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Comment Re:Taxes? (Score 1) 32

I suspect that this is also one of those situations where the fact that 'law' tends to have ways of bending to practicality is showing up.

The activities of the street vendors are illegal, and some of them probably have pretty dubious immigration status; but the fact that they remain active, are quite numerous, and are visible enough to form a union suggests that the local authorities lack the will or ability to suppress their vending; and the national authorities the will or ability to process them all as vigorously as the law theoretically allows.

Under those circumstances, it isn't terribly illogical for the mayor of Barcelona to be open to negotiations aimed at reducing the nuisances caused by street vendors in exchange for potential loosening of restrictions that are mostly theoretical or haphazardly and unevenly enforced at present.

It always upsets people who cherish the idea that 'law' is somehow a matter of pure principle and above the sordid world of pragmatism and political horse-trading; but that doesn't make it any less true. Even when the ability of the state to enforce the law is relatively strong, pressure is applied by lobbying the political apparatus. When it is weak or partial, pragmatism can, and often does, result in the state(or its agents) reaching a compromise with the illegal sector that aims to give the less noxious elements some of what they want in exchange for cooperation, or at least non-resistance, in going after higher-value targets.

Comment Re:Take my money! (Score 1) 271

I can't speak for khallow; but my impression was that the bunker leader was the one who has an incentive to double-cross his clients, in favor of people who will be more useful to him should the shit actually hit the fan; not that those useful people would self-organize and head for the bunker.

If nothing else, during the course of constructing an emergency bunker, stocking it with necessary supplies and equipment, making provisions for its security, etc. one would presumably make contact with a variety of people with relevant skills. You'll be overseeing construction, food and medical supply, security, and so on. If you really wanted to improve your chances, you'd presumably do additional research; but 'the people who built and furnished the bunker' are a practically ready-made group of better-than-average candidates.

It is true that screwing over anyone you allow into the bunker would be a dangerous plan, so you'd likely have to put up with some less-useful friends and family; but screwing over someone without connections to those allowed inside, and who isn't allowed inside, has fewer obvious risks.

Comment Re:Take my money! (Score 1) 271

The existence of the bunker isn't the issue; it's being let in when crunch-time hits. If management cant' control access, it's a sucky bunker that will be at considerable risk of attack in a disaster scenario. If they can control access, you are depending on them to honor an agreement enforced by a legal structure that is, presumably, currently dealing with bigger problems right now, if it remains functional at all.

I don't mean to allege that this guy specifically is planning on doing so; but those circumstances would make 'overbooking' a very tempting strategy. If disaster fails to occur, you merely need to conceal exactly how many spots you've sold. If disaster does occur, the people you do admit are unlikely to give up their spots to let in the ones you don't, and the ones that don't won't exactly have much recourse.

It doesn't help that, pre-disaster, the people with the most money are the most valuable potential-bunker-dwellers, since they can pay the most for spots; but during a disaster, and after, people with assorted useful skills are the most valuable potential-bunker-dwellers. There could well be some overlap, if some doctor who has made good in his practice can afford a space, he's also a useful guy to have around; but the post-apocalypse's demand for investment bankers is probably fairly low.

Comment Clarify... (Score 4, Insightful) 16

This seems like it could well be a viable thing; but 'AI-based' is serious weasel-word territory: is a Baysian spam filter an "AI-based anti-spam solution"? It's hard to argue with the notion that identifying anomalous activity in large volumes of traffic is a problem that might be amenable to statistical methods and assorted heuristics; but what exactly qualifies or disqualifies something for 'AI-based', 'deep learning', and similar buzzwords?

Comment Re:Take my money! (Score 1) 271

Insurance against calamities on a larger scale than your underwriter is prepared to cope with, or sufficiently large to eliminate the legal and economic framework under which the policy was purchased would be pretty worthless.

Just look at the truly impressive work that AIG and friends managed to do in selling impossible amounts of insurance, and remember that that didn't even require an external catastrophe of any particular magnitude, they just fucked it up during the course of business. You think that they'd do better under circumstances that have people running for the bunkers and executing continuity-of-government directives?

Comment Re:Boston has an app like this. It's useless. (Score 1) 159

I suspect that it depends on the attitude as well. At least in IT, there seem to be two basic flavors(in varying levels of competence, there are some commendably diligent but not terribly sharp ones; and there are some total slackers with the annoying ability to pull off something brilliant just when it looks like their slacking might catch up with them; then go back to slacking): There are the people who say "The problem is that you are bothering me about some 'problem', so now I have to go look at it." and the ones who say "The problem is that there might be a problem I don't know about yet."

