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Comment Re:Reminder: "Hacking" was mere illumination (Score 1) 312

So it is OK with you that one of our political parties conducts secret, distasteful activities that, if revealed to the public, would sway the election toward the other candidate?

Where did I say that? What I did say is that if it were a FOX reporter that had done that hacking, it would be different. I still have some moral issues with breaking into systems and exposing private communications.

Personally, I see the hacking of DNC emails as an intelligence test that they failed miserably. If your party cannot conduct their unpleasant business clandestinely they surely do not deserve to win office. Imagine what would happened if these idiots were actually allowed to run the country. Our entire ruling party would have been compromised from day one.

The problem I see with your argument is that you're assuming that the Republicans can't or haven't been compromised.

Comment Re:Reminder: "Hacking" was mere illumination (Score 1) 312

So it's OK with you that a foreign power hacked the systems of one of our political parties for the express purpose of swaying the election towards a candidate of their liking?

If it were a FOX reporter, I'd feel differently about it, but it wasn't. My assumption and hope is that reporters (collectively) go after both parties. Democracy doesn't exist without free and fair elections.

Regardless of whether the actions of the Russians actually made any actual difference in the outcome, what has happened is that it has sown distrust in the validity of our election process. That is a big problem, not a good thing.

Comment Re:so what? (Score 1) 644

What you're talking about is giving people some menial tasks in exchange for shelter, food, clothing, etc. Who distributes this food, shelter, clothing, etc? Is it the government? How does the government obtain it? Do they buy it? From who? How does the government get the money to purchase it?

The way it works now is that the government gets its money from tax payers who get it mostly through employment.

But what happens when the government doesn't receive enough in taxes to keep operating let alone do what you're suggesting? This is the future we're facing. Not only is there risk to those who can't find work, but the smaller workforce ends up defunding the governments that are supposed to provide the safety net and other services. That's why some have suggested taxing robots as well since they will becoming a major part of the labor pool.

To the extent that capitalism functions, it depend on the value of peoples' work at least meeting their living expenses. What's happening is that automation is severely cutting the value of the average worker. We are fast approaching a time where a large percentage of the workforce can't earn their keep because automation can do it cheaper.

Comment Re:I blame Trump. (Score 4, Insightful) 1149

Nuts don't grow in a vacuum. I have no idea how much (if any) impact Trump had on this guy. I would guess though that he had plenty of contact with like minded people who at least talked about wanting to do this kind of thing. Trump's policies and penchant for "alternative" facts helps fuel the misguided hatred that feeds this stuff.

Entire societies have been complicit in unspeakable crimes including genocide. Where they nuts? No. They were surrounded by people and institutions that legitimized that kind of thinking. I don't believe Trump even knows how dangerous he his. It was never so important before to know the facts. It was never so important to be careful about what one says. He's not qualified either in experience or temperament for this job.

Comment Re:I blame Trump. (Score 5, Insightful) 1149

I would guess that the same people concerned about this event are also largely the same people advocating for stricter gun controls. So it would seem that they are indeed concerned about those other shootings.

What is more interesting is that Trump is pushing his travel ban while far more people are killed by fellow Americans using guns than are killed by terrorists. Over 150,000 gun related homicides since 2001 vs 3,046 killed by terrorists. While 3,046 is indeed a large number, 2,996 of those happened on 9/11. None of those perpetrators were from the seven countries on Trump's list. The bulk of them were from Saudi Arabia, where Trump has significant business interests.

All that being said, I don't think gun control is THE answer to gun related homicides. There are deeper problems that need to be addressed. A travel ban is an order of magnitude worse solution to a much smaller problem. It serves to aggravate anti-US sentiment and makes recruiting people of any nationality an even easier task for terrorists. It makes enemies out of people who might otherwise be allies and promotes an environment where hatred and fear of "outsiders" is encouraged.

Comment Re:Do the right thing - stand against Trump's bigo (Score 1) 952

The US is part of a larger world. Like it or not, what happens elsewhere matters, and matters to us. We can build walls, shut doors, or whatever we like. But the 7+ billion other people will still be out there. Fighting with each other sure, but also cooperating with each other, learning from each other, etc.

Withdrawing from the world allows others to set the agenda, to form partnerships that may not favor us. I'm sure China and Russia will be happy to step in where we've walked away.

"Helping everyone else" is not just a morally decent thing to do, it also helps us in the long run.

