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Comment: Re:A corrupt company stuggling. Boo hoo. (Score 1) 128 128


Not that many of the "not for profit" colleges aren't guilty too. But most of these for-profit colleges just don't provide much value to the students. Years ago, my ex-wife attended ITT Tech for a while, thinking she wanted to go into Electrical Engineering. The whole thing was a disaster. She wound up hugely in debt after only a couple of semesters, and eventually decided the program wasn't for her. Then, she realized the credits earned there were basically worthless, trying to transfer them elsewhere. So it was just thousands and thousands of dollars down the drain.

(I did get a nifty cardboard box full of various resistors, capacitors and transistors though.... I think she was required to pay for that as "school supplies" for one of the courses.)

And more recently, it's been my experience that the for-profit online universities are pathetic. Many of them use proprietary software which is clunky and not user-friendly at all to the students. There are a few standard packages out there that work pretty well for running an online university, but the for-profits tend not to want to invest in them, since they "saved money" using whatever junk they've held onto over the years.

Comment: I'd say Hollywood is helping revive TV .... (Score 1) 194 194

Thinking back to the late 1980s through late 1990s, I spent a lot of time in a movie theater with my friends. There was always something getting released that we really wanted to see.

In the last decade, not so much.... Hollywood spends way too much time doing remakes of movies done before, and IMO, the entire comedy genre has been pretty much decimated. Everything's reduced to fart/poop humor or trying to squeeze more laughs out of awkward sexual situations. Occasionally they manage to pull off something a lot of people will go see, but it seems like even then, they ruin it with a needless sequel (a la "The Hangover" or "Hot Tub Time Machine").

In recent years, the only movies we could justify forking over the money to watch in a theater were the kids' movies (PIXAR animations, etc.) and superhero movies (which are kind of hard to ruin, as long as they keep relatively close to the original story-lines).

Meanwhile, I think television has bridged the gap in a lot of ways, coming out with really well done series' that outdo Hollywood's story telling abilities. This is one reason why people will pay for HBO or Showtime subscriptions.... They're no longer just showing "already run" movies. They're creating new content, and people feel it's content worth paying something for.

Comment: re: idiots (Score 1) 268 268

IMO, there's a big difference between the traditional R/C aircraft people flew for fun and some of these larger-sized drones people are operating now.

I could see some sort of mandatory licensing for the bigger ones, but I think they need to do so while leaving the rest of the hobby alone.

Comment: Re:Wow.... you drank gallons of the kool-aid..... (Score 1) 308 308

Fine... Would you prefer I quote the whole sentence?

"Most likely, if we keep up at the rate we're going, we're going to cause a global wipeout of humanity that will kill a massive majority of the human population (along with a lot of other races along the way)."

But heck - that sentence doesn't even make much sense, because a global wipeout of humanity would imply no humans were left (wiped out). Yet you qualify the statement with "massive majority" ... so "global wipeout" is apparently redefined as destroying most, but not all of a population.

Ok, but the "along with a lot of other races along the way" part is interesting too. What other races? Aliens living among the humans that we don't know about?? If you mean to say species, you probably should have done that.

Comment: Wow.... you drank gallons of the kool-aid..... (Score 1) 308 308

I love all of these absolute, fatalist statements you spouted with not a single shred of hard data that backs them up.

"If we keep up at the rate we're going, we're going to cause a global wipeout of ALL HUMANITY...."

Uh-huh. Reads like a summertime Hollywood blockbuster.

We should just shut down a bulk of the power plants we rely on for energy (and presumably go back to washing our clothes by hand, down at the river-side, foraging for berries to eat), because POSSIBLY, it will "make things normal again" or POSSIBLY slow down the problem. No proof or anything but hey -- let's ruin hundreds of years of technological advancement in America and agree to go back to the dark ages out of fear!

Comment: Yeah, well .... (Score 3, Insightful) 308 308

Many of us in Maryland know this character ALL too well already. Typical liberal "tax and spend" agenda is what you can expect from him. "We're the government and we know what's best for you."

