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Comment: Automation? (Score 1) 322

by King_TJ (#48398907) Attached to: MARS, Inc: We Are Running Out of Chocolate

It seems to me like this problem will eventually cause people to look into ways to automate the bean picking process, and remove much of the labor-intensiveness?

It's not like this hasn't been an issue before with other crops.... I get the idea that the only reason this has been done with all the manual labor for so long is geography. The beans are grown primarily in places where labor is dirt cheap.

Paying the farmers more will happen naturally if chocolate gets too scarce. (Companies intent on making cheap candy will use very little cacao in whatever they sell, and those interested in really good chocolate candy will up the price.) But those with a vested interest in getting large supplies of cacao beans at as low a price as possible will probably invest in technology to harvest them more efficiently. Get directly involved in the process, opening up farming operations using the machinery -- and you've got your own supplier that you own and control. Not a bad solution, really -- and will bring costs back down again.

Comment: Re:Why? (Another opinion) (Score 4, Informative) 326

by King_TJ (#48398669) Attached to: Apple Disables Trim Support On 3rd Party SSDs In OS X

I've been primarily a Mac user since 1999 or 2000, and I've watched the serviceability of Apple's machines go back and forth over the years. Before they moved to the Intel processor, you often had very limited options to do anything with the configuration you purchased, even when the machine in question was a tower type desktop computer. RAM was generally not an issue, although Apple sometimes required very specific timing for the DIMM modules - limiting what you could put in. But certainly, upgraded video was a problem (very limited in which cards could be used as upgrades - including cases like the G4 Cube where some cards were physically too long to fit, even if they'd work otherwise). Laptops like the iBook G4 were notoriously difficult to take apart for service. I remember replacing a bad hard drive in one for a guy I used to work for, and it was at least a 2 hour long job for me with screws all over the place. After that, I understood why repair shops would quote such high labor rates when you asked about an iBook repair.

Then I watched things go the opposite direction. The newer Macbooks and Pros became increasingly easy to work on, so you could unscrew the bottom plate and have instant access to everything -- or just remove a small plate to get to the RAM slots. Batteries became removable from the bottom by just sliding an unlock switch. Even the iMac was easy to upgrade at one point (hard drive right there once you took the back cover off, and no need to do more than unscrew a couple screws on the bottom to get to the SO-DIMM memory).

But it's now swinging back to the "non serviceable" mode again, with the pentalobe screws trying to keep people out, soldered RAM on the motherboards, and having to take the whole glass and LCD screens out of iMacs to work on them.

Truthfully, I don't think the TRIM support for non-Apple branded SSDs is that big of a deal. It's been known for quite a while now that Apple wasn't including TRIM support for 3rd. party drives -- and there's even one 3rd. party SSD coming out now with TRIM functionality built into its firmware, so OS X doesn't need to have support to do it. You can turn off the feature in OS X that verifies you're only using signed KEXTs and get the custom ones to work for TRIM support too.

But sure, it's annoying .... and I'm not going to make apologies for Apple about any of this. We still use their products where I work and none of this will make us stop. (As long as you have a warranty, you just hand it back to Apple when it breaks and it's their problem. If you still need it and the warranty is up? Fine... you pay up and let Apple service it and hand it back to you again. Their repair prices have actually gone down in recent years, as they've made more products reliant on them to service them.) Home users are the ones who get the short end of the deal though, as money is more of a problem for us and we tend to buy lesser configurations of machines to save money up front -- intending to add to it later. With Apple, that's becoming a poor decision.

Comment: VoIP is the whole problem (Score 2) 141

by King_TJ (#48398555) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Dealing With VoIP Fraud/Phishing Scams?

Traditional land lines have the caller ID information generated at the phone company's central office, based on who is paying the bill for the circuit.
Unless you're planning on hacking into their computers - it's not really changeable.

The problem lies with all the VoIP based phone systems out there. These days, there are probably more phone lines using VoIP than traditional copper lines.

