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Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

King_TJ RE: displaced workers (618 comments)

I doubt there has ever been an advance in technology that didn't temporarily displace some workers or cause hardship for specific groups?

You can't just hold back progress out of concern for this minority, vs. forcing them to adapt to change for their own good in the long run.

Anyone who can lose their min. wage job to automation was doing menial labor in the first place. They were getting paid to BE the machine, essentially. I see nothing great about promoting the idea that we're better off letting people act as unthinking machines for low wages than to actually mechanize those tasks and challenge the people a little bit more.

10 hours ago

FTDI Removes Driver From Windows Update That Bricked Cloned Chips

King_TJ Re:Alternatives? Same problem.. (490 comments)

Fake copies of hardware are a growing problem all over the electronics industry. Historically, the problem tended to resolve itself when the poor copies prematurely failed on enough people that a conscious effort was made to avoid them.

It seems to me the problem that's happening now is, the counterfeits are getting good enough that they're actually becoming a good value for consumers. As just one example of this? I was just shopping for an off-road LED light bar to put on my Jeep. The traditional name brand light bars tend to sell in the $800 - $1000 price range, but a flood of Asian knock-offs have arrived which sell on eBay or Amazon for as little as $99 or so each. Big name vendors and some of the heavy users have decried them as "junk" compared to the others because of such things as less quality control ensuring each LED outputs the same intensity and color of light, and complaints about water leaking into the enclosures of the cheap ones and leaving condensation on the inside lens. A few people express concerns that cheaper circuit boards inside will cause the knock-offs to fail prematurely too -- pointing out that it could be REAL bad for you if your light fails you in the middle of the night, out on some trail, and you can't see to get back out of the woods again.

All fine and good, EXCEPT people can fix the water/condensation problems with a tube of silicone caulk and 5 minutes of time, sealing up the plastic lens after taking a light bar apart. The other issues simply mean you could buy a spare (or three!) to keep with you -- and heck, probably even toss out one if you feel the LED lights on it are inconsistent enough to annoy you, and STILL pay far less than one of the original name brands!

I don't know much about FTDI's chip ... but it sounds like they designed something that was relatively easy to clone, and now they're stuck trying to sell something that many manufacturers don't see as differentiated enough from the copy-cats to try too hard to buy the original part? Trying to actively destroy the competition is NOT the solution. Perhaps more R&D to offer a superior update to the original chip would be?


Will the Google Car Turn Out To Be the Apple Newton of Automobiles?

King_TJ re: trains vs. trucks (283 comments)

I currently live in an old railroad town in the Northeastern U.S. Our rail system is still alive and well out in this part of the U.S. -- despite the appearance of being a dinosaur in many other parts of the country. (I even take commuter rail in to work each day ... and yes, it's a full size locomotive with multiple passenger cars, including a couple of double-decker cars.)

I don't see how employee turnover has a lot to do with trains OR trucks winning the battle of who gets used to haul freight around? The real bottom line is going to be economics and efficiency. The big advantage I see trains having right now is better efficiency, in the sense that today's locomotives are pretty energy efficient. Many of the new ones have solar panels on top of them to augment power generation, and they move a MUCH larger volume of product around than a truck can. (In the case of passenger rail alone? Look how many hundreds of vehicles are taken off the roadways each weekday just from all of us who use it to commute instead of driving ... and that's just ONE of several rail lines out here that run each day.)

They also have an advantage in the fact that they don't have to deal with traffic congestion. The established railways are generally about the fastest way from point to point, so they can generally predict down the minute how long it will take to arrive at a particular stop.

IMO, there's a lot of mismanagement with the rail system, which allowed the trucking industry to eat their lunch in many cases. But it didn't HAVE to be that way.

EG. I used to work for a steel fabrication place that had a railway running right outside their back door. Up through some time in the 1970's, they always used the rail system to ship steel beams to customers. But they started running into logistics problems where customers were only willing to buy from them if they could meet deadlines for "rush" deliveries (and would pay big premiums for this as well!). The railroads couldn't adapt to accommodate this, especially when they'd often have their own logistics battles to fight, trying to get certain cars unloaded on a train before others. (They said they'd often see the train they were waiting on to pick up a load chug right on by, once or even twice, during the day, before finally stopping for them -- all because the railroad wanted to unload something else first and potentially juggle the train cars around in a yard, before coming back for the pickup.) All of that convinced them to invest in a small fleet of trucks and do their own deliveries.

