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Comment: Re:It's already going on... (Score 2) 349

by kbdd (#47409933) Attached to: Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies
The key is that the insurance company has no incentive to reduce your premium, their only incentive is to increase the total sum they get from premiums as much as they can.

Therefore eventually these devices will not be used to help good drivers, simply to penalize bad ones, not quite the same thing.

Comment: Re:Free, less buggy, more usable, what's not to li (Score 1) 285

by kbdd (#46786397) Attached to: Apache OpenOffice Reaches 100 Million Downloads. Now What?
"so its less buggy than an over decade old product?"

What a moron!

Read the post. My use of the past tense should have been a clue that it happened in the past and mentioning it was used by corporate edict should have been a clue that MS Word was in its support period, i.e. current. For completeness, that happened in the fall of 2004, but you probably don't care. You are probably now going to object that MS Word being so "young", how could I expect it to not be buggy? I probably should have waited a few more years before they had the bugs worked out?

Now, regardless of when that happened I would expect a piece of software that cost several 100 dollars to be better able to handle it's own f***g proprietary file format than a freebee that had to reverse engineer it, regardless how long it has been since you bought it.

Comment: Free, less buggy, more usable, what's not to like? (Score 2, Interesting) 285

by kbdd (#46779529) Attached to: Apache OpenOffice Reaches 100 Million Downloads. Now What?
I remember working on a document in Word 2003 with several large tables. Periodically, Word 2003 (which I had to use by corporate edict) would crash while working on one particularly large table, and would be unable to reload the document. I found out that loading the document in OpenOffice and saving it back immediately fixed whatever problem Word was having and I could work in Word for a while longer. I ended up having to do that every few days until I was done with the document.

Comment: Re: And in other news... (Score 1) 506

by kbdd (#46388697) Attached to: Quebec Language Police Target Store Owner's Facebook Page
It seems you are correct, I came across this (PBS web site):

"Under current law, only applicants for U.S. citizenship, not those applying for green cards, must prove English proficiency."

Maybe I was confused. I was pretty certain that I had to pass a proficiency test when I applied for a green card 25 years ago, but maybe it was for the citizenship, or maybe the law changed since then, or maybe it was just a policy of the US Immigration Services at the time.

Apparently English proficiency was a provision to the ill-fated immigration reform bill that was put together by a bi-partisan group last year. In my opinion, that would be a good thing. US born kids have to go to school (or be home-schooled) and therefore have to possess at least a minimum of English proficiency by the time they turn 18 (I will readily admit that in some cases it is really minimum.) I see little reason for not asking the same from immigrants.

Comment: Re: And in other news... (Score 1) 506

by kbdd (#46369739) Attached to: Quebec Language Police Target Store Owner's Facebook Page
"a condition for being a citizen of the USA is that you have to speak the language" was what I said, not what I meant :)

I meant: "a condition for becoming a permanent resident or a citizen (by naturalization) is that you speak the language". That is part of the regulations that used to be applied by the INS. I suppose the courts probably can decide to make you a citizen without the involvement of the INS, but that is not to my point. The majority of immigrants have to go through the INS.

Thank you for catching this. The rest of your post is informative (thank you, I did not know:), but only tangentially to my point.

It is only one of the differences naturalized Americans have compared to naturally born Americans.

Comment: Re: And in other news... (Score 2) 506

by kbdd (#46366663) Attached to: Quebec Language Police Target Store Owner's Facebook Page
I do not want to force anybody to do anything they do not want to do, but a condition for being a citizen of the USA is that you have to speak the language. It actually is the law, if that means anything. Candidates do not have to promise to never speak their native language, but they have to show that they are sufficiently proficient in English to be able to conduct business as a permanent resident or citizen, and I happen to think that it is a good law. You make your choice, if you do not want to do that, nobody is forcing you to come live here. At least that was the case when I got my green card (and later my citizenship) over 20 years ago. The interview was conducted in English, and if you could not answer the questions in English, you simply did not get a green card.

Therefore I do not understand why those who want to become citizen (or green card holders) simply do not just do that and we let them. I actually know a lot of people who have a green card yet would fail the test I had to go through 20 years ago. I also do not agree that the government should spend taxpayer's money to develop government paperwork (intended for citizens and permanent residents) in languages other than English. Just like you have no expectation of privacy when you use electronic means to communicate, you should have no expectation that the government will develop tools and procedures in languages other than English when these tools are intended for residents and citizen.

