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Comment Re:M$ Becoming Like Google (Score 1) 122

Heh, and how many times did Google change how they do SMS in Android / ChromeOS ?

* SMS app
* Buys Grand Central and allows people to use Google Voice for SMS via web and app (I still use this today, mostly)
* Messages app
* Hey, maybe SMS integration in Google+ ? Oh, wait, no one really uses it.
* Hangouts app gets SMS integration on both web and app, and Google kinda starts deprecating all of the above.
* Hangouts app loses SMS integration, now you should use the Messenger app
* Oh, I guess people still use Google Voice, I suppose we might start maintaining it again until we decide to kill it for good.

Comment Other peoples' music playlists (Score 2) 316

I could never get into Pandora, but probably because my musical tastes are strange. I mostly listen to parodies, so when I insert stuff like Weird Al or Monty Python Sings or Capitol Steps or even King Missile, they really confuse the genre classification engine.

These days I mostly listen to curated streams, because I can't be bothered to come up with my own playlists. So usually SomaFM.com (Groove Salad, Lush, and sometimes Secret Agent or Defcon). I also like to hit http://sleepbot.com/ambience/b... on occasion , it can be really weird sometimes.
Also I'm a bit surprised to find I have a soft spot for "female vocal dubstep" on youtube, but maybe that has something to do with the wallpaper pr0n.

Anyways, I used to use streamtuner + streamripper to, uh, "timeshift" a few hours' worth of streaming radio feeds so I could listen to them in the subway. These days, I usually just find the things I really like on youtube and download them with Tubemate, and then buy albums on Google Play if I really really like certain artists. But the only reason I spend money on Google Play is because I don't want to install any other music store app, and I can't fully remove Google Play.

Can't stand the Google Play auto streams that they throw at me, though.

Submission + - Drug-test the Rich - Not the Poor - to Qualify for Tax Benefits (theguardian.com)

Press2ToContinue writes: "The (tax) benefits we give to poor people are so limited compared to what we give to the top 1%” of taxpayers, Congresswoman Gwen Moore says, “It’s a drop in the bucket.” Many states implement drug-testing programs to qualify for benefit programs so that states feel they are not wasting the value they dole out.

However, seven states who implemented drug testing for tax benefit program recipients spent $1m on drug testing from the inception of their programs through 2014. But the average rate of drug use among those recipients has been far below the national average – around 1% overall, compared with 9.4% in the general population – meaning there’s been little cost savings from the drug testing program. Why? “Probably because they can’t afford it,” say Moore.

“We might really save some money by drug-testing folks on Wall Street, who might have a little cocaine before they get their deal done,” she said, and proposes a bill requiring tests for returns with itemized deductions of more than $150,000.

“We spend $81bn on everything – everything – that you could consider a poverty program,” she explained. But just by taxing capital gains at a lower rate than other income, a bit of the tax code far more likely to benefit the rich than the poor, “that’s a $93bn expenditure. Just capital gains,” she added. Why not drug-test the rich to ensure they won't waste their tax benefits?

She is “sick and tired of the criminalization of poverty”. And, she added: “We’re not going to get rid of the federal deficit by cutting poor people off Snap. But if we are going to drug-test people to reduce the deficit, let’s start on the other end of the income spectrum.”

Comment Re:Another one smites the bust (Score 1) 365

This. I think LinkedIn suddenly reached critical mass just a couple years ago. Before then, love it or hate it, everyone just kinda ignored it. Now I suddenly have so many former co-workers on it, that it's actually somewhat interesting to keep up with what they're all doing. It's big and functional enough that it's a rival to Facebook now, which is actually a pretty big deal. And unlike Facebook, I'm actually comfortable "friending" bosses and co-workers there without feeling that worlds are colliding with my decidedly unprofessional childhood friends and feeds that dominate F*book.