But in any case? I think autonomous trucks probably will arrive before autonomous passenger cars owned by individuals. (Commercial vehicles could absorb the initially higher cost to purchase them, for one thing.) But you'll probably see them limited to driving in a designated lane, at least initially. Doing this would make their operation a little more like what the railroads do now .... follow designated paths from place to place. I'm not sure how well that will work for them, if they STILL have to have a "short haul" truck pick up their loads at some point and take them to the loading docks at their destinations, using the regular road system?


Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales

King_TJ Re:Already illegal (255 comments)

Bans on direct sales of vehicles are nonsense, regardless!

The idea that forcing a "middleman" to exist, by the sake of legislation requiring it (because you know.... creates jobs!), is utterly flawed.
Manufacturers would, most likely, encourage (to the point of helping fund) local distributors/dealers regardless of any laws demanding it. When you sell enough volume of a product - it starts making sense to get other entities to help sell it for you.

Tesla Motors helps illustrate the need to REPEAL any existing law preventing them from doing direct sales!

They don't (yet) do enough volume to find it beneficial to sell through a dealer network. So why not accept that at face value, and let them do business the way they believe is most beneficial? Chances are, if they sell enough vehicles, they'll eventually WANT to work with established dealers to carry their brand. Teslas will eventually start showing up in appreciable numbers on the used car lots of existing dealerships anyway.

2 days ago

Speed Cameras In Chicago Earn $50M Less Than Expected

King_TJ Funny how they budget project income for these.... (397 comments)

I mean, *if* you believe what they spout off all the time about the REASON for installing these cameras in the first place? Clearly it's about improving safety. Who in their right mind tries to project potential profits from implementing a safety measure?

Think about it ....

3 days ago

Developers, IT Still Racking Up (Mostly) High Salaries

King_TJ Re:hum (195 comments)

I haven't ever lived or worked in NYC, but I'm not that surprised by what you're saying.

NYC is ground zero for brokers and bankers .... people who believe they essentially rule the world because they control the flow of the money. One of my best friends did I.T. for a large firm that supplies those Wall Street traders with some of their computer software tools. You'd think if they respected any I.T. folks, it would be guys like him. (Heck, his own DAD was a stock broker, so he had some experience in their world.) But no.... they treated him like dirt.

4 days ago

The One App You Need On Your Resume If You Want a Job At Google

King_TJ Re:Here is why you never chase what's "hot" in IT (205 comments)

This is VERY true. (I'm another 30+ year I.T. veteran.)

The job market for I.T. works much like other markets .... If you have connections, it likely trumps everything else. (I'm pretty sure any decent sized company doing much with I.T. has employees who can detail scenarios for you where someone got a "cherry" job in I.T. because of who they knew.)

Next, you need lots of experience. If you're interviewed by someone with I.T. knowledge, they'll be able to discern how deep your knowledge goes. If you're interviewed by people with less of a clue? You'll need to draw on your experience to figure out what buzzwords and tidbits to share with them to impress them.

Lastly, you can try to lean on certifications and formal education. This works *very* well for I.T. positions inside of school systems. (They HAVE to at least pretend these things have big value, since that's what they sell to all of their students.) It also has value for government jobs where everything tends to be scored and education gives you a certain number of "points". For everything else, it just depends on how much the people hiring believe in the usefulness of it.

Chasing what's "hot" is a waste of time, vs. just getting better at the things you deal with in I.T. all the time (whatever those happen to be). Software applications evolve. (Heck, I think IBM finally dumped all "Lotus" branded products last month, officially. Yet there was a time when skills in Lotus apps was a big deal.) It's more important that you're good at getting things done for the companies you work for than bragging about years of experience with particular tools or apps. Obviously, you had to work with SOMETHING, so of course you'd mention it. But it's a losing battle chasing the "cool new thing" that the magazines are writing about.

about a week ago

As Prison Population Sinks, Jails Are a Steal

King_TJ re: criminal past (407 comments)

Absolutely 100% agree with you about the U.S. needing to give up on the "war on drugs" thing. That failed policy has cost untold billions of taxpayer dollars and made criminals out of insane numbers of citizens -- all with essentially no upside.

