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Comment: Re:"suspected pedophile" (Score 2) 150

by droptone (#48513411) Attached to: UK Authorities Launching Massive Child Abuse Database

I think that is spending good money and cops that would be better spent on preventative work.

Hell, despite the fact that I share the Slashdot hivemind's distaste for police officers, if it reduces the mind-boggling trauma that surely comes from repeatedly looking at child porn, then it's worth it.

That's got to be immensely psychologically damaging.

Comment: Re:Gibson got it right... (Score 1) 236

by droptone (#48327733) Attached to: CNN Anchors Caught On Camera Using Microsoft Surface As an iPad Stand

If you have anchors using items with prominent logos, you aren't doing the news, you are doing advertising. Get out of the news business and become an advertiser.

Moreover, get out of the business of your ad sales people defining how your on-air talent does work. That's only marginally more infuriating than IT deciding how the staff they support/enhance do their work. At least IT has some concern over usability and productivity.

In both cases, when you have widespread contrariness, it's not due to the always present few knuckleheads who are dogmatically resistant to any change, it's due to a higher-up demanding that people change without appropriate training/input on how the change will negatively affect usability/productivity.

Technology is intended to support and enhance productive activity not define how productive activity takes place.

Comment: Re:Let me get this right (Score 1) 839

by droptone (#48188663) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right
Others have commented on the actual reasons why inflation helps. But I'd point out that one key reason with being ok with inflation is that inflation may be bad, but deflation is much, much worse. Dealing with inflation as a by product of avoiding deflation is acceptable. The situation where an individual's money is worth more tomorrow than it is today absolutely wrecks economies.

Comment: Re:Let me get this right (Score 1) 839

by droptone (#48188615) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

Typical provisions about how you can theoretically create a consumption tax to get around these issues, but what they are saying is the empirical truth. Consumption (or sales) taxes are inherently regressive. This means they disproportionately affect those who earn less money. When you increase a consumption tax from say 5% to 10%, the brunt of the real life effect will be on individuals who have less discretionary income. Those individuals spend more of their income on basic necessities therefore increasing the cost of those basic necessities will have an undue impact on those individuals.

Beyond whether the sub top whatever percent spend more money, since that is an empirical question. If someone earns $20k per year and spends $15k on basic or close to basic necessities on a tax rate of 5% on those necessities (~$14,286 pre tax), when you bump the tax rate to 10%, they now spend ~$15,714 on those same necessities. That's over $700 that the individual cannot now spend toward investing in their future or building a bankroll to insulate themselves from poor rolls at luck in the game of life.

To my non-trained eyes, there are two ways of challenging this accepted wisdom. One empirical question to challenge this accepted wisdom would be whether growth in what is considered basic necessities scale at such a rate that it will balance out the hit of the tax hike. This seems unlikely to me. Yes, the richer spend more on let's say food than the non-rich, but does someone who earns 10x the $20k earner spend 10x on food? Unlikely. The other empirical question that could challenge this accepted wisdom is whether spending on non-necessities for the richer scales up at a rate that would make up for the increase burden on the poor. I doubt this is the case either, but there are plausible stories one could concoct to lend it credibility. If you have more discretionary income, you're more apt to buy a new gadget or eat out a more expensive restaurant than you would otherwise be.

IMO, neither of those empirical questions adequately address the moral question of what is the impact on the poor. Even if it were the case that the person who earns 10x spends 10+x on food, that isn't something the state should really care about. If Joe Millionaire has to switch from the $100 bottle of wine to the $50 bottle of wine it doesn't rival the moral concern the state should show towards Joe Working Poor who is out $700 on the literal basic necessities they need to survive. When you have situations where the state decreases the ability of those struggling to succeed in life, then the state isn't living up to its obligations. But this is admittedly a moral concern, not an empirical one.

Comment: Re:Count the XP michines... (Score 1) 21

A classic Catch 22, customers can't update their browser because it will break all their apps, but vendors can't write modern apps because nobody has a browser that can run them.

May or may not be related to lock in from other products, but at the medical library where I work, our proxy runs into problems with the hospital's computers who use an ultra old version of IE. It didn't crop up until the larger hospital network gobbled up so many clinics and hospitals that had to get a new IP range and we weren't going to automatically parse their new range as being on our network, since it wasn't and definitely a potential copyright liability.

It took the hospital IT ~6mo to acknowledge the problem and eventually tell us to dumb down our proxy to suit their needs since IE6 apparently has a bug where if SSL2 and SSL3 are enabled it won't use the one that works.

I don't do that sort of work, but I sense that there was probably some slight misconfiguration on our IT's end yet the brunt of the blame goes to the hospital who didn't investigate until (a) we finally had a gaggle of heads of departments screaming about not being able to access clinically relevant information and (b) had mostly figured out the problem on our own.

I doubt they'll upgrade any time soon and we'll still get a stream of new employees complaining about us not having IE6 installed on our computers so they can go through their orientation.

Comment: Re:Sell BandWIDTH not data (Score 2) 316

by droptone (#47613705) Attached to: Verizon Throttles Data To "Provide Incentive To Limit Usage"

ISPs used to advertise contention ratios on ADSL, but they stopped for this reason: your 1:50 contention ratio looks really bad next to your competitor's 1:10 contention ratio, but they don't advertise that the contended link for them is a tenth the speed of yours.

