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Comment Re:In the past this has been working under the tab (Score 1) 273

If you ALSO want me to behave like an employee, controlling my hours, sitting through useless HR presentations, and acting like an agent of a corporation, then I'm an employee and I want the full benefit package

Funny, that's exactly what contractors do. I was a contractor for 4 years at a desk where I had to show up in exact hours, attend OIG presentations about sexual harassment and child pornography on business systems, and of course was not allowed to post on Facebook where I work.

In a fair world, none of this should have any relevance to whether one is an "employee" or "contractor". In the past, as an employee I have had huge freedom to work my own hours, and as a contractor, I have worked under a rigidly controlled corporate structure with fixed hours and so on. It all depends on the situation, such as whether regular employees need to have you available during their working hours.

A key difference as I see it is that if you are a contractor, you should be paid at least the loaded rate (i.e. with benefits) of an employee doing the same work. If you aren't, the company is screwing you. And yes, I'm sure many companies are screwing many "contractors" who aren't in a good position to bargain. But I think that should be a primary part of the test of whether a "contractor" is really an employee.

Comment Viewing tip (Score 3, Informative) 66

If you turn javascript off on (there are about 3 dozen(!) embedded sites; the list even scrolls off the NoScript screen), not only does the page load about 20 times faster, as a bonus you get the entire slideshow on one page and don't have to mindlessly click through one picture at at time.

Comment Not a linear relation (Score 1) 243

Alkaline battery voltage doesn't fall linearly with lifetime, but undergoes a rapid drop near the end of life: In this curve, the battery has only 10-20% of its life left at 1.1v, and I've never owned any device that did not work down to at least that voltage and usually less. Whatever device in the example that stops working at 1.35v is very poorly designed and not something you run across often.

Comment Alert! (Score 1) 226

Much better is the KentuckyFC guy who scours for interesting NEW physics ideas, discoveries, and speculations. Some of his stories were posted on slashdot in the past, but it seems this StartsWithABang guy has replaced him. So now I just go there directly.

Comment Re:Peanuts compared to their value (Score 2) 202

What scares me is that with so many staff, the inevitable urge is to bloat the "user experience" with ever fancier and annoying "features". As far as I'm concerned the interface was finished quite a few years ago, and I would prefer that they just leave it alone. I can't stand their slideshows when I just want to see a single image, so I have Javascript turned off for the site, enabled only on occasion when I want to sort a table column or something.

Comment Recipe for failure (Score 5, Insightful) 352

My step-daughter was literally math-illiterate upon entering college - very poor math SATs, couldn't multiply 1-digit numbers without a calculator, and didn't know that a+b commutes but a-b doesn't. I spent several hours a day 3-4 days a week with her, and through tremendous effort and lots of tears she earned all A's in Calculus 1 and 2 and Statistics. There is simply no way she could have even passed without my help (and a boost of self-motivation by a short stint in the real world earning near minimum wage with no college degree and no future).

Rich people will hire tutors to do the same thing. Poor people can't afford to and rarely have anyone like me around to help. So the rich will get ahead regardless of ability; other than a few exceptionally talented ones, the poor will get further behind, continuing the cycle of failure and poverty.

There is something about individual interaction that can't be duplicated with a computer or projection screen. A 50-to-1 student/teacher ratio with little individual one-on-one instruction is going to make things much worse.

Comment Re:Google is becoming useless (Score 3, Informative) 375

Out of curiosity I recently tried to find out about a product, Power Innovator, whose annoying ads claiming to cut your electric bill by 80% keep popping up on various sites. While it is obviously a scam to anyone with the slightest knowledge of physics, they really have Google fooled. No matter what you type, "Power Innovator review", "Power Innovator scam", "Power Innovator ripoff", etc., every link, page after page, is a "review" or a page questioning "Is Power Innovator a scam?" each ending with a link to buy Power Innovator. I was unable to find any page clearly stating the obvious fact that it is a scam. I feel sorry for all the misinformed people who are sucked into this, and the company must be raking in a fortune of ill-gotten gains. This is a case where Google is completely useless.

Comment Nuke Anything (Score 1) 353

For Firefox, I use Nuke Anything Enhanced 1.1 when overlays, ads, etc. on broken or poorly designed pages obscure the text I'm trying to read. Basically you right-click over the object and select "Remove this object" (and there is an undo). At first I installed it out of curiosity, but I'm surprised how often it is useful.

Comment Re:uh... (Score 1) 215

Here's the deal. You want to legalize this stuff, go for it. However, don't expect anyone to pay for what you do to yourself. If you don't want government intervention you can't be a hypocrite and expect it to intervene on your behalf. If you can afford to buy drugs you can afford to pay for your own treatment.

While I don't have the numbers, I'd bet the cost of treatment would pale in comparison to the billions spent on the "war on drugs" and the cost of prosecuting and incarcerating a large percentage of the prison population.

Comment Re:Still useful research (Score 1) 224

Mars sells a supplement, called CocoaVia, that contains the cocoa flavinols used by the study. This was a good reason for them to fund it. It is rather expensive at around $30 for 60 capsules with 125mg of the flavinols. Since you need to take 7-8 capsules per day to get the 900mg amount used in the study, that's about an 8-day supply.

Comment Re:Facebook search is horrible (Score 1) 33

I find it hard to believe that the reason for Facebook's poor search is incompetence (although I won't dismiss it out of hand). Doing a decent search through a set of local records isn't rocket science. I would think it might take a programmer a couple of months, and they have thousands of developers and billions of dollars to play with. Instead, my guess is that they make the search perform poorly on purpose, to force you to scroll through pages and pages and thus view more ads.

Disclaimer: I no longer have an FB account, so I don't really keep on top of these things.

Comment Re:Buses are already better. (Score 1) 257

My town (pop. 50K) has buses on 6 local routes that go around and around the town all day nearly empty. It is a serious money loser, but the town keeps voting to subsidize it because it symbolizes "green".

Only a small percentage of the population will have pickup and destination points close enough to these fixed routes to make it worthwhile for them to use, not to mention having to fit their schedules into the once-per-hour bus stops. So hardly anyone uses it.

What I have wondered about is whether these buses, combined with an Uber-type app, could simply service passengers on-demand, even driving to their houses. The software would plan optimal routes based on the current pickups and destinations, providing passengers with ETAs and so on. I'd probably start using it in that case, especially if the $2 fare was kept the same. Assuming many others would too, it might greatly reduce their losses.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.