The system you speak of in the Netherlands sounds pretty reasonable too, and I could see the U.S. potentially adopting something similar. But I'm also not sure I'm that opposed to the present system, at least in theory, that's used in our country? I think the fact is, employers can and do hire people with criminal records all the time. Just because you have one doesn't mean you're branded unemployable (though some believe that initially).

I'm sure it makes it more challenging to get a good job ... but in a sense, I think they have to view it as starting over. Just like someone new to the job market can't expect to walk in and get hired making a 6 figure salary at a Fortune 500 firm -- an ex-convict has to work his/her way back up the ladder from one of the lower rungs. What employers really want to see is evidence the person really has changed their ways and illustrates good work habits and honesty.

I know several places I've worked in the past definitely hired people with former criminal records for such jobs as truck/delivery drivers or movers. Others get into such things as car sales, where their pay is based mostly on commission and things are micro-managed enough that they don't have a lot of opportunity to commit crimes without leaving behind paper trails or video evidence.

about a week ago

Facebook and Apple Now Pay For Female Employees To Freeze Their Eggs

King_TJ re: work/life balance (248 comments)

I believe there *are* companies out there where you can make it the main focus of your life, working for them, and actually have some justification for doing so.

In the current tech sector, there are really only a few that come to mind. I'd say Google would be one. Apple would be another. Facebook tries to be yet another, but I have mixed feelings on whether or not they've really "arrived" in that way.

I'm talking about companies that have earned a lot of respect for continuously doing things that make people's lives better. There are so many of us who go through life lacking "purpose". People get up every day and go to a job, just because that's what you're "supposed to do", come home and do a lot of little, relatively pointless stuff, pay the required bills... rinse and repeat.

Whether male or female, I can understand why some people would find that sense of purpose in working for one of these companies that's actually changing the course of society's future. (I mean, if you're talking about communication tools alone -- look how different things are today with the advent of the smartphone. Look how much easy access we have to music thanks to the digital music revolution. Look at what cellular data connected tablet devices allow people to do.) You can say what you will about Apple, Google, or even Intel or Microsoft ... but working on the right projects for one of them HAS to be more rewarding than working as a gas station attendant, a retail sales person at a clothing store, or any number of other misc. jobs out there.

So yeah... it's not for everyone, but I get why *some* people would actually want the work/life balance tipped heavily towards their work. It's just not something you want to feel is FORCED upon you, and probably not healthy at all if your job isn't one of the real "movers and shakers" that actually accomplishes major things.

about two weeks ago

The Subtle Developer Exodus From the Mac App Store

King_TJ Cry me a virtual river ..... (229 comments)

Like someone else commented, the "gold rush" is over. Who cares? iOS devices are VERY well established at this point, with many millions in active use at any given time. If you truly have something worthwhile to code to run on the iPhone or iPad, I would think you'd still go on and do it? Anything significant gets noticed not because of it coming up in searches from App Store browsing, but because people get referred specifically to it by name.

(For example, I recently bought a couple of EcoBee smart thermostats for my house. Turns out they have an iOS app to control them. The instructions for the thermostat told me what to key into an App Store search to find the app and install it, so I did. The number of other apps cluttering up the store had no bearing on finding it successfully.)

The devs who are complaining are probably the people just wanting to write some random game or utility, without much regard for how many others are out there serving a similar purpose, and getting upset that it doesn't pay like full-time employment anymore. Yep ... it won't!

about two weeks ago

Carl Sagan, as "Mr. X," Extolled Benefits of Marijuana

King_TJ Re:what an idiot (263 comments)

Actually, your comment shows you narrow-mindedness.

Sure, people who are under the influence of perception-altering drugs seem annoying to listen to or be around. But being "unable to think straight" means they're thinking in very non-standard/non-traditional ways. I think attributes such as one's creativeness, imagination or even intelligence level, aren't subject to change just by taking drugs. But the creative mind, under those conditions, might well come up with some very interesting things that it wasn't likely to come up with while the brain was functioning normally.

