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Comment Re:A Mature Local Machine Product vs Immature Clou (Score 1) 346

A good wordprocessor is not a good target for an F/OSS project. It's a lot of boring, thankless work. Nobody has an itch that has to be scratched in such a masochistic way. That's why F/OSS wordprocessors are all not very good. Same goes for accounting systems, CAD systems, and many more. Often a F/OSS project just can't muster enough resources to complete the project. A for-profit company has no such problem; they just pay money, and developers show up for work.

You're right. It is hard to imagine a for-profit company having any interest in producing F/OSS software. Still, I bet there are exceptions. Maybe I'll do a search.

Comment Lego Today (Score 2) 425

Yes, Lego has completely sold out. Actually, that's not true. That implies that that there was a time that they hadn't sold out. It's a for-profit company. They are in it to make money. Nothing wrong with that, but that is what they are, first and foremost.

They will do what they need to do to survive. In their opinion, they cannot sustain their business by using the value proposition of 40 years ago. As much as I admired that value proposition, I personally agree with them. They could not survive turning out the basic building blocks, or even more advanced building kits, or even robotics kits. They wouldn't have the market share, or the advertising appeal, or the patent protection. They are fighting for their existence every day. They've got constant competition for kids' time and for M&D's dollars from endless and ever-increasing sources, and competitors willing to race them to the bottom every step of the way.

There was a time that Lego said, "we'll never make Lego guns". That is long gone. There are Lego guns, ray guns, knives, swords, scimitars. Heck, space ships with laser cannon. They've made endless marketing deals with entertainment conglomerates in order to stay relevant. They have not yet found their bottom. They have not yet found where they will not go to stay in business.

To me, as much as I still love the company, and the product, they've lost their soul, and they are walking dead guys, however successful they are currently. The color palette is out of control. The types of pieces have grown to be absurd. Although there is still play value, it becomes harder and harder for any pile of n Legos to have general playability. If you have a Luke Skywalker, and a wookie, then that is your story palette. It becomes that much more challenging to make a house. If you have the batmobile, it becomes difficult to make a regular car.

One could hope they'll split the company, and spin off a company focused only on the basics for ages 0 through 10, without marketing tie-ins, and another company focused just on robotics, and let the main company battle it out in pop culture land. But it will never happen.

Perhaps the 3D printer world will take over the basics niche. I could see a not-for-profit doing very well making it easy for people to print their own sets for their 1 year olds or 5 year olds.

Just my 2 bricks.

Comment Re:Ask him (Score 3, Insightful) 219

There Are Only Three True Job Interview Questions

1. Can you do the job?
2. Will you love the job?
3. Can we tolerate working with you?

Comment Re:Mass Mail (Score 2) 473

Is there any reason for the government to run the post office.? (Yes. The constitution provides for it.)

Why are you so invested in having the government run the post office? What makes you think that big top-down government agencies are the way to go?

If the USPS is self-sufficient why MUST it be a government service? Do you actually think that government agencies are better?

Here's your answer:

The mission of the Postal Service is to provide the American public with trusted universal postal service at affordable prices. While not explicitly defined, the Postal Service's universal service obligation (USO) is broadly outlined in statute and includes multiple dimensions: geographic scope, range of products, access to services and facilities, delivery frequency, affordable and uniform pricing, service quality, and security of the mail. While other carriers may claim to voluntarily provide delivery on a broad basis, the Postal Service is the only carrier with a legal obligation to provide all the various aspects of universal service at affordable rates.


So, if we don't think we need a post office, let's change the constitution.

Personally, I think there some services best provided by the government, including services where it might be desirable to provide a certain level of service at a certain price to everyone in the country. Maybe you disagree. That is your right. So change it. Get your congresscritters to amend the Constitution.

Again, just my opinion, but to some extent our national character is defined by the obligations that unite us. The interstate system, CDC, USPS, NASA, the US military, Sesame Street. Things that exist only in America. Get rid of enough of those obligations, and we're no longer the United States, we're just some states.

Comment Re:lunacy (Score 1) 102

Or maybe, just maybe, the actual learning happens in the student's head. If the student is motivated, and has the materials available, nothing can stop them.

On the other hand, the university setting provides the marginally motivated the necessary framework to execute the prescribed tasks to earn the credits to earn the degree.

So let's be careful to not confuse getting a degree with getting an education.

