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Comment: Re:Good (Score 1) 164

by Solandri (#49158941) Attached to: Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More Robots

After you replace the laborer, what's going to happen to his standard of living ?

You're assuming an oversimplified, ideal world, where if there were no robots manufacturing in China, everything would continue as it has been.

That's not what's going to happen. As China has developed, wages have increased. They now have a burgeoning middle class. But the higher wages means their factories powered by manual labor are no longer cost-competitive with other third world countries. Already, a good chunk of manufacturing is being shifted to places like Vietnam.

This is pretty much the same situation that U.S. manufacturing faced in the 1970s and 1980s. Automakers tried to make manufacturing more efficient by bringing in automation. Unions rebelled and forced automakers to stick with mostly manual assembly. That made it a lot more expensive to manufacture in the U.S., which caused assembly line jobs to move to places like Mexico, Korea, and China.

i.e. It wasn't automation which threatened those union jobs. It was economic uncompetitiveness. Manual assembly of cars under the prevailing wages in a developed nation is too expensive compared to the alternatives - be it automation or off-shoring and shipping the finished product back to the U.S. At that point the population has to adapt or die. Either shift its workforce to higher-level jobs while automated robots take care of the menial grunt work, or watch all those menial jobs leave the country to places where the prevailing wages are a lot lower.

Under pressure from the unions in the 1980s, the U.S. chose the latter. And what followed was a massive exodus of manufacturing to countries where labor was a lot cheaper (which BTW is how the market eliminates areas with lower wages - it moves jobs to them causing wages there to rise). China is finding itself in the same situation as the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s, and the owner of Foxconn at least has read up on his history. He's not going to let Vietnam do to China what China did to the U.S. He's going the automation route to keep his manufacturing factories in China. At least that way some jobs will remain instead of the entire factory being shuttered and replaced with a one in Vietnam.

Yes menial workers will lose their assembly line jobs. But (most) people can be retrained for higher-level jobs which pay more, monitoring and repairing the robots which do the assembly. And frankly, I find your assumption - that an assembly line worker is mentally incapable of doing nothing more than connecting part A to part B over and over all day so they will be unable to find a new job if factories automate - to be quite insulting. The vast majority of people are capable of much more than that. It's just that until technology advanced to the point where you could have machines do the grunt work assembly, there was a lot more demand for these low-end manual assembly jobs than the higher level jobs.

Comment: Re:We need hardware write-protect for firmware (Score 1) 275

by Solandri (#49158813) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

We need jumpers or physical switches that prevent firmware stored in flash (whether it be GPU firmware, BIOS, HDD firmware, network card firmware or whatever) from being overwritten unless you specifically flip that switch.

I've wondered why we don't do the same thing for HDD data. I bought an early SATA-USB 3.0 adapter which turned out to be a forensic tool for law enforcement. There's a jumper on it which can make the HDD read-only.

What if you could set up your website, physically move a jumper to make the HDD containing the web server and website read-only (log files and database writes should be going onto another drive on another system anyway to prevent tampering). If someone manages to get in via a vulnerability, there's no way to change the web server's configuration to give you full root. You can only access what the vulnerability allows you to access, which is usually just a small bit of memory.

Real website updates would become a lot harder. You couldn't just login to tweak a few things. You'd have to move to a more regimented model like software releases, where you put a bunch of updates and bugfixes together, test the crap out of them, then authorize it for release. Then maybe you'd send someone over to the hosting company with a flash drive with the changes to perform an update (and physically move the HDD's jumper while doing so). Yeah it's a PITA, but if there's one thing I've learned, good security and easy to use are usually mutually exclusive.

Comment: Wanna know a secret? (Score 4, Interesting) 93

by Solandri (#49155467) Attached to: Blu-Ray Players Hackable Via Malicious Discs
I'll let you in on a little secret. I own lots of Blu-ray discs, but I don't actually own a Blu-ray player. I buy the disc (whatever my thoughts on Copyright, it is the law and the content producers do deserve to be paid), then I download a Blu-ray rip of the movie from a torrent site. Toss the file on my media server, and call it a day. They get their money, I don't have to deal with their forced previews and FBI warnings. I really have to wonder what they're thinking. First they complain about piracy, then they respond by making their products worse for legit customers than for pirates.

