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Comment: Re:Hmm... (Score 2, Informative) 1067

by Solandri (#49732701) Attached to: Los Angeles Raises Minimum Wage To $15 an Hour

I'm aware of the velocity of money and the perception that poor people pour money back into the economy rapidly while rich people don't (and it matches my personal biases, so I like the idea a lot) but -- I'm trying to figure out what the rich can do with money that actually takes it out of the economy. Unless they actually stick dollars in suitcases and store them in the wine cellar, almost anything else I can think of puts the money in someone else's pocket one way or another. Stuck in banks: used to back bank loans.

You're starting to get it. It isn't whether poor people or rich people get more money - that's a fantasy concocted by people to justify their biases (whether it be dislike of rich people or dislike of poor people). What matters is the usefulness of the things they spend it on. For the money to improve the economy, it has to increase overall productivity. A rich guy spending money on gold-plated toilet seats doesn't increase productivity. A poor guy spending it on meth doesn't increase productivity. A rich guy spending it on a new computer which helps him organize his work and thus get more work done increases productivity. A poor guy spending it on food so his teenage daughter can stay home studying for high school instead of working so the family can eat increases productivity.

Kicking it up an abstraction level, the true currency is productivity. Money is just a (loosely tied) representation of productivity, distorted by inflation, inequality in negotiating leverage, corruption, etc. Things which increase people's productivity are good for the economy. Things which don't increase productivity or decrease it are bad for the economy. Whether raising the minimum wage helps or hurts the economy depends entirely on how it affects productivity.

Rich people are richer because they on average tend to spend their money more on things which increase their or others' productivity. Poor people are poorer because on average they tend to spend money more on things which don't improve their or other people's productivity as much. Are you angry and ready to hit reply because you think I'm saying poor people make stupid spending decisions and deserve to be poor? Then you need to re-read the previous paragraph. What I'm saying is if you guide and teach poor people how to spend their money more productively, they will become rich people. This isn't a zero-sum game - everyone can become rich if everyone makes good decisions. That is much more important than raising the minimum wage.

Comment: Re:Mixed reaction (Score 1) 317

by Solandri (#49728653) Attached to: Battle To Regulate Ridesharing Moves Through States

As long as the medallion and similar limiting systems continue to exist, all gloves are off as far as I'm concerned.

The medallion system exists because the number of cars owned by the population far exceeds the capacity of the roads. If that weren't the case (e.g. in small towns in rural U.S.A.) I'd completely agree with you. But as long as road space is limited, something needs to keep the number of "I think I'll make a few extra bucks today by taxiing random strangers" people in check.

Can it / has it been abused to protect establish taxicab companies? Probably yes. But that doesn't mean the system is completely without merit.

Comment: Re:Affirmative Action (Score 3, Insightful) 527

by Solandri (#49711965) Attached to: Harvard Hit With Racial Bias Complaint

Social liquidity is very low in the U.S. so if you are born poor, hard work will not be enough to bring you out of it, you also need luck.
what we need is a system that isn't stacked against people based on what family they were born into.

My family immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s with only $1000 and the clothes in our suitcases (our (Asian) home country feared mass emigration, and limited how much money you could take with you to the equivalent of about $500 per adult). For years we lived in low-income housing, bought staples from the local Salvation Army, and rummaged other people's garage sales trying to find bargains. We were basically lower class, except we had no preconceptions about what we were "supposed" to do. Nobody telling us like you are that "the system" was stacked against us so it wasn't worth trying to fight it. We fought tooth and nail to better our lives.

Today we're in the lower fringes of the upper class. Most of my extended family immigrated shortly after, and most of them have "made it" into comfortable middle-class lives. A few are upper-class (including one who owns a multimillion dollar cell phone store chain), and one is still stuck in low-income housing. So we are not an outlier. This is what you can really do in this country if you don't have any preconceptions about breaking out of the lower class, and really try to succeed.

If you have the willpower and the ability, you can succeed in this country regardless of what circumstances you were born into. Hard work can in fact bring you out of poverty. If you believe it when others tell you otherwise, you've already given up on the game of life. You cannot succeed if you don't try, and telling people it's not worth trying is consigning them to their current state for the rest of their lives.

