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Mercedes-Benz's Self-Driving Concept Car Is Here

Bourdain Hopefully this still gets read... (167 comments)

To address the two common themes I see here:

(1) Make no mistake, semi-autonomous cars are useless, but meaningful collision avoidance systems are useful and that's the first stepping stone in the process

(2) Autonomous cars are still decades away from any sort of real adoption and automobile manufacturers should (I suspect they are...) develop them in the context of a shared usage vehicle given their much higher utilization than a regular car (an autonomous car could be in use 100% of the time as opposed to how most cars sit parked most of their time). As such, most users of such vehicles will use them like taxi's but they would cost much less, be safer, and would be available anywhere and for any length trip unlike just metropolitan areas.

about three weeks ago

Dish Introduces $20-a-Month Streaming-TV Service

Bourdain Re:Interesting (196 comments)

They will charge you though the nose for a "dry" internet connection (i.e. when you only have internet service with them). The delta between internet and TV with internet is just about $20 and add phone for another $10 (with per/min charges). Add a few dollars for the cable box and this deal will only be a small gain over an internet connection and TV.

Perhaps so, but I have TWC in NY and pay just $34.99/month for a 50/5 connection (granted, I think it is rated lower but if you use a docsis 3.0 modem on an otherwise slower priced connection, you get higher speeds) and just use a few shared accounts for netflix/hbo go/nimble tv/amazon/WatchESPN all on a Roku3 that come to something like $10-15/month

perhaps doing this is somewhat against the TOS of those services, but last time I checked, TWC bundling prices is against the terms of service of the federal government...

about three weeks ago

French Publishers Prepare Lawsuit Against Adblock Plus

Bourdain An alternative approach (699 comments)

-We can think of all sorts of analogies for intrusive ads (which are perfectly valid) but the truth is is that most people don't block ads on most sites unless someone can cite some statistics suggesting otherwise so I suggest a technologically feasible approach to serve unobtrusive ads to adblockers.

-As such, if website publishers want to get paid more for their content and think they are being shortchanged by ad-blockers, they could insist that the networks they work with provide them with a less interactive/obtrusive (i.e., non-flash, etc.) ad which will display when the user is using adblock (presumably in conjunction with the functionality already embedded in adblock to allow for those unobtrusive ads; presumably in the form of a cookie that an ad server could read then determine what th serve the user?)

about a month and a half ago

To Fight $5.2B In Identity Theft, IRS May Need To Change the Way You File Taxes

Bourdain Practically speaking as a CPA... (410 comments)

(1) Our tax structure isn't going to change meaningfully anytime soon
(2) The IRS won't allow or enforce any sort of efile for everyone in the short-term
(3) The IRS does allow you to file Form 14039 which puts a flag on your account which will make it harder for someone to cheat you out of your refund because your account will go through extra checks (such as making sure that your address and other information hasn't changed from last year since most information breaches don't contain all of the information necessary to file your tax return) and will reject fraudulent looking returns
(4) The IRS might decide to, upon filing form 14039 or if you have experienced a fraudulent return filed for you, a distinct PIN which is like a PIN for a credit freeze

Morale of the story if you're concerned about not getting your refund
-file form 8822 when you change address and notify your employees and other agencies which file forms on your behalf to have your current address so all filings point to the same physical address
-file form 14039 to have the identify theft flag added to your profile
-always try to arrange so you owe a little money come tax time (but not so much that you owe a penalty) so your refund is not in purgatory in the event of a fraudulent return filed on your behalf
-if you do indeed get a refund, try to file as early as possible to beat out a fraudster

about 4 months ago

FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps

Bourdain The most logical explanation for this... (353 comments)

...turn of events is that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler must have moved recently and big telecom didn't know where to send their "support" checks in time.

about 4 months ago

Aereo Embraces Ruling, Tries To Re-Classify Itself As Cable Company

Bourdain Re:How might their cost structure / roll-out chang (147 comments)

I emailed the author of the Ars article, this is what he said though I can't opine as to whether or not it is truly applicable (though I'm certain Aereo's attorney's would know for sure though it seems too low to me intuitively...):

The fee is (more or less) 1% of gross revenue if you're a cable system.

See section 111 here:


(F) If the actual gross receipts paid by subscribers to a cable system for the period covered by the statement for the basic service of providing secondary transmissions of primary broadcast transmitters are more than $263,800 but less than $527,600, the royalty fee payable under this paragraph to copyright owners pursuant to paragraph (3) shall be—

(i) 0.5 percent of any gross receipts up to $263,800, regardless of the number of distant signal equivalents, if any; and

(ii) 1 percent of any gross receipts in excess of $263,800, but less than $527,600, regardless of the number of distant signal equivalents, if any.

about 6 months ago

Aereo Embraces Ruling, Tries To Re-Classify Itself As Cable Company

Bourdain How might their cost structure / roll-out change? (147 comments)

According to Ars:

the royalties are set by the government, not the broadcasters

--> Is the above true, does someone know this for certain?

