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In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

JaredOfEuropa Re:If you're not driving and not owning... (453 comments)

Taxis are way too expensive for frequent use over longer distances. Rental cars aren't, but they are a pain: you have to go pick them up (and without a car, how are you going to get to the depot) and return them afterwards. Self-driving cars are a game-changer in this market: you could order one on a moment's notice, and have it park itself at your house 15 minutes later. It'll return itself when you're done. And it'll be even better if the company charges by the hour or distance driven.

Besides, people will probably still own cars, just not as many of them. Why drive an SUV or sedan to work every day if it's mostly just yourself in the vehicle? Why own a pickup if you're only using it occasionally to haul stuff? Do you really need 2 cars between you and your spouse if only one of you drives to work every day? If I could easily rent any of those vehicles when the need arises, I might ditch all my cars and get a small EV for my daily commute. But most likely I'd still want to own that car, for practical and economical reasons.

2 days ago
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Microsoft Rolls Out Robot Security Guards

JaredOfEuropa Re:Let me be the first to say... (140 comments)

Would have been fun to let the robots shout that out every now and then. Perhaps also a random "Hey baby, wanna kill all humans?".

4 days ago
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Swedish Court Refuses To Revoke Julian Assange's Arrest Warrant

JaredOfEuropa Re:Sounds reasonable (242 comments)

What does Rand or her followers have to do with this?

I'm no fan of tinfoil apparel, but there are indeed a couple of very fishy things about this case, all pointing to an organised effort to get Assange extradited or otherwise transported to the US. With that said, the court is right in letting the detention order stand from a procedural viewpoint (as far as I can tell, they haven't looked at the case itself, merely at the procedures)

4 days ago
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Harvard Students Move Fossil Fuel Stock Fight To Court

JaredOfEuropa Re:Owning stock (203 comments)

Morally perfect? If they are losing sleep over what fossil fuels and oil companies are doing to the world of future generations, they should stop using oil based products, not sue the school for holding oil stock.

4 days ago
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Greenwald Advises Market-Based Solution To Mass Surveillance

JaredOfEuropa Re:customers refusing to tolerate insecure product (156 comments)

The success of Google and Facebook, as well as the enthusiasm of some for surveillance ("hey, I've got nothing to hide") show us that people don't give a toss about privacy. We care a little bit for security where our credit cards and naked selfies are concerned, and there may be a smallish market for secure, encrypted products and services, but that's doesn't mean corporate interests are aligned with our own when it comes to security. Quite the contrary, in a market where the prevailing business model is to hook as many eyeballs as possible with free stuff, and make money by selling their data.

Telling us to rely on corporations to shield us from an invasive government is like the fox convincing the chicken that it can rely on the wolf for protection. One way or another, you're going to get eaten.

4 days ago
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Lessons Learned From Google's Green Energy Bust

JaredOfEuropa Re:Simple (219 comments)

Solar is being improved on all the time, and it's getting to the point where solar can compete with the grid at consumer price levels. Which is good enough, as solar power installations are well suited to be owned and operated by individual households. There are still some technical and economical issues, such as consumers effectively using the grid as an energy store without paying for the infra. it makes sense to continue to improve on solar power. With that said, I think no sane energy policy should focus on one single "way to go". Given the issues around renewables, projected timelines for practical fusion, environmental concerns, dwindling fossil fuel supplies and the questionable safety of existing nuclear plants, we need to bet on several horses here: fusion, safer fission (thorium), better renewables, energy storage, cleaner coal, etc.

5 days ago
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Lessons Learned From Google's Green Energy Bust

JaredOfEuropa Re:Bad sign. (219 comments)

I've no idea how Google approached this challenge, but in a lot of companies, innovation consists of clever and novel applications and combinations of existing technologies, or making good use of a couple of incremental improvements. It often does yield results: this is what Google did to reduce power requirements in their data centers. And it's in itself a useful exercise to identify gaps (e.g. "For a practical electric vehicle, we need a battery that is this good"), then focus on closing those gaps with a focused effort (researching new battery tech). It appears that Google either found too many gaps and concluded that the state of the art hadn't advanced far enough, or that they weren't prepared to do such fundamental research.

