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Comment: Re:Bummer (Score 5, Insightful) 323

by schnell (#49351179) Attached to: RSA Conference Bans "Booth Babes"

He missed the point, but he did not mean well. That's why we can't have nice things.

I think the response unintentionally betrays sexism but at its root merits a direct response. At least to me, the whole "booth babes" thing is pretty simple.

Human beings like the "OOOOH SHINY." It distracts and engages us, even if it is not necessarily going to lead us to buy something as a result, but it does cause us to want to stop and engage our attention. The same is true whether it's a person, a free popcorn machine, a magic show or a huge display TV.

If you are a heterosexual male, an attractive woman is OOOOH SHINY. This is regardless of the state of her (un)dress, technical acumen, or anything else. It could be a stripper draped around a pole or Marissa Mayer in a smart business suit. You will have an involuntary response and may be "turned on." But the real question of how people react to this is one of intent.

Nobody seriously objects to the presence of attractive humans in almost any context. The objection comes from those who are made uncomfortable with the presence of people who are there (and dressed so as to make this obvious) solely for the purpose of eliciting that OOOOH SHINY MUST STARE AT BREASTS reaction.

Some men will ask, so "what is wrong with that?" which, unlike what many progressive/feminist-minded men think, is not an inherently offensive question to ask. To me, the first answer of course is that it is unprofessional unless you are at a swimwear or porn conference. But the issue most people will react to - knee-jerk, positively or negatively - is one of sexism.

Is this something to be offended about or not? For me, the simple test for me is for you - assuming you are a heterosexual male - to imagine walking around a tradeshow where most of the exhibits had buff, oiled-up dudes in speedos standing in front of the booths in Speedos. Would this make you in any way uncomfortable, want to avert your eyes or not want to stand next to them in that booth? If yes, then you need to put yourself in women's shoes and understand the objection to booth babes. If no, then, okay, you can make a straight-faced argument that there's nothing to be offended about. But that still will not prevent others from having a different reaction.

Comment: Re:Fuck those guys (Score 1) 569

They could always try a telephone or bullhorn and ask some questions including permission to enter.

So let me get this straight. I have been kidnapped in my home by a lunatic who threatens to kill me if I try to call the police or escape. I manage to call 911 for help, and your suggestion is that the police call me back or ask permission to enter so that the kidnapper can make good on their threat to kill me.

Or... none of that happened and it's just a swatter dickbag!

How exactly do you propose that police differentiate between the two? This is why "swatting" is such a douchetastic offense that should be rewarded with hard time in pound-me-in-the-ass prison: like people wearing fake cop uniforms to prey on victims, it corrodes the (already strained) bond of trust between the people that need the police to protect them, the people who have to respond, and the people on the other end of that police response.

Comment: Re:Good operating systems Dont. (Score 4, Informative) 564

by schnell (#49175565) Attached to: Why We Should Stop Hiding File-Name Extensions

Honestly, I think the original Mac OS did it better with four character file type and creators; meta-properties that the file can have.

This was a much superior solution in many ways. (If you're interested in a detailed exploration of why, read any of John Siracusa's in-depth OS X reviews on Ars Technica for his fierce and well developed defenses of the old method.)

Unfortunately, the downfall of this method came in sharing files across platforms. For much of the 1990s, Mac users would send files via FTP or e-mail which - lacking file extensions - were difficult for PC users to deal with when they received them. For example, my Word doc titled "Briefing" worked fine on my Mac but when I e-mailed it to a colleague using Windows, he would get a file that his PC didn't know what to do with. He would have to ask me what type of file it was (.doc? .pdf? .ppt?), and manually append the correct extension, yadda yadda.

Macs, as the minority in a nearly all-PC world (especially the business world) needed to create as few waves as possible and "get along" with the Windows standard. So, when designing OS X, Apple decided to deprecate file/creator types and go along with the inferior system that the rest of the desktop computing world was using.

Comment: Re:Jerri (Score 3, Insightful) 533

Good points. But I don't think they are "dumb" per se, they are just True Believers as you point out. Their early military successes against weak and disorganized opponents left them in the position of actually having to rule the areas they conquered, becoming the de facto government. And as nearly every rebel group that has achieved success has discovered, it's far easier to throw bombs (literally and figuratively) against the powers that be than to take up that mantle and actually be responsible for keeping the lights on and maintaining order.

Historically, the successful revolutionaries have been those who moderated their stances enough to comport with practical realities. Take for example the Soviets in the 1919-1922 period, who hired former Tsarist military specialists to run large parts of the Red Army because they knew they couldn't do it themselves. And while Lenin and Zinoviev loved to lob crazy policies out of the Kremlin at the countryside, they learned to temper some of the most radical ones to maintain the support of the peasant population which didn't really give a rip about the "workers' paradise."

