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Comment Only because human life is cheap (Score 1) 180

What this really tells us is how the justice system values human life.

Say someone is killed by a self-driving car in a way that's obviously not an hard-to-avoid accident but a clear malfunction of the device. One might expect the liable party to face fairly astronomical damages for designing and marketing a killing machine. But we know they won't. They'll say "That guy made $30k/year and was 10 years from retirement. Here's $300k. We're even." And the courts will say, "ya, that sounds fair.". Maybe a few percent tacked on for the family's pain and suffering or something. But in general, I bet the courts will screw the little guy on this one.

Comment Re:"We're stronger than ever" (Score 1) 107

By that measure every company is a heavy tech footprint company today.

Which is why it's still pretty good to be in IT. The same can be said for accountants and lawyers -- every company basically has to have some.

I'm also assuming that, being primarily a website, Groupon has at least a slightly higher than average percent of tech workers. And they're a startup at least in the sense that they've never paid a dividend. Since there are so many web-basted startups that employ us nerds, news about Groupon and similar is relevant on slashdot.


Comment Why not go 6G? (Score 1) 164

> "About the only point of agreement so far is that 5G is what we'll all be building or buying after 4G..."
I was going to comment on how obvious and unnecessary the "5G comes after 4G" thing is, but then I remembered Windows 9 and and OS-X "saber-tooth tiger" and realized that with technology, the succession isn't necessarily that obvious.

Comment Re:"We're stronger than ever" (Score 1) 107

Because jobs at companies with heavy tech footprints (I assume at least some of those 1,100 layoffs will be of IT workers) is always interesting to us nerds.

I just turned down a job offer at a publicly-traded tech "startup" that doesn't pay dividends and who's profitability fluctuates widely from quarter to quarter. Including the restricted stock portion of the compensation package, it would have been a big raise -- assuming both that the stock didn't tank too much and I stayed employed long enough for it to vest. But those risks vs my current stable (as far as I know) position just didn't add up for me. And news like this reminds me exactly why I was too nervous to take the job.

The CEO's statement, "we’re stronger than ever", is probably correct. AFTER laying of a bunch of people, they very well may be in a position to make some consistent profits and eventually pay a dividend. But how many of those 1,100 took the job over better alternatives because they had dollar signs in their eyes and hoped the stock they were getting would make them rich.

This is news for nerds because we need remember to limit how much we let companies pawn off their potentially worthless stock on us in lue of real compensation.

Comment Re:Finally, we've arrived! (Score 2) 569

Totally agree. But even if we feel what we're being paid for is unethical, only in the most extreme cases is it our decision. The ethics of a particular technology are often tricky issues that are rightly dealt with in the courts and the court of public opinion rather than by each individual involved it a technology's creation. Think of nukes? Their negatives are obvious, but the thread of mutually assured destruction has generally reduced war between the developed countries that have nukes. Is the world really worse off because of nukes? That's very debatable.

Comment Sarah Palin was right (Score 1) 662

It kills me to say this, but if the steel briefcase in the picture is the "clock," Sarah Palin was right, he was asking for it. He should consider himself lucky the cops didn't shoot him on the spot, no matter where his parents were from. Considering every major school shooting I can remember was perpetrated by white people, I'd doubt skin color is what makes school cops trigger-happy.

Comment Now I'm conflicted (Score 1) 123

Does the world really have room for multiple superheros? I'd hate to forget about Mr. Snowden, but these guys certainly did something a bit more practical, which is always a bit plus in my book.

In any case, I think a Nobel prize is in order. If there's any debate about which Nobel prize, I say we just award them prizes in multiple categories.

Comment Re:uh no (Score 1) 1291

I would also love to just buy my way out of those problems. But unfortunately only ideas, hard work and resources solve problems. Money is nothing more than a ruler to measure things and it won't solve anything. If you give everyone money, you just inflate the price of stuff. At some level, money in the hands of the poor who will spend it incentives productive people to produce what the poor want (note that's "want", not "need") in order to capture that cash. But the "make more stuff" (production) incentive competes with the "get 'em to pay more for the same stuff" (inflation) incentive. In my experience, the later usually wins because it's simply easier to do.

Think about the mortgage interest tax deduction. Is it a tax break for the middle class? Nope. It simply drives interest rates up because we're willing to pay more knowing all that interest is tax deductible. It's therefore a government handout to mortgage bond holders, which mainly include the already rich, but also include older people who's asset allocation includes more bonds as they approach retirement. And since the price someone is willing to pay is generally a function of the payment they can afford and Payment = Principal + Interest, higher interest rates actually suppresses house prices. This takes money away from the middle class buyer who ends up owning the house.

If we instead had a tax deduction for principal payments, THAT would be a tax break for the middle class. It would drive up prices in the same way, but the additional money paid would end up in the hands of the home owner, not the lender.

