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Comment Red Lights (Score 1) 167

While I will admit that in 98% of the cases the right light cameras are probably working just fine, my issue is that when there is a problem with the camera there is little to no recourse, due to both the distance of time and the lack of a human to argue with if there was some extenuating factor. (I have seen lights with VERY short yellows; somewhere around 1 second, but less than 2 seconds.) There have been numerous news articles about shenanigans either at the private company running the cameras, or at the municipalities, doing such things as short-yellows to increase revenues.

Even worse, in my mind, are the "blocking the box" cameras. More than once I have been pausing before crossing the intersection, to insure that I will not get caught blocking the box by the change in the light, and then right when there is space on the other side and I am part way across the intersection someone turning right-on-red cuts me off, filling the space and leaving me in "the box." Since all the cameras do is take a still photo (you can see the flash), this would not be evident, and it would look like I was in the wrong, when there was really nothing which I could have done to prevent it. Fortunately, none of those times have been at camera intersections.

Comment Need a new form of adblock (Score 3, Interesting) 474

Perhaps what is needed is a new form of adblock, which actually loads the ads, possibly on a low priority basis*, but doesn't display them.

*Thinking along the lines of accept the first 1k of the ad, then go slow on the TCP responses, until the main-page/non-ad-identified bits have finished. I am looking for a system such that the ads are downloading to /dev/null while I am reading the ad-free page.

Of course the negative response to that will be to put some active content in the ad such that the article will not display until the ad "payload" is actively processed and phones home. Thus blurring the line between ads and malware even more than it is already. (at times)

(If someone is already doing this sort of thing, please don't flame me, just inform. Frankly, although I used to maintain block lists, etc., I gave up years ago. Well not completely; I do attempt to avoid certain publishers, but that is on a more manual basis rather than automated.)

Comment Re:Sigh. (Score 1) 129

Pissing about shrinking images hasn't done much since the days of Opera Mobile and WAP.

I might agree with the rest of your post. Particularly as what the #^@% is he expending 2G on? I use my phone all the time, and the only time I came close to my 2G cap was the month where I watched every episode (to that date, 5th or 6th season) of Mad Men on it. And that took me most of the month to do so.

I however disagree with your attitude about using appropriate dimensioned images. It is so ridiculous that, with broadband service, it takes longer to load some of the web pages, with little more real content, than it did when I was using dial-up service 20 years ago. Back then I remember reading web design guidelines to resample your images to keep load time to 5 seconds per page (at 56kbps). Now, you can reasonably update the bandwidth*, but you should probably still keep to the 5 second rule. This will require a small amount of resampling/optimization, but probably not so much that anyone will notice, unless they really want to examine the pore structure of your cat's nose in the photo.

* work to a bottom-tier cable modem speed, or something similar.

Admittedly, whining on Slashdot isn't likely to change anything. So there, I agree with you again.

Comment Re:And their point is? (Score 1) 232

Forgive me but what law or regulation defines that as a requirement?

That would be covered under the US antitrust laws. There are several:

Google may be big, but it isn't that big. IMHO. Nor has it colluded with competitors to set prices.
As to the first concept (effective monopoly) I go to Bing all the time, for various reasons. Sometimes, I have searched Google first, and am looking for a different ranking algorithm, in order to see if I can find other high quality links which Google missed somehow. Sometimes, I just like Bing's presentation. Sometimes, I don't have any reason at all. Even though I tend to go to Google first, I know other people who use Bing primarily. There are yet other engines as well, and the cost to switch is exactly zero, so I don't see how lock-in comes about.

Now if you wanted to claim that there is an issue of fraud, you might have a better point. I don't think that would fly either, but I have heard of stranger things.

Comment Re:The big thing that is missing (Score 1) 631

just witness the hoards of mucking forons spewing forth onto forums parroting bullshit from fox news / talk radio about 'da gubment taking my intertubes'

Normally, I wouldn't agree with your characterization of fox/talk radio. However, in this case you are too close to the truth for comfort. It does vary by talk show host however.

Knowing what I do about the original issue bringing up Net Neutrality, I couldn't figure out what most of them were complaining about. Finally, I heard one of them discuss the fact that this was yet another secret "you can't know what is in it until we enact it" situation. (even congressmen were turned away with no information) The fact that the Whitehouse had a hand in directing the action by the FCC made it even more suspicious. So, given the lack of transparency and public comment period on the proposed regulation, there was some cause for concern of government overreach.

