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Comment Re:Fact vs. Fiction (Score 1) 760

Or in my case, a year after I bought a nice little farm house, a cement fixture factory went up next door. The noise and dust were incredible.
That's what I get for buying property outside the city in an un-zoned area. Won't make that mistake again unless I have quite a lot of acreage.

Oh give me a home... but with an HOA this time please.

Comment Re:I've watched as the iTunes UI deteriorated.. (Score 1) 462

Oh, I hadn't noticed any changes. I guess I'm part of a different "in crowd". I stopped using Apple's music app years ago when they decided I needed to relearn their app on every update. I am simply too busy to have to re-learn a friggin music app on every release. Today I use pandora, actual CDs and (gasp!) the radio, actually transmitted via Frequency Modulation over the EM spectrum. I have a special device for this. It's kind of an antique in today's world but, amazingly, it still works. It's called a "clock radio". Yeah, that's how I fight tyranny. It's a little inconvenient, but far, far better than the frustration and demeaning I get from a stupid app that's advertised to make my life better but only makes me feel incompetent.

This is the failure in your thesis. It ignores competition and innovation. Obscurity is an obstacle for the consumer that a competitor (in a free market anyway) will exploit. But apple's app store is not quite a free market. Neither is the smart-phone market if you're not a big enough player.

While we're at it, HEY APPLE, WHAT THE FUCK WAS WRONG WITH "SAVE" AND "SAVE AS" ???? WHAT THE FUCK IS "SAVE A VERSION" SUPPOSED TO MEAN WHEN I CAN'T SPECIFY A SEPARATE NAME OR PLACE FOR MY "VERSION" ???? This change alone, this minor loss of control over my filesystem was enough to make me download and install Linux (Mint) and try it out. Unfortunately, Linux is still too "hobby" for serious work in my office. We need a viable alternative.

Hey, all you tech folks, quit yer complainin' and make a better widget. Reverse engineer apple's music database and make a new interface to play it. Advertise it here. If it's good, we'll all download it for a dollar, or less (see my point?)

When the giants become too powerful and start forcing the little people to grovel, the little people have a duty to chop down the giants at their ankles and bring them down.

Also, In 1900 every car manufacturer had a different way to drive their cars. Some used a throttle on the dash instead of a foot pedal, some had different gear shift patterns, etc... Buy a different car and you had to learn to drive all over again. Today, aside from the location of the wipers and cruise control, all cars work pretty much the same. Why? Because the consumers demanded it.

Usability. Demand it or create it. Fuck the goddamn secret handshake society.

Comment It's only half the sugar that's bad. (Score 1) 428

Sugar (sucrose) is two things -- glucose (also called dextrose) and fructose in a 50/50 split.

"High fructose" just means 55% fructose, 45% glucose.

According to the scientist in this lecture (link below), it's only the fructose that's bad for you, no matter what percentage is in your source.
Fructose is found in fruit too, but that's not as bad because fruit is also high in fiber, unlike a soda or candy bar. Fiber seems to mitigate the fructose.
Also, fructose is almost as bad for your liver as alcohol. Soda or beer. Same difference to the liver. (There's a whole lot more fructose in a soda than there is alcohol in a beer.) Think about that the next time you five your kids a soda.

We switched to using dextrose instead of sucrose and increased our fiber. The results were notable.

Here's the video --

Comment Re:The car is great to drive, but... (Score 1) 222

That's actually a great idea. I'm looking forward to self driving cars. Truly. But there was a podcast recently -- planet money, where they talked about all the reasons self-driving cars will probably ship without steering wheels or foot pedals. I think that's a bad idea. Just thinking of all the times I've had to wait in line at a valet station, or changed my mind when I saw how busy a restaurant was then drove off aimlessly while pondering where to go next, saw a store in passing and suddenly remembered I needed something there and decided to duck-in real quick... Unless the human-machine interface is really, really, good, I'm not ready to give up the steering wheel.

Comment Re:alternately: (Score 1) 492

You make a good point. Google could easily buy some small countries with the cash they have laying around. Why not recreate the "company town" concept from the turn of the 20th century? Google could buy enough land in the mid-west or anywhere, really, and build a campus with apartments and single family homes and parks and shopping centers and everything. I've never understood why these big companies insist on staying in SF or NY or LA.

Also, while it may only cost $100K to build the structure, it's the dirt under it that has the real cost. The price of real estate is governed by supply and demand, and it's in scarce supply. As a former home owner in LA, the house was only worth about 180K, the dirt under it was worth $650K. A lot of houses get bought and immediately razed to make room for a new house.

Comment Re:alternately: (Score 1) 492

Congrats on the move to sanity!

I sold my little 1400 sq. ft. home in LA with no yard for $850K, then used that money to buy a little 2800 sq. ft. home near San Antonio, TX, with a friggin 65 acre back yard!!! I make less money here, a lot less. But hell, there's almost never a real traffic jam, the food is cheaper, the schools are much better and my three kids all have their own electric motorcycles and a twelve-acre race track to play on. We launch rockets, fly kites and have a tree house bigger than most Manhattan apartments. For us, a backyard camp out really is a camp out, stargazing, camp fire and all.

Yeah, life is a LOT better here. Zero regrets.

Comment Re:The car is great to drive, but... (Score 1) 222

Yeah, my refrigerator even has a freaking touch sensitive "button" to turn the light on. Damned if I can find it in the middle of the night though. I specifically looked for a fridge with tactile buttons when I replaced it. Couldn't find one. So now I've got one of those battery operated LED pods mounted to the door, but that doesn't help the cube/crush ice button sense my hard, calloused fingers any better. I have the same problem on those touch-screen POS systems at the stores now too. I like to joke that I'm just a damn good looking zombie when the checker notices my fingers have no effect on the touch screen "These things don't work for dead people." I calmly tell them as I reach for the stylus or ask them to touch it for me.

Any sufficiently advanced technology shouldn't have to be hacked it just to make it usable. Enough with the bells and whistles that only get in the way of what I need to do instead of helping me do it.

And while we're on the topic of self-driving cars... A thought occurred to me in the parking lot of Best Buy. How the hell are self-driving cars going to navigate a parking lot and find a spot near the store I want to go to?
What if I notice a different store and change the plan at the last minute?
What search strategy will it use to seek that one open spot in a full lot?
I'll keep the steering wheel, thanks.

Comment An easy fix for everyone. (Score 1) 474

As a former LA Times employee and lead engineer on several of their spin-off web sites, I don't understand why this is such a problem.

I only recently installed adblocking software on all my devices. I resisted, but ultimately I had to. Reading on-line had become extremely unpleasant, or occasionally impossible in the case of some of my older equipment. Adblocking was a breath of fresh air. Now pages actually load instead of hanging for minutes at a time, I don't have to be followed everywhere... you know the story.

But there are a few places I still see ads, even though I've got the most aggressive settings turned on (angry, I was.) I don't mind the ads I see, because they are respectful, done the old-school way, like newspapers, magazines, TV and radio have always done it. The ad is the same media as the host, served right along with the other content. No weird redirects, no waiting for content from a multitude of servers to load, no friggin javascript nonsense, etc. etc. etc.

Hey publishers, you want to save the net and get revenue too? Take a lesson from the old school and go back to delivering the ad embedded in the content, in a way that's respectful of your users.
Hey advertisers, stop being so friggin nefarious and maybe we'll accept your existence like we do elsewhere. When I'm reading a story from the NY Times, blocking the images from the story only hurts me. Give the publisher the display ad just like you did in the columns of the actual paper and our ad-blocking software won't even know its there.

Everybody can win with a method that's tried and true. Until I am respected by the advertiser, I will not respect the advertiser, nor the publisher who gives them a place to shout from. I will go back to reading actual printed media instead. Ain't no javascript there.

Comment The barrier (Score 1) 191

There's a TED talk relevant to this. Sorry I don't have the time to look it up.

in a nutshell, the role of sci-fi is to pierce the barrier between what we know and what we don't know. It shines a light into that darkness and says "Hey, there's something interesting here." But that's it. it's just a glimpse.

The scientists and engineers are the true explorers who hack a path into that void. But before they do it, they need a reason to go that particular direction, an inspiration. It also helps to have a framework of language and ideas. The frame may shift, may even be replaced, but it is the starting block upon which the original traction is made.

Sci-fi is not the only path into the unknown. Serendipity and raw curiosity play a part too. Maybe even a bigger part. But why limit ourselves? Let's use all the tools at our disposal. Everyone has their favorite. The world is full of more than just nails. We need wrenches and chisels in addition to our hammers.

But a nice hammer is a wonderful thing to hold. Bang bang Maxwell.

Comment Re:sort of like Amazon Prime Music (Score 1) 610

Today, a U2 album you didn't really want in the first place.

Tomorrow, the Apple version of the bible (or some such nonsense).

After that, all that spam that used to clog up your email account (hey, you can just delete it. What's the big deal?)

Instead of paying the post office to deliver all that junk mail, now they can just pay apple....

What world do you want to live in?

Take action. Do something. I, for one, will not be buying another apple product (especially after the miserably disappointing experiences [with an 's'] I had with the new Mac Pro trashcan.)

Apple is dead to me.

Comment Re:Easy solution (Score 1) 348

. . . although basic science can have colossal economic rewards, they are totally unpredictable. And therefore the rewards cannot be judged by immediate results. Nevertheless, the value of Faraday’s work today must be higher than the capitalization of all shares on the stock exchange. . . . The greatest economic benefits of scientific research have always resulted from advances in fundamental knowledge rather than the search for specific applications . . . transistors were not discovered by the entertainment industry . . . but by people working on wave mechanics and solid state physics. [Nuclear energy] was not discovered by oil companies with large budgets seeking alternative forms of energy, but by scientists like Einstein and Rutherford. . . .
-- Margaret Thatcher

Comment Re:Asset Bubble verse Rent Seeking (Score 1) 382

I'm no economics or finance expert, but the more I learn about HFT, the more it sounds, looks and smells like Insider Trading to me.

Insider trading: Where someone profits from knowledge gained through privileged access to information.

HFT: Where someone buys a privileged access to financial networks to gain millisecond advantages in information, then profits from that knowledge. Those networks are not open to anyone, seating is limited and the information in them gives the holders of that information an unfair advantage. Just like the boardroom of any major corporation.

Insider trading is illegal. Frontrunning is illegal. Gambling is not legal in most places. Trading on probabilities and trends in stock prices is more of a gamble than it is like anything else. It is clearly NOT investing.

How about a rule that any securities purchase must be held for at least 24 hours. Better yet, 30 days. That'll put a stop to HFT and daytrading gamblers real fast and won't hurt legitimate investors one whit.

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