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Comment: Re:Why? (Score 4, Informative) 369

by Sarten-X (#47446621) Attached to: Predicting a Future Free of Dollar Bills

I'm fighting the government right now. They decided...

Who? A court issuing a judgement, or the IRS seeking unpaid taxes? There is no Department of Government that simply decides anything. It's always the result of some bureaucracy, with a defined process for dispute resolution.

I owed them 37,000$. No explanations.

No explanations, or none that you understood? I've had the IRS come looking for money a few times, and each time it included an enumerated list of what parts of my paperwork they disagreed with. In typical government form, there was no colloquial interpretation, but to an accountant and tax preparer, though, all of the necessary information was there.

The only thing I was told was I'm supposed to have received everything by mail. Of course, I never received anything.

How did you get notice that you owed the money, then? Have you checked that the suitable department has your address correct?

I lost count how many time I called or went to talk to someone.

That's a mistake. Keep records of every time you talk to someone about the matter, and take notes on what they say.

Sometimes the guy I talk to says...

Which guy? Record names, ID numbers, or any other identifier. Those are important to track down exactly who has said what, and on what authority. I've had some matters resolved just by pointing different bureaucrats at each other, and letting them work out the disagreement internally.

Last year, the government froze all my accounts and stole my money.

"Froze" and "stole" are not the same things. Either way, get a good lawyer.

After talking to a lawyer, I was told this kind of cases could go on for a very long time and could cost me a lot of money.

...as can any lawsuit.

The advice was that I should forget about my money.

...I said to get a good lawyer.

The bottom line is that either your story doesn't add up, or you're rather incompetent with governmental matters. Find a suitable advocate for this matter (either a different lawyer for a judgement, or a tax specialist for an IRS dispute, etc.) and give them absolutely every piece of information you have. Record absolutely everything that transpires. Yes, it will cost you a significant amount of money now, because you've sat on this for three years, but I'd be surprised if it totaled more than $37,000.

The most important thing is to make sure that someone fighting on your side is an expert in the relevant process. If you work within the established process, the various governmental entities are actually very forgiving and understanding. You must realize that the actual humans involved don't really care about taking your money, finding guilt, or screwing you over in any other way. They're interested in following the process and closing disputes, so if you show that you're interested in doing things the right way, they'll often be happy to explain exactly what that is. You don't need to waste their time professing your innocence, or telling them how horribly wrong the Big Bad Government is for attacking you. Just find out what you need to do to resolve the dispute, have an expert on hand to verify the information and ask questions, then do whatever's appropriate.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 2) 369

by Sarten-X (#47446113) Attached to: Predicting a Future Free of Dollar Bills

If the US were to change the dollar like that, most folks wouldn't care. The vast majority of American money is held in banks, which would make the change automatically on their electronic balance.

The only thing affected by such a change would be large stockpiles of cash. For legitimate businesses, replacing the cash in circulation would be an annoyance, but not impossible. For most individuals, who would have less than a few thousand dollars in cash on hand, the change would mean just a quick trip to the nearest bank.

The biggest disruption would be to those who have significant stockpiles of cash, larger than what banks would normally exchange. For that, the process could be pretty similar to what happens today if you need to make a large cash withdrawal or foreign-currency exchange: the bank can accommodate it with advance notice. You call the bank, give them a name and amount, and they'll make sure they have the cash on hand to serve your needs. The key detail, then, is that the bank knows your name and the amount you're exchanging, providing a paper trail indicating the presence of large amounts of cash. That paper trail is a problem for the criminal and the paranoid, but there aren't enough of those to make for a successful uprising.

Comment: Re:Car Insurance Companies Too! (Score 1) 349

by Sarten-X (#47410079) Attached to: Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

My previous commute, no matter how much distance I had, I'd often have to panic brake... I'm glad I never used the OBD2 dongle... I'd probably be paying a lot more.

