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China Lays More Fiber, Improving Physical Connection To the Worldwide Internet

Balthisar Re:It's actually not a contradiction. (44 comments)

Slashdot loads okay, but for some reason I often have issues with the rss subdomain working without a VPN.

about two weeks ago
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China's Engineering Mega-Projects Dwarf the Great Wall

Balthisar Re:Infrastructure (206 comments)

China is "communist" only nominally. Their advantage is their oligarchy.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Ends Mainstream Support For Windows 7

Balthisar Re:But (639 comments)

I'm a Mac user primarily, and a Windows 7 user at work (rollout was completed late last year). Even I don't hate Windows 8.1 (Windows 8.0 did suck, though). It boots to my desktop, I set up my preferences, and I'm mostly all set.

My only gripes are minor: Hiding the Startup Items folder is bad. Not being able to manage files in a folder for a Start Menu is bad. I still can't find crap I've deleted from the Start Screen if it's not a real application (like, say, the Microsoft Store).

Although I don't plan to give up my Macs as primary workhorses (and HTPCs) any time soon, I'm a bit frustrated at all of the B*S* networking issues with Yosemite. Still not enough to make me switch, though.

about two weeks ago
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Ford Touts Self-driving Car, Launches Global Mobility Experiments

Balthisar Re:When will this stupid crap-o-rama end? (73 comments)

My driver costs my company about 2000 RMB per month (plus overtime), so there's a good economic advantage to not having to pay him to drive me and my family around.

about three weeks ago
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The Coming Decline of 'Made In China'

Balthisar Re:No African OT either...and NO rationalizations! (327 comments)

> "it's OK for a Chinese factory worker" to work in what we could consider to be inhumane conditions

I work for a multinational, and when I go into one of our JV plants, they're mostly indistinguishable from conditions in our Canadian, US, and Mexican plants. The only real differences are the prevailing wages and social security system which is not typically considered part of the wage, and in China, it's a huge additional cost because it's not just retirement social security but things like housing, etc.

They don't work much overtime, as our production and sales are predictable. Instead there are multiple shifts (more jobs for more people).

Google- and Apple-style transportation is free. Lunch is free (and quite good). Families are together at night and weekends.

While there are property bubbles in some of the famous big cities, one can still temporarily purchase a home in much of China are very low cost compared to say, middle America. Food is cheap. Consumers goods are cheap. Health care is cheap.

Life is good for these people.

about a month ago
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Gmail Reportedly Has Been Blocked In China

Balthisar Re:Old? (145 comments)

I'm not sure SMTP is being blocked entirely. I can still send email between QQ and my Gmail and Google Apps hosted accounts. What's *new*, though, is that I can't access the IMAP servers without being on the VPN. Once the mail leaves Google, though, it's arriving at QQ, and once the mail leaves QQ, it ends up on Google's servers. I simply need a VPN to get to Google's servers.

Yes, Google services (which are primarily web-based or rely on ports 80 and 443) have been mostly blocked for about a year, now, but IMAP has always worked until this weekend.

As far as I can tell, Chinese email users and Gmail users can still communicate. But if you're in China, you need a VPN to send and receive Gmail and Google-hosted email. I'm not even sure if startpoint SMTP is affected, as Google may be checking for (blocked) POP or IMAP access before allowing SMTP access.

about a month ago
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Gmail Reportedly Has Been Blocked In China

Balthisar Re:Hope it is blocked. (145 comments)

> In return Id challenge you to stand on a corner and preach the risen Christ, and see how long it is before thugs detain you and give you a 1-way ticket out of the country.

This seems to be pretty common outside of the Chinese faux Catholic churches I've been near. Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing. I say "faux" because the CPA controls the local flavor of Catholicism, and the government really has nothing to fear. Like many things, it's under control.

I'm certainly no China defender (nor a Catholic), but a lot of things are just overblown. They can't even enforce traffic laws, let alone random individuals in front of a church.

about a month ago
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Gmail Reportedly Has Been Blocked In China

Balthisar Re:Hope it is blocked. (145 comments)

>For instance: Ask your average Chinese college student whether they have freedom of religion / speech, and they will say yes. What they often dont know is that you can be arrested for talking to a minor about religion, or talking about religion outside of a state-sanctioned church. Ask the Falun-Gong about their thoughts on Chinese free speech.

