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Comment Easy pledge to make... (Score 1) 286

This is an easy pledge to make, if you pay people based on their education and actual years of experience. Why? Because - if you look at it that way - there is no gender pay gap.

All the studies that show a substantial gender pay gap either (a) equate different professions, or (b) compare people based on their ages.

The first of those is obviously flawed, because different professions are, in fact, different. This includes studies that compare average pay in an entire region, because women and men do tend to congregate in different professions. Exactly why women go into lower paying professions is a complex issue, but really, it doesn't matter. All that's important is that women and men both have the choice to do what they like. If a woman wants to become a civil engineer, or a man wants to work in a kindergarden, those doors should be open. If they are, then there is no problem: people can choose a career that suits them.

It's the second type of study that's more insidious: comparing earnings based on age. More women than men take time off, or work part-time, to raise children. Hence, the average (to pick an age) 40 year old woman will have less experience than the average 40 year old man. Some opportunities may be entirely lost: for example, not being available for a high-intensity or high-travel position may make one ineligible for a later promotion. An alternate approach is to compare women with and without children. What a surprise: women without children earn much more than women with children (article is in German).

So it's easy for companies to pledge to pay women the same as men - because they already do.

Comment Only for short-term stuff (Score 1) 380

Self-burned optical disks are crap for data archival. It's pure lottery whether or not you can read them in a few years, even the "good" brands. For movies and music, it doesn't matter so much if you have a few glitches on the disc. For data backups, it matters a lot.

I only use optical media for short-term data transfer, like handing big files to our local print shop. For me, data archival means spinning rust.

Comment The embassy is the worst (Score 4, Informative) 348

Once you arrive at the US, you have to get past passport control and customs. That's what most people worry about, but it's less unpleasant than getting the visa. The problem is only that the personnel act overworked, surly and suspicious - very unwelcoming.

Far worse is the process of getting a visa, because this requires visiting the American embassy. The place is built like a prison, and that's pretty much the feeling you have when you are there: the personnel is behind thick glass windows with over-pressure against poison gas, talking to you through a crappy speaker. Even though you may "have an appointment" you often spend hours waiting. Sure, your appoint may begin on time, but then you wait again, then go to some other window, then wait some more, then go pay at the cashier, who may be on her lunch break...

And you aren't allowed to take anything in with you. Just your wallet and any paperwork you may have. No bags, not a phone, not a Kindle. I've learned that they let me take in a physical paperback, a pad of paper and a pencil - that's as far as you can stretch the rules.

The process of checking people to let them inside is slow, and the only place to wait is outside - if it's stormy, windy and raining, be sure to dress warmly. But not too warmly - you can't have a backpack or anything, because the embassy has no provision for your belongings. They don't want them on the premises, so you have to find someplace else to leave your stuff. The obvious spot is the train station, which is about a mile's walk away (there's no parking at the embassy, they're far too paranoid for that). This is really great for people who are visiting for the first time, because they naturally assume there will be lockers or some other provision for their belongings; they face a 40-minute walk to deposit their stuff elsewhere, missing their appointment. It is also great for families with babies or small children, since you can't bring in your kiddy bag to take care of them.

The whole setup is a truly unbelievable PITA - you have to see it to believe it.

Comment Re:Desperate lies? (Score 1) 412

Adjustments: I don't misunderstand the reasons for these at all. However, numerous sites and scientists have questioned the validity of these adjustments. I'm not a climate scientist, but I do find it striking how the adjustments always go in the same direction: making historical temperatures colder, hence increasing the apparent warming trend.

As for Europe this Spring, I won't cherry pick any links - just search: There are numerous articles about how the entire Spring was unusually cold in all of German-speaking Europe. The climate maps I linked to in my original comment can show data for specific months - and they show that all of Europe had above average temperatures during this time.

This is simply nonsense, and lends weight to the idea that the historical temperature adjustments are wrong.

Comment Desperate lies? (Score 1) 412

Various commenters have pointed out that they have had unremarkable, or even cool temperatures this year. The warmists reliably respond "weather isn't climate". But you know: enough individual weather data points are climate.

