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Comment Re:Just say "No". (Score 4, Interesting) 142

I haven't been to Seattle in a while and don't recall seeing a Real Change vendor there, but here in Portland vendors for our local street newspaper, Street Roots rarely harass or even engage passers-by, except for saying hello. They aren't anywhere near as aggressive as people trying to get you to contribute to some charitable org or trying to get you to sign some petition.

I used to do proofreading for Street Roots. They have a really good vendor training and try hard to be ambassadors for people living in poverty or experiencing homelessness. (FYI, not all vendors for these papers are currently homeless, though the vast majority have personal experience with homelessness.) It doesn't do the paper or its constituency any good if people find the vendors annoying or irritating. The best vendors have a lot of repeat customers and cultivate a good relationship with them, just like any business people. Street Roots is also very responsive to problems if they arise.

Comment Portland doesn't have a bike sharing program (Score 1) 454

Presuming Jamie Lentz is talking about Portland, OR, he is wrong about the "sharing program like what you see in Portland with bicycles." Portland doesn't have a bike share program. The City Council approved one about two years ago, but no sponsors have stepped up to fund it.

It's funny that Portland gets all this credit for bike stuff that far exceeds what it has actually accomplished. Several other cities, including Seattle, have approved and launched bike share programs in the time since Portland approved its non-existent program, yet Lentz defaults to "Portland" when talking about bike share. I guess perception is 90% of the battle, never mind reality.

Comment Re: illogical captain (Score 1) 937

Starting with an assumption is not an action that is compatible with science..

Then how do you define "hypothesis"? Are you saying that there should be ... or even could be ... no assumptions made in the formulation of an hypothesis? It seems to me that starting with an assumption is essential to science.

Comment Re:NewsBlur (Score 1) 132

Same here. NewsBlur works well for me and has improved in the year since I made the switch. I even subscribed, not so much to get the extra features as to support the developer/development.

I've read articles here and there saying that the death of Google Reader had an impact on the blogosphere and I'm sure it must have, but I can't say that it has had any impact on the feeds I subscribe to. Almost all of them as as active as they ever were. I don't know if this is quite the right approach, but I tend to view the blog feed subscription as the primary method by which I stay to connected to the source, and Facebook/Twitter as secondary methods I sometimes use depending upon the source. For some types of media, Facebook and/or Twitter (especially the latter) can be effective supplementary channels, but for most of the feeds I ever used an RSS reader to follow, neither of those are a good replacement. I've only unsubbed from a feed and stayed connected on either FB or Twitter if I've lost interest in the feed.

Comment Re:Pretty stupid reasoning (Score 1) 405

Writing a good book and publishing it successfully require different skill sets. Some will have enough of the relevant skills to do just fine with self-publishing, others won't. That doesn't mean the latter aren't capable of writing a good book, maybe even a brilliant one. But "the public" can't buy something that doesn't exist in the marketplace because there is no one with the skills necessary to bring it to market.

I don't think there's really a debate about whether self-publishing is good or bad thing -- in a world where it can coexist with commercial and academic publishers doing what they do, it is an option that will work better for some and worse for others. The point of the article is that Amazon is using its market power to corner and control the market, which could easily lead to a world where self-publishing becomes the only option for a large of majority of writers, including those ill-suited to it.

Comment Re:Can we stop talking about the killers yet? (Score 1) 145

What evidence is there that infamy is a motivating factor behind spree killing? I'm not familiar with any.

In most of the cases I have any familiarity with (which is most of them you cited), it doesn't seem to have been much of a motivating factor at all. Nor does it in this case. From the limited amount I've read about Elliot Rodger, it seems like he did have some desire to be heard and to be noticed, at least in specific contexts. He also didn't seem too shy about talking about his problems, at least online. But none that indicates a particular desire to be famous -- there is a huge gap between despondency over feeling invisible and a craving for notoriety.

Comment Re:RTFA, it's not that usage which he's objecting (Score 1) 1268

Exactly, but I don't think this problem is particularly new, or maybe I was just "ahead of my time" in the ignorance department. After getting excellent grades in all subjects through elementary school, I hit my first skid in 7th grade pre-algebra, and it was because of this problem. I spent much of a semester failing or barely passing tests simply because I didn't get that an "equation is a whole across," as you put it. You can only get so far when you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what "=" really means. Once it was finally explained to me, I did fine and my grades recovered. But it shouldn't have taken my math teacher (who was a putz) so long to figure out what was going wrong. Sure, sometimes students are lazy, but just as often teachers are inattentive and unmotivated. If you can't get the basic principles across, you aren't doing your job.

Comment Re:So Much For Employee Privacy! (Score 1) 1036

Heterosexual unmarried couples in CA can't register as domestic partners (except for couples over the age of 62). That's why Google's new policy applies only to same-sex couples who are registered.

