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Comment The man is a marketing genius (Score 3, Interesting) 207

Right now the auto industry is reeling from a serious of serious "we had a problem, but we didn't want to say anything" scandals, from the GM ignition switch to the VW super smoggers, and don't forget the shrapnel bags. The entire ecosystem is full of distrust, some of it fairly active distrust.

In this environment a one off assembly mistake where there was no accident, no damage of any kind, is a marketing opportunity you couldn't even buy in a normal market environment.

Musk already recalled all his cars once, to bolt extra belly armor on them because of an accident which would have been considered extreme in any vehicle, and in which his car came out smelling like a rose.

This recall is going to be a lot cheaper. No engineering, not even any replacement parts, but now Tesla is Even More Different(tm) because they recalled a potential problem immediately, before anybody even asked about it.

Based on Musk's previous behaviour I think he really cares that his products are perceived as the best. I am not making a character reference because I don't know the guy, but he obviously cares about at least the appearance of superlativeness.

The guy runs a marketing machine that reminds me of the late Mr. Jobs in his prime.

Comment Forbes (Score 2) 103

I really hate to contribute to the hate noise the haters bring, but I really hate to visit websites that hate to let me see the site without allowing scripting I hate from dozens of hated sources.

Could we get some kind of automated indicator when a link points at a site that just won't load with NoScript?

I don't think I am a tinfoil hat paranoid, I just don't like to have to allow 17 different sites to run scripts in my browser just to read an article. After reading a few comments it looks like I didn't miss much this time.

Comment Re:Goolge fiber next. (Score 4, Informative) 165

wow! talking through hat much?

Independent contractors most certainly can be forced to use and buy uniforms. If the contract says "provide service X while wearing uniform Y" and you accept the contract you most certainly are required to wear uniform Y. Just like a contractor can be required to use specific materials for a job.

A contract can also require when a job is done, such as "paint the walls of our building using [specific brand and color code] paint, work will be performed after hours between 5PM and 8AM, to be completed by November 15th 2015.

The difference between a contractor and an employee is rooted in the negotiation and powers of the parties.

If the worker answers to a boss for day to day instructions, has little or no say in the compensation level, is contractually prevented from working for others, paid on a regular time basis and is scheduled by the employer then they are pretty much sure to be considered an employee.

If the worker is just required to meet deadlines, is paid by the job, has freedom to work elsewhere, and freedom to hire their own help then they are generally going to be considered an independent contractor.

A contractor cannot be fired. They can lose the job if they fail to meet the terms of the contract, but for the length of that contract they are not susceptible to the whims of a grumpy PHB, and the contractor has the same right to initiate a breach of contract suit as the company who hired them.

The grey areas that are showing up in recent class actions are pretty much all the result of companies wanting to avoid the responsibilities of employees, such as unemployment insurance, workers comp, disability, etc, but wanting to regulate the worker/customer interface to preserve a consistent corporate image.

Because these are large corporations contracting individuals to a large extent the contractor does not have any power of negotiation, the corporation writes the contract, and contractors can take it or leave it. This does introduce a bias against the independent contractor classification.

I think in many of these cases the workers will win, because the company is really trying to say "you don't work for me, but you have to represent me in a strictly defined way".

If a company really wanted to do this with contractors the right way they could write a contract that regulated the workers as strictly as they wanted, then put the contract out for bid. This would shift the negotiation power toward the worker, let them name their own price, but it would also cost the company a lot more money, because people bidding on a contract are either going to name a price that actually reflects their money/time investment, or if they grossly underbid to get the job, they will not be able to actually fulfill the contract requirements.

An actual example:

Your mailman is a government employee, benefits, insurance, the whole kit and caboodle. In rural areas he is actually required to provide his own vehicle, but is an employee.

The truck that takes your mail between sorting centers is probably an independent contractor. That particular contract has pretty strict time requirements, and a bunch of hoops to jump through (after all, it is a government contract) but the government is not concerned about that contractor representing them, because they do not interact with the customer. The contractor provides and maintains the equipment, hires their own drivers, and bids competitively to get the contract every time it comes to an end. They run some pretty ratty trucks sometimes. I have seen U.S. Mail painted on trailers that have other logos just painted over, being pulled by tractors that look like they were purchased third hand.

If the contractor underbids the job he will either suck it up and lose money (if they have the capital to do that) or will be forced to break the contract.

But any way you look at it a contract can be so specific as to specify the brand of toothpaste the contractor uses. The specificity of the contract is not the primary differentiator between the employee and contractor classification

Comment Did anybody else think about who InFocus is? (Score 2) 224

This isn't a computer company, this is a projector company. Did no one else immediately think "Oh, they are going to build the dock into projectors, you have a conference room system in one piece that just needs a wireless keyboard/mouse/presentation remote."

