Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Good model?!? (Score 1) 102

There are lots of societal models that rely considerably less on parents specifically to raise children. It's obviously a benefit to have a stable family in which to raise children, but that doesn't mean that it's the only good way to do it. Socioeconomic status is a better predictor of child outcomes than most other metrics, which says to me that it just takes the stability and resources that most middle class families find with two parents--a single parent (say, a mother that adopts a child, or is artificially inseminated) with an exceptional amount of money will raise children largely indistinguishable behaviourally from children of two parent homes.

Honestly, it's a bit culturally short-sighted to claim that the nuclear family is the best way, particularly in light of how often this model seems to fail in the modern era in the western world.

Comment Re:Who cares? (Score 2) 277

Further to that, it's not clear that the stock price of any given company at any given time is entirely related to its performance. If the world were rational, Apple would still have a high stock price because they still make enormous profits. As a long term bet, they're fairly solid. Their price to earnings ratio is incredibly good.

Apple makes more profits in a quarter than Amazon has, cumulatively, over its entire history. (http://go.bloomberg.com/market-now/2013/01/23/apples-profit-vs-amazons-promise/) So naturally Apple's stock price drops while Amazon's stock price goes up. What?

But this is an offshoot of the weird way that we think the stock market is supposed to work now. It used to be that you invested in the long term in a company because you believed that they could produce something, and their success would mean your success. Now institutional buyers with the ability to lift or tank a stock irrespective of what anyone believes the true long-term prospects are cause wild stock swings and the world looks on and think that means something.

I own 3 shares of Apple. That's all I decided I wanted to afford (at the time I bought them, that was around $1000 of stock). I figure a lot of individual stockholders are like me, with modest investments. We're not the ones causing these swings with buying and selling. The success of Apple's stock isn't really related to what the public thinks of their products or how the public views Apple's future prospects.

Comment Re:Apple is in trouble (Score 1) 277

Keep in mind that Samsung's (or HTCs) phones don't cost any less. Apple gives you a roughly equivalent product for the same price.

You can think of it as Apple making money off of its aggressive business dealings with other companies. They set up supply lines and inventory in such a way that they don't pay as much for components, but keep the price the same for me.

All my Apple stuff is high build quality and lasts a long time. It's good value for money, and the resale value is high. I prefer it this way to paying much lower prices and wondering when the other shoe is going to drop. (I'm the same way with bikes. I pay more for certain parts because I know the build quality is exemplary and lasts a long time. I could have some other parts that are lighter and cheaper, but they wear out faster. You get what you pay for.)

Comment Re:Apple is in trouble (Score 2) 277

Apple never hints at its products ahead of time. There was no 'hint' of the iPhone 4. Or 4s. Sure, people expect Apple's upgrade cycle now, but they never hint at anything. The secrecy of Apple is legendary.

Market share, from a business perspective, is only relevant insofar as you can make money off of it. A joke, to illustrate:

Two guys buy a truck full of watermelons. They pay $5 a watermelon, and rush to the market to sell them. They sell each watermelon for $4, hugely undercutting all the other sellers at the market. They quickly sell out of watermelons, and excitedly go and count their take. They recount the money a few times, and eventually realise that they LOST money on the deal. The first guy turns to the second guy and says, "I told you we should have used a bigger truck!"

Android's marketshare is big, but only Samsung makes any real money off of it, and their margins aren't as big as Apple's. Apple makes 70% of the profit in mobile devices. (Samsung makes most of the rest of that 30%.)

It may be that Apple's marketshare will keep dropping--maybe just because the market is getting bigger, but it's possible that their year-on-year sales numbers will drop as well--and so the iPhone might not be the most profitable thing they do anymore in the coming years. But they're good at breaking into new markets with new devices, and $100 billion in the bank, regardless of where it's officially kept, buys a lot of time. (That's why they issued a bond recently, incidentally. They can take on massive debt and people will buy it and make interest off of it because they know Apple is good for it. That money is SOMEWHERE, even if it isn't here. An Apple bond is a really safe investment.)

Comment Re:journalism (Score 4, Informative) 277

I'm still on my iPhone 4. I have no particular need to upgrade every year. I've been buying Macs for a long time, and I always sold them when I ran out of AppleCare...I'm hardly on a 1-year upgrade cycle. Now I'm actually still using a 4-year-old iMac and an even older MacBook. (We bought a new Mac Mini to run computational experiments, but it's headless.)

In fact, most of the people I know are still using their iPhone 4. I know one person with an iPhone 5, and he came from a Windows phone.

If there's a policy or climate of consumption, it's societal, not due to Apple's marketing. The idea that you should update as often as possible isn't new to computing. Heck, it's not like it even started with computers. I've known plenty of people that leased cars just so they could get a new one every couple of years. Consumption is the curse of the current capitalist framework that we live in. That Apple exists and exploits that system somewhat shouldn't be pinned on them; they're just a symptom.

I MAY upgrade to what Apple announces this year, but I might not. I may my own determinations based on what my needs are.

Apple doesn't make vast changes to its products year on year. It adds a new feature or two and releases an upgraded OS to a lot of people for FREE. And here's the irony: Android owners are constantly ragging on Apple for this. "Oh man, nothing new out of Apple! Why should I buy their stuff?" They can't win around here. Either they're not making crazy big changes that would force you to buy a new item, or they're releasing new, upgraded products TOO DAMN OFTEN. No way to win.

Comment Re:faster bookmarks (Score 1) 191

Actually, kind of.

The problem with bookmarks is that they don't work as well as the physical thing they're named after. Browser bookmarks are like tagging a bunch of books in a library that you want to read. If you want to bookmark a specific page, it's easy to add one, and you can go and delete older ones, but *updating* a bookmark is a bit hard.

Take webcomics, for instance. I usually keep a bookmark to the site so I can read the newest one every day. But if I'm reading through the archives, bookmarking where I left off either leaves me with lots of extra bookmarks that I'll eventually not want, or I manually edit the one I made for the site, etc.

A couple places save cookies so you can go away and come back where you left off. But if I have to manage things from in the browser, quick bookmarks that are quickly available to add and delete are ideal. This is the same thing I do with Apple's reading list functionality. When you go back to read something, opening it retires the link (non destructively--it's in another list that you can get back to if you need to) but adding a new item to read later doesn't clutter up your real bookmark list.

Comment Re:Hand wring much? (Score 2) 474

Even the most basic issues in government need good data to work with. Whether you're speaking of the Environment, Economy or Health Care, you have to know where the people are, what their needs are, and what the trends are if you want any hope of doing a good job.

A one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work here. Manitoba is not BC, and BC isn't Quebec. Trying to do anything governance-wise without data is folly. Like it or not, the government DOES spend money on programs and it DOES handle a lot of problems. The Canadian government is responsible for providing health care money (though the provinces are responsible for actually delivering care) and First Nations, etc., etc. Complain if you want about how the Federal government should do less, but in the meantime, the government should be using its power to spend the money it has WELL.

Their census fits nothing. It does nothing. They have no data, so they can only guess at what the priorities should be. Even the most minimalist government should want accurate and detailed census data so they know how to confine their spending to only the things that need immediate attention. It's just a blinders-heavy view of the world to ignore the facts.

But that's this government. It ignores the overwhelming facts in the hopes that they'll go away. The Tar Sands, the F-35 boondoggle. Corruption in its own ranks, the Lakes project and the Census. For them, the less people know, the better they can plow through and waste our money. They're objectively one of the least transparent governments in the last 50 years. Despite their claims of being open and honest and transparent, access to information has languished under this administration.

A government doesn't need to manage all problems. But it needs to show that it's working on the priorities of the populace that elected it. The only way to do that is to provide data before and after, and let democracy decide. Surely you can agree with that. Otherwise, don't go around slinging around the 'ideology' argument so freely.

Comment Re:Hand wring much? (Score 5, Insightful) 474

What BS. Nobody has ever been jailed for failing to fill out the long-form census. It was mandatory and there were potential fines and jailtime in place, but if you go looking, basically nobody ever runs afoul of the laws. The census people just come and talk to you and help you fill out the form.

That participation is vital. As a result of not having it be mandatory this year, we now have big chunks of data that have to be completely thrown out. Something like 40% of municipalities in Saskatchewan have no relevant data this year. It's criminal. How do you make decisions in a country without data to base it on?

There's never been a freedom problem with the census. It's a red herring that the Conservatives used to tenuously justify a move so absurd, the head statistician of Statistics Canada felt it was his moral obligation to step down in protest.

An accurate census is fundamental to any government that's interested in actually governing. Without it, all your decisions are just shots in the dark. You can't set any metrics that determine success, because you don't even know what problems you're supposed to be solving anymore.

