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Comment: purpose? (Score 1, Informative) 729

by Tom (#47869467) Attached to: Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

If I'd say I'm underwhelmed, it would be a big understatement.

Every major device announcement that Apple made in the recent years was always driven by one thing: It had a purpose. It provided something that was lacking in the world. Not a totally new invention in many cases, but a solution. Smartphones existed before the iPhone, but it is clear that the smartphone market history can be divided into "before the iPhone" and "after the iPhone" - just look at pictures of smartphones from those two periods.

iWatch? I know it was rumoured for two years or so, but in all that time I couldn't see which problem it solves and what meaning to life it has, and I still can't. It seems the Jobs spirit has left, because this is clearly a device that was made in response to the rumours about it, not because someone knew what he was doing.

Comment: Re:Voliunteer workers for the IRS? (Score 1) 246

by Tom (#47853375) Attached to: Protesters Blockade Microsoft's Seattle Headquarters Over Tax Breaks

It would be very interesting to run the numbers.

In government, inefficiency and bureaucracy and corruption cause friction, resulting in only $1 cents of every tax dollar to actually be spent on something.

In corporations, inefficiency, shareholder payouts and top-level management salaries (which have no equivalent in government) cause friction, resulting in only $2 cents of every dollar revenue to be spent on creating goods or services.

I wonder if $1 > $2 or the other way around. I do consider the evidence-free assumption that corporations are more efficient than government to be naive. Show me your evidence or shut up.

Comment: Re:You are a SLAVE (Score 1) 362

by Tom (#47853309) Attached to: Bill Gates Wants To Remake the Way History Is Taught. Should We Let Him?

You BOW to these "experts".

You know nothing about me and yet assume a lot.

You cannot imagine that YOU could be part of the government and have a rifle at your home. Like these "swiss" men.

Guns have nothing to do with it at all. Here in Europe, it is very clear. We have countries neighbouring each other with very similar culture and economy, one of them has lots of guns and the other has very little. Differences in wealth, political corruption or empowerment? Negliegable.

This "I have a rifle, fuck the government" romantic misconception is from a time when the rifle you had was a match for the weapons the government had. What, exactly, will it do for you when the government comes with an APC, assault rifles, drones and all that shit?

Comment: Re:Misleading Headline (Score 2) 246

by Tom (#47844891) Attached to: Protesters Blockade Microsoft's Seattle Headquarters Over Tax Breaks

Some of the more prosperous years in our history were when the government was not in schools, limited themselves on the roads, did not deliver water and so on.

You conveniently ignore the fact that in those years, that infrastructure was owned and/or maintained by communities, not by multinational corporations with a fanatical profit-maximizing agenda.

Comment: Re:Voliunteer workers for the IRS? (Score 2) 246

by Tom (#47844889) Attached to: Protesters Blockade Microsoft's Seattle Headquarters Over Tax Breaks

Therefore, it would be irresponsible of it NOT to take advantage of legal tax loopholes or tactics to minimize costs.

That is in one sentence what's wrong with our western society. Maximise profit at all costs, dodge responsibilities to the world around you, and then justify it all as being the proper way to do things.

The crux of the problem here is the way the laws are written, so only your legislators can correct it.

The crux of the problem is the assumption that your responsibilities to society begin and end with the laws, interpreted to your advantage as much as possible.

Comment: Re:Hell no (Score 2) 362

by Tom (#47844869) Attached to: Bill Gates Wants To Remake the Way History Is Taught. Should We Let Him?

That's beside the point though, if you had the money, how would you use it philanthropically to make the world a better place?

Grants to existing scholars, scientists and researchers in their fields who are making actual scientific progress, instead of making their lives more difficult by founding some hot shot idea you found interesting.

Someone as allegedly smart as Gates, who spent all his life in a company whose success is first and foremost based on marketing and manipulation of perception could be expected to understand that if you read, hear or watch someone telling his great idea and you're fascinated with it afterwards, you can be sure that you have seen a good sales man, but you have no clue whether or not you've seen a good idea.

Comment: Re:Hell no (Score 0) 362

by Tom (#47844861) Attached to: Bill Gates Wants To Remake the Way History Is Taught. Should We Let Him?

But to understand possible causal connections, timing is most helpful.

