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Comment: Re:Assuming they escaped, the penal system worked! (Score 1) 78

by Penguinisto (#48627119) Attached to: Did Alcatraz Escapees Survive? Computer Program Says They Might Have

You mean, didn't get caught. There's a difference.

They'd have to have kept those crimes to extremely petty ones at the most. Even though the 1960's didn't have facial recognition, the TSA (for what that's worth), instant background checks, widespread Social Security Number checking mechanisms, or any of the stuff we have today? They definitely had fingerprinting, and at least some semblance of a national fingerprint database of sorts to check against (the FBI would have had these guys' fingerprints after the break.)

They could have eventually slipped through the cracks even if they re-offended (e.g. it wasn't uncommon for, say, truck drivers to have multiple drivers' licenses from multiple states), but any crime beyond a misdemeanor would have had the local PD looking at some stranger (stranger in their town that is) and doing at least a cursory check, if only to build a rap sheet for the prosecution.

IMHO, if they made it, they likely hoofed it to Canada or Mexico (or perhaps further South) and built an assumed identity from which to live out the rest of their lives in as obscure a manner as possible. Over time, that new identity would become reinforced.

It wouldn't be the first time either... I recall a few instances in the '80s and even the '90s where some schlub or other escaped prison in that era (or before), got himself a new identity, and decades later did something stupid (IIRC, in one case the dumbass ran for a local public office, and a local reporter researching his background found the inconsistencies).

Comment: Re:Hmmm ... (Score 1) 205

Education policy is not the domain of those who understand education - it's decided by politicians at nearly every level. Everything from what will be taught, to the books we use, to the structure of classes and rating systems meant to produce specific results without any real understanding of how those results are achieved or the real impact of them. They also can't make radical leaps - anything that might fail would result in losing their position, so they stick to minor modifications to existing systems - so there's no disruptive changes possible, as per Ken Robinson[1].

All that while fighting through often biased or partisan processes that result in, for example, including religion and denouncing evolution in Texas schoolbooks. In fact, you can say that government run institutions are process-driven more than anything else.

On the other hand, businesses are results driven. A business that does not produce product will shortly cease to be a business. That mechanism lends itself well to tackling any problem, even if it often discards moral or ethical considerations as not being part of the problem scope. So while their primary focus is of course, profits rather than education, when education is a requirement for profits, they're both well situated and motivated to provide that.

They can even take risks, with the knowledge that success will reward them many times over. So new styles of education are realistically evaluated and considered.

That's the nice part about capitalism. We can rely on human greed and ingenuity to produce almost any result, so long as we're able to figure out how to make it a requirement for fiscal success, whereas the political systems are motivated to not take chances and not to rock the boat, while at the same time claiming to be a boat-rocker.

So yeah, there's some PR gain in there for those companies, but that's just icing on the cake compared to their main benefit from supporting or redefining education.

[1] - See ,
              for some interesting thoughts on disrupting the existing educational systems.

Comment: Re:what is this crap (Score 1) 205

I don't believe that lowering average programmer salary is either the sole or primary motivator for this trend, even for businesses alone, much less other groups.

Businesses need more developers, and they haven't got them. It's as simple as that. The focus on women is simply the most efficient way to do it since they're vastly underrepresented in the field - every dollar spent on encouraging women nets more potentials than on men. It's just good ROI. The fact that it's a social currency is just icing on the cake.

Educators can see that it requires about half as much effort to achieve the skills that will provide an entry level job at about twice the pay of similar white collar jobs; again, good ROI. Not only that, there's a wealth of freely available training material, literally thousands of hours of tutorials from simplistic to horrifically complex. Free online courses, making this available across cultural and social lines. There are people living in war zones that are learning to program!

Programming education is good political currency for politicians too. Businesses and constituents appreciate more jobs and skilled workers. Minority groups appreciate the inclusive nature and extra focus. The boost to the economy & the lowering of unemployment together make for a better tax base, and so on.

