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Comment: Re:Teddy Ruxpin wasn't considered creepy (Score 1) 102

by Jesus_666 (#49767981) Attached to: Cute Or Creepy? Google's Plan For a Sci-Fi Teddy Bear
If I remember correctly the "Teddy Ruxpin is creepy" meme stems from the fact that a Ruxpin on dying batteries would, well, sound exactly like any tape recorder on dying batteries: Wobbly and slowed down (and correspondingly pitched down). Also, the motions wouldn't work right because the motors wouldn't get enough power. I guess that might've creeped out a child or two.

Comment: Re: Not forced... (Score 1) 302

by Jesus_666 (#49632167) Attached to: Uber Forced Out of Kansas
Honestly, if you can't afford a driver's license you can't afford a car, either. While you can get cars for a few hundred bucks those will probably only last you until your next inspection, not to mention that you still have to pay insurance on the thing. Prices for reasonable used cars will probably start somewhere around 2,500 to 3,000 EUR.

As for the insurance: The details depend on many, many factors but as a ballpark figure you can expect about 400-500 EUR per year for that, too. You'll also need gasoline or diesel, which come at about 1.40 EUR/l (~ 5.94 USD/gallon) or 1.20 EUR/l (~ 5.08 USD/gallon), respectively*.

Honestly, poor people will probably just go for a regional ticket, which usually covers trains, trams and buses. Vastly more economical** and Germany has very solid public transport in all but the most rural places.


* Current prices near where I live. You might save up to 20 ct/l by refueling at a better time than nine o'clock in the evening but it's still not exactly cheap.
** The local transport association offers a twelve month ticket for the entire area (8,800 sq.km; ~ 3,400 sq.mi) for about 200 EUR or for less if you don't need the entire area. That's less than half of what a car's insurance alone would cost. If you do need to take a long-distance trip you can get good prices (about 80 EUR to get across Germany without having to resort to local trains) by ordering well ahead of time and taking trains or buses at less-congested times.

Comment: Re:I'm shocked ... (Score 1) 249

Look, policing is a hard, dangerous, often thankless job, and you have to understand that not everybody who wants to do it is qualified. When you hand an unqualified person a badge and a gun, they don't suddenly become qualified -- in fact, they become a liability to police everywhere.

It seems that a good solution would be to make sure that people who get badges are qualified. Make police officer a trained profession with standardized requirements. If becoming a police officer required three years of schooling, training and taking standardized tests you'd weed out some of the deadbeats and end up with police officers who have a decent understanding of both the law they're supposed to enforce and of how to enforce it without holding everyone they meet at gunpoint. With time it might turn turn policemen from people who everyone else instinctively fears and distrusts into actually respected members of society again.

It would also cut down on nonsense like putting Steven Segal in a tank and letting him drive into someone's living room. It's cute if a celebrity wants to tag along and watch but law enforcement is not a theme park and deputizing people who know nothing about law enforcement for shits and giggles should not happen.

Comment: Re: Not forced... (Score 1) 302

by Jesus_666 (#49629823) Attached to: Uber Forced Out of Kansas

Please educate me if I am wrong, but I understand that in most European nations, acquiring a license means you actually have to demonstrate skill with maneuvering the vehicle and it's not nearly so easy. The failure rate for license applicants is significantly higher, and since driving means we're talking life and limb, that sounds quite reasonable. If you have only driven in Europe you might even find my descriptions difficult to believe, but I promise you I see this and worse every day.

In Germany things are much more stringent (and expensive I'd wager) but ultimately a lot depends on whether it's your first license or you have gotten another one in the last couple years (eg. I got a 125cc motorcycle license and then a car license shorty after, which had changed requirements).

First you are required to first take a certain number of theoretical lessons (I think about two dozen for a car license if you don't have a previous license), followed by a standardized theoretical exam (multiple choice) where each wrong answer nets you negative points, ranging from two points for things like being mistaken about whether to shift up or down when driving up a hill to five points for anything that impacts the safety of others.

The modalities for the test vary. If you don't have a previous license you get thirty questions and fail if you get more than ten points. If you do have a previous license you only get twenty questions but fail at more than six points. Oh, and the test is more or less randomized (random selection of a set of standardized sheets) so you won't see the same questions again if you retake it. You do, however, get a stack of training sheets which work like the test sheets so you have ample opportunity to test yourself beforehand.

After the theoretical exam you have to take practical lessons. Like with the theoretical exams the exact number and details vary with the kind of license you're trying to get and whether you've gotten another license shortly before but you can expect probably at least a dozen driving sessions plus a few special conditions sessions like driving at night, driving on the highway, semi-long distance drives over regional roads etc.

Te actual practical exam involves both your driving teacher and an independent tester and boils down to driving around and submitting to their every whim for a while, preceded by a few questions of the "what does that lever do" variety. While a minor mistake might not cost you the license you will immediately fail if, for any reason, the teacher steps on the secondary brake installed on their side of the car.

Everything is billed and the tests don't come cheap, which is another incentive to learn your stuff. Examples for total costs for a car license I can offer are 2,500 EUR (2002, no retakes, slightly lowered lesson count) and 4,000 EUR (2015, one theoretical retake, all lessons required). Of course it can go even higher if you're really bad at cars.

Add to that things like mandatory first aid courses and you've got... roads that are still full of idiots but at least they're somewhat competent idiots who know what they're doing wrong. And who have the neccessary medical qualification to roll up to the site of an accident, freeze up in terror and let the 112 operator handle the rest (for the record, the law doesn't allow you to flat-out ignore an unattended accident site). But at some point they've heard of the term "recovery position" so that's at least something.

