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Comment "Non-profit" organization contracts (Score -1) 132

Oracle gets these contracts seemingly easily. Do you know what it takes to land a contract with a supposedly "non-profit" organisation? Find a way to get a subscription to something like UNGM and look at the insanity that passes for RFPSs there.

70 pages of various legal requirements (shouldn't use child labour, something about land mines, blah blah blah, document formats, timelines etc.etc.)

The requirement: build a database driven website.
Deadlines:
* Project award: 25 of March.
* Expected a completed, fully tested and operational system: 1 of April.

Then some more weird nonsense about saving millions and millions of lives. I am not surprised that these projects end up costing tens of millions and more and deliver nothing.

Comment Re:Win 7 (Score 1) 860

Well, maybe a bad dashboard doesn't mean the whole car is horrible, but it can certainly change the way you feel about a car. Even a single bad *detail* can ruin the experience for you.

I remember back around 1969, my mom bought a Buick Skylark: forest green, with a black vinyl roof. Very chic for the era. In most respects it was a pretty good car for 1969, especially with the optional 8 cylinder engine that put out 230 HP. Nobody balked at 12 MPG fuel economy back then. It was even rather good looking -- maybe not in the same league as a classic Mustang, but brawny and compact for 1969. Check out the Sports Coupe on this page. That's it, fourth from the top. Mom's car.

This car had one fatal flaw: the climate control UI. That was an impressive "space age" affair in which the settings were made on a thumb wheel and displayed on a bar graph. The graph even turned red when you went from AC to heat. Here it is on ebay. Look closely at the worm gear mechanism used to operate the bar readout. This was a fatal flaw that turned what would have been a very nice car into a lemon.

Unlike the basic lever and cable arrangement in less expensive cars, with this you have no tactile feedback. You can't feel whether you've set the control to AC or heat, much less how much heat you've called for. Check out the worm gear mechanism in the photos. That meant you had to rotate the knob maybe three times to go from max AC to max heat. Since only part of the knob protruded from the faceplate you could maybe rotate it 60 degrees with one swipe of your thumb. So when you wanted to change the temperature, you had to take your eyes off the road to see the bar graph, then often frob the control wheel with your thumb five or six times to get the setting you wanted.

I remember my Mom cursing that car every time she wanted to change the temperature. It was one small detail that ruined what would otherwise have been a terrific car. This is the first car I remember in detail, and it taught me an important lesson about user interfaces: impressive controls and displays don't necessarily make a UI convenient or pleasant to use.

Comment Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (Score 1) 423

Well, there isn't enough demand to put a hobby electronics shop in every mall and on every major highway. In fact it's a mystery to me how Radio Shack got as big as it is, other than it predated big box consumer electronics store.

What you need to support a bricks and mortar store network like this is an answer to these two questions:

(1) Why will people go to the store?

(2) What will they end up buying when they get there?

Have you noticed how bookstores tend to have coffee bars in them now? It's because you're thinking about going to Starbucks for coffee, so why not go to the one in Barnes and Nobles and do a little browsing while you're there? Granted, you may go there specifically for books some time, but having a coffee bar gets you in the door enough more times that you end up spending more money there annually than you would otherwise.

If you're going to buy a phone, why go to Radio Shack instead of your carrier's store? If you're going to buy a radio or a set of speakers, why go to Radio Shack instead of a big box electronics retailer? About the only reason I can think of to go to Radio Shack is if I needed an odd sized battery, which is not such a bad draw but it wouldn't draw me in more than once or twice a year.

Sure, if Radio Shack had a great parts counter it might get people like you or me to go there, and we might walk out with a headset or a cell phone. But there aren't enough people like you or me to put a Radio Shack in every mall and along most major highways. If they could just get enough people in the doors, they could sell them all kinds of electronics-y stuff, but there's nothing that will bring lots of people in the door. Every time I go to Radio Shack, it seems like the number of customers is something like 1.2x the number of staff. That's no way to make money.

Comment Re:Helps to know conventional crypto's weaknesses. (Score 1) 84

Although the ties to other countries, the shared work, etc. also describes scholarly research and peer review -- the very things you need to put faith in some kind of cryptographic scheme.

If you have a problem that you don't know who to trust, a proprietary black box is no solution. Then you're trusting both the box and the person selling it to you.

Comment Helps to know conventional crypto's weaknesses. (Score 1) 84

Well tested, familiar conventional crypto algorithms are very, very hard to break. With correctly generated keys of sufficient length, they are practically unbreakable for longer than most secrets need to be kept.

