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Submission + - Replacement of writers leads Gartner's predictions (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: Gartner's near-future predictions include: Writers will be replaced. By 2018, 20% of all business content, one in five of the documents you read, will be authored by a machine. By 2018, 2 million employees will be required to wear health and fitness tracking devices as a condition of employment. This may seem Orwellian, but certain jobs require people to be fit, such as public safety workers. By 2020, smart agents will facilitate 40% of mobile interactions. This is based on the belief that the world is moving to a post-app era, where assistants such as Apple's Siri act as a type of universal interface.

Submission + - Amazon to Offer Sneakernet Services

blueshift_1 writes: If you have 50TB of data that you'd like to put on the S3 cloud, Amazon is releasing Snowball. It's basically a large grey box full of hard drives that Amazon will mail to you. Simply upload your files and mail it back — they will upload it for you. For $200 + shipping, it's at a pretty reasonable price point if you're tired of hosting your data and want to try and push that to AWS.

Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway. -Tanenbaum, Andrew S.

Submission + - Why the World is Getting Weirder and Faster

HughPickens.com writes: It used to be that airliners broke up in the sky because of small cracks in the window frames. So we fixed that. It used to be that aircraft crashed because of outward opening doors. So we fixed that. Aircraft used to fall out of the sky from urine corrosion, so we fixed that with encapsulated plastic lavatories. The list goes on and on. And we fixed them all. So what are we left with? According to Steve Coast that just leaves the weird events like disappearing 777s, freak storms and pilots flying into mountains. Engineers have been hammering away at the remaining problems by creating more and more rules. "As illustration, we created rules to make sure people can’t get into cockpits to kill the pilots and fly the plane into buildings. That looked like a good rule. But, it’s created the downside that pilots can now lock out their colleagues and fly it into a mountain instead. This is a clean and understandable example of why adding more layers, and more rules, to a problem doesn’t always work," says Coast. "The worry should be we end up with so many rules we become sclerotic like Italy or France. We effectively end up with some kind of Napoleonic law – everything is illegal unless specifically made legal."

According to Coast the primary way we as a society deal with the mess of over-regulation is by creating rule-free zones. It’s essentially illegal for you to build anything physical these days from a toothbrush (FDA regulates that) to a skyscraper, but there’s zero restriction on creating a website. Hence, that’s where all the value is today. To paraphrase Peter Thiel, new technology is probably so fertile and productive simply because there are so few rules. "If you are starting a computer-software company, that costs maybe $100,000," says Thiel. But "to get a new drug through the FDA, maybe on the order of a billion dollars or so."

Comment Race to the bottom (Score 3, Insightful) 165

FTA: "The result is that many journalists turn out to be not so valuable at all. Their wages fall or they lose their jobs, while the superstar journalists attract more Web traffic and become their own global brands."

So at least in journalism, only the most popular will have a subsidized voice, and the rest will have to pay their own way if they want to share their insights. Since when is popularity the ultimate measure of value in a society, especially when it comes to news? Sometimes people really need to hear the stuff that's scary, uncomfortable, guilt-inducing, etc., even though it's not popular. If we continue down this road then I hope everyone enjoys having Fox-style reporting as the only available news source.

Yes, I realize I've used a 'reductio ad absurdum' argument, but I don't think I've gone very far into absurdity here. It strikes me that in a lot of ways this kind of 'metric' is merely measuring quantity when its purveyors seem to think that it measures quality. Maybe that's because quantity is so much easier to measure. But like a drunk searching for his keys under a streetlight because 'the light's better there', it's probably counterproductive.

Comment Re:Pointless (Score 1) 162

But there is an interesting twist to this line of thought: if individual companies become, in effect, their own nation states, should we require that they are run more like nations - with all it entails, including citizenship, democracy, social security, infrastructure paid for by themselves etc?

Interesting concept - reminds me a bit of zaibatsu and keiretsu.

And, if the difference between nations and businesses become ever smaller, why is it actually that nations are not allowed to compete in the market like businesses do? In the past, the argument was that the state would have an unfair advantage over national businesses both because of their size and the fact that they decide the laws etc, but if that national laws are now powerless against transnationals, there is no longer a good reason for states not to compete with business.

I think this would lead to a scenario wherein states and businesses would become more and more indistinguishable until there was no practical difference between them. And that would be a bad thing. A state's first priority, (and really its only priority), should be to look after its citizens. If a state becomes profit driven and is run like a business, bean counters will nix programs like welfare, because spending profits on taking care of the disenfranchised will piss off shareholders. CEO's or their equivalents will want to stifle dissent and get rid of anyone who publicly disagrees with the official corporate line. But how does one 'fire' a citizen? Execution or internment, perhaps?

Here in Canada we already have a Prime Minister who is only too happy to muzzle government scientists to stop them from sharing scientific results and conclusions with the public. ( http://www.cbc.ca/news/technol... ). I shudder to think of Stephen Harper as the CEO of "Canada Inc."

Comment Re: Yes (Score 2) 196

No. Get some solder paste, and a reflow oven (a $29 toaster oven from Walmart works fine). Surface mount is much faster than through-hole because you you just place the parts on the board with tweezers and pop it in the oven.

Heck, I do all of my SMT soldering with my trusty Hakko iron, although I'll use a big ugly heat gun for removing IC's. With a reservoir tip on my iron, (and lots of resin paste), I can even solder fine-pitch quads. If I was producing a lot of stuff I'd go with an oven, but in low volumes I do fine with just an iron.

