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Comment Re:It's coming. Watch for it.. (Score 4, Insightful) 146 146

Funny thing is, motorists do the exact same things as cyclists. Yet, when a motorist does it, it is a bad driver. When a cyclist does it, it is a generalization that applies to all cyclists. (I will thank you for moderating your views to a massive percentage of cyclists. Yet your moderation is highly unusual.)

As for cyclist lane usage behavior, I'm not sure what the circumstances are in your city. In mine, the cyclist is to stay as far right as it is safe to be. This means that a cyclist has the right to take the lane for reasons of safety. If you're making a left turn, it is far safer to take the left turning lane to prevent cars from passing you while making the turn. If you're stopped at an intersection, it is far safer to take the right lane to prevent cars from making a right turn across your path. There are all sorts of rules of thumb like that which make life safer for cyclists and have very little impact upon motorists. (Seriously, we are talking about a 5 second delay in most of those cases.)

I have noticed motorists get impatient when I take the lane, presumably because they don't understand why. But if you think about it from the perspective of two motorists, it should make sense. For example, would you want a car passing your car from the left to make a right turn? I'm guessing the answer is no.

Comment Re:MenuChoice and HAM (1992) (Score 5, Informative) 268 268

The Apple menu wasn't quite the Start Menu. It was similar in the sense that you could add programs in it to use it as an application launcher, but that was simply a consequence of the history of the Macintosh system software. Older versions of the system software placed device driver like desk accessories in the Apple menu. With System 7, those desk accessories became normal applications and redesigned Apple menu was changed to take that into account. Indeed, I'd be surprised if Apple intended it to be used as a generic application launcher.

In contrast, the Start Menu was designed to contain every application on the system. This means that it was a genuine starting point, rather than a place to access commonly used applications. The designs even reflect that. With the Apple menu, you were given a menu with analogs to the old desk accessories and you had to add anything else yourself. With the Start Menu, you are given a menu that contains all of the applications on the system and you have to removed unwanted stuff yourself.

Comment Re:Difficulty (Score 2) 268 268

Educated? Perhaps. Intelligent? I have serious questions.

Any computer requires some training to use, or at least the willingness to experiment. In the Windows 3.1 era, this meant training people how to use a mouse to click on little pictures (i.e. icons) or words (e.g. buttons or menus). If you tried a similar experiment with a person from that era, only using the tablets of today, you'd have much the same problem since they wouldn't recognize how you interact with the system.

Actually, compared to the systems of today, Windows 3.1 was downright intuitive. Even if you minimized the Program Manager, you would see the Program Manager icon at the bottom of the screen. Ditto for minimizing any other window. Compare that to the modern Start Menu. People know to click on it because of what it looks like and/or where it is located on the screen. Or consider tablets, which frequently rely on gestures (i.e. there is no visual representation of what you're supposed to do). The only reason why people can use those interfaces is because they have learned how to use them.

As for that "rocket scientist", they were either told what to do and didn't retain that knowledge or they weren't told what to do. In the former case, I'd question their supposedly superior intelligence. In the latter case, well, the test was half baked.

Comment Personal projects ... (Score 1) 352 352

Why does every program have to end up on the market? I'm constantly creating small programs that solve small problems. It is amazing how many small problems that full featured applications don't even attempt to solve unless you are doing something that resembles programming anyhow (e.g. use a spreadsheet). It is also amazing how many of those apps can be replaced by 10, 20, or 40 lines of code. The result may lack a fancy GUI, but it's often worthwhile to avoid having your data locked into an app or service that makes no provisions for exporting your data. It is often worthwhile to avoid the games that some app developers play in order to make a few bucks.

It is amazing what you can program yourself. Modern libraries and development environments usually take care of the hard work and let you focus upon solving a problem. I'm not saying that every one needs to be able to make web browsers or office suites or even their own notepad. Yet having the ability to create small programs to solve small problems often makes the impossible possible, or helps you to avoid other people's shoddy code. (Sure, you may be replacing it with your own shoddy code. Then again, you have access to it and understand how it works so it is easier to fix problems.)

