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Comment: Re:A pattern was found (Score 2) 78 78

Shark bites get attention because sharks are rather terrifying to most people (especially if they've seen Jaws). Yes, you can die from bee or wasp stings, but that doesn't induce raw, primal fear like a shark. The thought of plunging to your death in an airline accident is terrifying to most people, even though you're far more likely to die in a car accident. The notion of a child being abducted by a stranger is a parent's worst nightmare, yet it's more likely to happen by a close friend or relative.

You can't easily quantify, measure, and rationalize human fears. Even logical, otherwise reasonable people can have completely irrational fears. It has nothing to do intelligence... primal fears do a pretty good job of attempting to override intelligent responses. That's why we call it "primal". Yet most people still fly, even if it frightens them to some degree. Most people swim in the ocean, knowing that sharks lurk somewhere beneath the surface. We still send our children off outside of our immediate protection. That doesn't mean those fears went away - just that we need to suppress some of them on a daily basis in order to live our lives.

Oh, and ten thousand people are not dying per day from inadequate health insurance in North Carolina. Way to toss some "hysteria overdrive" of your own into your argument. And many people are very much concerned and saddened when large disasters strike, like in Nepal, as one recent example. That made worldwide news, in case you missed it.

Comment: Re:Still waiting (Score 1) 89 89

Even trying to plan everything in advance, it would be incredibly difficult to navigate an unfamiliar city by myself, as I was, with only a paper map and a route drawn on it. I remember on our family vacations driving across the country that we always needed a second person as a navigator, and even then there was often a lot of guesswork and missed turns.

My phone, on the other hand, would verbally direct me, and do so even better than a human navigator could. I would only have to occasionally glance at the phone, most of the time simply listening to the audio cues. If you make a wrong turn, the directions update on the fly to get you to where you need to go. Getting lost is damn near impossible.

This is one example where a smartphone not only replaces an older technology, but is probably an order of magnitude more practical. There's simply no comparison to using paper maps. Being disorganized or not has nothing to do with it... it's actually solved a real-world problem for which paper maps were really only a partial solution. Yeah, I'll still call that "indispensable." Maybe not in a completely literal sense, but close enough for all practical purposes.

Comment: Re:I've seen this movie (Score 1) 16 16

Patching the story is pretty difficult to do, and doesn't really satisfy people anyhow. After the horrible Mass Effect 3 ending, which essentially just shat on everything your character tried to do during the series and gave you an unbelievably bad "choose A, B, or C" ending, I had no desire to go back and replay it after Bioware went back and "fixed" it.

Realistically, it's often impractical to change a story so much that it actually has additional replay value. That's because it's not just changing text in a script, but recording new dialogue, adding or modifying cutscenes, in-game assets, missions, and so on. In many games (the best ones, IMO), the story is an integral part of the game, so it may be difficult to change on its own.

Comment: Re:I've seen this movie (Score 4, Interesting) 16 16

It's too bad, because a good story and acting seems like things you don't actually need a Hollywood-sized budget for. I still wonder why it's so hard for so many filmmakers to get this right.

Of course, not that I can point fingers, professionally speaking. Look at how atrocious some videogames are, even though they're supposedly created by professionals. The difference is that videogames can fail on technical, artistic, creative, or gameplay merits, so I think we have it even worse than filmmakers in many ways.

I'd guess that the simplest explanation is that it's just incredibly difficult to look objectively at your own work, while at the same time, laypeople are horrible judges of anything that's not in it's final form. They'll simply get too distracted by whatever is most obviously missing or unfinished, so it's difficult to get useful feedback along the way. Essentially, by the time it's possible to get useful feedback, the product is already largely completed.

This is actually why some of the best videogames take so long to complete, even after it *looks* like they're mostly finished. Instead of rushing it out the door the moment someone can play through it without crashing, the creators took the time to rework aspects of the game that were not testing well. It's pretty obvious which game companies regularly do this, and which don't.

Comment: That trailer... (Score 1) 16 16

Were they trying to make a movie trailer or a music video? Also, did the "robots never lie" voice feel like an homage to Portal's GLaDOS (although a rather annoying one)?

Still, it's fun to see some of the behind the scenes tech though. It's impressive what even smaller movie budgets can do nowadays.

Comment: Re:Oh get over it. (Score 2) 184 184

That's a ridiculous assertion. Most of us understand quite well that states get their taxes in a variety of ways.

Oregon's northern neighbor Washington State, for instance, collects sales tax but has no income tax, whereas California has both an income AND a sales tax. Nearly all states also impose property taxes, and of course they tax businesses. Ultimately, everything gets paid for by individual consumers, either directly (as with sales, income, or property taxes), or indirectly though increased prices of goods and services (as with business taxes and fees).

Ultimately, you can boil it down to an estimated percentage of individual income. According to Forbes, state tax ranking is as follows for someone earning $50K:

* New York ranks at #50 at 12.6%
* California is #47 at 10.4%
* Illinois is #38 at 10.2%
* Oregon is #35 at 10.10%
* Washington is #24 at 9.4%
* Wyoming is #1 at 6.9%

Comment: Re:Still waiting (Score 3, Insightful) 89 89

A mere toy? On my last business trip to an unfamiliar city, my smartphone was absolutely indispensable. It's already closing in on three years old, and I have no intention of replacing it anytime soon unless it breaks. It recently got its first bit of damage (and no clue how it happened), where the lip above the charging port got bent. A little worse, and I would have either had try to pry it open with handtools or replace the phone, as I wouldn't have been able to recharge it.

