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Comment Re:RCMP staff should be sued and then fired (Score 5, Informative) 770

Stopping taking pictures on private property is one of the things the someone can be told to do.

This wasn't about stopping taking pictures - the demand was to delete the pictures. Which he couldn't - it's a film camera. And it's not something they're legally entitled to under Canadian law. From the story:

Lawyer Douglas King, of Pivot Legal in Vancouver, agrees, saying that private mall security guards and police have no right to try to seize someone’s camera or demand that photos be deleted — even on private property.

The security guards made an illegal request that they thought they could get away with - and usually they would have because people are easily cowed. In this case, the kid couldn't comply, they didn't pay attention, and they escalated the situation for no reason. I'm hoping the mall gets sued.

Comment Re:Ban is dumb (Score 1) 1080

I suppose there's not a ban on selling heroine either. Substances sold just have to meet a certain standard of not containing heroine. Oh, and there's something else, with different properties, that we're calling heroine and it's legal. So no heroine ban.

So... yeah... what the hell are you talking about? There's a bunch of items you used to be able to sell and now you can't. That stuff is banned.

You can argue about whether the ban is appropriate or the best plan or something. Or you could argue that the other bulbs meet all possible sets of needs better (which I think it's clear they don't - but at least you could argue that).

But arguing that they aren't banning certain bulbs is really, fantastically stupid. Sorry, but it is. And you're going to just keep on doing it, aren't you? I'm really, really, super looking forward to your next post where you make a definition of ban that isn't met by what is happening here. Go ahead, that'll be great. Do it.

God, I regret it every time I read or post on Slashdot. Frickin' morons.

Comment Re:Ban is dumb (Score 1) 1080

The tax wouldn't be as effective as the ban

If your only goal is getting rid of the old bulbs, then, uh, yes - a ban is more effective. But I think there's legitimate reasons to prefer old bulbs for some uses, and even if I didn't I'm very skeptical of removing that choice. People make many choices that waste energy. People make all sorts of bad choices in a free society. Society has an interest in reducing those choices, but I don't think it's appropriate to eliminate this kind of choice. As an analogy, banning smoking would be "more effective" than taxing it (probably at least) but I think tax is a more appropriate balance in a free society.

The tax would need to be exorbitantly high for cheap-to-produce incandescent bulbs to be as expensive as the more efficient bulbs.

And? Are you worried that, uh, people will choose not to buy the old bulbs once they're more expensive? Are you worried that the government is going to get too much money? Anyways, yes, I agree the tax would have to be high in order to displace some old behaviors. That's the point, clearly. If people stop buying the highly taxed items, then society wins. If some people continue, then they win (by getting the stuff they want, for whatever reason) and society wins too (since the tax they've paid is going to way over-compensate for any extra energy use).

To be clearer, there's some tax number that represents a balance to the parties involved. A ban is effectively an "infinite tax". Infinity doesn't seem like the right number. Murder needs an infinite tax. Using an inefficient bulb... probably less than that.

It's also worth noting that, while current opposition to the "ban" is primarily from Republicans, the bill was passed by a Democratic Congress but signed by a Republican President.

It seems oddly natural for Americans to decide whether they agree with something by asking which party came up with the idea. I'm not American, and find this impulse really fantastically tragic. It's a good idea or it isn't, regardless of who came up with it.

So, the bill is not anti-consumer

Yes, it obviously, obviously is. For people that prefer the old bulbs, they've lost that choice. When someone can't get something they want, that's a negative for that person. That person, in this case, is a consumer. So it's a negative for some group of consumers. That's what anti-consumer means. A tax would also be anti-consumer, but it would strike a better balance between the interests of the bulb-buying consumer and the broader interests of society.

Comment Re:As a Professional Developer... (Score 1) 202

To be clear, it's not like (at the highest level) they are doing something in 1 hour that would take the average guy 4 or something. The top level problems are often difficult enough that an average programmer would never complete them (or at least not without significant outside assistance and/or further education). Between equally matched competitors it can sometimes be a race, but in general these competitions are better thought of as tests: can you solve this problem?

