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Comment Re:Wait... Who got that other half of the $$$ rais (Score 4, Informative) 25

I spent about fifteen years of my career in the non-profit sector, so I have some perspective on this.

Raising money in a non-profit is just like selling stuff is for a for-profit. Generating gross revenue is relatively easy -- if you spend a lot of money you can rake in a lot of dough. What's a bitch to generate is net profit. In the non-profit sector we don't use the term "profitability" very much, so the metric that's often used to describe financial is "cost to raise a dollar." For typical fundraising activities cost-to-raise-a-dollar runs from 0.25 to 1.5 dollars/dollar.

Take junk mail. The cost to raise a dollar for a well-run direct mail campaign is in the range of $1.25 to $1.50, so if I want to raise $115,000 to spend on other things I have to scale my direct mail campaign to bring inover $258,000 gross. As you can see I chose a net target that was exactly 1/1000 the size of the ALS bucket challenge net, so you can compare the efficiency of the processes readily. The cost to raise a dollar for the ALS bucket challenge is actually better than a well-run direct mail campaign -- $0.91.

And it should be more efficient than direct mail, because direct mail is about the least efficient method there is. The marginal costs are huge because you pay for the names and addresses as well as printing and mailing of each piece, and most of those pieces will end up in the landfill unopened. So if direct mail is so inefficient, why use it? Because the financial inefficiency doesn't matter to the organization doing the fundraising. The end result of my hypothetical direct mail campaign is that my organization has $115,000 it didn't have before. That probably pays for one and half full time staff positions (at the low do-gooder wages we pay) for a year.

So the ALS challenge was in the financial efficiency range of methods normally used by non-profits, albeit a little towards the inefficient end. That doesn't really tell us if the campaign was responsibly run or not; to know that you'd have to look at all the expenses and compare those to costs in other viral Internet fundraising campaigns. But the bottom line is that the ALS association ended up with $115 million it didn't have before.

Can you think of a way of raising $115 million in a few months? I thought not. So presuming the guys who ran the campaign didn't spend the money on hookers and blow, I wouldn't be unduly concerned by a cost-to-raise-a-dollar of $0.91 if I was on the board.

Should donors care that the ALS challenge was a little high on the cost-to-raise-a-dollar metric? Well, I look at it this way. People did it because it was fun and for a good cause, and two years later we can point to concrete and significant scientific results from the money raised. That's not only pretty good, it's pretty damned awesome.

Comment Re:anti-science environmentalists (Score 1) 171

Actually, it's thoroughly impossible to tell how the new standards work based upon by the linked articles, but it sounds like in plain language that Florida is using a computer model that could allow more flexibility in discharge permitting. This can lead to better results, whether your definition of better is "more rationally defensible" or "more in line with what my donors want." Determining which way it is better requires review by a competent expert. It might be both.

The real issue here is this phrase from TFA: "one of a kind." That's not so good.

It's important in managing environmental data to do things in the usual way. This is contrary to the way public thinks about new technologies. If there's a new iPhone, you expect it to be better in every way or at least as good. It's not like that with scientific methods; new techniques are proposed because they have certain advantages, obviously. But they always have one big disadvantage: their results are hard to compare with what you already know. You need to do a lot of work to justify doing things a new way, otherwise you can find yourself unable to compare what is happening now to what was happening before.

Fortunately Florida can't do this on its own; it has to get EPA approval. Since this is an administration that is generally favorable to environmental regulation, if they can get this past Obama's EPA that will help give these new methods more credibility.

Comment Re:That's Interesting & Irrelevant (Score 1) 56

My picture was nice too, but they had system boards that shouldn't have made it through basic inspection, and of course the mechanical design was absurd. Since there was no provision for mounting the system boards in a conventional way I have to conclude that the sloppy construction at least was by design.

Now as for whether LeEco build quality will be better, worse, or the same, I have no opinion. I'm just reacting to the notion that Vizio makes a quality TV. In my experience it doesn't. Your experience doesn't negate that, because the tough thing isn't turning out quality units, it's turning them out consistently. That's why it's called quality "control" or "assurance".

Comment Re:RIP (Score 4, Informative) 56

Errr... the build quality for Vizio TVs is dreadful. I had one fail twice in the warranty period and then of course immediately after the warranty expired.

Opening the thing up the mainboard of the device was fastened to the backlight panel chassis with packing tape. I'd never seen such shoddy construction, not to mention the very poor quality of the boards themselves.

In general I think the idea of "smart tvs" is bad for the consumer economically. On top of that selling our viewing habits a profit center for Vizio on their already crappy throw-away TVs. And to add insult to injury, the UI for most smart TVS is just terrible. I replaced the Vizio with a Samsung, not because I wanted another smart tv, but because it was cheap. Not only was the search function hopelessly broken, the damn thing interrupted stuff I was watching on Netflix or Amazon with service change bulletins for Samsung services I neither subscribed to nor used. How could any UI designers be so damned stupid.

But you almost can't get a smallish HD TV that's not "smart". I ended up with a Hitachi "Roku TV" which is just a plain old TV with a Roku stick stuck in one the HDMIs. I'm much happier with Roku's UI and service, but if I wanted to I could just pop the Roku stick out and have a plain old TV.

Comment Re:They did the same thing for dual booting Linux (Score 1) 401

I still dual boot -- but I almost never use Windows, which is kind of the point. I don't use it enough to justify paying for a virtualization compatible license, and it's just a static waste of resources to boot in Windows to run Linux under a VM.

