Tim Cook: "I'm Proud To Be Gay"
Honestly, I'm glad to hear the guy is proud to be gay. He should be. We should ALL be proud of who we are, instead of regretting it or wasting time wishing we were different.
The world would be a really boring place if all of us were "wired" exactly the same, with the exact same interests, habits and tendencies.
But his sexual orientation was published years ago, and came up again some time earlier this year in news articles. So I'm not sure exactly how THIS time around is supposed to mean anything special?
I hate to say it, but I do think all of this is at least partially motivated by a marketing angle for Apple. The company has long been known to be relatively "gay friendly" in hiring practices and in loyal user-base. (Perhaps some of that simply stems from a tendency for the gay community to care more than others about product attributes like style, design or elegance .... all areas not so often associated with computer technology but embraced by Apple since early on?) Perhaps it's just that Tim Cook feels it's a good "climate" to promote Apple as a very equal-opportunity company to work for? I don't know ... but it doesn't seem relevant to bother mentioning it (especially if he's serious about valuing his privacy like he claims), otherwise?
Ebola Forecast: Scientists Release Updated Projections and Tracking Maps
No arguments about this from me. But that doesn't change the fact that the whole thing runs counter to reassuring the public that they're at relatively low risk of catching the stuff if they wind up around someone who has the virus while on mass transit.
I get it.... If they're not at the stage where the vomiting and diarrhea begin, it's different. But those people are still a ticking time bomb in that regard. Do YOU want to be the guy sitting next to one of them on a plane, betting they won't START in with the vomiting and coughing and so forth, until after you're safely away from them at the end of the flight?
New Crash Test Dummies Reflect Rising American Bodyweight
I have to say that IMO, this is a pretty good idea.
The whole idea of doing crash tests and designing vehicles around one standard dummy size means you have no way to know if the safety systems work well with anyone outside that narrow parameter.
Not everyone heavier than the 167lbs. or so of the current crash dummy is unhealthy, for starters. Should America's vehicles be higher safety risks for all of our professional athletes with more muscle-mass than average? (Chevrolet just sponsored the World Series .... Maybe they better rethink their strategy if they don't design cars to be as safe for some of those guys?)
Even the "ideal weight charts" say a 6'4" person is still in the "normal" weight range at 197lbs. - so what about tall people like that? (Are the crash test dummies tall enough to see what happens when someone's head is that much higher up in the vehicle? They probably should check into that.)
But even putting all of that aside for a moment? The people bringing up those comparisons of average body types in other countries to ours don't really convince me that we're so bad off as a nation. Honestly, I used to be as skinny as the depicted "average sized 30 year old Japanese male" in that Huffington Post article -- and you know what? I hated it. As a general rule, women found me too skinny to be physically attractive to them (with many preferring the larger-framed guys who were clearly in the "overweight" category). The only praise I ever received was from the "gym rat" types who cared more about achieving the numbers the charts or stats said you should achieve as "ideal". And even then? I was never really very strong. They always assumed I would be a "quick runner" though.
Ebola Forecast: Scientists Release Updated Projections and Tracking Maps
If our President initially came out, armed with scientific facts and results of studies like this one as the rationale for not imposing a travel ban, it would have gone over much better with the American people.
Instead, we've witnessed nothing but a "FUD campaign" - with a strong sense that nobody in charge really knows what the h*ll they're doing with this stuff. First, the hospital in Texas got blamed for screwing up and not following procedures. Then it was revealed they never received any official procedure in the first place for dealing with ebola.
There's conflicting information about how contagious the ebola virus is ... with claims that you can't get it without direct contact with the infected person's bodily fluids, but medical workers wearing hazmat suits while going near the people. (If people are supposed to believe their chances of getting the virus while on an airplane with an infected person are "pretty unlikely" -- then how is it we have concerns about hospital workers catching it, even after wearing protective suits and everything else? I don't think people are convinced you can have this BOTH ways at the same time.)
And sure ... people also recall the H1N1 "swine flu" situation and how that panned out in reality.
IMO, the travel ban would just be good common sense to impose -- while setting up some exceptions for medical staff legitimately traveling to/from the high risk areas for the purpose of aid. I *love* how the government makes it out to be an "all or nothing" proposition -- where we simply can't impose the ban without risking inability to provide medical assistance over there. Seriously?! You can't come up with scenarios allowing SELECTIVE travel for appropriate people and some extra steps they're required to go through upon re-entering the US?
Power and Free Broadband To the People
There's nothing wrong with trying to be more independent, should you so choose. But honestly, people are fairly free to live that "pre Industrial Revolution" lifestyle right now. Join an Amish community!
