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Comment Re:Headline correct; summary wrong (Score 4, Insightful) 378

I'm glad Alphabet decided to help out by donating .... but if I worked for them, I'd still be a little upset by this.

#1? These donations of millions of dollars worth of technology to help schools/education don't exactly have a great track record. When your teachers and staff are underpaid and over-stressed, they're just not going to take the time and effort required to implement the new tech very well. A lot of this stuff will wind up sitting in schools, unused -- or under-utilized. $30 million given to help hire more quality teachers and keep up with maintenance issues in the school buildings would probably have done a lot more.

#2? It's not necessarily being "spoiled and greedy" to assume that your employer will give you a "bonus" or gift at the end of the year, if they're traditionally known for doing it. That's part of how your overall compensation is factored. (EG. When I was hired on where I work now, I tried to negotiate for a higher salary than they offered but they wouldn't budge. Instead, they countered that they almost always gave out end of year bonuses, plus typically did at least one big company meeting/trip to a nice location for several days, where we'd enjoy a lot of perks and entertainment too. Those were bargaining chips to make me take the offer ... not truly gifts that I would be "greedy" to expect to receive, if I did good work through the whole year.)

Comment re: The Fed and "new techniques" (Score 1) 254

Umm... please enlighten me what effective new strategies The Fed used to fix our last economic crisis?

One of the techniques they DID try was Section 128 of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, allowing the Federal Reserve to pay interest on “excess reserves” that U.S. banks park at the Fed. This allowed banks to just send their money in to The Fed and earn money on it, rather than loan any of it to actual customers who needed loans. In other words, great for the banks themselves but screwed over the general public.

Or how about the government debt carry trade, where The Fed lends gigantic piles of nearly interest-free cash to the big Wall Street banks, and in turn those banks use the money to buy up huge amounts of government debt?

Oh yeah, this stuff made Ben Bernanke a real American hero.....

Comment re: telemetry issues (Score 0) 171

Honestly, yes - the phoning home / telemetry issues really are NOT huge concerns for us.
Our company doesn't have to be compliant with any of the multiple initialed government standards like HIPAA, FURPA, or what-not. So there's that.

But realistically, when your business standardizes on using the most popular operating system in the world (which I think is fair to say is Microsoft Windows), and you make an effort to secure your environment in other ways (a firewall in place, anti-virus software with central management and updates, spam filtering on all incoming corporate email, a corporate VPN provided for connecting back in to the office from remote sites, and ensuring all the computers and applications receive regular update patches), you should have a functional, relatively secure environment for people to work in.

The fact that Microsoft might be "spying" on what our users look at online, or keeping tabs on their Cortana search requests, or whatever else they're analyzing as the OS is used? That's something I think you wind up having to file under "part of the package deal of using Windows", under the circumstances. Is there any evidence Microsoft *ever* did anything malicious with user data of this sort that they gathered up? Are companies out there who were ruined when Microsoft distributed their intellectual property to competitors after sucking it down via standard mechanisms built into Windows itself? I'd have to say no.

I know there are many in the Linux community who find the whole thing completely unacceptable. But there are a lot of things people take issue with on principle when they're talking about their individual computers or devices and personal data. Things tend to be different for businesses, where corporate information is trusted, every day, with employees or even freelance workers who could theoretically leak all of it out to competitors or otherwise cause corporate espionage with it. You have to learn to put some level of trust in people (or other companies you partner with), and carry insurance to help mitigate financial problems when that trust is misplaced and things go wrong. Perhaps you even get the courts involved, if you can put together enough evidence of what happened to you after the fact.

It's a balancing act though.... How much value do you get from using a product, vs. potential risks or downsides of it helping itself to certain types of information that flow through it?

Comment Re:Net worth is over $86 trillion!!! (Score 1) 254

Huh? Why would you argue about our nation's "net worth" as having any relevance here?

In an example of personal debt and ownership, a person can get WAY over their head in debt, while still possessing quite a few things of value. If it gets out of control and they can't manage it any longer - they have the legal options to file for bankruptcy, including a Chapter 7 where most of the debts are simply washed away. Technically, they're *supposed* to itemize all of their possessions to determine their net worth, and then a court can order it be sold off or returned to lenders they owe money to. But realistically, we all know that almost never happens. People in personal bankruptcy are usually holding serious grudges against the entities that they borrowed from in the first place .... disputes over harassing collections efforts and unfair amounts of interest piled onto the unpaid portion of the debt they were struggling to pay back, etc. So they're going to make those assets temporarily disappear -- letting friends hang onto it for them for a while, liquidating some of it for cash, etc. etc.

