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Comment Always had a problem with laser pointers (Score 2, Informative) 161

Most laser pointers are class IIIb laser devices. The class III means not at all eye safe (though it isn't a burn hazard and you don't have to worry about specular reflection from a target other than a mirror.) The b part means that the manufacturers spread some money around to come up with a class of lasers called, "sure it isn't eye safe but really no one is going to shine it directly in their eyes, will they?" But now they are so cheap that people can buy them as if they were toys. What do you think the chances are that some parent will buy a laser pointer for a child (or maybe someone will just carelessly leave it out) -- then the child (thinking it is a toy anyway) will shine it in his eyes just to see what happens. Heck I would be really surprised if this hasn't happened already.

On a side note I would imagine that if the plane were at a very high altitude then it would not be as easy as you may think to shine a laser pointer on any part of the plane (let alone into the cockpit window.) Then again if the plane is at a high altitude then a beam from a common laser pointer will likely expand enough to no longer be that dangerous. I guess this is only a when the plane is very close to the ground almost immediately after a take-off or right before a landing.

If this really continues to be a problem then maybe the government should step in and only allow laser pointers to operate at certain wavelengths. Then Boeing and Airbus can put coatings on their windows to block those wavelengths (turn the cockpit window into a giant set of laser goggles.) Or maybe people can just stop shining laser points at airplanes. Just because something is cheap doesn't mean it is just a toy.

Comment alt 255 on old dos computers (Score 1) 246

Back in the day, we used to hit alt-255 when naming executable files in dos. That would put an ascii character in the file name that looked like a space (spaces themselves were not allowed in dos file names.) You could see the file there when you issued a "dir" command (if you put the alt-255 at the end of the file name then you wouldn't have much of a clue that the character was there.) But if you tried to execute the file w/o using the alt-255 trick then you would get a "command not found" error. Ah old useless dos tricks!

Comment I don't understand ad blockers (Score 2) 161

I understand why people want to block pop-up and pop-under ads. I have those blocked too (and I don't think you even need to block those since not many people use them anymore.) But I don't understand why people want to block regular banner ads. Coming up with content then hosting it on a website isn't free. If advertisers want to pay for it because they think displaying an easy to ignore banner at the bottom of the page makes me more likely to buy their crap then all the better. It is better than having to pay a subscription for the content.

But since no one wants to pay for a subscription, and because so many people have ad blockers (or maybe advertisers have figured out how easy it is to ignore banner ads) websites are starting to go with sponsored content. I am sorry but sponsored content is at least 1000x more annoying than banner ads. Wonder why that site is singing the praises of some POS product? Well zoom into that tiny little dot at the bottom of the article to see the words "sponsored content."

I say bring back the banner ads. It really is a pretty painless way to pay for content. I think John Oliver gave a really good summary of the problem with sponsored content AKA native advertising:

Comment Re:Can he win? (Score 0) 395

Bill Clinto left a balanced budge along with the largest peacetime expansion of the US economy in history. Bush lied us into two wars and almost caused the second great depression. Once Bush got in the "fiscal conservative" seemed like he couldn't spend us into a deficit fast enough. But if you want to lump them both together as disasters then be my guest.

Anyway, notice how Bernie is attaching the republicans more than Hillary. He probably isn't running for president really -- he is running to push Hillary further to the left. At most he might be running for vice president. If he were running for president he would be attaching Hillary more.

IMO Bernie is doing a good thing by pushing her to the left and not letting her make the same mistake Obama did. Seems like Obama only recently figured out that no matter how far to the right he moves fox "news" and the republicans will continue to act like he somehow manages to be a cross between a fascist and a communist (I wonder which side of WW2 they think Obama would be on.) And then when the democrats tried to run to the right of Obama in the last election they got their collective butts handed to them. Hopefully Bernie will encourage Hillary to just come out with policies that will help average Americans and not to pander to the tea partiers who aren't going to like her no matter what she says or does. If it is between a real republican (even one who pushes policies that are a disaster for average Americans) and a fake republican, America will and always has voted for the real republican.

Comment technically Moore's law is still in effect (Score 1) 101

Yes I know technically the number of transistors on a chip is still doubling every 18 months or so; and yes that means cheaper chips that use less power. Yes that is all fine and good. But kids today don't seem to remember back when having twice as many transistors pretty much meant having twice the computing power. That 486 could do twice as much at the same clock speed as the 386 -- and the 486 was eventually going to be sold at higher clock speeds. And you didn't need to recompile anything to take advantage of all the cores they stuck in there -- even if you didn't bother to recompile anything it would still run twice as fast. Then a few years later the pentium/686/k5/"whatever they called it to avoid intel's army of lawyers" would run twice as fast as the 486 for the same clock speed and once again the chips would eventually come out with higher clock speeds.

Today you don't have to spend a lot of money on a new computer and you can still be confident that your computer will still be able to run all of the latest software many years after you buy it. In the 80's and 90's that really nice and really expensive computer (much more expensive than today's computer if you adjust for inflation) was completely hopeless in just a few years. We all knew that in some ways buying new and expensive hardware was a waste because in a few years that hardware will be so slow that it will have no purpose but to sit in the corner and gather dust. But we bought the new hardware anyway because each time we did it was like making a down payment on the future. The 80's and 90's were an amazing time to be a nerd and I just don't know if computer hardware has the same optimism as hardware of yesteryear. Or maybe it is just that I am older now than I was then.

Comment Long term purchase based on short term metrics (Score 1) 334

So people make long term purchase decisions (like a new car) based on short term metrics (the price of gas right now.) No one ever thinks that maybe the price of gas will go back up before they are finished paying off the car? It is almost like fossil fuels are a finite resource and that gas prices may go up and and down in the short term but will always keep going up in the long term unless or until we find some other way to meet our energy needs. Sometimes may faith in humanity tends to waiver. OTOH if you want a fuel efficient car now would be the time to get it. I promise the price of gas will go back up before you are finished paying it off. I would wait until gas prices go back up to get that gas guzzler though.

Comment Striking air traffic controllers fired (Score 3, Insightful) 223

Remember when Ronald Reagan fired all of the air traffic controllers because they had the nerve to form a union and strike for better pay? Now the air traffic controllers work on obsolete equipment, get paid very little, have a stressful job with long hours, oh and are the only people stopping planes from running into eachother. I am almost amazed no one has gone crazy before now.

Comment The economy is supposed to make our lives better (Score 1) 778

The purpose of an economy is to support humans; the purpose of humans is not to support the economy. If your business is not successful enough that you cannot remain profitable while paying your employees a living wage then maybe we don't really need your business. Maybe you should go out of business and if your company really was filling a need then someone smarter than you can figure out how to fill that need while making enough profit to pay their people enough to live on. In the end only the really competent business will survive and workers will have enough money to actually live (and they will just end up plowing their income back into the economy thus spurring even more growth.) Or I guess we could have it the other way. We could have just a few rich people who can't figure out how to sell anything anymore because a large part of the population is too poor to even buy a pot to piss in.

Comment I have an idea (Score 2, Funny) 100

Why don't we have a digital currency that is backed by the full faith and credit of a national government. We could set up an independent bank that could create this digital currency out of thin air and then loan it to banks while charging a base interest rate (let's call that interest rate the "prime interest rate" may I also suggest we call the bank something other than "federal reserve bank" since that might confuse people into thinking it is part of the federal government even though it is not -- ok you are not going to listen to me! fine!) Then this bank could raise or lower the interest rate to spur growth or to stop inflation. This bank should be regulated so that the chairman of this bank will not be allowed to do stuff like buy much stock (since stock prices will depend on how he sets the rate.) This bank could even print paper versions of the currency that could be used as legal tender. The paper versions of the currency will have no real value what so ever and thus this will be basically a digital currency.

No on second thought this type of made up digital currency will never work! We clearly need to think of something else!

Comment Re:Free market economy (Score 5, Insightful) 529

What did regulation get us? You mean after the new deal was put in place but before Ragean and company went about getting rid of it? Hmm let's see? End of the great depression? But wait Rush Limbah says that WW2 ended the great depression? Well the great depression was starting to end before WW2 but if you are saying that the massive government spending and massive government growth during WW2 ended the great depression then I have to thank you for proving my point exactly,

What else did it get us? ~50 years of strong growth without any real recessions? Strongest middle class in the history of mankind? Turning the US economy into the biggest in the world with the largest manufactoring base? Remember back in the day all the best consumer electronics were all made in the USA. Our manufactoring base was protected because from the founding of the country until about the 1980's we actually charged tariffs to people importing goods we could make here. In fact until WW1 tarrifs completely funded the federal government.

Execpt for all of that then I guess I would have to say yeah, regulations gave us nothing. Guess we need a fundamental change? And by fundemental change I guess you mean do the same thing we have been doing for the last ~30 years? I.E continue to deregulate and destroy whatever is left of the new deal? Yes we should not got back to the way things were back in the 50's and 60's. Back then the government actually regulated business. Back then a CEO could not be paid in stock (so he -- and yes back then it was always he, couldn't pump and dump like everyone loves to do today.) If a company became a monopoly then the government would split it up. The government wouldn't allow banks to lend money to people that couldn't afford to pay it back. And since the ultra rich had a +50% top tax bracket (with a lot fewer shelters so they actually mostly paid it) more rich people invested more money in their companies (to avoid paying taxes) and so there was less money around to have tons of bubbles in the stock market, energy market, housing market, etc. Back then companies actually had R&D departments because the CEOs all weren't slaves to the stock price -- they actually cared about the long term future of the company (imagine that!)

No you are right we should certainly not go back to the way things were back then. We need a fundemental change and that means doing the same thing we have been doing since Ragean.

Comment Re:Only in America (Score 4, Informative) 187

The government doesn't insist that they add anything to alcohol. I can go to the store and buy as much alcohol as I want. It is even legal for me to get a massive buzz from drinking it. Problem is that a lot of people do a lot of stupid things that are costly to society while drinking alcohol. So the government does insist that if you drink something that may end up costing society some money that you help to pay for the damage through increased taxes. The only problem there is that alcohol does have a lot of industrial uses. So if you are going to use your alcohol for something other than drinking then you shouldn't have to pay taxes to cover the cost of stupid things people tend to do while drunk. No problem. If you make your alcohol impossible to drink (but still usefull for industrial activities) then you don't have to pay taxes on it. The government only insists that if you do something that costs us all more money then you should have to pay some of it back via increased alcohol tax. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

Neckties strangle clear thinking. -- Lin Yutang