The former is...unlikely... to welcome better reporting systems. The latter is likely to be delighted that they can spend less time hunting for problems and more time fixing them.

Comment Re:What? (Score 2) 159

Fundamentally? Not at all. In terms of convenience? The fancy tech toys presumably make it fairly trivial to construct a nice machine-readable trouble ticket, with GPS coordinates, user submitted text, pictures, etc. that drops right into the trouble ticket without needing anyone to man the phone; or depending on their ability to reliably interpret and record what the caller is reporting, write it up, and send it to the appropriate person.

Given that the input is still coming from people, I suspect that you can't automate all the labor out of cleaning it up(if there is a way for data you attempt to collect about the world to be messy and intractable, it will find it; and even if you think that there isn't, it might just invent one...); but there's a lot to be said for cutting out tedious, error-prone, steps, especially once you are dealing with a system large enough that providing 'the personal touch' simply isn't possible. These sorts of systems can be somewhat prone to being impersonal or inflexible(especially if the implementation tries to use a bunch of drop-down options to shove you through the decision tree and your problem is some flavor of 'other' that they don't provide for); but if the userbase is large enough that you'd need a call center to do it with humans, you don't really have the option of interpersonal familiarity; so you might as well go for efficiency.

If this were Ye Olde Smalle Towne, where you could just ring up the mayor's office and the kindly secretary who has been there forever and knows everybody would pick up and you could tell her about it, the 'app' thing would be a pointless gimmick; but that's not exactly the scope of the problem here.

Comment We are screwed. (Score 4, Insightful) 55

So, 3.6 Gb/s is cool and all; but I did a quick check and Verizon is calling 18GB/month the 'XXL' plan, so this appears to be largely an exercise in accruing overage fees even faster.

It seems like what will matter much more(unless somebody is planning to use the same tech for highly directional point-to-point wireless links, in which case raw speed is pretty useful); is how well these '5G' arrangements handle congestion; and how efficiently the amazing-fancy-theoretical-peak-throughput can be divided across a large number of users. Unless you are made of money, the problem with wireless data isn't so much how slow it is; but how costly it is(in part because of scarcity, which more efficient RF technology might actually alleviate, the 'because we can' part is a separate issue); and how it has a habit of just collapsing in a screaming heap under heavy load.

If the impressive peak bandwidth numbers indicate a larger pool of usable transmission capacity extracted from a given chunk of spectrum, fantastic, that is progress. If they simply represent what you could do if a single client used every doesn't-play-well-with-others trick in the book to get better speeds, that's utterly useless.

Comment Re:Still loaded with shovelware (Score 1) 93

You don't get the "Browbeat your rep" option; but I'm pretty sure that Dell will sell you Optiplex and Latitude systems in quantity 1, if you have a credit card. I think even Precisions and at least the more boring Poweredge stuff should be available as well.

You obviously don't have to go with Dell; but unless they've changed something recently; buying small quantities of business class machines should be no more difficult than buying consumer grade.

Comment Re:either integrated Intel HD Graphics 530 or a po (Score 1) 93

There have been several different flavors of Intel Integrated/Nvidia combinations on the market; with slightly different requirements and options depending on the details of how they are implemented.

My memory is a little fuzzy; but I think that the earliest implementations had actual 'video out' from both the IGP and the GPU, with switching silicon on the motherboard that sent one or the other to the LCD. Those offered the most visible control over which graphics device was in use(the one that wasn't was more or less fully shut down); but I think you had to at least log out, possibly reboot, to switch between them; that era definitely had BIOS options for permanently setting one or the other.

OEMs didn't like the cost of the added switching silicon, and users didn't like the clunkiness of switching between GPUs, so subsequent generations refined the process, with increasingly seamless cooperation(I think that the standard now has only the intel IGP connected to the LCD and any video outs; but the Nvidia GPU can write to its framebuffer if it is taking care of a given graphical task, so it isn't actually possible for the IGP to ever be fully idle, though the Nvidia GPU can be); but a corresponding increase in unhelpfulness if you are trying to force a configuration that non Optimus aware drivers can recognize and work with.

My Linux and BSD systems don't do much in the way of graphics, so I don't know what the current state of support is.

