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Comment Re: Yeah, but I still don't see the problem (Score 1) 188 188

Please explain this concept of millionaires taking capital out of the economy; specifically, how does their further wealth growth affect me negatively? (On average, in the more general case, and not the outlier case, and please assume they're not buying laws, paying hit men, engaging in crony capitalism, etc.) I ask because I'm perfectly happy for their wealth to continue to grow.

Comment I was not referring to the Iowa Straw Poll (Score 2) 71 71

I was not referring to the Iowa Straw Poll.

The Iowa caucus process has a caucus vote before the actual caucusing. Sadly, a lot of people go home after the vote but before the caucusing starts. Also sadly, the media lazily reports on and misleads the public into thinking that the initial caucus vote is relevant in the process.

Two things happen, one after the other: First there is a caucus vote. But it's only after that vote that the caucusing itself starts, which selects delegates to go to district and state conventions where the national delegates get selected. It's who those delegates support and who they vote for at the national convention that counts. The caucus vote doesn't make any difference to that process.

Again, the selection of the national delegates, and who they vote for, has *nothing* to do with the caucus votes that are reported on in TFA--those caucus votes are as much of a straw poll as the Iowa straw poll is, and sadly enough many people are taken in by that.

If the caucus-goers vote in that caucus vote that they are supporters of candidate A, but then vote for delegates who are supporters of candidate B, then it's candidate B that they're truly giving support to, (as those delegates will then vote for national delegates who are supporters of candidate B.)

The winner of the Iowa caucus process is the candidate who gets the most delegates supporting them, not the candidate who ended up winning the "caucus vote" poll that was done before caucusing started.

Confusing the two things is conceptually no different than a person telling a telephone pollster that they are voting for candidate A but then later in the ballot box actually voting for candidate B. It is also no different conceptually from the media continuing to report on poll numbers after an election and neglecting to report on the actual election numbers.

Winning means actually getting delegates. You can call winning a poll that has no effect on anything winning if you want, but it's a pointless use of the term.

Articles at the time talking about this:

Comment Except that Ron Paul won Iowa in 2012 (Score 5, Informative) 71 71

This is a so-called solution that ignores the realities of the political process.

For one, in 2012, Ron Paul won Iowa, not Mitt Romney and not Rick Santorum.

The counted poll the article refers to is a just a straw poll, nothing more--the caucus itself, which happens afterwards, is what controls the selection of delegates. Folks who just voted in the straw poll and left before the caucus started didn't actually participate in caucusing for their candidate.

Sadly, the media reports these polls as if they were election/caucus results, and in 2012 mislead the public into thinking that Ron Paul, who was the winner in Iowa, somehow had no support even though he won Iowa.

Microsoft is now focusing on this irrelevant straw poll that doesn't represent the actual caucus results. But more importantly, even ignoring the fact that this straw poll doesn't actually have any real-world effect other than being useful as a way to mislead the public, listening to the video didn't answer any real questions about how their solution would really help even that process.

For instance, they talk about how the voting data (and they're talking about precinct and district level results for the unimportant straw polls), wouldn't be viewable to people in another political party. Well, if that's the case, how does anyone who participated in the straw poll verify that the totals were reported correctly? If that data is secret, then this is clearly a step in the wrong direction.

Then happens if there is a difference between the Microsoft-reported results and the paper mail reported results? If the mailed results take precedence, (which is ideal), then we're still back where we started--a correction to the straw poll is made weeks later. If the electronic results take precedence, then suddenly Microsoft is in control of the election.

I doubt they've put together a system that can be externally verified even in the presence of skilled bad actors at all levels. (ie, any vote counting system for political elections should be resilient against an attack of, say, all the designers, app store folks, and everyone at Microsoft related to the project working either individually or colluding together to give votes to a favored candidate. With a properly designed system, every single one of those people could be as nefarious as possible and vote rigging would still be detected.)

And..they talk about the "chair" being given credentials to report votes for his precinct/district, as if that has anything at all to do with the credentialing problem. So..how is that done specifically? Is Microsoft psychic? The chair isn't determined until a convention or a precinct begins--it's something that's voted on at the time.