...because you were driving on a riskier route, without a safe stopping distance in front of you. That seems reasonable to me.

What I'm waiting for is to be charged more if I -don't- use an ODB-2 monitor...

Yes, as is every other Slashdotter, and our paranoid kind have been waiting for such things since Sputnik made us realize that surveillance didn't have to be up-close and personal. Each decade we pretend it's a new apocalypse, because this time it's different! Now it's the Internet of Things, and last year it was drones, and before that it was Big Data, GPS tracking, cell phones, and dental fillings.

Comment: Re:It's getting scary (Score 1) 150

by Sarten-X (#47407483) Attached to: Coddled, Surveilled, and Monetized: How Modern Houses Can Watch You

No, it's just the doctor and the hospital trying to practice modern medicine. If they don't have every minute detail recorded, or if they don't order every test that might help, the predatory jackasses in this country will not hesitate to sue them for malpractice, claiming that they should instinctively know what tests will be meaningful for every single patient that enters their offices.

Comment: Re:No it makes no sense at all (Score 1) 685

by Sarten-X (#47399429) Attached to: TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes

...most of these guys are backed by people will millions in the bank.

"Millions" isn't so much money that any cost becomes irrelevant. "Billions" is closer, but no amount of money will buy more time. Those 100 extra preparation hours could be the time when an informant reveals the plot to the CIA, or that could be the time another aspect of the plot to develop problems.

...there is no point at which you stop and say "awww screw this, it's not worth the hassle"

But there is a point at which you say "This plan is too risky, and has too many ways to fail. Let's try something else."

Comment: Re:Nothing unusual (Score 1) 39

by Sarten-X (#47399219) Attached to: Free Wi-Fi Supplier, Gowex, Files For Bankruptcy

So the whole being sat down like a child thing is basically to stop people who don't know what they're doing ending up with mountains of debt _by mistake_, it's not to stop people intentionally cooking the books.

I think this is exactly right. The lenders are not doing credit reviews for the purpose of stopping crime. They're checking for the purpose of minimizing their own risk. Sure, there's a risk that a loan applicant is going to do something criminal that results in the lender losing their money, but there is a much greater risk that an otherwise-honest individual is simply unable to manage their own finances.

Then, of course, there's the cost/benefit analysis of the investigation itself. If criminal fraud is rare, it may not be worth the cost to investigate every applicant deeply enough to find the crime.

I'm not ambitious enough to do the calculations myself, but I would expect to find that the most profitable course of action is to do a cursory examination of individual applicants, and just to consider intentional fraud to be a part of the cost of doing business.

Comment: Re:No it makes no sense at all (Score 1) 685

by Sarten-X (#47398729) Attached to: TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes

...other than XRay the damn thing, which is what the TSA does anyway do they not?

Yes, they do, and the agents know what an unmodified phone or laptop looks like. They're usually not just a small circuit with most of the case filled with some unidentified material.

Only the most idiotic of plots would be foiled by this.

Well, yes, but only the most idiotic of plots would be foiled by any single measure. All together, the detection measures simply raise the cost of planning a non-idiotic plot. Now, a successful terrorist must spend an extra $100 on parts and 100 hours on hardware modifications, while still spending the time and money to jump through every other hurdle in the way.

Sure, a sufficiently-competent entity can get through every security measure, but the point is to raise the difficulty high enough that the attack isn't worth the hassle. That sentiment applies to every aspect of security, not just airplanes.

Science

Study: People Would Rather Be Shocked Than Be Alone With Their Thoughts 333

Posted by samzenpus
from the still-your-mind dept.
sciencehabit writes "How much do we hate being alone with our own thoughts? Enough to give ourselves an electric shock. In a new study, researchers recruited hundreds of people and made them sit in an empty room and just think for about 15 minutes. About half of the volunteers hated the experience. In a separate experiment, 67% of men and 25% of women chose to push a button and shock themselves rather than just sit there quietly and think. One of the study authors suggests that the results may be due to boredom and the trouble that we have controlling our thoughts. "I think [our] mind is built to engage in the world," he says. "So when we don't give it anything to focus on, it's kind of hard to know what to do."