Comment Talk to your customers ... (Score 1) 85 85

Explain what you are trying to accomplish, and ask your customers for their thoughts since they know what their needs are.

Asking Slashdot, or anyone from the open source world, for their thoughts won't get you far. Their motivations are different from your company's. At a bare minimum, they are unlikely to agree with your licensing policies because they usually want more freedoms than your company's willing to grant. It is also probable that their thoughts won't reflect those of your customers. There is a huge difference between using a piece of software for which the source code is available and contributing to an open source project. For instance, scientists may only be interested in verifying algorithms or making modifications that are used internally. The open source community has many motivations, but they almost always go beyond having access to the code.

Comment Re:Music? (Score 1) 60 60

I suspect that the distraction of listening to music is much more dependent on the individual than push notifications would be. I know that I can't handle it, but it is easy to see how a person initiating and selecting their own background noise would be less of a distraction than externally initiated background noise that may have some sense of urgency initiated to it.

You also have to consider the work environment and how much gets done over the course of a day, rather than the productivity as measured over a short period of time. If you throw on music to make the work environment more pleasing, you may be able to stick to the task for longer and get more done. I do this for housework. It is harder to see how this would be beneficial in the case of push notifications though, since those interruptions are largely out of the control of the user (outside of turning them off).

Comment Certifications shouldn't be hiring tools ... (Score 1) 213 213

I can see certification backed training being used as a prerequisite to move within a company, either laterally or for promotions. It makes sense to ensure that an employee has a certain base knowledge prior to moving into a new position. Studying for and passing a certification test accomplishes that. (Note: I am saying base knowledge, further training may be required.)

Using certifications for hiring is pure nonsense. There are too many unknowns when hiring a person, and how seriously they took the certification process is certainly one of them. How well they retain information that they may have acquired over a short period of time is another factor that cannot be tested. Whether they are able to acquire new skills and troubleshoot new situations is certainly a huge consideration that is difficult to test. That is all stuff that you actually need to know in order to know if the certification has value. That is all stuff you can assess with employees who are moving within the company, yet cannot adequately assess with people who are coming into the company.

Comment Depends upon the computer/device ... (Score 1) 319 319

I have one computer that just receives updates, but it is running a Linux distribution that mostly delivers bug and security patches rather than upgrading the software or changing the user interface. While it isn't my production computer per se, it is the machine that I expect to be reliable.

The rest of my computers and devices receive updates and upgrades as often as I feel like, which is frequently these days. Nightlies and betas are usually stable enough if you avoid the first few rounds. It is also fun to see how the technology is developing, even if I usually see the changes as frivolous or counter productive.

One thing that I don't go hog-wild on updating though is application software. It is far too easy to get data locked into a format that is incompatible with earlier releases, which is a time sink if things do go wrong and I do have to back up to a prior version. Operating systems aren't as much of a concern on this front since they just provide services to applications.

Comment Benefits outweigh the costs ... (Score 3, Interesting) 628 628

I'm not a huge fan of mandated updates, and this will probably bite Microsoft in the behind if any of those updates make noticeable changes to the end user, but it is probably for the best over all.

The typical argument that I hear is that updates break things. This is undoubtedly true, but how often does it actually happen (proportionally speaking)? If it doesn't happen very often, then the benefits carried by security updates will outweigh the inconvenience.

Some people will claim that they like reviewing updates or backing out of updates that cause problems. For the Slashdot crowd, this is probably true. For the average user though, I have to question the validity of that argument. Now I will take a quick glance at the updates performed on my Linux installation. On Windows, I gave up. Microsoft makes it incredibly inconvenient to do this, since most updates require clicking through to a KB article for anything beyond a generic description (and by generic, I mean that it doesn't even tell you what part of the system is being updated). Couple that with the large number of updates, and it is rarely even worth while to conduct a cursory review. And that is from the perspective of a technically oriented user. Similarly for backing out of updates: how many users even have the ability to isolate an update as the cause of a problem? Even for technical users, it is usually just correlating an update with the onset of a problem with no technical reason to back that hypothesis.

