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Comment Re:New technology, old mindsets (Score 1) 559

Your father missed out on several fantastic opportunities, and instead of using the experience to better himself, and very possibly the rest of the world, he decided to believe in the god of the gaps. That's the saddest story I've heard all week. :(

Instead of finding out why his friend's leg grew, he decided that he didn't want to think about it. It's possible that there were other similar cases out there, and if he had researched them, his knowledge would have grown. It's also possible that he could have studied his friend, and discovered (part of) the mechanism that allows legs to grow, helping out lots of people whose legs aren't quite the right length. Instead, he did the most intellectually lazy thing he could have done.

The fact that people don't know everything is not evidence that god exists. Finding a situation where something you didn't think was possible happens should be used as an opportunity for growth, rather than simply attributing it to a deity.

As for your father, I hope he's doing well. There are some good reasons to believe in Christianity, I just don't think that the god of the gaps is one of them. Neither do most theologians.

Comment Re:Why? (Score 1) 318

I've got a very similar outlook to GP, I don't pirate things. If I don't like the terms associated with the media I'm currently interested in, I find something else to be interested in/do. Here's why I act that way.

  • I like having laws. They're my first line of personal defense. Laws are worthless unless people (like me) can follow them, even if they don't necessarily agree with them. There are exceptions to this of course, but wanting to watch some movie without paying for it isn't exactly a major injustice.
  • I don't want to be sued, and generally do not want to engage in behavior that increases my odds of being sued.
  • By consuming media, I'm accepting that as part of my culture, whether I paid for it or not. I refuse to let organizations who refuse to play nice into my culture.

I'll be damned if I'm missing out due to some greedy turds.

This seems to be the core of your argument. I've got some bad news for you... you're missing out. Everybody is.

Nobody gets to see all of the culture there is to see. Nobody hears all of the good music. Nobody plays all of the good games. Nobody reads all of the good books. Nobody sees all of the good plays. There's just too much of it. There's probably more culture local to you, than you could ever experience, and that culture isn't owned by some corporation. If you'd take the time to look at that culture instead of the stuff owned by the corporation, you'd probably like some of it even more than what the corporation is offering.

If the big corps really did have a monopoly on culture, and none of them played nice, I might consider piracy to be a somewhat reasonable form of protest.

Comment Re:Honest Question (Score 2) 2115

I'm in the software business myself, currently in the process of working my ass off to eek out a little niche for myself. I've told people the same thing you're telling them: It doesn't matter who you tax, it's going to have some serious consequences. It will make funding even harder to come by, and right now, it is very hard to get (I'm living off of savings, and hoping I'll manage to put together a little income/find funding in the next 6 months or I'll probably have to move on to something else). Most investors that I've talked to are currently only interested in companies that are already profitable.

The big problem right now is that the government needs more revenue, and it doesn't have a lot of options on where to get it. Generally speaking, in America right now there are three groups of people to potentially tax: the poor, the middle-class, and the rich. The poor have so few resources that if you took 100% of what the bottom 50% of the country earns, you'd barely notice the extra revenue. The middle-class is rapidly shrinking (becoming poor), and about the top 2% of earners (the rich) are progressively becoming richer.

So I guess what I'm saying is: I agree with you, it sucks. Money taxed from the rich doesn't come without consequences... especially for me. Nobody should be happy about taxing anyone, as it doesn't matter who you tax, it's going to damage everyone in the economy to some degree. Ideally, we wouldn't ever have to tax anyone, and the services that keep our country running, our air and water safe, etc. would just keep running based on goodwill and unicorn farts.

In the real world, the government needs the revenue, and the only viable group they can get it from right now is the rich. Feel free to argue that it doesn't need the revenue, but be sure to include examples of the economy getting out of depressions without increasing government spending, or how you plan to increase spending without increasing revenue, while also managing a crippling debt.

Comment Re:Application load balancing (Score 2) 134

Short answer: It doesn't work that way. Programs can only be split over multiple cores if they are designed to use those cores. Most programs aren't because it's harder to write, maintain, and the extra processing power often isn't necessary.

Long answer: A program is a sequence of instructions that normally have to be run one after another to complete a task. Imagine a program designed to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The highest level of the program might look something like this (the rest of the program would ultimately describe what these steps mean):

  1. Obtain ingredients()
  2. Open(Peanut butter)
  3. Open(Jelly)
  4. Spread(Peanut butter,Bread0)
  5. Spread(Jelly,Bread1)
  6. Combine(Bread0,Bread1)
  7. Clean Up()

These steps can easily be followed directly by 1 cook to create 1 PB&J sandwich. Adding extra cooks won't speed up the process, because most of the tasks rely on a previous task being finished. If you're only interested in 1 PB&J sandwich, chances are pretty good you're best bet is to just let one cook make the one sandwich.