--> If so, what would the marginal cost be per user?

One other thing to consider is that Aereo has pretty good software developed right now and if they don't need farms of antenna's with local presence anymore, they could theoretically be located anywhere if they are, effectively, a retransmission service and would no longer need to build out local infrastructure (i.e., which I suspect was one of their larger costs) and could just use cloud type services (e.g., amazon/rackspace) to host their DVR/transcoding/etc. services

about 6 months ago

Windows 9 To Win Over Windows 7 Users, Disables Start Screen For Desktop

Bourdain Re:One switch to rule them all? (681 comments)

I, embarrassingly and sadly, live in Excel through my job as a CPA and as a frequent reader and occasional contributor here, unsurprisingly have a little bit of a programming/IT background.

I fully appreciate that the ribbon interface is better for novice users and has a flatter learning curve compared to the 2003 conventional interface but what really got me about the new versions is the slowness (only minimized slightly by being on a well configured new core i7, etc.). The new versions are so poorly engineered that they:
(1) frequently miss keystrokes/combinations that I enter
(2) calculate generally more slowly and/or less intelligently
(3) execute vba substantially more slowly

As such, my preferred setup is that I have Office 2003 and 2010 installed on the same machine (2010 via sandboxie which is tricky but doable to get right except that I use Outlook 2010 directly as opposed to sandboxed instead of Outlook 2003 since the newer Outlook is a real improvement and the ribbon doesn't bother me in that context of lighter usage)

I use Excel 2003 for almost everything and, only when I need to, I open up files in 2010 if they won't open in 2003.

Office 2007 is crap
Office 2013 is crap
Office 2010 is the least bad version of the new Office's

about 6 months ago

NYC Considers Google Glass For Restaurant Inspections

Bourdain The system in NYC is so worthless anyway... (104 comments)

...as someone who has scoured and mined the NYC health department data (not to mention the review / grade pending period making the data even more worthless; i.e., most restaurants receive a hidden "C" at which point they display a "Grade Pending" sign then have a month to get their "A" at their reinspection and then most likely go back to their "C" ways --> to all those statisticians out there, which rating is the real one? the first one when they weren't expecting it or the one where they had a few weeks notice?

My hope and wish is that the letter grades determined by the score would be meaningfully correlated to the risk of food poisoning in the restaurant however there is little relationship between those things and that restaurants wouldn't have a chance to get a reinspection which clearly defeats the purpose of the test in the eyes of anyone with even the most minimal statistical/scientific education.

Instead of using google glass, the health department should reevaluate their methods of inspection and reinspection grading policy where part of their inspection relates to testing actual prepared food instead of seeing if a mouse or roach might have been on the floor (oftentimes they can just scurry in from the sidewalk and have zero impact on the food)

about 9 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Effective, Reasonably Priced Conferencing Speech-to-Text?

Bourdain Re:There isn't any... (81 comments)

Based on what I get on my TV when I press the Mute button, they really shouldn't be...

Most of the time when you view closed captions, it is typed up, not automatically transcribed by a computer program - link

Further, for live events, it is typically typed live by a stenographer which yields the inherent delay

As for errors, I personally have mostly seen errors when I'm watching over the air and the reception isn't very clear (though I don't often use closed captioning so my sample size is limited)

1 year,25 days

Germany Produces Record-Breaking 5.1 Terawatt Hours of Solar Energy In One Month

Bourdain Re: Uneconomics 101 (687 comments)

I pay about $0.27/kWh in NYC for what's that's worth...

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Need a Phone At Your Desk?

Bourdain Re:Call Quality (445 comments)

I only wish I had that problem

My employer's IT department has misconfigured the VOIP voice system so poorly, I much prefer to use my cell phone for phone calls as the sound quality is vastly superior...Now I just can't wait until my plan upgrades to unlimited minutes

more than 2 years ago

Gaining Info On Tech Execs With Just Their Email

Bourdain Re:Hate using my Email address as log in (75 comments)

I do the same thing (re: custom email addresses) though since I use gmail to manage the domain, I also use subdomains as well to sort them (i.e., in order of importance of general class of address)

note that the free gmail version using a "+" both exposes your address and doesn't work with a lot of sites whereas subdomains work just fine (if you host a domain w/gmail)

more than 2 years ago

Identity Theft May Cost IRS $21 Billion Over Next 5 Years

Bourdain Re:I had someone file under my SSN this year. (112 comments)

While I'm a CPA but not a tax accountant, I'd suggest asking a tax accountant about the option of "underwithholding" to the tune of $1500 for this next year and apply this unpaid refund against your balance a method to avoid this issue, at least in part, is to structure your tax payments and withholding to never yield a refund from the IRS in the first place which is not a perfect science but can be pretty close in most cases if you're organized...

more than 2 years ago

Options For Good (Not Expensive) Office Backbone For a Small Startup

Bourdain I'm not any sort of IT/implementation guy but... (204 comments)

...in terms of real cost, my guess is that even if you buy whatever licenses you need/want from Microsoft for whatever software you have a need for, it won't really be that expensive compared to irritating your users (also, just use hosted exchange as $10/month/user should be a non-issue).

