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Comment: Re: Bundy (Score 4, Insightful) 1472

by King_TJ (#46770635) Attached to: Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

I keep seeing news clips from sources like MSNBC who are apparently on a mission to frame Bundy in that light (thief, welfare mooch, etc. etc.).

If you look at it a little further though, I don't think it's quite that clear....

First off, the entire argument centers around his letting his cattle roam and graze on the grass on all of the otherwise unused land that the Feds are NOW putting up a fuss about. Do animals not roam and graze on land in nature anyway? This isn't a case of Bundy building physical structures on govt. land, or even so much as parking vehicles on it. The government's main defense here is a claim that he owes them a large amount of money for unpaid "grazing rights". Ok ... except if you look at the history of grazing rights? All they were was a way for ranchers to avoid having to deal with the hassles of maintaining grazing lands themselves -- repairing broken fences and so forth. A govt. agency offered to make things easier on them by performing those services centrally and collecting grazing fees to fund it, and they agreed. Bundy was actually doing the fence repairs and maintenance himself ... so his failure to pay these fees is little more than a technicality.

Additionally, I think many folks supported him primarily as a way to "poke a proverbial stick in the eye of big government", as opposed to a direct interest in seeing justice done for Bundy and his family/relatives/friends. As a taxpayer myself, I have a big problem with government buying up large tracts of land and then just sitting on them, as they clearly did here. That's a huge waste of our money! Government's purpose is to serve the public -- so any land it purchases should be clearly towards that end. In this case, Bundy's ancestors had cattle grazing on the same land for over 100 years ... and it didn't bother anybody. Only *now* is it such a big deal, govt. felt the need to use helicopters, vans with SWAT teams and more, to basically invade the area and put on a show of force -- even attempting to seize the man's cattle.

Lastly, there's the issue of govt. clearly lying about its intentions. A claim was initially made about the land being purchased for the purpose of preserving an endangered species of tortoise. Interestingly enough, there are records showing the boundaries of the protected land were re-drawn in the past, to accommodate other government projects - when they were found inconvenient. So the idea Bundy has to go for endangering these animals now is ludicrous.

Bottom line? If the guy owes the IRS back taxes and keeps refusing to pay, fine... Collect it from him the usual way. Seize his bank account or garnish some of his income. If the govt. *really* wants to FINALLY do something constructive with the land they sat on for over a century? Again, fine ... but do it in a sensible way. Inform people of exactly what's going on (not LYING about it), and if it's something like a solar project? Why not just build it there and leave the cattle alone? I don't see why they couldn't co-exist and keep everyone happy.

Comment: I respect his talent, but .... (Score 1) 126

by King_TJ (#46725849) Attached to: The Graffiti Drone

Like other people said, it's too bad these artists disrespect the property rights of others.

It takes some practice to fly these drones well, even though they have such high-tech features as on-board GPS systems and smartphone or tablet software as control devices in many cases. They're usually smart enough to do things like stop moving and hover in place, when they lose a control signal, until you catch back up with them. But flying one precisely enough to draw actual paintings with spray paint is surely not something everyone can just run out and do well.

I'd like to see this become a new "thing" ... but in a more acceptable setting. I think people would enjoy watching or even pay to see good artists creating art with flying drones -- but spraying it on places where they were ALLOWED to do it!

Comment: I wrote my whole BBS package in BASIC (Score 1) 146

by King_TJ (#46704875) Attached to: Born To RUN: Dartmouth Throwing BASIC a 50th B-Day Party

When I first got interested in running a computer bulletin board system, around 1986-87, I had a Tandy Color Computer 2 (with a whopping 64K of RAM) and a 300 baud auto-dial/auto-answer modem. What I didn't have was any good software to use for the purpose. Back then, the only BBS package I really knew of for the platform was a commercial one called Colorama (typically sold in "Rainbow" magazine, a Tandy Color Computer publication). As a kid who had a LOT more time than money, I was pretty uninterested in trying to buy that one.

A buddy of mine who was learning to do assembly language coding for the Motorola 6809e processor in the Color Computer started working on a device driver which could translate screen output to modem output, and intercept the results of BASIC INPUT statements, taking them as input received from the modem. That was the missing piece of the puzzle for me, allowing me to code the rest of my own BBS package using BASIC.

(As a side note... one of the limitations of the Color Computer 2 was the fact it couldn't display any lowercase letters. It knew about the ASCII codes for them, but would only show them on screen as inverse video; essentially looked like the usual uppercase text, except with black blocks behind each letter. Eventually, my friend enhanced his device driver to put the machine into a graphics mode and draw all of the text in a graphical font giving true lowercase and more characters per line than the 32 you got with the original Color Computer text font. It was a little sluggish, but worked and looked great!)