Last, the worker themselves get great benefits. A low-stress white collar job with good security, reasonable hours, decent benefits, high pay, and preferential treatment to minorities, all for very little actual training.

Really, there's almost no downside in the current social, political, or economic climate. Rather, what has confused me is why everyone isn't already learning to program. I don't know anyone who wants to make a career in any consistently low paying job, much less a blue collar one involving physical labor, yet so few appear to take advantage of the opportunities presented in the field of software development.

Comment: Re:heh like Skyrim? (Score 1) 441

by quietwalker (#48611455) Attached to: Virtual Reality Experiment Wants To Put White People In Black Bodies

Not specifically. Dark Elves in the elder scrolls universe are just another race of 'mer' with no innate evil or goodness. Technically even the dwarves and orcs are mer-types, what you'd consider 'elves':

At the point of the the skyrim game, dark elves are basically Haitian refugees, as their entire country has gone to hell and is covered in yards of black ash from a volcano. People hate them because they're penniless, non-job-having, homeless beggars who often resort to thievery. They don't even burn as well as other races because of some innate fire resistance. ... but they do eventually burn.

Comment: Re:Misleading article - you must use ACH (Score 2) 153

by quietwalker (#48603959) Attached to: Small Bank In Kansas Creates the Bank Account of the Future

I think the biggest obstacle is actually the bankers. They do not like adopting new functionality, especially new functionality that causes their processes to change. They have no problems with tech that lets them do exactly the same thing they were doing before, like say, mobile apps, but new = scary. For example, in the ACH file description, there are two file format types: One is called 'DISK' and the other is called 'LINE' - for dial up. They just send the disk format now, over the net.

In short, they do not trust technology to get it right, and so will only accept a process that's modeled after their actual pen-and-paper model, so they can manually validate the results and understand exactly how it works. Then, once it works, they won't change it.

You also have the additional barrier of existing legal structures in the US that force a 'float' time to all transactions, but that would change if the bankers (and I guess, the market) demanded it.

It's all moot though. There's not a big need for minute to minute liquidity except among those who are very bad at managing finance, and they do not make for good customers. I honestly don't see a real market need for that sort of feature, nor people who'd pay for it, and so no real ROI on implementing it.

Comment: Re:Welcome to the 21st century guys (Score 1) 153

by quietwalker (#48601401) Attached to: Small Bank In Kansas Creates the Bank Account of the Future

We already use 'risk scoring' all the time; it's a fundamental part of our ATM software, and nowhere near as magical as it sounds. They're usually just fixed rules, like "no more than $500 dollars a day, or $200 per transaction" etc.

As for being available for business transactions, I didn't see that specified. If this is a replacement of ACH transactions, then it's likely that it works fine for people too. You know, most banks implement billpay via ACH transactions from a person (when they don't have to print and mail the check). It's just that things like payroll and issuing collections (like invoices), or transferring money to another account at a different bank are not standard end-consumer needs.

Comment: Re:Misleading article - you must use ACH (Score 4, Informative) 153

by quietwalker (#48601319) Attached to: Small Bank In Kansas Creates the Bank Account of the Future

Side note: There are many other notes about realtime money transfers in other countries. In most cases, those are again, time delayed at some point, and subject to reversal, it's just hidden from the customer. In fact, even wire transfers/money orders are reversible! The countries involved simply have laws pushing the risk elsewhere than the customer - usually the FI, I'd bet. This is especially true of large international exchanges, like SWIFT. You might even be able to pay more to such an exchange to expedite your transfers, or even cover the risk - for a good customer.

Though, that said, there's no reason a bank in country A might not have an agreement with country B, to automatically honor requests, assuming both countries have lax or non-existent financial regulation laws. In reality though, all countries have those laws, and that's why we have international exchanges.

This is not just a semantic difference either; there appears to be no difference to the customer in most, but not all circumstances.

Comment: Misleading article - you must use ACH (Score 5, Informative) 153

by quietwalker (#48601231) Attached to: Small Bank In Kansas Creates the Bank Account of the Future

Disclaimer: I used to write banking software for a living, including implementing ACH management on both the customer-facing and backend processing systems.

