Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:The great lie of the market. (Score 2) 33

So a diamond is essentially worthless, but good upselling makes it worth a lot. This values pays for the processing and marketing of the stone. In the US, for instance, 50 years of brainwashing has made couples forgo homes and food to buy a rock. In the case of the apparently paid link, they are a delivery service. The problem is that it is hard to create enough value for delivery. Overhead, profits, and minimum wage means that someone is not going to pay a large delivery fee, the value is not going to create a viable business. Of course you could do what Uber and Lyft does, which is essentially externalize all real costs to contractors, but even in that case profit is apparently not possible without surge pricing which tricks customers into paying multiples of the expected price.

Comment: Re:Not all bad, some middling to good-ish reviews (Score 1) 345

by fermion (#48664067) Attached to: Ars: Final Hobbit Movie Is 'Soulless End' To 'Flawed' Trilogy
My take on it is that there are higher expectations for movies, not just in terms of the production values but in terms of the actors. This was the sixth middle earth movie, and everyone is showing a bit of fatigue. The cameras angles, thankfully sparingly used, to make hobbits seem small are getting increasingly passe. There were few landscapes which though also getting a bit old were at least entertaining. The actual battle could have used a some lesson from TV on how to shoot on a budget.

In fact the entire movie reminded me of an elevator episode from a TV series. These episodes are made when on has blown one's budget for the season, but still need to get 24 in the can. So you have everyone stuck on an elevator, or locked in a room, or the like, and have some dramatic events happening. Of course it is hard to carry an entire movie on this premise, but when one has promised a mini series, one has to deliver.

Comment: Yes, idiocy (Score 1) 580

by fermion (#48625779) Attached to: Reaction To the Sony Hack Is 'Beyond the Realm of Stupid'
We are not talking about the risk of an attack on the level of 9/11. We are talking about a risk of an attack like Newtown, or Littleton, or the Holocaust Museum, or the Knoxville church, or, to be apropos, Aurora.

We are talking a movie that has a lot of hype, but may not last past the first weekend. A lot of people were planning on seeing it, but are people going to make a statement and risk some lone gun nut coming in and killing several people

Is it commercially responsible to pay for the distribution of a film when people may be afraid of the consequences of seeing it? Might it be more commercially responsible to release it when the heat dies down. Are parents going to allow their kids to see this movie know a lone gun nut might kill them?

Again, we really don't know what is going on here. Team America already killed this guy in the movies, and made fun of him in the most racist of ways(I so ronery). But this is just a movie. It's purpose is to generate revenue for sony. It is not an 'film' so it's sole purpose is to generate revenue for Sony. It has some hype, but it also has some risk. Again, not of movie theaters being bombed, but of someone, who does not necessarily have and national backing, coming in with tactical shotguns and 100 round rifles and killing several people. This is not that hard to imagine as it happens with some regularity.

Comment: good will (Score -1, Offtopic) 190

by fermion (#48601151) Attached to: Why Didn't Sidecar's Flex Pricing Work?
There is also a surcharge of good will in economics. When one company buys another, there is good will. When people pya $1000 for a MS license instead of much less for Google docs, some of that is good will.

The taxi service in my area has had tracking of the cabs for a while and the ability to get a cab with an app for a very long while. The wait on the phone is not long at all. I am not in an area where cabs are used a lot, but sometimes a cab is better than a bus or driving.

I specifically use cabs because of lack of surge pricing. There have been times when I have had to get home at midnight, and it good that i can just take a cab and not get gouged. If one want to show appreciation, tip better.

In some ways I see these ride buying service as Walmart. Come in, chage less to drive out others, then raise the prices and the consumer is at the mercy of an unregulated monopoly.

Comment: What? (Score 1) 241

by symbolset (#48588007) Attached to: Is Enterprise IT More Difficult To Manage Now Than Ever?

Slashdot Beta sucks.

It is an acknowledged fact that the operating systems we use cannot be made secure even without end user interaction. They are just too complex. And yet we must trust them to do business. Even without the acknowledgement the proof comes weekly. Despite this we still use them, and worse - old versions of them that are a parody of secure code and known to be exploited.

We spend the end user's trust too readily. And we let them spend it greedily.

If I were the man I was five years ago, I'd take a FLAMETHROWER to this place! *

I don't post here much any more.

The problem with firewalls and antivirus is they all locking the door after the cattle are fled.

Your data will never be secure.

*Scent of a woman Great movie.

Comment: Re:They have good reason to be nervous (Score 1) 280

by fermion (#48560937) Attached to: Utilities Face Billions In Losses From Distributed Renewables
it is an interesting theory, but misses a couple facts. First, the owners of the grid are protected. For instance, in disasters in the recent past the repair costs for the grid have been passed directly to rate payers even though the gird operators should have reserved cash to pay for those repairs. It is like the owner of corner grocery charging everyone a dollar extra because he was robbed the previous evening. Likewise, many people buy electricity through resellers. The producers mostly know just sell bulk, so they are not really interested in how much electricity is used, just that enough is sold to support the plants. And the solar panel is only going to allow them to reduce capacity, and increase profits. Here is how. There is such an overcapacity of overnight electricity that resellers give it away. The generators have to provide an excess during the day, and have to charge more to cover the costs. With a bunch of residential solar panels feeding electricity back into the grid during the day when people are not home, the providers can afford to supply electricity at night when they were giving it away for free before. In my a typical use case in my area, a family might spend $300 on electricity when there is a lot of sun, and $100 when there is little sun. With solar panels, such a family might see no money going to electric company, but maybe extra electricity feeding the grid at peak times when before there might have been brownouts. The only problem is this grid, which obviously is going to have to be funded separately, maybe $20 a month for a connection.