Based on what I have heard so far, it looks to be OK, but I don't exactly trust (any) politicians/bureaucrats much farther than I can throw them. So, we will have to see...

Comment Happened to me / my mother-in-law and my mother. (Score 2) 98

It was Christmas time, and we were at my mother-in-law's house for the holiday, when she received a call. The person on the other end claimed to be my nephew, calling grandma because he had gone for a joy ride with friends and gotten in an accident with the car. (He didn't quite have his license yet, so it was possible, even if slightly out of character.) He said he broke his nose, to explain why his voice sounded funny, and that he was calling from the police station to get bail, but was too embarrassed to call his dad. He wanted to explain what happened face-to-face with his parents, not over the phone.

The acting was very convincing, and really did almost sound like my nephew... with a broken nose. While my wife kept trying to ask questions about what police station he was at, etc, I called his parents on my cell-phone, and found out my nephew was sitting at the breakfast table with them. Before I could relay that however, the scammer must have gotten tired of my wife's questions, because he said the police were taking the phone away, and that his court appointed lawyer would call us back shortly. (We never got the second call from the "lawyer.")

On my side of the family, my mother almost was caught by an overseas bail extortion call. A cousin of mine was travelling in China, where the call claimed a relative was being held. My mother actually got to the credit union to withdraw the money, where the teller (who knows her) stopped her from doing so. I only heard about that one after the fact.

My wife got called by a Nigeria scam (sort of). The person claimed she had won a car in a drawing, but needed her to wire the sales tax for the vehicle. Coincidently, she had recently put a ticket in a drawing at the county fair, so there was a possibility, but a bunch of things didn't pass the "smell test." She kept asking questions, and the final clue was the phone number which the scammer gave for her to call back once she had purchased a Green Dot money card. The number was from one of the Caribbean islands which have an area code like a US call (not an obviously international call), but since it wasn't local, my wife looked it up. (We later got a sales call from a local travel agent regarding the county fair drawing; we didn't win the car, but could visit a timeshare if we wanted.)

Comment Re:Not interested, other than the psychology... (Score 1) 466

. . . if you haven't needed the data on it and transferred it/used it since then, other than the geek dick measuring aspects of it, why in God's name are you doing this? More importantly, why are you bothering us about it? The mid-90's, as far as laptops go, might as well be the dark ages.

It seems to me that there were many applications which, in the effort to become easier to use, have become less functional and/or actually harder to use (unless you happen to want to do the one thing which they assume you want to do in exactly the way they assumed it should be done). As a result, every once in a while I wind up plugging in one of my 15-20 year old machines to do a specific task. It then goes back on the shelf to wait until the next time it is needed.

I know, the original post wasn't speaking of applications, he was looking for data. I was just giving another reason for old machines to exist.

Now, Get off my lawn!

Comment Re:Dumb question (Score 1) 243

Helicopter Parents. Protecting them from everything and anything.

Let them play in the mud, eat their own boogers, scrap their knees, eat bugs, roll in the grass and leaves even though the dogs poo there, etc.

When you grow up in a plastic bubble, everything is your enemy.

You wrote almost exactly what I was going to say, but I was also going to add that the attitude goes way beyond what kids do or don't eat. The problem is that even if you want to be a sane parent (vice a helicopter parent) the law is being written/interpreted such that you have no choice. Here in Maryland, a parent is being charged with neglect for letting their child walk home from the park. The weirdest part is that the law being used to charge them is one which prohibits locking a child in a building alone. Being outdoors is being equated to being locked inside. There are a bunch of similar stories reported at

Comment Re:Painting himself into a corner (Score 1) 46

In the Senate, Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Latz (DFL) had blocked the amendment, stating that he feels it is redundant.

. . .

Thus, Mr. Latz slams the door on the literalists at the expense of appearing redundant.

I would like to agree with Mr. Latz, it should be redundant. The problem is that too many courts, prosecutors, etc. have not considered electronic documents to be "papers" therefore it has already been found to not be redundant.

Comment Re:Redundancy Is Good For Civil Rights (Score 2) 46

Yeah, but the implementation has been problematic.

Even though the Constitution makes explicit the powers given to the Federal government, several take the reverse tact of if a protection isn't listed, it doesn't exist. That makes the possible actions by the government infinite and the protections few, and nearly impossible to protect against.

Instead of these piecemeal protections, I'd rather no Bill of Rights, and severe penalties for government overstepping its bounds.