I suppose one solution for those instances where you have to boot Windows yet also access stuff in your Linux partition is to use raw partition access in a virtual machine and serve the data over a virtual network server. I know it's possible but it's been so many years since I've had to do it I couldn't comment on how other than to say read the virtualization platform documentation.

Comment Re:The Verge is 100% wrong (Score 1) 56

History has also shown us that most new ideas fail. Even good ideas.

I agree that the idea of accessories per se, attractive as it is to me, isn't enough to make a product a success these days. However I should point out that back in the day of PDAs it was normal for mobile devices to have a CF or SD slot that could also be used to add features. This was in the day when mobile devices didn't have cell data connections, GPS or even wi-fi, and it was quite common for people to add memory cards, wi-fi, bluetooth, and GPS. I have a box full of accessory cards in my attic.

Handspring, a company that made Palm Pilot clones, initially did very well with their Springboard modules which allowed you to add any kind of functionality to the base system, just like what we're talking about here. Then a few years after introducing the Springboard module Handspring stopped making PDAs altogether in favor of what was then called a "converged device" -- aka a smartphone -- without the slot. It's all about timing; Handspring was perhaps a little ahead of the curve on convergence, but a lot of manufacturers were getting pushed that way because of falling hardware retail prices made it attractive to put more stuff in the base device to keep the price high.

The standard inclusion of GPS + Cloud + Camera + Bluetooth built-in means that there really isn't a need to physically connect a device to a mobile device. The only exception is battery; there is a real need for a more elegant and secure way to extend the operation of a smartphone than plugging it into a powerbank via USB.

But I may be wrong. Maybe there's a compelling use case for a modular architecture that I just haven't thought of yet. That's why I like to see vendors trying something different, although I usually expect them to fail. I've watched tech long enough to realize that success isn't just about an idea being right, it has to come at the right time.

Comment Re:Old stuff "discovered" by the ignorant (Score 1) 506

While I don't necessarily disagree with you, let me point out that orthodox economic models are also based on assumptions that are not entirely true. For example you don't necessarily assume that any one agent (e.g. the central planner) has all the information relevant to making decisions, but you do assume that all relevant information is available to parties making decisions about transactions they'll take part in. That's not true, but it's close enough to being true that the models have practical utility. Oh, and there's the bit about people being rational in their decision-making.

Comment Re:Question (Score 1) 506

Because believe it or not, while working sucks, not working also sucks. You don't know how much you get out of work until you don't have it anymore, and I mean stuff beside money: social interaction, purpose, challenge, someplace to go and someplace to look forward to take a vacation from.

In Sweden they're offering an intriguing compromise: work less, or more precisely work for fewer hours, which isn't precisely the same thing.

Comment Re:What a mess (Score 1) 460

You know, taking the dichotomy you propose as accurate, I'd go with the sleazeball hands down. You might not like them but you can work with sleazy people if you know what they are. They are simply pursuing their self-interest and respond predictably according to realistic calculations of where that lies.

A narcissist on the other hand you can't work with on the basis of realism because he's not rooted in the real world. He operates in a fantasy world. A sleazeball won't act in a way that harms himself but a narcissist, while every bit as self-oriented and deceptive will, and then go looking for scapegoats, even when that does more damage. A sleazeball only scapegoats when it's to his advantage.

So would you rather deal with someone who is rational but selfish, or someone who is unpredictable, self-destructive and selfish?

Comment Re:Anything incriminating? (Score 4, Interesting) 460

I was a Sanders supporter, and I'm neither surprised nor particularly upset. You have to be realistic. Hillary has been active and well-known in the party since 1974, when she rose to prominence as a whip-smart young staff attorney of the Children's Defense Fund. She's spent the last forty years, building contacts and networks in the Democratic party, including nationally as first lady for eight years and with nearly successful presidential run that took her across the entire country. She has a massive rolodex, war chest, and ground organization.

Bernie Sanders only joined the party in 2015. That the DNC was less than perfectly impartial towards the two won't come as news to an Bernie supporter, but to be frank the idea that long-time party insiders and activists would treat someone who joined the party last year the same as someone who's been a big deal in the party for decades is simply unrealistic.

Comment Re:What is the appeal of these things? (Score 1) 129

I think you think the text is too small because you haven't actually used one. I have, and I'm almost 60 years old and need bifocals. I generally can't read ingredients on food or vitamin packages without glasses, but I have no difficulty whatsoever with reading calendar notifications or caller ID on a smartwatch without glasses. Would I want to read a book or webpage on one? Nope. But for notifications the text size is plenty big for me, and I have weaker-than-average eyesight.

Likewise it's not particularly uncomfortable to wear a watch, or hard to remember to put one on. Some folks with ADHD might have problems, because they're always misplacing things and many of them have comfort issues with things like t-shirt tags which most people don't notice but they find distracting. But most people don't find watches uncomfortable or hard to keep track of.

This is just the usual problem with managing the tech adoption curve; the point where you've saturated the early adopter segment. There aren't new features coming in to entice thosee early adopters to upgrade and there aren't enough people on the penumbra of the early adopter community that they become hip. And there isn't really a killer app yet, unless it's fitness tracking which can be done on cheaper devices. That's the only reason I don't wear one anymore; there aren't any that are as good at fitness tracking as a fitbit, so I'd be paying more and getting less for my main use.

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