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Comment Why computer training never actually IS (Score 4, Insightful) 421

A recurring theme in the criticisms -- perhaps the most painfully misanthropic -- is that, since staff are trained to use MS Office, they simply can't figure out Open Office, and everyone who's switched back to MSO from OOO has seen support time and staff frustration drop like a rock. (Of course, going from MS Office 2k3's traditional interface to MS Office 2k8's "Ribbon" caused absolutely no confusion at all!)

But why is this? Why are people trained eat the bread and sip the MS Kool Aid so utterly helpless when faced with an alternative that doesn't look the same?

Well, it's because people with minimal computer skills teach other people with no computer skills that, in order to make this word look blue, you click this button in this place. Not "look for a color changer and select blue". No, it has to be under THIS menu, with THAT name, and looks like THIS button.

We don't teach people how to use computers or even software. We teach them very specific, contextless mundane steps.

What saddens me most is that I was able to document this twelve years ago and it's still the same today.

Comment Re:One word: libel (Score 1) 325

If only they had their own internal corporate Tea Party to chide them for wasting money!

So much for running government like a business.... If we did that, we'd have jury duty every day, health insurance wouldn't exist, and the President would just live at Camp David playing golf, while telling us we're all lazy.


Submission + - Google to end GOOG-411 (blogspot.com)

RomulusNR writes: Google will shut down 1-800-GOOG-411 in just over a month, according to the Official Google Blog. According to Google, the point of the service was never to provide a useful service to people, but to collect lots and lots of voice data for speech recognition research. Now that they've collected enough data, they don't need it any more; no mention of whether anyone else needs it. In lieu of this backwards-compatible, cross-platform, completely hands-free service, Google suggests you move on to their limited-platform, UI-dependent, mobile-only voice and SMS search apps.

In Canada, Criminal Libel Charges Laid For Criticizing Police 383

BitterOak writes "A Calgary man is facing criminal charges of libel for criticizing police. According to the story, the RCMP have filed five charges against John Kelly for claiming on his website that Calgary police officers engaged in perjury, corruption, and obstruction of justice. What makes the story unusual is that the charges are criminal and not civil. Even in Canada, which has much less free speech protection than the United States, it is extremely rare for people to be charged criminally with libel. It is almost always matter for civil courts."

Comment Building wiring as TV antenna (Score 2, Insightful) 135

When I was in college, kids in the university's then-tallest building would not bother getting cable service, which the dorm was pre-wired for. But despite not having cable service, they plugged their TV's into the cable jacks anyway -- and it increased their OTA reception fourfold. The cable wires running through the building served as a huge 100-foot antenna.

Comment What some consider "marketing" (Score 2, Insightful) 185

I don't know about all this so-called marketing. The first time I heard of APB was at PAX East back in February. They had 8 stations set up logged into the game. They had one emotionless, utterly uninterested guy talking about how awesome the game was, who occasionally threw a T-shirt into the huge crowd amassing around their booth. He would then taunt everyone else by saying "the best way to get a shirt is to play the game".

Except NO ONE GOT TO PLAY. Well, a couple of people did. They'd get about 5 minutes on the station, which was enough to walk around a little, and... find nobody else. Then, when they got off, the stations would be taken over by booth staffers, who would dick around with the stations for 15 minutes or so.

The best way to get people to play your game is to LET THEM PLAY IT. When a crowd of people are surrounding your booth, interested in playing a game that has no legacy to spur familiarity or loyalty, you should make sure they get to play it. Especially if it's as awesome as you say (hearing the music being played by people driving past, etc.). And you should provide a decent playzone or sandbox where they can actually do useful things instead of ooh and aah at your now-industry-standard graphics.

Comment The free market fallacy strikes again (Score 3, Interesting) 336

The authors of TFA say they are "surprised" that despite the payoff of infrastructure and the age of the technology that prices have not come down.

It's as if they think rich people don't like money.

The only reason a rich person gives up money is if he thinks he will lose more if he doesn't give up a little -- or if he thinks it will lead to getting even more money back. I.e. competition. And progressive taxes.

There's zero reason for telecommunications companies to reduce rates. This notion that "they make enough now, therefore they should lower/stop raising rates" is so silly, it's like trying to argue that greed = benevolence.

And yet this very principle is the underpinning of the libertarian free market religion. But like those of all other religions, it is utterly flawed, unfounded, and unrealistic.

Comment Confusing convention with brilliance (Score 0, Troll) 417

Is it really "quick thinking" or is it just "utilizing the only way she knows how to communicate?"


Next time I'm assaulted and don't know how to get help, I'll try forcing lots of air through my tightened vocal chords. Who would think of that?

Comment Re:Loaded, incredibly smug, dithering question (Score 1) 1115

Nothing about that question is correct.

What on earth exactly is "proper rewards"? There is no such thing. Any estimation of such are based on presumptions by either the content creator or the distributor whom they license it to.

Let's say a photographer takes a picture. They offer it to media outlets for $100 a use. But only 10% of media outlets will pay it.