Whenever you think about these things, keep in mind who's balance sheet is ultimately padded. In the case of giving everyone a guaranteed income, the poor will have to spend it all, so it won't pad their balance sheets. It will help whichever companies are best at convincing the masses their products are the most necessary. Maybe with better products, but probably with better advertising.

So now we're into the debate about who's better at choosing the most efficient allocation of resources: the poor or the government. Those are some pretty stark choices. The poor will waste much of it on things like drugs, cable TV, junk food, unnecessary bank/telco fees, high interest rates, "education" at worthless colleges, etc. The government will waste it on overpriced government contracts to companies who pad the campaign funds of politicians (make no mistake, those are bribes even if the courts haven't bothered to call them such yet).

And now we're back to how to solve the problem real problem of providing food, clothing, shelter, medical care and quality education for the masses. That's a tough one. It will involve both educating the masses (why aren't home ec, personal finance, law for non-lawyers, etc not required classes in high school). It will also involve effective government that spends money wisely. Campaign finance is probably part of the solution for that, but other than the very abstract "elect good people", I'm at a loss on that one.

Comment Removing is conspicuous (Score 1) 179

Anyone truly interested in privacy would never attempt to have the interwebs "forget" them. If I ever get doxed, I'll just start a campaign of lies about myself and a few other people of various levels of credibility. If anyone asks about them, I'll just say "ya, I know about it. I somehow got misidentified by some vindictive hackers as someone they're mad at or something. None of it's true."

To be sure, that's exactly what the rich and powerful who rule the world do. There are so many conspiracy theories about the illuminati, lizard people, planet niribu, the free masons, etc. that we have no idea what to believe. I'm sure some of it's true, but good f-ing luck figuring out which parts to believe.

Comment By "chaotic" they mean "modern" (Score 0) 69

Seriously? Because that's how the rest of us have been doing it for at least decade or so now. How does some dinosaur CIO thinking that our new-fanged "interpreted languages" and "distributed version control" are less organized than his precious mainframe programmed in assembly with a bit of C here and there make news? Oh ya, I forgot, this is slashdot.

Disclaimer: No, of course I didn't RTFA.

Comment Re:Dur (Score 1) 112

Security experts care about confidentiality and integrity. Normal users care about availability. Film at 11.

Except it didn't work out that way. Non-experts:
1) Use AV -- grinding your system to a halt doesn't help availability
3) Change passwords frequently - Not being able to forget the password you just reset for the 3rd time in as many weeks to doesn't help availability
4) Visit only websites they know - Can't get content because I don't trust that website != availability
5) Don't share personal info - Can't use this feature because I won't give them my info != availability

Experts who use a password manager, rarely change their strong, unique passwords and don't worry about the info they give away or websites they visit have a much more seamless and 'available' web experience.

Comment Re:Long term solutions? (Score 2) 53

Actually, that solution would work well. The hackers would be the only ones left with true internet access that could get to any host in the world. They'd then sell that access to the public. And once we're their customers, they'd be more reluctant to harm our computers since that would mean we'd use less of the service they're selling. We'd just have to make sure all those independent networks were insecure enough that lots of hackers could break in to all of them, thereby fostering competition and keeping the price reasonable.

Comment Re:Reasons to be skeptical (Score 1) 235

For the S.H. engineers reading the thread, I just thought of another thing I need it to do (instantly and for free of course. I'm not paying for your app)

I want to be able to say "give me a list of up to 5 single-family homes for sale in the city I'm currently in that are among the lowest-priced 10 or so homes in the three categories of price per total square foot, price per finished square foot and price per above-grade finished square foot that also have at least 1800 sqft, 4 beds and 2 or more 3/4 or bigger bathrooms, are in the matriculation area of a good middle school and cost around $350k or less.". Then, when it gives me the list, I want it to explain to me:

* Where the heck did you get that data. County records? How do you know they're accurate? Did any of the properties make the cut because of a data-entry error? How do you know there aren't properties excluded from the list because they've been updated (i.e. the basement was finished) but that never made it into whatever source you got your records from. Acceptable answers would include "I screen-scraped 27 websites, including, zillow, trulia,,, .com, the county assessor's website, etc.). I aggregated the data and identified and corrected or excluded probable incorrect data based on the most common data point among all my data sources, text provided by the seller/listing agent and asking prices that are high or low compared to similar houses on the market, taking into account sales history for each property, that might indicate inaccurate data."

* What makes the middle school a "good" middle school. " said so" isn't good enough. "70% of students made greater than the state average gains on last year's 8th grade state test in both reading and math" would be somewhat acceptable. But what I really want is that plus a summary of forum posts and such from parents and former students and teachers what make a good case for a school that everyone agrees is pretty good.

Actually, if it could do stuff like that, I would pay for it. Quite a lot, actually. I'd also welcome our AI overloards.

If in any problem you find yourself doing an immense amount of work, the answer can be obtained by simple inspection.