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Comment Fear sells (Score 1) 154

A third reason is that as time has progressed, more content has been pushed only on the internet, not through print media. For web pages to earn their keep they have to attract attention - clicks. We know that fear is a great motivator and with the more "stuff" that people have, the greater their fear of losing it. It also seems likely that since 2001, the western world has been on a fear-driven agenda, which drives out good news.

So simply to compete, websites will promote FUD, warnings, threats. And the race to the bottom goes on with more shrill headlines and reports and more and more FAKE NEWS.

A possible fourth reason is that pre-2000, most tech reporting was intended for technically literate individuals. Ones who implicitly recognised dangers and didn't need them spelled out. But since "tech" has become mainstream, there are far more clueless idiots trying to do stupid things with technology. Maybe the negative articles simply reflect the (far) lower levels of competence among the audience for technology content?

Comment What "being replaced" actually means (Score 2) 369

Leaving aside the obvious answer: that ALL people who are employed to do X will henceforth be sacked because Robo here can do all their work, cheaper.

But for most professions the change will be that individual workers will become more and more productive. In those cases it doesn't matter if the individual is a checkout assistant, airline pilot, hooker, journalist, road-digger, marketing person or doctor. Technology, AI, new processes, more disintermediation, will mean that a piece of work that requires a given number of person*days now, will require many fewer as time goes on.

That leads to two possibilities: either professions (and manual, low-skilled work) will need only a fraction of the number of employees that each sector has today. Or that more opportunities will arise for the same number of people to be gainfully employed - but do we really need more holes dug in the road, or more blogs/newspapers/magazines in our lives?

Clearly, this won't happen all at once. But as people retire or leave their traditional jobs, they won't necessarily be replaced. Maybe new types of job will appear (we didn't need programmers until the computer was developed) or maybe we will see an underclass of unemployable people emerge, supported by a UBI system that is paid for by an ever-shrinking number of salaried staff.

Comment A cheap way to give employees a "hug" (Score 1) 197

Conferences are basically just a day off. No employer sets any expectations from conference attendance (except maybe to ensure that you bring back the conference material - to prove you actually went) and they seem to be used as treats for the non-essential staff that an employer can afford to be without for a few days.

Comment The takeaway message: don't buy an EV (Score 2) 212

... because next year they will cost less and perform better.
And the year after, better still
etc.

It is only at the point when a buyer will spend less on buying and running an EV over its lifetime, than the person would spend on buying and running a car that uses petrol or diesel that it makes economic sense.

The next question would be that if your intention is to "save the planet", would the cost difference be better spent on an EV or by being donated to one of the causes advocating less climate change?

(Of course, there is a third reason: to be able to brag look at me, I've got an electric car! Aren't I trendy / environmentally responsible / rich)

Comment Re:Hornby set? Maglev is "new"? (Score 1) 122

we don't have to sit in a plane but instead can sit in a train

So instead of sitting in a sealed container traveling through the air at 500 MPH, you will sit in a sealed container traveling through a tunnel at 500 MPH?

It doesn't seem like there are any benefits over air travel. Though there are many disadvantages. The biggest and most obvious is the lack of flexibility. You have to bore the tunnel and it only goes from one fixed point to another. The cost is enormous and the infrastructure is inflexible (literally and figuratively). Apart from that, tunnels need maintenance, you can't look out the windows, it is expensive to maintain the low pressure. This sort of "tunnel plane" will have all the security drawbacks of a real plane (without the ability to divert to a nearby station in case of an emergency), so we can expect the same degree of security theatre and delays at embarkation.

The only advantage I can see is that this train shouldn't be subject to disruption due to weather (and hopefully, it will be driverless). However, the crushing cost of digging and maintaining the tunnels will ensure that it is only ever going to be travel for the wealthy. The british/french Channel Tunnel - $15Bn at today's prices for 24 miles - should be all the warnings that people considering a project like this, should ever need.