But if the photographer were to lower their price to $50 a use, perhaps 30% of media outlets would pay it. So despite lowering prices by half, their ROI becomes 50% greater.

The photog goes away griping that no one appreciates good photography anymore, etc. etc. But it is the photog themselves that is kicking themselves in the ass. Why? Because their notion of "proper rewards" is too rigid. While the photo might be $100 valuable to the originator, to everyone else it is likely worth, on average, less than that.

In the case of piracy, you have people who are unwilling to buy the work for the price stated. Instead, they take it for a lower price (free). But your loss is actually zero, because they wouldn't have bought it at your price anyway.

But most of this is irrelevant in the real world anyway, because the majority of artists (well, at least in music/movies/writing/etc) end up performing their work as "work for hire", and they are paid a flat price for their work that is unrelated to subsequent sales, usage, redistribution, even reimagining. In those cases, most artists don't get anything close to "proper rewards" either by their own standards or by that of a reasonable, uninvested third party.

This notion that piracy cuts into the artists proper rewards is the same argument that it cuts into the profits of record companies. You've just tried to make it folksy by taking out the corporate middleman. The applicable reasoning doesn't change.

Comment Look, it's simple (Score 1) 289

All they need to do is release a phone with the capabilities of the Moto Droid, and the durability of their own Nokia 3390.

Those things last forever. I know people who still use them despite only being good for phone calls and texts. (gasp, i know, do they cook over open fires too?) Other people would use them too, if they could slice, dice, and run Google Maps.

The last Nokia phone worth a look was the NGage, though mostly just for the look.

Comment Re:While I agree that anonymity is a good thing... (Score 1) 780

It's not violence, indeed, but "violent oppression" includes intimidating (i.e. credible) threats of violence, in my book.

Well, I haven't read your book. It's best if we all work from the same book; ideally one that neither of us has written. In my case, I used Merriam Webster's book. If you insist on using your own book, don't expect the rest of the world to play by your rules -- or in your arbitrary namespaces.

Again, putting a sign on a lawn is neither violent oppression nor intimidation. Just exposure. And if it's put on the sidewalk, it's not even so much as trespassing. Exposure is not illegal. We have John Peter Zenger to thank for that.

As I said in my original comment (which you did read, right?), there's no more of such than there is a concerted effort at violence in the gay community in California.

Well, actually, someone said "the gay community is not going out of its way to violently oppress" people, and you disagreed (albeit noncommittally) by pointing out that a few gay-against-anti-gay incidents occured in California. Then you paid lip service (but noticeably provided no corresponding examples) to the notion that it has worked both ways. Despite ending with "it's bad on both sides and we should stop it", if you are presenting your post as not biased towards the notion that the gay community is inordinately practicing violent oppression, I beg to differ.

> The gay community isn't exactly going out of its way to violently oppress those who oppose
> it, while the other side can't say the same.
That depends on where you live and how you define "gay community". In California during the Proposition 8 debates and right after its passage there was quite a number of rather ugly incidents.

You refuted an assertion that the "gay community" was not, as a collective group, committing "violent oppression" by pointing out that, in California, a few gay-against-anti-gay isolated incidents occured, at least according to a pro-prop-8 website that didn't list any names or sources. Later you gave lip service to the notion that there's been some animus in the other direction.

Comment Re:While I agree that anonymity is a good thing... (Score 2, Insightful) 780

before this particular petition, the state had found that these petitions did not fall under the Public records Act.

When was this? What was the petition number?

So, the people who signed this petition had reason to believe that their identities would not become general knowledge.

Sure, if you ignore the fact that they are signing them in public places, in broad daylight, in plain view of the general public, on a piece of paper left on a table for the next few hours, which will also be seen by as many as 30 or more subsequent signers (as well as people who read the petition but don't sign it), and which at the end of the day will be collected by a non-regulated or bonded private employee or volunteer who will hold onto them until eventually handing them into the private citizens running the group, and which will be in either private, non-government, non-regulated, non-bound peoples' hands until they are finally turned into the state -- IF the group ends up with enough signatures to bother doing so -- and even becoming remotely elegible for government-enforced secrecy, barring any laws that promote transparent government.

So yeah, other than all of that, it was done in complete guaranteed secrecy!

those who oppose your position are willing to use intimidation tactics (which is the case with this petition).

Telling people you are a homophobe is an intimidation tactic? Or do you have nighmares of imaginary mobs of men in dresses and misapplied lipstick painting your house pink in the middle of the night?


Comment Re:While I agree that anonymity is a good thing... (Score 1) 780

In point of fact, the process normally used by the state in this case is to take a sample of the signatures and verify those. According to the Sec of State this has been as small as 3%. Supposedly it depends on the proportion of signatures submitted over signatures required but the exact math is not disclosed. Normally they do not perform exhaustive verification.

And frankly, even when they do, they are extremely permissive about accepting signatures almost to the point of irrelevancy.

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