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Comment: From Finland (Score 1) 10

by sjbe (#47574075) Attached to: Nokia Buys a Chunk of Panasonic

I thought that Nokia was a Japanese company.

No insult intended (seriously) but you were pretty much the only one who thought that. They are a Finnish company and that fact is well known worldwide. I can see how one might think they were Asian though since so much electronics comes from that part of the world. But Nokia got quite a lot of press regarding where they were from.

Comment: Have you actually been to China? (Score 2) 85

by sjbe (#47573345) Attached to: Chinese Government Probes Microsoft For Breaches of Monopoly Law

China with its essentially a rigged economy based on something close to slave labor.

And you know this how exactly? I've actually been to China whereas you pretty clearly have not. Slave labor? 'Fraid not. China has a lot of people and so thanks to supply and demand, wages are relatively low there. (but rising fast) Yes the Chinese government has a hand in everything but there are plenty of places in the US and EU economies where free trade does not exist and the government is heavily involved. Agriculture, weapons manufacturing, Boeing/Airbus, satellites, automobiles, and many more.

The only way to compete economically with that is to become that.

Your argument would be more credible if the US and EU didn't have manufacturing sectors equal to or larger than China's manufacturing sector. Cheap labor is only helpful for products that have a high labor content. Lots of products require relatively little labor or require specialized labor that isn't cheap anywhere. I have a stamping press in my plant for making wire leads. Operating this press requires some of skilled labor to set up and then it is all automated. No amount of cheap labor from China can undercut us on price, we're fast and we can pay our people good wages too. There are some products we can't compete with China on and there are some products China can't compete with us on. The trick is knowing which is which.

Comment: You have to do more than pay the membership fee (Score 1) 119

by sjbe (#47573255) Attached to: Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM

I do not see any value at all joining all of these organisations, much less paying for the privilege.

There can be lots of value to them but getting that value requires actual work on your part. If all you are doing is paying the membership fee to list it on your resume then there is no point to joining. However if you actually attend events, meet colleagues and talk with them, get involved in the organizations, etc you can actually get a ton of value out of them. I'm a member of two professional organizations (not ACM) which I actively participate in. I've gotten job interviews, excellent contacts for specific expertise, a certification important in my profession, contacts for funding, and even made some friends. You can get the most value often by being an officer in the organization (they always need help) and actually working hard to do a good job.

Comment: Money and professional organizations (Score 1) 119

by sjbe (#47573237) Attached to: Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM

I'm a member of a few professional organizations. Most of them are kind of money grabs when it comes to anything education related. To maintain a certification I have to get 30 hours of continuing education each year and wouldn't you know that the professional organization is just all too happy to sell it to me for vaguely unreasonable amounts of money. Or I can attend about 15 meetings and conferences a year, also costing $ each time. I try not to get too worked up about it but it isn't cheap even if it sometimes is useful to be a member.

There are basically just a few reasons to join professional organizations. The biggest one by far is networking. These organizations can be a terrific way to get yourself known in your profession and sometimes get opportunities if you do it right. There also for some professions is accreditation and credentialing. I don't just mean joining the organization to have it on your resume. I have an accounting certification which has been very useful to me professionally. Sometimes there are learning opportunities which can be helpful though usually they are just pointless money grabs by the organization.

Comment: Long lines here too (Score 1) 224

by sjbe (#47568191) Attached to: Comcast Confessions

Is the line shorter in other towns?

No. Last time I visited Comcast to get some gear there were about 30 people in line and I waited about an hour, not counting driving time to get to the one service center which is about 25 miles from my house. They announced loudly that if we were just dropping off gear that we could put it in their drop off big (a cardboard box) which nobody believed. Then there was no way to prove that you had dropped it off.

Fortunately my dealings with Comcast have been minimal and the service has been largely reliable for my needs. TV is WAY overpriced for what you get but the internet service isn't too bad as long as you don't need to deal with support too much.

Comment: Water tight = air tight (Score 1) 147

by sjbe (#47567475) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

He seals them in the barrels so they are water tight.

Of course if they are water tight then they are air tight too... That bit never made sense to me even when I was reading it as a kid for the first time. Unless there was a hole in the barrel the dwarves should have suffocated. If there was a hole in barrel they should have drowned.

Comment: Re:Such a Waste (Score 1) 147

by sjbe (#47565597) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

Yeeeeah, we'll get right on that. Everyone from the studio execs to the Oscar committee will positively leap with glee when we release our new $200,000,000 holiday-season spectacular, THE HOBBIT, PART II: A LEISURELY RIDE DOWN THE RIVER.

So instead we got a drawn out, absurd even by fantasy movie standards, pointless action scene that added nothing to the story. That entire scene could have been cut out and the movie would have been better for it. At most it should have been 1-2 minutes long if they absolutely had to have some action.

Pro tip: Don't quit your day job to move to Hollywood.

Sounds like you already did and worked on The Hobbit.

Comment: Suspension of disbelief (Score 1) 147

by sjbe (#47565253) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

WTF? It's fantasy with wizards, elves and dragons, and you're talking about suspension of disbelief?

Why not? Suspension of disbelief is probably the most important thing about sci-fi and fantasy movies. Far more than say a romantic comedy. You can do it well or you can do it poorly. You need a good script, good acting and good special effects to make a movie like that believable. If you are going to ask the audience to believe in magic or magic-science for 2-3 hours that is fine but you can't simply throw anything on the screen and excuse it just because the story says it is magic. The story has to be carefully crafted, the acting has to be believable and the special effects have to be good enough to keep your brain from screaming "bullshit" the whole time.

I've always had a hard time getting into Dr Who as an example. The stories are often flat out amazing and the acting has had some pretty good moments but the special effects and cinematography have been so bad (especially the older stuff) that my brain simply couldn't accept it. I have the same problem with Star Trek except that the stories aren't as good (IMO) though the FX is better (not great but better). One can enjoy them but I'm always left thinking that they could have been better.

Comment: No perfect LOTR movie (Score 1) 147

by sjbe (#47565063) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

Um, maybe Ralph Bakshi movie is an atrocity for you. For me it's the best Tolkien adaptation ever.

That rotoscoped steaming turd? I've rarely been more disappointed at a movie. It had reasonable fidelity to the books but that alone was hardly enough to make it good. I remember excitedly renting it from the video store sometime during the 1980s and thought that it was a really badly done movie. I thought the rotoscoping was bizarre and still do - uncanny valley reaction I guess. The voice acting was meh at best and the "action" was nothing to write home to mom about. Plus they released it as The Lord of The Rings but it only covered about half the story. I can live with it being condensed into a single movie even if they chop a lot out but then give some indication that there is more to the story. I clearly remember saying "That's it? Where is the rest of it?"

Jackson's adaptations of LOTR, like the recent The Hobbit trilogy, could have used more editing but it was at least in general a good and engaging movie. Visually excellent, faithful enough to the books in most places, captures the epic The worst bits of Jackson's adaptations are when they start going off script for stupid jokes like the dwarf tossing joke during the battle of helm's deep. It wasn't all bad but a high percentage of the dialog that deviated from Tolkien's words was pretty campy. That sort of thing should have only been on a gag reel. More editing would could have made a tighter story but it was a decent movie even if an imperfect adaptation.

Comment: Perfectly fair (Score 2) 25

by sjbe (#47564625) Attached to: University of Michigan Solar Car Wins Fifth Straight National Title

'Major sponsors include Ford, General Motors, IMRA, Michigan Engineering, NYK, Qatar Airways and Siemens PLM Software.'

Why is that unfair? Other teams are permitted to get sponsors. It's their problem if they can't recruit good sponsors. Plus most of those companies hire Michigan engineering graduates so why wouldn't they sponsor the students they are likely to hire?

Comment: Designs converge on optimums (Score 1) 25

by sjbe (#47564557) Attached to: University of Michigan Solar Car Wins Fifth Straight National Title

As cool as these cars are, they are starting to all look alike.

Physics is a harsh mistress. They tend to look a lot alike because physics combined with the rules of the contest will generally force the designs towards an optimum. In other words they are going to tend to converge on the same general design over time.

Comment: The Hobbit didn't take the material seriously (Score 3, Interesting) 147

by sjbe (#47562757) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

What's so horrible about The Hobbit?

The movies are stretched and it shows. They simply didn't have enough plot or action to fill the time and I got fairly bored at times. There are seemingly endless and mostly pointless action scenes that serve no purpose and frankly aren't all that well done either. The special effects were rushed. The dialog they added is insultingly bad. Etc... While I won't say they are horrible money grab movies on the level of say The Phantom Menace, they could have been a LOT better even if they had just spent more time in the editing room. Basically they knew they would be a commercial success so they really didn't try very hard.

LOTR all had battle scenes that took up half the movies that were too long. Songs were not included and plot from the book cut to make room for action and Hollywood.

The Hobbit is worse regarding the action scenes - the ones in LOTR didn't feel nearly as stretched out. And as for the "songs", there are lyrics but no actual music in the books so any music would be contrived. And frankly NOBODY wanted these movies to be a musical. (If you did then you are the only one) I sure as hell didn't go into them wanting to hear a bunch of "music" and I've read the Lord of the Rings probably close to 20 times. That is not what is the really interesting bit about the books - it's more of an intellectual curiosity than anything else that would have been terrible on the big screen.

Comment: Re: Founders tend to make bad CEOs (Score 2) 181

by sjbe (#47558055) Attached to: How Gygax Lost Control of TSR and D&D

To be fair Steve Jobs didn't make the transition from startup WizKid very well at all... He got kicked out of his company got ten years... And used the time to seriously adjust his attitude toward his workers/managers.

He did better than most. And you will notice that the company did quite badly once they kicked him out and recovered when he got back. No he didn't get everything right but he's one of the rare founders that was able to make the transition. Most do not.

And by all accounts he was still an ass when he came back. Maybe a more polished ass an ass nonetheless. People overlook it because he got good results.

Comment: Bullets will not win this conflict (Score 2) 828

by sjbe (#47558017) Attached to: Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline

The people in Gaza are not Israeli citizens.

And yet Israel insists on controlling the territory. They may not get a vote but they ARE Israeli citizens until such time as Israel actually stops trying to control their political processes and truly leaves. Israel conquered the territory, they control what goes in or out and they fairly regularly send their military in. Even the maps show Gaza as a part of Israel. What they have done is to conquer a territory full of people who don't like Israel and never made a secret of that and then treated them badly for a long time. Shocking why things have gone badly.

Since I'm sure you'll mention the naval blockade, So for your information, the blockade was enacted in June 2007, when the Palestinians elected a terrorist organization (Hamas) to lead them, and started firing rockets in to Israel. Btw, right after their election, Hamas eradicated PLO members from the Gaza strip (which were *relatively* moderate muslims), through a series of violent clashes.

Yep, both sides are doing all sorts of evil things to each other. That's what happens in a civil war. Ever consider that a big part of the reason Hamas has such a large voice is because of the decades of stupid decisions by Israel? I totally get that Israel is a bit touchy given that they are surrounded by neighboring nations who have to put it mildly been quite hostile. But this is a conflict that will NEVER be won with bullets or walls. It will be won with cooperation and discussion and genuine caring about others.

Comment: Win hearts and minds (Score 1) 828

by sjbe (#47557833) Attached to: Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline

So what do you think should be Israel's response to the constant bombing of their country?

Here's a notion. How about trying to win the hearts and minds of the people who aren't trying to bomb Israel and get them on Israel's side? This conflict will NEVER be won by force of arms unless we countenance genocide. If Israel really wants to have a solution they need to listen to what the Palestinians are saying and actually work out a deal. They need to bring economic prosperity to the region and give it a voice in political matters even though the people there aren't Jewish. If they need to establish separate nation states then do that. Stop moving into contested territories. Stop making Gaza an outdoor prison camp. Kindness might work here. Bullets never will.

The fact that Israel hasn't just wiped the country off the map is perplexing to me. It is usually what happens when a weak country continues to poke at a stronger one.

So you are proposing that the Jews commit genocide? Have you forgotten the Holocaust? If ANYONE would be reluctant to do that I should think it would be the Jewish people.

The biggest mistake you can make is to believe that you are working for someone else.