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Comment: Re:No way (Score 1) 213

by richg74 (#43263651) Attached to: Should Congress Telecommute?
Agreed -- this is a Really Bad idea. Yes, we have some cool technology, but human nature doesn't automatically and instantly adjust. We've evolved to know, more or less, how to work in face-to-face interactions. If you think video links, or other E-interactions are just as good, think about the people who have, say, virtual girlfriends that they've never met. And the parent poster is also right: there are reasons that the country is a republic. Direct democracy is not necessarily all sweetness and light.

Comment: Re:Very old three year old? (Score 1) 537

by richg74 (#41739907) Attached to: Are Windows XP/7 Users Smarter Than a 3-Year-Old?
Exactly. The potential problem is not that people can't learn the interface formerly known as Metro, it's that they won't. Moving to a new OS version is almost certain to involve some difficulties, and getting around these is not made any easier by having a user mutiny at the same time. From the user's point of view, forcing a change amounts to taking away something that works (yes, it may have its quirks, but they have learned them), and putting in its place something else that is at least somewhat puzzling, without offering any significant initial advantage.

Comment: Re:The problem is distractions of any kind. (Score 5, Insightful) 335

by richg74 (#41089247) Attached to: Why Cell Phone Bans Don't Work
There are a million stupid and dangerous things that people do while driving.

Absolutely. Actually, I'm pretty well convinced that a big part of the problem is the thing that many drivers don't do: focus their attention on driving, which, as you say, is inherently dangerous.

I was a training ride leader for the Boston->New York AIDS Ride back in the mid-1990s, and I wrote this as part of a safety introduction for novice cyclists:

The best safety rule is this: don't crash. The best way to avoid crashing is to focus 100 percent of your attention 100 percent of the time on riding safely. If you are thinking about the cute guy or girl that you saw at lunch, or a problem at work, or otherwise watching a movie inside your head, sooner or later you will encounter a dangerous situation, and will get acquainted, up close and personal, with the pavement.

Change 'riding' to 'driving' and I think it still works pretty well.

Comment: Not really surprising ... (Score 1) 218

by richg74 (#40575769) Attached to: Firefox Notably Improved In Tom's Hardware's Latest Browser Showdown
Firefox 13.01 uses the least amount of RAM with 40 tabs opened, while Chrome uses the highest (surprisingly).

It's really not that surprising. If Firefox has cleaned up its act, then Chrome would tend to be at least a bit higher because of its "process per tab" design. Similarly, IE is likely to show lower usage, because parts of it are probably counted as part of the Windows OS.

Comment: Re:Hmm ... sounds familiar. (Score 1) 244

by richg74 (#40470767) Attached to: Silicon Valley Values Shift To Customersploitation
That book, Where Are the Customers' Yachts?, by Fred Schwed, is one of my favorites -- I especially like the description of the coin-flipping contest. You're right, there has always been exploitation of customers, especially retail customers, by Wall Street. I neglected to mention, in my original post, that I worked mostly in the institutional side of the business; at one time, there was some consideration of on-going relationships in that segment. (That was unlikely to be due to greater ethical scruples; they just weren't sure how to avoid getting caught.) More recently, though, corporate customers frequently get shafted just like ordinary folks -- sort of equal-opportunity exploitation.

Comment: Hmm ... sounds familiar. (Score 5, Interesting) 244

by richg74 (#40467517) Attached to: Silicon Valley Values Shift To Customersploitation
My first reaction to this article was a wry smile" "I think I've heard this story before." I spent 30+ years working in IT on Wall Street, and saw that industry change from relationship-oriented to a almost complete focus on short-term transactions. ("What have you done for me today?") IN both industries, there is a good deal below the surface that isn't visible, easily or at all, to the customer; that the customer often ends up getting screwed shouldn't really surprise anyone.

