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Comment: Re:Consumer feedback removes need for certificatio (Score 2) 138

by fermion (#47914165) Attached to: Uber CEO: We'll Run Your Errands
This is quite a piece of idolotry. Let us start at the end first. For many jobs no one requires a certified plumber or electrician or anything. There is no requirement to get such a certification. For certain jobs it is a requirement to get a permit, but that is to protect lives. OTOH I am sure you would no problem if your family died because the water heater exploded or the house caught on fire because of the work of a plumber or electrician was faulty, because, after all, she had good recommendations from people who had no expertise in critiquing the actual work. In any case, such requirements as the exists, are demanded not by government but by bankers, insurance companies, and general sane people who do not want to die because the invisible hand, or magic ratings, or whatever, was a substitute for competence. It is intersting that th.s hair brained scheme was introduced after the previous hair brained scheme, to force some Uber drivers to work at or below cost, failed. You see some of the driver took the capitalistic idea of better service leading to more profits seriously,So they only wanted to serve the high end clientele, and invested resources to do so. But Uber told them they could not limit themselves to high end customers, and said if the drivers did not pick up any customer that Uber sent, they would be out of the network. This was absolutely Uber's right to do, after all the contractors could just leave, but I think it speaks to an issue with capitalistic fantasy. At some point the people who are taking a cut of everything the workers do, will want an increasingly large cut to support their increasingly inefficient operations, and to do that they will begin to compete on price instead of service. The contractors, as individuals, can make that choice on a case by case basis. Corporate, however, seeing only a lack of funding for their cocaine habit, are only able to make drastic decisions to increase funding for said habit. In any case, the Uber drivers still had the ability to strike, so they did, and Uber relented.

Comment: Re:Isn't it just "sapphire"? (Score 1) 201

by fermion (#47904975) Attached to: Sapphire Glass Didn't Pass iPhone Drop Test According to Reports
When I hear the term glass I think of a fused or amorphous material rather than a crystal form. Sapphire, like many other material, is synthetically created as a single crystal as a substrate for RF and IC applications, which is different from the glass use in optical applications.

Comment: Re:Discounted not free (Score 2) 121

by fermion (#47886975) Attached to: Publishers Gave Away 123 Million Books During World War Two
It is pretty much free. I have some books that are post WWII, and it seems the paperbacks cost 30-50 cents. 70% discounts are even beyond the bargain bin.

As I recall on aspect of the cheap printing was the pulp book. Publisher would print and ship paper backs to stores en masse knowing that most would not sell. Those that did not would simply be returned, maybe with the cover torn off, and pulped back into paper that could be reused to make the next book. Could these book have been the equivalent of the reject rack, and selling the to army was simply a way to at least cover costs? I don't see that these books were specifically printed for the military. OTOH, if they were printed specifically for the military, it has no impact on today's economics. Many industries will sell large quantities of product at cost simply so they can stay afloat and pay the bills, knowing that profit will come in the future.

I believe what really ignited the post war reading boom was the newly educated population, created through the GI Bill, the brief existence of the housewife, whose appliances gave her much less to do and much more free time, and the willingness of publisher to print just about anything, knowing that they could charge enough so the many failures would be covered by the few successes.

What might be applicable from this story to the modern day is that publishers still have to pay for printing presses. No matter how cheap it may be to print books, if the books are not selling, and the printing press costs are fixed, then fewer books are paying for the overhead. E-Books may not need the printing press, but the printing press is still part of the fixed costs.

Comment: Re:Compromise: (Score 2) 485

by fermion (#47868377) Attached to: To Really Cut Emissions, We Need Electric Buses, Not Just Electric Cars
Cars are really expensive to maintain. In parts of the US and other developed countries, a large number of people have the funds. There will always be a need for mass transportation, both for those who cannot afford personal transport and for the regions that cannot support all individuals driving around.

In the US we cannot afford to lower taxes on cars. We are already in trouble because of very low gas tax and an increase in fuel efficiency over the past 20 years. In fact we really need to change the way we tax cars so that cars pay a small fee for each mile driven adjusted for the weight of the car, instead of a gas tax. So for instance a person driving 10,000 miles a year in their Tesla would pay $100 extra registration fee, while a Highlander might have to cough up $150 for the same. We have no money to fix our roads, and will have to get it somehow.

A more real compromise here is to accept that this is advertisement and not take it at face value. While electric vehicles may be the winner in the consumer market, especially the second car consumer market, it is probably not the best choice for fleet vehicles. Something like fuel cells or the like will be a better choice. Proffesional fleet staff can handle the refueling that might a challenge for the consumer. The range is more reasonable, in the 200 mile range, and refueling is quicker.

Comment: Re:WIFI-Enabled Vital Organs?!?! (Score 1) 183

by fermion (#47863439) Attached to: In France, a Second Patient Receives Permanent Artificial Heart
I can't, the summary reads like a bunch of propaganda tripe written by some cult. I am a person who wonders if sending your real time medical information to Google or Apple is really a good idea.

Some people seem to be only concerned with living forever in relatively good condition, or keeping a young person alive even if the quality of life is dismal. They will give up whatever privacy, dignity, or wealth to accomplish this task. We have had some success. The average lifespan is increasing, and more importantly more people are healthy at older age. I am sure that artificial organs will play a huge part of this. I am sure that people will cut whatever deal to make it happen. I am sure that when their heart gets hacked they will sue, just like all those boys who grow breasts, even though it is common sense that selling drugs to kids, or allowing remote access to a heart, is not the wisest thing to do.

Here is what scares me. We do not seem to be doing much to keep the brain healthy into very old age. I have seen active, intellectually stimulated, well read, educated people fall into senility even though they have kept their mind active and engaged. It seems there is a limit to how long a brain can be very healthy. Do we want to be 125 years old and not be able to accomplish basic tasks? Do we want a world where a huge percentage of the adult population cannot care for themselves.

Comment: Re:DIY - buy a cheap DVB-T receiver, with... (Score 1) 130

by fermion (#47847349) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Service To Digitize VHS Home Movies?
This is what i was thinking any commercial conversion place would do. I also recall those machines used to convert film to video, projecting the film and then recording onto video tape. I wonder if one of those could be used to playback a video on a good sony triniton TV and record onto a good 3ccd video recorder. The real problem with VHS is that it is pretty low quality analog, and one has to add information and fill in holes to make it work with digital. This may be the way to do it. When people complain about quality and blame it on lossy transition, it is probably more than likely the way that information is interpolated to make it work on digital.

Comment: Re:Unseal the documentation too (Score 1) 200

Only because you think the labor market is different from other markets. One thing you miss is that the there are regulations in all markets. In fact firms want these regulations so the competition is simplified. On radical extremist say the minimum wage is bad, as it allows firms to compete for labor in a less expensive manner. There is disagreement on the value of the minimum wage, but even developing countries have minimum wages. It would be like saying that indoor plumbing or septic tanks should not be part of the building regulations because it prices some people out of the market. Our homeless problem would decrease significantly if people could just pout chamber pots into the streets or poop in the yard. Yet few conservatives are running around decrying how these building codes are destroying society.

Comment: forensic 'science' (Score 5, Informative) 135

by fermion (#47845981) Attached to: New DNA Analysis On Old Blood Pegs Aaron Kosminski As Jack the Ripper
This is where I think we get in trouble with forensic science. Certain things, like finger prints and DNA, can exonerate a suspect but we have seen enough analysis around here to know that it is a fallacy to think that these things prove guilt. it only proves guilt if we assume the probability of guilt is 100% initially. When comparing the sample to a database, random error can create a match under certain common circumstances.

So we can say that DNA evidence is part of a chain that can lead to guilt, and if we assume the known suspects represent the total population of possible suspects, then if the DNA exonerates all other suspects, then there is a case to be made for guilt, but that is a lot of caveats. As we have seen in many cases, obvious suspects are ignored because the authorities jump to quick conclusions. As said, DNA is good for exonerating people, not convicts them.

Comment: Re:Unseal the documentation too (Score 5, Insightful) 200

I think a different analogy is appropriate. Say a group of activist threatened to block access to stores in a neighborhood who charged more than $1 a pound for any fruit. The stores have a choice between taking a loss on fruit, not selling fruit, or having their customers harassed. In such a case we can be sure the police would be called and the activist arrested. The stores could probably sue for lost sales as well.

The problem we have in the US is that firms are given a great deal of leeway to insure that they can charge as high as price as the market will bear, but labor is severely restricted in doing the same. For instance firms are free to form collectives that lobby congress and produce promotional campaigns, even to the point of forcing companies to pay for such promotions, but unions have to bill lobbying efforts separate and members can opt out. Likewise firms are allowed to use some pretty significant tools to prevent labor from organizing, though firms are free to do the same with few restrictions.

Comment: Re:So long as it is consential (Score 1) 362

by fermion (#47841389) Attached to: Bill Gates Wants To Remake the Way History Is Taught. Should We Let Him?
One problem with education is that is it 'consensual' For instance, no child left behind set standards, but then left the states to meet those standard. While some good was done with the non-consual bits, i.e. well qualified teachers, hundreds of billions of local tax dollars were wasted paying testing companies and writing curriculum that to some extent were significant duplications of effort.

