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Comment: Re: Tolls? (Score 1) 817

by afgam28 (#49739283) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

Right now a lot of it is paid for from the general fund. But if we do move to a pure user-pays system, indirect users would still be paying for what they indirectly use, because businesses would pass on transport costs to consumers. This would actually create economic incentives for people to buy local goods, like what the "locavore" movement is trying (but failing) to encourage. This is how the free market is supposed to work, and it's ironic that the private car has become a symbol of the free market even though so much of the infrastructure it relies on is socialized.

Schools are a little bit different because children shouldn't be punished for the mistakes of their parents. If you want a society with any sort of social mobility you need to have equal access to education for everyone.

Comment: Re:Need the pop up ad revenue? Doing it wrong.... (Score 1) 616

by afgam28 (#49712011) Attached to: Editor-in-Chief of the Next Web: Adblockers Are Immoral

I don't particularly like advertising, but I do see it as a necessary evil on today's web. Obviously people dislike ads, but they dislike paywalls even more. I suspect that far more than 50-60% of sites would die without ads - I'd say it's more like 80-90%. When I look at the sites that I visit (including Slashdot) nearly everything is supported by ads, with only a few exceptions like Amazon and Netflix.

One solution might be Google Contributor, which lets you buy ads from the pages you visit. The ads get removed from the page and the site owner gets money from you, rather than from an advertiser.

Comment: Re:Good movie? (Score 5, Insightful) 769

This happens a lot on IMDB. The first people to see a movie are usually hardcore fans who have been anticipating it for a long time, and will enjoy it no matter what. So there's a sampling bias at the start, then normal people start watching the movie and the average rating goes down.

Comment: Re:Why would anyone start there? (Score 1) 123

You could halve your costs and lower your taxes by moving to Texas or North Dakota, but you'd also find it significantly harder to raise invement capital there. The big draw of the Bay Area for startups is the amount of VC money flowing around, and for some reason Silicon Valley VC firms have a strong preference for investing locally. Until this changes, or until people in other areas start investing heavily in tech, startups will continue to start primarily in Silicon Valley. And once established, it's hard for a company to move to a cheaper location, as it is extremely disruptive to its employees' lives.

Comment: Re:bad statistics (Score 1) 240

by afgam28 (#49606665) Attached to: Chrome Passes 25% Market Share, IE and Firefox Slip


Net Applications uses data captured from 160 million unique visitors each month by monitoring some 40,000 websites for its clients. This means it measures user market share. If you prefer usage market share, you’ll want to get your data from StatCounter, which looks at 15 billion page views.

So Net Applications counts the number of users who use it, whereas StatCounter counts the number of uses (i.e. page hits). The difference you see with Internet Explorer being "overcounted" shows that it occupies a long tail of many users who don't browse the web very often, whereas heavy web users prefer Chrome so it gets "undercounted".

StatCounter stats are below, for desktop and combined (desktop+phone+tablet+console):

Comment: Re:Because beating up the clergy always works so w (Score 1) 249

by afgam28 (#49473687) Attached to: Turkish Hackers Target Vatican Website After Pope's Genocide Comment

The problem with pedophilia in the Catholic Church isn't just the prevalence of it, or the fact that the clergy are in a position of power. The problem is the way that they covered up the cases and protected the abusers. The right thing to do when discovering a pedophile priest would be to hand him over to the police, but the church would often keep things secret and move the priest to another location, to try to make the problem go away. This culture of secrecy went all the way up to the pope, and when an organization as large as the Catholic Church has systemic problems like this, it completely justifies the amount of media attention that they received.

Comment: Improving efficiency (Score 1) 183

by afgam28 (#49101535) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Can Technology Improve the Judicial System?

One of the big problems with the legal system is how inefficient and time consuming it is. We live in a world where just threatening legal action can put a big question mark over someone's financial future. To do anything, you need to pay for the services of expensive lawyers and paralegals. So this naturally puts the wealthy, big corporations and big government agencies at an advantage.

You can see how inefficient the judicial system is just by looking at how much paper they produce. They literally have to wheel boxes of documents into court with carts. Armies of paralegals have to manually sift through the documents by hand. It's really one of the most conservative and backwards industries out there.

The most obvious way that technology can help is by increasing efficiency and leveling the playing field. The ideas are not new (e.g. and I think eventually law firms and courts will learn to leverage technology and make their services more accessible. Making information more accessible will also help shoot down abusers of the legal system (e.g. in invaliding bad patents -

Comment: Software has been replacing coders for decades (Score 5, Insightful) 266

by afgam28 (#49099137) Attached to: The Robots That Will Put Coders Out of Work

Imagine how many more programmers would be needed if we didn't have compilers. Or automatic code generators. And the whole point of machine learning is that you write software that teaches itself how to do something, rather than program it directly.

Software developers have been quite good at moving up into higher levels of abstraction each time we multiply our productivity. There's so much work to do that I doubt our tools will ever "displace" us.

The Universe is populated by stable things. -- Richard Dawkins