cinnamon colbert writes: Elon Mus is frequently praised by techies and slashdotters as representing a cutting edge entrepreneurial fellow who uses the might of the profit motive to create technology. However, it would appear that his companies are thriving due to billions in tax dollars, aka corporate welfare."both Tesla and Solar City have received over $2 billion each, if you count the value of the subsidies their customers have received for buying Tesla vehicles and Solar City installations. This is more significant in the case of Solar City (about $1 billion) than for Tesla (about $321 million). Even without these sums, the companies have directly received about $3.5 billion, most notably for the new Gigafactory in Nevada and for a solar panel facility in Buffalo, New York."
These sums represent transfers from taxpayers to the 36th wealthiest man in America.
cinnamon colbert writes: I recently heard Katherine Eban talk about her reporting on “fast and furious” on the NPR show “The Connection” (http://onpoint.wbur.org/2012/07/02/fast-and-furious-fortune ) If she is right, those people who have been attacking Eric Holder (primarily D Issa and his committee in congress) has been perpetuating an enormous scam, a scam so large that it is astonishing
Under AZ law, it is legal for an 18 year old without a record to walk into a store and buy 20 AK47s with cash (apparently, stores advertise discounts for bulk purchases). And, it is legal for that 18yro to walk outside and sell those guns to someone else. The ATF was monitoring this, but under AZ and Fed law, they could arrest someone only if they had reasonable suspicion that one of the buyers had illegal goal: in the USA, you can't arrest someone cause you don't like em (at least in theory) or you suspect that they are a Drug Cartel Gun Buyer; you need evidence. The ATF could also make an arrest if the saw that the guns were going across the border (a violation of export law). The ATF agents were trying very, very hard to make cases, by monitoring and wiretapping, trying to build cases against this constant illegal activity (upwards of 2,000 guns a DAY go into mexico from the US) However, due to these laws, in many cases they were unable to make a case; in one instance, a gun sale occurred on the Sat of MLK holiday, and by the time the ATF agents got wind of the sale, the guns were gone for 3 days.
Further, there have been accusations that there is a list of “2,000 guns” supposedly walked deliberatley into Mexico so that ATF agents could track the cartel. Total lie – this is just a list the ATF compiled of LEGAL but questionable sales, those same sales they were trying as hard as they could to stop. So, you can see the whole story that the ATF was letting known criminals make straw purchases so they could follow guns is a total perversion of the truth, which is that lax gun laws pushed by the NRA and GOP caused this problem. Further, at least some of the ATF whistleblowers who testified to congress are suspect; one of them was not stationed in Phoenix , nor a part of FnF, and this agent had a long document history of antagonism with his superiors (complaining about the email ringtone on his computer, but, oddly, no complaints about FnF)
For reasons not entirely clear, the Obama admin is going along with this; it could be that they don’t want to upset the NRA/gun lobby prior to the election, or that they are incompetent (their inability to sell healthcare reform points to incompetence or arrogance).
cinnamon colbert writes: I discovered Firefox in version two, and left IE and opera in the dust; I was, in a micro way, an FF evangelist — I got lots of people hooked on FF. Recently, FF has been crashing and freezing, a lot, and the kids tell me to switch to chrome. I would say that at least once a day, I click on a link and *my entire computer* freezes until something happens — not just FF, which is frozen solid, but other programs and the Windows 7 OS They have new revs on what seem like an hourly basis, yet basic functionality, like a usable way to deal with bookmarks (if you have more then 100) is totally lacking. what do you think — time to put FF on the dusty silicon shelf ? PS: as we should all remember, Google sends a lot of money to mozilla, and that money resulted in administrators getting higher salarys then coders. Perhaps the money was a slick google plot to turn FF into an MS like piece of code — slow, bloated, full of bugs with a lousy gui.
cinnamon colbert writes: While trying to find out how many people are employed by Intel, google led me to this URL
(http://www.intel.com/intel/company/corp1.htm) which says,
quote " Number of employees
The number of Intel employees can be found in our annual report."
if you click the annual report link, you go not to a pdf of the annual report but the investor relation page; in the clutter there is a large box that says 2009 annual report — but the box is static, you have to click the link under it.
That brings you to this weird video that seem designed to show that Intel is cool and hip
There is no link to a pdf of the annual report, which is a pretty standard thing on most corporate websites, instead you get links to selected parts of the annual report in online format.
