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Comment Re:People have workflows. (exactly) (Score 2) 354

I often see people asking why so many users are willing to keep shelling out all the money it costs for products like Adobe Acrobat Pro, when free or inexpensive commercial or shareware alternatives are all over the place that would allow you to edit a PDF document and save a modified copy. Same goes for Adobe Photoshop, or even Microsoft Office.

The answer is most cases is that the familiarity makes it worthwhile. I mean, yes, in a minority of cases, you actually have users who need advanced features or functionality that's not provided by any of the alternatives. But I'd say the vast majority of the time, it's simply that someone spent years using those "name brand" products for the work they do, and switching to something else that has menu options in totally different places, and toolbars with different icons for the functions they're after doesn't seem like a good value to them.

Comment Privacy issues aside? (Score 1) 67

This is asking for headaches and issues because you're forcing all of your mail and calendar/contact data to get stored TWICE and synced properly and rapidly between both entities consistently, at all times. Twice the risk of something going wrong with 2 major points of failure in the mix.

Comment Doesn't mean much but .... (Score 1) 215

It seems like the artificial sweeteners have been implicated as potential health threats for various reasons over the years. IMO, it's very possible that at least a few of them really do have negative side effects.

I agree with the people who questioned why you'd drink diet soda anyway? It always has a weird chemical aftertaste. Yes, like most things, you can get used to it after a while. But why bother? There's nothing redeeming, health-wise, about drinking a soda -- so it has no upsides there. Seems like you may as well get used to the flavor of something else instead like tea if you're just drinking it to avoid sugar and you want something with more flavor than plain water.

I'm kind of a regular soda fan, myself. Bad habit? Sure, but I really enjoy Dr. Pepper and Mr. Pibb and several of the others. But at least I don't feel like I'm compromising flavor when I drink one -- and I know the downsides of sugary drinks. It's not a big question-mark like artificial sweetener chemicals that were often discovered and produced initially for very different purposes.

Comment Might be an unpopular opinion, but .... (Score 2, Insightful) 251

I'm just going to point out that the public schools in poor districts who supposedly "never got Internet yet" OR are supposedly in real need of reduced cost Internet broadband because they can't afford to pay the "going rate" for it are, indeed, PUBLIC schools.

When you hear about our failing school systems and those pushing to allow tax dollars to fund sending their kids to private alternatives via a voucher system of some sort -- this is a good example of why. Any government run public school that's so bad off, it still hasn't even obtained Internet access is a FAILURE. It doesn't need subsidized broadband to fix it. It need to be completely gutted and overhauled! Tax dollars pay for everything it does already. If that's not sufficient to pay its bills for things like its Internet connection, then it's not really viable.

Comment Re:$70k? (Score -1, Flamebait) 268

Oh, so $70,000 is meaningless to you?

I think savings is important wherever you can find it. The fact that Federal govt. spends such amazingly huge amounts of our money (and it *is* our money, after all -- since it comes from taxes) shouldn't mean they can ignore wasteful spending on a small scale.

I'm not exactly a Trump supporter, but things are so polarized right now, I hear nothing but negative talk about pretty much any decision the guy makes in office. In reality? I see no value in making visitor logs immediately available for anybody who decided to visit the White House? I would expect they'd have a bit tighter security than to just make that info openly available, actually. So Obama, IMO, went about that the wrong way.

Comment Lesser praised sci-fi .... (Score 2) 1219

As you as you start talking about "all times favorites", I think the well known movies like Star Wars come to mind for most of us. I agree with another poster that the first Matrix movie was also top-notch. That one bothers me though, only because the sequels derailed some of the things I liked best about the original. Basically, they took the story to different places I didn't think benefited it and I would have been happier if parts 2 and 3 were never made at all.

One of the low budget sci-fi flicks I really enjoyed, though, was "The Cube". In fact, the limited resources and "unknowns" used as actors and actresses add to the enjoyment because IMO, the whole cast did an amazing job and it's intriguing how so much suspense could be created with a backdrop that's typically just empty white rooms.

Comment Re:Boring alternative theory (Score 1) 173

I don't think that theory really explains what's happening, although it's a clever idea.
There's still just as much use for a long lead-in to talk over, today, as there ever was. Even in the world of streaming, you have a lot of streaming radio that still uses DJs talking between songs. Sirius/XM satellite radio, for example, is doing a lot of business offering a streaming version of the same stations you traditionally paid to listen to over the satellite transmissions.

