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Comment Re:Port? Really? (Score 1) 131

I think that you are confused about a earnest question vs a rhetorical question.

Seriously though, we software developers should never miss an opportunity to ask "how's that platform-independent Java working out for ya?" so that the business guys remember why they need us.

It's also not true that platform independence hasn't been achieved. It's just that we call it "open standards". There are many examples, but in terms of a full application stack, HTTP/HTML is probably the best. Sure, it took the w3c and browser makers a (very long) while to get down to business, but we all stopped testing every change in 5 different browsers about 5 years ago and a year or two ago we got vector graphics and 3D when HTML5 became broadly supported.

The only remaining question is why Apple, Google and Microsoft all insisted on making smart phones and tablets entirely new beasts, incompatible with each other and with the modular, cohesive, loosely coupled web-based application stack that is obviously the clear winner for just about everything else (sorry embedded device guys).

And yes, I know your smart phone browser can display HTML and the newer ones with more RAM than your laptop had 5 years ago do 3D and overly-busy pages just fine. But if a dev needs access to all those mobile-devices specific features like GPS, notifications, access to contacts and other such info, raw IP/Sockets, IPC, etc. (s)he has to learn a whole new programming paradigm (make that 3 whole new programming paradigms) rather than just reading the docs for some new Javascript API calls.

And No, I'm not suggesting mobile browsers throw out the security boundary and let untrusted code do anything it wants. But a mobile device OS could have been just a web browser on steroids and an "app" could have been a single-archive-file website that did have access to the filesystem, the network, etc. after appropriate signed-code checking, user notification/acceptance and maybe even OS-vendor approval.

To be fair, it's no mystery why it didn't go that way. That slimy goo you find oozing out of your phone isn't a defective battery -- it's Steve Jobs', Larry Page's and Steve Balmer's drool which flows more freely when they hear the word "lockin" than if you gave pavlov's dog a real T-Bone. So thanks guys. Thanks for learning nothing at all from the PC marketplace. Thanks for saddling us with yet another set of crappy technology stacks. Thanks for laughing at us from your expensive yachts where you have your personal secretary do all the things that need to get done while we sit here cursing our "smart" phones because they simply don't do enough, don't do it right, don't talk to each other and are generally designed for you to collect data about us rather than to help make our lives easier.

I hope all of your yachts sink and you're eaten by sharks (lava-sharks in Jobs's case).


Comment But that one for is really current (Score 1) 305

To be fair, the lawmakers required the project to always be updated to the very latest web-based standards. They were therefore legally bound to redo the entire thing every 3 months. The history of their git (originally RCS) repository includes code in everything from c-based binaries that implement the CGI standard to angular and d3-based single page apps.

Comment Re:Got it! (Score 1) 133

If everybody did this there would be no value in your data. Sour the milk.

You're confusing data quality and data marketability. While your proposal would diminish data quality, data quality is already pretty low as far as I can tell based on the supposedly "target" ads I see. But despite the fact that it's already unreliable at best, the companies collecting the data are still able to monetize it quite thoroughly, and will continue to do so no matter how bad the data gets. The companies (and governments) buying the data just want an excuse to do more of what they're doing. They do nothing to verify if the crap their being sold is actually beneficial.

Comment Re:+1 for privacy supporters -1 for gun control (Score 1) 620

I think the judge should have fined him for firing a gun within city limits (obviously dangerous, but only a fine-able, not jail-able, offense since no one was hurt) but made it clear in her ruling that he should prevail in any civil suit he cared to file against the jackass with the drone. That would allow him to recover the cost of the gun fine from the peeping tom, and all would be right with the world.

As-is, this is a great and very unexpected ruling. Anyone know if there are job opening in Kentucky. I might light to move there now.

Comment Lawyers and money, of course. And it already has (Score 1) 712

It's like the line in Austin Powers II when #2 says "Virtucon alone makes over 9 billion dollars a year!".

If you're some idiot with a grudge that's more important to you than your own freedom and well-being, maybe guns still matter. But all the smart self-serving criminals have found ways to take more than their fair share and just payed congress and the courts to make it legal. And I bet the distribution of wealth now is far more skewed than any time since guns became useful tools of death and intimidation.

Comment Only because human life is cheap (Score 1) 203

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.

"Love your country but never trust its government." -- from a hand-painted road sign in central Pennsylvania