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Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

Altrag Re:Student Loans (389 comments)

I believe it goes something like this:
1) Charge ridiculous fees for college with (or perhaps due to) little or no government subsidy.
2) Convince everyone that they'll be eternally relegated to crap jobs and low wages if they don't have a college education.
3) Wait until they graduate.
4) Bend them over.
5) Profit.
There isn't even a ??? step in there.

Keep in mind that in the US, colleges are businesses and their primary goal is profit, NOT educating students.

We're on basically the same track up here in Canada. We've still got a fair bit of subsidy (I think around 60%? Been a while..) but students still commonly come out with $20-40k debt loads depending on their school, program and how smart they were with their money.

3 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

Altrag Re:Cars are a luxury (389 comments)

You can buy a used car pretty cheap. A few hundred bucks. And most of the "starving students" that have a car probably didn't buy it after they started going to college.

Keeping the car insured, fueled and maintained is another story all together though. I imagine there's a lot of student cars that spend the majority of their time parked.

3 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

Altrag Re:I'm not worried about poor students (389 comments)

Two problems with this:
1) By the time you learn to budget that well, you've probably already got the debt. People in their early 20s are notoriously bad for not having a decade's worth of working class life experience to give them the perspective needed to properly plan their debt load.

2) I doubt "staying local" is really an option for most people (at least in their minds.) Between the stereotype of "get away from your parents and have fun" and the Hollywood-induced idea that Ivy League schools are the only ones worth attending, its pretty easy to see how young people with little world experience and only a vague sense of where they want to be in the future would jump at any opportunity to attend "the best schools" regardless of cost.

3 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

Altrag Re:I'm not worried about poor students (389 comments)

Anyway, I cannot understand how the USA cannot have a decent PUBLIC university system. I know there are *some*, as part of my family have graduated from them. But just the idea of being in such a deep debt as a freshly graduated student... Makes me sick.

I've highlighted the reason in bold capitals. That's considered worse than most four-letter words in the vocabulary of many Americans (or at least, most of the one with enough power and/or money to actually put such a thing into practice.)

3 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

Altrag Re:C. H. Douglas -- Social Credit (389 comments)

Yeah we apparently prefer the opposite approach of doing our best to deny people that inheritance -- unless they pay dearly for it of course!

Copyright and patent laws exist to specifically prohibit "all of humanity" from inheriting anything, preferring to try and force scarcity (and thus solitary ownership) on the one thing that has no inherent scarcity -- ideas.

3 days ago
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Why No One Trusts Facebook To Power the Future

Altrag Re:Because you think Google is any better? (218 comments)

I agree with most of your post but this one is just stupid:

Try using Google Play to get a for-pay Android app.

Obviously you need to provide payment information to purchase a for-pay product. You'll need to find a better counter-example against "demanded payment for services" than "using a paid service" I'm afraid.

There's plenty of sites that require you to give them CC info even when they're (supposedly) not charging you for anything. Often claimed to be a form of adult verification (and thus unsurprisingly mostly a tactic of adult sites) which is absolutely stupid since you can get a CC well before 18 in many jurisdictions so on top of being invasive and probably untrustworthy, it couldn't possibly even accomplish the claimed purpose.

So far, I've not seen anything like that from Google. They request way too much personal information of course and do a lot of other nasty things but up to this point I've never been asked to give them a CC number (obviously, I haven't picked up any non-free Android apps or anything.) Then again, I've never been asked for a CC by FB either so whatever.

about two weeks ago
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Blender Foundation Video Taken Down On YouTube For Copyright Violation

Altrag Re:Perjury? (306 comments)

Doesn't specifically say its under the DMCA, but claiming and attempting to enforce copyright on content you don't own is definitely illegal regardless of the DMCA.

Sony and the other big companies are basically letting robots continuously break the law for them and operating under the principle that the people affected will either a) be small enough that they can't afford to mount a significant defense or b) be big enough that they'll contact Sony directly and "work things out" before getting legal entities involved (err well I'm sure lawyers would be involved but I mean the actual justice department or whoever.)

There's always a chance that they'll hit somebody who picks the third option and has both the time and money to not be in group a and the ethics and willpower to not be in group b, but that's just a risk of doing business and they'll likely just settle those few out of court when they come up and go back to business as usual.

There's of course also the fact that Youtube is a private entity and are entitled to do basically whatever the fuck they want. I'm not sure if there's any common carrier restrictions or similar applied to Youtube but even if there are, they're given pretty wide freedoms. They don't HAVE to host your content. The only illegal thing here is Sony's copyright claim on the content.. Youtube's choice to always side with Sony and screw over the little guy is perfectly legal AFAIK.

about two weeks ago
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Blender Foundation Video Taken Down On YouTube For Copyright Violation

Altrag Re:Perjury? Well, fraud maybe... (306 comments)

And who's going to stop them? Its one thing to say its illegal.. its quite another to enforce that claim, even if you're technically true. That's the whole problem with the current copyright system (and much of the legal system in general) -- money makes the laws and money enforces the laws. Justice gets to sit in a corner and sulk with the rest of us.

about two weeks ago
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Blender Foundation Video Taken Down On YouTube For Copyright Violation

Altrag Re:Perjury? Well, fraud maybe... (306 comments)

Given that this is done by US companies operating under a US law, I'm pretty sure they'd give exactly zero shits if they got a false pretense claim from some other country. At the most, if it looked like it was going to get above the small claims level in that country, they'd pay a few thousand $ settlement fee (ie: basically meaningless to Sony or whoever) and continue on with business as usual.