However, if you perservere, and click several more times on the right links, none of which is entitled "annual report" you do get to a page that has the 2009 AR..but no links to prior years.
After a long wait for the Intel servers (must be Itanium on Windows ME) to get the document.
You find that If you search the document for the word "employee" you don't get any hits that have employee headcount.
So,given all of this, my question to the slashdot community is: among major corporations, does this win some sort of award for give people who visit our corporate site the run around ?
cinnamon colbert writes: What is your opinion of the design and layout of the official whitehouse webpage, www.whitehouse.gov, and the special site , www.recovery.gov., which was setup to tell people where the money in the 1T (trillion) dollar stimulus bill is going ? To me, both sites seem glitzy and technically cutting edge — the graphics are great eye candy and there is a lot of fancy video and so forth. But in terms of meeting user needs, the Whitehouse.gov site seems cluttered and dis organized, designed mainly to feed the 24/7 news cycle, by providing a constant update of tidbits that media and news organizations can use. But the site lacks overall focus and organization; in particular, there do not seem to be overview pages that help the ordinary citizen understand all of the stuff related to one issue — if you search "recovery act" you get 1300 odd hits (!) but there is no organization or prioritization of those hits.
I thint the recovery.gov site is a lot better organized; it provides a huge amount of information that you can view in GIS or tabular text format. The site also makes it clear that a lot of people have gotten money; at the micro level, you can search your city or zipcode; in my zipcode alone there are 3 awardees: 225K to some company developing software to analyze 911 calls; 60K to the city for some sort of police training program; and 3K to the city agency that helps poor people. And you can view this info on a map, showing the street grid and the location, or in a text table At the macro level, the site provides good summary statistics of how many jobs (reported by fund reciepients) have been created or saved, and where those jobs are.
What is odd, is that with all this technology and information, the site isn't convincing — you can spend hours pouring over the data without really getting an overview that convinces you that all these billions of dollars are well spent.
cinnamon colbert writes: I'm finishing my taxes (here in eastern MA we have an extension to May 11, due to unusually heavy rains that caused significant flooding), and once again, I'm amazed at how bad turbotax is — all the stuff people like to say about M$ is true about turbotax. Setting aside all the on screen messages that are poorly phrased and cryptic, entering data is a slow and painful process. To enter data, Turbo tax has two main modes; one is the step by step inteview, where you answer one question/screen; the second mode is "forms" where you can enter data directly into whatever form you are interested. To give an example of how bad turbotax is, consider what you have to do to enter cash contribuitons to a charity; it takes something like six screens; the forms method is, if any thing, even worse, since the forms are in a hierarchical manner, with the final entry generated from worksheets. But maybe I'm the only one who feels this way.
cinnamon colbert writes: Although the GOP has denounced the recently enacted health care reform bill, and not one republican member of congress voted for it, The miami herald reports today that one of the chief provisions of the bill, "individual mandates" (you have to buy health insurance, just like you have to buy car insurance) is a Republican idea. I'm sure there is a lot of hypocrisy on both sides; what is your favorite example
cinnamon colbert writes: Per this story http://www.gregpalast.com/, the response of the US to the humanitarian crisis in Haiti has been slow. For instance, Iceland — a nation of 300,000 people — managed to get a team of 37 search and rescue specialist , with all the gear they need to be self sufficient, on the ground in Haiti in *24 hours*. The US ? From the article "AP reported that the President of the United States promised, "The initial contingent of 2,000 Marines could be deployed to the quake-ravaged country within the next few days." "In a few days," Mr. Obama? " For the open source enthusiast, there is an added twist: Wikipedia has an outstanding article on foreign response to the Haiti Earthquake, that can be used for fact checking.
cinnamon colbert writes: As a MA voter, I wanted to go and see the President on his visit to our state tomorrow (Sunday, 17 Jan 2010); as many of you may know, there is a special election on Teusday to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Senator Kennedy. Surprisingly, the GOP candidate (Brown) seems to be, according to the polls, tied with the Democratic candidate, state AG Martha Coakley. Thus, even though Coakley should be a shoe-in, she is in a tight race, and the POTUS is coming to MA to help her. (Full Disclosure: as a Liberal, I wish to protest what I perceive as a right wing, pro wall street/anti main street bias in Obama's administration) As of Saturday morning, no details of the visit are available. I can understand, why, for security reasons, they might keep details of Obama's travel under wraps. However, I was very surprised to find that there does not seem to be an online source that describes the Presidents past schedule. Eg, on such and such a day, he was here doing this, then here doing this, and so forth. I can understand, for security reasons, why they might keep upcoming events under tight wraps, but why is there not a detailed daily diary/schedule available for the POTUS ?
cinnamon colbert writes: As widely reported (here on ABC news http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/HealthCare/howard-dean-health-care-bill-bigger-bailout-insurance/story?id=9349392/) Howard Dean is urging Democrats to oppose health care reform, as the bill is a "bailout for the insurance industry".
What do you think ? In particular , are the supposed benefits — extension of insurance to 30 million people who are currently uninsured, and preventing insurance companies from denying coverage for pre exisiting conditions — actually going to make it into the real world, or will they die somewhere between passage of the bill and the implementation of the bill, which will take many years and regulations.
We can see that this has alread happened to one "reform": a ban on lifetime benefit caps (a benefit cap is a limit on how much an insurance company will pay; if you are unlucky enough to need very $$ treatments, you can go over the cap under many current plans). The current bills pretend to ban lifetime caps, but they actually ban caps that are "unreasonable". Over the years, who do you think is going to have more influence on the legal definition of "unreasonable" — the insurance industry of someone else ?
cinnamon colbert writes: I use firefox as my main browser, both at work and at home, but am considering switching back to IE due to one particular problem with FF: it frequently hangs when opening pdfs. This might not be a problem if only the tab specific to the problem pdf (or problem server — I don't know what is actually going on) froze, but what often happens is that all the open tabs freeze, and I have to shut down the browser — a real pain, particularly if I haven't bookmarked the pages or saved other pdfs that were open.
Is this a serious problem for anyone else ?
cinnamon colbert writes: I'm looking for software that can help my company manage information in documents that may be in pdf, doc or web form. I work for a biotech company with 15 people, and we have large numbers of documents that range from very technical scientific publications (usually pdf) to company reports like 10-Ks, to web pages to newspaper articles to pictures. We use these documents to review and stay current with the scientific literature; to learn about what competitors are doing, gain market information (who is selling how much of what), generate publicity for our products,and so forth. We currently use the windows file tree as our organizer, which creates several problems: I can't put one file into multiple bins; I can't use keywords to search; I can't organize files into groups. What I would like (I think) to do is organize the information by keywords and subjects; associate groups of files into binders, and create summarys for the binders (eg, I might have 5 files that go together, and my own summary of what the five files mean); add sticky notes to anything at anytime (actuallly, I would like keywords and stickys [comments in adobe acrobat] to be the same: words in stickys are keywords, and keywords show up in the stick; add URLS and webpages directly from the browser; have a function that mimics or is compatible with a package like endnote or procite or papyrus or refcite (formats bibliographys in word docs) I'm not even sure what the solution looks like, but it needs to be cheap (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez. This has a lot of features that scientists need, such as keyword search returns a list of articles that can be viewed by abstract.
OK, a correspondent directs me to John McCain's article, (http://www.contingencies.org/septoct08/mccain.pdf) Better Health Care at Lower Cost for Every American, in the Sept./Oct. issue of Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries. You might want to be seated before reading this.
Here's what McCain has to say about the wonders of market-based health reform:
Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.
So McCain, who now poses as the scourge of Wall Street, was praising financial deregulation like 10 seconds ago — and promising that if we marketize health care, it will perform as well as the financial industry!
cinnamon colbert writes: Dear Sir: I cannot be the only person using firefox who really dislikes the changes to the/. GUI in the last year; given the intelligence shown in the original code, I am surprised that you are making these changes.
I submit that any piece of software has a natural evolution, and after a certain point, you have most of the features that you need; if you keep tinkering, you just make the code baroque./. has reached that point — the changes over the last year are, imo, a net loss to usability.
Every month, I find myself on/. less and less (don't say it,...a good thing)
Please — I love/. and think you are going in the wrong direction !!
Please — poll your readers on this !!
cinnamon colbert writes: Barack Obama (or people associated with him) have a website http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/fightthesmearshome/ devoted to dispelling rumors. Aside from the depressing point that so many people are willing to spread such garbage, and that so many people pay attention, I was very impressed with the sophistication of the site — the content, layout, organization are superb. For instance, the site mixes text, photos and video, and does so in a context appropriate way.