Thanks, but no thanks.

Look, "climate change" may be the hot discussion topic right now - but it's crazy thinking we can put a serious dent in it and "turn it around" simply by shutting down a bunch of our nation's power generation plants! (Right now, we're finally coming around in energy self-sufficiency, largely because of the discovery of large natural gas and shale oil deposits. Folks like O'Malley would discard all of this as "bad fossil fuels", even though much of the rest of the world will keep on using fossil fuel energy sources anyway. That means we're at a big economic disadvantage. Will be far cheaper to get things done in the nations that have lower cost energy to get them done for us -- so leads to more outsourcing of manufacturing and jobs, not to mention job loss in our country for people in the business of gathering, processing and selling those forms of energy.)

Fossil fuel usage will decline as better alternatives become economically viable. (Who wouldn't rather get "free energy" from the wind, the natural flow of water, or the sun shining down on us?) Those options are being worked on by lots of people and we're putting them into use as fast as it makes economic sense to do so. But you can't just "legislate them into exclusive usage" and pretend that's a problem solver! Whenever you're legally FORCED to use a technology that doesn't make good economic sense, you just increase the cost of living, destroy job availability and drive people to find other places in the world where alternatives are still allowed.

Frankly, I think nuclear power is still the obvious best option for large scale centralized power generation -- but the type of reactors needed to do it safely are VERY costly to construct and still have to overcome a lot of negativity from "OMG, nuclear! It's gonna kill us all!" types who don't understand the technology very well. Again, it's something that will naturally come with time (and as given fossil fuels become scarce enough to run their price up enough to make these alternatives look better).

Comment: Re:But will it be free? (Score 5, Informative) 277 277

You know... it's funny because a few weeks ago, I made the point on Slashdot that I, too, believed Windows 10 was Microsoft's vehicle for moving people to a subscription model for their OS upgrades. But I was immediately modded down as a troll.

I have lots of reasons to believe this is so, though - including attending a conference a few months ago where several Microsoft business sales reps were in attendance. They made it clear that moving forward, Microsoft is strongly focused on serving everything to you via the Cloud. They made the off-handed comment that the next release of Windows Server will likely be the last one you can actually buy to install on your own hardware. The future, according to them, lies in subscribing to everything hosted on Microsoft's Azure. You need a print and file server? Fine ... spin a new one up on Azure and configure as needed, and pay the monthly fee to keep it going as long as you need it. Same for SQL, SharePoint Server and more. And just the other day, they announced an internal restructuring of Microsoft's CRM/ERP software division (Great Plains Accounting software, basically) so it will go under their division doing Enterprise Cloud computing initiatives.

It sounds to me like Win 10 puts the "mechanism" on everyone's computer that will allow MS to push future OS updates to it via the Internet ... not just patches or "Service Packs", but complete new versions of the OS. They don't HAVE to do things that way, obviously ... but it sets the stage for a change to that deployment method.

Comment: Re:Who buys them? (Score 2) 666 666

You just cited one of the worst examples of this stuff, IMO. But that said, I suppose a counter-argument is that so many medications "big pharma" hawks today have numerous negative side-effects -- and not JUST the ones they itemize on the TV commercials and on the side of the box in small print.

At least a "fake drug" with a placebo effect is safe. A while ago, I started taking one of the "proton pump inhibitor" medications for heartburn that's available over the counter. After a few doses, I realized my heart was racing at night, when I went to bed. The first time, I didn't make the connection but when it happened again the second time I took it, I was scared and stopped immediately. I asked my doctor, who told me "That's not one of the known side effects." (A search on the Internet revealed quite a few people complaining of the same issue on message forums, although no mention of it at all on the manufacturer web pages for it.)

Now, I see heart palpitations and irregular heartbeat mentioned as possible side effects in a number of places, but it sure wasn't at the time I was taking it!

