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Comment: Re:Google should win this if they went to court... (Score 1) 282

by tlambert (#47892481) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

Translation:

2. information for quick access

Paragraph 5 para 1 no 2 TMG says literally:

"Information to enable a fast electronic contact and direct communication with them, including electronic mail address."

You can hardly more clear than that. And if Google answers:

Google will not respond to or even read your message

it definitely breaks the law, since this is not even a one sided communication.

The problem here is that the law *requires* an email address. It was never really thought out for large companies with billions of customers, and the law is effectively a bad law as a result, but it is still in fact the law.

I can imagine that the response is going to be something like an IVR system, where you are emailed back something which requires you provide more context ("or you can click here"), and repeats the process narrowing down the context, each time ("or you can go here"), until it drills down to the automated system where it can bucket it into the appropriate web form you should have used in the first place instead of sending them an email, or your problem is answered, or you give up and go away.

Unless there's also a law against IVR in Germany?

Guaranteed that most of these emails to that address are SPAM and/or people bitching about seeing things in the search results they don't want to, or not seeing things in the search results that they expected to, and a human would be telling them, very politely, that nothing will be done about their complaint and/or they are not interested in pretending to be the heir to the fortune on deposit in the Bank of Lagos by the wife of the late oil minister ("now deceased, God Bless").

Comment: The fiction of net metering... (Score 5, Insightful) 428

by tlambert (#47887215) Attached to: If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

The fiction of net metering is that you will not be paid the same amount for the electricity you generate as for the electricity you consume.

On of the purposes of "Smart Meters" is to permit differential pricing on electricity produced vs. consumed; it's not just to provide a temporal demand market. There are already tariffs in place in California where PG&E only has to buy as much electricity as you consume for a net 0 energy usage, rather than being required to purchase everything you generate over what you consume.

The idea of a large grid only works if someone pays to maintain that grid, and that pricing comes in as a differential.

Everyone can't do what Tesla is doing because not everyone is going to have the storage capacity to make it economical; Tesla can just rota the batteries it manufactures in service to the manufacturing plant itself, as part of "burn in testing", so that it'll get local off-grid storage as a side effect of the manufacturing process itself.

I suppose that "every rechargeable battery manufacturer can do what Tesla does" would be a fair statement, but that's a tiny subset of "everyone"

Comment: Re:Great, they've invented "MedBook"... (Score 1) 197

Almost everything everyone complains about regarding Facebook is related to its choice of NoSQL as an underlying implementation technology:

- You don't get to see all of your friends posts
- Everyone who follows you isn't guaranteed to see all of your posts
- The computational overhead of making ACID guarantees is available ... if you pay for the extra work (i.e. step back to ACID)
- Posts show up out of order
- A comment on an old post by someone brings the whole thing back as if it's a new post

It follows that the other things that people complain about Facebook over are sure to follow into the NHS implementation, if they are taking that lead to its logical conclusion - meaning advertising replacing desirable content in the medical record.

Comment: Great, they've invented "MedBook"... (Score 1) 197

by tlambert (#47869175) Attached to: UK's National Health Service Moves To NoSQL Running On an Open-Source Stack

Great, they've invented "MedBook"... what you see when you look at it is a fraction of the available data at any one time because it has "arrived" at the node where you are viewing it from yet.

What do I have to do so that my drug allergies and blood type are "sponsored postings" so that when my doctor looks at them, he doesn't kill me due to all of the auto-play video advertisements for Cialis being there instead of the information I want to be there?

Comment: Re:I'm not understanding "missing DNA"... (Score 1) 108

by tlambert (#47805131) Attached to: The Passenger Pigeon: A Century of Extinction

Museum specimens were commonly preserved with formaldehyde, which damages DNA.

The technique in question would use the DNA from a *lot* of cells. Even if all of them were damaged, they would not be damaged in precisely the same way, which is why the technique works: it's a statistical technique. Give 1500 full specimens with multiple sets of damage, they should, on average, get the full genome for the species, since that's a viable number of individuals to propagate the species.

So again, unless something knocked out a specific chromosome in *all* the cells of *all* the specimens, there's nothing in particular, I'm not seeing the problem here that's being solved by inserting non-species DNA into the genome, since it should be acomplete species genome.it's going to be present in the majority of the samples anyway, and weeding out the damage is a computational bioinformatics task, not a "Well, it's not in this one cell; we're screwed" task.

Comment: I think most are missing the politics. (Score 3, Interesting) 127

by tlambert (#47795999) Attached to: Microsoft Shutting Down MSN Messenger After 15 Years of Service

I think most are missing the politics.

This is surprising, coming as it does on the heels of Microsoft's refusal to comply with the U.S. Federal court order to hand over overseas held emails.

So I will spell out some of the political consequences here.

The service closure forces a service switch on the remaining people who were using non-Microsoft MSN clients and thus avoiding the Guangming, which operates the Chinese version of Skype, which has been modified "to support Internet regulations", which is to say The Great Firewall of China. If these users want comparable services, the only comparable one now available to them is Tencent’s QQ messaging software, which from the start has been designed "to support Internet regulations". So there are no longer any "too big to shoot in the head" options which do NOT "support Internet regulations".

So really the only people who care about this will be Chinese dissidents who want to communicate with each other using an encrypted channel through a server inaccessible to the Chinese government, and any journalists seeking an encrypted channel whereby they can move information out of China without having to have a government approved satellite uplink handy, or a willingness to smuggle out data storage some other way.

Comment: Hardkernel wasn't using Broadcom SoC anyway? (Score 1) 165

by tlambert (#47795915) Attached to: Update: Raspberry Pi-Compatible Development Board Cancelled

Hardkernel wasn't using Broadcom SoC anyway?

The linked article makes it pretty clear they were basing it on Samsung Exynos SoCs - who *cares* whether or not Broadcom would source them parts, if they weren't even using Broadcom in their design?!? This is like using a Motorola 6502 in a design, and then claiming that Intel wouldn't sell you 8008's ... what the hell?

Comment: Re:One good meme... (Score 2) 62

by tlambert (#47772165) Attached to: Fish Raised On Land Give Clues To How Early Animals Left the Seas

No, no, no! You have it backwards. Here on Soviet Slashdot, developmental plasticity fish overlords welcome you!

Ironically, it's a revival of Lysenkoism, which has its supportive roots in Soviet era propaganda - making your comment quite apt, given that there was official party support from Stalin, to the point of those opposing the idea being executed. It's gained popularity again due to possible epigenetic mechanisms, but this hasn't really panned out in terms of direct heritability of the induced characteristics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...

Comment: Get your own training. (Score 0) 441

by tlambert (#47731877) Attached to: Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

We're too cheap to hire a less experienced person and train them to do their job properly.

Get your own training. If I have to train you to do your job properly, I damn well don't want you.

If I wanted to run a training program, I'd open my own version of DeVry University or University of Phoenix. I am in business to do what my business does, and as we are not a vocational education institution, get your freaking vocational education somewhere else.

Comment: What you say is partially true. (Score 1) 441

by tlambert (#47731717) Attached to: Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

What you say is partially true.

Companies are not interested in making over someone who isn't a good employee into one. It's the same reason you don't buy burnt out light bulbs, and remanufacture them into working light bulbs yourself, when there are perfectly good light bulbs sitting on the next shelf.

The idea that companies should provide vocational training to potential employees because the educational system has failed to provide them with the ability to be an asset to a potential employer is wrong headed. It is not the responsibility of the employer to make a person employable, it is the responsibility of the person to make themselves employable.

IF we were talking about blue collar manufacturing jobs, or sales/cashier/hamburger jobs, then yeah, apprenticeships and on the job training make sense; in technical areas, it doesn't make sense, any more than it would ti hire someone at a hospital, and on-the-job train them until they were a doctor.

Comment: Re:Just red tape? (Score 1) 142

by tlambert (#47686869) Attached to: Delays For SC Nuclear Plant Put Pressure On the Industry

As you surely know, coal plants exhaust is filtered to the extend that the exhaust is cleaner than the intake. At least that is so in germany

Accepting your premise...

It sounds like the Germans need to set up some big filter plants that do nothing but intake, filter, and exhaust the air, if their air is so shitty that running it through a coal fired power plant cleans it.

Comment: Any software requiring documentation is broken. (Score 4, Interesting) 199

by tlambert (#47672681) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

Any software requiring documentation is broken.

I blame Bob Wallace.

Bob Wallace was one of the originators of the concept of "shareware", and he got paid not for his software. This made people wonder how Quicksoft was able to stay in business.

When questioned about this at one convention, he made circling motions with his hands on either side of his head, and said "Software is ... all up here ... it's not real, it's ephemeral. I don't sell software, I sell manuals". So Quicksoft made its money, and its livelihood in the margin between the cost of mass-producing a manual vs. printing it out from a floppy disk and using up a bunch of tractor feed paper and expensive ribbon.

Or, to put it another way, Quicksoft made their money by having a relatively feature-full product which was nearly impossible to use without documentation. And people have been mistakenly trying to copy his success by utilizing the same technique, ever since.

Why did WordPerfect lose out to Microsoft Word? It wasn't because WordPerfect didn't already own the market; it did. It wasn't because Microsoft Word had more features; it didn't. Was Word a lot better, intrinsically, than WordPerfect? It actually wasn't.

Frankly, it was because of the F1 key. By the time WordPerfect got around to deciding they needed a "Help!" key, some of the function keys were already assigned, and so they assigned the next available one to be the "Help!" key. It helped sell a hell of a lot of keyboard templates. And it hid the help from anyone who'd experimentally go looking for it by hitting unlabeled keys in order until they found it (in fact, this would totally screw you up in WordPerfect).

Microsoft hit on a UX innovation: when something goes wrong, make the "Help!" key the first key someone is likely to hit, before all other keys.

And then they did it one better: The F1 was assigned to be the "Help!" key in *all* their products. Instead of just being a great UX thing, locating the key where they did on the basis of probability, they turned it into a Schelling Point: anyone who wanted "Help!" in any Microsoft product knew where to go to find it, if they had ever used some other Microsoft product, and needed "Help!" there.

So back to the original question: should you invest in documentation? Well, yes... if your product has already failed to the point where it's nearly impossible to use without documentation, or because, like Bob Wallace, you intentionally made it nearly impossible to use without documentation because that's one of the premises of your business model.

Maybe you want to write books on your project, once it's used by enough people to make that profitable, and that's how you plan to turn your hobby into a vacation fund. Or maybe you want to get to be a published author about a product so you get hired as a tech writer somewhere, or you get a lot of speaking engagements, and monetize your efforts that way. But if making your product hard to use was one of your initial conditions, then I think your software is broken.

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