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Comment Re:Thank-you to Slashdot for posting this! (Score 1) 271

For technology and software development, I've found Hacker News to be pretty decent. It tends to get the big stories before slashdot, and there are more philosophical/reflective articles in the mix then just the bitcoin-news-of-the-day stuff. The lack of article summaries is a blessing and a curse though... you actually have to RTFA or at least skim it.

Comment Re:Seems reasonable (Score 1) 173

Bitcoin miners are only making money speculatively. No reason the power company shouldn't treat servicing them the same way.

Ughh..... come on internets. Electricity pricing policy is a very complex subject, involving everything from the ethics of cross-subsidization to the physics of power generation to the logistics of long-term capacity planning. Remember, your local power company has a government-granted monopoly on your power demand. To top it off, in this particular case the power company is a public entity (a public utility district--PUD). They definitely have an obligation to keep rates "fair", and they probably have to get approval from these guys too.

Now, reading between the lines, it sounds to me like they successfully attracted economic development to the region with their low rates, but they realized they didn't attract very good economic development. Server farms don't employee a lot of people, and these server farms might be empty warehouses overnight if Bitcoin crashes or gets regulated out of existence. The new demand will naturally raise prices, possibly forcing the PUD (or whoever operates their generation balance) to investment capital in new generation or go to market where there's not going to be any of that sweet cheap hydro for sale. So they roll a plan to target these new businesses without pissing off the incumbent customers, even though the apple storage folks presumably use a lot of power too.

I don't know enough to pick sides in this fight, though personally I'd be screaming to the PSC, FERC, and my state legislators if I moved my business to the area and then they deliberately targeted me with a price increase. The PUD may not actually expect to get their rate hike: putting up a good fight in the public eye may be their real goal, and any concessions they can squeeze out of these "outsiders" is just gravy on top. The key quote from the PUD official at the end of the article sums it up: “It would be interesting if they could provide a nexus between their businesses and economic development in the community.”

Comment Convince Management (Score 3, Insightful) 234

I don't know your situation. I assume it's not the military-espionage sector but something more akin to HFT or something esoteric in the manufacturing segment.

The raw truth is that it's very, very hard to prevent data exfiltration by a competent software developer who has adequate tools/access for his job. At the same time, it's very, very easy to hamstring a competent software developer and thereby torpedo their time-efficiency. If you're really worried, start with the "edges"--thing like NDA's, copyright/patent agreements, and background/credit checks--stuff that doesn't interfere with day-to-day work. Anything beyond that (change management, device restrictions, copyright headers in source code, etc.) should be more about avoiding sloppiness than about avoiding malice.

The other raw truth is that management frequently believes their software to be more valuable than it actually is. Frequently, the software that it cost you a fortune to build would be nigh worthless to a competitor because integration, customization, and data conversion would make it extremely unattractive compared to improving their own in-house product or buying a commercial product where the vendor is used to making customizations. (Much better in some cases to give your software away [if not open source it]: there are probably a lot of missed opportunities for companies to make their toolset the de facto standard for an industry, reaping money or market influence in the process.) Ask your management to imagine receiving an offer for an illicit copy of their competitor's code. Would they be willing to risk it? My guess is that they'll say "no", and you might want to start job hunting if they say "yes".

Finally, of your two proposals, only onsite work sounds viable. Standing up a fussy/novel telecommuting scheme is sure to frustrate developers [perhaps challenging them to deliberately thwart the system when they wouldn't have given it a thought otherwise]. Moreover, if anything goes wrong [which is very likely], it's your headache and your fault. Don't even mention option (2)... it's just a creative way to get yourself fired. Provide management with option (1) only: if contractors refuse to work onsite, management can think a little bit harder about what their real needs are... updates to the product or [illusionary] control of the source code.

Comment Re:Keep dreaming. (Score 3, Interesting) 346

If private investors are not willing to pay for it, then that is a sure sign that it is not going to generate an acceptable ROI, and shouldn't be built.

Companies exist for the next quarterly statement. Governments exist (or should exist) for their people, and it's precisely by investing in things with no immediate monetary payoff (infrastructure, scientific research, education, military, law enforcement, conservation, etc.) that they improve society as a whole.

Note that the primary motivation behind this proposal is lowering carbon emissions and fostering renewables. If you arrest climate change, that's a massive benefit to future generations, but it won't show up on any balance sheet. If you decrease pollutants, that results in longer, healthier lives. Heck, if it helps America achieve energy independence, that is perhaps another war or two we don't have to fight in the middle east. Facilitating $billions/year in commerce (to the benefit of shareholders and electric customers in general) sounds like mere gravy on top of that.

Not--mind you--that I'm arguing for this particular project. I'm just pointing out that government ROI gets to count the net benefit to all society (including future generations) whereas corporate ROI is defined strictly in terms of shareholder value.