Due to lack of suitable mass storage devices back then, I wrote the message forum portion of the BBS to store each line of text in DIM variables. Rather limiting, but looking back, it was kind of amazing it worked as well as it did. (I gave people a 15 or 20 line limit per message, I believe.)

Comment: Re:Good for you. (Score 4, Insightful) 641

by King_TJ (#46694695) Attached to: Meet the Diehards Who Refuse To Move On From Windows XP

That's one theory -- but I'd say previous experience shows it wasn't the case.

For example, there were quite a few people who hung onto Windows '98SE *long* after it was discontinued, yet they never really ran into any new security threats of significance. (The biggest problem for some of them was finding anti-virus software that would still install and run on the platform, after a while. But a few packages still supported it, and downloaded AV signature updates just as well as they did on other OS's.)

In that situation, the hackers quit focusing on anything Win '98 and concerned themselves only with exploiting the more recent code out there, which had an ever increasing market-share, not a decreasing one.

We saw this again with Windows 2000 Server, where security updates stopped -- yet many businesses kept on using it in production, in situations where older and complex applications were already running well on it, and redoing the whole thing on a newer server version was a big and costly undertaking. (I know my previous employer still uses Win2K server for a custom written app developed in the PROGRESS language. It's a virtual machine now, instead of a physical server -- but there's simply no need to go through the hassle that would be involved to move it to Windows Server 2008 or 2012.)

I'm not sure where your 98% statistic comes from, but I suspect you pulled it out of thin air. Many of the old exploits and bugs affecting XP systems had to do with aspects of its design which were changed considerably in Vista and later. (We're talking everything from restricted areas of the system registry that random apps aren't allowed to change anymore, to issues related to Active-X and the older versions of IE which XP users are forced to use since the new ones won't install on it.) I doubt hackers, moving forward, will put a huge effort into finding new exploits for IE version 6,7, and 8 that weren't already patched, or trying to write malware that wouldn't be effective in the first place on any Windows version with UAC?

Comment: Crab bucket ..... (Score 0) 161

by King_TJ (#46649553) Attached to: App Developers, It's Time For a Reality Check

The primary reason you don't see the real upward mobility in America is primarily a function of the proverbial "crab bucket". If you're surrounded by people who lack the motivation to try to do more or to "rise above" the situation they're in, they tend to see you climbing past them and attempt to pull you back down to their level again -- just like a crab escaping a bucket full of crabs.

When you're the son or daughter of successful/wealthy parents, you already have higher expectations placed on you, as a rule. You probably live in a place where most of those you go to school with or have as friends are in a similar economic status. You don't want to be the "odd one out" in your peer group who doesn't maintain that same level of success, AND you're repeatedly told there's no reason you CAN'T maintain it.

Who you know will always be as important as what you know .... but many of the successful entrepreneurs I've read about don't appear to have been handed a "free success" ticket by their family members, even if those family members had the financial means to do it?

Comment: The parent post is *SO* accurate! (Score 2) 161

by King_TJ (#46649449) Attached to: App Developers, It's Time For a Reality Check

I'm constantly thinking of places where more software development is needed. The problem is, most of those places aren't the "sexy" ones. The kids in school are all about being the next video game coding superstar, which only makes sense when you consider they're raised on titles like Minecraft.

To be a successful developer right now, you almost need to run away from anything that's being hyped. If it smacks of "social networking" -- pretend you never saw that! Video gaming? Saturated ... avoid it.

Niches that aren't really being adequately addressed yet?

1. Home automation. Yes, there are complete "systems" on the high-end, but that's stuff that nobody but the very wealthy even bother with. The real money is going to be with inexpensive, mass-produced systems that "John Q. Public" can go out and buy, piecemeal, and build his own "smart home / apartment" with on a budget. This was basically done before with the X10 controllers, a couple decades ago. But that was all "pre Internet" and "pre wi-fi" -- yet they STILL sell some of it today, because there's nothing more modern that's roughly equivalent in price and functionality. The Nest thermostat and smoke alarm are, by most counts, big "hits" - yet they're just stand-alone smart devices that don't integrate into a whole! There's big money to be made if someone does all of this right ... maybe using Arduino gear as a base?

