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Comment Distributed Power/Not that Simple Road to Peace (Score 1) 868

I could not dream of a better argument for distributed non-centralized power generation than this conflict. This region is by most accounts very sunny, and would be a perfect test case for distributed solar generation (or possibly even wind they are coastal in Gaza). Now there are some real impediments to achieving such a system, i.e. embargo/blockade by controlling nation-state. If there were the political will in Gaza to smuggle in power generation technologies rather than armaments along with the supplies needed for survival this might actually be a possibility.

For the general populace on both sides, this must seem like having a rather protracted sword of Damocles hanging over for decades. No one ever interviewed does not want this problem to be resolved This of course brings the real question up, why does this conflict not resolve itself? The answer is not simple. There is of course the media horse race, religion_A v. religion_B, argument. This may motivate the extremists on either side. One must consider the fact that there are significant economic resource impediments, the sides are being used in a geopolitical proxy fight, and the idea of ethnic identity defining statehood is historically problematic.

This region is resource constrained for multiple reasons. For Gaza, it is ridiculously population dense. For the region in general there are simply not enough water resources for everyone. These problems are not insurmountable, but when negotiating for independence things like water rights (ground and surface), and when determining the border who gets the nice farm land greenacre vs. who gets arid brownacre/desertacre. The Palestinians are currently dependent on foreign aide, charitable organizations, etc. This is problematic as well for obvious reasons that liberal and conservative scholars will attest. Foreign aide has strings attached so it prevents using resources efficiently (money for a water treatment plant, but no sewers for example). Foreign aide also creates dependency and prevents the growth of local markets. (There is one argument from each side.) This is not even scratching the surface of other natural resources, fly over rights, etc.

This fight is also one between many geopolitical rivals. Just as the European empires of the last two centuries spurred fights and unrest, so too do the economic empires of our current time. Players like other middle east oil states, Iran, EU, Russia, Syria, and of course the US of A. There are mixed foreign interests in this region not to mention NGOs (not the charity kind) who thrive and exist for reasons completely external to this conflict. Iran funds these one set of guys, we give money to Israel, and Russia helps Syria politically, who funds a different set of guys, and so on and so forth. This is an oversimplification of course, but we can see that this is about influence. Without this conflict, many countries and NGOs lose bargaining powers.

Historically, if we use solely ethnic identity to define statehood/nationhood we create weak states in the long run. The problem is of course the majorities and minorities of ethnic groups wax and wane. Assume Blueland has a minority Purple People population. Assume Blueland is founded on the concept that it is for the the Blueanese. Eventually if due to birth rates the Purpleansi become a large enough minority, the state will either have to amend its founding principles to include the Purpleansi or there will be a conflict. So, right now there is a Jewish state of Israel, and an Islamic pseudo-state of Palestine. Let's say in 100 years the Zoroastrian minority in Israel has a baby boom and are now a big population in both. Houston we have a problem. See the post-colonial mess that is other Middle Eastern States, Africa, etc.

These arguments are oversimplifications, but are just a Slashdot post with no sourcing to describe some of the problem. The solutions are probably as most solutions, difficult. Vote the leaders all out of power would be one really good start. Good Luck with that, we can't even do that here in the USA. If there were an MLK, or Gandhi like figure in Palestinian community perhaps this would work. Imagine a Salt March type event in this region. If Israel is truly the "occupying" force Civil Disobedience is the only demonstrable way a minority can gain true success against a majority. That means filling the jails, and using non-violence. The culture of the region may not lend itself to such action. Just my 2 cents. Thinking you know how to solve this problem is about as wise as starting land-wars in SE Asia.

Comment Re:Why Attend? (Score 1) 295

That does stink. Most of my professors at SPC(St. Petersburg College) were those that worked there a long time and took their jobs very seriously. I suppose YMMV depending on school, Campus and State. Ultimately, it sounds like a funding problem though. If they would pay professors more they would raise the bar. For example, they could perhaps funnel some of the money that was going to the for profits into regular education and probably solve that problem. At SPC, they worked pretty hard to make sure the people taking the classes could actually get something out of them. Plenty of guidance exams, and the like prevented the most unqualified from getting into courses. Were there people that probably didn't belong taking classes? Yes, but they usually tapped out pretty early on. I was taking difficult sciences like Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry. The biology courses seemed to have more of a mix of qualified students because it is a prerequisite for more degree programs. That being said, my classes were not "full" all of the time. My biochemistry course had maybe 15 students, in a classroom build for over 30. The question maybe is how much would the CCs have to charge to get those professors back? When you offer more classes you get more revenue. Someone should be doing the math. Maybe it is worth writing your members of the Legislature, since at a local level you can get a lot accomplished in that regard.

Comment Why Attend? (Score 1) 295

Why would anyone rightly attend such an institution? As someone who has used community colleges to supplement my knowledge, and to get prerequisites for Medical School, this seems like a fools bargain for students. I mean community colleges, here in FL, are inexpensive, offer flexible class times, have convenient locations, etc. I went to an expensive engineering undergraduate institution (RPI), and some of these places charge pretty darn close to their tuition for an associates degree. The ROI on an engineering degree is sometimes doubtful, how does one repay 100k loans on a culinary arts degree, or cosmetology license? These programs are nothing more than a get rich quick scheme that only burden the student, with lifelong debt, and the tax-payer, with holding the bag on the interest, for a number of these loans when they are deferred. If we were half smart about these programs we would not pay into these institutions. A profession gives the student a lifetime of job security, and society a lifetime of higher tax revenues (not to mention the services of said student). We should be funding public institutions and not private ones, whenever possible- not throwing good money after bad at these trade schools run by bankers.

Comment Business Model change or marketing ploy (Score 1) 178

Not to question Microsoft's business model, but why are they doing this. Windows is their core product. Everything they do is based on people buying windows and then office. This is ".com" logic, where they take a profitable product and then make a business model that is cheaper and makes no money. I don't use Microsoft products unless I have to, but this is not a recipe for success. Why don't they make something that people want? Is this a way to inflate license sales of windows 8 to consumer goods because manufacturers will buy more licenses for the same money?

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Comment Re:One Thing Is Clear (Score 1) 670

The thing is, that is exactly what doctor's do. They always reccomend diet, excercise, etc first. Every clinical examination guide and every clinical practice guide (Uptodate, harissons's, steadman's, etc.) reccomends this as the front line treatment. Diet, exercise, frequent follow-up visits to monitor progress are not red headed step child treatment. You will be surprised how many docs know about the Ornish Cardiac Reversal DIet, Atkins, etc. Now if 12 months later, you are fatter, have higher total Cholesterol and LDL, have higher blood pressure, and elevated fasting blood sugar levels, they are going to prescribe something to get that under control, or they are not doing their jobs. There seems to be this persistant myth in our culture that doctors "just want to prescribe" something. Doctor's just want your BP to go down, and your LDL levels to go down. They want it sooner rather than later, and they want to avoid you dying next year rather than 20 years down the road. So it is the lesser of two evils. Big Pharma does not employ the doctor's, and they don't get paid for writing prescriptions unless they really want to lose their license. The problem with diet and excercise is these are cultural and societal problems. We are a culture that eats crap, and most folks have to work a lot to get by. So, by the time they get home they just want to pop in the 3 dollar pizza, and not move. If doctor's could solve this problem they would, and perhaps they should work to change culture. People will still get sick, need physicials, etc. they won't be out of a job.

Comment Simplicity (Score 3, Insightful) 516

Back when I was still helping with designing and deploying websites, I would always tell clients that they should have a "Simple" backup version of the site. If the problem is load based, there is nothing wrong with having a simple HTML backup system, that generates a way for processing after the transaction is complete. While this might harken back to some of the websites of the late 90s early 2000s, when the CC processor was down, UPS/FedEx/DHL/USPS Shipping Calculation Web Service API or the fulfillment companies XML Order API, it allowed the client to have a sale in hand. It is easier to apologize later and beg forgiveness than to never have the sale. Customer's are amazingly forgiving when you tell them, "We were using our backup system so you weren't inconvenienced, and we have to verify your address, verify your CC info, or the product you ordered is out of stock for several weeks here is an alternative plus something for inconvenience." If they really are pulling from several sources, you trust the user, and when the system returns you run the transactions to verify during normally scheduled low volume times. Also, this is an insurance marketplace, wouldn't your real clients be the insurance companie? Did they not have some say in the testing of the system, or maybe some experience with online ordering systems? Since this is the government, why didn't they do IRS style forms with instruction booklet as a backup. Paper and Pencil backup availability allows them to treat orders like a catalogue order form. I realize all of these backup methods require manpower, but you only have one chance to gain a customer's trust.

Comment It's Crap But (Score 1) 536

It is a steaming pile of donkey fecalation, however, with ClassicShell hiding the metro monstrosity and providing a usable start menu, it is a pretty stable well performing OS. Shame they had to unify the experience between unrelated platforms. That being said Ubuntu 13.04 is stable, familiar, and easily de-Unityed if one feels like it. In this day and age, a decent chunk of the market just wants certain things to run on their computer. Blue, or Green or Red, or whatever, won't make a difference, it is easy to just try something else. They successfully changed stuff too much, and for no reason.

