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Comment: Re:RTFA, it's not that usage which he's objecting (Score 1) 1268

by mcubed (#33246292) Attached to: US Students Struggle With Understanding of the 'Equal' Sign
Exactly, but I don't think this problem is particularly new, or maybe I was just "ahead of my time" in the ignorance department. After getting excellent grades in all subjects through elementary school, I hit my first skid in 7th grade pre-algebra, and it was because of this problem. I spent much of a semester failing or barely passing tests simply because I didn't get that an "equation is a whole across," as you put it. You can only get so far when you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what "=" really means. Once it was finally explained to me, I did fine and my grades recovered. But it shouldn't have taken my math teacher (who was a putz) so long to figure out what was going wrong. Sure, sometimes students are lazy, but just as often teachers are inattentive and unmotivated. If you can't get the basic principles across, you aren't doing your job.

Comment: Re:So Much For Employee Privacy! (Score 1) 1036

by mcubed (#32776908) Attached to: Google To Add Pay To Cover a Tax For Gays

Heterosexual unmarried couples in CA can't register as domestic partners (except for couples over the age of 62). That's why Google's new policy applies only to same-sex couples who are registered.

The registry itself is an attempt, by the state, to extend many of the rights and benefits available to married heterosexual couples to same-sex couples whose marriages are not recognized by the state. But there are numerous rights and benefits it does not (and can not, because of federal law) extend. A heterosexual married Googler can opt to extend Google's employee health insurance benefit to that Googler's spouse, and a homosexual domestically partnered Googler can opt to extend Google's employee health insurance benefit to that Googler's domestic partner. However, the cost of doing so for the gay Googler will be significantly higher, because the benefit the gay Googler gets (for the domestic partner) is considered taxable income. The benefit the heterosexual married Googler gets (for the spouse) is not taxable income.

All Google is doing is making up the cost differential. It isn't discriminating against anybody. You could certainly make the argument that the state is discriminating in at least two ways: 1) not recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples; 2) not allowing unmarried heterosexual couples under the age of 62 to register as domestic partners in lieu of getting married. But I doubt the state would even bother with a domestic partnership registry if the marriages of same-sex couples were on the same footing with the marriages of opposite-sex couples. Really, what would be the point?

Gay people have already outed themselves by registering their domestic partnership. Further, they out themselves by paying for the health insurance benefit for their domestic partner. Google's new policy isn't requiring any additional "outing."

I agree that it would be much simpler if the state would simply recognize same-sex marriages, rather than create a whole parallel system for dealing with same-sex couples. (Note: Gay people can, and do, get married all the time, in both religious and civil ceremonies, and have been doing so in this country for 40-50 years or more. The state can not and never has prevented gays from marrying; it does, however, refuse to accord those marriages the same status it accords opposite-sex marriages.) Another option would be to ignore the term "marriage" altogether and simply treat anyone who wants to register their relationship with the state as domestic partners or civil partners. But these things are out of Google's control, and I think Google is doing the right thing here in redressing one imbalance that is within its power to redress.

Comment: Re:More than 90% for me too (Score 1) 198

by mcubed (#30871604) Attached to: By Latest Count, 95% of Email Is Spam

For the past few months, I've been volunteering at a transitional housing shelter, providing basic computer assistance to anyone who needs it. The guys at the shelter range in education level and in their experience with computers and the internet. Most have some basics down, many are perfectly competent or better, some have almost no experience. I have, just-in-time, stopped several people from giving out their social security numbers to spammers. I've had guys ask how come they can't get the free credit report the email said they could get without a credit card number. Just about all of them seem to understand, almost instinctively, that the sex-related spam is probably a scam. But I think you'd be surprised at how easily unsophisticated users can be taken in by what would strike many others as an obvious scam. And the more sophisticated the spam, the more people can get roped in.

When I'm helping someone set up an email account (sometimes, their first email account ever), I try to direct them to GMail because it seems to me to do the best filtering out-of-the-box. Many of them use Yahoo, and those are the ones I usually find trying to respond to a spam solicitation.