Look at ISIS and the Taliban in Afghanistan in contrast - with their "we will stick to our crazy-ass policies no matter what" attitude - and you see the seeds planted for failure. ISIS is a destructive movement but is ultimately doomed to fail as a functioning state because they are True Believers. What we should all really worry about is if ISIS gets a charismatic leader who is willing to bend a bit to keep people happy - many in Iraq and Syria (except for the Kurds) might actually find that preferable to the dysfunctional governments they already have in their respective countries.

Comment: Re:Tough to fix. But. (Score 1) 183

by schnell (#49103363) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Can Technology Improve the Judicial System?

I genuinely appreciate your earnestness in wanting to reform the system, and I think more people should have strong feelings and ideas about how to "fix" things as you do. Unfortunately, a lot of things that seem like they have easy answers don't, and that's why they're hard. The devil is in the details, and the law of unintended consequences makes itself felt very keenly here. To wit:

a judge serves a randomly assigned trial with one requirement: it must be somewhere FAR from where they live

For better or worse, people elect judges because they want their views to reflect that of the community where they live. Maybe a liberal area wants judges that are more lenient in sentencing, or vice versa. Do you really want your Bay Area case where some wing nut has sued Google for not basing the Android clock on days since Biblical Creation to be decided by an imported judge from Alabama who may actually think they're right?

Third, plea bargaining has turned out to be an extremely bad thing.

Plea bargaining has its abuses, but more than anything else it is a very practical thing. A full jury trial for any serious (felony) offense is extremely expensive and time consuming, and plea bargaining is a way to reduce the burden on courts and juries by exacting some form of a minimum toll on the guilty without going for the maximum.

Congresscritter dimwit writes up a law that infringes on your right to keep and carry, he's shown the door.

What? Who decides this? Right now, through separation of powers, the courts rule on the constitutionality of laws. Under your idea - does John Boehner get to automatically impeach President Obama because he thinks executive orders on immigration are "unconstitutional?" Who gets to boot Republicans automatically for bringing DOMA to the House floor? What if I just think you're a dick and your law is unconstitutional and you should be gone?

Still in this context, the 2nd is perfectly clear if you're not being outright disingenuous or ignorant

Sorry, friend. I agree with your statement, but probably in exactly the opposite meaning you intend. Why even mention "a well regulated militia" if that is not the justification for the 2nd Amendment? And if you're not in a state-sponsored militia, why do you have this right again? This is just an example of where well intentioned people can wildly disagree on the meaning of legal/constitutional language and there is no shortcut to divining meaning.

Fourth, piling on charges post-arrest should be abolished.

So just to make this clear - I arrest you for drunk driving. But I search your trunk later and find you have a kidnapped person in there, and I can't charge you for it? Or, more likely, I arrest you for stealing a car. While the prosecutors are interviewing witnesses for the case, they talk to a chop shop operator who testifies you stole and sold 25 other cars to him. Why on earth should you not be charged with that?

I suggest lobbyists go as well, in favor of a system where a congressperson has a system that constituents can access where they can either open an issue or join other voices on an issue

You're right, nobody likes lobbyists. But they do actually have a purpose. Let's say that a congressperson from Maine is going to have to vote on a bill to grant or revoke a complicated set of tribal fishing rights on Federal land in California. Is this congress critter going to have constituents who are informed about this issue, or will they have time to learn about the issue on their own? No. Instead, lobbyists - on both sides of the issue - have their opportunity to brief lawmakers and try to sway their vote. Certainly not a perfect system, but you really do want to have professional advocates on both sides of an issue. Imagine if the EFF couldn't talk to congresspeople, and they had to rely on what some dumb-ass "IT guy" in their home district had to say on the issue, having spent all of 10 minutes researching it on Ask Jeeves. You get the idea.

You want to sell stuff here, you build it here from materials sourced from here using labor from here.

What? What if I like champagne, cinnamon or wagyu beef? What if the cost of diamond engagement rings goes up 10x because the US doesn't produce a meaningful amount of diamonds? What is the point of suddenly creating the need for millions of minimum-wage jobs - the sh*t end of the economic value chain, which is the vast majority of what has been outsourced - that Americans can't and don't want to fill?

Anyway, my point is that I admire people with a strong desire and thoughts about how to turn things around in this country. It's just much harder to fix things than it looks, which is why making things better will require people to do the hardest thing of all - converting their zeal to electoral action, and then overcoming partisanship to make compromises and work together.

Comment: Re:Exits don't cure anything. (Score 1) 188

by schnell (#49100591) Attached to: Why Sony Should Ditch Everything But the PlayStation

But whatever. Companies that are successful hardly ever fire. Toyota keeps hiring. Google keeps hiring.