Plus, every big corporation I've worked for lately has tried to, er, "leverage internal synergies" through running their own internal enterprise social network site where people (or rather the corp. legal) can feel comfortable sharing proprietary activities. (like Yammer and the ilk that feel like poor clones of twitter/FB). I can see the LinkedIn acquisition playing well with ActiveDirectory, and keeping employees happily collaborating in the corporate walled-garden LinkedIn without being exposed to all of the external headhunters and snipers, while still allowing some limited cross-corporate interchange where allowed. Plus, now when you're outsourced, your HR can helpfully update your LinkedIn status for you to give you a jumpstart on finding your next opportunity!

Of course, all of the real techies I know ignore the internal social networks and Skype/Lync and have migrated all of their collaboration onto more IRC-esque tools, like Hipchat or Slack, where they can freely discuss and exchange CI and PR notifications and lots of cat gifs using chatbots. But, well, gradually M$ will catch on.

Comment Re: Omar Saddiqui Mateen? (Score 1) 1718

Belief in $Deity is a red herring. Any half-assed OkCupid profile probably does a pretty good job characterizing your upbringing and preferences. But if you have nothing, then people are simply just going to have to make Assumptions about you. "This guy is in my voter district, and I won the election, so this new law assisting/profiling/deterring immigrants is acting in his best known interests". Do you really align with your elected official? No. So take control of your own narrative before some shithead does it for you.

I went to an international school for a few years. It was a Catholic school in southeast asia, so they actually had religion classes as a required part of the curriculum. But you could choose to study Christianity or Buddhism or maybe a few other options, but if you didn't have something they put you into a "Values" class and it had a textbook. I don't really remember much from it other than a porny picture of two girls licking the same ice cream cone, but it was interesting to still try to consider and articulate the social impact of cooperation and ethics and conflict resolution. Here in the US, "share toys and keep your hands to yourself" seems to kinda drop off quickly after Kindergarten, so I suppose it was nice to keep thinking about that kind of thing several grades later, even if us kids didn't take it very seriously at the time.

But yes, you've got some way to characterize your upbringing. Maybe you grew up watching Mr. Rogers, or maybe had more of an urban Sesame Street cred, or hated Barney, or just grew up with the Nartuo way of the ninja. All that is going to have some impact on your cultural identity and perspective on other groups. Maybe it's just in your head now. But kids these days are growing up with their entire Netflix and Kindle viewing history in databases. It's going to get pretty difficult to assert that you're some kind of clean blank slate that can't be grouped into some sort of box of cultural misappropriations.

Comment Re: Omar Saddiqui Mateen? (Score 1) 1718

Can you provide the citation for this belief system. Being an atheist, I'd like to know what parts of my "belief system" I'm missing. Go on, provide the list of citations.

Yeah, actually, that's exactly what I was wondering about... what is the citation for the atheist belief system? Every other belief system comes with a manual, what's the closest thing we have to an atheist bible? I don't even submit that all atheists even need to agree on using the same book. But people ought to come with some form of documentation they claim to try to adhere to. The Bill of Rights? That's kinda legalese and US-centric, but maybe something along those veins.

My friends and I all grew up identifying as atheist... but in retrospect, I've always behaved more like an agnostic, having been raised in somewhat Episcopalian and Buddhist and secular environments. I know it's all in my mind, but I've always lived as if some omniscient entity was watching and judging me... whether it was some form of the FSM or a very bored but dedicated DNA forensics branch of the FBI. I like to think I kept them happy with my behavior and choices. And if they weren't happy with me, well then fuck 'em, because then they weren't the kind of entity that would deserve my worship anyway.

In the end, religion isn't all that distinguishable from someone's cultural upbringing, with its rites and passages and ceremonies and lists of what's good and bad for you. Atheist secular culture has its share of mantras too. Saying that someone else's religious/cultural upbringing is inferior is just the theological equivalent of a "your mom" joke. It'd be nice if people were not forced to reject their cultural history, but could embrace it and integrate it into some future inclusive system accepting and respectful of cultural diversity. All religions try to teach their peoples to do good... it doesn't really matter if it's dogma is true or not, it's only a model. Many of them can even peacefully coexist without bothering the others. But saying that religion/cultural upbringing is the problem is not helping. This attitude isn't really all that different from religious attacks on atheism, or otherthesim, or gayism, etc. which is sorta the problem in the first place.

