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Comment Re:30 hour workweek experiment (Score 2) 146

I'm too lazy to look for the cite, but I have read in the past that in the short term virtually any change you make is good and results in a productivity improvement. Then the novelty wears off and you go back to the old baseline. So people may be motivated to work harder or try to get more done in a 30 hour week initially, but that effect tends to wear off once it becomes the new normal.

Comment Re:Thanks. Mr. Obvious (Score 2) 245

Rather than traditional auto insurance, the better model may be medical malpractice insurance.

Medical care has inherent risks, and when a patient dies or has serious complications, the question becomes whether those were the result of errors made during the treatment process or essentially bad luck. If the doctor should have done better, then you are talking malpractice. If the patient had a drug allergy that could not reasonably have been detected in advance, that is bad luck.

Self driving cars may be in the same boat. If a car's systems behaved correctly and an accident still results, even if you can imagine a better system that would not have that limitation, there may be no product liability, and you would purchase insurance to cover damage the vehicle, properties, and people.

Comment Re:There's a word for this (Score 1) 236

This is where certain Slashdotters would accuse me of being a "shill", if I were defending an Apple policy; so, pray tell, why wouldn't the term apply to you and your response?

If I were to be pedantic, I would say that a shill is someone who is paid by the entity being promoted, or at a minimum has a self interest at stake in the promotion. I get nothing from Microsoft (you will have to take my word on that I guess), so at worst I am being guilty of being a fanboi.

But I would also say that my statement was correct, and truth is an affirmative defense. Microsoft backdates their drivers. They don't ask anyone else to do so, and the fact that copying a Windows install doesn't work isn't solely (or even mostly) due to driver dating, so I don't consider driver backdating to be something that inconveniences users. That goes to my assertion that this at most inconveniences Microsoft's own developers.

Comment Re:An insanely clever solution, Microsoft-style. (Score 1) 236

Why don't they simply add another record ("source") to help make the driver comparison? A typical Microsoft solution I would say.

So how do you compare sources? If I have a nVidia reference driver, a custom driver from the hardware OEM, and a Microsoft driver, how do I rank those? Or is source simply MS vs non-MS?

Don't forget that whatever change to driver ranking MS makes also has to have provision with the thousands of already existing drivers that won't get updated to include a new field.

Comment Re:Viruses? (Score 1) 236

Hold on. Let's say that a virus modifies the older driver which, of course, now bumps the timestamp to the day of the infection. This would move the older - now infected - driver up in the priority? Wow. That explains so much.

As Raymond Chen would say, "That rather involved being on the other side of the airtight hatchway". If you can modify the driver, who cares about the timestamp, just modify the actual driver being used and be done with it.

Comment Re:There's a word for this (Score 2) 236

Microsoft Developers have got to be the laziest on the planet. EVERYTHING that MS does is done for the ease of their Developers, regardless of what hoops or inconvenience it causes the User.

Given that in the this case the kludge only affects Microsoft developers, it forces other developers and users to go through exactly zero hoops.

Microsoft backdates their drivers so that they don't win timestamps and will only win on version compares. I think changing the order of the timestamp and version compares would be a simple solution, but I can imagine that they considered that and had some reason why that led to undesirable results. So they have a solution where they backdate their drivers and nobody else has to.

Comment Re:Illegal Laws (Score 1) 267

Laws barring property rental are per se illegal, as the constitution does not give the government, at any level, the explicit right to dictate what one does (or does not do) with their own property. This goes for zoning as well.

If you take an originalist, states right centric view of the constitution, the constitution defines limits on what the federal government can do, but does not in any way restrict the rights of the states to pass whatever laws they wish.

In the modern view of constitutional supremacy, where states are not allowed to limit rights granted by the constitution and the states are generally subordinate to the feds, there is nothing to prevent either the states or the feds from limiting rental rights.

So in both of the major schools of thought regarding the constitution, this is perfectly legitimate.

Comment Re:Confirmation bias (Score 1) 366

(Do you realize that only once since 1988 has a Republican candidate actually won the popular vote? That's 6 of the last 7 elections. Talk about evidence of a screwed up election system...)

Given that in most of the elections in that period a democrat won, that hardly seems shocking. And since the electoral/popular split has only happened 5 times in US history, it is not a common occurrence, even if it has happened twice in the last sixteen years.

Comment Re:Fairness has a role (Score 1) 290

This is why big oil has been sitting on the technology to turn water into gasoline for years, and why I keep seeing ads about the miracle products that the power company doesn't want me to know about.

A company that had a cure for HIV would market it, for some combination of the following reasons:
1. Even if temporary, it would represent a massive slug of business, extending over multiple years. Given the short term focus of most US based businesses, that it hard to pass up.
2. The secret is too hard to keep. If your researchers have created something that is likely to lead to the Nobel prize, and the company decides to sit on it, it becomes a huge scandal waiting to be uncovered.
3. The situation is unstable. The first company to market a cure puts the recurring revenue of everybody with ongoing treatment at risk. It is like the prisoners dilemma. You maximize your profits by being first to market with the cure.

A cure for Hepatitis C has recently come to market. It is phenomenally expensive, but it is a genuine cure. That is an anecdote, but at least one instance of a cure being developed.

Comment Re:A lack of software freedom can be lethal & (Score 1) 60

So the threat of death is enough for you to argue the status quo standing behind proprietors and denying the user full control of a device they obtained (in Sandler's case wear inside their body) but not enough for you to let the user control. We still don't think that's the case for more common devices that are involved in lot of harm such as cars. In light of what's actually already happened to Sandler, your response is remarkably sycophantic to power.

I think you are mixing arguments. I was making the utilitarian case that the remedy proposed (software freedom) was unlikely to be an effective remedy in this case. I said nothing pro or con about software freedom.

If you want to argue conceptually for software freedom, then Karen Sandler's case is nothing but an anecdote, and we can rehash the usual pro/anti FSF and GPL arguments all day long. Personally I don't view proprietary software as evil or even morally suspect, and I am fairly sure you disagree with that view.

Submission + - Congress Will Consider Proposal To Raise H-1B Minimum Wage To $100,000 (arstechnica.com)

An anonymous reader writes: President-elect Donald Trump is just a week away from taking office. From the start of his campaign, he has promised big changes to the US immigration system. For both Trump's advisers and members of Congress, the H-1B visa program, which allows many foreign workers to fill technology jobs, is a particular focus. One major change to that system is already under discussion: making it harder for companies to use H-1B workers to replace Americans by simply giving the foreign workers a raise. The "Protect and Grow American Jobs Act," introduced last week by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. and Scott Peters, D-Calif., would significantly raise the wages of workers who get H-1B visas. If the bill becomes law, the minimum wage paid to H-1B workers would rise to at least $100,000 annually, and be adjusted it for inflation. Right now, the minimum is $60,000. The sponsors say that would go a long way toward fixing some of the abuses of the H-1B program, which critics say is currently used to simply replace American workers with cheaper, foreign workers. In 2013, the top nine companies acquiring H-1B visas were technology outsourcing firms, according to an analysis by a critic of the H-1B program. (The 10th is Microsoft.) The thinking goes that if minimum H-1B salaries are brought closer to what high-skilled tech employment really pays, the economic incentive to use it as a worker-replacement program will drop off. "We need to ensure we can retain the world’s best and brightest talent," said Issa in a statement about the bill. "At the same time, we also need to make sure programs are not abused to allow companies to outsource and hire cheap foreign labor from abroad to replace American workers." The H-1B program offers 65,000 visas each fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 reserved for foreign workers who have advanced degrees from US colleges and universities. The visas are awarded by lottery each year. Last year, the government received more than 236,000 applications for those visas.

Submission + - User Trust Fail: Google Chrome and the Tech Support Scams (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: It’s not Google’s fault that these criminals exist. However, given Google’s excellent record at detection and blocking of malware, it is beyond puzzling why Google’s Chrome browser is so ineffective at blocking or even warning about these horrific tech support scams when they hit a user’s browser.

These scam pages should not require massive AI power for Google to target.

And critically, it’s difficult to understand why Chrome still permits most of these crooked pages to completely lock up the user’s browser — often making it impossible for the user to close the related tab or browser through any means that most users could reasonably be expected to know about.

Comment Re:A lack of software freedom can be lethal & (Score 1) 60

I don't see anything in your post that makes me believe that if Karen Sandler had access to the code she could make improvements to the device for her particular situation.

First, as another poster has noted, modern implantable devices are extensively configurable, and yet most of them go in with the default settings, because the cardiologist/surgeon don't know enough about each device to tweak the settings. So it is quite conceivable that it could be already be configured to deal properly with a pregnant woman's racing heartbeat.

Second, all of these devices walk a hazard/benefit tightrope. You are dealing with devices that can kill the patient if they fail. The patient might die due to the ordinary surgical complication risk that is always present. The device might function but not actually help them because of their particular physiology. So the validation of the device talks a lot about risk and reward, and the testing will focus on the population most likely to benefit. It is likely that pregnant women form a miniscule market for this device, so they may be considered an off label use - something that was not studied and about which nothing is known.

Think of pharmaceutical ads, and how often you hear the phrase "women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant should consult their doctor". That tells you right there that either pregnant women weren't studied, or that they have additional risk factors because of the pregnancy.

To think that access to the sourcecode by an interested layperson could make the software meaningfully better is a stretch. Perhaps getting access to the programming manual for the device would help, but that doesn't require access to the source code.

Comment Re:Lost $800 Million (Score 1) 156

It's the new business model: as long as you can keep investment capitol coming in, you expand like wildfire in the hope that what you do eventually becomes profitable.

As a way to build a new market, subsidized pricing works and may well be justified. When Amazon started, the notion of shopping for books on your computer was strange. For the most part people were used to browsing through their neighborhood bookstore, and it was not at all apparent that an online only store was viable. But by undercutting brick and mortar stores, they got people to try their services, which let them expand and continue to build their infrastructure.

I haven't been paying much attention lately, but I don't think Amazon emphasizes the lowest prices anymore. Now they are all about convenience and selection, meaning that they don't have to subsidize the products they sell.

Similarly, prior to Uber and Lyft, ride hailing on your phone wasn't a thing for most people. At least in my case, it was easy to try, and cheap enough that I gave it a shot. Now my perception of the value it provides has gone up, to the point where I might grumble about a price hike but would probably keep riding.

But had the prices been higher when I initially tried it, it would have been more likely to prevent me from trying it in the first place.

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