My feeling on the homeopathic stuff is, there should probably be some kind of warning label on it so consumers are informed that the medical industry does NOT believe it serves any useful purpose. But if it's basically made of harmless substances? Oh well .... buyer beware and all that.

While struggling to figure out which medications actually help and which don't with a difficult pre-teen with some mental health issues, I'd *love* to be able to buy off-the-shelf placebo pills which she'd believe were something else....

Comment: How can you say you disagree? (Score 3, Interesting) 196 196

If we really "trusted nobody", then nobody would ever build another electronic device. Heck, we'd have to pretty much destroy all of them we've got in use already.
(Say we're simply talking about a "security appliance" for your network like a box that handles junk mail filtering, or even a firewall. If you don't place any trust in the idea that the components making up the units aren't back-doored at the factory, secretly allowing leaks of the data that passes through them? Then why buy and implement them at all? Same goes for the firmware or software running them.)

I don't think the original poster was suggesting any company get a "free pass" .... Rather, it's an ongoing process where a company establishes trust over time by putting out products that get widely used and tested, and appear to be working as advertised. When it's discovered they didn't do so, then that trust level evaporates quickly and people look at other options.

So right now, yes, I have a fair amount of trust in Apple to protect my privacy. I don't "trust them absolutely" by ANY means. But the nature of the marketplace indicates to me that Apple has some strong motivations right now to make it a priority. (EG. They're competing with cloud services, head to head, with Google at the present time -- so they need to be able to show their products are advantageous over Google's because your data is safer from misuse or resale with them.)

Comment: Re:Redundant technology (Score 2) 46 46

Yes, people buy them by the millions.... You're not impressed that 6.8 million were sold in 2014 (the first year this stuff really went mainstream, with lots of version 1.0 products that will get more compelling as the years pass)?

I have the Apple Watch myself and sure it's redundant -- but that's sort of the point. I mean, in the era of everyone carrying around cellphones which ALL display the date and time, any wrist worn watch is redundant anyway!

The advantages are ones of convenience, primarily. People tend to keep their phone in a pocket or purse, and it's less convenient to pull it out (probably having to press a button on it to wake it, too) just to check the time, than to glance at a wristwatch. But also, you shouldn't discount the fact that these watches go places the phones don't go. You can take an Apple Watch with you in the shower, for example, or even swimming in a pool. It's relatively waterproof, unlike a phone. And besides, do you have a pocket that would safely secure your phone on your pair of swim-trunks? Around the house, it gives me the freedom to leave my phone on a charger, inside, too, while retaining the usefulness of some of the phone's apps. (I put a wi-fi router out in my garage as a range extender, so my watch stays on my home wi-fi network while I'm mowing the lawn or working on the car.)

The "bragging rights" thing is severely over-rated..... Unless you're talking about something insanely expensive like that Apple Watch "edition" (which is really only being bought as a piece of bling by celebrities, athletes and fashion magazine folks), most people don't really notice or CARE what you're wearing on your wrist. I don't think a single person has commented on my Apple Watch since I've had it, and I ride on the Metro every day where hundreds of people have the opportunity to say something about it if they wanted to. (I went with the black sport band option, so it doesn't really stand out that much.)

But sure, it's also of use to the fitness crowd ... a large segment of the market that I'm not really a part of. And these watches are capable of doing a little more than just telling the time, even when the phone isn't tethered to them. You can load playlists of MP3 or AAC music into mine, for example, to listen to over a bluetooth headset. So it eliminates a need to carry a separate iPod player around.

Comment: Re:Go Solar, it can make good financial sense. (Score 1) 259 259

I have a similar sized PV solar system myself, purchased for about the same price you quote as today's "unsubsidized price". (Well, maybe $32K, but pretty close.) I just got it online in the middle of December of 2014.

In my case, we still qualified for about $9,000 in Federal subsidies, although these are given back as tax credits at tax time, and last year I wasn't able to collect more than about $6,000 of that total. The other $3,000 will get put onto next year's tax refund.