Comment Re:Excuse me? (Score 3, Insightful) 474

It's possibly more accurate to say the Conservative government here is anti-information, or anti-data. Anti-science is just part of that.

Eliminating the mandatory long-form census has made some data entirely unusable. It went from 94% participation to somewhere in the 60% range. Some areas of the country now have no information by which to base decisions on. You can correct--to a certain extent--for discrepancies that occur in large population centres where the participation rate wasn't bad and you have good anchor data from past years, but this last census was supposed to form the basis of NEW anchor data.

Statistics is science. Information collection is critical in a country as spread out and diverse as Canada.

But again, this is just one more thing on the pile. Muzzling scientists, shutting down a world-class lakes research facility (that only cost $20 million/year to run--the Conservative government has spent twice as much on advertising about how good a job they've done with the economy, and they haven't really done a great job there), ignoring scientific advice from all quarters, etc. The list is long, and it all has the same common thread throughout it: "we don't care what the data says, and if we can make sure that nobody else sees the data, they can't accuse us of making decisions that are contrary to the data".

Comment Re: Not actually a bad idea. (Score 2) 368

That's not really true. CS students program, and a lot of them are very good at it. But it's a means to and end, not an end in and of itself. You can do a lot of things on paper in CSâ"and you shouldâ"but there's a practical value to the actual hands on work. Every doctor of chemistry has physically done the lab work themselves at some point, even if most of the work they do as a researcher is simulated.

The programming that you do in the industry teaches you that good enough is sometimes the best. Algorithmic purity is secondary. And if you have to sit and contemplate algorithmic complexity, you've probably done it wrong (barring some highly mathematical work, like high-frequency trading; I'm just a video game programmer).

Comment Re:The opposite might also be true (Score 1) 482

You want me to list my cred? You want to measure my green-peen, as it were?
I walk to work. I live 15 minutes away. To do that, I live in a small apartment with my partner. By living in a smaller space, our carbon footprint is markedly lower than people in bigger spaces. We have a single car that we don't drive very often, and when we do, it's on the highway. It's 6 years old, and I don't plan on replacing it any time soon. It's a turbo-diesel, so it's very good on fuel (though we know now that it's not so great on particulates--but it's still better for me to keep it than to incur the overhead of buying a new one). I own several bicycles, because I'm a bike racer. I recycle. I eat relatively little meat, and it's getting less every year. My electricity comes from hydro.

And yeah, I DO want a carbon tax to take into account the negative externalities not accounted for in the price of carbon-based fuels. Just because CO2 is invisible doesn't mean it has no effect on anything. I also think that big pipelines like Keystone XL are a bad idea because they encourage more fossil fuel use when we should be cutting back, and I try to vote in a way that promotes my environmental beliefs.

Al Gore isn't my messiah. I'm Canadian, so David Suzuki is much more my style.

So, yes. I want you to live like me, and I'm better than you. Are you happy now?

Comment Re:Global Warming my Arse... (Score 4, Insightful) 482

Congratulations, you just demonstrated how little you know about climate science and global climate change. Colder winters and longer winters are both explainable and predictable depending on where you are. For instance, changes in the currents in the ocean may direct colder water towards the UK and northern Europe, thereby actually making for colder winters and more snow. In North America this year, the melting Arctic icecap (which melted much more than usual last summer) added extra heat to the northern oceans, which affected the jetstream, pushing it south. That dragged cold air from the Arctic down much further south.

Climate is wild and woolly, and it's hard to know exactly what's going to happen, but we know enough of what's going to happen and what's happening that most of the complaints you're going to come up with can be explained by Science. And not just some random scientist, but peer-reviewed and published science.


We know the poles shift. In fact, that's IN THE SUMMARY. You didn't even have to read the article to see that shifting geographic poles are well known. But they're shifting faster, and NASA's GRACE experiment is also helping measure the subtle shifts in gravity associated with shifting mass. It all seems to be correlating well. Someone else here has even already pointed out this comment in the article:

"The results suggest that tracking polar shifts can serve as a check on current estimates of ice loss."

Are you interested in science or not? Then sit and read and understand the science. Don't go off on a rant before you know a single damn thing of what you're talking about.

Slashdot Top Deals

At these prices, I lose money -- but I make it up in volume. -- Peter G. Alaquon