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Comment Re:Wait... Who got that other half of the $$$ rais (Score 2) 15

I spent about fifteen years of my career in the non-profit sector, so I have some perspective on this.

Raising money in a non-profit is just like selling stuff is for a for-profit. Generating gross revenue is relatively easy -- if you spend a lot of money you can rake in a lot of dough. What's a bitch to generate is net profit. In the non-profit sector we don't use the term "profitability" very much, so the metric that's often used to describe financial is "cost to raise a dollar." For typical fundraising activities cost-to-raise-a-dollar runs from 0.25 to 1.5 dollars/dollar.

Take junk mail. The cost to raise a dollar for a well-run direct mail campaign is in the range of $1.25 to $1.50, so if I want to raise $115,000 to spend on other things I have to scale my direct mail campaign to bring inover $258,000 gross. As you can see I chose a net target that was exactly 1/1000 the size of the ALS bucket challenge net, so you can compare the efficiency of the processes readily. The cost to raise a dollar for the ALS bucket challenge is actually better than a well-run direct mail campaign -- $0.91.

And it should be more efficient than direct mail, because direct mail is about the least efficient method there is. The marginal costs are huge because you pay for the names and addresses as well as printing and mailing of each piece, and most of those pieces will end up in the landfill unopened. So if direct mail is so inefficient, why use it? Because the financial inefficiency doesn't matter to the organization doing the fundraising. The end result of my hypothetical direct mail campaign is that my organization has $115,000 it didn't have before. That probably pays for one and half full time staff positions (at the low do-gooder wages we pay) for a year.

So the ALS challenge was in the financial efficiency range of methods normally used by non-profits, albeit a little towards the inefficient end. That doesn't really tell us if the campaign was responsibly run or not; to know that you'd have to look at all the expenses and compare those to costs in other viral Internet fundraising campaigns. But the bottom line is that the ALS association ended up with $115 million it didn't have before.

Can you think of a way of raising $115 million in a few months? I thought not. So presuming the guys who ran the campaign didn't spend the money on hookers and blow, I wouldn't be unduly concerned by a cost-to-raise-a-dollar of $0.91 if I was on the board.

Should donors care that the ALS challenge was a little high on the cost-to-raise-a-dollar metric? Well, I look at it this way. People did it because it was fun and for a good cause, and two years later we can point to concrete and significant scientific results from the money raised. That's not only pretty good, it's pretty damned awesome.

Comment Re:anti-science environmentalists (Score 1) 168

Actually, it's thoroughly impossible to tell how the new standards work based upon by the linked articles, but it sounds like in plain language that Florida is using a computer model that could allow more flexibility in discharge permitting. This can lead to better results, whether your definition of better is "more rationally defensible" or "more in line with what my donors want." Determining which way it is better requires review by a competent expert. It might be both.

The real issue here is this phrase from TFA: "one of a kind." That's not so good.

It's important in managing environmental data to do things in the usual way. This is contrary to the way public thinks about new technologies. If there's a new iPhone, you expect it to be better in every way or at least as good. It's not like that with scientific methods; new techniques are proposed because they have certain advantages, obviously. But they always have one big disadvantage: their results are hard to compare with what you already know. You need to do a lot of work to justify doing things a new way, otherwise you can find yourself unable to compare what is happening now to what was happening before.

Fortunately Florida can't do this on its own; it has to get EPA approval. Since this is an administration that is generally favorable to environmental regulation, if they can get this past Obama's EPA that will help give these new methods more credibility.

Comment Re:Oh :( (Score 1) 5

I've been thinking the same thing. We have the rise of populist demagogues, the resurgence of nationalistic tub thumping, at least two expansionist empire-building nations, one encroaching on a creaky defence pact in Europe...the area of major unrest has gone south (haven't we all?) from the Balkans to the Middle East, but otherwise conditions are very similar to pre-WW1. What concerns me the most is the glorification of dead soldiers without equal condemnation of the world leaders whose failings killed them; perhaps humans as a whole inherently can't see beyond their own experiences, and this lesson needs to be relearned every couple of generations.

And hey, lots of people do little significant things every day, it's just that the world rarely notices unless it's something destructive, or at the very least, crass. Taking care of business isn't news, but it makes the world work.

Comment Re:74 at time of crash (Score 2) 560

Oh? Please tell me how a bunch of people doing the same speed creates a dangerous situation.

For the record I agree unless you're overtaking don't be in the lane.

Oh, that's an easy one.

When people who speed can't pass they get irrationally angry and start to do dangerous things, like tailgating, swerving, and suddenly accelerating/braking.

So you see, it's really your fault for making them SO DANGED ANGRY because they can't speed and pass people at that particular instant.

:P

Comment Re:From where does the FAA get power to regulate i (Score 1) 44

Having a patchwork assembly of differing state and local regulations and restrictions to follow while in the air would absolutely affect interstate commerce. There's really no good rational argument against that.

