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Comment: Re:What stops people from bypassing Amazon? (Score 1) 115

Nothing much, but then you lose the guarantees of service and predictable pricing, and to be honest, finding a reliable plumber or AC person is sufficiently difficult in the real world to ensure that something that makes those guarantees will be popular, even if, on average, it costs a little more than going directly.

Comment: Re:Isn't Government wonderful? (Score 1) 157

It may be a private company, large portions of UK (and US I believe) functions are performed by private contractors and have been since the 1980s.

That said, even if it isn't, this experience is something most of us have suffered over the last 15 years from public and private entities. Most have ended up capitulating under pressure to knock it off with the "IE6 only" BS, in part because Microsoft (yes, Microsoft!) forced the issue with IE7 and its follow-ons, itself in part because too many people liked Firefox for Microsoft's comfort.

It shouldn't surprise anyone there's still "IE only" crap out there. Especially amongst organizations that are (1) large, and (2) constantly cutting their budgets and having to apply "defered maintenance" to everything they do to stop going under.

And those budget cuts are, for the most part, the fault of the same people who insist governments are always incompetent.

Comment: Re:Heisenberg compensator ... (Score 1) 83

I think of all the times anyone has tried to explain it to me, this is the one that clicked. If I'm understanding correctly, they're (electrons, photons, et al) not really either a "particle", as I think of it (like you say, teeny tiny baseballs with well defined boundaries and positions), or a "wave", but entirely different animals that happen to have some, not even all, of the features of both.

Thanks (assuming I didn't misunderstand!)

Comment: Re:Check their work or check the summary? (Score 1) 485

by squiggleslash (#49336325) Attached to: No, It's Not Always Quicker To Do Things In Memory

No, it's completely understandable and shouldn't even be thought of as strange to seasoned programmers.

The critical issue is there's a difference between calling an I/O function like write, and actually manipulating the IDE control lines on a hard disk. Typically for the former, the operating system is sitting there buffering things up in a relatively simple, uncomplex, way - ie it has some memory allocated, a pointer, and when you call the function all it does is copy the bytes to the memory and increment the pointer as needed. Once either enough time has passed, a critical function has been called, or enough data has been written, the OS then starts manipulating the IDE control lines to write the data.

Now, the comparison becomes "the OS's buffer handling" vs "Your language of choice's string handling and garbage collection algorithms." For C, chances are you're as good as the OS as C's string handling is extremely uncomplicated and bare metal. For almost anything else - such as Python and Java, both tested in this scenario - you're likely to end up with the OS handling some situations more quickly than your language would.

Does it make sense now? It should. There are very few programmers this should surprise. Unfortunately, I know quote a few that will be...

Comment: Re:Heisenberg compensator ... (Score 4, Interesting) 83

You think you have problems? I'm still trying to get my head around "It's both a particle... AND a wave!". How the f--- does that work? It doesn't even make any sense! It's insane! Wave things are not particles, and particle things are not waves!

(Note: yes, I know, it's true, I've seen the double slit experiment et al, I'm not doubting the science, I'm just saying my brain is too small to understand it. So put me in a position where I have to understand that something is in every state possible until observed, and... well, the worst part is I can visualize it, but only in a way I know deep down is wrong...)

Comment: Re:Marketing over primary function of searching (Score 1) 232

by squiggleslash (#49304611) Attached to: FTC: Google Altered Search Results For Profit

That might actually be an artifact of the same bugs that caused Google recently to embarassingly change searches like "famous female scientists" into "Searching instead for 'famous male scientists'. Click here to search for 'famous female scientists'"

There appears to be a lot of crap in Google's algorithms they're still trying to dig out that assumes synonyms of completely opposite words. Which is one of the many reasons why Google's searches tend to be miss rather than hit nine times in ten these days.

Comment: Re:Well no shit! (Score 2) 232

by squiggleslash (#49304583) Attached to: FTC: Google Altered Search Results For Profit

That's because their search system is crap. You ask for a Bluetooth Mouse, they'll search for anything that has Bluetooth, Mouse, or the word "The" in it (yes, I know you didn't type "The" - that's how stupid it is) It's a rare day I search for anything and more than 50% of the first page of searches actually relate to what I wanted - as in, at the very least, have all the keywords I specified.

It has nothing to do with Amazon Basics, which I doubt even makes Amazon any more money than their regular inventory.

Comment: Re:I just don't care (Score 1) 232

by squiggleslash (#49304549) Attached to: FTC: Google Altered Search Results For Profit

No they don't, unless you're using a custom operating system. I installed the Bing app and disable Google services on my old Galaxy Nexus (which runs an official Google version of Android) and now that search box searches using Bing.

