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Comment: Engineering is a team activity (Score 1) 94

by sjbe (#49559013) Attached to: When Exxon Wanted To Be a Personal Computing Revolutionary

Side A: But if you're in the office while everybody else is in, you can work more efficiently, as everybody else is there to answer your questions.

The benefits of having everyone in the office at the same time is that you can be a more effective team. Engineering is (mostly) a team sport. You have to structure the work environment right so distractions and pointless meetings are minimized otherwise you are setting yourself up for failure. But most important is that you need an environment where the team can work effectively together. For most tasks this requires a non-trivial amount of direct interaction with coworkers. While time shifted teams can work in some cases these are rare and remember that we are talking about a time LONG before the internet was a thing so working separately was far more difficult than it is today. If someone doesn't want to work on an engineering team then either they need to be in a (rare) job where that doesn't matter or they simply aren't going to work out.

Side B: Some of the best engineers I've worked with worked nights. Some of them slept under their desks and rarely showered, but none of the 9-5 people came close to their performance.

That's only helpful if you can do your work without involving anyone else which is extremely unusual. Engineering in most cases is a team activity and it's pretty hard to be an effective team if you have one person (even an extremely talented one) who is never present. In the early days of microprocessor development maybe one guy could do the critical work by himself but that doesn't really work as things get more complex. The long run downside of accommodating prima-donna engineers almost always outweighs the upside of their potential contributions.

Basically, if people perform don't mess with their schedule or their appearance.

My guess is that this guy wouldn't have been able to perform given the team requirements. I don't really care how talented he was, eventually the volume of work will overwhelm even the most talented engineer as the business grows and then he had damn well better be able to play nice with others. Sounds like this guy couldn't.

Comment: Google's projects aren't afterthoughts (mostly) (Score 1) 194

by sjbe (#49558903) Attached to: Google Insiders Talk About Why Google+ Failed

What we are seeing now --- the branching of Google into driverless cars, into Google+, into Youtube (actually they acquired it), and so on --- is but afterthoughts, aka what should we do with all the Billions we got?

You are quite wrong if you think a lot of the things Google is doing are "afterthoughts". They aren't. You just have to look at them from Google's perspective. Youtube isn't an afterthought, it fits very nicely in with their core advertising business - eyeballs on video has a long tradition. Google+? Integrates business lines for better advertising. Maps? Local search and advertising. Gmail? Advertising based on personal communications. Android? Defensive play to keep Apple and Microsoft from shutting them out of the mobile ad market. Almost everything Google does supports their core advertising business either by extending it or protecting it. 95% of their revenue comes from ads (look it up - it's in their financial statements) and that number hasn't budged.

Google seems to live by the "fail fast" mantra. If they don't think something is going to be a home run they close it down fairly quickly. I'm sure they get it wrong sometimes but at least I can wrap my head around what they are doing. Otherwise they would eventually end up with a bunch of small products used by a tiny group of people that cost them far more to maintain than they will ever generate in revenue. I understand the frustration with never being sure if they'll keep a product around but it's not hard to understand why they are doing it.

The driverless car thing is flashy and cool but it gets WAY more press than is justified by the amount of money and effort Google is actually pouring into it. It's genuinely not that big a deal for Google and isn't likely to move the needle on their revenue or costs for many years if ever. Driverless cars is a research project by the closest thing Google has to a basic science research group. Any benefits from it will likely take decades to fully realize.

As for fb, don't worry, it too is on its way down --- as nothing stays up forever

Google is certainly being more sane than Facebook. $2 billion for Occulus? Explain to me how that will ever tie into Facebook's business model or how that price is remotely justifiable given the likely ROI. However I don't see Facebook going away any time soon unless they do something truly moronic. Never underestimate the power of network effects in keeping a user base around. See eBay if you need a good example. Terrible to do business with but everyone goes there because that's where everyone else is.

