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Comment Re:Telecommuting FTW (Score 4, Interesting) 163

I love telecommuting, saves a lot of time and hassle fighting rush hour traffic and maintain a car. Not to mention that it can be far away so one doesn't have to move, a very expensive and life disruptive process. I'm willing to accept quite a bit less pay for a telecommuting position. But it is against most employers' religion, even progressive seeming technology employers such as Google.

Many cling hard to the mindset that workers are lazy slackers who have to be closely monitored to ensure they're working instead of goofing off. Instead of leading and inspiring workers, they use the slave driver approach and push and prod workers. Much harder to push telecommuters, so they simply don't allow it. No doubt many workers would abuse the situation. But it wouldn't last. If the telecommuter doesn't do any work, this is going to be noticed pretty fast. Telecommuters can't get away with much more slacking than office workers, often even less because of the necessity to counter the higher levels of suspicion by working harder.

Then there are the managers who believe a work environment and the close communication it enables is necessary to be highly productive. And, yes there are environments, home environments especially, where doing any work is very difficult thanks to loud, needy family members. But it's hardly an insurmountable problem.

Comment Re:Loyalty to people not companies (Score 1) 765

Businesses will be businesses, huh? Poisonous snakes will be poisonous snakes, too. Employers do pay a high price for treating employees like cogs. That kills moral. Word does get around. It's been so pervasive that rather than a few companies getting bad reputations, the entire corporate world has a bad reputation. The company that treats employees fairly and well is the exception, not the rule.

There are reasons why people don't deal with each other the way companies do. Mostly, it does not work. Bad actors are quickly ostracized. In recent times, employers have been able to get away with treating employees like dirt is the huge imbalance in power. The job market has been an employer's market since before the Great Recession. Before the Dot Com crash is the last time employees had some leverage.

Comment multiple levels of stupid (Score 5, Insightful) 224

The pushy upgrade was a stupid idea for more than one reason, and this was well known before Microsoft did it. There's the old saw "don't fix it if it ain't broke". Some hardware would quit working. The upgrades were most cavalierly programmed to happen without regard to the customer's needs, able to take a computer out of service for hours, and that could be just when the owner had scheduled some important work. And of course for those with limited, expensive bandwidth, it's damned rude of Microsoft to pig out on such a precious resource without asking. That's stooping to the level of online advertisers, who deserve to be blocked because they just can't lay off the obnoxious loud, flashing animated video advertising that eats gobs of bandwidth and CPU time. Not that Microsoft was ever much above that level.

Speaking from my experience as a system administrator, doing a major upgrade on production systems for the heck of it was a major no-no. We only upgraded if we had to, for some crucial new functionality, and we'd spend at least a week preparing for it with tests on identical equipment if available, dry runs, and the like. We'd document how long it was going to take, and if too long we might set up a temporary system. We were not going to risk taking down the website of our company. Uptime is critically important. Stunts like this pushy, opt out upgrade assure that Windows will stay permanently banned from the server room.

That Microsoft apparently can't grasp any of this or just doesn't care shows, again, how stupid their leadership is. Meh, they've been unbelievably stupid for 15 years now. Getting in bed with the MAFIAA of all people, and deferring to those idiots on technical matters around DRM, wow, just wow. MS doesn't deserve to be regarded as a tech company, not while they're willing to defer to tech morons on the areas they're supposed to be the experts on.

Comment Re:Let me get this straight... (Score 1) 304

Let me amend what I said. Actually, I am impressed by what smart TVs could do. But I am disgusted at the intentional crippling. No, I don't think Vizio is alone, I think the whole smart TV market is corporate Internet. Alternatives? Since the market isn't for whatever reason finding it profitable to give consumers more, only real alternative at this time is to use a computer. Include a video card with a TV tuner, and hardware to receive signals from universal remote controls. I know there are some nice programs that basically turn a PC with such equipment into a TV and a DVR, though I can't name any offhand.

That said, a remote with a full keyboard would be nice. But if that's too many buttons, why not at least employ the numeric keypad? Could type 2 digits for each letter, 01 for 'a', 20 for 't', and so on.

Comment Re:Let me get this straight... (Score 1) 304

I'm not that impressed with the small Vizio smart TV I got a couple of years ago. (24 inch, the smallest, cheapest model they offered.) It's got a lot of capabilities, but it could have a lot more if it wasn't intentionally crippled with corporate style restrictions. There's no reason whatsoever it can't surf to any web site on the Internet, but they omitted such capability. You can only access a very small set of approved sites: Youtube, Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, and about a dozen others. Use it for Youtube, and it subjects you to ads, because it doesn't do ad blocking of course. The interface is miserably slow, have to use arrow buttons on the remote to walk a cursor over an alphabet to type in words. Would it really be so hard to put an alphabetic keyboard on the remote control?. Compared to an old PC, the smart TV stinks at accessing the Internet.

