Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment "Robot" is to specific a term for your replacment (Score 1) 364

People have a tendency to think of "robot" as that Issac Asimov or Will Smith autonomous animatron. That is not what will replace you.

If you sit in an office looking at a screen for a living, your job will be replaced by an automated process as soon as someone writes a scriptable workflow process to assume those duties. I regularly deal with decision makers who say - If you can replace an employee with a system that only costs twice as much as their annual burden rate, I can sign off on it tomorrow. Three times or more than salary and benefits takes a few weeks for approval. Maybe it won't be one robot process that takes your place, but over time all your job are belong to us. One of the sales reps I work with puts it like this - I can provide you with an idiot savant who can only do 12 things, but do them with absolute accuracy and repeat-ability three shift a day 365 days a year with no benefits, over time or vacation, and who would never call in sick or have a sick child. How much will you pay?

Take every thing you do every day and write down the steps to accomplish them. If you can write them down they can be automated. Today its the routine AR processing and check writing, tomorrow its the scan/capture/index/search/retrieve/respond portion. Then the iPad based receptionist or the first & second level help desk support. Outside of the office there are initiatives like the push to automate over the road truck driving so move to the driving of the delivery trucks to the replaced list. Maybe it can't fully replace an employee, but reducing 1/3 of a workload from 4 people is often better. Once the number of people in the office drops 75% they drop the coffee service and the frequency of sandwich delivery at lunch goes from 3 times a week to 3 times a month so those jobs get cut as well. Sure someone probably has to ride the cherry picker up to bolt the sign on the post for the local mega mart, but how many of those jobs are there?

Comment Folks it not half the jobs, its half the work (Score 1) 409

It's not your job that needs eliminating, its the 4 hours a day that you spend doing BS because your system sucks that need eliminating. If you are in a large corporation half of what you do every day is not the job you were hired for. You spend 50% of your time in compliance activities. Transferring data from one system into another because they won't talk to each other, or your manager wants his own spreadsheet rather than using the "corporate" version because the columns are not in the right order. Or "the only reason I printed this out was to take it over here to scan in back in" because there is no connection between the system with the data and the document storage platform in use. Maybe its the "I need a wet signature on this" because your company won't take an electronic signature. Every company has thousands of these types of things. The longer your company has been in business, the more of these there are. If you think your job has BS activities that you should not have to do, that's in the 50%.

Comment Here is where I get confused... (Score 1) 170

Here is where I get confused...
  • Burning fossil fuels put CO2 in the air which is bad because it will make the earth to hot for life.
  • Fossil fuels started as CO2 in the environment that plants converted into carbon for their structure and oxygen which was released as a poisonous byproduct into the atmosphere.
  • Occasionally living things died in mass and piled up fast enough to be converted into coal and oil deposits (i.e. fossil fuels) rather than decay into composted soil
  • Humans burn those fossil fuels to make civilization possible at an acceptable price point
  • Burning the fossil fuels releases CO2 back into the environment where it started before that pesky plant life stuff screwed up the normal condition
  • CO2 levels for most of earths history, even most of the part where there was life, have been way higher than they are today
  • During previous ice ages atmospheric CO2 levels were 8 to 12 times higher than today but somehow - occasional ice ages - rather than uncontrolled AGW

Isn't burning fossil fuels releasing fossilized CO2 back into the atmosphere as it was for epochs of time where life thrived on earth rather than introducing an unprecedented life threatening condition upon the earth?

Comment The tide rolls in, the tide rolls out. (Score 1) 45

HP acquired EDS in 2008. Stagnates and splits into hardware and services companies in 2015.

Xerox acquired ACS in 2009. Stagnates and splits into hardware and services companies in 2016.

I attribute this to a few dirty little secrets rarely mentioned.

1. People with titles starting with C are risk takers. They try bold moves to move the needle. Rarely does this really bite them in the ass. Even if they are fired in disgrace, they are still usually given a golden parachute to tide them over until the next corporation hires them for more money to try it again.

2. Then there is the problem with the strategy of an old school hardware company trying a big move into solutions or services etc. Namely the barrier to entry for competition is completely different in the two industries. How much it would cost you to start up a manufacturing entity designing, building, and selling an office machine that would even take the bottom role in the industry? Now take a guess at how much it would cost you to open shop reselling an already known name brand software package to businesses in Anytown USA. The difference in cost for opening a viable ECM reseller shop compared to launching a viable printer manufacturing business is several orders of magnitude.

3. The hardware business does not survive selling printers, copier, etc. They keep the doors open because you have to run the thing. To paraphrase an old presidential candidate, its the annuity stupid. You pay for your device output by the page. This may be per copy or buying ink or toner. In any event the money made on the actual hardware sale often pales in comparison to the profit they make once it is in place. Even though most manufacturers have a direct selling arm, the corporate mother ship does not care who sells the hardware, as long as someone does, and keeps you filling the annuity stream.

I'll agree that there is an annuity component to the software business, but unless your software dies at the expiration of your contract, many businesses will opt out of your game and continue to run their existing software which is good enough while you get no additional money. See Windows XP and Office 2010. Maybe your company decides to go with a subscription model. No money, software no workee. This may play well in top tier businesses but in the bottom 95%, there is always a lower cost alternative to steal your business 5 years from now.

Sure the paperless office is just around the corner, but its been circling the drain for nearly 30 years. Most of the weak have been weeded out. Often the paperless office means the company which creates the content no longer has to pay to print and ship the document to you. But as often as not, it ends up on paper, its just the end user who pays the cost of printing. Maybe your business does not fall in this category and you are all iPad, all the time. But industry wide, printed page volumes have leveled off. Maybe they shifted to a different industry, segment, use etc. But make no mistake marks still go on paper. Unfortunately for Xerox, Ursula Burns long ago lost interest in marks on paper and gave up on large swatches of the business. Almost all products sold with Xeroxs name on them are manufactured by Fuji, not Xerox, and Xerox has abandoned all but a scant few of their largest customers to their dealers. You cant reap the golden eggs when you have sold the goose.

Comment Dang, that is one acidic ocean! (Score 1) 417

Permian Triassic extinction event: 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species became extinct.

So if I take this article at face value acidification of the ocean causes mass extinction in the middle of continents. Extinctions include land based reptiles, amphibians, herbivores, insects, and vertebrates.

Dang, that is one acidic ocean!

Or maybe, just maybe, someone cherry picks half a fact to justify something with a totally unrelated cause. Millions of years before the first primate existed, humans were causing the end of the world. The bigger the lie the easier it is to believe (Joseph Goebbels 1941), just sayin.

Fake science to justify a crusade. Nothing to see here, please move along.

Submission + - Why does Google Maps need to track who I'm calling on my cell phone? 5

cyanman writes: I see the latest update to Google maps for Android wants permission to monitor phone numbers I talk to on my phone?

Specifically the new permissions for v9.1.2 (Dec 5 2014) require:
Maps also needs access to:
"Allows the app to determine the phone number and Device ID's, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call."

As I see this, you give Google carte blanche to monitor and record who you talk to on your phone. Maybe this is while you are connected to Google Maps, but it is not restricted by the terms I read here. WTF? The least invasive thing I can think of here is that Google wants to start leveraging the numbers you call for marketing purposes. As if the fact that I spoke to someone on my hone means they want Google tracking them too.

Looking at from Google Play the update (or maybe just Maps) has been downloaded over a billion times. I'm sure that 99.99% of the folks never read a thing and just click the "gimme free update please" button, but surely I'm not the only person foolish enough to ask how much arm twisting the NSA had to do to get Google to monitor who I call on my phone within Google Maps.

Comment Tap the breaks - when? how much? (Score 1) 111

HP said they were going big in 3D printing most of a year ago. They said they would announce in June. The announcement time frame slipped 4 months. OK so nobody ever delivers on time. But notice they are not saying when or at what cost? I've been hearing some guesstimates at 2016 and over $100k.

Having some experience in 3D Systems equipment I'm going to say that if you have ever watched one of their ProJet 660 or 860 devices work, you could almost say that HP lifted a video of one of those devices working to publish as their own. The 3Dsystems devices are in full color opposed to the HP which is black only. Do they have some new wrinkles to bring to the table? Probably. Revolutionary? Probably not. Its also convenient that they allowed many of 3Dsystems patents to expire before they brought a machine to market. Will it be better than the joint 3DSystems Google Project Ara ? Who knows.

If I need a device today I'm not buying HP because its still vaporware. If I'm waiting till some more dust settles before I buy who can say what will be on the street in 2016?

Comment Figures lie and liars figure (Score 1) 454

The cited study count two factors:
>Alcohol attributable deaths(AAD) 28.5 per 100,000 population
>Years of potential life lost (YPLL) 823 per 100,000 population
Thats like 3% of the 10% that maybe actually died directly from an alcohol related cause.

My first question is what constitutes AAD? I could find no definition but given that this appears to be a study mainly directed at demonizing alcohol, use I'll make my own assumption that it is alcohol poisoning, drunk driving accidents, accidental deaths which alcohol is mentioned etc.

YPLL? Heck this is even a more vague category. Most likely overall longevity among drinkers compared to non drinkers. Not related directly to drinking, but hey you died so it counts. Got hit by a bus stone sober crossing the street, but you were a drinker? You still add to the YPLL total just like the guy with liver failure.

Then to take it one more step removed. The Alzheimer's research folks are now claiming that about 1/3 of deaths in senior citizens are Alzheimer related. John Doe died of heart failure, but they also want to count it as Alzheimer's. Why? Because John had Alzheimer's. Not that the condition had any direct causal relationship, he had it, so we can count it in our total. Cancer folks do the same, along with a whole host of other groups pushing for awareness and funding. If you add them up I would not be surprised if they add up to 300% of deaths caused by one thing or another.

If you have cancer, drink alcohol and have Alzheimer's, does that count as a triple word score?

Comment But wait - now how much would you pay? (Score 2) 171

The phone maker gets their profit from selling new phones. Updating your phones OS to a new version cost them money and delays your purchase of a new phone. How much effort would you put into raising your cost while costing yourself future revenue? The carrier makes money by locking you into a longer contract term. Often those new terms are at more $$ per month which happens when you buy a new phone. Updating your phone to a new version delays your commitment to a new contract term. I'm perfectly happy with my 3 year old android, especially since I updated it myself via an xda-developer ROM. But what if the manufacturer/carrier said "You want Gingerbread? Give us $20. You want Jelly Bean? Give us another $20. You want Key Lime? Give us another $20." They get cash in hand, you get renewed life on your phone.

Are you in?

Comment You can't think about future with present ideas (Score 1) 626

Quote from Ernesto Sirolli, during his wonderful TED talk: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!

There was a group of experts who were invited to discuss the future of the city of New York in 1860. And in 1860, this group of people came together, and they all speculated about what would happen to the city of New York in 100 years, and the conclusion was unanimous: The city of New York would not exist in 100 years. Why? Because they looked at the curve and said, if the population keeps growing at this rate, to move the population of New York around, they would have needed six million horses, and the manure created by six million horses would be impossible to deal with. They were already drowning in manure.

So what happens? In 40 years time, in the year 1900, in the United States of America, there were 1,001 car manufacturing companies - 1,001. The idea of finding a different technology had absolutely taken over, and there were tiny, tiny little factories in backwaters.

Comment Who stands to profit? (Score 1) 285

Reality Check: All of the companies who are promoting this stand to make money off of you if you go paperless. None of the companies promoting this make money off of you if you maintain a paper workflow. They don't care if its better for YOUR business, its better for THEIR business. I work for a company which sells document management solutions in the SMB space. We have also migrated many of our internal systems to the cloud. In my experience the problems are:
  1. Electronic document storage is only as good as your last backup. Sure paper can get destroyed in a fire, but your server is probably not going to be much good either.
  2. When your internet connection goes down you are paying everyone in the office to play Angry Birds on their phone.
  3. The cloud based systems often require specific OS's and software versions for compatibility. God forbid you want to use an OS which does not support ActiveX, or a user updates their Java version.
  4. At least for the HR system we use, it takes forever for performance reviews to get through the process because the provider has a website for crap, and we have no control over it.
  5. The dirty little secret for electronic document storage is that offices often print MORE paper than before. Most people print out the document to work with it, so rather than having one hard copy in the file folder you now have 6 copies in the recycle bid because they were read once and discarded.
  6. Ask your provider about the number of systems sold compared to the number of systems still actively used 24 months later. They sold you the system (and probably a yearly maintenance contract) but they DO NOT CARE if you use the system or not.
  7. Trees are a renewable resource. The coal that powers your office, not so much. And when paper companies can't make money selling paper they just sell the land to shopping mall developers. Where is the good in that?

Comment Where will the content come from? (Score 1) 126

The one thing I never hear anyone discuss is the content. Sure the internet is great at distributing content. But where does the content COME FROM? The content of most internet "news sites" are links generated from someone who actually used a human to gather information and then write the story. Who was that actual human? Did MSN, Yahoo, Google or Drudge send out a human to talk to people, take pictures, research relevant facts? I'm guessing no to all of the above. They sucked up the content someone else paid to generate and put it on the net for free.

"When a 14 year old kid can blow up your business in his spare time, not because he hates you but because he loves you, then you got a problem."

Sure the business model of the internet news feed can beat the Rocky Mountain News trying to sell content thrown on your front yard. But none of those "outlets" originate the news content, they regurgitate what someone else paid a reporter to generate. Freedom of the press means that you can print what you want and the government cannot stop you. It does not mean consumers are entitled to all of the news for free just because it exists. Before the net gave you access were you entitled to a free daily copy of the New York Times in your home, office, or coffee shop? Even when you live in Omaha? Just because MSN will give you an article for free does not make it free to generate. What happens to freedom of the press when the "printing press" is free? Will the news business degenerate into something that looks like tech review websites? Where they decide what to review and what to say about something based on who is giving them a free sample and who is paying the freight? Will you be able to trust your news site when what they publish is based on web clicks and flash ads? Whose feet do you hold to the fire when a blog post is repeated around the world and it turns out to be made up by a drunk in Waco who was bored on a Friday night? Will Google print an apology and a retraction?

Although there are similarities to the music business, at least there you have clubs, concert tours etc where a group of guys who want to make a living in the business can do so even if 90% of what they generate is pirated off the net for free. How many of you will go to a Ruben Navarrette, Charles Krauthammer or David Ignatius concert? They write columns for the Washington Post Writers Group, syndicated in almost 200 papers nationwide. You have probably read some of their stuff on your favorite news feed. How do real news reporters make a living when there is no one to pay for what they write? They quit the news business and turn it over to Perez Hilton.

Welcome to the Idiocracy

Comment Re:Countermeasures? (Score 5, Insightful) 795

First, this technology has been in use since the very beginning of color laser devices, even before you could use them as a printer. Meaning this started when a color laser printer retailed for close to $100k. It was there (along with other technology) to mark everything that came out of the machine. On the Canon CLC line there is a bar code imbedded on a plate next to the copier glass. Every time you hit the start button, it reads the bar code and compares it to the value stored on the controller board to make sure you had not monkeyed with it, then it prints that bar code all over the page with single yellow pixels. How did they track it? Easy, the thing cost over $75,000. Every one that left the factory was tracked by the manufacturer. They knew where every serial number went. The feds would call up those manufacturers a few times a year asking who a machine with such and such a serial number was sold to. Fast forward to todays commercial equipment and that same thing still applies. I can't vouch for whether you can run down to Best Buy and walk out with a color laser without Best Buy recording the serial number and tying it to your name, but it will dang sure still print identifying info on every page that comes out. It would not suprise me if most of the stuff you drag home marks its territory too, including ink jets. Even if the authorities can't look you up in a database and knock on your door, if they happen to raid your place and grab your printer, try to make new friends in prison.

Slashdot Top Deals

The cost of living hasn't affected its popularity.