So what happens if a different person is elected chair than the state party expects ahead of time? The vote totals for the straw poll are publicly known. A change of having those vote totals relayed via secure credentials given to a person the state party selects ahead of time (and who may or may not end up being the chair) and who may have a hidden agenda shared by the state party, isn't really a clear improvement over the same person relaying the very same, public information through a less secure channel and more error-prone channel.

In both cases we're completely dependent on there being external verifications of the process and in both cases we're screwed if those verifications don't happen.

So while it sounds all nice and shiny and such, and it will be nice that Microsoft is GPL'ing all the code to do this so that it can be adapted and used in any other project, (yes, I realize that isn't likely to be true--it will have either a proprietary license, or they'll try to pretend it is open-ish somehow), I don't see how it fundamentally solves any serious issue.

Comment So they're moving from Tampa to Miami? (Score 1, Interesting) 161 161

If you're in Tampa or St. Petersburg, FL, or really anywhere in Florida, the term "bay area" means the area around Tampa Bay. It's the common usage of the term--you have a bay in your state, and you know that's the area "bay area" refers to.

It is a pet peeve of mine that people mistakenly/rudely use the term as if it can only refer to one specific bay area in the world, instead of saying "SF Bay Area" in a headline, for instance. No matter how popular such incorrect and rude word usage is, using the general term as if it has global specificity is just annoying hubris.

Comment Re:Nah, this is just stage 1 (Score 1) 324 324

Yes, and telephone lines and TV cable existed before the internet and will continue if streaming the internet were to disapear.

True, but they're increasingly carried over IP.

With this tax, cell phone users can end up being taxed for voice conversations, and definitely will be taxed for any voice calls over LTE. Even landline users could end up being taxed.

With this tax, anyone watching any video-on-demand shows on their cable TV setup can end up taxed just as much as if they watched on something like Netflix.

With this tax, even the Hungarian government's public TV station MTV (Magyar Televízió) will have to pay additional taxes due to the fact that they offer streaming.

I wonder if the Hungarian government has budgeted for the additional tax that its public TV station will now have to pay?

Comment It's an Optic Screwdriver! (Score 1) 65 65

The Doctor needs an Optic Screwdriver now. (Or is this optical functionality already integrated into his current tool, accessible by a different setting, like a Harmony remote that automatically switches the right units on and off and set to the correct configuration?)

Comment Open Patents (Score 1) 96 96

The idea behind the Open Patent License is for owners of patents (and non-patent IP that still ends up behaving like patents from a practical real-world extent--amazing how that actually happens) to be able to license them in a copyleft-type manner, ideally handling more than just the software patent situation.

The goal is for all players to be able to participate in a growing patent pool and have open and free access to this pool under copyleft-type conditions, whether they're small players or larger players.

Don't be thrown by the badly-worded license--I had it as a starting-point for discussion/work, getting ideas out there, and ended up having a few lawyers come out of the woodwork, offer to help, then realize it was a bigger project than they had expected. After a number of rounds of that I ended up putting the project on the back burner, as you can see. I need to get it more active again. Anyone who is interested in contributing in any sense, please contact me.

Also, I've since realized that a far, FAR, shorter license probably makes sense. A structure of something similar to Google's license from their CLA for instance, or Redhat's patent promise, made a bit more generic and made to cover patent-like IP, is probably a better idea, and I am planning to re-start the license wording along those lines.

I will happily accept help from anyone who is interested.

Comment Re:Don't pay the fee (Score 1) 319 319

You could have a totally free market, in which independent organizations certify particular restaurants as "safe", but then the customers would have to constantly be checking those certifications.

In the US state where I live, that's what we have with government regulations, and I suspect that's what we would privately develop without them.

It's not at all a big deal, and it's actually pretty cool.

Health inspectors come at random times to each restaurant, and the restaurants are required to PUBLICLY POST THEIR REPORTS in the restaurant itself.

The result is that people read these reports, really! Folks shy away from going to restaurants with lower scores, and the fact that a place has a high score is something that will invariably come up in conversations. It's not some goofy thing that only a few people do, it's something that people notice and then talk about if the score is particularly high or low.

(Just a few days ago I went back to a place for the first time in a year since they got a bad score--82, a score which of course included written notes on all the problems found. Now their score is 100, which is really unusual, and I won't be hesitant to go back for cleanliness reasons. These scores make a real difference in people's behavior.)

I know that in some US states that these reports aren't published the same way, so people can't make decisions on whether to eat somewhere based on the problems found in the previous inspection.

Given that the existence of government testing will in practical terms preclude the development of private testing in most areas, if you don't have real-world transparency in the testing process that the state government provides/enforces, then people will just become used to the fact that the information isn't there, and possibly just assume that it's too much information for individuals to keep up with or even pay attention to anyway.

But if you're used to seeing these results, it's a natural thing to look for the posted health report. It's as natural a thing as to look for as credit card logos, or noting whether this is a place where you pay your bill at a cashier up front versus paying at the table. You really just do it and don't think much of it.

Well, unless you're writing a reply to a slashdot comment. :-)

For a different industry, look at the history of Underwriter's Laboratories. Before their existence, there were neither private nor governmental regulations on the safety of electrical devices. Since unsafe devices were being sold and causing homes and businesses to burn, insurance companies that bore the brunt of the financial side of the resulting losses got together to make their own private testing agency, and arranged their policies to encourage the use of only UL-tested and certified electrical devices.

The market was allowed to work in that case, in that it was allowed to develop private certification agencies that people and companies do pay attention to. While technically it's possible to buy and sell non-UL tested devices even today, for the most part you'll not find them in stores as stores won't sell them as a mass-market item at all, and if you did buy such a product you'd have insurance problems if/when they caused a fire, and you'd probably have liability problems if you actually used them in a business. You'd pretty much have to go out of your way to purchase something like this today, meaning that you'd be doing so only if you had a real reason to, (maybe you're stripping the device for parts, or comparing something between multiple devices of the same type, working on things in your own electronics lab and the like.)

In any event, government fortunately happened not to try to develop it's own system of electronic safety certification that would preempt the development of private certification, so we have a working private system that can pay attention to the actual real safety issues, and get less bogged down in politics.

Of course, their are real costs of both systems, and nothing will ever be completely perfect. (For instance, in the UL case, one of the reasons you have all these wall warts is that they are separately certified, and it's easier for electronic manufacturers to use some standard part that's more tested as opposed to integrating that into, say an xbox directly, and then needing to pay and wait for the full thing to be tested and shown to meet all the requirements of having everything integrated together.)

But at least a private system can develop based on a negative feedback loop based on actual economics of safety issues, (ie, companies will lose money and go out of business as unsafe products are used, and this process will happen whether it's an election year or not, and whether there's public fanfare about some problem or not.)

I would prefer that these sorts of things develop privately, and be allowed to develop privately, and I don't think that this really requires the end consumers to be all-knowing PhD-holders in every field. :)

Comment Use pinfo to read info pages (Score 2, Informative) 815 815

Ah, documentation. On linux, most entries in the online reference manual (`man pages') send you off to *censored* info requiring a *censored* "info viewer" that expects you to know emacs and two to one will give you the manpage again only this time you need *censored* emacs contortions to get out of dodge.

Use "pinfo" to read info pages: apt-get install pinfo

pinfo is the opposite of "info" in almost every respect:

  1. It's simple to use. No contortions necessary. (Use arrow keys and "q").
  2. Color highlighting makes the info pages easy on the eyes.
  3. Arrow-up and arrow-down moves you between highlighted and very visible info-hyperlinks within the document, without the need to visually hunt for special "::"-delimited links.

And as a bonus, you can use it to read man pages too:

  1. If there's no info page, it will show you the man page instead.
  2. If you want to read a specific man page when there is already an info page, use syntax such as "pinfo -m 2 mount" versus "pinfo -m 8 mount" to read the section 2 versus section 8 man page. (This is nice if you want to pretend you're in lynx and select one man page from within another, or select a web page from within a man page.)

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