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Comment I was ready to rip on this due to bad reporting... (Score 3, Insightful) 234

You have to love how they use gallons as a unit of measurement because it gives a really big number - 300,000,000. But in water terms, that's actually very little. That computes out to just under 921 acre-feet, which is the standard unit of measuring large quantities of water. Not so impressive-sounding now, so let's see what the actual costs are. Divide the $34,500,000 cost by the number of acre-feet and then again by the expected lifetime of the balls - say, 20 years. You wind up with $1,900 per acre-foot. This is a lot of money, but California residents and normal businesses normally pay around $1,000 per acre-foot. If you amortize the cost of these balls over the total water going through the system it's still a bit pricey but not insane when you consider the effects of droughts. For example, in Carlsbad, California they are building a desalinization plant with guaranteed annual sales at a cost of just over $2,000 per acre-foot.

Of course, real sanity would address the real causes of the "drought" - the fact that the two groups that use 85% of California's water pay nowhere near this much. Government pays $0 per acre-foot and wastes a breathtaking amount of water. Big agriculture pays around $10 per acre-foot (the small organic farms I buy my produce from still pay the two-orders-of-magnitude-higher residential rates). I'm all for agriculture - California is an amazing place to grow food and provides a huge percentage of the fruits and vegetables consumed in the US - but the artificially low prices have been abused by some farms and orchards. There is still a lot of flood irrigation being used (and some farmers were actually growing rice in the desert). A massive amount of alfalfa is being grown in the desert and then shipped to China, because at the subsidized water prices this is actually cheaper than China growing their own hay. Sit back and bask in that insanity. The government has dumped as much as a third of California's water supply for various environmental purposes - you could argue the costs and merits of this except for the fact that none of these projects are having their desired effect, so all of that water is just pure waste (around 33% of state water usage). And then they threaten to fine us if we water our lawns more than twice a week (> 5% of state water usage).

So anyway, for once, the black balls are the government doing something expensive but not completely stupid. But the fact that this is even necessary due to government stupidity and a breathtakingly colossal mismanagement of a valuable natural resource sort of makes it all moot in the end. There is no shortage due to drought - there's a shortage due to bad policies.

Comment They're beginning with a false premise (Score 3, Insightful) 519

"the vast majority of internet users who refuse to pay for news."

I don't think ad blockers exist because people don't want ads or "refuse to pay for news." Ad blockers exist because ads have become so ridiculously obnoxious and disruptive with animations or even sound that they make the web pages they're on pretty close to unusable. This is on top of the occasional but still-to-frequent usage of ad networks as malware distribution platforms. If the ad networks set some reasonable standards and actually enforced them, then ad blockers wouldn't be as much of an issue. As it is right now, using an ad block is a security requirement, not an option. From an aesthetic and usability standpoint it's just highly desirable.

Comment Depends on the corporate culture involved (Score 4, Interesting) 64

Speed of implementation in various organizations (or even departments, divisions, etc) runs a spectrum of "do stuff on more or less a whim" to "go through eight years of planning meetings to discuss the possibility of actually doing something." On the former end of the spectrum you buy extra capacity. At the latter end of the spectrum it doesn't matter, because you won't get the budget to buy extra capacity.

Comment Amazon Households is not ready for Prime time (Score 2) 79

Argh - I just set up my Household on Amazon... there are some issues with sharing Prime within a household, and nobody in Customer Service understands what's going on. After an hour wasted with an idiot and a supervisor I finally figured it out on my own (you have to enable Content sharing or Prime doesn't share). Most of the documentation appears to be wrong. Apparently Amazon has never heard of this whole UX testing thing... but at least I get a pun out of it.

Comment Define "free." (Score 4, Insightful) 654

1) I can get anywhere I want with public transportation as it is right now. The problem is that it takes literally four to eight times more time (in my specific circumstances), and my time is far from free.

2) The notion that it's free is, frankly, dishonest and disingenuous. *Somebody* is paying for it, and that somebody is me, in one form or another. Just because the money is not coming directly from your wallet at that instant doesn't mean it's not happening.

3) It ignores subjective value. I often enjoy driving. I don't enjoy being crowded into a bus or tram / trolley. Trains aren't too bad from a comfort standpoint, but still not as fun as driving.

Comment It's a sales tool. (Score 5, Insightful) 296

You are always selling yourself, your plans, and your ideas, no matter what business environment you are in - self-employed or corporate. Certifications can be a tool for that - and even a vital tool if you're dealing with HR drones that don't understand anything else.

That being said, I have no formal certs and have done extremely well for myself - but I also have very good sales skills. It's the one thing I encourage to everyone that asks me for career advice - learn to sell. It doesn't matter what you do in life, but you will always be selling something (assuming your work is of any sort of significance).

Comment I have a Stir M1 desk (Score 3, Interesting) 340

It's a nice desk, fashionable, well-made, holds plenty of weight without complaint. It schedules when I should stand up and sit down, and the "breathe" gentle reminder is effective without being obtrusive.

The biggest downside is that the sensor that detects whether or not you are standing next to it is extremely picky about distance. Apparently I often stand too close and so it doesn't always recognize that I'm there and credit me accordingly. Also, it would be better if it integrated with Apple's HealthKit in addition to their own cloud stuff. Do I really want data about when I'm at my home office desk to even exist, let alone be stored in the cloud? No - that's pretty much a "Let's figure out the best time to burglarize my house" toolkit.

Comment Re:Uber has demonstrated contempt for the law (Score 1) 334

So what? Have you seen who writes laws? A bunch of vote-leeching sociopaths that span the moral spectrum between used car salespeople and outright pedophiles... Let's just support the whims of every elected bunch of assholes. War, slavery, genocide, hey, gotta do it! It's the law!

Seriously, this is one of the lamest reasons for anything, ever.

Comment Flagrantly anti-consumer (Score 0) 334

Let's be honest: in most countries, taxis suck and belong in a forgotten age. They're the epitome of tightly-government-regulated industry: slow, filthy, rude, overpriced - assuming you can get one to actually show up. Uber is fast, clean, polite, and - most importantly - reliable. The whole argument here is that some group of people paid the government a stupid amount of money for the special privilege of shitting all over a captive customer base, therefore throw the Uber guys in jail, take or smash the driver's cars, throw rocks at them, riot, jump up and down, scream and shout, and take Courtney Love hostage (OK, that last one I can get behind).

If some government is going to ban Uber, just go ahead and consider yourself a third-world country. If you're going to start piling stupid inconveniences onto my visit, you might as well go ahead and make me boil my drinking water as well.

365 Days of drinking Lo-Cal beer. = 1 Lite-year