The article is blatently misleading regarding realtime transfer of funds, but it takes some knowledge to understand why. Let's talk about ACH transactions.

ACH, or Atomated Clearing House, is the network that the majority of electronic funds in the US use. As the article points out, it's ancient and horrible, basically a 1:1 translation of the paper funds reconciliation to electronic format. In essence, a customer creates an ACH transaction, which is sent to two endpoints; the federal reserve a.k.a. The Fed, and an ACH operator. Just like a credit processor, the ACH operator is then responsible for delivering the funds to the destination financial institution (FI) and they make their money by charging the originating FI. The transfer only goes through once both The Fed and the operator finalize the transaction, which can take a day or more, and most of them are held for additional days to provide for reversals (effectively, cancellations).

Here's some important takeaways:
    - To perform bank-to-bank transfers, you must either engage a third-party processor, or you must have an agreement (and process) with each individual bank you wish to transfer to.
    - These transfers are subject to some very specific banking regulations, some of it relating to reporting to the Fed, who can block the transactions.
    - Laws provide for effective reversal (issuing a reciprocal transaction, not necessarily a reversal) for 2 days for corp-to-corp transaction (CCD) and up to 60 days for transactions involving people (PPD).
    - Just like most retailers, these are batch processed, not in real time, though the banks will reserve funds and adjust your balance accordingly. No one minds because legal protections result in at least a 2-day processing window anyway.

Okay, so what do we need to perform this transfer in realtime? Well, first, you'd have to get every bank in the US and the federal reserve to switch to a new system that actually supports real time transfers, instead of the ACH. Then we'd have to completely overhaul the 40+ years of recent laws that were written with a batch-based system in mind, including removing many of the funds reservations activities (and the legal protections that require them) in favor of a realtime system.

So how does this bank do it?

Based on the info from the article, it sounds like the bank is managing two accounts per individual account; the customer-facing one which serves the 'realtime' aspect, and the actual one that is used for the ACH transaction. The risk comes in when the bank accepts a credit or debit prior to it being authorized and completed, and thus the need for 'risk management' software, identical to the sort that ATMs use, especially when configured as a local authorizer (for branches too far from the main branch and others).

They just don't show the end user the reservation of funds like most FIs, and they assume the risk directly so there's no odd 'processing' credits or debits in their statement.

So, it's just smoke and mirrors. They have to use ACH if they want to talk to other banks, and they're not doing manual wire transfers. They just aren't telling their customers. Though if they hit the anti-terrorist check (I wrote the software that matches against the government list too, at one time), their customer is going to find out really quickly that it's really just an ACH after all, and they ~don't~ have those funds - it's illegal for the bank to provide them!

Comment: Re:Some (Score 1) 432

by Chas (#48597387) Attached to: Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

Basically what you're saying is that you've been brainwashed into "vinyl is better". People keep talking about the "experience".

I've listened to good music on vinyl. I've listened to good music on high definition digital audio.

I've also listened to good music compressed down to 128K MP3 files.

I'm VERY aware of the difference.

It's like kopi luwak coffee. It's not that the end product is really and truly better.
It's that there's a marketing ploy behind it. They're not selling a physical product. They're selling a story and a mindset.

If you want to buy into it, great. But you're pretty much going to have to put up with everyone else laughing at you.

Comment: Some (Score 5, Insightful) 432

by Chas (#48593803) Attached to: Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

Some listeners think that vinyl reproduces sound better than digital

And some people buy Gold-plated Monster cables and Macs too. It just proves there's a sucker born every minute (at least).

some youngsters like the social experience of gathering around a turntable.

That's mainly because most youngsters' "social experience" has been limited to school (see "Lord of the Flies") and texting. Actually, y'know, MEETING UP with someone is a HUGE novelty these days. The turntable's just incidental.

Economists state their GNP growth projections to the nearest tenth of a percentage point to prove they have a sense of humor. -- Edgar R. Fiedler