Comment Re:Get a clue (Score 1) 280

Giuliani is a lawyer and was a mayor of a very large city. Probably not an idiot but has very little geopolitical or security experience. There are probably a hundred people more qualified to do this job who can also lead teams and get things done.

Part of good security is following best practices and keeping the software up to date regardless of the value of the information on the server itself. Not doing so allows the potential for the server to be used for nefarious purposes. No one expects Giuliani to keep the server updated himself, but if he understood and paid any real attention to cyber security, he'd make sure that someone did manage his Internet presence responsibly.

Comment Re:the smell of E-6 in the morning (Score 1) 213

I'm not sure I agree. I learned a lot more about photography after starting to shoot film. With digital there is a tendency to shoot a hundred photos and let the camera do everything. You have no idea why some photos turn out and others don't. There's no reason you can't learn everything you need to with a digital camera, there's just little incentive to.

With a film camera on the other hand, now each shot matters and you want to make sure you get it right most of the time. So you learn about iso, aperture, and shutter speed. You learn what is meant by the term "fast lens". My digital photos have gotten much better since I started shooting film. I've gotten shots in tricky light that I never knew enough to get right before.

Comment Re: the smell of E-6 in the morning (Score 1) 213

Thanks for clearing that up for me. ;)

Here's what I meant. I picked up a Canon AE-1 Program with a 50mm F/1.4 FD lens for free. The equivalent modern lens will cost over $300. Now there are digital cameras you can use that old lens with if you have the proper adaptor. However a Canon DSLR isn't one of them. I'm not saying it's impossible to use on a Canon DSLR but the results won't be good. There's plenty of info on the Internet that explains why. Canon couldn't get autofocus to work well with their old FD lenses so they went with a whole different system, - which effectively made a ton of excellent lenses obsolete, - unless you use an old camera.

I also bought an old Canon rangefinder for $10. This one has the 40mm F1.7 lens. This camera and lens combo is so good, it's often been called the poor man's Leica. I'm afraid with this lens you are stuck with a film camera because it's permanently attached.

Finally, I got a Canon Elan II/e for $15. This came with a pretty nice EF 28-80mm F/3.5-5.6 USM lens. It's one of the best, if not the best kit zoom lenses Canon ever made. Now, it is still a kit lens and not exactly top of the line, but people will still spend over $100 on them on eBay and it will work just fine with any modern Canon camera. However, because it was attached to a film camera, the quality of the lens went unnoticed and I got it for a song.

Comment Re: the smell of E-6 in the morning (Score 1) 213

I always thought that developing color film was a difficult process that you couldn't do at home without specialized equipment. Not so. I hadn't development my own film since a middle school photography class decades ago but this year I got back into film and have been pleasantly surprised. For C41 color film you can get all the chemicals you need in a kit for less than $30 shipped and it's good for many rolls.

Being a geek I used a raspberry pi, a temp sensor, and a relay to shut a thrift store roaster oven filled with water on and off to maintain the proper temp. But people get good results just filling a cooler with water and adjusting the temp by adding hot or cold water.

No one will confuse me with a hipster. So why do I shoot film? I'm not going to say it's better than digital. After all, I end up scanning the negatives anyway. It does have a different quality that you may or may not prefer. The longer process does make you think about your shots more, and learning about film has given me a much better understanding of photography in general. Even with digital cameras I've been able to get results that I never could have before.

Another benefit is that excellent film cameras and lenses (that are still great by today's standards) are available for next to nothing.

Comment Re:I don't understand this... (Score 1) 456

On a different forum that I participate in that's almost totally unrelated to music, a guy started a topic about George Michael dying. Now, it was in a section devoted to off-topic subjects so there was nothing particularly unusual about the fact that he did that. But it got a little weird.

I posted a brief reply to which he responded, first thanking me for my thoughts and then going on this long diatribe about how no one else had engaged in the thread. He referred to the other regulars as people without a pulse and as being soul-less. It was the sort of reaction that Dr. Watkins was referring to. As far as I knew this guy didn't have any kind of personal relationship with George Michael. He was just a ardent fan.

But here is the thing that Dr Watkins is missing or perhaps he understands but laments it anyway. Those 745 people that died in Chicago this year undoubtedly had people that loved them and grieved for them, but the cold reality is that to the rest of us, 745 is just a number. We have no personal connection to them, therefore it has little emotional impact on us. There is lots of evidence that personal stories have far more effect on people than statistics. We will believe the heartfelt personal story. We will deny any statistic that doesn't fit our world view.

