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Comment Re:Frivolous lawsuit (Score 1) 496

It doesn't take a genius to figure out what he was doing was dangerous.

True, but, by attaching a reward to the behavior, they're altering the risk/reward ratio. Maybe 90mph is as fast as the person is willing to go without any recognition, but, throw in the possibility of being atop some leaderboard somewhere for something, and maybe that goads him into being a little more stupid.

It also doesn't take a genius is figure out that gamifying reckless behavior is an unwise move for a company. Strava made this same mistake. They let runners/cyclists upload their fitness-gps results and it places them on leaderboards for the fastest times on various "segments" of roads. Originally, it was just uphill sections, but, later, came more flats and even downhill sections. I couldn't understand why they were maintaining leaderboards for downhill segments, as that wasn't a test of one's fitness, but, rather, their sanity. Sure enough, some dude in Berkeley, CA died while trying to reclaim his top spot on the leaderboard for a downhill (in traffic) segment, and his family sued the company. The suit was, eventually, dismissed, but Strava could have saved a lot of legal fees if they had just thought through whether downhill segments would ever entice someone into doing something ill-advised.

Comment Shutdown the phone when things get dicey (Score 1) 224

This is why the advice is: If you think you're about to get arrested, shut your phone off. With an iPhone, upon first boot, it requires the passcode; the fingerprints won't work. The latest precedent that I know of (late 2015) is that you can be compelled to provide your fingerprints, but not your passwords.

Comment Re:That's not the reason you're being ignored. (Score 1) 406

People don't listen to that preflight announcement stuff because they've heard it a hundred times before.

Right. What has the attendants so mad is that people are now being obvious about it.

People who've flown even a couple of times before don't need to listen... I know how to wear a seatbelt and that my seat cushion can be used as a floatation device..."

.. the only problem being that, if you're in a plane with actual life-vests under the seat, the seat cushions might not be easily detachable as they're not the primary flotation device. Also, is your life-vest located under your seat or in the bin above you? If it's under your seat, can you *reach* it? More-importantly, which of the exit doors are the kind that swing in and stay there? Which ones come completely off and need to be tossed out the doorway? Do you pull the door into the cabin from the top or bottom? Which doors release by swinging a single arm? Do you swing it up or down? Which ones don't have an arm, but a pull-down lever? Which of those have an additional cover over the lever which you must pull down *first*? Which doors should you not open in a water landing? Which doors have escape-slides? Which ones auto-deploy when you remove the door? Which ones require a tab to be pulled? Which ones detach to become rafts? How do you detach them?

There *are* differences, and the time to figure out what there is not when you've got 2-3 seconds before a mass of onrushing, panicking humanity presses you up against the door. That's why I try to always "review the passenger information booklet located in [my] seat pouch". Even if I'm not on an exit row, I make sure that I know how to open the nearest door, because the dudes *in* the exit row might be thinking "Hey, I know how to operated a damn seatbelt..."

Comment Re:Might not be as evil as it sounds (Score 1) 231

I haven't looked into this further, but a possible reason for refusing to recharge would be if someone stopped paying the lease of the battery but didn't return it. Or if the battery pack got stolen from the person who leased it.

Yeah... the same thing went through my head when I read the headline. They're probably selling the car and renting the battery, and being able to brick the battery is a lot easier than trying to get into the "deadbeat battery lessee repo business". And your comment about being able to brick stolen batteries or cars has parallels to things like the new "Activation Lock" in iPhones. Still, I won't be buying one of these things...

Comment Re:CEOs are overrated (Score 4, Interesting) 692

...which brings up another point: Steve Jobs rejoined Apple in 1997. The iPhone didn't come out until 2007. Way to pass over a decade of history

Well, during that time, he did pull Apple back from the cliff. He rolled out those candy-colored, all-in-one iMacs and simplified the product line.

And then he got super, super lucky. Because he's a design zealot, he insisted that the iPod have headphones which match the device: white. What he didn't foresee was that this would be the only thing visible on an iPod user (who was, at the start, a Mac user... which meant they were a young, hip, fashion-conscious millenial). So, imaging you're at a street corner, waiting to cross, and you look over and there's some really cool cat, grooving to his music, and dressed cooler than you ever could. And their earbuds are a color you hardly ever see: white. In fact, just about every time you see white earbuds, they're on some cool-looking person. What piece of musical awesomeness are they hiding in their coat?

Apple quickly figured this out, however, and told people the answer with those iconic commercials showing only silhouettes and white earbuds. Apple was saying "THIS is what's on the other end of those earbuds on the cool kids". It's a classic example of drawing attention to (or creating) a distinguishing trait to highlight "social proof". (Another great example is Toyota's Prius. The first Prius looked like any other sedan, so nobody thought that anybody drove hybrids. It wasn't until they came out with that iconic flat-back shape when people started noticing just how many hybrids there are out there, so people didn't feel like they'd be the risky early-adopters).

Without the gobs of money they made on iPods, they wouldn't have had the money to do the iPhone. So, in my book, the entirety of Apple's dominance, today, is due to Jobs' obsession (for aesthetic reasons at the time) with the white earbuds.

Comment Re:How will they be compensated? (Score 1) 382

It's very unlikely that an employer would hold a grudge against a former employee to the point of sending the cops after him. That would be terrible for business.

Except in cases where they get to come off looking like a concerned, patriotic part of the community. Like I said, whether their motivations were honest or malicious, they're going to stick to the "see something, say something" story.

It seems more likely that they were simply concerned that a disgruntled former employee was looking into making bombs. Insecure people who are fired do tend to lose their minds.

The story says that the searches took place on the employee's "workplace computer". That leads me to believe the searches happened before he left the company, so I don't think I'm buying the "Dude was researching bombs after he got fired" notion. Also, I don't know what article you're reading, but the one's I've read only make reference to "former employer". They don't say whether the dude was fired (which wouldn't make sense, then, for the employer to want to dick with him like this) or if, maybe, the employee left to go freelance (in which case, I've met plenty of employers in my day who'd be vindictive about something like that).

Comment Re:How will they be compensated? (Score 3, Insightful) 382

Hm? RTFS... the boss sees someone searching for bombs, thinks "hey, this could be bad", tip the police, turns out it is nothing.,,

From the aricle, they specify that it's a former boss, and there's no mention of how amicable the termination was. So, it's also possible that the employer, due to a grudge, discovered the suspicious searches and decided that it would be an easy way to make their life difficult for a little bit.

Actually, we'll probably never know they entire story. The employer, no matter what their motivation, is going to stick to "Hey... if you see something, say something...".

Comment Re:This is horrid (Score 1) 253

One of my kids had something like this: not for English, but for physics. The teacher couldn't be bothered to assign and grade proper homework. Instead, he fobbed the kids off onto a web app.

That's why they're called "teachers" and not "graders". If you want people who grade papers all day, then have the job listing say "graders wanted".

All learning is, at some level, an interaction--a conversation--between student and teacher. Even if it is nothing more than a red check mark or a red X on a homework paper, you have communicated some thing to some person and gotten some response. You don't realize how important this is until it is gone.

With nothing but a machine to talk to, it stops being about learning.

I disagree. I'm learning Spanish and I have apps which let me practice my conjugation. It gives me a verb, conjugation, and tense, and then I have to produce the proper conjugation. I can practice them for hours. That is much, *much* more time that I would dare ask a human to sit there and quiz/grade me.

It is just about satisfying the machine by whatever means necessary. In his rage and frustration my son told me that the easiest way to solve the problems was to copy and paste the problem text in to google.

Correction: For your son, it stopped being about learning and became just about satisfying the machine. Apparently, he doesn't get that learning is a two-part process: 1) learning the "concept" (which requires either a teacher at a blackboard or reading it in a book or whatever), and 2) practicing it over and over in order to etch it into your brain until you really grok it. Now, your son's teacher really might suck ass at part #1 (lots of physics teachers do), but that would be a separate issue from their decision to automate part #2... or your son's (apparent) notion that the homework problems are not a whetstone upon which he is meant to hone his skills, but rather just a barrier between him and getting to go play on the XBox.

Automated essay grading is going to be even worse. There is no point writing prose unless a human is going to read it.

Possibly. But, if I were a grader for a composition class, I would want to slash my wrists every. goddamn. minute. I think back to the stuff I wrote in my essay classes in college and, internally, I'm horribly embarrassed. What absolute drivel... and I thought I was being all deep and insightful. And I was just one dude in a class of 35... and one class out of 3-4 that prof was teaching. My hunch is that, when the profs grade those, they actually do turn their brains into automaton mode and just flag punctuation and grammatical errors. They've probably gotten really good at just spotting common errors without even giving the text much attention from their higher brain functions. Y'know how you can drive to work not even remember stopping at all of the stop-lights and stop-signs on the way, because driving is so automatic that it's almost a reflex? My hunch is that that's what the profs are like when grading a mountain of poorly-developed blather from students. So, moving the grading to a computer isn't changing what the grading process is actually looking at; it's just moving the process to something which is better at it.

Comment "Tanked" (Score 1) 388

What I enjoyed most were the headlines in the "legit" financial sites, looking for any excuse to dismiss Bitcoin. Basically, they all said that the value of Bitcoin "tanked" because it got up to $145 earlier in the day, before "crashing down" to $125. I wanted to ask them "So, it was $95 two days ago. Yesterday, it was $115. Today, it's $125... what was that about 'tanking', again?". And, of course, today, it's at $135. I'll take that tank, any day.

Comment Re:Final nail? (Score 3, Informative) 398

This is one of the things which isn't mentioned when the topic of global warming comes up. GW is going to benefit some parts of the world. There will be some winners and some losers. Sure, it's going to suck in Florida and Arizona, but the northern states are going to start sucking less. Canadians, as well, will have much more fun with two, full weeks of Summer.

Comment Re:Speed and cost (Score 1) 294

People are (generally) slow. Inefficient. Worse..talkative.

I was trying to explain to a friend's parents what "all of this stuff with texting is all about". I explained to them that, when I call you on the phone, there's a lot of "Hey", "How's it goin'?", "Good, good. And you?"... until you get to the ", the reason I called is:". All of this is to "bring up" the connection. If we were modems, this would be all of that hiss and warbling you hear. If we were dogs, we'd be sniffing each other's butts. And then, at the end, there's the same "tearing down" of the connection you constructed: "So, that's all I called about", "Oh, okay. I guess I'll talk to you later, then", "okay, later", "okay, bye", "bye".

That's a lot of overhead when you just want a quick answer or are delivering a quick bit of info.

And another friend of mine has an interesting theory about the Japanese fetish with vending machines. In Japan, I'm told, there are vending machines everywhere and you can get anything from them. My buddy thinks that this is because Japan has so much protocol for human interaction: how you greet people depending up your relative statuses, when you bow, how you receive business cards, etc. Often, they just want a goddamn box of Cheese Nips (ba-dump-bump!) without the hassle. So... vending machines.

So, I agree... bring on the machines!

Comment Re:Can't Go Backwards (Score 1) 736

To put it another way, it is impossible to make an accurate progress bar because it is impossible to predict the future. That's all.

This is true even for non-engineering, real-life stuff. For example, when you get up in the morning, start announcing what "percent" done you are toward your goal of leaving the house for work/play/etc. Sometimes, you'll be accurate. Other times, you'll notice that it's trash-day and you need to take the trash out... or that you need to throw the laundry into the washer... or take a phone call from your mom... or take the dog to the vet, and it will cause your "progress bar" to stop, indefinitely.

Now, with things like copying/moving files, you *could* first go make a to-do list of all of the files and sizes that you need to copy, but, with large copy jobs, even *that* takes time... what do you do during *that*? No easy solution.

Comment Re:iterative innovation (Score 2) 417

I think one of the driving factors is that in the rich parts of the developed western world there aren't many long-standing needs left to be met.

I was thinking exactly the same thing. The wheel? That's an invention. The light-bulb? That's an invention. Spray-cheese? The Snuggie? Maybe not so much.

Also, as others have mentioned, invention is iterative. Back in the caveman days, when the number of steps from raw-material to finished product was very low (ie, start with rock, make it round, now you have a wheel), the steps looked very large. Today, because things are so technical and rely on so many steps, the last "inventive" step of combining existing pieces of tech doesn't seem like a big jump. For example, capacitive touchscreens. Before we could make those, we had to know about see-through conductive and electrolytic polymers... have the industrial processes to make them in thin sheets... we needed LCD displays... which needed polarizing filters... etc. It's still just as much of an invention for a dude to look around at the tech he has available and figure out how to apply it in a different way. Just watch a few episodes of James Burke's "Connections".

And, a lot of times, "inventorship" just goes to the dude that overcame some deal-killing obstacle. James Watt didn't "invent" the steam-engine; he figured out how to make the existing Newcomen engine more efficient and powerful by using a separate condenser.

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