Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: Re:About time too (Score 1) 42 42

The prospect of wave energy - which is far less intrusive than wind power - is very attractive

The upside of wave power is that water is relatively dense, and thus moving water carries a lot of energy in a small volume. The downside is maintenance costs... they don't call water the "universal solvent" for nothing, and salt water in particular tends to eat anything you leave in contact with it for very long.

Comment: Re:So does this qualify as 'organic'? (Score 1) 182 182

So, I'm all for grow local, but when there's sun shining right outside - this doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense to me... unless you are a company that sells grow lights.

Very true... it's hard to compete with a fertile field in a nice climate, if you have access to one. I'm surprised nobody has pointed out the obvious applications in locations where viable outdoor environments aren't available, though -- e.g. in space, or on Mars.

Comment: Re:pardon my french, but "duh" (Score 4, Insightful) 185 185

Well that may be so. But as you get older you get less patient with people wasting your time.

Let's say you're 90 years old. You're using a webmail system which does everything you need it to do. Then some manager has a brainwave and suddenly all the functions are somewhere else. How much of the 3.99 years the actuarial tables say you've got left do you want to spend dealing with that?

It's not just 90 year-olds. Take a poll of working-age users and find out how many like the MS Office Ribbon; how many people are cool with the regular UI reshuffling that takes place in Windows just to prove you're paying your upgrade fee for software that's "new"?

Comment: Re:Therac 25 (Score 2) 185 185

I was working as a developer when the news of the Therac 25 problems broke, so I remember it well. You actually have it backwards; it wasn't bad UI design at all.

The thing is mere functional testing of the user interface would not have revealed the flaw in the system. What happened is that people who used the system very day, day in and day out, became so fast at entering the machine settings the rate of UI events exceeded the ability of the custom monitor software written for the machine to respond correctly to them.

If the UI was bad from a design standpoint the fundamental system engineering flaws of the system might never have been revealed.

Comment: Re:"Harbinger of Failure" = Hipsters? (Score 1) 280 280

Actually the exact opposite is true.

Which is necessarily true in any kind of fashion, even if it's anti-fashion. Hipsterism is a kind of contrarianism; the attraction is having things that most other people don't even know about. But strict contrarianism is morally indistinguishable from strict conformism.

Now outside of major metropolitan centers like Manhattan when people say "hipster" they mean something else; there's not enough of a critical mass of non-conformity to cater to an actual "hipster" class. What they're really talking about is "kids taking part in trends I'm not included in." In other words its the same-old, same-old grousing about kids these days, only now by people who've spent their lives as the focus of youth culture and can't deal with their new-found cultural marginalization.

As you get older the gracious thing to do is to age out of concern, one way or the other, with fashion.

Comment: Re:"Harbinger of Failure" = Hipsters? (Score 2) 280 280

I thought hipsters all owned iPhone and Macbooks, and shopped at The Gap. I.e. they are all about conformity, fads and Buzzfeed.

No, those things are actually anti-hip. As soon as something gets big enough for Buzzfeed it's for a different audience.

"Hip" implies arcane knowledge possessed by a select few. A great band with a small local following is "hip"; when they make it big they're no longer "hip", although they may still be "cool". The iPhone is pretty much the antithesis of hip, no matter how cool it may be. If I were to guess what hipster phone model might look like, it might be something low-cost Indian android phone manufactured for the local market and not intended for export -- very rare and hard to get outside of India. Or even better, hard to get outside of Gujarat. Or even better only a few hundred were ever manufactured then the company went bankrupt and the stock was sold on the street in Ahmedabad. Provided that the phone is cool. Cool plus obscure is the formula for "hip".

It follows there is no such thing as "hip" retail chain. It's a contradiction in terms. A chain may position itself in its marketing as "hip", but it's really after what the tech adoption cycle refers to as "Early Majority" adopters.

Hipsters reject being the leading edge of anything; as soon as something becomes big, it is no longer hip. This means they're not economically valuable on a large scale, which some people see as self-centered and anti-social. Compare this to cosplayers; the media always adopts a kind of well-the-circus-is-in-town attitude when there's a con, but while they're condescending toward cosplayers the media can't afford to be hostile because those people are the important early adopters for economically valuable media franchises.

Let me give you a more authentic hipster trend than the one you named. Last year there was a fad for hipster men to buy black fedora hats from Brooklyn shops that cater to Hasidic men. While as soon as something gets big enough to draw media attention it's dead to hipsters, this fad illustrates the elements of hipster aesthetic: (1) resurrecting obscure and obsolete fashions; (2) exoticism or syncretism; and (3) authenticity.