Comment: Re:Greedy bastards. (Score 1) 181

by Solandri (#49155419) Attached to: Google Taking Over New TLDs

Anyone know a good petition site we could place a petition on? Maybe try and collect some opposition signatures, get some tech media coverage and -gulp- resist?

You already missed your chance to give your opinion on generic TLDs. If you were opposed to them, you should've said something 3 years ago. Not that ICANN bothered listening with the prospect of millions of dollars of free revenue weighing down the other side of the scale.

Comment: Re:Greedy bastards. (Score 1) 181

by Solandri (#49155383) Attached to: Google Taking Over New TLDs

I think their application for .dev to be Google-only highlights a major problem with a company like this having control over any TLDs:

No, it highlights the major problem with turning generic words into a TLD ownable by any single entity. I mean the whole idea of making a generic word a TLD was pretty stupid to begin with. But then selling it off for $100,000 or the highest bidder? That was nothing but pure greed on ICANN's part.

Given Google's history (e.g. Android is FOSS), I actually consider them less likely to abuse this than most other companies. In fact I suspect the primary reason they snapped up a lot of these TLDs was to prevent them from falling into the hands of someone they thought might abuse them. Same reason they participated in the wireless spectrum auction - even though they didn't win any spectrum, they did get the FCC to require that the winners not discriminate in the type of traffic sent over that spectrum. A provision which nailed Verizon when they tried to block tethering apps.

Comment: Re:White balance and contrast in camera. (Score 2) 365

by Solandri (#49155329) Attached to: Is That Dress White and Gold Or Blue and Black?
This dress thing is actually a simplified version of a really powerful and freaky illusion which unfortunately only works in a darkened room. You take a quilt with different color squares. You can verify in white light that the different colors span the rainbow.

On top of this quilt, you lay a black piece of cardboard which has a cutout allowing you to only see one color patch. Say it's a greenish patch. In the darkened room with the single white light, you can confirm that this single visible patch is green.

Then you put colored filters in front of the light until the patch appears to be red/orange. The light is red/orange, so the green patch now appears red/orange. Makes sense right?

Then you remove the black cardboard so you can see all the color patches. And suddenly that red/orange patch appears green again. Cover it up with the black cardboard again and it'll appear red/orange. Remove the cardboard and it appears green.

What's going on (and also what's going on in the dress photo) is that your brain is using the information of surrounding objects (in the dress pic, it's the background visible to the right) to gauge the amount of light and the color of the light. It then corrects for the color of the light to white balance what you see, and for the brightness to compensate for over/under exposure. So the colors and intensity your eyes see remain the same, just how your brain interprets them changes.

Comment: Re:White balance and contrast in camera. (Score 3, Informative) 365

by Solandri (#49155241) Attached to: Is That Dress White and Gold Or Blue and Black?
I've been doing white balancing and level adjustments on my photos for over 20 years now. The dress as shown in the photo is white/gold (actually more of a light-blue/gold). You can confirm this with eyedropper measurements in Photoshop.

However, if you look at the sliver of background which appears to the right, you can tell the photo is badly overexposed. If your eye spotted this and your brain compensated for it by interpreting the pic as what might see if you stepped out into bright sunlight after being in a darkened room, the dress will appear blue/black.

Comment: The U.S. has its own mysterious "craters" too (Score 4, Informative) 87

by Solandri (#49155195) Attached to: Mysterious Siberian Crater Is Just One of Many
There are a series of "craters" in the U.S. as well, though much older. The Carolina bays are elliptical depressions located along the Atlantic seaboard of unknown origin. Theories of the origins being geologic or extraterrestrial impacts have come in and out of favor. Nobody really knows. (And before you say that impact craters are round regardless of the angle of impact, that's true until you get to very shallow impact angles. Then the craters end up being oval.)