What needs to be left to local authorities, even down to the teacher, is the choice of how to teach material and a limited buffet of what to teach. What needs to be done on a interstate level is developing the methods of how that learning is going to be assessed. If there was a more consistent, maybe crowdsource, assessment then teachers would probably more understand what they are supposed to teach. Outside of history of the local area, there is little reason to have significant differences in content. What we can have is local differences in content that is emphasized.

The biggest hurdle to this, and the biggest damage the NCLB did, was the need to rank teachers and students. Current testing is not objective based mastery, but rather ranking. This requires an extremely expensive test, with passing levels set arbitratily after the test is given, often to maximize the success of preferred groups of students, rather than based on the objective performance of the student to show mastery of a benchmark number of standards. Therefore instead of measuring that a student has learned the material, and that a teacher has facilitated such learning, we merely have a continuum that is independent of learning, only indicating the ability to fill in bubbles effectively.

This is where the current reforms are still failing. Leaving the punitive ranking system behind and rather focusing on learning. Common Core is a step away from this, which is why no one likes it. Parents like to know their kid is better than others. Administrators like to be able to rank teachers on arbitrary statistically invalid scales.

Comment: Re:Many languages and... (Score 1) 727

The line terminator in C and C++ are pretty easy to find and fix. The conventions in FORTRAN are much more difficult to fix as the errors are non nonsensical. On of the first things I learned when I learned to code is a page of errors meant you had a mismatched type in a subroutine.

Comment: Re:testing (Score 1) 359

by fermion (#47827559) Attached to: How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms
I have an HP in my desk. If I need to do simple math, I type it into google as I normally have a browser open on my desktop. Anything more complicated can be done in Wolfram Alpha. I don't carry around my HP anymore, remember they days when everyone had a pocket protector and calculator on the belt, because my phone does everything. An RPN calculator, the Alpha App, and of course web connectivity. Even back in that day I preferred my TRS-80 pocket computer to the calculator, though I had both.

Comment: state still dealing with Tesla (Score 1) 157

by fermion (#47825219) Attached to: Tesla's Next Auto-Dealer Battleground State: Georgia
If I were a state I would remember that Tesla played one state against another until one desperate state gave them a reported $500 million dollars. If I were a resident of a state, I would ask why a profitable company wants to much more aggressive in emptying the public purse other companies.

I had some sympathy for Tesla and their fights with states even if I though that they should invest in states first to show some good will. Now they just seem like another evil company trying to make money by empty state coffers rather than making and selling a good product.

Comment: Re:Doesn't this pretty much kill 4chan? (Score 4, Insightful) 134

by fermion (#47824433) Attached to: After Celebrity Photo Leaks, 4chan Introduces DMCA Policy
Like Usenet, it really isn't anything goes. Stuff that most people don't like is pushed off to alternative locations, there, bug not where anyone has to deal with it. What would kill 4chan, because evidently it runs with no significant budget or profit, would be a single lawsuit. By creating a belated DCMA policy, the site is protecting itself from such an event. Look at it this way. If Arthur Anderson had created a policy stating the conditions and intervals that documents would be destroyed, it might still be in existence today. But it did not, and panicked, and is gone. It is good that 4chan is being more forward thinking.

Comment: testing (Score 1) 359

by fermion (#47824313) Attached to: How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms
The only use for a standalone calculator is testing. The reluctance to allow students to use a phone for a calculator in class is threefold. One is that they need to learn to use the standalone calculator for the test. As easy as the TI is use, it still requires a lot of training. The second is that most students, even in college, lack a degree of self discipline. It is hard for them not to go to facebook. This is not an insult, I often wonder how much coding I would have gotten done if I had the internet growing up. The third is cost. Students are going to have to buy the calculator anyway for the test, so asking them to buy an App, and the good calculator Apps cost money, is something that is hard to enforce.

Ti has the market because it has designed a good calculator not for general use, but for test use. The limited function makes it a bad calculator compared to the HP 49g, but I would hate to have to use my HP for a test written assuming a TI.

As tests move from paper based to computer based, I suspect the testing software will include a calculator and students will probably be moved to a similar calculator downloaded to their phone or tablet. I suspect the some College Board tests may still have require an external calculator, so TI is not in danger of losing all sales immediately. The TI is a really good machine,and they are the granddaddy of the pocket calculator, having developed the device to use their new electronics that did not at the time have a market. Interesting bit of trivia. On a College Board test a while back one of the questions put the TI into a thrashing state. You could have two calculators on the test, and if you did you could work on the second while the first finished. If you did not, well, you were screwed.

Bringing computers into the home won't change either one, but may revitalize the corner saloon.