I'm guessing other brands of so called smart TVs are no better. Meh, I very rarely watch TV anyway.

Comment Re:There nothing YouTube can do about this... (Score 1) 321

I would like to see this crap end, and it be established once and for all that copying is a natural right. Freedom to Copy ought to rank right up there with Freedom of Speech and Religion, and the Freedom to Assemble.

Copying is a far more intimate part of our lives and existence than people realize. Copying is inherent in nature, with any action broadcasting echoes in all directions. That is the ability public speakers, radio stations, lighthouses, and all manner of broadcasting depends upon. The copyright propagandists have people mostly convinced that copying certain kinds of data, in certain ways, is somehow morally wrong and equivalent to stealing, and that copyright is the fairest, best, and only way to compensate the poor starving artists and scientists. Think of the starving artists! But that's not so. Our entire education system is a massive copying of centuries of accumulated knowledge to the next generation. We don't and shouldn't have to pay a very few who are trying very hard to elevate themselves to the position of gatekeepers of all knowledge, calling themselves "publishers", for permission to teach our children. Libraries have existed for thousands of years, the Gutenberg press for 500 years, and now, we have the Internet and digital storage on a scale orders of magnitude greater than anything in history. The entire contents of a small branch library can be stored on a few hard drives. There may be good reasons to be cautious, but the enrichment of a few slimy publishers isn't one.

Comment Re:If not now... (Score 1) 1023

It doesn't have to be painful. It could be the opposite, a great freeing of nearly everyone from wage slavery. We'll all have much more time to devote to leisure, community, and self-improvement.

The big question is of course distributing the wealth from these robotic advances. It won't be good so long as a few people manage to convince the rest of us that it's only fair that they should reap all the gains from the massive savings on costs. Competition will see to it that savings are passed on to customers, unless these restaurants successfully employ some of the many means to block competition. In which case, the restaurant owners get it all, while the inventors and designers of the robots get paid a tiny fixed amount on a "work for hire" basis, and the rest of us see no price drop?

Comment is print still relevant? (Score 0) 231

I haven't paid much attention to SF/Fantasy or any other printed fiction since the mid 90s. I used to know the SF/Fantasy section of private bookstores very well. then as prices went up faster than inflation ($2 for a paperback in the early 80s, up to $5 by 1990, and it kept right on climbing) I got more conservative in my choices, buying only the latest of a series from a big name author, not taking a chance on a new author. Tried relying on lists of award winners. Finally I quit. Had enough of the publishing industry's crap, such as the practice of putting out an expensive hardback edition first, delaying the paperback for a year. I was also very annoyed with the fanatic Scientologists for gaming the system to boost L. Ron Hubbard's garbage to #1 bestseller status, and I heard recent Hugos are similarly compromised?

Most damning of all is for SF to deliberately inject bad propaganda about print publishing itself. We can read about all kinds of fantastically futuristic technologies, unless it's something that replaces the printing press or copyright law? Maybe it's okay for other genres to ignore this issue, but SF must not if it wishes to remain good, insightful, and relevant. The Internet and the ability to copy massive amounts of text rapidly and easily hasn't been futuristic SF for at least 20 years now, and any SF that pretends otherwise can't help but be stupid. The "I, Mudd" Star Trek episode has a little dialog about death being the penalty for violating intellectual property rights. Yeah, Hollywood wishes!

I wonder if the SF awards even look at works that are available online only, no printed edition. Took the music world entirely too long to warm up to video game music.

Comment Re:horse: replaced by tractor, car, truck (Score 1) 254

Engaging in massive crony capitalism is not going to improve things.

Of course not. How do you propose to deal with Global Warming, since you evidently find all forms of market intervention distasteful?

the fact that they aren't free is the fault of people like you.

You conflate freedom and anarchy. Maybe you'd prefer sports without any rules? Rules are, after all, restrictions on the freedom of the players' actions. Without rules, it wouldn't be long before a game like football degenerated into brawling, or just stopped altogether because the players aren't idiots and don't want to play if they risk high odds of permanent injury or death. A city could save hugely on the budget if they shut down their police departments, and expected the citizens to all buy guns and self-police. How well would that work? Well, we have a historic example: 19th century Dodge City Kansas, before Wyatt Earp brought the law to town.