Driving is a task that requires a particular set of skills and behaviors; none of which would be enhanced (or even remain unaffected) by getting drunk. That's pretty irrelevant to asking if, say, the artist under the influence of LSD might create more interesting music or artwork than he/she did without it.

about two weeks ago

No Nobel For Nick Holonyak Jr, Father of the LED

King_TJ Seems to me he has a point! (276 comments)

It's not that I think you necessarily have to give the prize to the inventor of the "base" idea all the time, as opposed to someone who made it truly useful and beneficial for the masses. But as this article even states, the infrared LED was developed first. Holonyak simply made the first VISIBLE light LED. The infrared LED is a pretty cool invention in and of itself, but the ability to produce visible light with one is what really made people start using them in place of traditional incandescent bulbs.

In my mind, that's the primarily impact the LED has had on people, and therefore is most deserving of the Nobel.

The blue LED? That's a pretty cool innovation, but I don't see how you can award a prize like this for it when you ignored the research that made LEDs possible as visible light sources?

about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: How Would You Build a Home Network To Fully Utilize Google Fiber?

King_TJ In a word, no.... (279 comments)

Almost all of the wireless technologies quote transfer rates which are VERY optimistic (as in; "We achieved this maximum speed in a lab, in completely controlled conditions which will be nothing like you'll ever have where you intend to use it!"). Same with the power over ethernet adapters out there. (You'll find quite a few of them that only provide 10/100 ethernet ports despite claims of doing 500mbit speeds. Why? Because they know in real world usage, you'll never get close enough to saturate the 100mbit port's top speed anyway. The underlying technology may have a 500mbit top theoretical speed, but it's irrelevant in regular usage.)

On the other hand? I would recommend you consider calling local contractors who do structured cabling and get bids for wiring up your place. I understand that the whole "Do it yourself!" thing isn't always really feasible (or worth your time and effort). It can be a real trick fishing cable through some of the walls you want to run them through, etc. But you might be surprised at what you can have professionally done at a price that's really not so terrible? Remember, you are essentially putting this cabling in your home permanently (plates going on walls and the whole bit). Your home was a big investment. Isn't it worth a little fraction of its price to cable it properly and cleanly?

(At my old house, all I really wanted was a gigabit connection between a jack in the basement and one on the second floor, on the opposite side of the house. I found a handyman who also did a lot of electrical work, plus had some proficiency in I.T. who got it done for me for a total of only $75 or so. He ran the line across my roof, slipping it under the shingles somehow.) I had an entire office wired up with CAT6 cable (2 jacks in each outlet of each office), that went back to a labeled patch panel in a closet, mounted to a 2 post rack secured to the floor. Including testing and verification of all connections - I think the total cost on that was around $4,500. So you have to really figure out where you want cable run and how many jacks, plus where everything should terminate. The price will vary wildly depending on how much labor and cabling all of that requires.

about two weeks ago

Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

King_TJ The statistics, please? (488 comments)

I just received a pamphlet with my last electric bill from Potomac Edison in Maryland that broke down where the electricity they provide comes from. I don't have it in front of me, but I recall the percentage of solar power stated as 0.02%, vs. numbers in the 30-40% range or so for nuclear, oil and coal.

Even with the rapid adoption of solar panels on roofs of residences and businesses, I find it hard to believe it will really break their business model any time soon?

For example, one of the largest solar installations I know of in the area is at American Public University in West Virginia. They have a several hundred kilowatt installation (I think someone said around 430 Kwatt but don't quote me on that), but they also have at least a dozen office buildings to power -- so all of that STILL produces well under half of their power needs.

I'm trying to get solar panels installed on my house right now, and even the most optimistic engineering model their computer software could come up with for my property wouldn't generate over 67% or so of my average power needs. The problem is, you're limited by how much roof space you have that faces the right direction -- and the more efficient panels cost a big premium price too. (If you do those no money down or low money down solar loan/lease arrangements, they often only agree to supply the cheaper Asian-made panels that don't have the especially high outputs. In my case, we were looking at no more than about 40% to 42% of my needs supplied with those panels.)

