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Comment No middle ground? (Score 1) 499

Well, you, sir, may be the one here who isn't thinking about all possibilities.

Is it an awful idea to build some sort of "Muslim registration database". Yeah, probably. But if I'm a huge company like Microsoft and some journalist asks me if I'll state an official position on whether or not I'd ever help with such a thing? My smartest move is to ignore the question with a "No comment." and go on with my day.

The thing is, Trump hasn't even taken office yet - so ALL of this stuff is still conjecture at this point. All we really know about Trump so far is that he exaggerated a lot, and made a lot of big, bold promises that can't really be acted upon. Every day, the media is all over the guessing game of "Who will he put in his cabinet for position X?". Once all of those positions are chosen and final, THEN at least some more useful guesses can be made about the direction he'll actually take on policies, based on their previous history. But so far, we don't even have those folks all lined up yet.

Just like his promise to "build a wall and make Mexico pay for it", where *reality* is, Federal government hasn't even been able to build a continuous fence due to private property ownership of much of the land? Trump's talk about this registration database might turn out to be something far more "watered down", like a govt. database that doesn't require anyone "register" with it at all. The companies who declared "No, we won't assist!" prematurely would now be out of the running, or in an awkward situation, if the Dept. of Immigration or some other Federal dept. eventually wants to build a new/better database of, say, Muslim extremists still operating inside the country.

Comment re: pizza delivery, etc. (Score 1) 304

Yes, but I'm not even sure I'd compare pizza delivery with taxi service? A pizza doesn't care about the impression you make with the vehicle you pull up in for the delivery, and if your old beater car breaks down in the middle of a delivery? Well, you owe somebody another pizza or a refund of a whole $20 or whatever they spent. If it breaks down in the middle of driving someone to the airport and causes them to miss a flight? Much bigger problem.

Personally, I'm not that comfortable just chatting it up with random strangers - so the idea of driving around to deliver things instead of people appeals to me. But for others, it's just the opposite. They'd be bored to death if it wasn't for the fact they get to meet a bunch of new people and talk with them while they drive.

Comment Meh.... they have no sane argument here, IMO. (Score 1) 304

Uber drivers are NOT employees. Uber is just a web-based service asking for people interested in driving for them, whenever and however long at a time they feel like driving for them, subject to payment terms Uber offers.

People complaining that they're underpaid driving for Uber should probably stop and consider the other side of the argument. How much would it cost you to make enough people aware of your own taxi service, if you decided to go it on your own? What would you have to pay to have developers build and maintain an app for you that runs on multiple OS platforms?

The small town I used to live in has a couple of residents I know who used to drive for Uber and quit, because they realized they made better money as independent drivers, offering to do courier type deliveries or to give people rides. It's a viable alternative there because the town has no official taxi-cab company and it's essentially a bedroom community for people who work in the DC area. So just by hanging out on the right forum on Facebook, you can find people all the time who want to pay for a ride to the airport or what-not.

But in most cases, the real value Uber brings to the table is pairing you up with all the people who want to pay for a ride. Making 2x the amount per hour does you no good if you have hours of down-time with no paid fares. And that's where you'd probably be if you were on your own, doing a bit of traditional advertising and asking people to just call you if they need a ride.

I get the argument that working for Uber or Lyft isn't really making you any money because of all the wear and tear on your vehicle, fuel costs and so on. But that's always been true for people delivering pizzas or working for couriers -- yet people still eagerly do it. I think that's because some people underestimate the value of getting some money back out of what you have to pay into the sinkhole of vehicle ownership. (EG. Whether I drive for Uber with my new car or I just use it for personal use, my monthly payment to the auto finance company is the same. And for X number of years, my factory warranty and possibly an extended warranty I purchased covers anything that breaks on it beyond standard wear items. Especially if it gets decent gas mileage, it definitely can generate some decent positive cash flow doing this kind of work -- even if the "bean counters" insist it's not because the true amortized cost of driving it per mile comes out to whatever number of cents. For many of us, that figure doesn't matter because we're content to push off some of those costs to the "back end" of the vehicle ownership, when it's paid off and past the warranty period with high mileage on it. By then, we have options like trading it in on something new and starting the cycle over, or selling it off as-is. The bills we had to pay each month for other things didn't offer that kind of flexibility in payments.)

