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Comment: Re:And on Slashdot? (Score 1) 253

by west (#49356025) Attached to: How Professional Russian Trolls Operate

Look, rooftop solar is a good thing. I'm not arguing with your facts, I'm arguing with your approach. The topic is irrelevant.

However, if it helps, let me put this out there. I'm cognizant of the fact that while my electrical bill is by use, the fairly obvious reality is that a connection to the utility and the maintenance of the utility has a very high fixed cost, which doesn't go away even if my net use is zero.

A cost-based scheme might be to bill every house $100/month for connection to the grid, and then substantially drop the price we pay (and are paid) for solar, but that hits the poor too heavily. Also, I think we can make a case that we *want* more solar than is optimal in an strictly economic sense.

In other words, there are arguments pro and con, and dismissing either pro or con means that society is denied the facts that it needs to make choices.

The dismissal of any recognition that rooftop solar, like almost *every single choice on the planet* has tradeoffs raised hackles. That any attempt to discuss such trade-offs was characterized as deceitful made them rise even further.

So, I apologize for the ad hominem nature of my post. But I stick with my basic claim: assuming bad faith on the part of your opponents harms society in general, and that unfairness towards any, individual or in the aggregate, is also harmful.

History is simply too full of examples of what can happen when people feel the rightness of their cause obviates their need for fairness.

Comment: Re:And on Slashdot? (Score 1) 253

by west (#49355083) Attached to: How Professional Russian Trolls Operate

Consider: Do you really care about being unfair to the huge corporate energy conglomerate? And do you think that they would be fair to you in return?

Actually, I want to be especially fair to those I oppose, and their behavior is irrelevant.

Otherwise it's just a bunch of Hatfield's vs. McCoy's, and why should anyone prefer my Hatfield to the opposing McCoy?

Sadly. you've made it clear in your post that
      (1) there can be no true information against your base premise
      (2) that anyone disseminating untrue information is an agent of the enemy
      (3) there is no obligation to treat enemy or enemy agents ethically
which puts you in the company of a lot of less-than-august characters.

Since I've indicated disagreement, does that mean I'm in the pay of the energy companies?

Comment: Re:This is interesting.... (Score 1) 573

by west (#49310129) Attached to: Greenpeace Co-Founder Declares Himself a Climate Change Skeptic

There's nothing stopping (and in fact, it seems almost a certainty) that Man-made Global Warming is real *and* is being used as a scare tactic by some people.

When billions are presented with the same crisis, you can expect there to be a multitude of different responses, including those who seek to capitalize upon it by denying its existence, and those seeking to capitalize upon it by promoting its existence.

In the last Ebola crisis, I'm certain there were people recruiting for their Church as a cure ("it's real, and every single person will die if you don't join our Church"), and those pretending it didn't exist so that quarantine wouldn't hurt their business. However, all of it was irrelevant to the fact that the disease was real and could potentially have been globally devastating. Luckily for us, there weren't large Western concerns that had a financial interest in the crisis being ignored.

Comment: Re:You'll need MS Office + *nix (Score 1) 385

by west (#49287167) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Laptop To Support Physics Research?

My father, a physics professor, refuses to buy MS Office, and he's constantly cursing the journals, government organizations, and university institutions that demand .DOC (or .DOCX) format. Also, if you are switching papers back and forth (and you're not using TeX) with others, you're likely stuck in MS formats. My experience in the faculty was less dramatic, but about the same. MS Office was the default.

It can be avoided, but unless you're religiously avoiding MS Office (like my Dad), it's not likely worth the pain. There's a reason that MS is the Borg. To be clear, I'm happy to have people strike out into the wilds and not surrender to the MS Office hegemony. But if the OP's daughter is like most people, the computer is not a statement, it's just about the easiest way of getting things done.

It's hard to escape Death, Taxes or MS Office. And they're all about equally fun.

Comment: Re:Free market will sort it out (Score 2) 254

by west (#49286447) Attached to: Evolution Market's Admins Are Gone, Along With $12M In Bitcoin

But the point stands: the criminals are not going to say, "Aw, shucks, we're out of business now that drugs are legal! Looks like we have to go work at Walmart now!"

Actually, the thing is that for a majority of criminals, crime is just another job choice. They weigh (often very badly) what they perceive as the benefits and the costs, just as you do when you are choosing which field to go into. If they perceive that crime has become less lucrative or that the costs have risen, then most criminals will look at other avenues, just as you would when deciding what job you're going after.

Now criminals perception are often not very accurate, and their workplace skills are often rather meager, but the fundamental calculus they perform is exactly the same. It's why as job opportunities rise, crime goes down. Criminals leave their current job for better ones.

Comment: You'll need MS Office + *nix (Score 1) 385

by west (#49286285) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Laptop To Support Physics Research?

Like it or now, Word and Excel documents are the common format for most large organizations.

This means you need Windows or a Macintosh. (I find as soon as you are doing detailed tech documentation, the various Open Office suites start having trouble with diagrams, complicated formatting, etc.)