This only matters when there's competition tho...

Comment: Re:The textbook industry... (Score 1) 252

by droptone (#46948457) Attached to: $200 For a Bound Textbook That You Can't Keep?
New trend in some high level biomedical science textbooks? Not including full references in the physical book but including a code to access those references online. That's bad enough, but as you might expect if you're cynical about publishers, the code expires and often expires before a new copy of the textbook comes out. So effectively they are charging you for a temporary peak at the references which justify the claims that can be used to figure out whether those claims are true.

Comment: Re:Schwartz was a massive asshole. (Score 1) 106

by droptone (#46615419) Attached to: Aaron Swartz and MIT: The Inside Story

. That means that researchers and scholars woldwide lost access to a vital research tool. And as a response, and to protect the rest of the world's access, they finally had to cut off MIT's access. He was screwing with people doing medical research. People *die* because cutting edge research gets held back for bonehead reasons.

If we're being precise, JSTOR is mostly a database of humanities journals. If we were talking about Web of Science or Scopus, then sure, perhaps that could've occurred. Even if it were a biomedical oriented database, very, very, very rarely will any doctor involved in point of care service try to find a journal article on anything. They will largely be using point of care oriented databases like Clinical Key which provide actionable information rather than benign background which isn't altogether relevant to a particular patient's needs.

Comment: Very little until micropayments are added (Score 1) 361

by droptone (#46161535) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Online News Is Worth Paying For?
I subscribe to the Economist and the New Republic, make donations to NPR and ProPublica, but as far as electronic only sources, I haven't felt inclined to purchase any so far. And, quite frankly, I don't see this changing in the near future. Once micropayments are integrated into news sites, though, I will gladly pay an amount if I like the story. I have no qualms of clicking a button and sending $0.50-$2 for a very well done, in-depth story that I appreciate, but this feature just isn't there.

I want to support quality journalism, but no news site has floored me with its coverage and commitment to journalism to make me subscribe. I don't see this changing for major sites. For minor ventures like Glenn Greenwald's Omidyar site or Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias' Vox site, perhaps. But even then I'd far prefer a method where I can support exactly what I want to support.

This is the exact same problem record companies had to encounter when the pirates hit. Consumers do not want to buy a whole album for one good song. Even they begrudgingly adapted, and media organizations should as well. They can have their click-bait fluff which will get ad revenue, but rather than using that to subsidize quality journalism, why not let the consumer support that sort of journalism directly?

Comment: Re:Some appointments are forever! (Score 1) 366

To take a couple of examples from that list:

In February 1992, Stella Liebeck ordered a cup of coffee to go from McDonalds. Liebeck was sitting in the passenger seat of her nephew's car, which was pulled over so she could add sugar to her coffee. While removing the cup's lid, Liebeck spilled her hot coffee, burning her legs. It was determined that Liebeck suffered third degree burns on over six percent of her body. Originally, Liebeck sought $20,000 in damages. McDonalds refused to settle out of court. However, they should have. Liebeck was ultimately awarded $200,000 in compensatory damages, which was reduced to $160,000 because she was found to be twenty percent at fault. She was also awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages.

NSFW, but check out these burns and see if they look trivial. Also the documentary Hot Coffee wonderfully explains why this isn't a trivial lawsuit.

In 2003, Richard Schick sued his former employer, the Illinois Department of Public Aid. Schick sought $5 million plus $166,700 in back pay for sexual and disability discrimination. In fact, Shick was so stressed by this discrimination that he robbed a convenience store with a shotgun. A jury felt his pain and awarded him the money he was seeking. The decision was then reversed. Unfortunately, the $303,830 he was still awarded isn't doing him much good during the ten years he's serving for armed robbery.

In scanning through the case, the boss seemed to be a vindictive asshole who had him remove a sleeping bag he had in the break room to deal with sleep apnea, moved the copy machine close to his desk to interfere with his hearing aid, in addition to numerous other complaints. Sure, the dude surely could've done things to combat some of his issues (carpel tunnel can be mitigated with proper exercises), but the boss should probably not be a dick.

Comment: Re:Nice SNAFU by Mozilla (Score 1) 362

by droptone (#45210935) Attached to: Firefox's Blocked-By-Default Java Isn't Going Down Well
I'm not going to lie. I got entangled in this mess last weekend.

I am a fairly technical user, but by no means an expert. I had a fantasy draft scheduled for noon on Sunday. I loaded up my browser at 11:45 only to be greeted with errors loading. I thought I had an updated version of Java, but I went ahead and ran the update. Again, no go. Now this is under some time pressure so I didn't do as much research as I would've with a level head, but then again, what I did is what I'd wager the vast majority of folks would do at their best. Ran update again, no go. I decided to say screw it and used Chrome.

Comment: Re:So... (Score 1) 93

by droptone (#44642357) Attached to: Valencia Region Government Completes Switch To LibreOffice
That would be helpful in some respects, but not cut and dry, especially since salaries are sunk costs. It seems very possible that there are organizations that have support people who would otherwise not be doing anything important. Those folks would need to help retrain others, but their time doesn't have any organizational opportunity costs attached.

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