Before making any decisions, I'd consider asking your admittedly tiny user base what software/suites they need/want instead of just making blind purchasing decisions

more than 2 years ago

IT Managers Are Aloof Says Psychologist and Your Co-Workers

Bourdain Re:Er, no. (378 comments)

How a person can know the intricacies of double entry bookkeeping but fail to understand why opening every single attachment they receive is verboten is beyond me.

Being both a CPA and someone who does lightweight programming (mostly scripting via VB, VBA, SQL and some macro languages) and occasional light IT work (setting up computers/routers/small networks, building/repairing computer hardware, etc.), most accountants are, at best, not interested in engaging in real abstract reasoning or learning. I assure you that accounting is really quite simple and there are very few intricacies (except perhaps in the design of their terrible accounting software database which have thousands of tables as a simple report's underlying query could require multiple "union's" for pulling the same type of data...)

about 3 years ago

Putting Emails In Folders Is a Waste of Time, Says IBM Study

Bourdain Re:"Reference" folder (434 comments)

I've been doing something very similar to this once I took the plunge into using Gmail.

I only keep the emails that require some action in my inbox and everything goes into an archive folder.

The two secret sauces of my email system are this though:

(1) A series of well written rules to tweak what of a few folders email arrive in such as to tweak my level of attention to the arriving email:
(a) if I'm only on the "cc" it goes into a "cc" folder
(b) if it goes firmwide, it goes to a firmwide folder
(c) if I'm on the "to" it stays in my inbox
(d) if it's one of a series of automated emails, it is automatically sent to archive

(2) http://lookeen.com/ --> the best outlook search tool I've ever used but it requires some understanding of how it works to most effectively use it
(a) you can only search its index and it can't reliably update it index in realtime (I believe as a function of outlook's terrible internal I/O // pst/ost filesystem...)
(b) the speed of lookeen and outlook by extension appear to be related to the degree of fragmentation of the underlying indices and datafiles so I configure lookeen to rebuild its index (2-3 gb of emails takes 10-15 minutes to index on an older computer) and also to selectively defragment both lookeen's database and outlook's files each night

This approach yields lightning quick searches where I'm frequently telling people I work with when I sent them what email over the phone so they look it up the old fashioned way...

more than 3 years ago



Nursing Students Expelled over Facebook photo

Bourdain Bourdain writes  |  about 4 years ago

Bourdain (683477) writes "Last month, a nursing student was expelled from a community college in Kansas after posting to Facebook a photo of herself standing next to a human placenta. The student, 22-year old Doyle Byrnes, reportedly took the photo during a lab session, led by Johnson County Community College nursing instructor Amber Delphia. ... According to the lawsuit, the students asked their instructor for permission to take a photo with the placenta, because they were really stoked, wanting to share their excitement with their friends and family on Facebook. Delphia reportedly gave her implicit consent, but warned her students that the photo mustn't include any identifying information about the woman who originally produced the placenta. (Delphia denies having knowledge of the students' plans to share the photo on Facebook.) According to the suit, the girls made their intentions clear to the instructor, who allegedly replied, 'Oh, you girls.'"
Link to Original Source

Really misleading ads from broadband providers

Bourdain Bourdain writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Bourdain (683477) writes "From the I-really-wish-they-asked-me-before-getting-into-that-contract department:

Gizmodo has put together a good compilation of the — seemingly almost criminally — misleading (largely plain wrong) advertising from our favorite local monopolies. My personal favorite is from At&t which states you need 3 mbps to use social networking sites like facebook (an accurate but still absurd requirement might be a something to effect of needing a multiple core processor if you allow of the javascript & flash to run on said sites)"

Link to Original Source

RFID Fingerprints: Preventing RFID Counterfeits

Bourdain Bourdain writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Bourdain (683477) writes "Engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have developed a unique and robust method to prevent cloning of passive radio frequency identification tags. The technology, based on one or more unique physical attributes of individual tags rather than information stored on them, will prevent the production of counterfeit tags and thus greatly enhance both security and privacy for government agencies, businesses and consumers."
Link to Original Source

Amp'd Mobile Shuts Down

Bourdain Bourdain writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Bourdain writes "Maximum PC reports that Amp'd mobile will shut down on July 24th. Apparently not enough people were attracted to a phone service with a misspelled name despite the underlying network being Verizon's. Maximum PC goes on to say, "The Q&A goes on to explain that users must pay their final bills or will be turned over to a collection agency — kindly enough Amp'd explains that 'no early termination fee will be assessed.'" When looking on the Q&A on Amp'd's site, one sees something relating to their claim of CDMA phone portability in addition to the [already] legally mandated number portability. Only time will tell whether this is accurate or not suggesting that Amp'd phones might be usable, to varying degrees, on Verizon (most likely) and Sprint (less likely) as well as other smaller niche CDMA carriers (despite the seemingly rather small selection of phones)."
Link to Original Source


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