Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Maximize profits (Score 1) 46

If I'm going to spend extra just to keep money in the country, I'd rather it be taxed from me and redistributed as welfare rather than charged as a premium on products handled by a make-work project.

With welfare you're not enriching the already-rich at the top of the corporate structure, so you're giving much more efficiently to the people who need it.

That's an argument for a high-tariff structure (aka protectionist) economy. Basically raise the price of products so you no longer have an incentive to buy imports unless they aren't available locally. If you are fine with that type of economy, that's another way to go... Seems like we are headed that direction as countries are abandoning free trade agreements recently...

Comment Re:Maximize profits (Score 1) 46

Since we're all human, I don't really have a problem with leveling the playing field, so long as it happens slowly enough it doesn't disrupt my life on noticeable timescales.

History has shown that disruptions like this occur on noticeable timescales.

In North America in the 1980's, the Japanese car disruption happened on a very short timescale and directly displaced 185,000 automotive jobs between June 1981 and November 1982 (not counting the indirect jobs lost because of the economic multiplier effect) before things began to stabilize. A voluntary trade restraint was negotiated between Japan and the US and of course Japan started manufacturing of cars in North America which contributed to the stabilization of the employment situation and return to '70's level of automobile industry employment (and of course it's been in a much slower decline since then).

Of course maybe for a short while, your life will be isolated from this type of disruption, but you might consider your neighbor that loses their livelihood is as human as someone across the globe, so I would think they also deserve some small amount of consideration too, right? Maybe you might give a few seconds pause about that the next time you bypass the middle-man companies to buy direct from China using Ali-Express... At least Walmart keeps a few folks gainfully employed locally (and that is a very low bar)... Who knows, maybe that local person is the parent of a schoolmate of your kids (or your friend's kid, if you don't have any kids). Aren't they human too?

Comment Re:Nuclear Power - Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (Score 1) 37

The missing piece of this article is that China is dumping a lot of money into developing thorium nuclear power. In comparison, Uranium is expensive, hard to dispose of, way too radioactive, and terribly inefficient.

You mean the one that the US Dept of Energy** is helping them build because they can't convince the US government to fund it?

In the meantime, overcapacity, cost overruns due to mounting safety requirements*** have delayed China's near term nuclear efforts. Maybe their future Thorium nuclear endeavors will go more smoothly...

It's good to have optimism about new things, but sometimes thorium cheerleaders seem to have unwarranted optimism given the issues surrounding nuclear projects in the short history of nuclear power.

**Isn't that department headed by Rick Perry who as a candidate wanted to eliminate that department, but apparently couldn't remember it's name...

***The same cost overruns that have basically pushed Toshiba near bankruptcy and Areva towards a french government bailout

Comment The number is of little consequence to most (Score 3, Informative) 281

The actual number is of little consequence most.

In most bay area locales, Section 8 housing is basically unavailable for new applicants. Wait lists are estimated to be greater than 8-10 years or simply closed to new applicants until further notice because of essentially unbounded wait times and basically zero new section 8 housing inventory.

AFAIKT, the increases of these income threshold numbers only serve to keep a small amount of existing people (the vanishingly small fraction of the 17,000 total served by section 8 with reasonable jobs near the limit) from being kicked out of Section 8 housing simply by getting cost of living raises at work and forced to fend on their own...

Basically, section 8 is totally broken in the bay area and is a non-factor in housing. This adjustment doesn't really do anything either way to change this...

Comment Re:Oh noes (Score 1) 233

Capitalism will work better if sellers are forbidden to discriminate among buyers. It would be even better if buyers were forbidden to distinguish among sellers

First off, you are confusing capitalism with a free market. They explain different aspects of the economy.

That said, you then created a straw-man argument by providing what you consider a perfect free market and then shooing down why it is not economically realistic. I made no claim that a perfect free market is an achievable or even desirable situation. I merely provided a quid-pro-quo pithy aphorism to highlight different techniques each side of any economic exchange uses. If buyers want to take advantage of quick and easy access to price comparisons, they are hypocritical to also complain when sellers take advantage of similarly available information to perform price discrimination.

Comment Re:Oh noes (Score 1) 233

I'm confused. Exactly how does my asking another store for their price on a product somehow make it okay for a single store to charge different prices to different people for the exact same product?