Comment: Hipster alert (Score 1) 366

by sjbe (#49539295) Attached to: iTunes Stops Working For Windows XP Users

I've had iTunes since my Rio MP3 and I've never paid anything to an online music store, ever.

Do you think anyone really cares if you've never bought anything from an online music store? Do you think that makes you superior in some way? The term hipster is stupid and usually used poorly but I think it might apply here.

I buy my CDs and DVDs from the artist or band in person, then they get half of the money instead of 0.02 cents.

Those of us with actual jobs and real life obligations have better things to do than track down random artists in person so we can throw an extra $5 at them in person.

You old guys on slashdot have heard of podcasts, right?

And my hipster theory is confirmed. Do you have a point to make or are you just trying to be smug?

Comment: Might want to check your facts (Score 1) 366

by sjbe (#49539053) Attached to: iTunes Stops Working For Windows XP Users

Funnily enough, the iPod which did not work as a removable HD is the thing that made me switch away from apple, some 12 years ago.

Just throwing this out there but you might want to actually check your facts before saying something publicly that can be shown to be completely false by spending 10 seconds on Google's search engine.

You've been able to use iPods as removable hard drives as far back as I can remember. I've done it myself.

Comment: What is your alternative hypothesis? (Score 2) 170

by sjbe (#49538965) Attached to: USGS: Oil and Gas Operations Could Trigger Large Earthquakes

Fracking has been going on for nearly 50 years.

But only fairly recently has it been employed in large scale in the relevant area. It wasn't economically feasible in lots of cases due to the availability of much easier and cheaper sources of oil and gas.

But now...NOW, it's causing earthquakes.

Apparently so. Do you have evidence of an alternative reason for earthquakes to go from 2/year prior to 2008 up to over 2/DAY in 2013?

I see.

So you are skeptical? That's fine. Have you looked at all the evidence and found a plausible alternative hypothesis we can test?

Comment: Facts support themselves (Score 2) 170

by sjbe (#49538829) Attached to: USGS: Oil and Gas Operations Could Trigger Large Earthquakes

Unfortunately this announcement comes from the executive branch of the US government.

So what? Either the facts support the claims or they do not. Who it is from is irrelevant to its veracity. There is a reason we insist that scientific findings be repeatable so that others may confirm the findings. The fact that a government agency is involved is irrelevant to the scientific process.

Many of us have developed zero trust in anything coming from DC.

So even if what they are saying is actually true, you plan to dismiss it out of hand because you dislike government in general. This in spite of the fact that you provided no actual reason to dispute the conclusions reached in the study nor any articulated reason to think the USGS is being dishonest in any way.

Comment: Behaving as expected (Score 2) 170

by sjbe (#49538635) Attached to: USGS: Oil and Gas Operations Could Trigger Large Earthquakes

You don't think the oil and gas industry hasn't spent millions of dollars to try to say that fracking is perfectly safe and couldn't possibly cause any harm?

Of course they have. You'd have to be living under a rock with your fingers in your ears to think otherwise.

Basically they've done what the tobacco industry did .. delay, obfuscate, and claim that it's up to someone else to prove it's dangerous while they assume it's safe without evidence.

More or less, yes this is exactly what they are doing. The playbook is almost identical. Claim that there is insufficient proof, ask for more studies (funded by them frequently), hire "experts" to promote their viewpoint, hire politicians to hinder any regulations, etc. Take the tobacco PR playbook, scratch out tobacco and write in fossil fuels and that is almost exactly what they are doing.

You don't think a massive lobbying, PR, and fake science campaign isn't an actual conspiracy?

I think it is a rather clear and unsurprising expression of economic self interest which in many cases is contrary to the public interest. I don't think you need to invoke some grand conspiracy theory to understand their actions though I would not be shocked to find out that there was some fossil fuel companies acting illegally in cahoots. Anything that makes it more expensive to drill/refine/sell, increases regulation or reduces fossil fuel use is likely to be opposed by producers of fossil fuels. They all know they basically think the same way on the topic so they're all behaving more or less as expected.