Submission + - Are Apple, Google, Facebook about to profit from domestic violence? (abc.net.au)

aybiss writes: On ABC's (Australia) The Drum tonight there was a story about the Australian Federal Govt pledging $100m towards domestic violence action. Part of the story involved the purchase of 20,000 'safe phones' which can be given to those escaping domestic violence so that they can't be tracked by GPS.

Do you think that the big tech companies have something to answer on this issue? I for one disable the entire feature and I'm not sure whether these phones simply won't have GPS or whether it is permanently disabled or simply turned off in the phones' settings, but surely instead of pledging to purchase MORE smartphones and either pay more for the phones to be specially made/setup or for someone to set them up, we should be demanding that phones explicitly ask every time they want to make someone's location public?

Comment Re:Open Hardware (Score 2) 134

Where is all the open-source "libre" hardware that we were promised 2-to-3 years ago?

Software programmers usually don't require very much beyond decent computers and sufficient time. Hardware designers ultimately require silicon fabs - it's expensive to even get production time in one, never mind to own one. And if you end up with a serious bug that didn't show up until the first chips came off the line, then it's big bucks all over again to fix it.

I have the utmost respect and admiration for those who donate their time and effort to create libre software, and I would never expect them to magically come up with the funds to create open hardware to go along with it. If you're so keen on libre hardware, why don't you get involved, do some research, and maybe start a crowd-funding effort?

There is no competition in hardware, anymore.

There is no real competition anywhere anymore, at least among large corporations. The best you'll find is 'co-opetition'. Why? Because so many people keep supporting broken models of governance, (if they bother to think about such things at all), and they keep bending over and lubing up to make it easy for multi-nationals to have their way. They have a captive market, (courtesy of our indifference), so it's both easier and cheaper for them to dispense with real competition altogether and just pay lip service to it instead.

Comment Re:Why invent a new word? (Score 3, Interesting) 81

Corporations and Individuals should not have to "answer" to the Head of State, only to the Law. Quite the opposite in fact- it is the Heads of State who should be held accountable to the Citizens, and the Laws should hold only as much power as the Population grants them.

I would agree with you if you didn't equate corporations with citizens. Perhaps corporations shouldn't have to answer to heads of state, but they bloody well ought to answer to government. The hierarchy should have citizens at the top, followed by the government in the middle, with corporations on the bottom. We've allowed that order to be reversed, and we're paying the price.

Comment Re:Translation: (Score 1) 81

We have another newspeak term: 'diversity', as any individual daring to identify as an individual or, worse, act in his own interest, is obviously a racist, sexist 'imperialist' pig dead set on world domination.

Gee, maybe I'm wrong, but I always thought 'diversity' strongly implied and endorsed individuality - especially given that one antonym of 'diversity' is 'conformity'.

If the political culture in western countries still respected individual rights over groupthink knee jerking, we wouldn't have half the privacy concerns we do.

Does the article really strike you as "groupthink knee jerking"? If so, then wouldn't you at least apply the same criticism to the corporate world, so much of which is the epitome of groupthink?

I agree that we need to restore a political culture that respects individual rights. But I don't think that the people who champion diversity, (and whom you liken to Communists), are enemies of individual rights. In fact, I believe they're quite the opposite. Yes, people who push for political correctness sometimes go too far - but who doesn't? And honestly, I don't think the terms 'colonialism' and 'imperialism' are too strong for the corporate dominance trends I'm seeing every day.

Comment Re:Oh no no no! (Score 1) 103

are you really going to oppose things like the Rainbow papaya (university made, by the University of Hawai'i & Cornell University), Golden Rice (NGO made, by the International Rice Research Institute), Bt eggplant (government made, by Bangladesh), ect. on the basis that someone else is doing something wrong with the same technology?

I think the concern here is that, even with the best of intentions and with GMO foods that in the short term provide great benefits, we still can't be sure we're not missing something crucial. Potential problems from GMO foods, (such as possibly bad genetic modifications showing up in the human genome as a result of food genes that likely wouldn't have occurrred outside of a laboratory), might not show up for years, or even a generation or two. And they might even not be immediately traceable to GMO foods.

There's a lot we don't know about the potential long-term effects of GMO foods. Should we be doing these experiments on human subjects, often without the informed consent of said subjects?

Comment Re:Jettison != Outsourcing (Score 2) 273

How do you stop a transnational corporation from moving jobs to other countries in an age of big-dollar corporate lobbying?

Perhaps I'm naive, but I always thought this could be accomplished by political leaders who had the integrity and the balls to actually represent the best interests of the majority of their constituents. If a company's ability to sell its products and services in a country were dependent on the number and quality of jobs it provided in that country, (as tended to be the case before globalization was rammed up our asses with the promise that it would be 'better for everyone'), then we wouldn't be bleeding so many jobs to "low-cost countries". And guess what? There'd still be enough wealth left over to help break the poverty cycle in impoverished countries, if it wasn't all being eaten up by spurious wars, political corruption, and other sundry wealth concentration schemes.

The death knell for a just society was sounded on the day that corporations like HP gained all the rights, (and more) of individual citizens, with little or none of the corresponding responsibility.

Retirement means that when someone says "Have a nice day", you actually have a shot at it.