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Comment Re:akin to.... (Score 1) 102

This is one of the things I've never understood about restaurants in the U.S. and Europe. In Korea (and I suspect a lot of other Asian countries), each table in the restaurant has a button. When you want a waiter, you push the button. It adds your table number to a list of tables requesting service, and the waiter(s) simply goes to each one in the order their button was pressed. No wasted trips by the waiter just to ask if you need anything when you don't, no wasted time waiting for a waiter to randomly wander by just so you can ask for a glass of water.

Comment And immediately after (Score 2) 159

They feel compelled to share their experience online. This is starting to sound like people who like to point out they don't own a TV. (And yes I know that's a satire site. It's funny because it hints at the true motivation of people who claim they like to buck the trend.)

Lots of people go offline for an extended period of time. Hikers, campers, sailors, hunters, etc. They just don't make a big deal about it (online) as the folks who do it so they can brag about it online. That's the key difference, not whether or not you choose to go offline for a while. Are you doing it to participate in an activity you can enjoy without having to be online? Or are you doing it so you can brag about it online (e.g. post selfies you took while touring Yellowstone)? That's the point musicians are trying to make at concerts when they tell people to put away their phones. It's not that phones or the Internet is evil and you need to take time away from them. It's that you have this wonderful event going on right in front of you in real life, and you're missing it because you're too busy staring at your phone. You're trying to record the experience so you can "re-live" it later, but in doing so you're missing out on the actual experience, which defeats the whole purpose.

That's the important thing - that you prioritize your enjoyment of that real-world experience while it's happening over your ability to re-live it later or share the experience online. Not how many hours or days you can go while offline.

Comment There's a bigger issue here (Score 0) 238

The right of self-determination. The freedom for you to live your life as you wish, making choices for yourself as you see fit, not as someone else thinks you should live.

So it boils down to which of these noble rights you think is greater. The right of self-determination, or the right for society to attempt to rid itself of certain diseases. Unfortunately, when resolving conflicts between two noble rights, most people stack the deck. They pick a scenario which supports their predetermined conclusion. For those supporting vaccination (note: I support vaccination), this usually means proffering the scenario of someone refusing to vaccinate their children, resulting in their children getting sick and the disease spreading to others because of lack of herd immunity.

Just to play devil's advocate, someone arguing the opposite extreme would bring up the case of a corrupt government staying in control by locking up and drugging "troublemakers" (aka dissidents). The reality usually lies somewhere between these two extremes.

As I said, I believe in and support vaccination. However, I cannot in good conscience support forcing people who don't believe in it to be vaccinated. At least not with our current system of government. If you do not grant that right of self-determination to others, on what basis can you argue that others should grant it to you? If there were less corruption in government, if I were more confident about the safeguards build into it, then I would probably go the other way. But based on what I've seen, no. History is replete with those in power doing harmful things to others against their wishes with the best of intentions. Our current government simply should not have the power to require everyone be injected with medicines of its choosing. If that makes me fall within your definition of an anti-vaxxer, then so be it.

The way I see it, the anti-vaxxer problem needs to be solved by educating people so they will make the correct decision on their own. Not by subjugating refusers and forcing them to do something against their will. Yes I know that's the hard way. But the easiest way would be to simply put a bullet in their heads. Denying them the right of self-determination is halfway to denying them their life. (It's interesting to note that people who've grown up in or have experienced repressive governments tend to think the right of individual self-determination is paramount. While those who have lived all their lives under a benign government tend to be the ones who think society's rights should overrule the individual's. I'll leave it to you to figure out which of these groups is deciding based on experience and evidence, and which is deciding based on naive idealism.)

Comment Re:"New company?" (Score 4, Informative) 79

If Fred Terman could see your company now, he'd kick Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard out of EE school and then shoot himself.

FWIW, Bill Hewlett and his son fought tooth and nail against gutting HP of everything except the computer and printer businesses, and the merger with Compaq. (Dave Packard died in 1996 before these shenanigans began.) They lost. The board and Fiorina won, and "succeeded" in turning HP from a high-tech company into a computer/printer parts reseller (buy tech developed by other companies like Intel, Samsung, Nvidia, and assemble them into a computer to sell to the general public).