If it helps to use an analogy, take offense and defense in any sport (sport may be a poor choice in Slashdot, but its the first that came to mind). Offense and defense and the rules which govern each both exist to create a competitive balance within the sport, but the techniques and rules used by each are almost always quite different. For instance if a linebacker tackles someone it is okay, but if an offensive lineman does the same it is a holding penalty.

Maintaining competitive balance does not mean everyone plays by the exact same rules. Each side plays by whatever rules are deemed necessary to maintain competitive balance.

In the case of a seller and buyer relationship, both sides are trying to maximize the value they extract from each sale. Buyers comparison shop, and sellers price discriminate. They are different tactics which are both used to level the playing field.

Comment Re:Mayer's failure actually WASN'T a failure... (Score 1) 152

Now, you can argue that some other CEO would have done better, or that the main reason for Yahoo!'s success under her tenure was the decision to invest in Alibaba, made by her predecessor, but speculation about what someone else might have done is unproductive, and she decided to stay with that investment.

I think you may have forgotten the details of this event where she sold 1/2 of their Alibaba shares to provide the funding for the turn-around attempt.

She also tried hard to create a tax-free sell/spinoff the rest of the Alibaba investment to Yahoo investors via an ill fated Aabaco manuever, but that didn't happen and what resulted in the end was Yahoo itself was sold off to Verizon leaving the shares Altaba (aka RemainCo which is Yahoo's remaining investments in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan essentially forever tied together in a under-performing tracking stock).

Meanwhile, the uncertainty of this ill-fated tax-free spin-off attempt clobbered most of the remaining value for shareholders until the sale. I'm not so sure this whole episode qualifies as a success under most metrics...

A better outcome (maybe it could be called successful) would be if she had executed the Aabaco tax-free sell/spinoff of the Alibaba shares to investors something that she didn't pull the trigger on even though most tax advisers thought it would work and provide the best stockholder value.

Comment Re:Fluid type manipulation with unions (Score 1) 405

Granted, you're not making it worse in any way by representing it with a union.

More to the point, you can't make it better by avoiding using a union. Because it's optimum as is.

The right tool for the right job.

pretty much the essence of obscure legacy cruft.

The job is the job. I have no problem using the right tool for the job.

Comment Re:Missing the point (Score 3, Informative) 94

Sorry Bram, but you are missing the point. Hashing is used in bitcoin precisely because it is useless. It can't be faked, and it can't be stored for later. It is an irrevocable commitment right now.

I wish you luck with monetizing distributed storage, or decentralized distribution, or whatever your new project ends up as. But the design of bitcoin is not a programming challenge for you to solve. It is a carefully interlocked design, made by someone (or some people) who has (or have) a far beyond average understanding of money and cryptography. Many people with less insight have attempted to "improve" things, and all have failed.

Well, I'm not defending Bram on his quest, but I would say that based on this presentation at least he seems to know enough to know that he doesn't know how to do it yet (which is one step above those that don't even know what they don't know yet)...

It all may be a failure in the end, but at least there is a germ of an idea in there (which is more than I can say for most snake oil).

Comment Re:structs and fundamental OO (Score 1) 405

You are just reinventing machine language where data, instructions, and address pointers can be mixed willy-nilly.

Because machine language varies hugely, and c varies little or none, when working on one platform and then another, c is a convenient low-level way to get as many advantages of working close to the metal (obvious ones are speed and executable size) as possible.

Higher-level languages merely try to introduce discipline and consistency to such practices.

Yes, they do. And in the process, they often cause the resulting product to suffer in speed and/or execution size (and the source code in clarity.) When "mere" means "the product is less good", I translate it as "not mere."

There are reasons to go one way or another. It's not as simple as "HLL's are always better." Sometimes even machine language is the best place to go, embedded controllers with limited storage and small tasks that must be accomplished efficiently, for instance.

Comment Impartial journalism? (Score 1) 164

impartial journalism is entirely possible.

It's certainly possible, but if you can actually show me an instance of it, I'd be quite surprised. I don't recall seeing such a thing. Ever.

There's selection bias, where the story that is told is not the only story, and/or leaves out pertinent details that variously pollute the information transfer to the information consumer. This occurs at the publisher, editorial, reporter and information source levels.

There are errors in collecting information, which can be characterized as "impartial but wrong" which entirely undermines the value of "impartial."

There's the social underpinning, such as the assumptions by the platform from publisher down to reporter buy into memes like the drug war, human trafficking, mommyism, military adventurism, etc. as right and proper undertakings and tell stories in the context of the presumptive matrix that results from those memes.