In general society would benefit a lot from funding all or part of everyones education with taxes. Even if you don't intend to study more yourself you benefit from people around you getter more educated.

The U.S. already spends more on education per student than any other country. The problem isn't funding for education.

IMHO the problem is a lack of desire to take advantage of that education to better yourself and your circumstances. My parents were flabbergasted at the quality of education that was being provided "for free" by the government here, and made sure my sister and I always kept up with our schoolwork. It was an opportunity they never had when they were kids (unless you count forced indoctrination into Imperial Japanese philosophy that all other Asians were put on Earth serve them). And they made damn sure we took full advantage of it. That's the main difference I saw between myself and the other students. I never took public education for granted because my parents emphasized how fortunate I was to even have it.

Comment: Re:Cost bigger issue than sonic boom (Score 1) 72

Also the sonic boom issue was more FUD by Boeing, Douglas and Lockheed than the real issue. Back in the 80s, before the oil crisis, these companies wanted to stop British Aerospace and Aerospatiale from establishing a bridgehead at the luxury travel sector using Corcorde and its derivatives. But thankfully the Arab oil shock stopped Concorde.

Out of curiosity, how old are you? I was a kid in the 1970s. 1970s jet engines were LOUD. When we were playing during recess and a jet plane passed overhead at 30,000 ft at the right orientations (certain directions were noisier), we basically couldn't hold a conversation without yelling. That's how loud they were. They were a great way to demonstrate that sound was slower than light because it was so damn loud it was obvious exactly where the sound was coming from. Your ears could indisputably pinpoint the sound as coming from several hands-breadths behind the plane.

The concerns about the Concorde's sonic boom being even louder were very real. The planes we have today where you often don't even notice they're passing overhead are a poor point of reference, and a testament to how great a job the engine manufacturers have done at reducing noise.

Compare that to 54 kilowatt, total maximum possible power output of those two turbojet engines. 100,000 kW for 10 mph wind vs 54 kW for Concorde. Our eardrums and instruments are sensitive enough to pick up the sonic boom over 10mph wind, but thats about it.

Total energy isn't as important as the spectrum. If all that energy is directed into a narrow low-frequency band, it'll be a lot noisier even at a lower energy level, moreso at the lower frequencies (the atmosphere absorbs higher frequencies more rapidly). In fact that's mostly what the engineers have done to make today's jet engines quieter - changed their noise profile to spread that acoustic energy over a broader spectrum of frequencies and into higher frequencies. The scalloped cutouts on the trailing edge of newer engine cowlings does exactly this.

Comment: Re:Anecdotal evidence (Score 4, Informative) 239

by Solandri (#49711185) Attached to: How Windows 10 Performs On a 12-inch MacBook

On the occasions I forget a charger I have to minimise running Windows or I'll be running out of battery at least twice as fast as when using OS X. I can get work 7 Hours using just the battery on my rMBP with occasional excursions to Windows to check mail but or use corporate windows only tools but running windows will only give me 3 hours.

The 15" rMBP has a 95 Wh battery and lasts 7-8 hours. The Dell XPS 15 with similar hardware and a higher res screen has a 91 Wh battery and lasts 6-7 hours under Windows. If you're only getting 3 hours in Windows on your rMBP, that's more an indication that Apple has put very little effort into optimizing their Windows drivers. Not an indication that Windows sucks.

If you want to compare the 13" rMBP, it has a 75 Wh battery and lasts about 10-12 hours. The Dell XPS 13 manages 9-10 hours with a battery only 2/3rds the size (52 Wh) and a higher res screen (3200x1800 vs 2560x1600). If you get the lower res screen (1920x1080) it'll go 15 hours.

Comment: Re:And now for a real question (Score 2) 214

Why does Microsoft get to determine the lifetime of *MY* hardware?

They're not determining the lifetime of your hardware. You're free to continue using Windows 7 or 8 on that hardware as long as you like (or at least until they stop supporting it - 2020 for Win 7, 2023 for Win 8).