You can argue that other than small fraction of people, those that mourn the loss of George Michael or any celebrity didn't really know them either. Nevertheless, they had an impact on our lives. They are connected with strong memories for some of us.

So while arguably we should feel a lot worse about 745 people dying than we do about the death of a single celebrity, that's not how emotions work.

Comment Re:Sad (Score 1) 193

Yes, that's right. I had the unfortunate experience of working for a startup about 15 years ago that ran into financial difficulty. Survival depended on finding a buyer but that buyer didn't want everything, only those parts of the business that they thought had some benefit for them.

In the end, the buyer backed out and the startup folded, leaving customers without service, employees that were suddenly out of work and hadn't been paid in several weeks, and all kinds of vendors that were owed money.

What happened with the Pebble/FitBit deal sucks, but it's far better. It sounds like there will be refunds issued (eventually) and some employees will still have jobs with Fitbit.

Comment Re:Only until I was told the secret (Score 1) 332

I run a small IT department but spent most of my years as a programmer. We have two major development projects in progress right now. Believe it or not, one is a mostly agile project and another is mostly waterfall. The agile project is targeted to be completed at the beginning of the year and the waterfall by end of 1st quarter.

Right now, I expect that both will be successful. Oh, and the agile project is adding significant new functionality for an organization we are merging with. It's being built on an 8 year old codebase that started its life as an agile project and has always been run that way. The business function it supports is constantly changing and evolving. Using the waterfall method to build that software simply wouldn't have worked. We were launching a brand new service. The users were as brand new to the service as we were. We worked with them closely. They certainly had ideas about what the software should do and how it should support them. But they were ideas that needed to be validated.

The system that resulted has supported the business well, but yes parts have needed to be redesigned. Not sure that could have been avoided with the waterfall method.

Good practice is good practice and no methodology should be used as an excuse to avoid doing them. That's where things go wrong. "Agile" doesn't mean there's no design, and "waterfall" doesn't mean you disappear for two years while you build the software.

My personal belief is that certain projects and teams lend themselves more to one approach than the other. "Agile" is only hype in the sense that it's sometimes used where it's not a good fit. But to deny that lots of organizations have had success with it is just sticking your head in the sand.

Comment Re: "Civic Society" not a very impressive euphem (Score 1) 805

And I suspect that this is how it will go with the more recent immigrant populations. The kids (and grand-kids to a lessor extent) may retain some of the cultural traditions but will be products of the larger society and for the most part will have adopted its values. However, some may be more determined to maintain their cultural heritage and language than others. It's nothing new and it's been part of the American landscape since the beginning.

When I retire I haven't ruled out becoming an expat and moving somewhere in Central America. Now, that's not quite the same as moving someplace as a young person with the intent of having my decendents grow up there. I will likely go to a region where there a plenty of other non-natives around. I think that's just the natural thing to do. I'd probably be able to get by just fine without ever learning the local language. I'd probably always consider myself an American more than belonging to wherever I end up. I think the older you are, the harder it is to change your identity, to speak. But I will contribute to that society. I will hopefully at least make an effort to learn the language, because I think I will have a better experience if I do.

Personally, I don't expect immigrants to "assimilate". I expect them to obey the laws, -which may mean that the have to abandon some practices that were common in their countries. I expect them to pay taxes. I feel blessed if I can enjoy their food and music.

Comment Re: "Civic Society" not a very impressive euphem (Score 5, Insightful) 805

I'll take it one step further and suggest that "assimilation" is an anti-American concept. Though in reality we have a checkered history when it comes to this, we regard "religious freedom" as an American tenet. People established colonies here precisely because they didn't want to be assimilated into the cultures of where they came from. We are also one of the few countries that does not have an official language. That's not an oversight.

Given that religious values and language are intimately tied to culture, it's not at all a stretch to say that a diversity of cultures is baked into the fabric of America. What you've described as some new phenomena is what's being going on since the beginning.

Even among whites in the US there are regional dialects and cultural traditions that can be traced back to other countries, - Louisiana Creole for example. Then there's perhaps the best example, the Amish, who've doggedly resisted any sort of assimilation.

You can make the argument that the Amish should take on the values of the larger society but my point is that not "assimilating" is nothing new. And to the extent that melting does occur, it can take generations and is never really complete or uniform.

I find it ironic that some people want to turn the US into the kind of countries that our ancestors deliberately left.

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