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Comment: Re:Just be honest - it's not for *US* (Score 1) 2219

by Ron Bennett (#46181531) Attached to: Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

DrudgeReport.com layout is very dated. And yet still gets the job done - meets the needs of millions of people everyday; is far more popular than Slashdot.

The main draw to Slashdot is the comments. Break that, and people will leave. And don't count on the young hipsters to flood in to fill the void - another run-of-the-mill web 2.0 clone isn't going to save the day.

Going back to the old slashcode and enhancing it would be a better approach. A "retro" website would keep much of the current crowd while appealing to newer visitors seeking a different, classic web experience without all the web 2.0 bloat.

Comment: Overworked UPS Drivers and Lowly Paid Temps... (Score 1) 378

by Ron Bennett (#45788717) Attached to: Surge In Online Orders Overwhelms UPS Christmas Deliveries

Not surprised at all. To digress a bit, many of the packages delayed were sent well in advance of the Christmas holiday - many reports mention packages sitting for over a week in trailers.

With that out of the way, UPS drivers are expected to make many more delivery stops than they used to. These days, 200+ is common with upwards of 300+ during holidays...

UPS drivers are still well paid, but are worked far harder. More specifically, in regards to the holidays, an ever increasing reliance on seasonal "driver helpers" (typically paid $8-$10 per hour), which is hit and miss; spotty attendance, delivery mistakes, rough handling, theft, etc.

To put it simply, the drivers are spread thin. Very little extra delivery capacity to pick up the slack than in the past.

This incident will further push Amazon and other large retailers to contract out more delivery to smaller regional / local companies; more leverage to negotiate better pricing / service levels with the big name shippers.

Comment: Until MS Changes Course and Re-Enables Later (Score 2) 547

by Ron Bennett (#44054385) Attached to: Microsoft Kills Xbox One Phone-Home DRM

What guarantee is there that Microsoft won't later re-enable the phone-home drm feature?

(even if the system is never reconnected to the internet again after setup, it's conceivable an update could later be performed via a game disc with little to no notice to the user)

Likewise, what guarantees are there that a game publisher itself won't roll out a game update that includes phone-home drm?

On a related topic, what promises has Microsoft made regarding the always-on camera? Seems to me there's really no guarantee it can't be accessed without the user's knowledge unless there's a hardware way to turn it off (ie. an opaque cover over the camera).

Comment: Not 50, but Thousands of Taxing Jurisdictions (Score 5, Interesting) 678

by Ron Bennett (#43652271) Attached to: US Senate Passes Internet Tax Bill 69 To 27

Among the challenges of collecting sales tax is there are thousands of taxing jurisdictions. And often the boundaries don't correspond to any zipcode nor even a particular municipality. In addition, sales tax jurisdictions can and often do overlap - ie. city and county.

Even a state that doesn't levy a sales tax itself may allow local authorities to do so, such as some local Alaskan towns do.

To make matters worse, there are numerous categories and exceptions in what's taxable depending on what it is, the amount purchased, the location / manner in which it's sold (ie. food item purchased in a convenience store verses supermarket; consumed on premises or take-out) and when (tax holidays, etc).

And then there's the matter of filing dozens of state sales tax returns - some will expect filings every month, some quarterly, etc. And the time-frames will often differ, so one could find themselves filing sales tax forms practically every month or even more often depending on sales volume. And that's not even getting into dealing with compliance checks that states may perform at any time.

Bottom line is sales tax is far more challenging to collect than many realize. It's not 50 states, but rather thousands of taxing jurisdictions with numerous different rates, rules, exemptions, etc.

There is talk of simplifying the collection process for on-line retailers, which would lessen the burden, especially to small businesses.

Comment: Mental Health Professionals in Line of Fire! (Score 1) 1591

by Ron Bennett (#42603033) Attached to: New York Passes Landmark Gun Law

This new law puts all NY state doctors, more specifically, mental health professionals, at greater risk of retaliation by patients who later have their guns taken away. The medical establishment will increasingly be viewed as an extension of law enforcement.

As for visiting a doctor, even for a routine checkup, don't mention owning guns nor any other types of weapons, don't talk about hunting, one's views on gun control, etc. Avoid the topic entirely. With electronic records and mandatory reporting laws, what one says to a doctor is often far from confidential.

Comment: Re:Hundreds? (Score 1) 212

by Ron Bennett (#41707777) Attached to: Standard For Electric Car Charging Announced

300 amps? Are you going by what your circuit breaker panel says? Most drops are 60 - 100 amps. And even if the drop wire can handle that power, the local transformer (on the pole or the green box on the ground) likely can't.

Furthermore, the utility, much like ISPs, over-provision - the average household is each expected to draw around 3 or so KW peak, not 20+ KW. Everyone using fast-chargers at home isn't feasible, and hence the push of slow-chargers, which are cheap, and the current grid can handle just fine.

Comment: Re:It may be OT on a thread about the Interstate.. (Score 1) 244

by Ron Bennett (#41567397) Attached to: We Don't Need More Highways

Circles, roundabouts, or whatever term is in vogue these days can be worthwhile, but aren't a cure all - they may increase capacity a little, but ultimately, the best way to increase capacity is adding more lanes / converting into a limited access highway.

With that said, Pennsylvania PennDOT agrees with your sentiments - they're on a "roundabout" building spree with many in the pipeline, including locations where they are not appropriate (ie. Rt 222 between Reading and Allentown) - that will likely result in a public backlash with many being ripped out in 20 years.

That's already happened in New Jersey with many ripped out. Though, ironically, adding them in other locations - NJ DOT planners don't seem to know what to do.

Many people in the U.S. hate "circles" (I know there are different terms depending on configuration and approach rules, but anyways I call them all circles) ... and it's not just because Americans are ignorant or whatever, there are some legitimate gripes with circles, one of which being they don't work well for multi-lane roads coming together with equally high levels of traffic and/or traffic that consists of many large full-size tractor-trailers and heavy, possibly even over-loaded, dump trucks.

Comment: PennDOT's Solution is Building Circles Instead (Score 2) 244

by Ron Bennett (#41567259) Attached to: We Don't Need More Highways

Rt 222 in Pennsylvania between Reading and Allentown is a highly traveled road that's mostly all two lanes (one lane each way) with traffic lights and much cross traffic.

PennDOT's solution is building circles at some of the intersections instead of upgrading it into a wider highway. Circles may help with flow, though that's debatable when one throws lots of big rigs into the mix, but doesn't solve the volume problem - two lanes carries a lot less vehicles than a four lane, limited access highway.

Among the main reasons for highways being needed, seemingly, most everywhere is the lack of planning. Though many states are now encouraging regional zoning; communities need to look beyond their borders when approving new construction.

Much of the challenge in building new highways is the lack of money combined with excess regulation that often greatly inflates the costs. For example, it took 40 years to expand Rt 222 between Reading, Pa to the Lancaster County line roughly 7 or so miles away - and that was even in despite of most all the land needed for it already being condemned decades before - so that wasn't the hold up. It was strictly environmental combined with lack of funds.

A similar issue occurred with the Blue Route near Philadelphia - another road that was started in the 1960s and then stopped for lack of funds, then held up by environmentalists until it was finally completed (though not as designed, which has caused problems ever since - 3 lanes merging into 2 at a very busy section) around 1990.

Rambling on, but in a nutshell, reducing the standard of living, which many environmentalists seem to advocate, isn't the answer. New and/or improved highways in many places *are* needed.

Comment: Assasination Risk Greatly Increased by Drones (Score 1) 92

by Ron Bennett (#41485017) Attached to: US Department of Homeland Security Looking For a Few Good Drones

Much like how the U.S. government has seemingly gone over the top with airline security, drones is likely going be the next security threat requiring a very aggressive response to protect buildings, and more to the point, the power-elite from assassination.

To digress a bit, airline security seems over the top until one realizes it's not to protect the passengers, but rather the important structures full of important people the planes could potentially fly into.

I expect likewise will be the response to drones when some baddies are able to easily acquire some and start killing important people.

Even the smallest drones with on-board guidance, perhaps combined with facial recognition and other tools, are more than adequate to deliver a deadly strike (utilizing a firearm, explosives, etc) to kill rich, powerful people, even in relatively secure compounds, which generally rely on walls, guards, and cameras providing security - none of those are much use against a fast flying, relatively quiet drone.

Comment: So When The Helium Leaks Out, Drive Dies? (Score 2) 356

by Ron Bennett (#41328765) Attached to: WD Builds High-Capacity, Helium-Filled HDDs

Sure helium could improve performance and be beneficial for some uses, but anyone buying these need to ask what happens when the helium inevitably leaks out...

To me it looks another example of planned obsolescence at work. Though, perhaps, WD will take the razor blade approach and sell helium refill kits.

Comment: Snopes Seems Desperate Using Shady Pop-Under Ads (Score 0) 143

by Ron Bennett (#40872553) Attached to: Today, Everybody's a Fact Checker

Snopes has a lot of useful information, but they are a for-profit site that utilizes seemingly desperate ad tactics, including pop-unders of seemingly shady advertisers.

One has to wonder what other compromises Snopes is making; who is their master? Snopes is not the end all be all when it comes to authoritative information contrary to what many believe - no one source is.

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