Most likely, this trend just shows the importance of catching the listener's ear ASAP, so they don't click on to the next track without giving it a chance.

If you think about it, at least with rock music, there was an awful lot of it with long intros that were little more than some synthesizer chords held down or synth noises that an artist thought sounded kind of cool. It helped ensure they could fill both sides of a cassette tape or L.P. enough time so buyers felt like they got their money's worth - but that's not such a concern these days. (I believe Def Leppard's Pyromania is even an example of adding this "filler" at the end of the album ... with that long repeating sound effect after the "Don't Shoot Shotgun" song? That was done occasionally too.)

Comment Just more fiction for mental masturbation (Score 1) 131

I mean when it comes to money, it doesn't have any real meaning to a computer A.I. It does, however, mean pretty much everything to human beings directly involved in the market, in trading, and in the business of trying to generate maximum wealth.

That ensures that A.I. will never be allowed to spin out of control to create the "nightmare scenarios" one can create in their imagination.

It will only be implemented as far as it is able to assist people in performing the tasks they wish to perform manually anyway.

Comment I never expected the U.S. would on top, but ... (Score 3, Insightful) 903

That really ignores a few basic points.

First, the U.S. is a Democratic Republic, NOT a nation with a monarchy, a dictatorship, Communist rule, or Socialism. That puts it in a rather unique position as far as having a government structure that encourages less taxation and more self-reliance. (Not interested in trying to start the whole "which is better?" debate here... but just stating facts. I'd expect these other types of governance to impose higher taxes because they focus on the people working for the greater good of the whole, with government at the center, orchestrating things. In America, government is, at least in theory, "by the people, for the people" and exists to only do the basic tasks outlined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.)

Second, taxation in America is all spread out. The list of taxes is huge, and comes at the local and state level as much as at the Federal level. I'm no expert on the subject,but I'm confident that in many nations on their survey, taxation is much more centralized. In America, I can't even pay a cellphone or land line phone bill without getting hit with a list of various "nickle and dime" taxes for my municipality, city and state, followed by the Federally imposed ones like the FUSF (money they force you to pay to subsidize cheaper telecommunications offerings for the poor).

Comment re: devil's advocate about farming (Score 5, Insightful) 316

I'm not going to say I have strong evidence to disagree with your observations about farmers. But I do live in an area that's still largely rural, in Western Maryland. And my interactions with them (including doing some computer service work for a couple of them) tells me they're not very different from anyone else trying to remain successful, running their own small business.

Last I checked on tractor pricing, John Deere products suitable for farm use weren't exactly inexpensive, as it is. You really believe they're selling all of these tractors at or below their cost to build them? I'd like to see some evidence to back that claim up.....

I'm sure that this is just an attempt for the industry to find a new avenue to monetize its products -- seeing how far they can push the boundaries before the law pushes back. The auto industry would *love* to impose the same rules on every car and truck it sells -- but that change would impact so many people (including hundreds of thousands of independent garages, auto parts dealers, etc.) - it can't realistically enforce it right now.

Picking a relative niche market like farm tractor sales is a better strategy. John Deere knows that #1. it has enough market share so farmers can't go to that many alternatives to avoid them, and #2. it sells a product that's not just purchased for pleasure or convenience. The success of an entire season's crop is at stake.

Besides, it wasn't always this way. Not all that long ago, a John Deere tractor had no such software lock because the technology to implement it didn't even exist yet. Did you suddenly see tractor prices drop sharply when they decided to start subsidizing them with this forced maintenance?

Comment Same situation here, essentially ... (Score 1) 329

I attended a 2 year community college and worked towards an Associates' in Communication Arts. Came pretty close to getting it, with something like 8 credit hours left. But I was down to the classes I was least motivated to take, and an opportunity came along to help a guy I met who was taking a stab at getting a computer reseller shop going. So I dropped out and started working with him.

It sounds like I'm just trying to justify my decision and bash college if I say, "It was the best thing I could have done!" ... but in hindsight, I truly believe it was. I learned a great deal about PC hardware, building custom PC desktops and servers from the ground up. And because I wasn't just doing it on my own as a hobby, I got to work with a lot of high-end gear that was outside my own budget, and even got to blow a couple of things up when I made mistakes. (The shop owner didn't always pay me for my time because at that point, he couldn't afford to. So he was ok with having to "eat" the cost of a few screw-ups for the sake of my learning.) He let me try to get a side business going with a friend of mine, doing computer repair and consulting work, while running things out of his shop, too. That didn't go anywhere -- but at least it was more experience and cost me very little.