The VoIP systems don't even have a way to tell emergency 911 operators what your correct address is. You're expected to provide the right one to go with the number you receive (often with the ability to do that yourself with a self-service web based control panel). So yes, the caller ID information is also controlled by the VoIP server -- and anyone running their own can do as they please with it.

Comment: Re:Good math, but partially missed the poiint (Score 1) 554

by King_TJ (#48392879) Attached to: The Downside to Low Gas Prices

Not necessarily though ... because most of the big, commercial trucks are providing products or services that everyone utilizes. If you place a higher tax on commercial trucks, it winds up redistributed anyway, as it's covered with higher shipping/transportation costs passed along to those buying the products and services carried on the trucks.

So yes, why not tax the larger vehicle that do the lion's share of wear and tear on the roads, and let that help fund any needs for increased road infrastructure for the other vehicles too?

Comment: re: understanding of the law (Score 1) 86

by King_TJ (#48378875) Attached to: After Silk Road 2.0 Shutdown, Rival Dark Net Markets Grow Quickly

Umm... no. I think I understand the law pretty well. And just like I said, the mistake these guys made really just lies in the details. They could run the exact SAME software, the exact SAME way (requiring a Tor session to establish a connection to it), and get around the accusations of engaging in a conspiracy to sell narcotics by simply eliminating the names of categories of sales that are deemed illegal.

You can't prove that the site operator opted to run an anonymous site purely or primarily to hide the fact that it was for illegal activities. That's nothing more than a theory or a guess. I'd say that many people interested in projects like Tor just believe in the idea that you have the right to conduct a financial transaction without being traced. (A pure cash transaction in the physical world is pretty much just that.) Without these options, we've reached a point where it's nearly IMPOSSIBLE to buy anything over the Internet without the transaction getting logged (or even analyzed for some sort of marketing or statistical purposes). About the closest thing to it is using a site like Craigslist to meet someone in person and pay cash to do the transaction -- but then we're back to using traditional methods vs. online payment and some sort of mail delivery of the product.

Comment: Meh... the hardware is lame .... (Score 0) 177

by King_TJ (#48378757) Attached to: Android 5.0 'Lollipop' vs. iOS 8: More Similar Than Ever

Every review I'm reading for devices capable of running Android 5.0 complain about the devices themselves. The new Nexus 9 tablet? Flimsy plastic feel to it ... nowhere near as solid with the sense of quality of construction you'd get with a new iPad. The Nexus 6 phone? Much more expensive than previous versions and again, that cheap feel to it that makes you wonder if it's worth the price.

I think it's great we have options that both compete to ensure they're not leaving out good features. But right now, I'm glad I went with an iPhone 6 and an iPad Air as my tablet, vs. the Android options. It sounds like the better-constructed hardware that will come along shortly running Android 5 still runs the risk of having the Sense UI bolted on top of everything, hurting performance and the simplicity of the original UI.

Comment: Whack a mole; it's govt. policy! (Score 3, Insightful) 86

by King_TJ (#48368515) Attached to: After Silk Road 2.0 Shutdown, Rival Dark Net Markets Grow Quickly

As far as I'm concerned, the only really legitimate reason for govt. to have gone after the original Silk Road operator was the allegation that the guy placed a hit on someone else. The act of hiring someone to murder another person for you is pretty clearly illegal and the law should pursue that.

The act of running an anonymous marketplace website seems to me like it should fall under "common carrier" status. Of course, the govt. hasn't been interested in looking at things that way ever since the BBS era in the 1980's.

The fact remains though.... the U.S. post office surely helped facilitate the actual delivery of many of those illegal orders placed on Silk Road, yet we never talk about arresting the mailmen who delivered the packages. We never talk about raids on the post offices to search through boxes held there either.

When criminals conduct illegal business via phone calls, nobody ever blames the telco for selling them the circuit that allowed it to happen either.