Comment: That's a Tough One (Score 1) 402

by richg74 (#40145873) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Find a Job In China For Non-native Speaker?
Given your lack of local language skills, I think trying to apply directly to a Chinese company is probably a waste of time. I'm a US citizen who has lived and worked abroad a couple of times, and I think your best bets are: (1) a US or Canadian company which has subsidiaries or affiliates in China, or (2) an approach through a US or Candian affiliate of a Chinese company. Basically, you want to try for things where your English skills will be a net asset. That's the way I got my expat positions, though I grant your situation is harder -- I worked in Europe, and I already spoke some German and French.

Comment: Copyright, Maybe (Score 1) 223

by richg74 (#39418383) Attached to: Liberating the Laws You Must Pay To Read
Malamud and his Public.Resource.Org foundation are trying — very cautiously — to make these laws more broadly available. "...even though we strongly believe that the documents are not entitled to copyright protection ...

They perhaps should have copyright protection (as, for example, GPL software does), but should have to be distributed under a suitable "copyleft" license.

Comment: I Still Like Books (Score 1) 418

by richg74 (#39249341) Attached to: The eBook Backlash
I have not yet seen an electronic display that is as comfortable to read, in varying light conditions, as printing on paper, although the Kindle is considerably better than most. Books don't require chargers or power adapters, and they are quite durable. I have books that I got 40-50 years ago, including my high school yearbooks, that are in fine shape; I rather doubt your tablet will make its first decade. And, as exemplified by those yearbooks, people can interact with a book easily. I wouldn't write in most books, but do make small marginal notes in my reference books fairly often.

Comment: For Some Odd Values of "Well" (Score 2) 321

by richg74 (#38809045) Attached to: Georgia Bill Would Prohibit Subsidies For Municpal Broadband
Senator Rogers claims that 'The private sector is handling this exceptionally well.'

Someone should explain to this idiot that, if a competitive market is delivering a good service, then the private sector will do just fine without having some potential competitors excluded.

Comment: Re:Fuel tax? (Score 1) 500

by richg74 (#37078584) Attached to: Dutch Government To Tax Drivers Based On Car Use
The idea of a mileage tax comes up fairly regularly. It's never been clear to me that it would be any more effective at reducing travel by car, pollution, etc., than an increase in the fuel tax. And the technology to implement a mileage tax (basically, an in-car GPS receiver and telemetry device) raises some significant privacy concerns. Some might argue that all-electric vehicles should not escape paying taxes; but going to a carbon tax would address that.

I wrote a longer blog post on this back in 2009:

Comment: Fit the Method to the Need (Score 1) 371

by richg74 (#35991432) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Do You File Paper Documents At Home?
Having looked at this for my business, as well as for personal stuff, I think the first thing to think about, for each category of document, why you need to save it, and how you are likely to use it. For things that you are required to save, like tax documents, I am not sure that electronic storage is sufficient -- you may need the paper. On the other hand, keeping the paper doesn't mean you have to work with the paper. Scan them, by all means, and use your electronic files as an index. I have a regular-size filing cabinet with hanging folders (by year for tax info, for example), which I very rarely look into. For other things that you may keep for reference, electronic records may be fine. And some stuff, like old utility bills, is probably not worth keeping at all.

Comment: Re:Don't know why - but I like it (Score 1) 2288

by richg74 (#35888316) Attached to: Why Does the US Cling To Imperial Measurements?
I use metric (SI) units all the time for science and engineering work, and would probably go crazy if I had to use imperial units, but there is a good point here. Many of the customary imperial units do feel more intuitive, or comfortable. Of course, there is a very good reason for this -- they were, in some cases, based on human measurements in some way. It's called a "foot" for a reason. I'm not a big person by modern standards, but my left foot is within ~1/8 inch of being one foot long. The second joint of my little finger is almost exactly one inch. I suspect this kind of thing is one reason (in addition to habit, of course) that these units "feel" more acceptable.

Real Users find the one combination of bizarre input values that shuts down the system for days.