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Comment Re: no... no.. no! (Score 1) 277

You lost this data privacy fight when you applied for a driving license.

I think you missed the point I was making. I agree that applying for a license and registering a vehicle you agreed to supply certain information. I even agree you have no expectation of privacy in public; within certain exceptions.

My point, however, is should the government collect and keep such information? I have no issue with only flagging violators and not keeping tag #s for all vehicles, however my experience is once an organization can get the data it wants to keep the data "just in case." In this specific case, a private company gets the data so who knows how it will be used besides for catching violators?

The growth in our ability to collect, aggregate and analyze data requires a discussion of what is privacy in this new era? How do we balance public safety with privacy?

Comment Re: no... no.. no! (Score 2) 277

"Because we know the excuse they're using is just bullshit. Once in place, the sky's the limit on what they'll really be used for."

You mean you won't be able to break other laws as well?

No, it's the temptation to collectvand use The data for other things that don't involve illegal acts. Use it to gets and delete data from complaints rivers, fine, but once government has the data then the temptation to keep it is too great. In addition, a private company would no doubt see additional dollars in selling the data for commercial purposes. Data is power, especially now with the growth of big data, so concerns over what is collected, who has access, and how it is used are valid. Of course, a can of spray paint is an effective way to monkey wrench these devices.

Comment Re:no... no.. no! (Score 3, Insightful) 277

I do find it amusing how riled up Americans get whenever someone considers a similar system in the US - I just don't get what it is about punishing illegal drivers that pisses people off!

It's not the punishing illegal acts but the intrusion of government. Americans tend to dislike government monitoring them, something that goes back to a time when some guy named George kept trying to keep tabs on them. That instilled a mistrust of government, amongst other things, that still runs deep in the American mindset.

Comment Re:Is this really open source? (Score 1) 58


All I am complaining about is the misuse of the label "open source" to refer to free-of-charge books that are provided under a CC license, since CC licenses do not classify as being "open source".

The phenomena you describe is not new. As technical terms that have specific meanings fall into the common lexicon they often get a broader, or take on a new, meaning that may conflict with the original usage. Mass media talks about computer viruses and make no distinction between trojans, browser hijacks, etc; and hacker has completely morphed from a badge of honor to something sinister. Those who use the phrases in the technical manner can complain all we want but in the end we're just pissing in the wind.

Comment Re:The human factor (Score 1) 381

For example, one office might say, "Our staff know X but not Y, the new recommended approach. And we don't have the budget for sufficient training and/or hiring for Y." Republicans like gov't to have slim budgets, so there probably is indeed limited funds for training in general. To know what's going on for a specific site you'd have to pay a visit and interview the employees about their knowledge and training, perhaps taking a specialist along with you.

Trading always get cut, the argument often being the staff already knows how tomdo X and this is just a different way to do it. I once had someone tell me it should only take a couple of hours go train staff because this was just the same system with different screens and workflows. Sure, and a car with the steering wheel on the right is the same just with the driver in a different seat. Years ago I worked for a company that for 500 k or so would do the process work, verify it still meet their business rules and draft a requirements document. Companies balked at doing that, even though we'd credit the payment if they hired us to do the 30 million implementation. No wonder so many implementations failed.

Comment Re:The human factor (Score 3, Insightful) 381

I have no doubt that you could save hundreds of billions, possibly trillions over the years if smart agreeable people get together and figure it out. The problem is at some point you need to include others and then the trouble starts. Any organization over with more than 100 people run into this. The more people and departments the worse it gets. I am older now and I have seen smart ideas pass from their creators to the masses of underlings and watch it get mangled beyond belief. Your trillion dollar savings will be eaten up by those underlings a hundred fold.

You hit one one of the main reasons such projects fail; the tech folks fail to understand the people part. They think the Federal government is one monolithic, top down controlled organization who will do whatever the boss says; when in reality it's like pre-WWI (and earlier) Europe, a loose confederation of largely independent individual fiefdoms who will guard their turf vigorously. They have years of experience at killing things so that you only find out they're dead when the body is discovered years later in some roadside ditch, meanwhile you had been getting cards and letters from the dead person telling you how great things are going. Information is power and the bureaucracy will go to great lengths to protect their information from others; and will make common cause to do so when it is in their own best interests. They are the institution, and know they will be around when the "great idea" person is long gone and will play the long game. They will take your money but it is wise to remember Truman's advice to Eisenhower as the latter assumed the presidency and remember that when people in this town (DC) say "Yes Sir" they often are really saying "Screw You."