Before you make this comment "troll", consider just one little example:

This year, much of western continental Europe had an unusually cold Spring, from April through June. While individual cooler days are not unusual, this is the first year I have ever had to run the heating in June, because the entire month was cold. This wasn't confined to one town, or even one country - it affected most of Germany, northern France, Switzerland, Austria, etc.. The weather phenomenon was well-explained: the jet stream had an unusually strong north-to-south orientation, bringing cold polar air for most of the Spring.

Why is this important? Because - despite the obviously cold temperatures, over a large region, lasting several weeks, the global climate trends claims that we had an unusually warm Spring. Look, for example, at the GISS site, and ask it for a map for May or June 2016. Note how all of Europe is colored orange (i.e., unusually warm), for both months. This is simply a lie, and can only work because of the way historical temperatures have been artificially adjusted downwards.

Look, the earth is warming. Glaciers are retreating. The lakes and canals that our grandparents skated on? They no longer freeze over. There's no doubt of any of that. Why is it necessary to falsify data, in an attempt to make things look catastrophic? This only serves to destroy the credibility of climate science.

Comment Proprietary platform (Score 1) 68

People who developed content for a proprietary platform are subject to the whims of the platform owner. In this case, the whims of Adobe primarily involve failing to patch security holes and allowing widespread use of their platform for user-hostile purposes. They could have invested in security, and policed Flash usage. They chose not to, and now Adobe (and their users) are paying the price.

Sadly, Flash is not going away. As I understand TFA, the new version of Chrome will still work just fine with Flash content. It will just ask the user before playing it. If someone wants to see your Flash application, they still can. However, unwanted Flash (primarily in ads) will finally be dead.

Do note: Even if Flash finally dies, Flash applications will remain perfectly usable: Put a copy of Flash on a VM, get copies of anything you care about off the web, and you can run it forever.

Comment More general issue: pre-crime (Score 1) 122

This is all part of a much more general issue: restriction and even legal prosecution of "pre-crime activities".

- You get DRM-encumbered products, because manufacturers are afraid you might copy the product. Copying is an action that has many uses; piracy is only one of many possibilities.

- The DMCA prohibits circumvention of protective measures, because...why? The circumvention isn't the problem, nor are most of the reasons you might circumvent something. It's all about the relatively rare edge cases that might be illegal. Consider hacking into your car's computer, for example: there are lots of reasons to do this, from curiousity to performing minor repairs yourself.

This mentality goes a lot farther than media and computers:

- Consider sexting: Why, exactly, is it illegal to send sexy pictures of a 17 year old?. Doing so may be naive, and there are potential crimes, but the vast majority of cases are boyfriend/girlfriend exchanges. Again: it's the crimes that should be prohibited, not the behavior that might lead to them.

Once you start looking:

- Why should it be illegal to fly drones near a wildfire? Interfering with firefighting efforts is the problem, but if there are no aircraft involved, where's the problem?

- Why should it be illegal to modify your router, as long as you don't cause interference with other devices?

- Why should it be illegal to do drugs, as long as you only affect yourself?

- Why should it be illegal to host a poker tournament in your home?

- Why should it be illegal to drive without wearing your seatbelt?

- Why should there be a minimum drinking age?

Not too long ago, I came home from work, grabbed a beer, and took a lazy evening's walk through the woods near my house. In the US, that would be illegal, because...why, exactly?

And on, and on...law after law that isn't about restricting actual harmful behavior, but rather restricting innocent activities that have the merest potential for harm.

Comment Re:Non-sequitor (Score 1) 150

Ultimately the only secure 2FA is a dedicated hardware token that requires biometric authentication to function

Only, biometrics can be faked. A couple of years ago, my favorite computer magazine (German) showed how they could lift and reproduce a fingerprint good enough to fool many fingerprint scanners. For that matter, biometrics are stored as digital data, which can be stolen. And once your biometric data has been stolen, you are well-and-truly screwed, because you can't exactly change your fingerprints, retina, or whatever.

Security is a problem, and there is no perfect solution...

Comment ...without logging in... (Score 1) 375

You'll be able to ask it to make a note, play music, set a reminder, and lots more without ever logging in

I do not understand this trend. Under Android, there is also a lot of functionality available without logging in (for example, turning on a hotspot). Worse, there is no way to block access to this functionality.