If you want to argue that Silk Road type websites are illustrating collusion with the criminals by offering categories such as "illegal drugs" to post ads in? You might have a valid point there ... But it seems to me that's little more than a detail that such site operators could get around by simply making broad, more general categories that are clearly usable for LEGAL transactions as well as anything illegal in some countries.

So far, I haven't really heard any evidence that Silk Road 2's operator was directly INVOLVED in any criminal activity. (No requests to murder someone else, no selling or buying of illegal substances himself, etc.)

Comment: Right to vote doesn't mean you MUST vote .... (Score 1) 224

by King_TJ (#48348165) Attached to: Mayday PAC Goes 2 For 8

I'm going to call B.S. on this idea that if you opt out of voting, you're somehow doing everyone in the nation a disservice.

One of this country's big problems, IMO, is that we tend to get so many ignorant people voting, who wind up voting for all the wrong reasons anyway. (I remember back when Clinton was running for office, talking to quite a few women who said they were going to vote for Bill *only* because they thought he was the better looking individual and they'd rather see his face on the TV for the next 4 years!)

As far as I'm concerned, these people could just stay home and not vote at all, and it really wouldn't hurt a thing. Let the decisions be made by the informed and educated who have legitimate reasons to cast a vote for one candidate over another.

Although I definitely voted this this last election, and selected a lot of "very slightly and questionably the lesser of 2 big evils" types ... I also had a couple of really good candidates I wanted badly to see voted in. I've passed on a couple other elections before though, when I truly felt I couldn't give any of the people running my "stamp of approval" by casting a vote in their direction. Sometimes, I think you can really say, "None of these people are even worth my free time or energy to go vote for them." (And in those cases, I say "Screw you!" to the idiots who spout off the cliches like "Then you get the government you deserve!" Because, NO ... I actually think I deserve far better than the piss-poor options I was asked to choose from. So I'm screwed no matter which one of them gets into office, and may as well let other people take the responsibility for helping one of those morons get into office."

Comment: Re:Ideology -libertarians voting for other parties (Score 1) 224

by King_TJ (#48348141) Attached to: Mayday PAC Goes 2 For 8

This is true in states other than Texas too, from my experience.

People with clear libertarian ideas will often vote for a Republican, simply because he (or she?) makes some libertarian-esque comments while campaigning.

Libertarians tend to try to "sell" their political beliefs on the idea that "Democrats already agree with half of what we're saying, because we're liberal like them on all the social issues .... gay marriage rights, marijuana legalization, etc.", and "Republicans already agree with half of what we're saying, because we're conservative in our economic policies and support the growth of free market business operations."

In reality though? I've noticed that when it comes down to it, it's RARE that a Democrat will talk about alignment with libertarian concepts. The party still seems to believe that while the liberal outlook on social issues is important (especially to differentiate themselves from a Republican contender), they've got to cling tightly to the idea that selectively raising taxes is key to solving problems. As soon as you advocate increased taxes and/or adding government offices/departments to accomplish some new goal? You've totally lost the libertarian-minded voters.

Republicans are in a much better position to claim adherence to some of the core values or tenants of the party, while speaking to a desire for a more libertarian system. (EG. It's not hard to stay Republican and not lose much of your support-base if you decide that you won't, for example, push any legal changes to the status-quo on abortion law. Republicans may have a traditional "pro life" stance, but it's easy to say that's a "personal belief you hold" while abstaining from trying to modify law related to it.) Heck, Ronald Reagan made MANY libertarian comments during his presidency, and he's seen by many as a Republican hero.

Comment: It's still about your personal choices ..... (Score 5, Interesting) 441

by King_TJ (#48317441) Attached to: The Other Side of Diversity In Tech

I read the woman's article and I guess it hit closer to home for me than some people, because while I'm a white male, I'm married to a black woman who works in I.T.

There are certainly some workplace lessons to be learned from the author's insights, but I'm not sure they're all necessarily the ones she would conclude herself?