Comment: Pathogens don't care about laws or government (Score 1) 606

by sjbe (#49535305) Attached to: Bill To Require Vaccination of Children Advances In California

You just love stating opinions as facts, don't you?

Sounds like you do too.

You will find a great deal of resistance to your views, because a great many people don't want the government telling them what they can and cannot do with kids.

I don't really give a shit about how people raise their kids until it starts to affect others, myself included. Don't want to vaccinate your kids? Fine. Go live in a shack in Montana and home school so you don't endanger the lives of others because you are squeamish about getting a very safe and effective vaccine against a serious and highly contagious pathogen.

You're probably one of those idiots who supports the one-child policy of China, aren't you?

I don't care much what China's government does and it's not really clear what they have to do with this discussion. That said if China want to make birth rates fall the best thing they can do is to improve their standard of living. High GDP per capita almost inevitably leads to falling birth rates. Don't take my word for it, the data is easily available to back me up.

Why don't you go live there if you love heavy handed government so much?

Tell you what. You explain to me how and why measles cares about a form of government and I'll concede the point. Last I checked, pathogens don't really pay much attention to governments.

Comment: Reproducing should not get special tax treatment (Score 1) 606

by sjbe (#49535259) Attached to: Bill To Require Vaccination of Children Advances In California

He's not asking for special tax treatment. He'll still pay the same amount of taxes. He's asking that the government spend the same amount of money on his kids' educations.

Again, no. I don't have children and I don't get special treatment so why should he just because he chose to reproduce? Not my problem. Plenty of people don't have children but still pay taxes to support their local schools because it is a public good. An educated populace benefits us all. My education is long since finished and my parents still have to pay taxes to their local school district. In fact I actually went to a private school for good parts of my education and I can assure you that my parents did not get a tax break.

Comment: Ridiculous arguments (Score 2) 606

by sjbe (#49533433) Attached to: Bill To Require Vaccination of Children Advances In California

So should it be illegal to go out in public if you have a cold?

It's not illegal to go out in public with measles. It's just a really dumb idea. Every physician I know will instruct someone with the measles to stay home in most cases because it is ludicrously infectious. Furthermore "a cold" describes a huge number of pathogens whereas measles is one specific germ. If there were a safe and effective vaccine for more serious strains of "colds" then I would support requiring a vaccine if our medical community determined it to be a good idea.

A better law to fix this problem would be to allow kids to consent to having vaccinations without parental knowledge.

Children are not considered mentally competent to make such decisions. How many toddlers do you know who would volunteer to get a shot?

As it is this law will encourage anti-vaxxers to home school and spread their ignorance to the next generation.

They are already doing that AND endangering others in the process.

It also means that there is no need to force anyone to undergo a medical procedure which they do not want.

Nobody is being forced to get any vaccine. They can choose not to participate and there should be consequences for that. I have freedom of speech as a guaranteed right but that right has limits and it does not mean I will not suffer consequences for something I say. Same with the right to choose not to vaccinate. They can do it but that doesn't mean they should be able to endanger others without consequence.

Comment: Education cannot cure stupidity (Score 2) 606

by sjbe (#49533375) Attached to: Bill To Require Vaccination of Children Advances In California

It ends at the point that you force someone else to have a medical procedure for your benefit.

They aren't forced to have a medical procedure. They just are forced to stay the hell away from the people they put at risk by electing not to have the procedure. They retain their choice but that choice absolutely should have consequences because it can literally have life and death stakes. If they want to elect to live life as a hermit then they should retain that choice.

Anti-vaxxers are ignorant idiots but you do not cure ignorance or stupidity by making it illegal (tempting though that is) cure it through education.

You cure ignorance by education if and only if the other party is willing to learn. You cannot cure stupidity through any amount of education.

However the ironic thing about this law is that it encourages these idiots to home school their kids where they will be able to propagate their ignorance to the next generation.

I think the horse is already gone from that barn and has run a long way down the road.