When the NATION mismanages things by borrowing way too much, it can go bankrupt too -- but then EVERYONE suffers. The country's "net worth" involves all the businesses and natural resources here -- not just what government itself owns. It's NOT ok if government implodes the economy and then debtor nations come swooping in to claim what they're owed. They'll have to take it out of basic infrastructure and land. Maybe they'll just take over a portion of the country and run it their way?

Comment So you say, Solandri.... (Score 1) 254

But by abandoning the gold standard and not coming up with anything concrete to replace gold, we effectively said our currency is no longer tied to anything tangible of any value, so only faith in our leaders managing everything keeps it afloat.

IMO, that's proven to be a terrible fiscal policy -- as we saw with the Federal Reserve running out of techniques or ideas to control things during the last economic crash. Interest rates were dropped to near 0% and none of the decreases were having the expected/desired effect on the economy.

Gold may not be the right material to back our currency with (probably isn't for several reasons, including the high costs and requirements to store enough of it to back the amount of currency in circulation). But the concept makes a whole lot of sense. If you don't possess enough of the raw material to back additional currency with, you can't just go crazy printing off money to pay whatever debts it's politically convenient in the short term to run up.

IMO, Bitcoin was never really suitable as a primary form of currency for everyone to use on a daily basis. If nothing else, the technology is just too complicated to facilitate easy enough, fast enough transactions. The beauty in it is its potential for universal acceptance while preserving anonymity. (Cash has always allowed anonymous transactions, but with the requirement that you physically hand it over from person A to B - creating difficulties in keeping it anonymous. If anyone video records you doing the transaction, for example? Then it's no longer truly anonymous.) When it was still really new, you had lots of people just experimenting with it -- buying pizzas with it and so forth. But as it's matured, it's clearly become something best used only when you need the advantages it brings to the table.

Comment The challenges are real, but not exceptionally so. (Score 1, Insightful) 171

Our company is one that initially resisted a Windows 10 migration. One of the big reasons is that we still rely on some older software that's incompatible with Windows 10 unless you keep a very expensive maintenance agreement current with the vendor, so you can get/use their latest update. In our case, we're trying to migrate off of that product completely in the next year or so, switching to one that's being customized for our needs at this time under a different maintenance agreement.

But realistically? That's only a product used by a small sub-set of our employees who deal directly with Finance / Accounting issues.

We found ourselves deploying Windows 10 to anyone else who needed a new PC, simply because we standardized on the Surface Pro 4 as the default hardware moving forward. (We have a lot of highly mobile workers involved in sales/marketing or creative design - and for those who aren't on Macs, they keep demanding a portable that's as light and thin as possible - with the drawing pen a big plus for a few situations. So the Surface Pro 4 just made the most sense to appease the majority of them while keeping things within our budget as long as we buy the model with the Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and the 256GB SSD in it.)

We did some "piecemeal" upgrades of other HP "Elitebook" laptops and Dell Latitudes out there as well. And the results? The move from Win 7 to 10 caused us a little initial pain, building a customized image that we felt was suitable for our users. (We wanted to make sure the "Metro" tiles on their START button only displayed the applications relevant to us, for example. No need for things like XBox or Candy Crush to show up prominently there! And we had a couple of situations where we had to make sure printer drivers on our Windows servers were upgraded, so the shared printers would still work properly for the Win 10 folks.) In a couple of cases, the Dell computers needed a BIOS upgrade before they'd complete the Win 10 upgrade properly, too. But overall? Things generally work fine. Most user issues/questions after the migration are centered around new features in Windows 10 they didn't understand how to use. One "gotcha" has been the "tablet mode" feature in 10. Some of the HP laptops have motion sensors in them that were probably intended only to detect a fall or shock, to power down spinning hard drives. But Win 10 uses it anyway to determine if the PC is "rotated", and tries to switch everything on screen into the tablet-friendly touch-screen mode. Needless to say, that's not good on a non touch-compatible laptop, AND it doesn't even sense the rotation motion reliably. It just winds up switch modes somewhat randomly when the PC is moved around.

Comment Re:Would it be positive for your customers? (Score 4, Informative) 158

Yes, more sponsored free data transfer and optimization from content providers. It's a grey area now. But "Stream Game of Thrones now without using your data, exclusively on AT&T" is something that carriers and content providers really want to do.

Comment Netflix has a point, but a short-sighted one. (Score 1) 161

It's not unreasonable to assume that overall, Netflix customers tend to spend a certain number of hours each week or month watching their content. And regardless of how compelling the content might be? People still have to eventually get some sleep, or get up and go to school or work in the morning every weekday. Binge-watching probably doesn't even put much of a dent in these averages either. (I suspect binge-watchers tend to watch a lot LESS television after they just finished binging on a series. They've got the guilt factor of realizing they put aside a lot of other stuff they really need to do, for starters. Plus, there's that feeling of let-down when a great show they were into enough to binge-watch is out of episodes, and they realize you can't find anything else right then that seems nearly as compelling.)