But practically speaking, the average Chinese college student is correct. They're completely free, that is until they have a high-enough profile to attract attention. No one is ever disappeared for talking to a minor about religion or talking about religion outside of a church. Fulan-Gong has the misfortune of being high-profile and regarded as a cult, but again, if you talk to someone on the street about Falun-Gong, no one is going to knock on your door in the middle of the night -- unless you have high profile.

Now obviously in our Western minds this isn't a correct situation. But if you're just an everyday college student (or an engineer at a multinational), for practical purposes, you have the freedom to say and do anything you want as long as you don't attract a large following. In a country of 1.3 billion people, your chances are quite good of not attracting such a following.

We have this same paranoia in the United States. Who would Snowden be if he'd not been able to contact the press and get his story known? Just a nobody that's not a threat to anyone. If I have proof the moon landing was fake I'm just a crackpot. But if I have proof and manage to convince 100 million fellow Americans I might suffer a tragic accident, too. (Or instead of moon landing, pick something more serious; you get my point I'm sure.)

about a month ago
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Gmail Reportedly Has Been Blocked In China

Balthisar Re:What... (145 comments)

I don't know that that's true. I can still send email from gmail to my stupid @qq address. Of course I have to be on a VPN now in order to access my IMAP servers at Google, which is new these last few days. Google webmail has been down about 90% of the time for the last year, but sometimes used to work late at night.

This blocking of IMAP (and presumably ActiveSync if Google still uses that, or whatever other proprietary protocol they may use in their various apps) is new.

In my one, single, Chinese test account, though, I can receive mail from my gmail address and my legacy Google Apps addresses.

about a month ago
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Jaguar and Land Rover Just Created Transparent Pillars For Cars

Balthisar Re:You mean Tata (191 comments)

Remember that Tata bought JLR from Ford, and Ford had made huge progress in improving JLR quality -- especially Jaguar (yes, ignorant people still say Ford sucks, but this isn't the late 20th century any more).

When Tata buys JLR (or Geely buys Volvo) this is a complicated trade and not as simple as "new owner starts with bad quality." Aside from the physical assets like the plants, there are large layers of technology transfer agreements (who owns Jaguar's aluminum self-pierce rivet technology?), purchasing agreements (Ford still supplies both Geely and Tata critical parts), and consulting agreements (product design engineering support, manufacturing support, etc.). Of course over time all of these will dissipate, but it takes one or more whole new generations of vehicle platforms for this to happen.

In the meantime the JLR and Volvo plants are still extant and operated by the same people who've always operated them. A new owner cannot simply walk in and change the entire manufacturing process and quality processes; that's too expensive and building cars is much, much, much more complex than the average person can fathom.

The trend these days is for the acquiring company to get better rather than to make the purchased company worse.

about a month and a half ago
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Waze Causing Anger Among LA Residents

Balthisar Re:Move to a gated community (611 comments)

In many jurisdictions local homeowners have to pay to maintain public roads, too. In my own neighborhood the asphalt street is falling apart. The township and county simply aren't responsible. The township, though, can repair it by assessing each of the homeowners. The township (at its expense) arranged the bids, calculated the per-home costs based on frontage, and called us to a meeting to discuss the proposal and have a hands-up, informal vote.

In the end we rejected the proposal due to other concerns.

about a month and a half ago
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French Cabbies Say They'll Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber

Balthisar Re:Why are taxi drivers all so horrible? (295 comments)

>I don't see them being able to cut into Singapore's, where I find them cheap.

How's the quality of taxis in Singapore? (I've only been through the airport.)

In China taxis are dirt cheap, too. Sometimes, though, they pick you up at the airport (where one might expect you to have luggage) in a taxi that has its trunk occupied by a CNG tank instead of empty space where one might place luggage. And in general taxis are old, noisy, bumpy, and of poor quality, and most importantly, difficult to hail (although DidiChe + pre-tipping is making this easier).