Ideally, Microsoft would say security updates are mandatory and anything else (including bug fixes) are optional. Realistically, I don't think Microsoft's going to do that. They have too much riding upon appearing progressive, which is hard to do when users consistently refuse to update their products. Forced updates may be a nasty way to change that perception, and has a good chance of backfiring, but to them it is probably better than the status quo.

Comment Re:woo (Score 4, Informative) 62 62

Commodore, as a company, has not existed for a very, very long time. This is simply the product of companies buying or licensing the trademarks. And no, it isn't meant as a business for the long term. It's simply cashing in on the trademark's nostalgic value while it still has some value.

As an aside, this isn't the first Commodore phone. If I recall correctly, they were selling office equipment before they were a computer manufacturer. One of their products was a rotary phone.

Comment Don't drive, rarely use transit ... (Score 1) 654 654

I would use transit in this city a bit more if it was free, but not much. That's because the problem isn't cost. Rather, it is a combination of cost and service with service being the biggest factor. Service is so poor that it is faster to walk 30 minutes than it is to take a bus, and that is assuming that you don't have to be at your destination at a particular time. If you need to be at a particular place at a particular time, it is usually faster to walk to places up to 60 minutes away.

Then you have to consider the comfort factor. I don't mind waiting at bus stops, but virtually none of the stops in this city have seating and very few have shelters. That wouldn't be so bad if busses actually ran on schedule, but the typical bus runs anywhere from 5 minutes ahead of schedule to 10 minutes behind schedule. Once you're on the bus, there is a good chance that you'll discover that it is a cattle car (i.e. inward facing seats rather than front facing seats to maximize standing room). In the dead of winter, there is also a good chance that the bus driver cranked up the heat in spite of the passengers over heating in their winter attire. Of course, you can also expect motion sickness because there is a good chance that the driver doesn't know how to drive.

Don't get me wrong: I love public transit. I love it in cities where it is designed with the passengers in mind. It can be fast and comfortable. But until my current home city learns how to do so, I will simply take my bike. Even in the rain. Even throughout most of the winter.

Comment Re:Algorithm (Score 1) 233 233

Ignoring advertising in general, and looking at the advertising of jobs in particular, it is best to avoid some demographic data like the plague. That doesn't mean that you have to avoid demographic data in general. It doesn't mean that you have to avoid demographic data that may skew towards one gender, because there is precious little that you can do about preexisting social biases.

To give you examples of what I mean: advertising employment based upon gender or to groups that are based upon gender is discriminatory. Advertising on sites with a readership that reflects a company's needs and is open regardless of gender is fair game, even if social biases leads to a gender imbalance. (Like I said, there is precious little that you can do about those preexisting social biases.)

Look, I'm not saying that you're going to get a perfect split that reflects the population. There are many reasons why people are swayed in one direction rather than the other. On the other hand, it is unjust to lock people out simply because they belong to a certain demographic. It is also unjust to reenforce the social pressures that will push people in one direction rather than another.

Comment Re:Algorithm (Score 1) 233 233

And would go to show that stereotyping is not always evil, but sometimes it comes from innocently putting together past information to be more efficient today.

The issue is applying the stereotypes to individuals, rather than how well they fit a population.

If a woman loses out on an employment opportunity because the social norm is for women to place family before work, that fits into the categories of prejudice and discrimination. It fails to take the individual into account, which is a problem since any given woman may be more than happy to place a higher priority on her career. If a woman loses out on an employment opportunity because she openly admits that her family takes priority over work, that is because her interests do not reflect those of the potential employer. Whether she fits the stereotype or not is a moot point.

Comment Re:Reg the Unavoidable (Score 1) 90 90

It will give the taxi companies less of a leg to stand on, which may be sufficient. As for city regulators, I would imagine that it depends upon the city. Some cities would be enthusiastic to get cars off of the roads since this incurs an expense (either through increased maintainence or building more capacity).

The tricky part is will this type of ride sharing provide enough service to be viable. It may work out for people commuting to work during peak hours. It probably won't work out for people who need to commute outside of peak hours or who are looking for service for other purposes.

Frankly, Scarlett, I don't have a fix. -- Rhett Buggler

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