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Comment Re:If I had my way... (Score 1) 187

All of the printer companies have a history of abusing the legal system. Lexmar just happens to the worse offender.

Really? I'm aware of Lexmark's abuse. HP abuses users in more subtle ways, but not through the legal system. I'm not aware of anything even remotely similar from Brother, Konica Minolta, or Canon, all of which IMO make much better printers than Lexmark and HP.

Frankly, I don't even understand how Lexmark is still in business.

Comment Re:FCC says wha? (Score 2) 74

It hasn't been squelched because it isn't consumer-friendly. It actually causes even bigger problems, because the obnoxious scammers have already changed their tactics, and now are using actual phone numbers that belong to other people.

About two weeks, I got a text message from somebody asking why I called them. I had not made any phone calls in nearly a day at the time, as verified on my phone. And I keep getting telemarketing calls from random assigned phone numbers in the area that belong to random individuals, all of whom are innocent victims.

It is not sufficient to ban calls from unassigned numbers. Our phone network is hopelessly insecure, dating back to the days when only trusted carriers could add calls into the system. The only way to fix this is to ensure that at every injection point, the system verifies that the call is really coming from where it claims to be coming from—one wire, one or more fixed number blocks. And because there are probably major carriers complicit with this abuse, doing this right would require some sort of authenticated source check further down the line as well. This would probably require a major rearchitecting, which is why it probably won't happen any time soon. Basically, we need the equivalent of TLS and CAs for the phone network....

Comment Re:Conflict of interest (Score 1) 243

If you enter on yellow it should be because you were going to fast and were too close to stop safely, so leaving before it turns red shouldn't be a problem.

Only if the yellow is long enough. I've seen many lights where if there's only one car at the intersection and you're turning left, you can enter on green and you'll still exit two or three seconds after the light turns red. A car approaching from behind at any speed even remotely approaching the speed limit would then enter on yellow without time to stop, but would have to slow down for you and would be unable to get out of the light until long after it turned red.

Comment Re:The social effects are much worse. (Score 1) 374

In the past, before these subsidies that distorted the pricing so horrendously, most students had to study something that brought real value. While a few dicked around in an abstract, rather useless subject like philosophy, most students studied science, engineering, mathematics, law, and medicine. These are the sorts of subjects that allow the students to, in the future, provide real value to society.

That's arguable. In our "anything that can be outsourced should be" culture, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees are no longer guarantees of adding economic value, either. And not everybody is good at those subjects. In my experience as a college educator, forcing students to dedicate four years of their lives to a a subject that they hate just because it theoretically pays better after graduation is self-defeating. You end up with students that don't really want to learn the material, struggle to pick it up, and drag down the rest of the class as you try to help them keep up.

Eventually, even medicine will be mostly automated. We'll still need nurses for a while, because robotic nursing is a genuinely hard problem, but doctors could basically be replaced by IBM's Watson and a glorified secretary today. Besides being an extremely expensive career to go into, the long-term prospects are bleak. So the question you have to ask yourself is this: Do we really want to live in a society of lawyers?

Also, as others have mentioned, education used to be much more highly subsidized than it is now, even taking into account the availability of college loans (which are largely a more-expensive-to-the-student replacement for the government subsidies that used to exist). Yet people continue to choose those degree programs. Could it be that you're wrong about the value to society? Folks with degrees in the performing arts are guaranteed a menial income for the rest of their lives, but they're also doing something that they enjoy. When faced with a society of people who are getting more and more unhappy, given that happiness is a strong predictor of longevity, arguably those degree programs benefit society a great deal even before you consider that their creative output improves society directly. And many art history majors learn (either as part of their degree or on the job) how to do fundraising, which contributes greatly to the arts, and thus to society as well. AFAIK, there aren't degree programs specific to arts development in most places, so art history and music degrees are often as close as you can get.

Now I'm not going to argue that I know the value of those other degrees you mentioned. I suspect that at least for now, they mainly qualify you to be a high school guidance counselor or maybe a politician, but that's just a guess. But in my experience, the job market creates interesting opportunities based on the availability of people with specific skills. If there are enough people with those currently low-value majors, somebody (maybe even somebody who majored in one of those fields) will come up with some interesting task that those students can uniquely perform after they graduate, and society benefits from the creation of those new areas of work and study.

Finally, I would add that the purpose of college is to educate students for the sake of learning—to open their eyes to the world's possibilities. Its purpose is not to be a trade school. We don't need more cookie-cutter STEM majors who got their degrees because they pay better out of school. We need a society of people who appreciate the world in which we live, who find ways to do what they love and love what they do, who understand how to learn, who understand how to think for themselves, who understand that they live in a diverse world of people with different backgrounds, different interests, different cultures, and different perspectives. And that is far more valuable to society than being able to check "yes" in the box that says "I have a degree in science, technology, engineering, or math", and I say that as someone with a Master's in CS, but with an undergrad degree that included a double major in CS and communications, with extensive music ensemble coursework on the side. There is great value to society in degrees outside of STEM. Not all value is financial in nature.

Comment Re:Yeah, the bubble will pop long before that (Score 1) 374

Isn't that exactly the type of wasteful behavior which attributes to higher costs? If for instance classrooms were at 50% utilization for two hours between 8-5, just because everyone is doing meetings at the same time, you could reduce the number of classrooms by 10% if you simply spread meetings throughout the day.

It doesn't work that way. The reality is that students are used to being in school from about 8 to 3. They tend to resist taking classes much past that time, and by college, they tend to resist taking classes before 10 as well. Realistically, you get about five good hours during which you can teach classes, and the more classes you schedule outside those core hours, the more students will cram into the classes within those hours, so you just end up with very imbalanced sections that make it harder to teach.

And it isn't just momentum, either. Lots of students commute to their university, which means early and late classes don't work. Parents (both college students and faculty) have to pick their kids up from school. Students have part-time jobs to pay the bills. And so on.

Finally, it isn't practical to just say, "We're going to spread classes evenly throughout the day", because students need time to actually work on their homework. And that time needs to be during the day so that they can use campus facilities such as computer labs, tutoring centers, etc. It simply isn't practical for the entire day to be used for instruction, because it costs money to operate those other facilities, too, and you'd end up having to cover the cost of extending their hours dramatically if you extend the core hours for classes, which means significantly increased staffing, which ends up costing more over the long run than adding one or two extra rooms to a building.

Comment Re:Failure is always an option (Score 1) 200

Although true, I would argue that what's really needed are standard, third-party cab hailing apps that know about all the cab companies in an area and find you a cab, rather than having to have an app for each cab company in each locality where you might need a cab. It isn't really reasonable to expect each cab company to solve the problem themselves, and it can be tricky for competitors to work together.

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