You might wish to let these ex-Toyota workers know. Or these ones. Or the 4,000 ex-Motorola-turned-Google employees Google laid off because they were - wait for it - exiting a line of business they didn't think they wanted to be in anymore.

Good companies get out of bad businesses all the time. Usually they fire the people who worked in that business. It sucks but it's true, and to think that good companies never exit lines of business or lay people off is insane.

Comment: Re:That's because (Score 3, Interesting) 201

by schnell (#49083851) Attached to: After 30 Years of the Free Software Foundation, Where Do We Stand?

how about because there is no DMCA or other such legal bullshit preventing them from doing what they want with HARDWARE THEY OWN??

Since when has "ownership" ever equated to "I can do anything I want with it?"

  • I have a car but I am not legally free to disable the seatbelt or airbags. Does that mean I don't own my car?
  • I have a house. I signed a contract when I purchased it saying I would abide by the rules of a "Home Owner's Association" which regulates what colors I can paint it, and how I can decorate it. Does that mean I don't own my house?
  • I have a book but am not legally allowed to xerox all the pages of it and sell or give those copies away to other people. Does that mean that I don't own the book?

In no modern society has "ownership" ever had anything to do with "has no restrictions on the usage of." If you want to debate whether users have adequate freedom to do what they want with their electronics, that is absolutely an arguable topic! But please don't say it has anything to do with "ownership."

+ - How the New York Times Gets Made - With and Without Dead Trees

Submitted by schnell
schnell (163007) writes "Popular Mechanics has an in-depth profile detailing how the US paper of record, the New York Times, gets produced on a daily basis, from the newsroom conferences to the details of running the printing presses. Interesting tidbits include the Times's R&D lab that is charged with thinking 3-5 years down the road, and develops projects regardless of their profitability (like the first Google Glass newspaper app); how the newspaper offers its reporters classes on why and "how to tweet;" and how the paper's new focus on its digital future has led it to label not just reporters but also developers, graphic designers and video editors as among its 1,300-strong team of "journalists.""

Comment: Re:so... (Score 3, Insightful) 271

by schnell (#49050101) Attached to: Peak Google: The Company's Time At the Top May Be Nearing Its End

In the deranged world of the stock market it is not enough for a company to increase revenue year on year. No, the rate of increase in the increase must also increase year on year.

That's not deranged. It just depends on what you want to happen with your stock.

Take for example Company A, which grows a predictable amount each year (or stays predictably flat, whatever). Investors take this amount of growth/profit into account, make some rudimentary financial calculations, and say "a share of Company A should be worth $X." If Company A's performance continues to be predictable, then that stock price is not going to change. Nothing inherently wrong with that, especially if the company pays a nice dividend to the owners of its shares, so they make money even if the share price is flat.

But that's not what most investors want - they want to buy a share for $X dollars and eventually have it be worth $X+Y dollars so they can sell that share at some point and make money on it. (This is what you want when you buy a stock, right?) Companies themselves want this for reasons like incentivizing employees - if you're handing our stock options (not stock grants) to employees but the price you can cash them in at is the same price you bought them at, they are effectively worthless. Additionally, an increase in your stock price = greater market capitalization = it's easier for your company to borrow money at a low interest rate.

But if your company doesn't grow profits above the rate that it has done so in the past (either by introducing new products, getting better returns out of old ones or driving down your costs) there is no reason for your stock price to increase. So, basically, yeah - investors big and small all want your company to show that it is increasing its profits (or in the case of a company like Amazon that loses money in the short term, marketshare) or whatever other measure continually so that there is a reason for its shares to be valued higher. If I believe that Company B has a bright future and will grow above expectations, then its valuation of $X today is too low and I should buy it because it will be worth $X+Y later.

This all may be frustrating to people at companies that feel Wall Street is hounding them to perpetually improve results, but it's at least logically consistent, and certainly not "deranged."

Comment: Re:Home-schooling is a far better social backgroun (Score 5, Insightful) 700

by schnell (#48976937) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Pros and Cons of Homeschooling?

it is very wrong to say there's any risk of social stunting for homeschoolers. In fact the risk is far less for homeschoolers - because they spend the majority of the day interacting with other adults, learning how to behave like an adult.

I very strongly disagree with this statement. Adolescents should learn how to interact with adults, sure - but far more important to their social development is interacting with non-adults.

How do you deal with your first crush, your first boy/girl friend? How do you deal with your first bully? Who is your best friend, or your worst enemy? What's your first group of friends? All these need to be peers, and there is no substitute for having these experiences (for better or worse) younger rather than older. So many things about adolescence are the greatest thing ever in your life, and so many things about adolescence break your heart in a way you never thought possible. But experiencing these things at the same age that your peers do - in a way that you can only experience by being immersed with your peers - is the only way to be on an equal footing emotionally, socially and romantically with everyone else you will be dealing with in your young adult life.