Comment Re:I'm I the only one (Score 1) 256

Laundry detergent seems like a rather bulky item to shoplift. From reading the article, I can understand its appeal to fences, but it sounds like the guy doing the heist is getting $0.50 per Lbs of stolen goods. The 2 guys stealing a 100 jugs at once must have been pretty desperate. Surprised there's not a more profitable grocery to target.

Comment Re:Why would anyone tolerate this bullshit!? (Score 4, Funny) 720

You're not forced to use [[Ford]] at all. Run whatever you want on [[the road]]. But if you do run an older [[Ford]]--one that's going to stop being updated--it's going to remind you regularly to upgrade to the current version.

Umm... nope, doesn't pass the car analogy test. Microsoft is engaging in user-hostile behavior.

Comment Re:Yet another reason I don't support him (Score 2) 343

The real traitors are those who bend/twist/break the law in a massive power-grab to spy on ALL of their countrymen. Whatever laws Snowden broke, those are mere technicalities played up by these spineless politicians who don't possess a flea's hair of the patriotism, loyalty, and sacrifice that Snowden showed.

Seriously, it's like Snowden broke the speed limit racing to tell someone after seeing Nazi shock troops climb out of the Potomac. All these politicians want to talk about are the speeding ticket and not the Nazis.

Comment Re: Not a zero-sum game -- and not that simple (Score 1) 395

To pretend that it's some kind of "people's victory" when a technical system renders itself effectively impenetrable to the legitimate legal, judicial, and intelligence processes of democratic governments operating under the rule of law in free civil society is curious indeed.

Not really. All your nice words describe a mythically virtuous, self-restrained government... not the one we actually have. Real legitimate, democratic governments that respect the rights of man don't need secret courts, extraordinary rendition, warrantless surveillance, secret courts, retroactive immunity, and internal propagandists. And they certainly don't need to wage war on freaking math.

Comment iRe: Those who would give up essential Liberty... (Score 5, Insightful) 395

It's not unimaginable, given some of the incindinerary talk about Muslims/liberals/homos/SJW's. We did it to 100,000+ Japanese-Americans during WW2, and we did it various Native American tribes before that (despite declarations from the Supreme Court, in the case of the Cherokees). You can object that these were not instances of full-on, permanent tyranny (like North Korea), but they were brutal events for the targeted populations, prosecuted without objection from the majority of this supposedly freedom-loving populace. Remember that Rome itself transitioned to a dictatorship with the support of her people. Caeser treated his army well and the senate was increasingly seen as helpless to address the problems of empire. There are plenty in the US who would support arbitrarily trampling it the Constitution and democratic principles so longed as it helped their cause it made them feel a little safer from a handful of bad actors. This article merely reflects how naieve we are about the dynamics of power (especially our children, who grow surrounded by surveillance). Unfortunately, it looks like the continue continuous expansion of federal (and corporate) powers that's been occurring for there past ~90 years will keep accelerating upwards, with near unilateral support from across the political spectrum. The consequences will be severe.

Comment Re:Ultimate spoiler (Score 1) 268

Do spoilers *really* ruin a movie? Are you not entertained because someone told you about a piece of the story?

Yes... in storytelling, the mystery is part of the journey. Appropriately, you can read some of J.J.'s thoughts about the role of mystery, but I will attempt my own explanation here:

I can see a random collection of wookies, droids, and other space crap anytime I want but that's mere eye-candy: you don't create a coherent package of suspense, relief, grief, joy, etc. that way. Those emotions must be constructed in a particular order. You must get to know a character and their situation before you can care about them; you must care about them before you can feel intense suspense about their fate; you must have feel that they were imperiled before the absence of peril is cause for relief, and so forth. For instance, Rawling could have had Snape kill Dumbledore at the beginning of the series, instead of during book 6, but then you wouldn't have cared about Dumbledore's death (because he's simply a generic Gandalf archetype at that point), and you wouldn't have agonized over Snape's loyalties. The mid-series scenes of Snape being bullied as a student would have given us the satisfaction of preemptive justice, and we wouldn't have been able to share in Harry's introspective discomfort at learning that his father could be a real jerk. Sequence matters.

What about movies that do that whole backwards in time style that show the ending first?.... that is technically a spoiler, right? Yet it doesn't detract from the movie because it is out of context.

