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Comment Re:Seeking an insane amount of money. (Score 1) 102

Actually, I believe the $14,600 number is incorrect and that he's actually suing for something like $62,400 per employee.

Notice that $14,600/employee * 61000 employees ~= $890m, which is a far cry short of $3.8b.

Reading the article, the claim is for $200 per pay period per employee per claim. There are 12 claims and if we assume biweekly paychecks, 26 pay periods. $200 * 12 * 26 = $62,400 per employee. $62,400/employee * 61000 employees ~= $3.8b, which suggests this math is correct. It's certainly possible that the number of pay periods is wrong, but using 24 pay periods for twice/month paychecks produces ~$3.5b which is shy of the mark.

Comment How about 3 strikes? (Score 1) 97

I've heard 3 strikes before and seems like a reasonable policy for an ISP to apply for disconnecting people, so I propose that ISPs disconnect people who have been found liable in 3 distinct cases for infringement (utilizing their internet connect). This allows us to use a well-known and authoritative method for determining what constitutes a strike. Furthermore, we should restrict it to copyright violations that have occurred in the past 3 years to allow people to reform their illicit behavior.

Comment Expected value is the wrong metric (Score 1) 480

Expected value is only a good metric for evaluating lottery tickets if you expect to win often enough that it'll average out over time. For this particular lottery where $2 buys you a 1/175m chance of winning $337.8m, it doesn't make sense to reason that you're paying an average of $0.07 cents to play unless you're planning to buy several billion tickets over the time period you care about. For this lottery, the entire point is the variance. If you buy a ticket you are paying a trivial amount of money for a small possibility of a life-changing event.

There are occasionally lotteries and people for which expected value does make sense:

Comment Not an isolated incident (Score 5, Insightful) 784

The police in the DC area appear to have very strong beliefs that children should be accompanied very closely by parents at all times. About a year ago, my wife and I were walking to the air and space museum with our 8 year old daughter and her 8 year old cousin in DC. We walked by a park and the children thought it would be fun to walk through the park and meet us on the other side. They were stopped in the middle of the park by a police officer who demanded to know where their parents were. They pointed at us, about 50 feet away. The police officer first demanded that we come meet him in the middle of the park to pick up the children and, after we refused, settled for escorting them the 50 feet to meet us.

We felt like the officer was acting ludicrously and a royal jerk. It's discomforting to see that this problem is more wide spread, so I hope these parents are able to get the police and CPS to back down. I completely agree that children do not magically become grownups on their 18th birthday, they need to slowly expand their boundaries and comfort zone over time as they grow into adults.

Comment Landlines (Score 3, Informative) 466

I would like to introduce Mr. Cicconi to a device called a 'Telephone', particularly a variant colloquially termed a 'landline'. Historically 'telephone' companies, such as AT&T, would sell users a 'landline' to which they could connect a 'telephone'. These services included a basic connection charge as well as usage charges. In the event that a connection was made form one 'landline' to another, the party that initiated the session was charged for the usage of the session. This is exactly the treatment that Mr. Hastings is proposing.

In particular, I would like to note that while some providers charged users based upon usage, other providers allowed for a fixed cost plan where the subscriber paid a flat payment independent of their usage. These sorts of unlimited plans are exactly what AT&T, Comcast, etc. are selling as an ISP to their customers now, so they have no business trying to extract usage fees from Netflix and they have no business telling us that we're asking non-Netflix customers to subsidize the connections of Netflix customers. We've paid the fees that AT&T, Comcast, etc. demand for unlimited usage, so they need to provide it without whining about how they're not getting paid twice for the same service.

Comment Re: The are mortal after all (Score 1) 232

I recently discovered the answer to this question. It's because everyone else has one. When you get rear ended on a bicycle by a car going 30mph, you are quickly accelerated from 15mph to 45mph and then wipe out. This has a tendency to break limbs, cause concussions, and do other damage. The only known defences are to ride somewhere else (which frequently means you can't actually get to the grocery store) or add mass. If you up your mass to 3000 lbs, then the acceleration and damage are minimal. I prefer to put that mass into the vehicle, but you can try adding 3000lbs in body fat if you want.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: How can I help a company improve their website? 1

mepperpint writes: Like most Slashdoters, I use a lot of websites. Some of them meet my needs, but other ones have seemingly obvious problems. What's the best way to contact a website and communicate the problems to them so that they can improve their website and my experience?