The moment you force people to have medical procedure you are on a very slippery slope.

Spare me. There is no slippery slope here. We are talking about extraordinarily safe vaccines which are 100% optional. They can choose not to vaccinate their children, just not without consequence. They do not get the right to endanger others needlessly because they want to hold a ridiculous opinion not supported by scientific fact.

Comment: Entitled content providers (Score 2) 279

by sjbe (#49529751) Attached to: German Court Rules Adblock Plus Is Legal

That's like saying it's your cable box and your TV and you have every right to control what's on the screen, including stripping ads automatically (without changing channels or muting)

I DO have that right and given the technology to do so I'll exercise that right at every opportunity. They are welcome to try to invade my life to sell me stuff but that doesn't mean I have any obligation to let them do that. Their flimsy business model isn't my concern. If I value it then I will pay for it and I sometimes do. Most times I value my privacy and attention more than I value their advertisements and thus I block them. If this results in TV or other services price adjusting to compensate then so be it.

But somehow it's not okay for the vendor providing you web content to charge you money (indirectly through ads)?

It's ok for them to try but they aren't entitled to any expectation that I should have to support their flimsy business model. I can assure you that I am not interested in their advertisements without having seen them. If they want to subsidize their content via ads that probably means their content isn't especially compelling or valuable.

Are website owners creating websites for charity?

I don't care what their motivations are. Not my concern. I value my privacy, bandwidth and attention. I don't give these away for free, directly or indirectly. I'm not about to provide charity to a website operator just because he threw something up and attached some ads to it.

Do you belong to the entitlement generation?

Apparently you think it is ok for content providers to be entitled but not content consumers. Curious double standard you have there.

Comment: Get a better business model (Score 1) 279

by sjbe (#49528897) Attached to: German Court Rules Adblock Plus Is Legal

Ad money is how many of the websites finance themselves, pay their bills.

Sounds like they should get a more clever business model then. Not my problem. Most of the websites on the internet could disappear tomorrow and my life would not be diminished one bit by their absence. I'm willing to pay for content I find valuable but I'm not willing to pay with my privacy by default with no consent from me.

Comment: Not my problem (Score 1) 279

by sjbe (#49528827) Attached to: German Court Rules Adblock Plus Is Legal

Walking away from the TV is not the same as stripping out ads from the video content.

True but irrelevant. Either way the company hoping to get revenue from the ads doesn't get paid. They are effectively broadcasting and I can do whatever I want with their signal as long as I don't re-broadcast it. If I want to strip out their ads then that is my prerogative. I pay Comcast a handsome fee each month to have them send a TV signal into my house. What I do with it there is my business an no one else's. If I want to use a TiVo to skip all the ads then I will do so. Their bad business model is not my problem.

Sorry, but if you wish to access content on a commercial website, you must at least download their ads so they get paid.

I don't give a shit if they get paid or not. Not my problem. If I decide their content is worth paying for then I will pay for it. This rarely is the case but I have done it on occasion when I feel it is justified. If they decide ads are the best way to get paid that's their choice but they should have no illusion that I'm going play ball. I'm certainly not going to let a bunch of advertising companies track my every move and serve up advertising spam that I can assure you sight unseen that I have no interest in whatsoever.

The issue is what's fair. It's fair you make money for the content creators by intentionally/accidentally watching ads in exchange for viewing their content for free.

By that argument we should abolish libraries immediately because content creators don't make a dime from them. Sorry but I think it is perfectly fair. The content provider knows (or should know) the deal they are getting into. They don't get to force me to watch anything I'm not willing to watch and they certainly don't get the privilege of tracking my movements (or allowing others to do so) on the internet. If I think their content is worth paying for I will do so but *I* get to decide that, not them.

If you don't agree to that, you should simply not visit the website.

I don't agree to that and I'll visit whatever website I damn well please. They put it out there and the financial risk is theirs. By default I value my privacy more than their content.

System going down at 1:45 this afternoon for disk crashing.