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Comment Tesco (Score 1) 53

I worked for a San Diego Company called MediaShare (later changed to Elemental Software) that created a site with shopping cart for Tesco in 1994 or 1995. Not sure if it actually went live, but was not for Minitel, it was for the web.

I wrote the shopping-cart part. The server side was in C, either CGI or NSAPI for Netscape Server.

The company had software for creating catalogs on both print and CDROM. I convinced my boss that publishing to HTML as well might be a useful thing.

Comment Re:It's Sad That Direct Ads Work (Score 1) 305

You want them stopped so that source is gone.

I never said I want them stopped, I said it's sad that they work. In my ideal world, drug companies would simply stop making ads because they wouldn't result in increased sales. Everyone who should be on their stuff would already be on it, and no one who shouldn't be on it would start taking it.

Comment Re:Children or not (Score 1) 200

Makes sense... why would driving a few mph faster lead to more accidents? I have no idea why so many people think going over the speed limit is so dangerous. Compare to the insane level of "unsafeness" of other behaviors like driving through the middle of a red light (not the first two seconds that red light cameras collect money for).

Comment Re:Children or not (Score 2) 200

Speeding fines were set back in the days when it required a cop to catch them. The fines were considered fair back then. Deterrent math works out like this:

Deterrent factor = (Likelihood of getting caught) X (fine when caught)

Another reason for fines might be to pay for the cost the society must bear for the fallout from the transgression. This math works out to:

Money available to fix mess = (fine amount) - (cost of catching and processing violators)

In both cases, automating the process of issuing speeding tickets should result in lower fines. If the fine is being used as a deterrent, the likelihood of being caught went up, so the deterrent capability of a given fine amount is greater. If the fine is being used to compensate society, automation should reduce the cost, therefore reducing the amount that needs to be collected.

Here's where your attitude comes in: if the fine amount was acceptable twenty years ago, then it is outrageous in areas with cameras. We should all be fighting against them.

Another thing - these traps don't actually work so well. Violators have much less recourse to address mistakes in the system, and every time someone looks into one of these systems, they are rife with mistakes. Also, they tend to hit the same people over and over again. If they put a camera on your path from home to work, you are thousands of times more likely to be caught than if your path to work didn't happen to go by a camera. Where to put them is a political process, not an engineering process, so it is always abused. Also, going ten mph over the speed limit doesn't raise reduce road safety very much. Almost all of these tickets are bureaucratic victories, not safety victories. Finally, because the same people tend to get hit over and over again, there has been a recent trend of people simply letting the state take their license instead of paying the fines. Once they are driving without a license, there is really not much to hold over them. It's either let them go or put them in jail. Letting them go is admitting that the fines aren't worth it, and jailing them costs way more than the societal cost of speeding was in the first place, so everybody loses.

Comment Re:It's Sad That Direct Ads Work (Score 1) 305

Perhaps what you don't understand is that there is often half a dozen different drugs that can manage some problem equally well, and the one that is used will depend on patient tolerance, availability, cost, and doctor education.

I've been on some of the most expensive ones on the commercials: Enbrel and Humira, I would have been on Orencia if it had been available back then. The day I walked into my doctor's office, he had a treatment plan. First, try topicals - starting with the least invasive and most likely to succeed. If no response, go to systemics (pills). We tried a half dozen pills - with follow-up visits to check if they were working. When that was exhausted, we went to subcutaneous injections. We would have moved on to blood infusions, but it turned out not to be necessary.

The entire time, he knew more about my condition and the available treatments than I could have possibly picked up from commercials or magazine ads. My input on medical issues would have just been noise. Of course he was receptive to hear how I was feeling and reacting to the medication, but he didn't need to know about treatment options.

Comment Just track the damn package! (Score 5, Interesting) 130

Seen enough YouTube videos from cameras packed in shipments for the obvious answer...

These boxes are costly enough to justify packaging it with some device that will record GPS, video, and sound. Make sure there is some good cryptographic signature on the device. Attach it to the router, and put a nasty anti-tamper dye spray to boot. (Although might have some regulatory issues with the explosive device for that, hmmm...).

Give the customer a rebate for returning the tracking device. (After unlocking, of course.)

Of course, the tracking device will need solid cryptographic signature/protection, but would have a lot fewer millions of lines of code than the router!

Then the guy you see stumbling out of the FedEx office covered in dye... he's not with FedEx.

The best the spys can do, then, is to "lose" the device in shipment, pay off the carrier's insurance company (otherwise, insurance rates will go sky-high), and then try to sell the router in the black market to spy on somebody other than the original target.

A good supervisor can step on your toes without messing up your shine.