Comment: Re:Single point of failure (Score 1) 131

by Solandri (#49153093) Attached to: Vandalism In Arizona Shuts Down Internet and Phone Service

The alternative is asking for bankruptcy. Running communications lines is about the most expensive part of any telecommunications / power infrastructure. This is one area where doing the minimum possible is the only financially sound move.

Why are you assuming they'd have to run additional communications lines to gain reliability? All they had to do was put half the lines in one pipe, and the other half in another pipe buried parallel to but (say) 3 feet away. Yes it would've been more expensive, but only slightly. It wasn't just vandalism that was a risk. The failure could've been precipitated by corrosion, a fire, a mouse getting in and chewing cables, etc. All of which make a case for splitting the cables among multiple pipes.

Comment: Windows 8 equivalent (Score 1) 127

by Solandri (#49152215) Attached to: Microsoft Finally Allows Customers To Legally Download Windows 7 ISOs
I was opposed to recovery partitions when MS first started using them. But with Win 8 I think they've added enough options that the pros outweigh the cons. It took me a while to find all this info (or rather, learn that MS had even made this possible), so here it is as a PSA:

All Windows 8/8.1 computers come with a restore partition. I highly recommend you buy a 16GB or 32GB USB flash drive and convert that restore partition into a reinstall flash drive.

If you don't like the default recovery partition state (maybe too much crapware installed), you can create a custom recovery partition after you've uninstalled the crapware and installed your programs.

Finally, if you totally screw up, you can still create a Windows 8/8.1 recovery flash drive by using your Windows key and downloading a clean 8-16 GB recovery image from Microsoft.

Microsoft site for creating recovery image.

Instructions for finding your key

Comment: Re:Sick (Score 1) 299

I grew up as the only conservative in a family of upper middle class liberals. It always infuriated me that poor people were constantly getting free stuff, and I bought in to the whole poor people are lazy mentality.

Similar conservative here. I never really bought into the "poor people are lazy" meme. The hardest worker I've ever met was a poor Mexican who turned out to be an illegal alien. This guy was so dedicated to doing a good job I would've endorsed him for citizenship in an instant. (Likewise I haven't found the lazy, rich fat cat meme to be true either. The vast majority of rich people I know are some of the hardest working people I've met, frequently sleeping only 4-6 hours a night because they're working the other 18-20 hours. It's like they're always firing on all cylinders and don't know how to let up. Even when on vacation, they'll try to sneak off to get some work done.)

What I have noticed though is that poor people tend to make much worse financial decisions, moreso than not-poor people. e.g. A poor friend asked me for help buying a laptop. I knew he didn't have much money, he knew I knew, so I worked my butt off finding him a great deal. I eventually found him a refurb i3 laptop for $235 (when he sold it 2 years later, it was selling on eBay for $265). I felt satisfied that I'd done a good deed to help a poor person. Then the next week I learned that he'd bought a 64GB iPad for $800 (the extra $100 was to have his name engraved on it). ...

They don't need money. What they need is a systematic, comprehensive, plan for how to get them off the bottom. The single biggest factor keeping poor people poor, is the responsibility for children. As noted, often times, a parent finds themselves as the sole caregiver for children, and they are consequently trapped, as the responsibilities of childrearing often conflict with the responsibilities that employers would place upon employees (such as reliable attendance, and schedule flexibility). The simplest solution to the problem would be to do away with welfare and unemployment benefits entirely and replace them with guaranteed services for their dependents such as 50 hours of weekly daycare

That was exactly my conclusion too after managing a hotel with a lot of low-income employees. So many of them were single parents or were in families where both parents worked, that a good chunk of their income went to babysitting or daycare. Since the hotel usually had empty rooms that could be used for babysitting, I looked into what it would take to start up daycare services for our employees.

OMG. The legal liability and insurance requirements were crippling. Apparently parents are a sue-happy bunch when it comes to the tiniest scratch on their little darlings. Later I talked about it with a friend who ran a daycare center and he pretty much confirmed what I'd found. Liability insurance was his biggest expense, and he was always one lawsuit away from being put out of business. Eventually we just made it a policy where we would comp workers an empty room for a day for emergencies. What they did with the room was their business. If they couldn't find a babysitter and wanted to dump their kids in said room in front of a TV while they worked, and they and co-workers would check in on them every 10-15 minutes, we (management) would look the other way.

