Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×

Comment All of this has happened before (Score 2) 181

All of it will happen again. Before Yahoo (before the Web actually), there was a Veronica which did a fairly reasonable job of cataloging the big gopher sites. And before that, there was an ftp site (can't recall the name) which tried to mirror most of the content hosted on other popular ftp sites (and was eventually displaced by Archie).

Yahoo foundered because their core web search was built on people hand-picking what should be the best results for a search term. I remember trying to find a decent car mechanic in Boston, and being able to drill down their indexing tree for businesses, Massachusetts, Boston, car mechanics. And there was a list of repair shops who'd either registered themselves with Yahoo, or someone else had taken the time to add an entry for them. AltaVista gave that tedious indexing job to a computer, with mixed results since computers don't understand context or what people find valuable. Google succeeded because they realized the very structure of the web itself (i.e. number of links to a site) gave them that context - what sites other people found valuable.

Comment Re:Mall shooting in Germany (Score 1) 170

Way to ignore suicides, accidents, children accessing guns in the home and all the other bad things that happen that wouldn't happen if people didn't have guns laying around

I would've thought the events of the last few months would've put to rest this flawed line of logic. The folks saying "guns don't kill people, people kill people" were right. If you take away access to guns, people don't magically become non-violent and pacifist subjects. They figure out other ways to accomplish their goal of killing people. Like build bombs, or drive a truck into a crowd. These things still happen.

The number of people killed in the U.S. in 2013 from accidental discharge of firearms was 505. By contrast, the number of people killed by drowning (mostly in pools) was 3,391. 2,780 people were killed by fires. The number of people killed by going to the hospital was 2,768. Heck, the number of women killed due to complications from pregnancy was 1,138. All of these are a much bigger danger than gun accidents. You just have a warped view of the relative size of these risks because the media disproportionately over-reports gun accidents (probably because most of the people who work in it would like to see the 2nd Amendment repealed). If their reporting reflected the actual statistics, every single news story about a child accidentally killing someone with a gun would be accompanied by 7 stories of a child drowning in a pool, 5 stories of children dying in a fire, 5 stories of children dying due to a botched surgery or mistaken treatment at a hospital, and 2 mothers dying while giving birth.

21,175 people committed suicide by gun. But 19.974 people figured out some other way to kill themselves. So it's pretty safe to say banning guns wouldn't affect the suicide rate in the slightest.

The 11,208 murders by gun are the only area where the argument holds some ground. 4 people were only wounded in the Wurzburg train attack because the perpetrator only had a knife and axe. 1 person was killed and 5 wounded in the Reutlingen attack because the perpetrator only had a machete. If they'd had guns, the toll probably would've been higher. But it's foolish to think the number would've been zero (4,913 people were murdered without a gun). And 29,001 people were killed due to alcohol, 30,208 people were killed due to falls, 35,369 from car accidents (some overlap with the alcohol stats), 38,851 from overdoses and poisonings, 41,149 from suicide. If your goal is saving lives, all of these are much more important issues we should tackle first, before gun violence.

Fundamentally, violence, terrorism, and suicides (which account for 97% of gun deaths) are social problems. Eliminating the tool via which people are acting out on those problems doesn't make the problem go away. These things will still happen. Just not with a gun. This is a common logical error made by people with bleeding hearts (I won't say liberals because many conservatives make the same mistake too). They don't want to hurt anyone's feelings by blaming people for having faults, so they instead shift the blame onto other inanimate things that have no feelings. Like rap music, or playing too many video games, or porn, or frat parties, ... or guns.

To address these problems, you have to tackle the root social cause. Which is hard, scary, will hurt lots of people's feelings, and there's little consensus on what's the best way to tackle them. So nobody wants to do it that way, when you can take the easy way out and convince yourself that some inanimate object is the root cause, and that eliminating that object will cause all those other problems magically go away.

Comment Re:Not just at the border... (Score 2) 310

We have the same in San Diego - a border check on 5 fwy 40 miles from the border. It's the only direct way to get to Orange County from SD & I drive through it every day. I am baffled as to why we cannot keep the border checks at the border.

Because there are lots of other places along the border where foreigners can slip in illegally than at border checkpoints. The 5 freeway is the major thoroughfare from San Diego to Los Angeles, and unlike at the Mexican border you cannot drive willy-nilly around it through the desert (Camp Pendleton Marine Corp base blocks you). So pretty much anyone entering the country illegally who wants to go head straight to Los Angeles is funneled into I-5. (The alternate route is I-15.)

