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Comment: Re:That pretty much sums it up (Score 1) 200 200

The model S is luxurious and looks good, no doubt about that. It is the first EV that people actually get enthusiastic about, and one that even petrol heads might want, after test driving one. Still, subsidies also help.

Over here, you'll see tons of Tesla taxicabs, and a lot of freelancers drive them as well. The reason? Subsidies. If you have a company, buying a Tesla on the company means that you:
- don't pay 21% VAT (since it's on the company)
- don't pay the special extra tax on cars (the tax is zero for EVs; on some cars the tax (ex VAT!) exceeds the factory price of the car)
- receive an extra "small scale environmental investment" subsidy (or rather, your company does)
- can deduct the price of the car and the operating cost from your company's profits.
Of course if you drive your company car for private trips as well, you pay a tax: a certain percentage of the sticker value of the car is added to your income. This goes up to 24% I believe, and it's a lot of money given the insanely high sticker prices (due to taxes), and the high income tax (many people are in the 42% or 51% bracket). But for an EV, the tax for private use used to be 0% (it's now 4%). All in all, you get to drive a car with an €80,000 sticker price for a net sum of perhaps €25,000. And then there's the savings in fuel cost and road tax.

Comment: Re:A DIY Expansion Cartridge for a C-64 (Score 2) 162 162

One of the nice things about the C64 was the hackability of the motherboard. It was also fairly easy to repair (done it loads of times). The reference guide even came with fold out schematics!

I thoroughly hacked my C64. The main thing I did was add a static memory chip of 16k IIRC, half of which could be made to replace the portion of memory that stored the font, at the flick of a switch. The othre half could be similarly mapped on a different part of memory. A rechargeable battery kept the contents of that memory safe even when the computer was powered off. This was a godsend for game development: the ability to switch fonts without having to load them every time, and the ability to instantly get a bunch of utility and debugging routines without loading or even overwriting that part of memory sped things up quite a bit.

I do miss those days, literally spent in my parents basement, or at my friends place in the attic, listening to late night radio while hacking away.

Comment: Re:Concern not warranted (Score 1) 242 242

I suppose you're right: an email with password could be sent during the registration process. As for using encryption for password files that isn't one way, I consider that to be bad practice. The decryption key will have to be kept on the live system, where it can be stolen just like the password file, or the serice could even be exploited to give up the key or decrypt a password. Better if that wholly unneccessary operation is mathematically (nearly) impossible.

Comment: Re:At least he included warrants (Score 4, Insightful) 254 254

Be careful: even if this means that they will only require data to be handed over if the requesting agency has a signed warrant, the phrase "no safe space" can only mean that private crypto is outlawed, Encrypted email, peer to peer encrypted chat and even encrypted messages in public channels are closed off to everyone except the key holders, closed even to ISPs, the chat service provider or the app builders. In other words, they are safe spaces.

Requiring a warrant means that the government should have access to our data on reasonable grounds, but only if such data is accessible. I am all for that. But the phrase "no safe space" is a telling one: it means ensuring that our data is accessible in every case, and that goes a whole lot further. If the government has access, then our ISP or the service provider has it, and that means our data is not safe.

Comment: Re:Concern not warranted (Score 4, Informative) 242 242

If passwords are sent in the clear, they are kept in the clear (unless they are one-time randomly generated passwords). And if you check with black hats, you will note that they steal password files all the time. In most cases they'll end up with password hashes, which means they can spend some time and computing power to throw a dictionary at the file and see if any semi-obvious passwords come out. But if passwords are stored in the clear, they end up with everything, no matter how strong your password. And if you use that same password on multiple sites, you'll be in even more trouble.

Comment: Re:Uh, no (Score 2) 477 477

These passwords aren't Microsoft's to share

Exactly. They are no one's to share but the owner of the access point, and when you give your house wifi password to a guest, most of them do understand that it's not ok to give that password to others. That changes when sharing passwords becomes a built-in or even automatic feature; if there's a button to share, it'll give the impression that it is safe and acceptable to do so.

Comment: Re:Uh, no (Score 1) 477 477

They did no such thing. The Windows 10 upgrade thingy makes it crystal clear, several times, that the upgrade is optional. You can decline by not "reserving your copy", and even if you accept, you still get the option to not download and install the upgrade when it's there.

With that said, I agree that sharing WiFi passwords with your contacts is a monumentally stupid idea.

Comment: Re:Accepting Responsibility (Score 2) 349 349

There really is no issue to be downplayed. It's an image recognition algorithm, and it's going to make mistakes. Some hilarious, some embarrasing. But none of it intentional. Unfortunately there will always be people who will see malice in every mistake, and take the slightest affront to whine loudly. If the affront happens to involve any minority, you have a "winner" on your hands in terms of righteous indignation.

An apology is in order, nothing more. And only to the misidentified people, not to the black community at large, Seriously, if the system had identified a white couple as polar bears or Klan members, people would have just laughed.

Comment: Re:What were they thinking? (Score 2) 177 177

Half the world is intent on making rules for everything, just because "there ought to be a law" against anything remotely risky or unpleasant. And the other half lashes out by ignoring those rules an doing what the hell they want.