For starters? Whether you like it or don't... want to admit it's true or don't ... Geographic location has a lot to do with the workplace environment you can expect and its racial makeup. As she admitted herself, the job she took with Home Depot's corporate offices in the South (Atlanta) was one of the places she felt most "comfortable" among her co-workers. If this was as high of a priority for her as it sounds like it was (to the point of her describing health problems due to stress), I would have advised her never to go to Silicon Valley for work - regardless of the promised pay and benefits.

It sounds like, to an extent, she's upset that she can't "have it all" -- meaning working amongst a large population of blacks (with a nice chunk of them being female as well) who share her values and interests, while still earning "top tier" salaries in her field with the biggest industry "movers and shakers".

I'd counter that we simply don't live in a perfect world, and like everyone else, she has to make some tough choices. As a white male who has always had an interest in technology and computing, I knew it was my career field of choice. At the same time? I grew up in the midwest, and found some of my own values made it difficult for me to do such things as running out to the west coast in the dot-com boom era (even when some of my friends did and a couple wound up millionaires). I chose to stick with doing I.T. for manufacturing firms who couldn't afford to pay me that well, but offered some measure of stability and a concept of "life / work balance" that the big tech places lacked. I had family in the midwest that I didn't want to leave, and good friends that I grew up with as a kid and still hung out with. Considering all of that plus the fact that cost of living and housing was reasonable where I lived, it seemed prudent to stay put.

My wife grew up in Memphis, but I think she always knew that she wanted to get out of that area, in order to find more career success. She wound up in New York for a while, Texas for a while, and now out on the east coast with me. She's definitely not anything close to your stereotypical black woman. (Yes, she listens to alternative and classic rock by choice, and doesn't care for much rap music. She also converted to Judaism, among other things people might find outside the norm.) She never had much interest in playing competitive video games though (well, outside of a bit of Guitar Hero until she got bored with it after playing through several songs). (I, on the other hand, still like playing first person shooters, even though I'm in my early 40's.)

If you're working someplace where it's clear the vast majority enjoys and values things you don't -- guess what? That can happen to ANY of us. I worked in I.T. for union steel shops where everyone's interests included hunting, wrestling, monster trucks and country music. I was the only one who listened to alt. rock instead, and cared about a computer as more than just "a pain in the ass tool management forces us to use". I guess I *could* have tried to go hunting or fishing with the guys or start listening to country to try to make new friends. But I didn't.... I just accepted that we liked different things, and went to work to get work done, period. It's a lot easier to enjoy your free time if you have a paycheck and the bills are all paid.

If you're not willing to do that? That's ok... but you have to do your job search based on what's important, then .... which would be finding like-minded co-workers. I know it exists, but she's right that at least for what she was looking for -- it probably won't be found in the "tech giants" of places like Silicon Valley or the Dallas/Fort Worth, TX area. (As just one example to throw out.... the Emerson corporation, last time I kept up with it, had an I.T. department headed up by a black female, and very aggressively hired minorities at their HQ in St. Louis, Missouri.)

Comment: Re:Computers used for evil (Score 1) 253

Well, yes, I *am* a white male. But then, that's a pretty good "dollar to donut" bet to make about any random person posting regularly on Slashdot, isn't it?

I can't speak for Engineering students and what they're running up against in the work world, since that's not really my field. (Just today, coming home on the train, though... I heard a few people discussing Engineering and how "weird" the entire hiring process gets, especially for EE's. They were primarily talking about pay and raises -- but the point was, it sounded like there are a LOT of hard-to-explain decisions being made surrounding employment in that particular field.)

I will say that I spent 7 years or so doing PC support along-side an African American guy who was one of the brightest and most enjoyable people I ever worked with. He completely knew his stuff about both the computer network and the phone system we used. I don't know what he was paid, but I hope he earned more than I did because he absolutely deserved it.

Bottom line is, if you're hiring less qualified people based on skin color, you're screwing yourself in the end....

