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Comment Re:What is up? (Score 2) 88

All this hatred against Uber is getting mighty suspicious! What is up with that? A taxi is a just a taxi after all.

Taking an unlicensed taxi simply means getting into a car with a total stranger. Most of the drivers are probably OK, and most of them probably drive reasonably OK cars; but you don't know that. You could be unfortunate and get the serial rapist, the drunk or the guy who drives something that is falling apart, although it looks OK on the outside.

Comment Re:CEO needs to go (Score 4, Insightful) 108

The Uber CEO needs to go. He's what's keeping Uber from being great.

From what I hear about Uber, it seems they in so many ways act and think like criminals, but manage to keep just on the legal side of the law. Mostly. That said, though, they are just an extreme example of all the worst aspects of capitalism: the underhandedness, the ethos that says 'if we can get away with it, it must be OK', the lack of genuine care and consideration for their employees, customers and society, the sense of entitlement take what they want no matter what.

It is really sad, I think - there is a good kind of capitalism, where a clever, hardworking man or woman can grow a business from little more than their own abilities and determination, but the whole concept gets a grubby taint from the likes of Uber.

Comment Re:-facepalm- (Score 1) 90

To save the coral from excessive heat, going for dying due to lack of light for the algae?

I think we are already too far down the tracks to stop the loss of a very significant proportion of the existing coral reefs in the world; temperature is only one part of the problem - overfishing using destructive methods and pollution are two other, major factors. We could probably stop the fisheries and pollution quickly (ie. in a few years - to decades) if there was any political will to do so, but the high temperatures will be with us for a long time, no doubt.

Comment Re:Of course they're sick of it (Score 1) 81

That seems absurdly harsh - I have worked for a company where I know for a fact that we used some 50+ instances of different versions the Enterprise Edition with different options (I installed them), some of them RAC, all for testing and development. We never had an audit, but I used their support heavily and never made a secret of our installations. Never a problem in the 13 years I worked there. What you describe certainly doesn't match my experiences - we had one server instance that over time became sort of half production, but the only consequence was a mild reprimand - "You really ought to get a license for that" sort of thing; so we moved it off to MySQL, which was sufficient for our purpose at the time, but we kept all the development instances.

Comment Re:Of course they're sick of it (Score 1) 81

Oracle is such an entrenched, parasitic, rent-seeking corporate shit pile...

And yet they seem to be able to attract an increasing number of big customers. Perhaps they do in fact offer some value for the money?

I have never quite understood the hostile attitude towards Oracle - nobody quite seems to be able to explain their feelings without descending into irrational abuse. On the other hand, I am able to appreciate them for a number of things, while I accept that there are things to criticise as well. As far as I can see, they not only produce what is arguably the best RDBMS with documentation to match, but they also allow everybody to download even the Enterprise Edition for free for testing and development purposes. They also contribute to FOSS in many ways. I think these are good things. Now point out what they do that is so much worse than what other large, American businesses do? I'm willing to listen with an open mind.

Comment Re: Strengthening a Dictatorship (Score 1) 31

Name one good thing china has done other than produce cheap labor?

How far back do you want to go? You do know they invented things like paper, gun-powder, silk spinning and -weaving, porcelain, the magnetic compass and of course the famous Chinese Remainder Theorem (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_remainder_theorem).

But in modern times: their space program, just to mention one obvious thing; unlike America, they take it seriously and work methodically and constructively towards open-ended goals - that last part is important, because it means they are not just out to prove a point with a one-off demonstration, they intend to go on out into space. Isn't that a good thing? Apart from that - have a look around at the PhD students at any major university in the US and Europe. I think you will find a large proportion of highly talented, Chinese students who are working on serious, scientific issues. Much of it is probably not of huge significance to science - most scientific research consists of filling details, after all - but I hear more and more about important discoveries made by PhD students, which is perhaps not all that surprising; many talented scientists made their career by breaking new ground early on. In my view, this is another important contribution to the world that China has produced: a lot of highly educated students, who are now helping science progress.

The last thing I will mention is the fact that China provides much needed competition to the West; truth be told, we have been stagnating culturally, scientifically and economically for several decades, and competition gives us incentive to make more of an effort and stop wasting our time on idly cultivating our gardens of navel fluff.

Comment Re:Strengthening a Dictatorship (Score 0) 31

China doesn't pretend to be a democracy, at least in the US sense; I suspect they may simply be more honest than America in that respect, because although you guys have the big reality show and the lofty speeches, you don't have democracy. I think you know it too - it makes little difference whether your president is Democrat or Republican, because they still have to obey the big money.

The Chinese government have been very clever and deserve all they have achieved, in my opinion. It is more than a bit rich to talk about "stealing" Western ideas, when that is what all countries have always done - America not least. It is called building on what is already there - even Isaac Newton admitted that he stood on the shoulders of giants. Otherwise we'd all have to start from scratch with stone tools and invent metalworking and steam technology independently of other countries; the thought is absurd. No, we learn as much as we can from others, then use it to become better. Nobody stops America from doing the same; well, apart from Americans it seems.

Comment Re: My experience... (Score 1) 437

...the work churned out by the offshore team was abysmal. Inefficient, convoluted, and just plain dumb in many cases...

I think it is possible to talk about these things without being unkind, and we ought to make the effort, in my view.

I have worked as part of global teams for about 16 years, including large teams in Bangalore (as well as most of Europe, the States, China and others), and I do recognise some of the problems you mention, but I don't think it is lack of skills. I get the impression that it is more a question about lack of motivation, due to factors like very poor management practices - if you are regarded by your local managers as something at approximately the same level as the cockroaches, and all that matters is quantity and face time, then it is no wonder they care little about their job; I know I wouldn't in the same situation. The Indian developers I have had the fortune to work with as colleagues here in UK have been fully as good as my British colleagues, and sometimes better. As for why their managers are so horrible, I don't know - I think there still is much of the old caste-system and its attitudes left in Indian society, perhaps it is that.

Comment Re:Wow! (Score 1) 262

I would really like to see someone reply to this with a realistic solution. I don't have an answer to that problem and the only response I seem to be hearing is "Their (read: republicans) viewpoints aren't reasonable or worthy of consideration", which shuts down any kind of dialogue before it starts.

I think the problem has a lot to do with people's background and the expectations (and sometimes prejudices) they bring to the table, so part of the solutions must involve bridging that gap. I am perhaps more acutely aware of this, since I was born at the wrong end of society so to speak, and have had to crawl slowly to where I am now. I grew up knowing for a fact that whatever else I was, I was someone to whom the word 'only' was appropriate: only working class, only worth a low paid job etc. This is something that clings to you and tends to poison what you do and think; I have never really learned to that feeling of obvious entitlement that people from an easier background seem to have. When you come with that in your baggage, it is hard not to see every fact-based, logical argument as the hoity-toity upper-class fluff of some spoiled rich kid who's never had to get their hands dirty and work up a sweat, and it is tempting to reply with the intellectual equivalent of a fist in the gob. I have had to work hard with these issues, you see.

Perhaps the best way to get a successful dialog in these circumstances would be through some sort of 'regulated free speech' - and before everybody starts talking about censorship, just read to the end of this, because I don't mean there should be things you cannot talk about; but it is necessary to cultivate climate a climate in which everybody feels they can speak freely and be respected for it. That is why I call it regulated: like in those discussions where there is a neutral person who can stop endless ranters, tell people not to insult each other, and perhaps step in to ask clarifying questions about controversial statements.

So, in your example, the regulator would hear the statement "Their (read: republicans) viewpoints aren't reasonable or worthy of consideration", and would try to clarify what it actually means - 'why do you feel that their views are worhtless?' etc. And alternatively, one might ask 'Why do you feel that your views are met with this attitude?' - after all, it might be that you've got the wrong impression, objectively speaking.

Comment Not for PC, though (Score 1) 237

The PC link is broken - it only leads to a Windows .exe file, so it won't run on my PC. Yeah, alright, I'm trying to be unreasonable here, but it would be nice if at least those who are supposedly in the know (one would hope this includes the editors of /.) when it comes to computers and technology, would stop equating PC (=the hardware platform) with Windows (the OS, for lack of a better word), since there are things out there that definitely are PCs which do not run Windows.

Comment Re:Oh, this is going to be great (Score 4, Insightful) 241

Note that I live near the Mississippi River, which, until it was leveed all to hell-and-gone, routinely shifted its channel from year to year. So the notion of a river rerouting itself isn't terribly surprising to me, nor is it really that big a deal, unless it reroutes itself over someone's house or a town (which the Mississippi used to do from time to time in the 19th Century).

Sure, but this is well known from rivers that run over a plain - they tend to meander, silt builds up etc. The effect is rather more dramatic when the source dries up or goes to another river. It is the same, basic processes that are behind, but whereas the meandering river phenomenon is common, the interesting thing about this case is that it can be attributed directly to climate change: the glacier has melted away to such a degree that it now drains away through an entirely different channel. It would be great if people would not be so dismissive about these things - the scientists that bring these things up don't do so in order to get high approval rating on social media; they aren't airheaded celebrities craving attention; they point out observations that they think are potentially important, and which they suggest you should have a look at. It may feel great saying stuff like 'Yeah, shit happens; so what?" - right until the day when shit happens to you, particularly if you could have done something about it if only you could have been bothered.

Comment Re:Revolution (Score 2) 127

[...long talk about how business is the only important thing...]

You are focused only on your business interests here, and maybe that is necessary in order to run a business; but 'focus' so often becomes nothing more than tunnelvision. But you don't live in an isolated vacuum; your business depends on there being, somewhere along the line, a consumer who is willing to consume whatever end product your are making a living of shifting along. Thus it is in your interest in the long run to care a bit about what happens to those people; no jobs means no consumers means no customers means no business, in which case you are sitting on a pile of highly efficient, but worthless junk.

What you don't seem to quite grasp is the fact that business is only a sideshow - a consequence of there being a complex society with enough surplus for business being sustainable. People can survive without your business or any business at all - we evolved that way, over a long period of time - but your business can't survive without a highly comples society, from which you can skim a bit of profit, so perhaps you should be a little bit less haughty.

Comment Re:He is an idiot... (Score 1) 305

He's 73 years old and has been in public office since 1979.

Correction: He's been in Congress since '79, but he was in the Wisconsin State Assembly before then, since 1969. So personal (as in micro-) computers were barely even a thing when he got on the gravy train. Why the hell was this guy the Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology anyway?

Let me try to play the devils advocate here. The fact that he is old doesn't really preclude him from having valid opinions about computers or other things; I can't see anything to indicate that he hasn't used computers or the internet in the past. But I think that is irrelevant in this case, because it isn't about technology, but about privacy. Perhaps his position in general is that privacy isn't a big issue any way? Needless to say, I don't agree with him - the internet has become a crucially important tool for both commerce and academia, and while I'm not all that worried about what some government agencies know about my activities on the internet, I have no craving for being spammed by idiotic adverts or being scrutinised by the worthless parasites who are looking for ways to extract more money from me.

As for why he is the chairman of House Committee on Science and Technology: sometimes the chairman isn't all that important for what the committee does. Perhaps this is a nice sinecure for somebody nearing retirement?

Comment Re:Coal Mines unusable... (Score 1) 268

I know Trump wants all the coal jobs back - but I'd think it would be hard to get back in the mines, with all these dead canaries piled up everywhere.

I'd call these warning signs of horrors to come - but the man has always been the living symbol of arrogance and greed, and if anyone didn't expect exactly the raw ineptitude and pride in that ineptitude that we're getting, I'd be amazed.

Republicans claim that Government can't solve any problems, and then make it their solemn job to prove that at every opportunity, and Trump is the latest in growing line of leaders exemplifying that determined inability to provide basic governance while wasting endless amounts of resources.

I wholeheartedly agree. The big question is how to get out of this quagmire? As far as I can see, the election of Trump is just the culmination of decades of deliberate mishandling of the one things that makes democracy work: education. The part of the population that needs better education and better chances in life, has been abandoned by the road side at least since Reagan, and instead been fed a diet of shallow soundbites about 'freedom' that wasn't really freedom at all. The ability to think critically and the self-esteem that comes with being able to distinguish truth from deceptive nonsense is not something we are born with, but in the name of freedom, religion has been allowed to influence far too many aspects of education.

It is easy to understand why so many Americans - especially white, working class men - feel so angry with the government and the world in general, because they were just abandoned with no jobs and no realistic prospects of working or educating their way out of the pit they are in. And I can understand why they feel resentful, that everybody else are getting help and advantages - but the unfairness does not lie in trying to improve conditions for women, blacks or other minorities, it lies in abandoning white, working class men. And because they haven't been given the education they need and deserve, they fall for a guy like Trump, precisely because they have been taught for ages that they are too stupid and worthless to get a chance, because he sounds like he cares. And the churches only make this situation worse, with their insistence on believing in things that are always impossible to actually experience for real.

The only way out of this mess is education - not education in IT or academic disciplines, but the skills needed for critical thinking and sustaining a strong belief in yourself. We should take up some of the good ideas from the past, where (at least in some countries) there was a movement towards 'educating the masses', and people of the working classes would actually spend time going to classes or reading clubs or the libraries etc, and discuss ideas. This is of course highly dangerous - critical thinking leads to people realising that not everything is true, that you hear from the people in charge, the politicians, religious ministers or whatever. It may even lead to socialism; those in charge definitely don't want working class people to be clever.

Comment Re:Buy smart (Score 1) 316

I have experience with enough Chinese export products to discern a general pattern.

Yeah - I have tasted enough McDonald and KFC stuff back in the 80es and 90es to discern a certain pattern, so I just "know" that all American food is cheap shit. Just imagine my shock when I came to the States and tasted what ordinary Americans eat and realised that there is a lot of very good, genuinely American food, only you won't find it in a McDonald's in UK. We can all do with opening our minds a little, don't you think?

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