5 days ago
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Uber Threatens To Do 'Opposition Research' On Journalists

JaredOfEuropa Re:Uber is a Pump-n-Dump scheme (299 comments)

Does anyone really think a ride sharing app is really worth 84% of an airline that operates 5,400 flights daily over an international network that includes 333 destinations in 64 countries on six continents... and has its own mobile apps?

Yes because eyeballs and "social" and disruptive. And data. At least that's what these fast growing startups are being valued for these days.

about a week ago
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The Dutch Village Where Everyone Has Dementia

JaredOfEuropa Re:Incorrect statement about Dutch health care sys (231 comments)

Rising costs are no surprise. There doesn't appear to be direct collusion between insurers, but there is no real competition either. Do you think an insurer would prefer to charge a €100 monthly premium to cover a €1000 average yearly medical bill, or charge €200 premium for a €2000 bill? And prices are further inflated by empire building, ie. setting up and staffing a bunch of auxiliary functions and services that are not directly related to healthcare (and in practise do not work to benefit health either)

Since everybody has mandatory insurance for a fixed package of health care items, what added value do the insurers actually have? There's a few things that are mentioned from time to time:
- efficiency in operation. State-run schemes are notoriously bureaucratic, but there's no indication that private insurers are any more efficient; on the contrary. Especially since there are multiple companies, each with separate administration and management.
- purchasing savvy. Again, there's no indication that they are better at buying care and medicine than, for instance, the New Zealand govt which managed to get a massive discount on medicine.
- value added services like fitness programmes, health awareness campaigns, etc. this amounts to little more than the aforementioned empire building, and appears to add very little value.
I'd much prefer the Dutch government to handle basic insurance themselves, leaving the insurance companies to handle additional insurance packages (additional dental, homeopathic, acupuncture etc). I'm no commie, but universal health care has clear benefits, and if it's truly universal and socialised, it's better to let the state run it instead of a (in case of Dutch health insurance) dysfunctional market.

about a week ago
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Facebook Planning Office Version To Rival LinkedIn, Google

JaredOfEuropa Re:Blocked on proxies (91 comments)

Perhaps that's just what FB want to address, and set up a separate work version that can be unblocked while the private FB remains blocked. Even so, I wouldn't touch it with a 6.096m pole. The main issue with FB is not employees goofing off at work.

about a week ago
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Facebook Planning Office Version To Rival LinkedIn, Google

JaredOfEuropa Re:This article is useless (91 comments)

I've seen several companies with a successful Yammer network, meaning it added real business value. Rolling out things like wikis, microblogging tools or discussion forums in a company requires more than just installing the software and announcing the new service; you need active champions, community managers, and a strategy to nurture the community continuously. That means you also need to understand the role you want these things to play in your business. . Those who perceive them as mere tools to be rolled out will most likely fail.

about a week ago
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The Downside to Low Gas Prices

JaredOfEuropa Re:Lucky America (554 comments)

A good measure of fairness of the tax is a comparison between road tax revenue (fuel tax, road tax, tax on new vehicles) and outlays on infrastructure. Over here in NL it's gotten a bit out of whack: revenues are 3 times the expenses, and that includes expenses on public transport infra. Filling up that 55 liter tank costs €95 or so. Then there's road tax, and if you buy a car you pay a special tax on top of the list price and VAT. For some vehicles the total tax can be as much as 125% of the factory price. And no, I did not forget a decimal point in that figure: a Mercedes G 350 is listed at €72.500 but the after tax sticker price comes to €166.500

Even in a country with good public transport, the truth is that most people still need a car to get to work. It's pretty much a necessity, but it is one that we have been made to feel guilty about, so the government discovered that they can tax the crap out of it and not expect much protest. Especially in today's environmentalist society.

about two weeks ago
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Philae's Batteries Have Drained; Comet Lander Sleeps

JaredOfEuropa Re:ShirtStorm (337 comments)

Worse: the guy is probably going to face some flak from his superiors over this. His bosses and coworkers probably didn't think much about his shirt, if they even noticed it: it looks more like tattoo art than "pin up girls" and calling it "mysogenic" as one newspaper did is a bit silly. But now that the press is all over it, they can't let it slide. I don't know what is worse: people looking at everything with a magnifying glass so they can find something to feel offended by, or the people who take the "perennially offended" seriously.

about two weeks ago
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How To End Online Harassment

JaredOfEuropa Re:"or religion" (834 comments)

