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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Why has Wolfram not given money to Caltech? (Score 1) 210

by OurDailyFred (#49081963) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Stephen Wolfram a Question

There could be many good reasons for Wolfram to avoid giving money to the university that educated him.

1. He may have realized the quality of the administration of the University was not up to his standards.

2. He may have felt slighted or even blocked in some cases by faculty members who were embarrassed that he was a much better scholar.

3. He may have identified problems with some of the tenured professors who he did not think were deserving of their responsibilities.

4. He may have developed an extreme distaste for the politics of academia.

5. He may have sent the cheque to the Macadamia people instead, and he's still enjoying monthly shipments of their delicious nuts, and has decided not to correct the mistake.

Comment: Re:Wow (Score 1) 134

by OurDailyFred (#48084739) Attached to: Google's Security Guards Are Now Officially Google Employees

We did not have a problem with theft, and our cleaning crew was made up of recently paroled criminals.

There was a supervisor, though, who was a guard at the correctional facility.. A very big, reasonable fellow who made it clear that any theft would be caught, and that being caught meant a cancellation of the parole. He explained to them how this was their one chance to earn an honest living and if they did well, they would leave with a reference for their next job. An HONEST reference.

When we would chat, he'd ask me to walk with him as he didn't disappear for very long as he checked everyone out. The cleaners were polite and they did a good job. They were also about ten or fifteen percent cheaper than the big companies. I often suspected the big companies hired the guys that were not good enough to work with the "good" parolees.


Comment: How the CRTC actually works (Score 1) 184

by OurDailyFred (#47994377) Attached to: Netflix Rejects Canadian Regulator Jurisdiction Over Online Video

CRTC commissioners are gently co-opted by the industry they regulate, and are often reluctant to endanger job prospects in the industry once their term expires.

CRTC commissioners are appointed by the government, in a quasi-political process. The length of appointments are standard, but they do not all expire at the same time, so often you have commissioners appointed by different governments. I am told by commissioners that the government doesn't try to influence the commissioners too much, but these are people who have come to the attention of senior politicians and have many friends in the political process.

The political interference is low, but the real problem lies with the industry. A former commissioner once explained it to me. There are many opportunities for broadcasters, telephone company execs, satellite companies, etc. to mingle socially with commissioners. At some point, a senior executive will ask a commissioner a bit about how they enjoy the job, what they like best, etc. Slowly a dialogue ensues, often over several months. At some point the exec praises the commissioner's grasp of the industry issues, and asks what the commissioner plans to do once the term expires. If the commissioner is vague, the executive talks about how his company is always looking for people with "regulatory experience" and that salaries are usually much higher than what a commissioner earns. The exec says something to the effect of, how it would be improper to talk about it now, but if you're interested, come see me at the end of your term and we can talk.

Another exec may have a similar conversation with that same commissioner, because it doesn't hurt for that commissioner to see the "demand" for their services from the industry.

And that, is why the consumer gets screwed by the CRTC on most routine decisions. Examples:

The CRTC, facing complaints from AM radio stations about the increase in top forty FM stations, required FM stations to play a majority of NON-hit music. (eventually rescinded years later)

The CRTC allows Cable TV operators to deny "a la carte" purchase of specialty channels, and allowed cable companies to sell packages of channels which always included several channels that were not wanted by the majority of subscribers.

The phone companies get to charge you almost $3 a month extra on your phone bill for touch-tone dialing, even though you can't order a rotary dial service. The truth is that touch-tone dialing actually saves money for the phone company.

Now, the public is realizing how much they've been screwed by Canada's telecom industry. "Cutting the cord" in terms of dropping cable TV and getting Netflix, dropping the wireline phone company in favour of VoIP, is saving some families thousands per year.

Comment: What about hygiene? (Score 1) 231

by OurDailyFred (#47903271) Attached to: School Installs Biometric Fingerprint System For Cafeteria

Do the students wash their hands before using the scanner? How often is the scanner disinfected? Will it have a fine collection of elementary school nasal mucous?

While there is some wisdom in allowing the natural exposure to "childhood" diseases so antibodies can develop naturally to protect us in later life, do we want schoolkids to be sampling each other's nasal secretions?