Comment: Re:Sick (Score 1) 299

It's pretty sad to hear people suggest that sole purpose of a persons time on earth is to work hard and be productive.

Economic activity = sum of (productivity)

Productivity is the fundamental measure of economic output. The more productive the average individual is, the higher the standard of living is (everything produced is also everything consumed). If you're suggesting a person not be as productive as they can, you're advocating that the standard of living be lowered. That's really what all the economic development since the industrial revolution has been about. Leveraging machines and alternate energy sources (i.e. other than human and animal muscle power) to radically increase per-person productivity, which has proportionately increased the standard of living.

If you want to take a break and relax, that's fine. But you'd better be damned sure that your productivity while working is enough to "pay" for that relaxation time. The Germans are great at this (I've worked with them). They work super-hard when they are working and so are very productive. But once they're off work or if they're on vacation, they relax more than most people I've seen. It's ok though because their high productivity while working is more than enough to pay for it.

Money is actually just a (poor) representation of productivity, one whose value in terms of productivity isn't even constant. So thinking about economics in terms of money can result in very misleading conclusions. e.g. If you double everyone's pay, everyone becomes 2x as wealthy, right? Nope. If you double everyone's pay, then prices also double (prices of goods and services are what bring in revenue used to pay people). So in terms of income, it's a wash. Productivity hasn't changed, so fudging with the value of money doesn't change income or expenses. What does change is savings. The doubling of income and prices means the value of anything saved as money is halved. So anyone holding their savings as money (like poor and middle-class people do, instead of in non-monetary assets like real estate or stocks like rich people do) will find their wealth has been halved. Precisely the opposite of what you thought would happen when you doubled wages.

Comment: Re:Ah, Damnit... (Score 1) 499

by Solandri (#49139513) Attached to: Users Decry New Icon Look In Windows 10

No, it's not obvious. These days the video card takes care of all that. And whether the alpha channel is 0 or 255 the value is going to be read anyway. The performance hit is nil.

Clarification: Most video cards run at 32-bits (4 bytes) per pixel. Because that's a nice round 2^n number which is actually easier for computers to process than the old 24-bits (3 bytes) per pixel.

32-bpp graphics has 256 values (1 byte) for R, G, and B just like 24-bpp graphics. The extra byte in 32-bpp is used to store the alpha channel (transparency). So you're getting it for free anyway, and the video card is using it even with these new "modern" icons (it allows the background to bleed through on parts that are covered by the icon's 32x32 pixel rectangle, but aren't covered by the icon's artwork). Since it's being used anyway, you might as well use it to enhance visibility of borders, edges, and control surfaces.

Comment: Re:While you're at it... (Score 1) 108

by Solandri (#49139331) Attached to: Intel To Rebrand Atom Chips Along Lines of Core Processors
Just to clarify, some of the Pentium and Celeron CPUs are based on Haswell. Some are based on Bay Trail (Atom). As someone who helps recommend low-end laptops to friends and clients trying to get the best deal for a budget, it's become a hassle having to look up every model number of Pentium or Celeron to verify which type it is.

Comment: Re:Is that really a lot? (Score 1) 280

by Solandri (#49139235) Attached to: Drones Cost $28,000 Per Arrest, On Average

Your math is comparing apples to oranges.
Specifically you are comparing the cost to apprehend PLUS all the fixed costs of the agency vs the cost to apprehend with a drone.

That's actually exactly how the drone costs were calculated. They took the cost to operate the drones, then added all the fixed costs of the personnel, equipment, and miscellaneous agency overhead. That inflated the drone costs from $2,468 per hour to $12,255 per hour. It's actually your deportation cost which is missing some of the costs they attributed to the drones.

So OP's math was (inadvertently) in fact apples to apples.

"Don't tell me I'm burning the candle at both ends -- tell me where to get more wax!!"