Belief is not the same as religion,and certainly not any religion in particular. I don't know if belief is indeed a defect, or genetic, or a mental condition beyond one's control, but it's plausible. But there's no mental condition that makes you a Muslim or Christian or Hindu. Those are determined by your environment, and in those cases you do have a choice. A hard choice for sure: if you grow up in a deeply religious family, you'll have a hard time switching to a different one. But by the same token, someone being brought up in a deeply racist family will have a hard time accepting the notion of the equality of races. I do not judge someone for being religious, but I do judge them by the values they embrace and the actions resulting from those values.

about two weeks ago
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How To End Online Harassment

JaredOfEuropa Re:The right to offend ... (834 comments)

It is the author of this silly article who cannot tell the difference between (threats of) rape and offensive statements:

Gendered bigotry against women is widely considered to be “in bounds” by Internet commenters (whether they openly acknowledge it or not), and subsequently a demographic that comprises half of the total human population has to worry about receiving rape threats, death threats, and the harassment of angry mobs simply for expressing their opinions.

The language is a bit convoluted, but the author implies that these threats are the result of online misogyny ("gendered bigotry", really?), or at least that ending online misogyny would put an end to death threads as well. This sounds like one of those cases where harassment automatically is blamed on bigotry, instead of accepting the fact that people often simply dislike you for your actions and opinions and not for your gender or ethnicity. It's easy to make that mistake (especially as an outside observer) because once those threats and insults materialize, they often do contain sexual or racial slurs.

Before asserting that death and rape threats are the result of online bigotry, at the very least one should examine who exactly is getting these threats. Hint: it's not just women and minorities; it happens to plenty of white males. The language in those threats might be less racial or sexual, but they are threats just the same.

about two weeks ago
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Washington Dancers Sue To Prevent Identity Disclosure

JaredOfEuropa Re:Gov't still doesn't get privacy (461 comments)

Expense claims should be a matter of public record since it is our money they are spending, but again only the relevant data should be exposed: how much and on what, but not where. Interestingly, while the gun owner info was freely given, the government agencies fight requests for expense reports tooth and nail. Personally I would like to know why a 10 person junket from my city's government to NYC ended up costing over €300k. Now I don't expect high ranking officials to travel coach, but I do expect them to be somewhat careful with public funds. When they aren't, we have a need and a right to know.

about two weeks ago
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Washington Dancers Sue To Prevent Identity Disclosure

JaredOfEuropa Gov't still doesn't get privacy (461 comments)

Same idiocy happened here in the Netherlands when a journalist, someone with extreme leftist connections and a known ETA (terrorist organization) sympathizer, requested the names and addresses of firearms license holders under open government laws. In the end, the guy did not get the requested info i.e. name and address, photo, and serial numbers of the weapons, but he did get a list of date of birth and city of residence of each license holder as well as the manual for Verona, the software that tracks firearm licenses. As a gun owner, the idea of government freely handing this info to people closely tied to ETA terrorists somehow does not give me a warm cozy feeling about sensitive data being in safe governmental hands.

It's very simple: "open government" means that the government should disclose information on the details of their own operation, but never information that can be tied to individuals, except where it concerns information on holders of public office that is relevant to the right of the public to monitor them. Only aggregated data on citizens should be disclosed. And for civil servants or elected officials, relevant data means stuff like expense claims, not stuff like their address, records of previous employment or registered religion.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Data Warehouse Server System?

JaredOfEuropa Re:You are looking for the wrong product/service (147 comments)

I would definitely recommend to go with a reputable external consultant when it comes to getting started with queries and reports. They will be able to come up with good questions to get from your data, but more importantly they can help avoid bad answers. For instance, given the initials, height, eye color, age and other such data of presidential candidates, I can probably come up with a filter that will correctly indicate whether or not the candidate won the elections, based on the data. But how useful is that filter for predicting the outcome of the next election? That is the pitfall of big data.

about two weeks ago
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Start-Up Vsenn Emerges From Stealth With Project Ara Modular Phone Competitor

JaredOfEuropa Re:Something we don't really need (30 comments)

I can see some advantages, especially if it'll be easy for 3rd parties to develop modules for this thing. Currently, if your phone doesn't support NFC payments, doesn't have good fingerprint scanner, or is missing some other feature, you're stuck. Other phones will have these features but will be missing others. In this design you can customize and add what you want; addition, you might want some features only some of the time. Don't need a camera today? Swap it for a battery. There might be a market for niche applications as well: a credit card scanner for handheld POS applications, a custom NFC module for ID or building access, a Zwave/Zigbee module for home automation, a glucose reader for diabetics, a Braille module, etc.