Comment: Re:Nonsense (Score 1) 368

by fermion (#48542427) Attached to: Overly Familiar Sci-Fi
Absolutely. I really hope this was written by some adolescent who is fustrated because no publisher will accept the book, and not by someone anyone considers a real writer. First, the world has changed but no changed so much. For instance, my mother who was born a few years after the first war had little trouble assimilating late 20th and 21st century technology, or adapting that technology to her own uses. She owned a computer and a flat screen TV.

Second, most writers still use the novel format, which is around 400 years old in it's current format. This is different from older western forms, which tended to be more spoken word, such as Beowulf You can still buy 400 year old novels such Don Quixote. I would suspect that if one were doing something new, then moving from the novel format, or at least messing with it as Kurt Vonnegut did, would be the minimal requirement.

Third, the world has changed significantly in 500 years, but if one reads the old works we still identify the humans as humans and understand the motivation. Yes, most of us would die quickly because we did not bow down to the king, or because we helped a slave escape, or because we did not know to avoid the emptying of chamber pot, but I think the reason to read literature is to learn that we are not all that removed from our forebears.

And fourth, in this brave new world no one can make an author throw away 50 pages of work. If one thinks they through away 50 good pages, then that is a matter of one's own integrity, nothing else. Write the book you want to write, publish it, slip it into bookstore, no one is stopping you. If one is willing to give up one's artistic integrity for greed and actually sell books, then that is something different.

Science fiction helps us explore our relationship with the technology that allows us to amplify our creative abilities. It is different from fantasy that allows us to imagine a world where the rules are different. Imagining a different culture is not that useful because the world that is going to interact with the technology is our present culture. We do not live in a world that everyone, all of the sudden, is going to accept that their way of life is obsolete and immediately embrace new ideas.

Comment: Re:Circular logic (Score 1) 66

by fermion (#48540931) Attached to: A Case Against Further Government Spectrum Auctions
I would say a lease, say 10 years, that would long enough for infrastructure investment, but closed ended so if that others can have a regular opportunity to bid.

I would also suggest that the spectrum has to be used and sold to the public as a competitive product. If not the lease has to be forfeited and the firm or it subsidiaries cannot big on it again for one cycle.

Given the way the Aero case went, where the public was not allowed to access the public airwaves through leased equipment, I would like to see the TV stations be subject to the same rules. Pay for the spectrum they use. If they are going to claim that the public cannot access the public spectrum without payment, then let the broadcast stations pay as well. Honestly, they no longer serve a public interest.

Comment: Re:Who cares... (Score 4, Interesting) 346

It matters as this is seen as some upstart with no experience taking control away from experienced men who cannot by themselves move into the 21st century. This interpretation is right and wrong

For the past 40 years TNR has apparently been owned by a incredibly bigoted person who used the liberal credibility of the magazine to push his white supremacists ideas. Certainly these ideals are accepted in some circles, but not the target audience of the TNR. As a new generation who was not raised on overt bigotry came into being, a generation that pretty uniformly saw the assassination of MLK through history books, not newscasts, and were not raised on magazine subscriptions, the new century saw the circulation of the new republic cut in half. The white supremacy could no longer be covered with the inertia of the respect of the magazine.

In this way we see the problems of TNR firmly rooted in old ideas and the destruction of the brand by the previous owner. If the brand is to be rehabilitated it is going to require the jettison of the previous ideas that are not consistent with far left ideology, and those who think that white supremacy is consistent with anything real in the US were free to leave with the editors.

TNR is only going to be saved by re branding as an online source of liberal news and analysis. While the editors did not promote any kind of white supremacy, they were complicit in the past, and that may have been a problem in the present.

Comment: Re:Better Teachers... (Score 1) 229

by fermion (#48512851) Attached to: FBI Seizes Los Angeles Schools' iPad Documents
The counterpoint here is that when someone has no choice, then one ends up with a lot of unqualified people because they are it involuntarily. The reason we don't have good teachers because teaching is a trade with skills that are only acquired with experience. For instance, if you are going to be a master plumber, there is education and then two years experience. Programs like Teach For America, on the other hand, put teachers in schools but the vast majority leave the classroom before they have the experience to become a good teacher. The financial incentives also limit the retention of good teachers. Keeping a teacher more than 10 years becomes very expensive, so there is financial pressure to let teachers go in the 5-10 years frame, just when they are becoming master teachers.

Comment: Re:Raining on the parade (Score 1) 172

by fermion (#48510479) Attached to: Study: HIV Becoming Less Deadly, Less Infectious
Also, infection rates are going up, particularly young teens and early adults,particularly men. HIV may now be a less virulent disease that is chronic instead of fatal, but is still a huge short term problem. I don't know if kids think there is less risk, or parent's are more conservative and not teaching safe sex, but something is going to have to change short term if the epidemic is not going to grow.

Comment: Re:Error: They did not use LaTeX (Score 1) 170

by fermion (#48371571) Attached to: What Happens When Nobody Proofreads an Academic Paper
Absolutely agree. I remember when I was helping put papers together how painful Word was to get to work, and how nice it was when I finally learned LaTex. I recently had to put a piece of research together, and now of course everyone uses MS Word and one has to use it. For collaboration.

That said the error might not have been prevented with LaTex. If it was a conversion error from different versions of word, in which a comment was exposed, that might have been prevented. If it was a human error, a comment accidently exposed in the editing process, that is easier to do with LaTex.

In any case this likely has little to do with the process, and much to do with the technology. A typesetter would never copy marginal notes left in the draft, or would check. Also, things like twitter makes it easy and cheap for such trivial mistakes to be amplified to 15 minutes of fame.

Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level. -- Quentin Crisp