The battery means the projector can be as small as a pico projector, with its own built in battery and you have a complete presentation system that fits easily in the briefcase with your sales literature and you are completely wireless.

Add a smartphone with hotspotting, you have complete connectivity (unless you live in the boonies where I live) with no other pieces required for your sales presentation, whether it is in a hotel room or the corner of a MacDonalds.

So yeah, all us geeks want to know how it would work in a beowulf cluster, but I think the real target is going to be non-geeks who really can benefit from not having to worry about whether the potential client has a projector with VGA or HDMI in the conference room.

In the longer view of things, if InFocus standardizes on this dock connector you can upgrade the computer or the projector one at a time. At this price you could even have computers dedicated to a specific presentation, swap the computer, the IT guys back at $bigCo set it up to auto run, you just plug in the computer with your presentation on it. Even easier than swapping out those itty bitty micro SD cards.

Comment WTF? (Score 5, Informative) 220

What is all this doom and gloom about debian spiralling into oblivion and the end is coming? Did anybody read TFA before posting? The only thing that I can see from the LSB that has actually had a positive effect on me is the FHS, to which Debian is still adhering.

The LSB in its entirety actually contains a list of required libraries and standardized symlinks which may or may not be used on a system, but which must be there for "LSB compliance". IRL Debian package maintainers spend a lot of time and effort building dependancy lists into their packages so you DON'T have to have all those libraries on your system if you are not going to use them.

If you use dpkg or a wrapper (apt-get, aptitude, etc) to manage your system the LSB requirements are redundant at best and bloatware at worst.

The only situation where something like the LSB really makes sense is proprietary copy and run programs that depend on proprietary pieces. Even closed source proprietary software can utilize the apt database to resolve dependencies if it only has open source dependancies, or if the company hosts their own repository.

A large company running large numbers of Linux machines that wanted to standardize will probably (hopefully) do so to meet their requirements, rather than a generalized LSB desktop spec which attempts to be all things to all people.

If people went to their local computer store and bought software packages on CDs, and installed them on computers that did not have internet connectivity, the yes, up with the LSB. Do you do that? I don't even use a full installer package to install an OS anymore, just a network capable installer that then pulls all the dependancies in the appropriate versions from a repository on the net.

Yes, it was a noble concept, to try to define a standard set of always available libraries, and where they were, but in reality you rapidly run into the same problem software has on Windows, where software is written to depend on shared DLLs, but because people don't update their OS, or because people do update before the developer tests against a new version of the shared DLL, so software starts shipping with it's own copy of the relevant DLLs, and you end up with multiple versions of standard DLLs on your system.

When I started playing with slackware years ago, I really wished for something like the LSB, because I was sneakernetting everything home or taking days to download things on dialup. Those days are now distant memories.

Both rpm and apt solve the same problems, but do so without requiring a pile of unused libraries that just sit around cluttering up your system.

And just as a last point, how in the world does the LSB/NO LSB discussion compare in any way to the systemd/sysvinit discussion? One of them fundamentally changes the way a system operates, the other one just installs a bunch of packages that you can install just fine on your own. That's not an apples and oranges comparison, that is an apple and cinderblock comparison.

Comment Solar powered electric fence charger (Score 1) 403

A solar powered electric fence charger is designed for neglect. The fence itself will be useless, weeds will ground it fairly quickly, and anybody who maintains them knows a fence won't last a year unmaintained, but the solar powered charger will keep ticking as long as the battery lasts, and will probably keep trying even after the battery fails. The cheap little solar powered yard lights also should keep working for quite a while, at least the ones that aren't DOA when they are purchased.

But all devices that rely on a battery will be outlasted by devices using RTGs for power, or direct solar devices that don't use a battery, like those car ventilation fans you put in your car window.

The type of devices built with RTGs (Satellites and Mars rovers) are the absolute highest quality components assembled and tested with the best quality control, while the solar powered car ventilation fan is built by an 11 year old Chinese kid working an 18 hour shift, so I am betting on the satellites.

Comment (Score 1) 295


They are reasonably priced. Definitely not the cheapest, but reasonable.

They are outside the US (Canada).

They actively resist pressure from people like the City of London police, unlike some other fairly well known registrars.

The guy that founded it, Mark Jeftovic, blogs frequently and aggressively about what he considers good service, and I find myself most of the time agreeing with him.

They do do web hosting as well, haven't used it myself.

Their real claim to fame is their DNS service, which I have used for several years, primarily because it is "real" DNS, as in I control all the records in the zone file, and supports dynamic DNS well.