If the power companies would invest in the long-term, instead of trying to fight all changes with legislation -- they could use all of this to great advantage. It looks to me like your typical solar user is still going to need to be supplied 30-50% of their power from the power company. (Battery storage tech. is still just not really cost effective on a large scale, so solar panels mean you're not able to use your own electricity after dark or during storms where skies are dark.) So they need to simply scale back how much they spend on things like coal, oil and natural gas for generating power as more solar panels come online. Share around the power they generate during the day, and use the traditional power plants after dark. They're going to be able to collect fees for the power distribution, regardless.

about three weeks ago

Former GM Product Czar: Tesla a "Fringe Brand"

King_TJ Re:Read the full quote (267 comments)

It's a reasonable statement if GM was also admitting that its attempts at electric cars are "fringe" too! The laughable part is when they speak with an attitude like they have the electric car thing all buttoned up.

Quite frankly, if we want to talk about more affordable electric cars that typical consumers would be tempted to buy today? I'd look at such offerings as the electric version of the Kia Soul (should sell at the $35K - $38K price point) before I'd look at GM. The Chevy Volt is one of those cars that's more attractive on the inside than the outside, by most people's standards. The Kia Soul is actually a small SUV that many people *want* to own already, in the traditional gasoline powered form, and choose it over all the other choices on the market.

about three weeks ago

Phablet Reviews: Before and After the iPhone 6

King_TJ Cook has no choice ..... (277 comments)

He pretty much HAS to start responding to market demand, vs. dictating what he thinks people SHOULD want. He's not a visionary with a head full of tech ideas to roll out to the masses. He's a former supply chain management guy.

Personally, I think Apple needs to find a "sweet spot" between the two, to find the greatest success. Jobs was a big believer in the concept that people don't really know what they need or want. You can survey them and they'll give you responses, but they're generally based around what they've already seen and already know exists.

I think there's something to that, but it's less relevant when you're just revising existing products. That's what you've got here with the iPhone. Everyone knows what the product is and what it does, and it's gone through 6 major releases (and all the smaller interim updates like 3gs, 4s and 5s). It's best, at this point, to find out what its users (or potential users) want to see changed with it, and try to accommodate it

about a month ago

Phablet Reviews: Before and After the iPhone 6

King_TJ Re:Meh, anything Apple does is considered "cool". (277 comments)

I'm a big proponent of the Mac and of many of Apple's products, but come on.... Unless you're talking about the childish "my computer can beat your computer!" comments that all of us computer geeks made as pre-teens? It's just not like that.

Back in the PowerPC days, things were quite a bit different in the computer landscape. Motorola, on the whole, was greatly respected as a company capable of making very good processors. (The old 8-bit CPUs like the 6809e and later, the 16-bit 68000 series were considered FAR superior to the Intel stuff, with more logical and efficient instruction sets, etc.) When they made the "G4" CPUs for Apple, they had a speed advantage over comparable Intel offerings, depending on what tasks were being done. (For heavy math, they were on the inferior side ... but most Mac users weren't trying to do heavy math on one anyway.)

When IBM started making the G5 PowerPC for Apple, there was a lot of hope out there. IBM made some big claims about where they could take that line of CPUs and were a big enough company with enough experience in the field so there was good reason to believe them. It looked like, maybe, Apple sided with a winner there. When that didn't pan out, Apple had no choice but to switch to Intel x86 (or AMD, which was probably a backup plan).

So yeah.... it really was both a case of "Go PowerPC!" and later, "PowerPC sucks!" as things changed. Good on Apple for rolling with the changes instead of stubbornly sticking to something that was dying.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Is iOS 8 a Pig?

King_TJ No real problems on a 5s or a new 6, or iPad Air . (504 comments)

Didn't try iOS 8 on a 4s yet, or on an older iPad .... but for what it's worth, the only real "slow down" issue I observed was on the brand new iPhone 6, 128GB! This had to do with trying to view the purchased apps in need of updates. The phone seemed to be so busy actually processing/doing updates, it couldn't allocate the processor time to actually SHOW me the list properly. It acted frozen and I couldn't scroll up/down through the list of apps. (I could, however, press the home button to move back to the menu and everything else was fine.)