Comment: Re:Default installation? (Score 1) 503

by mcubed (#28338459) Attached to: Mono Squeezed Into Debian Default Installation
Using the netinstall CD, GNOME is installed if you select the desktop environment option from the task list the installer presents you with. If you don't select that task, GNOME is not installed. On this score, all install modes (expert or standard) are the same. It's easy not to install GNOME if you don't want to install GNOME.

Comment: Re:BBC Documentary (Score 1) 177

by mcubed (#28185081) Attached to: <em>Tetris</em> Turns 25

Cool ... thx for highlighting this.

I am not a gamer. On the plus side, that made it much easier for me to ditch Windows some years ago, since I never cared about this or that beloved game that I couldn't play without Windows. On the minus side, it means I generally skip over a lot of Slashdot articles.

But there are two computer/arcade games I love -- Tetris and PacMan. Pong was fun for about two hours, the first time I played it on my friend's dad's Apple something back in the late '70s. I've never grown tired of Tetris, though -- here's to the next 25 years.

Comment: Time Warner big and decentralized (Score 1) 94

by mcubed (#28148645) Attached to: Time Warner Confirms Split With AOL

The problem with the notion of Time Warner making AOL an exclusive media outlet is that Time Warner isn't the monolithic corporation many like to think it is. This is less true today than it was back when the merger (which was really, as others have mentioned, AOL buying Time Warner, even though it was spun to the media as a merger) took place, but it still operates in a somewhat looser fashion than many corporate behemoths. Time Inc. was always fairly decentralized, with different divisions setting their own policies and procedures. The Time Inc. & Warner Communications merger that created TW made it moreso. The idea that the corporate powers on high would just hand down orders to the music, publishing, magazine and movie divisions about where they would distribute their product or whom would be their "outlet" is pretty ridiculous if you knew anything about how Time Warner operated, about the wide-ranging, across-the-board autonomy most divisions had even while being wholly owned by Time Warner.

Then there was the problem of Road Runner, which no one ever solved. Road Runner (now, I believe, Time Warner Cable) -- rightly, in my view -- saw AOL as competition, not as a potential partner. Road Runner was profitable and growing. Even the most fervent AOL champions within Time Warner didn't want to piss off Road Runner, nor be seen as responsible for killing the golden goose (or, at least, for slowing its production of eggs). Road Runner had done just fine striking its own deals with Time Warner properties (like HBO) and non-TW properties alike. The truth is, Time Warner could have done everything it hoped to do with AOL on its own -- it already had the necessary ingredients under the corporate umbrella -- and it could've done it without ruffling the feathers that the AOL deal ruffled or introducing yet another foreign corporate culture into a mix that was already a wildly divergent mix of sometimes clashing cultures. The mystifying thing, to me, about the whole fiasco is why Time Warner ever thought it needed AOL.

Comment: Re:Now I know who to blame (Score 1) 226

by mcubed (#27728339) Attached to: The Woman Who Established Fair Use

The problem being that if the book goes into the public domain immediately upon the author's death, what's the publisher's incentive to make a large up-front payment?

How many publishers would be willing even to publish, let alone pay a lot of money for the rights to, a book by an aged or ill author? Just wait till the author kicks the bucket, then everything is public domain. Age becomes a disincentive for everyone involved, author and publisher alike.

Comment: MEPIS, to see what it was like (Score 1) 739

by mcubed (#27714601) Attached to: What Did You Do First With Linux?

I used Mepis Linux first, the liveCD version (which was also an install CD). I had been making a concerted effort for some time prior to use only OSS on Windows, and had pretty much succeeded with that. So I thought it was time I checked out an open-source operating system. D/l'ed and burned Mepis, booted into it, and viola. I liked it and though I hadn't planned to, went ahead and installed it on my HD, which was pretty painless, thank goodness, because I didn't have much of an idea of what was going on. I did, at least, understand what I needed to about partitioning.

I think the only downside to the whole experience was that out-of-the-box KDE wasn't terribly well-configured back then and I thought it was ugly. Fonts, especially, were hideous. It was sometime later before I figured out that KDE can look quite nice, but I've never been much of a fan probably because of that first exposure.

