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Comment: Wanna know why people like Bill Gates now? (Score 1) 212 212

by alispguru (#50013203) Attached to: Bill Gates Investing $2 Billion In Renewables

Because his goals and your interests are now aligned.

Broadly speaking, the Gates Foundation wants to improve the world. It doesn't care about making a profit, it just wants to get the most improvement for the money it has available to spend. It can choose freely what kind of energy production to promote, and it is clearly choosing based on a bang-for-the-buck basis.

When Gates was running Microsoft, his goal was to make Microsoft bigger. Microsoft's mission statement of "enabling people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential" was actually subordinate to the goal of growing Microsoft, which is why one-Windows-running-on-everything was promoted over, say, clear standards and interoperability for Office files.

Comment: So, ignorant people are easily influenced (Score 2, Insightful) 117 117

by alispguru (#50011707) Attached to: New Study Accuses Google of Anti-competitive Search Behavior

Who knew?

Seriously, I personally know the difference between sponsored and unsponsored links. I use the short-cut links in the sponsored section when the same place shows up near the top of the unsponsored section. Otherwise, I take those links with a big block of salt.

Folks, Google is about as good as we can expect to get for a company that makes its money off of advertising-supported services. They need to be watched and called out when they do marginal things, but they aren't deliberately evil as corporate policy goes.

Facebook, on the other hand...

Comment: I don't mind Google ads - I mind email scanning (Score 1) 461 461

by alispguru (#49689541) Attached to: Does Using an AOL Email Address Suggest You're a Tech Dinosaur?

I don't use an ad blocker. I could turn ads off here on Slashdot; I don't because by and large their ads aren't obnoxious.

I don't want to give Google permission to scan my email, so their index will be ready for the NSA to hoover up.

Comment: Big Data stupidity (Score 3, Interesting) 66 66

by alispguru (#49537397) Attached to: New Privacy Concerns About US Program That Can Track Snail Mail

A lot of our problems today are the result of people in power fundamentally misunderstanding what Big Data is good for.

We used to assume it was impractical for the Government to keep records of everything we do in the public sphere. Those things have gone from possible to practical to inevitable, mostly due to Moore's Law.

Just because you have everything recorded, doesn't mean it's useful, though. Technologists who should know better talk about searching these records to find the "needle in the haystack", selling the vision of complete records + powerful search tools = Total Awareness.

What they conveniently skip over is:

* All records have inaccuracies
* If the inaccuracy rate is higher than the occurrence rate of what you're searching for, the search is not useful

Consider medical screening tests. If you have a test with a false positive rate of 1 in 1000, it is useless to use such a test to search for a condition that happens to 1 in 1000000 - 999 times out of a thousand, the test will say you're sick when you're fine.

Now, consider:

* The error rate of address OCR

versus

* The rate of secrets being exchanged via US Mail

Anyone in the Government who can't produce an estimate of those two numbers shouldn't be allowed anywhere near those records - it would be like giving a child a loaded gun, or a politician a Twitter account.

Comment: I'll worry when... (Score 2) 294 294

by alispguru (#49329427) Attached to: Steve Wozniak Now Afraid of AI Too, Just Like Elon Musk

The people who actually DO AI worry publicly about it.

People in the field are painfully aware of:

* The limitations of existing systems
* The difficulty of extrapolating from existing systems to general-purpose AI - things that look like easy extensions often aren't.

I did AI academically and industrially in the 1980's; at the time we were all painfully aware of the overpromising and underdelivery in the field.

Comment: Of COURSE you can have it both ways... (Score 3, Informative) 760 760

Just say that fine revenue above police administrative costs goes somewhere else, so the people issuing the tickets don't directly benefit.

Since these are local/state offenses, the obvious place would be the state general fund.

There's potential for abuse, of course - states might have to specify maximum admin costs.

I bet the enthusiasm for local speed traps would drop way off under such a system. Sounds win/win to me.

Comment: Oldest still held by same company is XEROX.COM (Score 5, Informative) 48 48

by alispguru (#49252655) Attached to: Oldest Dot-com Domain Turning 30

Number 7 on the list of oldest registered domain names.

BBN is apparently owned by Raytheon.

Apple.com is number 64, just under two years later. One of the benefits of getting in on the ground floor like that was big blocks of IPv4 addresses - apple.com still controls a /24 block, I think.

When did microsoft.com get created?

My personal intro to the internet was at the University of Maryland - I was there when the TAC to Ft. Meade was installed.

Comment: Smaller and targeted, please (Score 1) 239 239

by alispguru (#49030449) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Will It Take To End Mass Surveillance?

The fastest way to shut this stuff down would be a dump of the phone call logs for:

* All members of the House and Senate
* The President, Vice President, and all Cabinet Secretaries
* The Supreme Court Justices

It would take the media about one day to map phone numbers to names of lobbyists, and a little longer to show the patterns of calls followed by votes and other actions.

A few days after that, these programs would be defunded.

Comment: Anyone else remimded of Steven Gould's Reflex? (Score 1) 168 168

by alispguru (#48850435) Attached to: FDA Approves Implantable Vagus Nerve Disruptor For Weight Loss

In the sequel to Jumper, the bad guys control people with an implanted device that incapacitates them by stimulating their vagus nerves to make them throw up.

Enough that it could kill them, since it doesn't have to stop, ever.

No, thank you.

Comment: iCloud has NEVER worked for Pages (Score 2) 598 598

by alispguru (#48738385) Attached to: Tumblr Co-Founder: Apple's Software Is In a Nosedive

When a Pages document in iCloud storage is open across multiple iOS/OSX devices, Pages routinely declares it can see multiple versions and can't decide which one it should keep. One of the options it offers you is to keep both of them, leaving you to manually look at both and figure out which one is the best. This happens even without simultaneous access, and edits often get distributed randomly between versions, requiring manual cut-and-paste merging.

Apple should go to the Dropbox people, hat in hand, and say:

Yes, Steve was a dick when he talked with you years ago. We don't want to acquire you - we want to hire you to host iCloud file storage. We want a cloud back end that Just Works, and cross-platform sharing will be a plus.

I would pay for that service, in a heartbeat.

Loan-department manager: "There isn't any fine print. At these interest rates, we don't need it."

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