The registry itself is an attempt, by the state, to extend many of the rights and benefits available to married heterosexual couples to same-sex couples whose marriages are not recognized by the state. But there are numerous rights and benefits it does not (and can not, because of federal law) extend. A heterosexual married Googler can opt to extend Google's employee health insurance benefit to that Googler's spouse, and a homosexual domestically partnered Googler can opt to extend Google's employee health insurance benefit to that Googler's domestic partner. However, the cost of doing so for the gay Googler will be significantly higher, because the benefit the gay Googler gets (for the domestic partner) is considered taxable income. The benefit the heterosexual married Googler gets (for the spouse) is not taxable income.

All Google is doing is making up the cost differential. It isn't discriminating against anybody. You could certainly make the argument that the state is discriminating in at least two ways: 1) not recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples; 2) not allowing unmarried heterosexual couples under the age of 62 to register as domestic partners in lieu of getting married. But I doubt the state would even bother with a domestic partnership registry if the marriages of same-sex couples were on the same footing with the marriages of opposite-sex couples. Really, what would be the point?

Gay people have already outed themselves by registering their domestic partnership. Further, they out themselves by paying for the health insurance benefit for their domestic partner. Google's new policy isn't requiring any additional "outing."

I agree that it would be much simpler if the state would simply recognize same-sex marriages, rather than create a whole parallel system for dealing with same-sex couples. (Note: Gay people can, and do, get married all the time, in both religious and civil ceremonies, and have been doing so in this country for 40-50 years or more. The state can not and never has prevented gays from marrying; it does, however, refuse to accord those marriages the same status it accords opposite-sex marriages.) Another option would be to ignore the term "marriage" altogether and simply treat anyone who wants to register their relationship with the state as domestic partners or civil partners. But these things are out of Google's control, and I think Google is doing the right thing here in redressing one imbalance that is within its power to redress.

Comment Re:More than 90% for me too (Score 1) 198

For the past few months, I've been volunteering at a transitional housing shelter, providing basic computer assistance to anyone who needs it. The guys at the shelter range in education level and in their experience with computers and the internet. Most have some basics down, many are perfectly competent or better, some have almost no experience. I have, just-in-time, stopped several people from giving out their social security numbers to spammers. I've had guys ask how come they can't get the free credit report the email said they could get without a credit card number. Just about all of them seem to understand, almost instinctively, that the sex-related spam is probably a scam. But I think you'd be surprised at how easily unsophisticated users can be taken in by what would strike many others as an obvious scam. And the more sophisticated the spam, the more people can get roped in.

When I'm helping someone set up an email account (sometimes, their first email account ever), I try to direct them to GMail because it seems to me to do the best filtering out-of-the-box. Many of them use Yahoo, and those are the ones I usually find trying to respond to a spam solicitation.

Comment Re:Default installation? (Score 1) 503

Using the netinstall CD, GNOME is installed if you select the desktop environment option from the task list the installer presents you with. If you don't select that task, GNOME is not installed. On this score, all install modes (expert or standard) are the same. It's easy not to install GNOME if you don't want to install GNOME.

Comment Re:BBC Documentary (Score 1) 177

Cool ... thx for highlighting this.

I am not a gamer. On the plus side, that made it much easier for me to ditch Windows some years ago, since I never cared about this or that beloved game that I couldn't play without Windows. On the minus side, it means I generally skip over a lot of Slashdot articles.

But there are two computer/arcade games I love -- Tetris and PacMan. Pong was fun for about two hours, the first time I played it on my friend's dad's Apple something back in the late '70s. I've never grown tired of Tetris, though -- here's to the next 25 years.

Comment Time Warner big and decentralized (Score 1) 94

The problem with the notion of Time Warner making AOL an exclusive media outlet is that Time Warner isn't the monolithic corporation many like to think it is. This is less true today than it was back when the merger (which was really, as others have mentioned, AOL buying Time Warner, even though it was spun to the media as a merger) took place, but it still operates in a somewhat looser fashion than many corporate behemoths. Time Inc. was always fairly decentralized, with different divisions setting their own policies and procedures. The Time Inc. & Warner Communications merger that created TW made it moreso. The idea that the corporate powers on high would just hand down orders to the music, publishing, magazine and movie divisions about where they would distribute their product or whom would be their "outlet" is pretty ridiculous if you knew anything about how Time Warner operated, about the wide-ranging, across-the-board autonomy most divisions had even while being wholly owned by Time Warner.

Then there was the problem of Road Runner, which no one ever solved. Road Runner (now, I believe, Time Warner Cable) -- rightly, in my view -- saw AOL as competition, not as a potential partner. Road Runner was profitable and growing. Even the most fervent AOL champions within Time Warner didn't want to piss off Road Runner, nor be seen as responsible for killing the golden goose (or, at least, for slowing its production of eggs). Road Runner had done just fine striking its own deals with Time Warner properties (like HBO) and non-TW properties alike. The truth is, Time Warner could have done everything it hoped to do with AOL on its own -- it already had the necessary ingredients under the corporate umbrella -- and it could've done it without ruffling the feathers that the AOL deal ruffled or introducing yet another foreign corporate culture into a mix that was already a wildly divergent mix of sometimes clashing cultures. The mystifying thing, to me, about the whole fiasco is why Time Warner ever thought it needed AOL.

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