Its basically impossible (by design) for an individual to fight copyright claims. Enough individuals getting together can sometimes do something but you need one hell of a proficient and dedicated organizer to get that done and sadly there are few people with the talent to really motivate their fellow man to get off their ass and do something about the problems in the world. Hopefully one of them will take up the cause of copyright reform some day before we're too far down the rabbit hole.

Check out http://www.ourfairdeal.org/ for one group attempting such (in their case, attempting to stop the TPP from become international SOPA which is where the media companies are trying to take it.. SOPA got rejected in the US? Just hide it in an international trade agreement and require that it overrides sovereign laws! Problem solved!)

about two weeks ago
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How Facebook and Oculus Could Be a Great Combination

Altrag Re:Rift'd (151 comments)

3D Like buttons for everyone! +1 has no chance!

Also, imagine how much more confusing they can make the wall or timeline or fluxblog or whatever the hell they call it these days when they can add a third dimension! Not only won't you be able to find anything, you'll actually be able to get lost in the mess!

about three weeks ago
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Vast Surveillance Network Powered By Repo Men

Altrag Re:BACK IN people BACK IN (352 comments)

1) Yes, but few people learn to drive -well-. Its a difference in scale. Anyone can learn to do (almost) anything given enough time and effort. Yet few people are willing to put that time and effort into most endeavors.

2) Maybe you've got some particularly well designed mirrors or you've come across an exactly perfect angle, but generally speaking if your mirrors are pointed toward your car, you're opening up quite a large blind spot for lane changes and merging. The downwards pointing isn't as much of an issue as the inwards pointing. Of course its a blind spot that could be mostly covered by a shoulder check but that's not always reasonable either when you're going 70 down a busy highway, depending on how good your reaction time is.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do I Change Tech Careers At 30?

Altrag Re:Apply to jobs (451 comments)

Embedded systems are everywhere -- every microwave, dishwasher, etc has a microcontroller that needed a program written for it by someone at some point in time.

Generally speaking though, you won't find embedded jobs in the "software industry" though because the general conception of the software industry is that it applies to desktop and/or enterprise software. Embedded systems for whatever reason tend to get lumped off to the side somewhere where people don't think to look.

Of course I have no idea how large the job market is for embedded programmers. If every microwave on the planet happens to use the same half dozen microcontrollers for example then there may not be a huge number of openings in that field even though the system itself is used a million times a year.

about a month and a half ago
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Vast Surveillance Network Powered By Repo Men

Altrag Re:BACK IN people BACK IN (352 comments)

1) Which most people won't.

2) Requires adjusting the mirrors at least twice (once to park and once again for driving when leaving, taking even more time. Again, people won't do it. So you'll either have people winging it on the parking or they'll be driving around on the streets with poorly adjusted mirrors. Hell most people already don't know how to adjust their mirrors properly (and how many people take the time to bother when they drive someone else's car -- or after someone else has driven their car? They'll change the radio but won't fix their mirrors!)

I imagine the number of injuries due to pulling into a parking spot forward is a statistical blip compared to things like speeding, distracted driving, DUI, etc. There's a reason those are illegal (well, DD isn't illegal in all jurisdictions yet but regardless) while most people don't give a whole lot of craps about whether you pull into a parking spot forward or backward.

Not to suggest these things never happen of course but I'd question whether pulling in backwards would have really made much difference. If the driver isn't paying enough attention to see things in front of him, I'm not going to place bets on their noticing something to their left before slamming it into reverse.

As for paint scratching and other vehicular damage -- thanks to #1, I'm going to guess the incident rate would be significantly higher if a rule was brought in to make people back into spots.

Why do policemen and others do it? As another poster noted -- getaway speed. They're trading off (almost certainly) free time to park in order to get potentially precious seconds if they have to leave in a hurry. Most of us don't have jobs critical enough to worry about shaving off 5 or 10 seconds when we get the call.

about a month and a half ago
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Vast Surveillance Network Powered By Repo Men

Altrag Re:Need a better word than Orwell (352 comments)

Is there much difference these days? The government is practically owned by private interests already and many if not most private firms aren't terribly stingy about providing their data to law enforcement.

