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Comment: It just means you'll have to work harder (Score 1) 618

by HangingChad (#49710967) Attached to: Editor-in-Chief of the Next Web: Adblockers Are Immoral

I haven't found display ads a particularly effective marketing tool. Ad blockers are not the only reason their effectiveness is diminishing. Ads are so ubiquitous that we don't even see them anymore. We have several billboards within blocks of our house, I drive past them every day and couldn't tell you what's on them. It's just noise and we tune it out after a while.

At least when it comes to books, paid reviews and blogs are more effective than display ads. Even if the reviews aren't positive, they're useful if they can explain why they didn't like your book.It's more work but better results. That's also life without display ads. More work.

Comment: Re:Treaty Violations (Score 2) 103

by HangingChad (#49704551) Attached to: House Science Committee Approves Changes To Space Law

Who gave the US ownership of the universe.....

God did. That's why when a white, humanoid alien from another planet comes to earth it's perfectly natural that they're going to fight for truth, justice and the American way. God likes us best and the rest of you fereners can suck it. Ha-ha!

Comment: Re:Veto it (Score 4, Insightful) 103

by HangingChad (#49704531) Attached to: House Science Committee Approves Changes To Space Law

Hey, I am fine with industry standing on its own and living or dying by the free market, but since when was letting the government own your liabilities part of the free market vision?

They're just asking for the same deal the insurance industry, defense industry, agriculture, pharmaceutical and banking industries already enjoy. Who paid the tab for the last recession? That would be the government, as in we the people. Who paid to rebuild New Orleans after Katrina or Florida after the last set of hurricanes? It was partly the insurance industry, which threatened to claim bankruptcy if the government didn't pick up most of the tab. Who pays for bad weather that wipes out crops? And who pays when someone loses their job and can't make their mortgage payment? Who paid for broadband infrastructure and then gave it away to telecos to sell at a profit which then started to whine like bitches when it came time for upgrades?

I actually agree that the government shouldn't be on the hook for any of that, at least not indefinitely. The government might have to be the buck of last resort for the private space industry until the risks are understood and private insurance has a structure for coverage. But then there's an accident and the insurance companies threaten to file bankruptcy if they have to shoulder the full burden of the claim and most re-insurers are located offshore, so they're not worried about paying up to the limit of coverage and saying, C' ya!

If the government doesn't shoulder the burden of liability then the private space industry never gets off the ground. On the other hand, we the people deserve some payback if we're providing insurance.

Comment: The windows need to stay (Score 1) 435

by HangingChad (#49674151) Attached to: Will Robot Cars Need Windows?

A self-driving car will still need windows in case the human driver ever needs to take over. But the windows could certainly have privacy shades. Other things we'd no longer need for robot cars are street signs, stop lights, and lane markers. You might argue that we'd need to keep those things for the people choosing to drive themselves but my question would be how long should the rest of us finance billions in infrastructure for a diminishing number of holdouts?

That's why I think self-driving cars are going to take over a lot faster than most people imagine. There are significant costs to maintain infrastructure for human drivers. Not to mention the insurance implications when it starts costing significantly more to drive yourself.

Comment: Re:Not yet statistically significant (Score 4, Insightful) 408

Yes, the data set is way to small to draw any conclusions,

Not necessarily. Pick a pool of 48 cars at random and compare the accident rates. You also have to compare them by the accident rate per hour behind the wheel.

This gets at the whole idea that self-driving cars have to meet some lofty standard of perfection to become the optimum choice. To replace people behind the wheel self-driving cars only need to be +1 better than human drivers.

Self driving cars can't drive in the rain. Oh, really? Take a drive around Seattle in the rain, you'll discover human drivers suck in the rain, too. And that's in the rain capitol of the world where you'd expect people to be used to driving in the rain and they still suck (I lived there for 10 years so don't bother trying to deny it).

The biggest obstacle to self-driving cars isn't rain or snow, it's something called Illusory Superiority. The vanity of humans who think they're better drivers than they really are.

Comment: Re: Hauling goods is serious business (Score 1) 167

by HangingChad (#49657359) Attached to: Texas Regulators Crack Down on App-Driven Hauling Service

Just a reasonable demand for proof of insurance.

Too bad they didn't demand proof of adequate insurance from the chemical company storing mountains of explosive chemicals near residential housing.

Texas advertises itself as a government intrusion free zone, then Texas government intrudes when companies actually take advantage of that environment. Seems kind of hypocritical.

According to the letter, this includes not just professional or even regular haulers, but also people moving a piece of furniture bought at a garage sale for pay;

Let the chemical company store mountains of fertilizer and the oil company pollute Galveston Bay but you better have commercial insurance for moving furniture from a garage sale! Maybe the no government intrusion rule only applies to companies big enough to bribe legislators.

Comment: Re:So when will this actually happen? (Score 4, Interesting) 372

by HangingChad (#49636529) Attached to: Global Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach New Monthly Record

>I distinctly recall hearing about how major cities along the U.S. eastern seaboard would be under water "within a decade" back in the mid 1970s. It didn't happen.