There's ad-pumping, where the advertising pays more money in when more eyes are attracted, which creates a loop based on popularity rather than accuracy.

There's comment "moderation", where "I disagree / am offended / am trolling" can strongly affect visibility of information -- depending on the site, that can come from privileged (and usually wholly unqualified) individuals, as here on slashdot, or from the crowd, as on reddit.

It all adds up to an extremely formidable gauntlet that information has to run in order to get from wherever it arises over to the consideration of the consumer.

And, not that it's part of the problem of actually achieving impartial journalism, but were you to completely get past every aspect of that somehow, then you still have to find an impartial audience or all that work is for nothing.

IOW, if you manage to present the facts, all the facts, nothing but the facts, and your audience cries "fake news" or drags prejudice, superstition, confirmation bias, or anything from a very long list of similar cognitive failure modes into it, well, there you go. You might as well have written an SF novel.

Comment Just an overview (Score 1) 164

If there's anything I've learned about journalism in the last 41 years, it's that everyone puts their own slant on it.

o Publishers - slant, selection bias
o Advertisers - selection bias on source and slant by rewarding max eyeballs
o Editors - slant, selection bias for stories
o Reporters - slant, selection bias for sources
o Information sources - slant, winners get to write history
o Reader's choice of media - slant, selection bias's not like it's showing any signs of getting better, either.

Comment Re:No one makes anyone buy anything. (Score 5, Insightful) 233

Prices vary everywhere for a myriad of reasons.

Yes, but not for the same reasons. What the net is allowing companies to do is charge different prices for the same exact product based on their assessment of the consumer. Would you accept a store charging you more for food because their magical sensor at the door (or in your fridge) has detected that your starving, or because they deduced from your clothes that you're more likely to pay more?

What dipshit anti-capitalist doesn't realize is that there are websites and tools that consumers can use to maximize they buying power to get the best price.

"Sir, if you don't like to pay 50 euros for that loaf of bread, I'd like you to know there are tools you can use to look for cheaper deals on bread. Just make sure to clean your cookies and log out of any social networks and put a bag over your head to avoid facial recognition, and remember to enter the store in between 10 and 11:30 and you'll get the maximal discount. But don't be late, the rush hour of bread begins at 11:35 and prices double, or triple for those with a higher education."

Would you be fine with companies treating consumers like this in the physical world? That instead of a price tag on a product conveying the price information openly to everyone the tags would be empty codes that you scan and then get the price, 'tailored just for you' on your phone?

The problem is most people don't realize that this is even happening so many people think the price they're getting from say, some flight booking site is the same as it is for everyone else. They've no idea that the price may well be affected by their past searches on the site and other online behavior.

Currently on products and services using this kind of pricing there's no way for a consumer to know the true 'base price' of the product they're buying. This means that a lot of the price information is completely lost, meaning that the price mechanism no longer functions as it used to. Discount information is always shown to the customer obviously, but under these systems it's possible that even the supposed 'discounted price' you're getting is higher than what the guy next door is paying without any discounts if the price before discount for you was set higher based on your identifier information.

Price search services themselves are not a magical solution to this because they do not remove this issue. You still have no way of knowing whether or not the 'cheapest price' given to you by a search engine is the same as the 'cheapest price' given to someone else using a different operating system or a device and who hasn't queried the same product a couple times before.

I'm no anti-capitalist, but in the name of a free and fair trade I do believe consumers are entitled to equal treatment and transparency when it comes to prices. I'm not saying it's wrong for a company to charge you less/more because of X, Y or Z. I'm saying if that is done you should have access to those modifiers and see why they're charging that extra or giving that discount for you. It's likely true that many of the sites would lose business doing this, but that in and of itself should highlight you the problem at hand: keeping the modifiers secret currently only benefits the sellers and weakens the position of the consumer on the market by hiding information.

Comment Re:Oh my (Score 1) 195

Were you required to take this oath? Did you ever repeat it in front of anyone?

As systems administrators, we are given and entrusted with over arching powers to serve others. It is our duty and special trust to do so, given to us by our employers and a covenant with our users not to abuse those powers. It is a trust, given to us by sometimes complete strangers. It is a special relationship, easily abused for personal gain or for plain spite.

I can see that this relationship is not understood, nor honored.
I just don't understand that view point.

Slashdot Top Deals

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers. -- Pablo Picasso