Our house is over 100 years old and a 2 story with a total of 4 bedrooms. With a family of 6, and both my wife and I working in computers and I.T. for a living, our power usage is far more than what the panels generate for us. At the current utility prices out here, I estimate that in sunny months like May, June and July, the panels generate a little over $100/month in electricity for us. But the two heat pumps that run the upstairs and downstairs run quite a bit in the hot summer months too, leaving us with $400+ electric bills.

So in our case, it's pretty hard to really "feel" the savings the panels are supposed to be giving us, tax credits or not.... I still think it was probably a good investment, all in all. But at the end of the day, I still tell everyone PV solar amounts to a bit of a gamble. It's more like picking a few stocks to invest in and hoping you get the return you project than a "sure bet".

I mean, will the fact your house has panels already on it help your resale value enough to make the whole thing a net positive return on investment? It could, even if the electricity savings never really amounted to much for a person. Can anyone say for certain what electric rates will be in 10 years? Most inverters on PV solar systems have warranties far shorter than the panels themselves and they're costly to replace. How often do you think you'll need to do that "out of pocket" over the life of a system and what do you think one will cost down the road? Too many variables for any of this to have solid, certain numbers.....

Comment: Good on you, Slashdot readers! (Score 3, Interesting) 1032 1032

I already read this story and a bunch of comments on it, when it was shared on a friend's Facebook feed over the weekend. When I saw it here this morning, I have to admit I suspected a lot of people would try to make arguments supporting the guy's decision. (Lots of college age folks on here, after all, presumably suffering with high tuition and challenges finding good paying jobs, fresh out of school. Also a lot of liberal thinkers on here who I imagined would be all for free, govt. funded college educations.)

But no ... I see overwhelming dissatisfaction with his article, which IMO is exactly how it should be!

If nothing else, it strikes me that early on in his article, he encourages others to consider refusing to pay what they owe, just like he did. Yet he goes on to explain his circumstances, which are probably a lot different than many students are in right now. First off, he's talking about his dad going bankrupt after his mom co-signed for his loan. An awful lot of students I know received Federal loan assistance that didn't require a co-signer at all (and actually have pretty low interest rates compared to any other unsecured bank loans you'd take out). If you go in and sign for one of those, you have nobody to blame but yourself if it turns out it's difficult to pay off afterwards! You can't really argue that your parent(s) drug you into the bank and pretty much told you to "get one of these" without you having much of a clue, as they signed along side you on the paperwork.

But second, yeah.... it's kind of tough to feel sympathy for this guy when he's complaining that paying down his loans was going to be so difficult a decision because it would require taking a job other than the one he preferred being in! Hello?! What about the college grads with PhDs in Physics who take a job at Burger King for a while, to pay the bills? You're going to discount their dedication to doing the right thing and paying what they agreed to pay in a written contract because YOU think it's better to ditch your personal responsibility if it means doing a job other than being a writer for a while? Guess what? If I was hiring for one of these career positions and had a candidate with a high level degree with work experience like that, I'd choose him/her over the candidate with nothing! It says things about the person's character and willing to follow through on what they commit to.

Comment: How will it work under real world conditions ..... (Score 1) 235 235

One of the problems with Apple's Siri when it launched was slow response times. When you've got to have all the voice traffic transmitted over the net to the server, processed, and results returned - it causes some lag. When you've got millions of users using the thing regularly, you introduce real challenges getting all of that data processed near instantly.

With SoundHound's improvements, I suspect people will be encouraged to speak in longer, run-on sentences, as they think while speaking about all of the conditions they want on a given search. That's going to mean even MORE data to transmit up to a server and parse before a response can be sent back.

Comment: Re:I've already uninstalled the windows 10 nag ico (Score 1, Troll) 374 374

Good suggestion about removing that update.... But let's face it. Microsoft doesn't really CARE that you don't like their revised GUI. The whole reason they want people on Windows 10 is to get them under an OS platform that's friendly to a subscription-based model.

"Everyone is entitled to an *informed* opinion." -- Harlan Ellison