Comparing top competitors to regular programmers, their speed is certainly impressive - but the more important differentiator is their knowledge, experience, and creative problem-solving ability.

There's been times I've outperformed Petr (the guy mentioned here) on individual problems (though obviously he's usually faster than me usually, and I haven't competed in years). The key difference between us is not speed - it's that he's able to solve a whole bunch of problems I just plain can't.

Comment Re:Heard of the slow food movement? (Score 3, Interesting) 202

Mark Zuckerberg competed on TopCoder (though he wasn't terribly committed, and didn't do terribly well) before he was famous. If you follow Slashdot, you'll remember the final Rubik's cube proof - that was done largely by high ranked TopCoders. One of the early developers for Writely was also one of TopCoder's first dominant competitors (snewman). Google is filled with current and former TopCoder competitors - they're doing heavy lifting all over the company, and Google spends tons of time and effort to get more (as do many other companies). I still get calls from companies (particularly high-frequency-trader type companies, but tech in general) fairly often based on my mediocre (and now semi-ancient) TopCoder participation.

Naturally, though, most programmers (of any sort) are going to be fairly anonymous contributors on larger projects.

Comment Re:Colour Me Not Surprised (Score 1) 406

Microsoft are just flushing their platform down the toilet by not realising where the value is in it.

Definitely agree. It's bizarre how little MS understands how people use many of their technologies.

I remember at some early .NET preview meetings I talked to the presenters about obvious things they'd missed that were going to piss people off. They didn't think anyone used the features I was talking about. They didn't think edit-and-continue was important. It was clear they had certain expectations for how people used VB, and those expectations didn't fit at all with real life.

Or later, they killed the DHTML edit control in IE. They didn't really announce it - just somewhere on a blog they wrote something like "we looked around and didn't see many sites using this control". That's because they don't see weird old intranet sites - but those sites are everywhere once you start lifting rocks. I know 3 or 4 businesses that are still on XP/IE6 solely for this reason.

I think they're starting to figure this out - but at this point the chain is already far too broken for them to fix.

Comment Re:Complete strawman (Score 1) 663

Sorry, so sharing cam versions online doesn't hurt movie sales - and nobody said they did? That's a strawman?

That doesn't really go along with the facts: there's ridiculous measures to prevent cams at many theaters, new laws were put in place in many jurisdictions, and draconian enforcement has literally jailed people for things like "taking a picture of a friend, at a movie with the screen in the background".

You may have known this coming in, but it's certainly not just strawmen holding the position that online cam versions hurt sales.

Comment Re:Facts! Don't talk to me about facts! (Score 1) 663

Well, it's not just how they sell their products, it's the laws and prosecution they want to support that model. I'd suggest that the severe enforcement actions they demand (and usually get), have a negative impact on society and are also unnecessary for them to exist and profit (even without changing their business model) - and I believe that last part is the main point of this Slashdot article.

I think eventually these businesses will shift to models that don't require this kind of enforcement, that provide a better product to more people, and with better margins - and that not much time will be spent worrying about piracy because it won't be a significant problem to people. In the meantime, I think laws should be much more in favor of consumers: penalties should be smaller and rights to privacy should be preserved. These companies do not need legal protection that is draconian, and that extends well beyond the protection others get for their physical property.

Comment Re:What percentage of cancers leverage that? (Score 1) 94

You assume that board members can be fired,

Sorry, I wasn't perfectly clear. The ones proposing this at the board meeting would normally be execs, who could be fired.

What if that "one solitary idiot" is the single largest shareholder (directly representing himself)?

Somebody whistle-blows this (one or more of the original scientists, some middle manager, an executive, or a board member) and gets themselves a tidy book deal and is the hero who fought back to cure cancer. But even that's unlikely to be necessary - again, we're imagining human behavior that's very rare, and even more rare for someone who's very successful. Even if someone privately thought this would be profitable to bury (which it almost certainly wouldn't be), they'd have to be non-functionally psychopathic to actually suggest it out loud.