1) If you treat people like children, they will start behaving like them.
2) If you make tons of unreasonable rules, people will start breaking them in protest, and start breaking the reasonable ones as well, especially if it's hard to tell the two apart ("You can't bring your gun on the plane because of terrists, but you also can't bring your bottle of water for the same reason"). Unjust, unreasonable or petty laws endanger all of the law.

Now, having a rule against using selfie sticks in a roller coaster is reasonable, but people choose to ignore that law, or tell others to, because of a whole range of other laws that are silly. And because of the way those laws are enforced (instead of treating them as a means to an end, they are treated as a goal in themselves).

Comment: Re:Convince to switch? (Score 1) 190 190

There are some features that could tempt someone to switch. Apple's fingerprint scanner wasn't the first, but it was the first one that was (almost) seamlessly integrated into the phone's usage pattern. Plenty of Android users told me they'd love to have that on their phones. But the thing is: they didn't have to switch, they only had to wait a while; today there are a few Android phones with non-sucky fingerprint scanners, and as far as I know the OS now supports it as well. If Apple turns force touch from a gimmick into something actually useful, then it won't be long before other manufacturers follow suit.

If anything, us Apple users are at a disadvantage here, Apple focus only on certain things and are slow to develop others. One thing I'd love is a water resistant iPhone, but as yet there are only some rumours that Apple is actuall working on this.

Comment: Re:Insufficient control authority (Score 4, Insightful) 49 49

They came very close, twice. And both attempts failed because of mechanical problems, not because it can't be done. Watching the video of the 2nd attempt, I'd say that they have control authority to spare. I think the lesson from both failures is that landing their first stage is in fact very doable.

Comment: Re:It's all about the environment... (Score 1) 126 126

Open plan works well enough if you do it right. I'm very much the introvert, and I used to prefer working in my own office, but I've come around and I now prefer open plan as long as a few condifitons are met.
- Get the right people together: don't mix programmers or analysts who need to focus with people who are likely to be on the phone all day.
- Don't do hot-desking; give everyone their own desk
- Provide plenty of quiet booths for a single occupant, rooms to have meetings in, and a coffee corner away from the desks
- Promote sensible guidelines for using the office: don't hog the quiet booths as your own personal office, take heated arguments into a meeting room and long social chats to the coffee corner, be mindful of others when having a phone call, and take the longer ones into a quiet booth. Don't leave your cell phone unattended on your desk: if it rings, the penalty is to have it dunked in a cup of coffee.

By the way, there's a good reason to give senior managers their own office. These are people who will very frequently have phone calls, and have short meetings with staff, vendors or clients all the time. Giving them a place to conduct those is not only good for them but for the staff around them as well. The downside is the same one cited as a reason not to give everyone an office: you'll have far fewer spontaneous interactions with others if you're sitting in one.

Comment: Re:question about this (Score 2) 126 126

Indian programming shops suffer from the same issue that our own ones do: lack of quality control. The difference between a good and a bad programmer is a factor that runs into double digits, but that doesn't do you any good if you're unable to recognize, attract, nurture and reward talented people. Most firms in the western world fail miserably at this. Why should India be any different?

Another complication is introduced with outsourcing. Before, the manager was responsible for hiring and staffing teams, and appraising their employees. That was too troublesome, so development got outsourced. Now they complain that the Indian programmers don't understand their business. Well, sitting half a world away working for a different firm tends to do that. They also express disappointment in the fact that the Indian team is about as dysfunctional als their own old team, despite assurances from Indian management that they are a highly professional shop, CMM level 5 hundred, ITIL-trained, ISO over 9000, with all the right certificates. Must be that the Indians suck at programming, right? Or maybe it's due to the fact that you thought you hired 3 FTE worth of average programmers, but you didn't get 3 FTE, you got Gupta, Lakhsmi and Pradeep. Gupta was struggling a bit, but Lakshmi did well, however she quit and joined a firm that paid better money. Pradeep is brilliant but he got moved to a different team doing a difficult project for a high level client.

There are good Indian programmers out there, and I've worked with them plenty, but through the layers between myself and the remote teams I found it hard to find the good ones and even harder to retain them. That is another hard lesson about outsourcing: if you do it, you may think you're outsourcing responsiblity and buy with it the right to scream obscenities at lying vendors who underperform, but you have also largely lost the ability to control your team, who is in it, and who gets rewarded for good work. You now rely on the vendor to do that for you, but guess what: he may have different interests at heart.

Comment: Re:A better compromise (Score 1) 305 305

Those are all sites that I'd like to see preserved because of their historical value, not because they are sacred. Well, if the site of the Washington Monument turns out to be an exceptionally good spot for a telescope, they can have it. However if they propose to bulldoze a site with ancient cave drawings, I'd say no... but I would not object if those drawings would/could be moved and preserved.

You know what's sacriligious? Demolishing the beautiful old home down the road of here, in which 5 generations of one family have lived, just so a new highway can be built. The difference? One family isn't as politically noisy as a whole group of protesters, especially if the protesters are all from an easily identifiable minority group. In both cases we can't stop all progress just for sentimental value, but personally I feel more sorry for that family.

One could argue that demolishing the family home is just what's being done on Hawaii, but be honest: at best they are ruining the view, or tearing down a beloved site. And as much as I would like to see such views and sites preserved everywhere, it isn't always possible, and in that case the Hawaiians can suck it up just like the rest of us. Don't use religion to claim an exemption.

If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong. -- Norm Schryer