There are not the cheapest, but they are a compan that cares, and it has shown in my dealings with them.

Comment Re:TFA seems to have been written by a non-player (Score 1) 208

Actually, no, apparently not. It seems that there was inside information going in both directions between Bukkit and Mojang, and in fact individual coders were working both sides of the fence. Bukkit was the most successful modding framework for a reason.

I don't want to drag up the entire war again, but there were some coders who were absolutely committed to the game, and who had back channel connections to Mojang.

It really was an important part of the Minecraft server explosion, because Vanilla Minecraft has absolutely no in game sense of ownership or permission structure, and without the various modding frameworks (of which bukkit was the most popular) a public server is literally (in the literal sense) impossible to keep playable.

Yes there are mods that directly patch the Minecraft libraries, but they are a nightmare for server admins, because they break each other and are seemingly broken by every Minecraft upgrade. It is much less work for devs, and less headaches for admins when mods are written against a common framework.

This is why modders were excited when Mojang announced the upcoming API, and some very good mods actually were abandoned, since the API was coming "soon" and the modders didn't want to keep rewriting for every version and decided to wait for the API. And wait.... and wait....

My honest opinion is that Notch got bored. If you look at his coding habits before Minecraft he has churned out a lot of code, much of it quickly. He loves the hack fest and coding competition environment, I think doing one thing for more than a year, and being responsible for a suddenly large business operation got tiresome. If I was in his shoes, and had the money he has, I probably would have responded similarly, except for the Microsoft part.

But I am afraid Minecraft without Notch is like Apple without Jobs. A large part of the success is dependent on the vision of one individual. I expect Minecraft will start to lose focus in the same way I think Apple already has started, not because of lack of good people, but because an autocratic dictator is always the most efficient leadership toward a specific goal.

Comment TFA seems to have been written by a non-player (Score 4, Interesting) 208

A couple specific comments really stood out and indicated to me that the author is not a crafter.

Bigger worlds?? I have yet to see a world that was even 10 percent mapped, let alone actually explored. Size of the world really truly is more than sufficient for any reason I can conceive.

Pooling water? Again, nice if you looked at a world but didn't play it. If water pooled then basically all mines and caverns would simply be under water. Water really is an evil in Minecraft, and learning to deal with it is one of the elementary skills required to mine in the game.

I think the potential tie ins to other titles and universes would only alienate a lot of the most creative crafters, just look at the creations on YouTube, they love to create tie ins, from Star Wars to real world museums, but the joy is in creating the content, not in having "official" connections.

That said, I am sure there is a market among the me-toos, the ones that respond to every cool Minecraft video on YoTube with "can I get a copy of your world" for all kinds of branded content, but I don't know if Microsoft is looking to own a disloyal crowd of sycophant 13 year olds.

I am also curious about the future of Minecraft even without the Microsoft factor, because the mod coders have been waiting now for a few years for the modding API, which has been coming "soon" for a long time. Bukkit, the largest server modding framework is dead, killed by a "take my ball and go home" playground argument amped up with a DMCA takedown, and I think the window to reclaim that group of coders has just about closed, so whatever happens in the future is likely to be a different community of coders.

Combine that with losing the singular vision when Notch was making all the decisions and Minecraft 2.0 is going to be very different. Not necessarily worse or better, but different. I would have loved it if Notch had actually kept his promise to open the source, but he chose not to, and so the First Minecraft era passes.

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.

Comment Re:I for one welcome Microsoft on IoT/Pi (Score 2) 307

Remember WinCE? Microsoft's embedded products are not the same as their desktop products. And, no, WinIoT on a Pi will not run the same executables, it is an ARM platform which Microsoft just emphatically orphaned with their last go around. Remember the surface RT? That did not run any standard Windows executables, at the very least the executable would have to be compiled against the ARM build chain, and that isn't an option for end users of proprietary software.

Thinking about this I understand the point a couple (at least one) person has made that MS getting involved will help mainstream the non-x86 low power stuff, or at least the ARM branch, but then I remembered what happened to the exploding world of netbooks when companies started growing them to run Windows.

The netbook market disappeared, seemingly over night, and now we are left with ultrabooks, or whatever they are calling the MacBook Air class of machines now. Sure they are light and small, but they are a whole lot more than the $100 price point netbooks were approaching.