Comment Re:Betting we'll see thermal issues. (Score 1) 93

I have yet to hear any clear explanation for why Intel appears less than cooperative about the idea of Thunderbolt being used for GPU purposes. There have been a few, heavily integrated and close to model-specific, releases; but the "Here is a box with an x16(mechanical) PCIe slot inside, and a thunderbolt port" market is pretty slim, with the exception of some very, very, expensive cardcages from outfits like Magma, clearly aimed at audiences with expansion cards that make gamer toys look disposably cheap.

Most of the tinkering you see skips Thunderbolt entirely and uses the PCIe 1x->16x adapters that became popular when GPU cryptocurrency mining became a craze; and connect those either to the 1x PCIe lane provided by an Expresscard slot; or the one provided by a mini-PCIe slot.

Comment Re:Beware of Dell Support - Worst I've seen (Score 1) 93

What he told you was true. From a certain point of view: Dell's 'consumer' support has traditionally been somewhere between 'as empty and pitiless as the dark spaces between the stars' and 'actively insulting'; but they've always recognized the value of treating enterprise customers properly(and the warranties cost more, to compensate). There have been some ignoble incidents(their handling of Optiplex GX270 capacitor-plague failures was so egregious it resulted in litigation; ironically the IT guys at the law firm defending Dell were fighting to get their own GX270s replaced with ones that worked at the same time the lawyers were making the case that Dell's handling of the matter was just fine...); but in general their Poweredge, Optiplex, Latitude, and Vostro lines all have pretty decent support; and offer excellent support as an option if you are willing to pay for it.

The 'Inspiron' line, for home peons, has traditionally been pretty atrocious. XPS tacks somewhere between the two; it's a bit more annoying if you are trying to operate at scale(unlike the business/enterprise support guys, they tend not to let you do the "I've already run the diagnostics, here are the error codes, now send me a new whatever" thing); but unlike the low-end home user guys, they don't treat you like a filthy cost center who should fuck off and die.

Comment Re:Non-IPS panels (Score 2) 93

In fairness to Windows, non-integer multiple resizing simply isn't possible to do well unless all your graphics are vector(and even then, the designer's care and attention can have a strong influence on whether the result actually looks good to people at different scales; but at least there is a mathematically 'correct' answer).

If you have bitmap elements, integer-multiple resizing is both relatively trivial and possible to do 'correctly'. Non-integer multiple, like lossy compression, can be done in surprisingly non-annoying ways; but it cannot be done without some violence to the original. Bicubic interpolation will look a whole hell of a lot better than nearest-neighbor; but there simply is no 'correct' way of mapping N pixels into some non-integer multiple of N pixels.

Windows tends to work even less well than the ideal case would suggest; but even if you completely discard all issues of legacy widget sets, horrible retro UI designs, etc. and sit down with a bitmap image in photoshop, resizing it by a non-integer multiple is going to be a matter of compromise.

Comment Re:Non-IPS panels (Score 1) 93

'4k' is glorious; but unless you have truly impressive eyes, it's hard to justify on any laptop you'd be willing to carry. Going from 2560 x 1440 to 3840 X 2160 on the desktop was even better than I expected; but that was on a 27-28ish inch display; and if details were any smaller they'd be actively uncomfortable.

On a display of half the diagonal size, in a situation where GPU and battery power are at a premium, it just seems a tad excessive.

Comment Re:Input devices (Score 1) 93

It'd be beautiful if you could get aftermarket keyboards with a trackpoint added. Probably not possible for most models(I would have expected the falling cost of silicon to make embedding the controller into the keyboard FRU and being able to use a lower pin-count USB/serial/i2C/whatever connection to the motherboard; rather than leaving the keyboard passive and running all the lines from the switch matrix more common; but most laptop keyboard connectors continue to be matrix-type with the actual keyboard controller on the motherboard, so you couldn't just add the pointing device without cooperation from the motherboard, unlike what the situation would be if the connector were just a USB port with a nonstandard connector).

Between Lenovo attempting to bring their own, inferior, ideas to the Thinkpad line's design, and their fuckery with assorted terrible preloaded crapware; it's a lot harder to get excited about a new Thinkpad; but going without a trackpoint would hurt.

In fairness, though, Dell appears to have really upped their game on design of late. These models aren't even Latitudes, and they are genuinely nice; rather than merely endurable and attractively priced(though the price isn't bad). Tempting.

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist