Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:"Support" != actually sacrifice for (Score 1) 458

by PingPongBoy (#48966983) Attached to: Most Americans Support Government Action On Climate Change

> what they are willing to sacrifice

Where I live it's been warmer than it should be for several weeks, and some cliches are coming home to roost. People are waking up and starting to smell the coffee burning. Maybe people are the kind of boiling frogs that can't stand the heat and want to get out of the kitchen.

I can't help but wonder that the economic doldrums are caused partly by environmental problems such as pollution in China reversing any economic gains by raising health costs. You would only run so long on a treadmill. If you didn't realize it was a treadmill you might run as far as you can but once you find out the ground just rolls back, well....

Comment: Re:IBM (Score 1) 99

by PingPongBoy (#48966887) Attached to: Cutting Through Data Science Hype

The problem with Big Data as I see it: information is not the same as knowledge.

Sure, there is a lot of data, as more and more information feeds are made available, but there are still a lot of hidden data. The amount of work put into hiding data is huge. Also, the amount of work put into generating data is huge too, which creates a lot of noise. The point is, a typical decision involves tiny little microscopic bits of _knowledge_, and only a small sample from the masses of information that could be waded through but is rather avoided for lack of time and energy. As far as decision making goes, that's worked well.

In some ways, data is hardly static. It changes as quickly as dominoes cascading. A single "impulse" such as an announcement or event can cause huge shifts in decision making. One can only hope to jump on a trend between impulses or right after an impulse. Analyzing the relationship between impulses and dominoes, i.e., the way data changes, could be illuminating. The challenge is to have the probes in place to get the data. You can't watch dominoes that you aren't looking at.

Comment: Re: Perfect way to drive "US companies" out of the (Score 1) 825

by PingPongBoy (#48966829) Attached to: Obama Proposes One-Time Tax On $2 Trillion US Companies Hold Overseas

> hoard cash and let it sit idle

Does it make any sense to do that? Here's a theoretical question. Take a person who works hard to earn what it takes to live. Some savings for retirement and deferred spending make sense, but if that person has earned enough to live while not earning, why bother continuing to go to work (never mind those who would go nuts doing nothing)?

A person with dreams might save big time in order to some day be able to realize something bigger. But all these companies hoarding cash seem to have no outlet to try anything with their money. So it's time to ask, are there no more challenges? Or are the challenges so daunting that the risk-reward ratio is too much? Well, maybe it's just a timing issue after all, as there are plenty of ventures that show promise and companies get purchased all the time.

Nevertheless, the large cash hoards will prompt governments to prod these companies to do something. The US looks to be the one to start the pebble rolling down the hill. The companies have been put on notice to start spending.

Comment: Re:Anyone for a game of pool? (Score 1) 184

Forget about it! A star traveling now at a high fraction of light speed once upon a time wasn't going that fast, so even if it brings its planets in tow, it was accelerated enough to mash everything.

But if you want to travel in style, get on a planet and gradually move the star into the path and speed you need.

Comment: Re:Only a good manager could tell the difference (Score 1) 564

> Whether the Emory staffer responsible for this mistake is teachable or not, I hope his boss can tell the difference.

Going up the chain of command someone has to know the full ramifications of an action and make sure that the full consequences are not achievable without due difficulty. There's a reason nuclear launches are done with two independent minds.

It's a recurring problem. Workers are highly pressured to make quick decisions and produce results expeditiously. It's more than the rat race, it's about being able to ask for a raise. Checks and balances are unjustifiable expenses particularly when the results of a person's work are to be compared with the practically inevitable new tools or software that will whittle away at that person's set of duties. Sounds like better idiot proofing features should be developed...

Comment: Re:The difference is scale. (Score 1) 401

Depends on what you call 'local'. Try reading about the Greek Dark Ages.

Seeing as how it's NASA (not NSA though why should it be them? but they just want to do the unexpected anyways), the focus should be extraterrestrial rather than local. Local or human shouldn't even be considered.

Comment: Re:When are the bank runs going to happen? (Score 1) 704

by PingPongBoy (#46413021) Attached to: Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

And that's the basic problem. Fools keep giving their bitcoins to anonymous internet people to hold then act all shocked when those anonymous people disappear.

It's like giving a bundle of bank notes to a random stranger to hold for you. Anyone can see that's not going to end well.

In the world of money identity and ownership come down to record keeping and trust. From the very beginning if someone with money or transferable wealth wanted to keep it safe, they hid it when they didn't need to spend it, and it was always vulnerable.

How well does anyone know their banker or financial advisor?

A crypto currency makes a lot of sense in theory. It has mathematical structure that allows it to be usable for financial transactions and savings. The vulnerability of the implementations is that someone wanted the power to control it. A fully open system that reveals the mathematical strengths and weaknesses could lead to a more trusted institution.

Comment: Re: Vive le Galt! (Score 1) 695

by PingPongBoy (#46350001) Attached to: Mt. Gox Gone? Apparent Theft Shakes Bitcoin World

Madoff is an excellent example of why handing your money to an individual or small group (just like the ameteurs at Mt. Gox) to keep in your trust is an awful idea. Real banks, the ones with experience not losing all of your money or that are regulated and insured by the U.S. gov't, by comparison, are stable, secure, and at least reliable enough for an economy to run on.

I am suggest, merely hinting, that if someone has earned a reputation for significantly earning vastly better returns compared to the average, and if you have millions to invest, pay him to tell you how he is doing what he is doing.

Comment: Re:Vive le Galt! (Score 1) 695

by PingPongBoy (#46340087) Attached to: Mt. Gox Gone? Apparent Theft Shakes Bitcoin World

I'd argue Bitcoin could be as legitimate a currency as anything else, but the problem is that it's pegged to nothing. It's value is entirely defined by being a get-rich-quick scheme. Sure, there are plenty of people playing similar games with legitimate currencies, but they're not the ones defining its value because those currencies are still tied to more tangible things.

Even real currency seems to be as ephemereal as digital currency. If bank software tragically moved the decimal place or truncated my savings account balance I could lose practically everything. If someone nefarious creates a substantiating transaction or stole/destroyed the computer, it would be even harder to counter.

Wealth has become a measure of the amount of trust and confidence that people have in each other, beyond the measure of economic accumulation. Wealth indicates how much potential there is. It is losing more and more exactness or precision as more and more people are focused on the pace that they can aggregate their own riches.

Theoretically if this trend is to continue, there would be more instances of disputes and less certainty of what the truth is. There have already been a phenomenal amount of scams. It's a little like Russian roulette with a really large number of empty chambers.

To counterbalance this fuzziness, people will have to build their ability to convince other people to transact goods and services despite the degraded certainty of the value of a dollar. This goes beyond a credit rating. Perhaps people will have to build greater defensive positions, of course, at significant personal cost.

Bitcoin is/was to some degree a "test" of how well the world would operate with a novel monetary system disconnected from authority. The idea seems practical enough, though the implementation was flawed. Even though many computers around the world validated transactions, the need for a central server as well as higher performance computing makes Bitcoin useless to the masses and ultimately limits the potential for owners of Bitcoins.

Comment: Re:Employed (Score 1) 712

by PingPongBoy (#46306545) Attached to: Are Bankers Paid Too Much? Are Technology CEOs?

No. His salary was only $1 – which by the way has one of the highest tax rates. His compensation was in the 100s of millions, mostly via stock options which has one of the lowest tax rates. What I want to know is why I can’t be paid in low tax stock options?

You don't want to be paid in stock options anyways. The stock isn't something you can liquidate until it appreciates. If you get paid in stock, the company will see all this stock being sold at high volumes in the market so you can pay for your living expenses. The high volumes of stock will probably make people nervous about paying you high amounts per share, and your bosses wouldn't like the share price to be stuck at a low.

So if you actually believe in your employer, buy the stock with your pay. That's not always a good idea either. People should diversify their acquisitions instead of keeping all their wealth in one area. If you are just one minion in a huge company, and you're already leery because you think your CEO is overpaid, why would you trust him enough to boost his stock value by buying more of the company? Most people would invest their hard earned money in a different sector.

Comment: Re:tl;dr (Score 1) 712

by PingPongBoy (#46306345) Attached to: Are Bankers Paid Too Much? Are Technology CEOs?

How about offering him 50 mil instead and keeping on 700 workers,

OTOH, if those 700 workers are making no profit for the company at all, they should be transferred to profitable positions or laid off regardless of CEO pay.

OTOH you need a real sumbitch in order to chop hundreds or thousands of employees and perhaps still keep the company alive, and these guys don't come cheap.

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.