Comment Re: Trump and purchasing decisions (Score 1) 399

Well, he campaigned on promises to "drain the swamp" and eliminate a lot of government regulation. As far as I'm concerned, the public school system needs a good dismantling. Go to a voucher system and promote charter schools as options. The teacher's union is one of the most corrupt unions out there today too. If all of that is "fringe" thinking - I'm down with the fringes on that. Common core standards were foisted upon the nation's schools without any consideration for the students caught in the middle of the changes, or the parents who couldn't even teach their own kids that system. And districts get Board of Education candidates elected disingenuously with the "Apple ballots" they pass around at election time, with their "slate" of candidates falsely promoted as "the people the teachers themselves actually want on the board". They OFTEN don't.

But at least a number of the rumored picks are well known names of people who aren't considered that radical (or even friends of many conservatives), so I'd say your categorizing Trump as only wanting "outsiders" is incorrect. Ben Bernake, for example, or Jonathan Gray (a Democrat!).

Comment re: Trump and purchasing decisions (Score 1) 399

To be perfectly honest, it's ridiculous to claim Trump is lying when he says he wants to bring jobs back to America, just because you can show where some of his buildings were constructed using Chinese steel.

This is clearly a guy who wasn't ever micro-managing every little detail of each building project he invested in. I'm sure some of the sub-contractors who performed some of the necessary work on his buildings hired illegal labor without Trump ever being made aware of it, too.

You might have more of an argument that especially once running for office, he should have had the foresight to source U.S. manufacturers for his name-brand products. (If you buy a "Trump for President" ball cap and it says it's made in China on the label -- that means he had somebody on his staff call a place that advertised a good price on embroidered caps and ordered, without making the effort to check on that first. Not the smartest move ... but still, probably not anything he had direct say in.)

I have no idea how his Presidency will turn out, and I didn't vote for the guy either. But I've *never* seen so much news coverage over EVERY SINGLE person he so much as considers for a position someplace on his cabinet. There are obviously a whole lot of people in the media and press looking for any excuse to criticize him on any misstep he makes, even months before he actually takes office and does anything.

Comment Rules and rule-makers or enforcers .... (Score 1) 313

Whether we like to admit it or not, this is pretty much always true....

Look at the police, as one example. They enforce all of the traffic rules about obeying speed limits, not passing someone without signaling first, etc. Yet you can watch any patrol car for an hour or so and witness multiple infractions. I've even seen them turn on the lights to get through some traffic, only to turn in to a shopping center parking lot where they killed the lights again and proceeded to go in to a restaurant to meet with their friends for lunch.

By virtue of having the job of enforcing the rules, they feel they earned the privilege of optionally ignoring them when they "know it won't hurt anyone else".

I'm sure this happens all the time in situations where "Internet access is banned" or "heavily monitored". People in situations where they think they can circumvent those rules are going to do so, because it kind of sucks working in the place 8 hours every day under those restrictions.

The rules aren't "stupid", necessarily. But they may well be heavy-handed tactics that amount to swatting flies with sledgehammers.

Comment re: gull wing doors (Score 1) 145

I retrofitted the doors on my Hyundai Genesis Coupe to open "lambo style", similar to this, some years ago.
In theory, there are some practical advantages to the design, including ability to get in and out when you're parked in a tight space. (Many times in parking garages, I've found they painted the lines so narrowly spaced to maximize capacity that you can't get in or out without your door touching the car next to you. Vertical "scissor" or "lambo" doors would solve this problem.)

In reality though? I found that it's definitely an engineering challenge that requires a lot more care and expense in the design to do it "right". Even with the kit I used, which was supposedly "best in class", I found the metal hinges used weren't made of a thick enough steel to avoid a lot of flexing. (Once you have a door open, up in the air -- it acts like a big lever when wind blows against it.) And the shocks that help hold the door up and make it easy to open and close are subject to wear over time. After a year or two, it's likely it won't hold a door up at the exact same height as the door on the other side of the car. There were also finicky adjustments that had to be made so the door closed just right when it was pulled closed. Generally, they'd get out of adjustment and need tweaking every 6 months or so.

I can see how all of this could be addressed better in a car designed to use them from the start, vs. a retrofit. But the experience convinced me that you're going to pay a big premium for doors that open this way, and it's likely to be more of a maintenance issue than standard doors and hinges.

Comment re: nails (Score 1) 600

Yeah.... I actually tried to Google to re-locate the original article I read about this, but I'm not coming up with it right now.
There was a big manufacturer of your standard issue nails used in home construction who really suffered from Chinese counterfeits that started coming in. They hired a detective who tried to track down the manufacturer in China, only to find the supposed business address belonged to an abandoned warehouse.

Comment Re :Re:Dear Apple fans (Score 1) 471

Long time Apple user here.