Comment: Re:Get rid of the electronic voting machines. (Score 1) 388

by King_TJ (#48314821) Attached to: Another Election, Another Slew of Voting Machine Glitches

I'm still on the fence, on this.... As much as we rely on computers for in modern society (even life and death scenarios, such as computer systems warning about dangerous drug interactions when you're given a prescription), it doesn't seem impossible to get electronic voting done securely and properly.

The big problem seems to be a lack of understanding of the technology and security issues on the part of the folks who selected "approved" voting machine systems?

For example, all of this talk about touch screens with calibration issues? That's not even really a "thing" with capacitive touch-screens. How often do you have to recalibrate your iPad or iPhone's screen? It seems like any voting machine using the older and cheaper resistive touch-screen technology should have immediately been discarded as inadequate.

Good old-fashioned paper ballots? Well, they work -- but then you're back to handling an awful lot of paper, which has plenty of downsides of its own. And they couldn't even get THAT completely right, as evidenced by the whole "hanging chad" incident in Florida.

Personally, I think any e-voting system needs to have some way for the voter to be able to verify his/her voting selections after the fact, but via PGP key encryption type scheme (public and private key), so nobody ELSE has a way to view those selections without the permission of the key-holder who voted. (This would largely put an end to accusations of votes getting deleted or changed by the electronic voting machines, or by people modifying the data somewhere along the line.) The results could still be tabulated from the database of all the recorded votes ... but information tying a vote to an individual would be the encrypted part that the vote counters would be unable to access. The database could be "closed" when the polls closed with a CRC checksum value, too. So any tampering with the database after that point would change the checksum value.

Done properly, this would seem to me to be MORE secure than paper ballots (where it would be relatively easy to "lose" a whole bunch of them that help someone win who you're getting paid off to keep from winning).

Comment: re: libertarians and "flower power" people (Score 1) 551

by King_TJ (#48312141) Attached to: In this year's US mid-term elections ...

Yeah.... I made a much more detailed post on here, somewhere up above this one, where I explained my views.

But this is, IMO, quite accurate.

Goes back to the line about Central government being an inherently evil thing, YET a necessary evil....

Why necessary? Anarchists will tell you it's not, and even quote some limited examples of anarchist societies that thrived for a period of time in history. Unfortunately, those examples don't seem to be around anymore in most cases.... or else they refer to a very remote, primitive society, which I don't think proves very much. (As a society gets more advanced, there are far more problems to be solved, such as resource utilization to make technologies work, and equitable distribution of the benefits. Primitive societies haven't run into these issues yet.)

I think most of us eventually gravitate towards some sort of central leadership. There's a sense that doing so frees us up to worry about and do other things. Certainly, it enables very large scale projects that are very difficult for a private party to gather funding for or to cost-justify except in nebulous or very long-term ways.

I don't think there's any one, perfect form of government. But I do think Capitalism, as laid out by the USA's founders, is a relatively good foundation to a workable and tolerable system. It does require constant vigilance (as we were repeatedly advised and warned), but a society willing to continually push back as government naturally tends to try to expand in size and scope results in a functional (even useful) core, IMO.

Comment: Re:Lies, damned lies, statistics (Socialism) (Score 1) 551

by King_TJ (#48312011) Attached to: In this year's US mid-term elections ...

I'm with you that we need a better option, but Socialism? No way, man.... That's been tried in plenty of nations already, and people are generally free to move to those countries and practice it all they want, if they feel it's so superior to what's offered in America.

Personally, I think there's really nothing seriously wrong with the U.S. Constitution as it was originally written. (There may be a couple of the amendments which arguably weren't such good ideas or could have been written more effectively a different way.)

Most of our nation's problems, IMO, stem from getting away from the core ideas of the Founding Fathers about how the country was supposed to work. The system of checks and balances put in place was effective enough to put the brakes on corruption, but unable to completely stop it (as folks like Ben Franklin predicted and were concerned about). They gave us their "Democracy", "if we could keep it" - and apparently we've let it slip through our fingers increasingly in the last 50+ years.