Uber is in a few select Chinese cities now. Just this weekend I used Uber (for the first time ever) to get from Chengdu airport to the train station. The price was similar to a taxi, but the car was a late model Audi, clean, no advertisements, and most importantly, comfortable. I can't wait for them to come to my city.

about a month and a half ago
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Apple DRM Lawsuit Might Be Dismissed: Plaintiffs Didn't Own Affected iPods

Balthisar Re:Not unexpected. (141 comments)

I didn't mention the switches because those WERE spec'd by GM. My point was, though, that a lot of things are off-the-shelf or nearly so. Look at the airbag issue that's affecting many, many auto companies right now.

about 2 months ago
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Apple DRM Lawsuit Might Be Dismissed: Plaintiffs Didn't Own Affected iPods

Balthisar Re:Not unexpected. (141 comments)

We (in the auto business) use a lot of off the shelf components, or components that have minimal changes that we specify to meet our needs. Why should we micromanage light bulb specifications when the light bulb manufacturer has engineers that specialize in all of the different aspects of light bulbs?

We don't just pick things out of a catalogue, though, and I highly doubt that Apple does, either. Apple and GM should be very, very similar.

about 2 months ago
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Montana Lawmakers Propose 85 Mph Speed Limit On Interstates

Balthisar Re:Federal Funding is not contingent on speed limi (525 comments)

> I shudder to think what would happen if US drivers were let loose on roads such as the Autobahn in their cars, with their proficiency, and their respect for the rules of the road - it'd make some great TV :)

Really, I guess it depends on *how many* Americans (and which Americans) are released. If it's the same as the non-German percentage on the Autobahns, maybe the effect is negligible. A typical American isn't much different than the typical French (i.e., some of them won't get the hell out of the left lane).

Overall, though, I cede you the point. I used to be proud of my fellow Michiganders for example, but in the last 15 years, they're as stupid as Ohioans. Granted we have some stupid left-side exits and entrances, but gee, you don't need eight miles to prepare for them.

about 2 months ago
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Montana Lawmakers Propose 85 Mph Speed Limit On Interstates

Balthisar Re:German autobahn is not an example for you guys (525 comments)

> Yeah, but on the autobahn there is no speed limit.

Except in the urbanized areas, which is a hell of a lot of the very densely populated country. Yup, there are free-for-all zones, but it’s not at all like most people think.

about 2 months ago
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Montana Lawmakers Propose 85 Mph Speed Limit On Interstates

Balthisar Re:Federal Funding is not contingent on speed limi (525 comments)

Let me tell you. When I was stationed in Germany from 1991 to 1993, you were correct. Then the EU and open borders and the Eurozone and all that stuff happened. I've been back to Germany several times (no longer as poor soldier) in the 2000's, and I can say that there are a lot of foreigners on them there Autobahns (nouns are cap'd in German), and the rules ain't that strictly followed. (Not sure why I'm writing in that tone of voice.)

There's still pretty good discipline in the leftmost lane. But out of five or six lanes, it's not quite good enough. And of course in cities and urban areas there have always been speed limits. In fact the speed limits in these areas are programmed based on traffic flow and peak times.

Intercity is where the safe and prudent really works in Germany, especially because the left-most lane (not all lanes!) discipline works fairly well. Note that as early as 1991, though, there is certain liability for causing an accident in the left lane, even if there's a slow driver.

I guess my point is, Germany isn't the speed-limitless-wonderland that so many people think it is.

about 2 months ago
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Behind Apple's Sapphire Screen Debacle

Balthisar Re:Then don't sign the contract (189 comments)

This isn't uncommon in industry (it's also not the normal way of things). If we want to to be certain that a supplier builds something the right way, we might specify every detail of the tooling, and sometimes buy it and install it ourselves.

about 2 months ago
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Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality

Balthisar Re:This seems different (134 comments)

>Whereas net neutrality is about not charging companies extra for delivering data to users who already paid.

But so many net neutrality bigmouths are against paid prioritization, too.

about a month ago

Submissions

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Google announces Google Nose — "Smelling is believing"

Balthisar Balthisar writes  |  about 2 years ago

Balthisar writes "Being stationed in the Asia-Pacific region certainly has its advantages on certain days of the year, such as today. I'm happy to have discovered Google's launch of Google Nose. According to their information page, "Google Nose(BETA) leverages new and existing technologies to offer the sharpest olfactory experience available.""
Link to Original Source

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