Comment: Re:To avoid this.. (Score 1) 396

by mcubed (#27570845) Attached to: Was the Amazon De-Listing Situation a Glitch Or a Hack?

Do that enough times, and you'll start to get horny when you see the object.

Personally, I find that repeated exposure to the same image/object results in loss of erotic stimulation. If what you're saying is true, there would only be about 100 or so porn flicks, and some combination of those would satisfy everyone forever.

A viewpoint held by a large number of people in society, is that homosexuality is not a good lifestyle choice.

People have lots of viewpoints. Should, say, Catholicism be suppressed because a large number of Protestants think it is not a good lifestyle choice? The fundamental values that inform our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution hold that we are entitled to self-determination, including the right to think, say, and be things that others might disapprove of. There has to be concrete, verifiable reasons to interfere with this entitlement. You have offered none. Instead, you reframe the issue as:

if someone's position is that homosexuality is not something society has vested interest in promoting,

This is where you are off-base. "Someone's" position doesn't matter except to that someone and his loved ones. "Society" doesn't require a vested interest in promoting anything to let people live their own lives as they see fit. "Society" must have a rational basis for restricting people's rights to live their own lives as they see fit. You are starting with the wrong default position, that there must be some good reason to allow liberty. This country was founded on the premise that there must be an iron-clad reason to restrict liberty.

Comment: Re:Does anybody ever visit "linux.com"? (Score 1) 231

by mcubed (#27061185) Attached to: Linux Foundation Purchases Linux.com

Well, I did, for one. Actually, I subscribed to the Linux.com feed and would regularly read the articles that interested me. There were a pretty fair number, usually focused on a particular topic, like round-ups of audio tagging tools available for Linux or vim tips or an introduction to services and run levels. I have a number of these types of Linux.com articles bookmarked and some I refer to still.

It was definitely haphazard and catch-as-catch-can, but I feel I got a reasonable amount of useful information from it. I tended to skip past the articles about this or that school or company switching to Linux. Not being a developer or programmer, I didn't read the more technical articles about kernel development and whatnot. I agree that I tend to rely more on sites like Slashdot and Ars Technica Open-Ended for Linux and OSS news stories. For me, Linux.com was good for tutorials and tips and ideas about things that aren't necessarily all that complicated but that I probably wouldn't have known about otherwise, certainly not stuff that Slashdot or other news sites provide.

Michael

Comment: Alternatives? What's a hapless *nix user to do? (Score 1) 450

by mcubed (#26932187) Attached to: Ma.gnolia User Data Is Gone For Good

Here's a funny thing. I was using Epiphany under GNOME, and discover that the mis-named "Epilicious" extension has not worked with Delicious for some time, but it did work with Magnolia. So I go to Magnolia only to discover that the service had just gone down (this was on or about 30 Jan. 2009 -- what timing!). So I'm still on Delicious, and now using Iceweasel (that's Firefox to most of the world) because it's the only thing that works with Delicious.

My question is: What other options are there? I have found some good links and some very useful information (especially in the area of *nix and OSS tutorials) on Delicious, but strictly speaking I don't need an account there to continue using it as a search engine. I do like having my bookmarks available from any computer I happen to find myself on and I'm aware that there are other ways to achieve this, but I'm not sure how or what the best methods are. When I say "hapless *nix user," I mean I can get by in Debian just fine, but I tend to keep things pretty simple ... no advanced server set-up, no tricky configurations. I no longer use GNOME, preferring a simpler Openbox set-up. I've gotten pretty good at navigating around my system in the terminal, using mc for file management, even writing a few very basic bash scripts, but networking especially remains something of a black art to me. I'm not a programmer or web designer and have no desire to be; I use Debian because I like the philosophy of OSS.

So what are the easier more-or-less "point-and-drool" methods of achieving remote access to one's bookmarks, without having to mess with SAMBA or NFS or similar complexities? Do they exist? If cloud services like Delicious and Magnolia are inherently risky and soul-suckingly closed, are there any safer, more open alternatives that are as easy to use?

Never put off till run-time what you can do at compile-time. -- D. Gries

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