Comment True for most "confidential" databases (Score 2) 185

Not just law enforcement. It's why you shouldn't store private data unencrypted on cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive. Like Ned from GoT thinking a piece of paper signed by the king was going to protect him, you're a fool if you think some company policy prohibiting employees from perusing client data is going to protect you. Those cloud services really should be offering client-side encryption as a standard feature. That they don't should tell you that they are making money by browsing through your files to glean data about you that they can sell to others.

Comment They have the best generic shopping search engine (Score 1) 141

Mind you it's not very good, includes a lot of stuff relevant to one of your search terms but irrelevant to your search because it lacks another keyword, and is missing a lot of options like being able to sort the results by rating but exclude the things with just 1-2 reviews.

Google Shopping used to be better, but about 1-2 years ago they redid the format of the search results page. Clicking on the name of the search result used to give you the list of all stores which sold the item. Now both it and the "Shop" button send you directly to the first vendor selling the item (probably the one which paid Google the most). To get the list, you now have to click the little text that says "Compare prices". And some time this year the search results stopped being a spot-on match for your search terms. Putting terms in quotes no longer excludes results which don't have that term, so the results page is as polluted with irrelevant results as Amazon's search results.

Amazon also has better sort options for the reviews. Their "most helpful review" system really helps filter out the crappy two-word reviews and bring the thorough ones up to the top. Google Shopping's reviews are aggregated from multiple sources, and only recently have they begun to allow you to view reviews only from certain sources. It's aggravating enough that I do my initial search on Amazon, then do a price comparison search on Google Shopping. A lot of useful third party services like camelcamelcamel and fakespot also tie in to the Amazon reviews.

Newegg still has the best shopping search engine IMHO. But they only sell tech stuff.

Comment They're not similar at all (Score 1) 75

Coal was a new energy source - a way to replace human and animal labor with machine labor. This resulted in huge productivity gains (measured in productivity per person - productivity per Joule expended actually went down because coal energy was so much cheaper than human labor meaning inefficient machines could still be cheaper). The MO was dirt simple - take anything that used to require people or animals to expend effort to do, make a machine to do it, and power the machine with coal.

Data is just data. Aside from a few data-processing tasks which have already been automated (OCR, statistical analysis), there is no dirt simple way to use data to reduce human labor. You can eek out a small productivity gain by using it to improve the efficiency of marketing (e.g. don't show bra ads to men), but that's pretty much it. The productivity gain is what's necessary to make it "better" than previous ways of doing things. Improvements in economic efficiency show up as productivity gains.

Popularity is one way (probably the best way) to leverage data. You can use it to determine what's popular and position the marketing of your products in that direction. But that's a zero-sum game. Any increased sales you gain because you marketed your products better directly reduces sales of other competing products. This is totally different from coal (and oil) which enabled new methods of production, and thus weren't zero-sum.

Comment Re:I'm just waiting for the endgame here (Score 1) 308

The endgame I see is:

1) The old-school content industry companies succeed at implementing draconian copyright laws, and place exorbitant prices on the content they control.
2) Newer content industry companies place sane prices on their content.
3) Old-school companies gradually go bankrupt as fewer and fewer people elect to pay their prices when much cheaper alternatives are available, and artists realize they can get pretty much the same distribution while keeping 70% of the revenue for themselves, instead of the 5%-10% the old-school companies give them. Prices can drop to about 1/5th the current prices and the artists will still come out ahead.

Sites like YouTube, Pandora, Spotify are the great equalizer here. The upstart indie band has as much access to them as the band which signed up with the old-school industry's publicity engine (e.g. contracts to play only their music on most of the radio stations in the U.S.). It's not like the old days where production and distribution was hard and expensive. The cost of those has dropped to near zero thanks to technology and the internet, leaving the old-school industry no leverage to maintain their original prices except copyright law.

That's why they fought tooth and nail to price Internet music streaming services out of business, and keep suing YouTube over and over. Once these music streaming sites allow you search for "similar" music based on algorithmic aural similarity and the preference of other users, that'll give exposure to indie artists who haven't paid the old-school companies for publicity. The "best" songs will then rise to the top organically, instead of because they paid their blood tax to the old-school companies who aggressively and exclusively marketed them on the radio stations and the Billboard top 100.