Also like it or not, Linux (at best) or *nix at a minimum are also required for most open source science software. Pretty much everything is pre-built for Linux, the Mac is supported by most, but not quite all mainstream science packages.

This means you need Linux or at worst, a Macintosh.

So, my recommendations: Window PC running Linux in a VM or a Macintosh.

Personally, I'd look at an Ultralight (many decent manufacturers + VMWare w/ a pre-built Linux VM) or a MacBook Air. Either will require MS Office.

Comment: Re:what problem is your product trying to solve? (Score 1) 184

It's actually insanely good. $80K/yr would be WELL above average for just out of school.

I'll admit that's a really good income (out of school) for a general CS job, but for a job that's 80 hours/week? That's like oil-rig platform hours (except the oil rig sends you home every so often), in which case oil-rig platform pay would be expected.

You are absolutely right about where you live making a *huge* difference in what's reasonable. I imagine there are parts of the country in which $80K/year would allow you to purchase a house some day.

Comment: Re:what problem is your product trying to solve? (Score 1) 184

Well, $80K right out of school for a grueling job (and presumably top students) isn't insanely bad, although a choice I'd personally have avoided.

I was thinking $80K for 10+ years experience, which is insanely bad. (Although with those hours, perhaps after 10 years, there's only a a burned out husk left :-))

Comment: Re:what problem is your product trying to solve? (Score 1) 184

$80K/yr? With presumably the elite skills and technological flexibility you need along with incredibly bad hours?

With that level (none) of job security?

Boy, am I glad I never got suckered into the game industry. Scary!

(Unless that's what they're paying right out of school.)

Comment: Re:Everyone? Don't think so. (Score 2) 184

The fact that the return is very likely to be zero is why I generally don't put a 'donate' button on software I release. If I'm not doing it for the money, I might as well make people not feel guilty about not donating by not even mentioning the possibility.

The funny thing is (albeit with an incredibly small sample size) I've found that I get a lot more feedback/nice things said about the no-donation software. My speculation is that many people who like it but didn't donate feel guilty about emailing the author with praise. In the end, the ego boost is worth more than the few bucks I might have made.

Comment: Re:Yes. What do you lose? But talk to lawyer first (Score 4, Insightful) 734

by west (#49193495) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

I'd estimate the paperwork (including searching to ensure you are not ignoring legal obligations as a US citizen, occasional accountant/lawyer visits, etc.) to be on order of 20 hours a year. Less many years, some years you could spend 100 hours trying to make certain you are not breaking US law when you buy a house, are self-employed, etc.

Over 80 years, that's 1,600 hours. If you value your leisure time at $50/hours, than consider it to be about $80K worth of hassle to be a U.S. citizen. Add in $20K in lawyer/accountant fees over the years, and you could be looking at a total lifetime cost of about $100K.

Is it worth it? Well, if you're child chooses to work there, then it's easily worth it. But otherwise, probably not.

So, what you really want to decide (and only you can do so), is "Is the life-time option of working in the US worth $100K?"

Comment: Re:Simple methodology (Score 1) 347

by west (#49147375) Attached to: The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates

Next, that one line can be HUGE sometimes

This system will be multilingual.

This system will properly respect all time zones.

Two very simple sentences that a lot of people think can be tacked on very easily but take a lot of work. Especially, as you said, if you are swapping a "not" out.

This system will execute on Z/OS and iOS.

Comment: Re: Somethig wrong with that (Score 0, Troll) 254

by west (#49046669) Attached to: What Intel's $300 Million Diversity Pledge Really Means

That is correct. Women are paid less than men with equal skills and equal jobs. And yet somehow there are still fewer women. Could it be that companies are so foolish with their money that even though a just as competent woman is cheaper, they would still hire the male?

Indeed, that's why discrimination against blacks never occurred in post-slavery America. Businesses used androids who weren't actually subject to exactly the same bias as society as a whole to decide their hiring thus maximizing their profits.

Anyone who doesn't believe that culture doesn't beat profit 9 times out of 10 doesn't understand how human beings work. Krikey, put culture vs. survival, and a strong majority will choose culture.

Comment: Re:To me the Microsoft comparison can't be more cl (Score 3, Insightful) 271

by west (#49046415) Attached to: Peak Google: The Company's Time At the Top May Be Nearing Its End

I'd wager that Windows and Office *are* 'utilities' in the sense that they will be around almost forever, and generate the usual mountain of cash each quarter (although that mountain will slowly grow smaller over time). MS's success doesn't depend on popularity, it depends on businesses 'having' to have it.

Facebook and Apple both rely on being 'cool', which is a very treacherous business to be in. How many consumer products of any sort survive changing tastes over 20 years?

I'd bet 3:1 that in 20 years, MS will larger than Facebook or Apple - my guess, MS is 2/3rds its size, Apple and Facebook are near non-existent.

Unfortunately, with buyouts, name purchases, etc, the odds are about 10:1 any such wager would actually be handing the money back to both bettors as 'technically unresolveable', so I'm not making any actual bets here.

It is masked but always present. I don't know who built to it. It came before the first kernel.

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