That's good to know because, right now, parts of Miami are flooding at high tide and larger areas flood during king tides. There are huge projects going on all along the coastal areas of southern Florida to raise sewer lines and lift stations so toilets will continue flushing. We are spending tens of millions to try and protect the well casings that supply freshwater to Miami.

There are trails in Palm Beach we grew up rollerblading when we were kids that flood twice a day now; the storm drains start flowing backwards. Then there are the underwater boat docks and places where the waves lap over the tide wall.

That doesn't even touch beach erosion. It's funny as hell to watch cities pump sand back up on the beach.

The next big hurricane that comes in from the wrong direction and you're going to see boats washed up on I-95. Miami's going to be dead long before the waters claim it for the last time but the water is coming and there's nothing we can do to stop it.

Comment: Gadget security will fail (Score 1) 164

by HangingChad (#49621883) Attached to: How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text

The problem with gadget security is it will always let you down and is why mass surveillance is counter productive. The larger the dataset, the harder it is to extract any useful information. When you're trying to process billions and billions of records, gadget security is your only option. It's a huge waste of effort and, as the Boston Marathon Bombers and those dead idiots in Texas proved, it's still relatively easy to slip through.

Terrorists are smart enough not to speak in plain language, so I don't get the NSA's addiction to mass surveillance. The tactics that work aren't sexy or easy.

Comment: Information overload (Score 4, Insightful) 56

There is simply no way human beings can sort through that much data. That means relying on gadgets and software to do the sorting for the humans. Anyone who manages big data can tell you how corrupt most data sets really are. Names spelled different ways, bits of information incorrectly transcribed, copy errors, format errors, import errors are all low probability events but, when you're dealing with billions of records, there are a lot of them. Just in general, gadget security doesn't work.

In nearly every terrorist event that's happened in the U.S., the FBI had tips from alert citizens. That was true for 9/11 and almost all of them in between. The FBI even interviewed the Boston Marathon bombers. HUMINT works.

Funny that the FBI screw ups don't get more media attention. In nearly every case they didn't effectively use the information they had, so how is more information going to make things better?

Comment: Prime example (Score 4, Insightful) 103

by HangingChad (#49550691) Attached to: Microsoft Increases Android Patent Licensing Reach

If anything points out that software patents should be completely thrown out it's this kind of nonsense. The computer world used to joke about the "Microsoft tax" on new computers due to the cost of Windows. This is, literally, a Microsoft tax on Android devices. At least with Windows you got something, this is money for nothing. This is not what the patent system was designed to do.

Comment: Always felt silly for doing that (Score 1) 225

That sounds like a good time for a duress password.

I always took the time to make two containers with one accessed through a duress password. I felt silly for doing it...less so now. It was something I did because I used to travel a lot internationally. That was before Customs started cloning people's device drives.

Comment: Re:"Full responsibilty?" (Score 0) 334

by HangingChad (#49539137) Attached to: Drone Killed Hostages From U.S. and Italy, Drawing Obama Apology

he'll be prosecuted for manslaughter, right?

Sure, we should stop fighting terrorists because they hide behind hostages. That's a brilliant strategy. And then prosecute the people launching attacks against terrorist bases overseas. Another brilliant plan! Pure genius.

Maybe a better plan is for civilians to stay the fuck out of conflict zones or face the fact there's a risk of getting killed.

Comment: Re:Help me out here a little... (Score 2) 533

by HangingChad (#49505215) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power

Is this industry BS, or is there something to this claim?

The power companies do actually have somewhat of a point but, in many ways, the issues are very similar to what's going on with internet technologies.

Part of your electric bill goes to maintaining the electric grid and the LV (Low Voltage) network that serves your neighborhood. Suppose there are 10 homes on an LV network and 2 of them install 7,000 watt solar arrays. Now the cost of maintaining the LV network has to be split among 8 homes instead of 10. At first that wasn't any big deal but, as more people add solar power, the power companies still have to maintain the grid and enough excess capacity to make up the shortfall on a cloudy day. As the use of solar power starts going up geometrically, it is really pounding the snot out of your local power company (not that they don't deserve a little of it).

So let's suppose we charge everyone a connect fee for grid maintenance. That covers the cost of maintaining transmission systems, LV networks and excess unused capacity. It will also raise the cost of utilities for the poorest fraction of society. I was shocked to learn that there is a large segment of utility customers who use very little electricity. A connect fee would, for many of them, be a significant price increase.

Some of these problems can be mitigated by smart grid technologies. Now we get into a pissing contest between utility companies and regulators about who is going to pay for the upgrade. Utility companies want the government to pick up the tab, even though that wasn't the deal when they were granted a monopoly. Just like telecos want the government to upgrade the internet so they can step back in and reap the profits. Free market corporate welfare. Utilities are hesitant to invest money in a rapidly diminishing market.

This points out one of the big reasons why privatizing utilities is such a monstrously bad idea. Once profit becomes the prime driver of utilities, the greater good is completely out the window.

It's not so hard to lift yourself by your bootstraps once you're off the ground. -- Daniel B. Luten

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