If I wanted my phone unsecured, I could leave off the passcode. If I have a passcode, it means that I don't want some random dude able to do anything. At the very least, such access should be customizable.

Comment Only applies to domestic providers... (Score 1) 282

This power, if applied, would be imposed upon domestic CSPs [Communication Service Providers]

All this will do is ensure that anyone with a clue uses services based outside the UK. There will be no UK service providers providing encryption, because no one will trust them.

Politicians being idiots...but I repeat myself...

Comment Re:The gambling isn't the problem... (Score 1) 32

You're right: gambling addicts have a genuine problem. But, again, it's not a problem with gambling per se, but a problem of addiction. Not everyone who like beer is an alcoholic, and not everyone who enjoys betting is a gambling addict.

For those who do have a problem, driving the industry underground tends to worsen the situation. Prohibition was a failure, the "war on drugs" is a disaster. Better to legalize the activity, so that addicts can come for help without automatically being criminals.

All of which still leaves us with the question of how to deal with scams and cheating. While one would like to hang scammers out to dry, it's very difficult to catch them, much less prosecute them. Ideas?

Comment The gambling isn't the problem... (Score 1) 32

Lots of people like to place the odd bet. That's not the problem. The problem with gambling are the scams, and this is nothing unique to online activites.

Consider sports - let's take the specific example of tennis. The players at the very top can live off of their winnings and their sponsors. Then comes a long list of hundreds of players who are up-and-coming, or down-and-going, or just wannabes. They need to travel to tournaments, they need to pay a coach, they need good equipment, and train too much to work a normal job. This is where the betting - and the scams - happen. A match comes up between two no-name players. Some goon comes up to the one with the better ranking and says: "I'll pay you $10k to make sure you lose the second set". Then the betting house hypes the game, and start taking bets. After the better player wins the first set, the odds for the second player get long. The betting house pushes betting on the next set - knowing that the lower-ranked player is going to win, this is where they rake in the dough.

This kind of stuff is almost impossible to detect, much less prove. It's no different in the realm of electronic games and e-sports: there are gambling sites that specifically focus on this area..

Should one even try to squash this? There's something wrong with writing unenforceable laws, after all. Maybe we just just let suckers lose their money.

If we do want to try to keep gambling sites honest, we need some way to detect cheating and scams. But how?

Comment Art is best as a hobby (Score 1) 153

Tell your niece that art makes a great hobby and a lousy profession.

For 99.99% of the musicians out there, that's reality. There are literally billions of people in the world who play a musical instrument, or sing, or dance. Hundreds of millions who do so competently. Tens of millions good enough to perform publicly. Of those, how many can actually make a living at it? I know far more people who have a garage band, or do the occasional gig for beer money. I think they enjoy it more as well, because there's no pressure to sell, sell, sell - they can do their music for enjoyment.

Far better to find a career that will actually earn a living, and enjoy your music on the side. If lightning strikes, one can always shift the balance later.

Comment What is fluency? (Score 1) 331

What is fluent? I haven't quite been programming for 300 years (only 40), but during that time I have certainly been fluent in at least eight languages. Some similar (Pascal/RatFor, C++/Java), others fairly different (Prolog, Lisp). The thing is, there are two aspects to fluency, and the second one is problematic:

- The syntax and semantics of the language. This is only difficult if you're learning a new paradigm. Once you know a particular paradigm, learning a new language in that paradigm is relatively easy.

- The built-in libraries, plus whatever external frameworks you need. This is essential knowledge, if you are going to be effective and productive on a particular project. At the same time, this is problematic, because there are zillions of frameworks, and they are continually changing.

I have always thought that job postings that require a particular language, or a particular framework, are stupid. A good programmer with a broad background can learn what they need in a few weeks (caveat: see the note above about new paradigms). A bad programmer, well, they're useless even if they have experience in some specific technology. Heck, this doesn't even make sense for entry-level positions: New programmers, fresh out of school, are going to require serious training and mentoring anyway, before you can trust them on business-critical systems.

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