There's a small buffer zone between government and private entities still but its not as much as one would hope. We've separated the church from the state but we're steadily replacing religious influence with corporate influence. Its only a matter of time before the MPAA starts inciting pirate burnings!

about a month and a half ago
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Vast Surveillance Network Powered By Repo Men

Altrag Re:That would be so freakishly illegal ... (352 comments)

Two differences:
1) The private company isn't just picking up one or two cars -- they're picking up millions. Differences in scale is a thing in the world.

2) If you go around tracking cars as an individual, you get labeled a stalker and potentially jailed. If a company does it its a business endeavor. If you go and get a business license and list this as part of your business, you're free to go -- even if you're doing the exact same thing you would have been doing as a private citizen.

Remember, corporations have all the rights of a real person -- but they don't have a whole lot of the corresponding responsibilities. Companies get a lot of leeway that you aren't afforded as an individual, and much of that leeway just ends up being abused.

about a month and a half ago
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Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience

Altrag Re:Why single out Whole Foods? (794 comments)

We humans should have evolved to cope with the sodium levels instead of having it as a weak point.

We did. We evolved to cope with the fact that salt was relatively hard to come by prior to mass mining operations starting up a couple hundred years ago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_mine#History.) Salt being readily available is a fairly new phenomenon.

about 2 months ago
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Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience

Altrag Re:God (794 comments)

Just to be argumentative, Einstein's relativity allows for the argument that the Sun orbits the Earth. It's all about stating the frame of reference.

Nice catch ;). Though to be completely pedantic, this description mixes up two different actions. The appearance of the sun (and rest of the universe) orbiting the earth is due to the earth's rotation about its own axis whereas the appearance of the earth orbiting the sun ends up causing the change of seasons (and even that's only because the earth's axis is tilted with relation to its orbital plane -- if our axis was parallel or orthogonal to the orbital plane, we would have no seasons at all.)

Describing the changing of seasons with respect to the earth's local reference frame would be.. possible of course (per Einstein) but significantly more challenging than describing it using the solar reference frame.

That said, the biggest advantage of using the solar reference frame though is that it allows a very simple description of the orbits of all of the other planets. Epicycles kind of did the job (at least to the accuracy of their contemporary solar-centric measurements.. no idea if they could be adapted under GR or hold up to modern measurement accuracy.) But they're also significantly more complicated to work out.

about 2 months ago
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Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience

Altrag Re:God (794 comments)

Obviously, that means that they exist outside of that 4 dimensional spacetime

Hardly obvious, as another poster has pointed out.

What I can't accept, though, is a violation of the conservation of energy and mass.

You can accept extradimensional magical beings but you can't accept the possibility that they have the ability to exceed our known laws of physics? Not to mention the conservation laws become a lot more tangled when you start talking about invisible dimensions -- a reduction in energy in our 4 dimensions could potentially be compensated for by an increase in the 7th dimension and still conform to conservation of energy. The fact that conservation of energy so far appears to hold entirely within our visible 4 dimensions is something to ponder in itself if we accept that additional invisible dimensions exist.

Is love real?

Yes. Its a biochemical reaction. We've decided to name that reaction 'love.' It exists because its defined to exist.

Is the truth real?

As far as anyone can tell, yes. Things happen in exactly one way. Any individual person may not have the full information regarding how it happened and thus we all have our own interpretations of the 'truth', but even accepting things like the many worlds hypothesis, in any particular time line there is exactly one truth as defined to be the real physical changes that took place in the universe at the exact time in question, irregardless of who saw what. Even quantum mechanics and its inherent randomness doesn't really change the fact (you can define truth as always-past and thus all wave states have collapsed into a specific truth, or you can define truth as including the present in which case 'is in a superposition' simply becomes part of the description of the truth. In both cases, a specific definition of the truth is still available.)

here is no particle in the standard model for them

There's no particle in the standard model for water or ice cream sandwiches either. This is a pointless argument. The standard model describes only the most fundamental building blocks. Love and truth are complex interactions between countless particles. (Though to be fair, there IS a 'truth' particle in the standard model.. it just got renamed to 'top' somewhere along the way. But of course that's obviously not the type of truth we're talking about!)

As a scientist

I sincerely hope you're only an armchair scientist. Mixing up standard model particles with abstract concepts like love is a leap of logic even most crackpots wouldn't dare make.

about 2 months ago
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The Spy In Our Living Room

Altrag Re:Power bar (148 comments)

Assuming they haven't hidden a backup battery in there somewhere!

about 2 months ago
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The Spy In Our Living Room

Altrag Re:Only if it is connected to a network (148 comments)

Most wireless routers list all connected clients, so there's that. I'm sure somebody in the world would have noted it by now if that was the case.

I'd counter myself with "how do you know there isn't a hidden cellular receiver in there?" but by the same logic as above -- there's plenty of hardware hackers in the world and I'm sure someone would have noticed it by now were that the case. (And even if it was hidden in an otherwise-innocuous looking black blob that the hardware hackers might overlook, there are also people with cell scanners in the world.)

about 2 months ago

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