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Comment Re: Threshold (Score 1) 403

The civil unrest it causes could make it impractical to automate to that level.

That's what I thought when I visited South Africa, where almost every single establishment has more people working in it than are really needed; one just has to overemploy to maintain social harmony in the presence of a very high unemployment rate. I've grown used to self-service checkouts at supermarkets in my corner of Europe, but in SA I figured that if a supermarket tried to implement them, there'd be rioting and destruction.

Comment Re:By commenting, I'm part of the problem (Score 4, Insightful) 123

Posting it here is clickbait. The submission is almost guaranteed to rile the slashbots up and lead to lots of comments along the lines of "O tempora o mores!", "Kids these days want to change all the old stuff for no reason!". Nevermind that the Monopoly makers have thought about shaking up the piece set for decades. When I was a teenager in the early 1990s, someone doing a survey for Hasbro in the local shopping mall stopped me and asked me to give my opinions of possible new pieces.

Comment Re:Oh hell naw. (Score 1) 79

We live in an age where a person can take their entire media collection with them. If I suddenly remember a piece I haven't heard in years, I can play it straightaway, even if Iâ(TM)m sitting in a tent in Patagonia. You act like thereâ(TM)s something wrong with taking advantage of that possibility. And while every gram counts in the sense that I would happily go from a hard drive to a high-capacity USB stick if the price were right, the hard drive itself is still acceptable enough for travel.

Comment Re:Oh hell naw. (Score 1) 79

Indeed, my music collection is all FLACs, as well as full DVD or Bluray images for video content. Of course, on the road MP3 quality (and its equivalents for video) might suffice, but why bother re-encoding when I can just carry it all? Plus, I keep scores and books on the respective composer or musician in the same directory tree, and some of those image-heavy PDFs can really add up.

Comment Re:Oh hell naw. (Score 1) 79

I spent a lot of the year bicycle touring or backpacking, where one counts every gram of weight. I take my entire music collection, which is just over 1TB in size, with me on a portable hard drive, but a USB stick that is lighter and more shock-resistant (no moving parts) would be nice. No way I'd ever pay the prices set for these ultra-high-capacity USB sticks, though.

Comment Re:Why you should support these actions (Score 1) 258

So any reference books NOT used by people with manners who know how to put a book back where they took it?

Many libraries put up signs directing patrons not to reshelve books themselves, instead designating a space at the end of each row of shelves where books are to be left so that library staff do the reshelving.

Comment Re:Why not digitize? (Score 1) 258

Scanning is fast these days with the scanning function on photocopiers. It's not like in the old days when you had to rely on slow flatbed scanners. I scan several dozen books each year (when I visit other specialist libraries that have resources missing from my own), and a book of some 300 pages can be scanned in greyscale in 600 DPI in less than 20 minutes. Sometimes it can take longer to process the scanned images into a nice PDF suitable for upload to an ebook filesharing community than it actually took to scan the book.

That said, obviously no public library is going to go to all this trouble even if things have got faster. This would rightly be left to publishers or to specialist archival teams working on a grant.

Comment Re:Why purge? (Score 1) 258

It's much better than having to read corporate-approved "books" on a gadget controlled by said corporation.

I've owned a Kindle for the last three years and it has changed my life as a reader, but I have never bought a single book from Amazon: I just download whatever I want to read from pirate sites. (Often they are in .epub format, but with Calibre it's trivial to automatically convert the book to Kindle format when copying to the device). And no, Amazon is not "controlling my gadget": the moment I unboxed it, I set it in airplane mode, so it has never even connected to a network.

Comment Re:Why purge? (Score 1) 258

Space is limited. Many public libraries are housed in these tiny buildings. Even moving the books to closed stacks would still require maintenance of that storage space, plus paying people to bring up books from the stacks, and that's often beyond the small budgets of public libraries.

But these very frequent purges are typical of only public libraries with a very ordinary public. University libraries often purge their general libraries, but only after 5 or 10 years since an album last circulated. Only in university specialist libraries are items always held onto for the long haul even if no interest has been shown in them for some time.

Comment Re:Anonymous Overlay Networks - USE THEM :) (Score 1) 116

And they're fast enough too... you can easily share and fetch all a normal person could ever use... a lossless DVD-9 VOB rip...

I mainly torrent lossless Bluray images, which can get up to 30GB a pop... and that's with the current standard of quality. 4K film releases are around the corner, and so file sizes will only increase. I'm not sure that hidden services are prepared for the next level of video.

Comment Re:Anonymous Overlay Networks - USE THEM :) (Score 1) 116

Niche-interest parties like the Pirate Party only work in countries where larger parties need to form parliamentary coalitions to govern, and perhaps don't have first-past-the-post voting. Torrent sites, however, are being shut down by the big muscle of the US, which has an inviolable two-party system and voting third-party isn't an effective way of changing things.

Comment Re:Finland is not foreign? (Score 2) 98

The Finns later took advantage of chaos in Russia as an opportunity to tell the Russians to GTFO.

The independence of Finland from Russia wasn't due to the "Finns telling the Russians to GTFO", it was a decision made by Lenin, partly for pragmatic reasons, partly due to his warm feelings for Finland after he found shelter there when he was still a political outlaw.

Comment Re:A pity, but not a surprise (Score 1) 95

So, why do you feel that it's your responsibility to tell other random people about random stuff you buy? Are you getting paid to do so?

I'm an Amazon Top Reviewer, and I started reviewing in the late 1990s. I can't remember what drove me to start reviewing, but I've certainly found it worthwhile over time. I tend to review some niche categories of music and books, and while they audiences for these products aren't all known to me personally, it's not quite "random" and one feels that by reviewing one is helping out a community of peers. Also, with a written record of my tastes and impressions from a given time, it's also interesting to see how my views about literature or recordings have changed over the years.

Many top reviewers had the opportunity to make some money from their status by eBaying the freebies they get, but not me. At some point I started getting offers for free products, but all but a handful of those offers disappeared when I mentioned that I now live outside the US -- no one would want to pay such high postage to get promotional materials to me.

Comment Re:Automation hits the white collar sector (Score 1) 69

Does it really take less time to "proofread" a machine-generated translation than to write one from scratch?

No, but there's a much larger labour pool for proofreading and correction and it is considered relatively unskilled work, so it cannot command a high wage. Translation, on the other hand, is considered skilled work to some degree and not everyone has those skills. So, if a company hires someone to fix machine-translation output, they will save money by paying the employee less even if the amount of time for the employee remains the same.

Comment Re:It was bound to happen. (Score 3, Insightful) 106

If companies are limited in what they can import from cheap-labour countries, then they can just bring the manufacturing here and automate the hell out of it so that labour costs are minimal. "Rejigging of trade" need not equate to a significantly higher standard of living for Americans in those particular state. I found this recent election interesting because of two things that were not talked about my the candidates. One was any kind of awareness that automation is changing . Both candidates uttered similar promises of job growth, and Trump offered bringing factories back as an employment panacea, as if this were 1986 and not 2016. Perhaps both candidates thought that offered a longterm vision would just cost them support when so many voters wanted comforting and nostalghia instead of a sober look at the future. (The other was religion. In previous elections, at least one if not both major-party candidates had to position themselves as men of faith, show they were well-known to a particular local congregation, etc. This time, neither Clinton nor Trump even bothered making a pretence of that. Just goes to show how religious observance in the US has dwindled, even if evangelicals are still a major voting bloc and, bizarrely, were often more pro-Trump than anti-Clinton.)

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