Comment: Re:And still we don't learn (Score 1) 89

by Jesus_666 (#49568275) Attached to: New Zero Day Disclosed In WordPress Core Engine
We are, yes. But we do need some functionality that, right now, is implemented as an elaborate WordPress theme that still doesn't do everything we need. A traditional CMS or blog software is really a poor match for what we're trying to do and trying to shoehorn our needs into one led to several years of frustration.

There are solutions that almost do what we need but those are all offered as services and it's not easily possible to integrate the rest of what we want with them. Plus, they're technically our competition.

Comment: Re:And still we don't learn (Score 2) 89

by Jesus_666 (#49567321) Attached to: New Zero Day Disclosed In WordPress Core Engine
The company I work for has decided to drop WordPress and develop a new CMS that does exactly what we need in-house. We mostly need static pages so there's no need to load an entire application platform (which is what WordPress is, essentially) every time anyone wants to view a page. Plus, WordPress does what it does slowly, plus we need tons of plugins (which eat even more performance) to get the functionality we need, plus many WordPress plugin authors think "best practice" is where you find a good doctor.

Sure, it's going to take some time to develop but we can take the 20% of WordPress's functionality we actually need, cover the functionality WordPress doesn't offer natively without relying on modules of questionable quality and have a web-facing dynamic codebase that's so small we can be reasonably certain it's not vulnerable. (Essentially, the only PHP code on the published website should be a simple session management script so we can put content behind a password with more flexibility than .htpasswd.)

Despite writing everything ourselves we still expect to save money in the long term, simply because WordPress generates so much work for both our employees and our server. It's okay for a basic blog if you can babysit it but anything beyond that becomes a nightmare.

Comment: Re:Victim of liberal error handling (Score 1) 89

by Jesus_666 (#49567285) Attached to: New Zero Day Disclosed In WordPress Core Engine
If I remember correctly they actually specified the error handling in the HTML 5 spec. XHTML, for its part, didn't really take off, so chances are that much of the web would still be using HTML 4 if the W3C still insisted on XHTML. HTML 4 wasn't exactly a paragon of security, either.

Comment: Re:Gamers are dead. (Score 1) 239

by Jesus_666 (#49567103) Attached to: Valve Pulls the Plug On Paid Mods For Skyrim

Not to mention pre-order bonuses. Why the hell would anyone per-order a digital game, where there's no chance it'll sell out and they won't be able to get a copy? Dumb-ass pre-order bonuses, I guess! People buy them! What the hell, gamers?

I did that for Borderlands 2 because I liked the first part so much I was willing to gamble on the second one being good. I was not disappointed. Of course I'm aware it's a gamble, which is why I tend not to do it, but sometimes it just might be worth it. Oh, and because the first game's German release was censored I imported from the UK so pre-ordering cut down on the waiting time.

And, of course, streaming and "let's plays." Why are people sitting around watching OTHER PEOPLE play games that they themselves could be playing? But they do!

As has been pointed out, not owning the console is one thing. I'm not going to buy a 3DS for a single game. Or perhaps you no longer have the game and want to take a look at it for nostalgia's sake. Some games may also be interesting from a story perspective but uninteresting gameplay-wise - I might end up watching an LP for Mass Effect 2 and 3 but I'm certainly not going to install the second part again, much less buy the third one. Some Let's Plays are value-added like IlliterateChild's Glitchy Walkthroughs where bugs in the game are exploited for comedic effect.

Sure, playing the game is usually better. But there are games you can't or won't play but are still interested in experiencing to some degree or someone did something with their playthrough that you can't easily replicate. That's where the value in Let's Plays lies.

Comment: Alternatively... (Score 2) 112

by Jesus_666 (#49546261) Attached to: Comcast Officially Gives Up On TWC Merger
Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but it turned out we don't actually have any. This took us by surprise but a quick poll among our executive staff came to the result that nobody actually knows how we make money or why we're still in business. Money comes in, certainly, and from what I could gather some of it is government money so we seem to be providing some kind of service, I guess. And some of it to the government, it seems. But the exact nature of this service remains a mystery.

Look, I only wanted to merge with Time Warner Cable because the guys over there seem to know what kind of business they're in and I figured it could be a learning experience. Now that that plan has been kiboshed, could anyone tell me what it is that we actually do? I heard some speculation that we do something with the internet but from what I can tell we don't have anything resembling a broadband infrastructure so that can't be it. We do have call centers but when I called one they didn't know anything about the internet, either. Perhaps we're some kind of telemarketing outfit?

Seriously, if anyone has an idea what our business plan is, please drop me a line at ceo@comca.st.

Comment: Re:I'll be Bach (Score 1) 302

I'm imagining how things would go if a widely-sampled piece like Pachelbel's Canon in D was covered by copyright. The labels would be buried under willful infringement suits over more money than the entire entertainment industry is worth. While it would be amusing to see BMG sentenced to pay someone a hundred billion Dollars I'm not certain it would be in anybody's interest.

Comment: Re:And the vendor response will be... (Score 1) 286

by Jesus_666 (#49528795) Attached to: German Court Rules Adblock Plus Is Legal
Some sites go a reasonable middle ground: They replace the ad space with a message like this: "You're running Adblock. Please consider whitelisting us so we can pay for this website. Thank you." And I'm perfectly fine with that. Treating your visitors like human beings and politely asking them to help you out makes a good impression.

Also, Reddit's "You're not blocking ads on our site and we think you're awesome because of it" ads. If you want people to see your ads a bit of appreciation can go a lot further than a technological arms race. It's cheaper, too.

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