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Comment Re:Change the law (Score 1) 1430

A parliamentary system is ...similar to the Electoral College, except the MPs do the voting.

Huge difference is that each riding (think electoral district) independently elects its own Member of Parliament. It's not winner-take-all for the entire state/province/whatever, but rather more like how the US chooses Congress(wo)men.

Comment Curses! Foiled again!! (Score 1) 66

The industry is secretly hoping for a must-use technology that will break in 5 years. Does this accomplish that business goal?

That's an ancient dream. According to an old-time engineer who was an early transistor user in the early 60s, that was the industry's goal back then: purposefully only slightly longer life than vacuum tubes.

He told me a story of meeting strong criticism from the semiconductor vendor when they found out his company was dipping transistors in paint to color-code parts that they (the customer) tested as better or worse. Device quality/performance was very uneven back then. The vendor's opposition to dipping didn't quite hold water. Turned out that the hollow metal packages weren't airtight as to allow in oxygen that would eventually degrade them. Dipping in paint sealed them. Foiled again!!

Comment Just let me hit Send, then I'll look up (Score 1) 203

"the countdown timer will disappear several seconds before the red light changes to green"
Better make that interval random, folks. Otherwise people will just learn to complete the countdown in their heads, then step on the gas without quite yet looking up.

Comment Poison pill puts publishers in legal jeopardy (Score 1) 421

Most of now have privacy policies where we disclose what data we collect and what we do with it. If that disclosure is defective, you're in legal jeopardy for failure to disclose. Thanks for the poison pill, MS!

And, haven't they considered that the whole Apple/FBI thing might have implications for them and their developers, just maybe? If not legal issues, then PR at the very least? Stunning!

Comment They learned their lesson from MS Office (Score 1) 359

The 64-bit version of Office isn't exactly a resounding success. The Office install program even strongly encourages you to use the 32-bit version unless you have a compelling reason to install the 64-bitter. Memory bloat is an issue, but the biggie is compatibility with add-ins: a lot of them are NOT 64-bit ready, including some of Microsoft's own. The 64-bitter doesn't feel any more responsive and starts up slower on older systems.

There are some strong similarities between Office and VS: flagship products, extensive 3rd-party ecosystem including add-ins, IO-bound, massive codebase & dependencies. Emphatically not just a matter of a changing a few compile switches!

Comment William Gibson was prescient (Score 2) 77

Reminds me of scenes from Gibson's Neuromancer-era books where people could illicitly buy "ice" to penetrate a particular type of target. Ice for hard targets was pricey but very user-friendly: just a particular shape they dropped onto the target in their VR headset and then watched it eat its way in, all without knowing its workings.

Comment Failing fast (Score 1, Informative) 45

Electricity, my car's brakes, email: failure NOT OK. Their dependability is what makes them useful.

Nimble; agile. failing fast. It's a valuable idea, but it's not for every organization. If you're developing something new, failure is probably OK as long as you can pick up the pieces.

If you're on the operational side of making something work day in and day out, it it NOT OK. Most outfits fall into that category.

Seems like I'm hearing more & more of my customers adopting the"fail fast, fail often" mantra. I say you have to seriously consider which kind of outfit you are before you drink that particular Kool Aid du jour!

Comment Re:May spur automation (Score 2) 940

Long term, it's probably true that the effect will be a wash.

The typical cycle of automation is that there's some kind of crunch (bad economy, rising wages, etc.) which causes businesses to streamline, including adopting automation.

However, managers are lazy like everybody else, and continually keeping their operations lean & mean would take sustained effort, so head counts creep up again.

When the economy eventually expands (it will, sooner or later), businesses hire even more. They don't automate then because a) automation requires making an investment, yet they can't be sure that the good times will last so it's safer to hire someone who can be easily fired, and b) automating takes management time & effort, plus productivity typically takes a short-term hit, neither of which is acceptable during an expansion phase, i.e. "can't you see we're busy making money now?" In management-speak: staffing up is more flexible and less disruptive than automation.

Wash, rinse & repeat.

Comment Re:Sounds good. (Score 5, Interesting) 940

Sounds good in theory, but look around any retirement home for a strong counterexample. You'll see a lot more people watching TV than painting, writing books, studying, etc. Yes, they're old, but that's not why they're vegging out. It's because they're people. It's often been said that most people start dying the minute they retire.

Comment Did this help in Europe? (Score 1) 556

Can anybody say for a fact whether they have this kind of regulation in France or Belgium?

My guess is that ID most likely is required, seeing how ID seems to required for almost everything in much of Europe. If so, doesn't seem to have hindered the Paris & Brussels terrorists from reportedly buying entire cases of burner phones.

Comment Re:"then how do we apprehend the child pornographe (Score 1) 546

Or maybe the other old-fashioned way: people talk.

But, finding and getting witnesses to talk takes old-fashioned police work. Often lots of it. You can't can't blame the cops for wanting to automate their work like the rest of the data-driven corporate world: push a button, out comes a bad guy handcuffed & ready to prosecute.

That then brings us back to the real discussion we should be having: how powerful do we want the cops and the state to be? Many people will say that everybody should obey all laws at all times, and that law enforcement should be powerful enough to make that stick. Imagine police that sees everything and has automated capabilities to analyze and prosecute every little thing. Toss a chewing gum wrapper on the ground? A drone spots it, ticket via e-mail, the fine automatically deducted from your bank account -- all before the wrapper even hits the pavement. Serves 'em right, you say? Everybody'd have to give up on even thinking about breaking the law. Sound good (aside from the free will thing)?

Problem is that the design of laws themselves are inherently limited by what can and can't be reasonably enforced. In other words, laws are (mostly) tailored to what the authorities can enforce. Give the police more power and the gov't will make more & more laws to take advantage of those new capabilities, often at the behest of special interests. Kissing in public? Late for work? Chewing gum on the street? Mismatched socks?

"Give a child a hammer and he will find a nail to hit."

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