I've changed my mind, now I see the value in these articles.
Various replies have been particularly insightful. For example:
[...] "nerds" who read Slashdot often provide more insightful commentary than any other group of private citizen commentators, and certainly more insight than what the majority of the 24 hour news-cycle organizations. Furthermore, because Slashdot has global readership we get commentary from people outside the United States. I love reading slashdot comments for the same reasons I like listening to the BBC on the radio on my local public radio station (KQED), because I hear fresh viewpoints that originate not in this country.
I'd like to see more articles on Syria or Nigeria. [...] The mainstream media distracts us from the "stuff that matters" unless the shit is really hitting the fan somewhere. It's becoming more and more clear they're a propaganda machine that occasionally reports on world events to maintain a shred of credibility, but never without some partisan bullshit like the administration's refusal to classify this coup as a coup.
In these comments I see all kinds of points about policies and actions going back decades that have contributed to this situation. I'd never find something like that in the mainstream media, Google News included. They're too busy trying to convince me of which lizard is the wrong lizard.
I've changed my opinion. It's probably good that Slashdot posts important news items, simply because you don't get insightful commentary anywhere else - it's a side-effect of the moderation system. Other news outlets allow commentary and have smart readers, we're the only one with insightful discussion. (Can anyone point to another site where the comments are worth reading?)
In particular, I found the comment "I'd like to see more articles on Syria or Nigeria" thought provoking. I don't know anything about either place, and maybe I should.
Slashdot is in a sense community driven. If there's not a lot of push-back, we will continue to see important articles.
Usually news stories on this site have at least a faint aroma of tech relevance.
Certain select stories are of such a high importance that everyone wants to talk about them and they appear on this site despite having no relevance to the major purpose.
That's fine, really it is. But I have to ask, where is the dividing line? Will we be seeing articles on Syria? More than 100 people are killed there on a regular basis. Fourty-four were killed in a mosque in Nigeria the other day. Is that significant? A white-ish guy shot an innocent black kid who was definitely not bashing the white-guy's head into the pavement - is that relevant?
I found this very interesting Third Amendment lawsuit (yes, Third amendment) and didn't submit because it was offtopic.
I'm not saying that world events are not important, and this one is pretty high on the importance scale. It's just that I avoid regular news sites and frequent this one because it saves time. Yes, I can skip articles - but note that I can skip articles in Google News and Reddit as well.
I can't find the link, but I remember a chart of "Slashdot readership" that showed a general decline over the last several years.
This leade to a simple question: Is Slashdot better for reporting generic news items, or should it be more about "News for Nerds"?
Dude awesome post. Thanks for that.
... in order to sign the victim up for some premium-rate SMS services.
Why the hell doesn't the FTC shut these companies down? Why doesn't the FCC kick the carrier's behind into policing these companies better? Why doesn't the US attorney's office rain hellfire and brimstone down on these companies to the extent it did to Aaron Schwartz?
Premium SMS is billed through the carriers, so they have a relationship with the SMS company. There is a clear money trail. The recipient is most likely incorporated. This should be easy.
With all the US mistrust of government right now, this would be an easy way to gain some respectability.
There have been "rumors" and "proposals" to replace SMTP for almost a decade. It'll never happen...
Um... there is now an enormous economic incentive to do this.
Are you saying that the current situation is exactly like it was in the last decade?
This whole thing about privacy will be a non-issue in about 2 years.
There's currently a mass-exodus away from US-based cloud services, and (within the US) away from all cloud services.
Cloud services will have to provide privacy or go out of business. The only way to ensure privacy is client-based encryption keys and open-source software. Since it's impossible to control the distribution of open-source software, the client-side package will end up being free.
This is a good thing, IMHO. Cloud services will focus on the actual service, they won't be able to rummage around in our lives (both corporate and personal), they won't be able to "monetize" their customers as products to advertisers, and the NSA will be shut out of much illegal snooping.
People are already thinking about how to encrypt existing web-based mail services, and I'm even hearing rumors about replacing SMTP altogether with a more secure protocol.
Expect a lot of wailing and gnashing-of-teeth from the government, proposals to make this or that protocol "illegal" or to require government backdoor access, but in the end it will come down to simple economics.
There is an enormous market-driven push towards more privacy. Edward Snowden has had a measurable effect on the world, and probably deserves the Nobel peace prize he was nominated for.
What if... What if
In an alternate universe where certain facts are known for certain, then sure there may be a problem. Over here, we can make up whatever stories we want about these alternate universes, but they don't affect us.
If the coworker takes off at a critical time without notice (did that actually happen?), then the job will be poorly done and you should raise the issue to management. Point out that the department was understaffed, and it's management's responsibility to have the right talent in-house at the right time.
Or, you take home extra pay pulling overtime picking up the slack, which costs management more than regular time, so they will eventually notice.
Or, you refuse unpaid overtime or have previous commitments that you cannot break and let your boss know this. If your boss can force you to come in to work even though you've got Laker's tickets, find another job.
You shouldn't particularly care if coworkers take time off or not - care about getting the job done on time, under budget, and at good quality. If you can't do this, care about whether it's your fault. Don't let your boss put unreasonable demands on you - that will only shift the blame to you when you can't pull off a miracle. Let them know about problems as they arise, and don't accept blame for things you can't control.
Holding yourself to a high standard of professionalism will work out better in the long run than putting "staying employed" ahead of everything else in your life. It may cost you in the immediate short-term, but the total returns over time far outweigh the immediate costs.
A freelance is one who gets paid by the word -- per piece or perhaps. -- Robert Benchley