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Comment: Of course do this, but... (Score 1) 329

by alispguru (#46827485) Attached to: Skilled Manual Labor Critical To US STEM Dominance

Don't go thinking that learning trade X or skill set Y or getting credential Z means anyone is set for life.

There are no simple fixes for the current situation where anybody's livelihood(*) can be reduced in value by automation. All the old middle-class certainties like:

- I own a house, which is an asset whose value will only go up
- I have a college degree, which guarantees me a middle-class job
- I have trade labor skills that have been valuable for many years, and will be valuable for the foreseeable future

are no longer certain.

(*) If you're lucky enough to have monetary assets of $500,000+ that you can invest conservatively, and are disciplined enough to live on only the proceeds, you're pretty safe.

Comment: Coal sludge is bad, hyping it doesn't help (Score 1) 290

One billion gallons is about 10 billion pounds.

There was 140,000 pounds arsenic in 10 billion pounds of sludge.

Concentration of arsenic in sludge is 1.4 * 10e5 / 1e10 = 1.4 * 10e-5

Or about 1 part in 100,000.

This is why they got away with it. Coal ash sludge is nasty, but not quite nasty enough to be a hazardous substance per se. Hell, one of the best ways to get rid of it is to add it to concrete, which is then poured where people live.

The figure you should worry about is the change in the arsenic level in the river after the spill. I didn't see that figure in the article.

Comment: Gates and Woz are bad privacy references (Score 2) 335

by alispguru (#46493547) Attached to: Snowden A Hero? Gates Says No, Woz Says Yes

Both of them can choose exactly how much privacy they want, because they're both rich. Gates is maybe three orders of magnitude richer than Woz, but both of them are at least three orders of magnitude away from the American median income ($45K or so).

Also, neither of them can just go out in public in the US without being recognized.

That's the problem with the privacy "discussions" in the US - most of the people who can actually change things are members of a minority who gave up big swaths of their privacy, voluntarily, as an entrance requirement for their profession. They can say "privacy is an illusion - get over it" with a straight face, because they haven't had any themselves for decades.

They may be over it, but I'm not, and it pisses me off that they get to choose my privacy level.

Comment: Zuckerberg knows exactly what he's doing (Score 2) 280

by alispguru (#46323495) Attached to: Who's On WhatsApp, and Why?

He creates/offers/buys a free service that by its nature can learn a lot about its users. He then gradually relaxes privacy assurances and changes the sharing defaults to "we can do whatever we want with information we collect about you", and sells the info to advertisers.

Anybody who thinks this won't happen to WhatsApp hasn't been paying attention.

Comment: ACES hardware support is OK. Now, software... (Score 1) 176

I am typing this on an ACES 15" MacBook Pro. We're supposed to get refreshed every three years; I got refreshed at the change to ACES, which was less than three years, but they gave me a year-old MacBook model, which was a little chintzy. They did give us decent docking stations, though, and they do replace and restore when stuff breaks within a reasonable amount of time.

My beef with ACES is their support of NASA-required software. This machine is running 10.8.3, because ACES has not blessed for 10.9 the required third-party software for whole-disk encryption, remote patch support, remote backup, and remote access.

My previous machine ran 10.6 well into the 10.8 era due to ACES' inability to support this steaming load, and I would put the odds of them certifying a load for 10.9 before 10.10 ships to be below 50%.

Comment: I've done it. (Score 2) 324

I had one critical advantage. Our HOA board members were being complete dicks about the clause in question(*) - so much so that the management company (a third party paid by the HOA to run things in accordance with state law) was sympathetic to me, a new home owner, and advised me on the exact process for changing the covenant.

With their advice, my wife and I created a one-page proxy form which we took door-to-door and got our neighbors to sign, one at a time. It took a month, but we eventually got proxies from just over 75% of the owners.

(*) I have since learned that this is pretty much the natural state of all HOA board members.

Comment: Other people saw this coming a long time ago (Score 3, Interesting) 732

by alispguru (#45951343) Attached to: If I Had a Hammer

James Albus wrote a book in 1976 called Peoples' Capitalism. He proposed that the government create a mutual fund that invests in automated industries and pays dividends to every US citizen.

Eventually the fund's dividends would be enough to live on, so nobody would be required to work, and everyone would get a minimal share of the proceeds of automating everything.

Imagine that we had started doing this in, say, 1980.

Comment: Some of us have no choice (Score 1) 380

by alispguru (#45917791) Attached to: Many Mac OS Users Not Getting Security Updates

I have a MBP provided to me by a contractor to a Large Government Agency.

It has mandated anti-virus (which kills the battery), mandated third-party whole-disk-encryption (instead of File Vault), mandated third-party remote backup (instead of Time Machine), mandated third-party remote access...

The contractor support team routinely takes a year or more to certify the mandated suite for new OS releases.

I will probably be on 10.8 on this MBP in 2015, considering we leaped forward from 10.6 last year.

Comment: You're right - the problem is speed (Score 2) 674

by alispguru (#45888369) Attached to: The Internet's Network Efficiencies Are Destroying the Middle Class

The internet now makes it possible to blow up industries faster than ever before - so fast we don't have time to retrain and reabsorb the people displaced by the changes.

Any one change is good for the consumer and bad/disruptive for the producers, because the particular good or service is now cheaper.

The problem comes in when everything changes at once, and all the changes make people less necessary.

Comment: Not completely hypocritical (Score 1) 174

by alispguru (#45660523) Attached to: NSA Uses Google Cookies To Pinpoint Targets For Hacking

He's objecting to the Government asking Google for the bulk data they collect. They can do it three ways:

* Just ask for it, and say "due to the third-party doctrine you have no legal reason to refuse"

* Show up with a National Security Letter, take the data, and say "this is OK due to FISA oversight. BTW, you can't tell anyone about this."

* Copy the data as it passes through the thoroughly suborned telecom infrastructure, without even asking.

Bulk data collection by Google is potentially bad. Bulk data collection by the Government is worse - Google can't arrest me.

Passwords are implemented as a result of insecurity.