I think Trump's border wall with Mexico is a stupid idea, but that's exactly what you need if you want to eliminate these sorts of checkpoints away from the border. (Unless you're willing to just throw your hands up and give up control of immigration.)

Comment Re:The Verge is 100% wrong (Score 1) 56

History has also shown us that most new ideas fail. Even good ideas.

I agree that the idea of accessories per se, attractive as it is to me, isn't enough to make a product a success these days. However I should point out that back in the day of PDAs it was normal for mobile devices to have a CF or SD slot that could also be used to add features. This was in the day when mobile devices didn't have cell data connections, GPS or even wi-fi, and it was quite common for people to add memory cards, wi-fi, bluetooth, and GPS. I have a box full of accessory cards in my attic.

Handspring, a company that made Palm Pilot clones, initially did very well with their Springboard modules which allowed you to add any kind of functionality to the base system, just like what we're talking about here. Then a few years after introducing the Springboard module Handspring stopped making PDAs altogether in favor of what was then called a "converged device" -- aka a smartphone -- without the slot. It's all about timing; Handspring was perhaps a little ahead of the curve on convergence, but a lot of manufacturers were getting pushed that way because of falling hardware retail prices made it attractive to put more stuff in the base device to keep the price high.

The standard inclusion of GPS + Cloud + Camera + Bluetooth built-in means that there really isn't a need to physically connect a device to a mobile device. The only exception is battery; there is a real need for a more elegant and secure way to extend the operation of a smartphone than plugging it into a powerbank via USB.

But I may be wrong. Maybe there's a compelling use case for a modular architecture that I just haven't thought of yet. That's why I like to see vendors trying something different, although I usually expect them to fail. I've watched tech long enough to realize that success isn't just about an idea being right, it has to come at the right time.

Comment Re:Old stuff "discovered" by the ignorant (Score 1) 500

While I don't necessarily disagree with you, let me point out that orthodox economic models are also based on assumptions that are not entirely true. For example you don't necessarily assume that any one agent (e.g. the central planner) has all the information relevant to making decisions, but you do assume that all relevant information is available to parties making decisions about transactions they'll take part in. That's not true, but it's close enough to being true that the models have practical utility. Oh, and there's the bit about people being rational in their decision-making.

Comment Re:Question (Score 1) 500

Because believe it or not, while working sucks, not working also sucks. You don't know how much you get out of work until you don't have it anymore, and I mean stuff beside money: social interaction, purpose, challenge, someplace to go and someplace to look forward to take a vacation from.

In Sweden they're offering an intriguing compromise: work less, or more precisely work for fewer hours, which isn't precisely the same thing.

Comment Re:Simple Reforms Needed (Score 2) 246

in one particularly egregious instance, a McD's franchisee was also acting as the landlord for his TFWs in a house he owned and would "helpfully" pre-deduct rent and utilities from their paycheques.

There's actually a legit reason for doing this. When a company provides living quarters, that technically counts as additional income (at least to the IRS - I assume the same is true for CRA). You're supposed to pay taxes on it. Sometimes the employee doesn't report that income on their taxes. When the company reports it to the government, the employee ends up being audited and having to pay "additional" taxes they didn't know they owed.

Having the company deduct it from the employee's paycheck makes the numbers balance in the company's books, the government's books, and the employee's books. This is particularly important if the company is giving the employee the room at below-market rates. Without the company backing up the employee on how much they're charging, the IRS can get finicky and declare that the value of the room is the market rate for rent in the area, and force the employee to pay taxes on that higher amount. That's why I know about this. When I worked at a hotel, we would always get a few high school grads working for us temporarily as part of their "go out and travel the world" phase (so they had no place to live). We'd let them shack up in some of the more worn out rooms (renovation scheduled in a year or two) and charge them a token amount like $100/mo, pre-deducted from their paycheck just to keep the IRS happy.

Not saying this was what was going on in the case you cite, but just pointing out that the act of pre-deducting rent is not in itself evidence of malfeasance, and may in fact be evidence that the company is trying to do the employee a favor. We didn't require these employees to live there, they just did because it was cheaper (and more convenient) than anything else they could find nearby.

Comment Re:What a mess (Score 1) 453

You know, taking the dichotomy you propose as accurate, I'd go with the sleazeball hands down. You might not like them but you can work with sleazy people if you know what they are. They are simply pursuing their self-interest and respond predictably according to realistic calculations of where that lies.