Comment Re:Would Isaac Newton have made a good mechanic? (Score 1) 155

However, Charles Darwin got 4000 votes in the recent election, hence the post. The incumbent, who won, is Paul Broun:

Here's an interesting excerpt from Wikipedia:

In a leaked video of a speech given at Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman's Banquet on September 27, Broun is heard telling supporters that, “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell.” Broun also believes that the world is less than 9000 years old and that it was created in six literal days. In response to this, and as Broun is also on the House Science Committee, libertarian radio talk show host Neil Boortz spear-headed a campaign to run the English naturalist and evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) against Broun, with the intention of drawing attention to these comments from the scientific community and having Broun removed from his post on the House Science Committee.

Comment Re:Suprising how? (Score 1) 771

I mean, we just had a guy on a congressional science committee forcefully and publicly proclaim that women emit some kind of magical substance to prevent pregnancy when "legitimately" raped.

I think the guy is a buffoon, personally. But is he wrong? If you reject his claim as categorically impossible on the face of it then you are making the same mistake being discussed. What your opinion is doesn't matter. It's the facts. Just the facts, ma'am.

After that yo-yo made his pronouncement I immediately thought, jeez, what a maroon. There's another example of decide your opinion first, then make up facts to support it. But then I asked myself, what if he's right? After all, there's more to it than you might know, Horatio.

So I did some fact checking. There is some slight support that stress will interfere with fertilization. Beyond that, I couldn't find much to support his claim, that didn't appear to be politically motivated.

But what we want to be true means nothing. It is what *is* true that is important.

“What are the facts? Again and again and again – what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” – what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!”

Comment Re:If we exterminated them... (Score 1) 299


Do we have a moral duty to bring back smallpox? And reintroduce it to its former habitat?

Morals, schmorals. Mother Nature has left the building. We have default control of the biosphere, whether we want it or not. I doubt we can agree on what is "moral". We can't even agree on what is effective.

The only obligation we have is to manage the planet. We took over, we're in control. We choose what happens to life on Planet Earth.

Morals is just your way of saying you think you know best and anyone who deviates from that is obviously a . . . deviant, so that's why your way is right.

Comment Re:Gak, the Britishisms in that article were too m (Score 3, Insightful) 172

Not only that, look at the terms themselves.

If you (or your job) has been "made redundant", it means - quite literally - that they no longer have a use for you.

We call that "laid off" on this side of the pond. Quite different than just "laid", I assure you, and they're both different from "laid out", which might also involve lying down, but I always say, make love, not war. Lay offs are when a business needs to reduce its workforce. There are a lot of rules and regulations about how its done. The natural tendency is to get rid of the deadwood as cheaply as possible, but there are significant rules designed to keep things "fair". I've been on both sides of the lay off process, at least half a dozen times. One time we laid off my whole division, so I've even laid myself off.

. . . especially when I spend a LOT of my time looking up what the hell certain Americanisms mean because they're not at all obvious (John Doe? Really? You can't just say you don't know their names?)

Not to be confused with John Deer, John Handcock, Johnny-come-lately or Dear-John or just a plain John, which has several meanings, none of them particularly flattering, or even doughboy, although even you Brits ought to recognize that last one. And over here Johnny is just a friendly name for a guy named John, or sometimes any bloke.

The fifth amendment?

Not to be confused with the Fifth Amendments, although truthfully I've never quite understood the difference between Parliament and Funkadelic. And lots of people smoke Parliaments, although that's probably NOT what P-Funk was smoking.

49th/50th/51st/52nd street

Do you *really* want to go down that road? At least NYC was laid out (mostly) by people who actually SPOKE English, whereas London, for instance, was laid out by blokes who spoke SPOKE A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE ENTIRELY. And they burnt the town to the ground every few centuries and changed everything, but kept all the same road names. I mean, have to actually LOOKED at a map of London? I bet there are tourists who've been lost in there for YEARS.

And by the way, you've got your own share of odd terms. Over here a sleeping policeman is actually a sleeping policeman!

Don't get your knickers in a twist or throw a wobbly. I'm not trying to be cheeky or even twee. We could argue about 'maths', 'plasters', amongst' , 'paracetamol', 'petrol' or a bunch of other words in inverted commas, last of all, zed, for heaven sakes.

