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Comment Re:The Power of Capitalism (Score 1) 122

inKubus,

I couldn't agree with you more, however I would like to point out the reasons why the bureaucracies exist and why we pay so much more on government programs than private ones. Having worked in both sectors I understand what's going on and the advantages and disadvantages on both sides.

The reason government programs are so costly is accountability. Unlike private organizations, government institutions are nothing more than organizational structures. Therefore their setup must assume minimal competency at each point in the decision tree. Because of this decisions are split up into sub responsibilities with each sub responsibility being sent off to separate nodes in the tree. Those nodes each send their assessments (most of the time a simple pass/fail type system) up the chain where someone else signs off. Funding allocations are determined on how effective the whole unit is and the point of the process is not only to produce an item, but to additionally produce an accountability trail that is thorough enough that any failure can be re-examined and the root causes for failure can be brought out and blame can be properly assigned. When government partners with industry the bureaucracy doubles, because the government part of the process has to justify all the changes, expenses and performances that the industrial partner makes. On the gov side the motto is "Trust But Verify". The partner has to keep nearly identical records in case they fail and the funding they've been provided gets clawed back.

The fact that this problem gets in it's own way is an issue, but the thought behind it isn't a bad one. There's something to be said about having a trace for the thought process behind development. That said, currently despite that every decision and discussion is documented and recorded, the volume the government produces acts most effectively as camouflage and the sheer volume of reporting makes it difficult to track back to root causes when stuff goes bad.

To increases efficiency, you must assume more liability at each node in the tree. You improve competency at each node, and things move faster. Making nodes more competent, you can eliminate redundant nodes and stream line the process. On top of that they're only preforming half the function in that they aren't producing the same accountability trail that is required in government work.

I'm not saying that the government way of doing things is correct, but I would say that there is a philosophy behind it that isn't totally worthless, even if the implementation is screwed up. I'm willing to bet that if SpaceX exhibits a failure, you'll have to turn to one of their senior engineers to understand and what went wrong and why. And if you're going to invest lots of public money into the system, there should be some assurance that if that happens, you don't just get a "shrug, idontkonw" in return. There should be a way of confirming that what he says the day after the failure is consistent with what he said before the failure.

Input Devices

Submission + - Cellphone like input for text on media center PC (logitech.com)

ruin20 writes: I've been thinking about the control issues surrounding media center pc's for a while now. The big problem I have is that my living room, and most living rooms I come across, don't have sufficient flat surfaces for mousing and keyboards are cumbersome and uncomfortable if not sitting at a desk. I've come to accept the idea of a joystick or motion control embedded in a remote like object for pointing but I have yet to find a controller that has a good solution for text input. Then I realized that if the controller had some form of T9 or Word recognition like cellphones, then the process might not be so bad. It would allow use of something similar to this or even just strait cellphones in a manner that wouldn't painfully unfamiliar. Does anyone know anything that actually works like this? I would love to get rid of my cable subscription and instead rely on video RSS but I have two very non-technical roommates that will pitch a fit if they couldn't do everything with just a remote in a semi-familiar fashion.
Data Storage

How To Use a Terabyte of RAM 424

Spuddly writes with links to Daniel Philips and his work on the Ramback patch, and an analysis of it by Jonathan Corbet up on LWN. The experimental new design for Linux's virtual memory system would turn a large amount of system RAM into a fast RAM disk with automatic sync to magnetic media. We haven't yet reached a point where systems, even high-end boxes, come with a terabyte of installed memory, but perhaps it's not too soon to start thinking about how to handle that much memory.
Government

Sequoia Vote Machine Can't Do Simple Arithmetic? 254

whoever57 writes "Ed Felten is showing a scan of the summary from a Sequoia voting machine used in New Jersey. According to the paper record, the vote tallies don't add up — the total number of Republican ballots does not match the number of votes cast in the Republican primary and the total number of Democratic ballots does not match the number of votes cast in the Democratic primary. Felten has a number of discussions about the problems facing evoting, up to and including a semi-threatening email from Sequoia itself." Update: 03/20 23:30 GMT by J : Later today, Felten added an update in which he analyzes Sequoia's explanation. He has questions, comments, and a demand.

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