They're just setting limits on who they'll give a copy of Windows 10 to for free. They're the ones giving the stuff away for free, they get to decide the rules for who qualifies to get it for free. If you don't qualify, you are no worse off than you were before.

Comment: Re:Bad good idea (Score 1) 198

by Solandri (#49706635) Attached to: European Telecoms May Block Mobile Ads, Spelling Trouble For Google
Actually, I think a bigger issue is that as long as ad blockers are optional extensions used by a small percentage of browsers, advertisers and Google are likely to ignore them. But the moment ad blockers become implemented wide-scale (like at the ISP level), the arms race will progress one step further and advertisers will come up with methods which break such ad blockers. e.g. Code their site so the content of their page won't load until their ads have first loaded. I've already run across a few sites which do this, and have to temporarily allow scripts from certain ad sites to run before I can view the content.

Also note that in retrospect, Google advocating https for everything wasn't entirely altruistic, as it would effectively preserve a site's original ads barring a MitM attack or malware infection on the browsing computer.

Comment: Plagiarism? (Score 2) 90

by Solandri (#49706579) Attached to: On the Taxonomy of Sci-Fi Spaceships
Skimmed TFA. If I remember correctly the spacecraft construction volume for Traveller (an RPG probably most famous for the use of AI to figure out optimal solutions to the game rules, to defeat all human opponents in an annual competition), his spaceship classes are identical. Corvette, frigate/escort, destroyer, cruiser, battleship, carrier, dreadnaught.

I suppose it might not necessarily be plagiarism. Those classes are pretty similar to how most naval fleets are strategically divided.

Comment: Re:"Cashless" is meaningless (Score 1) 294

by Solandri (#49703903) Attached to: The Solution To Argentina's Banking Problems Is To Go Cashless

But that's the problem with Greece's current government. They should have attacked austerity, not the measures they are expected to undertake to re-balance their economy with the rest of Europe. Many of the Torika's requirements were real improvements that would have been long term very positive for the Greeks economy and some of those are the ones the Greeks are attacking the hardest, rather than attacking the real problem, which is this Austerity idea that you can succeed by cutting spending during a recession. The Greek economy was heavily damaged by the Austerity drive where the measures should have been more targeted towards competition and divestiture of state assets because it was those very state assets and the salaries they included that bankrupted the Greek government to begin with.

The Greek economy was damaged by spending beyond their means. "Austerity" is just an attempt to simulate what would normally happen to a currency when a country goes as badly into debt as they did (average income exceeds average productivity, so the economy has to contract until these two are in balance again). Had Greece still been on the Drachma when they went into debt, the value of the Drachma would have fallen against other currencies (much like the Argentine Peso has been doing), and the Greek economy would have shrunk until the artificial "growth" due to their previous (and current) overspending had been erased. Eventually the Drachma would've settled at a value where Greeks were no longer making more income relative to their productivity than other countries.

However, since Greece was on the Euro, this couldn't happen. They were being artificially buoyed by the other economies on the Euro. Or alternatively, their debt was dragging the rest of the Eurozone down. The austerity measures were merely attempts to simulate what would've happened if Greece had still been on the Drachma, while keeping them on the Euro. That's what most Greeks don't seem to understand - the austerity measures are not meant to punish them, they're a last-ditch attempt to normalize their economy relative to the rest of the EU so Greece can stay on the Euro. Any "punishment" that results from austerity was caused by their own overspending. If Greece refuses to accept austerity, the only remaining option is to boot them off the Euro, forcing them back to the Drachma, at which point the Drachma would go into freefall crushing their economy just as if they'd accepted the austerity measures or worse.

Comment: Re:Tetrapods (Score 4, Informative) 33

by Solandri (#49698717) Attached to: Scientists Discover First Warm-Blooded Fish
Water conducts heat away about 25x faster than air, and the heat transfer rate is proportional to temperature differential. Until the organism gets to a very large size or develops some serious insulation, trying to maintain a constant body temperature underwater is a lost cause.

