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Comment: As Always (Score 1) 130

by meustrus (#47732193) Attached to: It's Easy To Hack Traffic Lights

As always, when something gets hacked, we find out it was for the stupidest reasons. You can just log into a Wi-Fi network and dump the entire memory of the traffic light through a debug port that was left open? I mean sure, everything can be hacked, but this is just handing the entire system to the hackers. Just like nearly every other "hack" that goes on in the real world.

This is just like when a web forum gets "hacked" because somebody with an axe to grind guessed the admin's password was actually "PaSsWoRd".

Comment: Re:Response Bias (Score 1) 390

by meustrus (#47732089) Attached to: Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

The question I posited is biased because it assumes that only a mediocre American is available. That assumption has not been proven. There are plenty of highly skilled Americans who've been recently laid off through no fault of their own (and that's generally why "laid off" doesn't mean the same thing as "fired"). And if you'll take a look at what I quoted, you'll notice that the supposed response he's gotten from "tech engineers" supports the assumption that you can only get top talent if you look outside of the United States.

I don't know about you, but I find that sentiment highly un-American. Next thing you know the company will relocate its base of operations somewhere with lower taxes while still enjoying all the benefits of living in America

Comment: Re:Works in reverse, too (Score 1) 390

by meustrus (#47729895) Attached to: Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

Why are only employees hired on merit and not executives? Because employees are hired by managers who at least have some experience judging fitness for the job. Executives, on the other hand, are hired by board members and shareholders who have absolutely NO experience hiring effective executives.

Corporations are like little countries and their management structure is like government. In an effective government, laws get made by people who have incentive to benefit the tax base. In a democracy this is the citizens who want a better life (and a better life leads to paying more taxes). In an autocracy this is the leaders who either act out of genuine patriotism or who get to skim some of the taxes for their own private treasury.

In a publicly traded corporation, policies are set by a completely different set of people whose only incentive is how much money they can squeeze out of the corporation. This is more like a colony than a country. Colonies have a tendency to remain poor and unjust because the rulers - who live far away and often aren't even be the same race as the citizens - just want as much tax revenue as they can get, as fast as they can get it, with as little work on their part as possible. America and India are both doing much better as countries than colonies. So why must our employers act as colonies of their wealthy investors?

Comment: Response Bias (Score 3, Interesting) 390

by meustrus (#47729277) Attached to: Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

"The vast, vast majority of tech engineers that I talked to who are from the United States are very supportive of bringing in people from other countries because they want to work with the very best."

I guarantee you that "the vast, vast majority of tech engineers" would not assume that "other countries" automatically meant "the very best". The general consensus in my neck of the woods is that engineers of foreign origin are about on par with our native engineers. The consensus I've seen in pop culture is that the foreign engineers are generally much worse. I can only imagine the question that would lead to the response above:

Q: If faced with a choice between a top foreign engineer or a mediocre American one, which would you hire?

A: The foreign one. I'd want to work with the very best.

Comment: Re:That's why slashdot is against tech immigration (Score 2) 390

by meustrus (#47729205) Attached to: Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers
Mod this one up! The idea that we need to import tech workers because US tech workers aren't good enough isn't just wrong. It's blatantly un-American. "Oh yes, we're laying off all these high skilled workers, but what we REALLY need is more skilled workers from other countries. Our American college graduates just can't compete anymore with Bangladeshis (at least they can't compete on price, o ho ho)!"

Comment: Re:Are You Kidding? (Score 1) 541

by meustrus (#47650185) Attached to: Geneticists Decry Book On Race and Evolution
Wouldn't it be great if we could recognize that every person is different, and that shouldn't give any of them fewer rights? Sadly that's not how the human mind works. Sure, you might be smarter than that, but hey, think about the guy next to you. That driver who won't stop riding your bumper and doesn't seem to know what a turn signal is. Hell, we have a divided government and I'll bet you wouldn't trust both Republicans and Democrats to have this figured out. Political correctness is the set of taboos we inherit from our ancestors who, in the absence of those taboos, did things like slavery and the holocaust. There may be more to it than that, but do you trust all of those other people to understand anything more complicated?