While some people replace their phone each year, it's certainly not universally true. Those who cycle through phones yearly are undoubtedly *perceived* to be a higher percentage, because all the people who constantly *talk* about phones (bloggers, tech columnists, enthusiasts, status seekers) always buy the latest gadgets, of course.

My prediction is that smartphones will become more like PCs, in that they will tend to remain viable far longer than they used to. I believe we're going to reach a performance and feature threshold of sorts. There's very little a modern high-end smartphone *can't do* simply because it doesn't have enough CPU or GPU power anymore (perhaps outside of pure entertainment). The operating systems are becoming more mature, and the app goldrush has petered off into a more sane and sustainable pace. In short, they're becoming more of an everyday tool rather than some sort of tech status symbol, and few people can actually tell whether you have a brand new or a three year old phone outside of a very small niche.

In terms of the market, again, the exact same thing that happened to PCs (and more recently, tablets) will happen to smartphones. The initial tech rush will die down into a more stable and sustained growth with only slow, incremental improvements and "as needed" replacements. Pundits will lament the "death" of the smartphone market, when all it really means is that most people now have a perfectly usable device and don't feel the need to upgrade each year. Rest assured, the status symbol crowd will find some new sort of gizmo to replace it though.

Comment: Re: David Cameron is actually a genuine idiot (Score 1) 256 256

what if my choice is not to have an "oppressor"? where does that vote go?

My best guess? I'd say you need a liberal democracy that manages to avoid becoming a complete nanny state, as that undermines the human drive and dignity of self reliance, not to mention it's generally economically unfeasible. At the same time, it needs to be strong and vigilant enough to avoid letting corporations run roughshod over the population. Liberal democracies, while not perfect by any means, seem to be better at protecting individual liberty than any other form of government.

I believe capitalism should be viewed as an amoral economic engine of unmatched vitality, sort of like a nuclear power plant. It's got some nasty downsides, but it's really unmatched when it comes to economic production, and that's important for a society to thrive as well.

I think *all* governments tend toward oppression. Some types of government pretty much guarantee it, while some just inch their way there over years and generations. If the progress is slow, then at least citizens have the opportunity to fight against that inevitable progression, or even reverse it on occasion.

Comment: Re:Google the All-Knowing (Score 2) 109 109

Actually, I didn't notice this on any of my last trips. It wouldn't have been rocket science to figure out on my last trip either, as I use Google Calendar to leave notes for myself about times and dates of my trips, and the trip arrangements were made via my gmail account.

I actually had to explicitly search for that sort of stuff myself when I was away from home, and it wasn't hard to do. I literally just asked my phone: "Where is the nearest Italian restaurant?", and it responded with a list of them within five miles. Then I clicked on one that looked good, and then asked for directions. I'd never actually tried that before, and it worked beautifully. That's Google services done right. If I ask a question and need information, figure out how to provide me with a good answer. But I don't need an assistant who's constantly making "helpful" suggestions about that sort of thing.

Here's another example. I recently went to Verizon's website to look at replacing a lost charging cable and outlet adapter (from my recent trip as well), but didn't buy anything. Several hours later, Verizon e-mailed me with a helpful "we can help you find the phone accessory you need! Just ask us!". Not impressive technically, but honestly, sort of creepy, and makes me feel like not going back to their site. Essentially, it was just a reminder that said "when you're signed in and looking around on our site, remember that we're tracking every move you make!". Ok, not a big deal, but it didn't make a good impression on me.

Comment: Re:Oh get over it. (Score 5, Insightful) 184 184

And all those little taxes, from city, state, and country, all add up to between 40% and 60% of most US citizens' income. How much is enough? No one (well, maybe some nutjobs) wants to go back to laissez-faire, but I think it's not unreasonable to look at the amounts of graft and waste that occurs and demand better accountability before simply bending over for each new tax like a good, compliant citizen.

I have to wonder if the Chicago politicians even know what the hell they're really taxing when they attempted to tax all "cloud computing and streaming". It feels a lot more like a desperation move that they're hoping no one calls them on. Adding new taxes like this also increases the regulatory burden for its citizens and the city itself, which indirectly reduces the taxes effectiveness by increasing the overhead of compliance. It would be far better to simply adjust the property tax rate to match the expected revenue increase. Of course, that's a lot more visible, and the taxes there are already apparently pretty terrible, which is why they probably balked at that idea.

So, "get over it?" I wonder how many people will "get over it" by getting the hell out of Chicago - or at least the city itself? Having visited the area recently, I can assure you that there are lots of very expansive and attractive outlying towns and suburbs suitable for both homes and businesses.

Comment: Re:David Cameron is actually a genuine idiot (Score 5, Insightful) 256 256

Fascism uses the power of the state to oppress its citizens.

Capitalism uses the power of the state to ensure its corporations can oppress its citizens.

Communism uses the power of the state to oppress its citizens and ensure its economy remains in shambles.

Socialism grants significant power to the state with the expectation that it will use that power for good, and then its citizens are shocked and outraged when the government uses that power to oppress its citizens.

"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." -- John Wooden