Overall, I've been really happy with the new OS, although battery life does seem a bit worse than before. That may just be needing to tweak some settings for when apps can use the GPS -- but I'm trying to get that optimized, and not seeing real results yet.

Pretty sure the .01 update will be along shortly and address some of this.

about a month ago

Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains

King_TJ Re: unintelligible drivers (179 comments)

No... I really can't blame this on the PA equipment. I agree that at times it's not the best (some metro cars have a blown or intermittently working speaker). But the OP is correct. The majority of metro drivers just mumble the names of the stops. It's actually almost a shocking change when I get a driver who is well spoken, who choose to speak a little bit more than just some garbled version of the name of the next stop. When that happens, you can hear them perfectly over the PA.

about a month ago

Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains

King_TJ I'm glad this topic came up for discussion! (179 comments)

This is actually one of those things I thought about a lot while riding the red line metro to and from work each week.

I've noticed that among other things, there seem to be a couple of metro drivers who like to operate the trains at speeds as fast as possible between stops, rather than just pacing it more sensibly. They'll rapidly accelerate, headed westbound out of a station like the Bethesda or Friendship Heights location, only to wind up stopping in the middle of the track someplace before the White Flint stop because they have to "wait for another train directly in front of them".

I've also experienced the trains that always seem to stop short of a station and then jerkily move into position before opening the doors. I can understand the problem if all of the trains really do behave differently and drivers have to get used to differences between each one. But there are definitely other times I take the train and it's very consistent in speed and smooth at every single stop.

Another oddity I've noticed with the DC red line is the fact that only Verizon customers get cellular service while the train is in the tunnels. All other carriers lose signal until the trains get back outside. (I'm told this is due to some old, outdated exclusive contract Verizon made with them to wire up the tunnels. It was since struck down as illegal so all carriers can now add service there -- but apparently none have been interested in spending the money to do so, yet.)

And as for the people talking about thugs and crime on the metro? I have to say, I've honestly not experienced much of that. I'm sure things are a bit different if you're taking the train late at night on a weekend after hitting the bars or clubs. But at least during the rush hours for commuters, I see practically everyone using a tablet or smartphone, or even a laptop on the train -- and have yet to see one get snatched out of someone's hands.

The only crazy issue I ran into was this 20-something guy who got on a train in the morning with a radio in his shirt pocket blasting loud, annoying techno music. At first, I don't think most people pinpointed where it was coming from and patiently waited for whoever it was to realize their headphone plug came loose or what-not. Then we started figuring out the guy had no earphones and was doing this on purpose. A guy sitting beside me who was trying to read a book asked the guy, politely, if he could turn the music down -- and the guy got all aggressive, challenging us to fight with him if we didn't like it and calling us all "lemmings" and so on.

(I told him his lousy techno soundtrack wasn't even worth fighting over.) This went on for several stops until he finally ran off the train at the Medical Center stop. Like someone else posted above, it doesn't seem like the posted rules (No eating/drinking on the train, no music players without use of headsets etc.) get enforced very well.

about a month ago



FreeNAS users having problems with OS X Lion

King_TJ King_TJ writes  |  more than 3 years ago

King_TJ writes "Thanks to some drama over in the netatalk developers' camp, the FreeNAS project has been delayed in getting support for changes in Apple File Protocol (AFP) requires for OS X Lion and Time Machine backups."
Link to Original Source

Microsoft releases the cord on Bungie?

King_TJ King_TJ writes  |  about 7 years ago

King_TJ writes "A blogger claims he has an inside source at Microsoft, who was released from NDA today, and can now leak the fact that Microsoft is going to let go of Bungie, so they can operate as an independent game producer again. (Supposedly, Bungie's team has been unhappy that they're basically assigned to do little more than crank out Halo revisions for Microsoft — instead of being free to work on other projects.)"
Link to Original Source



King_TJ King_TJ writes  |  about 8 years ago

You must have clicked this link by accident. Surely you didn't really care to read a bunch of drivel about my personal life, did you?

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