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Comment Re:Machines replacing bank tellers? (Score 1) 272

There's no reason why either a power system, or a payments system, need to be built around a single point of failure. It's just a matter of how much engineering and money we want to put into these systems. For businesses that care, it's common to have backup power, and electronic payment systems usually have an offline mode (at least the popular ones do).

But businesses are more worried about things like theft, and this is an actual problem that electronic payments solve. Stacks of cash no longer have to be secured from violent criminals by armed guards, and audit trails make it harder to commit fraud and embezzlement.

Terrorism, on the other hand, hardly ever actually happens in Europe or the US. And when it does, terrorists are focused on, you know, inflicting violent terror, not on blocking electronic payments.

Comment Re:No thanks (Score 2) 118

I'm really surprised that you (and others) care so much about gedit. Regardless of whether we're talking about the gnome 2 gedit or the gnome 3 one, neither of them are serious text editors for power users.

All it does is provide a simple-to-use default editor for new users (who edit text files very occasionally). It's like Notepad on Windows. And the current gedit serves this purpose just fine.

Serious users will install a serious text editor (e.g. vim, emacs, sublime, atom). This was true back in the gnome 2 days, and is still true today.

Comment Re:NO WAY! (Score 4, Informative) 381

Is that really true though? The report has an entire chapter on "The Key Determinants of Happiness and Misery", and the authors don't seem to think that multiculturalism is something that makes people sad. Why do you think that?

Japan and South Korea are probably the most culturally-homogeneous and highly-developed nations around. They sit at 51st and 56th place, respectively. Meanwhile Switzerland speaks four different languages and are the 4th happiest in the world. Canada, Australia and New Zealand, all of which are just as multicultural as the USA, are in the top 10.

I'd argue that Japan and South Korea's unhappiness comes because of, and not in spite of, their strict cultural homogeneity.

Comment Re:Seattle.. (Score 1) 127

+1

There's so many people who seem to think that the solution to the crazy SF rental market is: move to Seattle, Austin or Pittsburgh! They're the best of both worlds; they've got big-city opportunities and small-town traffic/rents! The only problem is that if everyone does that, then Seattle, Austin and Pittsburgh will all become as expensive and congested as San Francisco.

One of the things that annoys me is that none of these cities are making any meaningful effort to learn from the problems that the SF Bay Area has encountered.

It's easy to design a transportation system for a small town, and it's easy to make housing affordable in a small town. But try to scale that up to a big city and then things get difficult. You can't have everyone drive to work in a big city, without having horrible congestion. You can't easily make housing more affordable when large numbers of existing homeowners vote down any policies they think will make their property values will go down, or change their neighborhood in some way that makes it a little different from how it was at whatever period that they moved there.

None of these cities has a good public transit system. Austin is the worst. Even Seattle only has some buses and one "train" line (it's really a tram, not a train) so this does not count IMO.

So tech workers could move to one of these cities, and maybe they'll even be lucky enough to delay the problem long enough that they can pass it on to their children. But what I really hope will happen is that Bay Area voters will vote for politicians that want to provide better public transport, and build more housing supply. And that voters in Seattle, Austin and Pittsburgh will do the same, and avoid running into these problems in the first place.

Comment Perhaps the author's premise is wrong (Score 1) 130

I wish the author would stop thinking that for Silicon Valley to win, Detroit has to lose, or vice versa. Waymo and Uber can make money without putting Detroit companies out of business. It's probably in everyone's interest if software companies focus on software, and hardware companies focus on hardware.

Comment Re:A piece about content... without content. (Score 1) 129

"Passive scrolling" is when you load up something like Facebook or Instagram, and you mindlessly scroll through your feed. These apps implement infinite scrolling, and every n-th post is actually an ad.

The article doesn't mention it, but I think one of the big drivers of the "death" of click through rates as a metric is brand advertising. Advertisers have started to view digital ads more as a long-term brand-building exercise (where brand exposure is all they want) instead of a short-term sales opportunity (where click-through rate rules).

