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Comment: Re:As much as I hate Apple (Score 1) 179

by swillden (#47803809) Attached to: Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

Its only a matter of time before I can make payments via NFC on my Android phone.

Oh, I should have mentioned... I've been making payments via NFC on my Android phones for nearly three years. Actually, these days I'd say about 80% of my in-person retail purchases are made with my phone.

Comment: Re:As much as I hate Apple (Score 3, Informative) 179

by swillden (#47800425) Attached to: Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

The real problem is the lack of standards. Japan has e-wallets, there is Google Wallet and now it looks like there will be a third and incompatible Apple wallet.

There are standards. Japan is its own world, but the Google Wallet and ISIS (a consortium of mobile network operators and banks who created the ISIS wallet -- yes they're looking for a new name) relies on standard EMV payment protocols -- slightly modified by the US Visa, MC, AMEX and Discover organizations, but not incompatibly so. Apple will follow the EMV standards as well, or they'll get nowhere, because retailers are a slow-moving, cost-conscious group.

Visa and MasterCard announced two years ago that they'll implement the "liability shift" the end of 2015, which means that from 2016 onward 100% of fraud will be charged to whichever entity in the chain (merchant, merchant acquirer, clearing house, issuer) does not have the EMV smart chip technology implemented. Since merchants get stuck with 98% of fraud, and other links in the chain are moving slowly, this will provide a huge incentive for merchants to install EMV-capable point of sale terminals. That doesn't require them to deploy NFC-capable terminals, but they will, and many of them are.

Not even Apple is capable of creating an entirely new payment ecosystem. They'll play ball with the banks and card associations, or they'll go nowhere.

Comment: Re:Ummm.... (Score 4, Insightful) 165

by swillden (#47798405) Attached to: XKCD Author's Unpublished Book Remains a Best-Seller For 5 Months

His comic appeal to people who merely believe themselves to be above average.

Bah.

It's got nothing to do with intelligence, or even knowledge in a general sense. It's that his comics so often rely on specialized knowledge. For example, a couple of my favorite strips are the "sudo" strip and the "Bobby Tables" strip. The former is only understandable to someone who has at least a passing acquaintance with *nix system administration, and the latter requires some knowledge of SQL and SQL injection attacks. Neither of those things is hard to understand. They don't require great intelligence. But they're not generally known. And to people who require an explanation, they're not funny (I have t-shirts of both, and I have never gotten so much as a chuckle from anyone to whom I have to explain the basis for the jokes).

You'll note, of course, that I'm not actually addressing your real point, which is a snarky argument that only people who like to feel themselves smarter or more knowledgeable than most would enjoy the strip. That's because it's not worth addressing.

Comment: Re:Ummm.... (Score 2) 165

by swillden (#47797627) Attached to: XKCD Author's Unpublished Book Remains a Best-Seller For 5 Months

Actually, Munroe's success is really surprising to me in spite of the brilliance of his work, because so much of what he draws is accessible to a relatively narrow audience. Not all of it, not even the majority.

I should have qualified this to point out I'm talking about his comics, more than What If. HIs What If series is very accessible, by design.

Comment: Re:Ummm.... (Score 4, Insightful) 165

by swillden (#47797619) Attached to: XKCD Author's Unpublished Book Remains a Best-Seller For 5 Months

Randal Munroe is evidence that if you draw stick figures for long enough you will eventually gain recognition.

Sure, as long as your stick figures are saying and doing incredibly witty things.

Actually, Munroe's success is really surprising to me in spite of the brilliance of his work, because so much of what he draws is accessible to a relatively narrow audience. Not all of it, not even the majority. But there's enough that is only understandable to people who know more than most about computers, mathematics, physics, etc., that none of the non-geeks I know really like it.

Comment: Re:Beyond what humans can do (Score 1) 530

by swillden (#47770815) Attached to: Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

Global warming exists. Anyone who denies that is also a moron. But it's certainly not manmade.

I don't get the focus on whether or not the warming is anthropogenic. Should we ignore all problems that we didn't make?

Supposing that the warming isn't primarily anthropogenic, there's still plenty of reason to believe that the greenhouse gases we're adding are making it worse, and in fact we can even make some reasonable estimates of how much worse they're making it.

At the end of the day, you'd really better hope that you're wrong about our ability to modify the climate. Because the current climate of Earth is not typical. In fact, there isn't really a "typical" climate for the planet. Ice core histories show us that it swings between much hotter than it is, and much, much colder (by "colder", think "equatorial oceans frozen 30 feet deep for millenia"). Both extremes will be unpleasant for us, and I say "will", not "would", because it's gonna happen. When? We have no idea. We know that climate changes can happen very rapidly (couple of decades), even without an obvious precipitating event (big meteor, supervolcano eruption, etc.), and that they come at apparently-random intervals.

So if we want this planet to be nice for us long-term, we'd better learn to engineer our climate. Or get even better at adapting our local environment. Or both.

Comment: Re:Damage or Change? (Score 1) 530

by swillden (#47770731) Attached to: Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

Climate has always changed, the concept of "Damage" is only relevant to those affected by it.

You mean, the same way as asteroids of various sizes have impacted into the Earth throughout the history of the planet, and "Damage" is only relevant to those affected by it?

Yes, I agree.

Yep. In the long run, the climate will change no matter what we do... unless we learn to actively manage it. Similarly, we will get hit by a catastrophically-destructive meteor, unless we develop the technology need to identify and deflect dangerous asteroids. It's worth noting that while without our intervention the climate may stay as it is for thousands of years, it may also change in decades. The ice core records tell us that the planet is capable of warming or cooling as much as 7C in as little as 20-30 years, even without any obvious catastrophic event, and even faster given a supervolcano eruption, or a big meteor. It WILL happen.

IMO, while it certainly makes sense to take reasonable steps to limit greenhouse gas production, we really need to focus on investing heavily in climate research, with an eventual goal of learning not only to understand but to manage our planet's climate. Actually, we should also invest a little in more strategies to cope with unpleasant climate. I say "more" strategies, because we already have a lot of them. The regions of Earth in which humans can survive comfortably without technological assistance are really small. The "natural" human carrying capacity of most of the places people live is basically zero, but we're very good at modifying our environment to adapt it to our needs. When the planet warms substantially, no doubt we'll have to apply more of those skills, so we should be thinking about which ones and how to improve our capabilities.

"The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults." -- Peter De Vries

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