2. Automotive systems. The auto-makers are starting to show they have a clue about this stuff, at LAST ... but they're still in the early stages of really "getting it right", IMO. Cadillac has the CUE system now, while Ford outsourced to Microsoft (with rather mixed results). It's probably difficult to get a foot in the door with these places -- but maybe there's room for a 3rd. party to engineer replacement stereo systems that make serious improvements on the factory designs? I don't see why I can't, for example, buy a replacement stereo that has a custom plate on it so it's a direct fit replacement for a specific make/model of vehicle, instead of buying some "single DIN' or "double DIN" stereo and then paying $25 for a company like Metra to sell me a crappy plastic "dash kit" to make it fit -- and netting a result that looks like I yanked the factory radio out? The replacement should integrate with the vehicle's steering wheel controls, out of the box, and do everything the factory unit did. It should also be able to talk to the OBDII system in the car, showing me any vehicle fault codes on screen, letting me get a readout of things like the fuel-air mixture while I drive and more! Integrate a GPS and navigation system that actually works well, like Waze, and let people with cellular data connections submit updates in real-time! There's so much to do here!

Comment: Re:Two questions. (Score 1) 101

by King_TJ (#46636133) Attached to: How a 'Seismic Cloak' Could Slow Down an Earthquake

Well, obviously, I'm not Mr. Tesla and I'm just throwing the general idea out there, for people more knowledgeable than myself to argue the details / merits of it.

But his original oscillator was steam powered and quite small in size. The whole point was that it would continually amplify the initial frequency with each repetitive slamming of the piston into the ground, making an initially small wave very large. It doesn't sound like it would require all that much energy, even if you built it much larger in size? How many would you need? I don't have any idea .... I would guess that even large magnitude earthquakes start out in a similar fashion -- with waves that increase in energy as they build in energy over the first few seconds? If so, maybe timing is the most critical thing.... cancelling some of it out before it has that chance to amplify?

Comment: Interesting .... (Score 5, Interesting) 101

by King_TJ (#46632981) Attached to: How a 'Seismic Cloak' Could Slow Down an Earthquake

For some reason, this article made me think of that story about Tesla and his "oscillator" experiment:

I wonder if, rather than relying on these "metametals" in special soil, one could station units similar to these at strategic locations along fault lines, designed to pick up an earthquake's resonant frequency and generate a corresponding one tuned to cancel it out?

Comment: America's issue has nothing to do with .... (Score 1) 870

by King_TJ (#46585115) Attached to: Job Automation and the Minimum Wage Debate

....needing socialism!

The problem the U.S. has is *corporatism"; meaning a situation where the biggest businesses managed to buy influence into government and co-mingle with it.

We've become a government by the corporation, for the corporation (which still tosses around the "By the people, for the people!" paperwork as propaganda to keep the citizenry content).

As I've pointed out to people before, the Star Trek: TNG universe really only works because of the imaginary technologies in the series which make real-world constraints vanish. You've got the replicator which eliminates the entire "supply and demand" concept for goods. Anything someone might wish for is just "ordered up" and assembled instantly out of atoms floating around in space. You've also got the teleporter and the warp drive technologies, which bypass the constraints people have in the real world of limitations on travel. (EG. I would see advantages X, Y and Z if I was able to be over there right now instead of here, but that's realistically impossible due to the time required to travel, not to mention the cost of said travel!) And interestingly, even in the Star Trek universe, there still seems to be central government of sorts (Starfleet Command) which isn't appreciated by all inhabitants of said universe. That would seem to be tied to the one constraint left; limited availability of energy. The Dilithium crystals are supposedly rare and only found on certain planets, meaning whoever controls those planets controls the energy source practically all the starships rely on. (I guess in the Star Trek IV movie, Spock supposedly found a way to synthesize these, but only by using extinct fission reactor technology from the 20th. century. Still doesn't sound like a reliable and unlimited energy source for them.)

Many forms of government are "good" and "workable" in theory..... It's usually the constraints of the real world we live in which make most of them fall flat.

Comment: Re:One thing's for sure... (Score 1) 870

by King_TJ (#46584913) Attached to: Job Automation and the Minimum Wage Debate

I've thought about the same thing.....

If you look to what other countries are doing, you see an awful lot of people involved in assembly of new products by hand. (For example, every time Apple comes out with a new iPhone, they pay workers in Chinese factories to hand-assemble them. Would robots produce more consistent results and be far more efficient? Sure ... except I suspect the initial set-up cost to get the robot assembling them correctly is still a fairly involved and costly undertaking. If you're going to release a new model of phone every 6 months to a year, how much of an ongoing cost will there be to keep redesigning the assembly robots for the new product?)

