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Comment Re:Drones (Score 1) 265 265

2. Our drones are effectively remotely piloted aircraft. Not "killbots". There is some chair jockey in a building in the Nevada desert who pilots the craft and fires the missiles and then goes home to be with his family after his shift is done.

True.

Just as an FYI though, it seems that being the pilot, is a job that comes with way more stress than was anticipated (or than the general public appreciates).
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/17/us/as-stress-drives-off-drone-operators-air-force-must-cut-flights.html

Comment Re:I have no fear of AI, but fear AI weapons (Score 1) 265 265

Seriously. How many people would rob a liquor store if they didn't have to be there in person and there was no chance of being caught?

Interesting angle that I haven't heard brought up much ... and me without mod points today.

Comment Re:Just like Teacher "Grades" (Score 1) 245 245

Until now, in New York at least, standardized tests didn't impact teachers' jobs. So if Sally got a low test score because her teacher didn't teach her the EXACT method that the standardized test said should be used, there was no problem. Now, however, Sally's teacher could be fired because Sally learned a method that worked better for her and not the cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all method that the test demands. If you get the right answer with the wrong method, it's counted as wrong.

Furthermore, I've seen teachers come under fire when multiple students answered questions similarly. They were taught by the same teacher under the same standardized curriculum to answer things in the same way. When this resulted in similar answers, the test scorers claimed that the teacher must have coached them during the test. The teacher even had to fight against the district because they wanted to fire her under suspicion of cheating. (There was zero proof beyond a vague "some answers looked similar" but if you teach kids to answer a question in a certain way, you're bound to get similar answers.) So now teachers apparently get penalized if they stick to the script or sway off of it.

Comment Re:Just like Teacher "Grades" (Score 1) 245 245

And NY also declared that "failing" schools (as determined by state ed) would be put into receivership. The first year, the superintendent runs the school. He can fire teachers/administrators for no other reason than "it's my whim", he can lengthen or shorten the school day, change the teachers' pay (again, no union dealing, just "this is what you're paid now, deal with it"), and more. If, after a year, state ed determines that the superintendent didn't turn the school around, it goes into a third party receivership (likely a charter school) who can permanently change the school into a charter school as well as all of the things the superintendent was able to do.

Of course, the schools most at risk for receivership are inner city schools. So why would a teacher take a job in an inner city school where they could be fired for low student test scores or fired when the school goes into receivership?

Of course, all this was put into play because the teacher's union didn't support the governor's reelection campaign. Charter schools did support him, though. He's taking political revenge on the teachers and doesn't care how many students get hurt in the process.

Comment Re:Tracking users' favorite shows? (Score 2) 34 34

Yeah, there are other reasons it's not really the issue though.

I'm going to come out and admit that I like the Wii U, I have all last gen and current gen consoles, and it's one of my favourites. It's not got the power of my PS4 or my X1, and sure it's been screwed on 3rd party game support leaving it few titles.

But it does have some quality titles, at the end of the day Nintendo has still put out more high quality 1st party titles that deserve game ratings in the 90%+ range than Nintendo and Sony have managed to acquire even with heavier 3rd party support.

Though it doesn't really matter, because Nintendo games are DIFFERENT. I don't play Wii U because I want to gun some bitches down, I don't play Wii U because I want to rip someone's heart out, I don't play Wii U because I want to pretend I'm a wizard battling vile demons in dark dungeons full of dismembered corpses. I play Wii U because sometimes pratting about bouncing around the screen or doing puzzles with colours flying at me left and right is actually also fun, and the Wii U does that like no other. So I'm not saying I think the Wii U is the greatest thing ever, it's not. What I am saying is that it's a fantastic complimentary console to the X1, the PS4, or a PC - it has it's place alongside the big hitters in providing a type of fun that the others just do not offer.

But despite my love for the Wii U in spite of it's failings, I didn't even know this TVii service existed. I've never heard of it or seen it, or if I have then it was so irrelevant that I've forgotten about it.

I'd say that if this failed, it failed because most people didn't even notice it. Certainly I never did and I suspect I've put as much time into my Wii U as your average owner, if not more. Tracking would be the least of my concerns if I never even really noticed it was there, or what it did to even use it so it could track me in the first place.

I'd say this is a failing based more on the fact it's a service few people even realise exists, on a console which hasn't sold well. Combine those together and you'll end up with a userbase so small that it's just not worth the cost of supporting. I'm not surprised therefore that the first I hear of this is that it's shutting down, and as a Wii U user, I don't really care either.

Comment Re:Just like Teacher "Grades" (Score 1) 245 245

Except now the teachers' jobs are at stake. In New York, if a teacher's students don't do as well on their standardized tests as the state says they should, the teacher can be fired. If this happens three years in a row, the teacher IS fired. No argument is accepted to avoid termination (except fraud and good luck proving that).

Comment Just like Teacher "Grades" (Score 5, Interesting) 245 245

In NY, where I live, we're now "grading" teachers based on how well their students do on standardized tests. Any teacher who strays from the "prep for the test" subject matter and uses inventive ways of helping their students learn is going to have students who might know more, but who will perform worse on the tests. Teachers who stick to the script and drill test preparation into their students will wind up with better scores even though their students will know less (except how to fill in bubbles).

Just like the Doctors example in the article, the "teacher grading" system is going to backfire. Talented teachers will be kicked out (test scores are tied to their jobs now, your students get low scores and you're out) and mediocre teachers will remain. It's almost like trying to take the jobs that teachers and doctors do and standardize their job functions across every student/patient they see doesn't work. Maybe because their jobs require using their brains and trying different techniques as opposed to an assembly line worker who just needs to perform the same task every time with no variation.