Now, if you want to make a hundred PB&J sandwiches, you'll be able to take advantage of extra cooks, but you'll need to change your instructions a bit so that they don't run into each other (too often) and don't waste time opening and closing jars after each sandwich.

The biggest problem is that the operating system doesn't know when it has a task that can be split across multiple processors to improve the speed. makeSandwich(1) looks no different to it than makeSandwich(100). Even if it could figure out that the task could be done across processors, it wouldn't know where to split the task, or how to put the pieces back together.

Generally speaking, in the software world, when you hear about people talking about threads, they are trying to split a task across multiple processors. So, a thread is a piece of code that has work to do, won't (typically) interfere with other threads, and can be run on any processor. So, when an operating system sees a new thread, it'll run it on whichever processor it thinks will get the job done the fastest, which is how load balancing is done.

Comment IRONman Triathlon (Score 1) 71

This Evolta robot may not be fast. He may need to switch out bodies at every leg of the race. He may need to switch out batteries "as many times as necessary" during the race (even though the only reason he's in it is to promote how good his batteries are). He isn't a particularly impressive robot/publicity stunt.

But by golly, he's the only man made of iron* in the ironman race. That's good enough for me.

*Yes I know, it's actually made from plastic

Comment Re:Think your job's secure? (Score 1) 308

Barring extreme breakthroughs in the world of artificial intelligence, machines won't ever take all of the human jobs, but I do think we'll see a point in the not too distant future where machines do take most of the jobs.

Here's my proposed solution: The government needs to stop paying out unemployment (that model isn't going to work when there are far fewer jobs than people), and instead become the "employer of last resort". While employed by the government under this model, people will have a reasonable (but not very good) income while working at education (both as a student and a teacher), legitimate attempts at searching for a job, and anything else the government can use the extra hands for.

Companies would benefit from having a large population of highly educated people to do their increasingly complicated jobs (granted their tax burden would have to increase). People as a whole have the benefit of having a guaranteed job. Industrially, I think we'll see improvements from having everybody doing something, rather than having major portions of the population become couch potatoes. Ideologically, we don't end up paying people to do nothing.

Unfortunately, it will require us to actually tax the people with the means of production, so we probably can't see anything like this put into place without a revolution or something.

Comment Re:Not a Technical or Legal Question (Score 2) 346

I've seen this position taken on the internet quite often. Basically, the argument is that if you have a relationship with someone (romantic or otherwise) and that person isn't perfect for you in some way, you should just give up on the relationship.

In the real world, no relationship is perfect. In order to manage relationships, you need to compromise, work to resolve problems, and weigh how much crap you're willing to put up with before it's not worth maintaining the relationship anymore.

If I found a roommate who was a good match in every way except for our personal opinions on piracy, there's no way I'd move out over it. I might try a technical solution that documents where which packets are going, or just buy separate internet connections, but that alone wouldn't be a deal-breaker for me.

In my current situation, I'd just buy a separate internet connection. I have the extra money for it and I'm working on a project that requires me to keep encrypted drives around. If I had less money, less privacy requirements, and more time (ie if I were in college), I'd probably try to document which computer the offending packets were going.

That is, unless the roommate in question has other major problems, then I'd consider whether this is the "last straw".

Comment Re:beloved? (Score 1) 119

Widely used is not synonymous with beloved. The local DMV is widely used, but you'll be hard pressed to find anyone calling it beloved.

About two months ago there was a Slashdot article indicating that on average, people are very dissatisfied with Facebook, but they keep using it because Facebook is a de facto monopoly, thanks to the network effect.

Personally, I can't stand Facebook, but I use it because I've got too many friends who refuse to respond to email. I'll continue to hate on it until they solve the following obvious problems

  • Provide a convincing reason why I should trust them with my personal data. Facebook has had a terrible history with privacy, and I'm at the point where I'd rather trust nearly anyone else over Facebook
  • Provide privacy settings that are easy to use, intuitive, and complete (Especially settings involving others posting and tagging photos of you in them)
  • Intelligent, easy to use scheduling features to encourage more "in person" social time. (Facebook "Events" are terrible.)
  • Provide easier to use methods of separating "Friends" into different groups. Before making any posting, let the sender me choose who it is going to. (Don't default to everyone)
  • No, I don't care about everyone's status update. Please don't flood my news with this
  • Applications should not have the ability to spam friends lists

I really don't think that these things are too much to ask for a webpage that has more users than there are citizens in the United States

Comment Re:Not Enough Hype for the Khan Academy! (Score 2, Insightful) 133

This seems like an excellent opportunity to throw a little money at an interesting education opportunity, and see how it pays off.