Now from an objective standpoint there's no good reason to favor or disfavor fedoras as opposed to, say baseball caps. It's just a different fashion. Likewise there's no practical reason to value a hat from a owner-operated store in Brooklyn over an identical one purchased from Amazon. But it does add rarity value, and that's the key. Something has to be rare and unusual to be hip. As soon as hipness is productized it appeals to a different audience.

Comment: Re: Internet without evangelicals = Win (Score 1) 265 265

Ummm so what if they refuse service because their bigoted? I still occasionally, see stores with a "we reserve the right to refuse service for any reason". It's their right as a business owner.

I don't know which country you're posting from, but in the USA it is definitely illegal for a business to discriminate -- there are anti-discrimination laws explicitly saying as such. For example, if a black person walks in to your restaurant and you refuse to serve him because he's black, you can expect to get sued, and lose. The only thing new here is that the courts will probably now also side against you for turning away a gay customer as well; however the principle is well established.

Comment: Re:"Harbinger of Failure" = Hipsters? (Score 3, Insightful) 280 280

Is this just another term for hipsters? People who seek out things that everyone else has dismissed for (usually) good reasons.

No. Because the "good reason" usually is "most people aren't doing that anymore." The article is about things that *never* become cool, not things that were cool in grandpa's day.

The real problem with being a hipster is that the ideal of non-conformity is inconsistent with the idea of fashion.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 1) 1227 1227

That bears repeating with regards to Germany's debts: What happened after WWI was the winning countries said "You have to pay us back for all the costs of the war." Never mind any of the other problems, something like that was totally unsustainable. Germany was being made to pay the (often inflated) costs incurred by other countries in the war. That was devastating economically. Forgiving that is really a no brainer as it should not have happened int eh first place.

Also let's not forget the other part of the post war issues: Germany got occupied and told what was what (same with Japan). It isn't like this was a negotiation where they said "Can you forgive some of our debt?" and the allies said "Oh ok." No, they surrendered, unconditionally, and the country was occupied and split. On the East side it was straight out annexed and made part of the USSR, and on the West side there was heavy allied military presence and participation in running the country.

I mean I guess if Greece wants the same, they want someone else to come in and take over their country and dictate how things are going to be for years, or decades, then ok. However seems a little silly to say you want the kind of financial consideration that happened in wartime, but none of the rest of what came with it.

Comment: Plenty of differences (Score 5, Informative) 1227 1227

A big one is just that the US controls both its currency and its monetary policy (meaning taxing and spending). That manes that it can take the steps it feels necessary to deal with loan repayments, such as increased inflation and/or a weaker currency. It doesn't have to convince other countries of it, it runs the currency.

An even bigger one at this point is that the dollar is the world's reserve currency. Things are settled in dollars on the international stage, meaning that the US can't have a current account crisis. It makes the dollars, things are paid for in dollars, so it can make more dollars to pay for things. It is unique in that situation. While it could change, that is how it stands.

In fact, that is part of the reason the US is able to borrow so much, and in some ways needs to. People and nations want to put their money in what they see as a safe reserve, and the dollar is one they seek. To make that possible, the US has to issue debt instruments. They have to be able to buy US dollars.

Yet another difference is that the US has high tax compliance. Most people in the US pay their taxes. There are those that cheat or outright evade, but they are the minority. That, combined with a generally quite low tax burden (compared to most first world nations the US has very low taxes), means that raising taxes in the US is a very valid strategy. People won't be happy, but they'll pay. Greece has real issues with tax avoidance which makes tax increases problematic.

Still another difference is in what the economy produces. Despite what you may have heard on whiny online sites, the US makes a lot of stuff. It is the #2 producer of durable goods after China, and only slightly. It builds lots of things that others in the world want. A good example would be microprocessors. Both Intel and AMD are US companies, and Intel fabs most of their newest CPUs in the US. The chips that run most computers in the world come from the US. Makes the economic situation rather different than a place that relies heavily on tourism.

Finally there's the issue of who owns the debt. Most of the US's debt, about 65%, is owned by the US itself. Of that a large part is intragovernmental holdings, and then debt held by the federal reserve. Of the nations that do hold US foreign debt the two largest, Japan and China, do so for strategic reasons to keep their currency cheap compared to the dollar and thus have a strategic interest in keeping that debt. Greece on the other hand, owes most of its debt to other countries.

It is far to simplistic to look and say "Oh this is all the same!" Public debt is actually a pretty complex issue.

Staff meeting in the conference room in %d minutes.

Working...