Comment Re:horse: replaced by tractor, car, truck (Score 1) 254

You talk as if government intervention is largely the will of the people or at least of our politicians and bureaucrats. Too often, it's not, thanks to corruption. Any more, government is merely a cover for entrenched industry intervention, who have our public funds used and abused to prop themselves up with massive subsidies.

Big Oil is one of the biggest corrupters and abusers. Why are we so hot to intervene in the Middle East, but not central Africa, specifically Rwanda in 1994? Oil, of course. Why is the gas tax a fixed amount per gallon, rather than a percentage like every other sales tax? Been 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993. Has not been adjusted for inflation for 23 years and counting. That little subtlety in taxation is a huge, huge giveaway to Big Oil. Don't believe for a second that they "pass the savings on" to the public. The biggest giveaway of all is the external cost. They don't pay for the mess the use of their products creates. Big Oil's mess is going to be the Mother of all Messes if things keep on as they are. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 will be a mosquito bite compared to drowning the coasts across the entire planet.

Your faith in markets is touching. Too bad they aren't as free and wise as we like to think. We can't autopilot problems like this, we have to do something. For one, change the incentives so other forms of energy are more attractive than oil.

Comment Re:Open and Free DNS (Score 1) 107

You despise piracy? Why? Do you feel that the people behind Pirate Bay deserved jail time? Do you think copyright law is fair? How long should copyright last? There are many other ways to earn a living from art, copyright is no necessity for that.

Laws aren't holy. They can be bad and wrong, and have unintended negative consequences. They can be solely for profiteering, to force everyone to purchase some product or service that is unnecessary and only available through a few or even just one vendor. Consider Prohibition in the US. The ban on alcohol was based on the view that drunkenness was solely the fault of the drunkard, a moral failing, and should be outlawed and punishable as if having a drink was a crime. One factor they overlooked was that new manufacturing methods had unintentionally raised the percentage of alcohol in alcoholic drinks, and people who weren't drunkards became so on the same amount of drink they'd always had. Prohibition was eventually repealed, but those who profited from Prohibition suddenly saw their cash flow shut down and struck back by whipping up public hysteria over other drugs, eventually morphing Prohibition into the War on Drugs. Another widely unpopular and frequently violated law was the national 55 mph speed limit. People simply wanted to drive faster. In such cases, mass violation is one of the most powerful ways to force a change in the law.

Comment horse: replaced by tractor, car, truck (Score 2, Informative) 254

Look back at circa 1900. Much travel and agriculture was by horse. Horse manure in city streets was a constant presence and problem, causing disease.

Today, horses are much reduced. Horse population in the US peaked at 25 million in the 1920s, then began a steady decline. By the 1960s, the population was down to 3 million. Since then the population has grown to about 7 million today, a far cry from the peak. For agriculture, tractors have all kinds of advantages. Not least is that the tractor can be shut off and forgotten when not in use, for long periods such as the entire winter season. The tractor eliminated one of the major uses for horses. The weren't needed or wanted for agricultural work any more.

What happened to horses will happen to jobs. We'll have to adjust. I've been thinking that calls for a guaranteed minimum income, rather than raising the minimum wage, may be the way forward.

Comment anti-intellectualism rolls downhill (Score 1) 103

And sloshes back up to The Hill. These Congressional leaders know what they know and don't listen to no scientists! The contempt and fear is palpable. When reality doesn't conform, they resort to threats, blame games and force.

So the FBI can't find talented people to help them with imaginary, badly conceived, and wrongheaded problems. I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked!

Comment Re:Better for everyone else (Score 2) 265

No, people like rules. We bathe in rules the same as frogs live in water. Lawmaking is like applying heat to the water. Nice at first, then uncomfortable. The powerful are always testing the people, seeing what outrageous rulemaking they can get away with. It's up to us to push back. There's little choice but to boil or rebel.

But there is so much to oppose that it's difficult to keep up with it all. There's the TPP and copyright extremism, the War on Drugs and high prescription drug prices (which extreme intellectual property laws empower), rackets that target automobile owners such as parking meter enforcement, speed traps, and red light cameras, telecoms monopolies on Internet service, and so on. Redflex, one of the major red light camera service providers, is Australian.

Plus, every jurisdiction has their own peculiar home grown racket. The US state of Virginia has a little extra requirement for automobiles: no cracked windshields. The excuse is safety. Healthcare is a big racket in the US. Australia has an especially weird one: cemetery lots. Yes, one of the top nations in the world for unused space claims there isn't enough room for the dead, there is no ownership of grave sites, there is only rental, and descendants must renew the leases of their dead ancestors every 50 years, or the grave sites will be reused. To add to the insult, if unpaid, the markers with the names of the dead are removed.

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