In fact it's kinda annoying, because I didn't do either of those in order to get that result (wanted to try the Bing app at one point and happened to have it on my phone, and in an entirely unrelated process was having problems with my handsfree and found the only way to cut off the - broken and unusable anyway - voice dialing was to disable Google search altogether.) But that's besides the point.

Try it. Disable Google Search (Settings -> Apps -> All -> Google Search -> Disable), reboot, install Bing from Google Play, run it, and reboot again. See what happens when you use that box now.

Comment: Re:It is time to get up one way or the other (Score 1) 1089

by squiggleslash (#49297861) Attached to: Obama: Maybe It's Time For Mandatory Voting In US

To be honest, the people most ignorant seem to be those who keep going on about how ignorant the other voters are.

Here's a question: what, exactly, do you vote on the basis of.

Is it (a) You believe Candidate A will pass the Good Things I Agree With Bill?

Or is it (b) You believe Candidate A has the judgement and values to make the best decisions for the country?

Most people whining about how ignorant other voters are think (a). They think other voters are ignorant because they haven't educated themselves on exactly what issues are before Congress et al.

But (a) is an utter waste of time. You will never get a candidate, even if they weren't fucking corrupt, who will agree with you on every single issue. Moreover, YOU will never be informed enough because there are far too many issues out there you don't even think about. But you're a software developer (or some other kind of geek) so you ignore that, you think you know everything, you think you've thought of everything, and you complain about the other voters being ignorant.

Whereas, actually, for the most part, the other voters - the ones you keep writing off - have an easy decision to make. Which one do they trust more to make the right decisions.

Actually, they do have an informed enough opinion on that, even if they end up deciding the wisest course of action is to check all the boxes in the {Party they prefer}.

Which is fine, because that's the entire point of political parties anyway.

So knock off the "Too many ignorant people" crap. It reveals much more about the person making the claim than the voting population.

Comment: Re:meanwhile (Score 1) 342

by squiggleslash (#49285603) Attached to: UK Chancellor Confirms Introduction of 'Google Tax'

Funnily enough everyone wants a lot less regulation. What we want are only those regulations we agree with to be in force (and maybe a few extra regulations here and there that we think should exist, though we never think it's anything like the number that'd get cut.)

I think even Stalin was in favor only of the laws he agreed with, and wanted everything else removed from the rule books.

Libertarianism is truly the wildcard of politics. Everyone's a libertarian, at least as defined by the promoters of the concept. The term is meaningless.

What makes your politics are not the number of rules you want, but what rules stay and what rules go.

Comment: Re:I still don't know why ... (Score 1) 86

by squiggleslash (#49282041) Attached to: Nintendo Finally Working On Games for Smartphones

FWIW Apple has also made a PDA that flopped, and they made several laptop type things in the late 1980s that were commercial disasters too. They went on to produce the iPad and Powerbook (the former didn't even need Steve Jobs to make it a success.) In a parallel with the Powerbook story, IBM also had several failed attempts at a PC compatible portable computer/laptop until they had success with the Thinkpad.

Right now Apple has tried to make a TV set top box twice in the last decade, and most Apple watchers didn't even notice - the original iTV was a Mac mini in a smaller case with a customized Mac OS X. It was replaced a few years later with a device that kinda looked similar, had the exact same name, but was completely different, running iOS with some sort of ARM hardware that may (I genuinely don't know) be based upon one of their portable designs. Neither have been successful yet, but it's evidence Apple isn't averse to trying different things to attack the same market, and it wouldn't surprise me if, if the current generation fails, they'll try yet another redesign and type of product, possibly also called iTV.

I think the whole "A company once tried to make X, it was a flop, therefore they should never try to make X again" thing is a little overblown. Indeed, sometimes the flops are necessary, unless there's huge competitive pressures to stay out of a space, there's no reason to stop trying, learning from each flop.

Comment: Politics is poisoning every government agency (Score 5, Interesting) 416

by squiggleslash (#49272337) Attached to: Politics Is Poisoning NASA's Ability To Do Science

I don't think we can single out NASA. And it's been going on for a while, it's just the ideological agendas change over time.

At least in the 1950s-1970s, when the Interstate Commerce Commission destroyed the rail system, airlines, and road haulage industries, they were responding to politicians terrified that prices rises would upset their constituents. Now it's politicians terrified that facts might upset their constituents. Different agenda, same stupidity.

It's almost enough to make you a libertarian. Almost. Enough. But that's substituting one system that barely works for something even more stupid.

Computers will not be perfected until they can compute how much more than the estimate the job will cost.