If you come across a theory that event A caused event B (via some intermediate links), but you know that event A happened in 1676 while event B happened in 1669, you don't have to scrutinize the causal links.

Likewise, if two wars between the same countries were fought 30 or 40 years apart, you know that it was the next generation fighting and that the cause must have been important enough to span that transition of power to the heir.

Comment: Re: So long as it is consential (Score 2) 362

by Tom (#47844855) Attached to: Bill Gates Wants To Remake the Way History Is Taught. Should We Let Him?

The mayor of my city and the parliament of my country I can elect and their doings are at least partially subject to public scrutiny. Moreover, their primary interest is staying in power, which means at least partially pleasing me.

The CEO of Big Bad Corporation I cannot elect nor scrutinize. His primary interest is $$$, which means if he can earn a buck by fucking me over, he's almost legally required to do so.

For all the faults in our current political system, I'd rather have the former have the guns. And I'd rather have the government control corporations instead of the other way around. In fact, much of what's fucked up with our politics is that corporations have too much influence on politics.

Comment: Re:Hell ya (Score 2) 362

by Tom (#47844847) Attached to: Bill Gates Wants To Remake the Way History Is Taught. Should We Let Him?

History can be interesting, the way it's taught in [my] school is a sham.


I had a great history teacher, who taught us about the difference between cause and occasion, about webs of alliances and interdependences and how they create unintended consequences, and who made us understand why names and dates are important (to figure out the proper order of things and the connections between the people responsible).

If your teacher sucked, don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

And if you want to refresh, find "Crash Course World History" on YouTube.

Comment: summary (Score 1) 362

by Tom (#47844839) Attached to: Bill Gates Wants To Remake the Way History Is Taught. Should We Let Him?

'Frankly, in the eyes of the critics, he's really not an expert. He just happens to be a guy that watched a DVD and thought it was a good idea and had a bunch of money to fund it."

Best summary, ever. The primary problem with american culture today is this attitude of "money makes right", which is simply a modern version of "might makes right". There is a deep-rooted, often unconscious, assumption that because someone was successful (in business), he is smarter or more correct than someone who is not so bright and public. This ignores the fundamental truth that skillsets do not always overlap, and that celebrities main skill is very often self-marketing.

Just like Athens won the Persian War, not Sparta as "300" wants us to believe, in real life the tale of the lone hero, or the bright, misunderstood inventor, is usually just that: A tale.

And history is full of rich people giving money to total bullshit ideas.

Comment: Re:Powershell (Score 1) 727

by Tom (#47839809) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Strangest Features of Various Programming Languages?

C is for grown-ups. It is solidly based in the same core assumption as the Unix commandline: That the user knows what he's doing and the system shouldn't try to know better.

if (a = b) is crazy useful and I'm most happy that PHP retains this convention. I use it all the time because it does the same but is much more readable than

a = fopen("filename.ext");
if (a) {

sizeof tells you what you ask it, and if you ask it about a pointer (strings are pointers in C), then it will tell you about the pointer because it assumes that is what you want to know and if you'd wanted to know the length of the string, you would've asked for the length of the string via the strlen() function, for example.

String termination as well is an example of doing only what is needed, revealing how close C still is to assembler. Not doing nonsense like manipulating counters that may never be needed is one of the reasons C is fast.

Kids grew up with this idiocy, I program in Fortran, Cobol, even Assembler to avoid that mess.

You program in Cobol and talk about mess? This ranks high in the top list of crazy things I've heard on /.

Comment: Re:it's a great idea with one major flaw (Score 2) 174

by Tom (#47804309) Attached to: Tox, a Skype Replacement Built On 'Privacy First'

It fails not for technical reasons. It fails because of widespread tech illiteracy in the general population.

We've largely solved the issue with things like magnet links and decentralized databases.

The issue we still haven't solved is in our mind: We believe everyone needs to have "tech literacy", completely forgetting that every invention in history became successful only after someone made it easy to use for people without learning all the mechanical details about it. When only car mechanics could drive a car, the total number of cars in the world was less than that in your local shopping malls parking lot today. Is that change because cars became more easy to use, or because more people became car mechanics? Take a guess.

Bringing computers into the home won't change either one, but may revitalize the corner saloon.