Comment 32% - why so low? (Score 1) 257

This is one of the main conclusions of research conducted by anti-piracy firm Irdeto

I would have thought that a far higher (almost 100%) of the population would have viewed some pirated material, at least once in their lives.

But if the "survey" came out with a figure even close to 50%, it would be shooting itself in the foot by showing that the behaviour was not considered immoral by such a large proportion of the population that to make it illegal was questionable. And once the "everybody does it" card is played, it becomes impossible for the courts to prosecute, since no jury could, statistically, find against a defendant.

Comment conflicting theories? (Score 2) 63

but a lot is going on in the classroom -- there is so much to look at inside it and out the window.

This is a little worrying, since we are told that a rich classroom environment stimulates the young mind. It almost sounds as if we should go back to the drab, austere, classrooms of past decades. That way the children will have few distractions and will be better able to pay attention to their teacher.

Comment Free / share ware was a reaction to a need (Score 3, Interesting) 501

Early software was written because the author needed to perform a function that existing software didn't address: either in terms of utility or quality.

The PC magnified this need, with millions being sold but only crappy commercial software to run on it. Whether the free/share-ware in question was a Windows app or a different O/S, the same voids were filled for the same reasons. (If Windows software had started out as low-cost and high quality, would freeware have become so popular? Discuss.)

The argument now is whether that phase is over. Do we have enough apps? Can we (users) do all the things that we wish to, with the software that is available to us, now? Do we prefer to spend 99 on an app that has "star" ratings, user feedback, integrated installation is (almost) guaranteed not to make our hardware die, send SPAM or steal our data - or do we prefer to download something for zero cost and then spend hours trying to configure it and bend it to our will?

Comment Simple solutions suggested - easy to harden (Score 2, Insightful) 404

When I read the report, the list of mitigations it offers seems like the every-day advice that all computer security outfits continually tell all their users and admins to do.

If the degree of "russian hacking" can be so easily foiled, it doesn't sound much like they were using master criminals or IT experts - just script-kiddie stuff that follows people around the internet every day. One would hope that if they have solid evidence that this originated ONLY from the russian intelligence services that they are a lot more certain of it than they appear to make out here. If that was the case, it seems like the fix is easy and well known.

One also assumes that the US intelligence services are doing exactly the same to the "bad guys" and are getting similar sorts of results.

Of course the more interesting question would be: If this is what they discovered what about all the advanced hacking that they haven't uncovered - both in techniques and targets? If an election can be hacked so easily, what are the REAL experts influencing and stealing?

Comment Re:Do like them thar foreigners - PLEASE DON'T (Score 1) 295

My recent Amazon deliver resulted in a $1200 (exchange rate equivalent) TV being left in a shop 6 miles away.

I knew it was on its way from the Amazon tracking, but the lovely deliver person at S**R just dropped it where it was convenient and headed on his (or her) way. I got a call from the shopkeeper who found my phone number on the label stuck to the manufacturer's carton, that said exactly what it was. Luckily, he was honest and let me know or he could have had a very nice christmas present.

Even now, 2 weeks later, Amazon still shows the package as undelivered.

Comment Win or earn? (Score 1) 406

After all, there are numerous high-profile billionaires who haven't called it quits despite possessing the luxury to retire

I think whoever wrote this has missed the point.

For these gazillionaires "work" is just another way to pass the time. It doesn't provide them (any more) with the necessary money to live on, so they have other goals for the work they do and the money they earn. Whether that is a rather adolescent "measuring up" contest, a messianic attitude to life, the desire to go down in history as past philanthropists have, or merely to have Mars' capital city named after them is irrelevant.

I would suggest that lottery winners (to take a simple example) who return to work when they have the means to live comfortably are showing a monumental lack of imagination or simply are scared of change - the unknown life of a rich person and the choices it requires. However, for most people the idea of not having to perform in the daily 9 - 5 is all they would wish for.

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