Comment: Re:Another bloviation from Bennett (Score 1) 544

I saw this article and thought, "I've really wanted to find out why I can't get a slide-out keyboard." Nevermind the poster. Too bad the thoughts consist of a bunch of rambling. The only actually new information consists of two things:

  • 1. A seriously flawed poll suggesting more than 50% of people want slide-out keyboards, but since there were fewer than 100 responses and the crowd is biased towards techies, who's to say he didn't actually find the only 27 people in the world who want what he wants?
  • 2. When asked about a specific kind of phone, Sprint sales guy spouts marketing crap, and AT&T store manager says lots of people want it but it's expensive to make and breaks more often.

If by some happy accident you read this comment before the article, don't bother to read the article. It's a person of probably average intelligence trying to draw insight from those facts, so by definition about 50% of the readers should be able to come up with something better on their own.

Comment: Re:In the USA people don't pay for phones (Score 1) 544

Most people seem willing to accept whatever they get for free with their 2 year contract.

That seems about right to me. It would explain the "stupid shit" problem too, since most users won't mind a phone where everything is broken in software as long as it's "free".

(after all, we're all used to Windows by now anyway - zing!)

The mobile phone market just doesn't work for anyone that cares about technology that just works. As long as it gets into the customer's hands, that customer will most of the time simply assume that all phones have this stupid shit and wait for an "upgrade" instead of shopping around. Let alone the dismal selection available to even check out at a store. And Apple doesn't count; even though there's an amazing minimum of stupid shit on iPhones, that's at the expense of customization, open markets, and in most cases hardware that makes very different tradeoffs than most users would pick.

The argument from the cell company representatives may be pretty useful though. Those people are the absolute lowest on the corporate totem pole and they are lied to even more than customers. The Sprint marketing materials probably told them to hawk candy bars because "that's what people want". Maybe the person at AT&T has more experience, maybe that person had more honest marketing materials, but maybe "slide-outs break more often" is the underlying reason that marketing is trying to discourage them.

Comment: Re:Buffet vs. A La Carte (Score 1) 353

by meustrus (#47448771) Attached to: Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

Alright, well all I have left to do is split hairs to make sure my underlying point - that sometimes a person can appreciate things better if they are more expensive - isn't derailed by other split hairs:

  1. Sales tax doesn't have to be a percentage, and it often isn't. Gasoline has a flat tax per gallon, for example. It's easy enough to put a flat tax on specific products if they can be accurately described, and the fact that sugary drinks have been outlawed already means they can be legally described enough to fit this category. Although the point of the tax wouldn't be to make you enjoy it more, but to make you consume it less. Constructed right it can do both.
  2. I brought up Veblen Goods as an extreme example of certain products being worth more solely because they cost more. However they don't need to derive value solely from their price to have more value at a higher price. Higher prices imply a higher quality and there will always be people willing to may more for that. The people willing to pay more for "probably" better food also tend to be absolutely convinced they're living better, happier, healthier lives than you, and I think higher price is an important part of the marketing involved.

Comment: Re:Buffet vs. A La Carte (Score 1) 353

by meustrus (#47426593) Attached to: Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

It's not just about it costing more. It's in part that if there were a large tax, there wouldn't be as big of a difference between a $13 ice cream and a $16 ice cream as there was between a $3 ice cream and a $6 ice cream, so the better product would do comparatively better in the market. Therefore a better product would be comparatively more common. It's also that I would be discouraged from binging on $3 ice cream, making what times I do indulge a more rare and luxurious experience. That second part I can do myself; I just don't buy as much ice cream and when I do, I buy it better.

At the extremely high end of luxury goods, a certain class of product (Veblen Goods) is actually more desirable based if sold at a higher price. But that doesn't mean people buy equivalent goods priced lower and ask to pay more. The stated sale price itself has an impact on customer satisfaction because it implies the seller's belief that the product is higher quality, and in some situations the higher price simply makes the good more "exclusive" which appeals to certain (snobby) buyers.

Isn't economics weird?

A rock store eventually closed down; they were taking too much for granite.

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