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Comment: the lighter side of suicide (Score 0, Troll) 178

by swell (#49144543) Attached to: Facebook Puts Users On Suicide Watch

People take this so seriously. Yes, families and friends may be saddened by a suicide. If the deceased is a celebrity, there will be headlines. But really let's look at the big picture.

What is it- 7 billion people we have now? Maybe 1 billion who are starving, diseased, who have no hope for a full life? Even in the 'First World' there are thousands of homeless parents and children. We are killing hundreds, perhaps thousands each day with war, violence and mayhem. We are killing more with ordinary traffic and other accidents.

But some poor soul in the First World, who had opportunities, family and friends decides to off him/herself and it's a tragedy? It's only because we see ourselves in that person, and we don't see ourselves in the billion who are starving.

Lighten up, people. Just because we have money and computers and a decent car to drive to the club, doesn't mean that our lives are worth more than that billion. If you really want to shed a tear ...

Comment: mice, HGTTG (Score 4, Insightful) 95

by swell (#49103859) Attached to: Humans' Big Brains Linked To a Small Stretch of DNA

If we learned anything from The Hitchhiker's Guide, it is that the mice are the supreme species on earth.
What's the point of injecting inferior genes into their brains?

On a more serious note, it will probably be a long time before genetic science can safely determine the source of intelligence or any way to manipulate it. And a long time beyond that to overcome social and legal impediments to using the knowledge in any practical way. Expect to be just as dumb as you are for the rest of your life.

Comment: Re:It is not about technology (Score 2) 182

by swell (#49103721) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Can Technology Improve the Judicial System?

"I'm pretty sure all regulations are available on the internet."

You may find it interesting that the Municipal Code for my current city, and probably yours, is a copyrighted document prepared by a private company. Illegal for you to make a copy without paying them. Our city doesn't have the resources to create such a document. The publisher is able to create a generic municipal code and then make minor alterations for individual cities.

I worked for the private law firm that wrote the Chicago municipal code. The attorney whose name appeared as author was simply the head of a committee, but he had connections and got all the credit. That was a merger of private/public cooperation long ago that probably was beneficial to the City and lucrative for my boss.

Ownership of the law, in written form, will be more commercialized over time. Slashdot readers are pushing for scientific journals to be more 'open' ... This is another place where openness is important.

"Ask Slashdot: How Can Technology Improve the Judicial System?" - this is it.

Comment: aardvark / hack the web (Score 1) 353

by swell (#49081135) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Most Useful Browser Extensions?

These allow you to edit a web page. Remove the ads, the fluff, anything you don't like. Or simply select the text that interests you and poke CMD-i to isolate it. Print, copy the text, or make a PDF if you want to keep it. Aardvark is legacy, may not work on your newer Firefox. Hack seems to work well.

Comment: affordable anonymity (Score 1) 111

by swell (#49076285) Attached to: Privacy: the 21st Century's Newest Luxury Item

If you have a name like Ichabod Rumpelstiltskin you will find it hard to hide on the internet. Change it to John or Mary Smith and you will be difficult to pinpoint. Change it to common words and searching you out will be nearly impossible. Consider words like 'and', 'the', 'if', or 'swell'. You could start a baseball team and call it Who's On First.

Comment: it is business, not politics (Score 4, Insightful) 389

by swell (#49074645) Attached to: What To Do After Robots Take Your Job

In the US, a corporation has only one mandate- maximize profits for shareholders. There is no rule about being nice to employees or customers or suppliers or environment. There is no rule against manipulating governments in ways that increase profits. There are legions of lawyers across the land who will sue on behalf of shareholders if there is a perceived failure to take a profit opportunity.

This is the reason our society is polarized between the 1% and the rest. There are owners and there are workers. The owners enjoy low taxes and high profits. The workers compete for the scraps and pay for the war machines and government surveillance. The workers appear in the company books as an expense. To maximize profits, that expense must be minimized. CEO bonuses are largely based upon how that expense is minimized.

A new kind of corporation called 'Public Benefit Corporation' is emerging in some states. It allows profit, but these companies have a larger purpose that takes priority. This idea, if supported by the public, could help bring balance to the economy. OTOH if we keep buying from Public Screwing Corporations, abandon all hope.

Comment: Re:We're not in the "software revolution age" (Score 1) 307

by swell (#49071443) Attached to: The Software Revolution

Sorry. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter have obviated your argument. War still exists as an incentive for innovation, but it is less prominent. Any programmer today who wants to make money or make an impression has to come up with an app that appeals to ordinary humans.

Does any programmer care about DARPA or their nasty association with surveillance on citizens, with CIA, with spyware ... ? Our time is about enabling citizens, privacy, and online freedom. There are still profits to be made in spying on citizens, but who will opt for that?

It's my futile hope that the Evil Empire has less influence on future developments than enthusiastic ideas from commercial and creative programmers in the future. Will you join me in this?

Comment: bogus story (Score 1) 267

by swell (#49059045) Attached to: What Your Online Comments Say About You

Trust me. I'm just like you and I'm an expert. You can believe my comments when I tell you that this story is bogus. You and I, we're like peas in a pod and we know when a slashdot story is misleading. Less savvy readers believe stories like this but not us. NYT, WSU, what do they know? As long as we stick together we will know the truth. Right on bro!

Comment: FUD ? (Score 2) 166

by swell (#49055571) Attached to: Vint Cerf Warns Against 'Digital Dark Age'

This is a great idea. Preserve previous generations of software & data, emulate old hardware . Then we will be able to enjoy all the goodies from the Apple ][, IBM 360 and Commodore 64 era!

But wait, we can already emulate just about any old equipment. Most of what was worthwhile on floppy disks or tape is now online, available to most of us. Even our government, slow though they may be, has found ways of bringing old software & data to modern machines. Cloud storage and networking brings more interoperability over time and the future looks bright. Movies from the 1920s are available on modern media as well as Edison's cylinder recordings. So what's the problem? Oh, your dad's home movies. Sorry about that.

Comment: allows tilting into turns (Score 1) 71

by swell (#49054967) Attached to: Mountain Biking In Virtual Reality With the Oculus Rift and an Actuating Bike

After 1/4 million miles on two wheels, it is my experience that a rider never senses any tilting in turns. You can test this theory by placing a carpenter's level across the handlebars and taking sharp turns that require an extreme lean angle. The bubble on the level will indicate that you have never left the vertical.

"All my life I wanted to be someone; I guess I should have been more specific." -- Jane Wagner