Example 1: My bank provides a website which will tell me what scheduled payments I have and what deposits I expect to make each day. I wish they would tell me the predicted balance for each day so that I can have some warning before I overdraw my bank account. I complained at the local bank branch, but I'm pretty sure that accomplished nothing.

Example 2: I like to read a popular news site on my Nexus 7, but they recently added an auto-refresh feature which makes it impossible to read. About halfway through each article, it redraws the page and temporarily scrolls to the top of the website. This makes it utterly unusable. It helpfully offers to let me see the mobile site which might be better, but I previously opted out so now when I go to the mobile site it redirects me to the desktop site. I recently tried posting on the site, so we'll see if that gets anyone's attention.

Example 3: A popular e-commerce site offers a credit card which gives you a penny on the dollar in extra money you can spend at their store. A few years back they had a race condition where if you placed multiple orders at the same time, you were able to use your free pennies multiple times (once for each order). I attempted to contact customer support and they were unable to address the problem, despite losing money on it.

As an engineer, I really wish I could just file bugs on all of these systems. Given that none of these websites offer a way for me to file bugs, does anyone have any brilliant suggestions on how I can provide my feedback in a way that might be heard by folks who can fix it?

Comment Re:This poll is not to Texas scale. (Score 1) 304

I agree with your point that the scale on the poll is pretty bogus as it amounts to 3 options staying at home, stating in the same metropolitan area, and travelling to another city. The differentiation seems pretty useless and the failure to distinguish between staying in the country or continent and travelling to the other side of the world is disappointing.

But to be fair, here are some examples on the east coast of the USA of cities that fall within the range. These numbers are the first result for directions on Google Maps, so the cities may be a bit closer if you consider actual distance instead of shortest driving directions:

Baltimore <-> Washington, D.C: 41 miles
Boston <-> Providence: 50 miles
Providence <-> Hartford: 87 miles
NYC <-> Philadelphia: 96.3 miles
Philadelphia <-> Baltimore: 101 miles
Boston <-> Hartford: 102 miles

Comment Could be a honeypot (Score 5, Interesting) 157

If I were designing a security system for TSA, I would definitely consider printing a (possibly fake) screening status in the barcode in plain text. If you keep a database of what status you assigned to which boarding ticket, then you can more thoroughly screen (or arrest and jail indefinitely) anyone who changes the easily hackable obvious screening status on their boarding pass. This is much like a honeypot that folks sometimes use in network security. (For those who don't know, a honeypot is an easily hackable machine that serves no purpose except to be hacked so that an observer can find folks who are trying to break in.)

Comment Re:Contempt of Court? (Score 1) 184

IANAL. One might argue that he qualifies under section (iv) on the basis that a pen and paper constitutes a 'recording device'. One might further argue that he qualifies under section (v) on the basis that converting his paper notes into electronic text constituted a transcription of the aforementioned recording. I think this is clearly nonsense and not the intent of the law, as these appear to be intended to cover those people employed by the court to perform these roles and not some individual who happened to engage in these practices while playing a role not on the list. I'd also note that (vi) explicitly limits itself to attorneys for the government and fails to gag attorneys for the witnesses. If note taking and posting is found to be illegal, perhaps we'll see a rise in demand for attorneys with eidetic memories.

Comment Re:Poisoned forever? (Score 4, Interesting) 224

I would think the IP addresses would be useless forever. It would likely take way more effort than it is worth to get them unblocked. Even if the court lifted the block, it would be hard to guarantee that they had been unblocked by every ISP out there. If this goes into overdrive, we might have a new compelling reason to switch to IPv6 as larger and larger swaths of IPv4 addresses become dead.

Comment Re:Resolution (Score 4, Insightful) 399

Agreed! The display is very important. I do not understand why the other commenters seems to be asking for a 1920x1080 display. This wide screen is good for watching movies, but crap for development work. I need more verticle screen real estate so that I can see a larger block of code at once. Verticle space is far more valuable than horizontal. I would gladly take a 1600x1200 display over a 1920x1080. If they really want to be innovative, they'll put a 1920x1200 display on the laptop along with a feature where it can be rotated vertical to give me 1200x1920. That's what I do on my desktop and it works great. Duplicate it on my laptop and I'll finally be able to use it for work purposes.

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