On the Pi there is a lot of similarity to the Android stuff, we have Java as an app platform. Is this new Pi really powerful enough to mix Java and at the same time? Just the overhead of a Java VM plus a .net framework resident at the same time sounds a little bit much for any current ARM SoC with just a gig of RAM

Now if you are targeting actual IoT devices, just developing on the Pi, sure a single purpose embedded device will probably run on a Windows stack just as well as it will on Linux. I am a little concerned about MS attempting to be responsive to exploits, but then I think we will find that most people never update their thermostat or refrigerator regardless of what OS it runs, so I think the exploitability will probably be a wash.

I am more concerned that some inexperienced whiz kid, whether he be of the .net or Java persuasion, will manage to make an actually universally useful device, but not know enough about the actual requirements of embedded programming so it just works well enough for everyone to buy one, then all the non-techy people who buy it get their home netork pwned or it crashes in an untested but relatively common use case and has significant socio-economic impact on our tech dependent society.

So all in all I really don't think MS jumping into the fray is a bad thing. I don't plan on running it on anything I build, but think about it, according to the rumors Apple thought hard about buying Nest. Would you want your house controlled by software coming from 1 Infinite Loop?

Are you actually confident about running it on software coming out of the Googleplex?

The truth is everybody that doesn't read /. is gonna buy these connected devices just like they do blenders and dishwashers, and if they act up they will return them to Walmart or Home Depot or Best Buy and get their money back just like they do now with toasters, TVs, and computers.

Do you care who wrote the code embedded in that 386 running your microwave? Do you even know if it is a 386 running your microwave? Me either. I do know that at least at one point the embedded 386 family was often used for things like that, but I never bothered looking.

OK, I am down meandering and ranting.

Comment Re:Buy two... (Score 1) 190

I am amazed after all the flame wars ^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h discussions about raid VS backup that people still don't get the difference. A backup is not a daily synced drive. How do you recover last Tuesdays file if you already synced the deletion??

  A backup is a snapshot in time, which is preserved _as_is_ for a period of time, determined by space/data retention compromises, but under no circumstances would I consider a single drive which lags the live drive by a maximum of 24 hours a backup strategy.

If you had 10 drives, backed up to a different drive every night of the week, with a longer cycle for the Friday drives, that is a backup strategy.

Raid is for data availability, backup is for data retention. Neither works for the other.

Comment Yes, I only have 8 tools in my toolbox (Score 1) 82

OK, I know that is only a prototype, but really guys, he specifically said it wasn't worth doing tool ID. When I work on something my toolbox tends to accumulate nuts and bolts and odds and ends, and isn't always deployed in a well lighted place. In fact it has been deployed in the rain at night. A simple light sensor is just not gonna cut it, at least in my real world.

A tool box that actually identified and inventoried my tools without carefully placing them in space wasting foam cutouts would indeed be useful, and would probably even be worth $1 per tool to me, but I have not seen any system that could tag tools with a tag that wouldn't just get smashed off when using the tool in a tight space.

This could be useful for a specific tool kit, say a fusion splicer kit or network analyzer kit, where it does make sense to have neat foam cutout for all your pricey little cleavers and media converters and whatnot, but those are definitely pricey enough, and used carefully enough, to justify RFID tagging.

All in all, yes, I think this is a problem that could use a solution, I just don't think this is a valid solution for a general purpose toolbox, and for the special purpose toolkits the problem is largely solved by a simple visual check for empty foam cutouts before you close it up.

The truth of the matter is that probably most of that $35,000 of "lost" tools just went home with someone, either accidentally, or to beef up their own tool collection.

Comment Thse tests are all the same car (Score 5, Insightful) 314

Did anyone else notice those seem to be successive tests on the same car? In the alternator test you see a fastener toward the back of the belly plate gets loosened, in the trailer hitch test you see the fastener actually come out, then in the concrete block test you see the belly plate actually flap under impact, and you can see what appears to be the hole that fastener came from.

I am fairly impressed that, not only did they do real world tests (which do fall short of shearing off wheels and battering through concrete walls) but they apparently did not put the car on a lift and return it to perfect condition between successive tests.

That makes the test a bit more real world like, cars get driven and accumulate wear and tear, so they are not necessarily going to be in factory mint condition when they hit something.

You get the feeling, regardless of what you think of Musk or the car, that he is very proud of that car, and it appears justifiably so. Yes, he is defensive when the press screams disaster and trumpets doom and gloom about the car, but he doesn't ever try to hide from the press or try to spin the reports, instead he makes a change to improve the car, then does his spin on his own terms.

Obviously titanium might be a bit pricey for the "cheap" Tesla when it arrives, but I bet the anti-penetration armor design will be there, even if it ends up being constructed of less expensive materials.

In this way the response to the overhyped Tesla accidents and fires will help us all in the long run, just like the German automakers pioneered crash simulation in the 80s and 90s, and now all cars have crumple zones.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato