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Comment Is malware like this proof of economic stagnation? (Score 4, Insightful) 84

First of all, Jesus H. Chist, I'm continually amazed at the lengths people will go and the sheer brainpower employed in malware and hacking generally. I've gotten to the point where I go to hang a towel over the mirror in the bathroom because I'm worried someone has hacked the mirror and then figure, fuck it, they probably also hacked the towel.

Secondly, is this level of malware sophistication evidence that there's economic stagnation?

I'm assuming this is software designed to create botnets or measly bank account info or whatnot and the author(s) make some money but not griping about the lack of space for their megayacht next season at Monaco kinds of money.

Is the fact that people do this kind of really clever shit for more or less ordinary income, is it proof that the economy is in some way broken? I would think that people this smart, in a functional economy, would be in real demand to do productive economy kinds of things.

Comment Re:How can you even argue with Netflix? (Score 1) 149

I don't think quality referred to *image* quality, but to the quality of the content. People are as prone to watch C-list, shot-on-DSLR crap as they are to watch the latest critic-lauded-based-on-a-Mann-Booker-winning-novel film.

Not a single person can't tell me after spending almost the comparable amount of swiping time 'looking' for a show that it takes to actually watch one, you just finally pick something and watch it.

This is totally spot-on. I can't tell you the number of times I've (finally) had about 2.5 hours of down time and felt like a little video distraction would be a good idea and then spent 20-odd minutes looking for a movie, finally settled on one that didn't look too awful, lost interest after 20 minutes, another 10 minutes finding a second choice, only then to be disappointed with what I was watching, not being able to finish it, or whatever.

Honestly, I would likely cancel my Netflix subscription if it didn't keep some $100 cable package at bay for the rest of my family (mostly my son).

My gut instinct is that the actual best (from a quality and avoiding decision paralysis) and cheapest way to watch video entertainment is a mix of rented content and used discs from Amazon. You still have decisions to make, but they're easier to make because you have more good choices and have to make fewer forced choices. And at least for me from a time perspective, I'm guessing over a six month period I'd spend less money on used discs and a handful of rentals than Netflix.

And even if I spent slightly more, I'd get more quality entertainment time out of it and waste less time.

Comment Broader problem with dishonesty (Score 2) 111

IMHO, the problem isn't just fake news but a broader, and longer term problem of general dishonesty in society that's been going on for decades.

* Government dishonesty since at least Viet Nam and/or Nixon. Two examples where the government actively lied and/or stretched the truth, and there are many others. This has long been internalized by many people about the honesty of government.

* General misleading nature of advertisements. We're constantly bombarded with misleading messages about every day items and we've all had experience where the product doesn't align with its promises.

* Corporate dishonesty -- outright lying. Karen Silkwood, Thalidomide, Corvair, Pinto, corporations relentlessly covering up and lying about bad products, corporate misdeeds and so forth. And these are all very old examples just to demonstrate how it has been going on for decades.

* Employer dishonesty -- The relentless messaging from management about business goals and plans for employees. How often is it true or does it end up improving employee work lives? Almost never. Most people impulsively parse and disbelieve what management tells them because it's so often the opposite of what they're told.

* The near-legal practical status of scams and cons -- We're constantly assaulted by outright dishonest people. Spam email, "card services", "free cruises". Yes, it's illegal and few people believe it at face value but there's so little effort to stop it that it seems to be legitimized as a means of doing business.

* Ideological dishonesty -- across the political spectrum all ideological advocates both embrace untruths necessary to advance their cause and discount their critics when it seems patently obvious they're not being honest.

It's not just fake news -- belief in fake news is just a symptom of the relentless, never ending crisis of honesty in our culture. Lying and misleading is so ingrained in our culture that doubting is our first impulse. So why not buy into fake news and conspiracy? Lies and conspiracies have quite often been shown to be true, why should I have any faith that person/institution X is telling the truth and not lying to me and that the conspiracy is false?

Until the Internet, the news media was actually one of the last institutions to *mostly* tell the truth -- libel laws, the business nature of actually printing news, journalism as an actual profession with a sense of ethics and some mission to tell the truth -- mostly worked against fake news, which was (in the US anyway) generally marginalized into corners of celebrity gossip or supermarket tabloids. It just wasn't practical to create fake news when you needed a press run of a million copies on a regular basis and a distribution network.

Comment Re:Voice commands (Score 1) 93

My 12 year old loves it and if given the opportunity with mine or my wife's phone, he will use it relentlessly.

I never use it except in the car to make it dial telephone numbers. When I've tried using it even for basic tasks, it gives me not-quite-useful information or just returns some web search.

Comment Re:Plasma (Score 1) 100

25k hours after manufacture or 25k hours of use?

After manufacture would be something of a problem, that's just under 3 years.

Of use would seem to be something less of a problem, that's 8 hours a day, every day for 8.5 years. Telly turned on at 4 pm every day and left on until midnight.

There's some segment of home users that might be affected and some institutional use cases, but that's a lot of on time and frankly in most settings where I see a TV that's been on that long it looks like shit anyway and that's non-OLEDs.

For most people it would seem like the technology would age out well before the set did.

Comment Manned space exploration (Score 1) 498

Why not manned space exploration as the "purpose" behind what will largely be a giant make-work process anyway? It requires a ton of skills across the spectrum, from basic labor to, well, rocket science, and it has kind of a purpose which hasn't (yet) been completely politicized -- in fact, much of science fiction surrounding spacefaring is pretty utopian in terms of race and class relations.