I think since the 90s, brand exposure is all marketers have cared about for newspaper, radio and TV ads - no one measures any equivalent of CTR for those mediums. It's surprising to me that it took them so long to align their digital marketing strategies to this way of thinking. Perhaps having an easy way to measure a metric (in the form of Google Analytics) is the key driver for the adoption of that metric (rather than the usefulness of the metric itself).

Comment Num pads on laptops (Score 4, Insightful) 126

One thing that I can't stand about these machines is that they have a num pad, which pushes the main keyboard and the touchpad way to the left of the device. This means you have to sit either with your arms pointing to the left, or your head pointing to the right.

The number of users who would benefit from a num pad are few and far between, and they could just use a USB num pad.

Strangely, there are only a few laptop manufacturers that align the center of the screen with the center of the keyboard and touchpad. I hope System 76 fixes this one day, because I'd love to replace my MacBook with a Linux laptop.

Comment Re:Multicore for spreadsheets..? (Score 1) 224

Wow, I'm surprised this is a common thing. Nice to know I wasn't suffering alone.

Yes, a Project license costs money, but not as much as paying managers to build their own versions (plural because there were many implementations floating around) on top of Excel. At least not at the company I used to work at.

Comment Re:The point (Score 1) 532

As you said, smokers stink, and they often don't realize that their smell impacts others. And their deaths are not private incidents - it causes grief and pain for their family and friends, and there are economic costs like medical expenses that are paid for by the public healthcare system. So is this really a case of "private morals"?

If governments legalize marijuana but don't tax it as heavily as Australia taxes cigarettes, then they're doing it wrong.

Comment Re:A ribbon clone? (Score 1) 224

Yeah, I really wish LibreOffice wouldn't spend its time copying a 10-year-old design that was quite poorly received at the time.

The ribbon interface always struck me as the result of a company that just couldn't make decisions. I imagine product managers at Microsoft were fighting over whose features were important enough to be on the toolbar, and which ones would be hidden away in the menus. Corporate empire builders would fight to keep their pet features prominently advertised, and they'd get locked in a political stalemate. Meanwhile the toolbars were so bloated that users couldn't figure it out where anything was (and don't forget the bazillion optional toolbars). Then some UI designer comes along with a way to side-step the decision - make the menus look like toolbars and put everything there!

So users get the worst of both worlds. It's essentially a menu with icons, so you have to dig through menus, which makes it not as fast as a toolbar. And it's not as compact as a menu, because there's always this big UI element taking up tons of vertical space.

What's wrong with just having a small number of the most frequently used functions on the toolbar, and putting everything else in the menus?

Comment Re:Some places are impossible. (Score 2) 53

I'm not sure how long it's been since you last tried to park in San Francisco, but about 5 years ago the city started a program called "SFpark". Basically it's a system where parking meter prices are set dynamically, based on demand. I think the goal is to have the smart meters on each block set prices just high enough so that there is one free space on that block. There's an app that lets you check how much it costs to park in a given place, and there's a cap on the cost.

So if you're parking in an SFpark area, it should virtually always be possible to find a spot, if you need it badly enough to pay the price (up to ~$6/hour).

The land that a parking spot in SF occupies is worth more than the typical car that is parked on it. I imagine it's the same in New York. It's crazy that a society would give this away for free - we don't expect free cars, but for some reason many (most?) people feel entitled to free parking.

Comment Re:Why is Softbank... (Score 0) 267

SoftBank Group Corp. started out in 1981 as a distributor of computer software. As software is called “soft” in Japanese, the name “SoftBank” literally means “a bank of software.” We chose the word “bank” based on our grand aspiration to be a key source of infrastructure for the information society.

from http://www.softbank.jp/en/corp...

Comment Re:Six million Alexa installs... compared to? (Score 1) 229

Different market. If your have to wake your phone up first, it's not voice activation.

Not sure how Siri works, but on certain Android devices (ones with low-power speech processing hardware) Google Now can be triggered by saying "OK Google" without having to wake your phone up first.

Comment Re:Egypt blocks Google... end of story (Score 3, Informative) 87

According to the article a lot of cloud service providers and CDNs allow HTTP host header redirection, so the Egyptian government would need to block a lot than just google.com.

China also had to create a domestic tech industry to replace all the foreign websites that it blocked. A country the size of China can pull this off, but Egypt is much smaller...

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