Let's forget all that and just stay mates. And by that I mean pals and not any sort of hanky-panky. Sure, we had our disagreements every now and then, and actually burning the White House was a bit beyond the pale, but we've got your backs and you've got ours. US and UK, BFF.

Comment Re:Yessssss, Google... (Score 1) 214

Of course they want to cooperate with other companies. Businesses cooperate with other businesses all the time. And assuming they have massive amounts of information on everything I do, their statements regarding their efforts to safeguard it and their blandishments regarding their obligations to my privacy is merely marketing.

Oh, like they care a fig for your profile. Through browser tracking and embedded scripts, they know your every click on the internet. Through GPS they know your every step. Through email, they know your every word. And sure, you can poison your profile. But you can't do anything about the vast, vast flood of data they have on you. And maybe, just maybe, you personally have the skill and energy to defeat them. But the vast majority of people have neither.

No doubt this comment is too late to get much attention, but I had to answer.

Comment Re:Yessssss, Google... (Score 4, Interesting) 214

Here's the issue with the privacy thing.

Imagine that a corporation can track and inspect your every email, phone conversation, instant message, and footstep. They correlate it. They know who your friends are, what books you read, everything. That's an incredible amount of information. Even if you assume that the information is only going to be used for relatively harmless purposes, such as advertising. And if you think that's far-fetched, Google is trying pretty hard to get that level of knowledge of you. As are many others. And much of it is behind the scenes. Turn on Ghostery and see how many web sites pop up Google scripts. Even if you don't use any Google product, they are tracking you.

Now, imagine that they collaborate with other companies. What if they could use that knowledge of your every thought to raise prices in real time for the things you need most? Gas when you're about to run out? Use your imagination. Fair dealing is based on the notion of reasonably symmetrical information. If they other side knows everything about you, and you know nothing about them, you're at a disadvantage.

There is a legal right to privacy, which is being eroded. Check this out:

Now, imagine that an organization knows everything about you. And let's say the government decided it needs some information. So now the government knows everything about you, too. Do you completely trust the government? Are you sure they'll never make a mistake?

Now, imagine that people come to power who do not share your enlightened views on humanity. They think that there's a problem with, oh, left-handed people, people who wear socks with sandals, redheads, people born in February, people not from around here, people with certain political leanings. And let's say they get their hands on the aggregated information about you. Maybe they won't lock you up. But maybe they will. Or maybe they won't lock you up today. If you behave.

Think about all of the organizations, both real and fictional, that want unlimited knowledge of the general public. Not one of them inspires confidence. Think Big Brother. Spanish Inquisition. Total Information Awareness.

In my mind, unlimited personal knowledge aggregation leads straight to political repression. It is, in fact, evil.

Comment Re:two suggestions (Score 1) 402

Phhft. And even pro photographers are struggling these days. There are legions of photographers everywhere with everything from fingernail cams to full-on bevawatt Mark XXII anvils who will take pictures of any damn thing and post it for free. Hard to make a living in that environment. Not that there isn't plenty of work for pro photographers. But for anyone thinking they're going to wander around with a camera and take a few snaps and make buckets of money, the competition from the hoards of amateurs working for fun is fierce.

Comment Re:two suggestions (Score 1) 402

Or . . . get an introductory DSLR and a great lens or two.

The Nikon D3000 DSLR with the 18-200mm zoom lens and the 35mm f/1.8 lens make a great starter set. In a few years you can upgrade the DSLR. By that time they'll have a consumer model that will take pictures in total darkness 24 hours ahead of time.

Carrying a DSLR is a decision. Once you decide you're going to carry a camera bag everywhere, it's easy. And it gives you extra room for stuff, like water bottles.

Having a camera on your phone is awesome. Carrying a DSLR is also awesome, and completely different.

They say the camera doesn't make the picture, the photographer does. That may be true, but the equipment helps.

You aren't going to get a picture like this on your phone, or with anything less than a 300mm equivalent lens. I'm not a great photographer. I think this is a pretty darn good picture. It was shot with a Nikon D90 and a 18-200 lens from quite a ways away. (I wish I knew how far. 40 yards? More? Less?) Don't know if you're going to get this from anything less than a DSLR. The DSLR doesn't matter so much. The lens does.

And to parent: a tripod is great, but I almost never use them for panoramas. PhotoShop (even Elements) will stitch together just about any old thing into a great panorama. There's plenty of other panorama software, too.

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