Comment Re:The Problem with Yahoo! (Score 1) 524

I see what you are saying. I think I got some of the same stories. I too have never read any article, gone to any web sites, or bought something that even remotely suggests those would be appealing stories. Also did you notice, while the home page looks much better, other than E-mail, the other services don't have a consistent look and feel. Maybe this is a classic tale of horizontal integration is slow, but it points to the fact that they don't have consistent guidelines. It is the kind of thing that sometimes happens with Microsoft web services. New product introduces some new UI element, but other products never take advantage of it for no demonstrable reason, or there is a significant lag. Heck the switch to was like that for me and my school e-mail address, but that is probably more to do with the school's IT Policy.
I know they used to have a decent AJAX UI toolkit that they were developing in an open way. I don't do that stuff anymore so I have no clue if that still exists. But leveraging what you have is always a good start.

Comment Re:The Problem with Yahoo! (Score 1) 524

I think you are reading way too much into this. I know I don't work for Yahoo, but I am assuming you don't either. We don't know what the metrics they are using in making this decision. Maybe they noticed a significant drop in productivity, or they were having logistical issues with the telecommuting setup. The article linked is all of one paragraph, and not particularly in depth. I can't speak to that. I think that problem is pretty secondary to the other fundamental problem. They can work from home, or they can work at the office. If they're still working on that cobbled together disparate band of services called Yahoo, what is the difference? There are plenty of good arguments for and against telecommuting in the comments, but that is arguing how many angels fit on the head of a pin or if Adam and Eve had belly buttons. Yahoo didn't suddenly stop being an effective useful site because they started telecommuting or are stopping it.
As to control freak by definition, I don't know her personally. I don't work in any IT industry capacity anymore so I would not know whom to ask. Most CEOs are control freaks to certain degrees. I am wary to use such terms as a derogatory towards any leader, unless I actually have proof. It seems speculative at best. She, according to the news reports I have read, trying to change the culture at Yahoo. This might mean the kind of introspective questioning that I was getting at, or it might mean just putting a new coat of varnish. In either case, changing cultures means stepping on toes. Of course, changing cultures does not mean guaranteed success.

Comment Re:The Problem with Yahoo! (Score 1) 524

I guess they could have made an extension for firefox or something to be just that. I think it is just difficult to monetize a meta-bookmark system managed by humans. I mean you really would not be clicking on the advertisements at all. Also the danger of paying to be on top of a list of sites, is you end up being like the yellow pages.

Comment The Problem with Yahoo! (Score 5, Insightful) 524

This is probably a management oversight problem. We will see what becomes of it. It is not Yahoo!'s biggest problem. The problem with Yahoo! is that it doesn't have a point. I think many of us remember when it was a fairly useful directory of websites, and then transformed into a "web portal." I think that still translates to shitty web based AOL clone thing. Now, it seems like there are just a lot of other sites that do each individual thing better. Whether it is Google for search, Gmail for e-mail, tons of news aggregators for news, Pandora/Spotify/Grooveshark for Music, Netflix/Hulu/Youtube for movies and video, etc. Is the new home page better than the old one? I think so. It is much clearer with less cruft. Still at the end of the day if I am a web user why would I want to use Yahoo! for internet dating, when I can use, pof, etc. Yahoo! brand itself doesn't convey anything anymore. It carries no gravitas, it is not associated with quality, speed, clarity, innovation, etc. To be honest, I associate it with spam and compromised e-mail addresses.
If they still want to be a "web portal" they need to really figure out a compelling reason for a web portal. Why should I come to What does a web portal do for me that google can't do just as easily? When they answer that question honestly, then they can figure out a way to move forward. Otherwise, they are a prisoner to their past that is not likely to return.
Ms. Mayer seems to see some of the problems. I guess the problem is whether the boat has hit the iceberg or if there is still time to turn?

Comment StarOffice was Once Sold (Score 1) 361

Maybe I am in the minority here and showing my age, however, I actually owned/purchased a copy of StarDivision's StarOffice for OS/2 (StarDesktop?) and Windows back in the day. It was a half-way decent suite, and probably the best one I could get for OS/2 that ran consistently well. So, I think you could probably accurately guage Sales based on the past sales of StarOffice.
The false equivolency of TFA is clearly a problem. Office is priced as it is, except for students, because it is a volume licensed product for business. Businesses/Governments pay for site licenses, seat licenses, etc. This probably covers all of their development costs on the product and then some. The retail versions are sold for gravy train purposes and priced at what the market will allow. That is why they can get away with selling to students for so little. OpenOffice or LibreOffice would have to be priced considerably less, and offer some pretty sweetheart deal for the folks in the CTO's office (think hookers) for it to get traction at this point. Is it doable, maybe. Microsoft did pretty much railroad WordPerfect, and Lotus123, but they leveraged their install base, existing sales force, ISVs, hardware vendor relationships, etc. Somehow the document foundation and apache probably don't have that much muster.
In any case, I use LO pretty exclusively, and only hit up PowerPoint when I get a pptx file with too much wizbang for Impress to handle. I usually simplify the ppt and then reopen in Impress. I donate to the document foundation so I guess that counts as paying.

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