I guess I'm thinking that's also a possible glimpse of where all these "low skilled laborers" might end up in an automated future America? No matter how much the cost of robots come down, it seems likely that for businesses not producing huge quantities of a product, or for businesses constantly changing products, humans would still be the cheaper option. And as long as we place a certain value on human rights and everyone entitled to a "fair wage", we'll probably continue to apply legal pressure to businesses to pay them at least some sort of minimum "living wage". (After all, the alternative is letting them stay unemployed and existing completely on government hand-outs, or cutting off the hand-outs and letting them fend for themselves -- which encourages crime.)

Comment: Re:But.. but, socialism! (Score 1) 870

by King_TJ (#46584721) Attached to: Job Automation and the Minimum Wage Debate

American society (generally) maintains the idea that Socialism is bad/evil not simply because of your "Communism == Socialism == Hitler == bad" equation.

The core problem we have with the concept is the idea it provides no incentives for "going above and beyond". By design, it pretends that there's a way to centrally determine what a "fair wage" is for all manner of job positions, and to dictate that wage is paid. There's no recognition of the reality that some people are more motivated than others .... that some people care more about a job well done than others do. Mediocrity is rewarded instead. In fact, it tries to ensure that people who utterly lack motivation to work will never wind up in a bad situation due to their own laziness or unwillingness to learn something new.

Forced wealth redistribution runs counter to every reason the United States was founded in the first place.

IMO, our nation has already done a considerable amount of compromising of these beliefs. Labor unions, for example, add a socialist angle to American Capitalism; basically offering an avenue by which someone can voluntarily choose to become part of a collective where certain standards are guaranteed for the whole. Raises are only given out based on length of service or graduation to a new job function where the standard pay rate is deemed higher.

Comment: re: job creation (Score 1) 870

by King_TJ (#46584447) Attached to: Job Automation and the Minimum Wage Debate

Partially correct, but IMO, not the whole picture.....

A job really is only created when an employer decides to offer it.

Even if someone has more people wanting to use his/her service than he can handle, he has other options besides creating a new job to hire extra help. I see this every day.... Many people decide that thanks to all the government "red tape", it's not desirable to grow the business larger than the sole proprietorship level it's at. (As soon as you hire that first employee, you're mired in a mess of payroll taxes, questions about health insurance and benefits, worker's comp, etc. etc. You're practically committing to hiring at least TWO people, right off the bat, because you need an accountant to make sure all of that is done properly!)

You also see this all the time in the restaurant industry. Someone will be perfectly happy running a restaurant that gets so crowded, people have to wait 60 minutes or more just to get seated, and people who didn't call ahead with reservations are turned away. Whenever you witness that, you see potential additional jobs right there not being realized. This place is losing business right before your eyes, yet they're not trying to change it by hiring more waitstaff, leasing a larger place, hiring extra chefs, etc.

You're correct that nobody creates a new job out of purely altruistic motivations. But neither are they ever "forced" to do it, just because their business is a success. If you're earning enough money so you're content, and business is steady enough so you're not overly worried about income randomly dropping off -- you don't really have a reason to hire more people at all. You *might* do it, if greed is a motivator for you and you're always looking for ways to make MORE money. But then we bad-mouth and crucify those types when they go after that motivation and build a huge corporation, hiring MANY people, and finally get themselves those huge salaries.

Comment: Great points! (Score 2) 156

by King_TJ (#46564953) Attached to: In the Unverified Digital World, Are Journalists and Bloggers Equal?

I think you're absolutely right about the trend in news shifting towards immediacy vs. verification of content. Maybe professional journalism has a marketing problem, in that regard? I think the general public, especially in the "Internet age" where everything seems to be available at the click of a mouse, might need reminders of the value of fact-checked, accurate news reporting?

Really, there's no true need to be first, if doing so means only having part of the story, or an inaccurate one. The *perceived* need to do so only comes from the content consuming public who is trained to make the assumption that whatever news they get is already properly verified as accurate. There's a perception out there that, "If it comes from a name-brand news source, it's good content. So whichever of those professional source gives it to me first, consistently, must be the best at doing it."

I don't think most of us are anxious to see another negative ad campaign attacking the competition for doing things wrong .... but emphasis on a news team going the extra mile every time to ensure you get complete and verified news reporting, "even if it takes us a little longer" might help change peoples' priorities?

Put your Nose to the Grindstone! -- Amalgamated Plastic Surgeons and Toolmakers, Ltd.