Where is anyone talking about see how this 'pays off'? How do you tell if it 'pays off'? Anecdotal evidence is just that and not the substitute for a scientific evaluation. How about we spend some of the money to explore that?

The payoff is in the improved education of people who choose to use the Khan Academy to supplement their education. If it's popular, someone will likely fund a study to see how effective it is. Google apparently believes in it enough that they're willing to fund the site directly, rather than a study of it.

Now you're demonizing Google for giving 1/289th that amount to an institution that will likely reach 50+ times the audience, who are probably more in need of a better education anyway?

Don't you think that something that has the potential to reach a much wider audience should be carefully tested before released into the wild?

No. While I definitely agree that mandatory class material should be tested, I don't think anyone's talking about making Khan Academy mandatory. Everything on the Internet has the potential to reach a lot of people. Not everything on the Internet should be carefully tested.

Comment Not Enough Hype for the Khan Academy! (Score 5, Interesting) 133

As a person who graduated from a major state college with a minor in math about 3 years ago, I really wish I had even one math teacher in my entire schooling experience who was even half as good of a teacher as Salmon Khan. I've gone over his Calculus videos, because I felt my Calculus skills were lacking, as I'd originally been taught by a lady who could just barely speak English. In my opinion, these videos represent a better educational experience than about 95% of the school that I've attended. I've had a few better classes in person, but most "teachers" are barely qualified, in my personal experience.

Something to understand about Khan's videos, they can be helpful to anyone who can speak English. There are numerous reports of it being a useful tool for students in Africa. Many students have used it to pass the California Algebra I standards test. I suppose there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that it's effective, nobody's done a major study yet.

About a month ago, Slashdot posted an article about a 578 million dollar high school being built. Now you're demonizing Google for giving 1/289th that amount to an institution that will likely reach 50+ times the audience, who are probably more in need of a better education anyway? I don't think that makes any sense at all.

In the business world, two million dollars is chump change. Angel investors throw a lot more money than that at an idea without scientific evidence of it working. This seems like an excellent opportunity to throw a little money at an interesting education opportunity, and see how it pays off.

Comment Re:conservatives (Score 1) 759

It seems that nearly every liberal I talk to thinks that taxing the rich is the equivalent to getting free money. In case you're wondering, it's not. The fact of the matter is, no matter who you tax, the middle and lower class feel it. The primary example that needs to be looked at is the small business. Liberals keep insisting that they're going to start popping up, and fix the economy. The fact of the matter is, they aren't going to while the rich are getting taxed so much more heavily than everyone else. I think I can paint you a picture to get an idea why. In order to start nearly any type of business, you need to fill a number of roles. One of those roles is an investor. The investor throws a bunch of money at the business to own a percentage of it. Let's say he invests thinking that there's a 75% chance that his percentage of the business will be worth twice what he put into it in about two years, on the other hand if the business fails, he probably won't see much if any of his investment back. If you don't take taxes into account, he's statistically better off by making the investment, which will get the small business started. If you tax the rich at a high rate, let's say 40%, the investor will actually lose money on average by investing in the small business. A smart investor in that situation would just hold on to his money, and there would be no startup, and thus no economic activity. Right now, the tax rate for the rich in America is about 35%, and we aren't seeing many people willing to invest in startups. I guarantee you it's not because the people with money are stupid. Progressive and regressive tax schemes both have significant negative effects on the economy. The one we've got right now in addition to being too Progressive, also suffers from a ridiculous amount of overhead, and lots of the loopholes that unscrupulous rich people are taking advantage of. Except for the fact that there are so many people who think that taxing the rich is free money, a flat tax would be dramatically better than our current system. As far as fixing the stock market goes, I agree with you 100%. Stock market regulation is one of the better ideas that was on our current president's platform. He hasn't come through with it, but I hope that gets done soon, and better than health care. Regarding our political parties, I hate both of them. The Republicans are corrupt warmongers whose morals come solely from the Bible. Democrats have no idea of fiscal responsibility (although I admit they did surprisingly well during the Clinton administration). Both parties hold their own interests higher than the interests of the country, and I hope we as a country never have to put up with either of them controlling the House, Senate, and Presidency again. I know it's going to happen again, but I can dream that it won't.

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