TFA describees an adaptation for minimizing loss of internal heat to the water (counter-current heat exchange of blood entering/leaving the gills). An adaptation that AFAIK no land animals has, though I have heard of some animals having it in their extremities (blood leaving their core to the extremities exchanges heat with blood returning from the extremities, thus preserving internal body heat. I'd be curious if birds which fly really high (upwards of 30,000 ft) have it in their lungs, or if the energy consumption needed to fly at those altitudes is sufficient to offset any heat loss.

It's also a bit of a stretch to call this warm bloodedness. It's not thermal homeostasis, the process that keeps your internal body temperature at 37 C regardless of environmental conditions.

Comment: Re:Trolling Douchebags (Score 1) 211

by Solandri (#49690811) Attached to: FCC May Stop 911 Access For NSI Phones

A solution would be for the Cell carriers to be required to "register" those phones for free for 911 service.
Each must be attached to an id so you can bust people for swatting.

The NSI phones still have a unique IMEI. It would be trivial for the companies to cross-reference it to find out who the phone's original owner was.

The problem I suspect is that most of these prank calls are made using NSI phones which are no longer in the possession of their original owners. Stolen, lost, sold, given to a "friend", etc. So forcing them to be registered wouldn't help any. I keep an old phone (powered off) in my car, just in case there's an accident which destroys my regular phone and I need to make a 911 call. Even if I wanted to make a prank 911 call, I would never make it with that phone because of how easily the police could trace it back to me, since it's my old phone.

Comment: Re:Story time, my method. (Score 1) 244

by Solandri (#49690659) Attached to: RTFM? How To Write a Manual Worth Reading

I made flow charts for email troubleshooting (I hated Visio so I used a graphical editor instead), I had grids for IRQ/Address settings, I had step by steps for undoing AOL I.P. stack sabotage (how many of you remember that?) Fact was I wrote really good documentation that anyone from teenager to adult could use to troubleshoot the "normal" day to day issues a worker at an ISP faces without making a condescending script. If you used it for reference it was an answer key, if you read every word you often would know why that problem occurred. I'm of the belief understanding an issue is always better than just knowing what the fix is.

That's my personal belief too. The problem however is that anyone capable of reading such a document and understanding it well enough to use it to troubleshoot can get a much better job than tech support hotline drone. Consequently the companies have to choose between hiring one competent techie at $30/hr to man the phone, or four no-skill minimum wage drones to take calls for the same cost. Inevitably they gravitate towards the latter, not just because it's cheaper per head, but because the vast majority of competent techies I know would go insane handling tech support calls 8 hrs/day. Churn rate would be high, and there are a lot more no-skill minimum wage drones out there looking for jobs than competent techs willing to do phone tech support.

So the companies hire drones for their tech support, and the documentation has to be reduced to a level which can be used by them with minimal (or no) training. That means scripts, checklists, and numbered procedures. Stuff someone with no skills could follow to fix most problems without even understanding what the problem is. Basically, your approach to documentation is what hobbles FOSS documentation - a belief that the user should understand how the software works before he has any right to be using it. That's a programmer's thinking. Most of the world doesn't work that way - you don't have to know how a car's engine, transmission, steering, and brakes work in order to drive the car. Is it helpful? Yes. But it's not necessary. So while I personally agree with your approach (I like to understand how stuff that I use works), I don't think it's the right approach for mass-consumer documentation.

At this point I think the better solution is to revise how we think of documentation. A lot of it is written as if were to be printed on dead trees - a one dimensional script which describes the software or system in a linear fashion. That was a physical limitation imposed on us back in the days when we wrote stuff down on paper. Online documentation allows us to transcend that - hyperlinks, searches, troubleshooting wizards, predictive AI which suggests alternative search terms or related terms that might match what you're looking for, etc.