After that, I worked for various places as a computer "bench tech" -- mostly because of people I knew who already had jobs there and who vouched for me and my skills. That, in turn, led to my first real full-time corporate I.T. job in PC support as part of a small team. And I've worked in I.T. in various capacities ever since, including a stint running an actually successful on-site service and consulting business.

In all of my years of doing I.T. - I can honestly say that almost all of the best, brightest and most motivated individuals I ran across in the field were also folks who didn't have college degrees. I can think of one exception, but he majored in French and never took any computer-related college courses.

I'm not sure what to think of this Fast Company article Slashdot is referencing? It sounds pretty ridiculous if the only reason businesses are FINALLY trying to hire more non-degreed I.T. folks is some mission to get more "diversity". They've missed 25 or 30 years of opportunities to hire brilliant people if they've been tossing out resumes and job applications this whole time because the college degree was really a requirement for them.

But the kicker is, until recently, there really WAS little diversity among people interested in computers and tech! Degree or no degree -- the people who got hooked on this stuff years ago and invested decades of their lives learning it tended to be a pretty homogeneous group. The biggest change I see with the younger generation today is this idea that being weird is "the new cool". Pre-teens are some of the goofiest people around, and many embrace or at least have a "working knowledge" of all manner of sci-fi, fantasy, Japanese anime, and misc. oddities in anything from clothing and hairstyles to mannerisms and language. Plenty of females of any race or nationality are playing games like Minecraft. Smartphones are everywhere and teach everyone to have a familiarity with web services and Internet connectivity that was only the realm of a niche group in the past.

It might be the first time in history where you can actually start FINDING people other than white males from middle to upper-middle class backgrounds who have a real interest and skills in computers and tech.

Comment Focusing on the abuse? (Score 3, Interesting) 310

Problem is.... the H1B program is really only valuable to a company that plans on abusing it.

If you're a typical small or mid-sized business with a need for technical employees, it doesn't make sense to try to hire foreigners who have thick accents / language barriers, as well as a work history that's often a total "unknown" (since you can't just skim a resume and get an idea of their skills and knowledge based on who they worked for previously -- because you're likely not that familiar with any foreign firms they worked for).

I've worked my whole life in I.T. and know for a fact there are plenty of Americans with solid expertise in various parts of the field. I can barely imagine a scenario where nobody in America is competent in what's needed, while someone from over in India is just who they need? It's all about getting budget priced labor and nothing more.

At the end of the day, sure -- we're all human beings and have similar wants, needs, and hopes / desires. You can make an appeal to emotions about someone, anywhere in the world, who is in an unfortunate situation. But most of those are the result of the government their country is ruled by. America, for all of its faults, is still pretty good about ensuring its citizens enjoy a top-tier lifestyle. That doesn't mean we "owe" it to everyone else on the planet who'd like to come here and get in on the action.

Comment re: credit cards and cabs (Score 1) 200

I live in the DC metro area, but both in DC and in "provincial backwaters" like Chicago, there have been problems for YEARS with cabbies not wanting to take credit cards. Sure, they technically CLAIM they can do so. But check out how often they lie and tell you the card reader is broken/down, in an attempt to get cash instead.

Oh, and BTW -- another big problem with cabs? They like to refuse to pick you up if they know your destination crosses a state line. Happens all the time with folks who live in Virginia but want to take a cab to DC and back. The cab will happily bring them to DC, because they know they can easily pick up another fare there. But they'll find every excuse to refuse to take you back home again afterwards if it means they're going to end up in some suburb of VA.

Comment Re:They should unionize or form a not-for-profit U (Score 1) 200

I.T. people probably don't believe you because your scenario isn't that plausible.

There's going to be a big shake-up in the labor market thanks to advances in automation -- but that automation is going to be marketed, serviced and programmed/developed by people with I.T. skills.

A whole lot of automation is going to heavily rely on network connectivity, too. That means your Internet providers and people maintaining the wired or wireless networks are still going to be in high demand.

People need to be flexible enough to learn new skills and adapt, but that's always been true.

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