But that doesn't mean *systems* built around those algorithms are unbreakable. It's all that stuff around the strong cryptographic algorithms that introduces weakness.

So claims of "unbreakable" algorithms or system components don't get me excited. If you want to make me sit up and take notice, claim that your invention makes secure cryptographic systems *simpler*.

Comment Re:Education (Score 5, Insightful) 482

Well,I think you're onto something, although it's certainly not the case that anti-vaccination ideology is confined to "uneducated redneck hicks". It is rampant among educated, middle class people too who *do* have the tools to evaluate claims. They just don't have the inclination to use those tools. I know because I have a niece who is an anti-vaccine crusader; she's always posting links to anti-vaccine screeds on Facebook, only to get knocked down by all her science geek aunties and uncles. She is not an ignorant, uneducated moron. She is an intelligent, accomplished and educated suburban mom who just happens to be off her rocker about this one thing.

The problem, I think, is that anti-vaccine hysteria actually arises out a healthy impulse: distrust of authority. We've raised a generation on tales of the Tuskeegee experiment, of bungled CIA actions in Iran, of government leaders' deceptions about the course of the Vietnam war. But the line between healthy distrust and paranoia is often fuzzy. In attempting to raise a generation of healthy skeptics, we've also made paranoia respectable.

This explains the counter-intuitive result in the study. Convincing people to distrust anti-vaccine information doesn't make them trust their doctors or public health authorities. It makes them distrust everyone. And some of the mud probably still sticks. Here's where knowing what the anti-vaccine crowd is saying helps. They've moved well beyond the autism thing; their message has two prongs: "vaccines aren't as effective as claimed" and "vaccines put children at risk for a wide spectrum of harms".

Finally there's another misunderstood aspect about who these people are. They've been raised to admire crusaders like Dr. King who stood up against authority figures, and they've been taught to emulate them. We've raised them to be firm and determined in their convictions, even the face of ridicule and condemnation. But that attitude of Emersonian self-reliance has a dark side: it's very hard to change your mind once you've donned your crusader surcoat and drawn your greatsword.

So the idea that these people are anti-vaccine crusaders *because* they're contemptible is wrong. These people are attempting to do something heroic. In other circumstances they *would* be heroic. The problem with self-righteousness is that it feels *exactly the same* as righteousness.

Comment Re:What have been my recent experiences? (Score 4, Insightful) 295

linux drivers suck for all 3

Don't tell Valve! You'll ruin there latest business model!

Seriously, I've used GPUs from all three manufacturers and found every Intel and nvidia hardware/driver combination I've tried to work well in Linux, and every AMD combination to be the opposite. I wish it were not so, but it is, in my experience.

Comment Re:Not a good idea (Score -1) 246

I offer apprenticeship positions, I have 4 students right now actually, 2 finished their education, one dropped out and one is still studying. I took them in with the understanding that at first they are not getting paid at all, they all agreed to it. There were a few others, who I had to let go, they were useless. At this point I am paying all of my students, they display themselves as being useful, they learn quickly, they have the right attitude, so now they are making good money for their level of experience and productivity. Apprenticeship is not dead, except in the welfare states, like the USA.

Comment Re:Regulation of currency (Score -1, Insightful) 240

FDIC was not abandoned altogether, that is the problem with taking out a PART of it. FDIC should not have existed in the first place, it is a moral hazard, where bank clients do not pay any attention what the banks do with the money. People do more research about the films that they go to see than what bank they will loan their money to (and it's a loan to a bank, if you want a bank that in fact takes deposits and holds them, use a safety box).

Glass-Steagal was part of FDIC that was aiming at preventing using "deposit" (loan) money against bank speculating in the markets. FDIC needs to be repealed completely, which means the fake "insurance" that gov't provides should be abolished. People should not be under assumption that FDIC can actually give them their money back without destroying the value of money with inflation and without massive borrowing and basically without the economy coming crashing down one way or another. FDIC doesn't have any money, not even 1% of what is supposedly 'insures'.

When they repealed Glass Steagal the did not deregulate, they changed what they regulate in a way that allowed for more moral hazards and more gambling. Of-course that's just one corner of the pyramid that the USA economy is running, the other being impossible government spending levels thanks to the Treasury selling all that debt that can never be repaid and the fake dollars thanks to the Fed, that is monetising so much of that debt. Fake inflation levels (CPI, core CPI) is another corner of the pyramid, fake GDP is what is propped up and pushed up by those corners.

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