The closest analogy I can think of is generic pharmaceuticals. Once the patent on a drug expires, anyone can make and sell them at much lower prices than the name brand. The name brand version is still around, but doesn't sell anywhere near as much as it used to because generics take away most of their market share. The main difference is there's no expensive R&D stage needed to find new drugs and get FDA approval. Anyone can make a recording of their garage band playing an original song, upload it to YouTube, and immediately collect the ad revenue it generates from views.

The big problem will be licensing agencies like ASCAP and BMI. They sell licenses for blanket music playback rights to places like restaurants and department stores which play music in the background. But they don't use any public or systematic method to determine how much each song is played. They simply distribute the money they collect however they want, frequently short-changing little-known indie artists (because it's a PITA to measure their popularity and proportionately more expensive to cut them a check) and overpaying well-publicized artists. They even have the audacity to collect money for "licensing" artists who haven't even agreed to be represented by them.

Comment Damned if you do, damned if you don't (Score 3, Insightful) 463

If you hire in proportion to how many applicants of each race you get, you are sued for racial discrimination because the racial makeup of your employees doesn't match the general population.

If you hire in proportion to the racial makeup of the general population, you are sued for racial discrimination because you didn't hire in proportion to how many applicants of each race you got.

Step 1: Establish laws where people are guilty no matter what they do.
Step 2: Those in power decide which people/companies are undesirable.
Step 3: Sue them and only them for violating those laws.

Big Brother would be proud.

Comment Re:How do you know? (Score 4, Interesting) 277

I've been saying for over a decade now that at least one storage device on the computer should have a physical read-only switch. Some kind of jumper which needs to be moved, or a switch on the motherboard which needs to be physically flipped, before you can write to the device. The main OS could be stored there, while logs, configs, temp files, etc. stored on a different storage device. Security flaws like a buffer overflow would still allow access to some memory, but it'd be impossible to exploit it to modify the system to give you full root access upon reboot.

That's the way things were in the 1970s and early 1980s, when RAM was incredibly expensive so the programming for most embedded systems was stored in ROM, using RAM only for operational data. I've only seen one modern embedded system function this way - you stored the OS on a SD card with the write-protect switch flipped, and used a second SD card for data storage.

Comment Unfortunately, that is how you learn (Score 1) 134

It's an unavoidable part of the learning process. When you build a machine that does something that's never been done before, there are always going to be unforeseen problems. That is how you learn that these problems exist and ways to overcome them. The scaredy-cats who would keep us mired in the stone age will rant about the risks and the dangers. But people with long-term vision will pull us along the path of technological advancement. The V-22 Osprey's safety record is actually better than the HH-52 Seaguard (most recognizable as the previous-gen Coast Guard rescue helicopter). Both were built in similar numbers (about 200 vs 175), and operated a similar number of years (about 25 vs 30).

The thing you have to keep in mind about the press is that most of them absolutely suck at math, science, and statistics. That's why they went into journalism instead of STEM. Analyses they make tend to be based more on emotion than on objective data. If they're faced with a choice between an enticing story vs boring numbers which contradict the story, they will run with the story and downplay the numbers.

Comment Re:Which programming language! (Score 1) 398

C: Which programming language is the most popular?
A: That's right.
C: What is?
A: No, Which is.
C: What?
A: What didn't make the top 10.
C: What didn't?
A: That's right.
C: ... Ok, so if I were going to program using the most common language, it would be which?
A: Right.
C: What's right?
A: No, What didn't make the top 10.
C: What didn't?
A: Right.
C: Which language didn't?
A: No, Which was the top language.
C: Which was?
A: Right.

Comment Clippy v2.0 (Score 1) 68

Guy1: "I heard they're going to make Portal 3"

Guy2: "Really? No way! I loved the Portal series. I need to find out more about this."
Guy2: Begins typing 'portal' into the Cortana search box

Clippy: "It looks like you're searching for porn. Here are some suggestions."

GF: "WTF are you doing on the computer?"

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