If you really dislike everything you watch on Netflix, after trying movies you never heard of, you're eventually going to cancel and no longer be part of their statistics.

The way to really build a customer base that's loyal, though, is to offer enough *original* content of quality. I agree with Netflix's assertion that the big, blockbuster movies are the ones most people have already seen, so they don't really get as many replays on streaming services as one might think. But what people REALLY like paying for is good new content. HBO figured this out a long time ago, which is why you saw "Game of Thrones" and many other original series coming from them. Their service was slipping into irrelevance until they made that change.

Netflix would be wise not to waste a lot of money signing deals with big studios, but rather, to produce more of their own original movies and TV episodes.

Comment Re:Fighting nebulous "hate speech" will kill them (Score 2) 373

If these companies even tried to end "hate speech" or whatever nebulous crime where a specific group of pigs are more equal than another group of pigs, we will see the end of these platforms and companies full sail.

Banning trolls will hurt their business, how? As an employer, I'm MORE likely to advertise on a platform that wasn't full of screaming, stupid Trump people. Those are not people that I want to advertise to, anyway.

Comment re: class action suit (Score 1) 121

Yeah... The disappointing part is, I know with near certainty that if this becomes a class action, the settlement amount will be puny compared to the actual time and trouble it caused people who were affected by it. Most likely, Microsoft will wind up having to pay a settlement class consisting of just about anyone who owned Windows 7 and can show their system now runs Win 10 thanks to the online upgrade. (How would you realistically be able to prove whether or not you clicked the "upgrade" button by accident?)

But the flip side is? If it doesn't become a class action, we're left in a situation where only a very few will pursue legal action against MS, vs. all the people who chalked their issues up to "Just one more thing that sucks about computers!", trashing their old PC for a brand new one or resigning themselves to paying a computer tech to fix their problem. And if too many individuals start making demands, MS will probably start denying them -- tiring of the random demands to pay up. By calling the bluff of those threatening MS with letters, they'll further dwindle down the number of people actually willing to go through the courts and fight for the money they're demanding.

And ironically -- I imagine that in at least some of the scenarios where people gave up and bought a new Windows 10 machine, they purchased a Surface Pro or Surface Book, rewarding Microsoft for screwing them over!

Comment Re:HP Envy x360 15 (Score 1) 284

I won't buy a laptop *without* a number pad.

How often do you actually use the keypad, and is it worth the annoyance of having the entire keyboard shifted to the left? You can also forget about anything with a 13- or 14-inch screen if you insist on a built-in keypad.

For the few occasions where I might need to enter lots of numeric data, there are USB keypads.

Comment Re:same as it ever was (Score 1) 284

To be fair the machines with soldered on RAM are often that way because they already have the maximum that the chipset supports.

The thinnest notebooks out there use soldered-on RAM more than likely because sockets would make them thicker. It's not just Apple that's following this approach, either; I have a Dell Latitude 7370 that's fixed at 8 GB RAM. I wouldn't be surprised if a fair number of other "ultrabook" models took the same approach.

(Apparently the entire bottom panel is still removable with some screws, and the SSD is an M.2 (?) unit that can be replaced with something of larger capacity. Nobody's figured out a sufficiently low-profile method for accomodating RAM upgrades, though.)

Comment No middle ground? (Score 1) 588

Well, you, sir, may be the one here who isn't thinking about all possibilities.

Is it an awful idea to build some sort of "Muslim registration database". Yeah, probably. But if I'm a huge company like Microsoft and some journalist asks me if I'll state an official position on whether or not I'd ever help with such a thing? My smartest move is to ignore the question with a "No comment." and go on with my day.

The thing is, Trump hasn't even taken office yet - so ALL of this stuff is still conjecture at this point. All we really know about Trump so far is that he exaggerated a lot, and made a lot of big, bold promises that can't really be acted upon. Every day, the media is all over the guessing game of "Who will he put in his cabinet for position X?". Once all of those positions are chosen and final, THEN at least some more useful guesses can be made about the direction he'll actually take on policies, based on their previous history. But so far, we don't even have those folks all lined up yet.

Just like his promise to "build a wall and make Mexico pay for it", where *reality* is, Federal government hasn't even been able to build a continuous fence due to private property ownership of much of the land? Trump's talk about this registration database might turn out to be something far more "watered down", like a govt. database that doesn't require anyone "register" with it at all. The companies who declared "No, we won't assist!" prematurely would now be out of the running, or in an awkward situation, if the Dept. of Immigration or some other Federal dept. eventually wants to build a new/better database of, say, Muslim extremists still operating inside the country.

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