Not disagreeing with several comments here that things have devolved as regards to constitutional rule, but the Bill of Rights explicitly disallows what you contend happened. The tenth amendment reads, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or the people." Therefore, the fault isn't in the Bill of Rights not providing comprehensive protections, the fault lies securely in lack of vigilance by the populous allowing the slippery slope expansion of the commerce rule et al to encompass everything. (or even so far as the populous crying "increase the dole" and asking for the constitution to be violated.)

There are several other instances where the Bill of Rights says "Congress shall pass NO law regarding..." but Congress does anyway, and says that they are upholding that Right by clarifying it somehow. (what part of NO don't they understand?) Or, if Congress doesn't, then the courts start legislating from the bench, inventing new unwritten rights which somehow trump the explicitly written ones. Again, lack of vigilance to keep the congress honest, lack of impeachment to kick out those in the executive and judicial who violate, etc.

As I said I don't disagree with what you said up front, but I do disagree with your conclusions that the Bill of Rights made things worse somehow, if anything it probably should be reaffirmed and strengthened. Mark Levin has a book proposing one way to approach doing this. (Admittedly, he is hard/painful to listen to on the radio, but his writing is much better.)

Comment Re:How about the exact opposite? (Score 1) 779

The real problem is that computer science classes tend to be set up to appeal to boys. What these classes really need is better marketing.

Ok, I am about 25 years out of high school, so things might have changed, but I fail to see how "write a program to determine if a user input date is before or after a set date" is biased to appeal to a boy.

Comment Re:summary is 100% wrong (Score 1) 779

Does anyone see a "must" in there, as quoted in the summary?

The problem is that it has money attached, and will become a "must" even if that isn't explicitly stated.

The first example I can think of to demonstrate this effect was the 55 mph "national speed limit." Because the speed limits on roads have been held to be a state controlled matter, the federal government couldn't simply set the maximum speed itself. Instead, congress made federal highway funding contingent on a state's adopting a 55mph maximum speed limit. None of the states wanted to lose the opportunity to get their "fair share" of the money, so they all enacted 55mph limits.

As soon as the monetary contingency was removed, states started setting their speed limits higher again.

Comment I've seen exactly how this comes out... (Score 3, Informative) 779

First: Yes this is anecdotal, but it is my own experience with 'diversity' in the academic environment. It may not happen all the time or everywhere, but I don't believe it is uncommon either.

The summer before my senior year in college I acted as the boy's counselor for a career "summer camp" sponsored by the State of Michigan, aimed at high-school students. There were many different topics offered, but my school (U of M-Dearborn) was providing an engineering focused camp. As a counselor, I was involved in the selection process, which was run by the engineering admissions office. There were many more applicants than we had openings for students (approximately 30 openings), and the state had mandated a diversity goal (including geographic diversity). The result was a process that went like this:

1. Sort the applications. Place all white male applicants in pile 'B', retaining all female and non-white male applications in pile 'A.' (Actually, the gender sorting was retained.)
2. Review female applications and select the best to fill 50% of the openings.
3. Review non-white male applications and select the best to fill the remaining openings.
4. Plot geographic location of selected applicants' hometowns on the state map. Notice that no applications were selected from the Upper Peninsula. (U.P.)
5. Look for U.P. applicants in the A pile. Finding none, go get the 'B' pile (white males) and search for U.P. residents. (two found)
6. Replace bottom two selected males with the two U.P. residents.
7. Congratulate the team that they have done a wonderful job at promoting diversity.

I do not have a poker face and my disgust must have shown, because the Associate Dean of engineering approached me afterward and said "See, we got some white males in the end." What she didn't seem to understand was that what disturbed me wasn't the outcome (which was bad enough), but that if you were a white male applicant, your application wasn't even considered (except for the two Yoopers*, and they wouldn't have been if there had been any in the 'A' pile). Given the topic today, I suppose I should have been happy that they accepted any male applications at all.

*For those who don't know: Yooper = someone who hails from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (U - per). Conversely, the Yoopers call those of us from the Lower Peninsula "Trolls", because we live "below the bridge." (the Mackinac bridge which connects the two)

Comment Re:What about traditional images of the prophet? (Score 1) 228

You may be right, but I thought the Koran banned making a depiction of any living thing (or perhaps it was any thing created by God). Thus the focus on art forms like calligraphy and complex geometric patterns.

But not being able to read Arabic, I don't really know. Perhaps it is one of those multiple interpretation things, or one of those "we aren't sure where the line is, so play it safe and don't do anything even close" type of prohibitions.

"Everybody is talking about the weather but nobody does anything about it." -- Mark Twain