It's not a spoiler at all because the story is presented in the order constructed by the storyteller. Again, sequence matters (not necessarily chronological sequence). A good storyteller will use flash-forwards and flashbacks to construct the sequence which best accomplishes their goal as a writer/director. For instance, you could "sort" the scenes in Buffy so that all the flashbacks occur at the beginning of the series, but watching this would feel random, like reading a history book with every other paragraph blacked-out. When Buffy rejects Spike in the Bronze, our empathy for him is heightened because we were introduced to his tender background as a failed poet in the same episode; emotionally this is a double-whammy because we've been cornered into liking the bad guy and (momentarily) disliking the hero. Would we have even remembered the flashback had it been shown ~100 episodes earlier? You could also "sort" Memento so that it's big reveal comes in the center rather than at the end, but this straightforward version wouldn't capture the protagonist's confused, angsty state near as well.

All of that said, the flash-forward is often a crutch for bad writing: I always groan when a movie opens with a flash-forward showing some dramatic moment from the final conflict. That's a clue that the movie's about to dump 30 minutes of slow exposition/character-building in your lap because the screenwriter couldn't figure out how to pull you into the action immediately (other than by cherry-picking a scene from the end).

People still watch shows about WW II and we all know how that turned out.

Granted, but I'd argue that the screenwriters behind movies like The Great Escape and Downfall took this into account when figuring out how to build the story. Also, other WW2 movies (like Memoirs of a Geisha) use non-historical characters who ultimate fate isn't known to the audience in advance.

Comment Re:Snitching devices (Score 0) 423

It wasn't "her own" life that she hit with her car, so maybe her car SHOULD be reporting this to the authorities.

Observe Homo Sapiens, for whom one "good" story is all it takes to justify a large forfeit of one's privacy. Applied in succession over a period of time, entire populations can be lulled into naivety and convinced to surrender their autonomy, all while claiming to love their "freedom".

How very bizarre too, that whilst the species can so thoroughly document (and dramatize!) its own history of corruption, oppression, tyranny, genocide, and other such misuses of power, they seem incapable of believing that they could be ready recipients of such abuse. It's as though some magic spell confines their governments, their law enforcement, their military, their corporations, their non-profits, their religious institutions, etc., from being subverted by the more sociopathic and power-hungry specimens of their populations.

Comment Re:An even better design? (Score 2) 172

Assuming you can do it for an ultra-cheap $60M/mile, that's a total construction cost of $24 billion dollars for just the tunnel itself. That's roughly 5 times the estimated ~$4.85 billion cost for pylons, tunnels, and land rights that you would need for an over-land route. (Musk estimated $7.5 billion for the project as a whole, though commentators say he's being optimistic.)

Comment Re:No freedom of assembly (Score 2) 618

What the hell is gamergate and why is it relevant?

Pro-gamergate people will say that gamergate is a defense of video gamers and a campaign for professional ethics among video game journalists and the developers they cover. Anti-gamergate people will say that gamergate is a misogynistic harassment campaign that arose in response to the introduction of social justice themes among indie game developers.

The truth is neither of those things. Instead, gamergate is a cultural genocide. Journalists and developers sit in one bubble (talking up the atrocities of the other side among themselves while occasionally hacking/harrasing/doxing the other side) while players sit in their own bubble doing exactly the same sort of thing. It's a flame-fest of epic proportions and extreme duration.

The truth does include bits of what both side claim. The pro-GG side has attracted true misogynists to its ranks (and would speak misogynistically anyways, just for the lulz). And the anti-GG side has effected censorship thru their control over the media (which gives the Wikipedia article an unfortunate bias). And that's just scratching the surface.

Like any genocide, there's scorched earth, long memories, little forgiveness, and no willingness to admit to one's on culpabilities. Unlike real genocide, there's no U.N. demilitarized zone to wall the two parties off from each other so that they can each focus with getting on with their lives and contributing something meaningful to society. Hopefully it will peter out someday in the distant future. My advice: either ignore it or build a game that transcends the debate and blows everybody's socks off.

Comment Re:+1 for privacy supporters -1 for gun control (Score 1) 620

Thus, when laws said "firing a gun within a city limit is illegal," it does not always mean it is illegal in all cases because there could be other factors that are higher priority than firing a gun. One needs to consider the totality of the circumstance as well.

I think, in general, you'll find the legal system much less willing to do this then you idealize. For instance, Alabama prosecutors use an anti-abortion law to prosecute new moms for taking a Valium during pregnancy. All the time, the letter of the law is used to prosecution people beyond the intended scope and spirit of the original bill. Juries are instructed to blindly apply it, machine-like, without taking the "totality of circumstances" and reasonable common sense into account.

Regardless of how you think the law should work (and what rights people should or should not have against intruding drones), this guy would have been screwed in 99.9% of courtrooms because of the statute. (Unless there was some state-level preemption kicking in here... I'd love to read thru the case if I had time to see if there's any chance this won't be overturned in a future case.)

My point is, you might think it reasonable to shirk the law in this or that circumstance. However, prosecutors and judges have the ability to strip away reasonableness.

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