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Comment Re:Fortran (Score 4, Interesting) 629

There was competition at the time between FORTRAN and ALGOL. Physics majors learned ALGOL, which was supposed to be more humane and logical, but the engineers learned FORTRAN, with its brutal efficiency in packing the most computing into the smallest possible space - a big consideration when each line of code was hand-typed on an individual punch card. I was particularly fond of the arithmetic IF: "IF (x-y/z) 10, 15, 20" would take the program to line 10, 15 or 20 depending on whether x-y/z (or any arithmetic expression) was negative, zero or positive.

Comment Really just a tax dodge (Score 1) 135

What's the point of all these "loyalty" programs? Mostly to evade taxes. Highly paid management personnel might go on dozens of business trips a year, accumulating multiple free flights that they then typically use for personal travel. But of course they pay no income tax on the miles earned, even though by any reasonable definition it is compensation. The rest of us ordinary folks are just tagging along for the ride, and the airlines are increasingly finding ways to lock us out and restrict rewards to the high-rollers.

Comment The big screen? (Score 1) 370

Well, maybe once upon a time, when I was a child, and it really was The Big Screen, 30 or 40 feet wide, and a few hundred people were all there to see the same movie, it really was an event. Now there's 15 screens, each not that much bigger than one you might have at home, and you're just one in a herd of consumers being serviced. Multiplexes destroyed the moviegoing experience decades ago.

Comment My suggestions to NYT (Score 1) 408

1. Allow comments only from subscribers. People love to opine, and will pay for the privilege. 2. At the same time, allow comments on a larger range of articles. Particularly aggravating is that they don't normally allow comments to guest editorials. Why? If they can't take criticism, they shouldn't be writing editorials. 3. Allow subscribers only to turn off animated ads. NYT blocks at least some ad blockers, but without an ad blocker it is all but unreadable due to distraction from animated ads all over the page.

Comment Not for hobbyists (Score 1) 212

Despite news of falling prices, the cost of the prismatic LiFePO4 cells commonly used in roll-your-own EV conversions has not come down AT ALL. They're still $1.30-1.40/Ah, or about $410-440/kWh, the same as they were in 2010. So a pack for a usable vehicle is still at least $10K. Sad to say, it's now much cheaper to buy a used EV than to build one.

Comment The sink not the source is the problem (Score 2) 335

The key to the success and of fake news and the main determinant of its content is not its sources but its consumers. What social media companies have discovered is that giving people whatever news they personally want to hear, regardless of its accuracy, can be a highly lucrative business. Just set up the algorithms, watch the news sources arise like magic, see the subscribers rack up clicks, and let the ad revenue roll in.

Comment The cost of bandwidth (Score 1) 80

So let me get this straight. I can pay $35 and watch, say, 3 hr of streamed wireless video every day, and AT&T will give me the necessary ~100GB of bandwidth free. But if I just buy an extra unrestricted 10GB of wireless data from Verizon, they charge $45. Makes you really wonder what it actually costs the telco's to provide each GB. Seems like either Verizon's data charges must be ~90% profit at least, or else AT&T is so desperate to stay relevant in the content space that they are willing to endure massive losses by providing bandwidth way below their cost. Maybe a little of both?

Comment Yes Facebook you are the problem (Score 1) 624

At least in the sense, Facebook is sucking all the oxygen, i.e. online ad revenue, out of the room, making billions on news without hiring a single reporter or opening a single news bureau. Even the largest legitimate news organizations, NYTimes, Wall Street Journal, are struggling to make a business model in the online world, because people don't need to subscribe to them or look at their ads in order to get news. Instead they get it from Facebook, which selectively feeds readers only the news they want to hear.

Comment I love DSL (Score 1) 141

What's the beef? With modern compression algorithms, DSL is plenty fast enough for video streaming, who needs more than that? If I wanted, I could potentially stream 250 GB a month, imagine what that would cost on a wireless contract. DSL reliability is incredible; in 10 years it's been out maybe 3 or 4 times for a few hours. When the power has gone out for days at a time, DSL still works, as does my landline phone. There are no rental charges; my modem was free and it still works. Best of all, I don't have to deal with Comcast and their incomprehensible rate structure. Even including all the phoney landline charges, it's less than half what I'd pay otherwise. DSL now, DSL tomorrow, DSL forever.

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