Comment Re: Omar Saddiqui Mateen? (Score 1) 1718

Just making conversation, but I liked Neal Stephenson's analogies of religion in Snow Crash. A person without a code of rules and subroutines that determines their behavior is like a computer on your network of unknown origin and intention. You can bet that your IS group is going to hunt it down and profile the hell out of it, the same way people of The Book would hunt down and disconnect those who did not run along with some compilation of The Book. At least when they weren't too busy playing Conrad's Game of Trojan Botnet with each other.

Atheists obviously have a system of beliefs, though... chief and foremost that "there is no deity that controls the universe and anyone trying to convince you of that is obviously trying to control you". I think it would behoove them to write down their system for determining behavior. Even if it's just a choose-your-own-adventure type of codec with dynamically-generated codebases and lazy evaluations that could be customized to each individual, at least it will be codified and published for all of society to mull over. That will remove that one complaint from followers of The Books that people without code may well be indeterministic rogue agents, and I think that's a valid complaint.

Sure, we have science and laws and tax codes, but all those mostly just list and quantify repercussions to our actions, and none of it really tells us what we *should* do and how we ought to behave while doing it. Plus, none of us really directly write those things anyways.

Comment Re:This is what happens when you have (Score 1) 193

In terms of energy efficiency, it is smart. The rate at which your house warms and cools, especially as a function of outside temperature, is a much better algorithm for controlling a heating and cooling system. However, I admit even as a gadget geek with some superfluous income it just isn't $250 cool, to me. Purely a values thing. I'd definitely be in for $150, maybe at $200. Price point is just off for what it does.

So I just bought a Gen2 Nest for $125 ( $200 plus a $75 incentive discount from the regional power company)

I hadn't been reading about all of the turmoil... spent a few days reading about home automation stuff, and just about everything else I have already works with Nest (Lutron Caseta, Chamberlain garage door opener, Wink) so it just seemed like a no-brainer. People seem to like the reliability and simplicity of the Ecobee things more, but only the Honeywell Nest knock-off is the only other thermostat that qualifies for the $75 utility rebate.

But whatever, maybe this news will make the Nest even cheaper.

Comment Re: so fast (Score 1) 271

It's happening... Yes, the laws are a bit funky, but reasonable for little motor vehicles that you can't ride on non-motorized bike trails (though people do anyway and I haven't seen anyone complain) but aren't quite full motorcycles (but can almost be used that way).

I'm starting to see a fair number of these tooling around: http://www.radpowerbikes.com/p... (granted, I live near Seattle where they're based) and they're pretty much the sweet spot. I'd get one if I didn't live near at the confluence of so many non-motorized bike trails (all of the old rail and trolley trails are being converted to bike trails in all of the major metro areas I've ever lived).

In other areas and downtown Seattle, these things are popping up more often, though. Lots of couriers use them to make deliveries on downtown bike lanes, weaving comfortably through the gridlocked traffic and purring up and down the hills. It's also big enough to take an adult passenger, and I've seen a woman take a bike like this to the library with 3 toddlers in childseats.

750W (1HP) is the limit for these electric assist motors in most states, (WA actually allows 1kW before classifying it as a motorcycle). There's also a grey area where the motor assist should be limited to 20mph, but it's fine if you push it faster by pedaling/going downhill. These kind of motor systems can be bought direct from China for under $300 ... and then another $300 for a pack of Li-Po batteries, so you could convert any sturdy bike into your own pedelec. The best hack I've seen involved building a bike battery pack out of ~$100 of surplus laptop battery packs from ebay.

I'm glad this is taking off, I've always dreamed of building a little 3-wheel velomobile as a kid, and all this stuff is going to make it much more affordable. We already use our cheap normal utility bikes as a second car, and it would be neat to have some electric options in the fleet for certain errands or to entertain visitors.

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