Yet we have just such a patchwork assembly of differing state and local regulations and restriction to follow while on the roads: Speed limits and rules for setting them, turn restrictions, stop and yield sign placement, various rules of the road and its amenities (turn-on-red, where - if at all - U-turns are legal, lane-change frequency restrictions, lane restrictions on trucks (and no-truck routes), passing on the right, maximum durations at rest stops and activity there (such as sleeping or cooking over a fire), and a host of other rules - not to mention their enforcement) all vary from state to state.

It's dependent on each state's government(s) to pass the individual regulations. Yes, there's a lot of standardization, and following federal rules. But the federal rules are followed voluntarily when it's in a state's interest, enforced as a condition of federal funding for construction and maintenance of roads bearing US or Interstate route designations, or encouraged by federal blackmail composed of the withholding of the state's share of funds gathered by the federal gasoline taxes.

Any argument that flying at all is interstate commerce goes double for driving - where long-haul trucks, passenger cars, and even bicycles and pedestrians share common roads. So why does the Federal government have to blackmail the states into legislating their way for regional and local roads, yet can claim it has the right to totally control flight, not just of interstate traffic and/or at interstate altitudes or in the glidepaths around federally-funded airports, but of battery-powered gadgets, with range far to limited to reach a state border from most parts of a state, lighter than the average dog, and all the way down to the grass in your back yard?

Comment Re:That's Interesting & Irrelevant (Score 1) 55

My picture was nice too, but they had system boards that shouldn't have made it through basic inspection, and of course the mechanical design was absurd. Since there was no provision for mounting the system boards in a conventional way I have to conclude that the sloppy construction at least was by design.

Now as for whether LeEco build quality will be better, worse, or the same, I have no opinion. I'm just reacting to the notion that Vizio makes a quality TV. In my experience it doesn't. Your experience doesn't negate that, because the tough thing isn't turning out quality units, it's turning them out consistently. That's why it's called quality "control" or "assurance".

Comment Re:RIP (Score 4, Informative) 55

Errr... the build quality for Vizio TVs is dreadful. I had one fail twice in the warranty period and then of course immediately after the warranty expired.

Opening the thing up the mainboard of the device was fastened to the backlight panel chassis with packing tape. I'd never seen such shoddy construction, not to mention the very poor quality of the boards themselves.

In general I think the idea of "smart tvs" is bad for the consumer economically. On top of that selling our viewing habits a profit center for Vizio on their already crappy throw-away TVs. And to add insult to injury, the UI for most smart TVS is just terrible. I replaced the Vizio with a Samsung, not because I wanted another smart tv, but because it was cheap. Not only was the search function hopelessly broken, the damn thing interrupted stuff I was watching on Netflix or Amazon with service change bulletins for Samsung services I neither subscribed to nor used. How could any UI designers be so damned stupid.

But you almost can't get a smallish HD TV that's not "smart". I ended up with a Hitachi "Roku TV" which is just a plain old TV with a Roku stick stuck in one the HDMIs. I'm much happier with Roku's UI and service, but if I wanted to I could just pop the Roku stick out and have a plain old TV.

Comment Re:They did the same thing for dual booting Linux (Score 1) 395

I still dual boot -- but I almost never use Windows, which is kind of the point. I don't use it enough to justify paying for a virtualization compatible license, and it's just a static waste of resources to boot in Windows to run Linux under a VM.

I suppose one solution for those instances where you have to boot Windows yet also access stuff in your Linux partition is to use raw partition access in a virtual machine and serve the data over a virtual network server. I know it's possible but it's been so many years since I've had to do it I couldn't comment on how other than to say read the virtualization platform documentation.

Comment Re:From where does the FAA get power to regulate i (Score 1) 44

Where does the FAA claim it gets the power to regulate drones which are only engaged in INTRA-state commerce and flying too low to interfere with interstate air traffic? Seems to me that's the state's job

From 49USC app 1301 - the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 ...

No, no, no. Not what I meant.

From where in the Constitution, in the face of the 10th Amendment and Norton v. Shelby County 118 U.S. 425 (1886), does the Federal Government's Congress claim to get the power to delegate to such an executive branch agency?

China

Chinese State Company Unveils World's Largest Seaplane (theguardian.com) 154

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: China has completed production of the world's largest amphibious aircraft, state media has said, the latest effort in the country's program to wean itself off dependence on foreign aviation firms. The state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) unveiled the first of the new planes, dubbed the AG600, Saturday in the southern port city of Zhuhai, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The aircraft, which has a maximum range of 4,500 km (2,800 miles), is intended for fighting forest fires and performing marine rescues, it said. At around the size of a Boeing 737, it is far larger than any other plane built for marine take off and landing, Xinhua quoted AVIC's deputy general manager Geng Ruguang as saying. The AG600 could potentially extend the Asian giant's ability to conduct a variety of operations in the South China Sea, where it has built a series of artificial islands featuring air strips, among other infrastructure with the potential for either civilian or military use.

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