I've seen a few help documents written really well this way (the default Windows help format is really good at incorporating this functionality, though most help documents don't take advantage of it). But most are just a modern version of the one dimensional books of the pre-industrial age, with maybe a few hyperlinks thrown in. I was trying to fix a problem with symbolic links in FreeNAS earlier today, and the documentation is really well-written as FOSS goes. But it's just a glorified one-dimensional book. I couldn't even search it for "symbolic" because it's not in the index and the documentation is broken up into multiple web pages. The documentation shouldn't be just a straight data dump of everything the software does (worse yet, a one-dimensional data dump). It should be structured and designed to assist the reader in finding the answers he's looking for. Books took the first step in this direction when they added an index and table of contents. With the capabilities of a computer at our disposal, we should be able to write much more functionally useful documentation. If we cared enough to do so.

Comment: Re:Money or Art? (Score 4, Informative) 175

by Solandri (#49682021) Attached to: The Decline of Pixel Art
If you RTFA, he's not really griping that pixel art is disappearing. He's griping that pixel art was more skillfully drawn than 3D art.

IMHO the difference boils down to how the art is/was made for games - pixel art was animated, 3D art is mostly motion captured. That means the exaggerated actions you're familiar with in cartoons (jaw drops, deformed stretches and squished bounces) are in pixel art, but are missing from most 3D game animation. After nearly a century of drawing movies and flip art, animators had learned a whole bunch of subtle cues our brains use to perceive and interpret motion, and created exaggerated animations that exploited those cues to make the animated motion eye-candy and enjoyable to watch. As motion capture replaces animation, that knowledge is being lost. Same for drawing pictures with a limited resolution. Like in mosaics and impressionistic paintings, pixel artists had learned how to exploit cues our brains use to interpret shapes to imply there was more detail in the picture than there really was. That knowledge isn't in as much danger of being lost because it's been around a lot longer, but it's no longer as much in demand.

That's really what he's complaining about. Go watch some of the dancing in Disney's Sleeping Beauty (1959). Watch the way her dress and hair moves while she's dancing. It's so realistic you could almost swear it was motion captured. In a way it was. Some animator spent hundreds of hours watching film of how people's hair and clothes move while they danced that scene in real life, then used that knowledge to draw the cels in that movie in what your brain interprets as realistic motion. Nowadays, you just motion capture it and transfer it straight onto a 3D model via computer, without ever having to learn why it looks realistic. Which parts of the motion are what's important for your brain to perceive it as right or wrong. And thus which parts you could exaggerate for greater impact like the Chun-li animation in TFA.

Comment: Re:Navy? Warships? (Score 1) 101

by Solandri (#49678909) Attached to: New Magnesium-Alloy Foam From NYU's Nikhil Gupta Floats On Water

Science fact: magnesium != magnesium alloy

Science fact: alloy = mixture of different elemental metals, not a chemical compound.

So yes, magnesium alloy = magnesium. The presence of other metals in the alloy can limit the magnesium's exposure to the air and thus reduce flammability. But if you scratch it up or grind it into a powder, you're going to get pieces of raw magnesium.

Syntactic foam is mostly hollow ceramic beads though. We used the stuff as floatation for our deep-diving robot submersible to achieve neutral buoyancy (the ceramic withstands pressure in deep-ocean dives and is cheaper than glass floatation spheres). I imagine the alloy is used to bind the beads together, so the alloy content is probably around 25% by volume, which reduces the fire danger further.

Comment: Re:TL:DR; (Score 1) 187

by Solandri (#49658835) Attached to: Interactive Map Exposes the World's Most Murderous Places
For a point of reference, the global death statistics say the death rate from all accidental injuries is 57 per 100,000. The biggest single cause is road traffic accidents, at 19 per 100,000 (more recent statistics put it at 18). Violent deaths (suicide, homicide, war) break down as 14 for suicide (more recent stats put it at 16), 9 for homicide, and 2.8 for war.

The suicide stat I think is an important one that's often overlooked. Globally it's more than 1.5x the homicide rate, and certain countries with extremely low homicide rate have extremely high suicide rates (e.g. Japan). Anyway, it's rather eye-opening to look through that list. I had expected war to be higher, but I guess the percentage of the population in a war zone is rather small compared to the percentage of coverage the news devotes to it.

Money can't buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you're being miserable. -- C.B. Luce