In reality though, most people I know don't WANT that lifestyle, because we've traded a lot of self-sufficiency off in exchange for having an easier life, and one where we're able to focus on specialties of interest. That's done by embracing INTERdependence.
For example, my primary skill and interest is with computers and I.T. If I wanted to be a lot more independent, I'd get stuck spending many hours on tasks like farming and food preparation, that I'm not at all interested in doing. Sure, if I *had* to do it, I probably could... but I think our society is pretty well established in such a way where I'm not forced to do so. To me, that's progress... not some inherently bad thing.
Now, if we're talking about people who can't seem to find or keep a job that pays enough for them to survive? Then sure.... we're now talking about folks who might really benefit from investing time and energy in such things as planting their own vegetable gardens. (It beats being stuck unemployed and having nothing constructive to do.)
As far as the whole "going off-grid" thing is concerned though? Right now, I don't know that it makes sense in many cases. I say that as someone who just invested in a solar panel installation for my home, too. The fact is ... this "investment" is only financially sensible if you take a very long term view. Up front, I'm forking out upwards of $30,000 for a system that will only produce 65% or so of our energy needs -- and the math REALLY starts making it look like an unwise expenditure if you don't factor in the $10,000 tax credit I get back for it, plus another state credit of a couple thousand bucks.
The people who do those solar leases with low or no money down are in even worse situations, because they're #1, not recouping the tax credits and #2, are locked into contracts they can't get out of if they decide to move and resell their homes. (They have to convince the new home buyer to assume the lease, which they can't even do unless their credit score is high enough to allow it ... and may not WANT to do, vs. just signing up for a brand new contract and getting the latest and greatest panel tech. installed as part of the new deal.)
Ultimately, I'm betting on electricity prices going up enough that when I project things out 15 or 20 years from today, the power my panels generate for me will theoretically be worth a lot more than it is right now. But who can say if the power companies will continue buying back excess power you generate over what you use? If they stop doing that, or start paying only pennies on the dollar for it -- this could quickly turn into a real loser of a deal too. (Don't forget, your panels generate NOTHING when the sun goes down ... so you want to get repaid for extra power made during the middle of the day, to offset what you use at night.)
HP Unveils Industrial 3D Printer 10X Faster, 50% Cheaper Than Current Systems
I was just talking about this earlier today with a friend of mine. I think what will really make 3D printing take off is the availability of commercial printers that are room-sized devices, capable of printing off large pieces.
With the 3D printers confined to, essentially, the same dimensions as typical all-in-one fax/printer/scanners or desktop lasers, they're only capable of printing very small objects. That's a great place to start, as this is a new technology ... and people need to learn the basics of how to design things to be printed, how to use them, and how to improve their reliability and reduce costs of operation. Why not do that by printing off small objects vs. big ones?
But the ability to print off an entire car hood or rear spoiler, or replacement body panel? Or how about printing those big, outdoor decorative fountains and other garden objects? Certainly, you need something this size if you're seriously considering printing 3D parts for home construction. (Imagine ordering walls that are pre-printed with your choice of custom colors or designs instead of having to paint.)
Why CurrentC Will Beat Out Apple Pay
For starters? If CurrentC was so good, why wasn't it implemented YEARS ago? The technology has been around for it. Heck, they're talking about it working by scanning a QR code with a camera --- something pretty much standard on smartphones for many years now.
It took Apple coming up with a workable solution and releasing it to wake them up, apparently. (Look how long places like CVS and Rite Aid accepted Google Wallet without a care ... but Apple Pay came along, and the whole NFC payment thing was shut down in a matter of 24 hours!)
But the bottom line is just as others commented here already; CurrentC opens up a whole new set of security issues, since paying with it is more like paying with a paper check than anything else. Plus, it lacks in simplicity compared to, "Just wave your phone near the reader for a second, even if the phone is still in sleep mode. Done." It's just popular with the merchants who want to eliminate transaction fees, while disregarding what consumers want (and NEED in the way of better security).
Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes
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.
FTDI Removes Driver From Windows Update That Bricked Cloned Chips
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?
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
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.
Speed Cameras In Chicago Earn $50M Less Than Expected
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 ....
Developers, IT Still Racking Up (Mostly) High Salaries
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.
The One App You Need On Your Resume If You Want a Job At Google
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.
As Prison Population Sinks, Jails Are a Steal
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.
Facebook and Apple Now Pay For Female Employees To Freeze Their Eggs
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.
The Subtle Developer Exodus From the Mac App Store
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!
Carl Sagan, as "Mr. X," Extolled Benefits of Marijuana
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.
No Nobel For Nick Holonyak Jr, Father of the LED
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?
Ask Slashdot: How Would You Build a Home Network To Fully Utilize Google Fiber?
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.