Look, I fully agree corporations (and people in general) do bad things. You can get a weird group-think going where everyone does something that nobody individually would do. Humans can do all sorts of bad things when they're scared. Many times you can get a horrible result through a chain of events that are all, themselves, reasonably innocuous. People will go a long ways to rationalize their own failures. Few people respect the categorical imperative; they'll do things that contribute to problems while denying their own responsibility or moral failure.

There's lots of mechanisms that result in bad behavior - but almost all of them share some characteristics; in very few do the functional people involved feel like they're actually doing something importantly wrong. In the case of a "burying the cure for cancer", that's a very hard leap to make, and suppressing a cure over time is going to take a large number of those leaps by a lot of people (and many of these steps don't make any business sense, let alone moral sense).

Comment Re:What percentage of cancers leverage that? (Score 4, Insightful) 94

This kind of thinking is fantastically disconnected from reality - naive, junior-high, my-parents-don't-get-it thinking. Big pharma execs would do anything for a cancer cure; it would mean fame, money, and prestige out their eyes. And if one solitary idiot at that board meeting said something about not releasing it because of long term profits (or some other BS) he'd get laughed out of a job and be a funny story in someone's memoirs.

Now sure, they'd do what they could to milk it for profits - but they'd be damn sure it got out there before anyone else could. Hell, even if releasing it wasn't profitable at all (and it would be - obviously, obviously, obviously, obviously), they'd burn their company down if they had to.

Very, very few people would consider holding back on a cure for money; not many of those psychopaths have the personal skills to end up at the top of a big corporation, and getting a whole raft of them together would be nigh impossible. Imagining collusion across all the companies on something like this is ridiculous.

Comment Re:Shouldn't shareholders demand an asset auction. (Score 1) 185

Thing is, capitalism wasn't "designed" to distribute wealth.

Agree. But when the economy is heavily "people churning out stuff", capitalism distributes wealth pretty reasonably as kind of a side effect. Most people can create a reasonable amount of value, enough to support themselves as well as a surplus that creates employment opportunities.

I agree that there's a strong positive-feedback cycle in multi-generational capitalism, but that's much more manageable than the collapse that's coming when a large percentage of people have nothing to offer the economy.

Comment Re:Shouldn't shareholders demand an asset auction. (Score 1) 185

I agree in large part, and RIM could have outs. If I was RIM, I'd focus on their advantages in hardware (good battery life, good reception, good keyboards, that little light when you have an e-mail) and corporate integration. If they were doing that, I'd have a lot more faith in their prospects. I think that market is solid, and may actually rebuild as people get tired of unreliable (by comparison) iPhones and cheap Androids.

This, though, seems like a too-late, too-fast, too-big move into app-phones - and I think they're going to bungle it like the bungled the Playbook, and the fail will taint their other products.

Honestly, I wish them all the best. It's a cool idea, and I don't have any real love for the other mobile platforms (I carry an ancient Nokia). I just don't think they'll pull it off great, and I don't think the market will have much patience for even small failures in the new product.

Comment Re:Shouldn't shareholders demand an asset auction. (Score 2) 185

The only reason they're selling a few million is because they used to be selling many millions. On their current course (which they seem to be accelerating on), they soon won't be a small player, they'll be non-existent. As the parent poster suggests, at that point the random shareholders lose everything and anything of value they've made will be lost. If they sell now, it means the random investors get something out, and the things of value they've created will be more likely to be preserved. It also means some executives have to swallow some pride and find a new job, so it won't happen.

If products were made, marketed and sold locally, the distribution of wealth wouldn't be so skewed.

For most of history, this was the case. Almost everything people used was made within a few mile radius (often by themselves). I don't think you want to live in "most of history". Tremendous specialization of labor and mass production are what created modern civilization, and neither of those ideas work without large distribution networks.

Distribution of wealth is a growing problem because individual humans are worth less and less to the economy. The economy used to need more people for all sorts of things. Now it needs less. Eventually it will need very few. People will cling to capitalism long after it has ceased to be an effective way to distribute wealth.

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