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Comment To: Google (Score 3, Insightful) 167

So, I suppose all that talk about our notebooks being safe and always available and respecting the time and work we'd invested in their use was just a lie? This, combined with Chrome's increasingly "We're Google--we can do whatever we want" functionality, is edging me closer to abandoning Google completely. I, years ago, was initially hesitant to begin using Google's products. Really, the tipping point was that there weren't many alternatives to the services that Google was providing. THAT IS NO LONGER TRUE, GOOGLE! You would do well to remember that!

Comment They're laughing at you. (Score 4, Interesting) 284

In typical fashion, the technical elite focus primarily on the technical solutions. That is not how this war will be won. This time the enemy is trying approach X, which is sloppy and inept, and you have 8 different technical solutions with which to counter it. So you chalk it up as a victory for the geeks or even as an important improvement to the system.

This clumsy assault which you've thwarted with your technical prowess, and all of its sibling assaults in this diversionary and dissipative battle, are not the war however. They know they can't win the technical battle, so of course they will not even set foot on the field. They will say "We tried to build a secure network, but we've been continuously thwarted in our every attempt. Now we need to go after these [insert scary moniker]." The next phase will be increased and targeted criminalization. This phase is the building of the case in support of the draconian laws that are to come. It's difficult to take away people's freedoms for no reason. It's easy to convince people to give them up voluntarily in exchange for security. Especially for security from mysterious threats involving forces that they do not understand (eg. technology). By feigning technical restriction, they are drawing you out so that you might build the case against you yourselves. It's classic battlefield tactics--use your enemy's strength against them.

This war can only be won by defeating the enemy's ability to create legislation against freedom. Since it is the public's ignorance that will make this possible, the battleground of education is where this contest will be decided. Unfortunately, that particular topic is deep behind enemy lines and well nigh unassailable.

Comment This is the final nail in the coffin (Score 5, Interesting) 415

We were talking in the office one day and someone was complaining about some difficulty they'd had with customer service for a company from which they'd bought something. I mentioned that the "salt in the wound" is that there isn't even a person that you can get mad at (threaten, intimidate, assault) anymore. It's not like there is a PERSON somewhere who can say, "Ah, yes. I took such and such action on the Smith account because..."

The order was created in the computer either by the checkout scanner or by the automated form on the website. The order was filled and shipped by an automated warehouse (In our warehouse, even the pallet trucks are tied into the system and automated. It's a little unnerving to see these unmanned trucks just whipping big pallets of raw materials and finished goods to and fro in the factory.). The invoice was automatically kicked out in a billing batch run and mailed. No human ever laid eyes on it or had any knowledge that your order ever existed.

Think about that.

It's not like you can call them up and complain to the person that made a certain determination. They hire people off the street to sit in the call center and read what's on the screen. If you owe $50, it's not because someone looked and evaluated the situation. It's because that's what the computer says you owe. If the computer had said $55 instead--THAT WOULD BE THE REALITY.

All that remains is for the computer to become the final arbiter. Not being able or allowed to question or even review the automated data is precisely how that will come about.

Comment Re:Can we please stop already? (Score 2) 124

I think you're missing a few evolutionary pieces. Most data analytics systems that I'm aware of are not currently relational. Long ago, the data lived in memory, but memory was expensive, so everything was moved to disk. The relational model added the formalisms of normalization (to cut down on space, among other reasons), but the types of multi-dimensional queries used by the analytics apps required too many joins for this to work. So the data was de-normalized (eg. OLAP) to improve performance. As memory prices came down, people started putting the OLAP indexes and aggregates into memory to get a performance boost. Moving the data back to memory and returning to a normalized, relational model isn't so much "drastic new thing" as it is "logical next step". For me, the upsetting thing is that just as I'm getting good at the data warehousing thing, it seems we're going to be switching to being relational again.

Comment As it should be!! (Score 1) 307

Now, the PC can get back to what it really is: a Personal Computer. For the past several years, I've whined that PC development was being misdirected and bogged down by its mainstream attention. It's difficult to expect capitalism to produce OS's, applications, and technologies for a small crowd of engineers, techies, and geeks when there are masses of consumers out there willing to shell out tons of money for half-baked, inflated, useless garbage. "Your customers tell you what business you're in" and for the past several years, the PC industry has been in the business of "protecting" the user from their computers instead of "empowering" the user with their computers. This specialization of computing power is a very good thing and it's win/win. The masses of consumers get the features and applications they were looking for in the first place without dragging down a sophisticated, technical tool to be accessible to the lowest common denominator.

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