A couple things here:

1. Apple has large profit margins on all of its products. If they have other incentives for bringing production of products like the iPhone back to America, they can certainly accept a smaller margin on each unit to help offset higher production costs. It's all a matter of what makes economic sense in the grand scheme of things. (Don't forget - there's some potential marketing value in saying it's "Made in the USA" too.)

2. A lot of manufacturing of electronics in general is done in countries like China because they don't care about the environmental damage the production does. (They've got entire cities full of pollution and at least one river that's basically poison flowing through it.) That's an economic decision in and of itself though. China is essentially trading some of its natural resources and national health for ability to stay competitive (if not the ONLY one) making these goods. IMO, this is the "dirty little secret" of why America let a lot of those jobs go overseas in the first place. We didn't want to incur the environmental impact ourselves. For better or for worse, nobody really has figured out a method of roll the true environmental costs of production into things. (This is why you hear about "carbon credit" schemes and the like.... All additional economic mechanisms to attempt to factor in those costs in the price of things like electric power generation and direct them to mitigating the damage. But IMO, all still greatly flawed because we can't trust the entities collecting the money to use it solely for that purpose.)

Comment Re:Great for China! (Score 1) 600

I don't see how your conclusion is necessarily true at all?

America is not "economically withdrawing from the world" any time soon, no matter what you believe based on Trump's announcements.
For far too long though, we've been complacent about letting China upset the true economics of manufacturing certain goods. China likes to do such things as flood the market with items sold well below cost (subsidized by their government), just to ensure it's impossible to sell competing products made in America or elsewhere. When they run the competition out of business or marginalize them, then they slowly try to bring prices back up again (often by discontinuing the products they were selling previously and releasing supposedly "new, improved" versions to justify the price increase which is *actually* just an adjustment to remove the government subsidy that was kicked in to reach the break-even point on cost of manufacture).

We've had all sorts of problems with such things as counterfeit Chinese drywall, nails, and wood flooring products too -- where the products were substandard and not able to meet basic safety standards.

Withdrawing from allowing so much of this dishonest "trade" from happening with China is NOT the same thing as withdrawing from world trade!

Comment Wait, I thought only Apple was ever guily of this? (Score 1) 50

Seriously though .... I'm not especially well versed in the details of Malaysian government, but it seems they're a Constitutional Monarchy.

As an American citizen, I've never felt that comfortable with a monarchy or any kind of dictatorship securing the rights and freedoms of individuals. At best, a "benevolent dictatorship" is just a temporarily condition, happened upon by the citizens as "pure luck". A monarchy where the appointed king or queen follows a constitution is better, assuming a well written constitution. But again, enforcement of it would fall to the discretion of the ruler, vs. a whole system of checks and balances to help ensure some of it takes place EVEN if the leader isn't too keen on enforcing it.

This unfortunate situation sounds like it's common practice in Malaysia right now, which tells me nobody with the ability to change it in government really has an interest in taking action to do so.

Comment re: replacing drivers w/automated vehicles (Score 1) 540

This is an example of a significant change were a new technology is VERY disruptive to the status-quo. But it's not exactly unprecedented either. How much labor was disrupted in traditional farming when automation came to that sector?

An awful lot of truck drivers I knew didn't just choose it as a "first career" and let it become the only skill they had, though. Many were actually working in other fields, like in I.T. as computer techs, when they decided trucking paid better and gave them less stress. The fact it qualifies as relatively unskilled labor means it's a field that was relatively fluid. People could just get disgusted with an aspect of their existing office job, take some driving courses, and move over to trucking.

In that sense, I think many of them will be just fine adapting to change and doing something else for a living. It will only pose a big problem if the automation comes too rapidly. Personally, I think it won't -- because there are still many challenges in the "last mile" part of delivery. Automated trucks won't be able to properly handle all the situations that come up with requests to drop off deliveries in different places than originally scheduled, for example. (I used to work for a steel fabricator, and drivers *always* had interesting situations come up when customers asked for steel to be dropped off for home construction. It's not like they all had proper loading docks to pull up to. Sometimes you'd wind through miles of unmarked dirt roads in a forest to find some drop-off place described as "past the cut down trees and stumps, in the small field with some hay bales sitting in it".)

Comment Social media is just the AGGREGATOR (Score 1) 624

Social media isn't the problem as long as it doesn't get into the business of publishing news articles itself. "Facebook News Network" isn't really a thing yet, for example. When people complain that social media helps promote fake news, that's really just a complaint that people are reading these fake news sites, accepting what they read as truthful, and passing them on as recommended reading for their friends.