If the laws on the books had been reasonably enforced, and if a majority of immigrants had shown a minimum amount of respect for the country that gave them a place to live, we would not have gotten in a situation where 50%+ of the population in an area *only* speaks a language other than English in the first place. Again, I have no beef with people speaking a language other than English, even conducting business in it, I have a problem when I find myself in an area of the USA where *nobody* (or a small fraction) speaks English and I cannot conduct business (or ask for directions) in English. I realize I start to sound like a Republican and that makes me uncomfortable...

I am an immigrant myself, but I would not have considered coming to the USA (or any other country) without having first a basic proficiency in English (or the local language) and improving it once here. I certainly would not have expected (or demanded) that the government generates instructions and forms in any language other than English, or provide a translator. I made it a point to be proficient in English and I would not have come if I had not been able to achieve that. I observe that for those who may not know English before coming here, the local college provides very inexpensive classes for "English as a Second Language" and that many people do take advantage of those, so even if you end up in the US under duress and do not speak English, there is no reason for not learning English once you are here.

I deplore that obviously many do not have such standards or do not take advantage of these classes, but I am not sure we can fix it at this point.

The issue with the banks or hospitals is different since no taxpayer money is involved. The issue is not that they cater to their foreign customers, what bothers me is that they do not even say "for Spanish, press 9" in English. How hard can it be for a Spanish speaking customer of a US bank to recognize the sound of "for Spanish, press 9"? This one is more of a gripe than anything, but it is the most apparent and one that I find offensive because of the pervasiveness of it where I live (north-west Florida, even though the Spanish fraction of the local population is much smaller here than in the rest of the state). I understand in other parts of the country it may be different. That is a personal thing I suppose.

Comment: Re: And in other news... (Score 1) 506

by kbdd (#46361221) Attached to: Quebec Language Police Target Store Owner's Facebook Page
Well, of course I agree with you, and not just because I am of foreign origin. I do appreciate the value of cultural blending as I am participating in it myself, voluntarily or not :) And as I pointed out earlier, there is much value in it, not only in tourism but also in quality of life for those who choose to see it that way (bigots need not apply).

It still pisses me off when I call the bank though !

I also believe that in the long run, these groups have to integrate somewhat into their host country, and that means losing at least some of their culture while assimilating the local culture, otherwise what would it mean to live in a particular country? Individual countries would have little identification for themselves.

Maybe that is just the way it is going. I reserve the right to decide later if it is good or bad :)

Comment: Re: And in other news... (Score 2) 506

by kbdd (#46360021) Attached to: Quebec Language Police Target Store Owner's Facebook Page
I tend to agree with you, but it is to a large extent a chicken and egg thing.

If people are not somehow gently pushed to learn English by speaking it, they have little incentive to do so, and you have these enclaves of foreign-speaking residents who develop a society of their own separate from the rest of the country. Overall, society pays the cost of having to support business (private and government) in more than one language. It does not provide value, except to facilitate tourism and immigration, which I agree may actually be valuable in other regards.

If people were obligated to at least do formal interface with the government in English, they would be more likely to conduct other business in English too, and we would all benefit (me, who does not speak Spanish, could do business with that fraction of the country which currently only does business in Spanish for instance.)

What offends me the most about the calls to the bank is that Spanish is the primary language you hear. I am not offended that they are actually able (and find it profitable) to conduct business in Spanish, it is that Spanish is the first language you hear when you call.

If people are invested enough in this country that they have to have a local bank account, they should be able to understand at least enough English to know that pressing 9 during the first few seconds will get them a Spanish menu without having to be told, in Spanish.

Comment: Re: And in other news... (Score 4, Insightful) 506

by kbdd (#46359277) Attached to: Quebec Language Police Target Store Owner's Facebook Page
As an immigrant who started learning English in school, I have no objection to anyone using the language of their choice for whatever private purpose they want to. However, I have an issue with the government (local, state or federal) spending taxpayer's money to make government services available in languages other than English. It seems to be common courtesy that if you want to move in and live in a country, you learn the local language as a courtesy to the locals you are invading as a mark of respect.

Similarly, I am very offended when I call a bank or any other local business and the first thin I am asked is if I speak Spanish, to press '9'.

Now, I also recognize that "speaking English" is not a strict definition. Many natives don't do that very well.

They are relatively good but absolutely terrible. -- Alan Kay, commenting on Apollos