Comment: Re:Wonderful car analogy! (Score 1) 255

by Sarten-X (#47378325) Attached to: Austrian Tor Exit Node Operator Found Guilty As an Accomplice

Well, that depends... did you leave your front door open with a big sign saying "Twisty passages inside! Great for losing pursuers!" posted next to it?

If so, then it's pretty easy to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were not just aware that your actions could assist criminals, but you actually made overt actions to help them.

Comment: Re:Perl (Score 5, Insightful) 534

A good language ... should do its very best to make sure you CAN'T code sloppily.

Exactly, just like a good spoken language should make sure you CAN'T use profanity.

...But then, what about when profanity is appropriate? What if you need an emphasis that is so fucking strong that simply changing the tone of voice doesn't suffice? What if your whole damned speech is in reference to something condemned by a deity, or referring to Mohammed the thief, who assumed the name of the prophet?

The point of any language is to express. For programming languages, the idea is to express instructions for two different processing styles simultaneously: the deterministic and predetermined understanding of the parser, and the non-deterministic and subjective understanding of colleagues. Similarly, spoken languages must account for the subjective understandings of every listener, some of which may have very different rules regarding obscenity.

There is much more to coding "cleanly" than mere syntax. Structure is equally important, and it must change as the system design demands. If the rules of a language are too strict, then the whole program starts to look the same, and it's more difficult for future interpreters to understand the intent of the program.

There is an art to writing clean code, just as there's an art to writing eloquent language. Strict rules don't always improve that art.

Comment: Re:Step 1 (Score 2) 196

by Sarten-X (#47345859) Attached to: How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

Cute, but no. One of my first stage jobs was with a great stage manager, who did several decades of concerts dating back to the Big Band era. He was nearly deaf from it, so before the first show of the season he called all of the techs together, handed out pairs of high-quality earplugs, and warned us that if he ever found us not wearing them without a good reason, we'd be fired.

At every show since then, I've either worn earplugs or an in-ear monitor whenever the main amps were on. It's also worth noting that the stage crew isn't usually in front of the speakers, so all together I'm usually listening to less than 70 decibels, even at the loudest gigs.

Protective equipment is not just there to make the lawyers happy. It's there so that a decade later I don't have to hire someone else to tune a system.

He probably ... is constantly going "Hunh?" to his wife.

Well, yes, but that's just because I'm inattentive, not deaf.

Comment: Re:Step 1 (Score 1) 196

by Sarten-X (#47345795) Attached to: How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

Ears are the worst in terms of durability, complexity, and as is the focus of my post, manufacturing consistency. Those criteria are all interconnected, also indicating that there is no good way to solve their problems well.

There is no other component for which so many things can go wrong. The ears serve as the intermediary between the analog vibrations and the sensation of hearing, comprised of millions of self-assembling cells whose function depends on trillions of chemical interactions executing perfectly. In reality, such perfection is rare. Most defects don't matter, but the sheer number of imperfections means that everyone's sense of hearing is different in some way.

Stretching the boundaries of definition a bit, even if the ears themselves are good enough, their connection to the consciousness may by different from one person to another. I, for instance, don't find the throb of bass to be pleasant, so my personal sound systems are tuned to my tastes, tapering off the low end. Others prefer that heavy bass, so their preferences for the rest of their sound system will be different from my own.

With such wide variation, attempting to declare that certain brands of equipment sound "good" or "bad" is a very subjective declaration, practically useless for anyone else. No matter how technically perfect the rest of your system is, you'll perceive a "bad" sound if it doesn't suit your ears' and brain's construction.

If what they've been doing hasn't solved the problem, tell them to do something else. -- Gerald Weinberg, "The Secrets of Consulting"

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