I have no doubt that homeschooling can provide a better academic experience. I absolutely do not believe that it can provide the tremendous opportunity to do stupid things, make an ass of yourself in front of everyone, have your heart broken, be an asshole, and find yourself - for better or worse - that swimming in the great pool of co-educational age-equivalent fellow idiots called attending public school can. College is where I learned how to be a useful adult, but public high school was where I learned what not to do, which was in its own way just as important.

Also, I was a horny teenage boy and there were horny teenage girls there. Absurdly painful, awkward and embarrassing - but worth it all in the long run. And the best way I can think of for becoming a (more or less) well adjusted adult.

Your mileage, of course, may vary.

Comment: Re:This is quite amusing.... (Score 1) 280

by schnell (#48937389) Attached to: Microsoft To Invest In Rogue Android Startup Cyanogen

...considering that Android -- at its core -- is a form of Linux. So is OS X and therefore so is iOS....


Mac OS X is largely derived from NeXTStep, which was built on top of 4.4BSD UNIX variants (mostly NetBSD with a lot of FreeBSD userland). Stock Android uses a Linux kernel, but the Android app SDK is completely different from a desktop Linux distort, just as the iOS SDK offers zero overlap with a BSD UNIX desktop experience.

Both Android and iOS have their roots in UNIX-derived operating systems (though neither are "classic" SVR4-based systems). But although they are both derived from POSIX and "UNIX-alike" systems, they share (essentially) no code and no development tree. Additionally, I personally would argue that from a OMG UNIX has conquered the world perspective that Android == Linux as little as Mac OS X == NetBSD since all the parts that people care about are derivative or proprietary.

If you're ready to get your UNIX nerd on, check out this UNIX family tree.

Comment: Re:Government Intervention (Score 1) 495

by schnell (#48934751) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When and How Did Europe Leapfrog the US For Internet Access?

We subsidized something, it turns out it certainly wasn't broadband.

That's correct, it was never intended to be. The Universal Service Fund that you pay for each month with your phone bill in the US was created specifically to ensure that all Americans had some form of narrowband voice communications. It was designed as a tax on "the many" to ensure that "the few" who lived in remote or unpopulated areas would not be left out because it was simply economically infeasible to run a phone line 15 miles outside of town to serve a farmhouse with three people in it.

Most of that money goes to the major telcos to support broad rural areas, but a disproportionate amount of the spending goes to small ultra-rural telcos with tiny populations where telephone service would simply not exist were it not massively subsidized. It's a "cost plus" subsidy that nobody is going to get rich off of, but does provide prop up many of the smaller telcos in the US that otherwise wouldn't survive. Regardless of how you feel about this, just remember that USF was never supposed to do anything for broadband.

Comment: Re:grandmother reference (Score 1) 468

Entirely irrelevant. A healthy market will nevertheless push the sale cost towards the marginal cost of production. It will never reach it, but it will definitely approach it.

How does your math work?

  • Cost to produce the first copy of an A-list videogame: $60 million
  • Cost to distribute the second copy digitally: $.03

How do you see those two converging?

Comment: Re:JJ has a chance, maybe (Score 1) 422

by schnell (#48887755) Attached to: Disney Turned Down George Lucas's Star Wars Scripts

Maybe I'll give the Zahn novels another try. I mainly just remember finding the prose pretty stiff.

Nobody was going to nominate Timothy Zahn for the Nobel Prize in literature, you're right. But by and large his books (not just the Thrawn trilogy) made for entertaining stories that kept you turning pages and enjoying the experience. Even the Thrawn books had some lame plot elements (I personally believe that anytime you introduce clones into a novel or comic book you should go to Writer Jail for a mandatory 3 year sentence). But they were always fun to turn off your brain for a while and read. The same thing goes for most of the "Rogue Squadron" books.

Sadly, the rest of the Expanded Universe varied wildly from interesting and fun (Luke and his son's Force User Road Trip in "Fate of the Jedi") to dull (many of the earlier EU books) to depressing (most of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion which was just a way to induce PTSD in the next generation of Jedi) to full-on WTF (the Jedi council holding press conferences in "Fate of the Jedi" or the string of '90s book after book about zOMG somebody cloned the Emperor [again] or is rebuilding the Death Star [again].) There were some real gems in the EU but you have to pick through a lot of crap to get to them, and even then you won't get the full impact of some of the plot/character arc elements if you didn't wade through all the dreck that came before. So your time is probably best served avoiding all but a few of the most highly-reviewed ones.

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan