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Comment: Re:Taxes (Score 2) 163 163

I owe you absolutely nothing and unless I am buying something from you or you are buying something from me I have no interest in you. If you want want government to stealcfrom me to subsidise you somehow and then call me a 'sociopath' or a 'moron' for not accepting that, then you are not only a thief, but some kind of a sick psycho thief.

Comment: Hardware design is just marketing (Score 1) 304 304

Well, I agree with a large part of what you're saying, but you aren't factoring in the hardware design.

Sure I am. Other companies sell hardware that is comparably nice and that if you sold a Macbook Air with Windows on it that nobody would pay extra for it compared to equivalent Dell or HP units. There are Android phones that are just as nicely designed as the iPhone or at least near enough as makes no difference. I've seen laptops that are just as nice as the Macbook Air. The nice hardware is really just a form of marketing. Make no mistake, it's very nice and it no doubt contributes measurably to Apple's success but it isn't the core reason why people buy Apple products.

What makes a Mac special is OS X. What makes an iPhone special is iOS. Take those away and you'll see Apple's profit margins evaporate faster than you can say "shareholder lawsuit".

Comment: All machine errors ultimately are human errors (Score 1) 302 302

"...officials believe that human error was to blame for the incident, rather than a problem with the robot."

The root cause of all problems like this is human error. If you haven't reached the place where there was a mistake by a human then you haven't gotten to the root of the problem. Might be bad machine design. Might be faulty programming. Might be operator error. Might be disregard or ignorance of safety protocols. Might be some combination of the above or a few things I haven't mentioned. But any failure in a machine made by man ultimately is the fault of a human. Might be an innocent mistake and the failure may not necessitate punishment but it will be human error make no mistake.

Comment: Apple is a software company (Score 1) 304 304

Well, enterprises don't want to pay 50% or more for comparable hardware on the basis of aesthetics.

People don't pay more for Apples devices because of the aesthetics - not much anyway. They're nice and all but what people really are paying for is the software. Apple at it's core is a software company. If you put Windows on a Mac or Android on an iPhone (easily done) you'd have no idea if it was made by Apple or Dell unless you looked at the logo. Apple doesn't make their own hardware but they do make their own software and that is what people pay extra for. Their hardware is nice but nothing really special. They just won't sell you their software (usually) unless it is attached to a piece of hardware.

Don't believe me that Apple is a software company? Here's Steve Jobs himself saying so.

Apple does make servers, nobody wants them.

They've made a number of half hearted stabs at making servers over the years but they've never really been serious about it.

Comment: Paths to success (Score 1) 234 234

Jobs is uninspiring to me. Without Woz, there would have been no innovation to sell, but with those two, they had an actual product to show off first thing.

No company of any consequence is built by just one person. The error in your argument is you are presuming that Jobs couldn't have found another path or partner to success without Woz. Given that Jobs built three companies (Apple, NeXT and Pixar) it seems somewhat reasonable that chances of Jobs succeeding without Woz would be fairly high. We wouldn't have Apple but perhaps we would have had something else.

Whether Jobs is inspiring to you or not is a matter of personal choice and I don't disagree. Clearly he was very inspiring to a lot of people. It's ok if you aren't one of them. Personally I respect what he accomplished professionally (hard not to) but he's not someone I idolize or care to emulate personally. I doubt I would have liked to work with/for the man.

virtually every other CEO has done something to better the world... and Jobs's legacy doesn't seem to be one of philanthropy.

There are more ways to improve the world than through philanthropy. As just one small example: the iPhone I have sitting on my desk allows me to easily Facetime with my mother in Texas who is in a nursing home in hospice. I assure you that I regard that as an improvement to the world and Mr. Jobs is in no small way responsible for that being possible. Yes the guy was a major dick in some very tangible ways but to claim he's done nothing positive really isn't fair or accurate.

Comment: Testing a man's character (Score 2) 234 234

All of us may be dicks, but very few of us are so dickish as to fuck over even Woz.

That's because very few of us will ever have such an opportunity. While I think most people are generally good and decent, experience has taught me that an awful lot of those same good and decent people are not above temptation. There are a lot of people (including some reading this most likely) who would screw over a friend for financial gain. People will steal if they think they can get away with it. I think Abraham Lincoln said it best - "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

Comment: Woz is a nice guy but nice is boring to watch (Score 1) 234 234

Agreed. I would much rather see a movie about Woz.

I think you are firmly in the minority there. I have huge respect for Woz but he's just not all that interesting of a guy. I've read his autobiography and honestly it was pretty dull and I'm firmly in the group that should be the target audience. Furthermore without Jobs you'd have never heard of Woz. Possibly the reverse is true as well but I have a strong suspicious Jobs would have been more likely of the two to succeed without the other. I say that meaning no disrespect to Woz at all. Great guy, great engineer, but he is a perfect example of catching lighting in a bottle.

Not only was his work much more interesting than anything Jobs did, but he's a character who I could actually root for.

The only people who think that Woz's work is more interesting are the sort of people (like us) who read slashdot. Jobs is a FAR more complex and challenging and intriguing character. The fact that you may not like him doesn't make him less interesting - quite the opposite. Flawed characters make for interesting stories. Nice guys doing the right thing is pretty boring most of the time. Nice but not a compelling story.

When I watch a Jobs bio, I spend most of the time hoping one of the other characters onscreen will just beat the shit out of him.

Which is a more interesting take than watching Woz and just thinking "what a nice guy" all the time.

Comment: Not everyone wants a simple life (Score 1) 234 234

And isn't that a better, much more realistic goal a parent should push their kid towards than founding a global tech company?

Depends on the kid. I don't think you can realistically push anyone to be a global tech icon. That has to come from within and requires more than a tiny bit of luck. What you can do though is help provide opportunity and structure and see what happens.

Working a well paying job that allows you to live comfortably and gives you enough free time and means to do something you enjoy at home, what more could you ask for?

Nothing wrong with what you describe but it won't change the world either. Some people want more out of their career than a comfortable life. Speaking for myself I've founded several companies, have run several others and I very much enjoy what I do for a living. I don't just want a basic 9-5 job with a few weeks vacation and a 401K. I want something more than that. I want to create successful companies. You aren't going to do that playing it safe or doing the comfortable easy thing.

Comment: Re:Unhealthy society. Not just in business or tech (Score 1) 170 170

One has to do more than your average bear to build a business from the ground up, how is that a surprise in any way? If it were easy, everybody would be doing it and it wouldn't be discussed here right now. I started up my own businesses but always self funded / got a client for the product. To do that I put 10 years of savings and years of work on the line, that is not an easy thing to do. But if I were unwilling to do it myself, how could I ever expect somebody else to do it on my behalf?

Comment: Obsession with robots (Score 1) 138 138

The most sophisticated tool we possess, discovered a way to make discoveries without leaving earth.

Some discoveries. Very slowly. With very limited flexibility and substantially reduced spinoff benefits. Robots are a great way to explore some things but they are not the preferred way to explore everything.

What can a human being learn about botany in space that a human can't learn on earth by controlling a robot botanist?

How digestible the plant is by people in space to start with. How the plant interacts with humans in a different environment for another. You cannot discover a lot of things that relate to humans without a human being present.

As an engineer, (and not an astronaut), I think I am far more interested in making the thing that actually goes to mars and does the work, rather than making something that is so deficient that it requires a human being to be in close physical proximity to operate it.

Who said anything about making something deficient? Strawman argument you have there my friend. Don't try to put words in my mouth.

I think we will invent good spinoff technology regardless of whether we send humans or robots. In fact I would say the *best* spinoff technology to come from the space race were the advances in automation.

Of course we'll invent good spinoff technologies. But they will be DIFFERENT technologies. There are some technologies that will only and can only be developed if you plan to send people. And this robot vs human thing is a false dilemma. It does not have to be an either/or proposition. We can and should do both. Hell we could triple NASA's budget by taking the money from our military. The obstacles are not financial or even technical, they are merely political.

As for which technologies are best I think that is a matter of opinion, not fact and you didn't clarify what criteria establishes "best". Best by what measure? And even if you come up with a measure I'm not sure that's a very useful thing to do.

I'm not saying we shouldn't have people on mars. We should when it benefits us. Automation removes the *need* to put humans on mars to actually do things on mars. We should go when there is a tangible benefit to going.

There already is a tangible benefit to sending people. I outlined a large number of them. It will also take us decades to get to the point where sending people is a realistic option. The NASA administrator was interviewed on Startalk radio recently and he claims their on pace (funding permitting) to get boots on Mars in the 2030s. I'm extremely dubious that we will get there that fast but that's ok. If it takes longer so be it. What I think would be a tragedy would be to stop funding the research for how to get a person there.

We shouldn't send people to mars to repair robots.

I never claimed that we should. Not sure who's argument you are responding to but it certainly isn't mine. We should send people to Mars to explore. There isn't a robot you can design that can do the sort of exploring that a person can do. Robots should supplement the experience, not be an avatar for it.

Comment: Maternity leave (Score 1) 245 245

3 YEARS of maternity leave?

Sure, why not? Raising kids is a lot of work and pretty important to the well being of our species. Why not allow people the time to do it well? Honestly I'm fairly disgusted by how little help is given to new parents here in the US. (close to none)

Seriously, maternity leave is like a year, more than that is taking time to spend with a kid as a stay at home mother (which is a good thing generally)

One year is as arbitrary as three. And you admit that spending some time with the child when they are young is a good thing so what really is your problem with maternity leave? Just because it isn't the amount you are accustomed to doesn't mean it is wrong.

Comment: Let's not get all chicken little (Score 4, Insightful) 138 138

Commercial launch capability is growing quickly, but the recent SpaceX failure underlines the fact that they may not be ready for prime time just yet.

NASA has blown up plenty of rockets before SpaceX. This rocket failure won't be the last. Let's not get all chicken little because one rocket blew up.

Comment: Why not send out best tool which is people? (Score 3, Interesting) 138 138

What do we get from sending a meat robot to mars, other than the sort of daredevil glory?

You get the most sophisticated tool we possess on Mars. One that can make discoveries orders of magnitude faster than any other tool we possess. You also learn a TON along the way about human physiology, botany, medicine, shielding, agriculture, and countless other subjects not relevant to mechanical robots that you would not otherwise discover. You'll also inspire a lot of people to get into science and engineering - far more than any robot mission ever could.

If you want to talk spinoff technology from manned spaceflight, so far we have infrared ear thermometers, ventricular assist devices, artificial limb enhancements, "invisible" braces, scratch resistant lenses, memory foam, enriched baby food, cordless tools, freeze drying techniques, water purification, pollution remediation technologies, food safety tech, and quite a bit more just from NASA alone. That is many billions of dollars worth of technological achievement that is directly attributable to manned spaceflight. The spinoff technologies alone have easily repaid the entire budget of NASA many times over.

There is nothing wrong with sending robots. We can and we should send more than we already are. But the notion that you gain nothing by sending people is demonstrably nonsense. The dumb thing to do would be to not send people. We don't have to do it tomorrow - I think it legitimately will take another 30-50 years at least to develop the technology to do it properly for an Apollo style mission to Mars. But if there is an investment with better bang for the buck in the long run I'm not sure what it is.

Comment: No excuse for fraud (Score 2) 131 131

It'll take a generation to get online education up to snuff, getting the curricula, controls, and individualized instruction in place.

Fine. Let's assume that is true even though I don't really buy that argument. That still is no excuse for scamming a bunch of people into taking on crushing debt while providing no meaningful education nor a credible diploma from a respected institution. Hell, many of them aren't even accredited. Even if they haven't figured all the details out that is NO excuse for the fraud that these institutions are committing on thousands of people.

Comment: Show me a counter example (Score 1) 131 131

Way to paint the whole group with the same brush. That's ALWAYS the best path to the truth.

Point me at an example of a for-profit school that is not a good approximation of my description of them. Perhaps there is some for-profit college that is doing a spectacular job but I've certainly never heard of one.

I've actually lectured at several of them so I'm speaking from direct experience. I've also as an employer seen the quality of graduates they generally produce during the hiring process and let's just say I'm not impressed.

I have not yet begun to byte!