Comment Re:Google has the cash and clout (Score 1) 304

Limited land isn't the problem. Zoning rules barring high density housing are. Just gotta build up.

I disagree, I think it is one of the root causes of the problem. Look at NYC, a similar space constrained market that has built "up" but prices are still sky high. They have simply built high end properties because enough people can afford them so there is no reason to build affordable units. High land prices as well as expensive construction costs coupled with high demand means even if you build up you won't make a significant dent in the cost compared to areas where there is still plenty of land to sprawl.

Comment Re:Google has the cash and clout (Score 1) 304

In any case, the better strategy is to try to attack the root problem, the limited supply of housing. Increasing supply may actually bring housing prices down, which benefits everyone (other than those who bought at inflated prices). Of course, 300 units isn't going to do it, but I'm sure this is just a test. If it goes well, I'm sure they'll put in a lot more.

We're in full agreement - the best way to deal with high costs is to increase supply. Unfortunately, areas such as the Bay Area have limited amounts of land so increasing supply is problematic; gentrification of poorer areas is one response to that but creates other problems and often those areas become too pricy as well. That's why areas such as Gilroy and further south develop as "affordable" alternatives, if you can stand the commute; and also results in the loss of farm land for housing, changing the economic structure of those areas.

Comment Re:Google has the cash and clout (Score 1) 304

to offer loans to their employees in exchange for equity sharing. Google could under write (or more likely secure funds from other lenders) home loans with the proviso they get some % percentage of the increase in value when the home is sold.

That would make bay area property owners happy, since it would increase the ability of highly-paid Google employees to pay even higher prices, thereby driving property values up more.

Giving the nature of the market such a move might raise prices a bit but given bidding wars already occur I doubt the impact would be vary noticable.

I don't. It would increase the ability of Google employees to bid by some percentage, which would raise prices by almost exactly that percentage. Especially since it's not uncommon that Google employees are bidding against each other.

I guess it would depend on how Google would do that. If therapist at say the estimated value then it might heat up the bidding to that point but not impact a final purchase price that much; if they offered tom uh underwrite more than the price would go up. In one case you simply have more bidders but a price cap, in the other there is no cap. It would be interesting to see the data if they did do something like that.

Comment Re:Price matters (Score 1) 311

This group doesn't intersect with WallMart shoppers, so why then would you want to compete with WallMart on price?

Because if Walmart offers good enough organic produce, price will win out. There seemingly are not enough Whole Foods customers who aren't willing to go elsewhere for their organic kale to keep the company afloat when they can get it from Costco or Kroger or yes even Walmart. Whole Foods had a niche when they were effectively the only ones selling organic foods. Now I can get that from nearly anywhere, often for a lot less money.

WalMart tends to buy at the low end of the quality spectrum, mainly to keep prices down; at least that was the case a few years back when I talked to one of their suppliers who sold to most other grocery chains as well. There is nothing wrong with their food, just a lot of it is a cut below a major grocery chain's quality; that lets them keep prices low. The only exception I've seen is the vegetables which tend to be perfectly fine; the meats and fish OTOH are often barely edible in comparison.

Comment Re:Eliminate cashiers (Score 2) 311

OTOH, I avoid establishments that don't have self checkout. Even if there is no line at the checkout, I will always use the self-check because I can scan and bag my groceries faster than the register jockey. I don't go grocery shopping for the "social experience". My goal when grocery shopping is to exchange symbolic currency units for tangible goods as efficiently as possible, not to make small talk about the sports or the weather or comment on my food choices or donate a dollar to charity.

Sam's Club has taken it a step further; you simply scan items as you put them in the cart and when you are done you pay electronically and avoid the line completely. Upon leaving that scan a barcode on your phone, check the items listed and out you go. In most cases they don't even bother to do a thorough check after the first few items. If I ran security there I'd have them just look for big ticket items to ensure tehy aren't walking so as to make the whole experience as painless as possible.

Comment Re:The Whole Paycheck Image is what sells... (Score 2) 311

There's a TV show in Britain called http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/prog... . They take a family and swap some of their expensive brands for generic articles (and disguise the packaging so they can't see). A lot of the time they actually prefer the cheaper stuff, at least when they don't know about it.

and that is why marketeers invented branding.

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