A narcissist on the other hand you can't work with on the basis of realism because he's not rooted in the real world. He operates in a fantasy world. A sleazeball won't act in a way that harms himself but a narcissist, while every bit as self-oriented and deceptive will, and then go looking for scapegoats, even when that does more damage. A sleazeball only scapegoats when it's to his advantage.

So would you rather deal with someone who is rational but selfish, or someone who is unpredictable, self-destructive and selfish?

Comment Re:Anything incriminating? (Score 4, Interesting) 453

I was a Sanders supporter, and I'm neither surprised nor particularly upset. You have to be realistic. Hillary has been active and well-known in the party since 1974, when she rose to prominence as a whip-smart young staff attorney of the Children's Defense Fund. She's spent the last forty years, building contacts and networks in the Democratic party, including nationally as first lady for eight years and with nearly successful presidential run that took her across the entire country. She has a massive rolodex, war chest, and ground organization.

Bernie Sanders only joined the party in 2015. That the DNC was less than perfectly impartial towards the two won't come as news to an Bernie supporter, but to be frank the idea that long-time party insiders and activists would treat someone who joined the party last year the same as someone who's been a big deal in the party for decades is simply unrealistic.

Comment Re:What is the appeal of these things? (Score 1) 128

I think you think the text is too small because you haven't actually used one. I have, and I'm almost 60 years old and need bifocals. I generally can't read ingredients on food or vitamin packages without glasses, but I have no difficulty whatsoever with reading calendar notifications or caller ID on a smartwatch without glasses. Would I want to read a book or webpage on one? Nope. But for notifications the text size is plenty big for me, and I have weaker-than-average eyesight.

Likewise it's not particularly uncomfortable to wear a watch, or hard to remember to put one on. Some folks with ADHD might have problems, because they're always misplacing things and many of them have comfort issues with things like t-shirt tags which most people don't notice but they find distracting. But most people don't find watches uncomfortable or hard to keep track of.

This is just the usual problem with managing the tech adoption curve; the point where you've saturated the early adopter segment. There aren't new features coming in to entice thosee early adopters to upgrade and there aren't enough people on the penumbra of the early adopter community that they become hip. And there isn't really a killer app yet, unless it's fitness tracking which can be done on cheaper devices. That's the only reason I don't wear one anymore; there aren't any that are as good at fitness tracking as a fitbit, so I'd be paying more and getting less for my main use.

Comment Re:Doing Trump's work for him (Score 2) 453

The republicans are saying the government should stay out of it, not take over it.


It's the republicans in state government telling the democrats in a city government that the city cannot permit those nasty transsexuals to use the public bathroom of their choice.

To wit:

Transgender people who have not taken surgical and legal steps to change the gender noted on their birth certificates have no legal right under state law to use public restrooms of the gender with which they identify. Cities and counties no longer can establish a different standard. Critics of the Charlotte ordinance cite privacy concerns and say it was "social engineering" to allow people born as biological males to enter women's restrooms.

McCrory's office says businesses arenâ(TM)t limited by the bill, and that private companies and private universities can adopt new or keep existing nondiscrimination policies.

Tell us again how a city government should not set a policy for its own bathrooms and state government is staying out of it, not taking over it.

Comment Re: drone ship landings require a lot less fuel? (Score 1) 101

I don't need to stand by the rotation theory. However, the 2.5 degrees that the Earth rotates are about equivalent to the downrange distance.

The first stage is going about 1/5 of the target LEO orbital velocity at separation. While you might well model the trajectory as a parabola over flat ground, given the lack of fuel I would expect that SpaceX puts a lot more care into their trajectory. So far I've failed to attract the attention of the person responsible for Flight Club, the most trusted modeling of SpaceX flights, but I'll message him directly.

Comment The stupid thing is (Score 4, Insightful) 67

All they need is a simple settings option which lets you change how you want the app to appear. Material design, Windows 8 Tiles, Windows 7 Aero, bubbly Windows XP, rounded corners Mac OS, do you want drop shadows or not, whatever. There is absolutely nothing preventing Microsoft / Google / Apple / etc. from letting the user pick how they want their computer desktop to look. The computer doesn't know the difference. To it, it's just a window with graphical elements overlaid on top of it.

It's like the designers at these companies are on a power trip, deriving satisfaction from knowing they can force everyone to bend to their will.

Slashdot Top Deals

As in certain cults it is possible to kill a process if you know its true name. -- Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie