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Comment Re:Ask Slashdot (Score 1) 191

Nonsense. There would be enormous use of fully open source alternatives to Google search, Gmail, Call of Duty, Starcraft 2, Destiny, and dozens of other similar projects. The best, to my knowledge, fully open source search engine is Yacy and it totally sucks. Running your own email server isn't too hard, but getting your mail to recipients on Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo mail without relaying through one of the big services is all but impossible. There are plenty of nice graphical fully open source video games out there, but nothing with the artwork or the voice acting or the visuals on par with a top of the line AAA game. Nobody is making them because it's too damn difficult.

To be good, these things need experts in the field following good business and engineering practices. It's difficult, costly, and takes a lot of time, so only large international companies have much of a chance at being competitive. The forces of capitalism or government development seems to be the best ways currently to solve these kinds of massive undertakings. The internet has shown a lot of promise in allowing loosely-connected entities to collaborate, but once a project starts to look like it has value, somebody always takes the bone (or their part of the bone) and tries to personally benefit. Everybody needs to put food on the table at the end of the day.

Comment Re: Dr Yang Chen-ning (Score 1) 141

People should listen to him.

People do listen to him. Most Americans would be challenged to name a living Nobel laureate. But in China, everyone knows who Chen-ning Yang is. He is a national icon. He is as well known in China as Kim Kardashian is in America. When he married Weng Fan, it was huge news. An American equivalent would be like when Brad Pitt married Angelina Jolie.

If he is speaking out against the collider, that carries a lot of weight. There is no way he can just be silenced. He has too much stature for that. Even Xi Jinping would not want to butt heads with him.

If he is that famous, all you would have to do is associate him with drugs. In 2010, [Charlie] Sheen was the highest paid actor on television. Now nobody respects him or cares about anything he says. Charlie Sheen actually is/was an addict but faking such a controversy can't be that difficult.

Comment Re:rotten at the top (Score 2) 341

Yeah, well, when you see this many people engaging in such widespread consumer fraud and malfeasance, it comes from the top. It has been documented and interviews with these employees recorded that they were under such pressure from bank managers (and they from VPs, etc) under threat of losing their jobs, that they felt they had to make their numbers in any way they had at their disposal. Including taking people's information that they'd been given for other legitimate purposes, and misusing it to create fake accounts. 1. Volkswagen engineers being pressured to have their vehicles pass emissions 2. Bank employees being pressured to sign up customers regardless of how infeasible 3. Cable/credit card company call center agents being pressured not to let a customer go under any circumstances 4. etc. etc. etc. The list goes on and on -- these all come from the assholes at the top demanding something that's not possible and effectively incentivizing / requiring front-line employees to lie, cheat and steal from consumers. Those are the people who should be even more aggressively prosecuted.

This attitude is common across many industries. Maybe I was naive in my 20s but the idiots you went to high school with never smartened up. There is no miraculous supply of intelligent people who manage companies. The people who manage companies are usually the people who are best at overselling, overpromising, underdelivering, screwing people to make a buck, and don't think the rules apply to them.

Comment Re:Goodbye, World Wide Web. (Score 1) 282

What's so bad about that?

Ever use a search engine (in particular image searching)?

A string like "https://cdn0.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/JmVq0i-tBJiPxGt5XOrDYDO6lyA=/0x16:1300x883/1280x854/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/48728355/playboy_march_16_cover_wide.0.0.jpg" is just a *fact* and should not be copyrightable. It simply *is not* the information that has been copyrighted.

To make this point even more clear- A URL is just an address. I can't copyright, for example, the address of the Court of Justice of the European Union. It just happens to be:

Palais de la Cour de Justice
Boulevard Konrad Adenauer
Kirchberg
L-2925 Luxembourg
Luxembourg

That's just a shorthand way of saying N 49.621036, E 6.143116 (which is actually posted on the Court's own website It's where you locate the copyrightable thing, and if an address is copyrightable, then giving directions is a crime. If you want to protect your copyright from public public view, you need to build a wall so people can't swing by the address and just look at it. People living in glass houses need to either put up curtains, or accept that people are going to look at them.

I have linked these addresses (both to their website and physical addresses) without permission. Calling that a crime is unworkable in both the physical and internet world.

Comment Re:Won't work in America (Score 2) 630

These people have no money yet they walk around with expensive cellphones..

That is not a problem limited to "the poor". 47% of Americans cannot come up with $400 to meet an unexpected expense.

I know many people like that. Some of my well paid co-workers will tell me they have to "wait until payday" for a purchase or even to go out to lunch. My sister, who makes $80k and owns a house, occasionally needs to borrow money from me for some minor expense, like fixing a flat tire on her car, because she has already spent her paycheck. She has zero savings, and no financial cushion whatsoever, yet she just got back from a Mediterranean cruise.

I couldn't live like that. The stress would drive me nuts. When I was 18, and got my first paycheck, I invested half of it in an index fund, and my savings have increased monotonically since then, even through college (I worked part time and had a military scholarship).

The idiots you went to high school with didn't suddenly get smart. People are quite dumb, on average.

Comment Re:Young engineers ... (Score 1) 244

That and they have less to loose in case of failure. So they are willing to take more risks and perhaps get bigger rewards. Having a family while personally rewarding forced you to play it safer as failure will effect more than themselves.

Anyone with a foot out the door of the company they are working for is in the same boat. Once I realized that the company needs me more than I need them, I was a lot more willing to stand up to management and forcefully push for needed changes. I just didn't care if I lost at that point since I wasn't planning on sticking around.

I have been assigned a lot more responsibility since then. Maybe that's what it takes to be in management- boldness on the edge of recklessness.

Comment Re:Uh, no you're not (Score 1) 157

"We are building a citizen-fueled clean power plant,"

Uh, no you're not. You are running an energy saving campaign. You are not creating anything new power here.

I agree, but under some current regulatory models, such shenanigans are treated similarly as an actual power plant. To the grid, adding 50MW of supply is the same as subtracting 50MW of demand (in most cases). There are several things about this that greatly concern me, especially the part about a tech company entering the energy market and extracting large amounts of money while providing very little benefit.

Despite the reforms after Enron, the energy market is not regulated very well, regulation varies by location within the US, and some of the tricks being pulled would make Wall Street blush. It's a complicated system that requires a lot of specialized experience to understand. I work in the energy industry and we have a saying- "Whenever there is confusion, someone will exploit it".

Comment Re:Censorship? (Score 1) 146

Ok, abcnews does have it on front page, CNN, wsj, nytimes do not.

Blame readers.

At the end of the day newspapers are in the business of attracting readers. A story about NSA hacking tools is too esoteric for most of their readers and lacks the cool characters or personalized villains that drive narratives.

Even the last /. story only had 130 comments, and it's a story specifically about the NSA and hackers. If it barely interests the /. audience I don't imagine it's going to be a hit with the general public.

130 comments is a pretty good discussion on Slashdot. It may even be above average.

Comment Re:Points based systems are inherently racist. (Score 2) 415

So we're going to discriminate white and asian applicants over one of another race?

Goodness, isn't that similar to what happened to blacks during the early 20th century too?

Being racist to stop racism doesn't solve the problem. It's just more racism.

It's a kludge to try to solve the problem of income inequality. My kids are mixed-race and enjoy all the advantages of a family in a comfortable financial position. They got more attention when they were very young since one parent could afford to stay home. That means they heard a lot more language on a daily basis. They go to a good Pre-K program and will go to a decent school when the time is right. They also have college savings plans so they won't have to worry (so much) about paying for college and can potentially make a better choice.

Poorer families are at a big disadvantage. They can't afford to live in neighborhoods with great schools, they can't afford to stay home for the first couple years of life, and won't be able to save as much for college. Poor kids will always be on an uphill climb to get to my kids level since my kids have enjoyed advantages from the very beginning.

I don't see race as being relevant to the above, other than the fact that minorities are disproportionately poor and therefore more affected by these problems. The best way to solve these issues is with universal Pre-K, paid paternity/maternity leave, and making sure that the schools in poor neighborhoods are equivalent to those in better neighborhoods. Trying to solve these problems with incentives and preferential treatment at hiring time is way too late.

Comment Re:Manned versus unmanned. (Score 1) 190

Same as manned spaceflight - the glory days have gone. This is 300 foot long. The Graf Zeppelin of 1928 was 776 feet long with a useful lift of 60 tonnes. The Hindenberg was even bigger.

Material science and strength calculation complexity was a lot less advanced in the 1920s. You could build a better airship today if you wanted to, but it probably wouldn't make sense. Cargo airplanes are likely more cost efficient. Fuel-wise, the airship might be favorable, but the financial impact of an expensive asset taking 3 days to travel 6,000 miles vs 12 hours for a plane is a large consideration. The 747-ERF freighter can carry 248,600 lb (112,760 kg), nearly double the Graf Zepplin. And it can do 3 round trips of 6,000 miles in the time that it would take the Graf Zepplin to do a single 1-way trip. It's not easy to think of a market nowadays where airships would make sense.

Comment Re:Waste of helium (Score 1) 190

The Helium used in party balloons is highly impure and it is not cost effective to refine. One would hope that this aircraft is using the same impure Helium.

Not always. According to this helium wholesaler, grade 4.5 (99.995%) gas is often used in the balloon industry. Granted, getting the "5th nine" is a lot more costlier than getting to 4 nines, but I would not use "highly impure" to describe that level of purity. Most industrial uses use 99.997%. Anything higher than that is research/military grade and probably relatively low-volume in comparison to the welding shops, cryogenic cooling systems, and manufacturing users using 99.997% or lower.

Comment Re:Overages? (Score 4, Interesting) 71

And here I am, having been an unlimited-everything T-Mobile customer for the better part of a decade...

Several of the MVNO's using AT&T's own network have offered "unlimited" (usually capped 4G + unlimited 3G) for several years. Their network could obviously support the traffic. The only reason AT&T didn't until now was because they could get away with it. I guess the competition finally forced their hand.

Comment Re:Mobile! (Score 3, Interesting) 81

I am not sure the concept of "emerging market" has much relevance any longer...mainly due to "time". Manufacturing has gotten so fast and mimicry so entrenched as a business plan that anything emerging this year won't be emerging next year. It will either be fully emerged or, worse, stale. Companies look at what Apple did to some markets and are now determined not get Appled by Apple or anyone else. There is an article on NYT about how companies are evading anti-trust laws by buying any startup that looks like it might become a competitor.

Every smart phone looks like an iPhone to me, there's no differentiation that regular customers could care about. Self-driving cars seems like a hot new area. Except no car company of any reasonable size is not working on them. There will be no emerging market for these, it will be created fully merged. Robotic assembly lines make it relatively easy and quick to switch on production of just about anything requiring mass quantities. Scaling up is easier with robotics.

I see this as a consequence of global supply chains, subcontracting, and little if any vertical integration. All the little details that used to be trade secrets of a vertically-integrated company are now quite transparent. You open up the device, see who made all the different components, and call them up and ask for a quote. We have come a long way from the days when a company manufactured most of their core products in-house. Just as one example, GE has been subcontracting out the manufacture of steam turbines, to their own competitors, since at least the 1970s. You could argue that they were simply divesting themselves of "mature" technology in order to focus on the more profitable cutting-edge stuff, but I would argue that steam turbine technology only became fully mature because they gave away (licensed) the technology to Hitachi, Toshiba, Doosan, and Ansaldo and let them run with it.

Comment Re:I'm a consumer whore! And how!! (Score 1) 191

Well, it depends.

Many new-model phones are based on the latest reasonable tech. That $400 OnePlus Three uses a state-of-the-art Qualcomm processor with six cores operating in heterogeneous mode--slow and fast cores run at the same time, allowing for power scaling without scaling the whole system down. You can get eight-core or eight-and-eight core phones, if you want to pay $1,000 for them, too.

Packing more cores into the phone doesn't necessarily improve performance. Down the line, your 4-core phone might not be outperformed by an 8-core phone of the same speed; yet the new phones have 4-core processors running at 1.5 the clock rate, with more-efficient processors, consuming less battery and executing at 3x the computational speed. New applications and the sheer load of the stuff you're already running increase, and your phone doesn't work so well anymore.

So a phone that's "Made to last" might require technology that costs 4x as much, eats battery at 6x the rate, and halves the replacement rate. Overall, that phone will cost you twice as much (costs x 4, lifetime x 2). A phone that's made on the state-of-the-art might last 2-3 years, at a stretch.

Then someone releases a new graphics standard, and your phone is incapable of using certain things. Not really important on a phone; it's not like you need the latest OpenGL/Vulcan to run Android.

People think the manufacturers are purposely making phones to wear out after 1-2 years. They don't want to pony up $1,400 for a phone that'll still run well in 6 years, all the while running nearly hot enough to burn a hole in your pocket, with a 4-hour battery life.

You could have made all the same points (minus the multicore discussion) in the 1990s/early 2000s about desktop PCs. Nowadays, the notion of upgrading or replacing a PC or laptop every 2-3 years seems somewhat archaic. Any powerful PC/laptop today generally remains so for 3-5 years now. The lack of major desktop/laptop processor advancements has been going on so long now that people don't even talk about it, because it is irrelevant for most people. SSDs were the last upgrade worth having, and those are very widespread now.

Phones will get to that point of maturity too, probably within 10-20 years. The only potential obstacle is the issue of software and software updates.

Comment Re:Every single year (Score 1) 62

And where might those be? As a fellow Houstonian, I was under the impression that you had to go way out into the countryside to escape light pollution.

Tell you what, it's not going to be real dark skies, but it's better than downtown Chicago (where I'm from). I was in Hermann Park last night, and the viewing wasn't as bad as most cities I've been in.

Say, as a fellow Houstonian, can you give me any tips for decent camping nearby? I've only lived in Houston for 11 days (I got here on the first). It's my first time down here.

I have yet to go camping in state, but I have heard good things about Brazos Bend State Park. The Galveston area could be an option, although Galveston is a bit trashy in general. If you do camp near/on the gulf, take care about how far back from the water you are. The tidal range can be several hundred feet, especially in Galveston where the slope of the beach is so gradual.

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