The real question is: will these advantages outweigh the disadvantages that you mentioned? I think it will, but only for a small group of people. I never said this couldn't be done but I have my doubts about this being commercially viable, and Google getting in on the game hasn't convinced me otherwise.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Journals

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Packaging, the scourge of the 21st century

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 5 years ago Packaging, in the broadest sense of the word, is starting to really piss me off.

Let's start with physical packaging. Whatever happened to the days when a fish would be packaged in yesterday's paper, small parts (screws and bolts) came in a little cardboard box or paper bag, and some stuff wouldn't be packaged at all? These days, some packaging (most notably the so called blister packaging) can be deathly dangerous to open. I'd like to propose one single, simple rule for packaging: one should be able to open it by hand. I'll make two exceptions: stuff that is notoriously easy to steal can go into blister packs, and it's acceptable to require a knife, key or any old sharp implement to cut packing tape.

Then there's labelling and pricing. Another simple rule: either provide a label or price tag that comes off clean, or don't label at all. When I buy a present for someone, a book, a DVD, a bit of wood that I intend to finish properly, a glass ornament, whatever, I would very much like the object in question to look nice. So why is it that shops insist on using labels that will tear when removed, and will leave a nasty gooey residy that won't come off no matter what? I can kind of understand putting such labels on packaging or on paperbacks... but not on expensive gifts.

And finally, there's the matter of "packaging" software. Some more rules:
- I DO NOT WANT software that I run only "on demand" to install some resident "helper" software to check for updates or whatever. You can check for updates when I start your program. Are you listening, Apple?
- I DO NOT WANT to answer the same questions over and over again whenever I install an update of your software. An update should be just that: replace the software that is already there with no questions asked; do not treat it as a more or less fresh reinstall. Are you listening, Zone Labs / Checkpoint?

Major issues to be sure... Come to think of it, if this is what I worry about, I suppose I have a pretty good life.

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Cat pictures!

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 10 years ago *sigh* No words of wisdom or idle banter to write in the journal today. Nevertheless, the question on my last journal entry has been answered, so time to push it off the top.

Today, I offer the bored reader who aimlessly wandered into here: cat pictures of Dolly and Mickey

These two little furballs are my cats. Enjoy!

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Hmm, stupidity

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 10 years ago "Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain". If only I could remember who uttered this particular wisdom.

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Suspicious white dot in Slashdot

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 11 years ago So... what is this funny little white dot that appears on the slashdot pages just under the banner ad? *pokes the dot* I don't trust you.

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JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 11 years ago As someone pointed out, it should be

find ~your -name '*base*' | xargs chown us

instead of

chown -R us ~your/*base*
as my sig currently reads. I'll change it later, I suppose...

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Redundant posts...

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 11 years ago From now on, these will automatically be metamoderated 'unfair'. Don't waste your moderator points on insightful posts that happen to be dupes. Mod some other insightfull stuff up, or mod the fluff down. That is all

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Most hated words and terms

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 11 years ago Boredom sets in once again, work is slow today. Anyways... There's a few annoying words that have wriggled their way into everyday idiom, at least in some circles. My personal top 3 of most hated ones.

3) Cracker. The rest of the world calls such a person a hacker, and will continue to use this word, no matter how much you try and drill the hacker/cracker distinction into them. Give it up already.

2) Wardriving. A term that fails in so many ways to convey what it actually means, and makes most people think of something having to do with Osama bin Laden.

1) Blog. An odd way to abbreviate the word 'weblog', and one that sounds like sicking up at that. Blog. Blogging. Yeck. Someone please come up with a better and nicer-sounding word.

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Slashdot oddities...

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  about 12 years ago Who the hell is Saskboy (id 600063) and what is he doing on my "preferences" page?

Also... one begins to wonder where my moderator points are after over a year of being at this place. What gives? (and yes, I did check the "want to moderate" box).

Oh well, time for another bottle of wine

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