Comment Re:"Drug Companies Seek to Exploit"!!! (Score 1) 92 92

Which is why the Vaccine Court was formed. Vaccines don't make drug companies a lot of money. In fact, they lose out on selling drugs to treat the diseases that vaccines prevent. Given our sue happy culture, the drug companies could wind up losing a lot of money in legal fees (even if the lawsuits are without merit) and could make the financial decision to stop offering the vaccines. Then, nobody would get vaccines, the diseases would make a comeback, and people would die.

Comment Re:Correction: (Score 3, Informative) 217 217

Or any banking or other financial system.

Your money isn't stored in a big container with your name on it. It's bits in the banks systems. Relatively speaking, it's trivial to move the bits from your account to someone else's account. Practically speaking, there are safeguards in place to ensure this doesn't happen in an unauthorized manner and to track all transactions that happen, but at the core this is a computer system and someone could theoretically hack the system to increase their funds and decrease yours.

Keeping your money off of all electronic systems would mean stuffing piles of bills into your mattress.

Comment Re:Copyright needs reform (Score 1) 93 93

Well, with a 14 year + one-time 14 year extension, "the vault" becomes less of a concern. Suppose you run a company and a movie under your copyright was just released. The clock is ticking and you have only 28 years (assuming you extend the copyright, which I'm sure most companies would do) to profit from it. Putting the movie "in the vault" is essentially saying "We're not going to profit off of this for a period of time." Put it in the vault for 5 years and you're giving up 18% of your copyright term. Companies would rush to maximize profits on their movies and "the vault" would be less and less of an issue.

I would add one more technical detail, though. Ripping DVDs/Blu-Ray discs of movies that have entered the public domain would be explicitly legal no matter when the DVD/Blu-Ray was released. So no releasing the "Super Ultra Platinum Edition" Blu-Ray a year before the copyright expires and then claiming that this disc is protected for 28 years. The movie's copyright still expires in a year and, after that, it's public domain so posting a rip of it online is fair game.

Comment Re:Who needs Lifelock? (Score 1, Informative) 54 54

My personal data was stolen (from where, I never found out). Someone got my name, address, DOB, and SSN and opened a credit card in my name. Through sheer luck, they paid for rush delivery of the card BEFORE changing the address and the card wound up at my house. Otherwise, I would have found out about it when the collections agency beat down my door to get the $5,000+ that "I" owed them.

If you think your personal information has been compromised (or if you want to play it safe), Lifelock is not the tool to use. Freezing your credit file is. When your credit file is frozen, nobody can open a new line of credit. Not you and certainly not Mr. Identity Thief. If you want to open a new line of credit, you need to first thaw your credit file for a set period of time (e.g. 2 weeks). Then you open the credit line and your credit file refreezes with that new line in place.

The downsides are that you can't easily open a store card at the register to get X% off your purchase, though we find this to be a positive. ("Would you like to open a..." "Can't. Credit locked. Identity theft victim.") You also need to pay to initially freeze your credit file (though victims of ID theft might be able to do it for free) and pay to thaw it. Costs vary per state. My costs are $5 per credit agency per file. So if my wife and I were buying a new car, we'd need to pay $30. (3 credit agencies and 2 credit files.) The peace of mind of knowing that nobody can open cards/loans/etc on my credit file despite my information being out there is well worth this cost, though.

Comment Re:If race doesn't exist, how is this possible? (Score 1) 312 312

It's funny, though, that the color of the skin is given such a huge amount of importance. It strikes me as a bit arbitrary. I mean, why that? Why not, say, whether your fingers are skinny or chubby? Why is one genetic expression the all important one, considering there are so incredibly many of them?

I always figured that it basically boiled down to skin color being easily identifiable. When you look at a person, you can tell their skin color which means (if you're a racist) you can easily tell if the person is $GOOD_RACE (i.e. the one you belong to) or $BAD_RACE (everyone else). Compare this against religious affiliation. This is harder because, looking at me, you can't tell right away whether I'm Jewish, Christian, Atheist, etc. (My last name is a bit of a giveaway, but we'll assume you just spotted me on the street and didn't know my name.)

Of course, where "skin color easily identified" fails is that more and more people have a mixed ancestry which means you might not be able to easily tell - from sight - just what race they belong to. (Where "belong to" means "the group that the racist is going to stick them with.") Then again, racists aren't known for seeing the world in shades of grey. There's black and white (literally). One group is good and one group is bad and that's that. Anything more complex makes their brains hurt.

Comment Problems with the Survey (Score 1) 227 227

First, you need a lot more in-depth. Run the survey by people who do this for a living. You are missing a lot of information. Look for what would be the next question and try to determine if you have any biases in your research.

For example, my company's personal device policy is based on safety more then security. I work for an EPC company and people jinking with devices while working in a construction site might put an eye out (literally) or worse. Let alone accidentally dropping a cellphone from a great height, into concrete, into nuclear containment, into turbine, etc... we have issues with people texting and driving... a crane, forklift, yard dog, etc... These can be bad things. The security and productivity fears of most management is nothing compared to the fears we face in the heavy industry environment. Ever want to explain to a customer why the multi-million dollar turbine was destroyed because someone dropped their cellphone into the system?

We also have security issues, such as SUNSI information. Just don't whip out the phone and start taking pictures willy nilly and we will be fine. If not, have fun with your talk to the nice guys with the guns.

Productivity / control is our last worry. Someone will usually get a talking to if it is really egregious, but usually we don't care if you are getting the job done. The manager who does usually gets a talking to... That said... don't take a picture of your rear on a bucket and post on Facebook about how you don't do any work on the construction site... might be career limiting. Seriously...

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson

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