The problem today is, our government has become such a big "ship" that you can't change its course very quickly. Personally, I find myself standing with those holding libertarian ideals, but at the same time realize that the "big L" Libertarian party has been ineffective BECAUSE it can't seem to distinguish between utopian ideals / principles, and the reality of politics today (compromises are required to make changes, and big changes only happen with many tiny steps).

Where there is centralized power (governance), you'll find corruption, no matter WHAT political ideology you prefer. I firmly believe the people in charge of Socialist (or Communist) nations are just as corrupt as those in charge of our Capitalist system.

The key is to trim central government back to the bare essentials. Yes, it's inherently evil, but unfortunately, I believe (as many do) that it's a necessary evil. So the goal is to always treat it as the poison it is, and minimize its usage.

Right now, the dominance of the 2 party system leads to the occasional libertarian-minded person running as a Republican. So I'll vote for those individuals when I find them and when I'm able to. The party platform they're on is irrelevant, really, except they're leveraging it as a way to remain a viable candidate. The statists who cling to the party are certainly corrupt and need to be voted out, but they're really no better than the vast majority of Democrats running.

It seems to me that one of the biggest complications lies in candidates trying to win votes based on topics that wouldn't even BE issues in a libertarian political scenario. For example, coming out for gay marriage (a favored tactic of Democrats), or concerning oneself with "family values and morals" like many statist Republicans like to tout? These are things government shouldn't even be INVOLVED in, period! A small, efficient central government won't waste taxpayer dollars and time/effort trying to legislate personal lifestyle choices or religious values!

Almost all political systems look great in theory and on paper.... but it's only when they come into actual use, in a society full of flawed human beings, that their validity is truly tested. IMO, Socialism has never proven to work as a "best option" in real world implementation. It simply has no incentive built in to encourage people to better themselves or strive for greatness. It's the same problem we've seen with labor unions in America. Yes, they provided initial solutions to some problems of unfair treatment of workers -- but in the long run, they fail to reward anyone for going above and beyond the rest of the group. We may all be CREATED equal, but our development as individuals takes very different paths after that. I don't WANT to live in a country that essentially promotes everyone being as similar as possible. I'm fine with voluntary inequality (EG. someone lives without much wealth because he/she prefers to be lazy and do the minimum to get by, while someone else prospers and becomes wealthy due to hard work, discipline and constant striving to learn more).

I'm NOT fine with a huge income gap created solely by corruption (paying off people in politics to bend rules to favor specific groups unfairly). But again, I think that's a battle you'll NEVER fully solve, as long as humans are imperfect creatures. You just have to have a system in place that makes such things difficult to get away with.

Comment: Re:Computers used for evil (Score 2) 253

This sounds like a load of B.S. to me, unless you have some proof to back it up?

I can tell you that in close to 30 years of working in I.T. -- I've never seen this sort of behavior by H.R. In fact, when it came to I.T. hiring -- the hiring managers were often pushing to find a qualified female or minority candidate, precisely BECAUSE they got nervous about having nothing but white males in the department.

I helped interview candidates at one of my previous I.T. jobs, and my boss was openly frustrated that we just couldn't recommend any of the female candidates we interviewed. He was even hinting to us that we might want to adjust our standards a bit and give one of them a chance if we thought she could at least learn what was needed..... Only reason it didn't happen was the women who applied (for a workstation support job) were clearly uncomfortable doing such things as unscrewing the cover of the case for the desktop PCs and upgrading RAM or swapping out a defective part. We were too small a department to hire people who couldn't "hit the ground running" with that stuff.

I'm sure racist employers are out there -- but it's really not that big a problem, from my experiences. Most people simply want employees who can get the work done efficiently, because labor is too big an expense to spend it on someone who lacks the skills or motivation.

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