As an Independent, politically, I'm getting incredibly tired of seeing everything framed as a 2 dimensional "left vs. right" debate. That's why you see all this division (claims that "The Right" are full of stupid, gullible people believing all the fake news, or claims that the left-wing idiots won't accept the truth when it's held in front of their faces).

Reality is, there's no confidence in the mass media anymore, because it doesn't make the effort to provide well researched, unbiased news. Decades ago, the TV news went from a "loss leader" to a big profit center. The focus became entertaining as many people as possible to boost ratings. So jovial anchor-people with silly banter back and forth, or the "weather bunny" became more important than spending money on deep research of a story. And we all know how the newspapers have been hurting since people don't want to pay for one thrown on their doorstep each morning, and advertising in them has been rendered ineffective vs. online alternatives. Combine all of that with many news outlets getting bought out by the same few moguls, and you have a homogenizing of the news. No matter what you read or watch, it tends to learn towards the agenda of the owner of the networks -- and everything else is based on the same "news wire" stories they all obtain and rehash.

If you're a blogger with really limited resources but a motivation to start your own "alternative news site", chances are, you approach it with a strong bias too. That's what motivates you to keep going with it. You have viewpoints that you feel everyone else is ignoring, so you try to emphasize them. This is how we got to such sites as InfoWars or NaturalNews. Offering a strong bias that appeals to an "under-recognized" minority of readers/listeners is a combination for success -- even if it muddies the waters for people just trying to get the facts.

As for the "fact checking" sites like Snopes? The consensus I've seen is that they USED to be pretty unbiased, but ALSO took on more of the internet "chain letters" and other nonsense that was easy to disprove as fraudulent, without attaching any political slant. (If a supposed letter promising a free can of tuna or soda is proven to be fake, nobody considers it a left-wing or right-wing issue.) Lately, they seem to come up much more often when debating something said by the Democrats or Republicans -- and I think a bias toward the left is starting to show. (I don't have links handy at the moment, but I've noticed a few times where Snopes tried to deny a claim against a liberal politician as false. But upon reading their explanation, it was clear they gave an incomplete answer and ignored some of the reasons people on the Right had concerns it was true.) I think they're still a site worth reading -- but certainly not the "end all, be all" answer. (I don't believe the owners of Snopes had any particular credentials making them better than the rest of us at fact checking either?)

Comment Re:This is silly (Score 1) 315

Complete bullshit? Tell that to our I.T. group. Our company uses about 60% Macs throughout the business, with offices in major cities all over the country. In the last 6 years or so, we've had exactly *1* issue with malware on a Mac, and it was easily removed by running a copy of the OS X version of Malware Bytes on it.

The Windows PCs we use, by contrast, regular have issues with malware, scare-ware, and viruses. We had to purchase ESET antivirus for all of them and centrally manage it from a server, and *still* run into occasional problems.

Comment Re:This is silly (Score 1) 315

Yeah.... true statement. Ultimately, you buy a Mac because you decide you prefer OS X as an operating system. That includes such things as liking the increased resistance to malware and virus attacks, and the ability to take it in to a local Apple store in most major cities and get in person training or help using it. It may also be a choice made because you plan to be a heavy user of one of the software applications that only runs on a Mac, like Final Cut Pro X or Logic Pro X.

With the latest Macbook Pro, the "touch bar" is really the biggest unique feature. If you're fascinated enough with that whole concept, then that's going to be a strong reason to buy the new Macbook Pro instead of *anything* available from other vendors right now. The alternative that Windows systems are taking is using a touch-screen enabled portable, vs. Apple's belief that touch-screens aren't the optimal input device -- so instead, they do the touch-bar that changes icons dynamically with the software you run.

Personally, I'm a long-time Mac user and I can't get that excited by the new Macbook Pro machine. I mean, sure -- I'd love to have one of the high-spec configurations, if only to get the new 3D video chipset (AMD Polaris) and the touch bar to play with, plus a 2TB SSD inside. But no WAY can I justify its cost, especially when I own a 15" Retina Macbook Pro from 2015 that's still a very capable, nice computer.

Right now, the portables I like the best for the money on the Windows side would be the Dell XPS 13 and the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablet. Yes, it's a "tablet", but really - it runs as well as any desktop PC when you use a docking station with it and an external keyboard/mouse/monitor. Bad part with the Surface Pro 4 is you're strongly tied to only running Windows 10 as the OS on one. But it's probably the single best example of what Windows 10 can do for you on a portable, too. If you want Linux or a different edition of Windows, then yeah -- XPS 13.

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