Comment: Re:Right. (Score 1) 140

by OurDailyFred (#47891325) Attached to: Accused Ottawa Cyberbully Facing 181 Charges Apologizes

Canada does have a definition of insanity, using the M'Naghten rule (sometimes referred to as the McNaughton rule) which has evolved into two principles, either of which defines an insane person as:

1. The accused did not understand the nature and quality of his act, or
2. The accused did understand the nature and quality of his act, but did not understand it was wrong.

In practice it is difficult for a defendant to successfully claim insanity unless it is upheld by serious medical evaluation.

Comment: Porno browsers (Score 1) 116

by OurDailyFred (#47829397) Attached to: E-Books On a $20 Cell Phone

>> Those librarians need to kick the hobos browsing porn off the library computers so they can get on ebay

A political friend of mine was on the local library board and he was wondering how to handle the problem of porn browsing on the library computers. I suggested a large sign right over the computers that were "open" with no filters. The sign would be right over the unobstructed faces of the users. It would say "PORN ENEABLED COMPUTERS" and be well lit in bright colours.

He told me he was afraid I'd be sitting up there smiling and waving at library patrons.

Oh well.

Comment: That's nearly four dollars per violation!! (Score 1) 50

by OurDailyFred (#47821479) Attached to: Verizon Pays $7.4 Million To Settle FCC Privacy Investigation

The story says Verizon spammed nearly two million customers who didn't have a chance to opt in or opt out of their advertising. The $7.4 million dollars was probably cheaper than the campaign to reach those customers. I do hope someone in Washington D.C. helps the FCC find their testicles, even one testicle might help.


Comment: The Deputy has to survive a civil trial (Score 1) 463

If the deceased victim had not been a well-known entertainment lawyer, the family may have hired a tort lawyer and received a million or two from the government in "go away" money.

But killing a wealthy entertainment lawyer? Oh! This is going to be a big trial attracting a lot of local coverage. Best of all, there may be celebrity witnesses, the lawyer's clients who explain how the loss of their beloved counsel has caused them pain. There may be tears and running mascara. The replies from the actors will be some of the best emotionally powerful lines that Hollywood script writers can provide.

The jury will be made up of people who support the no-texting law, and the deputy will be painted as someone who got off because the D.A. didn't want to piss off his buddy the Sheriff.

The story will be a TV movie of the week or an episode in one of the many "taken from a true story" shows.

Whether the Sheriff punishes the deputy is immaterial, there's a great story to be told, and the deputy just killed a man who was important to the storytellers.

If you're an L./S. County taxpayer, grab your hanky and your checkbook.

Comment: They left out the success story (Score 1) 250

The city of Wilson, North Carolina has a happy citizenry, and a couple of pissed off big ISPs. The big ISPs also lobbied the "reasonably priced" cough, NC legilsature to put the city owned outfit out of business but it didn't work.

Here's the city website, click on the :"Greenlight" link for their prices.

I think the best selling point is that all the tech staff are local, and... therefore more likely to understand the importance of not pissing off their neighbors.

Comment: Trademark law forces the defense of the trademark (Score 1) 207

by OurDailyFred (#47256755) Attached to: Ikea Sends IkeaHackers Blog a C&D Order

In most jurisdictions, if you are granted a Trademark, you must defend it against anyone who infringes on the name, to keep it from becoming generic. Failed examples of that approach include aspirin, kerosene and even thermos. Therefore Ikea has a duty to keep people from infringing, and they appear to have done a much more gentle job of it than many companies.

Trademarks are expensive to maintain, and nearly impossible to keep if they become generic. A few decades ago, Styrofoam would often send a letter to journalists and publications objecting to the use of the word styrofoam. They pointed out it is a specific brand of that type of foam, and it must be spelled Styrofoam, and by the way, put the little TM for trademark at the end of it.

If Ikea wants to solve the problem and keep it manageable, they should approach the owner of the site, and ask her to come work for Ikea, which would take over the site by buying it from her and ask her to forward the hacks she likes to an engineering and design team who would look at the practicality, safety, etc. of the hack and then a monetary or gift certificate award would be given to the inventor. Ikea could have a special catalog page for the hacks, or even have point of sale posters showing a new use for a specific product.

Ikea would keep control, the originator of the idea would be compensated, and she would be able to continue her enjoyment of Ikea hacks and it would be one of those "feel good" stories that play fairly well in the media.

Plus, Ikea would get a LOT more ideas.

Live free or die.