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Comment Re:The SS/Medicare comment is pointless (Score 0) 339

The fact is (and you can look this up for yourself, the top 1% of taxpayers (all those really rich folks) pay 1/3 of all income taxes. The top half of all taxpayers (still considered rich by many here) pay 97% of all income tax. Over 40 million households pay no income tax at all. That's why it is so difficult to give a "fair" (not) tax break to the bottom half of the population. They don't pay enough tax to give them a cut on.

P.S. Of course, that's not the only tax burden people acquire. Sales taxes aren't based on income, so you can say the 'poor' are unfairly burdened by a tax like that. And, so, too do widows on social security being taxed out of their homes because of high property taxes. So I'm not satying the poor are fairly taxed.

But I do get sick and tired of people claiming the burden of income taxes is on the rich when the 'rich' (depending on how you define them: Usually those who make more than you do) pay 97% of the income taxes already.

Comment Re:Just wait until Linux becomes popular! (Score 2, Interesting) 141

I've seen many compromised Linux machines sending out spam. Especially prevalent in Germany, where 1&1 and similar mass hosters provide hosted very cheap rental of Linux servers.

Of course, the issues are the same as those of compromised Windows systems:

* Not up to date on security patches
* Admin doesn't know what he's doing
* Using insecure legacy versions of software

Comment Re:Publishing the ACTA negotiations (Score 2, Interesting) 81

According to what I've read, that is exactly why it's behind closed doors. Apparently the first thing that happens is each country makes ridiculous claims, and they ask for ridiculous deals, and then they slowly work their way back to reality. If it was all in the public eye, everything would be nice and politically correct, but they would never agree or disagree on anything for fear of exposure and they would never get to the guts of the treaty in the public eye. Really disingenuous that they are only inviting those pushing for the treaty and not those that are against such legislation. Makes the discussion and perspective rather one sided.

Does anyone know if this will be an 'executive' treaty, or one that will have to be ratified by 2/3 of the Senate? I can't imagine that regardless of what goes behind closed doors, the voting public will be too kind to any politician that sells it's citizens down the river.

Comment The proper measure involves calculus (Score 1) 188

Time/Money is a poor metric for reasons many have posted. I think my formula is pretty decent. It is a pretty good approximation of my actual feelings about a game. Let f(t) be the function of fun over the course of a game. Let E be the constant that represents my average entertainment during my freetime (when I could choose to play a video game or not). Then the value of a game to me is the (integral on t of (f() - E)) / (cost of the game + small constant) + various bonus constants. These various constants tip the scales a bit but don't generally massively change the overall value. They include positive bonuses for: * Open Source * Cross Platform * "Independently" developed Games that have done very well by this metric: * Civilization I, II, IV, Alpha Centauri, the original Colonization * Half Life (original) + free Counterstrike and Day of Defeat mods * Dwarf Fortress ( * Company of Heroes * Starcraft and Warcraft II

Comment Re:Anything animated (Score 1) 507

I try as much as possible to unblock sites I visit frequently and want to support, but it's practically impossible for me to concentrate on reading an article with some damn flashing/spinning ad vying for my attention. When these appear too frequently I have no choice but to put the site back on the block list.

I have the same problem. Animated adds make the site effectively useless to me. However, as I care more about my sanity (such as it is) than someone elses economy, I block as much as possible.

Comment Medicaid (Score 2, Interesting) 116

I can't speak to all of the poster's comments, but I can address the Medicaid point. I have worked for over 25 years for Medicaid contractors and have done so in 14 states, so I have a pretty good perspective on the pluses and minuses of outsourcing this service. Medicaid is usually the largest line item in a state's budget. Consequently, IT and other services required to run the program are not only expensive, but highly visible. Many state bureaucracies have concluded that they do not want to risk such exposure and are willing to pay for the privilege of pointing their fingers at a contractor whenever there are problems. Most of these contracts' operational expenses pay for non-IT services such as mail room, data entry, call center, and other staff. These personnel fall into the same category as the janitors, security personnel, and others that the poster identifies. Most of these contracts require the contractor to develop at a fixed price a system for the state to be used in the operations phase of the contract. State IT units are unwilling to take on such risk and, instead, only develop systems on a cost-plus basis. Most of these contracts require the contractor to supply a minimum number of IT staff devoted to change orders, so the contractor only makes additional money when the volume of change orders exceeds the capacity of the contracted minimum of staff. Additionally, maintenance required for bug fixes is usually not a reimbursable expense. Again, contractors are required to assume risk that states will not take on. Health care administration is a rapidly changing (You cannot imagine the impact of HIPAA on health care administrators, public and private), and contractors with multiple contracts are much better able to understand the changing environment, develop solutions for the changes, and leverage experience from all of their contracts for the benefit of each individual contract. Although there are only about five contractors in this market, the competition is brutal, resulting in lower prices for states. Although it would seem that states lose valuable expertise when an incumbent contractor loses a re-bid, the reality is that people working for the old contractor tend to go to work for the new contractor.

Are these contractors perfect? Absolutely not. I have seen failures that could only be resolved by kicking the contractor out. This is obviously painful to the contractor, but very disruptive to the state. States could save themselves this disruption by changing some of their procurement rules (e.g., the bidder with the lowest bid price exceeds a minimum technical score) that reward lower quality proposals. They could also increase the Medicaid program's performance by optimizing their end-to-end business processes prior to issuing an RFP. Many states' business processes are fundamentally broken. If you compare the head count used in a state-staffed operation vs. the head count used in a contractor-staffed operation, you often see a two- or three-to-one difference. Medicaid RFPs are notoriously ambiguous and routinely include phrases such as "including but limited to" in requirements statements. Fully modeled and documented processes generate fully developed use cases.

Comment Map the whole planet, please (Score 1) 66

I don't really get the point of this. The goal should be to map the entire surface of the planet using a system that maximizes each pass as much as possible. Crowd sourcing the poking around for interesting details is fine once you have those pictures, but people are only going to be interested in doing this for a short while. Having them work on low-res proxies for the short duration of their interest is failing to utilize their energy properly, imho.

What I'm saying is that if responding to user requests means failing to take as many useful pictures as possible, then that is a waste.

Comment He's going to pay Google right? (Score 1) 95

"So Google -- which has never been in the content business -- will become the all-important vehicle that will deliver the punters to the Dow Jones walled garden of news."

So if I understand this correctly, after railing about how Google was leeching off of others without paying a dime, Hinton is now going to use Google for his own profit without paying Google a dime...

Comment Let the market price them (Score 4, Interesting) 429

I realize it makes too much sense for the RIAA to ever agree to it, but the prices should be based on demand. If a song gets downloaded a lot at $.99, then bump it to $1.29. If a song isn't getting downloaded, then drop the price to $.69. That way if a song becomes hot for some reason, they would get more money, and if a song is forgotten, the bargain shoppers will be more inclined to buy it (assuming you could search by price).

Comment Smart Move (Score 4, Insightful) 204

This actually makes sense. The most important thing for a software company to be successful is to have people who know how to use their software. Which is why student prices and Learning Editions exist. And there have been reports that some laid off workers are starting their own companies, so getting your software into the hands of those people would be a smart move, too.

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