It seems kind of ideal from a unifying propaganda perspective as well as providing people with a constructive activity.

Comment Re:As a European... (Score 4, Insightful) 355

... I have a hard time with the typical US notion of free speech and no censorship.

To those of us whose parents or grandparents had to live and suffer through WW2, I is pretty much unthinkable to allow someone to deny the horrors of the concentration camps and all things associated.

We didn't sacrifice a million casualties and $4 trillion in treasure for your political ideals and way of life, we sacrificed them for our political ideals and way of life, and that includes unfettered freedom of speech.

Comment Re:Billing address? (Score 1) 108

Maybe getting the card numbers (card, code, expiry) is just phase I of weakness with limited applicability for in-person transactions. Nobody asks my address at the electronics shop when I have a $800 TV in my cart.

And perhaps they have other databases that allow them to correlate incomplete card numbers with names and addresses to create useful online transactions where they info can be asked.

IMHO, the only useful solution to this is two factor RSA-style authentication. Go ahead and know all the card info, but unless you can guess the random digits it would be worthless. Pity that fraud doesn't cost VISA and merchants can build most of their costs into product pricing.

Comment Re:No safe-guards? (Score 1) 108

Why not just build 2 factor authentication into the card itself? They could offer a card with an in-built RSA token or a way to use a smartphone app for cards without token hardware.

Something tells me this is something we should have, but given the sparring and profiteering over getting chip enabled terminals in the US (I'm STILL swiping at many terminals). I suspect that it's not the two factor part that keeps it from happening but the terminals and merchant software costs combined with a bunch of middlemen who figure that fraud deterrence for merchants and consumers isn't their problem since they make merchants eat it, who then make consumers eat it in higher prices.

And then there's the spreadsheet guys, who predict transaction fee revenue drops from failed transactions and doom-and-gloom of lost sales pitched to merchants.

Comment Re:3D editing is hard (Score 1) 272

I think 3D modeling software is a big reason 3D printing hasn't been the home revolution.

I've been using computer based 2D drawing software since MacDraw in the 1980s and have used it for drafting home improvement projects, woodworking projects and floor plans. I've downloaded Sketch-Up a few times and always found myself baffled quite quickly, even tinkering with generic rectilinear shapes.

And even drawing some boxes or other regular geometric shapes doesn't get you very fair in a world of tapered curves, irregular shapes, etc, let alone the same needing accurate scale and tolerances down to the millimeter.

And it's not that it's impossible, either, but it's got a wicked learning curve over 2D just doing the drawings let alone the phase where you have to consider how you design will actually be output by the thing making it.

Strangely it's almost the blade-and-razor model in reverse. In theory, they should give you the razor handle (the easy to learn 3D design software) for free so that you'll buy the 3D printer and supplies, but I suspect that in terms of cost, the easy to use 3D modeling software is the actual expensive part and the 3D printer should be the cheap part. It's kind of like 2D design software -- an annual contract for Adobe Creative Cloud is almost more expensive than a decent color laser printer.

Comment Re:Because it's not software (Score 2) 119

I thought Henry Ford was a visionary because of his business model -- an assembly line that could mass produce cars for everyone -- not because he necessarily innovated the automobile concept itself.

Musk's advancement mostly seems in the electric drivetrain, less so in the business model. He wants to do direct sales, but while it runs against the grain of the existing car sales business, existing regulation and low production volume make it appear less than revolutionary, especially when many products are sold directly buy their maker.

Comment Re:You should *NOT* be projecting.... (Score 1) 64

I think there are fair arguments about not distracting other drivers. But one thing nice about this vs. a HUD is that it actually projects imagery onto the surface you're supposedly to be looking at -- you want to focus on the road in front of you generally so seeing directional markings there is completely natural and doesn't require a change in visual focus or the distraction of having to look through a HUD's imagery to the road beyond.

Some potential ideas to make is less distracting for others -- don't display markings when another car is within a distance where they may easily see them, display markings such that they're oriented/displayed in a way meaningful to other drivers or communicate that they should be ignored. I drive through intersections many times a day with turn arrows and lane markings not relevant to me and I don't get confused.

I also wonder if there's some way of projecting them with a light color, pattern or polarization that's made more visible by filters laminated into the originating car's windshield, especially if it managed to do it such that other cars windshields acted as passive filters due to their polarization.

I think it's a great way to put information exactly where it belongs for driver visual focus. Distraction to other motorists *could* be a problem, but overall people are already visually attuned to ignore markings that are backwards or don't apply to them and their direction of travel. Roads have all kinds of markings already and nobody complains about excess street markings. And it may be possible to project them in a way that makes it difficult for other drivers to see them at all.

Comment Re:Better up the Military Budget (Score 1) 331

A wall won't stop them, but it will slow them down enough for people behind the wall to shoot them dead.

Don't be naive, if refugee/migration pressures are this severe do not think of a second that the people with will demand the invading hordes without be stopped by any means necessary.

I'm of the opinion that it's happening already. We argue around the margins about immigration, pretending it's about jobs, racism or some other bullshit but I think at the heart of it people really are nervous about long-term resource access. It's low level and you can easily rationalize away any kind of urgency about it, but I think the level of news coverage about refugees into Europe, the noticeable increase in Hispanic populations in the US over the last 10-20 years, etc is invoking something of a panic mindset.

We laugh about Trump's wall now for all the obvious reasons but it wouldn't surprise me at all if fortifying the border specifically against mass refugee influxes doesn't become something more than a fringe idea.

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