 cents and I don't want to see that page.

To me right now nearly the entire search results are like going to a dating site and only finding hookers. Some people would argue that they "need" to make money but they don't. There are lots of pages that exist for a specific reason and many of those pages are commercial, as in they offer a specific service such as a pizza places where the page is about their pizza place. Short of the recipes the page is 100% free. But I don't want some shit "Just Eat" website. Maybe they can link to the other page but I really don't want to see it ever again. For instance I loved allrecipes.com. But now it is just upgrade upgrade upgrade upgrade. Some will argue that they should be allowed to make money but quite simply the site existed before some MBA took over and "monetized" the site that's fine, I no longer want it to turn up in my search results. Don't ban it from the entire search engine, just ban it from the search engine when you tick the "No upgrade sites" option.

The other thing that I would kill for is a negative feature option. So any site that uses discus would vanish from my search results. Those scumbags need to burn in hell and I would love any search engine that sent them there.

To me there is a huge opportunity for some new search engine to do to Google what they did to all the others 17 years ago; completely make them irrelevant by brutally ignoring the wishes of the larger websites and completely focusing on the needs of the average user.

Comment: Seeing that they can use secret courts... (Score 1) 153

by EmperorOfCanada (#49500177) Attached to: Twitter Moves Non-US Accounts To Ireland, and Away From the NSA
Seeing that they can use secret courts I would suspect that they will order Twitter employees to just hand the data or access over anyway. Then when they balk it can be handled in a secret court where nobody knows the results. Even better I could see a situation where they identify an employee or two and order them to hand the data over and not even allow them to tell twitter about the court order (if they can't tell some people then why can't these orders be restricted to their boss as well?)

Lastly they could just get an overqualified NSA employee to get a job there and just inject the needed back doors. Don't think of this as a lone hacker attack but a single guy who has a massive support team thus someone who could do off the scale things like swap out someone's desktop/laptop (spaghetti stains and all) with a compromised machine. Let the "cleaners" in so that they can wire their own fibreoptic cables right into the server room, swap out pretty much anything cisco with compromised machines with matching serial numbers, etc.

Also by moving the servers offshore it actually frees up the NSA to attack with even fewer legal restrictions. So full on sabotage may even be a perfectly valid procedure.

So short of eliminating all American employees and doing exhaustive background checks the only way to stop this stuff from being done to them is to convince legislators to curtail what the NSA can actually do.

Comment: I can hack the planet Mars (Score 1) 270

by EmperorOfCanada (#49494677) Attached to: FBI Accuses Researcher of Hacking Plane, Seizes Equipment
I recently discovered that my old arcnet card has a vulnerability that allows me to hack the planet Mars. I plan on crashing it into the planet Vulcan. (Damn those pointy eared freaks).

I also plan on hacking the Atlantic Ocean and renaming it to the Great Eastern Ocean. This hack is so powerful that even paper maps will spontaneously change to reflect the update.

Comment: Re:This can actually work (Score 1) 892

Check out how Valve assigns its bonuses and you will find that there is more than one monkey zoo out there. The key reasoning here was to eliminate the concept of professional managers. If there are people who are able to control paycheques then they are managers. While this company had a few managers it was more of a supreme court for resolving disputes than someone who said, sit here, do this, you're late. The basic idea was that the inmates ran the asylum and those who couldn't contribute to this or caused trouble were soon voted off the island.

A perfect example of this working was this one guy who used up his training budget becoming a "SCRUM Master" he then went around like some born again fool telling everyone how to do everything. His bonus about 2 months later was exactly zero and he basically rage quit.

Comment: This can actually work (Score 4, Informative) 892

One of the big problems with salary negotiations is that inevitably everyone knows everyone else's paycheque. So if you find out that the guy sitting beside you doing the same job is earning way more then you just look at your paycheque as a biweekly insult.

I worked for one company that paid its programmers a perfectly round number and everyone went up at the same time. But bonuses were far more complicated with a huge factor being voting among the employees. The company literally had a rule that if anyone discussed who they were voting for then it was an instant firing. This way the outstanding employees got massive bonuses.

What was interesting was that when some people came to the end of their interviews they would begin negotiating their salary after being repeatedly told that it was not negotiable. The ones who pushed this harder and harder tended to be douchebags and this pretty much always resulted in no job offer or a withdrawn offer. They genuinely seemed pissed.

One douche summed it up as "When I heard that everyone was earning X, I just had to earn X+1 so that I could prove I was better." This was even after he was told how the bonuses worked.

The cool benefit of bonuses was that it really weeded out the crappy programmers. Bonus time would come along. The results would be published and a few guys had literally zero votes and usually they were gone in a month or less. The only programmer ever fired for talking about bonuses went around with a sob story how he needed the bonus. Literally the next day he no longer worked for the company. This is the same company that didn't fire people after one threw a laptop through a window with the intent of hitting another worker. (they worked out their issues).

Comment: The real problem is local competition (Score 3, Interesting) 312

People blah blah about these companies not paying their fair share which depends upon your views on taxation. But the key word is fair. The real problem is that while these companies are able to pretty much magically avoid taxes in countries outside the US the potential competitors in countries like Germany, UK, France, Australia, etc are paying these taxes.

This pretty much makes it impossible for a homegrown company in any of these countries to compete. Nobody can compete with a company that is has all that extra tax free profit to use in acquisitions, research, marketing, or just making their product higher quality.

What baffles me is that nearly all the countries being screwed out of those taxes aren't even more angry that they are also potentially being screwed out of viable competitors. If a country such as the UK had the next Google or Apple it could literally change the face of that country's economy as companies of that size don't just hire lots of people and pay lots of taxes but also create a nexus of similar companies. You can't build a Silicon valley out of a few government IT contractors and a handful of Best Buy warehouses. On the otherhand you can build one based upon a Google or two.

To me this is a very simple tax problem. All they need to do is say if you make a profit in our country you pay the same taxes on that profit that a company in this country would pay. But the key is that the profit is calculated by estimated real costs, not the costs presented on paper. Thus Apple could no longer claim that each iPhone cost $699 to build and sell it for $700.

But the real win would be if these countries were able to mostly ignore R&D costs that happen outside their own boarders. If this was no longer easily deductible it would become an instant R&D win biasing in favour of their own country. The simple reality is that as the future comes closer and closer countries that train and use the brains in their countries will do well, while those that outsource their IP development will falter. This tax exploitation by these companies provides an opportunity for various western countries to swing the pendulum unfairly in their own favour as a punishment for past exploitation.

Comment: Re:Other than salary, how the hell $100,000 (Score 1) 87

by EmperorOfCanada (#49383907) Attached to: No Film At 11: the Case For the Less-Video-Is-More MOOC
I have watched a bunch of Stanford lectures and they are a guy at the back of the class with a camera. I have taken a coursera course on finance, cryptograpy, astronomy, mathematical thinking, and gamification and they were all basically a good webcam with no camera operator.

The great courses company does seem to have some pretty good production where they have a camera man, and at least one animator. The lighting is pretty good and I suspect that there is lots of editing. But those might be some of the highest production quality courses out there. MathTutorDVD which is pretty good is a guy with a whiteboard.

I suspect that $100,000 is a BS number that comes either from extreme government waste or it is to generate funding that will allow for extreme government waste.

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